Kicking-the-bucket list

Today has been a weird day in my head.  The cat that adopted us a few months back, birthed three kittens early this morning.  Although I never really got attached to the cat, the sight of those tiny, blind, helpless kittens, snuggling up to their mother has been choking me up all morning.  Birth is probably the greatest miracle in the world.

Adding to the emotional roller coaster of the birth is the grandeur of a death – the death of a great man, while doing something he loved.  Dr. Kalam wanted to be known, not as a president, or a scientist, or an awardee, but as a teacher, and he breathed his last while teaching – what a lucky man.

I have been thinking since this morning – if I were fortunate enough to go while I was doing something I loved, when would that be?

Perhaps when I am writing something?  A research proposal?  An article? Even a blog post?  How about now?

Perhaps when I am walking alongside my dearly beloved, sometimes in amiable silence, sometimes in animated discussion?

Perhaps when I am helping my kid draw, color, cut and paste stuff in her project notebook?

Perhaps when I am reading a book?  “My Antonia”? “Anna Karenina”?

Do you have a kicking-the-bucket list? Or is too morbid to discuss?

The Scientific Indian


Just how blessed is a human being who not only lived life pursuing his passion, but also died doing what he loved best – igniting minds of the youth.

I mourn the death of Dr. Abdul Kalam, our scientist-ex-president, the rocket man of India, and a wonderful human being.  I had the good fortune of seeing him as he drove past me one evening many years ago, when he was the President of the nation – I would cherish the memory of his simple smile for ever.

The country is on holiday tomorrow as a mark of respect.  I don’t think taking off work shows respect to a man who lived his dream.  Working does.  I will work tomorrow, as my mark of respect for his indomitable spirit.

May he find the truth he sought all his life, in death.


It seems unfair to not write a post about the rains, as I sit in the verandah, listening to its pitter patter and feeling the moisture laden cool air on my face, after having ranted and raved about being cooked less than a month ago.  It is still a very constipated rain that can’t make up its mind whether to perform a rock show like the monsoon rains of Chennai , or be gentle and delicate as the first leaves of spring (which have long since aged and withered in the bone burning heat of the past month), and falls in an indescribably boring, brief, continuum.  But that is a “glass half empty” argument, which is not right, considering that we started with an empty glass a couple of weeks ago.  I’ll take this and run.

There are two seasons in Chennai that I love.  Jan-Feb-early March, when it is bright and sunny without being particularly hot and October-November, the North East monsoon period (which lately seems consistently delayed to December), where if we are lucky, half a dozen cyclones of varying strengths miss us by a hairline, thereby giving us the monsoon feel without the damage.  July-September period is temperamental in that summer does not want to leave, but the South West Monsoon overshoots its geographic boundaries and graces us with a few showers as is happening now.

The steady drone of the drops is hypnotic, but is disturbed by children squealing in the neighbourhood.  There is one particular boy who is singing “Rain Rain go away” and as soon as I publish this post, I am going to seek him out and sock him one.

The Horror

During intermission of a very loud Jurassic World in our OAT,

11 year old V:  Ooooo…I feel scared.  My heart is thumping,  I bet my mom is scared too…illamaa?

Mom:  I want to go home.

10 year old M: ha ha.  I am scared.  But my dad won’t be.  He wasn’t even scared when he watched Amen.


10 year old M:  You know…that scary ghost movie, Amen.

Ah !  Omen !

Miceties to be observed

Do you know what curdles the milk of human kindness?  The idea of anthropomorphised rodents, with names like Mickey, being perceived as cute.

Let me tell you why.

You know we live in protected woods area (the woods rapidly thinning like my hair, due to encroachment of civilization, leaving concrete bald spots), and periodically have close encounters of the first, second and third kinds with wild life that escape into the cage in which we live.  While some of them are relatively harmless, other than sticking pins and needles into the damaged head of one particular inmate who has an exaggerated sense of “eww” towards life forms of varying numbers of limbs, some encounters are less so.

Take yesterday, for example.

If I tell you that I perceived a mouse in the house, you’d probably think you are déjà vu-ing.  You are not.  I have had a previous hysteric experience with the cursed mammal, which I have shared with you.  So excuse me if this sounds repetitive; the fact is that the climax is not.

The cat that adopted us a few months ago finds it her prerogative to walk into the house every now and then to ensure that the furniture is safe, and that the humans continue in their daily routine of running around like headless chicken.  Lately, she had taken up sauntering into the kitchen and sniffing under the counters.  I discovered why, yesterday.  As I was mindlessly browsing the net in post-lunch stupour, thinking profound thoughts such as “if I burned all the calories I ingested by exercising, as Internet recommends, where would I find the energy to, you know, live?”- don’t ask, midlife crisis – I thought I heard a squeak in the kitchen.

Like a compressed string releasing its potential energy, I jumped, rushed to the kitchen, and started flinging out all the ingredients of the lower shelves and searching for signs of life, but found none other than myself.   Was it my imagination?  But then, the last time I perceived a mouse, even while sleeping, it turned out to be true.  The pins and needles got onto business, and I pulled up the dining chair to look at the top shelves and loft for the elusive rodent.

So far, so good.

This chair, let me assure you, has four solid legs, and crossbars that give it a fairly low centre of gravity. Still, it isn’t much beyond common sense to stand at the centre of the chair seat, and not at the edges.  But pins and needles render the brain porous and the laziness to get down from the chair and move it a few inches to check the far end of the shelves made me do just that.  The chair had had its last (rather heavy) straw and buckled like a torn belt under the unbalanced weight on it, succumbing to the bitch that is gravity, and in the process, brought down with it 55 kilos of bones, muscles and largely fat (around the midsection).

The two Mississippi’s that took for the suspended load to hit the ground stretched to eternity as I felt every cell of the body preparing to meet the red-oxide floor.  The right hand, being tethered to the body permanently, decided to take it upon itself to be the buffer and save the internal organs from damage. As the body rebounded from impact, the brain went into hyperdrive – “Oh, God, if my right hand fractures, how would I operate the faucet in the toilet and wash after my business is done?” Meanwhile, the right hand made it known in no uncertain terms that the next time the body decides to meet mother earth, it would hold its coat and wish it luck for the encounter without getting mixed up in the sordid business.

Long story short, after a few excruciating minutes of a few hundred dels of pain,  during which time, the dude, having rushed in at the explosion, tried to get the woman up and failed at the mammoth (pun unintended) task, it was concluded that LG’s bones have more impact strength to them than expected and that the health faucet will continue to be used (albeit with a little difficulty) in times to come.

Which comes to the logical question.  Were there mice or not?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Done rare

enoughIf you have a memory that is healthier than mine, you’d remember me writing about how much I love summer. When, for the twenty seventh day in a row, one wakes up feeling the heat penetrate into the body through every skin pore, never to leave the body again, love goes on a long vacation.  Probably to the hills. The Westerleys that are soaking the West coast, are squatting on the head of our Easterlies, and refusing to let our parched land be cooled by the bay .  Without the timely sea-breeze to cool the anger, I am running a jumbo sized deodorant bottle every week.  There are fire ants riding not only my skin, but my head too, as I snap at anyone within half-mile radius of me, so that people stay a good three quarters mile away from me.  Which is not a bad thing, I could do without their radiated body heat.

My laptop (not the cool one, but the fossil that I have been reluctant to give up) is no help either.  Not only does it lose its juice within 15 minutes of discharge, but cooks my thighs medium rare by the time I open a single browser.  And the idea of entering the kitchen to pack the kid’s nourishment raises uncharitable thoughts about the whole institution of schooling.  And about the bad engineering design of the human body that needs input every now and then.  Why isn’t there summer hibernation for tropicans ?  Was the quality control department napping during creation?

If you (and by this, I mean you, Rama) leave a comment here about how wonderful Coimbatore is, I swear, I will use bad words.

Familial Wordplay

Dad:  This kid is always on her pad.  “Pad”ஆவதியா ஆயிண்டிருக்கா.

A few hours later:

Kid:  Appa, amma refuses to give me tea.  ’டீ’யவள் ஆயிண்டிருக்கா.


Can you see the genetic connection there?   More importantly, can you imagine the plight of the mom who is subjected to such puns on a daily basis ?