walk a-musing

Wednesday, June 28, 2006



I am doing an assignement. I am to write ten words starting with the letter W and mention what they mean to me.

This was one (1) Whippersnapper's idea of revenge.
I wrote a post explaining why I am not (2) Weird and tagged him to write why he is. Incidentally, he hasn't.
If I am anything, I am, ahem, ahem, (3) Wise.

My son made a mothers day card for me recently with the drawing of a (4) Witch on it, and I have been (5) Wondering ever since.
As the name of my blog indicates, (6) Walking is something I love to do.
The fact that I have a blog, and update it reguarly can mean only one thing. I enjoy (7) Writing.

The opinion is unanimous. This is whom the world thinks I resemble.

(8) Walrus

Beauty queen that I am, what I want most is........ (9) World peace!!

10. Wine. Need I say more?

You can comment on the post without worry. Ony if you are interested will I give you a letter to wr‪ite ten words with.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Ramble On Cooking

After reading the post on my weirdness, Bhargav wondered why cooking was not in the list of things I love to do in the 'woman’s domain'. Here is the reply.

The key word in that list was 'love'. I don't love cooking. I can't even say I like cooking.

I still clearly remember my mom's alarm when I declared this to her. In reality, I had never even tried cooking to know that I didn't like it. Since I was old enough to gather that in any household it was the woman who did most of the house work, I didn't want any of it. Consider this: Men and women could love reading, they could dislike gardening. They could both hate driving. Both could hate walking in the sun, and both were allowed to love teaching. But all women had to like cooking? Was there no choice at all for me with regard to liking or disliking cooking? Then I must hate it. As simple as that. And I did.

And then what changed everything was that, like most others in this world, I married. If you think i tried to impress my husband by cooking, no. I am not one of those who believes that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Since my husband had assured me that I had already entered his heart - by some mysterious route which I still haven't identified - I saw no reason to explore new ones. A second path could only be used for exit, specially if it involved my cooking. It is just that after getting married and setting up my own home, I discovered that the good, healthy, tasty food that I had taken for granted all my life was no longer available everyday. I loved my food and I liked it a certain way. It dawned on me rather slowly that if I wanted the kind of food I liked to eat, I better learn to cook it myself.

My husband can cook. With the hope that he won't read this, I confess that he can roll out the most perfectly round aloo parathas. The Andhra style vegetable fries he makes are some of the best I have eaten. (And I have been very careful not to learn to make them as well as him). But he had longer working hours and his workplace was further away from mine. Tell me, how do men manage to arrange this in most marriages? Anyway, if I wanted the kind of food my mother made, and anything else that I happened to eat somewhere and liked very much, I had to learn. And that is the reason I learnt cooking.

Once my son was born it was yet another story. I think it is George Mikes who says in the opening page of his autobiography that everyone's mother is the most beautiful in the world and everyone's mother is the best cook in the world. Except his. He thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world but certainly the worst cook. I didn’t want my son to write something like this in his autobiography. I couldn’t do anything about the beauty part, but being the best cook in the world for my son was perhaps in my hands. Also, once he grew up, and joined college he shouldn’t insist on staying in the hostel for the only reason that hostel food was better.

The net result of all this is that, I have turned out to be a pretty decent cook. My family is happy with home food, though we do eat out occasionally. I have even earned a name among friends and relatives for some of the tasty traditional food I make and a variety of other dishes new to us Indians, like the Italian pasta and risotto and the Mexican enchilada. But let me be clear, if anyone else is ready to make all this for me the way I want, when I want, I will have no hesitation to crown him/her 'super cook' and retire happily. That is the difference between the items on the list, and cooking. With the items on my list, the pleasure is in the doing, whereas in cooking, the pleasure is only and entirely in the result.

How many of you have come across men who point out smugly that though so many women cook, most of the best known chefs are men? There are umpteen reasons for that. But I have absolutely no doubt that by making cooking compulsory for women, the world has lost a few great and innovative chefs. Just consider how many novels you read as text books you still like.

One of my friends is expecting her second child. The other day when I met her she looked absolutely radiant. Her doctor had just told her that it was going to be a girl. She already had a son. She told me the reactions of the rest of the family. Her husband was very happy she said. He was already dreaming of the day when the little one would grow up and make his tea and serve it with love. I almost wished they had another son. I almost asked if the older son would make the pakoras. But I couldn't dampen my friend's happiness. I congratulated her and moved on. In all probability, this man will be a doting father to both his children and will do everything a father needs to do for his children. But he has already placed a subtle extra burden on his unborn daughter.

Since cooking is something we can't do away with, I wish families will teach both their sons and daughters the art of cooking, and in such a way that they both come to enjoy it to some extent, and also the burden is not placed heavily on the women. I am most definitely doing my bit here. My son proudly tells everyone, that he will be cooking as well as his mom by the time he is eighteen. "My mom has promised me that!"

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

How About An Apology?

On Saturday evening when we started to watch one the football matches of the FIFA world cup with friends, someone drew our attention to the words written on the center of the field. "Say No To Racism". A discussion ensued. Isn't it ironical that Germany, known for its holocaust, proclaims this today? Why does it feel compelled to do so? Does it want to prove to the world again and again that it is now different from the Germany we read about in history books? Or is it because of the rise of neonazis in the country that it feels it has to declare to the world that the country as a whole is against racism?

Someone else commented that Britain has never apologised for its Imperialism. Never. Why is there this difference? I feel it depends first of all on whether you demand an apology or not. Secondly how powerful the people who demand it are. When it came to Germany, the 'injured party' included the US and the UK. The two countries had suffered extensively during the war and they being two of the most powerful countries in the world, Germany had to beg forgiveness. Someone else pointed out that the Jews are a powerful lobby now. So everyone is careful not to hurt their feelings.

What about Great Britain and its history of colonialism then? Has it apologized to any country it colonised and plundered and to the people it uprooted (including about 1.5 million Indians) and scattered around the world to do its bidding? Has any country demanded an apology? Ofcourse many African countries have. They have demanded reparations and continue to do so with almost no result . Billions of billions will have to be paid as compensations by the US and UK for the slavery alone. What about India? Gandhiji wanted us to part as friends. That was his greatness. But doesn't Britain feel any remorse for all that it did?

Let me quote from "Empire", the recent book of Nial Ferguson who is "The most brilliant British historian of his generation", according to The Times.

"Under British rule, the village economy's share of total after-tax income actually rose from 45% to 54%. Since that sector represented around three quarters of the entire population, there can therefore be little doubt that British rule reduced inequality in India. And even if the British did not greatly increase Indian incomes, things might conceivably have been worse under a restored Mughal regime had the Mutiny succeeded. China did not prosper under Chinese rulers."

!! ....Oh is that why the British went forward and swamped that country with opium? Cool.
He continues.
"The reality, then, was that Indian Nationalism was fuelled not by the impoverishment of the many but by the rejection of the privileged few."

According to him, the English educated Indian elite,
"who aspired to have some share in the government.... and were spurned in favour of the defunct maharajas"
were the ones who fuelled this nationalism. Sad. The rest of the Indian population was quite happy with British Rule.

There. They still discuss it and some even try to make it look good. We don’t talk about it much anymore, let alone demand an apology. Is it unfashionable to do so? We parted as friends, we are all adults now, so why rake up old issues? But I can’t stand and cheer when the same people who committed all those atrocities pose as moral policemen to the world. A voice in me will always ask, ”What about what you did in my country? Have you said sorry for that?" Every time Koizumi visits the Yasukuni shrine for Japanese war heroes, Korea demands an apology (Not that it stops him from visiting it next year). The Koreans are right. How can you let people forget?

Monday, June 12, 2006

Weird? Me?


Lalitha has tagged me! My very first tag! And what am I expected to do? Write 5 things weird about me and then pass the buck to 5 others.

Ok,....the weirdest thing about me is..... is.... hm...is... that I dont think there is a anything weird about me. Yeah......there ARE ofcourse a million little quirky things, but.....well.... isn't that normal?

There. My post is ready.

But wait. Here is Lalitha asking me to talk about myself, albeit about my weirdness. When was the last time anybody showed such interest in me and asked me to talk about myself? I dont even remember.....Oh yes, it was in fifth grade, I think. The English teacher asked me to stand up and tell the class, five good things about myself. And exactly the same thing happened. I had absolutely nothing to say. How can I just let go of this opportunity? No! I will write about myself, and it is going to be a bit of a ramble but atleast Lalitha will read ( I hope). Since I, personally dont think there is anything weird about me, let me write what others consider weird about me.

1.Those who stereotype women will find me weird because: I love and enjoy a number of things in the 'man's domain'. I like DIY, including carpentry(learnt in school, tried it even recently, ie, made a shoe rack and toy rack. Not from the assembling kit mind you, but with a saw, nails and hammer and soft wood. I have single handedly installed a ceiling fan. How many men can boast that? I have fixed curtain rods. Drill, bits, screw, the works. And I love vehicles, be it cycles, row boats, or cars, and love riding / rowing / driving them. As a young girl I had fantasised about being a tractor driver.

2. Those who think, "Oh, she should have actually been a man" will find me weird because: I enjoy and love a lot more things that are supposed to be a 'woman's domain'. I like sewing, embroidery, crochet, knitting, patch work, quilting..... I absolutely need knitting for guilt-free TV watching. Just see how much the sweater has progressed and you know how much TV I have been watching. See? This is one sure sign that I wasn't meant to be man. When I sit on front of the TV I dont exercise my fingers by endlessly switching channels. Oops, am I stereotyping men? If there are any men who dont do that, do let me know. Will be pleased to make your aquaintance!
(Come to think of it, they would call my mom weird, because she was the one who taught me to change the washer in the tap, fix the electric iron, and sew and embroider)

3. Car lovers will find me weird because: True, I do love cars and to drive, but I am not exactly what you would call discerning. Till I left India, I thought BMW was a dabba car (is that a kannada slang? well, it means crap, useless, cheap)

4.My nephews find me weird because, according to them, one of my eyebrows is higher than the other. I have showed them all the TV newsreaders in India and pointed out that all of them have an eyebrow higher than the other. I have tried to tell them that it is a sign of beauty. But no, they think I am weird and tease and laugh... :(

5.My parents (If they came to know) may think I am weird because: Inspite of all the loves listed in 1 and 2 plus those that are happily gender free, like reading, gardening, sports, music and so on, the past few months have found me spending most of my free time sitting with my laptop, staring at the screen like a zombie, deep in blogosphere. My son's sweater which I started in September will surely be ready by midsummer.

6. My husband thinks I am weird because: Oh.... only five?


Haha! Now to tag others. Here are the victims: hmm....in alphabetical order :)
We can expect some interesting reading!

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Kasturi Kannadada Nammooru

(Sachin wrote about Bombay in his blog and invited his readers to write about their cities and so.....)

"Kasturi kannadada nammooru" is a line from a song from an old Kannada movie. It refers to Mysore, the "home of Kannada", and Kannada itself is compared to the exquisite, aromatic (and rare?) Kasturi, or Musk. And Mysore is my home.

Chamundi hills as seen from across the kukkarahalli tank in Mysore

Having said that, the lines that really remind me of Mysore nowadays are those from the American serial of the 80s,'Cheers'.

"Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name
And they are always glad you came"

Because that is exactly what I feel when I go to Mysore. Mysore is not a town. It is and has been for a long time, a city. It was after all the capital of the princely state of the same name, the home of the Kings of Mysore, the home of the first University in what is now Karnataka, and the cultural capital of the state. But it has retained one characteristic of a small town: In Mysore, people know each other. Once when visiting Delhi, to prove the point to a friend, I had posted a letter with just my father's name and the pin code written on it and and it had reached him.

The moment I arrive on the railway platform in Bangalore central station I recognize a few Mysoreans. Throughout my stay, I meet people who have known me from childhood, and who make me feel as if seeing me was the best thing that happenend to them in recent days. The morning after I arrive, I go to the neighbouring Kukkarahalli tank for a walk. My parents warn me not to take too long, standing around talking to everyone I meet. And sure enough, I meet my old doctor, a friend's mother, my father's friend...., who greet me with 'Anu....! I knew it was you, even from that distance....when did you come..?" On the way back, I go to the Kannan shop on the next road, to be greeted with the warmest smile and "How are you, how is your son?" In the evening as I walk to a music concert the girl who sells flowers under the tree in the corner, calls out across the street "akka..chennaagideera?"(Sister, are you doing well?). In the concert hall, by the time the artists arrive, my jaws are aching due to all the smiles.

Early morning at kukkarahalli tank

I have a strong feeling that the Yellow pages have no use in Mysore. The paediatrician is your cousin. The dentist is the sweet and gentle young lady just round the corner. Have to get the compound repaired? Call your old friend, he got some work done just the other day and said they did an excellent job. Want to buy a new fridge? Another friend offers to take you to the new big showroom, her old student works there and will even get you a discount...... That is Mysore for you.

The interesting thing is that it was my anonymity in a new country that appealed to me most when I first went to live in Singapore. I could wear any weird dress and cut my hair any length. I could sit all alone in a cafe and sip my tea and read my book. I once walked from the mall to my house with my eyes closed and my six year old son leading me by the hand, just because he wanted to know how it worked. I would have felt rather awkward doing that in Mysore. Yet it is to bask in the warmth of familiarity that I wish to return to Mysore again and again.

Migratory birds on the island in the middle of the tank

I leave it to the tourist and the weekend visitor to describe the popular sights of the city. But when I close my eyes and think of Mysore what comes to mind is this: The smell of Jasmine and the peaceful summer evenings of my childhood; The sound of rain water on the coconut fronds and the "Oh why cant we bottle it?" smell of the earth; The lovely contrast of red gulmohars against the rain filled dark grey clouds; the most glorious colours of the sky as I walk towards the sunset from Kuvempunagar; the bright translucent yellow of the hundreds of fallen flowers on swimming pool road, as the rays of the setting sun streaks through them; The first glimpse of the Chamundi hills in the distance as the train approaches Mysore which brings a lump to my throat - well, that is my Mysore.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Smiley's People


I wrote a comment on a blog, adding a slightly serious angle to a light hearted post. When I read it again I had a doubt that it sounded too critical. Perhaps a bit harsh when I did not intend to be harsh? I quickly added a smiley at the end of the comment. It now looked ok. It actually sounded ok. I read it once again, and felt it said exactly what I wanted to say in the exact tone I intended. Satisfied, I hit the button 'publish'.

Then I wondered. What would I have done before the advent of Smileys? How would I have expressed this little bit of jocularity when writing something just a little serious? Have the Smileys added an extra dimension to our language and made it richer, or has our ability with words deteriorated so much that we need facial expressions as props to complete what we started out to say?

Here is something about the original Smiley's People