7 December 2005

A year on.....

....and time for a break!!

It's a year since I started blogging (yes, really). Happy b'day to me and my blog.
And time for a break - am off to Bharat for 5 weeks, back in mid-Jan.

And all of you, have a great holiday season,
A merry X-mas
A happy new year
And properous Pongal (Sankaranti).

21 November 2005

Windy Wellington

Was blown along to work by a gale-force wind this morning. Reached work from rly station in half my daily time!! Sometimes maybe there is soemthing to be said for the wind in Poneke!
PS: I've just looked in the mirror and take it all back. Now that I've seen what it's done to my hair.......

17 November 2005

Global warming

What really causes it?

Is it because of man and all his careless antics, unjustifiable misuse and waste of resources?

Or is it just a cycle in the Earth's life, when temperatures go up just before an Ice Age sets in?

I've read quite a lot in support of both schools of thought. And I prefer to believe the first version. For this means that at least, we have some sort of control over global warming (in spite of the United States). And that we can (maybe) do something about it, so that the world becomes a safe place (of course, I am not taking into account nuclear weapons, dictators and what-not). And that, this way at least, we will be accountable for cleaning up/reducing wastage.

But what if the second option is really the one? Scary to think how insignificant we really are. And how petty!!!

But then again, maybe some clever humans will move the entire population out of the Earth by the time that happens. Well, at least, the men can go to Mars!


I know this is such a huge problem, but just now, I can't feel very afraid. I've just had my lunch of idlis and chutney (if I willingly suspend my sense of disbelief, I can even believe that I brought them as a takeaway from Saravana Bhavan) and a huge glass of feijoa smoothie. So, I am too replete and sleepy to really care......

7 November 2005

A bit of this and a lot of that!

Just been having a bit of a blast, both at home and work.


Been into birthday surprises for friends. That organisation does take up some time and effort. But end results are well worth it at least for me. Probably need to go and ask the friends in question if they feel the same way:)


Been catching up a bit on my reading too. Read 'The Da Vinci code' by Dan Brown and 'The Alchemist' by Paulo Coelho. Both of them are books that make you think. Not a very good lookout for a going-rusty brain like mine.....


Been watching a lot of movies too. Mostly Hindi. And luckily, only a couple of them did make me think. A couple of Tamil. And before anyone jumps the gun and thinks I am going to put my own review to add to the zillions already on the net, no, I am not. Only my comments.

My movie wishlist is reality now.
Anniyan: The only thing I want to say about it _ I appreciate director Shankar's social-mindedness and if I do come across the character Remo in real life, I'll make sure he can never open his mouth again........BLECH!

Mangal Pandey:
The movie lacked depth, but the historical background more than made up for it, in my eyes. Of course, eye candy in the form of Aamir and Toby Stephens did help. Not to take away from Aamir's brilliant performance, though. In fact, acting was definitely above average as were the sets, music etc.
Viruddh: Amitabh was simply brilliant. And Sharmila Tagore, I swear, she's better looking now, in spite of being married to the Nawab.
Now, this one deserves more than than one line. So I might well make it my next post.
Bunty aur Babli: Quite cute, at least it wasn't a goody-goody gumdrops movie!
My wife's murder: How does Anil Kapoor continue to look at though he hasn't hit his 50s?
Bewafa: When will our film-makers ever learn that kids abroad never, ever speak Hindi that way? Probably never!!! What a rotter that movie was. At least, Sush looked gorgeous.
Parineeta: Off-beat, but I liked it, especially Saif and that new girl who is Lolita in that movie (what on earth is her name? If anyone knows, pls let me know). Nice arty-type love story with a Bong background.
I only have No Entryleft among this lot, to watch. After that, it will be bandh for movies for a while, at least for Hindi ones.


Found out after a visit to the vet that Navarathri Fudge is a 'he'. But too late to change his name now, as be's become 'Navy Fudge'.


As for work, well, it's just meeting/training on and on. Sometimes, I feel that the only breaks I get in between meetings and trainings is 'work'!!!

1 November 2005

Happy Deepavali

What with floods in the South and bombings in the North, this year's Festival of Lights will be a subdued one back home.

But I am sure nothing can subdue the never-say-die spirit of Bharat for long.

A very happy, safe and prosperous Deepavali to all you who are reading this.

25 October 2005

Diwali Day

Yes, I know it's not till Nov 1. But here, down under, we are always ahead. If we are ahead by 7 1/2 hours to IST, we are a week ahead with Diwali. Yesterday, we had the single biggest annaul event of the Kiwi-Indian calender here - the Festival of Lights celebrations. I don't think that is the official name (if anyone knows what it is, pls let me know), but that's what it was.
And what happened there? Stall after stall of Indian food (all vegetarian this time, I guess with due respect to Diwali being a Hindu festival). All sorts of cultural activities. It's the original mela, Kiwi-ised though....

20 October 2005


Why, you ask?
Summer is almost here!
What's so bad about that?
My hayfever!

17 October 2005

Navarathri & Fudge

Just recovering from the excesses of Navarathri. A veritable whirlwind of social visits to all houses that boasted of a 'golu' and invited us for vethalai paaku or haldi kumum or manjal kungumam. Of course, the vethalai bit is only imaginary or wishful thinking, for you don't get it here (at least not in windy Wlg).

But what is really nice is that you get to meet people at least once a year by virtue of being invited to their house or inviting them to yours. You get to see people using their imagination and putting up a desi/kiwi version of the golu padis. You get the satisfaction (even if you think that by the end of it all, you will be well and truly round the bend) of knowing that you are exposing the children to the best and nicest things in Indian culture.

And the pleasure you get in seeing your kids setting up the vethalai paaku trays or giving manjal kumkumam to the ladies or the man of the house putting up the decorations and adding his own touches to the golu. And the thought of all the punyam you are accumulating on the long journey into the unknown (or the sins you are wiping out) by dishing out tamboolam to 50-odd ladies!

On a slightly lower but equally satisfying level, the sundals you get to eat and the 'oc' dinners you get to go out to. And the chance to fish out your silk saris from hibernation and flaunt them. And of course, the `loot' the you collect (I enjoy that, pakki (el cheapo) that I am) which is a source of delight to me and the kids alike.


This year though, I must confess that we got one extra gift that we didn't anticipate or expect. The neighbour rang the door bell, two days into Navarathri. And she brought us a gift. Someone had found it near her office, and she remembered that we had lost our pet recently, so she she asked, "Would you like to have it?" Would we ever!!

So the decision was made (not by us:) and we took that little ball of grey and black fur (a lot of it, actually) into our home. So, Navarathri Fudge is our new rabbit. East meets West.

6 October 2005

Desi blogs

The best thing about desi blogs (all those written by Indians, wherever in the world they may be) is that I forget where I am when I am reading them.
So much so that when I hear the person next to me on the phone, for a split second, I am disoriented by the Kiwi acccent!!

29 September 2005

Took the tests from Shyam's blog. Couldn't resist taking both. :) And I am quite happy with the results.
Thanks Shyam.

21 September 2005

Sania's skirt (or blouse or whatever)

I was chatting to my mom a couple of days ago, and during the course of the conversation, she mentioned that Sania Mirza was doing so well. And I think some people have nothing better to do, commenting about her dress, mom said.

And on the internet this morning, I came across the same thing. Only, something that made be feel better about the whole dumb episode.

A poet, a Muslim poet, btw, has put people in their place by asking them to pay more attention to Sania's game rather than her dress. Nigahen unki dress par nahi balki unke khel pe honi chahiye, he is quoted as saying. Was he ever right there. Some people have one track (and I daresay dirty) minds.

And he is quoted as also having said I request elders not to object on what Sania wears but to pray for the girl who has brought recognition to India by becoming a part of world's top 40 women tennis players. Couldn't have put it better myself.

Why and how is it that people always miss the wood for the trees? Here is this girl doing so well and doing the Indian pride so much good and all some people can talk about is her dress.

And why is it that always, but always, in these cases, the people doing all the complaining are male? It will always be these kinds of people who justify (and have justified) rape, saying the female in question was dressed 'provocatively'. Makes me sick to my very core!

I have nothing personal against such people but I really think they should move to the 21st century. It's the middlies and oldies who still can't adapt (I may be wrong there), in most cases. Whether they live in India or abroad, their expectations from the women (whether outside their home or in it) are unrealistic and unjustified. Sania's skirt is just a case in exmaple.

Whether is is their wife's dress or haircut or Sania's skirt, there are still many old fogies who can't and won't move ahead.

Moving ahead? And what would that mean? Definitely not to the level of Western females, in most cases (although our filmi heroines dress even more scantily and we do accept that). The dividing line between fashion and 'decency' is very thin and overstepping it always has negative vibrations.

But in Sania's case, if her dress is inappropriate for the tennis court, do they want her to maybe wear a sari or salwar and play tennis? Perhaps they would even prefer her to wear a burqha over it and play. That way, she probably won't even be able to see which way she is hitting the ball. But seriously, who knows what goes on in these people's heads?

This sensible poet Manzar, also said that the protest aganst Sania's dress code would be justified if the tennis star went to an Islamic Conference or a religious programme in an improper attire. Once again, he is right. If she went to the mosque or a mandir in her skirt, it's a no-no. Similarly, if she went to the tennis courts in her traditional dresss......how pathetic we would look on the international stage!

As some sporty guy from MP said, it is now time to encourage her and not criticise her so that she achieves the target to enter into the list of world's top 10 woman tennis players. Attaboy. I hope the old foggies were reading that in the newspaper...

I look at it this way: my mother is 60 + and has been brought up in a very conservative atmosphere, but she thinks Sania is doing great. That's because she's always been pretty tolerant and more than that, has a very strong sense of India and national pride. So when she can, why can't people of her generation do the same? And what's the problem any of the other generatons have, if at all? It's time to leave the Dark Ages behind.

12 September 2005

Water, fire and colour - the numbers speak for themselves!

And so it goes, the Hurricane Katrina saga.
I quote here below, from an article in last week's newspapers:

The situation "amounts to a massive institutional failure," said Raymond Offenheiser, president of the Oxfam America affiliate of the international relief agency. Oxfam mounted in Mississippi the first domestic US rescue in its 35-year history. "Before Katrina, we reserved our emergency response for countries that lack the resources of the United States. If we've got this kind of failure at home, how can we expect poor countries to do better?" he asked.

My thoughts, exactly. However, the unfairness of it all is that 'poorer' countries (of course, most of them having been povertised by imperialism and the very countries that are damning them today) are expected to perform just as well or else be damned.


The whole thing has, in a way, been a depressing exercise for me. I was blogging about similar emotions in the aftermath of the Boxing Day tsunami and now, nearly a year later, I am still writing about the some misguided perspective that the West has to us. Sad, but true. Definitely a feeling of deja vu. These things will take time to set right.


Blame it all on Bush seems to be the catch phrase. I kind of feel a bit sorry for him. I am not a Bush fan and will never be one, but I really don't see how he could have prevented Katrina from destroying New Oleans. Or was he supposed to bravely wade into the Pontchartain waters to save all those poor souls. The American response was more than slow, but I really can't see how one individual can be held responsible for it. Just because he is the President, he copped it! As the media has now become used to calling it an 'all-American failure'.


And another thing that really got to me was the constant cries of "This is America, it can't be happening here, we can't not have food and water, etc". And pray why not? The sheer arrogance behind those cries really got to me. It's a different thing to be tired, hungry and miserable. But to believe that such things cannot happen in the US....the US is as much a part of this dirty, unfair, polluted planet called the Earth. And what is there in any other country on Earth, is a part of the US too. After all, they've played the single biggest part in polluting and dirtying the planet. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at this absurdity in the face of misery...and just like anywhere else in the world, the racist and rich/poor divides were played out to perfection here too.

It defintely takes a disaster to see some true colours.


And finally, some numbers that I was lucky enough to get sent to me. They say it all, more clearly than I ever could.
Inches of rain in New Orleans due to Hurricane
Katrina... 18
Inches of rain in Mumbai (July 27th).... 37.1
population of New Orleans... 484,674
population of Mumbai.... 12,622,500
deaths in New Orleans within 48 hours of
deaths in Mumbai within 48 hours of rain.. 37.
number of people to be evacuated in NO...
entire city..
number of people evacuated in Mumbai...10,000
Cases of shooting & violence in NO...countless
Cases of shooting and violence in Mumbai.. NONE
Time taken for US army to reach NO...
Time taken for Indian army and navy to reach
status 48 hours later...NO still
waiting for relief, army and electricty
status 48 hours later..Mumbai is back on it's feet and it's business as usual

9 September 2005

Water, fire and colour - 1

Hurricane Katrina has me going red with rage. You ask why? I'll tell you why. Last week, just as soon as it happened, there was some reporter on TV, live from the US, talking about the (then sorry, now horrific) state of affairs in New Orleans. And he goes "New Orleans looks like a third world state today - no electricity, no food, no water,".

First off, what is a third world state? I've heard of third world countries (who the hell decides what is a third world country, anyways? The pompous and affluent first and second worlds, for sure). And what did he mean by no water, electricity etc. Does he honestly believe that in India for example, we have no access to things like power and water? I couldn't believe how ignorant and how complacent he was. Only the darkest of the dark parts in the world, probably has a situation as bad as no electicity or water or whatever, everywhere. Oh, ignorance in that reporter's case was definitely not my cup of bliss.


And talking of Katrina, the aftermath was so similar to a disaster anywhere in the world _ the crying, distress, hopelessness, looting, raping etc. So what does that prove? That the Americans, in spite of all their affluence and wealth, are just as desperate as their counterparts in any other part of the world. It's all very well to be nice and polished and glamourous and advanced when things are hunky-dory. But it's when the chips are down that you need to see how people behave to know what they are really like. And in this case, our wonderful Yanks have proved that they are in no way superior to their Indian cousins. They are only human, after all.

Don't get me wrong, I am not gloating. Far from it! I find the sight of the suffering there so moving, I can barely watch it sometimes and have to switch off the TV. But this is definitely a slap in the face of all those (media included) who pointed all fingers at India when the tsunami and then the Mumbai flooding happened. How can India (even dare to) hope to become a superpower with such pathetic infrastructure, was one question they all unfailingly asked.

And I say, Mumbai rains were once-in-a-90-years incident. Hurricanes in the US are not _ they are part of daily life there. And yet, despite the advanced disaster management systems that US has access to, relief was so slow and so inadquate. And the US is already a super-power and has been so for decades now.


And to me, the worst was the open show of racism. Many whites evacuated to safety while the blacks suffered in the Superbowl. Down south in the US, old habits still die hard.

So, in India, we have religion. In the US and the West, we have colour and race. And so much wealth. After all, we are talking the country that gave the world capitalism and commercialism. And still, the bottom line is the same. Makes me think: what was the US like after 50-odd years of liberation from the Brits? And what will India be like, 200 years after our Independence. Although in my mind, I am sure of the result.

............To be concluded (wait for it, folks!)

30 August 2005

I keep thinking of things I should blog about, but there just seems to be no time.

I am hoping that things will quieten down after Sept first week, so should be able to do some writing then, if my muse cooperates.....

24 August 2005

My movie wishlist

Mangal Pandey: The rising

for many reasons, the most important being Aaah-mir, of course. Second being Mangal Pandey, a character who has for long (since history lessons in school actually) been something of a real life hero by officially inaugurating the thorny path to Indian freedom. Third, just for the thrill of being able to see an Indian movie in the theatre.....


for just one reason : it's a Shankar movie, but I do realise I may be disappointed big time. Still, I am willing to take the risk! After all, this will at home and on video/DVD only!

12 August 2005

In the blink of an eye

Power cut suddenly, at 8 p.m. All went black. Gosh, was it only in our house? I pull the curtains and look out, and it is all darkness in our little part of town. Sigh of relief, then sheer terror. How do I now this is only a power cut? Maybe it is all a part of some dastardly society, a la al-Quaida. AFter all, we never ever (almost never, that is) have them here in NZ, it being part of the wonderful circle of developed countries!!

I ring the city council and they haven't even heard of the power cut.

I am tense and almost alone (Nandita is with me). Called a friend, and found out there was power at their place. Hmm, I wonder.....it's been half-an-hour.

Shiv and Nandana are back, the power is not. I call the Council again and they know all about the power cut now, but call Genesis, they say (that's our power company). So I do, and Genesis tells me that a sub-station on the corner of Damian/Mission Sts has blown up. Heck, that's outside our house...I try to peer into the darkness outside our window to see if there is any activity going on near the sub-station, when in a sudden, brilliant moment, the lights come back on.

Big sigh of relief. It's just a technical fault, not a terrorist act. Gosh, I am getting paranoid............. just like the rest of the world.... we live in the modern dark ages, I am sure of that!

G'nite everyone!

10 August 2005

Te reo Maori

Tena koe, nau mai haere mai (translates to roughly hello and welcome)

The last week of July being Maori language week in NZ, I went along to a training session at work on te reo Maori, which promised to teach me the basics of the language, especially regarding pronounciation.

It was a good opportunity for me to find out what was the right way to say many words, especially place/river/mountain names, for many are still in Maori here. And they sound like totally different each time, depending on who is doing the talking.

I thought with my limited experience of NZ, I would find it hardest. But if you know other languages (apart from English that is), it isn't too bad at all. The pronounciation is very similar to Tamil or any other Indian language. And the class was fun. And what's more, everyone was maha impressed with my multi-lingual skills. After all, four launguages and bits of a couple of others is quite good to people who can speak just one!

Anyways, I came away, much heartened and a little more knowledgeable.

Some interesting facts about Maori.
The language and the people are both called Maori (same for plural).
All words end in vowels.
It is now fashionable to use Maori in workplaces as well, so we go 'Kia ora' or 'Morena'
The NZ or Aotearoa national anthem has two parts, first in Maori and second in English.
Maori is one of the official languages of NZ.

Kaki te anou, for now.


Funny people, these Brits!! Decades ago, children in school were caned by them for speaking in Maori and told to speak only in English. And now, they spend millions of dollars each year to revive the language which was dying. After having very nearly killed it in the first place.


Reminds me of what my grandfather used to tell us about his school days (apart from quoting Milton). When he was young, in India, you would be rapped on your knuckles if you spoke any language other than English in school. Ho hum, the colonial mind wasn't very imaginative, for sure.

8 August 2005

Point of Return

Reading `Point of return' by Siddarth Deb. Quite nice, although he is, as is to be expected from an Indian writing in English, catering to a Western audience by talking about the depressing side of life in India. But I'll push on for now at least he isn't yet talking about nubile young goddesses bathing in asses' milk and mango juice............ or about Kama Sutra poses. Aaaaaaaaaargh, those bloody stereotypes make me mad!!


Reading is back in my life again, thanks to the train commute to and from work. Finished `Bridget Jones: The edge of reason'. Quite funny, although a bit hard to read after having seen the movie. Loved the interview with Colin Firth, though, a real scream!


Have got a movie to watch tonight _ `The Terminal' - Hanks and Zeta-Jones. I liked the story, hope the movie will be nice as well.


And finally,
Life is...
worrying about your (almost non-existent) moustache (to pluck or not to pluck) and then having that worry resolved by noticing that the lady in front of you in the train has one that is far more luxuriant, a black upper lip, so to say. I think I will wait patiently to reach that level.

4 August 2005

....is over

The vet rang yesterday. Apparently, we were very unlucky with Rus. It wasn't anything we'd done, nor was it the vaccination Rus had the Thursday before she died. It was a massive rupture in her stomach, caused probably by all the pus and other horrid things due to an infection she had. And she had no diaphragm. The poor thing must have been in so much pain and when I connect the post-mortem report to the way she was just before she died.... God, that makes the whole thing worse in a way.

Vaai-illa jeevan, poor thing, she was. If it had been us in such pain, we would have been screaming, keening with the pain. She was looking terrified and thrashing about here and there madly. Something from outside scared her, we thought. But it was all inside her little body.

It was probably a congenital problem that she had and the vet reckons that we should be fine should we decide to go for one more. But I am afraid to. I don't know what Nandana and Shiv will decide.

But mercifully, Rus was finally laid to rest last night in our backyard.

3 August 2005

The waiting....

is very hard. It's already been 3 days since Rus passed away and the time has gone in grieving and trying to think of enough distractions for Nandana.

So, every evening as soon as she comes back from school and I get back from office, we dash out. So, on Monday, we went to do some shopping and then went to the library. On Tuesday, we went to 'Madagascar'. Loved it. Especially the Raccoon's accent! And his 'I like to move it' song. Cheered Nandana up immensely.


Waiting for the post-mortem results on Rus. Although we were loath to do it initially, we needed the reassurance of rationale. What actually killed her? Hopefully, we should know soon.


Losing a pet is so hard. I've gone down that lane often enough when I was a kid in Mylapore, Chennai. But I didn't think I'd have to do it so soon after getting a pet now. And unbelievably, it was equally hard even now, although I am so much older. I am surprised at myself........


It was a double blow for Nandana. It was bad enough when Rus and Stapy ran away on June 18. She spent plenty of time putting up 'lost' posters on the roads and flyers in neighbour's letter boxes _ in fact, she covered all of our little community up on the hill. Luckily, though, her efforts were not wasted, we thought, as a neighbour came to us and said that one of the rabbits was in his garden. That was Rus and she came back to us on June 25. Only to leave us forever on July 31.

1 August 2005

A pet passes on

Unblinking eyes, cold fur
Even in sleep, as cuddly as ever
And left for us, tears and grief
This was one small child
we just couldn't keep.

22 July 2005


If rain on dry earth doth be the rave fave smell of any Madrasi (or I should really say Chennaiwasi), I am a typical one then.

A Chennaite will surely know the value of water, its true worth.

And this from a dyed-in-the-wool Chennaite. Another to add to the list. For all such like me, the fave sound in the whole wide world will be the sound of running water. Have you ever closed your eyes and lain down on a green river bank. Have you ever listened to the water gurgling and the bird chirping quiets in the tall swaying branches of trees nearby.

And of course, to spoil that beautiful picture, have you ever gotten up double-quick when you hear a dog in the distance, because you don't want it walking (or doing anything else, for that matter) all over you.

I have!

But even today, I do not leave the tap running, feel guilty if I throw out any water and water my plants quite sparingly. And many other things, besides. Old habits dies hard. Besides, I quite can't forget how bad any sort of wastage is _ my granmother and mother have drilled that into my head quite firmly.

And this makes so much sense to me now in a universal perspective. Misuse of resources. Poverty in a world of plenty. When people are dying due to lack of food and water, who am I to waste either of them?

14 July 2005


It all went off really well, actually speaking. Except for one major disaster _ I totally and completely lost my voice for a couple of days _ those couple of days when we had the b'day party and the sahasranamam.

A really bad viral infection meant that not only was my throat swollen and painful, my voice box jammed up. With the result taht I could only manage whispers, and even that was painful.

Still, it was a very busy and very enjoyable weekend. (july 15/16/17).


But, still can't keep hoping that I will get my loud and obnoxious voice back _ God wouldn't be that cruel to me, for how else will I keep the kids in place?


The single biggest casualty of my new job _ my blog!!! Can't seem to find a couple of minutes even, most days, as the job is so full of interesting things to do, I cannot stray away even into my blog. But still, I'll do my utmost.

All of which brings me to one thing!! Why on earth didn't I veer away from my misguided journalistic path earlier! A wasted 6 years....Blessed are those who love the job they are doing. As for a career change, why ever not? The whole idea is to get out of your comfort zone and do something newer and better.....

A nasty voice in my head whispers to me that maybe, just maybe, I am rushing it. Enthusing too much. After all, it's only been a month-and-a-half in the new job and it is still the honeymoon period.

Nah, I am living for the minute. At this point of time, this is how I feel. Good enough for me and my blog.

13 June 2005

Busy as ever

IT's been so busy. Busy doesn't even begin to describe it.


Three weeks into the new job. Its a big learning curve alright. But
still, quite interesting to see in first person the workings of the NZ
state sector and be part of it.


Had a work-related trip to Rotorua last week. Day trip. Gorgeous day,
excellent views. Got an aerial view of all the snow-topped volcanos in
the Rotorua region _ Ngauruhoe, Tongariro and Ruapehu, which are anyway the biggest.
Only pity was there was no time after wrok to pop into the thermal
mineral spa for an hour or two. Would have done my weary old bones a lot of good ;-)


Planning for the house-warming next week (day after Nandita's 3rd
b'day.) July 16. Have to cook for about 50 people, I reckon (am not
making it a big bash this time around, nearly 100 people turned up for
the last one). Menu? I thought maybe idlis and pongal to go with sambar
and chutney. Then puliyore and yoghurt rice. Some sundal and payasam.
And may order some sweets. How does it all sound? The biggest trouble
will be to get the idli batter to ferment in this foul winter weather.


But having bitched about the weather earlier, have to say it's been a
pretty mild winter so far. Have been walking to get the train every
monring. I am up at 6 am to do this daily. Help, is this me? And as far
was the walking goes, am doing nearly 5000 steps daily (out of the ideal
recommendataion of 10000 steps for an adult). Hmmm. I can't see that
I've lost any weight yet!


Finally, the long-overdue hutch for Stapy is here (Rus is the one who came back, but we've now renamed Rus Stapy). She's happily ensconsed in it from today onwards.


Getting busy for Nandita's b'day too, on July 15. That's another weekend when there won't even be time to breathe, methinks. Plus Kitty, Mini and co are going to be here, so it will be full on.

8 June 2005

Tale of two bunnies

Russet and Stapalamala. These are the two latest additions to our family of four.

They're really cute, two-week old rabbits. Mostly white, with little patches of black. Absolutely adorable. Although they do shed a lot of fur.

Nandana's been going on and on about wanting a pet for the last few years and we've been putting her off, as a pet is a lot of responsibility. Especially, dogs and cats are too much work and money to keep. And what would we do with them when we zip off back home every couple of years? So, no no, no and that's the way it's been.

Till recently. Nandana was thrilled when we moved into our new house last month, as she had two other girls from school who lived nearby. And she was even more thrilled when she found that one of the girls, Sinead, had 6 rabbits at home.

We should have known.

Anyways, Sinead's parents wanted to keep only 2 of the rabbits (out of the lot, of which, Speckles is the mom). They wanted Speckles and one of her sons. They found another home for two of the other baby bunnies, with their dad, Honey Bunny!!!! That left only two more to go, and Nandana literally grabbed them.

She was on her best behaviour for a few days, hoping that would be enough to let us say yes to bring them home.

We hestitated, but then thought we should say yes. After all, my brother and I've had a variety of so-called pets, from calves to cats when we were youngsters in our grandparents' place in Chennai. And Shiv has also had his share of doggy pals when he was younger. A pet is a must experience in any youngster's life.

Plus there were other advantages too. The rabbits were vegetarian like us and were coming to us free. Plus, the only cost was the hutch. And we fashioned a run for them, quite a funny one, but effeective nevertheless.

And finally, we went over to Sinead's place and brought them over last Monday. Speckles was quite reluctant and I felt bad to separate the little ones from their mum. However, that's how it worked out.

Needless to say, long before the rabbits came home, Nandana had thought of many names for them. But I put my foot down and said Nandita should name one and she the other. She went for Russet. And for Nandita's choice, she came up with a lot of weird ones, so we decided to go for a real original _ Stapalamala. This was a word that Nandita earlier would use if she didn't know what word to use when she was talking. Like, she would say, I am doing my stapalamala, instead of puja, as she didn't know that word then. Or she would say, I am eating stapalamala.

So, Rus and Stapy they would be!

They seem quite comfy at home. And while I may have to do all the legwork at some future stage (like cleaning their poos, etc), for now, Nandana dotes on them and takes them for walks (yes, rabbits apparently do like to wear leashes and go out for walks) and spends a lot of time checking for things like if they've eaten, if they've done poos, if they're sleeping etc.

The last word: the day we brought the rabbits home, she was running up and down the stairs setting up things for them and muttering about how happy she was. One of the things she said: Oh, heaven has come to our house.

It's still the little things that children love.

7 June 2005

Typically NRIndian

Something a friend sent me. Although some of it is a little going overboard, most of it is very apt ...............Only substitute 'Overseas in the Western world' for 'USA'

There is more to being an Indian than eating Dal and Rice. Here are some examples.

Mother-in law:
In India - A woman capable of making your life miserable.
Outside India - A woman you never fight with, because where else you will find such a dedicated baby sitter for free?

In India - A boring human species, who listens more to his mother than you, and orders you around to serve him, his parents and siblings.
Outside India - Still boring, but now a useful human species that comes in handy when the house needs to be vacuumed or dishes to be done.

In India - A person whose house you can drop into any time of the day or night and you'll always be welcome.
Outside India - A person whom you have to call first to check and make sure he/she is in and not busy.

In India - A woman who gives you your underwear and towel when you go to take a shower.
Outside India - A woman who yells at you not to leave your dirty things behind when you go to take bath.

In India - A teenager, who without asking will carry your grocery bags from the market.
Outside India - A teenager, who suddenly remembers he has lot of homework when you start mowing the lawn.

In India - A lovely doll, who brings tears to your eyes during her marriage.
Outside India - A lovely doll, who brings you to tears long before her marriage.

In India - A person you are afraid of, and who is never to be disobeyed.
Outside India - A person to whom you pretend to obey, after all he is the one paying your college tuition.

Desi Doctor
In India - A respectable person with ok income.
Outside India- A money making machine, who has a money spending machine at home called "doctor's wife".

In India - A vigorous Punjabi festival dance.
Outside India - A desi dance you do, when you don't know how to dance

Software Engineer:
In India - A high-tech guy, always speaks in American accent, always anxious to queue in the consulate visa line.
Outside India - The same hi-tech guy, who does Ganapati Puja everyday, and says 'This is my last year in the US' every year.

A Green Card holder bachelor:
In India - the guy can't speak Hindi, parents of good looking girls are dying to hook him, wears a jacket even in summer, says he has a BMW back there.
Outside India - the guy can't speak proper English, wears jacket all the time, works in a corner shop in Manhattan, dreams of owning a BMW.

Tin bowl tale

Mmmmmm, nice. A three-day weekend. The first Monday in June is always a holiday, for the Queen's b'day. This is one day I don't mind shouting "Long live the Queen". We are all feeling nice and rested. I am relaxed enough to charge into the story of the tin bowl.


This isn't a new story or anything. And I'll bet that most of us have heard of it at one time or another.

It goes like this. There is a family of a husband, wife and their two children. The grandparents lived with them, but the busy couple had no time for them. And scant respect or consideration.

They were loathe to spend not only money, but also time on them. They considered their duty done if they provided enough for the old people to subsist. They'd just chuck them some food in a tin bowl (they didn't want to spend good money buying classy dishes for the old couple to eat from, you see).

And things moved along at this pace for a while. I am not sure if it was the woman's parents or the man's parents but that doesn't really matter as far as I am concerned. I feel all children have an equal responsibility to their parents. And I must say I have noticed many women wriggling out of it, quoting their husbands. In most cases, this is just an excuse. And an equal number of men wriggle out too, for whatever reasons.

Anyways, coming back to the tin bowl, one day the kids asked their parents for some money. What for? To buy a pair of tin bowls. And the parents asked them, why do you need two tin bowls? To which the kids said, Mom and Dad, it's for you to eat from when you grow old like Grandma and Grandpa.

Well, out of the mouths of babes........the parents were shocked, flabbergasted, speechless etc. I don't know why they were so surprised, as their children were only copying them. Maybe because when younger, no one has time to think or worry about their old age much, unless they are going to be old real soon.

Anyways, that was a rude shock for the couple. And after that , they made an effort to be decent to their parents. Which is all very good. And although it's not a `they all lived happily ever after ending', it's better than what it was before.

The least that can be said for the couple is that they at least had their parents with them and didn't ditch them on the roadside.

But the moral (don't all good stories have one?): if you dish out tin bowls to your parents, be warned that your children will give you more of the same when you are old. For, what you sow, you will reap, good or bad.


I am in a pretty relaxed mood, anyways. End of every job is always so. Winding down. Farewell for Arthur, Rachel and me next week. And after that, bye-bye to all the relaxing. New job begins Monday, June 20.

31 May 2005

The not-so-golden years

One of the saddest things when you live in the Western world is the old people in it. Especially, NZ is a haven for golden oldies, as its much warmer than say UK or many other European countries. So the proportion of aged population is quite high here.

This is probably the reason for this post of mine. Yesterday, when I was driving back home after work, I saw a bent old woman (could be a man, can't be sure as he/she was so heavily bundled up to protect against the Southerlies) walking down. She was so bent by herself, and the two shopping bags she carried in her hand probably only added to the weight. I felt really saddened by that sight. Such an old person, still having to do everything herself.

Its a bad thing in the Western world, where everyone is so busy, they have hardly any time for even their own parents, however old and bent they may be. Give me the Indian system any day, I thought.

And then I thought again. The Indian system? The one in which, theoritically at least, the grown-up children took care of their parents? That may still exist, but only for the lucky parents. Or the rich parents.

And I thought again, of a certain old lady. Mrs S is now old and lives in India. She had many children and some of them are no more. Some live overseas and the remaining four live in India, but in different cities to Mrs S.

Till a few years ago, Mrs S and her husband (who is now no more) lived along with one of their daughters, whose husband was no more. The daughter, Mrs T, and her two children, who had lived with Mrs and Mr S for many years, were able to take care of the aged Mr S, till his death even, along with Mrs S, who was then not too old.

But as time passed, Mrs T's children grew up and went away to different cities and had families of their own. And so, Mrs T was torn between her mother (Mrs S) and her children. Even now, it is she who lives with and takes care of her mother. But it is at the cost of time with her children.

When things get too much for her, or when some of her siblings wash their hands off their mother, her cry is: Can I not even spend time freely with my two children. Everyone else is doing it. Is this asking for too much? How long do I have to bear this responsibility?

But her heart and conscience do not allow her to abandon the old Mrs S all alone. And her children support her decision to stay with her mother, although it is very hard on them not to be able to spend time with their only parent. For their grandmother's need is greater than theirs.

In a way, Mrs S is luckly. At least she has some family with her.

But I can still remember a place called Annai Illam that is near my mom's house in Chennai. So many old people, mostly women, living in that shabby place, and subsisting on charity. They are the victims of a daily tsunami that most people miss. Hence, there is no one doing much for them.

I have heard of other families, where the children have threatened their old parents, asking for their share of the family wealth.

So, is our Indian way or people really superior? In many cases, materialism and selfishness puts paid to an excellent theory of taking care of the old and ailing. Most of them are as busy and uncaring as their Western counterparts.

I wonder what others think. Do let me know. As for me, I can think only about the story of the tin bowl. (in my next post)

25 May 2005

Understanding Kiwi

Vidhu's article on missing India took me back to my early days in NZ. The biggest problem I faced was understanding the Kiwi accent. And believe me, its hard to, even if you know English to follow Kiwi English, unless you are used to it.
Recently, I even read an article on how the UK was going to have test of English for Kiwis wishing to apply for citizenship, as it was so different to English English. Bit like Madras Tamil is to Madurai Tamil.
What's below is what I wrote after a few months of living here. And I still stand by every word in it. True, I have now gotten over the stage of acutely missing India. It is a more insiduous longing now, tempered with caution about an expensive trip back home. But still......

Kiwi English. Nothing had prepared me for it. Looking back, I can now say that nothing, except first hand experience, could have really prepared me for it. Having been brought up in a household and school where I heard, spoke and read as much English as I did my mother tongue, I had been absolutely confident that English, even outside my country, would not be a problem. Moreover, constant exposure to the Hollywood accent through the movies and the British accent on BBC, I had assumed, would stand me in good stead. As well as the occasional visits from relatives Down Under, who did speak with a pronounced twang that I thought was an accent, and was able to follow well enough.
But I soon saw how far from reality my expectations were. My first few days in Kiwidom were utterly chaotic, comprehension wise at least. Although it was only English, it was a veritable Tower of Babel to me. The words I used more than any others were "sorry" or "could you please say that again" or "excuse me" -- at least a dozen times daily.
Everyday activities and situations became fraught with difficulties -- at the supermarket checkout, I was hard put to even imagine what it was that the checkout operators were saying to me. Even when I had the advantage of knowing that it had to be something related to payment for the items purchased. Especially so, since many of them tend to be younger Kiwis, who speak very unclearly anyways.
Callers on the other end of the telephone line seemed to be speaking some mysterious language that bore a faint resemblance to what I had been taught as English.
While on the road, kindly strangers who gave me directions would have been horrified had they realised that I could make out most of what they had told me only by following the movement of their hands, and not lips.
The problem became accentuated when I discovered, after many futile attempts, that in many cases my Indian accent made as little sense to Kiwis as did their accent to me! And this when I had so far assumed that I spoke English with no noticeable accent! After some serious thinking, I resolved to do what any sensible person would have done in this situation -- adopt the Kiwi accent as soon as I could. If Indians in Yankeeland could, and did, sound American within six months of getting there, I could do it too. But easier said (not really) than done! It took me a couple of months to get used to even the vowel sound substitution. That I had to substitute the sound `i' for `e' and say `aye' for `a'. And to understand that, for example, `six' was pronounced `sex', `seaven' was seven, and when someone said `cheer', what they were meaning was, of course, chair!
I had thought my teachers back in school had done a good job of teaching me the Queen's English, but none of them had even the remotest idea that I'd be called upon to speak the language with an accent so different -- some dim combination of British, Scots, Maori and a few other Euro influences. So, I toiled and and consoled myself, saying that I was indeed progressing. I was, in one way. All the unintelligible sounds began to make more sense to me. I was able to understand Kiwi English if it was spoken clearly.
But still my problem was not solved, as my efforts at speaking English with a similar accent seemed to leave many souls more puzzled than they had been with my Indian accent. I was at my wits' end! I had had just about all I could digest of puzzled looks that greeted my efforts at speaking Kiwi English outside the home or the roars of laughter inside that invariably followed after every telephone conversation with a Kiwi at the other end. And so, quite simply, I just quit. But time does heal all -- even accents.

Ha, ha, those were the days. But although now I can understand any Kiwi, my accent continues to be staunchly and stubbornly Indian. Vive le difference!

18 April 2005

Land of Oz - Sydney

Two days were woefully inadequate to see even half the tourist spots in Sydney. But still we managed to get a feel of this huge and bustling city.

In any case, I think even a week wouldn't be enough to do justice to this one. Seeing this, I could envisage a bit of New York and the big cities of the world. Lovely to visit, but to live in? I'd have to think about that.

Anyways, as we took the train from Melb, we spent the day in the train and landed only at night in Syd. The landscape from the train was very similar to India, although the atmosphere was a bit marred by some snide remarks that a couple of Yanks sitting behind me were making. Naturally, to them, only the US of A is the ultimate.

Anyways, the next morn, we set off to Taronga zoo, taking the ferry. WE got totally and thoroughly excited on seeing the Harbour bridge and the Opera House enroute. They are not too far from each other. And look really great from a distance.

The zoo was really impressive, although we had to stay put in the souvenir shop for a while, due to a thunderstorm. Huge with many species of animals, some of which I had never seen in person before, like the platypus.

We made good progress and en route a lioness took a swipe at Nandita. Luckily, there was a thick sheet of glass separating the two of them from each other.

That evening, from the zoo, we wandered upto the Opera House. In close-up, it had tiles all over it and didn't actually look too impressive. There's a very 'elitish' restaurant inside and all the usual blah blah. But the walk to the Opera House from the bus stand was very interesting, as it housed all sorts of shops.

Day two, we started late and went leisurely to first Haymarket to try our hand at some shopping. We picked out stuff at an expensive outlet and then came outside, only to discover that the same stuff was available at the famous Paddy markets and probably half the price. Ha ha.

Then, walked to Darling Harbour where there are sooo many things to do. Went for a sounds of the Outback show, where an artist played a traditional aborigine instrument, the didgeridoo. Gosh, it was brilliant. Then, we walked all round, looking at the Chinese garden, Imax theatre, etc.

Then took the monorail from there to the Sydney Tower. The monorail really impressed. It is an overhead rail system, right in the centre of Sydney's CBD, but tucked so neatly into one side of the road, it just blends with the surroundings.

Sydney tower was a bit of a yawn, apart from the views, it was just like the Auckland Sky Tower or the KL Minara tower (the only towers I have been up on, so far). The only difference was the security in Sydney was the maximum.

Took the train back to Melb that night. Most uncomfy, sleeping in seats. Gimme our good old Indian railway berths anytime.

Hunting and illness

They've really been the biggest reasons for such a big gap in my blogging.

We are hunting for houses and I am also job-hunting, which takes up quite a while.

Kids are sick, the older one not so bad, but Nandita giving us sleepless nights. She finally seems to be on the mend now.

Older one has school term hols now, so that's yet another thing to organise _ where will she stay when we go to work? Younger one will go to daycare as usual.

Househunting, interesting and frustrating.

Job-hunting: painful and time-consuming. I am getting tired of doing up my CV again and again, and am really and sorely tempted to remain working where I am......

However, all things, good and bad, shall pass. So we live in hope.

4 April 2005

Land of Oz - Melbourne

It was big, bustling and exciting.

The weather was warmer, it was more crowded, but hey, it was still nice anyways. I am back after 10 days in Oz, and I really loved it. Oz isn't the big bad neighbour I thought it might be.

True, it isn't half as green or beautiful as NZ. But it's got more markets, more things to do and see and more of everything else.

Melbourne roads are soo wide, with a tram line cutting across most main roads. Beaut! I wonder why on earth they got rid of the trams in good 'ol Wgn.

Did many of the usual things. Visited the aquarium, waterfront, looked at the huge Crown Casino and did some quickie shopping. Gawd, the market is huge enough to be a lot like being back home in India.

Also went along to the Penguin Parade and it was well worth the looooooooong ride (not that I was driving anyways). Got to see the penguins in close quarters as they swam back after a day's hard work, to rest for the night. These were tiny ones, smaller than ducks. But oh-so-cute, nevertheless and Nandita and Nandana were raving over how cute they were.

Went to the Dandenong ranges and on a steam engine, called Puffing Billy, which apparently is a bit of a legend there. But it was not a patch on our Ooty/Mettupalayam line, considering how expensive the tickets were. Still, the ride and the locale were nice enough.

I only missed going to the Great Ocean Road, where the brilliant natural rock formation called the twelve apostles (seen recently in umpteen Indian films) is. Saw pics of it and it looks fab. Maybe next time.

Of course, did go around looking at a few houses for sale, along with our friends, as they were looking for a house to buy.

Every bloody house there seems to have gas cooking and most things seem much cheaper there. Ooh, what wouldn't I give for a gas stove at home here instead of the ugly electric one that we have.....

Melb has a nice laid-back air about it, and is a bit like Wgn stretched lengthways and breadthways (a lot of stretching, if you can imagine). It's a huge city, but there's no sign of the palpable rush that you can feel in Sydney. More about that later.

People, do leave your comments. And here's one answer _ I haven't been able to put any pics on, but we did take many, so will try to upload them over a period of time. As to why it's taken me so long to put up a post, read my next.

23 March 2005

Conquering the Cook Straits

Sigh, blue day, can't think of anything interesting or cheerful to put down. However, I am determined to try.


Can't say Gemini Ganesan was a fave of mine. Still, I quite enjoyed him as an old man in movies like 'Unnal mudiyum thambi', Avvai Shanmugi, etc.


Have to finish packing (haven't even started yet) tomorrow (Thurs). Aussie trip looms ahead (leaving March 25). Got the visa after last-minute dramas. Has been confirmed that we are going to Sydney too.


Work's a drag. Time to start searching, maybe? Look at greener pastures (they all look green anyways in NZ). Either way, time to get out of the rut, comfort zone, whatever.


And I have to put this down. Time and again, I've said that the media here reports negatively on India. Or they will use pics with captions that say, a beggar on the streets of Calcutta (or whatever).

A couple of weeks ago (when I was too busy to blog), we had gone to the Saturday Vishnu Sahasranamam gathering, when someone was collecting help money 'for a boy from India who is going to try and cross the Cook Straits'. We all contributed _ fairly generously.

And the next day, Aditya Raut did indeed become the youngest to cross the Cook Strait. And this was a Page One story here. I don't know what sort of coverage Raut got there. But for once, it was actually, way to go, India!

15 March 2005


Last weekend (Sat afternoon, to be precise), we went off to do some PYO (Pick Your Own). For the Indians here at least, PYO makes a lot of sense.

Instead of buying green chillies and eggplant (as brinjal is called here) at exorbitant rates, it makes good sense (and fun) to drive for an hour-and-a-half to a farm, swelter in the sun and pick your own. Nah, not really, but the novelty is what makes it good, plus the satisfaction of picking really fresh veggies. Basically, a different kind of time out.

So we did do it. Us and another friend's family. T'was the first time that Nandita and Shiv had come.

We went beserk as soon as we sighted the eggplants. Already, the bigger ones had been snared by the early Indian birds and we salvaged the medium-sized ones with great gusto. The people who came in on Sunday would have had to go back with no eggplants at all. I must've picked about 14 kg, as I picked for a couple of friends as well. Got my hand pricked well and truly by the thorns on the eggplant stems.

Nandana had a great time picking tomatoes and strawberries. She then wandered off to pick some red onions and garlic, just to see what it was like to pull them up from under the ground. I picked capsicum and then we both settled in to pick chillies.

As usual, I went overboard. They were so many differnt kinds. So, we picked some jalapeno chillies and then some Mexican ones (they are the bajji milagai that we get back home). Then I picked some super chillies, which are really, really hot.

Then, the main chilli picking. Cayenne chillies, which are our usual everyday cooking chillies. Nandana and I picked and picked. And while my back groaned, my head started pounding too. Still, we gamely picked, while Shiv and the others started taking the buckets of picked produce to the farm entrance to be weighed.

Finally, we had about 2 kilos of chillies, so decided enough was enough. I marvelled at an elderly Indian man picking next to me. He had picked twice as much, and all of them neat and clean without stalks or leaves (the stalks make up 5 to 10 % of the produce weight).

My next worry, where do I find the space in my fridge to put all this stuff?

Another thought _ would have been easier to just get all the stuff send to me from Auckland, where it isn't all that expensive.

Still, I wouldn't have given up that fun for everything. Plus the pleasure of cooking and eating really fresh veggies _ ummm, those eggplants were heavenly.


And I have cleaned and frozen most of the chillies, to be used over the next few months.

Nothing beats the thrill of PYO, not even my sore back!

All the way up the North Island (and down)

That's basically what we did.

Travelled by road all the way from the southernmost tip of hte North Island (Wellington) upto the northernmost (well, almost, as Auckland is right there on top).

Beginning Thursday (March3), we covered one tourist spot daily and by Monday, had the whole thing pretty well sassed up.

Thursday, travelled all the way to Taupo (five-and-a-half hour drive). Saw all the main volcanoes (Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu) and the not so big ones too. Then, that evening, drove off to Craters of the Moon, Huka Falls and then had a lovely walk by the lake.

Craters of the Moon was awesome. It is a valley surrounded by lush greenery, in which smoke steams out of vents and holes in the ground, from the thermally active Wairekei area. Incredible.

Huka Falls, yawn, anyways, been there, seen that. Lake walk, pleasant, but not too much so , as we were really hungry by then (in spite of that fact that we had been junking on fast food practically all the time, as you do when you are on holiday).

Next morn, off to Rotorua, home to a thousand gushing geysers, boiling mudpools, sulphurous smells and the Maori. Went into the Whakarewarewa thermal park, which also had a bit about Maori art and culture. Plus, I hadn't been there the last time I was in Rotorua. But this time around, the smell of sulphur wasn't so strong. Nor were there too many sudden small eruptions under our feet.

Did the animal park of Rainbow Springs and then ended up at the Polynesian Spa. Spent more than an hour in the mineral spa. Sheer bliss!

The next morn, went off to the bus station to get the bus to Auckland, travelling via Waitomo. Had one of our bags stolen. Thieves lurk in the most unlikeliest of places, apparently. Periamma said she had had two of her bags stolen when in Switzerland.

After 3 hours, were in the glowworm caves at Waitomo, magical really. We first went in to the stalagtite and stalagmite caves, before going by boat into the actual glow worm caves. Although the lesson in biology sounded yucky, the actual sighting of the glowworms was nothing short of magical.

Then, a nice lunch at a wayside restaurant and then off to Akl, while watching the movie `Armageddon'. Reached the Akl Sky Tower (tallest tower in the southern hemisphere and one of the tallest in the world). You can bungee jump from the top, but I wasn't tempted.

Then, stayed the night at my cousin's place, put P'ma and P'pa on the plane to India on Sunday.

Sunday afternoon, one of the highlights was an unlimited south Indian meal of pongal, idli, dosai, vadai, chutney, sambar etc at Saffron. As we don't have any hotels serving S.Indian food in Wgn, this was a real treat for us. That too at $10 ea.

Then, went ferrying to Rangitoto island, a hour-an-hour ride from Akl harbour. Rangitoto is the youngest of Akl's 50 volcanoes (most Akl suburbs are sitting on volcanoes called Mt Eden, Mt Roskill, One Tree Hill, etc). And we actually climbed right to the top of this mountain. One-and-half hours of sheer and demanding physical labour. Even the kids (Nandita and Sourish) did 75 percent. Fantastic. And the view from the top was to die for. The way my heart was pounding after that climb, I thought it would actually come to that!!!

Left Akl after Monday lunch and was back home by Monday eve. Real hectic and brilliant trip. Enjoyed by all of us.

14 March 2005


Awoke this morn at about 4 a.m, and draped the duvet over baby, who was freezing outside it. Went back to bed, when it went rock, rock ............fairly strong rocking, and while I was summoning up the energy to pick up baby and run under the doorway, it stopped. Idly, I thought this must be close to 6 Richter as the movement was more than last time.

TV said it was 6.4 Richter. Right, fairly big one, still not much damage. This turning out to be a very active year, seismically. Chk out:

Have to complete my post on trip up North. And a few other things. Meanwhile, that's it for Monday morning blues.

1 March 2005

Autumn is here!

It was a glorious but very brief summer. When it was hot, it was killingly so, with dangerouly high UV radiation levels and the temperature touching 30C in the Hutt. This being the equivalent of about 40 C in Chennai, it was extremely uncomfortable. But that's long gone now.

There were a few perfect days in-between though and we did enjoy them, doing all the walking and sight-seeing then.

Today's the first day of autumn. In three weeks' time, we end daylight saving. It will really seem like winter then, as it gets dark by 6.30 - 7 pm.

Never mind, Autrmn has started with a bang. Off to Auckland tomorrow via Taupo, Rotorua and Waitomo.

There's a huge lake in Taupo _ one of the largest inland lakes in the world. Its the size of Singapore and was created by the largest volcanic explosion in history.

Then, we'll do all the boiling mudpools, volcanoes, geysers and Maori art and culture in Rotorua.

Waitomo has glow worm caves. We'll go boating into the caves. At least, that is my expectation.

From there, upto to Auckland. Will see the Sky Tower there (tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere) and then will farewell Periamma and Periappa, as they leave for India from Akl.

We'll be back after spending a day with cousins there.


Gets nicer still. Trip to Aussie for Easter (March 25). Melbourne and maybe Sydney, and will do all the touristy things there too!

Will probably be the most evenful autumn I have had in NZ. Back on Monday from Akl.

10 February 2005

Shaky science and superstition

Things fall apart
The centre cannot hold.

That was Yates, if I remember my poetry correctly.

He was not talking about an earthquake-prone country called NZ. But it applies equally well to it.

A huge Page one article about the BIG ONE in Wgn and what its impact will be. Are you ready for three days by yourself, asks the sub-heading. Fires, communication, drinking water and electricity cuts, deaths, road blocks and injuries are all they want us to be ready for.

These things are sent to try us.

Periamma and Periappa went into a bit of a depression after reading and Periappa was all for us moving to Aussie, as it is at least a stable continent.

Ok, that's science and sense for you. But how about superstition?

We had sensational fireworks at the Wgn wharf recently, courtesy Beijing. Yes, Beijing. Beijing is a sister city to Wgn, and so to mark the beginning of the Chinese new year, we were treated to some fab fireworks, much better than the ones we have for Guy Fawkes Day.

However, the Year of the Rooster isn't going to be that bright! Expect, say Chinese soothsayers, epidemics, sex scandals and ******EARTHQUAKES! Not just the itsy-bitsy teensy-weensy ones. But the BIG ones. And they point to the evidence that most of the world's biggest ones of the past have happened during Rooster years, withe the biggest being over Richter 9.

Everyone's busting my eardrum telling me to have my quake emergency kit ready. But I keep putting it off. Maybe subconsciously (and stupidly) I feel that by not getting it ready, I am denying the possibility of a big one happening. Who knows?

These things are surely sent to try us.

6 February 2005

It's a fairly small world

Well, talk about coincidences.....

When I got into the yahoo group for Vidya Mandir school (Luz, Chennai) alumini, it had names from all over the globe in it. But nary one from NZ. Even plenty from Aussie, but no Kiwis.

I wrote and wrote asking if any VMite lived in NZ, but no one did.

And suddenly, it happened, as it often does. I was talking on the phone to Nandana's new Carnatic music teacher y'day, whom I've barely met a couple of times. We got chatting and suddenly discovered that she was from VM and what's more, her mom had been a teacher there. Talk about it being a small world.

Today, anyways, is Waitangi Day _ in other words, NZ Day. This is the day many many years ago (Feb 6, 1840), that the Brits signed the Treaty of Waitangi along with the Maori chiefs in NZ, which is the reason the country officially came to be ruled by the then Queen. So, it's a national holiday for us. Also, happens to be a good friend's 40th b'day, so we had some cake-cutting as well.

In fact, I know totally 4 other people who were all born on Feb 6 (a cousin, a nephew and another friend).

Periappa and Periamma have also finally landed today, and are at home. I am at work now, as I was already committed to working tonight. However, have taken the day off tomorrow in their honour. Anyways, Shiv brought them briefly to work so I could say hello to them. They are already enraptured with good ol Wgn and its beauty. All I said was, sure, but try coming here in winter. And they've seen Europe and US (almost the entire continent already) but still think NZ is a beaut.

Nandimmma seemes to be recovering from her bout of puking that lasted two days and left no food in her now concave tummy. My poor baby. And a fever to boot. Doc reckons its a urinary infection again, but we'll know for sure tomm.

Nandana is totally into her gardening. Project for this week is tranplanting the bean runners into a proper kitchen garden patch from the pot, so they can grow steadily taller and bigger w/o any problems. Methinks she may have a green thumb.

My poor back is already protesting the effects of the garden patch cleaning!

2 February 2005


It's my latest fad and weapon in my already-lost battle of trying to lose weight. This might seem like a desperate measure to all those who manage to stay slim. But when metabolism, genes, two pregnancies and an age of thirty-something combine to conspire, the result is nothing short of disaster.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Here's another one: when the going gets tough, the tough get going!

Anyways, the bottom line is that I've now turned to aquajogging to help me keep fit. It's definitely easier than the gym on my poor ol bones. And the novelty does help!

In fact, I am so enthused, I've gone out and got myself a pair of new togs (the old ones don't fit me too well now). All this after just one session!

I put a lot into the one session though. Gave up my precious Sunday morning snooze and was up by 7.30 am, and at the pool by 8.15 am. Talk about being committed.

I just hope it lasts, especially as I still haven't tried out my new togs.........

Back to school

Well, both my babies did go and both loved it. This was Monday, Jan 31, the day after summer hols were over and schools reopened. Also Shiv's b'day.

There was nothing remarkable about Baby #1 going to school, she's been doing that for nearly 9 years now.

But my Baby #2? It was her first day. And guess what? She is every mom's dream, she didn't want to come away from the Early Learning Centre! She wanted to stay there. And she keeps asking me daily if she can go to 'school' today. She can't as I've enrolled her only for Mondays and Fridays, but still, blessed are those moms whose kids don't scream their heads off on Day 1 of school.I am only semi-blessed, as Baby #1, who is so well-settled in school now, cried for days together at the beginning of school age.

Then, in the evening, went to look at couple of houses (to buy), nothing very impressive though. And then dinner out to celebrate Shiv's b'day at our fave joint Mr. India.

All-in-all, a very successful day!

PS; I have a mountain of idlis sitting at home, as we had dinner out. The menu at home the next two days _ idli, idli and more idlis.

1 February 2005

Yet another one

Puulllease...we've had more than our quota for the last fortnight. But Mother Earth isn't listening, methinks. So the bed went shake, shake, shake this morning, as though someone was holding on to the headboard and shaking it violently. About half past six, it was.

Deja vu..... I picked up the baby and ran under the doorway. Waited for another one, which didn't come.

Have become such an expert that I can approx judge quake intensity based on shaking. This must've surely been Richter 5 +.

Went online later and bingo, it was 5.4 Richter.

So is all this good or bad? Even the experts _ seismologists _ don't know. It is an unusually active seismological period. Small ones like these may take the stress out of the plates and delay the big one. But no one knows for sure....

26 January 2005

Bad hair day!

Here I am, sitting with lacklustre eyes, staring at the PC monitor. I guess I need a break from my night shifts (which I do only about twice/thrice a week anyways), or I need more sleep. A break? I am getting too ambitious, or too old.

For all my bravado about the earthquake, haven't been able to catch a good night's sleep so far. And I went for a looooong walk, with Nandita in the pram this morning, so that unusual activity's made me feel really tired, I guess. I should do it more often to get used to it.

I am really looking forward to my day off tomorrow, but Nandana has already got big plans for me, some of which include buying some of her school books and also picking up a secret gift for Daddy, whose b'day is on Monday. My presence is a must, as I am the chaffeur. But come what may, I am determined to have my afternoon nap (famous last words). And I solemnly swear that I won't go shopping.

Today wasn't great though, even otherwise. Owen, the public health nurse was kind enough to drop off the medicines at home for Nandita fairly early in the morning. Dilemma _ should she have 'em or not? After all, they are strong anti-biotics to have for two months nearly....esply when her test came out negative. However, what if the second Mantoux test shows up as positive in March? I'll have to give her the drugs anyways.....choices, choices!

Sluggies during even daytime after the Tony, the pest control guy patched up the holes in the kitchen. Looks like they will have to take the kitchen apart and spray! Help, already half my kitchen is in my dining room. Good thing Periamma and Periappa have postponed their trip. Gives us time to fix the house, re the slugs, at least.

I am also feeling a little depressed that not many NRIs seem to have been perturbed enough by the JJ article to write to the editor. Sad but true. I would if I could, but I can't, so I won't.

My dosas for lunch were semi-blackened funny shaped pieces of dough. I think I will stick to idlis from now on.

I am also sad that Parveen Babi is dead. I used to think she was the height of cool when she was acting! And she was such a good looker! Fame isn't as glamourous as we think it is!

And the Satara tragedy. Plus a bad hair day. Blast, why aren't the vitamin pills working anymore?

To end on a note of forced cheefulness, had a beautiful gourmet boysenberry icrecream (a tiny one) for dessert. *sigh* there goes my resolve to eat healthy!

21 January 2005

Tsunami news second to sex, money, murder

Catchy heading, isn't it? Well, this is the headline that was carried in 36 pt bold. And that's the reason why my Friday, which started with a bang, ended with a whimper _ mine!!

To entertian their avid readers, the DomPost decided to take this huge story on the sordid sex, money and murder drama and I am called in as the expert. Why, you ask? Because, firstly, the story is on India. And secondly, yea gods, it is all about Tamil Nadu (although my friendly neighbourhood sub isn't aware of the TN connection here)

The main players in the drama? Our very own JJ & Jayendra Saraswathi. Our PM Manmohan Singh makes a guest appearance.

Ooh, I can tell you, I wished I could sink through the floor. Although we know how bad this story is, it sound simply awful when put down from an objective, western and sensationalised perspective!

Some gems from the article:

A CM who as the former CM's mistress and who now has a very close female friend reveals the reporter, in the very first para.

A 'priest' (that's what JS is refererred to in the story) who instigated murder and committed sexually inappropriate (for a man in his position) crimes.

Gosh, it may all very well be true (how can we ever tell for sure?), but have we ever in our Indian newspapers called JJ someone's mistress? Or implied anything more about the sassy Sasi?

Wait, the worse is yet to come. TN is referred to as a banana republic and as headed by a bunch of ego-maniancs (the second I cannot really deny). It is also referred to as a embarassing southern cousin to the technically-suave PM, who wants to get rid of graft in India.

Bah!! I did try to do my bit. I offered to tone down a few things, but my offer in some cases was politely rejected as it would make the story "too staid".

And in any case, the reporter has very happily sensationalised the whole thing, building on a grain of truth.

End result: (Indian & esply Tamil maanam kaapalil pogiradhu, pogiradhu, poye pochu!!(going, going, gone).

Collective NRI BP here has shot up. I expect a few intelligent ones to fire a couple of salvos in the form of letters. I will keep you posted..........

Shoreline, 1840

Not a very nice day actually. And this is just the first bit.

Day started with a bang, literally, as I woke up at about 8 am, to find the bed jouncing around a fair bit and the house creaking and groaning ominously..................it couldn't be ..................but it was, I realised, as the bed jostled heavily yet again.

"Earthquake," I head Shiv shout from the lounge, as I picked up Nandita and rushed under the door frame. In the next room, I heard Nandana doing the same.

Crikey, we'd just had 10 on Tuesday. Another one so soon, and a fairly big one, from the looks of it, as we'd felt it. I went online to check. It was 5.5 Richter, followed by an aftershock as well, which we didn't feel!! And even so, this is the biggest in Wgn in the last 30 years!


Blast. And with all the talk about THE BIG ONE coming anytime and everyone intent on discussing this morning's one ("Did you feel the the one this morning?"), I have to admit I was feeling a bit shaky myself.

Others fared even worse. Apparently, some who rise and shine at decent times (unlike us journos) were at work in their 7th or nth floor offices. And when the quake hit 'em, the whole floor swayed. Some of them went into hysterics and others started crying, as they were so rattled.

There are so many reminders all around me. When I walk to work, I am walking on the pavement that bears a plaque saying 'Shoreline, 1840'. So, had I been walking on the very same place, say in 1839, I would have had to be J. Christ, as that would have all been water. Sea water. The whole of Wellington's central business district is built on land reclaimed from the sea by the 1840 earthquake. That was when we had the last big one

And I've always wondered at that as it made me feel very uneasy. How could that be done, especially in this island nation that is so prone to quakes and tsunamis. As we drive down from Petone, we can see the CBD on the other side of the coast, with an expanse of beautiful blue sea in between. Gorgeous (on a fine sunny day! On a bad day, you can barely see the road ahead of you, leave alone the CBD silhoutte). I cannot imagine losing all that. But yes, oh yes, it is very much a possibility. Almost a reality, in fact.

In fact, all the seismology think-tanks expect a big one every 150 years. So, if the last one was in 1860, the next big one for us in Wellington would be in..............maths has never been my strong point, that's why I am a journo, so I will leave the calculation to experts.

Wellington sits on the boundary of the place where the Australian and Pacific plates meet, 25 km below the city. The plates are locked toghether at the moment, but eventually they will have to separate, say experts. When? No one wants to guess. And that will be SUCH A BIG ONE, as these ones rarely produce less than Richter 8!

However, earthquakes on interfaces are rare, happening hundreds of year apart, they add. The Boxing Day tsunami was one such.

As they say, it is not a question of if. It is a question of when. Ok, I better rush to get my quake emergency kit ready.

18 January 2005

Full of beans!

It's amazing what one multi-vitamin pill can do!!

I was up until 10 last night, and even found the energy to empty the dishwasher. And I was up at 7.30 this morn. Brilliant, if I may say so myself!! So, I've decided that I am going to be regular about them. Yeah right, like I was with the gym, my exercises and my iron supplements. Still.......

And did soooooooo much work at home today, cleaned the floors, vaccumed the house, did two loads of washing, plus did me cooking too (rotis with kurma). Hmm, not bad at all.

Esply considering that I was a total washout during the weekend, with a massive bout of hayfever. What a waste of two scorchingly sunny days (temp was upto 30C, which is the equivalent of 40C in Chennai, a burnout).

But, there's more. After only a 15-minute nap this afternoon (in preparation for being up after midnight), drove all by my little self upto work _ at incredible speeds of 100km on the motorway, with no one in the car with me! That's a first. I am soooooooooooooo proud of meself.

In fact, I feel so cocky, I think I may actually start bringing the car in to work so I can drive back at night, instead of hanging around for the bus. Why not.

The only fly in the ointment _ one slug in kitchen y'day. However, people are coming to fix up the kitchen tomm, so I live in hope.

Plus I have heaps of changes and plans to make in my forseeable future. All will be revealed shortly.

And to all ye wonderful and not-so-wonderful people out there, au revoir!

PS: Oh no, I've just heard about the third earthquake today and blast, I didn't feel even one!! Missed 'em all!!(Richter ranging from 4.9 to 3.8)

PPS: Gosh, the fourth one today. And I felt it!! My chair went wobble, wobble!!! That was 5.2 Richter. And correction, there have been eight already today, not four!!!!!

Hooray for the Shaky Isles!

12 January 2005

Bridget Jones' diary

Have to admit I found the language shocking, both in the book and movie. I mean, do Britons use language like that every day? At work? Home? Hmm....

I did find that four-letter words were very prevalent even in Kiwi English (almost as common as Maori words), but I am used to that now after nearly six years here. But cannot believe that the prim and propah Brits use language like that.

Oh well, at least, the movie was presentable enough in other ways................

Gotta watch it, I am finding using this sort of language far too easy nowadays. Constant exposure, methinks. But still, when Nandita starts using words like 'munted moron', I know who is to blame.........I should stop before she progresses to higher levels.

Tsunami tantrums _ Part 2

Look, I don't want anyone imagining for a minute that I condone the inept way in which the disaster was initially handled by Indian authorities. To send a fax to the ex-minister about the tsunami and not even be aware of it is truly inefficiency personified.

To have a time of two-and-a-half hours to warn people and not even putting a minute of that to use is unbelievable.

And now that the tsunami has come and gone, we all do know that we have all these big bullies with politiical clout who make off with a lot of the relief booty.

Fine, agreed! I am not saying that we are mistake-free.

But what gets to me is people running down even good things that are being done. Just because we are a third world country and were ruled by whites till about half a century ago, doesn't mean we can't do anything efficiently.

Or is it that the Western world is loath to give us darkies credit? I wouldn't know. But in my mind, I feel heartened to know that humane values are triumphing and relief work is working wonders in India.

And it isn't just the world media that is projecting India as egoistic bunglers. There have been many Indian voices too knocking down the good work and pointing only to the goof-ups.

The media coverage here has been very comprehensive and very sympathetic to the victims. Kiwis as a rule, are very aware of the world around them and are not at all insular, a la the Yanks.

It is just that the focus tends to be a very judgmental and western-viewpoint oriented, at times. Well, I guess I gotta take the good with the bad.

11 January 2005

Tsunami tantrums - Part 1

I am sick of seeing and reading and hearing all about how India botched up the early tsunami warnings and how India said no, thank you, we don't want any aid and about how all the relief work isn't happening the way it should.

I mean, from what I've picked up from the net, I thought India was doing a pretty good job (sure, despite initial botch-ups). Given all the constraints and conditions that only a person in India can know about. And even given Amma's idiosyncracies (she is referred to here in the newspaper that I work for, as the "Eva-Peron like figure of former movie star J Jayalalithaa"), I still felt and thought that there was much more good happening in India (and TN) now than has during other recent catastrophes.

As a good example, just take the amount of relief money that has been collected. It is unimaginable. And yet we have twits from various think-tanks saying that a country that hopes to be #1 in the call centre industry could not even call its own people to warn them in advancem about the tsunami. And that twittish think-tanker was an Indian.

And when I opened today's paper, it had a report from a reporter (luckily not page 1) currently touring tsunami-hit areas, complaining and being complacent about the relief work, I really saw red. I mean, living the life that westerners do, can he have any earthly comprehension of how wretched a life in an Indian fishing hovel would be. And what sort of relief operations can be carried out, given the local conditions.

And the relief work _ he calls is "pathetically inadequate" coz no one has thought of putting up tents for the refugees and they are all crowding into the temples and schools. And because the kids are only being given cough syrup as medicine. God, I don't know if I should laugh or cry at that man's ignorance.

He says the "overall response seems to be disorganised, and lacking urgency, now that the initial panic is over. "

He complains that the smell of bleaching powder is everywhere. When I read that, I was ecstatic, coz to me that means help has actually arrived and something is being done. Real action, for sure.

And when I read the bit about a "harassed-looking soldier distributing food packets", I was almost beside myself with joy. People were actually getting food. What more? Food, shelter and medicine. Would all those affected have had access to all these things before the tsunami struck? I don't know.

What I do know is that something is being done _ very poorly by Western standards _ but excellent by our previous standards. And I have it from at least one reliable source that the work going on is phenomenal!!!

10 January 2005

Movie Mania

It's been a long, long time since I've actually had the time or energy to do this. But during this Christmas/New Year break, I watched at least one movie a day and somedays, two.

It was on the cards. Haaving concentrated exclusively on Tamil and Hindi movies during the past year, I did have to catch up on English movies as well.

I thought I'd make up a list of the movies and books I've managed over past fortnight or so (not to mention various outings with kids to Te Papa, swimming pool, botanical gardens etc (all of which I will visit again with my Periamma/Periappa, when they land here next week). This way, I will at least know what movies I've watched *wink* And I can also be impressed with myself!!

Sliding doors (Both heroes were such losers, no wonder the film didn't do well)
A Knight's Tale (so-so, I saw only bit and pieces of it)
Troy (whew, brilliant sets, costumes, etc, but very hollow characterisation)
Under the Tuscan sun (perfect art movie)
Laws of Attraction (it was a nice, light, frothy romance)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (man, it was so weird, but interesting)
Charlie's Angels: Full throttle (Yawn!)
Gosh, I've already forgotten the rest! (no that's not a movie title)


Bridget Jones' diary
One book of Jeff Archer (forgotten the name, it was short stories though!)
Ruth Rendell (too depressing)
One Asterix comic!!

I think I will put in the rest when I do remember. Which may be never.

Well, I for one, learnt the art of relaxing this break. And it was a good lesson to learn. Really, I feel heaps happier and contented. And my weighing scales are telling me something too!

7 January 2005

The Pohutukawa

For as long as I have been here, Shiv, my husband, has been raving about the Pohutukawa. And no one be put off by the title, this isn't a botany lesson.

It is a very kiwi tree and the name is from the Maori language (Maoris were the original inhabitants of NZ, long before James Cook hoisted the Brit flag here). And as to why Shiv raved about them, that's not very hard to tell. They've got gorgeous deep red blooms and they bloom only in our summer, just in time for Chirstmas.

In fact, I now know that you can now tell what kind of a summer you are going to have here by looking at when and how the pohutukawa flowers. If it is an abundant flowering, and quite early on in summer, say by mid-December, then it's going to be a long warm summer (we should be so lucky!!). That has hap only once after I started living here, when temperature reached the late twenties in summer.

It's because of this that they are the kiwi Christmas tree. The first White settlers used pohutukawa blossoms to decorate their homes at Christmas time, using it as a New Zealand substitute for holly, and they called it the Christmas tree.


This year though, the trees have only just started blooming in plenty. Any surprise then, that today is the first day in our summer, when the maximum temperature promises to go upto 20C? And this, when summer is officially half over!! The discount sales on summer clothes are already on. Retailers are grouchy, as they hardly sold any of their summer clothes _ it was so cold, hardly anyone bought any!!!!

But still, looking at the tree outside my window now, and watching the red blooms (Only half the tree is red, showing that blooming is still not complete), I can't help feeling cheerful. The red blooms make a lovely contrast to the silvery grey/green leaves of the tree. It is a mild balmy day, there have been no slugs in my kitchen the last couple of days (fingers crossed) and I have a nice two-day weekend to look forward to.

And even better, us Indians apparently, as doing a good self-reliant job of tsunami recovery that even the US is jealous (at least, that's what the net tells me). And what's more, we are being very neighbourly and helping Sri Lanka. I say, good on us!

4 January 2005

Life does go on.........in 2005

So much has been said by so many of the tsunami, there is nothing left to be said, especially by someone like me who lives thousands of miles away.

And yet, it haunts me. I am unable to get away from it. It pervades the atmosphere at home. And at work. It gives me nightmares.

When we friends talk, it is only about this. With Indian/Sri Lankan friends, we talk about places and people we know and hope they are safe.

With Kiwi friends, it is the same, only in a more general way. They are very kind, for they all know that I am from India. Many even know that I am from Madras (as it is still known as here).

Aid relief collection is on here. We have done all we can. Yet a sense of guilt _ is that all there is to it? Just flinging some money? How about those who are actually doing the work _ working with the homeless babies, the rotting corpses? I know I can't do it. But still........

All our squabbles, our wars, seem so petty in comparison. Mother Nature is the ultimate, in beautiful and ugly.

I feel so silly and ashamed, when I think how revolted and scared I was when I saw slugs in my kitchen. What is it compared to all this horror that is going on in this world. It is like comparing the pain of a scratch to that of labour pain. But, still, both are varying degrees of pain.

I just can't get over my gross and deep-rooted revulsion for slugs and snails. {I don't have to worry about snakes and lizards here as they can be found only in zoos.} Much as I can't get over the images that the TV brings to me daily about the tsunami.

I am only human, after all...and hats off to you, Ramya, if you are reading this, for actually going there and being part of it. I do know it is part of your job, but still, I don't know if I could have done it had I still been there.............

However, to end on a note of hope _ today, for the first time after I got my driving licence, I drove on the motorway, all the way from Lower Hutt to Wellington. Life goes on!