Friday, December 18, 2009

P.S The Morning After...My Snow White Countryside...

I went to sleep at about 2 AM...But was wide awake by 8AM, stole a glance outside the window, and had my mouth turn a big O at the sight that greeted me... I promised you pictures with a P.S And here they are... I'm snowed in, just heard that my friends were caught in 4 hour traffic jams while I was cavorting in the snow...That's how unprepared the Brighton and Hove City Council is for snowfall...Like they kept warning me, it hardly snows in Brighton..So literally no contingency plan. I wonder if the only option is to wait for the snow to melt and flow away... The white rooftops, the red brick cottages... You have seen this tree before...In autumn and later without any leaves in winter...And this is how it looks on a snow-covered December morning... I'm off to sleep some more...In my warm toasted room...under my thick duvet...Its still snowing outside... So surreal, I tell you...Wouldn't want to miss it for anything... Here's to spreading the wintry cheer....


They said when I landed in Brighton..that it hardly snows...That I'll be lucky to catch a glimpse of snow, maybe in January or February and that too fleetingly for a day... I have never seen snow before...This is my first winter abroad....So I prayed and prayed for a chance to glimpse snow...Two days back, my friends in London wrote euphorically about the snowfall that happened there... And like a miserable wretch cursing her fate seeing her prosperous cousins flaunt their riches before her, I taunted Brighton and its sunny winter days for not wooing the snow...... Perhaps the weather gods took my taunts to heart and decided to let it snow...and they didn't do a half-hearted show...It was a mega production....A full-blooded snow storm...that painted my campus white.... The few remaining people on campus did indulge in some snow fights...and build a snowman or two...while I was busy clicking away my first experience of snow.... From a gently shy shower to angry an hour's time..the green grass disappeared under the white shroud.... I wonder if I will wake up to a white morning...If I do, I will add a PS to this post.... Meanwhile check out the album I have put together....Some pictures are sheer emotion...not techinically any great shakes...but I just couldn't cut them out... They are my first snow good or bad, they are special... These moments too are like snowflakes...You feel them as they hit you, you can taste them..but the moment you try to hold them...they melt and disappear... Now I'm greedy....I want a white Christmas....and snowman....and then maybe I'll close my eyes and wish for Santa and Rudolph to appear...Maybe like this snowstorm came visiting..they will too....I am the eternal optimist....:)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Story He Told

Being on the University during the breaks is like being in a Ghost town...the deathly silence unnerves you...makes you feel as if you are the last human being left on earth as Armageddon approaches... So to ward off holiday blues....two strapping women from two parts of the from the Pacific Island of Tonga..and another from a coastal city in India set out to explore the boundaries of the campus we live on....The idea was to take a brisk walk and work out the excess lard that the winter insists on layering us up with....But little did we know, it would be turn out to be a story in itself.... Off we went, huffing and puffing our way up the uphill trail, past the gymnasium (nothing can make me enter one, I'd rather walk my calories off!!) when we spotted the vast expanse of meadows...Acres and acres of it... stretching all the way yonder... And just as we turned the corner, we came across one of those old English wasn't a cottage...but a corn barn... Curiousity indeed got the better of us, and though somewhere, both of us knew that this can't be public thoroughfare, we decided to indulge our curiousity....walking along the old building, that did seem abandoned....We turned another corner and realised that there was indeed a very very old cottage nestled behind the barn...
And that's where I met my story teller....An old English gentleman, clearly lonely...happy to have a conversation with two freezing but very inquisitive young women - who were clearly trespassing across his property....So we put on our best smiles and apologised for stumbling through his land...And when our politeness was returned with some cheery conversation, we pressed on...asking about the old barn that had caught our attention.... It was over a hundred years old...just like I'd imagined it would be..Our friend ( despite my asking him twice, he never told me his name..wonder if that was deliberate?) interrupted his afternoon walk long enough to tell us how the barn was very important to store the corn that was grown in the land by the meadows.... There were atleast a couple of huge was still in great shape...the other had been replaced...and depending on the direction that the wind blew in, one was opened, so that the chaff could be beaten away from the corn and the husk could be blown away....And just outside the barn, there was enough space for the animals of the barn to be tethered.... Even more interesting was this hand pump...Now old and disused for atleast half a century I imagine.... Just by the pipe was a broken cover to a well...and look closely, by the spout, you can see a hole...that's the opening to a tank that served water to the barn....So when it poured, water gathering in the tank could be let out through here into the well near the pump...and when the tank went dry, the handpump would be used to draw water and fill the tanks so that the barn animals could drink their fill.... I closed my eyes for a moment, and I could picture the scene...straight out of a John Constable one of my all time favourites...The Hay Wain.. The English cottage, with its own barn and animals....and the men and women letting the barn doors open while storing the corn grown in the fields nearby inside...letting the wind help winnow the chaff from the grain... But our friend was not done with his story yet....He had moved into this house about 60 years ago...just after the Second World War....and he spoke about how this countryside had been taken over by the Army during Wartime.. This tree, that now stands gnarled and old in the winter, he said had once been young...He remembered it in its glorious youth...His voice was robust, but you couldn't miss the nostalgia...He took pleasure in getting us to guess his age...We were off the mark by about a decade... He was 83, and clearly enjoying reliving his memories of the War for us...He had served in the Army himself...talking about how the guns were lined up in rows by the trees near his land...pointing out where the young soldiers were asked to fire across the meadows for target practise... Later apparently he had a chance to see a 'bit of the world too'...Egypt and Palestine, he said...much before you were born, he joked with me.. Then he smiled that wistful smile at he spoke about how time seemed to have just flown by...He shared little about his life or family....but when we wished him Merry Xmas...he brushed it away saying the season wasn't special anymore...He was more like the Scrooge of Christmas... Our hearts ached...It can't be fun to be old and alone on a property as old as time itself....Though he repeated that he loved the isolation that his property offered, I doubt if I was convinced.. I don't know his name...I wonder if he will remember me if I look him up in a week or so...I don't even know if I will have anything to converse with him about.....But by giving us a peek into the history that lies sleeping in this land, he did give me a wonderful story....a wonderful memory..... ( P.S : I have discovered that my mobile phone camera gives me pretty decent picture resolution..So till the time that I hoard up for a new camera, my mobile phone shall be put to good use..:)

Monday, December 14, 2009

How far will India be Telanganised?

For a year now, I will be a Non-Resident Indian....But that does not prevent me from being as concerned as I would be, were I there...Every day as I read papers, I wonder if, by the time I return, there would be a minimum of ten new states that I need to know....Maybe the question I framed in my mind needs to be put out there....How far will India be Telanganised? The question I have been grappling with for some time is whether it was all about a two week fast by a politician who had lost mandate even within Andhra Pradesh, to force the Centre's hand..Is this man, K Chandrasekhara Rao getting more credit than he actually deserves? I remember covering Andhra Pradesh elections in 2004, when Telangana was indeed a burning issue that KCR (as he is called) cashed in on... Then he had the voice of the 'people's mandate' to press his case...Then Sonia Gandhi and the Congress had turned a blind eye... So what changed? Was it that with the untimely death of Andhra Pradesh CM, YS Rajasekhara Reddy, the last big hurdle in the way of moving for Telangana was removed? I refuse to believe its as simple as that... The struggle for Telangana is over four decades old....The Centre has refused to cow down to pressure long enough to know how to put issues on backburners and get adamant politicians attempting to resurrect their nearly spent careers on such separatist pitch to toe the line..But this time, it does seem like KCR's fast was like the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, doesn't it? But what about if we think of this as the Centre's way of trying to find a political solution to the the growing Naxal Insurgency in not only Telangana but choose it to make a role model for an anti-Naxal initiative that is not just a militaristic endeavour? The Prime Minister has spoken about how concerned he is about Naxal insurgency - the biggest threat to India's internal security...attacks that have been bleeding the Indian democracy economically and socially....With a shrewd Home Minister like P Chidambaram by his side, this could be a mastermove to tackle some fundamental issues that large, cumbersome states have not solved their way through.. So could be the Centre's first step towards seeking a political solution...agreeing for separate states to hasten concentrated progress in these regions? Perhaps the initiative of state building could be a method to divert some much needed focus to Telangana's festering wounds... But then I wonder, what about Chhatisgarh and Jharkhand? Those mineral rich states still remain just that...mineral rich, cash strapped, naxal hit and with little progress shown as far as improvement of the poor tribals go...only politicians like Madhu Koda and Shibu Soren have reaped the benefits of earning separate statehood...They turned multi-millionaires, accumulating more money than what their respective state's budgetary allocations were...Is KCR the next in line for similar political and financial largesse? I hear now Mayawati wants atleast four new states to be carved out of a mammoth UP....I would, in an ideal scenario, encourage the formation of more states - throwing away the logic that fewer states would mean stronger bargaining power...Let power be devolved...let more people get a say in how this democracy functions...Many have not even got a chance to save their lands as governments chose urbanisation and modernisation at high costs, with little heed paid to securing them an alternate livelihood... But if the end result is spawning more Kodas and Sorens and Mayawatis..I am certain Telanganisation is the solution...Today Telangana, tomorrow Rayalseema, Vidharbha will follow soon after....Pot is already boiling over Bundelkhand and other UP separations...Gorkhas want Gorkhaland... When I was taught India's political map in school, I was told India has 25 states and 7 union there are 28 states and 7 union territories..By the time I have kids and they start school, it could well be 35....The more the merrier, lets say, if the goals were nobler... But who's checking intentions? Votes count..but who's checking how fair the way it was polled was? Should one politician's whim be reason enough for such a mammoth decision..or should there be referendums? Time for some answers in this democracy...

Sunday, December 13, 2009


There's a block...I have hit it...and I believe I was priming towards it...The writer's block..

But what perhaps pushed me over the brink is the loss of my camera...Now there are no pictures to write to..and thats how I have always written...Now there are no pictures...and no views to describe.. You know that dirty feeling at the back of your head, that tells you when you misplace something that you know exactly where it is, but that part of the brain which should help you locate it, is numb...was in fact looking the other way, when you left it behind...when it slipped out of your bag...

Even now, nearly a week after I lost it, I still feel its just about the 'moment of click'..that time when it suddenly dawns on you, where exactly it could be...Im still waiting for that moment..Refusing to bury the memory of my Canon digital camera, a Southern Rail train, that was running late between London Victoria and Brighton last Saturday couldn't have swallowed my camera, could it? What about the much famed Lost and Found where most things misplaced or accidently or deliberately forgotten turn up? No such luck with me....

Perhaps its the karma I have scoffed at that people talk about that haunt you through your life...Perhaps its my unwelcoming aura that make people who manage to retrieve things I have lost not want to return it or let me find a way to recover it..Well, the truth is if my mother and I were to sit down and recount the number of valuable things I have lost...that would be a very very long list indeed...Not enough to buy me a house in England, but enough to clothe and feed me for a couple of months in Europe for sure...

So what is it that makes some people so unlucky with their possessions? Especially when they earnestly want to treasure every thing that they possess? It can't be argued that they don't value it, can they? I spent some good money on many of these possessions...and I have cried bitter tears each time I have discovered my loss...But then again, I dust myself up and carry on..and soon enough lose something else.. Well, forget the list I was making earlier....of gold ear rings and bracelets and watches.....and a couple of mobile phones...just hear this out... Two days after I lost my camera, I lost one did I manage to do that?

Well, beats me...I was so sure I had removed one, slipped it into my coat pocket to retrieve my keys when I got home....and then the memory is blank......I remember getting to my room, untying my scarf and throwing my coat off and discovering I had one black glove on....So I took it off and then began searching for the second one..that I was sure it was in my coat pocket...

But it had been swallowed by nothingness....flushed to the Land of No Return to the wink of an join my camera and the assortment of mobiles, and the earrings-bracelets and watches... Well, my optimist being believes the Land of No Return to Me is not going to win the battle against me and my few remaining precious possessions....

And I believe the first sign was when my flatmate managed to hear the clink of my favourite silver earring as it plonked into the muddy grass in the University....Im not sure I heard it too, for if I did, my instinct was to ignore it and walk faster to get out of the bitter evening cold...But she turned back and her eyes fell on it...and till she handed it over to me, I was not prepared to believe I had lost it...
 What's with me?? Maybe what I need to do is find the way to blur the distance between the Lost and the Found...

P.S: Statutory Warning: Till I don't find my camera or get myself sufficiently enthused to buy a new one with my thrifty pounds...the posts could be lacklustre and moany..

Thursday, December 03, 2009


This post happened to me...I didnt plot it, didnt think it through...And its thanks to a friend of mine, Chandresh Narayan and a really gut-busting laugh riot it produced. I don't know if it will tickle others as much as it did me..but hey, the opportunity to tell the tale can't be missed... So let me begin by introducing the protagonist of the piece...Chandresh..who at 30 (i presume) single and very ready to mingle...But who does he want to mingle with? Well...the world is wide and there are a lot of young nubile nymphettes out there... But our man loves UK...and someday wants to settle there and sing Lord Save The Queen in his true Tam- Bram baritone and perhaps the accent(?) while sitting on his comfortable sofa in his countryside house... So immediately, the now UK-expert me, tries dissuading him from leaving his Amma's tair-sadams and rasam-vadas for the 'land of the stiff-upperlips' by painting a bleak picture of what he could expect... " Do you want to pay taxes through your nose, and drink weak tea and have food without salt and ration the sugar?" To which pat came the reply : Or be like Mittal...( Read super rich LN Mittal...Now that means he's aiming super-privileged life, isnt it??) Just as I was LoLing over it, came the bouncer : Prince Charles also has no daughter..( Now where did that come from? Was he thinking of luring Mr.Mittal's daughter only to realise she is much married? So then turn on British blue-blood?) It did look like that, so I played a good friend and suggested he tried for Prince Andrew's daughters...and the probability increases, coz remember he has not one, but two daughters....( Thats a Daily Mail pic, by the way) But darn, Tam Bram has a problem with it.." But they won't get the crown".... So I rationalised it with grave Indian practicality " But there will be enough estate, and because Prince Andrew is not like the king in waiting or something, there won't be too many fancy dresses that you will have to go to..:) and you still get the 'Royalty' treatment.." That seems to have raised his sagging hopes, " I could be the Duke of Cornwall or something, First Tam Bram..." And then he took a dig at me...nothing unusual...8 years of being a broadcast journalist has thickened my hide to the texture of a baby rhino's ( no offense meant to those darling animals of course) precisely to deflect such jibes And the little rambler continued: " Imagine Times Now will do a story..NewsHour topic" So although my intial "hahaha" to his cheap dig was brittle, I soon remembered that I was no more a loyal defender of the Times Now brigade- I could take a couple of digs of mine... So there I went, like a good deskhand that I was before I threw in the towel, planning an entire EXCLUSIVE coverage of the First Tam Bram ( also read first Indian) marrying into British royalty.." Yeah, you can even do lives, and talk to Indian audiences" By now our protagonist is already in character thinking up his moment of fame and the big question Arnab would ask him: " Chandresh, we want you to tell us, on your channel...." and I pipe in " Using Times Now as your platform to send the first royal message to India"....Now the sports journalist in Chandresh also gets into the game...and ambitiously he pitches in for Times Now's Cricket Expert Boria Majumdar to also be thrown into the NewsHour Panel to speak about how " In 1920, Ranjit Singhji said the same thing" ( Rejoinder: I hope Ranjit Singhji's soul will continue to rest in peace and Boria won't fume at our fertile imagination) By now Im laughing hard....and the optimist that Chandresh is, he predicts " One day, it will all come true" And then the conversation takes an even more hilarious turn...and I now plan to reproduce it without paraphrasing any more...( Warning: There are overlapping thoughts and at some places, we seem to be at cross-purposes.. but honestly, we weren't..) chandreshn: Yes yes
I jst love the queen
I can say that again and again
Put it up on facebook also
me: hahaha
yeah i sure shall
so that more people read it..
3:47 PM would you like to be identified by name or should i keep u anonymous?
chandreshn: Name name
me: u know you can wait for my friends to devise a plan on arranging your meeting with the princesses and then we can reveal the mystery man trying for Eugenie
I think thats her name
chandreshn: Ok
me: the second one is too young..
you know who im talking about right?
3:48 PM what was the mother's name?
chandreshn: That dutchess of york?
me: the happy slutty woman? ahhh sarah fergusson right?
chandreshn: Who is now a us tv celeb?
me: beatrice and eugenie
yeah those are the names
chandreshn: U described her well
me: ta daaaaa
hehehe, yeah the tabloids here are free and so trashy
3:49 PM they make an art out of trashy writing
chandreshn: Eugenie now speaks tamil!
Headline in the Sun
me: everytime i go to brighton i pick some up
hahaha..yeah and it all points to the stars leading her to u
chandreshn: Who's that mystery man
Debate on ITN
3:50 PM me: on bbc question time?
that too!!
chandreshn: Imagine my relatives in trichy being mobbed
3:51 PM me: super...imagine dhanya rajendran doing a live outside the trichy house of ur relatives
maybe a mama or ur thatha itself
chandreshn: Ha ha ha
me: man, i tell u we have the next mills and boon love story
The Sun buys marriage photo rights
me: and we shall peg u as the descendant of the local dewan of tiruchirappally
3:52 PM yeahhhh where u wear a veshti ( I'm referring to the wedding that the Sun will want photo rights of)
chandreshn: Ha ha ha ha
me: and she sits on prince andrew's lap and is in a chela ( thats the typical Tam Bram 9-yard sari)
chandreshn: Ha ha ha
me: isnt that what its called?
3:53 PM chandreshn: Yes
me: this is going to be soooooo much fun
chandreshn: Then I am giving the trophy at wimbledon
That's another dream
me: hahahaha
chandreshn: Where that moron holds the ball girl's hand for so long
As if he has never seen one before
me: yeah man, imagine kuzhnetsovas and the ivanovas of the world curtseying before you
3:54 PM chandreshn: I will insist on speaking on tamil like raj( Read: Reference to Raj Thackeray's Marathi fetish)
me: hahaha..yeah
3:57 PM we have our storyline done..and with your permission its going on the blog
and as per ur request on fb too
3:58 PM have been itching to write something funny and this conversation is the perfect material
4:01 PM chandreshn: Chal I will catch you later
Have to watch arnab now So now Chandresh and Deeps have a royal for plotting the plan of action...Does anyone know anyone in the royal family or a butler or a valet or a driver...Just about anyone who can get an intro of a nice single-ready-to-mingle Tam Bram boy to the British Princesses? If there is then we have the perfect story line for the Love Story of the century - followed by the Marriage of the Millennium ready...One protagonist is waiting...the hunt for the Princess..thats all that's left!!!!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Two Month Stock Taking..

Just this morning, as I was walking back home from class...on a chilly but sunny winter Falmer Brighton morning, I was making mental notes about this post... The campus already looks different...Its been exactly 2 months since I set up temporary home in Falmer - atleast for the year.... No more leaves left on the trees...that follows that a sunny day no more lets you walk around in a top teamed up with a warm Tshirt... t... The mufflers and the scarves, the gloves and the hat and the coats and the socks are out...its quite a ceremony indeed preparing even to pop out to get milk and eggs..very often these days, I have learnt to do without things..than make a trip through drizzly freezing lanes till the nearest Student Union shop on campus.. And even the initial thrills of letting your breath out as thin wispy smoke trails no more evokes giggles over the newness of it all.... I keep my head low if its raincoat buttoned up till the neck - which by the way has become my distinctive Indian fashion statement- thats all anyone can see of my 'sartorial elegance' if they were to run into me on my way to class, with the cape unflatteringly tightened with a cord under my chin to keep the icy drizzle's shameless invasion.. By the time I get to my University Block, and my numb fingers are searching through an assortment of metal in my purse to come up with a dull brass heavy coin, that could get me a cup of now I have coded my moods to cappuccino, latte and moccachino after having flirted 'accidently' with espresso that left a bitter aftertaste - imagine paying a pound for that little shot of coffee??!! I have also by now learnt to traverse successfully through Bagels and Crumpets and Doughnuts and Strudels and Danish....A great bargain buy on fruits and vegetables struck at the local Asda or Sainesbury's has come to be included in the highlights of my days some weeks.. When I'd landed here, I wanted to be just another student...not particularly interested in standing out as an Indian in the pack or seeking out other Indians out of compulsion...That could explain why it took me about a month to discover that the Student Residence that I was living in had atleast ten Indians residing in the same lane... But I realise now that you can take an Indian out of India but not the India out of her - it was a distinct kick of joy that I felt when I accidently stumbled upon the Taj Grocer - an Indo-Pakistani place in Brighton - let me try to explain..when you are picking out tender okra for your favourite bhindi bhaaji, while listening to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan or even any sidey Bollywood number, you forget to wince at having to pay nearly 3 pounds just to travel about 20 minutes out of the University - this pleasure suddenly seems worth it... Just two months into my new life...I have nearly forgotten the busy professional cutthroat world I left behind...But mind you, its not all rosy...if the winter is not dampening my mood or raising my sense of loneliness...there's the 'pinch of the purse' factor.. I look back at nostalgia at the easy manner I had fallen into of not checking tags before indulging in a spot of retail therapy back home...Then I needed it to relieve the stress...I had the money but time and energy were rationed commodites...Now tables have I have no stress, I have time and a lot of pent up energy..But money is now on the ration card.. Its not a bad life at all...Its as bright as the carousel that I stood watching some time ago at the Brighton Pier Sometimes I find it tough to be thankful for the little pleasures that I have in life now..And then, all it takes is another walk through the chilly winter sunny afternoon for a quite note of thanks to be despatched up with the thin trail of wispy smoke that I blow out of my mouth... The fickle mind of an international student, I tell you....:)