Monday, November 26, 2007

இருளும் நீ

அமாவாசை கும்மிருட்டு..
கதைகளில் அது ஒரு திகில் இரவு,
எனக்கோ அன்று உந்தன் நினைவு.
கண்ணுக்கு புலப்படாது அந் நிலவு,
ஆயினும் மறைந்துவிடவில்லை அது.
அந்நிலவைப் போலவே, என் நிலவு நீ.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The big flop show dinner at Elliot's

Dinner on the shores of Elliot's beach. Sounds great? It did for us too. The first time we tried this was when we bought pizzas and took them to the beach. Sitting on the sands, with the waves lapping in front of us, it was a great experience!

We were eager to repeat the experience. Getting burgers and fries from a tiny beachfront shop, we went and sat on the sands of Elliot's. With a full moon shining down on us, digging our feet into the cool sand, we munched our burgers in a very companionable silence. I turned my eyes from the always lovely moon to the sea...and was met by a pair of cold canine eyes. The dog was giving us a malevolent stare (or so we felt). We felt very uncomfortable with the burger in our hands. The dog was soon joined by one of its mates and now we had two pairs of steely eyes looking at us hungrily. We felt that two girls were no match for those two mongrels.

Our fright was greater than our hunger. Gathering our bags as quickly as possible, we walked all the way back, clutching the half eaten burgers and made our way to the low parapet wall seperating the beach from the road. We settled ourselves and resumed the munching. Imagine our consternation when we realised that one of the mongrels had followed us all the way! The hungry party was joined by another dog and these two walked back and forth behind us. Again we felt to be in a very vulnerable position and decided to drive to the other end of the beach where we had had our dinner last time in relative peace!

On the other side of the beach, we settled ourselves on the parapet and took about two munches of the now-soggy burgers. We heard drunken shouts and laughter behind us and turned to see four very drunken men advancing erratically towards the parapet. The dogs were less scarier. We fled! ....Again.

We drove a little way farther and parked our bike in a well lit area, but not before checking carefully to see that the place was canine-free and drunkards-free. I'm afraid I'm gonna sound like a broken tape but my honesty and a wish to write only actual facts impels me to say this. Hardly had we taken about two bites of that cursed burger, we were joined by got it! It circled our bike, nosing its way around. I completely lost interest in that burger. I accepted defeat. I could fight no longer. We both felt the futility of the situation. We threw the remains of that luckless burger to the mongrel which gobbled them up in no time.
Oh.. the relief was enormous! To be free of those fixing stares, to be able to walk without being followed by four-legged hungry monsters (this from a girl who loves dogs!!!)...what a pleasure in life!

A funny thing. This did not happen to us when we ate pizzas at the beach. Was our veggie burger mixed with some kind of meat (Ewwww!) which attracts dogs? Or has the count of stray dogs increased out here? Neither option is a happy thought!

The next time we will try out with some other food...maybe dosas. That will answer atleast one question!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007


பரந்த பாலை கண்ட
சுகந்த சோலை என

விரிந்த ஆழி தந்த
நிறை நல் முத்து என

கற்பிக்க வந்தவனை
காதலன் எனக் கொண்டாய்

நின்னையே சரணடைந்தேன் என
அவன் காலடி கிடந்தாய்

பேதையே! அதுவல்லவோ நீ செய்த பிழை?

காலடியில் உள்ளதால் அவனுக்கு நீ
எட்டித் தள்ள மிக ஏதுவாய்ப்பட்டாய்

பூமித்தாய் என நினைப்போ உனக்கு?
மிதிப்பவனை மாரோடு அணைக்க எண்ணுகிறாய்?

மூடப்பெண்ணே! போதும் உன் அங்க ப்ரதட்சணம்.
நிமிர்ந்து எழு! உலகம் காணுவாய்.

Monday, November 12, 2007


I'll think my wishes through
before I wish again

-from the song Journey Home from Bombay Dreams
Two lines that kept running in my mind... over and over...

Thursday night
I'm on phone with my friend.. as usual we're discussing everything over and under the sun. We got to accidents.
"You know, I've always wondered. How will it be if I got caught in a road accident? Something like out of Kaaka Kaaka!" as usual it is me with this quirky thought.
The topic ran its usual gamut and ended.

Friday afternoon
I start my bike with my sister in the pillion. There we were, sailing along happily.
We reached a traffic signal just as it turned green. We sail past and reach a narrow bridge. Out of the corner of my eye, I detect a fellow walking drunkenly along the pavement. In a split second, he falls on my bike, flailing his arms.

I lose control. The world has gone black.

Someone has made me stand. I'm not able to. I lean on the railing for support. I can see blood drops falling on the pavement. Where are they falling from? My chin hurts. I wipe it. My palm comes away smeared with blood. My blood.

I turn back. About ten men (or so it felt like) are lifting up my sister. She is totally unconscious. I feel terror as I have never felt before. I black out again.

"Get inside the car", someone is pushing me. I see my sister being held up by two men. I sink into the seat and pull her towards me. "Wake up Wake up Wake up", I'm yelling at her, slapping her cheeks. The unknown terror is building up. "Wake up and look at me", I'm yelling out her name. I hear someone saying "It's nothing, It's nothing". One of the men holds out my phone. "Give me the number to call". I automatically punch in the letters and give him the number.

She opens her eyes. Unstaring eyes. She opens her mouth and screams...on and on and on. I turn and look out the window. I see the river beyond the bridge. A feeling of unreality sweeps over me. 'This cannot be happening to me'. I know no more.

I'm in the hospital. I see the terror stricken faces of my relatives. "What happened?" I ask them. A stranger steps up. "A drunkard fell on your bike. I was in a car behind. We brought you here". I could remember nothing. I feel a wetness on my cheeks. I've been crying. My mother and aunt lean over me. "I'm sorry" was all I could say. Over and over again. My uncle's face swims into view. Then my father's face. To all I have one thing to say - "I'm sorry"

My mother comes near me. "Where's my sister? I wanna see her", I cry out. A screen has been put up between us. "She's fine. Her wounds are being cleaned", my mother tries to pacify me. "I wanna see her. Take me to her. I wanna see her", I scream restlessly through my tears.
They open the screen and show me her face. She's looking at me. "Are you ok?" I ask her fearfully. Her small nod worked wonders to appease my conscience. I realise that the feeling of responsibility is the scariest of all!

A doctor comes to my bedside. "Since you're unmarried, we're gonna ask a plastic surgeon to come sew up your chin ok?"

"My head hurts", I whimpered. Through my whimper I noticed that her hair had been artifically straightened and looked very dry! Funny the things we notice!

"Hello!", A white coated man is leaning over me. "I'm the plastic surgeon, I'll be suturing your chin now." I yell out at him, "Before you do that, you gotta do something about my head. It hurts like crazy!"

CT scan machine is not working. We're both being shifted to another hospital. With the ambulance sirens screaming.

More about the hospital experience at Admitted to Apollo.

Maybe it's a coincidence. Or maybe not. Whatever it is, my belief in the power of thoughts has become stronger than ever. Because of this, I'll be more careful in voicing my thoughts.

There is a traditional custom practiced among us to ward off the evil eye. Camphor is the main player of the ritual. Camphor together with other stuff such as red chillies, salt, pepper, pumpkin etc are taken in hand and circled around person(s). Then they're all burnt up outside the house. This is supposed to cleanse the aura around us. It had stood by my stead in some occasions previous to this. That is why, though I have no belief in any religious ceremonies, I always submit to and practice this custom. This ritual was performed on us friday morning.

After the accident, opinions were voiced by various members of the family-

"It was a miracle they came out with so less injuries".
"This is all God's doing. Thank the lord nothing worse happened".
"Only because of the ritual they were saved with minor injuries".
"To escape with just this in such a busy road! You are very lucky".

Yes I was.

From now on, I'll think my wishes through.

Admitted to Apollo

We were taken into the Emergency. A smiling doctor comes to me, "I'll be first injecting this local. You have to bear only that. You won't feel the stitches at all". She pokes at the flaps of my chin skin with a needle. 'Only this? Woman you're killing me', I want to yell out. But I know that I had done enough screaming to last me a lifetime. I only grit my teeth and wait for her to complete her tailoring.

A series of tests follow. I'm being stretchered from room to room for X-Rays, CT Scans and whatnot. I have no idea which followed which. All I remember now are the bright white flouresecent overhead lights rushing by as my stretcher was wheeled here and there.

Doctor's Decision : Admit into Intensive Care for acute observation. Which translates to 'suck out as much money as you can from these fatheads'

We were in full control of all our faculties soon. We did NOT need to be the ICU. But the hospital wasn't happy with the amount it had made on us with just emergency care. It wanted more. Two days in the intensive care shot up the medical bills to more than what I make in a month!

A small example of the hospital's business strategy: A nurse came up to me on saturday with a large cotton swab. "We need to take a nasal culture sample. This is a routine procedure. Please don't be scared"(as if I was). She made a feeble swipe just inside my nostrils. I did not even feel it. "Thank you that's it", she smiled with a false brightness that is the trademark of all the nurses. "Did you even get anything?" I questioned her. "Yes mam", with another of those oh-so-bright smiles she left.
After getting home, I saw that I was billed 620Rs for those swipes!

Another funny term they used at that hospital was "Acute Observation". For all I know, they did not observe me, acutely or otherwise. I was visited by a series of doctors - A neuro surgeon, Two plastic surgeons, A general surgeon, A chief doctor and a few more guys who had some specialisation I've forgotten. None of them observed me acutely. They observed the monitor which had a series of wires connected to me. They observed a chart at the foot of my bed. And they left.
Two of them came near me and spoke to me. One of them palpated my stomach with a gloved hand. One tested my reflexes, once. Most of them spoke to me from the foot of the bed. That was the extent of 'acute observation'.

The monitors and the charts were given more attention than the actual patient. Once, one of the electrodes attached to my chest had come unstruck. So the monitor showed my respiration level to be extremely low. According to the monitor, I already had one foot in the grave. The nurse got excited and called another nurse. "Respiration level is 2". Both of them looked at me. I was placidly lying there, watching tv, breathing as well as them! But still she asked me to breathe in and out. I did. She wasn't satisfied that I was fully alive. Then one bright soul had the idea to check my ECG leads. What a relief! They glued it back and smiled at the monitor.

The next day, we got ourselves discharged 'against medical advice' not heeding the chief doctor's warning that there is a one in hundred chance that we may get fits.

Well, so far, no fit has seen it fit to come near me!

Monday, November 05, 2007

A Magical Journey

In the midst of the busy hustle and bustle of Chennai Central Railway Station, there were four figures scanning the information board.

"Shatabdi Express on Platform 2A"

We four started in search of 2A. We saw platform 2. We saw platform 3. And we saw a solid wall seperating the two. Nowhere could we see 2A. I and Niv turned to each other. "This is just like Harry Potter! Are we supposed to walk through it?", we giggled. Then Sarat walked a little way ahead and found 2A tucked between 2 and 3 snugly.

We were excited to be on Shatabdi. It was our first time. Our idea of an 'AC Chair Car' was a usual sort of train with no option of berths. With this impression I entered my coach and was hit with stares from a sea of faces! It was like entering a plane. It was like I was given a new toy, to play with and to discover the many things that it can do.

The train pushed off and soon an announcement came on air from the Train Superintendent. The whole setup was so like a flight. I wonder which came first? Plane or Shatabdi?

Soon we were given tea and sandwiches. Munching the sandwiches, we spent the time talking and sight seeing through the window. Time crawled on. The sandwich was over. The topics were exhausted. It was too dark to see outside. Ennui was setting in.

Relief came in the form of Coach Attendants. This time they were bringing soup. That helped to somewhat vary the monotony.

Even a soup has to end sometime. Out came a book which helped to pass time. But the chairs were in an uncomfortable angle to enable a good read. By this time another hour had passed and our guardian angels now came in bringing dinner. And that provided entertainment for a half hour. After that, we again began to crave some entertainment.

That's when Snehil entered the scene. Snehil is a lively one-and-a-half-year old sitting right behind us with his Ma and Papa. He was fascinated with our camera and came sat with us. Soon he was fascinated with other stuff. My bracelet, the fan switch, the story book, the magazine, an old ticket, pencil, wafers all were playthings! By a strange and happy coincidence, when it was his bedtime, we had reached our journey's end.

'Twas a happy and content four that got off the train at Bangalore. Wait...don't I mean Bengaluru?