Free Thoughts, Are they Free in India?

India the land of mixtures. Yes, you read it right we like to keep it mixed atleast that’s what I was led to believe since my childhood. Maybe it was my parents or maybe my school. I have never alienated someone because of their religion or caste or colour. Strangely I also believed that’s how the rest of the folks of my generation thought. Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law, All Indians are my brutha’s and sistah’s. I was the Cat who had his eyes closed and thought the world was dark.

I moved to Delhi in the year 2000 and that city opened my eyes to reality. No one is equal. Caste and Colour are more important than the grey matter between your ears. Money is everything. And most important of them your religion matters. If you are a Hindu you would be looked down upon if you are seen eating beef at Karim’s. Your Hindu friends would advice you not to go to the Jama Masjid Area because it is filled with thieves and murderers. Muslim’s are to be kept at an arms distance and you should never be best friends with them. It was all new to me.

During this time I was also called by various names Shetty, Ganjoo, Takloo, Kaloo and mostly Madarasi. They would call all south indians madarasi. I tried telling them that they should only call people from Madras as Madarasi. But it never occurred to some that there are 4 states in South India and that Madras is the capital of TamilNadu. They were still living in the British era and I swear some still lived in the Mughal era. These guys still went by how their ancestors addressed the south Indians.

So I threw a party in a friends house in East of Kailash. His uncle was out of town and he had the entire place to himself. It was called the South Indian Party. And the only thing that was served was Idly and Sambar. Ah!!! So a bunch a South Indians and North Indians were invited to the party. And I noticed something really weird the sambar was not emptying in proportion to the idlies being eaten. These North Indian friends were filling the sambar in glasses and drinking it like it was some hot soup. really weird!!! They were not touching the idlies because we did not provide them with spoons. So a session was conducted on how to eat idly with their hands. I remember telling them that it is OK to get their fingers smeared with sambar because they could always wash it off after the meal. I did have to hurry and get more sambar so the idlies could be finished. They did enjoy eating the idlies with their fingers.

So why did I tell that story I think South India should educate North India on why it is not weird to do the things the way South Indians do. There is so much of cross cultural learning that can happen. Yes the cow is a holy animal of the Hindus in north India. But when that cow is roaming around Janpath or the Ring Road aimlessly when it has no where to go then why not kill it and eat it? Who told these Hindus that Beef is not to be eaten? Their Ancestors? It was told in an millennium which has gone by. If we can’t protect a cow which is on the road and posing a danger to the road users then some remedial action has to happen. We don’t live in times when we are using bullock carts. For the sake of the cow so many people are being hurt and killed. Are these politically motivated. Have people in this country stopped thinking for themselves.

Also this whole thing of imposing Hindi In TamilNadu. I am not going to go with the argument that Tamil is a classical Language and it has existed for thousands of years. Well we don’t speak tamil that was spoken a thousand years back. We don’t even speak the same tamil which was used a hundred years back. But don’t impose a language which the people in the state don’t want thrust upon them. Yes, Hindi is not our National Language.

Everything changes in this world. If we don’t change with the times we will stop existing. Change will happen only when we can think freely. That’s why we should cherish the freedom that we got from the foreign rulers.

Jai Hind!

Rape, Rape, Rape My Darlings…

Don't Rape, Do Respect

A light was extinguished by five pieces of hands. One of those hands was considered small though it seemed to have gone about with much gusto. The other four participated with a lot of zest. Yes the flame was a fighter and it refused to go out easily. But eventually it did go out. It left an entire country darkness and it exposed a society which prays fervently to women Gods but treats the living people like meat.

The Law has finally caught up (hopefully for the last time) with the four guys who raped, plundered and threw a girl out of a moving bus like she was a piece of meat. They have been given the death sentence. They will be hanged till they are dead.

But somehow I don’t feel like justice has been served. After the Jyoti Rape Case there have been thousands of rape cases. Old women have been raped, babies have been raped what has happened to all those rapists? Will they also be hanged to die. Well every time a woman is raped or even touched without her consent we fail as a society. Everytime the courts sentence a rapist to die we fail as a society. Nothing wrong with failure. But it kills me when I don’t know if my child will be safe tomorrow. Meaning, Are we as a society learning from our failures? Hopefully we will. Women are fighters it is just that I don’t want them to being fighting against rapists.

P.S.: The juvenile who was said to be the most violent was sentenced to serve time juvenile home and was later released. Hope he is a changed man. Because if taking a life does not change him then…

Train Tales – On Reservation

Open the door for the woman, offer a seat to an old man standing… Acts of chivalry???? Or as some people put it an attempt to impress the world. 

What should you do when you hold a reserved Window Seat ticket on the train and a women comes and starts eyeing the seat? Do you give it to her or do you ask her if she has a reserved ticket and if not that she should get into the unreserved compartment or the ladies compartment. But unfortunately some people who don’t hold reserved tickets are allowed to board a reserved compartment and some of them even demand to be allowed to sit. 

I wonder if we will be able to kick some sense into some of these people who demand that they be allowed to sit according to their whims and fancies. 

There will come a day when reserved compartments will only seat people with reserved tickets. Not railway workers/officials or paan chewing men or seat demanding women. Indian Railways has a long way to go.  

 

Of Window Seats and Passing Greenery

Ever since my childhood I always loved the corner seat right beside the window be it in the car, train or pretty much any form of transport. Who does not love the feel of the wind on the face? If you don’t you are weird, trust me real weird because even the Dogs love it. 

So my seat of choice when booking my ticket on the Indian Railways App is the Window seat. I love sitting there watching water bodies, patches of greenery and houses of all hues and colours pass by. 

I have been noticing that a lot of these green patches of land have now turned brown. No not with the shit that people love to take near railway tracks but by land developers who are fast converting these pieces of agricultural lands into potential disaster zones. These pieces of land have no proper drainage facilities and each plot when constructed on will have its own bore well. So the way I look at it, we folks DESTROY TO DEVELOP. 

The Greenery is slowly Passing Away. 

High Five! 

Up until recently I did not realize the physical power that kids can have. Was playing with a 15month old kid. I taught him to High Five and then to Low Five and we practiced for a while. Then the kid called me and asked me to pick him up. He hardly lets anyone other than his parents to pick him up and I was excited because it seemed like he really liked me because I was teaching him new stuff. 

So I picked him and BAM!!!! he high fived my bald head and God that hurt. But he was so proud of how he had high fived my head. I then had to sit him down and teach him high fives were to be done palm to palm and not palm to head. 

I think he got it right. Otherwise my Brother-in-law is getting high fived on his head each time he picks up his son.  

Stop making Films

I am now appealing to all the directors to stop directing movies, actors need to stop acting the film industry should stop telling stories. Religious and Political outfits should consider banning the history of this country from being taught so that children will not be able learn the bad person that Tipu or his father Haider was. Why have these so called Hindu outfits not erased the sights and signs that Tipu ever existed? Why ask Rajni not to act as Tipu? 

Reason is because everyone has a mouth and sometimes it runs of and tells stupid things, stupid stupid mouth. I wonder what these people tell their children about the history of this country which has a great medley of cultures? It is worrying to find tolerance becoming rare these days.

Yes, atrocities were committed by a great many rulers just like atrocities are being committed by a great many rulers today and these atrocities will continue in the future too let there be no doubt about that. But it is what history writes about a reign or the governance by a ruler that the ruler comes off as a good or bad person. 

I wish some one had stopped that ex-thief Valmiki from writing the Ramayan and that thumbikai azhwar from writing the Mahabharat.

A creator creates what the society lets him create. That definitely would hurt creators around the world and also the supreme creator. 

Dear political outfits please stop twisting the history of this country. And also stop getting in the way of creativity. 

The Fort

  
This is a fort, well I know it is hard to believe. I don’t remember the name of this fort here. But it is somewhere in the Ladakh area. 

If you know of this place ping me on twitter @aravindkumar or drop me an email aravind@aravindkumar.com

A 10 x 10 Run to celebrate 2014

This has been a long pending post. The last quarter usually is an energy Sapper. But this year it is going to be special. Have been meaning to post this for a while now.

The Year End is always a landmark for most mortals. We look forward to the promises that the New Year brings. After the Wipro Chennai Marathon on December 7th this year I decided to keep running and take a days break every week. I would try and run for 25 days in December and the last 10 days I would attempt a 10 kms for 10 days challenge. I did not want to plan for the next day. I had no target time, no target pace. I wanted to do easy run-walk routines and complete the 10km each day. I was trying to KISS (Keep it Simple Silly)

The first five days of the run was nothing special to write about. I just ran, I walked, I took in the sights I was generally happy about how each day was passing by. I have always taken pride in my patience but on the 6th day as I was running with my cousin past Chetpet Bridge I realized I was running out of patience. It was like I wanted the run to end quickly. Ajay and me kept talking and we walked most of the way that day. I am so glad that I had company and who better than a cousin who I had not met in years.

On the 7th day God rested but I had bitten into a Chilli by registering for a Run conducted by a popular Radio Channel in the City and I was running along with another cousin Vikram. Again we pretty much walked the stretch and man, what interesting conversations we had. Towards the end of the run somewhere near the Kanagi Statue a boy who was standing on the side nudged into our conversation. He started talking about how he wanted to cycle and how he could not afford these huge registration fees for Marathons. His father was a tailor. He was studying to be an engineer. But he also wanted to train to be a runner. I was trying to tell him about the Marina Minnals and he kept cutting me off with his stories of how he had proposed to a girl and how he could now lift two water cans and run and how he only had Rs. 200 in his bank account. My Cousin Vikram shot off like his pants were on fire he simply could not bear the conversation I was trying to have with the engineering college kid. I finally managed to tell him about the running group and how he could go train with them. Once that was conveyed I shot off to catch up with my cousin. The two of us burst out laughing and without a care for the world. Maybe not my best run

The 8th day was when I started feeling pain in my shins. I was running with the Tower Twisters group and somewhere near Kilpauk cemetry the pain had become unbearable. I was resting and someone ran past me so I decided to try and run past them and I did but had to stop immediately because of the pain in the shins commanded me to. The person was a lady and she kept running and I was like “Asingapatan Autokaran”. Day 8 was weird because someone asked me for directions to Kelly’s while I was running on Taylors Road. It was a guy, somehow it did not feel right so I turned back and ran back to BV and down 6th Avenue and finished my run.

The 9th day was the “Breaking Point” of my entire 10×10 experience. I decided to run at the Marina starting from Gandhi Statue to RBI and back. I did not have any severe aches or pain till then and the minute I started running my shins decided to speak up. It was windy and it had started raining I had my umbrella and I was in my run – walk mode. I had run-walked upto the statue of Subash Chandra Bose and it was there that I wanted to turn back and end the whole challenge. It was a battle between my mind and body. The mind won and I turned back in the direction of Fort St. George I was going to fight my way to the fort. As I was finishing my 8th km somewhere near Labour statue my shins quietened dow down and I was free to run again. I am still trying to figure out what happened at the 8th km. I had run past my “Breaking Point”. It was the most challenging.

On the 10th day I was running with the Tower Twisters and Clement a runner and a longtime blogger friend had offered to run with me. We ran and I did lag behind at some places but I managed to finish my 10k. As we ran back to BV I was wondering if I felt any different. I hardly felt any pain it had disappeared somewhere at the 5th km. But strangely I did not feel any sense of elation. Somehow it did not feel like “The End”

The 10×10 is a mind and body challenge. Sometimes you will probably have to give up the run and sometimes the pain. Make sure you have been running consistently and also improving your overall strength before you take up this challenge. You don’t want to end up injuring yourself. If you think you are upto it and you are looking for company feel free to get in touch with me at my email address odugalee@gmail.com Would be glad to run with you.

Food Tales: Let’s Chaat

If you are a not a lover of chaat (not Chat) then I would request you to stop reading at this point and move on to other blog posts of mine.

I am glad you are a chaat lover. Are you part of an elite crowd that eats chaat anywhere, even in roadside shops?
My affair with the chaat started when I was in school. I would be taken by amma to Ajnabee in Fountain Plaza and I would order the Bhel Puri everytime. It was my favourite chaat. Well I would rather say it was the only chaat that I had ever tasted until then. The Bhel Puri is such an amazing food item. It is not just a snack it can be a meal by itself. It has chopped vegetables, some chutney, puffed rice, and it gives out lot of joy. Have you ever wondered where that sound comes from when they make the bhel puri, it is from the bhel which gives out such happy noises from the vessel. For some reason I did not consider the Pav Bhaji to be part of the Chaat family. Ok I will come back to the Pav Bhaji in a bit.

It was only while I was in college that I discovered the variety that chaat offered. Dahi Papdi, Dahi Balle, Dahi Puri, Sev Puri, Raj Kachori, Katori Chaat, Samosa Channa, Kachori with mint and tamarind chutney and the list goes on… I would save up money and go eat in Gangotree usually on Saturdays with a few friends (Harsh, Pintoo) mostly for the chat but also for the bird-watching opportunities it presented. The other place we frequented usually on Wednesdays after bunking college was Bombay Lassi, off Ellis Road (Behind Devi Theatre). 1 Samosa, 1 Kachori and one glass Lassi and of course this was usually after fighting to get hold of Rs. 10 ticket at Devi.

After College I managed to go to Delhi for higher studies or “Delhi Return MBA boy” as my cousin calls me. It was only in Delhi that I managed to taste Aloo Tikki, Gol Gappas (It is just Pani Pooris but Delhiites swear that the two are different like the sun and the moon) and now entered Channa Batura into my view. The CB in Khan Market and Chandni Chowk are bleddy out of the world and it is not the same stuff we get in New Woodlands Hotel in Chennai. Also in Delhi they have this thing of adding Chaat Masala to everything. Fruits with Chaat masala, Chaat with Chaat Masala, Nimbu Paani with Chaat Masala, Orange juice with chaat masala. They seemed to be in love with the Chaat which made them Chaaty…

With all the weight loss diet available today online, huge misunderstanding and belief popped up about what to eat and what avoind eating, which foods makes you gain weight and which ones actually help in losing weight. Huge 5 foods to never eat conversation popped up among diet community and is pretty much controversial. After reading a few case studies, I believe that there are indeed foods that make you gain fat and one must avoid eating them. Basically they make your blood sugar levels rising and the same problem is one of the many reasons why people can’t lose weight. Simple said, take your time and make a nice online research.

In the mean time I had been tasting Pav Bhaji in Chennai, Delhi and Bangalore to name a few places but nothing appealed to my senses. When I was in Mumbai in 2008 I tried the Pav Bhaji at Chowpatty Beach and it was the most sinful, taste bud tickling, lustful Paav Bhaji that I had ever tasted. No wonder the people of Mumbai are in love with it. I think it has something to do with the speed with which people live the life in Mumbai.

I don’t eat at Gangotree anymore because of the unhygienic way in which the food is kept lying around. Even the roadside Paani Poori guy keeps better hygiene. Shree Mithai is what I am left with in the city and it is not the greatest chaat that I have eaten.

Ofcourse the greatest chaat you get in Chennai is in Mint street. So many roadside vendors and such great taste. What is your favourite chaat and where do you get your chaat fix in your city?

Happy Chaating!!!

Oh! Pakistan, My Child…

God is a funny fellow and sometimes even the most devout are forced to wonder if there could ever be a Supreme Being.

This post I write for the school children of Pakistan who were massacred in Peshawar.

Dear Children,

Why were you born in Pakistan? Why did you listen to your parents and go to school? Why did you have to be mass massacred. Even goats are slaughtered one at a time. But truly it is all your fault. See Children, you are were young and you committed a lot of mistakes and you had to be killed for all your mistakes. So the Taliban decided to punish you little children for the mistakes that you commited in school and at home. Some of you had refused to do your home-work, some of you back-answered your teachers, some made spelling mistakes and some did not show respect to your fellow students.

It was all your fault. The Taliban was just making an example of you children.

I hope and wish that the Taliban corrects all the children in Pakistan. But I wonder what happens when they have no more children to correct. Will they correct the civilians? What after the civilians? The Government? The Army? How many more people will be made examples of? Will Pakistan, a once fine country cease to exist as you have known it? How can the Taliban’s blood thirst be satiated? How much more blood will appease these demons?

I am so sorry little children I don’t think anyone has the answers to these questions. I definitely do not. I live so very far away from your country. Our cultures are hardly common, our religions are not the same, The children I see here make a lot of mistakes just like you, you children were so happy with the kind of happiness that comes only with childhood. But you are gone and I can’t seem to accept it.

Even though I have questioned the existence of a supreme power, I will still pray to him and ask him to take care of you children. But remember children forgive the Taliban for they know not what they do.

May Your Souls Rest in Peace,

Just Another Indian

 

The Wipro Chennai Marathon 2014

The biggest Marathon in Chennai and I wouldn’t want to miss it for the world. So after the Dusk 2 Dawn Night Marathon I had a fortnight to run The Wipro Chennai Marathon ’14 and I was definitely looking forward to it. Running a 10k is just like your regular morning run but it is the crowd which makes all the difference. You are either running with the crowd or running away from the crowd. I belong to the second type only difference being I was far behind the crowd. (No, I am not the Marathon Mama)

I am a newbie run-walker (Will definitely let you folks know when I graduate to being a full time runner.) and was excited to run the Napiers Bridge – Tharamani route. A car drive later I found myself at the start point doing some stretches with some folks from Tower Twisters and Sprinter Navin. I had vowed to start late and avoid the crowd and thats precisely what Mr. GP. Kamath(K) and me ended up doing. K and me crossed the start line at around 7:15am and we continued running together until the 4km mark where I stopped for some rest and water. The Marina stretch had taken it’s toll on my sweat glands and for some reason my legs felt like stone. It usually does till I am 3kms into any run. But here I was resting at the 4km mark and it was still hard as stone. I was looking forward to the Santhome-Greenways Road stretch which is relatively well shaded and would help me cool down.

Funnel a crowd into a bottle neck and they behave like sweaty wild people. Precisely what happened at the 4km water point. People were jostling to get water and gatorade and fruits. I understand why they do it but I hate it. Sweaty people hitting against you when your legs are not co-operating is definitely not my idea of fun on a Sunday morning run. But I had expected much worse crowds. I think that was the only hydration point which was all bottled up with too much sweat and adrenaline. Mr. K did not stop at this point and I asked him to carry on because I knew I was slowing him down.

The next incident happened at the MRC hydration point. It was my biggest and only irritant during the entire run. One of the onlookers on the side of the road was all pumped up and was cheering us on and I was jogging during that point. The bugger literally brought his hands in front of my face and clapped twice I slapped away his hand and continued, though I wanted to slap him too. Bugger if I ever catch him doing that in future I probably might.

Kept running down Greenways Road and when I was running past Dr. MGR Janaki College a policeman was cheering on all the runners. Certainly a happy policeman. Wish we had more such friendly policemen in Madras. But when I saw that policeman cheering on the runners it felt great and it was with that really great feeling I ran over the bridge and finished at the Central Polytechnic Grounds.

But wait, I got the medal but I felt no emotional connect to the run. No joy of having completed a 10k. I realized I was feeling lightheaded and exhausted. Managed to get to the food and down the juice and I surely felt a lot better. After meeting some of the folks from the tower twisters I was headed back home.

It was a good route but the 7am start sure brought in it’s own set of pros and cons. The view of the sunrise from Napier’s Bridge was amazing but the same sun was being cursed by me 30 minutes later. 🙂 Well I should have probably cursed the organizers for scheduling a 7am start for the 10k run. But It was a good run which was well organized and I brought back some lovely memories and one not so lovely memory and of course the beautiful medal. Will be back to run at the TWCM15 even if they start the 10k at 12 noon. Anything for Running and Chennai.

P.S.: The Chennai City Traffic Police (CCTP) does a terrific job in re-routing traffic and helping us run safe. A big thanks to them.