Till another Renaissance

I.D.Iot was a proud man. His single contribution to the world of Science was purely unimaginable. He had a series of startling discoveries to his credit, and his genius mind had put every single grain of truth to use to change the world in the most remarkable way. I.D.Iot prided himself on his thoroughness and had painfully documented every startling discovery in his vaporizing sheets. The idea behind these vaporizing sheets was simple. He help the passkey phrase, and on whispering the passkey phrase to soap bubbles, the sheets would appear – a ton of information regarding atoms, elements, wormholes, time warps and what-have-you.

I.D.Iot was around for generations. He had mastered the art of travelling to the planet near a black hole where time barely passed, and consequently aged slower than most mortals. He was an amiable man with a humble demeanour, and his intentions were always noble. He had in him, as much knowledge to destroy as to create. He never once thought of destruction. He was considered God by virtue of all the above.

Now he lay dying. His time was up. He was tired and could not muster the energy to take up the time travel to rejuvenate himself. He had wanted to pass on to his most trusted follower access to all his learnings. His memory was failing him – but he knew the key to the vaporizing sheets had to do with the theme that “Everything was made up of atoms”, and that’s what he muttered when he died.

His disciples tried hard to get the sheets, but failed. Instead of using the knowledge they had from I.D.Iot, they spent time trying to retrieve his work. Time passed and only the mantra got passed down from generation to generation: none of the knowledge.

The idiot mantra was unquestionable.

The querulent few who did question what atoms were made of were quickly rebuked as mavericks and the world settled into a state of knowledge inertia. What we don’t know can’t hurt us. IDIOT was there to protect the world.

And so it goes, till another Renaissance was born.

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Trying to contact…

We are trying to contact Karthik.

Any South Indian knows the futility of this statement before they hit the full-stop. I am a bit fuzzy on the statistics, but it surely figures in the top 10 list of most frequent names. You see my parents-in-law and his parents became friends when they last visited here. Time passed…Karthik changed apartments and moved on. Now I want to contact them without their contact information.

I have a friend who works in the same company Karthik works for, and I shot him an email asking for Karthik’s contact information. So, he must’ve dutifully contacted the Karthik and within the hour, I had all his phone numbers.

My husband (H) called him and this is how the conversation must have looked:
H: Hello…..May I talk to Karthik?
K: Yes…..that’s me
H: Eh……how are you? So, did you guys move?
K: No…..why, and who is this?H: Introduces himself – ** Still not sure because he doesn’t sound anything like Karthik**How is Chitra doing?
K: Who Chitra? My wife’s name is Lakshmi.
H now feels that the conversation is not going as well as it should. So, he volunteers more irrelevant information
H: Oh, doesn’t Chitra work at Google?
K: Chitra may be working at Google, but I am married to Lakshmi.

At which point, H would have found it prudent to end the conv. BTW, the above piece of conversation is purely fictional. Point is: We got a different Karthik.
So, I shot off another email to aforesaid friend, and qualified it saying: He speaks the Coimbatore dialect of Tamil.

So, now what would my friend do with this useless piece of information? Stick a mike to another Karthik and ask him to say a few words in Tamil to validate?

I can’t stop myself from giggling while imagining the following:
1) The quizzical look on Karthik’s face when my friend approached him for contact information. He must have thought that his parents sphere of influence extends far & wide, and given him the numbers anyway.
2) The increasingly embarrassing conversation between the husband and the above Karthik.
3) Friend sticking a mike to all the Karthiks in the company and asking them to say a few words in Tamil (Thankfully, there was only 1 person by this name, and we had already established that he is not the person we were looking for)

Salmon

We had just moved to Coimbatore (a city bustling at the foothills of the Nilgiris), and within a few days had several offers from prospective maids. We recruited the one who was amongst the first few to approach us, and had a strong recommendation from our neighbour. She was a sturdy lady in her sixties, and weilded a broom like a brickbat. She was a lady of few words, and generally nodded her way through the home. If she had to sweep, she would, whether or not you were in the wake of the broom’s sweep. If you were prudent and nimble, you would jump away from its wake.

Usually, we were up about the time she came, and so were in possession of our mental faculties to escape the broom. One day, my brother, after a late night movie was sprawled out in front of the TV on a straw mat, and was asleep when she arrived. She had decided to give herself an oil massage before coming, and stepped into the home beaming like Durga Devi. She was dark complexioned, her eyes were red (probably with the heat and fury of her oil massage). With the shining oil, all she had to do was stick out her tongue, which incidentally was extremely red thanks to the betel leaves that she relished, and she was all set to attract the most ardent devotees!

My hapless brother was probably smiling in his dreams when he stirred at the sound of the broom swishing around him, and to date I can visualise his extremely adroit move that was pretty much how salmons travel upstream. He leaped from his supine position on the floor to the sofa in one graceful move and his eyes didn’t blink for an entire minute.

PS: Don’t ask me why I came up with this post, I was reading about the migrating patterns of salmons, and this incident came to my mind!

Banned

The tea vendor had tears in his eyes. His shop: the one he had christened “Kajol” after his favorite idol was closed, and he knew not when he would be allowed to reopen. He had poured his heart and soul into his tea-shop, and it had acquired quite a clientele from the neighbouring offices.

Apparently, it was found that a gangster, sought heavily by the Police department, had been observed drinking tea. Therefore, all tea shops were closed with immediate effect. Nobody drinks tea, gangster or otherwise, to deter future gangsters from refreshing themselves before their drastic deeds!

Does this fictional piece sound sort of far-fetched? This is the parallel I could think of when I heard the Indian Govt had banned all bloggers, because they believed some terrorists in the recent Mumbai blasts had used the blog media to communicate amongst themselves!

God help Policy makers!

What’s in a Spelling?

At the outset….this is a light-hearted thought on the spelling of my name, and I mean no offense to the Sowmyas of the world.

Every time I spell my name out to Indians, I always get asked: how come it is not spelt “S-o-w…”? As a child I immensely thanked my parents for spelling my name without the “Sow”. With the typical innocence of childhood, I used to explain that “sow” meant female swine, and therefore, with the gloriole of knowledge glowing bright, my parents had chosen the alternate spelling.

I can very well imagine the havoc that children could wreak on another child’s self esteem with some trivia like this! Of course, this also depends on how many children actually lay their hands on such trivia – but 1 precocious child per school could do the trick!

I can still look at my certificates – some of them with the spelling so wrong, it hardly reads like my name! I have one certificate that when translated in my daughter’s language means “Saw a cat” because it is spelt “SAW-MIYA”.

I ramble….but my point is, my name is still fun.

In so many parts of the world, the spelling of a name could be the tender line between life and death. In war-ravaged Iraq today, everybody is required to carry on them a form of national identification, called “Jinsiyas”. Apparently, the market for fake jinsiyas is thriving. For ex: Omar could mean the person belongs to the Sunni sect, while Amer could mean either Shiite or Sunni. Depending upon the checkpost where they are stopped, people know which jinsiya to brandish and live life. (Source: Newsweek July issue)

Hmm…Now what to do?!

For all that hungama surrounding the release of Da Vinci Code in India, it looks there had to post a policeman to coerce people into buying tickets: so he could do his duty, and ensure the screening went smoothly!

http://www.hindu.com/2006/07/15/stories/2006071508150100.htm

Jallikattu & Bullfighting

I guess every year around mid-January, you can safely stop by my house to hear profranities regarding Jallikattu.

“IDIOTS!” My father would proclaim before going on to give his annual lecture on the insanity of the sport that deliberately places a human being in harm’s way. Why would non-suicidal folks deliberately stand in the way of an intoxicated bull?

At least in the past, there was a reason. The pricess’s hand would be given to the brave man who could overcome a raging bull. So, it was either marriage or a brutal injury – men weighed the odds, and decided what to do. Today, there is no princess with gleaming hope waiting for her Prince charming to tame the bull. So the morbid choices are: injury, brutal injury or death.

Every year in Pamplona, Spain these very matadors display their prowess by taking on the bulls. Despite the gory nature of the sport, I am still fine with the bulls raging against the matadors (after all the matadors have made the choice that they are willing to be gored) But why not have arenas built for them, and have bulls only run around inside the arena? At least the sadistic crowds are not injured while the masochists take on the bulls?

All I can do is sigh every time another human-being is injured in this “game”.