Monday, December 18, 2006

Beezier Caper

An interesting day at the wife's office party in a farm-house in Bangalore. The day started innocuously enough with a trip to the Butterfly park where the kids frolicked and flitted with a lepidopterist’s zeal.

Then, the office party. One moment, we were enjoying the great outdoors; the next moment, a mad scramble to the safety of the indoors. We had obviously pissed off a hive of stingers and probably pretty badly too. To my family’s credit, neither the wife nor I let go of the all important drinks but still managed to rescue the twins to safety, each with one half of the twins safely ensconced in the arms during the mad dash.

These were undoubtedly racist bees as the one who got stung the most was the only white woman of the group, also the wife’s boss aka 'El Director'. A very traumatic experience for this lady as she disappeared into the house howling, and in tears. One would think that this would have been a daunting event for any soul. But one does not become a director from being weak in the heart. The crying stopped; a few minutes silence and this remarkable lady reappeared with a black ‘Knight of Ivanhoe’ netted bee mask. The ensemble did not end here. A thin but massive white mosquito net draped the director from head to toe, and some! She wanted to go out again; I couldn’t fathom why. She kept insisting that she needed to take control of the situation. Weirdly enough, I seemed to be the only one who thought it strange that someone who had been soundly bitten by bees and had bawled like a baby with a bad diaper rash should now be dressed like Frankenstein’s bride and wanted to duel the bees in their own backyard. Very Quixote, I thought to myself.

After a few frantic, but failed dashes at the different exit points from the house, she did finally give up and everyone settled down for beer and snacks.

Though a Twilight Zone like occasion for me, for others, who I’m sure were privileged to encounter more entertaining experiences at work, the sequence of events hardly raised an eyebrow. Now, that’s what I call an office party!!

Friday, December 08, 2006

A land that time forgot

Wide roads, deserted streets
Is this really rush hour, peak traffic time?
Sleepy eyes, friendly waves
Park in the middle of the road
Have a cup of tea, coconut milk or sugar cane juice
Rustic buildings, ancient temples, and the trees, oh the trees!
Cobbler from ages past with a warming familiarity smiles
My grand father's tailor acknowledges me with a nod
There's nostalgia in the air, a song in the heart
The Home stands in silent elegance
Watching life go by at its own frenetic slowness
This is my hometown, my retreat, Mysore!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Drainage and Other Escapedes

Can't say I wasn't the teeniest bit terrified when I entered my kids' school yesterday. The thought of having to interact with a regulation size battalion of 2-4 years old can shake the steeliest of hearts. I was imagining Arnold in Kindergarden Cop.

A few days back, the owner of our kids' school requested for numismatist parents to appear at school to talk about and display their collections. Being proud of my 173 countries' coin collection, I volunteered. Doing this was the most fun filled and invigorating 30 minutes of my life. Kind of shows how exciting my life is otherwise I guess!

Walking up to the room, I suggested to the school owner that, maybe, he should show the coins and I can just kind of fade into the woodwork. He would have none of that and insisted I do the deed. Entering the room, I was met by the most beautiful faces I've ever seen. There were probably about 15 youngsters who were sizing me up to see how much they go shatter my already fragile nerves.

Not knowing where to start, I just opened up my coin album. Immediately, I realized that how wrong that was! This wasn't a work meeting!! I quickly closed the book and began anew by getting everyone's names. I tried to do this systematically, but you know how that would go. One kiddo, who insisted on saying "Dollar" every few minutes, responded with "Dollar" even when I asked him his name. There was also a trio with an above average hyperactivitiy level persistently climbing atop any furniture over 3 feet tall.

The formal introductions completed, we got down to business. I was amazed by some of the questions these little ones had. One wanted to know how long I was collecting these coins, another informed me that a serrated looking coin was shaped like a flower. One coin which had a hole in the center was promptly called a drainage (kind of ironic thinking of the adage of money down the drain!). Russian currency was regularly referred to as "Rupa". One little girl wondered why I had so many (same) coins and was partially appeased when I told her that each coin was from a different country and they were not all the same. Man! We just don't get these refreshing and unbiased thoughts as we grow up.

The energy in the room was great! My inviter showed the relevant country on a large wall map for each coin that I showed and the interest was immense. A kid inquired as to when I had started collecting coins and hearing my reply that it was at the age of 10, looked crestfallen. I hastened to assure him that he needn't wait for that long but can start right away! One never thinks of the impact of statements and made me aware how much like sponges little kids are. Everything you say is gospel and they hang onto every word. You really need to be a role model!!

The next batch consisted of younger kids, probably the 2-3 years age group as my girls walked in demurely. I was even more lost as I had no idea how to talk to so many of them. These were people who did not believe in sitting quietly on chairs and waiting for me to say something intelligent. They swarmed on me like bees, turning the pages of my coin books; unsuccessful in their attempts as no two little people wanted to turn the page the same direction. Momentary panic as being only grown-up in the room for about 2 minutes , I was rendered powerless by the onslaught till the owner came back and restored order.

A great great experience. For the umpteenth time, I envied people who run these types of facilities as a career. It's such joyous, energetic and entertaining work! I know I learnt a lot more from the children than they did from me. It was such a wonderful feeling to leave work early and get an opportunity to do something so enthralling. Moreover, I still can't get over what darlings kids are and how uninhibited we all once were. All in all, a moment to cherish in my life for such instances are rare and priceless.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Walk (Random Thoughts)

Yesterday evening, I took a long walk in my neighborhood for no apparent reason. J.P. Nagar, in Bangalore, is primarily an upper middle class residential area, at least the area I live in.

What struck me, and not for the first time, was the easy co-existence of diverse environments and lifestyles that are so much a part of living in India. The smell of urine mixed with the aromas of incense sticks, the smell of wood-fired smoke with that of metal working, the smell of cooking and fresh paint, the contrasts are never ending. I peer into a tiny home and find a lady sitting on a decent looking sofa and watching TV. I would never have imagined a TV would have fit into that house, let alone a sofa. Walking a bit more, I happen upon a large Ganesha temple, next to a new apartment complex. Distinctly North Indian looking women and children chat and play outside the complex; the temple itself is a traditional South Indian Ganesha temple on a surprisingly large land area. There is no one in the temple save for the priest who warmly does the Aarthi of the god and pours holy water into my hand.

Further ahead, I hear a loud Hindi movie song playing and opposite to this open air audio room, is another temple. Here, the priest is standing outside and the look on his face is one of peace and tranquility. Blissfully ignoring the blaring music, he is lost in his own thoughts.

I continue my walk and stumble on a motor mechanic shop with two grease laden men maneuvering their hands in the bowels of a moped which had probably last been roadworthy five years ago. Next to this establishment is a carpentry shop and I cannot help but admire the intricate wooden chairs and tables being worked on.

I then pass by four healthy cows enjoying a gourmet meal of fresh garbage. A man walks by, caressing one absent mindedly. Where else would we see this!

Hardly anyone looks up to enquire on curious onlookers. People without much to do stand and gawk at the industrious individuals trying to make a living in the way they know best. It's all accepted and nothing's out of the ordinary here.

I suddenly come to a familiar park and the landscape changes; new houses, big houses and automobiles become prevalent now. Road-side vendors disperse delicious ware to hungry professionals and students alike. I kick myself for not carrying any money with me, for, though I am not hungry, it's difficult to avoid the temptations of the mobile vendors whose office space is the green grass and the open sky.

I've been living in this area for over two years and I am amazed at the teeming industry and holy shrines less than a fifteen minute walk from where I live. The high population density and the crowded houses do nothing to lessen the amicability of the various societies in coexistence. Everyone seems to get along just fine and there is efficiency and optimization all around. The smallest of spaces are optimally used and businesses thrive on sparse real estate, judiciously using any available space.

I feel so alive after a brief thirty minute walk. I can somehow relate to the struggles here even though I am not part of that life. I am grounded in reality once more. There’s a personal connection that pervades my senses; monotony and routine are just not words that apply here. India throbs with this life in its highways and byways, in its villages and its cities. I start to think as to why I would ever want to leave all this for a life I had got used to for thirteen years in the United States and reasons fail me. Not everything here has a logical explanation, and many times that's okay. Ambiguity and abstraction reign supreme and that's what makes it fun. Life in this country cannot be staged or choreographed and each aspect of the amalgamation marches to its own ceaseless energetic beat.

I love this land of contradictions, its varied hues, its diversity and most of all its willingness to fight out of the muck and be a force to reckon with. My walk in the microcosm of my country rejuventated me like nothing else can. A good friend recently gave a statement that will resonate with me forever. "In India, everything is difficult, nothing is impossible". That in a nutshell, sums up my motherland.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Three little pigs (As narrated by Niyathi Prasad, age 3)

Daas three little pigs built a house. No, only one pig built a house.

Then wolf has come. Then blow the house. Ooof! Ooof! Ooof!

Pig tell "Mummy, mummy, wolf broke it my house"

Other pig come and build a house. Wolf is come.

Wolf is tell "Blow the house?". Pig said "NO!!". Wolf blow house. Is broke house.

Third pig no build a house!

The Blue Elephant (By Niyathi Prasad)

Daas blue Elephant go to daas blue bird. "Bird, Bird, can you play with me?". Bird is tell "Can you fly with me?". Elephant tell "No, I can't fly with you". Then elephant sad.

All of them is not come

Then elephant is tell blue ocean "Blue ocean, can you play with me?". Is tell "No, I can't play with you". Elephant start cry.

Is come children. "Children, children, can you play with me?". "Yeah, I play with you"

Elephant very very happy!

Story over!!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A morning in the life of Chang

"This whole thing sucks" he said morosely and softly, not realizing that all his managers were listening intently to him and the microphone was attached to 5 300W speakers. 'Why does this always happen to me?' he exclaimed exasperatedly throwing his hands in the air and shaking his heads like only Chang can.

As he neared his desk, he spied the hairy Indian guy approaching. Chang had only two alternatives; either make a break for it or wait for the inevitable bear hug from the hairy Indian with the stale coffee breath smell and hands you were never sure of what they would do next or where they had been before. Resignedly, he awaited the loving hug and after extricating himself deftly, decided to do some productive work.

A few seconds later, his ex-boss walked in and was about to say something when Chang fixed him with a cold stare and stated in a cold and sinister voice "Gary, before you say anything, I'd like to ask YOU tell me How Come'. Lost for words, his ex-boss meekly exited his cube. With a sense of accomplishment, Chang turned once more towards the revered Changorama when the phone rang. This time it was a call from home. After a few 'Nghas' Chang again escaped and hung up the phone. Now, more determined than ever he faced his screen but had promptly forgotten what his code did.

By now, coffee time had appeared and lacking his soul mate who had wandered off to India, Chang strolled aimlessly around the cubes like a lost lamb looking for its mother. Due to his carelessness, he walked directly in the path of the human Tsunami Ajay. "Chang, let's wrap up databroker by this week. Its ok if its a little bit broken, let's just implement it and release it to all sites, even AMD is that right so let's maintain it so we can do it this way and we are covered if not we can make the call’

Chang stared in bewilderment and an acute observer of the situation would have noticed that he did try to say a few words amidst the torrent. These words sounded like 'But Ajay...', 'I cant’ , 'umm....’, 'err.. .’, 'haanh???'

However this was lost in the deluge and Ajay swished by leaving Chang very perturbed at the sudden turn of events and was left with a strange sense of unease. Had he agreed to something? Had he nodded his head? He was filled with dread now.

Still lost in thought he entered the restroom only to realize he didn’t have any and was actually originally planning for a coffee. Here he encountered an old Autoplan cronie by the name of Victor Chang. Victor is one of those guys who never talks or says much but can be counted upon to pinch your nipples when you least expect it. However, Chang, being a past master in avoiding male body contact (except in the case of the hairy Indian guy whom he still had not figured how to escape from), kept his respectful distance, mumbled a few words in Mandarin which Victor apparently understood 100% and both exited the restroom promising each other to meet for lunch later that day. ‘Kwangnam Cho’ said Chang in his not so soft tenor. Victor giggled and said nothing as the real Kwangnam Cho treated Chang to an icy stare and walked by in anger. Chang turned to Victor and in a moment of revelation explained that ‘Kwangam Cho’ meant Naked Guy. Kwangnam, who had not yet moved out of earshot turned round and said ‘I know’. ‘Dammit’ said Chang, turning red, purple and pink all at once.

Back again in his cube, Chang opened his cabinet doors to ensure no one had slyly kidnapped his treasured Unix user guides which undoubtedly are in high demand somewhere (not sure where though). He glanced surreptitiously at ‘Spin the Chang’, an ancient game developed in his honor. Seeing no one around, he quickly gave it a go. The head stopped upside down. Muttering ‘Dammit’ under his breath, he once more regained his posture in front of his monitor. This time, he remembered exactly what he was working on and joyously opened the code only to realize he had recollected what he had to implement but could not now remember the programming language he was using.

Amidst these deep thoughts, he got a call from Oregon. Not waiting for the usual pleasantries, the voice on the other end screamed ‘Hey Chang, how come you still don’t have a Masters? Normal people get it in 2 years you know?’ Chang, ever the serene one was unaffected by these comments. ‘What the hell do you want Vik?’ he said softly but firmly leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that he meant business. This of course, was completely lost on the abnormally tall Indian guy who continued his banter for a minute or so finally ending his tirade with ‘Hey Chang, why do you call me up and waste my time? I missed a meeting because of you. Anyway, I need to go now. Next time you want to waste my time, please let me know in advance. Hey, how do you say Jaadugar in Chinese?’ Leaving Chang sputtering and fuming, the tall Indian guy hung up the phone.

‘This whole thing sucks’ said Chang once again. His Director, who had just walked in, clicked his voice in disapproval and walked out.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Russian Roulette

Click, Click, Click
I await my turn
The chambers moves are slick
A momentary burn

It’s now only a matter of time
No thought to the lack of a crime
Hark, the end is nigh
Wont you grant me my last sigh...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Ode to my angels

Flashing anger, heated words make way
For an involuntary smile, as a strong reprimand
Dilutes to a dull and ineffective nay

Ceaseless energy, a yen for fun
Open my eyes to something very special
With two varied insights into eternal bliss

Love doesn’t quite encompass
The bottomless pit in my heart
For now what overflows through its every crevasse
Is contentment, that of me, you are a part

I know not what it is to have a son or two
But am enthralled by the miracles that you do
My girls, my babies, my joys
Without you, my life is but meaningless noise

A bow to the heavens for a twin gift
Which endlessly provides my soul an unearthly lift

I thank each of you for being my daughter
And to God, for letting me be your father

Monday, July 03, 2006

Trials & Tribulations of a new club membership

I have been trying desperately to join a club in Bangalore where I could swim as well as use the gym and tennis facilities. The obvious selection criteria was distance as everyone who's been here knows about the traffic. I found one where my uncle is a member and went to talk to the President of the club. I found out that a scheme called a temporary long term membership existed which was for a whole 3 years. The expense was much lower than a permanent long term sentence..sorry..membership. However, the President was all for coaxing me into getting the permanent membership, and after hearing my plaintive attempts at bringing up the significant cost differential, finally gave up and agreed to the temporary membership. This happened while he summarily said a goodbye right in the middle of my sentence where I was trying vainly to come up with a good justification of why I did not want to spend the extra $6000.

A little bit of description of the exalted abode is in order. For one, you cannot go upto this executive floor (2nd) unless you are wearing pants. Anything a centimeter above a normal pair of pants prevents entry into the hallowed halls. Once you have survived this key hurdle, you are allowed to enter the President's inner chamber. This is a large room (can probably accommodate about 20 people easily) with a mighty desk and the President sits in a big comfortable chair behind it. There are a few uncomfortable chairs lined up facing him. Numerous sheets of paper and different colored files lie on the table in haphazard order. A curious object resembling a large matchbox turns out to be a beeper which alerts the staff that the President needs someone in the room right away. This object is made of polished wood with an impressive antenna to boot. The fact that all the Presidential staff are within talking range is irrelevant.

The first part of the process involves getting the application form. There are numerous details to be filled out in the form including long forgotten nuggets of information like when did you last cheat in an exam, or how many dogs have you stoned etc. The form requires a photograph to be attached and it has to be mandatorily of yourself. Hints of chauvinism surfaced when my wife, ever the aggressive one, grabbed the form and started filling it out. The President, recovering smartly from the shock of a woman filling out the form, quickly restored the status quo by saying that it's better that the man of the house do the honors and anyone in the family can use the facilities after that.

The completed form then had to be signed by three existing members who have been members in good standing for at least 5 years and they have not already signed a form for another new applicant. My enterprising nephew located three such members in a few days time, staking out the club at the appropriate times and obtained the all important signatures.

This done, we had to make another trip to the office of the President. Not an easy task considering that it is the President that we are talking about. One enquiry during his office hours led to a response that he was busy in the bar. We were unable to fathom that one. After a few days, we were granted an appointment to meet the President.

We should have realized that this was not going to be a routine evening, when, as we drove into the club parking lot, the watchman raised one leg while saluting us.

Since it had been a while since he had graced us with his presence, he had forgotten us (one cannot be expected to remember all the lowly mortals you come in contact with) and promptly handed us another new form. Once we had established that we were there only to get the final signature, he demurred, and again enquired why I was not taking the full-time long-term life time till-death-do-we-part membership. Despite me speaking the local language fluently, he insisted on talking in English. His words, and I quote verbatim "Temporary membership is three years. After three years, you should not feel". After a few more attempts, he finally caved in, again. He then used his trusty buzzer to summon a hapless assistant who had probably forgotten to go home. He enquired of this person as to what the cost was for a temporary membership. The assistant gave him a number. This was met by a cold stare and an immediate outburst (in English) of "If you don't know, shut up. Don't use your imagination". Not really picking up the thread of the conversation (probably because he didn't understand a word of English), the assistant meekly left the office. The President, now obviously pleased with his command of the English language, then turned to me and asked me which part of the US I lived in. On hearing 'Phoenix', he viciously turned on my nephew and asked if I was bringing him Phoenix shoes regularly. All this while, I was trying to make a quiet getaway and eyeing the door wistfully. However, this new line of conversation did not allow me such liberties. My nephew made a few conciliatory sounds on the shoes but Mr. President insisted that there was a world famous factory in Phoenix aptly named 'Phoenix Shoes'. I nodded my head vigorously hoping to continue my escape plans but now my nephew got into the act and vehemently denied the existence of any such shoe brand, let alone a factory in Phoenix. A stalemate quickly developed, and the Vice President, who also happened to be sitting there attempted to put an end to the 'Phoenix Shoe Factory' debate. Not succeeding, he sullenly gave up and we used this opportunity to pull a Houdini on them.

Walking out, we were met by the recently yelled at assistant. First he informed us that we should have talked to him before going in to the Oval Office. Somehow, we were supposed to know that we needed to hand this form to some random person in the outer office. Suitably chastised, we enquired if we could pay the check and get a receipt as the President had told us that though it takes a week to process, he, in his magnanimity, would add a note to the receipt that would enable us to avail of the facility from the very next day. Looking back, that was the turning point, where things took an even more confusing turn.

The assistant, let's call him Ramachandra (so we dont keep calling him by the shorter & easier generic term of assistant), explained that he would not be able to give the receipt immediately. Nonplussed, we asked why. He proceeded to explain that if he gave us the receipt immediately it would be more expensive but if we came by the next day, it would be the same cost. Our befuddlement exponentially rising, we requested further clarification. Supremely confident of his stand, Ramachandra took out a sheet of paper, mumbled something incomprehensible and wrote down a list of numbers which he added up. This came to a much lower amount than the check we had ready. My nephew, valiantly trying to keep pace asked for the purpose of all these numbers as we already had the required amount written on the check. Ramachandra, a wily veteran, would have none of that and came up with another different set of numbers which came out to be higher than the check amount. He then called his own assistant, a dumb looking teenage kid who looked completely disinterested in the proceedings. We continued our lost thread of requiring the signature of the President so we could use the facilities the next day. Ramachandra was riled at this and asked what we wanted to use. He said we could go use the bar right away. We gently reminded him that our intent was to improve our physical fitness, use the pool and the tennis court and we really didnt need the bar. By this time, Ramachandra was very worked up. He yelled at his assistant to go bring the bar owner. Once he heard from us that we wanted to use the other facilities, he continued yelling at his assistant to bring the pool in-charge, tennis court in-charge, gym in-charge. Before he could summon the entire working staff of the club, we stopped him and assured him that we realized the extent of his powers but we really didnt need to see all these people. Interestingly, amidst all these commands, Ramachandra's assistant had not budged an inch from his vantage point. My nephew also made a point that Monday was a holiday and all the denizens summoned were not going to show up. This was met by an impressed stare by Ramachandra and a look in the eye which bespoke admiration for a worthy adversary.

We still did not have our receipt. Finally, he assured us that we could get it the next day at 10 a.m. and asked us to leave the form and check with him. Once I gave him the check, he drew two lines across the top left corner with a flourish and proclaimed that the check was now crossed. As we didn't look very impressed, he showed us the form and explained that he knew all about our application and the adminstrative areas of the form were written in his handwriting. For the full effect, he held up the form aloft pretty similar to how one would hold up an Olympic gold medal at the podium. He repeated in hushed tones that it was indeed his handwriting. My nephew and I were unable to muster the admiration that was obviously expected and Ramachandra put down the form in some disgust and asked us to return the next day for the receipt.

Of streamline, starboard and other aquatic arts

Left to my own devices, I probably would have indefinitely postponed this as one of the things I always wanted to do but never got around to doing. However, the wife, ever persistent, ensured that I signed up and there I was, ready for my first lesson, bleary eyed and in a foul mood at 6 a.m. on a Monday morning.

I had company in my misery, as my nephew, in similar disposition, gave me a wan smile as I picked him up. This was not going to be fun, we grimly thought.

The pool itself looked uninviting and menacing. We looked around at the dozen or so fellow poor souls, a majority whom I was sure were forced to enroll by identical circumstances as I was.

One look at the instructor gave our hearts further impetus to sink lower. He was built like a Greek god, with colossal shoulders and a miniscule waist. Mouthing unprintable mumbles, we stood under the shower which had been specially designed to dispense water at a temperature slightly lower than the already chill morning.

The class of Summer 2006 comprised of males from ranging from 15-50 years. A majority was on the wrong side of 40. We joined the mostly pot-bellied gentlemen in the pool and were pleasantly surprised to find the water not as cold as we had been led to believe by preliminary inspection.

The first few days essentially involved a lot of ungainly kicking of the water with our hands safely clasped on the side rails and our bodies stretched out. On the 3rd day or so, we were taught to float.

The initial week went off without much incident or excitement other than a lot of aches and pains for me as my body had been subjected to alien movements after eons.

The second week saw more familiarity developing between the apt pupils. A few categories distinctly emerged at this point. There was the ‘Know-It-All’ group which boasted as its members people who were chock full of advice and tips on swimming. Then, there was the ‘Leave me alone’ group, who just wanted to learn and get the hell out with minimum interaction with other students. Finally, the fun loving bunch who basically wanted to…you guessed it…just have fun. My nephew and I fell in between the second and third category. There was also one person who was in a separate category which I shall describe in excruciating detail in due course of my narrative.

Unfortunately for my nephew, one of the most active members of the ‘Know-It-All’ group took it upon himself to be a secondary coach for our 18 day extravaganza. We quickly named his ‘Streamline’ as he explained in a austere and scientific way as to how the body, the legs and the hands have to be in a streamlined position before the dive and how this would help the swimming. We were also the unwilling audience for other theories of aerodynamics that were missed, as both my nephew and I routinely disappeared under water to laugh insanely and surface only when we had control over our facial muscles.

After the first lecture, we watched with rapt attention as Streamline stood at the edge of the pool, eyeing the water with the easy confidence of Ian Thorpe. Once Streamline took off from land and entered the water, we gleefully realized that there was an abyss between his theoretical expositions and actual execution. He touched the water with all the grace of a dosa (pancake) hitting a tava (pan). The hands stretched outwards, the legs splayed and the head facing up all completed a 100% variation from the techniques imparted to us a few minutes earlier.

Then there was the extreme right-winger who, no matter, what he did, always headed right and consistently showed surprise at where he landed up. He was very sure he was going straight. Our infinitely patient instructor did all he could to divert him but right-winger was hell bent on going only one direction, i.e. starboard.

Now comes the part I delight in expounding. There was this one guy who had a perpetual issue with his nose. Irrespective of the number of times he went under water or swam, there was always a gravity defying semi-viscous substance dripping from his nose. He did try to get rid of it on many occasions but the substance invariably returned, precariously dangling, but never completing its journey downwards. I was fascinated by the elasticity of this but my nephew; as usual the prey of such situations could never quite get out of this guy’s reach. We named him G-Force, for the simple reason that ‘Gonney’ in Kannada means snot, which, to further clarify, is the output of nasal congestion. One cool thing that happened due to G-Force was that my nephew learnt to swim very fast and did quite a few laps in attempts to elude G-Force. If anything, G-Force should be thanked for my nephew’s remarkable turn of speed in water, without even surfacing to breathe.

In the 18 days we attended, we picked up rudimentary swimming skills. However, there was one technique that we could never master, as hard as we tried, starting from Day 2. Our instructor would dip both hands in water, bring them out clasped and aim a jet of water towards anyone he pleased. We were amazed by the range and accuracy. We practiced this surreptitiously for the entire duration of the class but failed miserably. This has now become a lofty personal goal for both my nephew and me. The latest on this: We can both manage about a few inches but never in the direction that we intend. Long way to go there but we shall overcome!

Despite our impressive showing in three weeks, our dreams for gold in Beijing 2008 are fast fading, especially as I wanted to participate in the individual medley. No matter…we shall wait for London 2012. In the meantime, there’s always the English Channel…

A wedding in Chennai

It's been a while since we had a massive wedding on the wife's side of the family. This one was especially important as it was the...