Bunking class ver 2.0!!

In one of my earlier blogs, I’ve talked about how Shankar chose cricket over studies, when the Aussies were touring India in 1959/60!! That was a trial run.πŸ€ͺ

Few years later, as a boarder at Bishop Cottons Bangalore, one would have thought its easier to bunk classes, away from the prying eyes of parents. Banish the thought! There was the asst warden who had his outpost literally at the gate, just to catch these pecadillos .😩 . On one such occasion, Shankar almost ran into him, and to escape attention went out of the gate and into the nearby Shilton hotel. There he runs into the great West Indies opening batsman, Conrad Hunte. Hunte had come, not to open the innings, but to pursue his other passion; moral rearmament.. Cricket connection once more πŸ€”.

Moving on, Shankar was in the hostel all through his 5 years at Guindy Engineering College, and cutting classes was a no brainer and didn’t hold much charm either.🀣.. I didn’t have it that easy, coming from Loyola College. As the popular saying went: Rowdies of Pachyappa’s, gentleman of Christian and slaves of Loyola.😩. It is said that when the Betram hall was being inaugurated at my college, the chief guest commented that it was a ‘ fine building ‘ which drew a guffaw from the back benchers – built from the fines collected from students.😲. Professors were fond of saying ‘ I am paid to talk, if you want to talk, , you need to pay!! I didn’t want to risk losing my precious pocket money of Rs. 10 ( Shankar got 15)!! On the odd occasion, I got away , I cooled my heels in cold comfort!! πŸ˜‚. This needs an explanation..

The Finance minister, Morarji Desai brought in the Gold control act in 1962, which according to amma was a retrograde step. Many a jeweller shut shop.. There was one, however, which turned this adversity to an opportunity, Vecumsee.. On their existing land on prime Mount Road, they built the first theatre multiplex in India, possibly one of its kind in the world!!. Three theatres under one roof- Safire, Emerald and Blue Diamond.. Blockbusters of the day, like Sound of Music,My Fair Lady, Lawrence of Arabia, among others were screened there.. Of the three theatres, Blue Diamond was of special interest to college students.. It exhibited continuous shows from 9am to midnight. You pay once and get in anytime and get out anytime. A first of its kind anywhere in the world.!! Invariably you would see the 2nd half of the movie and then to see in the proper sequence, sit through the movie from the beginning and if you liked it so much, see it all over again. I saw Topkapi , starring Peter Usinov two and a half times all in air-conditioned comfort, rather than sit through some boring lectures.πŸ™„

Gone are the good days..☺️ The Safire multiplex doesn’t exist anymore. Demolished; I wonder what has come in its place.. Had they been around, Bharath would have stuck to his seat like Fevicol, watching from dawn to dusk, the likes of Border, Loc Kargil, Legend of Bhagat Singh, Ghazi, among others, and Blue Diamond would have closed shop sooner than later.🀣

Life has become complicated.

Well, if you thought it has got to do with Corona, forget it!

Gone were the days, when I could step into a bathroom and be confronted with just a bucket, a mug and a tap pouring out water – the plain H2O variety. Hot water was available from the coal fired copper heater that stood in a corner. The heater has now been relegated to an antique corner in the drawing room!!πŸ˜†

Today, as I enter the bathroom, there is a hand wash, face wash, a mouth wash, a body wash and even a Vwash, though the latter is not meant for We but a She; all jostling for space and my attention. πŸ˜‚ If that was not enough, there is even a body gel, face pack, a scrub and myriad conditioners and shampoos. Again the battle lines between the kitchen and the bathroom is blurred. What was once the domain of the kitchen has found its way to the bathroom. Sample this – neem tulsi with aloe vera and orange peel thrown in your face, or if you wanted just one ingredient, how about a pomegranate body wash or a turmeric saffron soap. Then there is almonds for the hair and not to be left behind, Walnut scrub. I never knew that what is good for the brain is for the brawn as well.πŸ€ͺ. How about a wine face pack; may be the grapes are from the vineyards of France or our own backyard in Nashik.πŸ™„. Then there is 6 nourish conditioners; I only knew coconut and castor and myriad shampoos. I have barely touched the surface, what with Ayurveda throwing their hat in!🀣.. They haven’t spared my toothpaste too. Clove oil is passe, enter rock salt and charcoal. As for the mouthwash, peppermint is no sweet candy!!😁.

I need to be careful here. There is clearly demarked dry and wet area with a glass panelled cubicle seperating the two. Then there are fancy fittings blowing hot and cold water in a rythmic fashion from the hand and overhead shower. As the Americans say, you are having a shower and not a bath.πŸ€ͺ. While I am it, I am drenched from head to toe, opening the overhead instead of the hand shower. I thought I had my shower cap on; dammit , it was the thinking cap!!. Not to worry, they have just what is meant for people like me – set wet gel.πŸ˜‚..

As I step off the bathroom, greatly relieved, I over hear a conversation between the face and body wash..They seem to be saying that they have been used in unfamiliar territory.!πŸ€ͺ.

Fun with mathematics in times of Corona.

Who would have thought 6 months ago that the world would come to a standstill and the economies to a grinding halt; but it has. As nations race against time to find a vaccine to cure Covid19 , it’s people and organisations under lockdown, governments are perforce to provide a stimulus to revive the ailing economy. Richer the country, richer being the stimulus.

There was a time, when a million evoked awe and wonder; not anymore. Far too many middle class citizens fall in its territory. Today its billions and trillions. So you have the headless chicken announcing 2 trillion dollars to pull up the riches country on planet Earth.πŸ™„

Before we come to a trillion, let’s understand a billion and for that, I am indebted to a book ‘ Fun with mathematics’, that I had over 50 years ago; not anymore. If I were to tell you, a billion is 1 followed by 9 zeros , it sounds boring, but let’s say you had a billion rupees and invested in a business that lost 1000 Rs a day. What sort of business could that be; think aviation and the king of good times.🀣. How long would it take you to go broke. Fret not, you wouldn’t, as it takes a 1000 years!!. Here is another perspective. If you had a fountain pen and magnified its cap a billion times, it would cover the circumference of the earth and if you did the same to the nib, it would be longer than the Mississippi river. Why Mississippi, remember it was an american book. 😜. Again an Indian would have created ripples ; mention Cauvery and the southern states would want more than their share, the Brahmaputra, China would unleash a virus, Indus, our friendly neighbour would want to look at the treaty afresh and the Ganges, true holy to be messed up with.πŸ™„. So I will stick with the original.

Moving on, I have a number, to large to put on paper. Let’s say you start writing on a blackboard from left to right, non stop; that is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year and that you are 18 years of age. By the time you complete it, you would have grown to 50 years!!. I think it represented approximately, amount of raindrops or was it snow flakes from the time earth came into existence!!.

I needn’t tell you what a trillion is, you could easily see it up on Google. Talking of Google, there is what is called a googol , which is 1 followed by 100 zeros . Again people have debated as what could be the last number. I will let you know once I have spoken to the man who knew infinity, Ramanujam. πŸ˜† Now as countries add more zeros to their stimulus package, let me leave you with this pleasant thought. Zero was invented in India, when others were mere zero’s.😜

Quit Bangalore movement

No sooner the nation wide lockdown was announced, there was a mad scramble at grocery stores, and a rush to exit Bangalore to smaller towns/ villages. The very purpose of social distancing was lost in those precious hours. I only hope and pray that they were not carrying Covid 19 with them.😩

That took me back all the way to 1942 or thereabouts when Gandhi launched the Quit India movement. Around that time, my aunt Susheela got married. It is said that after her wedding, there was rumours that a bomb would fall on Bangalore ( may be they got it on their whatsapp πŸ€ͺ). So all the guests ran away to their villages!!. How naive they could be. Amma used to tell us this story and we would have a hearty laugh 🀣.. History tells that the nearest war theatre for India was Japan over running Singapore and marching through Burma. Had the war not ended, they would have entered India at Assam..

Flight of fancy

I recently decided to take flight and put in my request on a travel aggregator website. Soon enough I was flooded with calls.. They were falling over each other to offer me the best deals. Sample a few: Buy an economy to London and I could travel business class , pay for one and your companion travels free , pay for a business class and travel unlimited for 6 months or till such time corona stops.πŸ€”..

I hadn’t thought of the visitor visa. VFS said no problem. We will come home to do the biometric and by the way, her majesty has waived the visa fees.🀣..

On the day of departure, the airline chauffeured me to the airport in a Rolls..At the airport, I was personally escorted by the senior management of the airline to the executive lounge were i was offered a spa session, and choicest breakfast before being driven in a buggy to the boarding gate. My escort, carried my cabin baggage into the aircraft.. The aircrew would have fallen head over heals in welcoming me, but thanks to corona, it was a real Namaste from the bottom of their heart, not the artificial smile you see at other times. The chief airhostess personally escorted me to my seat. Though I had an economy, they housed me in the first class. I had the entire bay for myself. It seemed I was on airforce 1.πŸ˜€. The food platter on offer would put a Michelin star restaurant to shame.πŸ˜€ . I had the soundest sleep ever, 35000 feet above ground, only to be woken up with some warm water mixed with lemon and honey, just what the doctor ordered..

On arrival, I was whisked without delay to the immigration counter. I normally use a hand sanitizer before placing my fingers on the reader since they invariably don’t match, with what is on record.. No sooner I opened the solution, the man behind the desk had his eyes popping out with glee. Can I have one of those he said. Sure, why not , I replied.πŸ™„ He then folded his hands, stamped my passport without much ado.. An Aston Martin drove me to the uber luxury, Savoy were the GM was on hand to check me in and take me to my luxury suite. I need pay only for 3 nights at heavily discounted rate and remaining 3 absolutely free. I had my own personal Jeeves, sorry Butler. An unlimited London pass with priority entry was all for the asking. The lords of Westminster, invited me to share the Indian way of using water for you know what!!. They listened with rapd attention with prayer on their lips . No more handshakes, hughes and kisses, it was namaste all the way even among couples, all the time maintaing a safe distance from each other.πŸ€ͺ. I went shopping at Selfridges with some gift vouchers handed to me by the tourism office. At the loo, I had mistakenly left my pouch. I found it later with all the cash in tact. The thief had laid his hands only on the sanitizers and wipes.πŸ™„.

All good things have to come to an end. At the airport, as I pulled out some πŸ’·, the cab driver eyed the few left over toilet rolls with pain in his eyes. I handed him one instead. At the forex counter, I realised I hadn’t spent a pound since I landed in UK. So I exchanged them for the INR. Landing in Bangalore, the airline had arranged a Lamborghini to drop me home. By force of habit, I handed the driver a toilet roll as a tip. He said, bullshit.😲

Eternal bugbear

Hindi has been my achilles heel , not the least because my high school years coincided with the anti hindi agitation which decimated the congress, giving rise to Dravidian power. The state government abolished NCC as the Centre refused to allow Tamil commands!!.

It’s not that I dislike Hindi; I watch bollywood movies, listen to vintage 50’s songs and while I can’t strike a conversation , I can understand a fair bit of what is being said on the silver screen.πŸ˜„. It is very easy you know: Rich boy falls in love with a poor girl much against the wishes of their families; children get seperated at birth with one becoming a police officer and the other a criminal with a happy ending.🀣

In 10 & 11th Std, I opted for Engineering elective( the only state to offer, which has since been removed) which meant an additional 3 subjects, at the cost of History, Geography and Hindi Grammar with non detail. I  loved history; I still do, but now you know why I went for Engineering 😜.
My final SSLC exams approaching, I realised that I needed Hindi tution. So we call upon , for want of a better name, the namam Iyengar from Triplicane, who had taught Uma in college. Given my gargantuan memory, I mugged up all the ‘ dohe ‘, Kabir in particular. Presto, the results were a shocker. I had secured more marks in Hindi than in English; a classic case of marks not indicating proficiency.πŸ€” I must be now writing my blogs in Hindi.🀣. Even today, I get these nightmares of English exams approaching and I haven’t touched my books. I do not even know which ‘Shakespeare’ has been prescribed!!. I open my eyes in anxiety and am relieved that its a dream. In college most of us took either French or German as second language, and very few opted for desi languages. It was easy to score marks in foreign languages as ,70 % of the paper consisted of translation into English and only the balance in the reverse.Β 

At work i needn’t have to speak in Hindi and only while living in Hyderabad, I hailed autorickshaws with this poser ‘ aathi hi ‘. not knowing that I was addressing the feminine form. Shobha dare not correct as it was early days of marriage.😜. My dear nephew, Vishnu took it a notch further while doing his law internship at Delhi. At a restaurant, he seems to have said ‘ eedhar kaun kaun hai, kanay aur peenay keyliya ‘ ( who all are available for eating ‘ )πŸ™„. May be if it was Africa, or China he may have had options!!

Vishnu fret not, you are in august company, carrying the rich traditions of the RK family. πŸ˜†. The bugbear continues to haunt us.πŸ€”

Twin happiness

Fifty years to this day, we get the good news from Isabel Hospital that my sister, Leela has delivered twin happiness ; its a girl followed by a boy: Savitha & Sanjay. Over the course of the next few weeks, I get busy preparing for my University exams, but do not want to miss all the action. πŸ˜€. I insist on sleeping between the two cradles.. My nephew and niece run a relay race at night; when one stops crying, the other picks up the tread .😜. I am advised to sleep elsewhere. I grumble that I would fail this time, but insist on sleeping between…..!!. When the results come out and I get a distinction, all the elders say it is because of my nephew and niece😩.

Tea with Kashmir Prime minister!!

We all know that Kashmir is paradise on earth. I haven’t been to J & K, so am i living in fools paradise. πŸ€” (We will know that in a minute!! ). I could have, when it was not a priority, but when it did, militancy had set in . Over the years, whenever the idea cropped up, there was always a news item discouraging us. Even our grand north India tour of over a month in 2006, covering the difficult terrains of Badrinath and Kedarnath, had Kashmir on the itinerary, only to be removed by the tour operator at the last minute. Once the children attained ‘ the i put my foot down ‘ age, it became a non starter. 😩. Just a few months ago, i thought of biting the bullet and made plans to visit Vaishnodevi along with Kashmir and discussed with my home minister who readily agreed. Little did I know that our Home and PM had different ideas. 😜. So till such time…, let my dig into my archive and present you a glorious past, never mind vicariously.

This needs a preface.

The Federation of Hotel & Restaurant association of India, where dad was a founding member, was holding its annual convention in Srinagar, sometime in the early 60’s. That year, dad was entrusted with the task of arranging an entertainment program for fellow delegates. He outsourced it to his friend from the film industry, Janakiram. So there you have it, Dad, mom, and the Janakiraman’s in Kashmir. They lived on a houseboat on the dal lake; admired the apple orchards, rode a pony in Gulmarg, and culminated the visit with high tea with Kashmir Prime Minister, Bakshi Ghulam Ahmed( mom is snapped standing right next to the PM!!). For those of you not up to date, Kashmir had its own PM and President ( also called sadar-i- riyasat) later converted to chief minister and governor.

I need to end here, as I have to make tea for and myself. 😒. As for serenading Shobha on the dal lake, ala Shammi Kapoor; that will have to wait😁.

Experiences vs Possession

What is more valuable – experiences or possession ? Think about it. There are no right or wrong answers, depending only on what stage in life you are in. A young adult or one in middle age would crave for worldly possessions – the latest smartphone, bigger TV, glitzy car, fancy attire, exotic holiday, to name a few.

As you approach retirement or even beyond, you realise life is ephemeral, and wish to set the clock back to check the faulty priorities of days gone by. A time has come to let go and live in the present. This is the time to remove all the clutter in your life. Keep your needs to the bare minimum, and give away your desires. In one word, simplify. Fewer bank accounts, assets and yes a WILL to leave a lasting legacy.. Easier said than done!!

Looking back, how many of us wish we had spent more time with our children,( not to speak of our aged parents), while they were growing up; helping in their home work, playing with them and even taking them on a holiday, rather than focussing only on our career. I for one took them on holidays both domestic and international, so much so, that my daughter says I have spoiled her and to day, like me, she just wants to holiday all the timeπŸ˜‚. I cherish those times.

For many years now, I have been willing to give my right arm to go on a siblings tour. For some reason or other has not materialised, given that some of us live in different cities, different time zones, have health and other issues. I now see light on the horizon and my long cherished dream will come true. I wish we had thought of this when Leela was alive, but it never crossed our mind then and again she passed away at an age you wouldn’t expect to die. To get over our grief, we did go to Egypt , but then not every one came. It has always been a case of one or two, but never the four with our spouses. As the Kannada saying goes ‘ putting frogs on a weighing scale’πŸ€”. Today I have reconciled to the fact that some of us are too fragile to travel, but the bottom line is, at least the four siblings will get to stay, breathe, laugh and reminisce of their childhood.

I wish my children, cousins, nephews, and nieces take a cue. It would do you a world of good. It is these experiences that at the end of the day really matter. A cousins tour??. Wishful thinking!!. Certainly not. When Guindy 1971, in whichever part of the world they are in, got together with their spouses, every year for an international holiday, nothing is impossible.

A word of advice for the young and the not soo young – give your time more than your money.

Cat is out of the bag

There is a cat in my neighbourhood that is making all the news.πŸ€ͺ. The day before, it was on top of the world, having sought a safe haven from the next door dog, at our expense.πŸ™„..

Yesterday, i saw it was playing hide and seek with the shrubs right across our house. Poking and coming out. I was so engrossed with the happening that i failed to capture on my phone. Soon i saw something moving in the picket and as it came out a bit, i saw it was a snake. I immediately alerted my neighbour who started poking the shrubs with a long stick. The snake certainly provoked by the’ cat and the stick ‘ approach , came out. A small one about a feet and half ; what was unnerving was it’s hood; a Cobra all right.. The cat writhing in pain vacated the scene even as my intrepid neighbour got it hanging on his stick and dropped it near the park. By then a few had gathered and an autorickshaw driver was willing to capture it with a basket but by then it had slithered away.

My area, Kumaraswamy Layout is another name for snake god and long ago, and even when we moved in 1996, home to many. .They frequented parks and even homes.😟. Once in our washing area a majestic Cobra made its presence felt and we were able to get a snake catcher in the nick of time 😲. Again, we were all witness to rare spectacle- two cobras face to face with the hood on display in a love playπŸ˜‚. It went on for a few hours; no one dare disturb lest they get provoked.

Today, they are a rarity, man having taken over their habitat. We only see them on discovery channel, and even there most of us switch channels or shudder when they are on the idiot box . We rather watch a majestic lion or tiger but certainly not a slimy creature. Snake park anyone.πŸ˜›