Showing posts from July, 2006

Four stars and India

Cliff Richard, Englebert Humperdink, Freddie Mercury and Norah Jones -

Each a big name, conjuring up great music, amassing fans and making a name for themselves – What connection did they have with India? I decided to investigate

Englebert Humperdinck – Born in Madras 1936 as Arnold George Dorsey to a British dad and an Anglo Indian mom – Big family, Arnold was the youngest - mom taught violin, moved to UK in 1947 and then on to US. His manager renamed him Englebert. This multimillionaire singer still has relatives in Chennai and visits them

"I have such wonderful childhood memories of Madras. I like the sun, and my 10 siblings and I went from a big home in India to relatively modest surroundings in England, which can be so cold and grey."

"We lived near the harbour," Engelbert dimly recalls his Madras days. "The beach was nearby. I understand that the house that I lived in is no more. The tsunami took it away”.

Cliff Richard - Born in Lucknow 1940, named Harry Ro…

The week end so far

The heat has gone down a bit, a little rain last night. UK is liveable again...

Saw three good movies

Happy times (Chinese)

A movie by Yimou Zhang. A fantastic drama about human relationships, Our hero is an 'old' bachelor who wants to find a girl to marry. He does find one, but the package comes with another person, a blind girl that he has to take care of. The last half hour is brilliant, while the rest of the movie is good. Sometimes the movie reminds you of woody allen, anyway I wish the subtitles were faster. The Chinese talk fast like us and to get subtitles flowing is difficult.


Sathyan Anthikad and Mohanlal, well, it was very good. My wife & I enjoyed watching the movie, it had been a while since we saw Thanmathra...Meera jasmine, cute & impish, did a smaller but nice bit.. I still feel a bit about Oduvil, that nice man is no more...Innocent fans would enjoy him too, but some of the sathyan - mohanlal magic returned with the movie. Jagathy is wasted...

So true

Another that came the 'inbox'

1. Regular naps prevent old age... especially if you take them while driving.
2. Having one child makes you a parent; having two makes you a referee.
3. Marriage is a relationship in which one person is always right and the other is the husband!
4. They said we should all pay our tax with a smile. I tried- but they wanted cash.
5. A child's greatest period of growth is the month after you've purchased new school uniforms.
6. Don't feel bad. A lot of people have no talent.
7. Don't marry the person you want to live with, marry the one you cannot live without... but whatever you do, you'll regret it later.
8. You can't buy love. . But you pay heavily for it.
9. True friends stab you in the front.
10. Forgiveness is giving up my right to hate you for hurting me.
11. Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.
12. Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired.
13. My wife and I always comp…

Toothpaste for dinner

I stumbled upon this awesome guy Drew while googling and saw some of his cartoons

Give it a try

A few of my favourites...

OK, I have picked up the tag from Reshmi, ….here goes...

I admire

Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand (Alissa Rosenbaum) fled Russia with 50$ during the early years of the Russian revolution, heading for Chicago. Working odd jobs in Hollywood, she learnt English and did what she always wanted to do, write – to finally publish her first book ‘We the living’ after a decade of struggle. Seven years later, she wrote the classic ‘Fountainhead’. But for me, ‘Atlas Shrugged’ was by far her best...Ok, so that much for the author, why do I admire her? Her trip from a secure middle class life to despair and poverty, then out of it, her determination to keep her head high and her firm decision to become a great writer against many odds. In a strange & fiercely competitive land, she mastered a new language and wrote literary classics with it, sticking to her ‘objectivism’ philosophy. Her life & works teach you – perseverance, faith in one-self and above all, belief in success…

Ayn Rand said, My phil…

The Man inside

There we are, the train has reached Stafford. The PA system in the train has announced so. But I knew we were in Stafford, even though I had been using the Liverpool train from Crewe only for a month now. I have no choice but to memorise the stations and the time taken between the stations. I must be doubly sure though, so I flipped open my watch to check. Yes, the dial felt right, 8:20.

Off the train steps, I knew we were in platform 3, oho! The smell was right, you know what, it is easy; each place has a distinct smell, especially places like railway stations and shops. Nobody knows that better than me, most places have a distinct vibration & feel about them. They are all in my mental library, to be picked up on demand!

We are not on platform 1 though, hmm! There must be something dodgy with the trains today, maybe the 7:35 Pendolino to London was delayed and is therefore expected in platform 1? Up the stairs, over the tracks and down to platform 1, through the doors and to the pe…

Curious incident of the dog in the night time – Read it!!

Two books I read recently which were very different from the usual stuff - Life of Pi and Curious incident….. Thanks Venu, for recommending ‘Curious incident’ it was well worth a read and more.

The author is a chap called Mark Haddon who wrote children’s books and decided to get into the mind of one, but this time an Autistic child. It must have been a daunting & painstaking idea because from the efforts, one can easily make out that he eventually learnt precisely how to go about it. It must have been a really huge effort, because not only did he get into Christopher’s mind, he also created an engrossing whodunit.

Chris sees a murdered dog and decides to find out who did it; he also decides to write about it and well, that is the complex route you take with Chris once you get the book in your hands. Sometimes you even wonder, Is Aspergers a boon? Anyway as he progresses, he is drawn into the complex non-Asperger world…and this bewildered boy’s, orderly and mathematically assisted qu…

The week end...

The weather has been hot, hotter and then it cooled some..Got through a few of the pending movies..

Hyderabad blues 2- that was terrible. Kukunoor seems to be doing a better job at directing rather than acting. It was not worth the time spent..Stay away, though there are one or two good scenes.

Iqbal – Now this has Kukunoor directing, it was quite OK, but still a bit rough here and there. Shreyas acted well, itis inspirational, I shed a tear or two...And Naseeruddin Shah was fantastic! The scene wher ethe father returns when the family were engrossed in the cricket match was one of the best.

Chup chup Ke – After Punjabi house, this was truly horrible…Dilip was brilliant in the original, Kareena and her boy friend Shahid K were miserable in the remake. Stay away if you have not seen it. The only things I liked were photography and the colours, the wardrobe was not jarring …

The best of all was DaivaNamathil – As expected Jayaraj did very well..Both Prithviraj and Bhavana were very good in…

Auto-rickshaws are here!!!

Newspapers and BBC heralded their arrival as a fun thing, last month. There was a twinkle in the TV anchors ayes eyes and there was one in mine when I saw it…

Well, Well, our venerable auto-rickshaw has hit the UK streets. Tuctuc’s in Delhi were virtually old ‘bullet’ bikes towing a passenger compartment (or so I thought) and did sound ‘tuc tuc tuc’& carried more than 3 people. In Thailand, I recall, it was called the Tuc-tuc. Our Bajaj autos don’t tuc tuc by comparison, they just purr.

Well Domnic Ponnaih saw them in India and decided to bring them to Brighton UK, so he imported 12 Bajajs from Pune, upped the safety features (adding side bars and roll bars) converted the engine to natural gas…and Voila! hit the news. The fleet is now 12 big and expected to grow to cover London, rest of UK and then on to mainland Europe.

Drivers are supposed to be fun loving and have to wear a special uniform by a big name designer!! They have to know some tinkering (like our auto drivers – though no…

The survivors

Every now and then a good one pops up in the 'inbox', alittle American, but the essence of it is applicable worldwide. I guess

TO ALL THE KIDS WHO SURVIVED the 1930's 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's !!
First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us.
They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes
Our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paints.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking.
As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.
Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.
We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.
We shared one soft drink with four friends, and NO ONE actually died from this.
We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we weren't overwei…

Canal boats

I certainly did not know about these. Where I come from, the canal carried water to the fields in the district from Malampuzha. There was a lot of muttering amongst the farmers if that did not happen at the prescribed time.

So here I am in England, Liz who works in our department came the other day and said, ‘I am off on my holiday’. I asked ‘where are you going? Majorca or some such place?’ She said, ‘No, I will be on my canal boat’. I was wondering what on the earth she was talking about. I did recall passing a canal with some brightly coloured miniature boats the other day, so I asked Liz ‘you are going to spend a vacation on one of those, are they big enough?’ She said ‘of course, they are, we live & spend days on one and boat around the canals. We have a community and meet for supper in designated canal side pubs’..

‘It is really nice, you must try it’ she added. Well…I wondered...

No, I did not, but I looked it up. Today there is a community of some 27,000 boats, all used for p…

Eating at Ananda Bhavan

I had to find Ananda Bhavan without haste…So on the walk back (to catch the 1817 limited stop fast train from VT to Mulund) to VT from Nariman point, I decided to hunt out the place. Finding it was no big deal, everybody knew in the Fort area. Appeared to be a meeting place for Southies of Tamil or Mallu origin!! There it was…The smell of sambar and ghee wafted from the doorstep and every seat looked taken. A few hung around tables that were about to be vacated, looking with pleading eyes (go on, get up & go) on the other hand the guys sitting were finding reasons to delay their departure…this seating tug of war went on.. I joined this group waiting for a seat. And finally got one where a couple of guys were animatedly discussing the merits of living in Matunga vs Dombivilli..

How did I end up here ( this was in 1982)? As a South Indian in Bombay, fresh from Kerala (after a two-year stint in Chennai), I was desperate for proper South Indian food. There were plenty of Udupi restaura…

The wonder pill

Yahoo seems to be doing a decent job with Spam; today I read the stuff in the inbox and was idly hovering the mouse around the page, wondering about the next course of action. I chanced on the Spam button and decided to take a peep at what is in there.. some 60 messages, here is one of the lot….

Sender: Natalie ford – Subject: incomplete signup (meant to trigger your interest)
Icrease Your S''exual Desire and S''perm volume by 500%, L'onger o''rgasms - The longest most intense o''rgasms of your life, Multiple o''rgasms - Cum again and again, 100% N''atural and No Side Effects - in contrast to well-known brands. Experience three times longer o''rgasms, Sensationall revoolution in medicine!E''nlarge your p''enis up to 10 cm or up to 4 inches!Its h'erbal solution what hasnt side effect, but has 100% guaranted results! Lack control over your squirting? Partner unhappy with the time you last in bed?
World Wide shi…

How is this??

This was what I got from my friend JP the other day, he sounded very worried and had cranked off a mail to his buddy list.

Atul is not well. Last night he had severe pain on his right side and has been taken to hospital. If any of you happen to be in Chennai you could visit him....etc etc

Today a situation update arrived from JP

Atul is OK. He has a stone in his prick. The docs were planning to cut it off. So he has run away from hosp. Last heard that he has taken refuge in some big woman's bosom.

London taxi

You get into an auto in Bangalore….Eenree? elli hoga beku??? You pray to the gods before you tell the guy ‘take me to 1st block Kormangala’. The driver sits in that famous ‘half bum cheek on the seat’ pose, 45deg to the steering handle (I have never figured out why, my friend Madan told me that it came from Lamby scooter (Lamby had the engine on one side – so u have to offset yourself to balance it) drivers) he either does so straight away by the fastest & shortest route (Am I lucky today!) or he asks you which route you want to take, - ‘route gotha? Do you know the way?’ or if he finds you gullible enough (e.g. newbie off island express), by the longest possible route at ‘onthu arai’ ‘1andhalf’ fare..

So what should it be like in London?

Before being allowed to light their for hire sign, London's taxi drivers must pass a series of rigorous exams to prove they have committed to memory every street, major building and open space within a 10-km radius of the city centre and be abl…


A topsy turvy weekend...

I read a fascinating book - The curious incident of the dog in the night time. Wow! what a book, I will write about it later, but wait or rent one and read it!!! Simply great.

My favourite Mauresmo won finally, I am happy for her, have always rooted for her since I first saw her glorious backhand..Nadal lost though, kid still has a way to go. So Federer, live on for now...

The football - well Germany won, which was good, but France lost and that was sad, especially the last bit when Zidane saw red...Such is the pressure on the top I guess!!

Satnav friendly??

Transferring Smith and Jenkins from computer crimes to traffic was a big mistake!!
Thanks to

But this one beats it all. Give it a click, I assure you it is great

New York Calling?

Those going to New York, beware, it sure is a crazy place, see what the law has to say

A fine of $25 can be levied for flirting. This old law specifically prohibits men from turning around on any city street and looking "at a woman in that way." A second conviction for a crime of this magnitude calls for the violating male to be forced to wear a "pair of horse-blinders" wherever and whenever he goes outside for a stroll.

But at the same time, they say this

The New York City Transit Authority has ruled that women can ride the city subways topless. New York law dictates that if a man can be somewhere without a shirt, a woman gets the same right. The decision came after arrests of women testing the ordinance on the subways. A transit police spokesman said they would comply with the new rule, but "if they were violating any other rules, like sitting on a subway bench topless smoking a cigarette, then we would take action." Smoking is not allowed in the subways.


Ah! the Americans

Sears appliance store, Apparel Express shop to open in Madras
When I first read this screaming headline dt July 5th 2006, I was wondering, what the heck! Has globalisation been that quick? And that too Sears in Madras much before Bangalore and Bombay?

No, baba, Sears will open a store, not in our Chennai, but in Madras USA. Howdya like that? There are thousands of Tamilians in USA. How many of them know that there is a place called Madras in Oregon? Located in Jefferson County, this small town even has its own paper, the Madras Pioneer and just got wired - DSL broadband!

You know what came to my mind now? Mohanlal and Srinivasan ending up at Marina beach instead of Dubai thanks to Mamukoya. Just imagine an American planning a trip to Chennai and ending up at Madras OR!

Oh well, I can’t resist the next; let me give you an even bigger judka. Take a trip to Iowa….and you will chance on our capital city there, Delhi,…

MB Srinivasan, A tribute

Chembaka pushpa suwasita yamam…. Yesudas is crooning that wonderful MBS song from Yavanika…You are listening and picturing a time and place in front of a wood-cased valve radio, fingering its piano key selector array and looking at the magic ‘cat’ eye twinkling green, But no, Yavanika was actually a 1982 movie!!

I grew fond of MB Srinivasan’s music when I first heard his songs from the movie Ulkadal. Then came songs from the movies Yavanika, followed by Chillu and I adored those melodious numbers…. Many of this generation may not know MBS; he passed away some eighteen years ago.

Life went on, countries, continents and days passed by. His songs moved to the ‘old songs collection’ in my hard drive to be double-clicked on rarely. Today MBS re-entered my thoughts. I thought I will pen a few words on that great man who made me hum many a tune in the bathroom.

MBS always maintained a low profile in the news media, you read very little about him these or even those days.MBS was not a Mallu, Inh…


You are in the Western world, driving around , your heart leaps when you see ‘Malabar’ on a signboard. It takes you back to your roots…but roots later, more about the boards

Malabar restaurant – Stafford

Was I happy seeing it, I thought ‘fantastic’, now a mallu joint, and called them only to realise that it was a Bangladeshi Indian restaurant. I kept my distance from Malabar for many months. Finally we went there knowing fully well the end result …”from the shores of the Malabar, laced with fresh coconut and many Keralan (!!) Spices” ……read the menu. I hoped that they got a Mallu cook what with the new nurse crowd in Stafford. Eagerly ordered a couple of dishes only to realise that reality was far from what was projected in those menus. Nothing to do with coconuts or South India, usual Brit Curry fare made from various ready made masala pastes…

Malabar – Florida

When they started the new world, they took all the famous names from the old world. In the US, you will find London, Birmingham,…

Shashi Tharoor on RK Narayan

It must be fairly obvious to some who have seen my profile that RKN is a favourite of mine. Well, I was hunting for an RKN book on the net when I stumbled upon a blog by Amardeep Singh. That blog linked on to Tilo. Both dealt with RKN, Shashi Tharoor and what Tharoor had to say about RKN in a Hindu article.

By this time most of India would have heard about S Tharoor, Well, Shashi is his name and Tharoor is a village close to Pallavur, the place I write about, now and then. That is about all I have to do with this chap, but I was surprised at what Shashi had to say in the Hindu article on RKN’s writings (Pretty old -a 2001 article I am afraid). Now I must admit I have not read Tharoor’s novels, but I have read most RKN’s books, though regretfully not all (I aim to).

There are some who pick up a book and read it as a critic, with a purpose. Many a Mallu does that; they have to form their opinion. I don’t, I select a book or an author on a whim, on a recommendation, or a review. I do not r…


It is world cup season, the matches and teams have not yet met the hype, so I shuttle between cricket (finally India have won in WI after 35 years) and Wimbledon… But It is ‘fussball’ madness out here even after England’s loss, supermarkets have bigger & bigger discounts for ‘big and bigger’ cartons of beer and they are running out of stock. The situation was even worse in Germany, see this article

I think they have a problem now, all the extra stock is going to go waste with the Brits coming back home after their team’s loss.

But here is the story of a German family and Fussball – the lighter side

A German family head out one Saturday to do some shopping.

While in the sports shop the son picks up an England football shirt and says to his sister,
"I've decided to be an England supporter and I would like this for my birthday."

His big sister is outraged by this and promptly whacks him round the head and says,
"Go talk to your mother."
So off goes the little lad wi…

The talking drums

We used to love vacation time at Pallavur, where our maternal tharavad was located. All the cousins were around then and that meant lots and lots of merriment. Cricket was still to reach us, football and other games like seven stones were the main pastimes, spending whole days in the hot sun (no, we did not use sun screens!), till of course a lady with the loudest voice screamed food time from the kitchen area, accompanied with dire threats if we did not come right away.

Holidays usually coincided with the Ulsavams, be it Aaratu or Vilakku, in our huge Siva temple and during these a Thayambaka or Panchavadyam session took prominence. We kiddies were always there, hanging around, managing to squeeze past the bare bodied dhoti clad men to be up close and personal to the drummers (The air had the sweet smell of the Agarbathis and Kalabhom).
The sounds still remain in the head; I can pick up the starting Thayambaka beat anytime. We children used to have ‘at home’ sessions later, on a biscui…