Monday, August 17, 2009

David and Goliath

For some reason these days, i feel like david would have felt. In this case Goliath is a huge multinational with deep pockets whom I am fighting against.

i Especially liked this part which is giving me some faith.

What does this story
mean to me?

David trusted God to help him even though the giant was much larger than he was. Do you have any "giants" in your life? Is there something so big that you don't see a way to overcome it? Ask God for help in meeting this enemy. Go to your parent, teacher, or a trusted adult for their wise counsel. Don't try to solve the problem by yourself.

Update : As for September 2009, this matter was resolved to my favour.  

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Trouble Tree

Received this email from a friend and must say I am going to get myself a little plant atleast!

The Trouble Tree

I hired a plumber to help me restore an old farmhouse, and after he had just finished a rough first day on the job: a flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric drill quit and his ancient one ton truck refused to start.

While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence. On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands.

When opening the door he underwent an amazing transformation. His face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.

Afterward he walked me to the car. We passed the tree and my
curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.

"Oh, that's my trouble tree," he replied "I know I can't help having troubles on the job, but one thing's for sure, those troubles don't belong in the house with my wife and the children...

So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home and ask God

to take care of them. Then in the morning I pick them up again."

"Funny thing is," he smiled," when I come out in the morning to pick 'em up, there aren't nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before."

Saturday, July 4, 2009

South Indian Weddings

Hellows and my long absence was primarily my wedding on the 23rd of March. While most brides seem to be nervous and so on, i must say i was also having a lot of fun as i enjoyed and appreciated the rituals. Most of the day passed in a whirlwind and before i knew it, we were Mr. and Mrs. Iyer!

I received an email from a friend which summarises most of the rituals in a Tamil Brahmin wedding. Have reproduced same here with some of our wedding pictures.


The Hindu Wedding Ceremony has a number of rituals and customs most of which are often labelled as superstitious or time wasting. It is believed to be nothing but rituals more rituals. But have we asked ourselves what a " Ritual " is? A ritual begins as a creative rational action to express a sentiment or idea – like the lighting of lamp to dispel darkness at twilight or folding of hands into a "Namaste" to greet an elder. As more and more people succeeding generation repeat the action it becomes a convention – then a RITUAL. A ritual is thus an action on which time has set its seal of approval.

The Ritual of the Hindu Wedding too is each symbolic of beautiful and noble sentiments. Unfortunately today many parents and couples perform them without an awareness of the rich meaning behind them.

A modest attempt has therefore been made to briefly describe the meaning and significance of the rituals of a Tamil Brahmin Wedding. Mostly this are applicable to any other Hindu section. For the elders, this information may be superfluous but it is hoped the younger generation, especially those yet to be married, may find this useful.

So let us take you around . . . . .

As you enter you see
. . .
  • Full-grown plantain trees tied to both the gateposts – Eternal tree of evergreen plenty for endless generations!
  • Festoons overhead of mango leaves, and screw-pine petals that never fade!
  • Notes of the Nadaswaram, the South Indian Shehnai!
  • Kolam or Rangoli designs at the doorsteps – an artistic welcome!
  • At threshold of the hall, sprinklings of rosewater, offerings of flower, sandal batter, sugar candy!



On the evening prior to the wedding day, the bridegroom is to be brought in a procession from a temple in a flower decorated car. He is escorted by the bride’s parents, and welcome at the marriage mandap, which is the bride’s abode. Nadaswaram band leads the way along the streets, the flower decorated car jam-packed with children.

This is a social function, called JANA VASAM in South India and BARAAT in North India.

Through such a parade, public approval is sought of the groom, chosen by the family.

After reaching the marriage hall, there is a formal ceremony of betrothal.




As in an inauguration of any function so also in a marriage – Ganapati, the God of Initiation is invoked, to keep away all impediments.

There are several presiding deities – the Nandi Devatas. To propitiate them, a leaf-laden branch of the pipal tree is installed, and an ablution with milk is performed by five Sumangalis (housewife, with husband living). This puja is followed by a presentation of a dhothi, and a saree to the marrying couple.

This is performed to propitiate the nine astral planets that rule over man’s destiny.

The marriage ceremonies begin with the Vratham performed separately by the bride and the groom. For the bride, it means the tying of the KAPPU – the holy thread on her wrist which is meant to ward off all evil spirits. It symbolises a kind of the protective armour for the bride. For the groom, the various Gods – Indra, Soma, Chandra, Agni. From there on, the groom prepares himself for a new chapter in his life as a householder or Grihasta. The days of his bachelorhood or brahmacharya are now over and the acceptance of this is all what the Vratham is about.

This a very important part of the ceremony. Immediately after his student-life, the young bachelor has two alternatives before him – Married life ( Grihasta ) or asceticism ( Sanyas ). Being by nature escapist, he prefers the ascetic life to the tribulations of married life. He therefore ‘makes his way’ to kasi (VARANASI), complete with slippers, umbrella, bamboo fan etc. On his way, the bride’s father intervenes and advises him of the superiority of married life to ascetic life. He also promises to give him his daughter as companion to face the challenge of life. The umbrella is to remain with groom, to remind him in the future, of this advice.the real tradition.

At the marriage hall, the bride’s father and the bridegroom’s father facing each other, solemnise the final betrothal ceremony, the vedic priest chanting the relevant hymns-in which the names of the bride, the bridegroom, as well as the names of their three generations of ancestors, are cited in presence of friends, relatives, and invitees.

The manthras say : "O God Varuna, Be she harmless to my brothers and sisters! Oh Brihaspathi! May she no evil to her husband! O Lord Indra! Bless her to be a good guardian of her children! O Surya! Bless her with all wealths! "


The bride and the groom are lifted to the shoulders of their respective uncles; and in that position the two garland each other thrice for a complete union. A garland worn by a person, should not be used by another, ordain our shastras. Here the exchange of garlands symbolises their unification – as one soul in two bodies. It is inward acceptance by each of the very fragrance of the other.



Then, the marrying couple is seated on a swing ( OONCHAL); they rock forth and back, as the ladies around sing – LAALI, songs to praise to the couple. The chains of the swing signify the eternal Karmic link with Almighty above; the to-and-fro motion represent the undulating sea-waves of life; yet, in mind and body they shall move in harmony unperturbed, steady and stable.


This is fertility rite. Paalikais are earthen pots prepared a day earlier – pots spread at the base with hariali grass and Bael leaves (Vilvam); nine kinds of pre-soaked cereals are ceremonially sown in these pots by Sumangalis. After the marriage, the sprouted seedlings are released in a river or pool. This ritual invokes the blessings of the eight-direction-quartered guardian angles, for a healthy life and progeny to the couple.


The feet of the bridegroom is washed in milk, and wiped off with silk.

Water, and lighted lamps are circulated around the swing in order to guard the couple against demons and ghosts.

Coloured globules of cooked rice are waved in circular motion, and thrown away – to propitiate the evil spirits.


The bride is made to sit on her father’s lap and is given away as gift by him, to the bridegroom.

On the girl’s head, a ring made with Kusa, the sacred grass called DARBHA, is placed, and over it, is placed a yoke; the Gold Mangal Sutra ( or THAALI ) is placed right on the aperture of the yoke, and water is poured through the aperture. The Mantras chanted at this time, say:

"Let this gold multiply your wealth! Let this water purify your married life, and may your prosperity increase. Offer yourself to your husband! "

The bride then is given an auspicious ablution, and an exclusive new KOORAI Saree is draped around her – this is done by the sister of the bridegroom.

To bride in her new saree, a belt made of reed-grass is tied around the waist. The manthras chant:

"She standeth here, pure before the holy fire, as one blessed with boons of a good mind, a healthy body, life-long companionship of her husband ( Sumangali Bhagyam ) and children with long life. She standeth as one who is avowed to stand by her husband virtuously. Be she tied with this red-grass rope, to the sacrament of marriage! "

Thanks giving vedic hymns follow to the celestial caretakers of her childhood: the Deities of SOMA, GANDHARVA and AGNI. Having attained nobility, the girl is now free to be given over to the care of the human – her man.

The Vedic concepts underlying this ritual is figuratively this: that in her infant stage, SOMA had given her coolness of the moon, and strength; in the next stage, GANDHARVA had given her bodily beauty; and lastly AGNI gave her passions.

The father of the bride, while offering his daughter chants: "I offer ye my daughter, a maiden virtuous, good-natured, very wise, decked with ornaments to the best of my ability-; that she shall guard the Dharma, Wealth, and Love! "


Thus offering her daughter, her father gets a word of assurance three times that the bridegroom shall remain for ever her companion in joy and sorrow – in this life, and after death too!

The bride ties a string fastened to a piece of turmeric, around the wrist of the bridegroom – to bind themselves by a religious vow. It is only after tying the Kankanam that the bridegroom gets the right to touch the bride. A little later, the bridegroom ties a Kankanam on the bride’s wrist.

Next, timed to exact auspicious hour, is the tying of the Mangala Sutra ( Thaali ). The bride seated over a sheaf of grain-laden hay, looking eastward, and the bridegroom facing westward, ties the gold Mangala Sutra around the neck of the bride. As he does so, the Nadaswaram drums are beaten loud and fast, so as to muffle any inauspicious sounds at the critical hour. This is calledGetti Melam; as it sounds, the Sumangali ladies sing "GOURI KALYANAME, VAIBHOGAMAY! "

Three knots are tied – the first one by the bridegroom, the other two knots by his sister to make the bride a parts of the boy’s family. The Vedic hymn recited by the bridegroom when he ties the knot, is: " Praying the Almighty that I be blessed with a long life, I tie this knot around your neck, oh soubhaygavati, may providence bestow on you a fulfilling life of a ‘Sumangalis’ for a hundred years to come! "


This means "holding hands". The groom holds the hand of the bride. The Manthras say: The Devas have offered you to me in order that I may live the life of a householder ( GRIHASTA ); we shall not part from each other even after we grow old! "


Holding the bride’s hand, the bridegroom walks seven steps with her. This is the most important part of the marriage ceremony, and only when they walk seven steps together ( i.e. perform SAPTHA PADHI ) is the marriage complete legally. The belief is that when one walks 7 steps with another, one becomes the another’s friend. The manthras recited then, mean: "Ye who have walked seven steps with me, become my companion, where by I acquire your friendship. We shall remain together inseparable. Let us make a vow together; we shall share love, share the same food, and share the strength, the same tastes. We shall be of one mind, we shall observe the vow together. I shall be the SAMA, you the RIG: I shall be the Upper World, you the earth; I shall be the SUKHILAM, you the HOLDER – together we shall live, beget children, and other riches, come thou, O sweet-worded girl! "

A crucial part of the wedding is the homage paid by the couple to AGNI, the fire- God. They circle around the fire, and feed it with ghee, and twigs of nine types of trees, as sacrificial fuel. The fumes that arise, are supposed to possess medicinal, curative and cleansing effects on the bodies of the couple.

AGNI, the mightiest power in the cosmos, the sacred purifier, the all-round benefactor, is deemed as a witness to the marriage (AGNI SAAKSHI )


Holding the bride’s left foot toe, the bridegroom helps her tread on a grindstone kept on the right side of the fire. The Manthras says: "Mount up this stone. Let thy mind be roc-firm, unperturbed, by the trials and tribulations of life! "

Next he shows her the Star ARUNDHATI ( of the SAPTHA RISHI Constellation ), as also DHRUVA the polestar. Arundhati, the wife of VASISHTA Mahrishi, is exemplified as an ideal wife, the embodiment of chastity. DHRUVA is the one who attained immortality through single-minded devotion and perseverance – virtues to be emulated through out married life.

This shall comprise the bride’s own offering to the sacrificial fire. As she is forbidden to do it herself, her brother helps her. He gives her a handful of parched rice grains which she hands to bridegroom who on her behalf, feeds it into the fire. Through this food offering, the bride seeks a long life for her husband, and propagation of the family. Participation of the bride’s family members indicates the continuance of links between the two families, even after marriage. The couple circle around the fire, three times, and the feeding of the fire with parched rice, is repeated thrice.

Akshadai, i.e. rice-grains coated with turmeric and saffron, are showered on the couple, by elders and invitees – as benediction.

Taking with her, fire from the Laaja Homam, the bride takes leave of her home, and enters the new home of her in-laws. The vedic hymns now sound likes the mother’s words of advice to her daughter: "Be the queen of your husband’s home. May your husband glorify your virtues; conduct yourself in such a way that you win your mother-in-law’s love, and be in the good books of your sister’s-in-law."

The evening of the marriage day is the time to relax and play. The newly wed wife calls her husband for play, inviting him through a song. Much to the merriment of one and all gathered, there follows list of playful items: the bride anointing the groom’s feet with colour paste ; fanning him, showing him a mirror; breaking papads over each other’s head; wrenching the betel pack from each other’s hand; rolling the coconut from one to another as in ball-play; and so on. During these items, the ladies sing songs poking fun at the bride, groom and the in-laws.

These events brings out many qualities of the bride and the groom – sporting spirit, kindness, strength, co-operative nature etc.


  • THE JAYAATHI HOMAM – is performed to propitiate the Gandharvas and deities.
  • PRAVESA HOMAM – is done to solemnise the bride’s entry in to the husband’s home. The sacrificial fire is brought along by the bride.
  • SESHA HOMAM – is Fire oblation with the residual ghee, a little of which is sprinkled on the bride’s head four times.

    The girl’s brother gives the ceremonial first betel to the couple to chew. Certain other gifts are made to bless the couple

    with children and long life.

    A solution of lime and turmeric powder, and in colour, is prepared on a plate, and circled around, and thrown away to ward off evil eye. This is done a number of times during the entire wedding ceremony, and at the end.

    The consummation of the marriage at night – the nuptials!

    Sunday, March 15, 2009

    Nostalgia and train journeys part II

    A lot has changed and now train journeys are also a preferred mode of transport at work, what with high cost and all..

    One of my favorite co-passengers is a colleague of mine as we travelled often from Kolkata to Bhubaneshwar, or Kolkata to Vizag and back  by train.  He would be surprised at my choice of taking  the upper berth. We would chat about work, work on our laptop, discuss strategies and then decide to call it a day. In fact he would treat me a bit like a princess(i don't have a problem with that), as we used to get constant supply of tea and attention from the attendant right from lunch to dinner(in case it was a slightly longer journey)! These used to be so much more productive and restful than the plane rides for these short distances with equal number of time spent to and from the airports..

    My most recent train trip was  to Mumbai. We travelled by the 1st class and had an A/c Coupe for two for ourselves. I must say that this was much needed as it gave us so much time to just un wind and be ourselves. Thankfully the phones didn't ring and there were no fires at work(what with it being Friday night and Saturday the whole day perhaps) The privacy adds to the romance of trains. I watched a beautiful movie, "The English Patient" and was really happy with the "me" time.

    Oh yeah, add to that the familiar "chai coffee" sounds, the sights have changed as some of the fields seem to be missing and now seem barren and dry, the ghat sections now have bungalows dotting them..its no longer the same..

    The best part is having family members coming to pick you up. Whats a journey without some old fashioned love and hugs on the station!Trust my family to do matter when you land or arrive :-)

    This train journey was memorable..and timeless. A part of me didn't want it to end..but i know we had reached our destination and we were here for another journey to begin....

    Nostalgia and Train journeys..part I

    Long distance train journeys  always meant end of exams and the start of long vacations. For us it meant going to Chennai or Kerala/Mangalore on holidays. Mostly it used to be Chennai as my grandparents lived there. 

    The sights and sounds of the platforms at every stop, the Chaiyya-Coffee sounds, each station known for its own famous eats like Batata wadas from Karjat, Chikki from Lonavla, Aampapad from Renigunta/Guntakal, Coffee at was all just too good.. 

    The packed lunches my mom made was super. While one may wonder why it tastes so good in a train or a picnic--were we more hungry ? or was it just the anticipation of something good! The jury is still out on that one..memories of  idlis soaked with molagapodi, The Puliyodarai, the Chapatti and Potato Masala, and my other favorite Pulao, would make me want to take a train journey again.

    We used to also get in vegetables(boiled potatoes, Tomatoes, Cucumbers etc) for slicing and quickly making Veggie sandwiches. My mom brought Hot water in a flask, instant coffee and Milk powder(Have u ever tried eating milk powder and getting it stuck on the upper palate of the mouth ? BLISS) My moms coffee rocked and she was always prepared! I love the way she made every experience a kind of an extravagant indulgence for us..No wonder my dad hates travelling without her. 

    As kids my brother and I loved the Mail trains which used to mean two nights in the trains, we loved trains that got delayed which meant more time in the train. We loved to stand by the door with our mom and enjoy the breeze hitting our faces. The sights of Fireflies and the undisturbed night sky where the stars shone like we could never see in the city. The paddy fields, the sunflowers, the children running and waving at passing trains, we used to wave back like old friends..

    My favorite place was the upper berth. and most of the the fellow passengers used to marvel at the way i used to climb up quite deftly. I loved to lounge in with  comics and have my Mom supply all the food up to me :-) My brother on the other hand was a night hawk and stayed up all night watching train stations.

    Making friends in the train was another fun thing to do..sharing lunches and conversation was so much interesting..and nope we did not fear not know about the biscuit bandits then(some group of thieves who offered drug laced biscuits to unsuspecting passengers and robbed them of their valuables. Shame) Which also brings to mind this interesting term in Tamil/Malayalam RAIL SNEHAM, which means friends we make in trains whom we don't necessarily keep in touch..but it lasts till the journey ends..Have often  wondered how come have NEVER met any of the fellow passengers again or recognised them if i did..

    One thrill was watching the UP train go by as we were the DOWN train and vice see them in the next track and mock thinking, hey they are going back home or some such random thought..well our vacation was only beginning, so we could  !

    The other thrill was at times getting down with DAD at some bigger junction(with the longer time stop) and watch the Engine Change. Don't ask why but it just seemed so fascinating.. Even watching the train wind through and see its engine from the door was such a joy! My brother used to know when it changed from Electric to Diesel and back ..

    I remember as kids going to the ICF coach factory in Perumbur and loved the way the wagons were fact we saw a glimpse of one of the LUXURY coaches of the palace on wheels, which i promised myself i would travel by one day.....

    Thursday, March 12, 2009

    Will the humble Cloth Bag please stand up...

    In south Indian weddings one usually has a little giveaway bag also called "Muhurtam Pai" which contains a number of auspicious things like coconuts, betel leaves/nuts, Kumkumum and so on and these are given after the Wedding ceremony is completed.  In the old days these used to be given away in YELLOW and REd bags signifying Manjal/Kumkumum or Turmeric/Crimson which are auspicious for any wedding.

    These bags are usually given at South Indian stores like Saree shops, Coffee Shops(who can forget the very typical LEO Coffee Bags) with the names of the shops. As these bags are re-used by so many of us while shopping for vegetables and the like, its an obvious reusable/recycleable item

    Our wedding contractor said that since its OLD FASHIONED, we only have plastic bags that can be arranged. And the Jute bags were bloody expensive. While one can debate if that was the cost price or we were being deterred as he would rather have us going for the "very popular" Plastic bag, Thought i must try and source it from Chennai. The place where we claim to have NOT lost the love for tradition and all things OLD.

    I went to Parry's Corner(basis some recommendations), the area near Olympic Card shop full of shops that wholesale Wedding/puja/Upanayanam type bags. All kinds of bags in plastic and thermocole like material, some crap material called NETLON even but NO cloth Bags!! The shop keepers tell me wistfully no one will have cloth bags in these stores and most people sourced only plastic and the ilk for auspicious functions. 

    I finally found two stores(bless them) that actually made them in Cloth one was a very nondescript shop A. Anantha Krishna Chetty & Son(N.S.C. Bose Road) and another was S. N. Rao and Sons(Bunder street) who actually made cloth Bags and could deliver it in time for the wedding.

    Had also tried sourcing it from one of our well known handloom kurta/home furnishing shops. While they said it would be INR 12 per piece(they made them out of Cut pieces) and needed a week to hand it over. It would be too late. But i would like to recomend that option in case one has enough time.

    Then there is Cotton World(CWC), wherein you add INR 10 with your bill, and Cotton world adds inr 20 and your shopping gets packed in a cloth bag, the proceeds of which go to Child Relief & You(CRY). You can also buy them at INR 30 per piece.

    Other sources I tried and failed was Co-optex! and the huge handloom exhibition that's on in EGMORE near CO-OPTEX. can you believe it, No cloth bags!

    So what happened to the humble cloth Bag ? I still remember my grand moms and my mom using old curtains to remake Bags for shopping, cushions/pillow covers, as all households at some time or the other had a Merritt Singer Sewing machine. Why I still remember  bags made of my old School uniform skirts(with the sides upturned to get the non faded side) and we had Bags! 

    I think I can safely say that, am a Fan of the humble cloth bag and glad it takes its rightful  place during a VERY important event in my life on 23rd March!

    Sunday, February 22, 2009

    Adventures on the arranged marriage journey

    My folks applied for a few advertisements in the various websites. This was in Dec 2008. I had to meet about 3 of them. Had taken a week off in the end of December to spend some time on personal stuff that was being put off under some pretext or the other :

    a) Annual Health Check up(some details of the harrowing experience was in my earlier post) and
    b) meeting a few prospective grooms

    Guy no 1. made for good reading on the Tamil mat advt. He had written back to my folks saying he is travelling via Chennai and can meet up with me. He initiated an email and I met him at Spencer's. He had a french beard and wore a Fab kurta. Was really tall. And he wanted to know where we could have lunch. 

    We zeroed in on THE DHABA on RK Salai. I try not to read too much into conversations or analyse them too much. So i have some vague recollections of him talking about being a fan of Rajnikanth, talking about his family. We both did. We then decided to get somewhere for a lime soda or so. He played Massive Attack in his car. I liked the fact that he tried to research me online. *cool* 

    We talked some more. He spoke about his grand mom. I thought that was really sweet.  As i kept trying to guess if there was something here or was this just another good first date(I think i must have had a record first dates). He dropped me at the beach(marina) where my folks were. He said he would come along to say hello.  Though surprised, i liked that he was not "afraid" to meet the folks and the signals that such a meeting might give. 

    As i walked him to his car, he said he had a really good time and that he would need some time to take this forward. He asked me about what i felt. I admitted i felt the same(i did have my doubts, fears and god knows what else, i came up with to protect myself, i think). 

    He was so open.  Something made me want to give him a HUG. and for that fleeting moment i felt that this was right, and i liked being there. And then of course rational Deepa took over and shooed away the gut feel to gibberish.  I said "nice hug" and he said "Thanks" 

    We kept in touch thro chats. And that week i met two others. While a part of me, felt almost guilty for going out with the other two, it just seemd so irrational, that after one meeting i feel i should stay committed to guy no 1. I think that was another sign, about how I actually felt about him...

    I met him again in Bangalore. While he came to drop me home, my brother said "as a guy, i can say from the way he is behaving,  he likes you" I needed some neutral perspective. But wasnt sure, since the man himself hadnt said anything..

    Something happened on Pongal weekend in Bangalore. Was sitting out with my mother, saying  am really nervous, like  am going to write an exam or something..i think i like this guy a lot, and the problem is, I dont know why. My mom in all her sanity, did ask me to leave it to the gods to show me the right way. 

    We drove around the whole day, he took me to IIS campus and spoke in Hindi which was very amusing...we shopped a bit and finally stopped at CAfe Coffee day in RT Nagar.  I still remember what he looked like while he showed me the seat next to him. I said that i was tired of being in charge and for a change would like someone else to make the move. He said "fair enough"(he says that a lot tho, along with the phrase "boat loads") and held my hand and said "Are you as sold one me as I am on you" i Nodded yes. 

    While it left me a little confused if that was a proposal or not..I was to return that weekend again to Bangalore. If not him, I thought i would certainly propose. Whats the worse that could happen.

    It was the 24th of Jan. He wore a maroon Kurta and i thought he looked very handsome. 

    He proposed. It was so straight forward and yet so romantic..We walked up the hill to a temple and while we walked down, he said, there were several moments he wanted to say this and now we are at the bottom of the steps --Will u Marry me ?(he said it in Tamil) I said Yes. 

    WE are getting married in BOM on 23rd March

    As for all those adventures on the arranged marriage journey, only helps me appreciate the experience. It all adds up and was worth the wait. And a "HA-HA" to all those who said i need to "tone down my expectations".  I always knew(although at times doubted) if there was someone at the other side of the spectrum searching for me, as i him. Turns out I was right and we met when the time and place was right. 

    His name is Sriram Thiagarajan, and right now, I have no recollection of a life  before i met him...

    Monday, January 5, 2009

    Stop and Smell the roses...

    Reflecting over the weekends on myriad things that occupy my mind. And during my walk one of the things i notice is the sound of the breeze, the birds, the fragrances of the new buds..and i think to i need to be on a beach or a park ONLY to stop and smell the roses? I often used to try to recollect a poem, we had in school..Leisure by W. H Davies..


    WHAT is this life if, full of care,We have no time to stand and stare?—
    No time to stand beneath the boughs,And stare as long as sheep and cows:
    No time to see, when woods we pass,Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
    No time to see, in broad daylight,Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
    No time to turn at Beauty's glance,And watch her feet, how they can dance:
    No time to wait till her mouth can Enrich that smile her eyes began?
    A poor life this if, full of care,We have no time to stand and stare.

    How true...and along the same lines...Recd this very interesting mail from a friend.

    A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousand of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

    A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk. A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

    The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

    In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

    No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars. Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

    This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people.

    The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour:
    Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context? One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

    Friday, January 2, 2009

    Hospitals and health check ups

    While it has been recommended that after a certain age one must go for regular health check ups, this is one thing i have been putting off for a while. in an attempt to exhaust the remaining vacation/leave for the year(else same gets lapsed) had decided to invest some time on health check ups..

    The Apollo at Greams road, Chennai is certainly state of the art and has almost an intimidating look feel about it..right from the reception/when the application forms are updated to the the various counters where the relevant health checks are done, it seemed to be quite professional but at the same time not very "patient" friendly.

    One of the things that really  caught my eye was the number of health conscious people, as more and more corporates pay for their employees' annual  health check up.  There were all kinds of patients, and what was interesting was the influx of Bangladeshi health tourism.(infact Apollo even had some of their boards in Bangla, add to that the industry of small bengali eateries outside on Greams road)

    People of all kinds, young, old, children either coming in for themselves or for visiting loved ones. What was really touching was that hospitals and health problems usually bring the family together. For example the elderly gent who was helping this elderly woman(his wife) as they walked in together for their check ups, or the father with the daughter (child, about 8 years), who seems to be squinting and needed glasses..the tension and relief on the faces of worried family members, was heart rending.  As for me, i know I was putting up a brave front, altho am quite a wuss when it comes to Doctors and needles, i was sure as hell glad my mother accompanied me. (bless her)

    Now for the hospital..

    What was good :
    1. Infrastructure : Facilities, the seating area, toilets/drinking water area etc was quite neat and didn't have the "old hospital" phenol plus Dettol odour. quite pleasant in fact.
    2. Right from the various tests, and meeting various doctors it was quite an experience. As more and more tests were completed i could only heave a sigh of relief that i will soon find out, albeit two days later what the results were.
    3. The doctors in particular had impeccable manners. (why am i impressed? well its because have seen my share of crabby doctors who seriously need a lesson, on at least handling the patients fears, patiently) even While reading out the results(which were normal, FYI), there was always some good advise say for  example on how to address some of these stress related working out and eating healthy etc..very impressive. 

    What could be corrected by Apollo
    1. An example, when they know they will have time say for only 100 forms that day, why release more forms ? i had to come in almost 3 days in a row for completing the entire check up..
    2. Some of the staff while being friendly there are also others who are totally uncaring for your fears, or the reason the patient is there(its only a health test no less, but doesn't mean they treat patients like cattle herd) 
    3. Its very important to manage patient(customer) expectations here. Why not tell me in advance that this can take 2-3 days for just testing ? 
    4. There is no briefing in the beginning as to how the tests are done, what comes after what and so on..its like a treasure hunt. Finish one, go to counter number 4, who will in turn as you to go to counter 5 after the test and so on and so forth. 
    5. Counter no 9 was the worst, the one with the Gynaec department. Couldn't the staff be more trained especially while handling women patients who are there for some "obvious" reasons.  I saw my file being forgotten by this dunce of a lady staff, who was busy gossiping with some other fellow staff. Am sure my blood pressure must have shot up just looking at the way the in adept staff was handling patients. NO first come first serve, it seemed they had their own "illogical logic"
    Lets just say, its not enough if they wear sarees and dress up like the Trident Hilton hotel staff itself, but the service was less than desirable, and didn't seem like value for money. 

    Thursday, January 1, 2009

    Happy new year

    This year on new years eve we went for a Tamil comedy play by "Crazy mohan" and then dinner at Saravanna Bhavan. We reached home by 23:00 hours and ushered in the new year at home. As my Bro was in Bombay, we wished each other at the stroke of midnight....well it was not very different from other nights..except for the fireworks...

    While i have never been in the habit of making new years resolutions, this year it timed well with my annual health check up. So the focus of the year is health.
    • Eating healthier
    • Exercising
    • Relax more
    • Spend time with family
    • Lesser time on the COMP/PC/LAoptop(my eyes have been suffering)
    Well that kinda sums it up..Will review in 3 months to see where i am on this ..

    New years day was ofcourse spent smsing/chatting with loved ones, and visits to the temples. Was a good start I might add...