Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Me at Coorg - Part II

We reached Abby falls when it was 3.00 PM. I started walking enthusiastically, ahead of the group, to get foretaste of the waterfall. Though the waterfall was not affluent, there was enough fluid to amuse us. Brave Heart is a great swimmer and it was time to prove his swimming talents. Soon Confident Blabberer and Quite Killer dived in which motivated lot other young men to submerge.

We ladies preferred watching nature silently. After an hour of silent rejoices, we decided to make a move. Location Planner, who was till then mutely shooting heroic gestures of our colleagues in water, wanted to prove his skills on land. He tried jumping from a relatively higher mount. Policeman nearby was already annoyed as he mistook one of Laughing Thunder’s comments. His act aggravated the policeman and Location Planner let his tongue loose. That was enough to create a storm and situation was out of control. Though we were at no fault, it was not time to fight for justice. I usually tend to loose control and will not miss a chance to exchange blows. I uttered some words which might have worsened the situation, but Laughing Thunder was cautious enough to control me and I was lucky enough as the policeman did not listen me.

Man of the day was Wise Captain. He handled the situation efficiently, trying to soothe the policeman. But for his effective execution of managerial tactics, our day would have been ruined. There was one more incident which demanded Wise Captain’s skill, though I am slotting it for some other occasion.

Nevertheless this reserved our interest to some extent; But we caught our moods back after a small gap. When it was 5.00 P.M. we landed in Raja’s Seat. After a quick stroll at garden, we preferred walking in a bumpy path, rather a difficult terrain to get a better view of the valley. But for Bubbly Beauty’s initial hesitation, everyone thoroughly enjoyed the walk. After that walk, I still found myself left with lot of energy, but it was already late and after a decent dinner, we went back to our rooms.

The tedious day had its impact on Constant Moaner, and she was almost crying due to aching body. We were nearly lifting her to the room and made her comfortable. Wrapping herself tightly with three blankets, she went to sleep. That night went peacefully, with no new tensions about her health.

It was Sunday, and we started earlier that morning, ready to travel towards Mysore. Our plan was to visit Srirangapattnam Temple and Mysore Palace and catch the train. When we were half way through, our driver informed about Dubari forest and lured us saying about elephant ride and boating. Boating never enchanted me. I disapproved the location, but my protest was subdued by majority will.

I prepared myself for that unscheduled visit. The water level was shallow that one could jog in the river and still can reach faster than the boat. But a starving river gives more thrill than a flooding one as the former allows us to have a closer look at her. I enjoyed the ride that way.
We crossed the river, and were eagerly awaiting elephant safari. Seven of us, including the Mahut were on elephant at a time. The journey would have been much interesting had the place been surrounded by green trees. But we could see only dry bamboos, and still that different experience was enough to make me glad.
Our next scheduled visit was to Mysore Palace. But it was too late as we reached that place only by 7.00 PM while we had our train at 8.00 PM. By the time we reached the palace, lights were switched on, the Palace carried a brilliant look. Wise Captain was too busy catching the exteriors, while I was anxious to peep into its interiors for a short while. But we never went inside as it was too late for our train.

When it was 10.30 PM, my mother rang up and asked what she had to cook the next day. Her call made me closer to my place. The next day, I was narrating the whole story to my mother, enjoying her skillfully prepared rasam accompanied by hot appalams.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Me at Coorg – Part I

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. Applicable equally for our team also. Team outing remained a long cherished wish and at last we made it. Yes, we set out for Coorg this Thursday and I am all set to share my experience with you.
I managed to reach there well before time and the cauvery express started at 9.30 P.M exactly. I saw all enthusiastic faces, looking for a delightful journey. The journey had a romantic start. Our newly wed, fund manager of the trip became excited as his wife would be waiting for the train at Ambattur station to get a glimpse of him and he was curious not to miss her. Time could not deter love. It was 10.00 P.M. already and his unmindful wife waved devotedly, and our fund manager, was no less devoted and shouted “Anjaliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii”. After this quixotic farewell, he happily occupied the seat, ready to take part in group fun.

Each one showed his own singing talents and started playing Antakshari. Our enthusiasm knew no bounds and we unnoticed that the co traveler’s tolerance exceeded its boundary. When we were knocked on our head, decided to keep quite and indulge our self in playing cards. That was too much for me to stretch for long hours, as I was feeling sleepy and retired to my berth.
It was 8.30 A.M when we reached Mysore. Had some food there, the sole purpose being to contain hunger. Hence did not mind much about quality and service and we took a safer bet of eating idlies. Then we started towards Coorg.

We were in Bylakuppe to visit Tibetian settlement and Golden Temple. Every one of us were curious to know much about Tibetians there and their lifestyle, but unfortunately, none was there to answer us. Our Confident Blabberer explained that all living there are monks and even distinguished their status depending upon the colour of dress they wore. I knew about him and was not ready to buy his statements. But when I checked in net, I found him right. Think I will withdraw the name I have given? Nay.

Golden temple there was really wonderful with very good art works, though I lack patience to go through its dexterity. It was a nice trip to Bylakuppe and we decided to go to Nagerhole. Our Location Planner suggested this and we faithfully believed his words, only to find dry woods. After spending almost an hour of traveling, we found that place worthless and decided to move towards Coorg.

I am very much prone to sneezing and occasionally wheezing too, that I was worrying should I carry my sweater so that my journey towards Coorg would be peaceful. But all our stuffs were already lodged safely at the backside of the bus that we could not think of disturbing them. Hence decided to face the cold when it comes. We were reaching Coorg but there was no sign of cold breeze even. When I asked Laughing Thunder, she smiled and said, “Hai, 30 KM from now, see how u will be frozen.” I believed her timidly as she had been to this place earlier.

By that time we realized that it was off-season and Coorg climate is no better than Chennai’s. Our Laughing Thunder and Lovely Leader smiled sheepishly at each other. (They suggested the place). But that could not put off our mood. We enthusiastically walked towards the room planning for a wonderful evening. By that time the main organizers in the other room (the male members of our team) invited us to join them and we had a nice time relishing the photos taken in the morning. What else can be more joyful than enjoying our own images in different variety?

We had a very tight plan for the next day and were set to cover as many places as possible. Again we went to a pathetic hotel, (had no choice), but enjoyed the food (rather the company we had?). Our first visit was to Thalacauvery that day. I could not enjoy that place much since I found nothing interesting. Rather I was not motivated by Goddess Cauvery to the necessary extent as she had been to Tamil Nadu a long time back and we were eagerly awaiting her arrival in vain for years together.

But a climb from that place to a rather hilly structure to get full view of the valley was really very good experience. We were almost 1500 M above ground level and our Mr. Brave heart’s enthusiasm knew no bounds that he initiated climbing on a very high pole that was planted in the center. We were very much panicked, but that did not stop him. As one monkey went ahead, I expected other monkeys also to follow suit. That happened with Confident bluffer and Location Planner following him and it gave us wonderful snaps, a memory which we can cherish.
As a tired team, we assembled back to the bus, still with bagful of enthusiasm, ready to travel towards Abbey falls.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Top Floor Advantage

I was used to independent house earlier in my native place, where I was free to go to upstairs, be myself and enjoy nature in that open terrace. After coming to Chennai where land is dearer, we were forced to take up an apartment where in my movements were limited to ground floor, depriving me of the benefits of open terrace.

Fortunately, I now moved in to another apartment housing almost hundred families, gifted with a very big open terrace. I am an ardent believer in physical exercises and see to that I work out at least for half an hour a day. I could practice it with much ease here, having walk for long hours while enjoying cool breeze and chatting with my little neighbor who narrates me about her friends and teachers, reminding me of my school days. But for this place, we would have never talked, and I would have missed enjoying the innocence of that little girl.

Morning walk here is a real bliss, though I seldom do it. Most of the morning hours are spent by me sleeping lazily, a practice, which I hate when others do and yet enjoy doing it myself. Crowded by fearless crows, lovely pigeons and active squirrels, the place remains a very good starter for the day. Also, a clear view of Lord Shiva’s temple situated a kilometer away from my place, gives a great pleasure and peace.

When it is summer, it is vadaam (fryum like stuff, made in-house, used as side dish) time. We could see the whole terrace covered by polythene sheets, with housewives busily engaged in making vadaams. The dough for making this wonderful eatable itself is so tasty, that small children hunt for mamis pleading for a handful of this stuff. Housewives will spend most part of the day here, guarding their hard done vadaams from mischievous children and birds.

My neighbour’s sweet little two-year-old daughter can spend hours together here, as this place gives her enough freedom to play and also she loves watching young children playing and laughing.

This is widely used as a open conference room, with housewives gathering together, by around 8.00 P.M.everyday, busily engaged in secret gossips, (though ultimately reaches the whole apartment depending upon the receptiveness of the lady of the house.), and in-depth analysis of various topics, ranging from their neighbor’s newly bought microwave oven to Trisha’s new hair style.

Not to miss the regular Association meeting conducted here. President of our Association, feeling as if he is President of our nation, will proudly occupy the dais (a table covered with cloth) speaking as loudly as he could, just to make up the absence of mike and will make we residents grumble and murmur because of his long boring advice which he routinely repeats every time. Cool drinks are rarely served and in case they are served, that occasion is marked by a huge crowd of children, enthusiastically taking part in the meeting. After all they are also residents of our flats, having every right to attend the meeting.

That night I was strolling with my cousin and she was talking about an expensive and posh flat that she was planning to buy. Asked her whether the flat has this much open space. When she replied in negative I said, “What a flat yaar? Want to lock yourself between four walls? I won’t leave my place even if I am offered a cozy flat with all amenities”, knowing clearly, that I won’t be offered one.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Shivrathri Experience

Shiva Temple near our place was very busy, today being Sivarathiri. Though could not spend the whole night at temple, I decided to attend atleast the night service. This time I took a vow to fast, something very rare for which I convince myself to do. After, reaching home at 9.00 PM, started immediately to temple cleansing myself properly. By that time, the first set of pooja was over and Lord Shiva stood majestically, looking gorgeous with the simple flowers that decorated Him.

I was informed that service will start by 11.00 P.M. I decided to wait, as it was already 10.00 PM by then, and leaving at that time would be unwise, as I expected more crowd. To pass an hour, Brahmans chanting ruthram earlier, started singing. They sing to control sleep and keep themselves occupied. Hence expecting to hear Yesudas or Nithyashree will be too much. Everyone tried his voice and I really enjoyed. But a young girl sang excellently well, a real treat to Lord Shiva. That momentary performance came to an end soon and our fervent old men continued.

It was just 10.30 PM and to my astonishment, priest pulled the screen down and went inside. That means, he is preparing for pooja, removing all decorations and making Him ready for next abishekam. So we were happy as the service was going to start half an hour earlier. Head priest came out, removed the screen and we saw Shiva standing royally with His decorations removed, ready for abishekam.

By that time I noticed a lady, clothed very well, to be exact in a manner that did not suit the occasion. Priest, who was ready to perform abishekam, dressed up Lord Shiva once again and I got confused. There stood a small screen star with that lady and God was forced to dress up well just to please these fake stars. Once again karpoora aarathi was taken. I could only laugh when that lady prayed seriously.

As this went on for half an hour, our devotees got distracted and started talking about worldly things. One was worried about her little daughter’s breakfast menu for the next day while the other was admiring the sari of another.

Atlast everything settled down and my Lord became ready once again. It started with Pal abishekam (milk bath) and we all had a hearty look at our Lord who was relishing His regained glory. But for the above mentioned incidents, the other things went on well and brahmanas did a perfect job, with Head Priest involving himself too much, eventually, giving us the satisfaction.

Abishekam was over and again the curtains were pulled down. This time it is to decorate the Lord. The gap was filled in the old way by chanting slokas and singing songs. When the curtain rose, it was really a divine experience and He was really magnificent. Equally skillfully adorned was Goddess Parvathi, looking splendid. It was worth waiting there for three hours.

Everything went on well till the main villain of today’s episode, a young Brahmin announced about distribution of Prasadam. I usually do not take the pain of going in queue to collect the Prasadam and will be content with sacred ash given. Today my mother accompanied me and she was dutiful enough to get some prasadam. When I came out of temple saying goodnight to God, my mother standing outside offered me His Prasadam and I gleefully gulped few mouthfuls. Alas, only afterwards I remembered my vow and became terribly guilty. Cursed the villain once again and started walking slowly, determined to continue with my decision despite of that tempting puliyodarai‘s successful attempt to dissuade me. Ah, I am my own master and I make and break rules. God doesn’t care about these rule breakings. When he accepted the breach by Priest, will not he bear with me for my temptation? Consoling myself, I went to bed thinking about His enchanting looks once again.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Thoughts of Gurumurthy

This high flung auditor from Chennai, has controversial thoughts on any given issue for that matter. Being a regular reader of Thuglak, I was introduced to his writings few years back. One of his recent articles in Thuglak impressed me a lot and here I am to share his thoughts.

Whole India is crying about foreign direct investments and feeling happy about growing forex reserves. Mr. Guru truly differs stating that India need not feel inferior for not attracting FDI as china or any other country for that matter does. China, being a communist country, never encouraged its citizen to be entrepreneurs. Or probably that was a new concept for China and Chinese are lagging in entrepreneurial skills. But that is not the case in India. Our entrepreneurial skills start from the street hawker who sells vegetables. Every Indian right from lower income group knows the concept of being independent.

It is only the semi educated youth, who depends on government and other industrialists for a decent living is becoming a burden and not the self-confident street hawker who himself is a capitalist. Thus we can conclude that more than half of the Indians are blessed with entrepreneurial skills while the need for capital in china is internally created and that makes china a better place to invest for foreign companies rather than India. To put it clearly, the flow is towards the direction where the need is. They can flourish well in Chinese environment rather than in ours. Neither we need them.

There can only be two reasons for worrying about FDI. One is the need for foreign exchange and the other inability of Indian government to bring in more capital. We no longer worry about forex reserves as our ministers are wondering as how to make use of the huge forex reserves India has. They are thinking about the option of investing in infrastructure projects. The matter of concern can only be the second one.

Economists strongly felt that savings rate is not enough to infuse more capital. Though India is one of the country whose savings rate is higher, economists were of the view that savings rate has to reach 32% of GDP so that India can reach 8% growth rate. Also they strongly believed that fresh FDI capital of 10 billion per year is needed for speeding up the growth rate to 8%.

But to every one’s astonishment, our savings rate was 28% of GDP during 2003-2004 and during the same period, the growth rate was 8.8%. Please note that our FDI inflow during this period was only 4 billion. Economy is not bound by economist’s word.

Our economy works because we save. American economy works the other way. The more the people earn, the more they spend. The reverse is the case here. More the people earn, they tend to save more. Gurumurthy rightly describes our economy as having feminine features, while western economy has masculine features.

Hence a strong message is that we need not give lucrative offers to attract FDI. Our growth is not limited due to non-availability of capital. Left to itself, our sectors will grow well.

I think this view, really needs a deep thought. Any opinion of yours is welcome.