December 21, 2009

[Experiences] New Mom's blues...greens..and yellows!

Disclaimer: Ahem! If the following blog seems too whacky, please excuse it on account of my sleep deprivation!

From Haiku : The Beginning

As the caption goes, my life has taken a very colourful turn. Before one gets any different ideas, let me elaborate on the primary colours. The blues have come in all possible shades and depth! What with the physical pain of hours long labour, the pain-killer epidural, which left me with a killer pain of a headache, that keeps popping it's head even after weeks three, not to mention, the 'baby blues' of being rooted to one spot and doing the same tasks over and over and over again... the mind and body is streaked with all hues of azure,cyan,navy and aquamarine!

From December 2009

Not a moment passes when I don't feel the green-eyed monster stalking inside... What about? I see Madhan, and he is just a micro-sample of the entire other sex, who continues with his life, with minimum possible changes. He still goes to work, he still meets all his friends for lunch, still has the time to tweet,blog and socialize...not to mention, watch cricket! :-) whereas me, again a micro-sample of the female gender, has her life turned topsy turvy! One scream from the little one and all other life stands still. Pen in mid air, email in mid-sentence and cricket in mid-over!(nah! I don't care about that!). Well, my only consolation is that I have a son and he would escapeth this horrible side of inequality!

The yellows...No, you don't want to know about it! :-)

From December 2009

Well, I actually have it better than most women. My dear husband, who wouldn't bat an eyelid for an earthquake, let alone a baby's cry, does put our little one to sleep with his voice, handles him with ease and lets me sleep for long on weekend mornings. He does take me on little escapades everyday... a 30 minute break to drive on the new fly-over, to do a flash shopping and hurray, to the petrol bunk! And oh! the blessing to be born in this culture where your mother takes it upon herself to help you with your child! In the middle of the night, when he has kept us awake for 2 hours, my mother still has the energy to say," I can only bring up my child and grandchild. I will not be alive for the next generation. So, I am taking my last chance".. Kudos to her spirit!

From Haiku : The Beginning

Haiku is also giving me answers to many questions.. How can someone love another who has caused so much pain? To enjoy a little thing that ties you up, eats your freedom? How can you smile and rejoice in every smile and every burp?!! Mysteries being unveiled every moment indeed!

From December 2009

At the end of the day, inspite of the collage of the above colours, what remains behind deeply is the bliss... of finding your loved one's eyes, smile and actions in this miniature, of rejoicing in every wave and every turn, of seeing your child smile in his sleep! Though a huge price has been paid to have this little bundle, these moments are priceless!

Gotta run... Can hear the primary colours!

November 12, 2009

[Mellinam] iPaatti Live on Radio Mirchi

An interesting day today. To think I was hesitating to do this, seems very ironic now! Last night, I had serious qualms about making it to Radio Mirchi for a show on iPaatti. Decided to sleep over it. Woke up this morning with the quote I read somewhere " Never say no to any experience unless you are sure you have nothing to learn from it". Glad my weird mind comes up with the right advice at the right times. This turned out to be an experience that I had so much to learn from.

From November 2009

To first elaborate on iPaatti's connection with Mirchi, we randomly made a call to them, a few months back when we were working on getting the blurbs from different organizations and people. It must be mentioned that all we had in hand at that time, were the lyrics, the music and some illustrations. All in distinct pieces. We tried our luck at many quarters. Some refused to hear us. But surprisingly, many people welcomed us with no idea about our product/background. They gave the most precious thing of all -their time! This long prelude is just to say Radio Mirchi was one of the latter. They(Hari and Batool) looked at our presentation, heard the songs and gave us a glowing blurb. In addition, they promised to get in touch with us once our product was released. To their credit, they kept their word and invited us to their studio and their world.

Madhan had initially told me that it was recording and they would do this show on Children's day but on arriving in the studios, Ajai( the non-stop talker of 'Hello Chennai' fame) and Maria (the show producer) enlightened us that it would be a live show with callers, et al. "Ah! the plot thickens", I thought! Nevertheless, it turned out to be a highly positive event.

From November 2009

From the very moment of entering the studios, the warmth and energy of the team was tangible. They made us feel completely at home and as he was going through, Ajai talked about how he does various segments of the show. A talk show is not just 'non-stop' gab, we discovered. Ajai brings an enormous amount of info - market readings for the day, the immensely useful traffic update for chennai's messy roads.. not to mention the various creative & spontaneous ways of bringing to light the day's special. I was amazed to see the vast amount of parallel processing that goes into the show..handle the calls, get the updates, punch these into the right slot, play music, wake up to tell the time in the studio! Experts that they are, Ajay and Maria seamlessly performed the various tasks and made it appear so simple.

We had the opportunity of talking about the ideals behind iPaatti, the conception process and even read our favorite songs from the book. The best part of it all was talking to some callers who pepped up the show with the rendition of their favorite nursery rhymes.."Old McDonald's Eeyah Eeyah o", "Dosai amma dosai", etc. It was so uplifting to see the child alive in these adults we spoke to.

From November 2009

All in All, we came back with new friends and an enriching experience!

August 4, 2009

[Experiences] The US Years

It is a year and months five since I returned home for good. I believe that my thoughts are now well soaked to give a complete perspective of my life abroad.

Having worked offshore for over two years in 2005, I was hoping to hit the dream lottery of going onsite. Luck favored me and a senior person in our team was unable to go there. As in the usual case of the software domain, one man's misfortune was another's fortune. To describe, going onsite in such glowing terms may seem an exaggeration. But this is truly reflective of my state of mind as well as my peers' at that time. It was decided that I should go but had to wait a couple of months. That's the history of the incident. Now to cover the geography, the region of travel was U.S.A and to the city of Minneapolis in the north-central part. 

Team-mates and people who were there warned me of the extreme cold in this state bordering Canada and to make things worse, I was going there in peak winter in the month of December. But such was my want to travel, these things hardly mattered. I couldn't wait to board my first flight and take wings to live in a completely new world.

When the first snow fell in Chicago, I landed there for a short visit to my sister's place. One of the best things about my initial days there was the drive-by-car from Chicago to Minneapolis.  You may criss-cross a country by flight a thousand times, covering all the cities but still not ending up knowing what the country was about. I was lucky that my very first introduction to the US was its highways. After endless questions, moments of observation and nearly 8 hours, we landed in Minneapolis. It was an unforgettable journey.  

Then on, I lived there for 2 years and months four, enough time to graduate on a life of living on one's own. I had a close friend doing her masters in Minneapolis and it was great comfort to have her nearby in the alien land. Through this entire period, I lived on my own. On looking back, I wish I had shared with room-mates. But for some reason, I had made a decision to go it alone and I did. This taught me many lessons in the months to come.

After having lived a protected and pampered life in Chennai, it was surprisingly liberating to do my own cooking, washing and cleaning. It used to make me feel so proud to have just cooked a meal and done my laundry! 

To talk about the real work that I went there to do, it was this most fascinating group of Minnesotans. To tell more of the people who live in Minnesota, it's mostly people of Scandinavian descent and with their 'uff-da' s and courteous ways manage to bring a lot of warmth to that cold city. The clients took to me instantly. They were old enough to be my grandparents but they were all Tom, Linda and Gerry to me. The ease of communicating with them made me feel so good working there. The best part of my life in software was without a doubt, my time onsite. That's not just because of the hefty packet! The avenues to grow and to understand new and efficient ways of working and just to stimulate one out of local politics, there's no place like abroad.

Flying away from home gave me such wide wings that I had no wish of stopping. I continued my travel around the US. Having friends in widespread locations was a huge help.

Some of the most memorable trips was the 600 mile day trip to the minnesota-canadian border along the scenic great lakes route, visits to Washington and Texas. Like a quintessential US tourist, did the usual rounds to NewYork, Niagara and Chicago. The one trip that I never saw myself making was the visit to Indianapolis for the F1 race. That was quite a novel experience.

Other than this widespread travels, I managed to cover the local territory of Minneapolis. The city has a beautiful route around it for 50 miles, covering the Mississippi river, the lakes and the lush forest areas of Theodre Wirth. Covered this terrain on car, bike and a scooter. Took walks around the many lakes of this city and been lost in admiration for the charge-less and priceless beauty of nature.

Being on your own makes taking care of oneself inevitable. I learned valuable lessons on health and fitness and would say I was in the prime of my health towards the end with regular systematic exercise and nature walks. 

More than anything, this period in life taught me the value of being with the right people, of knowing the importance of having people who truly cared. In the end, it was the lessons of my lonely journey here that propelled me to drop everything instantly and come running home, when destiny called, singing "Odo Odo Ododi poren, Kaadhal Paadhi thedodi poren!"

July 14, 2009

[Movies] Italian Film Festival

In my rating scheme, I am beginning to move up the slot for Italian movies, quite close to the French. A couple of masterpieces are the reason for this 'falling-in-love-all-over-again' phenomenon.

Don't Tell/2005

Imagine watching a movie with a couple of really annoying strangers in your backseat. They talk in loud voices, laugh at inappropriate times and don't care if they are disturbing you. Well, that's to give you an idea of the atmosphere of 
this movie screening. To explain further, there was something wrong with audio in the discs.The technicians didn't get that at first and were tooling around every possible piece of equipment. When nothing worked and no voice emanated, they hit on a audio channel that had the italian directors commentary. They thought , "Ah, we got the audio!" and left us, watching the entire movie with the commentary. Thank Goodness, it was in Italian. I slowly trained my ears to shut off . All thanks to the really great movie. If the movie had been any less beautiful, I might have screamed and left... Well, at least left! It handled some very sensitive topics in such a neat manner. Natural performances by each of the characters. The wit and irony in one of the last scenes just bowls you over. I think this movie taught me something deep... To get some meaningful things, you sometimes have to put up with a lot of nonsense but it all still makes perfect sense in the end.

What will happen to us/2004

A truly hilarious piece of comedy about three high schoolers. 
In the first few scenes, it gave a very unique perspective on the student life there. 
It had some awesome pieces of dialogue.  Here's a quick conversation between the examiners and a student in the movie. It's an oral exam and the examiner sizes up the student and says: 
"I am going to make this easier for us. Please talk about about anything you want"
"Oh yes, I know about World War 1.. It started with the extermination of a prince person."
"The war was born on June 14, 1928 ..No,no June 28,1914.."
 "A war is born? and then it dies? It breaks out!"
 The examiners nod their heads in disbelief. 
I imagine what fun it must be for teachers, if they really take the time to read some of the papers we write! 
The characterization of the trio is remarkable. Their personalities share nothing in common other than their friendship and still stay so connected till the end. There is another character that stands in stone in your mind. 'How a journey changes the life of these friends forever' is told in a very funny, moving manner. 
Here's another excerpt:They are finding a place to stay at the last minute in Greece and only get a run-down place . It has some very quirky rules like the toilet hours: Morning 7-9 and Evening 7-9. One character sees this and says," What? Should I be in diapers the rest of the time?" 
It has me in stitches every time I think of it!

July 12, 2009

[Random] Expectations

Why this unbearable curse on humanity? 
A world without it?! - My boggled imagination:

As wide and far as the mind can see...
Peaceful faces, saintly beings.
Is that indifference in every face?
They name it - love in the purest!

Where's the masala of  mistrust and doubt?
Why is everybody just helping everybody?
How come they are not screaming at supposed insults?
Who is whose husband? Whose wife? Love seems to be universal! 

The best part - 
The code stinks & the boss is all smiles!
To down here, one similarity though -
Politicians don't perform and people still don't care!

Give me this expectant world, 
With it's bruises and tears anytime!

July 9, 2009

[Movies] In the Mood for Love / Chinese 2000

An enchanting movie set in 1960s HongKong. The outward appearance and the attire of the characters are so comfortably western whereas the feelings and the societal constraints, through the movie, mirror Oriental philosophies. It is this conflict that's been captured picture perfectly. There is no hurry at all in the screenplay. The movie moves much like the female lead ,walking gracefully up the stairs in slow motion, in one unforgettable scene. The theme music is mesmerizing beyond description. The flow of the movie and the music fit like a perfect couple. I would compare the movie to a piece of poetry or an artwork. But I felt it is not more than once, I would want to watch it. It doesn't belong to that genre of movies that makes you want to see it again and again. And, that is no vice. It gives everything it has to offer in one magical,relaxed shot.

July 8, 2009

[Books] The White Tiger

Rarely is a booker quality material, a page-turner! The White Tiger is of this rare combination. Every page just propels you, wanting more. I was surprised to find myself laughing out aloud at some of the turn-of-phrases: Adiga's irreverent references to so many things quintessentially Indian. This rich black wit surfaces again and again. How does one manage to translate the indian events, feelings and actions into this alien language? Adiga does it in style. The words make you smell the pan and the dirty streets of Laxmangarh and visualize the water buffaloes in great detail. The book made me laugh and think a lot. But no tears and I am easily moved to tears! An intense, emotional story told with logic precision.In all, worth every moment of a feverish, marathon read. 

July 5, 2009

[Mellinam] Meeting Ma. Se

Mission: To collect comments to feature on the back cover of iPaatti, Mellinam's first product. The catch, the book was in production and all we had in hand were the art samples, the music and a presentation we put together on the same. I was skeptical that anyone would talk to us but nevertheless, we approached more than a dozen personalities. Discovered pleasant surprises along the way.

To talk about the artwork, we felt the right person was Maniam Selvan, popularly known as Ma. Se. We both were admirers of his work and felt his words would mean a lot to the product. Madhan called Ma. Se, mentioning that we were calling from Mellinam and would he favor us with an appointment. We were very doubtful to be able to get that. But Ma. Se told us to come over the very next day with our illustrations.

We took a sample of 10 songs with illustrations along with our presentation. The busy, illustrious artist spent not a few minutes but 2 whole hours listening to our project and commenting on its various phases. He guided us on minute artistic details and brought our attention to specifics that we might have otherwise missed. At the end of our long discussion, he asked us to leave the samples with him, saying that he would get back with his comments in a few days.

During the next visit, he gave us the promised comment and something in words that we value very much. Here are the excerpts of that conversation:

"Actually,there's a little more to that note of comments. Last night, I was showing these samples and reading out the songs to my granddaughter."

"She was pointing to each sample and asking curious questions, 'Thaatha, what are these children doing? Is the little girl eating chocolate ice-cream? Is the lady tearing the calendar sheet like amma?! ' and so on, as little children are apt to."

"I read the song on Gandhi Thaatha, in which little boy talks to the Mahatma about his problems and asks 'Tell me what should I do!' . As you've written, the last problem is that the mother is not at home and what should he do about brushing his teeth! To which the great man laughingly replies,
'You'd better learn to brush your teeth,
Or else, start practicing my toothless smile!'
My granddaughter listened to this song and soon after went to bed"

"Next morning, my wife woke her up and took her to brush the teeth, as she/ my daughter have been doing this far. She grabbed the toothbrush from her grandmom and said 'Thaatha told a story yesterday. From now on, I will brush my teeth myself' and ran off. "

"That is your little success story", he finished, leaving us in deep smiles.

Mellinam has taught me so many things in the past year. This, particularly was an eye-opening experience in that I discovered that there is so much innate goodness in people. They surprise us with their kindness and open hearts. They show interest in things that is of no material use to them. Encourage the buds to bloom with confidence. Kudos to the warmth of human nature!

July 2, 2009

[Movies] International Films right here in Chennai

Movies...I have rolled in laughter, sympathized, empathized and shed many tears over this grand illusion. In my years in the US, one fascinating thing that kept me going was the ease of movie-watching. At one time, I had membership in Blockbuster, Hollywood videos and Netflix. Right, every possible movie rental outlet..crazy me!  Especially loved the international section. In my time there, A Very Long Engagement, Rossenstrasse, The Lives of Others, The Sea Inside and Love me if you dare, were some of the movies that moved me, in all senses of the word. To be transported away to a different time, place, mood, perspective and all with a few frames! That's what lured me to the magic of movies, I discovered!

Although movies fascinated me from very young, the one, who pointed the way to options other than Tamil and Hollywood, was Madhan. Amelie is one such he talked about in the early 2000s. I have spent fascinating hours watching this masterpiece. I have found French movies, in general, to be a notch apart. As I speak, the frames of the Spanish Apartment flash before me. 

After our marriage and eventual settling down in Chennai, Madhan and I were sorely missing our respective international movie experiences. One morning, as I was casually browsing through the Metro Plus section, my eyes hit the 'Korean Film Festival' hosted by ICAF, Chennai. We both were excited and decided to find more about it. There it started. We both have seen more international movies right here in Chennai, than we would have abroad, thanks to ICAF. Every month, they host movies from at least 3 countries. Ideal for the armchair traveller!

I have been meaning to write about every movie I saw but a year has passed by and 'tis only now, I am penning my thoughts on the ones that stand out..


- The female lead character's performance was remarkable.

 She moves through many confused phases in the movie and her portrayal was stunningly realistic.


- My first Japanese movie. We were surprised to find ourselves in fits of laughter. You would think humor is bound to cultures and here we were laughing our heads off at this movie about a wife returning as a ghost to haunt her husband and his new girl-friend. I think the Hollywood version, "Over her dead body" was inspired from this movie.Not inspired enough, though! The Japanese original was authentic, funny and moving in certain parts.


- A story about a people's struggle for the truth about their past. Set in the background of the World War 2 . It shows how history can be twisted, depending on who has the power!


- A simple murder story but told with very clever screenplay. Each knot of suspense plunges the movie in an awesome way. A film that old really puts some of these latest so-called thrillers to shame. French movie-making at its best.


- A peek into the settlement culture of Israeli Jews. It gives deep perspectives on conforming to a group Vs. standing for oneself.


- An Ingmar Bergman classic. A stark portrayal of sibling conflicts and personalities.   The dying female lead is a translator of exotic foreign languages while living in a dark silence with her own sister. The performance of the young child caught in the complex relationship between the sisters and yearning to discover the strange place he visits, was very mature.


- Intense emotional portrayal of a society's view on rape and family shame. The stunning thing about the movie was the cinematography.. the locales and the camera were absolutely mesmerizing.


- A black comedy on a funeral speaker's witty confessions. The dialogues were dryly humorous and specific scenes evoked such outbursts of laughter. The female lead's view of life and the portrayal of her final decision was breathtakingly fresh.


- A satirical, bold look at the commercial tendencies of the public. The movie is about a couple of researchers who start on an advertising campaign on a product that does not exist. They gather thousands of people at the site of a mall. The catch, there is only a wall and no mall. The people who gather are not actors but the general public taken in by the marketing. In the final moments, the movie really gives a perspective on human reactions and emotions, at their most foolish moments.


- The routine, smooth life of a person is thrown out of bounds by some simple events. It creates a story wherein a man risks losing his everything, just following his heart, which soon turns out to be a mirage in the desert.


- A look at slovakian lifestyle and the stigma of raising a child alone. The performances of the mother and daughter duo were outstanding. 


- A very intense portrayal of the sensuality in human relationships with its bundle of confusions. Even situations where you would expect to feel nauseous, on after-thought, are portrayed with such subtlety and beauty.

That's the list for now. Here's a promise on more frequent updates in the future..