Friday, June 29, 2007


Since the climate in Bangalore is drastically changing to winter, I decided to buy myself a jacket. I generally do not shop for hours together nor do I like shopping. In most cases, I buy from the first shop that I enter. However, in this case, the shop owner seemed to be rude and, as if taking revenge, I left his shop and entered his neighbour’s store. As they say, all for good. I got a better deal with lots of courtesy!

Anyway, so I was waiting for my payment to be processed when a mother came in with her son aged about seven to buy a raincoat. She conversed with the salesman in Kannada and told her requirements. The salesman got some raincoats for the kid. And then the kid started complaining to the mother about the offered raincoats, saying the length was incorrect, the color was too dark, etc.

But it was not the grouse that made me surprised. It was the kid’s language. The kid was talking in flawless English with an accent! A kid aged about seven, to its mother, in pure English, as if he was taught not to talk in any other language! And the mother too, it seemed, talked with her son only in English!

While enabling the children to speak in flawless English at a very early age surely adds an edge to the child’s career growth, and even makes other kids with lack of English speaking abilities cringe, I somehow am strongly of the opinion that English, to people whose mother tongue is not English, is just a means of communication in a common language, and is to be used only when the person to whom you are talking to does not understand the language that you actually speak, or is not comfortable.

Of course, to learn talking in a particular language, it makes sense for the student to have some days of the week in School where no other language is permitted to be spoken (as is how it is usually done in Swiss Chalet schools to learn French and other foreign languages). But to not speak a single syllable in one’s own language to one’s own mother in a general outing is for me, a great loss in terms of handing over the tradition of a beautiful language. One does not have to be an expert but at least one should talk with family members in one’s own language!

I wonder if it’s the same case in, for example, a German or a Spanish family. I mean, do the mother-kid conversations happen in English? I confess I am no good in Kannada either, but at least I make it a point to talk in Kannada with those who know Kannada! There are times when many non-Kannadiga friends of mine have asked particular translation which I have shamefully admitted I do not know. If this situation worsens in the future generations, a century later, the whole language will become extinct and the beauty and purity of the language will be buried forever.

There was a time when the English ruled us Indians. And then Indians got independence from the English. And now to compete in the global arena, the future generation is being enabled to be adept in the common language which is English. But if this happens at the cost of losing touch with one’s own originality and India’s diverse culture and language, then, I fear, the English is starting to rule us Indians again…literally.

Monday, June 25, 2007

If looks could kill…

I can only further acclaim to the fact that girls are indeed beautiful. Much has been said about the art encompassed in their bodily figure; much forwards have been received about how God first made Man as a draft and said ‘Oops’, and then improvised when he made Woman and said ‘Practice makes perfect’; much has been said in films, comparing the ‘fairer sex’ (as they are more prominently called) to the beautiful things in this world. I, for one, can just nod my approval.

Not to be interpreted that I am currently in need of a girl for marriage considering my age and marital status, but this article was due from me for a long time. Of course, as the wise man says, beautiful girls and marriage are two separate things altogether!

A guy friend of mine (Mithun) once told a gal friend of mine (Ashwini) what simple pleasures she is missing by being a gal. He was referring to appreciating the beauty of the other gender, of deriving bountiful pleasures by just looking at girls and admiring the colour they added to an otherwise dull landscape! And Ashwini replied, quite succinctly, and with a wink in her eyes, “I only have to look at myself in the mirror!” Somehow, I felt the whole conversation to be very profound. While what Mithun said was very true, it was also equally true what Ashwini had said. Girls just have to look in the mirror and pamper themselves to feel the beauty within.

When I was in High school, where one learns a lot about Life in general and the other gender in particular, the concept of ‘eve-teasing’ and ‘rape’ always amused me. Keeping aside the fact that, of course, I strictly abhorred the two, it still was amusing because, there were a lot of girls who used to flaunt their, hmm, shall we say, ‘assets’, almost inviting to be eve-teased, to be raped, (assuming of course that ‘revenge’ is outside the scope for this chronicle). Some men, as we all know, are still very much uncultivated, true animals, and the aspect of a lady in revealing attire is as equivalent as showing blood on the hand to a shark in an open sea.

So then the question arose as to why this ‘flaunting’? My high school brain tried to figure out some answers. I then realized that there were girls who were naturally beautiful and then there were girls who were less lucky. Now, forget the beauty pageants, forget any sort of artificial beauty-enhancements, if a member of both the lucky and unlucky species were to stand, for example, in a bus-stand, needless to say, the majority of ‘men-turning-heads’ would be to the luckier of the two.

‘Men-turning-heads’, I realized, is in effect, actually a big compliment. A thing that makes anyone happy. It was like an unsaid compliment. Just an acknowledgement of beauty. While, turned heads is fulfilling, anything else further will be construed as bordering offensive. Here is where the distinction between the cultivated man and the uncultivated man lies.

While a man of culture and proper upbringing sums up a girl in a second, acknowledges the beauty and the curves, and might even turn for an appreciative second look, the uncultivated few mentally undress the girls through their eyes and make them feel vulnerable and scared. They ogle at them as if they are a delicacy to be eaten. As a means of male dominancy, they look at them as if they were servants, existing only to serve man and his basic instincts. And, to be fair to the cultivated men, it is this minority of the uncultivated few, who involve themselves in demeaning acts such as eve-teasing and rape, unable to control their desires.

Of course, the plight of the unlucky gal at the bus-stand is easily understood. No ‘men-turning-heads’ for her is a sad thing. Most gals want to attract attention sufficient enough to be appreciated. So, then comes into picture the artificial beauty-enhancers such as revealing dresses, make-up, extensive hair-do, et cetera, et cetera. Faced with such a scenario where the gal is trying her best to attract attention, and coupled with the presence of a few unruly men, the plan might backfire & its almost like mixing two important chemicals of a bomb.

Attire is an important feature of beauty. Everyone wants to look beautiful. So it makes sense to wear the perfect and fitting attire. Being in US for almost 2 years, made me realize how perfectly attired almost everyone was, barring of course, the crazy college-goers. Whether it was to office on weekdays or to malls on weekends, almost everyone is perfectly dressed for the occasion.

I had heard a catch-line that a lady’s skirt should be short enough to arouse curiosity but long enough to cover the subject matter! While it is right to be inline with the current fashion statement, it does become gross and indecent to be extra-revealing.

To be fair to male species as well, I have met some of the most handsome and dignified gentlemen one could ever come across. There was one person called Chris in the US office where I worked who tops the list. Coupled with a deep yet soft voice, handsomely tall and extremely helpful, he was, to me, an epitome of admirable ‘Gentlemanliness.’ Very few whom I have met are like him. After all, it is rare to see gentlemen than beautiful ladies!

Well, we all enjoy in beauty, don’t we? Beauty is exhibited in many ways around this world. A person is beautiful for what he is, more than the ‘looks’ that he has. And of course, the oft-quoted ‘Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’ is very applicable.

Yet, there are some ‘simply-stunning’ girls. I remember my first year in office, when there was this extremely striking girl whom I was scared of looking, for I knew that if I looked, I would surely stare! In fact, if she was within eye-sight and walking in the direction towards me, I used to lower my eyes so that I wouldn’t have to look at her. For gals like her, a discreet look from a distance only was befitting!

Ravi Shastri, once, when commenting let out a ‘Oh! Lovely!!’ when the camera focused on a beautiful girl. After a pregnant pause, he admitted “I couldn’t help that!” Fair enough! P G Wodehouse, in many of his novels describes the beauty of the girls in his novels – and the effect it has on respective heroes – in his unique, humorous manner. One such description is thus: “Some girls seem to take the stuffing right out of you. I mean to say, there is something about their personality that paralyzes the vocal chords and reduces the contents of the brain to cauliflower.” How true!

Another thing that I often relate to whenever I see a stunning girl is the scene from the hilarious movie ‘Dumb and Dumber’ when Lauren Holly opens the door to Jim Carrey. As soon as she is out of sight, due to the sheer power of beauty, Jim clutches his heart and slumps down as if he had a massive heart attack! Now, for me, that’s a perfect picturisation of…

“If looks could kill…”!

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Today, I came across a friend of mine who was my junior in engineering college. I was walking on the road, when he saw me from his car and pulled over. We had spent couple of good years in the college and it was nice to meet him after a gap of almost four years. We exchanged pleasantries, and discussed job, and whereabouts of old friends, and since I had to rush, bid adieu, emphasizing the footnote of ‘We shall meet again’, both the parties knowing only too well, that that ‘again’ wont be ever planned and if it had to happen, it would only be accidentally and perhaps after another long time, just like this encounter.

I continued my walk. It was a 2 km stretch. Such a long walk will inevitably be embellished by a myriad of thoughts. My friend, I had noticed (and complimented) was in his new Hyundai Santro, and while I was talking to him, he received a call on his cell-phone, a latest N-series Nokia mobile (which again I had complimented). Everything normal, it would seem, wouldn’t it, to excel from a nondescript mediocre college grad to a comfortable, well-built foothold professional, as is indeed the case with several other success stories of every individuals’ lives. To be fair, it was same with me too. I never expected a decade ago to be where I am currently. “Touchwood”, as they say.

However, the thing that kept bothering me at the back of my mind, as I walked on, was the luxury. While almost everyone craved for luxury, and tried to attain the higher echelons in all aspects, I was just content with what I had. Rather, more intriguingly, I felt at times, I needed less than what I currently possessed.

Take for instance the cell-phone. People of my age are competing in the rat-race to own the best-in-technology latest mobile phone, and some even going for Blackberries (and am sure will be the first ones to own the iPhone when it gets released), while I am content with my out-dated Nokia (whose model name I have forgotten) which is no longer available in the market. “I can make calls, I can receive calls and same with messages too” is my argument much to the chagrin of many who try to push me to buy a new cell.

Then, the vehicle. I can easily afford a posh 2007 Honda or a Toyota. Yet, I am content with the 1989 Maruthi 800. Again, “it takes me where I want to go” is my simple counterpoint to someone who tries to force me! In an era of jazzy motorbikes racing through the streets, I am happy with my 1996 Kinetic Honda (which needs more than a couple of kicks to start after an hour or two of idle time)! ‘Why are you like this?’ a friend of mine had asked. I truly don’t know! In fact, if I could have persisted with my parents, I could still have had my Hero bicycle! After all, nothing compares to the pure joy of cycling!

And then my watch. I am extremely happy with my 1992 Titan (even though the outer rim of the dial is just a wee bit faded). Its my favourite, and while most of them buy a watch on their first salary, I refuse to wear even the free Titan that my company gave for its billion-dollar-day celebrations, despite the watch having hundreds of functions such as global timing, multiple alarm options, timer, etc. Well, I don’t need all that. I just need to look at my watch and know instantly what the time is. I have grown so used to my old Titan that I can do just that even at the wee hours of the night despite there being no numerals on the dial.

And it doesn’t just stop there. I am not a stickler for branded apparel or shoes. If I need a shirt or a pair of trousers, I just go into the first shop that I see and buy what I like. But if I have, say, a shirt-piece, I would just go to any tailor shop and give the measurements. For me, things such as this hardly matters. An incident that is indelibly etched in my mind is when another friend of mine had told me thus, chancing once upon my wardrobe: “Harsha! I think I have to disown you as my friend!”

And when it comes to music, my only interest lies in Carnatic Classical. I am hopelessly knowledgeable on the current Western tracks or the Bollywood flicks. I cannot even make out the distinction between the different genres. Rock, metal, jazz, pop are all just words to me. Come to think of it, I am not even fully knowledgeable in Carnatic Classical!

And then, the professional life. While most of them ask me to settle down in US, change jobs for higher pay packets, all of which I could do easily enough if I try, yet, I am content with the way I am. Perhaps not satisfied with what I am doing, but no complaints whatsoever with the pay packet. Apart from a countable few, I haven’t heard anyone who doesn’t want more money, who doesn’t want to climb up the ladder of life! Perhaps I belong to the world’s smallest category of the population!

Why am I not like others? Why am I not normal? Why do I not have the same feelings and urge as the common man does? It has been often told to me by many, quite frankly, that no girl (be it arranged or love) would ever say ‘Yes’ to me. Not that I am complaining, but, hey, this is who I am, for what I am worth. Nondescript, unimportant and insignificant little man, further expounded in the ‘about me’ of my orkut profile in a simpler manner as: “I am just an ordinary guy.”

At an age when, for most, God is just a 5-minute prayer affair, I look forward to visiting religious places by the dozen. A weekly visit to the temple is a must for me. Quite understandably, I have been mocked by many for reading spiritual books. Just as I reached my house, a somewhat final parting thought came to my mind that perhaps I was a saint in my previous life. After all, only saints want less. ‘Principle of Renunciation’ (and all that).

But, it still was a puzzle. A saint has no rebirth if he has attained moksha. Then I smiled as an answering thought struck me.

Perhaps I sucked in that too!

Saturday, June 02, 2007


Friendships have their own unique way of scripting a sinusoidal or tangential or sometimes even reverse exponential graph.

Divya and I met eight years ago (in 1999). She was my junior in the engineering college and we used to travel in the same college bus. She was of small stature, had a cute little face, boy-cut hair (which was somehow nice to play with!), a very unique, somewhat childish and unmatured voice but a huge amount of attitude and no-nonsense. She wasn’t one of those who would be ready to become friends instantly but instead take their own time.

Hence, in the first year of our acquaintanceship (I wouldn’t even prefer to refer it as friendship), there was a mutual respected distance between the two of us and the conversation remained within the realms of need-basis or the basic courtesies. We could be tagged as ‘Friends?’!

But Aries and Sagis have an inherent way of getting close and garnering a mutual respect some time or other. Somehow, without any particular incident causing the deflection, our acquaintanceship turned towards friendship from 2000 onwards.

And there, as ‘Just Friends’, we hovered for the next 2 years (till 2002), crossing the boundaries of just formal courtesies and pleasantries to more meaningful conversations, when finally it was time for me to graduate from college. Once out of college, at an era when email was still not so popular, we gradually lost touch of one another, and she joined the multitude which can be grouped under ‘Once Friends.’

My professional life soon led me to the States while in the meantime, she too graduated and joined a company in Mysore. A coincidental chat with a common friend in late 2005, just days before her birthday, almost three years since we lost touch, provided me her email ID.

With no hope of a positive response, I sent her a birthday wish via email. However, that single mail started off a new lease of friendship! We gained the lost ground quickly and mutually updated on happenings. Small stature she might yet have been, but she had become popular in her Mysore office. She wasn’t cute, boy-cut girl anymore but a strong contender in beauty pageants with full-flowing hair!

It soon came to be that she was to travel to West Coast of USA in the coming months. In those months, I gave her a dump of what to expect and what not to expect from the Great Land of Opportunities and mentally prepared her. It wasn’t long before she arrived and we started having long conversations over the phone about our respective days.

Now imagine that. From ‘Friends?’, to ‘Just Friends’ to ‘Once Friends’, we had reached a stage where we were calling each other daily to ask ‘How was your day?’ It sort of gave a nice feeling and we used to look forward to those conversations which led to a more intricate knowledge of each others’ personal lives and thoughts and wants, as well as the ups and downs that we both were currently facing. Crux of the topic, generally revolved around her relationship with her boyfriend which was being tested for marriage feasibilities by her family, and her own personal views about it.

The nearest we came to, geographically speaking, was in SFO when I went with my friends and she went with her cousins. But due to personal reasons, we could not meet up. Soon, however, somewhat abruptly, she had to travel back to India. I was due to go back too, in a couple of months’ time. While I went back to India, she got transferred from Mysore to Bangalore.

When you reach that stage in friendship where you have had long soulful talks for days together, you wont get into ‘Once Friends’ mode ever, in spite of not being in touch. You would have surpassed that stage wherein, even without talking to one another for years, you can meet up and start off where you had left behind. We were now in that ‘Friends Forever’ stage!

In the months that followed in India, we used to chat or talk on phone but due to personal constraints, it was limited. While it is a much desired activity in a foreign country and place, where one craves for nothing other than friends and more friends, it is not as much desired – although necessary - in one’s own home town and place, filled with family and more family!

But atlast, early this month, we met up, after almost five years. It was a pleasant feeling and we had our usual nice round of bonhomie talk! She invited me for her wedding with her boyfriend, which had finally succeeded the family battle, and I felt happy for her success. We even went for a nice short wedding shopping spree!

And today, as I stood there, near her, in the Kalyan Mantap, congratulating her marital status, she looked up at me and flashed a brilliant smile. The joy she had on seeing me and the joy I had in wishing her, was unparalleled. The blissful contentment and genuine happiness that sprouts up from within is something which even the face cannot stop from displaying as a beautiful smile. After all those days on phone, listening to her about her unsettling and undecided future, it was finally good to see her secured with the sacred wedding necklace (thaali) by the person of her choice!

Have a wonderful, fun-filled, happy married life, Pinky!

PS: This chronicle was written on May 27, 2007.