Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Obituary: YSR

It has been sometime since I have blogged in this site. But now is a good time to restart the discussion OverTea. After about a day's mystery finally we know that CM of Andhra Pradesh YSR has died in the chopper crash.

After he had taken over from Chandrababu Naidu as CM, a visionary credited to have ushered in an IT revolution in Hyderabad, YSR had done well not to root out the best of reforms the former CM brought in.

For example, the Velugu project to eliminate poverty renamed a Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP) in YSR regime did very well to imrprove the rural poor's quality of life. The same example also points that he seems to have learnt from ostensible mistakes of Naidu too. Often Naidu election debacle after 9 years of rule was attributed to his "one-sided focus on the cities" and ignoring the poor. While the claim is arguable, YSR seems to have maintained the urban-rural development balance well. His own initiatives like Arogyashree (health care) and Indiramma housing programme seems to have been received well by the public.

In my own personal experience during my last 5 years of residence in Hyderabad, I find the municipality of Hyderabad as less corrupt and more proactive than any other municipalities I have found. So, all said and done, as a CM YSR did well, and Andhra Pradesh and the country at large is at a minor loss at his untimely death. May his soul rest in peace and hope his replacement is at least as good as he was.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Before the mottai

Now this one is before the tonsure!

Her first, my second

Shradda, my neice her first tonsure today on account nd her first birthday here at Kumbakonam. About two years ago, we came to the same place to do the same thing for shashank! I held the child during the tonsure on both the occasions. So its the second time for me! :)

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Its a house. At least tree to be. Now this is where my nephew's first birthday is going to be celebrated! Now its a function hall!


Back to the place it all began! Kumbakonam! Its my native!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Life of late...

I have been blogging for ThinkChange-India for a while now and my role in NGOpost has changed from that of contributing to more of monitoring and quality maintainance. I don't know if I blame only this, but for some reason or the other, I have been forced to betray my own personal blogs.
One of the most worrying developments after wedding is developments in my stomach! No am not pregrent! :0) But I have put on about 5Kg, thanks to all the relatives who invited home the new couple for a feast. Now, I feel like a model - constantly uncomfortable and worried about body shape that is. I have started biking, doing surya namaskaram and finding opportunities to walk! Lets see if they make any difference at all!
The last week of July was harrwing to say the least. My passport was up for renewal and I had an official visit to the US scheduled during the last week. I caught the potential problem early enough and applied for the renewal through the "expedited" scheme (locally called "tatkal"). But the passport despatch was lethargic. There was a small clarification required for which the intimation was typed 3 days after the supposed despatch date, posted 2 days later and reached my about a week within my travel date. By then I had paid a visit to the passport office twice and sorted out the issue. But that didn't help. There was unexplained delay, with no tell-tale signs of a need to for bribe. Finally I got the passport - the unknown reason for delay resovled for unknown reason - exactly a day after my scheduled date of travel. - Jai hind!
Six-months after wedding, life is slowly settling down with Sriramya (my wife) finally getting an internal transfer to Hyderabad. But the current rented apartment - though judged by my friends as better than normal for the rent I pay - sucks big time! Today's rain brought a lot of water seeping right through the walls in the hallway. If it seeps through the wall within my apartment, it is well worth considering a resettlement, no matter how horrible the transition!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sleep july 25!

The sight of sun setting is one of the few things that make travel by train memorable!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Places in TN and its specialities

A few months ago, I have been travelling from Karaikkudi, a place in Tamil Nadu and my wife's native to Rameshwaram, via quite a few places that were familiar. Familiar not because I just knew about them, but because they were always associated with something special. So tightly associated that just mentioning the name of the places without following them up with the speicality made it sound incomplete. For example, just saying Kaangeyam, without mentioning "kaalai" (Bull) made me feel as if I am leaving something incomplete. Simiarly, Thiribuvanam "pattu" (silk) and silk brought to my mind the famous Kacheepuram.... then a series of other names and specialities! Then I began to wonder how far can one go with this. So, I sent an email to friends from Tamil Nadu and at the time of writing this blog post, the list is 35 entries long and it is at If you are familiar of a place in Tamil Nadu which is traditionally known for a speciality and if this list doesn't have it, go ahead and add a feather to TN's cap. But no cynical or comical entries please! I love them too, but lets create another list for that! :)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Gulmohar at Karaikudi

This Gulmohar now fully blossomed, is planted by Sriramya in front of her home when she was a child. Five of her friends decided about planting a tree and now each of their homes has such a bright tree. :)

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Fool or trouble seeker?

This evening I leave chennai with profound distaste. A few times now I have been ripped off by the tricky auto walas, in chennai or elsewhere. This time i thought of standing my ground. But that gave me a day full of bad mood, in addition to the official branding that I am short tempered. Now I wonder if feeling foolish gives less of a distaste than being called an immature trouble-seeker by my own loved ones. Either way I have decided to stay away from those criminals who take the city hostage with their three wheelers even if it means walking a couple of kilometers or missing a train. But I wonder how long that would last or if that would remove the tag I have on my forehead. But if thats the only way to keep myself at peace amidst these goons, I suppose its worth the try.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Passport to passport

Standing at the queue at passport office for reissue of passport I realize how the gandhi capped freedom fighters would have felt during dhandi march. Waiting in line to face the inevitable blow. The checking officers here are no less arrogant than the british imperial police. :)

Deemed universities demystified!

Have you ever wondered how so many deemed universities have mushroomed, that too out of colleges with no reputation? The latest copy of Frontline provides answers and outlines how it all started with a politically motivated move by Murli Manohar Joshi that soon opened a can of worms.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Happy Birthday, young man!


Today is unique in the history of our family tree, at least the extent to which I know and consider. My grandfather (Shri S. Jcelebrates his 91st birthday. The first person that I know in my family to do so!

Like anyone belonging to the pre-independence era, he has been through a lot of hardships in stabilizing his family and bringing up his children. An immensely spiritual man, he has always believed that an unknown force always leads one to his or her destiny. That must have made him fearless, for I have never seen him afraid. He is a very rigid believer in consistency and regularity, not just in education, but also in games and fitness. When I was a child, ye used to say

"You have to play one hour everyday! Poet Bharati told 'Malai muzhudum vilaiyattu' (Play though the evening""

But he would allow the evening play no longer than that! He would call me back exactly after an hour, make my chant the evening prayers and get me started off with my homework. I honestly wish he had spent a bit more time staying with us (then he was at Trichy and would visit us only occasionally.) so I could have used a bit more of his regularity! :)

I have also noticed that he has been very balanced in digesting joy and sadness. Be it the death of his beloved and eldest son (who I hear was exceptional in college, before he died suddenly of unknown reasons) or the more recent convocation of my cousin Priya (who is the first Ph.D of our family and an early pupil of my grandfather), he always attributed it to God's will and took the feeling into heart in. Which explains why the young man is so young.


Friday, June 26, 2009


The picture to the right is my brother as is the one on top left. To the left is his son shashank! I know! You could tell! :)


My niece can barely walk. But she sure wants to ensure that she knows the nooks and corners. Quite an explorer!

Reaction to new education bill

Optional 10th exam is a bad move. The schools will internally assess poorly performing students allowing them to pass on to ensure better pass percentage.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Comment on WSJ's observation on NREGA

From ThinkChange India I read an article on Wall Street Journal about India's poverty and specifically about NREGA. I commented in TC-I about the article which I am reproducing here.

Two things about WSJ's observation on NREGA
1. About moving beyond NREGA in the next 5 years (which helps survive but not escape poverty).

The author is correct about making NREGA less prominent and making training, infrastructure investment, more prominent. But given the imperfections in implementing NREGA (corruption), it would be too soon to expect the transition in the next 5 years. I suspect, it would leave a void that would be occupied by more corruption. "But is the government thinking about skill enhancement?" is the real question to face!

2. Transparency.
Well, there are concrete measures for transparency that are already delivering. For example, the wage payment are increasingly made as bank transfers to the worker rather than cash. Another example is making NREGA, RTI compliant. This empowers independent monitors like RTI activists. The Hindu Publication has followed NREGA very well. Links

The Frontline survey in Jan 2009 edition: Go to "cover story" to the left of the page

Monday, June 08, 2009

My servent maid

My servent maid had an attack of fits....again! This is the second time in two months. She had her first attack in her life early last month for the first time. She hasn't showed up for work for more than a week now.

She has two kids of her own, a boy and a girl both in their primary school. She takes care of her sister's daughter too. She would have been in her secondary had she gone to school. Every time my servent couldn't show up for work, she send this girl as a replacement. I usually refuse to discourage child labour in my own small way. My servent maid talks a lot about her three kids, but never does about her husband. I don't know if he is even there. I wonder who takes care of the kids. For my part, to avoid a double whammy for her family, I pay her the full month's wage.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Drive safe lovable morons

I hate the hyderabadi driving culture. Especially the bikers who inspirationally 'pave their own way'. But now I owe them some benign words. Being a bus commuter, I frequently find myself chasing a bus only to miss it by a whisker. But almost always I find a biker stopping to give me a lift till the next bus stop. All the love i have for chennai considered, I must say hyd seems to beat my home town in this one. But you should drive more carefully you lovable morons!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Homemade sweet homemade

I would not buy a mango that looks like this from market. How would i know such an ugly mango can turn out to be so luscious? Combine that with the knowledge that it came from your own backyard as a result of absolutely no effort and it just gets sweeter! Really! What did i do two deserve this? Sow.. and reap. Thats all? :)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Yesteryear hits remind me of my past!

When I listen to yester-year hits, I inevitably remember all the incidents around when I was listening to them when the where still latest-hits.

I listen to Rang De Basanti, I still remember myself sleeping early in the only dark room of the apartment in Begumpet when I just joined my first job, when Aish played the song before going off for his CAT classes. I listen to Jeans, I remember the Engineering Drawing assignment during my first year of Engineering Bachelors' degree, and the graphite ridden chart that was supposed to have a need diagram of a cylinder!

Those good old days! Does that happen to you, or is it just me?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My verdict on the election

Now that the dust around the elections are beginning to settle after a surprise result at virtually every corner of the country, what has really come of it? A UPA government without the "support" of the nagging communist party. So, how is it going to be this time around? Better or worse?

CPI's absence should allow the UPA to be more decisive without getting into a big and often useless argument with an ally. But that may also make a big citizen activism only possible force to stop them from doing something that the society considers detrimental, and I believe the current UPA governemt has as lot of potential for that considering that there are a handful of incompetant and not-so-society-minded individuals and leadership qualities, like Azhagiri and A.Raja looking at cabinet ministries, that too ministries like IT - a sector that is almost unique selling point for India.

While I am glad that the openly non-secular BJP especially led by Advani is decisively routed out, I am simultaneously cautious about over-estimating the competence of current government. As almost in anything that has to do with India. We have to wait know what really is going to happen

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Visits to temples of Kumbakonam and Thiruvelliaynkudi

I visited Oppiliyappan temple along with family and wife to pay respects to our ancestral god for a great wedding without any untoward incident. A tight travel schedule from hyderabad through chennai to Kumbakonam and then all the way back within a span of three days was made a little convenient by a well maintained air-conditioned Qualis.

I have been to Oppiliyappan temple half-a-dozen times earlier. But the visit this time was refreshing since the temple was recently renovated and the murals repainted. The temple elephant has grown up into a dignified adult from a playful adolescent he was during my earlier visit.

A short note about Oppiliyappan. It is one among the 108 vishnu's divyadesams (temples sung by at least one of the 12 aazhvars). This particular temple was sung by nam aazhvar, poigai aazhvar, paei azhwar and tirumangai azhvar. Oppiliyappan is considered Tirupathi Lord venkateshwara's elder brother and is also called Lord Srinivasa.

He marries rishi Markandeya's daughter, a reincarnation of Bhoodevi (mother earth) in this place when she was still young. So young and naive that she cooks for Lord Oppiliyappan without salt So, all the prasadams distributed to devotees here have no salt till date.

In the sanctum sanctorum he appears in a standing with rishi Markandeya seated to his left and Bhoodevi seated to his right. In one of his right hands palm is written "maam ekam saranam vraja"

After the visit, my mom suggested that we go to a nearby place called Tiruvelliayngudi, about 10 km from Kumbakonam. It was a very small village with serpentine, narrow yet relatively well-laid roads. It was as typical a village as any other in Tamil Nadu, with lush green paddy fields with fresh water gushing out of electric pumps, and with tall coconut trees bordering them. I had visited the temple in the evenings, contrary to the burning afternoon, have enjoyed the village atmosphere more fully.

The temple was ancient, and evidently very rarely visited by devotees travelling from outside the village. But was not yet in a dilapidated condition. But for a temple that is forgotten to the outside world in these modern times, it has a lot of historical and mythological significance.

The stories has that Lord Vishnu married Maragadhavalli Thayar in this place and transferred his conch and chakra to Garuda for doing so. As a result, in this place it is the Garuda who has the conch and chakra instead of the Vishnu - the only such temple in the whole world. The Lord appears in the sanctum sanctorum as blue-skinned Lord Rama, in a sleeping posture. There are only three temples among the 108 divya desams in which Lord Rama appears in a sleeping posture in different colours. The other ones are in other lesser known village temple called Tiruppullani (Dharba sayana Ramar) and in in Aadanur (Valvil Ramar).

The temple tree is Sevvazhai, a plantain that yield red coloured banana (what is English for that?). The outer wall of the sanctum sanctorum is lined with this tree and it is said that any tree growing in this particular place doesn't survive when transferred else where.

This temple is also considered a very good place of worship for those with any sort of eye-related ailment. As the story goes, Shukran was once blind and after offering prayers unsuccessfully in various temples, he gained his eye sight only after offering prayers here. For this reason, this is a shukra stalam. Further, the sanctum sanctorum has a lamp that is kept lit for 24 hours a day. This temple becomes one among the 108 divya desam because it was sung by Tirumangai Aazhvar.

I recommend this temple not only for the devout, but also for the the mythological inclined.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Going green should be easier to cause desirable impact!

I have come across enthusiastic appeals to contribute towards saving the environment by modifying the way I go about my everyday life. For example, I am piling up dozens of used batteries simply because I am yet to find an environmentally safe way of disposing them, even after actively searching for a recycling plant or safe-disposal facility close to Hyderabad. The same predicament applies to anything that can be connected to electricity from cellphone chargers to television sets. More importantly,

I find it very difficult to avoid using plastics. I buy juice in a tetrapack as against a plastic bottle, only to find that even they use plastic linings to make it waterproof. After little research I come to understand that there is no environmentally safe, affordable water-proofing alternative to plastics available to common man. If such a solution is not available, how is one going to avoid plastics?

Often those who make the transition to the green lifestyle would be forced to spend more on a regular basis!(either as cash or as time trying to figure out a green work-around). As a result, such a community will always be small. Worse, there will always be someone who says, "You know. Its too tough to be green" and will get back to the bad-old ways! (Consider the poor. They generate a lot of waste, but don't participate in waste management in proportion. But is it their fault?)

On the other hand even when solutions are available for an environmental problem, common man is not effectively sensitized. Consider the case of disposing kitchen wastes. Composting them to manure and using them as manure for plants is a tried and tested solution. However, the process of composting or the fact that such small compost bins are available in the market are known only the to environmentally conscious. Good intentions of appeals to be environmental consciousness not withstanding, a tangible impact can be achieved only if proven green alternatives are available and affordable so that common man doesn't really have to subscribe to the green movement to be green

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Enroute Rameshwaram...

The railway line connecting Rameshwaram island to indian mainland. As seen from Paampan bridge. The rough rainy weather made it all adventurous B-). Lord Ram crossed over to lanka after building the now controversial Ram sethu in from Rameshwaram!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Karaikudi - A different cosmos.

In Karaikudi where i am right now, its appears like a lost world preserved. A different cosmos altogether. As if SPACE has expanded and TIME has slowed down. Yet it seems to have advanced for our times. It was divided into proper layouts in 1949.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Happy birthday Hari

Its my nephew Srihari's birthday today. He had always been interested in cars and we uncles- my brother and I fueled it thus far with different kinds of cars from hot wheels collection. This time though i wanted to buy him a comic book to shape him into a reader. I found it hard to find that suits his level. Now i have gifted him POGO's book on transportation that includes cars! That should give him some reason to read. Happy birthday Hari!

Friday, March 27, 2009

On train gripe!

It seems the coffee vendors on train are on a mission to wake you up. Once you are up and ready for coffee they say 'its done' and disappear. I wonder if they learnt it from city buses! They pass by the dozens when you want to cross the road. But disappear into thin air if you are at a bus stop.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bowled by Elizabeth Gilbert's TED talk!

I recently saw a series of talks in TED conference after a long interval (last time I saw, I was a bachelor in Japan!). An amazing journey that took me through technological superiority, psychological naivete of humans. But while they fed my cerebrum well, one speech deeply impacted my romantic and moral side.

Elizabeth Gilbert shared her insecurity about surviving success - one that she now shares with any other successful people (some of whom died because of it!) in the creative field, after the of her recently published bestseller "Eat Pray Love" in captivating 20 minute speech. Watch out especially when she talks about a 90+ poet she met and her picturesque narration of how the poem "barreled down at her with earth shaking underneath". Evidently Elizabeth is not just an accomplished writer, but probably an even better speaker.

I have placed an order for her book - and this is the first time when I have bought a book I have never heard of, written by someone who I have never heard of - purely based on her talk. She says in her talk that she wonders if her best is already behind her and if she would ever surpass her first success. I personally wonder if her book would surpass the speech that she gave on TED.

Enjoy the video!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Alchemy

Middle class apartments in hyderabad are substandard in design. For example, the kitchen platform is so low that a gas cylinder is too tall to get under it. And its not really unheard of in apartments worth the rent Rs 9000 per month. However, we do have something to smile about. Our two balconies open out into a panoramic view. Better still it is likely to remain that way as the adjacent area is the backyard of a government college. So they are not goin to build more than two floors. Tea, biscuit, music and evenings do form quiet an alchemy with balcony!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Its all my wedding!

For shashank - my 2 year old nephew my wedding was the first exposure to the world of weddings. He enjoyed it to the fullest. After his return home, everytime if spots a couple dressed up for an occasion or hears a nathaswaram-thavil music combo. He starts celebrating as it is all 'Badhri chittappa' getting married!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"S" series and Scrabble

I don't know if it happens to others. But sometimes when I encounter something, for about a week or so, that is all I happen to encounter. For example - this will raise a few eyebrows - about a couple of years ago, almost all the girls I meet newly have had their names starting with "S". Swapna, Shweta, Sangeeta, Srujana, Shruti, Shabnam, Swaroopa, Sirsha T, Sirisha G. Sometimes a few of the girls with those names I have come across for the first time. I wonder if that particular series actually has come to an end. I am engaged to Sriramya! I have heard of a Ramya, I have heard of a lot of girls with the prefix "Sri". But Sriramya is a first. :)

While that is still there, now I am beginning to come across scrabble in quick succession. While at office, about a couple of weeks ago I heard someone talk of scrabble while passing by me. Then I thought "may be its a good gift to give for kids!". A week later, my niece who twisted her ankle in my earlier post >[:-D] received a scrabble set as she was celebrating her birthday. Now I have come across an interview of a New Yorker journalist who has wrote an article about Scrabble (registration required. Those beep!), its influence in America and how it has reemerged in its online version. In the audio, I found that India is big in scrabble. Now I am thinking I will take it all in and start off with scrabbling, and am banking on Scrabble's recurring encounter with me.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Taking the plunge

After taking a stab at various way of social intervention it seems that the way ahead seems to get slowly and clearer.

I have a school near my work that is looking for teachers.
I have my idea of doing the teaching with as much demonstration as possible.
I have the rickety infrastructure that the team at my office prepared once and gathering up dust.
I have a new set of 25 DVDs dedicated to physics demonstrations (thanks to the sincere belief in social and educational change of a few executive level managers of Synopsys!) that I have not yet started watching.

May be it is time to set aside an hour of my mornings to start teaching science. This is in a way going back to where it all started. The first of my thoughts on social change was to teach and teach at schools.

For now though, this thought has to remain as just another thought and the extent to which it fructifies over the next year hinges upon how much hit my conviction can take over the next couple of months! All the best to me!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

First-aid: Do's and Don'ts

About a month ago, my niece twisted her ankle and it bloated up within like "pulka roti" within minutes. That night I happened to be there. Noticing her twisted ankle and grimacing face, I told her that the next time she twisted her ankle, she must keep keep her feet in a raised position and apply ice immediately to prevent the swelling as much as possible. Thanks to my earlier double-experience, I was fully equipped to provide first-aid treatment for twisted ankle. Pity I couldn't use my skilss in my niece's case. The poor 10-year old was limping for the rest of the week. But the incident quickly demonstrated the handiness of the knowledge of first-aid.

I found the following article on "Do's and Don'ts of First Aid" in LiveMint, which can come in as a handy guide. Recall your college days, brush up your memorizing skills and learn this one by heart! :). This is also a handy guide that should reside along with your first-aid kit!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Ads of the world

Most of the works of creativity that you would have noticed nowadays come from advertisement industry. Ads of the world is one website that seems to track all (at least a lot) the ads throughout the world, categorized into different regions and industry. There are quite a few good ones. Check out a few here!

"Alone we jump, together we soar!"