Feb 13, 2012

World Cancer Day

Last week (February 4th), the World observed Word Cancer Day. Till now, the way I had looked at days like world AIDS day, world diabetes day etc was very different. But, this time, I was a bit confused about the World Cancer Day. I wasn't sure what I should do. To be honest, I was trying to avoid reading anything about it....

Then, next day came the announcement that Yuvraj Singh (our flamboyant, popular cricketer) has been diagnosed with malignant cancer and he is flying to USA for treatment. This created so much more awareness about the disease and the whole issue that I had a cruel thought. For celebraties to create awareness about dreaded diseases, it is better that they themselves get it!! Sorry folks ...

But, the best thing was the AMUL advertisement. As Yuvraj Singh is referred by his friends as YUVI, this ad mentioned it in such a wonderful way that even Yuvi thought that it was cute. Here is the ad if you had not seen it before.


Jan 25, 2012

When problem becomes a solution ...

It was time for another visit to the ayurveda doctor, Dr.Gadgil, at Bangalore. Few days ago, we went to meet him. As usual, thanks to Mahesh, we were the first to see the doctor. He prescribed some more medicines - more difficult to consume than the previous ones, of course!

I had mentioned about the uncomfortable bloating of my abdomen and the swelling in the foot. This was making life a bit difficult - not able to sit or lie down for a long time. It is almost like a woman with 14th month of pregnancy. He also wondered why this has happened. "Unexpected development" is what he told. (Not the 14th month of pregnancy, but the bloating).

"There is fluid in the abdomen and we should get it out". I thought, he is going to say, "Nurse, I will hold his head. You take his legs and wring them tightly as if he is a wet blanket. Let us see what the fluid does.." Fortunately, he didn't resort to any such violent methods. He just came out with an ingenious solution. "I will give you a tablet; you take half of it everyday. There will be loose motion 2 or 3 times a day; that should take care of the fluid in the stomach. It should drain out."

I have known loose motion / diarrhoea as a problem till now and how to stop it. But, here it is being 'induced' and is being used as a solution. Let us see if it works.

He tapped around my abdomen and seemed to think that the general progress is good. Still, he would like some conclusive proof of progress. "Endoscopy will surely tell us the status, but I don't want to do it". (I made a quick mental note to build a small temple for him at the corner of our land!!). "May be, we can try to do CT SCAN next month or so and see. As of now, let us continue the treatment as it is." (Which translated means, drink more milk!!)

Will keep you all posted.

Jan 22, 2012

New Avatar of 2012

Couple of years ago, I celebrated new year by starting a new email id, but this year was different. A new avatar. After showing this photograph to near and dear, and ensuring that it did not cause any untoward incident, I am releasing it to wider public around the world. Here it is :

Reactions of the 'friends' varied from 'you are handsome' to 'why don't you apply for a villain role', from 'you look better than before' to 'you look younger?!' ... But, I must write about the wonderful experience of getting my head shaven at my mother's village.
When I expressed my wish to get the head shaven, she sent word for the barber and he appeared suddenly one day without any notice. In a casual 'lungi', the old man was carrying a small cloth bag with some knives and a blade packet in his shirt pocket. That is it!
We put a small stool under the tree just outside the house. And, he started!! My sister asked, "do you need any white cloth etc. to wrap around his body?'. "He will be taking bath after this, isn't it? The hair will fly away anyway.. No need"
No shaving cream, no brush, nothing. He just softened the hair with cold water, stroked the hair with his rough hand, but I had the softest of shaving that day! As he kept shaving the head, gentle breeze swept away the hair from my shirt to the nearby field. In less than half an hour, he finished. With a cup of tea and an unbargained Rs.40, he left home.
Oh, I loved it.

Jan 7, 2012

Going home for Pongal! (or) பொங்கலோ பொங்கல்

In another 10 minutes, we are leaving for my mother's village. A 10 days holiday there and we will celebrate Pongal. (It is harvest festival and very special to us).

So, the good news is that you will not get any posts for another 10 days - most probably! Suresh helped install vodafone datacard in our netbook. If it works, you may get a post in between too...

The 1st day of Pongal is called 'Bogi'. On that day, the house will be cleaned, all the old things will be discarded / burnt / destroyed. (I should stay away from the cleaning gang!!) The 2nd day is the main Pongal, where we cook rice in open air directly below the Sun - a way of offering our prayers to the Sun for his help on agriculture.

The 3rd day is 'Cow Pongal' - 'மாட்டு பொங்கல்'. We bathe the cows, decorate them with colourful dots and designs, paint its horns and give new ropes, and finally feed with sweet rice, wash its mouth with coconut water etc. Great fun, it used to be.

Alas, as my parents were becoming old, they could not maintain cows at home and hence for the last 3 years, we didn't have cow pongal at home, but visit only the neighbours in the village.

But, this year, I suspect I qualify reasonably to be a cow and for all you know, they may celebrate the cow pongal with me as the object - though I didn't do anything to help the agriculture operations!!

Wish you all a Happy Pongal!!!  பொங்கலோ பொங்கல் !!


Jan 5, 2012

6 months is a long time

Tarsh's wedding went off well on December 31st. Nikhilesh had taken some photographs and after a day, we uploaded all of them to my computer. And, when I suddenly came across my own photograph in the slideshow, it was bit of a shock, actually.

In June, when Bharani, Nambi, Bala and Rajan had come to Gudalur, we had taken a photograph. Here it is.


And, on December 31st, here is my mug shot!

So much change in my profile within 6 months..?!

Jan 2, 2012

Happy Moo Year...!

I don't know why, but how much ever I try, I am not able to say Happy New Year. When I say, it sounds Happy Moo Year only... Anyway, all of you got the gist, I hope.

Gouthami asked a very pertinent question : 'Does the ayurveda doctor have a cow?'. I don't know about that, but it looks like he is not just satisfied in making me go on a Milk-Only diet, but there seems to be some conspiracy afoot to make me into a ... Cow!

Because, this time I have been advised to grow wheat grass and take it every morning. (The wheat grass juice seems to be highly effective in building immunity, especially in controlling cancer cells!) Durga and Vennila have started growing the grass and in another 4 days, it will be ready for me to graze.

So, generally, the pointers are that I will slowly turn into a cow. So, next time when you come to our house and see a horned creature with a long tail sitting in the computer and typing feverishly with its hooves, don't be surprised.... It is just me.

Once again, Happy Moo Year...

Dec 28, 2011

Lage Raho Manohar Bhai

On 24th, we met the Ayurveda doctor, Dr.Gadgil in Bangalore for a review. He seems generally happy with my milk-drinking. And said, "if you are able to drink 2 litres of milk, it means things are okay.." As simple as that.

He gave some more medicines. Some more leaves and herbs. "If you feel hungry, you can drink more milk. You can go upto 3 litres, 4 litres... no problems."

So, in general, the advice was 'Lage Raho Manohar Bhai' ... Carry on Manoharan, that is.

Dec 17, 2011

Hb crosses double digit mark!!

All kinds of figures are followed very closely in the world today on a daily basis. Inflation rate, food inflation rate, unemployment rate, rupee vs dollar rate and what not. The graphs go up and down, tumble down giving investors sleepless nights, sky-rocketing (along with the blood pressure of comman man) etc.

But, Manoharan and his family is keeping close tab on another figure. The Hb (Haemoglobin) count. During chemotherapy days, it went as low as 5.8 needing emergency blood transfusion etc. So, last month, when the CMC doctor very wisely decided to stop chemotherapy, he just mentioned to keep tab on the Hb count.

Then, started the ayurveda treatment. In Gudalur, we have tested thrice during the last one month and each time the the Hb count has moved by 0.2 points or so. The latest figure received from the lab yesterday says, my Hb count is 10 now!

The popular interpretation is that the body is doing quite okay, since the Hb is by itself increasing slowly - even with just milk as the diet. So, I should be becoming better.

Will confirm after meeting the ayurveda doctor once again on 24th for an assessment.

Dec 13, 2011

Busy ... Busy ... Busy ...

The gap in blogging during the last 2 weeks was, ironically, more to do with me becoming slightly better healthwise! Friends like Satya have written, "You write a blog post soon. Or, I will call you from Brazil!!", or something to that effect. (Such threats are much better and soothing than, "if you write another blog post, I will call the Police.." etc.!!)

OK, to quickly keep everone updated. The milk diet is agreeing with me. I am generally drinking the mandatory 2 Litres of milk every day. If 6 months ago, someone had said that I will be drinking milk, only milk and nothing but milk for my survival, I would have laughed my head off. But, incredibly that is what is happening. As soon as I finish the last gulp and keep the glass down, Durga will keep another one filled!!

I have not become a milk expert yet. That is, by drinking the milk, I won't be able to make out if the cow was happy today or had a tiff with her colleague; or, if the cow had green grass or cowfeed pellets etc. I am sure, intelligent chaps will be able to make out all these by drinking that day's milk. May be, by the time the treatment ends, I should be able to cultivate some of these skills. At least to be able to say if the cow had a proper sleep the previous night or not. Let us keep the horns crossed!

And, I could do a lot of 'official' work too during this period. Almost back to normal, though sitting at home. My favourite programming stuff on javascript and database applications has been keeping me busy and I am much ahead of the deadlines I had set for myself. In a hurry too. Will meet the ayurveda doctor this month end to know the progress on the liver front.

And, had some long-lost friends visiting us at Gudalur. As there are no side-effects of medication lingering and I am able to punish these friends with my jokes, it has been a good time. And, we laughed a lot during the last 2 weeks than the prevous three months...

So, To Satya, and other millions of fans who are worried by my silence, I am fine.

Nov 26, 2011

Omana's theory of Oncology

Omana, our tribal woman health animator, asked her husband K.T.Subramanian : "How did he get the cancer?"

KTS, of course, said, "I don't know and the doctors also didn't say anything about it"

"No, he does not have any bad habits. No smoking, no alcohol or tobacco or other bad food habits. So, how come he got cancer?"

"Sorry, I don't know !"

"I know", she said confidently. "He has been working on his computer always. From the time I have known him. Few years of working like this is surely like to affect. What with all kinds of viruses they keep talking about infecting the computers etc.! I am sure, his computer addiction only would have caused his cancer."

She may have a point?

Milky Galaxy

No, no, don't worry, it is not a scientific blog post. (All I know about astronomy can be written on the back of a postal stamp, as they say!). Yet, my galaxy is full of milk during the last one week.

Yes, I am on to milk diet. I repeat, ONLY-milk diet. That is, I drink only liquid milk of a cow. Not only the morning and evening tea time has been changed to milk time, I drink milk for my breakfast, lunch and dinner - not to mention the numerous times I used to eat home-made items.

So, if you are hungry, drink milk. If you are bored, drink milk. If you want to think, drink milk. If you just want to pass some time, drink milk. I have successfully managed one week of this. Just another 5 months and 3 weeks to go!

OK, the logic of only-milk diet in treatment of cancer in ayurveda is like this. All cells in our body die. So, cancer cells also die. So, instead of eliminating the cancer cells with very harmful things like chemo drugs, it is better to work on the new cells that are created in the body. Having uncontaminated diet will help in this process greatly and fresh cow's milk - sorry, cow's fresh milk - will be an ideal rejuvenating food for this process. I agree, but the important thing is the cancer cells should agree. Which we will know only after 6 months. I am very positive; so, let us see.

The doctor insisted on getting a proper country cow, because he blames the hybridization of food as the sole reason for the increasing incident of cancer. It makes sense. Anyway, I am not averse to cow milk and in fact, love cows. So, no problems.

But, the doctor said one interesting thing : "My patients initially resist this idea of only-milk diet. They are even willing to go through all the trauma of chemotherapy, leaving them very difficult to eat any kind of food; but, they think only-milk is too difficult !! I am surprised, but I am convinced of this method based on my work during the last 20 odd years".

So, here is to my favourite cows and their milk ! Hurrah !


Nov 20, 2011

Unequal growth

I was telling a friend, "the problem is there is unequal growth. One section is growing beyond what is healthy, while the other is going down and becoming weaker..."

Unfortunately, at that time, a left-leaning activist was passing by and he overheard what I said, I think. He started rattling, "Yes, that is the biggest problem facing the world today. While rich are becoming richer, the poor are becoming poorer. This unequal growth is causing the divide bigger and bigger. This will end only in a bloody revolution, you wait..."

"Oh, I am sorry, I was just talking about my body. See my legs and belly are growing and so big, making me very uncomfortable. But, the rest of the body is losing weight and becoming thin. I wasn't talking about global economic issues, merely about my physical condition..." He left very disappointed, giving a nasty look at this irresponsible soul - probably thinking 'such people fuel such inequality'!!

Anyway, back to my body. The legs have really become larger. The stomach of course has remained so for more than 4 months now. I wonder how much the skin can stretch. When people suddenly become obese or lose weight, what happens to their skin? Never thought of this before.

If the albumin content in the body improves, this extra fluid will be absorbed by the blood itself, I am told till now. Dr.Mahesh has prescribed an ayurveda medicine, which I am taking from this morning. Within a week, some progress is promised.

Keep my toes crossed !!

Chemotherapy Stopped!

First of all, my apologies for not writing for the last one week and keeping everyone guessing. Many of you had called directly to get the news. This is for the 'larger audience'!

The D-day on 14th November went unexpected actually. In my mind, I had composed two different sets of blog posts - titled 'Good news' and 'Bad news'! But, after seeing the investigation results, the doctor gave us a mixed bag.

"The good news is that you have not deteriorated much. But, the bad news is that the three cycles of chemotherapy do not seem to have resulted in any appreciable reduction in the liver or the cancer cells. So, to be honest, I would recommend not to continue Chemotherapy, as you had severe side effects last time. In fact, during the last few weeks, without the drugs, you seem to have developed appetite, eating well and gaining strength a little. So, it is better we wait for another month or so without the chemo therapy and see how progress, OK?"

What does it mean? Is he suggesting that no point in continuing the treatment and better wait for the inevitable? But, Dr.Regi and Dr.Deva, who were with us (both allopathy doctors) tend to read it differently. "This opens up the way for us to pursue the wonderful opportunities in alternative medicine - especially Ayurveda. Let us go full-steam on Ayurveda now. Since we have tried the 3 cycles, we won't feel that we didn't try allopathy treatment!"

Anyway, the silver lining for me was that no more chemo drugs! We returned that day itself back to Gudalur.

During the last one week, I have started taking Ayurveda medicines - which is not at all difficult and no side effects. Will update about the progress from time to time.

Chemo had dramatic moments giving me lot of ideas for interesting blog posts. Ayurveda in its typical fashion will not be so. But, still will remember to share important learnings through these posts.

Nov 13, 2011

whisper ... whisper ... Ears are the most immune?

There is one part of my body which has not been affected by the chemo drugs till now. Touch wood, it is the ear!

Even the nose had a nose block and it affected the eyes briefly; the eyes have been mildly watering whenever I sit in front of the computer. Mouth and legs and hair and all that, of course all of you know, have been battered to a good level.

But, my hearing ability remained intact throughout. The FM radio has been a great support. Having been restricted to home, radio - mostly Tamil, Malayalam and Hindi songs - was almost always playing the whole day. So, enjoying it thoroughly.

So, all music lovers, don't worry if you were diagnosed with cancer. You will be able to continue to listen to music inspite of all treatment!!

Nov 10, 2011

Surviving Cancer

Surviving cancer is one thing; but surviving the cancer treatment is another.

There has been a break from the chemo drugs for the last 15 days and my mouth ulcers are totally gone. So, able to eat ... err, drink things. Though I tried a dosa after a very long time this morning, diet has been mostly in liquid form. If I go to a hotel now, you can see me ordering '1 glass of chapati', then 'two glasses of idli' and of course, a glass of milk without sugar. As this will put the India Coffee House friends in discomfort, didn't go to hotel at all !!

Though the side effects have kind-of-stopped, the taste buds are still dormant. Someone said, it will take a solid 2 months after stopping all medication before you can distinguish between sambar and rasam. Alas, I cannot wait that much.

Tomorrow morning, we are going to Vellore for an evaluation. CT SCAN, X-ray and meet the doctor on Monday with the results. He will let us know if there is some progress in my treatment and continue with the remaining 3 cycles. Or, abandon therapy!! Though I am feeling okay and there is no pain, my stomach is still like Aishwarya Rai Bachan's heavily pregnant abdomen.

Anyway, we will know the result on Monday. So, 14th is the D-day. Will keep you all informed next week from Vellore.

Nov 6, 2011

Doctors are actually Engineers!

Till recently, I used to think that Doctors and Engineers are two totally different species in the animal kingdom. But, of late, I realised that doctors are actually engineers, after all!

My knowledge about both these professions in my younger days was next to nothing. When I finished my 1st year engineering, I got admission in a medical college - delayed response due to some court case. Do you know how I decided whether to continue engineering or join the medical course ? I listed the positives and negatives of both the streams.

 +ve : Only 3 more years to finish the course
-ve   :  There are no girls in the college

+ve : There will be girls in the classroom
-ve  : Another 5 and a half years to study!

Finally, I decided to continue engineering. See how 'deep' was my understanding and such an 'informed' decision I took!! Anyway, no regrets for that decision.

In 1995, when I came to Gudalur, got to know about the doctors, hospitals, medical profession from close quarters. Not only about just doctors, but about the various specialties and their roles etc. But, even then, I had not realised how much engineering they knew.

It was only when I had this cancer detected in my stomach/liver that I saw Dr.Nanda Kumar more as a Chemical Engineer than the usual surgeon. He talked more about the chemicals, the bio-chemistry inside the organs, which chemical causes the side-effects and the effect of the chemo drugs etc. Most of the clinical practice revolves around chemical composition of the body system, it looks.

Orthopaedicians, of course, are straightaway mechanical engineers. Neurologists are electrical engineers - nothing we can understand! Conversely, if you are good at all these 3 streams of engineering, then you can try your luck with medicines too!

Nov 4, 2011

அன்றும் இன்றும்

Sorry, this can be only a Tamil Post. Difficult to translate !!
அந்தக்காலத்தில் பெண்ணைக் காதலித்து கல்யாணம் செய்வதற்கு பெண்ணின் பெற்றோர்களின் சம்மதமும், விருப்பமும் மிக முக்கியமாக இருந்தது. பெற்றோர்களைக் கவர எடுத்துக்கொள்ளும் முயற்சிகள் பெண்ணைக்கவரும் முயற்சிகளுக்கு சமமாகவே இருக்கும் என்றே சொல்லலாம். "பலே பாண்டியா" படத்தில் தேவிகாவைக் காதலிக்கும் சிவாஜி, அவரது தந்தையான M.R.ராதாவின் மனதைக் கவருவதற்காக ஒரு கர்நாடக சங்கீதப் பாடலைப் பாடும் ஒரு அற்புதமான நகைச்சுவைக் காட்சி உண்டு. அதில் எப்படியெல்லாம் தன் மாமாவைப் புகழுகிறார் பாருங்கள்...
"நீயே உனக்கு என்றும் நிகரானவன்
அந்தி நிழல் போல் குழல் வளர்த்த தாயாகி நின்றவன் (என்ன அருமையான உவமை!)
வாய் வேதம், கை நீதி, விழி அன்பு, மொழி கருணை
வடிவாகி முடிவற்ற முதலான இறைவா !"
இப்படிச் சொல்லி விட்டு, முத்தாய்ப்பாக
"துதிபாடும் கூட்டம் உன்னை நெருங்காதய்யா
வெறும் தூபத்தில் உன் இதயம் மயங்காதய்யா"
என்றும் பெரிய ஒரு ஐஸ் வேறு வைக்கிறார்.
கேட்ட ராதா மயங்கி, உடனே 'நீ தான் மாப்பிள்ளை' என்று சொல்லும் நிலைக்கு வந்து விடுகிறார்.
ஆனால் இன்றோ? பையன் நேரடியாக பெண்ணிடம் மட்டும் தான் பேசுகிறான் - அவளுக்கு விருப்பம் இல்லாவிட்டாலும். மேலும் அவளது பெற்றோரைக் கவரும் முயற்சியை விடுங்கள், அவர்கள் மீது துளி மரியாதையும் இல்லை. அடிக்காத குறையாக இருந்தது இதுவரை. இப்போது அதுவும் சீக்கிரமே நடக்கும் என்று நினைக்கிறேன். மிகவும் பாப்புலரான இந்நப் புதிய பாடலைப் பாருங்கள் -
"எவன்டி உன்னைப் பெத்தான்?
என் கைல கிடைச்சா செத்தான்!"
பெண்ணின் அப்பாக்கள் ஜாக்கிரதை!!

Oct 29, 2011

Yay ... Yay ... I brushed !!

After almost a week, the mouth is better today and I could have a proper cleaning of my mouth with toothbrush. How good it feels to be able to brush!!

As I was feeling better and have energy to walk around, I thought of considering the invitation of the Force India to compete in the first ever Indian Grand Prix!! ahem..ahem...

But, then The Hindu warned in their first page yesterday that the temperature goes up to 55 degrees, drivers lose about 4-5 kg of weight after every grand prix and they are heavily dehydrated!

As I am sure to win, the only problem is that I won't materialise finally in the podium!! So, ditched it!

(But, frankly, for environmental reasons, racing of cars should be banned, isn't it, instead of rejoicing that India got its Grand Prix?)

Oct 28, 2011

Diwali fireworks in my mouth

The last one week has been the most painful (literally) week of my life - till now, that is :-)

Due to the Chemo effect, the WBC count seemed to drop even more drastically than the global economic melt down. So, with no policeman to control, even petty thieves were acting big!! Normal dry skin in the lips was trying to threaten me, imagine!!

But, after Madhan, my saviour in Gudalur Adivasi Hospital gave 300 ml of perfectly matched A+ blood, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel this morning.I showed their place to the lips already, the tongue and the throat are slowly getting around to it ...

I drank 3 glasses of something today and hope, will be back to "normal" by tomorrow.

Oct 23, 2011

Judgement delivered - VTV is the best!

I think, I have made up by mind. Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya is the best of A.R.Rahman's albums. I waited for more than 6 months before making up my mind, but tonight, I think the decision is made!!


Minsara Kanavu, Kandukondain..., Taal were very good too. But, VTV is absolutely out of the world and divine music. Kerala, backwaters, melody, pathos and church bells...! Simply superb....

Oct 22, 2011

Hostile Gatekeepers

At the India-Pakistan Wagah border, we have two of the most hostile gatekeepers that you can find anywhere. Till recently, I used to think they are probably the most hostile gatekeepers that you can find in the world!

But, the chemo drugs introduced me to another set of gatekeepers who are, in fact, more hostile than these two poor souls. The mouth ulcer and the throat ulcer! Together they are such a potent force that it has been very difficult to beat them! During the 2nd half of both the second and third chemo cycles, I had them appearing from nowhere in my body. As it is, the taste buds were not working and everything was tasting the same. Now, the throat ulcer was constantly secreting a salty water whenever I try to eat something, it was an effective way of saying NO to food!
So, I tried to cajole them and used the liquid route. For the last one month or so, the diet has become only liquid. When both the gatekeepers were looking the other side, I tried to send milk and juice and soya milk and water inside the system. By mistake, once or twice I tried venturing into solid food, but immediately our gatekeepers shut shop! Once they looked a bit lenient, it looked like the food went inside; but, I didn't account for another more powerful fellow inside called Nausea - who very brutally pushed the food outside! "You won't listen to those two chaps, eh?" Disgraceful...
But, what to do with the tablets? They are solid. If it was a little bigger, it would have resembled our famous Kerala puttu or an elongated Idly! Somehow, I was sending them in, but tonight, the first tablet went inside and there was a big revolution in my food pipe, forcing me to abondon the second tablet. I guess, this is the end of my 3rd cycle of chemotherapay.
As of now, I guess, we have crossed half the well. We have to go to Vellore on 2nd for a CT Scan and meet the doctor on 4th. Let us see what is the result of these 3 cycles of chemotherapy!! Fingers crossed.

Oct 15, 2011

10 Ways to Know You are a Cancer Survivor

Bhanu sent this cute little list to find out easily if you are a cancer survivor. So, to cheer up others going through the ordeal, here it is !!
  • Your alarm clock goes off at 6 a.m. and you're glad to hear it.
  • Your mother-in-law invites you to lunch and you just say NO.
  • You're back in the family rotation to take out the garbage.
  • When you no longer have an urge to choke the person who says,"all you need to beat cancer is the right attitude."
  • When your dental floss runs out and you buy 1000 yards.
  • When you use your toothbrush to brush your teeth and not comb your hair.
  • You have a chance to buy additional life insurance but you buy a new convertible car instead.
  • Your doctor tells you to lose weight and do something about your cholesterol and you actually listen.
  • When your biggest annual celebration is again your birthday, and not the day you were diagnosed.
  • When you use your Visa card more than your hospital parking pass.
She also sent some jokes on doctors; but, let me wait till I finish the chemo treatment! Don't want to rub them in the wrong side as yet!!!

Oct 12, 2011

3rd cycle started

The 3rd cycle of my chemotherpay started. Went to Vellore on Sunday, met the doctor on Monday after a blood test. Thanks to the topping up done in Gudalur, I didn't have to have any blood transfusion in CMC. So, the doctor did not even admit me in the oncology ward and said that I could have my chemo IV infusion in the Day Care Centre.
First time, when I heard the name day care centre, I thought of a creche kind of thing - looking for a room with a yellow duck toy or a wooden horse and some colourful play things strewn all around! But, what I got was a small room where six chairs that remind one of a fancy saloon. Everyone sitting there with IV sets hanging over their head. It takes about 1 hour waiting and 2 hours of IV. Then, after 5 minutes of rest, you are out. Quite an efficient system.
So, by 12.30, my medication was over - no effects during the process. So, quickly we left Vellore by 2 pm. As we had to cross the Mudumalai sanctuary before 9 pm, we rushed back to Gudalur. We had two schumachers with us in Tarsh and Dilip, who reached us in record time of 7 hours from Vellore to Gudalur!
The steriod is still holding up, the hiccup minion is occasionally showing its presence, but no other side effects have started yet. Waiting till the week end to get a real picture.

Meanwhile, my latest photograph in the day care centre is given below - thanks to Nikhilesh.
This is just to show Sundar that I have not still become bald (mottai) - not yet!!

Oct 8, 2011

Feel like a SIM card

These days, I feel more like a SIM card than a human body - what with constant talk of 'topping up'.
When I heard the doctor saying, "Oh, you are traveling on Sunday and you will be roaming. So, we better top up", I handed my mobile phone to him, "yes, doctor". "No, No, what I meant is to top you up with more blood. You come to the hospital in the morning and we will transfuse one unit of it."
For the last one month, such conversations have become normal. As I will be roaming tomorrow, the charge probably will come down faster with all that travel etc., so better to boost it up a bit. Till now, 4 units of topping up has happened and more to follow!
Blood banks are quite advanced already. Even before the telecom sector came out with number portability etc., blood banks have done that. Any group is fine - exchange offer and you will get yours.
Fortunately, there aren't any festival offers and promotional schemes which may give new ideas to the doctors - "why don't you go for a top up today itself and then wait for the Diwali offer ?", he might say!
In the process, they are trying to neutralise myself with the blood of other sane people. Though Tarsh, Gopal, Shikha, Harsh and his friend gave the blood, what I finally got was that of James Raj, Joe Ezhil Chinnappan and one Nine Wangoli. Today, Udayan will join the illustrious group of people whose blood finds a place in my body - albeit temporarily!

Oct 5, 2011

2nd cycle of chemotherapy completed

Few days ago, the 2nd cycle got over. Actually, all the side effects that I was warned about seemed to decide almost the same time to have a go. So, from mouth ulcer to throat pain, from a confused state of diarrhoea / constipation to a nauseous sensation.... All happened during the last one week, and most of them do continue. As the WBC count was coming down, the doctor suggested to stop the tablets one day earlier! Bless him!!

This morning, some of the effects seem to wear off a little - so, feeling a bit okay. Have another five days ago, before the next cycle starts!! All the side effects are okay, but whether the actual main effect is happening??

This is just a matter of fact update - as long silence from my end is killing my fans!! For the last 3 days, the idea for the next blog post is brewing. So, wait for that - may be, in a day or two!

Meanwhile, Happy Dussehra to everyone!!

Sep 29, 2011


Bala mentioned a very valid point.

If I discontinue Musings and move everything to the new Posterous service, it will mean that my favourite 'Musings' will become preposterous!!

So, taking his advice seriously, I am going to continue Musings also. In fact, if I post something in Posterous, they say it will become auto-posted in Blogger also. I will try this option also.

In short, you can just visit Musings also to get everything that I want to share through these blog posts...

Sep 25, 2011

Manoharan, the Monk

For the 2nd round of chemotherapy, when I got admitted in CMC, I realised that I had been elevated to the level of a Monk! As Sundar was keen to know if I have already become mottai, here is a photograph taken five days ago in Vellore by Stan.

First I thought, it was just a spelling mistake that they had written it as Monc. (Only later, when the chemo drugs wore off, did I realise that it was the short form of Medical Oncology, rather than any spiritual title!) Anyway, I thought it is a really good thing to classify all the cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy as Monks, as there are many similarities.

First and foremost is that their lack of interest in keeping any sort of shrubbery in their head and face etc. Though the photograph above shows me with some hair, I am losing them all in rapid pace and I am sure, next time when we meet you will agree that I am a qualified Monk as far as hair goes. (There is one persistent hair inside my right nostril which was bothering me for more than 20 years; I hope the chemo drugs will take care of that stubbon hair too). Bed after bed in the Monc ward was occupied by people with clean shaven heads - men, women and kids too.

Next is our total renunciation of food - even aversion to it. We just eat something to keep the body and soul together - often after getting shouted by the near and dear! Anita had enquired about the taste buds. All I can say is that I would eat anything cooked by Anita without any complaints now! There is only one taste in the world now and that is very close to chewing a denim cloth. Sometimes, the dosa may taste like a fine cotton, but otherwise, almost everything tastes like jeans or jute, depending on the texture.

But, there is one advantage. Someone suggested that fresh Aloe Vera juice is a very good nutritious drink, but it is bitter and tastes horribly! I said, 'ha! bring it in' and gulped it - without my tongue raising any objection whatsoever. So, if any of you want to feed me with any of your new experiments, this is the time. Rush in the supplies, please!

Sep 16, 2011

I am Young!

Yes, it is official! I am Young. The doctors pronounced it. Friends told. All and sundry, in fact...

In 2006 or so, when Sajan interacted with the Business world - financial sector, investment portfolio etc -, he gave me a shocking news! That he is old already to make a major career change. He was 30 years that time, I think. If he is old at 30, what was I at 40 then??!!

Then, we had the technology changes; people using emails were called old people - dinosaurs. According to that definition, only people in 17-25 age group were young and people over that are called Old. This impression was strengthened by the next generation of boys and girls visiting Gudalur- MSW students, new recruits in TST, visitors - everyone calling me Uncle!

But, then things changed dramatically during the last one month. The cancer diagnosis seems to have put a new perspective in everyone else's mind. First, the St.John's doctor told, 'you are young; so we can try this procedure'. Then, the oncologist in CMC said as much, 'in old people, it may be difficult; but, in your case, we can go ahead with this. As you are young, the body can cope with it' etc.
So, in all, the world seems to have voted unanimously that I am young after all!!

Sep 4, 2011

An over-enthusiastic Minion

All of you must be under the wrong impression that I am bravely fighting cancer, aptly described as the Emperor of all Maladies, in my stomcah/liver. No Sir. For the last three days, my fight is limited to an overenthusiastic minion called Diaphragm. He is hyperactive and getting on my nerves.

Like all clerks in government offices, he selectively interprets the rules and suddenly decides to strictly adhere by some of them. In their usual ways, they pick up routine, seemingly harmless blocks to make you uncomfortable and uncertain. This diaphragm has taken up the strategy of using the 'minor hiccup' (literally) to put things off gear - though slowly I realised hiccups are anything but minor!! Three things I am not able to do because of these hiccups is to sleep, to walk and to sit. As this pretty much sums all the activities that I am hoping to do here, he has been very successful in getting my whole, complete and undivided attention.

When we deal with IAS officers or any government official of reasonable repute, things look so fine and rosy, till you meet our over-enthusiasitic minion just outside. 'He will say all that, but finally, I only have to make sure that everything is in order'. Left unsaid is, "you can go wherever you want, but finally you have to come to me only!". My diaphragm has also been behaving like that. Jealously it has taken the responsibility of getting agitated and protecting all the internal organs; my job is to be cautious, not to break precedents and follow the rules.

Medicines from the oncologist didn't bribe him. 'Special favours' like hot milk and cold juice didn't encourage him to budge a bit. Fresh fruits, sugar under the tongue, pranayama and other breathing exercises did not entice him to leave the rule book even slightly. Nikhilesh in his usual scientific way remarked, after observing me for hours, "if you lie down 42 degrees to the east and suddenly turn to your left, the hiccups are increasing". He has not managed to find out angles and directions to decrease them, of course.

And, finally, in our usual pragmatic way, I am also getting used to live with this clerical minion. Take him as part of the system, don't confront, but don't pamper too; acknowledge that after all he is doing his job and somehow get going.

In all these busy handling of paper-pushing weasly measly hiccup causing minion, I have almost forgetten the cancer cells. In our life too, most of the time, we are handling the pujari and not really the God. Same here. Hopefully, the big emperor is being taken care of by the chemo drugs silently.

Sep 1, 2011

Manoharan, your output is LOW!!

Two days ago, I got this harshest criticism! As I try to be efficient and always want to do things as per deadline etc., this accusation that my output is low was rather disturbing.

She looked at the chart and gravely nodding her head, "just 150 ml of urine in one day, no, it is not done". You must buck up and improve your output! As soon as possible. Drink as much water as possible. But, output should be better.

In the usual NGO defence, I was about to argue, "what about quality? I may achieve the output in quantitative terms, but will the objective be fulfilled unless quality is assured. And, I don't believe in mere numbers"blah blah. Fortunately, controlled myself in the last minute, and just said, ók, will try.

So, after that, it is a free flow of water, milk and juices. And, each drop of output is measured and neatly recorded in a piece of paper. Morning 4 PM, 350 ml etc. Next week when I go to the Medical Oncology department, let me see if the nurse is satisfied or will again disapprove of poor outputs. If we go to Gudalur, drinking pots of water should not be a problem - much sweeter and pleasant. Shikha's slogan is "5 litres of water a day keeps the doctor away".

Aug 22, 2011

Slight change in plans

Wanted to talk to you all personally, but a common mail is what I could afford right now.

There seems to be a slight change in plans for my current life. During the last three to four days, things have taken a new turn and it looks like the doctors are unanimous that it is a cancer in the stomach/liver. Now, they will all discuss what to do next and what sort of treatment is required. CMC is an amazing place with everyday more than 20000 patients coming from all around the country to see the doctors here - actually, on their way to meet Lord Venkateswara in Tirupati or the Lord in Rameswaram. Their faith in the CMC doctors is as strong as on the other Lords, if not stronger. So, I also do believe them.

While it is sure that you are not going to see an old and infirm Manoharan (like our 'Indian thatha'), it is not clear what are the optimistic or pessimistic scenario etc. I will keep you all posted after the test results come tomorrow and we have a check up with the doctors day after tomorrow.

The support and goodwill and recommendations that pour in to the CMC team make me really humble.

Now, during the next week or so, I need to spend some time with my actual family and come to some sort of understanding / arrangement. My mother and sister are already lost, with everyone taking over everything about me. We need to be sensitive to this and I have to spend some time with them.

Being an unemotional objective-oriented moron, I am doing very well mentally and largely physically too. When all these reserves are run out, I will request your help. So, be ready that time. Till then, it will be great if you don't visit me personally either in Vellore or in Gudalur. I hope you understand. Will try to keep you all posted from time to time.

And, all the doctors have of course told to remain positive. The brain does wonderful things and it needs to continue to generate immunity. So, we will all stay positive and hope for the best.

Apr 21, 2011

New blog site

I have started another blog site. It is in a new web service called posterous.com. If you send mails to this account, it will automatically get published as a post.

Probably, more convenient. Have a look at http://durgamanoharan.posterous.com

Planning to write more serious stuff there - hopefully, more in Tamil.

Feb 17, 2011


I am becoming more and more fond of old people jokes!! Sign of old age catching up?

Some people (especially the wife) may disagree, but as you grow old, we also become more logical, I think...

Feb 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

There was a brief respite for all of you. Was busy with unimportant things in life, like work, office etc...

What better way to start than a post on the Valentine's Day. Though have a lot to write, I will just share a nice joke.
She : 'Tomorrow is the Valentines Day...'!
He : 'Yeah, I know ...'
She : 'Will you ... err ... give me a ring this V-day?'
He : 'Of course. But, in your mobile or in the landline ...?'
Men and Women live in different planets. So are boys and girls!

Dec 7, 2010


The way things are going in the world... Corruption everywhere and all that sort of thing, I mean ... the word Values is going to be extinct soon. Dilbert is right in defining it this way....

Nov 15, 2010

Memory of old people

An elderly couple had dinner at another couple's house, and after eating, the wives left the table and went into the kitchen.

The two gentlemen were talking, and one said, 'Last night we went out to a new restaurant and it was really great.. I would recommend it very highly.'

The other man said, 'What is the name of the restaurant?'

The first man thought and thought and finally said, 'What is the name of that flower you give to
someone you love? You know.... The one that's red and has thorns.'

'Do you mean a rose?'

'Yes, that's the one,' replied the man.

He then turned towards the kitchen and yelled, 'Rose, what's the name of that restaurant we went to last night?'

Isn't it an excellent joke? Remember to tell your friends...

Oct 31, 2010

Food for Thought

The doctor's advice is to take care of the food; look closely at the ingredients and avoid unnecessary junk and all that. Such dieting should be monitored even in the case of 'food for thought'. Else ...

Oct 21, 2010

How to stay awake in seminars...

Do you keep falling asleep in round-tables and seminars?
What about those long and boring conferences?

PGP sent a nice tip - Here's a way to change all of that.

1. Before (or during) your next meeting, seminar, or conference call, prepare yourself by drawing a square. I find that 5" x 5" is a good size. Divide the card into columns - five across and five down. That will give you 25 one-inch blocks.

2. Write one of the following words/phrases in each block:

* synergy
* strategic fit
* core competencies
* best practice
* bottom line
* revisit
* expeditious
* to tell you the truth (or "the truth is")
* 24/7
* out of the loop
* benchmark
* value-added
* proactive
* win-win
* think outside the box
* fast track
* result-driven
* empower (or empowerment)
* knowledge base
* at the end of the day
* touch base
* mindset
* client focus(ed)
* paradigm
* game plan
* leverage

Like this:


strategic fit

core competencies

best practice

bottom line



to tell you the truth (or "the truth is")


out of the loop





think outside the box

fast track


empower (or empowerment)

knowledge base

at the end of the day

touch base


client focus(ed)


game plan

3. Check off the appropriate block when you hear one of those words/phrases.

4. When you get five blocks horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, stand up and shout "BULLSHIT!"

Testimonials from satisfied "Bullshit Bingo" players:
  • "I had been in the meeting for only five minutes when I won." - Adam, Atlanta
  • "My attention span at meetings has improved dramatically." - David, Florida
  • "What a gas! Meetings will never be the same for me after my first win." - Dan, New York City
  • "The atmosphere was tense in the last process meeting as 14 of us waited for the fifth box." - Ben, Denver
  • "The speaker was stunned as eight of us screamed 'BULLSHIT!' for the third time in two hours." - Paul, Cleveland
Enjoy your seminars...

Oct 19, 2010

Animator vs Animation

Creative Brilliance! That is how this animation was described by Sajan, who sent this. Amazing.

Fight between the animator and the animation. Click on the picture below, click on PLAY and enjoy!

Oct 13, 2010

Give and Take

They say, there should be lots of Give and Take in Marriages. But, this one gets the cake... err...

Oct 3, 2010

Mother's Teachings

Premila sent this nice one. Things our mothers taught us... and we continue to do to our kids!!

1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.
'If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.'

2. My mother taught me RELIGION.
'You better pray that will come out of the carpet.'

3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL.
'If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!'

4. My mother taught me LOGIC.
' Because I said so, that's why.'

5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC.
'If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me.'

6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT.
'Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident.'

7. My mother taught me IRONY
'Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about.'

8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.
'Shut your mouth and eat your supper.'

9. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM.
'Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!'

10. My mother taught me about STAMINA.
'You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone.'

11. My mother taught me about WEATHER.
'This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.'

12. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY.
'If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!'

13. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.
'I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.'

14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOUR MODIFICATION.
'Stop acting like your father!'

15. My mother taught me about ENVY.
'There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do.'

16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
'Just wait until we get home.'

17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING.
'You are going to get it when you get home!'

18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.
'If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way.'

19. My mother taught me ESP.
'Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?'

20. My mother taught me HUMOUR.
'When that lawn mower cuts off your foot, don't come running to me.'

21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT.
'If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up.'

22. My mother taught me GENETICS.
'You're just like your father.'

23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.
'Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?'

24. My mother taught me WISDOM.
'When you get to be my age, you'll understand.'

25. And my favorite: My mother taught me about JUSTICE
'One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you.'

Sep 28, 2010

When do you pray?

I have also wondered what is the best way to make God notice our prayers. Even assuming a growing number of atheists, the number of prayers S/He is getting from the world alone will be in millions. Extrapolating from my own experience, each of those prayers will have complicated sub-prayers and at least two or three sub-levels of mini requests and what not!

My training for prayer started early in child hood. In the typical Hindu way. So, it is more ritual and does not lay much emphasis on the content. Having prayed routinely for many years in the morning, my prayers unconciously even today start with 'Should study well and do well in exams'!

It is a different matter that today's exams are much more complicated than those school days. Solving trigonometry or integral calculus will be quite easy for God to facilitate, but now...?

Sep 16, 2010

Intellectual Property

All Bloggers : Please Note!!

There is a loophole in the intellectual property regime. Dilbert has noticed that!!

So, if any of you want to copy anything from my blog, it is perfectly legal and you cannot be sued!!

Sep 14, 2010

Mischievous Only

Only he said that he loved her

He only said that he loved her

He said only that he loved her

He said that only he loved her

He said that he only loved her

He said that he loved only her

He said that he loved her only

Isn't it lovely?

Sep 7, 2010

Sports Fever

The betting scandal in Cricket is making me depressed. If our sporting idols fall from their lofty pedastals, what is left in the world to hope for!!

The stars of the game may cheat and fail us (and the doping tests), but there are common folks - ordinary ones - who keep the spirit up. Like this man in the story below :
A man had great tickets for the Football World Cup Final.

As he sits down, another man comes down and asks if anyone is sitting in the empty seat next to him.

"No," he says. "The seat is empty."

"This is incredible!" says the other man. "Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the World Cup Final, the biggest sporting event, and not use it?"

"Well, actually, the seat belongs to me. My wife was supposed to come with me, we had booked tickets long ago and had planned to watch the finals together. But, you see ... she passed away. In fact, this is the first World Cup Final we haven't been to together since we got married.

"Oh ... I'm sorry to hear that. That's terrible. But couldn't you find someone else, a friend or relative, or even a neighbour to take the seat?"

The man shakes his head. "No. They're all at the funeral..."
People like this only keep the sporting world alive - err... even when their near and dear die!

Aug 30, 2010

No Ball Cartoon

There were two no ball controversies recently.

First, Randiv of Sri Lanka bowled a no ball intentionally to deny Sehwag of India from making a hundred. Randiv was fined and suspended for a match. This is Sri Lanka cricket.

Next, the Pakistani bowlers bowled no balls to England players precisely at the point when they were told by their bookie / agents. Pak bowlers are alleged to have pocketed thousands of pounds in this 'spot fixing' crime! This is Pakistan cricket.

But, the best was this cartoon that appeared in Cricinfo after these two controversies!!

Isn't it wonderful?

Aug 24, 2010

Schools and Learning

The following speech was delivered by top of the class student Erica Goldson during the graduation ceremony at Coxsackie-Athens High School on June 25, 2010

There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, "If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen? The Master thought about this, then replied, "Ten years . ." The student then said, "But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast -- How long then?" Replied the Master, "Well, twenty years." "But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?" asked the student. "Thirty years," replied the Master. "But, I do not understand," said the disappointed student. "At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?" Replied the Master, "When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path."

This is the dilemma I've faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.

Some of you may be thinking, "Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn't you learn something? Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible.

I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer - not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition - a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I'm scared.

To read the entire speech, check here

Aug 20, 2010


Got this wonderful list through Henry. Except one or two things like the 11 PM long distance call, most of the things are true. One is advised to read without judgements and enjoy!

We are like this only so true, so very true..............

1. Everything you eat is savored in garlic, onion and tomatoes.

2.. You try and reuse gift wrappers, gift boxes, and of course aluminum foil.

3... You are always standing next to the two largest size suitcases at the Airport.

4. You arrive one or two hours late to a party - and think it's normal.

5. You peel the stamps off letters that the Postal Service missed to stamp.

6. You recycle Wedding Gifts, Birthday Gifts and Anniversary Gifts.

7. You name your children in rhythms (example, Sita & Gita, Ram & Shyam, Kamini & Shamini..)

8. All your children have pet names, which sound nowhere, close to their real names.

9. You take Indian snacks anywhere it says 'No Food Allowed.'

10. You talk for an hour at the front door when leaving someone's house.

11. You load up the family car with as many people as possible.

12. HIGH PRIORITY ***** You use plastic to cover anything new in your house whether it's the remote control, VCR, carpet or new couch. *****

13... Your parents tell you not to care what your friends think, but they won't let you do certain things because of what the other 'Uncles and Aunties' will think.

14. You buy and display crockery, which is never used, as it is for special occasions, which never happen.

15. You have a vinyl tablecloth on your kitchen table.

16.. You use grocery bags to hold garbage.

17. You keep leftover food in your fridge in as many numbers of bowls as possible.

18. Your kitchen shelf is full of jars, varieties of bowls and plastic utensils (got free with purchase of other stuff)

19. You carry a stash of your own food whenever you travel (and travel means any car ride longer than 15 minutes)...

20. You own a rice cooker or a pressure cooker.

21. You fight over who pays the dinner bill.

22. You live with your parents and you are 40 years old. (And they prefer it that way).

23. You don't use measuring cups when cooking.

24. You never learnt how to stand in a queue.

25. You can only travel if there are 5 persons at least to see you off or receive you whether you are traveling by bus, train or plane.

26. If she is NOT your daughter, you always take interest in knowing whose daughter has run with whose son and feel proud to spread it at the velocity of more than the speed of light.

27. You only make long distance calls after 11p.m.

28. If you don't live at home, when your parents call, they ask if you've eaten, even if it's midnight.

29. You call an older person you never met before Uncle or Aunty.

30. When your parents meet strangers and talk for a few minutes, you discover you're talking to a distant cousin.

31. Your parents don't realize phone connections to foreign countries have improved in the last two decades, and still scream at the top of their lungs when making foreign calls.

32. You have bed sheets on your sofas so as to keep them from getting dirty.

33. Its embarrassing if your wedding has less than 600 people.

34. All your Tupperware is stained with food color.

35. You have drinking glasses made of steel.

36. You have mastered the art of bargaining in shopping.

37. You have really enjoyed reading this post

Jul 24, 2010

Serious Issues

Life seems to be full of serious issues. The list of things that need pondering over is ever increasing. My 'to do' list is not very long, but my 'to think about' list is growing day by day.

But, I have been successfully postponing it, controlling that urge to become thoughtful and have been managing quite effectively to think only about simple, irrelevant, flimsy things.

What the heck! As long as you have enough simple, irrelevant, flimsy things in hand (and mind), you are occupied! That is the secret of happiness, I am sure.

Though great gurus will say the same thing in a more pious or enlightened way, this is turning out to be my philosophy too...

Jul 1, 2010

Expectation Deficit

I had written about the Mr.Wrong syndrome affecting our young girls these days. To be precise, the problem is due to the expectation deficit. Or the difference between what a Mr.Right wants from his Ms.Right or the other way round.

See the conversation between Dilbert and his 'date'.

Obviously, this is meant to fail!
Sometimes it is easy to just close your eyes and Jump!!

Jun 21, 2010

Right Mr.Wrong

I am very grateful to the God for not making me a young woman, because all young women go through a very difficult problem in life. How do they select a right man as their companion? If I were a young woman, I would have found it extremely difficult to choose such a person. As the image above says, most of the women today settle with the rightest person from the whole lot of Mr.Wrongs. "He is not good, but he is the best, what to do" etc.

But, I may also be wrong. What do I know about today's young women? Nothing. In my good old days, all the young women wanted from their man was to be good! As long as they don't drink and have decent income and can take care of the family (which means just hanging around the house), the women are fine with their man.

But, I am afraid, the expectations of today's young woman are quite high. On the one hand, they want their men to share responsibility in the kitchen (preposterous!) and in raising kids (dangerous!!). On the other hand, I also learnt recently that most of the young women studying in colleges want their men to work somewhere in North America or Australia (even after racial attacks?). They also want their men to be independent (read Live as far away as possible from his parents). I would not have believed such notions, but I talked to a girl who mentioned that almost all their classmates shared her view and this is the most popular choice. And, she was from a Grade-B town only, and not from any metro, mind you!

With these expectations, all they have to settle for is a right Mr.Wrong that is all. "He is working only in Kenya, but what to do, that is as far away as we can go!" or "He is in West Coast. All my friends are in the East Coast, what to do; I will somehow adjust..." etc.

Jun 13, 2010

New Look for Musings

Chose a new look for Musings. Hope all of you like it. Hoping to keep it changing once in a while. Just to confuse you all.

Jun 11, 2010

Argentina will win world cup!

World cup fever is every where. Got this information from one of the IRMA classmates, with an advice to quit stressing over the winner of the FIFA World Cup! Read it!
A Zulu sangoma, after a night of dreams and consultations with the ancestors, looks into the future to see the winner of the 2010 World Cup.
The 70-year-old fortune teller, a cheerful lady called Constance, plays a critical role in Zulu culture, blessed with special powers to heal and divine the future. But she was mighty hard to find.

A two-day search aided by street sellers and shop owners in the southern city of Port Elizabeth had produced nothing but a series of false dawns.

It appeared one needed a sangoma to find a sangoma.

Then a toothless lady of indeterminate age kneading dough on a pavement beside a taxi rank suggested trying a muthi herbal specialist off Govan Mbeki Road. The shop, an Aladdin's cave of pills and potions and ointments, had a high counter behind which were two people. One, a man, had his face painted in tribal warpaint. The other, a woman, was Constance.

"You've made it," she smiled, as if she had been expecting the visit all the time.

After negotiating her fee, Constance opened a door into a storeroom packed with sacks of dried roots and animal hides hanging from a makeshift washing line. Through a curtain at the back was her "office" -- with a frayed floral couch, more bags of herbs and plant extracts, and shelves crammed with somewhat incongruous tins of Jeyes Fluid household cleaner.

"I use all this to make my medicines," she said, easing her generous frame into a chair beside, which was a small table with incense and a yellow candle. "When someone comes to me and wants me to help them with trouble in their life or look into the future, I get them to light this candle. That way I can see through them, I can see what the problem is," she explained.

"I help cure people who are mad or who have AIDS using 'muthi'."

Constance has been a sangoma for 12 years. "My father and my sister were sangomas, and when they died they came to me in a dream and told me 'you have to be a sangoma now'," she said.

"I didn't want to, but they made me ill. They hit me with sticks, I couldn't walk. They sent me into the sea for seven days to sleep. When I woke up I accepted to become a sangoma. I went away to train for one year. Then my ancestors came back to me and said 'you can finish the training now, you are a sangoma'. I then slaughtered five goats and one cow."

Asked about the World Cup, Constance shuts her eyes, as if asleep, in meditation, then opens them sharply. "All the teams here are strong, but I have to consult my ancestors, I have to ask them what they think, and they will tell me in my dream tonight. Come back tomorrow, and I will have your answer."

The next day, Constance is again waiting behind the counter, with the answer not to eternity but almost as important.

"Argentina will win the World Cup."

Let us see if this Sangoma was right...

Jun 10, 2010

Man and Wife

Men are too selfish. And insensitive too, I am told. For all the love and affection poured on them by their (respective) wives, see how they reciprocate that. They dare not say such things to their wives in their faces, I am sure.

This is how all their woes seem to have started ...

An old man goes to the Wizard to ask him if he can remove a curse he has been living with for the last 40 years.

The Wizard says, 'Maybe, but you will have to tell me the exact words that were used to put the curse on you.'

The old man says without hesitation, 'I now pronounce you man and wife.'
Nor do they say some kind words even after their wives are gone.

The graveside service just barely finished, when there was massive clap of thunder, followed by a tremendous bolt of lightning, accompanied by even more thunder rumbling in the distance...

The little old man looked at the pastor and calmly said, 'Well, she's there.'
But, some men seem to have got spirituality from their wives.
'My wife got me to believe in religion.'


'Yeah. Until I married her I didn't believe in Hell.'
But, the most atrocious thing is that they even think that everyone else thinks like them!!
A doctor examining a woman who had been rushed to the Emergency Room, took the husband aside, and said, 'I don't like the looks of your wife at all.'

'Me neither doc,' said the husband. 'But she's a great cook and really good with the kids.'
Do you agree that these men are quite representative of all the other males in the world?

Jun 1, 2010

Asking for Directions

While growing up as a child, I did not know about this peculiar trait of men - Not asking for directions! We did not have any cars in the world. There were only ambassador cars and they were all owned by Government officials. Otherwise only super rich people had cars. What went on in their world is beyong our reach.

But, now that every house seems to be having a car, this handicap of men is becoming all too obvious. While women are accused of 'back seat driving' and 'instructing the husband to drive this way or that', men seem to have a pathological aversion to admit that they are lost.

Is it ego or we don't want to admit our deficiencies in front of the wife and kids? Whatever it is, poor souls normally end up having a fit when finally you land up in alaska or somewhere, when you actually intended to go to the other end of Bangalore. I don't know how to drive a vehicle; and I don't think in this incarnation, I am going to learn it. But, I don't have this hang up of not asking directions - in spite of being a male species.

As a young man, while doing project work in unknown big places, I used to love the challenge of reaching any place just with an address. Travelling hundreds of kilometres by bus-hopping and finally ending up in the required office at Mumbai once and then, giving a surprise darshan to Gouthami and Rema in Kadapa and Madanapalli respectively, yes, reaching Rema's house in Alleppey for her wedding... all with just a piece of paper with the postal address - asking numerous people in my broken Hindi, Telugu and Malayalam as the case may be ... those adventures and successes still are fresh in my mind.

Does the feathered world also has this gender disparity? One of the amazing things about nature is birds flying thousands of kilometres (non-stop, mind it!) and reaching the exact tree in which they stayed the previous year. The one in the cartoon below may be a male pigeon, may be...

Elephants and many other animals too are known to migrate over long distances. I am sure there will be lot of acrimonious exchanges between the wife-elephant and the husband-elephant about taking the wrong turns, not asking the passing deer about the correct location or 'doesn't this dry bush look familiar?' or ' last time, when I came, there was a purple tree in this corner. It seems to have been eaten up by the jungle goat' or some such thing. And, finally, the wife-elephant dejectedly telling the son-elephant and daughter-elephant, "this is why I never come with your father; if we had listened to my mother's directions, we would have reached home long ago, finished dinner and gone off to sleep by now!"

I wonder who is asking direction in the photograph above? The driver or the bear?

May 29, 2010

Teacher vs Guru

Even though we use these two words 'Teacher' and 'Guru' almost synonymously, there seems to be a lot of differences. Krishna forwarded this interesting information thorugh an email.

A teacher takes responsibility for your growth;

A Guru makes you responsible for your growth.

A teacher gives you things you do not have and require;

A Guru takes away things you have and do not require.

A teacher answers your questions;

A Guru questions your answers.

A teacher helps you get out of the maze;

A Guru destroys the maze.

A teacher requires obedience and discipline from the pupil;

A Guru requires trust and humility from the pupil.

A teacher clothes you and prepares you for the outer journey;

A Guru strips you naked and prepares you for the inner journey.

A teacher is a guide on the path;

A Guru is a pointer to the way.

A teacher sends you on the road to success;

A Guru sends on the road to freedom.

A teacher explains the world and its nature to you;

A Guru explains yourself and your nature to you.

A teacher makes you understand how to move about in the world;

A Guru shows you where you stand in relation to the world.

A teacher gives you knowledge and boosts your ego;

A Guru takes away your knowledge and punctures your ego.

A teacher sharpens your mind;

A Guru opens your mind.

A teacher instructs you;

A Guru constructs you.

A teacher shows you the way to prosperity;

A Guru shows the way to serenity.

A teacher reaches your mind;

A Guru touches your soul.

A teacher gives you knowledge;

A Guru makes you wise.

A teacher gives you maturity.

A Guru returns you to innocence.

A teacher is a systematic thinker;

A Guru is a lateral thinker.

A teacher will punish you with a stick;

A Guru will punish you with compassion.

A teacher is to the pupil what a father is to a son;

A Guru is what a mother is to her child.

A teacher leads you by the hand;

A Guru leads you by example.

One can always find a teacher;

But a Guru has to find and accept you.

May 25, 2010

The Weaver, the Princess and Goldman Sachs

Everyone knows that we Indians invented the zero. Without zero and the decimal number system, writing and calculating really large numbers would be very difficult. This would be awful for people in the financial industry, whose work depends on having really big salaries. Fortunately Indians came to their rescue by inventing zero.

Another thing which is crucial to the financial services industry is the concept of being too big to fail, which has been put to good use by Citigroup, Bear Stearns, and Goldman Sachs over the past few years in sucking money from American taxpayers. This beautiful concept was also invented by an Indian - Vishnu Sharma, the author of the Panchatantra, in the story of the Weaver and the Chariot Maker.

The story of the weaver and chariot maker is one of the Panchatantra stories that usually doesn't make it to primary school textbooks or Amar Chitra Katha, mostly because it's full of sex, war, and moral hazard. Since you probably haven't read it, here's a quick summary.

A weaver sees a princess during a festival and falls in love with her. As a weaver, he has no chance of marrying her, so he sinks into depression. His friend, a chariot maker decides to help him out. He designs a flying chariot in the shape of Garuda, dresses the weaver up as Vishnu, and tells him to fly the chariot into the princess's room, tell her that he is Vishnu and wants to marry her Gandharva style. That is, the wedding is kept a secret from everyone except the princess and the faux-Vishnu. The princess agrees, and the weaver comes back every night to consummate the marriage.

Eventually, the maids notice that the princess is spending her days in total bliss, suspect that she's in love, and tell the King. The King asks her what's going on, and she tells him that she's married to Vishnu himself. The King is absolutely delighted, and decides that there's no point in paying tribute to the Chakravarti (Emperor), now that Vishnu himself is on the kingdom's side. The next night, he catches the weaver as he enters the princess's room and asks him to fight the Chakravarti's army, thinking that he is lord vishnu.
The weaver is horrified. Pretending to be Vishnu was fine, but taking on the role of Vishnu to face an imperial army single-handed is another thing altogether. On the other hand, if he confesses to the King that he is not actually Vishnu and had married the princess under false pretences for the past month, he will have his head chopped off. So he decides to get on to the battlefield and do the best job he can, while the King is whipping up enthusiasm in the population by telling them that Vishnu himself is going to do all the fighting.
By this time, Garuda (the real one, not the mechanical one) has tipped off Vishnu about what's going on, and warned him that if the fake Vishnu doesn't win the battle, the people of the kingdom will lose all faith in him. Vishnu doesn't want to see this happen, so on the battlefield he enters the weaver's body and annihilates the Emperor's army. The entire army. Every single soldier. After this, the weaver marries the princess, everyone goes on worshipping Vishnu, and the king becomes the new Emperor.

The moral is that you should conduct your affairs in such a way that if you fail, it will lead to someone or something even bigger or more powerful failing too. This lets you get away with anything. The weaver got away with having sex with the princess on false pretences (this is rape under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code), pretending to be a god (awesomely enough, this too is a criminal offence under Section 508), and annihilating an entire army that was fighting a just war - after all, it was the king who broke the treaty (you could make a case for this being genocide under Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide).

American banks and financial institutions were very good at absorbing this lesson, and leveraged themselves up to such an extent that if they failed they would take the global economy down with them. And just as the weaver lived happily ever after with the princess, banks have lived happily ever after with taxpayer-funded bailouts.