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Showing posts from January, 2007

Balan - A small story from Pallavur

Chevudan balan chatte, chevudan balan chaatte (deaf balan is dead) …so we gleaned from the high pitched voice from afar, and looking out (we cousins were sitting on the raised verandah and gossiping) we saw the running boy, barefoot, speeding through the raised field embankment or varambu…he was wearing a pair of faded shorts, suspended with straps and showing his bony frame…no shirt due to the heat, I guess. Well, in summer, the heat radiated off the swamimala was quite fierce with hardly a breeze to cool one off, so it did make sense to let the kids run around bare bodied…the boy was screaming at the top of his voice. I don’t know who instructed him to run through the village to announce the news, but he did this with great responsibility and alacrity. Within an hour the village knew that Balan was dead, not that people were bothered by the news. Even womenfolk hardly batted eyelids.

Until then few knew Balan, though many had seen him walk hunched and fearful by the edge of the road,…

Apro bawaji Zubin …

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I remembered him when I saw his felicitation on US national TV, a few weeks ago. The picture is interesting, Zubin (and the great Andrew L Weber) does not honor the pledge with his hand over his heart…..I don’t blame him, after all he is the guy who whips out a packet of crushed dried chillies (grown in his own LA backyard) from the small silver box out of his pocket and adds them to bland western dishes doled out to him during ceremonial dinners. (Like my friend Alka who carries a bit of crushed ginger for her tea, wherever she goes….) On further checking I read that Zubin still carries an Indian passport!!!

Zubin Mehta, the maestro who has spent his adult life in the U.S., Canada and Europe, writes in his autobiography, “I have never really left India, you know. It is still today the only place where my dreams take me to. Of course in my dreams there are my wife, my children, my friends, but always they are in Bombay. Every morning of my life I wake up in Bombay.”

To a certain extent…

The Talkative Woman

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There is no dearth of restaurants in Carlsbad (they claim it to be the golf capital of the world) where our office is located. There is Thai, Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Irish; all the usual fast food places like Mac, Jack in the box…….but no Indian food. On some days, when the mood suits it, I drop into the French Bakery and order a nice bowl of soup. They make some really good cream of Broccoli soup, something I discovered by chance, as I have always stayed well clear of that vegetable these years. This place always made it fresh and served it with thinly sliced French baguette and butter…

Carlsbad itself has nothing much to do with its namesake in Czech Republic. It became popular for similar reasons though, as Karlsbad CZ is a health spa. At the end of this note is a small bit of history for those interested.

So here I am at the French Bakery off Carlsbad village road, sitting and waiting for my soup to be delivered. It is a non descript place, but does remind you of France, and mo…

Those were the days – Train rides - Part 1

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I was riding on the airport link between Portland airport and Lloyd’s centre in downtown Portland, today. The train was one of those light rail transit services serving the city much akin to the Frisco Bart, though a considerably smaller network. It had no character, there were just three jokers in my compartment including me, all looking equally bored. And I remembered days traveling on our Indian railway system. How eventful they were!

When it comes to statistics, IR stands tall, serving many a thousand mile, largest network, longest tracks, largest freight haulage…..least revenue collected, biggest loss maker…whatever. But for me, it all started way back in the early 60’s.

The first time we got introduced to them was the very first lesson in the first standard.

Koo koo kookoo theevandi, kooki ppayum theevandi
Kalkari thinnum thevandi, vellam monthum theevandi...


Every child dreamed of traveling on a steam locomotive mugging those lines and my first rail ride was not far away...sitting i…