Friday, May 28, 2010

BEGINNING MY BABLING (In the guise of a travelogue)

‘Fantastic’ and ‘very impressive’ were my feelings as I took my first look at this country. I am not sure if they are appropriate and express my feelings perfectly but have used them because they were the words that came out of my mouth when my niece asked me over the phone, what my feelings were, on taking the first look at this country. I am not able to sum up my feelings correctly in two words but think that they do the job quite well. She told me to start whatever I write about this place with those two words and I have done that. She did me a favour. I had no idea how to begin and really did not mean to sit in front of the monitor and start typing at 1.30 AM. Jet lag has forced me to. Every one at home are sleeping and I am typing after tossing and turning on the bed for two hours before falling off the unusually thick and soft mattress. I have a faint doubt that my wife, whose sleep I was disturbing, might have had a hand in it.

Now that I have stated writing, I am likely to continue and post them from time to time. If you like what you read, thank Sushma for giving me a beginning. If you don’t, blame the jet lag. (No originality here. Poor imitation of “padagoL chendaagidre endak sifaarsi. Chandaagildidranaka tapge bevaarsi – Sri GPR”).

I had read so much about the United States in magazines and books and had seen so much in the movies and on the television, I was sure that it would not impress me very much. I knew what to expect. And I had thought that jet lag was something that the rich, who comfortably travel in jets, had invented just to have something to complain about . I was wrong in both these assumptions as I am in many other assumptions. With the first look I was bowled over by the country and the jet lag has terribly upset my sleep and bowel movements. I have a feeling that I will remain awake for the next six weeks.

I had planned to begin my babbling in strict chronological order starting with the flight from Bombay to Frankfurt but find myself in a place from where I do not know how to proceed. Just as I was when I found myself in front of a glass wall through which I could not pass while confidently leading my wife to reach gate A67 in Frankfurt airport. I did manage to find a way through the glass wall - no chance to pat my own back. I just stood staring at the wall and it opened on its own as soon as a train arrived on the other side – and am confident that I will find a way to proceed if I patiently sit in front of the monitor and stare at it long enough.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

RO -RO Ferry

Today’s headlines need no explanation to those living in Goa. The existing bridge across river Zuari at Cortalim ( On the Panaji- Margao highway) is being junked (it has been a junk since the last ten years with only light traffic, two wheelers and pedestrians being allowed to cross it) and the RO-RO (short for roll on-roll off) ferry service is planned at the place to cross the river. The ferry will carry trucks, buses, cars, people, cattle, dogs and what not and our politicians hail the project saying that the heavy vehicles which had to take a detour via Ponda need not do so any more. They say that It saves time, fuel, driver’s energy etc etc and reduces congestion on the smaller Borim bridge and Ponda - Panaji road etc etc, blah, blah blah. RO RO service is another feather in the cap of our politicians and citizens of Goa are lucky to have such leaders who can provide such facilities.

I have no intentions of contesting their claims, intelligence, foresight and other qualities but my memory does not allow me to keep quiet.

When I entered Goa twenty five years back, there was no bridge across river Zuari at Cortalim. There was a very efficient ferry service which used to carry buses, cars, trucks scooters and people free of charge. We used to alight from the bus at one bank of the river, get into the waiting ferry along with a truck, a bus, few cars and a dozen scooters, cross the river, get into another waiting bus at the other bank and proceed to Panaji. No trouble and no loss of time.

Our politicians decided to make it even easier for the citizens. The construction of a bridge was thought off so that people, buses and trucks (along with dogs and cattle) could just zoom across the river on the bridge without the hassle of getting into and out of the ferry. The bridge was constructed and it made things smooth for everyone for all of five years. All the politicians who could reach their backs , patted their backs themselves and claimed part in the successful completion of the project.

Within five years it developed cracks, there were doubts of its stability and safety and heavy traffic was stopped. Traffic had to take a detour via Ponda over the weaker Borim bridge and narrower ponda- Panaji road.

Now the ferry service is being planned.

We are exactly where we were twenty five years back. Our rulers made money on the bridge, on its repair and now will make more money on the contracts for the very efficient ferry service which is going to erase our hardships. Another bridge across the river is also being planned. They are reaching for their backs once again. Lucky we citizens! I dare not think where we would have been without our well meaning and very intelligent rulers!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

No writing - Only reading.

My last post was on May 2nd. More than two weeks! In the normal course I should have cooked up something or the other to bug my friends. If I sit in front of the computer and urge my brain to bring up something, it usually obliges and proves that it exists. I have not been able to do that. Our computer is in a room that faces west and it gets very hot in the evenings and night. I have got an AC fitted to the other room and it is very tempting. I determine to write something and sit in front of the computer. But the determination does not last more than five minutes. Five minutes pass before I locate the brain. Forget about urging it to bring up something and wait for it. On top of it, after a long time I got some kannada books to read. So, between struggling to make up something for the blog in a hot room and relaxing in a cool place with a good book in hand, the second option always wins.

I had to go to Dharwad last month to attend a wedding and got some kannada books from Manohara grantha maala and Samaja pustakaalaya. I have no idea about the new authors and titles in kannada and it was not easy to select books. So, I just made a year’s subscription to Manohara grantha maala and got a set of their latest publishings. Three of them turned out to be to my liking. “Tukkappa mastara” a collection of short stories from Sri Chandrakanta kusnoor the language of which ( authentic north Karnataka) I liked though there wasn’t much of a story anywhere, “Shurpaliya acharyaru” a novel by Sri Katti sheshaachaarya- picturing the life of an orthodox madhwa brahmin priest, said to have been based on “Vicar of wakefield”. I liked the subject, narration and language. Incidentally “vicar of wakefield” was my text book in high school and I don’t think I got beyond the second page. I do not know how I passed in English. May be I just mugged up the question and answers dictated by out teacher. After reading “shurpaliya acharyaru” I want to read “vicar of wakefield”.

The third one is a sort of collection of anecdotes – “Saahitya lokada sutta mutta” by Sri Giraddi Govindaraja. It contained two anecdotes regarding my uncle Sri J R Lakshamana Rao, praising his courtesy and cultured behavior, and I was happy that I got that book. It feels very nice to read such things about a person on whom I have lot of respect and affection. I have one book left. “Nele” by Sri S L Bhyrappa. Though I like his earlier books like “Vamshavriksha”,“Tabbaliyu neenaademagane”, “Grihabhanga” etc very much, his recent books like “Saartha”, “Anchu”, “Tantu”, “Mandra” and others have been rather difficult to digest. I have no idea how “Nele” will be.
By the time I finish that, it will be time for me to leave for the airport. So probably - ‘Inshallah’- I will be typing my next post from the US. Bye till then.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Just something for this week


I have attended five SEQC quiz programmes till date and have heard about 300 questions. My score is ZERO. The Sunday evening quiz club is completing two years this month and has arranged an additional quiz for primary school children today. Just to give an opportunity for the kids who tag along their parents every month. Adults can attend and answer if the questions are passed on. My son, who considers himself an expert (he has answered two questions till date) very gracefully suggested that I attend the kids contest and see if I can begin my score.

I ticked him off strongly.

Let my shame add on slowly. Not multiply.

“neeroLagirdum bemardan uragapatakam”

Neeru is water, oLage is within, irdum is being in, bemardan is sweated, uraga is snake, pataka is flag.
The above line from “Gadayuddha” written by the ancient kannada poet Ranna, means “the fellow with the picture of a snake on his flag, (duryodhana,) sweated (inspite of) being in water."
At the end of the ‘mahabharata’ war, Pandavas had an upper hand and all the associates of Duryodhana were dead. He tried to save his life by hiding himself in a lake. Apart from being an expert in the efficient use of mace, Duryodhana was also an expert in ‘jalastambhana’, the art of remaining in water for long periods.

Pandavas were searching all over for him and they came near the lake. One of them who knew about his expertise in ‘Jalastambhana,’ guessed that he may be hiding in the water. On hearing those words Duryodhana got so scared that he started sweating inside the water.

We had a part of ‘gadayudhdha’ as our kannada text in 12th standard and our teacher had explained the situation very effectively. Still, I was wondering how one can sweat inside the water.

I have been visiting the swimming pool for the last ten months and spend about half an hour in water every day. I have not drowned yet. I must have learnt some swimming. This month of May, with the increase in temperature and humidity, the water is hot even early in the morning and I have been able to appreciate “neeroLagirdum bemardan uragapatakam” better.

Only the dentist in benefited.

“Doctor, this tooth is shaking. I want it removed.” The father shook the front tooth in his daughter’s mouth.
I took a casual look and said that there is no need to remove it as it was going to fall on its own. Many parents get jittery when the tooth remains shaking for long time and want it out. I don’t like to unnecessarily prick the child and pull the tooth.
“No doctor, she has pain”
“Do you have Pain there?” I asked the child. The child shook her head. Negative.
“And she can’t eat.” – father
“Do you have difficulty in eating?” I asked the child. She shook her head. Negative.
“Do you want the tooth removed?” I asked the child. Vigorous shake of the head. Negative.
“It has been shaking for two months now” – Father
“Let it shake for another two months. Nothing will happen” - me.
“Will it affect the new tooth? If it remains?”
“Will it affect her speech?”
“But still it is better to remove it. Is it not?”
“No. there is no benefit in removing it”
“No benefit at all?”
“There is. Of course”
“I get a very easy hundred rupees”
The father was out the next second along with the daughter. Benefit the dentist of all the people?
No way.