Socializing

Thoughts on a Saturday

A few weeks ago, I attended a dinner party organized by a group of my father’s friends. It was standard as far as dinner parties went – nobody could completely recognize everybody, the kids were bored out of their minds and everybody laughed uproariously at jokes that weren’t at all funny.

While all of this was happening, one of the guests came up to me, and asked me what I was doing at work. When I did tell him what I was doing he smiled sympathetically and told me, very gently, that it wasn’t good for anything, and that I should be considering alternatives if I wanted to make money, and if I really wanted to succeed. Look at me, he said, and went on to list all his dazzling achievements which he dazzlingly achieved during his dazzling days in the practice and even after he left practice, before he asked me if I had an exit plan in mind, and whether it was as dazzling as his own.

I started to make a bad joke about raising cows only to get cut off with a serious response about the potential of organic farming, and how his own organic farm (that will do dazzlingly in the future, I’m sure) is shaping up instead. Thankfully, my exit plan appeared a few minutes later in the form of his kid who wanted ice-cream and I slipped out of sight to another corner in the room with the hope that I wouldn’t have to see him again.

I get really unnerved when people who are senior to me discuss their career accomplishments with me, and more so when it is accompanied by advice (which is usually unsolicited). I think it probably is because of the fact that my personal definition of what constitutes an achievement has always been very fuzzy. I don’t know if that is because of the way I was brought up. My parents were never the ‘punishing’ type – failures, and awful marks would be met with disappointed faces and the statement – “It’s your future. We can only do so much.”. Good performances, and academic success was met with happiness, but they were never really surprised or even labelled such performances as “achievements”, or whatever it is that gives you the ego that comes along with having accomplished something.

My sister and I have never let good performances really get into our heads, but I remember the time when I’d just passed CA – I was extraordinarily smug and possessed the arrogance of someone who had touched the moon by building a ladder made entirely of toothpicks. My mother went on to prick my ego balloon by telling me that passing CA was the least I could’ve done, given my background – My father is a Chartered Accountant, and even if that wasn’t a factor, I attended the best classes one could attend/money could buy, had access to every book I’d ever need and the best environment required to study – The only odds I had to overcome were my own tendencies to sleep on my textbooks and not pay attention to my teachers and the fact that I failed despite everything that was provided to me was more of an achievement than my passing. You milked a cow and got milk, my mother had told me. Tell me about the day you milked a cow and got orange juice, and I’ll let you have an ego then.

Today, I’m still looking to really achieve, do things in ways that only I could’ve done, but it seems stupid to say oh, I want to achieve without even knowing what I want to achieve. I know quite a few people who seem to have it figured out, who seem to know exactly where they will be, ten, fifteen years from now. I don’t. What I do know, though, is that I don’t want to be in my forties giving unsolicited advice to young people about how they should be living their lives.

And that, I suppose, is as good a start as any.

Problems of Plenty

It feels like I’ve been having too many hobbies of late – I should probably blame Pinterest with its very many shiny photos that have successfully fooled me into thinking that I have it in myself to be a great baker/gardener/morning person/diet and fitness expert/healthy eater/writer/circus clown. While I am enjoying doing all the new things that I’m doing, I’ve been finding it very hard to focus on a hobby. I learn something, I get down to doing it a couple of times, and then I jump on to the next. Occasionally I phase between hobbies, but I just get so bored so quickly.

The area where boredom strikes me the most (apart from work), is in my exercise routine. This year, I completed a grand 10 months out of my annual gym membership, which is something of a personal best for me. The last few years I’ve been working out, I enroll for a monthly membership first, see if I like the place and my routine, decide that I like the place and the routine, pay annual membership, go for around 3 months before I decide that it’s dull and then repeat the process the next year. In between memberships, I signed up for a Yoga class and loved it (although I only attended like a week of the month that I paid for…minor detail), and as fate would have it, they closed that branch of their studio that year and I went back to donating to the gyms of the city.

This year I took on a whole 10 months of whining and panting on the treadmill (and assorted torture devices) before I gave up again. For the first couple of weeks after quitting, I decided that I didn’t need the gym at all, and tried doing iPhone app based workouts for a bit, only to realize that I just didn’t have the willpower to do anything other than nap on the exercise mat. After that, my fitness routine got restricted to bookmarking pilates videos on youtube.

Two days ago though, I surprised myself by signing up for a very early Zumba class. You see, despite my mastery over the complex dance routine that is The Penguin (walk walk flap, walk walk flap walk flap walk flap walk walk….way tougher than it reads, let me tell you), I’d always had inhibitions where dance workouts were concerned. I don’t know if it was because of my personal nightmares of all the waddling I did in the Bharatanatyam classes I took as a kid, or the effect of watching Punnagai Mannan one too many times.

Anyway, I’m now two Zumba classes old and I’m happy to report that I’m quite enjoying it. I’m looking forward to the classes, they are fun, my instructor is a lovely person, and the way that it’s going, I think I can see myself being regular, having fun with exercise, and not getting bored. And because I’m having fun with exercise, I can even see myself getting an annual membership. And because I am having fun AND getting an annual membership, I most definitely see myself quitting after 3 months.

Why I Don’t Swim Anymore And Other Excuses

If I were to think of the one thing I’ve spent most time and energy on while growing up, it’s definitely on coming up with excuses to avoid taking sports related classes. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching sport. There’s the drama, the sentiment, the thrill and great looking caucasian dudes taking their shirts off. But when it comes to playing, it’s just total trauma because I am an athletic disaster. No really, I’ve been told I have negative hand eye co-ordination, the stamina of a dead squirrel and that I’m generally doomed to be a total failure in sport by like 8 different instructors thus far. So if you think about it, I’m kinda like Abraham Lincoln except for the minor detail about him eventually overcoming his failures and becoming President and me still being a failure.  
My mother thinks I have a talent when it comes to coming up with excuses – but the one thing people don’t usually understand about great excuses is that they aren’t made. They just happen. When I was 5, my father apparently had this vision of me becoming a swimming champion (on an unrelated note, I see where my hyperactive imagination comes from) and just like that, I was enrolled into swimming classes at Savera. Have you guys seen the pool at Savera? In case you haven’t I MUST describe it – IT’S CREEPY AS HELL. You know, in normal-people-land, swimming pools are just like giant tubs with blue tiles, because that’s how they’re meant to be. But no, the pool at Savera has like mosaic sea creatures. They start out as friendly seeming fish in the shallow end, become mosaic mermaids (or whatever) in the 5′ – 7′ level and finally, very evil looking giant fish in 12′ deep, dark end. For a really long time I was convinced that the deep end had these bloodthirsty sharks which ate children. And were invisible. 
As if the invisible shark pool wasn’t intimidating enough, the swimming instructor (Terror Sir) was the stuff nightmares was made of. In our second class, he pulled us out of the nice, safe, shallow end and made us (about 6 of us, mostly 5, 6 year olds) line up near the deep end. And then, he pushed us in. Just like that. When you’re like roughly three feet tall, this is crazy scary – imagine being pushed in to this crazy mosaic fish pool (which probably had invisible sharks) with no warning, no floating aids and NO TRAINING. When I came back home after class that evening (I managed to escape the sharks thanks to my mad grab-the-nearest-adult-in-the-water-and-holler-until-he-helps-you-out-of-the-water skills) I was a mess. I begged, I pleaded, I even did the kicking that I was supposed to have done in the water to get out of swimming classes. My mom was unfazed ofcourse, even with my dramatic re-telling of how I nearly drowned to death. “The next time he makes you jump in, just say ‘Jai Anjaneya!’. Nothing will happen!” 
(In case you are wondering, I actually tried this the next class – Instead of my usual 500 decibel shriek, I went in with a 500 decibel JAI ANJANEYA! war-cry. I got out and didn’t burst into hysterical sobs after I was out of the pool – This was a huge deal, and not surprisingly, it caught on among my peers as well.  Pretty soon there was even like this mini-contest among us with respect to who can say JAI ANJANEYA! the loudest while jumping in. I still sucked at swimming though.)
Basically, my parents just wouldn’t let anything deter them from their ambition to mould me into an Asian Games hopeful, which was really sad because I hated swimming, as much as I hated the times Terror Sir would like dunk my head in the water as punishment whenever I displayed my incapability in the water, which was all the time. I played sick (“Swimming will make you feel better!”), I played scared (“Anjaneya is there no? He’ll take care of you!”) and I even played the bad girl card – I kicked Terror Sir right on the stomach in the pretext of improving my freestyle. This did not go well either, because he went and told my parents that I had the legs of a swimming champion and that I should extend my classes.  
Just when I thought I had run out of excuses, one evening we were let into the kiddy pool for an entire hour because Terror Sir was too busy terrorizing his senior students for some competition the next day. The kiddy pool in Savera is also a piece of work – it’s a small pool made even smaller thanks to a GIANT Shiva-Parvati statue bang in the middle with a chlorine Ganga spouting from Shiva’s head. Some kids took it really seriously and would insist on playing “Temple Temple” during our splashing time and we’d form this line and go around the statue and drink some chlorinated water as our Prasadam. Anyway, so there we were, obediently circling Shiva-Parvati-Chlorine-Ganga when one of the boys (I’m just going to call him Oneboy cause I don’t remember his name) started yelling for his mother. Oneboy’s mom showed up looking all tired and exasperated snapped at him asking what the matter was. Apparently, Oneboy really really really needed to go use the loo on the other side of the pool to susu. 
But Oneboy’s mom just rolled her eyes and was like “Why can’t you just do it there?”  
Oneboy yelled right back at his Mom – “That is only in big pool! I can’t susu on God, okay!” 
My mother who was nearby, overhearing all this, quietly told me to get out of the pool – and just like that I was relieved from swimming classes. Goes to prove that if Lavanya cannot come up with an excuse, the excuse shall come to Lavanya. 

Birthday Bumps

I turned thirteen not too long ago. Fine, close to 10 years ago. I don’t remember much of how I was at that time, which, knowing me, is probably a good thing, but what I do remember is my thirteenth birthday. 

Very clearly. 
My parents had just arranged for what they called a  “small family get together”, which in our family’s case almost always translates into a mini mob of close to 70 people. So there I was, birthday girl, in my orange shirt and super flare grey jeans (I just confirmed that with the photos) which made me look about 2 feet shorter and wider simultaneously, being all happy and birthday girl like and getting a lot of cash from wallet-happy relatives while waiting for more wallet-happy relatives to assemble so that I could cut my beautiful cake. No seriously, it was beautiful. It was yellow, with white frosting and it had my name on it. I was in love. Let me clarify something here – when I was 13, actually, even 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, I had a love-love relationship with food, which explained my extraordinarily startling resemblance to a sintex tank. Then things changed, but more on that later. 
Fifteen long minutes of staring at the cake later, the crowd had gathered, the candles had been lit, a bunch of 3 year olds next to me had started licking the icing off the sides and my mom handed me the knife. I blew the candles out among the awkward singing, when my 6 year old sister started screaming, and it wasn’t just any kind of screaming, it was the kind of high pitched screaming that should be patented for use by ambulances and firetrucks. The crowd became silent. She didn’t stop screaming. And then there were tears. And screaming. 
My mother was the first to react. “Did you stamp her foot?” she asked me. 
Thanks mom. 
“No!” 
“Then what is the issue?” 
“Ask her!” 
“Kannamma. What’s the issue?” 
Sidenote: Don’t you just hate it when a birthday ruining brat is called cute names? 
“Ammmaaa.” She said in between sobs. “She’s cutting the cake! ” 
“Yes, kuttima. It’s her birthday no?” 
“But I want to cut the cake!”
“Your birthday was in January, remember? You cut a big cake no?” 
“Noooo” she cried and started bawling even louder.  
My mother picked her up and tried to calm her down by calling her some more cute baby names and some enthu relatives even gave her birthday money (when it wasn’t even her birthday!). I tried to quickly cut the cake while she was distracted by the money, but there was no escaping her CIA spy camera eyes because the moment I picked the knife up, she started wailing again. 
My father finally decided to intervene. “You have to do something about her voice! My glasses are about to shatter any second.”
“I’m trying! Kutti, you can also cut the cake ok? Let Akka cut, and then you cut. Ok?” 
More screaming. 
“Enough!” my father proclaimed. I was overjoyed. Finally, the brat could be locked up until my party was over. 
“Lavanyaaaaa, let Vathoo cut the cake no? Look at her, she won’t stop crying. Be mature now. You’re grown up no?” 
“But Appaa..”
“Please? You’re a ChamathuKutti* no?” 
And so, the ChamathuKutti, very very reluctantly handed over the knife to the now beaming, evil, little birthday spoiling monster to cut the cake. Like, between the two of us, I’d have rather been the Cut-The-Cake-Kutti than the ChamathuKutti. 
That was in 2002. Flash forward to this Friday, 6th January 2012, when my sister celebrated her all important 16th Birthday. The cake arrived right on time for the party and this is what it looked like.
Moral of the Story : Karma loves only ChamathuKuttis. 
*Chamathu Kutti – Generally obedient and sweet little kid which I totally am, by the way. 

5 reasons why it’s probably a good idea to deactivate your facebook account

5. Because everyone else is having a better time than you are
The home feed is a constant source of depression. Everyone else is going to more exotic places than you are, getting haircuts that are better than yours and of course, partying. There are DJs, there are shiny dance floors, multicolored drinks, hazy pictures of too much fun had and of course, that invisible, but strong reminder that the last “party” I went to involved a 6 year old cutting cake and Winnie the Pooh. On the bright side, I did get a picture with Winnie the Pooh.
4. Because Facebook knows all the people you never liked in School and wants you to be friends with them. 
For the last time, I don’t want to add R.Srivatsan who was my bench-partner in V-B for 4 days as a friend. Especially because he changed schools right after stealing my brand new Hero pen. That pretty much sealed the end of our friendship right there. Also.
3. Because Facebook is not a pleasant place when you’re academically incompetent (Like me)
Just when you come on to Facebook to get your mind off your exam results, the first story on your feed is some moron with an AATHA! NA PASS AAYITEN!* status. There is obviously something wrong with the system.
2. Because Facebook loves to remind you that you’re not getting any younger
If your friends aren’t getting married, they’re probably having babies, that kid who used to take “how to play with Barbie” lessons from you is celebrating the 6 month anniversary with her second boyfriend and apparently, 18 ’til I die is just a song.
1. Because Facebook is the new TamilMatrimony
The other day, my mother was on the phone with an aunt, and the subject of discussion was the ongoing “looking” process for a cousin. Apparently the Aunt had mentioned something about how they had got a “good match” but had no clue about how said match looked like, for which my mother immediately remarked – “Pera sollungo! Facebook-la paakalaam!” (Just say the name! We’ll find him on Facebook!).

Deactivate button, anyone?

[Based on conversation with the erstwhile @idlingintopgear]

* – Roughly translates to “MOMMY! I HAVE BECOME PASS!”

10 things I learned during my internship

(Not too long ago, I was searching around in my computer for academic material when I stumbled upon this. I had noted this down after a particularly exhausting audit season to remind myself why I was where I was.)

One of the prime conditions in the Chartered Accountancy course is that all students are mandatorily required to undergo what the Institute terms a “rigorous articleship”, to “prepare the student to tackle professional challenges head on.” There’s an important lesson here – DON’T BELIEVE THE PROSPECTUS. But we’ll come to that another day. So here’s what I learned about internships the last three and half years of my particularly, er, rigorous, articleship training.  
10. Making/getting coffee is also part of the job description:
Sure, you’ve topped school, your classmates are industrial scions and you drive the same car as your boss. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make you the boss. Expecting to be given challenging assignments the second day you’ve joined doesn’t really happen, no matter how shiny your academic record is. Getting coffee and learning to operate the photocopy machine will definitely be a significant part of your first few months in the office. On the plus side, your mother can now include “Makes excellent filter coffee” along with that part about you being the perfect blend of traditional and modern values on your tamilmatrimony profile. 
9. Networking and friendships:
It’s important to make friends with the people you work with. Even if you’re not going to be exchanging “Frendz4ever” bracelets every August or sending each other “Oram-nnu peru vechavan Nera podraan aana Nehra-nnu peru vechavan Orama podraan” type SMS forwards every morning, it’s necessary to be cordial. Remember that you’ll be spending 8+ hours at work, 5 days a week, so apart from the fact that life would be that much more painful if you don’t get along with the people you work with, you never know who’s going to end up where. That checked-shirt full naamam Varadu boy the rest of you made fun of might just become the Commissioner of Income Tax. Or worse, your husband. 
8. Dress well, dress appropriate. 
I worked in a typically conservative tamil brahmin office where the youngest partner was about 52 years old and the oldest, 80. So I didn’t really have much of a choice when it came to adhering to the Salwar-Kameez-with-Dupatta dress code. It’s not very likely you’d be under similar constraints, but if you are, I’d recommend you embrace your inner housewife. What? We both know what you want to do after you finish your CA is to become a housewife. Seriously. I know. 
7. There will be times when you feel like jumping out of the nearest window.
It happens to all of us. Hang in there. And no, whatever you do, don’t try to push your boss out of the window. They almost always survive. 
6.Mistakes WILL happen. 
And no, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s the very purpose of your internship. You’re there to make mistakes. Goof ups are an integral part of the time you spend there, and the more the merrier! Ofcourse, there’s something about learning from your mistakes. Or something.
5. Be grateful to your boss.
The man is literally paying to let you screw up on his behalf. 
4. Remember that there are people who’re going to be better than you at work. 
Deal with it. In fact, ask him/her for help with your assignments sometime. Happiness comes from triumphing over your ego. Greater happiness comes from seeing other people do your work. 
3. Never regret the choices you make here
There’s no going back, anyway. You don’t have a degree, do you? 
And even if you do, there’s no going back. HA!
2. You ARE going to get yelled at.
Your brain’s exact whereabouts will be questioned, as will be your general ability to locate and extract hair follicles. Also, part of your job description. 
1. You ARE going to get better at the job. 

Golu

Golu was very well done this year. My mother surpassed the standards which she had surpassed the previous year. It was grander, more colourful and very besh-besh worthy and with the exception of Abhiramapuram maami who had upstaged everyone by substituting sundal with bruschetta (no kidding! we plan to one up her next time by serving sundal bruschetta, and yes, you heard that here FIRST!), it was safe to say that ours was one of the biggest in our circuit. The thing is, Golu is more than just a part of Navrathri for my mother. It is a competition, and my mother wants to be sole owner of the “my golu is bigger than your golu” prize. Every year, apart from running about town collecting “rare” dolls to her already mammoth collection, she goes around houses looking at golus, making painstakingly detailed mental notes about what she could have done, what she couldn’t have done, what she should have done, what she shouldn’t have done…you get the picture.  

Front view, Golu 2010. On the left side there was the mini krishna leela and on the right, the dinosaur village park. Both are missing due to lack of space in the frame and general laziness of the photographer.

A couple of days back, I was talking about the festival with one very favourite akka of mine, when she brought up the topic of theme golus. It brought to mind a rather distinct memory, which I didn’t share with her then, but thought I’d write about. 

It was Navaratri of 2005. My mother had dragged me along to go Ayodhya-Mandapam-adjacent-street Maami’s. She had kept a theme golu, the theme being “the 12 alwars“. It was quite a creative display, really – she had five small padis with the regular golu and the alwar stories going around it. 

Now, every golu that I visit, I usually have this policy of looking around for a minute and then going “waaw”. It is painless, and always ensures that I get extra sundal to eat so that I’d have atleast have something to do while the older people gossiped about that maami’s daughter. Unfortunately, I was unable to exercise my patent charm at Ayodhya-Mandapam-Adjacent-Street Maami’s simply because of the fact that she insisted (read forced) us into listening to her tell the story of all 12 alwars in the same tone I use to recite tax provisions when I mug. Not very pleasant, to put it mildly. As if that wasn’t painful enough, maami gave us a paper with, wait for it, a QUIZ. It had 12 questions (keeping with the theme, apparently) and the one (out of the two of us – me and my mother) with the most number of correct answers would win a prize, namely the pink plastic boxes that she got as vethlapaaku from some other maami the previous year and decided to recycle. Which was pretty smart on her part, come to think of it, although it might have been weird if said maami had found out what she was up to. 

I digress. 

On our way back home, I wasn’t too happy – apart from “losing” the quiz (which wasn’t much of a surprise. I had written “Andal” as the answer to all the questions) the sundal that maami had so affectionately stuffed me with was already giving me stomach trouble. Neither was my mother. Just as I was about to ask her if she was experiencing the same amount of pain that I was, “How di?” she interrupted. 

“I think she gave us leftovers from yesterday, ma”
“Chi! not that. How do people keep golus like this? Theme and all. Everybody will talk about her golu, I’m sure.”
“Somebody should talk about her sundal. It’s a potential lawsuit.”
“We should keep a theme next year.”
“Are you kidding? Too much effort. Our golu is nice the way it is. Besides, nobody cares, ma.”

At that moment, there was a flash in her eyes and I knew exactly what was coming. 

“We are having a theme golu next year”  
“Maaa…” 
“Enna? You want gelusil?”
“Noo! This theme business is torture!”
“It’s simple enough. You just have to think of something. We can’t do alwars. What about ramayana?”
“Too much work.”
“Mahabharata?”
“Too much work.”
“I know! Nava-rathri! The number 9!”
“Too much.”
“No di. Nava thirupathi. Nava grahas. Like that. It’ll be new! It’ll be different! Everyone will talk about it! What do you think?”
“I think I need gelusil maa”

By the time we came back home, my mother had pretty much visualized the whole set up of how her golu was going to be next year. She was very excited, in fact, the only thing she didn’t do was jump out of the car in her very pattu podavai and run around saying “Eureka! Eureka!” which might have resulted in a vaccuum cleaner or two being aimed at her direction. But still, as far as she was concerned, she had achieved a new pinnacle in creativity and couldn’t wait to share it with Paati.

Amma! Maami aathla enna theriyuma!
(“Amma! Do you know what they had at Maami’s house?”)

Paati stared for a bit at both of us. It was hard to ignore the excitement on my mothers face and the nausea on mine. 

Oosipona sundal” 
(Bad sundal)

“Aiyyo. Theme golu!”

“Theme golu a? Oh, they just showed it on TV. Some Maami in Adyar had also kept theme golu.”

“Apdiya? What theme? Even I have an idea for a theme.”

“Oh, it was nice. Nava rathri no? So she had kept number 9 as the theme. Nava graha set she had, then she had kept Nava thirupathi, one padi for nava rasas. Like that. It was very nice.”

Sometimes, people ask me how I so consistently bulb all the time. It takes a great amount of effort to not say hereditary. 

Kalyanam Chronicles

How can you not love Indian Weddings? The smoke, the noise, the Mama (Purohit) shouting at everyone and of course, the hapless bride and groom who have no clue about what’s happening to them amidst the sea of people so fervently trying to shake their hand. I personally love weddings, even though every wedding has at least 5 incidences of complete strangers pinching my cheeks and asking me to recognize them, along with a compulsory comment about my growth rate.
Of all my favourite marriage memories is the one that happened 2, or maybe 3 years ago, takes the cake. I was a lass of 17 then, naïve as ever, with the charm and the grace of an elephant in a tutu. It was yet another one of those weddings, full of pomp and smoke, and midway during the Kasi Yatra ceremony, (yes, that is when the groom supposedly walks out of the wedding with a handy umbrella saying he wants to become a single dude for life and the father of the bride rushes out to convince him to marry his daughter) was when I saw him.
He was tall, maybe 5 feet and 10 inches, give or take, not very fair, not very dark, a killer smile, great hair which flopped over his sricharnam-ed forehead and a lean physique.  Bharathiraja movie soundtracks started playing in my head. And I, of course, in a very ladylike fashion, stared at him through out the whole ceremony with my mouth hanging open.   
I am to believe that till date, thankfully, he didn’t notice the creepy girl, because he smiled at me once the ceremony was over. While people around me will say that it was one of those “ok-weird-woman-now-that-i-smiled-you-can-stop-staring” smiles, I’d like to think it was an “I’m-so-charmed” smile. Well, now you know why they call me the eternal optimist.
An hour or so later, after finishing lunch, I saw him, talking quite animatedly with my mother. What luck! I thought to myself. Now I’ll finally know who he is.  Making sure he was out of earshot, I asked my mother in a very casual tone as to who the young man she was talking to so spiritedly was. My mother raised her eyebrows, which was surprising considering I was being so casual. Maybe the fact that my eyes were popping out of their sockets gave me away.
“Avan a?” 
(him?)
“Aama ma, yaaradhu? Na avana munaadi paathadhe illa” 
(Yea, I’ve never seen him before)
“Avan dhaan X oda peran” (He’s X’s grandson) Offered my mother very helpfully, unaware of the fact that I may not have a sprinkling of an idea as to who X was.
“Adhu yaaru ma X?” 
(who’s X?)
“X di. Y paati is there no, her brother’s grandson.”
“Y paati a?”
“Aiyo, Y paati! Your paati is there no, Y paati is her cousin. You must have seen her in P’s wedding”
My mother, once again was ignorant of the fact that I may not have any living memory of P’s wedding considering I was only 6 then. All I cared about weddings then was whether ice cream would be served at the end of the meal and playing musical chairs with myself. 
“Therila…nyaabagum illa” 
(Dunno…don’t remember)
“Ippo unakku ennadi venum?”
(What do you want now?)
“Illa…andha payyan enaku epdi related?”
(no…how’s that guy related to me?)
“Very simple di. He’s Y paati’s brother X’s grandson.”
“Sollu ma…” I poked, hoping she’d say something like mora-payyan (In my defense, I had been diagnosed with the deadly disease Magnificus Salivatis, commonly known as Jollaria. Also I was but an inexperienced child of 17)
“Unakku avan Anna”
Anna. Brother.
Have you seen those moments in the cartoons where glass breaks, and everything comes to a screeching halt. It was one of those moments. Brother apparently.  I watched my mother talk to yet another aunty I didn’t recognize. But turned out she knew me and had very fond memories of me pissing on her saree when she came to my house 14 years ago. Just as I was about to give her my well rehearsed fake smile, I noticed a very very good looking boy standing behind her.
“This is my son ma, H. Nyaabagum irukka? You’ve played with him and all.”
As he flashed his dimples, I sincerely wished I remembered.
As the middle aged women continued their conversation, H started talking. I don’t remember what he talked about or what we talked considering I was paying more attention to his dimples. But I remembered only one thing. The show must go on. 

This is going to hurt just a little bit…

One thing I like less than most things is sitting in a dentist chair with my mouth wide open. And that I will never have to do it again is a hope that I am against hope hopen. Because some tortures are physical and some are mental, But the one that is both is dental.Ogden Nash I had been ignoring my cavities for a very, very long time. Sure, I’d get the usual pink note in every school health check up – “cavity filling recommended” which I would conveniently “misplace”. But recently my cavities came back with a vengeance which meant I had to make my long procrastinated dentist visit. After making the required calls to Apollo Dental Clinic, I found myself sitting in the waiting room. Since it was a morning appointment (9 am), there wasn’t too much of a crowd. There was however, a Chinese/Japanese guy talking on the phone, accompanied by his very Tamil friend/assistant/tour guide. The dentist was late, obviously. After the Chinese/Japanese guy finished his conversation in rapid Chinese/Japanese, he started looking for ways to amuse himself. “Hey, hey” he said to his assistant. “Yoo geth TheeVee? Remotth?” So the assistant guy, after a few minutes of blinking, asks the receptionist to switch on the TV. “News channel podatta^?” asks the receptionist Pat came the reply – “Enna pota enna, apdiye romba purinjidapordhu.^” After some smirking, the receptionist changes the channels and finally settles on Sun Music, which was playing the “Unna Vida” song from the Kamal Haasan starrer Virumaandi. Now, the C/J guy was really intrigued. “Ees dhat laykk moovie?” “Uh, no, it’s a…music! Yes, yes, Indian music” and nods his head vigorously. “Eendhiyan mousik! Yes, yes, very good, music, music” The guy is clearly fascinated by Kamal Haasan’s erm, skills and stays silent for sometime, staring at the TV, tapping his fingers along and bopping his head. By this time, the assistant guy starts chatting with me about the latest Tamil Deepavali releases. “Vel paarunga, adhu dhaan besht, Polladhavan pathi therila, Azhagiya Thamizh Magan samma mokka, climax..ayo..mudila..!” “Suriya padam-la…enna kadha-nga^?” Just as he’s about to reply, C/J guy gets hyper and starts pointing at the TV which was playing some Alaipayuthey song. “Looook! Beyootheeful place! Where ? Moombai?” The assistant guy looks at me and asks – “Adhu endha edammnu theriyuma?” I blink. Enough said. He sighs and turns back to C/J “Uh, Chennai, Chennai” “Ohh, Thameel Naadju, Thameel Naadju, vaery byootheefool.” He continues to stare at the TV, as if he were in a trance. I’m vaguely fascinated by the C/J and his perception of ‘Eendhiyan Mousik’. But he doesn’t notice me staring, he’s too busy watching Madhavan getting jiggy with Sophia Haque. The assistant clears his throat and I abruptly look away. “Vel oda Kadha enna-na…^” he begins. We are interrupted again, this time, the C/J squeals. “Look! Rap! Rap mousik! Thameel Nadju rap! Vewwy good!” and goes up to the TV and peers into it with awe. 10 seconds later, he’s grooving along to the beat of Polladhavan’s Engeyum, Epodhum remix. “Next?” Calls the receptionist. I go in, leaving the enthu C/J (who is still half dancing) and his exasperated Thameel Nadju assistant. What happened in the dentist’s chair was quite uneventful, I had a rather sweet lady dentist who made trivial conversation and went about filling my cavities. Amusement happens at the oddest places. ^ – Translator Podatta – Shall I put? Enna pota enna, apdiye romba purinjidapordhu – How does that matter? He’s not going to understand anything, anyways. Vel paarunga, adhu dhaan besht, Polladhavan pathi therila, Azhagiya Thamizh Magan samma mokka, climax..ayo..mudila..! – Watch Vel, It’s the best of the lot, dunno about Polladhavan, but Azhagiya Thamizh Magan sucks bigtime! Adhu endha edammnu theriyuma? – Do you know where that location is? “Vel oda Kadha enna-na” – The story of Vel is…”