Daily Archives: August 13, 2010

Chennai Diaries – Part 1

Debs gave me this idea.. to write about the little incidents that happen here, during my short stay in Chennai! So let me shoot…

* We took this arduous journey of almost 17 hours to reach Chennai! It was an indirect flight, via Bombay (I cannot yet bring myself to say Mumbai!). Inflight, it was stuffy and warm, and I had a splitting head-ache for half the journey! Then the plane hovered around for about 30 minutes in the air, because it couldn’t land due to air-traffic congestion!! We finally reached home at 5:30 am!! Luckily, my favourite nephew was awake to welcome us, so that eased away all the trouble of travelling!!

* We were jet-lagged for the first three days. The Chennai weather did nothing to help us out. Strangely, until the day we landed, (we are told), the weather in Chennai was supposedly awesome.. warm during the day, but chill at night! Sigh!

* Just as I recovered from jet-lag, my paternal Grandma passed away. The family was expecting it for a couple of weeks, as she was ailing, but when the phone rang at 12:30 am, it was a bit of a jolt!!

* This morning, I witnessed an ‘auto fight’ :-) It was fun. Fun, because the auto-driver was negotiating with a foreigner over the fare to be paid! For non-Chennai-ites, you must know something – Chennai autos do not believe in the concept of ‘metre readings’ or ‘fair fares’ :-) they believe in harassing and fleecing ‘savaari’ or passengers :-) So we saw this auto driver arguing with a foreign lady. And the Hero that my Dad likes to be, he shouted at the auto-driver and said, foreigners will think we are all beggars! The dutiful daughter that I am, I supported him, by saying ‘What will ‘they’ think of ‘us”. Only to realise, after a few minutes, that the auto-driver was actually asking for a reasonable amount. And that the poor foreigner was actually leaving a posh silk-saree shop!!! So much for ‘hospitality’ towards ‘foreigners’ :-)

* A strange conversation with my dearest maternal grandmother this evening. According to our custom, the son/family is not allowed to perform anything auspicious or even visit temples/undertake pilgrimage for 1 year from the time of death in the family. I was cribbing about this insane custom to my grandma. When she said, that as a young girl of about 6 or 7, she remembers being shocked at a woman in her village (Poondi), who lost her husband, and confined herself to the four walls of her house for an entire year!!!

While I think this is outrageous, there could be a couple of reasons for such a stupid custom…

1- The family is in mourning, so they cannot venture out. One year was probably a fair enough period for them to ‘move on’.

2- The family cannot afford to undertake anything, be it a function or pilgrimage, as people did not save quite that much in the olden days!

3- The widow must be protected from other men (or women) who might try to take advantage of her frail situation.

While I found all the above utterly insane, one point that my Grandma made was striking! She said ‘It is specifically at such a time, that the bereaved family needs support from other people’, so to cut them away from the rest of the world is insane! Kudos to my Grandma for saying that!

* The rich-poor divide in India has always been talked about. Infact we have lived our entire life through this divide, struggling each day, to ensure we are on the right side!! But the more we look around, the deeper this divide gets imprinted in our mind. Yesterday, I went to get my old watches repaired, and spent about Rs.340 on them. Then I realised my slipper had snapped, so decided to buy a new one. In the meanwhile however, I spotted a cobbler, and got the slipper mended by him. The man sat hunched, cruching in the little shade that the bare tree could offer. He did his job, and when I handed out a Rs.20 note, he returned Rs.15 to me. It struck me as so unfair. That labour is so cheap!! What would that man do with such a meagre amount of Rs.5??? Even if he repaired 20 pairs of slippers that day, he would not make more than Rs.100… on his good days, probably Rs.250 or 300? Or Rs.500 perhaps? Is that enough, TO LIVE A LIFE OF DIGNITY?????

* We had an awesome little blogger’s meet this afternoon. Uma, Kanagu, Aarthi, Vimmu (who made a guest appearance), Anish and yours truly met up and had a ball!!! We did take some pictures, but I have this bad feeling that I’ve accidentally deleted the pics I took. So I bank on Uma to upload her pics on FB. Oh, and she baked this yummylicious and totally drool-worthy chocolate cake for us :-) that we ate secretly under the tables, when the power went out!!!

* And finally, this evening, came the awful news of IHM’s daughter. Tears rolled freely, as I read Tejaswee’s blog. And a particular post called ‘On dying early’. My deepest condolences to dear  IHM. I feel choked. So I have to sign off now.

More later…..

BPL – We won!

And… WE DID IT!! We won the first ever Bloggers Premier League :-) by Cafe Ginger Chai dot Com. The Tigers roared all the way through, and swept most of the awards too :-) When Cafe Ginger chai announced BPL, I was very excited!! It was an innovative concept,something nobody had tried earlier. And considering the number of players (6 groups of 8 players each), and the fact that this contest would run into a couple of weeks.. fortnights even, it seemed to be quite a challenge!!

Neha and Kanagu have already blogged about our Journey in BPL.. and I would just like to add this… When Cafe Ginger Chai and LakshmiRajan announced the Teams, I was so sceptical, because I did not know anybody!! But I knew, for sure, that team performance would be so much better if we already had great team dynamics in place.

Fortunately, for us, Neha and I hit it off on Day 1, and we chatted on FB like long lost friends :-) She was my pillar of support, friend, guide.. and source of encouragement all through the League. And ofcourse, like I mentioned earlier on her blog, she is a chatterbox, leader, busy little girl – all rolled into one – I called her my favourite ‘Hitler’ :-) And to think that I subsequently wrote on Hitler in one of the rounds and topped that category ;-) (so much for modesty..phew!!)

At first, GC announced a WARM-UP round, to introduce ourselves. This was perhaps, the best thing they did :-) It gave us all a fair chance to get to know our writing skills and interests. Which was very important for a ‘team’ to perform ‘together’. Neha and I were chatting (again) on FB, and we decided to go ahead with the Limericks format, because Neha had already done some work in that genre, and I found it very interesting too. The rest of the team took to this idea so readily, and in no time, we had an awesome set of limericks to present!!

It was at this stage, that 2 out of 8 members disappeared :-) And therein was a grand entrance made by Kanagu ;-)

Now we had this super-duper-writer who calls himself IdliVadaSambar ;-) and his email Id has a ‘king’ in it, so he became our defactor  King Sudhakar:-) I had never read his work earlier, but this 55-er took my breath away :-) and I just KNEW that he was a hell of a player in BPL :-) Infact EVERY post by Sudhi was a stunner in its own right, and I am so glad he was adjudged Best Male Player of the entire tournament. He completely deserved it!!!

We had this particular round, where the teams had to come up with a Magazine name, and Sudhi stunned us by designing an entire Magazine itself!!! Infact, it was so fantastic, that somebody even contacted Saurabh, to ask if he could write for our next edition!!!

To complement King, we had a Himalayan-returned Debs, who charged into action with a whopper of a post. Again, it was her little 55-er that gave me clear indication of what a fantastic performer she would be in the rounds to come :-) True to it, she won almost every time she wrote something!! Proud of you, Debs!

Infact one of her posts in the tournament was so exceptional, that in a fit of frenzy, I vowed that I would give up blogging, if her post did not win. Luckily, she won ;-) ;-)

Kanagu – as you all know – is this simple, sweet guy. Pretends to work at office, but is mostly blogging away. What I like most about him is that he is so unassuming, so humble, that he simply takes on ANY topic assigned to him or left out after everyone else had chosen. He’s such a no-fuss guy, and we could always count on him, to write some strong analytical stuff on even the most boring topic. I especially liked his post on Education – totally rocking!!

Arpita – Unfortunately, I haven’t read much of her work, and since I am miles away from Poetry as a genre, I cannot comment much on her work. Though, she was a very sweet and encouraging Teammie :-) She was always there with kind words for me and the rest of the team, and with suggestions and comments :-)

Rashmi – Again, sweet little kid. At the times she wasn’t writing exams, she was working really hard at blogging, creating interesting posts like her Aliens Report. Always ready to take feedback from the rest of the team, this little girl was a pleasure to have around.

Saurabh – How could I forget my favourite hip hop guy!! I call him that, because that’s what his email ID sounds like :-) He would churn out hilarious posts, though I really wish his ‘Maa’ interview had won – it was outstanding :-) And I remember one comment of his, on this post of mine ‘Princess of the Dark’ –  when he said he was happy to have lived to read my post :-) I was utterly humbled and touched *tears in my eyes*

So thank you, LakshmiRajan, Mani Padma and Cafe Ginger Chai team. Thank you, AWESOME PANEL OF JUDGES, for giving us this super duper opportunity to get to read a bunch of utterly talented bloggers.

And ofcourse, for having ajudged us THE WINNERS OF THE BLOGGERS PREMIER LEAGUE :-) HURRAY! ROARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR……