Saturday, April 19, 2014

Reliving the most memorable day of my life : How I met my Wife

Most people who went the arranged marriage way have funny/awkward/scary stories from their "Meet the Bride/Groom" experiences...And today a chance meeting with friends reminded me of such a moment of mine...

I had arrived in Cochin city to meet the girl whose photo I had seen online. I went to my friends room and met my college mates whom I was seeing after a long time. I had already sent feelers to my friends asking if they were interested to accompany me on that day..But I had not expected all of them to turn up...and that's what happened : 12 guys turned up ! Better sense prevailed and I along with just 3 of my friends started to the girls house while the rest of the friends were told to go to some hangout and wait for us.

The fact that my close friends were with me made me feel very relaxed and the hour or so spent with the girl and her family was a pleasant experience . The girls lively attitude and calm yet quick witted interaction with me and with my friends bowled me over. Each of my friends interacted with a family member and this gave us some free time to talk to each other and get to know one another at least a little bit in that small interval of time.

Time flew by fast and we were out of her house and going away in the car. We called up the other guys and were surprised to find that they were waiting in a Toddy (local palm wine) shop just 2 kms from the girls house. The dozen of us spent around 5 hours in that toddy shop which was in a superb location near the water. Everyone commented that I was either really brave or stupid to have (a) Agreed to take friends along to meet the girl and parents , (b) Spent  the rest of the day at a famous Toddy shop barely 2 kms from the girls place. What would the girls parent think if they came to know that the prospective groom went straight to the toddy shop and spent the rest of the day there. Would they still believe the 'teetotaler' tag given by the groom to himself in his online profile ?

Lady luck was with me and no one from the girls side came to know where I spent the rest of the day. Talking with my friends that day @ Toddy shop confirmed that my selection was correct.They all had enjoyed talking to the girl and her family and were all happy for me.  So that day when the party ended and we were leaving the place, I was clear on my decision and gave the green signal from my side. The icing was hearing that she and her family too had given the green signal.

Today a chance meeting with my friends (a few of them had been with me on that day also) at the same Toddy Shop, reminded me of that day when I met my best friend and life partner - my wife...

                                               (click to see the enlarged version)

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Best Teacher in the world - KISKI Sir

It was during the 10th standard Board Exam season. Everyone from the newspaperman to the anxious parents to the school watchman (who actually wanted to lock the school grounds after we left) was saying the same thing : Its (Board Exams) the most important period in your life. If you toil hard now, you will reap its benefits for the rest of your life.

But for me it was a little different experience as I was suffering from Chicken pox, and by the sheer determination of my Mother , I had got a chance to write the Board Exams ( see a previous post for the whole story ). Although I was happy to have gotten the chance to write the exams, I felt sad and left out as during the study leave days while my friends were doing group study sessions and stress busting game sessions in between, I was stuck inside my house.

During this time someone came knocking on the front door one late night and my mom called out that someone was there to see me ! I was surprised and came out my room to see the smiling face of my tuition teacher Kiski (his pet name, real name Suresh Kumar). He sat with me and my family and spoke to us about how I was well prepared for the Exams already like all his students and the Chicken Pox at this stage of the Exams was a non issue. I told him that the condition given by the school was that I will enter the premises 15 min after the exam started and I will have to leave 15 min before the exam ended so that I don't mingle and infect other students.He told not to worry.  I don't remember what all we talked about that night but I remember that when he left we all felt a lot better, especially my parents.                    

When the results came, I found that I got 480/600 marks which was the distinction cut off. While my friends rejoiced / grumbled about the 520+ marks they got, I was thankful to God, my Parents, and especially to my Kiski Sir for filling me with confidence. The gentle soul also presented me with the best student of the year award at my tuition class that year and also extracted a promise from me that I will visit the tuition center frequently so that Sir could use my story to inspire other kids.Frankly I did nothing big at all and I felt very embarrassed when I heard my name being called (how I got down from the ladder during the presentation ceremony held on terrace of the tuition class, while wearing a dhoti for the first time, with many class mates standing below is yet another story).

I have seen many people in life who go with the tags of Teacher,Tutor,Master,Sir,Lecturer etc but I have seen very few who deserve the title of Teacher in its true meaning...And Suresh Sir was one of the those for sure !

                                                      (Image courtesy : )

The reason for this post is that today a friend shared a link that Suresh Sir got the national award for best teacher last year.

Now this News is the best New Year gift for his ever grateful student ! 

Friday, September 13, 2013

The only way you can 'teach' someone a lesson is by being kind

Munna bhai was right all along...The only way you can 'teach' someone a lesson is by being kind.

Scene 1 : I was driving and had come near a junction under a bridge which has traffic jams on most days. When there is a traffic jam, usually the traffic police guy allows two wheelers to cut the traffic island (one of pillars of the bridge) and move diagonally to the right instead of going around it. I had done this many times when the police were redirecting traffic like this...

So one day while returning from office , I saw the similar traffic block but no traffic police. So slowly I started to take the diagonal short cut. When I was mid way I saw a 40+ yr old traffic police man running at great speed towards me. Expecting the usual shouting and forceful taking of the key by him to collect the fine, I stopped on the road side. He came near by, a tad out of breath, and told me to take off my helmet and told "Even when we traffic guys tell you to take this short cut you should be very careful, please do not take this on your own." With that he left...I was surprised and embarrassed and have never taken that shortcut unless traffic police give the go ahead.

Scene 2 : I was taking a U turn on my bike and a car, 30 feet away, was slowly negotiating the speed breaker at the intersection. Since I had already turned to the right, I continue to take the U turn but the car speed up after the speed breaker and reached the same spot. Both braked hard with me hitting the front tire. Expecting the usual blame game and some kind of exaggerated damage assessment routine, I told him that lets move to the side and discuss as we were blocking traffic.

He told : "No issues, please drive safely..".

May be he knew he was at fault too , may be he was shaken with the sudden braking...But I like to think he was just a nice pleasant guy.

Needless to say turns are taken more carefully by me after that day, but more importantly I try to see fellow drivers also as someone like me , and try not to wear the most common crown we bestow to ourselves : I am a Above Average Driver !

So remember Munna Bhai and try to be nice to someone even if they are at fault. It will surely teach them a lesson they will never forget.   

Saturday, August 10, 2013

King of the Jungle : Ntwadumela (n-twy-du-may-la)

When I was young and had just started watching the Discovery channel (back then there was no NGC or the Animal Planet) , the one thing that I hated was the very rare and almost nil availability of footage of my favorite animal - The Tiger. Try as i might I could never see it on TV. All I got to see was the Lion time and again on TV, and after seeing the sorry sad specimens in the local zoo, I had no admiration for the Lion. The primary school lunch break arguments of Lion Vs Tiger, Wolf Vs Tiger etc were fiercely fought over, and I never fought for the Lion. I always wondered why the hell was it called King of the jungle when the Tiger was so beautiful and graceful.

But all of this changed one day....the day I saw Ntwadumela (n-twy-du-may-la), He who greets with fire...

That 1 hr tv program (Lions and Hyena - Eternal Enemies) changed my whole idea of Lions, and made me a big fan...

A fairly simple search brought me to a small clipping of Ntwadumela. I know I saw it on a old TV long ago when HD was not heard of. But when I walk back in memory, I feel as if I saw Ntwadumela on a 72 inch screen in full HD.

See the below youtube clip and imagine seeing it on a 72 inch screen in HD with surround sound. And then ask yourself who is the King of the Jungle ?

I still get goose bumps when I view this superb combination of great footage, good background voice and music , slow motion effect,  and one great King of the Jungle -  Ntwadumela !

Alas all good things come to an end. The google search for this clip also brought me to an article that told that Ntwadumela was no more...

"Mandevu and Ntchwaidumela, like most ousted lions in Savuti, wandered northward from one territory to next, through a network of territories that eventually requires these older lions to cross a government-sanctioned hunting ground.

Trophy hunters killed both of the long-reigning lions, from the safety of vehicles
, as they moved from one protected preserve to another in 1991."

"I know that wherever Ntchwaidumela’s skin hangs, on a wall somewhere in the U.S.A., perhaps, the new owners have no idea of the life that this lion lived. The daily heroics, the matings, the battles with elephants and buffalo, and, of course, his almost nightly vendettas against hyenas can never be seen on his fading skin." - Dereck Joubert, ‘Hunting with the Moon: The Lions of Savuti’

So the next time you see a old thin Lion in a zoo or circus (if they still have them), remember that he too is a brother of the majestic Ntwadumela - He who greets with Fire...He is the Hyena killer  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Our daughter - Elsa...born free

Born free, as free as the wind blows
As free as the grass grows
Born free to follow your heart

Live free and beauty surrounds you
The world still astounds you
Each time you look at a star

Stay free where no walls divide you
You're free as the roaring tide
So there's no need to hide

Born free and life is worth living
But only worth living
'Cause you're born free

This is one of the first Hollywood movie song that I understood fully due to the crystal clear words even though I was a kid. The name of the character of the lead actress was etched in my mind along with this song for ever. 

Many many years later, when my wife was pregnant, and we were seeing a news broadcast on yet another girl child being abused and neglected due to her gender, I commented that God should give a precious gift as a girl child to people who can take care of her to the fullest...who will give her every joy in the world, every gift that life has to offer, and the freedom to take any choice that she sees fit...she should be Born Free...

Later while discussing a suitable name for our little angel, my brother-in-law suggested this name in one of our numerous 'name storming' sessions, and immediately this song started playing in my mind...And I knew what would be the apt name for my child, the lead actress of the movie...a lioness named Elsa...Born free.

Now I will let Andy do the talking, or shall I say, the singing...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Tobacco : Kill the Image, and you will save Gen NeXt

World no tobacco day came and went...I wonder if google had a doodle to pass the message to the masses...Well when I think of the tobacco habit, many incidents come to my mind, and I will share a few.

1. After lunch, one of my team mates who is a smoker used to walk for 1 km in the hot Chennai sun (its more 'fun' as the walk is between concrete jungle on a tar road at noon time) since there were no shops near the IT park...many times he used to ask us 'Anyone coming' halfheartedly with a sheepish smile. Then with a bit of reluctance he will start the long hot walk.

2. I heard someone coughing in my hostel corridor one was a friend learning to smoke...I asked him why he was trying so hard to learn...He told he wanted to see what it feels like and that he was so strong mentally that he could quit whenever he wanted to...In the years to come he got the nickname "Chimney" for obvious reasons...If you ask him eve n now, he smiles and says he still hasn't thought of quitting and the minute he does, he can stop without any problem ;)

3. On a dark chill night in Munnar, a guy was walking on a empty winding road to his hostel smoking a cigarette he had bought before starting the long climb up the hill to the hostel...Mid way, on a sharp turn, he ran straight into one of the most infamous Electronics Dept teachers of our college (Legend has it that a villan character in Sholay movie was named for him, albeit many years ago...good hindsight perhaps of the script writer that in future such a character will actually come to College of Engineering Munnar).

Well the guy panicked and threw away the cigarette. The teacher came close to him..

Teacher :  Why did you waste Rs 1.50 ?

Guy : (Doesn't know what to say...Then after a long pause) Sir...Actually the cost is Rs 2.50...

Teacher (without a pause) : Of course. But you have already smoked Rs1 worth of it :)...

(Another legend goes that the big rock overlooking our college, and which is split in the middle, was split when the rock laughed too much at one such infamous joke of this teacher)

4. Strong Image of Macho Man (Smoker) :A friend of mine is one of the best natured guys I have met in college.Never curses, never speaks ill of others, rarely gets angry, speaks to everyone with courtesy, doesn't drink, and never used to smoke...In college, with the beautiful hills of Munnar around us, road trips were a routine affair. And this friend used to smoke only on such trips because the image of the biker stopping after a long ride on a hill side, sitting quietly looking into the vast horizon and smoking was just too strong to ignore...Somehow cigarette made the pit stop feel complete. To my knowledge the guy still smokes noly on road trips and never at any other time...Thats how strong the image of smoking is I guess...

So kill the image, show displeasure when people smoke near you...even if they are close to you...and let the message sink in...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rahul...Nam toh sunah hoga ?

As far as I can remember, I try my best not to get attached to stray animals...And the reason is simple : once we get attached, then we have to fulfill the responsibility of taking care of them, and living in a rented apartment where the house owner and/or the neighbors may not like having strays just complicates the matter. So when I first saw the old smelly stray dog which used to sleep on the terrace of our building, I did not give him a second look...he never seemed to expect any food from us, and was content to just sleep on the terrace whenever he felt like it.

One night, while sitting on the terrace and enjoying the cool wind, I broke my rule...The dog came up to me and stood near by my leg as I was talking on the phone , and by habit (I had 2 dogs back home), I started stroking the head of the dog. To my utter surprise it gave out a sound which can be at best described as a sad but content dog purr, albeit a few decibels more than any cat or dog I have seen, and the sound seemed to have a tinge of sadness in it ; perhaps at being ignored for so long.I am not trying to be dramatic have to hear it to believe it. That sound touched me as I was surprised to know that a few strokes from my hand made such a difference to the dog. Well to make a long story short, I started to feed the dog once in a while.

By luck, couple of kids adopted him as their pet and named him Rahul. So I was relieved to know that he had got people to look after him. With his new found owners, Rahul seemed to get renewed energy, and the battle scarred veteran started reclaiming the street from other dogs. Somehow the bigger younger dogs seemed to respect Rahul who, due to age, did not even have a decent loud bark...rather it was a sharp yelp or howl.

The building in which Rahul's new young owners lived, also had my friends living in the ground floor. One weekend night, after our usual barbeque party by Anish, my friend, I started to walk back to my room which was half a kilometer away. The time was around 1.30am and being a cool night, I was planning to have a enjoyable walk back to the room on the quiet deserted by-lanes. As a reached the first corner, I noticed that Rahul was walking few feet behind me. As he had a new home and was always well fed, I knew he not looking for food...It seemed that he knew the time was late and wanted to escort me home. I continued walking through the lanes and Rahul trotted behind me, stopping by once in a while to smell something on the road, and when noticing that I had walked farther away, coming up fast to close the distance.

Now, as city dwellers, especially two wheeler riders know, at night each by-lane belongs to its own set of dog groups who bark or give mock charges to any one using the road at night time. So as expected, as me and rahul walked towards my home, many such groups of dogs came up barking towards us...Rahul seemed to completely ignore them and just kept walking behind me, never turing back to even look at the other dogs who barked or growled just inches from him, and I never had to shoo away any of the dogs away. Once I reached the gate of the building in which I lived, I saw Rahul trotting back to his home, content in knowing that I had reached my destination.

For your information, Rahul has even followed one of my friends into the Perungudi suburban train station, and actually boarded the train. Luckily my friend was able to shoo him away from the train quickly, as these trains stop only for a few seconds at each station.

Years have gone by, and recently I came back to live in the same lane by chance. And by surprise, Rahul, who was not seen in the area for a few months (as told anxiously to me by his young owners ), came out of nowhere and has started sleeping on our door mat at if continuing to watch over his old friends.