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Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Idiot's Guide to Diving in Puducherry aka Pondicherry

The Terrific Trio
Left to Right: Mellowdrama, Damsel in Distress aka Sulbha, Bollywood Star aka Ashwini
Do you sip your margarita with a straw? Or do you glug it down?
Yep, gluttony makes all the difference between a good dive and a great dive. 
The diver’s mark of honour is to come back with a fairly full tank and certainly not to hit 70 PSI or below. I unfortunately tanked my tank of air faster than my buddies. No points for guessing how I down my margarita. Ah well que sara sara, there's always a next time to kick butt!

BWRAF Pre-Dive Check
Pre-Dive Check: Bengali Women Really Are Fabulous
Anyway, after guzzling air, flapping around in what I hoped was my graceful mermaid best, dodging other equally clunky divers, and generally behaving like Colonel Haathi’s brigade (Jungle Book reference for topicality and what our instructor Kush wittily labels all Open Water folk) I sulked around hiding my pressure gauge.

Of course my fantafabulous instructors at Temple Adventures knew, and sportingly shared their stories of their first dives and returning with near empty tanks in no time. I am dead sure they made it up and for all I know they have gills under their ears. The folk at Temple charge a bit extra for PADI OPEN WATER certification and that extra +3K probably covers charm. Those guys are positively disarming!

It took me four dives ranging from 12 metres to 18 meters and a bumpy ST bus back to Chennai (from Pondicherry) with two vexing lecherous sorts on the adjacent seat for the straw revelation to hit me.  So here I was sleeping after telling off aforesaid randy sort, when I received a rather inopportune crack on the head – the thought struck me with all the force of a ST bus abruptly braking at a 100+ kms/hr. It felt like I had discovered the holy grail! To give Sid our instructor his due he did suggest straw breathing in passing but clearly I was carrying my stringent convent school childhood training of staring attentively whilst zoning out. So the significance of that statement drifted past me like a lazy Manta Ray.

I spent the rest of the bus ride to Chennai practicing my straw breathing and it worked, I was never out of breath or exhausted. And I was no longer gulping for air. Maybe I can apply it to running?! Meditation? Hmm…possibilities, possibilities.

Bags (Kits) are Packed
Bags (Kits) are packed, ready to go, standing outside Temple's door

So in a nutshell what constitutes a PADI OPEN WATER COURSE at Temple Adventures.

·     Where: Temple Adventures, Pondicherry aka Puducherry (3 hrs from Chennai, India)
·     How many of us: Three – Me (Mellowdrama), Ash (Bollywood Star) and Sulbha (The Damsel in Distress). 
·     When: 23rd March to 26th March 2016 (4 day course squashed into 3)
Contact: or

·    Basic Qualification: Ability to swim 200 metres non-stop at your own pace. Crappy swimmers pls note: doggy paddle allowed. Non-swimmers can do Discover Scuba.
·    Getting there: Flew from Mumbai to Chennai (Indigo roundtrip) on an awesome deal, Cost: 4K roundtrip (ahem defence discount).  And then cabbed it down one way (Cost: Rs 2500/- for all three - guest house Le Cyng's Bala organized it). Return ST Non-AC (Do not ask but cooler than the cab) cost us barely Rs 300/- each.
·     Diving Spots: 12 metres at Tex Mex and 18 metres at gorgeous Temple Reef
·     Best Season: Apparently this was the best season according to the famous Aravind (partner and soul of Temple Adventure and after whom Aravind’s Wall is named). We did not quite luck out and visibility remained stubbornly at 5-8 meters however we had better visibility on Day 3 at Temple Reef.
·     How much: Cost approx Rs 24,500 for 18 metres (60 feet) PADI Open Water certification. This includes confined pool and sea training, drills, class room sessions, videos, review tests and an exam.

Sea you around
The waters beckon - it's (deceptively) calm
·     Schedule: Get there at 6:30AM if you want breakfast.  For more detailed day-to-day ramblings + the travails and travels of the terrific trio, click here (COMING SOON)
·     What do I get at the end of the course: The PADI Open Water Certification that enables you to dive up to 18 metres (abt 60 feet) anywhere in the world with a buddy of course – duh! Regular fun dives for non-qualified folk and non-swimmers is btw 8 metres to 12 metres max. As a certified diver you also get access to material uploaded on the Scuba PADI community and can check out e-manuals and e-books. Essentially you get a log in for life, a temp certificate via email and the final card in a month (hopefully).
·     Instructors: Rockstar Sid for being our calm, chilled-out and completely hands-on instructor (literally, he had to keep a firm grip on us drifting divers desperately aiming for zero buoyancy) and inspirational Kush who had the patience of a Buddha – he was unbelievable, I sure would not have had 1/10th the patience with me. A special shout out to Das for patiently replying to all my gazillion mails and to Xavier for being funny! Sid wishing you oodles of luck in all that you do, Kush keep finding gorgeous spots and a big hi to the fantastic, fabulous ‘Bengali woman’ and Xav get a notebook dude + Roopmati says hi. Aravind hope to see you and your lovely family in Mumbai when you zip off to Kamshet -the baby sitting offer holds!
·      What did we see:
o   At 12 metres fish and live coral such as fan coral and whip coral but visibility was pretty bad on day 1 so that was a bit of a bummer. But the drills and exercises underwater anyway kept us busy. My pet nemesis of clearing the mask (I had lost a lens in Lakshdaweep eons ago on a discover scuba dive) was overcome. But that did not stop me from losing a rubber band in every single dive. If you spot a black band when you dive in the Bay, that would be mine. 
o   At 18 metres the dive was at the incredible TEMPLE REEF and it was absolutely worth every penny we spent. Not much coral but the sightings were beyond belief, nothing had prepared me for the scope of the entire project. Hats off to Aravind and team for constructing this – complete and utter respect! As for the fish life – let’s just say you can spot 100+ varieties and me being no fish expert I pored through the guides later and figured I saw shoals and shoals of Giant Trevally, Groupers, Humbug Damsels, Longfish Bannerfish, Angelfish, Powderblue Surgeonfish, Bluestreak Cleaner Wrass, Snappers and heaps more. Sid also got us to hold this adorable Coral Branded Cleaner Shrimp but that was the time I was hitting the red zone so I was looking more at my pressure gauge than the cute critter.

Banksy?! Please tell me that's Banksy!
Fell head over heels with this one high up on a dilapidated building
o   What we did not see: Most of Pondicherry since we were busy in sessions from 6AM  to 9PM. Spare an extra day for Auroville and other sights that you can actually enter  vis-à-vis jogging past ‘em as we did. We saw the churches and temples and Ashram all on our run early in the morning but we did manage to explore the complete French sector and went Banksy art spotting until I spotted one  signed Tona...damn.

o   About Temple Reef: It is this incredible artificial reef created using materials such as rocks, palm fronts, iron bar cages, Aarvind’s dad’s old car chassis and a scooter. I believe there were a few cycles around as well but I am not too sure if I spotted that or the scooter. We saw the cage, the ill-fated bottle garden (did not quite work out the way they wanted it to) and the car. Anyway the idea is for fish to congregate and congregate they did with a vengeance!!! I felt a bit like a villager visiting the big city for the first time, I didn’t know which way to look!
#NotBanksy bloody Banksy fan
Is it #Banksy. Is it #NotBanksy? No it's #BanksyFan 
·     Stay: As I said the folk at Temple Adventure are really helpful and hooked me up with some addresses ranging from super reasonable to super splashy boutique heritage hotels. We being the chindi sort, opted for the most reasonable at Le Cyng Blanc (Bookings +91 9944204935, +91 9944060735). Being a French ignoramus, I never dared to pronounce the name of the establishment but Bala’s guest house got me by nicely. Owner Bala is an absolute gem. Highly recommended. He was really helpful and the best part –the guest house is barely half a minute away from Temple Adventure which is great when you have to get to the dive centre at 630am. Psst Bala lots of luck with the Kerala venture!!! I will definitely trot by again, had a wonderful stay, thanks a bunch for everything from hospital recommendations to restaurant references. Cost: For the three of us in one spacious room with three beds we shelled out just Rs 1500 (with AC and 24X&7 access to a well equipped kitchen + free WI-FI). 
Could this be it?
·     Food: If I got Rs 100 for every restaurant we chose to eat at I would be pretty darned rich. We eventually ended up eating at just three because Ash decided to fall scarily sick, we barely slept and we ended up cooking most meals at the guest house because we were too tired to head out -
o   Baker Street Absolutely delicious and great French breads and salads. A study in contradictions, the name is Queen’s English (Sherlock Holmes anyone), the music was Indian classic, the walls had Geisha styled art and the staff spoke French. But the food was worth it!  Five stars! Cost: Approx Rs 300/- basis your appetite. But definitely not more than Rs 500/-
     Umami’s KitchenThe only reason we went there was because it was ladies night free drinks. Since I quit alcohol, I asked them for the same thing minus the booze and they said it would be chargeable! Patiently explained how no alcohol makes it a cheaper option. They eventually got it. Slightly pricey but absolutely divine prawns in coconut batter and fish filet with a teeny tiny portion of salad that might have looked appetizing under a microscope. Cost: The girls got free booze but still worked out to about Rs 300 per person and we just had starters.
Jungle Code - Not Banksyesque but nice!
o   Satsanga Overrated and frightful service. Food so-so. Real bummer because this was to be our ‘We are certified so let’s dress up and eat out’ night on the town. Worse, no one saw us all dressed up either. Cost: Approx Rs 500/- basis your appetite. Real downer, so not worth it but the ambiance was nice if you ignored the blood leaching mosquitoes.

o   Thela walla amma across the drain that is rather imaginatively called a canal – Friendly, interesting wall art that made for a great photo opportunity, cute scamps who became my friends, an accommodating garbage dump for additional flavour and divine biryani which was apparently overpriced according to Nischal (Potential dive master and soon to be marine archaeologist) who says one ought not to pay more than Rs 60 per plate. Cost: We paid Rs 90 and this despite me knowing Tamil and Ash knowing French. Man, we are suckers for cute men.

Great company with biryani
Mellowdrama always attracts the right sort of men @Amma's Thela across the drain picturesquely called canal
o   Rest of the time – At home courtesy Sulbha’s ready mix upma and amazing Dalia ready mix creations + Maggie + bread and fab cheese + my inspired mushroom cheese creation. Not to mention mooching off Bala’s guest Deepesh who was a mean cook and an impromptu party that saw the biryani, paneer, beer and kababs flowing. Cost: Sulbha bata do, but the day I did grocery shopping, it barely cost us Rs 300 (Panner, Corn, Mushrooms, Veggies)

o    Medical Care: Yeah we experienced that too as Ash got frightfully sick. We believe she might have sampled the turbid, swamp water swimming pool as a hors d'oeuvre. We had to rush her to the hospital at 1 AM (Special shout out to Vineet, Bala and Aravind for helping us out). New Medical Centre near Temple Dives was not exactly anything to write home about. When we reached there, they were facing a water crisis of their own and we had to wade through a few inches to get to the reception. It was a bit unnerving to be treated by someone practically half our age at 1AM at night but she was great. She injected Ash, gave her meds and packed her home. Next day our girl was fresh as a daisy! Cost: Just Rs 150 for a consultation, I thought it was a printing error. Meds and stuff extra.

SOME PICS FROM TEMPLE REEF: Totally depends on visibility: Pics (C) Xavier Panangadon 

FOOTNOTE - Abusing underwater and diver camaraderie
Now that will get a special mention in my follow up day to day diaries with sketches. Divers are just so chilled out! Everyone is a buddy and everyone hangs out. Oh and yes you CAN say ***head and WTF along with more critical "out of breath", "what's your gauge reading" signals. Plus fish have their own signals e.g. Grouper is groper and well others not really meant for public consumption. Stay posted for a follow-up with a blow-by-blow (pun unintended) description of what really goes into a scuba diving trip@Pondi.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Driving with Kids - Minus Apps

So here's how we maintain our sanity on long distance drives.
  • Car seats and seat belts - Best thing. EVER. You can't use strait jackets so this is the next best thing.
  • Essentially get the kid used to a car seat from day one. Alternatively tolerate the squalling for a couple of weeks, stay firm and you are set. (Same logic for getting said kid to sleep in a separate room). Optional: Get the Mother Care review baby mirror which is kinda cute but mostly pointless once baby is used to the seating layout.
  • Lots and lots of potable water, along every door. It will be used for drinking, cleaning baby/kid, cleaning you up. Basically everything other than buffing the car.
  • Nice roomy large plastic bag to catch all the crap that travelling with kids entails. Hook it against the front seat and away from longer little legs. Use it for everything that is icky including discarded food items and empty out at your next rest stop/food stop and continue until unbearably smelly in which case replenish with a new bag after safely discarding former.
  • Get the older child (if above 4/5 and reading) to read every sign and act as navigator  (Even if you have GPS). Makes them feel important and well, less bored. To be honest, mine was better than the GPS which goofed up a lot over obscure village roads.
  • A ginormous set of baby wet wipes - the 1000 variety with bum softening agents being purely optional. You will be cleaning sticky faces and grubby hands a whole lot more than bums.
  • No nursery rhymes in the car. Period. My rule of thumb - Get your license and THEN you get to choose your music. Driving from Mumbai to Mercara listening to Itsy Bitsy, I should think NOT!
  • A big carton below kiddy feet full of kiddie 'healthy' treats and not the sugary sort that induce throw-up. For baby, I swear by the Gerber dry snacks wholeheartedly abhor the veggie mush (godawful if you are considering the Indian palate) however the fruit variant mash is tolerable. Britannia oat meal and crackers work a treat as do cheese cubes.
  • Keep bibs handy as well as hand sanitiser -duh!
  • It's not really all that bad but it does require a steely resolve and a lot of patience - which is a bit rich coming from me;) A semi-loud music system also helps. Okay just kidding. Nonetheless, it is worth it because you can stop when you want to and explore slightly pokey, out-of-the-way places (assuming the kids are awake and conducive to poking around aforesaid out-of-the-way place)


    Miss V (Current: 21 Months)

    1. 6 months trial run: Mumbai-Murud
    2. 8 months longer run: Mumbai-Goa
    3. 15 months longest so far: Mumbai-Bangalore-Coorg

    Mr Ved (Current: 6 years)

    1. 17 Months: Vizag-Chennai
    2. 2.5 years: Wellington to a tour of Malabar coast(And many, many more trips since -Maha-Gir, Udaipur, Ranakpur, TN-Mumbai etc)
 PS: Want to do a road trip but unsure about getting behind the wheel? Going first class on the Rajdhani to Delhi with Miss V aged 14 months and Mr V aged 6 yrs. Lots of leg room, coupe is yours and you are not pissing off co-passengers (which God knows, I hate doing having been at the receiving end for most of my life) and the grub is fab!

Books that I have read lately
Alice Munroe is a pleasant discovery. But here's the rub - it is very dissatisfying and yet so splendidly written, Runaway is like a course of hors d'oeuvres with no main course in sight. Titillating, tantalising, wets your appetite and yet leaves you craving for more. Shrugging off the conventional short story mechanism aka Deus ex machina which I am self-confessedly rather used to, these stories hang in the air - light as powder and yet heavy with intent. This is my first Munroe so I am a bit puzzled by the jumps in time and her stories that do not talk about anything and yet say so much. Passion is my pick about a woman who discovers her own sexuality with minimal fuss but Tricks is the one that fits the perfect story in my head - a chance unhappy mistake ruins a lifetime. Definitely worth a read but in direct contrast to Gillian, this one has no endings really.

Dark Places (Gillian Flynn): After 'Gone Girl' (the book) I should have known better to expect a mystery that will keep me hanging till the end...on tenterhooks. In typical 'Gone Girl' style, 'Dark Places' starts off enticingly enough with a really interesting concept based around a 'Kill Club'. Yup, it's all good but somewhere around 60% (Sorry, Kindle) she quickly begins tying the loose threads and ties them together into a pretty little bow that is jus too neat and too pat - a random third party emerges as sheer coincidence, people who  matter just vanish and the wicked Satanic witch just trots along 40 kms down the road and vanishes off the face of the Earth. Flynn is a fab writer, she is really good in a  Michael Connelly in drag strain but she wants to present a smug solution and that kills it. I like some threads to remain loose:(

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

When I Read More - Before the Game of Thrones

The Game of Thrones has ruined my reading habit. Or perhaps it’s that crawling baby who tries to electrocute itself relentlessly. Or is it because I have to get my fix of happy-shappy endorphins exactly between 9PM to 10.30 four times a week?!

I no longer commute. I work from home.

Yup, that’s it. I miss my local train 45-minute commute where I unfortunately never encountered smelly armpits or a poke in the geezer. Towering over most of the crowd, adroitly wriggling my way right in and never asking folk where they got off has always stood me in good stead when I um..stood.
So when half of Mumbai’s resolute ladies preferred hanging out of the door and getting electrocuted (but in a more gorier way than aforesaid baby) I plowed my way through book after book of uninterrupted bliss. With nary a peddler, beggar, lady or the kind that belies being a lady vying for my attention. And before an amazingly persistent and incredibly noisy baby began eying my Kindle.

Do I regret having baby 2 in my late 30’s? Hell no. Sure, priorities change yada yada. But if I can get swimming, jogging and work in, I can get reading in too but that would probably mean booting out ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 3. Oh hell..and just when I was carefully watching each episode to figure out who is hotter -Rob Starke or Jon Snow.
And there was a time when I was averaging one book in 4 days when Miss V was still nursing..sigh. 
Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Of course I bloody googled that) . Interesting but them Nigerians are too much like us Indians. My first Chimwhatever. Sure, she is lovely but not evocative enough to get my attention. She is factual and does tend to ramble on but in a nice way. She reminded me of Manju Kapur though I am not sure why. Is it that whole diaspora, “I have mysteriously migrated to the US with no money to my name, but I will stick to my roots and learn to be an American but I will detest it and continue eating Nigerian food and calling it American names” Ummm… yeah…Probably. 
Hindus – Banned, boring and disjointed. Unfortunately I am not a very serious minded reader so I gave it short-shrift. And there, I reveal I am not the intellectual I purport to be. 
The Slap –  Christos Tsiolkas (No surprises, I googled that spelling too). Horrendously convoluted, I detested it. Practically every other adult in the book deserved a resounding smack. Life-changing, I should think not. And that darned smack to a bratty kid hardly made a ripple for the subsequent events were not related persay. I ploughed through it because it was a library book and I kept thinking I will come across something brilliant in keeping with all those shining reviews. Well, a bit of hope always keeps me going.
Goldfinch – Donna Tartt. I adored ‘My Little Friend’ so I look forward to this, as and when I tear myself away from sport and that ruddy series.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Library in a Box - The Origins

FEB 2014 - Miss V turned one and lazy mum that I am, I opted out of making it a Page 3 event. 

So unlike other well-meaning parents, I did not book the best party planner in town to orchestrate a colour-coordinated jamboree featuring trapeze artists and Dumbo the flying elephant.

Yes, I sacrificed the enviable opportunity of comparing notes with other determined momsies waggling their French manicured fingers at tots ensconced in the arms of long-suffering nannies. 

Instead, I spent the night before decorating, burnt my fingers making surprisingly decent carrot cupcakes and conjuring up a crazy rhyme time treasure hunt for Mr. V and my best buddy’s kiddies.

Heaps and heaps of time spent with my chief guest and just having the people who really count in my life made it absolutely perfect.

As did my moment of epiphany.  

I spent days of wondering if I should conduct a magic show at an orphanage, donate money yada  yada …..basically do something ‘good’ to mark my baby’s first. And then it crept up to me all of a sudden and I was floored my own genius.
After years of struggling to think ‘out of the box’ in advertising parlance, I finally thought IN the box and it turned out to be my best idea ever!  

OBJECTIVE: Spread the joy of reading among kids whose parents don’t splurge on books – i.e. the help’s kids + get them books in Marathi and Hindi which they never find. Psst...anyone can do it, no biggie so just try it out in your neighborhood. It restores your faith in humanity, well at least the fact that kids do still WANT to read.

1 One old beer carton
2 Lots of Pratham books (English, Hindi Marathi, -different grades)
3 Craft paper, gum, scissors and an old calendar
4 Spread the word amongst the maids' kids as they play cricket.

Mr V and moi slapdash decorating attempts but the stuff inside makes it all worthwhile! The kids absolutely loved the Pratham books I ordered.  

1 Basic record keeping of which child has taken how many books (No mention of titles).
2 Max 2 books to a child, return in mint condition and take the next two.
3 Open Wed 7 PM and Sunday 5 PM (with workshops)
4 Sunday specials - activity around books every Sunday - e.g. puppet workshop, bookmark making, art etc. 
Launched 15th Feb 2014 and as of March 5th 2014 there have been 118 check-ins and check-outs (books circulated) among 21 kids! 

1 Work in progress which sees me haunting kabadi wallas for old Magic Pots, Chandamamas and Tinkles

2 Trying to lay my mitts on old school readers etc
3 Buying new books whenever possible - e.g. Navneet publishes in Hindi and Marathi too, I have pretty much bought all of Pratham's collection (Hindi, Marathi). Within a month my book budget has crossed Rs 2000:)

My childhood ambition of owning my own bookstore or working in a library might have been at work on a subconscious level. With Library in a Box I am doing both! Hey, but Mr V loves it just as much as I do and generously offers ‘some’ of his books for the box as well. Miss V likes sitting in the box and is thrilled to see so many kids trotting in and out. Enough said!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Children See. Children Do

Our schools and teachers are doing a fabulous job of inculcating environmental consciousness and awareness among children. The past few Diwalis have been vastly less polluting while the recent Ganapati celebrations saw children urging their parents to opt for eco-friendly clay idols and tank immersions.

All of this is hugely commendable but unfortunately the best laid of plans come to waste…..when a mother tosses a discarded wrapper  from a moving vehicle or a father spits on the road. In a child’s eyes, the parent is infallible so what he or she does MUST be right. “Arrey, roads itne gande hai, toh kya pharak patda hai?” smirks the unabashed culprit and sure enough the child echoes this very same refrain 10 years down the line.

Now take two steps back and survey the environment or rather our immediate environment – our society. Do only schools and teachers have the responsibility to shape young malleable minds?  Gender sensitivity, equal opportunities for both sexes & respect for women are topics being flogged to death by the media. The callous police, the badly worded laws, the terrible lighting, the pathetic nakabandis – everything was pulled up and blamed for horrific acts of violation. But to a large extent the family of the miscreants are just as much to blame.

Sometimes I feel women are the biggest misogynists. All of us have heard women condemning other women for working late, for having male friends, for wearing a skirt, for having an opinion….Or worse, we know of women bemoaning the birth of a daughter or treating her little girl not quite in the same manner she treats the apple of her eye a.k.a her son. Then again, there is the grossly sexist husband and the ‘good’ Indian wife who puts up to the taunts without a murmur – a good example being the recent Hindi movie “English Vinglish”.

Won’t you expect the children to imbibe the very same ideas? That girls who step out on their own deserve what they get. After all that is what mummy implied! That girls have no business having a life beyond the kitchen or a girl simply has NO right to say “NO” to a man - Daddy makes that abundantly clear, doesn’t he?!

We, as mothers or fathers or neighbours or just concerned citizens have a huge responsibility towards our future generations and our immediate family – if we want to raise our girls to hold their heads up high and our boys to be more humble. 


Monday, September 19, 2011

Open Letter to No One in Particular

The battlelines drawn by the mad Madrasan has Delhi Boy’s jockeys in a twist but what got my goat was the term MADRASAN. How derogatory is that? Just when everyone south of the Vindhyas had nicely got used to being called MADRASI by Goldy and Pinky up north, we suddenly get relabeled like old wine in a new bottle -transported from familiar surroundings to new territory and for what?! So that #madrasan can trend on twitter?!! Nevermind MADRASAN sounds like ‘she who attends a Madrasa’ and could open a whole can of worms with its communal overtones.

For every Fendi-clutching, Manolo Blahnik-tottering, blonde streaked ‘Dahli-ite’, there is a long-tressed wise Madrasi who orders Zara on sale from Baby Uncle in the US. And for every tight-shirted Delhite clawing his way up the Harvard Review there is a Madrasi who breaks a coconut at a Rajni shrine. It takes all types except the average Dahlite will insist his dad sups with Manmohan and his Mummyji does her weekly grocery shopping in Paris. The average ‘Madrasi’ can only feebly wave her dad’s Phd degree and colour–coordinate her mum’s pattu saari collection.

It’s a losing battle; we cannot match up to the Dahlite’s standards. We cannot dream of purchasing Bentley convertibles and running over sleeping beggars. And it is all because amma and amma keep our salaries locked in trust funds that will magically crack open when the Doomsday clock strikes the nth hour. We cannot party, drink (aaiyo) or hang out with unsavory types, that usually boosters your reputation no end on the college circuit, because amma has a GPS tracker embedded below our epidermis.

So what hope do we have of meeting the Dahli boy on his turf? So what if we can discuss rocket propulsion and the finer nuances of a Monet in the same breath. Or Jayalalitha’s gold bathroom fittings and the latest Sun TV serial for that matter - We can’t flash the cash and that’s that. Unless you count our big fat gold weddings…..

BOOKS I READ/AM READING: 'Alex’s Adventures in Numberland': I have never come across a book that made math so much fun and well…so idiot-proof;) Ouch. Unless you count Feyman of course. Makes me want to crack open Euclid’s….now THAT’S saying a lot. Other Recommended Reads: 'Madame Bovary' (forgotten how many times I have read it) and the ever-entertaining, so, so brilliant Tharoor tour de force ‘Great Indian Novel’, not to mention Du Maurier’s earliest work that has mysteriously surfaced ‘The Doll and Other Stories’ (Dark, somber and a bit gauche but it is her early work).

PS: Hell’s Bells….I just googled ‘Madrasan’ on Google (Images Options) and no points for guessing what I got.