Monday, September 28, 2009

From Zurich to New York

When you take 4 flights on a day, you pretty much will have to look at the flight magazine at least once. When I was browsing the Swiss air magazine, I was pleasantly surprised by the article it had - a detailed description of a long distance flight from Zurich to New York right from ground checks and crew briefing to the touchdown at JFK.

Some interesting things I learnt:

The airbus, under consideration, has been flying this route everyday for the last one year, without any issues whatsoever - hmmm..not bad....

It weighs 196 tonnes completely fuelled and with passengers on board - 196 tonnes taking off and flying....vazhga Wright brothers, valarga Science

Flight traffic rules dictate that all flights pass on the right of a straight line on the ground , like a railway track and that's why the pilot sits on the left. - What about in Britain and in India :D ?!

Every seat on flight is put through rigorous stress tests. - does the test include checking if there is enough leg room to cross your legs and read a book while eating :D ?!

Every seat in the business class costs as much as a normal family car. - adangokka makka !

People in first class get their own pyjamas - ahaa.....

Flight attendants are allowed to wear only a maximum of 4 rings in their fingers and nothing on the thumb or the forefinger. Only a max. of 2 bracelets and both together cannot exceed 4 cm in width. - appadi....thavilakara madhri dress panna yaarayum pakka vendam....!

Of the 8 hours flight, the pilot actually flies only a few minutes, the auto pilot takes care of the rest - idhu therinju irundha naan kooda pilot ayirpene...

Inspite of the outside temperature of -76 F, the airbus still has to be conditioned to counter the radiation of the sun and carbondioxide from the passengers - idhuku dhan porvai kudukara !

All flight attendants should be trained to assist in child birth - ada..ada..ada...this is really one kind of a job description...truly multi-faceted

There are passengers who don't eat on board, who don't sleep due to fear of flying, those who sit close to the back where the blackbox is, since they believe that will improve their chances of survival in case of a crash - ada kadavule....

oh...well...thats all I can remember although there were many others. What I also liked was including some pictures of passengers now and then with their purpose for the trip, be it a husband going home to meet his wife or 2 pensioners taking a long awaited vacation; loved the personal touch.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A mixture of Worlds

It is a city with numerous world war memories.
It is a city with skyscrapers, a rarity in Germany.
It is a city of embassies and consulates.
It is a city of politicians.
It is a city for tourists.
It is a city for marathons and triathlons.
It is a capital city with a low the cost of living (as compared to Stuttgart or Munich).

The city is always alive, Berlin is always alive !

I was in Berlin for the 5th time last week and like every other time, I took the bus tour again because I never get tired of Berlin. The tour begins in the Potsdamer platz that I remember vividly (because the Canadian and the American consulates are here) and although I know exactly what the tour guide is going to say, as I take my place in the upper deck of the bus after buying the ticket from one of the students (working part-time), I am not bored.

As the bus drives through the extremely familiar Zoologisher Garten, I know we are going to reach the row of embassies/consulates, after a few minutes. I always grin when I suddenly spot the Ashoka Chakra among them :)

When we get to Checkpoint Charlie (Berlin Wall crossing point), I know I am going to start thinking of the war and how futile and meaningless it seems to lose thousands of lives just to prove a point or ascertain who is right.....and there looms the remnants of the Berlin wall, giving a shape to my thoughts. A portion of the wall is retained and there is a museum with extremely disturbing photos and equally disturbing facts. The entire wall is marked in the city, along the sides of the road, by a dotted line.

While on one the side you get a glimpse of the Nazi Germany with Hitler's Bunker (where he committed suicide), Gestapo headquarters, the memorial church (the tower was bombed and it remains so until today to remind everyone what a war can destroy), on the other side you have a view of the Prussian glory in the form of the Opera house, Schloss (Castle) Charlottenburg, Brandenburg Gate and the goddess of victory (Siegesäule).

Then there are the medieval remnants like the Marienkirche (Church) that one can compare and contrast with the modern Reichstag (German Parliament).

As the twin Churches, the deutscher Dom and the französicher Dom comes into view, I know the guide is going to the explain that although both look alike, the former was purposefully made a few inches taller than the latter.

The tour ends in the Potsdamer platz where the Sony Center looms large and makes one wonder about the changes in Potsdamer platz given that it was reduced to nothing after the heavy bombing during the World War.

As I was standing there trying to make up my mind about a quick visit to the mall (KaDeWe, the largest in Germany) or a meal in the Italian restaurant,.....I was woken up by the air hostess asking me to adjust my seat as we were landing in Munich. Then I ruefully realised that I had been dreaming and I sighed about missing the bus tour (something I always do while in Berlin !) because of my schedule.

If you felt this post was frustrating, then you should stay away from Sillunu oru kadhal where the whole movie turns out to be a dream ! In my defense, I did dream of the bus tour even if it wasn't this vivid, I just used the opportunity to list what I love about Berlin :D

Friday, September 25, 2009

German Student Visa

When I finished this series of articles , I thought I was done but I am afraid this is going to be an ongoing process. I recently have been getting queries about visa experiences and so decided to add one about it to the series.

First of all, the good news is the getting a student visa for Germany is a lot easier and a lot less complicated than that of the US mainly because of the huge difference in tuition fee. To date, I personally do not know anyone who has had their German Student Visa rejected.

Before I go on to my experience, here are a few pointers:
  • Be on time: This is so basic that you would expect people should know this but no, there is always someone who comes in saying traffic jam (is this your first day in India ?!). If you are not from the city where the embassy is, try to figure out the day before, where it is located in and how you can get there. Do not let your life depend on an auto-rickshaw driver ! At the same time, there is no reason why you should sleep in front of the embassy; one is usually given an appointment or a time slot.
  • Dress normally: Don't be surprised if you hear a whole set of weird stories of how someone's visa got rejected because he was dressed in western clothes (apparently they assumed he will not want to come back to India) and how someone got it immediately just because she had sindoor ! Wear something you are comfortable in - be it a salwar or a formal shirt with slacks. There is no need to be attired in a suit but please avoid wearing faded and torn jeans !
  • Pay attention to detail: Take utmost care when you fill in forms. Ask someone to check it for you. Avoid spelling mistakes. Although a person in the VFS centre might check your documents he/she will not take interest in it like YOU will. Any mistakes are only going to affect you. Remember that !
  • Take ALL documents: Here is a list of documents you are asked to bring. If you read the document properly, you would have noticed - ''Please note that the German Consulate General reserves the right to ask for additional documents in single cases.'' All consulates have this in bold. This means you should be prepared with additional documents. Some examples could include your school leaving certificates, reference letters, any achievements (like a school or college scholarship), any correspondence with your professor in Germany offering you a research assistant (HiWi) position etc. You need not submit these documents but you can have them handy if they are needed during the interview.
  • Be prepared for obvious questions: why Germany, why a particular university or course, plans after studies, career plans, interest in getting settled in Germany etc. It would obviously be wise to know a bit about Germany and the city you are planning on going to. I heard a funny story of how someone said he likes Frankfurt because it is the capital city !
  • Learn German: Obviously you have a certificate but only YOU know how you got it. Try and brush up the basic German you have (hopefully) learnt. The interviewer knows you are a beginner, so he/she is not going to ask you questions that Angela Merkel should answer. You should be able to introduce yourself and answer simple questions like what university/city you are going to, where you live etc.
  • No electronics: Most consulates have a security check and make a fuss about electronic items, so avoid carrying anything other than what's absolutely required. No laptops, or cameras.
  • Don't panic: A visa reject is not going to end your life. Having this kind of attitude (don't push it to the extent of inefficiency though !) will help. Be confident in your approach and stay calm, this will help you think on your feet even when you are confronted with a tricky question.
I applied for my visa in December 2002 (this time limit should warn you of taking the information as-is) through a centre called TTS (I believe) that was officially handling visa applications. They checked my documents and gave me an appointment. My interview lasted 10 minutes. 4 weeks later, I got a letter saying I should come in with a DD of 7700 euro and my passport (this obviously means visa approved but they don't say so in the letter). I went in to submit my passport and DD. I got my passport 3 days later with my visa (valid for 3 months from the date of travel).

My Interview: I will do a Manirathnam style Q&A, from what I remember

Q: Why Germany ?
A: Sound educational system, affordable, love Europe

Q: Why Stuttgart ?
A: Industrial city, famous university - lots of cutting edge research

A: interested in electronics (I had'nt chosen a major then)

Q: Financial support ?
A: Bank loan, parents

Q: After Studies?
A: Will work in R&D

Q: Will you come back?
A: Most definitely

Q: How so?
A: My family is here, will work for a few years in Germany and return to my family (this is obviously something everyone says, but say it with conviction and not just because they expect to hear it)

Q: Any relatives in Germany ?
A: No (If you have a sibling in Germany that shares your last name, it will be prudent to tell them the truth. A very simple search will bring up your sibling's visa application)

Q:Have you learnt German?
A: yes

Q: Wo wohnen Sie ?
A: In Mandaveli (that's right, I had a german question :D)

...and that was it, nothing to worry about...! May yours be as simple, if not, you will just have a new visa experience to share :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Meeting in the mountains

The first thing, well maybe the second, when I check into a hotel on a work trip, is connecting to the WiFi and smiling that it actually works without having to rig my laptop, power supply, firewall, DNS settings and finally calling the ''IT'' in the hotel (which is usually a waiter who has studied networks at some point in his life). So coming back to the first thing I look for, it is a nice comfortable bed. Since both these requirements were amply satisfied at Hotel Kitzhof (shown in the photo - click on it for a better view) in Kitzbühel, my day got off to a good start and made up for my red eyes from waking up at an ungodly hour and traveling in the same.

Kitzbühel is located in the state of Tyrol in Austria and is very famous for both hiking and skiing because of the landscape. I was pleasantly surprised by how uncrowded it was and then it dawned on me that September was not high season. The conference room had a spectacular view and it took me a while to look away from it and concentrate on what was happening. After hours of meeting, an extremely delicious lunch (as a really picky vegetarian, when I say delicious, you should take my word for it !), a few more hours of meeting and several cups of coffee, we got ready for our team activity – hiking (our starting point was this beautiful restaurant next to the hotel - see photo)! I was thinking that hiking after a long work day was going to be a bad idea since the team comprises people who run marathons, people like me in the middle and people who hardly take any exercise.

The weather was extremely kind to us and it remained 16 deg C all along – neither too hot nor too cold for a brisk walk up the mountains. The scenery was stunning and the conversations – both business and private were interesting and I was totally shocked when we stopped for a drink and I realized that we had hiked for nearly 3 hours! Well, I thought my husband was right when he said that I might actually run a marathon if I had someone alongside running and talking with me all the time :D ! By the time we had dinner, everyone was starving and did apt justice to the efforts of the Chef - absolutely no leftovers.

One of the exercises I found extremely interesting was taking a few minutes to think about the question "what would I do to make my company bankrupt ?!''. At the end of the session we had a long list of suggestions and making sure that we were doing exactly the opposite as we went over the suggestions was surprisingly a morale boosting exercise - the positive power of negative thinking.

I was moderating the second day of the meeting that comprised mostly of brainstorming sessions. What I found extremely tricky was interrupting someone to give a chance to another, without breaking the flow of the brainstorming or the thoughts of the individual. In order to make the session successful, one also has to capture all the issues, concerns and more importantly the ideas and solutions to solve them and end the session by coming up with a list of action items. Thanks to some management lectures I took (although I hated attending them during my degree), I like to stick to SMART objectives - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. So instead of creating an objective of being customer oriented, one should have an objective that reads ''Support 2 customers in simplifying their solution using efficient user interface implementation by Q4 2009''.

Standing, talking, listening, concentrating and making notes for hours finally paid off when we concluded the day with a good list of action items all with deadlines and assigned to specific persons, with a request for periodic updates. No wonder I slept for 12 hours the night after the meeting was over !

Coming back to Kitzhof and Kitzbühel, it was too short a time and too tight a schedule to enjoy both the hospitable hotel and the picturesque place. Hmm....well... for all I know, I might go back to the same place in winter for a skiing trip....fingers crossed......

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Learning Curve

I should have been warned when I saw the pink bubbles with a shapely girl on the cover but I was'nt since the title ''The Learning Curve'' intrigued me ! I had picked up an extra book along with the set of books I had chosen in the library and when I realized it at the automatic check-out counter, I was too lazy to go and replace it and too conscientious (:D) to leave it somewhere.

I should have stopped when the author went on for 5 minutes about mascara and eyelashes. I should have stopped at least when I read ''She poured herself into the jeans'' (oh...dear Lord...all right, all right, we get it, she wears tight jeans). I should have definitely stopped when the hero looks at the heroine for the first time and the author chose ''three hundred rockets roared up her'' to describe this ! But I went on....foolishly went on....I think one part of me wanted to know how (badly) it ends and another over optimistic part of me kept hoping that it was going to get better.

The book is about a primary school teacher in London, who is caught in a love triangle between a colleague and a pupil's parent. Needless to say, the pupil, a 10 yr old boy, like in all Yash Chopra movies, tries his best to get his favorite teacher and father together and in the end succeeds, while the colleague turns out to be an evil master mind. The story should actually be done and done in less than a 100 pages but exactly like a Yash Chopra movie, it goes on for hours, sorry, pages and pages, only the songs are replaced by extremely annoying descriptions of what the fairer sex apparently likes to do and lengthy discourses about how to balance career and family !

I have a sneaking suspicion that this was written for teenage girls who squeal with delight when they meet their girl friends (and do it everyday !), wear matching pink clips in their hair, dream of boys that look like the Hulk and can never get a single math problem right !

This is not even a book review, I am just trying to get the book out of my system and improve my learning curve....phew...mudiyala!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Are you ''brand''ed ?!

I recently got a request to a survey link from one of my cousins, who has to do this as a part of her studies. Here is the link -

The survey relates to how much brands are important to you and what experiences affect you as a consumer. To me, it was more like taking an English exam since the same questions are repeated in different forms. But I believe this technique is to establish the consistency and level of understanding of the person taking the survey. It was especially difficult to wrap my head around this since I don't really care about brands. But when I thought about it I realised it was only w.r.t clothes and when it comes to groceries or toiletry, I do stick to certain brands.

Anyway, I took the survey and it took me exactly 9 minutes. If you can spare that amount of time, go ahead and take the survey and help my cousin. I already warned her that if someone sweared in his/her response, she was going to get that forwarded to her too :D

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Medical Tourism

I liked ''Foreign Body'' by Robin Cook for 2 reasons - one, it invoked my interest about Medical Tourism and two, the book was set in India.

Medical tourism, in the context of this book, refers to people coming from western countries to developing countries like India, Thailand etc. for treatment mainly because of the weak medicare system in their countries and the out-of-proportion medical inflation causing treatment expenses to sky rocket. While these patients save a few bucks, the private hospitals in India make a lot since treating these patients pay them at least twice as much as the localites. In general, it can be anyone traveling to any country solely for the purpose of medical care. A German going to India for an ayurvedic back massage would also fall in this category, for example. Apparently, Medical tourism is very close to and is expected to even overtake IT by 2010, in bringing foreign exchange into India. A google search brings up many more interesting articles on this subject and thanks to Robin Cook, I was hooked for a couple of days.

The book was set in New Delhi and although I have not been there in 11 years, I still have a lot of memories from visiting Delhi almost every year when I was in school. Added to that is the perspective I got about Delhi from a foreigner. There are so many things that we take for granted, things that totally catch a foreigner by surprise and although I have heard many such stories by now, there is always something new. The one story that always cracks me up is of someone boarding an autorickshaw in India for the first time and in all cases, it inevitably ends with ''I was hanging on to dear life'' :D ! The book dealt with the contrast between the opulence of 5 star hotels and the destitution of slums, the conflict between religious superstitions and technological advancements subtly without losing focus.

In spite of all this, what makes the book less gripping is the fact that the book begins with the plot and ends with the well-expected confirmation instead of the usual Robin Cook style of beginning with a medical mystery which on unraveling reveals a dark plot. It is a series of unexpected deaths of American tourists that on investigation leads to a group funded by a private hospital in the US to sabotage the medical tourism concept since it takes away billions of dollars from the American medical system. As always, there were a rigmarole of medical terms, none of which I knew or had even heard of; there was a time I used to look them up but somewhere along the line I gave up and forensic pathology is not really an inviting topic !

The book is a decent read if you are interested in this subject, but is in no way his best work.

Friday, September 18, 2009

300gm baby

There is something about a long work day that makes you stay up even late - you have discussed so many things that your mind is cluttered with thoughts and you have pumped in enough caffeine to keep thinking about them that although your body wants to go to sleep, your mind refuses to. I was exactly in this state when I got back to my hotel room at 11:40 pm yesterday. So I switched on the TV to see something funny (laughter always makes me feel light enough to go to bed) or boring (something that would be put me right to sleep !).

After flipping for a while, I landed on reality talk show mainly because I heard the words ''300 gm baby''. While I was sure, I had heard it wrong, the talk show host exclaims ''300 gm ?!...that's nothing !! Even chocolate bars are heavier than that !!''

The scene then shows a doctor and 2 nurses handling a baby that's 10 inches long (to give you a perspective, you can hold the entire baby in the palm of your hand), while one is wrapping up the baby to preserve its body heat, the other is clamping the umbilical cord and the doctor is fixing the artificial respirator to it, since the baby's lungs are not developed yet. What was amazing to me was that 3 people can handle a baby that small in such a coordinated effort and seeing them work in a frenzy, making sure the little one makes it, suddenly made me silently bow to doctors and thank technology. The little one has now grown up to a healthy 4 year old boy with blonde hair and blue eyes.

Normally infants are born after 37-40 weeks gestation and this one was born after 25 weeks. These babies survive purely due to technology and unbelievable care from parents and family. They are in a neonatal ICU (NICU) where they are on life support systems until they are ready to face the polluted world on their own. Life in a NICU is not easy, is really not (will write about it later).

In talking with a friend of mine, I found out that she was born in India in 30 weeks ! She is healthy and normal today and I would have never known about this if she had'nt mentioned it. I was simply amazed that we had such things happen in India even 25 years ago and no one seems to have heard about it. Oh..well...all the media and public cared about was probably who Sridevi was in love with and when Kamal's next movie was to be released.

Needless to say, the program was neither boring nor funny and so I spent a few minutes jotting it down and finally went to bed, exhausted.

Monday, September 14, 2009


When amma gave me her new year wishes at the dawn of 2008, she told me that it was going to be a year of travel for me, according to my horoscope. I laughed if off then little realising how many travelthons lay ahead of me.

The first one was in April 2008 Munich-Hartford-Newyork-Denver-Phoenix-Portland-Munich. Only Denver and Portland were work related. Although I was missing my bed at home and was getting sick of subway (I am a vegetarian and there are not many choices for tasty & healthy vegetarian food when one travels outside India, atleast according to my taste buds), I had a lot of fun since I always had weekends to meet friends living in the US.

The next one was in September 2008. It was Munich-Amsterdam-Jakarta-Ottawa-Toronto-Phoenix-Ammersee-Munich and all in 3 weeks. Except for Amsterdam and Toronto, it was all work related, so irrespective of whether one had a jet lag or a weather lag, one still had to be professional i.e. be on time, stick to deadlines, deliver good presentations, socialize with colleagues in the evenings etc. Truthfully, I enjoyed it because when you get the work done and well, its an accomplishment you are proud of. Plus, going to new places and meeting new people, especially at no personal costs is always fun :D !

Actually, ippo edhuku ivalo mokkaina, am going on the next mini travelthon tomorrow, so blogku konjam nal ''as I am suffering from....'' leave vida poren....

Makkale, more kadai later, chamatha irungo :D !

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Peters nemba peter !

''Somebody gonna get hurt real bad'' - if this rings a bell, then you know Russell Peters and you also know how an Indian tries to bargain with a Chinese :D !

I have thoroughly enjoyed some portions of his comedy but I have also squirmed in my place for his adult humour pieces. Anyway, he has a flair for what he is doing and he is good. I recently happened to catch an interview of him in NDTV, when he was touring in India.

There is one thing that I find weird - He talks about the acting being overdone in Indian movies. I do not agree with that. Yes, it might be quite all right for Bruce Willis to use the ''f'' word every 5th minute and yes, it might be quite all right to quietly shed a tear and walk away when your best friend is blown to bits in an English movie, but you dont expect that when you watch a desi movie right ? You want to see emotions - laughter, tears, anger, romance and all expressed brightly and powerfully (not necessarily overdone like in some 4 hr desi movies).

I have......
dreamt with Kajol .....''aisa pehli baar hua hai sathrah atarah saalon mein, andekha anjaana koi aane laga kayalon mein'' (well, I have an excuse, I was 16 then :D),
laughed with Vivek.....vgp dosai sizela elai irukarcheve milda doubt anenda
cried with Anjali.....endhru anjali endhru
sang with ARR....Mustafa, mustafa, dont worry mustafa (If you are in my age group, I bet it was your farewell song too)
danced with Arjun and Manisha....uppu karuvadu, oora vechu soru, ooti vida....
acted with Thirpurasundari.....pudusa kaapi podi vangirken, kaapi potu tharattuma ?

...........and I need them, I dont want them to act like Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks....I have "peter'' movies to see all that.

I am not a fan of the soap-opera acting either (which is why I stay away from all the TV serials), but I really do not want to see desi movies sans emotions, I really don't.

The other thing I find hilarious is Russell Peters making fun of people's complexion and looks. To me its like the really bald George Costanza telling Seinfeld with conviction that thick lustrous hair is really important for him w.r.t a girl he is dating ! I mean...come-on, doesn't one have to be smart in the first place to actually make fun of dumb or dumber people ?!

Verdict: Peters - stuff irukku ana peter thangala !

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Educational Loan - FAQs

As a part of the series of articles about higher studies, here is one with some information on educational loans.

Educational loans are available for higher education (full-time graduate or post-graduate course) in technology, engineering, architecture, medicine, management and applied or pure sciences, including mathematics and statistics. It is best to check with the bank you are interested in getting the loan from, if the course you are going in for is covered under their educational loans.

Who gives out such loans?
Most of the financial institutions and banks give out educational loans. However, it is the public sector banks that are at the forefront of such loans.

Who is eligible for the loan?
Only the individual opting for higher studies can go in for the loan.

What is covered under the loan?
• Tuition fees payable to college/school
• Examination / library / hostel charges
• Travel expenses
• Purchase of books /equipment /uniform
• Cost of two-wheelers (optional)

What is the maximum amount lent by the bank?
The amounts given by different banks vary. Typically, for studies within India, the maximum amount is between Rs. 7.5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh. For education abroad, the maximum loan amount is Rs. 15 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh.
However, many banks cap the maximum amount at Rs. 20 lakh.

What is the interest applicable on Educational loans?
Again, the interest rates vary from bank to bank and depend on the amount of the loan taken. Typically, interest rates on educational loans range between 11.25% and 13.5%.

Are there any other fees applicable while taking this loan?
Banks charge you processing fees for approving the loan and basically doing all the paperwork. These fees range between 2.25% and 2.50%.

Another charge or more appropriately expense that you would most probably need to bear is the margin amount. Normally, banks do not approve the loan that would cover the entire cost of your education. For example, for a loan of Rs. 10 lakh, the bank would approve only 80% or Rs. 8 lakh. The additional Rs. 2 lakh that you would have to raise from your own sources is called the margin amount.

What are the documents required while applying for the loan?
The required list of documents may vary from bank to bank.

The most common documents would be:
• Proof of admission (educational loan cannot be applied without proof that admission has been secured in the selected institution)
• Schedule of fees from the institution
• Mark sheet of the last qualifying examination
• Photographs

If the applicant is earning then:
• Bank account statement
• Income tax assessment order of last 2 years
• Proof of income
• Brief statement of assets/liabilities

Is there need to provide a guarantor or any other kind of security?
For smaller amounts of loans (amounts upto Rs. 4 lakh) banks do not ask for any guarantor or security. However, most banks ask for either a guarantor or for some kind of security such government securities, gold, shares, other investments etc.

When does an individual start repaying the loan, and how much time does he have to do it?
Most banks ask you to start paying off the loan either six months or one year (varies from bank to bank) after you complete the course or six months after you have secured a job, whichever happens first.

Again, depending on the bank, you get around 10 to 15 years to pay off the loan. It is important to remember that the higher the amount, the longer you get to repay. Of course it also depends on your income and how much you are willing to shell out towards this debt on a monthly basis.

Are there any tax benefits for educational loans?
Under Section 80 E of the Income Tax Act, you are eligible for rebate on the interest (not on the principal) you have paid on the loan. Moreover, the best part is that there is no limit to this amount. This deduction once applied only for self-education, but now this facility is extended for the education of relatives; relatives include only one's spouse and children.

This deduction is allowed for 7 years and the loan must be taken for higher education purposes only. Moreover, the loan has to be from a financial institution or a government approved charitable institution.

In the past, a DD of 7700 euro for covering living expenses was compulsory to get one's visa. Now with the introduction of tuition fees (500-600 euro per semester), the procedure is slightly different. More information at

You will need the visa requirements and some additional information from the University's website about living expenses (cost of accommodation, standard of living etc.) when you apply for a loan. For example, if you are going to the University of Stuttgart, printing this page would be a good idea.

Some tips:
  • It is easier to get a loan from the bank where you have had an account for years. In this case, the bank has an idea about your financial status and credibility
  • Hardly any bank would part with 4 lakhs without having a guarantor or showing proof of other investments. Start preparing for this as soon as you start applying.
  • Choosing Nationalised banks would prove beneficial to you in the long run w.r.t the interest rates. But be aware there is a lot of red tape involved and the process is slower than a snail. Start as soon as you get your admission letter.

About the Source:
This article is from the monthly newsletter (Vol 2, Issue 9) I receive from Mr.Balaji is a development officer at LIC and I personally know him because of a few of my financial transactions with him. My only contribution to this post was the the Germany-specific information.

Disclaimer: Neither Mr.Balaji nor I can be held responsible if you do not do your homework. Like with all financial transactions, the more you know the better. So take this as a template and find out as much as you can from the bank before you proceed to transact.

Friday, September 11, 2009


A new sign in the Bank Lobby reads:

'Please note that this Bank is installing new Drive-through ATM machines enabling customers to withdraw cash without leaving their vehicles. Customers using this new facility are requested to use the procedures outlined below when accessing their accounts.

After months of careful research, gender related procedures have been developed. Please follow the appropriate one.'

1. Drive up to the cash machine.
2. Put down your car window.
3. Insert card into machine and enter PIN.
4. Enter amount of cash required and withdraw.
5. Retrieve card, cash and receipt.
6. Put window up.
7. Drive off.

What is really funny is that most of this part is the Truth! - I agree, unfortunately....

1. Drive up to cash machine.
2. Reverse and back up the required amount to align car window with the machine.
3. Set parking brake, put the window down.
4. Find handbag, remove all contents on to passenger seat to locate card - - This is why I hate handbags, I can never find what I want in there. I actually have a wallet and use a rucksack most of the time....guess what, even some of my male colleagues make fun of that....idhu romba overa illa ?!
5. Tell person on cell phone you will call them back and hang up. - - naanga enna panradhu, pasanga tholla thangala.....
6. Attempt to insert card into machine...
7. Open car door to allow easier access to machine due to its excessive distance from the car. - hehehe, hehehe
8. Insert card.
9. Re-insert card the right way. - idhu too much, with the amount of experience women have with credit cards and debit cards, this is just not possible
10. Dig through handbag to find diary with your PIN written on the inside back page.
11. Enter PIN.
12. Press cancel and re-enter correct PIN. - 10 to 12 also seem far fetched. Even though many women are not fond of numbers, when it comes to money, they are all Ramanujam's cousins ! Its akin to the fondness for remembering dates :)
13. Enter amount of cash required.
14. Check makeup in rear view mirror.
15. Retrieve cash and receipt..
16. Empty handbag again to locate wallet and place cash inside.
17. Write debit amount in check register and place receipt in back of checkbook. - I have never ever done this!
18. Re-check makeup.
19. Drive forward 2 feet.
20. Reverse back to cash machine.
21. Retrieve card. - ROFL, ROFL
22. Re-empty hand bag, locate card holder, and place card into the slot provided!
23. Give dirty look to irate male driver waiting behind you. - this is precious, ROFL, ROFL !!
24. Restart stalled engine and pull off. - No comments
25. Redial person on cell phone.
26. Drive for 2 to 3 miles.
27. Release Parking Brake. - This is just too darn good !!

Thanks to the person who sent me this forward. I completely agree that men have a flair for driving while women learn (or atleast try ) to drive. Ofcourse when there is a rule, there are both examples and exceptions....oh..well...there should be atleast one thing we are not good at, just to make you men feel better, eh :D ?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Oru pattu pudavayin kadai.....

I was really happy when I saw this news because when I saw the movie, I was afraid it was going disappear into the oblivion unrecognised, purely because it would be branded as a ''documentary''.

True, Kanchivaram is not a commercial movie but it was so well made that by the end of it, you are full of communism and suddenly so many things you have heard in the past about it, start making sense.

It is the story of a silk sari weaver, Venkatam, who wants to get his daughter married in a silk sari....sounds ironic right ? But as the movie, with its scenes set in India, ruled by the British, moves on, the irony takes the shape of naked truth that stares you in the face - weavers' lives hanging by a thread....

Venkatam vows that his bride will wear a silk sari on the day of his wedding. Never happens. He is blessed with a baby girl and during the naming ceremony, he whispers in the baby's ears that he will get her married in a silk sari. Everyone around him, friends and relatives, even his wife stare at him shocked (and some even mock him for his day dreams !) - sad....

Venkatam weaves a novel silk sari. The landlord that employs him gives him an extra rupee over his normal salary of 2 rupees per sari. In the same scene, he is shown selling the sari to a foreigner for 800 rupees who in turn wants to sell it for 100 pounds in the UK - appalling !

Venkatam tells his wife, Anu, about all the designs he has come up with for the saris. She says she would love to see a silk sari and more so, the one he has woven. He takes her to the landlord's daughter's wedding, so that she can catch a glimpse of it when the daughter leaves the house - touching...

Venkatam never manages to save enough because of his family commitments. When the realisation dawns on him, he takes an audacious decision and starts stealing a few strands of silk thread everyday by concealing them in his mouth since all the weavers are checked before leaving - uh...oh....

Venkatam starts weaving a sari in his home in a small room in the barn even without his wife's knowledge. After a few years, when his wife finally falls sick and is at her death bed, he carries her to the barn and shows her a 25% complete silk sari in a loom. Tears trickle down her cheeks as she takes her last breath - overwhelming....

Venkatam meets a communist writer, starts learning about communism and decides to take things into his hand along with his friends, fuelled by deaths due to starvation among the families of weavers. They come up with a list of demands such as increase in pay, pension for the retired and dead and many others and submit it to the landlord, who without even glancing at it, throws the list away. They are forced to call a strike - hmmm...

Venkatam's daughter, who is now of marriageable age, falls in love with his friend's son. Everyone insists on the wedding taking place immediately since the groom works in the army and would be called away any time. But with the strike, Venkatam has had no chance to get enough silk threads for weaving the silk sari, which is by now nearing completion - uh..oh

Venkatam is torn between his ideals, lives of his fellow weavers who have braved the strike and his life long ambition, desire and craving of having ONE silk sari for one of the women in his life after having woven 100s of them. As always, communism is on the losing side and he calls off the strike and goes back to work incurring the wrath of many of his friends who start accusing him of having taken a bribe from the landlord for his daughter's impending wedding - God....

Venkatam's friend pushes him in frustration one day while he is coming back from work and he ''coughs'' up the truth in the form of silk threads spewing from his mouth. He is nearly beaten to death and arrested by the police for the theft - sniff...sob....

Venkatam is allowed to go home for 2 days from the prison to see his daughter who has had an accident. He comes home to see his girl completely paralysed with noone to take care of her. Since he has to be back in prison and there is no way the girl will survive without help, he feeds her poisoned food - kadavule.....

Venkatam uses the almost-complete silk sari as a shroud. Only it is a bit too small to cover his daughter from head to toe. He tries to pull it up, the toes are exposed, he tries to pull it down, her head is exposed, he tries to pull it up, he tries to pull it down, up, down, up, down - gut wrenching....!

What is more disheartening is that the plight of weavers today is only slightly better and now they are not just threatened by minimal wages and ruthless industrialists but also by globalisation resulting in far fewer people buying silk saris and garments.

When amma asks me the next time, if I would like a silk sari, I might very possibly say yes and would think of taking a bus to Kanchipuram instead of going to T-Nagar.......

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mass heart attack ?!

I read this article and while I was reading it, I still couldn't believe what I was reading !

To a certain extent, I can understand people dying out of shock but this kind of mass heart attack still makes me wonder if its not defeating the whole purpose of YSR's efforts - what is the point of the welfare schemes he introduced if the beneficiaries are not even alive to enjoy it ?

For those people who committed suicide or immolated themselves, I have absolutely no sympathy. If there are foolish enough not to realise that life is precious, if they are naive enough not to realise that even if the person is gone, his good deeds make him live on and the only way to see him is to enjoy the fruits of his labour and pass on the torch to the next generation, then nobody can help them. It is in times like these that I understand why taking one's life is against the law !

I have also learnt from numerous ''helpful'' movies that in some cases, the self-immolation is not necessarily ''self'-created''. Even if that is the case, why do the villain-like-politicians believe that people will consider him/her popular or rather become popular when a dozen die this way ?

Why does this happen only in India (I may be wrong about this, if so, do let me know) ? Are we really a bunch of sentimental fools like it has been pointed out many times? Can we actually put this loyalty to better use than simply dying ?

When I see people here going crazy, screaming and sometime even tearing their clothes at a rock concert, I pity them and think to myself ''God help them'' but I think even those people are not crazy enough to die for a rock star or a celebrity or a philanthropist.

I don't understand and I don't think I want to either.....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Thou shall speak only when spoken to

BMJP = big mouthed jobless person, not close family members or friends who are allowed to take liberties (albeit unwelcome at times, still forgivable because of the underlying concern)

Situation 1: A couple who has been married for 5 years have no children. They are attending a wedding.

BMJP 1: Did you go to a fertility clinic? I can give you addresses of a couple of really good ones
BMJP 2: This is what comes out of always working towards money. You should understand that there is nothing more rewarding than having children.
BMJP 3: andha kalathula ellam purusha mattum dhan velai parpa, adhe madhri irundhuta oru prechanayum irundhurukadhu.

My questions to the BMJPs:
How in the world is this your business??
If all you have is concern and if your intentions are (seemingly) noble, is this how you choose to express it? Are you actually brain-dead?
For BMJP 3: Neenga ipdi vettiya irukardhunala dhan ungalukku ipdi ellam kelvi kekanumnu thonardhu, mudhala andha TV serial ellam pakardha niruthi tholaingo ! (There is another blog that completely echoes my thoughts on this subject).

What actually happened:
The girl was 20 when she got married. Her husband, a sensible person, decided that 20 was not an age to have kids and made her opt for higher studies and then a job. Since she has just now started working and going on maternity leave during probation is not a good idea, they are still waiting for the right time to start a family.

Situation 2: A young single girl in her early 20s has suddenly gained a lot of weight. She is attending a birthday party.

BMJP 1: My friend is looking for a suitable bride for her son. I thought of suggesting you to him but he is a fitness freak…..long awkward pause with ‘ohh…you are so fat’ expression
BMJP 2: I still remember how pretty you looked in Ram’s wedding in that yellow sari….audible sigh….
BMJP 3: ennadi ivalo gundu adichuta ?

My questions to the BMJPs:
If you are really concerned about finding her a groom, is this how you broach the topic?
Have you heard of adding salt to the wound? You are just a tweak away from sadism.
For BMJP 3: Idhu unga maramandaike uraikardhuna, ava daily kannadi pakara, avulukku theriyadha ??

What actually happened:
The girl had a severe personal shock, resulted in a serious medical condition and is taking a lot of medication. The medicine is affecting both her diet and metabolism drastically.

Situation 3: A college graduate is going to Australia for his higher studies. He is having a farewell party.

BMJP 1: I saw in yesterday's news that 3 people were hurt in racist attacks. Are you sure you still want to go ?
BMJP 2: Australian degrees are not recognised anywhere. Why are you going there ?
BMJP 3 (to his mother): nethiku kooda andha oorla ratha kalariya rendu studentsa TVla kaatina, ennamo po....

My questions to the BMJPs:
Do you realise they have a TV at home and they are not deaf and blind ?
You do know that the person who has to worry about the degree is actually the one who is going to study and telling him this in his farewell party is not going to offer an iota of help, right ? If you don't then you are just too dumb.
For BMJP 3: romba shemam, payyan oorku poranenu kavala padara amma kitta indha vishayam kandippa sollanum !

What actually happened:
The guy has contacts in Australia who give him up-to-date information and he is game for any surprises.

Golden rules of Thumb:

- MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS; trust me, it’s a good thing at times.
- Speak only when spoken to. Otherwise keep your suggestions and flashes of genius to yourself.
- Stop stating the obvious, especially when its painful. Please do not give me the ‘truth is bitter/better’ routine here.
- Above all, be kinder than necessary for everyone you meet is fighting an unspoken battle.

Obviously, I am venting...not because someone did this to me, I usually do not let people get away with impertinence. I let them have it and I have no qualms about doing so. If their age demands respect, then they better act their age. In the past, I have left one open mouthed by saying '500 thousand euro' with the utmost conviction when this person asked me about my salary and another dumbstruck by saying 'payyan nethiku dhan school poga arambichan' when one busybody wanted to know when I was going to have kids, 6 months after my wedding.

I am frustrated because someone is inevitably doing it to my near and dear ones, those who are either too hurt or too tired to respond.

I am not against those offering to help, but surely neither of those BMJP questions fall into expressing concern or caring for someone. There are some things that should definitely change in India - taking undue liberty (asking about marriage, kids, salary), violating someone's privacy and above all, hurting someone's feelings. This is not just due to generation gap (that can get some benefit of doubt), but I have seen insane questions come from people in our generation; educated, well informed people, who are and should supposedly be aware of the dos and donts.

On the other hand, I would also encourage those who are subjected to these BMJP questions into adopting a 'Like-I-am-bothered' atittude or laughing it off or letting them know that such questions are not welcome. These people and their questions are not worth any of your time or tears - they are far too precious.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lend a hand, would you ?

I recently got a request from SK, a fellow blogger who is trying to collect information about all the charity and good will organisations working in Tamilnadu and/or India. His aim, as I understand, is to have all the information in one place and make it easier for people to lend a hand as volunteers or publicise these organisations or ask for help or point it to people who need help.

He has listed me as one of the bloggers who could contribute to this cause. Thanks, SK and good luck to your endeavour.

Aadhaar is a non-profitable socio-charitable Association for the Development of Health and Academic Awareness in Rural India, started by Indians studying/working in the University of Twente (UT), Netherlands. It was started in 1998 and now has 125 active members, most of them UTers or ex-UTers. The association is registered at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce and has even managed to attract a few non-Indian members. It receives donations from many UT faculties and institutes and has used them for many projects, some of which are given below
  • Building of classrooms for the Parijat Academy, a school for tribal children in northeast India - Before this, the students were protected from nature's forces by bamboo walls and tin roofs.
  • A self-sustainable knowledge centre (the third of its kind) was inaugurated in western India with the goal of providing library and computer facilities to underprivileged children. It is located inside the premises of a school, whose teachers and senior students operate the centre on a voluntarily basis, and services are also open to the general public. There is a photocopy machine, that can be used to generate revenue and gradually make the centre self-sustaining. Here is some additional info, for the sake of credibility, My husband, Ashok, is an active member and when we got married, we requested people NOT to bring presents but contribute to Aadhar and the money went towards building this knowledge centre
  • Medical facilities: 1000 euro went towards financing surgical procedures for 12 children who suffered from various disorders like facial cleft, and another 500 euro towards providing furniture and mattresses for the residents of a home for the mentally challenged
  • Finanical support to Eklavya Archery Academy (It is a well-known fact that India does not produce enough quality sportspersons commensurate with its massive population and attributed to its lack of proper infrastructures)
Are you interested in signing up as an active member? Are you interested in making your organization a contributor ? Write an email to Pramod.

Contact Details:

Pramod Agrawal
Bruggenmorsweg 113,
7521 ZT, Enschede, The Netherlands.
Phone: +31-649311325
Fax : +31-534893849

It is a registered charitable trust in Bangalore for the welfare of young underprivileged girls founded by Mr.Venkatraman Iyer in 2000. It receives regular financial support from Aadhar.
It mainly caters to the needs of deserted
woman and their children.

The children are provided with a good education, a good and happy environment to live in and are even given classes in music and art. Swabhimaan today takes care of fifteen such girls.

The next time you see a small abandoned girl on the road, even if there isn't anything you can do about it, atleast make a call to Swabhimaan and tell them about it.

Contact Details:

Mr. Venkatraman Iyer
The managing trustee
Mobile: +91-9945436757

Mailing Address:
B 405 Raheja Residency, 3rd Block
Koramangala, Bangalore, India

Although this is not an Indian organization, the work it does involves children in India too. It is active in rural villages and urban slums in and around Kolkata.

Children International has been around since 1936, and now assists over 300,000 children in 11 countries. They connect very poor children to caring sponsors. The sponsored child receives free health care and medicine when he/she gets sick, has access to a dentist and receives benefits like the clothing, shoes and supplies necessary to go to school. Because of sponsorship, children have a place to turn to and real hope for the future.

I personally know a lot of people involved in this program and so can confidently say that the money is indeed put to good use. My cousin, who is also sponsoring a child, says "I am proud to be a sponsor myself and I’m asking you to learn more about sponsorship and hopefully become a sponsor to a child in need. When I told a friend of mine about my experience, she asked me the details and I thought why not create this page and share it with all my friends!" you can find more details at here.

All you need is 2 mins to fill in the application form and $22 per month to change the life of a child! Would you be willing to sponsor a child ? Think about it.

Since SK has suggested this should be a chain, I am requesting 2 other bloggers to do the same. I will update details here when I receive their acceptance.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Venus Vs Mars

I got this forward from a friend and since it has been going around for years, you have most likely seen it.

Rules for Women:

1. Don't cut your hair. Ever

1. Crying is blackmailing.

1. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one. Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!

1. We don't remember dates. Mark birthdays and anniversaries on a
calendar. Remind us frequently beforehand.

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after 24 hours.

1. It is genetic for us to look at women. Just deal with it.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways, and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.

1. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done. Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.

1. Christopher Columbus did not need directions, and neither do we.

1. We are not mind readers and we never will be. Our lack of mind-reading ability is not proof of how little we care about you

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," we will act like nothing's wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.

1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as baseball, the shotgun formation, or monster trucks.

1. I am in shape. ROUND is a shape.

I should ideally respond with rules for men, eh? But women really dont make them because we know men never even attempt to hear them leave alone following ! Perhaps a few suggestions and thoughts.....

1. Don't cut your hair. Ever - if u dont want us to do it, u shouldn't either => messing up with ur mush or goatie or watever !

1. Crying is blackmailing. - you stop drooling and we'll stop crying !!

1. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it! - If you dont mind us saying "can you get out now??" rather than "I guess I have to finish my work now", then its fine with us !

1. We don't remember dates. Mark birthdays and anniversaries on a
calendar. Remind us frequently beforehand. - When you know all about the cricketer that captained his team to a Ranji trophy in 2007 or what Ambani is up to, is it that difficult to remember a couple of dates involving the person you say you "care" for? Have you ever thought about how happy you could make her by actually remembering at least one?

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact,all comments become null and void after 24 hours.


1. It is genetic for us to look at women. Just deal with it. - It is genetic for us to be possessive. Just deal with it and the glaring and the screaming !!

1. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done. Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself. - Then for God's sake, dont tell us that you want to try your hand at cooking, please !! aprum asai mattum dhan irukkum....dosai, apalam,vadai edhuvum irukadhu !

1. Christopher Columbus did not need directions, and neither do we. - When stranded in a Dutch speaking country, not knowing where to go at midnight, we dont mind your "know-it-all" act as long as u at least allow us to ask for directions !

1. We are not mind readers and we never will be. Our lack of mind-reading ability is not proof of how little we care about you. - We are mind readers and you can never get away with your lying ! so simply, speak the truth ! Our mind-reading ability is proof of how much we know and care about you.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is. – Then why do you complain when we shop for hours, obviously we can see in 224 colors !

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," we will act like nothing's wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle. - You should know that the longer you wait, the powerful the ''nothing'' becomes, be warned that it is an exponential series.

1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as baseball, the shotgun formation, or monster trucks. – oh you poor thing, have you still not understood that we patiently listen to such topics only to use it as a bait to take you shopping or to a wedding ?

1. I am in shape. ROUND is a shape. – can you deal with it if we follow the same logic?

Disclaimer: All the above mentioned are real and nothing imaginary! Anything resembling anyone is totally intentional!

I hope you had a good laugh….and that brings us to the interesting point of how men being from Mars and women being from Venus make life really exciting; it would just be too boring if every man did what his woman expects of him and viceversa, right ? and let live :D !

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Madras Lollu

Customer: Saidapet varuma ?
Autokarar: 150 ruba agum

C: 150a ?? naan oorlerndhu Madras varadhuke avalo agala....
A: nalrai (Rs. 4.50) rubaiku poriya ?
C: ah...poren, poren
A: ezhuthapala busstop irukku, anga po
C: @#$$$^!@#!@#

namma ooru makkaluku irukara lollu....chancea illa !!

I saw this in a movie clip from Malai Malai

அப்பாவும் நானும்

14 அக்டோபர், 1981 - நுங்கம்பாக்கம் GG hospital மொட்டைமாடியில் அப்பா டென்ஷன் தாங்காமல் குறுக்கும் நெடுக்குமாக நடந்து கொண்டு இருந்தார். அப்போது மாமா அவசரமாக ஓடி வந்து 'பெண் குழந்தை பிறந்துருக்கு' என்று கூற அப்பா 'பெண்ணா?' என்று கேட்டுக் கொண்டே கீழே ஓடினார். அப்பா கேட்ட கேள்வியில் மாமாவிற்கு ஒரே கவலை....ரூமிற்கு சென்று எட்டிப் பார்த்தார்....அங்கு அப்பா என்னை கையில்
தூக்கி சந்தோஷமாக கொஞ்சிக் கொண்டுருப்பதைப் பார்த்து (background music: வா வா என் தேவதையே...) நிம்மதி பெருமூச்சு விட்டார்.

அம்மா குழந்தை பெற்று ஆறு மாதங்கள் தன் அம்மா வீட்டில் மாம்பலத்தில் இருக்க, அப்பா தினமும் mount roadல் ஆபீஸ் வேலை முடிந்தவுடன் டான் என்று வந்து விடுவார் என்னோடு விளையாட. அதற்கு பின் அவர் கிளம்பி பல்லாவரத்திற்குச் செல்ல வேண்டும் என்று எனக்கு தெரியுமா என்ன....

14 அக்டோபர், 1982 - எங்கள் குடும்பம் பெரிய கலகலப்பான குடும்பம். அம்மாவிற்கும் சரி அப்பாவிற்கும் சரி கூடப்பிறந்தவர்கள் நான்கு பேர், இதோடு சேர்த்து அவர்கள் ஒன்று விட்ட தம்பி தங்கைகள் வேறு, அதனால் ஒரு விசேஷமோ கல்யாணமோ என்றால் தெருவே களைக் கட்டும். அதுவும் அப்பா குடும்பத்தின் முதல் பெண் குழந்தையின் முதல் பிறந்த நாள் என்றால் சும்மாவா.....தாம் தூம் என்று நடந்தது.

போட்டோ என்பதே பெரிய விஷயமாக இருந்த காலத்தில் அப்பா அலையோ அலை என்று அலைந்து கலர் போட்டோ எடுக்க ஏற்பாடு செய்துருந்தார். அந்த போடோக்கள் (negatives உட்பட) மற்றும் இப்படி ஒவ்வொரு கால கட்டத்தில் எடுத்தவைகளும் இன்றும் பத்திரமாக இருக்கின்றன, அழகான ஆல்பங்கள் வடிவத்தில். வசதி வாய்ப்பு வந்தவுடன் அப்பா வாங்கியது ஒரு analog yaaschica கேமரா (அது இன்று வரை என்னிடம் இருக்கிறது). அதில் அப்பா எடுத்த போட்டோகளுக்கு கணக்கு வழக்கே இல்லை!

இன்று நான் நன்றாக போட்டோ எடுக்கிறேனென்றும், அலுக்காமல் அதை upload செய்து அனுப்பிகிறேனென்றும், வருடா வருடம் அதில் சிலவற்றை தேர்ந்து எடுத்து ஆல்பமாக print செய்து ஊருக்கு எடுத்து வருகிறதையும் பாராட்டி பேசுபவர்கள் பலருண்டு. இதை யாரிடமிருந்து கற்று கொண்டேனென்று நினைக்கிறீர்கள் ??

அப்பா எல்லோரிடமும் சிரிக்கச் சிரிக்க பேசுவார், சுலபமாக பழகி விடுவார். வீட்டிற்கு வந்து கீரை விற்பவளிடம் ஆரம்பித்து தெருவில் மாம்பழம் விற்பவன் வரை எல்லோரும் அப்பாவிடம் தங்கள் சொந்த கதை சோக கதையைச் சொல்வார்கள் (எங்கள் வீட்டில் தான் முதல் போனி என்பது வேறு விஷயம்). சில நேரங்களில் அப்பா அவர்களின் பிரச்சனைக்கு தீர்வும் சொல்லிருக்கிறார். முடியாத நேரங்களில் அவர்களிடம் கலகலப்பாக பேசி கேட்டதிற்கு மேல் பத்து ரூபாய் கொடுத்து சந்தோஷமாக அனுப்பியும் வைத்திருக்கிறார். இருக்கும் இடத்திலும் சரி, அலுவலகத்திலும் சரி, அப்பாவை தெரியாதவர்களும் கிடையாது, பிடிக்காதவர்களும் கிடையாது.

இன்று என்னை extrovert என்கிறார்கள். Performace Reviewல் 'excellent people skills' என்று மேனேஜெர் எழுதுகிறார். இதை யாரிடம் கற்றுக் கொண்டேனோ ?

அப்பா நிறைய புத்தகம் படிப்பார். படிப்பதோடு மட்டும் இல்லாமல் நல்ல கதைகளைச் சேகரித்து அவற்றை பத்திரப் படுத்தி வைப்பார். அதில் சில கதைகளை என்னிடம் அடிக்கடி படிக்கக் கொடுப்பார். இதில் தமிழும் உண்டு ஆங்கிலமும் உண்டு. அவருடைய சிறு வயதில் 'American Library' சென்று புத்தகங்கள் வாயிலாக ஆங்கிலம் கற்று கொண்டதைப் பற்றி அடிக்கடி கூறுவார். வீட்டில் அடிக்கடி எனக்கு தமிழில் பரீட்சை வைப்பார் - 'வியாழக்கிழமை வாழைப்பழத் தோலில் எழைக்கிழவன் வழுக்கி விழுந்தான்' , 'நல்லெண்ணெய் நல்ல எண்ணெய்' போன்ற வாக்கியங்களை படிக்கவும் எழுதவும் சொல்லுவார்.

நான்காம் வகுப்பு வரை தான் நான் பள்ளிக்கூடத்தில் தமிழ் படித்தேன். அப்பா வங்கியில் வேலை செய்வதால் வட இந்தியாவிற்கு மாற்றல் ஆகி விட்டால் நான் ஹிந்தி தெரியாமல் கஷ்ட பட கூடாதென்று அம்மா சொல்ல பள்ளிக்கூடத்தில் தமிழுக்கு பதில் ஹிந்தி படிக்க ஆரம்பித்தேன். ஆனாலும் இன்று தமிழ் படிப்பதிலும் எழுதுவதிலும் எனக்குப் பிரச்னை இல்லை, அது ஏனோ ?

ஆறாம் வகுப்பில் பள்ளிக்கூடத்தில் ஆங்கில பேச்சுப்போட்டி நடக்க இ௫க்கிறது என்று அப்பாவிடம் சொன்ன அடுத்த நாள் அப்பா ஒரு டைப் அடித்த பேப்பரை என்னிடம் கொடுத்துப் படிக்கச் சொன்னார். அப்பாவின் ஆங்கிலத்தைப் பார்த்து நான் மிரண்டே விட்டேன். ஏற்ற இறக்கத்தோடு எப்படி பேச வேண்டுமென்று சொல்லிக் கொடுத்தார். நன்றாகப் பேசினேன் என்று நினைத்தேன், ஆனாலும் பரிசு கிடைக்கவில்லை. அப்பாவிடம் வந்து சொன்ன போது 'மேடையில் எல்லோர் முன்னிலையிலும் stage fear இல்லாமல் பேசி விட்டாய். அதுத்த முறை நீ பேச போவதை நீயே சொந்தமாக எழுத வேண்டும், நான் அதை திருத்தி மட்டும் தருகிறேன் because you should never live on borrowed brains. அதோடு கண்ணாடி முன் நின்று பேசி பழகு, கை அசைவுகள், முக பாவங்களிலும் கவனம் செலுத்து' என்று கூறினார். அதன் பிறகு திருத்தங்கள் கொஞ்சம் கொஞ்சமாக குறைந்து நான் பரிசு வாங்கின பிறகு வீட்டிற்கு வந்து அப்பாவிடம் பேசி காட்டுவேன் என்ற நிலைமைக்கு வந்து விட்டது. பள்ளிக்கூடத்திலும் கல்லூரியிலும் நான் வாங்கிய பரிசுகள் இன்றும் எங்கள் வீட்டு showcaseல் இருக்கிறது. இன்று வரை எனக்கு அலுவலகத்தில் 'great presenter/orator' என்ற பெயர் உண்டு. இதற்கு விதை விதைத்தது யாரோ ?

அப்பா அடிக்கடி ''Letters to the editor'' பிரிவிற்கு Hindu, துக்ளக், விகடன் போன்ற பத்திரிகைக்களுக்கு கடிதங்கள் எழுதுவார். சில சமயம் தன் கருத்துக்கள் பற்றி எழுதுவார், சில சமயம் சுற்றி இருக்கும் பிரச்சனைகள் பற்றி எழுதுவார். அதை என்னிடம் கூப்பிட்டுக் காட்டுவார். படிக்கச் சொல்லி என் அபிப்பராயத்தைக் கேட்பார்.

இன்று நான் பதிவுகள் நன்றாக எழுதுகிறேன் என்று நீங்கள் சொல்கிறீர்கள் (:D)அதற்கு அன்று பிள்ளையார் சுழி போட்டது யாரோ ?

சோகமாக இருக்கும் பொழுது அப்பா 'உனக்கு battery recharge தேவைப்படும் போல இருக்கிறதே' என்று சொல்லி என்னை அணைத்துக் கொள்வார், என்னையும் அறியாமல் சிரித்து விடுவேன் (இது வசூல்ராஜா அல்லது munnabhai MBBSku மிகவும் முன்னாடி ஆரம்பித்தப பழக்கம்).

நினைவு தெரிந்த வயதிலிருந்து நான் கேட்டு அப்பா எதுவுமே இல்லை என்று சொன்னதில்லை. அதற்கு அர்த்தம் செல்லம் கொடுத்து என்னை கெடுத்து விட்டார் என்பதில்லை. ஏழாவது படிக்கும் பொழுது சைக்கிள் வேண்டுமென்று கேட்டதிற்கு அப்பா சொன்னார் ''நீ வகுப்பில் முதல் ரேங்க் வாங்கு, அதற்கு பரிசாக சைக்கிள் வாங்கி தருகிறேன்''. அது வரை படிப்பில் பெரிதாக கவனம் செலுத்தாத நான் அந்த முறை முட்டி மோதி படித்து முதல் ரேங்க்கும் வாங்கி விட்டேன். அப்பா மிகவும் பெருமை பட்டார், அன்றைய காலத்தில் எல்லோரும் பார்த்து வியக்கும் BSA SLR (:D) வாங்கிக் கொடுத்தார். முதல் ரேங்க் வாங்கியதில் திடீரென்று மாணவர்கள் மத்தியுலும் ஆசிரியர்கள் மத்தியுலும் பிரபலமாகி விட்ட நான் அதை விட்டுக் குடுக்க மனமில்லாமல் ஒழுங்காகப் படிக்க ஆரம்பித்தேன்.

அப்பாவிற்கு ஊரு சுற்றி பார்பது ரொம்ப பிடிக்கும். ஒவ்வொரு வருடமும் பள்ளி விடுமுறைக்கு எங்கேயாவது போவதுண்டு, அதுவும் நன்றாக ஏற்பாடு செய்து பல சுவாரஸ்யமான இடங்களுக்கு சௌகர்யமாக அழைத்துச் செல்வார். ராமேஸ்வரத்தில் ஆரம்பித்து பத்ரிநாத் கேதார்நாத் வரை, ஊட்டியில் ஆரம்பித்து குலு மனாலி வரை, பெங்களூரில் ஆரம்பித்து பாம்பே டில்லி வரை, மைசூரில் ஆரம்பித்து ஜெய்பூர் வரை பல இடங்களுக்குப் போய் இருக்கிறோம். இன்று நான் US, Canada, Europe என்று ஊரு சுத்தும் பொழுது எப்படி அலுக்காமல் சுத்தி கொண்டுருக்கிறாய் என்று யாரவது கேட்டால் சிரிப்பு வராத என்ன ??

ஒன்பதாம் வகுப்பில் பள்ளிக்குச் சென்று வருகிற வழியில் ஒரு சைக்கிள் கடைக்காரன் அடிக்கடி என்னை கேலி செய்வான்....'புது டிரஸ் பிரமாதம்', 'பூ வெச்சுக்கோ' இப்படி ஏதாவது சொல்லுவான். வெறும் கலாட்டா தானே என்று நான் அதை வீட்டில் யாரிடமும் சொல்லவில்லை. ஒரு நாள் அப்பா என்னிடம் வந்து அவனைப் பற்றிக் கேட்கவே எனக்கு கொஞ்சம் படபடப்பு. இன்று நான் ஸ்கூட்டரில் வந்து கொண்டிருக்கும் பொழுது ஒருவன் 'மாமா' என்று என்னைக் கூப்பிடான். திரும்பி பார்த்தால் குரல் நம்ம சைக்கிள் கடையிலிருந்து வந்தது போல் இருந்தது என்று கூறிச் சிரித்தார். அப்பாவின் சிரிப்பைப் பார்த்து வந்த தெம்பில் எல்லாக் கதையையும் அப்பாவிடம் சொன்னேன். நான் சொல்லுவதை பொறுமையாகக் கேட்டுவிட்டு சொன்னார் 'இதையெல்லாம் நீ இனிமேல் சமாளிக்கக் கற்று கொள்ள வேண்டும். அவன் கலாட்டா செய்வதை நீ கண்டு கொள்ளாமல் போகும் வரை ஒரு பிரச்சனையும் இல்லை, அவனுக்கு அதில் ஒரு அல்ப சந்தோஷம் என்று விட்டு விடு. எப்பொழுது நீ அவனிடம் கோபித்துக் கொண்டு சண்டை போடுகிறாயோ, அப்பொழுது தான் அவனுக்கு இன்னும் உற்ச்சாகம் வரும். மற்றும் அவன் நமது ஏரியாவில் இருப்பதால் உன்னிடம் பெரிதாக வம்பு பண்ணும் தைரியம் அவனுக்கு இருக்காது'. அன்று முதல் இது போல் பல கடலை மற்றும் ஜொள்ளு மேட்டரைகளை அப்பாவும் நானும் அலசி ஆராய்ந்து சிரித்து இருக்கிறோம் (அதில் சிலவற்றை பிற்பகுதியில் எழுதி இருக்கிறேன்).

பத்தாம் வகுப்பில் அப்பாவிற்கு Chandigarhகு மாற்றல் ஆகி விட்டது. என் படிப்பிற்காக நாங்கள் சென்னையில் தங்கி விட, அப்பா Chandigarhகு சென்றார். இதற்கு முன் திருச்சிக்கு மாற்றலானா பொழுது நாங்கள் எல்லோரும் சேர்ந்து சென்றதால் இந்த முறை அப்பா தனியாக செல்வது என்னோவோ போல் இருந்தது. அப்பா ஊரிலிரிந்து முதல் முறை சென்னை திரும்பிய பொழுது அம்மாவுடன் சீக்கிரம் எழுந்து வாசலில் ரங்கோலியில் ''Welcome home, appa'' என்று சந்தோஷமாக போட்டது இன்றும் நினைவில் இருக்கிறது. அப்பாவும் விமான வசதி பெரிதாக இல்லாத அந்த காலத்திலும் மாதம் ஒரு முறையாவது GT பிடித்துச் சென்னை வந்து விடுவார். இதை தவிர அடிக்கடி கடிதமும் எழுதுவார். அந்த வருடம் எங்கள் வீட்டில் டெலிபோன் வசதி வந்தவுடன் STD bill பற்றி கொஞ்சம் கூட கவலை படாமல் பேசிய நாட்களுமுண்டு. எப்படா பத்தாவது பரீட்சை முடியும், எப்படா Chandigarh சென்று அப்பாவை பார்ப்போமென்று ஆகி விட்டது. இப்படியே இரண்டு வருடங்கள் ஓடி விட்டது.

பன்னிரெண்டாம் வகுப்பில் நான் எங்குச் சென்றாலும் பின்னாடி வந்து தொல்லை செய்பவர்கள் பற்றி அப்பாவிடம் அடிக்கடி பேசுவேன். காதல் தேசம் படம் பார்கயில் (SPBயும் தபுவும் அப்பா மகள்) தபு பின்னாடி சுற்றுபவர்கள் SPBகு விழுந்து விழுந்து வேலை செய்யும் காட்சி - அப்பா திரும்பி என்னிடம் சொன்னார் ''உன் பின்னாடி சுத்தற பசங்கள நாளைக்கு வீட்டுக்கு வர சொல்லு, எக்கச்சக்கமா வேலை இருக்கு'' ! இன்னும் ஒரு முறை ஒருவன் என்னிடம் லெட்டர் கொடுக்க அலையோ அலை என்று அலைய, நான் தொலைந்து போ என்று லெட்டரை வாங்கிக் கொண்டேன். அதில் 1008 எழுத்து பிழைகளோடு ஒரு கவிதை (எனக்கு சும்மாவே நிலவையும் பெண்ணையும் சேர்த்துச் சொல்லும் கவிதை என்றால் அலர்ஜி!) - ஓடும் நிலவு கூட என்னைப் பார்த்து விட்டு செல்கிறது, ஆனால் நீயோ என்னை பார்த்தும் பாராமல் போகிறாயே, அது ஏனோ?......இதை படித்து நானும் அப்பாவும் வயறு வலிக்கும் வரை சிரித்தது நேற்று நடந்தது போல் இருக்கிறது. இப்படி ஜாலியாக இருக்கும் அப்பா காலித்தனம் செய்பவர்களையும் சமாளித்திருக்கிறார். தொடர்ந்து Blank calls வரும் பொழுது டெலிபோனை எடுத்து ''ஹலோ, RA Puram போலீஸ் ஸ்டேஷன்'' என்று சொல்லி போன் செய்பவனை மிரள வைத்திருக்கிறார்.

IIT பரீட்சை எழுதி தேர்வு பெறாமல் சோர்ந்து இருந்த என்னை அப்பவோ அம்மாவோ ஒரு வார்த்தைக் கூடத் திட்டவில்லை. அப்பா தெரிந்தவர்களிடம் விசாரித்து என்னை என் TNPCE மார்க்குக்கு ஏற்றது போல் ஒரு பொறியியல் கல்லூரியில் சேர்த்து விட்டார். அது சென்னையில் இல்லாததால் ஹாஸ்டலில் தங்க வேண்டி வந்தது. தாத்தா இறந்த போது கூட அழாத அப்பா என்னை ஹாஸ்டலில் சேர்த்த பின் வீட்டிற்கு வந்து அம்மாவிடம் அழுதார். மாதம் ஒரு முறை தான் வீட்டிற்கு செல்லலாம் என்ற எங்கள் ஹாஸ்டல் விதியை முறி அடித்தே நானும் அப்பாவும் தான். நான் வாரம் ஒரு முறை வீட்டிற்குச் சென்று கொண்டிருந்தேன் ! அதிலும் எங்கள் ஹாஸ்டலில் பெண்களை தனியாக வீட்டிற்குச் செல்ல அனுமதிக்க மாட்டார்கள், பெற்றோர்கள் வந்து அழைத்துச் செல்ல வேண்டும். அப்பாவும் அலுக்காமல் வருவார்.

இரண்டு ஆண்டுகள் முடிந்த பிறகு college bus கிண்டி வரை வந்ததால் வீட்டிலிருந்து போக ஆரம்பித்தேன். காலை 7 மணிக்கு கிண்டியில் பஸ்ஸை பிடிக்க வேண்டுமென்றால் மந்தவெளியிலிருந்து 6 மணிக்கு கிளம்ப வேண்டும். அதே போல் சாயங்காலம் வீடு திரும்ப எட்டு ஆகிவிடும். முதல் நாள் சாப்பிட உட்கார்ந்த நான் உட்கார்ந்த இடத்திலேயே தூங்கி ஆடுவதை பார்த்த அப்பா அடுத்த நாள் முதல் என்னை ஸ்கூட்டரில் கிண்டி வரை கொண்டு விட்டு கூட்டி வர ஆரம்பித்தார், மாத கணிக்கில் இல்லை இரண்டு ஆண்டுகளுக்கு !

பொறியியல் படிப்பு முடிந்தவுடன் மேற்படிப்புக்கு வேண்டிய ஏற்பாடுகள் செய்ய ஆரம்பித்தேன். அப்பா எப்பொழுதும் தன் வேலையே தானே செய்து கொள்ள வேண்டுமென்பார், கைஎழுத்து வேண்டுமென்றால் மட்டும் என்னிடம் வா என்பார். பாஸ்போர்டிலிருந்து education லோன் வரை எங்கு சென்றாலும் இதை கொண்டா அதை கொண்டா என்று எல்லாச் சான்றிதழ்களையும் கேட்பார்கள். வீட்டிற்கு வந்து தேட வேண்டும் என்று நினைத்த எனக்கு அதிர்ச்சி. பீரோவில் வருடம் வாரியாக எல்லாவற்றையம் அப்பா தனி தனியாக பிரித்து, சரியான பெயர்களுடன் கூடிய fileகளில் போட்டு வைத்திருந்தார். இன்று ஜெர்மன்யில் வரி பணம் திரும்பி பெற எனது ஆடிடரிடம் பேசும் பொழுது எல்லாவற்றையும் தெளிவாக அனுப்பி இருக்கிறாய் என்பார். எங்கு பார்த்தேன் இந்த நல்ல பழக்கத்தை ?

நானே application போட்டேன், விசாவிற்கு எல்லாவற்றையம் பார்த்துக் கொண்டேன். German embassy எங்கு இருக்கிறது என்று கூட இன்று வரை அப்பாவிற்குத் தெரியாது. மகளை தனியாக எதற்கு ஜெர்மனி அனுப்புகிறாய் என்று பலர் கேட்டாலும் அவள் பார்த்துக் கொள்வாள் என்று ஒரே வரியில் பதில் சொல்லுவார். இன்று பலர் என்னிடம் தனியாக எப்படிச் சென்றாய் என்று கேட்கிறார்கள்....,எங்கிருந்து வந்திருக்கும் இந்த தைரியமும் தன்னம்பிக்கையும் எனக்கு ??

நான் ஜெர்மனி வந்து ஒரு மாதம் ஆயிருக்கும். ஒரு நாள் வீடு நினைவாகவே இருந்தது, போன் பண்ணி அப்பாவிடம் பேசலாமென்றுத் தோன்றியது, ஆனால் போனில் வார்த்தையே வரவில்லை, அப்பா பயந்து விடுவார் என்று அப்புறம் பேசுகிறேன் என்று வைத்து விட்டேன். அதுத்த நாள் அப்பா போன் பண்ணி என்னிடம் விகடனில் படித்த கடி ஜோக்குகள் சொன்னார். நான் விழுந்து விழுந்துச் சிரிக்கயில், இந்த சிரிப்பைத் தான் நேற்று கேட்க முடியவில்லை என்று சொல்லி அப்பா நெகிழ்ந்து போனார், எனக்கோ கண்ணில் மறுபடியும் கண்ணீர்....

திருமண வயது வந்தவுடன் அப்பாவிடம் தான் ஒருவரை விரும்புகிறேன் என்றும், அவரையே திருமணம் செய்து கொள்ள விருப்பப் படுகிறேன் என்றும் முதலில் சொல்ல வேண்டும் என்று முடிவு எடுத்து பேச்சை எப்படி ஆரம்பிப்பது என்று யோசித்த பொழுது அப்பாவே கேட்டார் ''யாரு, அஷோக்கா ?'' (என் கணவர் பெயர் அஷோக்). அதிர்ச்சியுடன் கூடிய சிரிப்புடன் ஆம் என்று தலை ஆட்டினேன். என் பிறந்த நாளையே பெரிதாக கொண்டாடின அப்பாவிற்கு என் திருமணத்தை நடத்தச் சொல்லியா தர வேண்டும்...ஜமாய்த்து விட்டார்.

அப்பாவிற்கு இசை என்றால் உயிர். அருமையாக பாடுவார் - தமிழிலும் சரி, ஹிந்தியிலும் சரி. இத்தனைக்கும் அப்பாவிற்கு ஹிந்தி தெரியாது. அர்த்தமே தெரியாமல் வெறும் கேள்வி ஞானத்தில் கிஷோர் குமார் பாட்டுக்களைப் பாடி தூள் கிளப்பி விடுவார். அப்பா ''ஒளிமயமான எதிர்காலம்'' பாடாமல் எங்கள் வீட்டில் விசேஷங்கள் நடந்ததே இல்லை ! கடை கடையாய் தேடித் தேடி நல்ல பாட்டு கேசட்களைச் சேர்த்து வைப்பார் (இன்று DVD :D), அதே போல் சினிமா படங்களும். இன்று என்னிடம் 10 GB பாட்டு, தூங்கி எழுந்து படுக்கப் போகும் வரையில் laptopilo iPodilo பாட்டு நாள் முழுவதும் ஓடிக் கொண்டே இருக்கும். என் கணவர் இதற்கு என்னை கிண்டல் செய்து என்ன பயன் ??

அப்பாவை நான் டென்ஷனாகப் பார்த்த ஞாபகமே இல்லை. அடிக்கடி ''take it easy policy'' என்பார். நான் கோவப்பட்டு அப்பாவை கையில் தட்டினால் ''என்ன மைகேல் அப்பாவையே அடிக்கற'' என்பார் (மைகேல் மதன காம ராஜன்).

அப்பா ஒரு சுகவாசி. வாழ்க்கையை அனுபவிக்க வேண்டும் என்று அடிக்கடிச் சொல்லுவார். தூங்க போவதற்கு முன் திரையை போட்டு விட்டு, ஏ.சி on செய்து விட்டு, மெல்லியதான சில பாடல்களைப் போட்டு விட்டு வந்து கட்டிலில் படுத்துக் கொள்வார். நானும் பக்கத்தில் போய் படுத்துக் கொண்டு ரொம்ப நேரம் அப்பாவிடம் கதை பேசுவேன்....சுகமான நினைவுகள்....

நான் பள்ளிக்கூடத்திலும் கல்லூரியிலும் ''Best outgoing student'' வாங்கியதில் அப்பாவின் பங்கைப் பற்றி இன்னும் கூறவா வேண்டும் ? பாஷை தெரியாத மேல்நாட்டிற்கு வந்து படித்து வேலை பார்ப்பதில் அப்பாவின் பங்கைப் பற்றி இன்னும் கூறவா வேண்டும் ? மனதுக்குப் பிடித்தவரை கல்யாணம் செய்து கொண்டு சந்தோஷமாக இருப்பதில் அப்பாவின் பங்கைப் பற்றி இன்னும் கூறவா வேண்டும் ? நான் குழந்தையாக இருக்கும் போதே எல்லோரும் அப்படியே அப்பாவை உரித்து வைத்துருக்கிறேன் என்று சொல்வார்கள்....அப்பாவும் அதை கேட்டுப் பெருமை பட்டுக் கொள்வார். என்னை யாரவது புகழ்ந்தால் ''யாரோட பொண்ணு'' என்று அப்பா மார் தட்டிக் கொள்வார்....அதை பார்ப்பதற்காகவே எல்லோரும் புகழும் வகையில் நடந்துக் கொள்ள வேண்டும் என்று தோன்றும் !

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இன்று அப்பாவிற்கு வயது 55. பல முறை அவரால் முன்பு போல் இருக்க முடியவில்லையே என்று தோன்றும்....ஆனால் நானும் இன்னும் இரட்டை ஜடை போட்ட சிறுமி அல்ல என்பது நினைவுக்கு வரும்....அவர் செய்ததெல்லாம் போதும், இது நான் திருப்பிச் செய்ய வேண்டிய கட்டம் என்ற கடமையும் முன் வந்து நிற்கும்.

அப்பா இன்றும் அதே சிரித்த முகத்துடன் ஜாலியாக தான் உண்டு, தன் computer உண்டு என்று இருக்கிறார்....ஆபீசிலிருந்து வந்தவுடன் ஒரு பக்கம் கம்ப்யூட்டரில் விகடன் படிப்பதென்ன, இன்னொரு பக்கம் mp3 download பண்ணுவதென்ன என்று படு பிசியாக இருப்பார். நான் வார வாரம் போன் செய்யும் பொழுது என்ன சாப்பிட்டேன் என்று கேட்பார். நான் salad, soup என்றுச் சொன்னால், ஐயோ, நான் உன்னை நினைத்துக் கொண்டே இப்பொழுது தான் வெங்காய வத்தக்குழம்பும் உருளைக்கிழங்கும் சாப்பிட்டேன் என்று என்னை கிண்டல் செய்வார்.

வருடா வருடம் இந்தியா போகும் பொழுது அப்பாவை சென்னை ஏர்போர்டில் பார்த்த பிறகு தான் அப்பாடி என்று இருக்கும்....ஏனென்றால் இதில் முதல் Hug அப்பாவிற்கு தான்.......என் அப்பாவிற்கு.......

Note of Wisdom: You do not have to worry about your kids not listening to you but you should worry about them always watching you. They are what you do !

Disclaimers: அம்மா கோபித்துக் கொள்ளாதே, நான் அப்பா செல்லம் என்பதால் அப்பாவைப் பற்றி முதலில் எழுதி விட்டேன்...உன்னை பற்றி எழுதவும் நிறைய இருக்கிறது :)

அப்பாவைப் பற்றி சொல்லும் சாக்கில் என்னை பற்றியும் நன்றாக பீத்தி கொண்டுவிட்டேன்...பொறுத்துக் கொள்ளவும் :D

Statutory Warning: பதிவின் பெயரையும் background musikayum பார்த்து இது ''அபியும் நானும்'' மாதிரி இருக்கிறது என்று ஒப்பிட வேண்டாம்....அது கதை, இது அதையும் தாண்டி புனிதமானது, புனிதமானது, புனிதமானது......

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Nishabd leaves you speechless

Nishabd is probably a very controversial movie and God knows how many people are going to get agitated about this post, but with the few followers I have I guess I can take that risk :D !

In one phrase: a master piece from Ram Gopal Varma.

Its a slow movie and more so deals with the most controversial of stories where a 60 year old Amitabh and a 18 yr old girl fall in love. To make matters worse, he is a family man with a wife and the girl he falls in love with, is his daughter's friend.

When I saw the movie, I had no idea about either the story or the controversy surrounding it and I found the screenplay very different, very intriguing. The lighting, the camera angles, the music - everything looks like a thriller and this effect adds to the effect of forbidden romance and kind of makes you forget its a slow movie.

Jiah khan and her curls were perfect for that girlish charm, innocence and fun that draws Amitabh's attention to her. I like the way she says ''take it light'' or ''it was 11400 times better than that sas bahu serial you were watching''. I like her child like enthusiasm in showing delight and expressing disappointment when looking at her good and bad fotos. I like how she expresses her ''I-dont-care'' attitude.

Amitabh's life with his wife, an arranged marriage where there is more duty than love in everything one does, is interrupted by Jiah who seems like a breath of fresh air to him, brings out his youth, makes him laugh for no reason, makes him feel alive.

Depiction of Amitabh's really mundane life, the interesting relationship building between Jiah and him - simply brilliant.

Needless to say, the daughter and the wife and the boy who has a crush on Jiah are not happy, they throw tantrums and this results in his brother-in-law and friend, Nasser, coming home to give him a counseling session. As a result of the counseling session, Amitabh ends his relationship with Jiah and asks her to leave the house. His wife is unable to forgive him. Although, listening to this story would have normally made me reprimand the husband and reproach his morals, the way the movie was made, to me nothing seemed perverted. True, people were hurt but I still felt ''all is fair in love and war'' and I have never felt this way before in similar situations and I think the credit goes to RGV.

After this, he is lonely and even thinks about suicide but says ''uski yaadon main kuch aur din jeena chahta hun'' and he leads the rest of his life just with Jiah's memories. The scene where he explains this to Nasser is so moving and different that everytime you think about the scene, you get a different perspective. I consider this movie as Amitabh's best performance closely followed by Cheeni Kum, another movie that I liked and will write about soon.

The movie is definitely not for our ammas, appas but if you can watch it with an open mind, you might enjoy it even if you dont agree with it.

Finally, here are the links to some of the scenes I liked, in no particular order...actually these clips tell the story too (andha kalathu thirai malar madhri)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Paris in 3D

As an engineer, I am completely amazed at the 3D rendering and not just using grey building models but completely textured 3D building models especially on an embedded device.

the ''+''
- very nicely textured 3D building models with descriptions for tourists
- Lots of POIs (points of interest)
- clever platform: iPhone supports Open GL ES and hardware graphics acceleration (triggering an avalanche of applications !)

the ''-''
- iPhone still does not support multi-tasking i.e. if you want to take a call, you cannot use it as a navigator anymore and the time taken for the navigation to restart depends on how smart the application you use is !
- A number of applications have to run in parallel on an iPhone which means this application will get very limited resources (and am sure they are not showing this in the demo)
- The price: if you have been in the iPhone apps store, you will know what I mean. There are around 30,000 iPhone apps and if you choose the cheapest (which most people do), this 7 euro application will never show up.
- is too real: If i was a tourist planning to go to Paris, this application which shows the city in broad daylight effects with no traffic might prove a disappointment if I land in Paris in october on a rainy day with cars and tourist buses everyday. Plus I feel this kind of removes the element of surprise that one gets when one visits a new has to learn to live with technology :) !

This application is going to be developed further for many other cities. Let's wait and see if this aids tourism or if the too-real factor makes people just content with the video :D !

Image from the mobile3Dcity video of Paris

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Nachle Madhuri

While I was watching ''Aaja Nachle'' for the third time yesterday night (yeah, yeah, I was vetti :D), I realised that I should pour out my thoughts in a post. Before you read ahead, if you like dance, in general and Madhuri's dance, in particular, you will totally enjoy the movie. I saw the movie just to see if Madhuri's comeback was worth all the hype and was pleasantly surprised by how good the movie was.

Plot: A very simple one; the Govt. decides to build a mall after demolishing an open-air theatre in a village called Shamli and its upto Madhuri to save the theatre by proving that the people need music and dance in their lives. This is complicated by the fact that the villagers hate her since she fell in love and ran away the day before her wedding and is now back in town after years, divorced and with a daughter.

What I totally totally loved was Madhuri, Madhuri and Madhuri. She was absolutely brilliant not only because this is a dance based movie but also because she acted her age, a woman in her thirties (and she did look like it since she has lost a lot of weight and the only time you miss the bubbly ek dho theen girl is when you see a really tight close up). I do not think any other actress can match her in the elegance, style, expressions and agility of her dance. A good example would be the Dola Re song from Devdas where Aishwarya literally struggles to keep up with the maestro.

The movie would have never worked without the brilliant portrayal of the laila majnu musical; I wonder why they are not making it an international show like Bombay dreams. The laila maju cast was so perfect; like the villagers, the audience is left surprised at how the simple looking people suddenly transform into ace performers.

The undercurrent of subtle romance throughout the movie be it between Laila and Majnu, the house owner and his wife, or the one-sided track with Mohan is handled so well that neither do they digress from the storyline nor are they cheesy. When noone seems to be on Madhuri's side, Mohan, the chaiwalla, the groom she left standing at the altar when she ran away comes to her and says ''mein hoon, chai bhi apki, mein bhi apka''....I was so moved, is one of the most beautiful scenes in the movie.

If you ignore some flaws in logic, like who is paying for the extravagant sets and costumes of the musical or where the other performers in the musical come from (we never ask these questions about people who dance with Shahrukh and Salman, right ? Same logic) and simply watch the movie, you can definitely enjoy it.
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