Friday, June 3


Last month's book club which I did not go to (may I add...) was all about Jean-Dominique Bauby's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le Scaphandre et le Papillon).
Bauby, Jean-Do to his friends, was the editor of the famous French Elle magazine. Almost at the end of 1995, he suffered a massive stroke that left him in a coma for nearly 20 day. He woke up only to find himself a victim of the "locked-in" syndrome wherein his mental faculties were intact but his body was paralyzed (all he could do was blink his left eye). The book is devoid of self-pity or even anger.
He dictated this book alphabet by alphabet and blinking when the correct one was mentioned.

This is a beautiful memoir that shows the authors' courage and wit. A heart-wrenching narrative of what happened to him as a person who can think but cannot say a word. Bauby talks about food, his girlfriend, his children-

"Once, I was a master of recycling leftovers. Now I cultivate the art of simmering memories. You can sit down to a meal at any hour, with no fuss or ceremony. If it's a restaurant, no need to call ahead. If I do the cooking, it is always a success"

A very poignant story that at times is witty and funny even (you wonder the how resilient this man must have been). The English translation is really good- not that I have read the French version.

"Today is Father's Day. Until my stroke, we had felt no need to fit this made-up holiday into our emotional calendar. But today we spend the whole of the symbolic day together, affirming that even a rough sketch, a shadow, a tiny fragment of a dad is still a dad"

Bauby died about a year or so later, you can read more about him here and here.

A must-read, really!

Tuesday, May 31

Words from the past

I found it funny when my mom recently said "think she got a centum in maths"- then I realized that now there are words in my vocabulary that I do not use any more.

maths- mathematics (math)
centum- 100%
stepney- spare tire (see I don't even spell it tYre)
flat- as in apartment
Rubber- eraser
Pass- out- as in graduated
this one's a favorite- carrying- as in pregnant
dicky-  trunk of a car

Tell me do you remember any more?!

Help me complete this list and tell me if you have any lost-in-translation-stories with these words!

Thursday, April 14

I don't know if you know

about Anna Hazare and his crusade against corruption. This past weekend, a bunch of us (actually few of us) met at the square to walk for the cause. He has been in the news for a while now and I really appreciate what his crusade has done for the general morale of the country. The recent deluge of scams has left a bad taste and it will be quite interesting to see as to how this movement shapes up.

Every time I go home to Chennai, I cannot help but get angry. I absolutely detest the rowdy DMK rule but at the same time I wonder if it is not the DMK goondas then who else- surely the other party is not any better. The only positive- not as much nepotism in AIADMK unlike DMK where even his बहु की चची के ननदोई* के रिश्तेदारों को भी government post दिए जाते हैं!
If DMK does not already own half of TN, it surely will if they come back this time around. I was never much of a fan of Madras (now Chennai)- always thought that people were extremely narrow minded and culturally very closed. But now over these past few years, I have also added "laziness"to the "why-I-do not-like-Chennai" list.

Anyway back to the corruption issue-

India is ranked 87th (among the 178 nations) on Transparency International's 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index. A report released in November last year found that India lost $462 billion (that is right 462 followed by 9 zeros!) to illicit cash flows resulting from tax evasion, corruption, bribery and kickbacks, and criminal activities (this report is available here). Now this is seriously preposterous- the money that can be put to good use to help people like better education. 

So go ahead read all these articles and more- have healthy discussions and arguments with people you know. Talk, talk, talk...

A conversation overheard:

Lady- I am too scared to drive in the US while driving in India is pretty easy. 

Guy- really, how is that?

Lady- Oh, even if you make mistakes in India you can bribe your way out!

Guy- Hmm...yeah they made me pay 50 bucks for making a right turn on red. Come on, I did not see the "No turn on red" sign.

Me- an eerie silence at the plight of my fellow Indians!

Some references and source materials that I have used to write this
Corruption threatens India's growth
Wiki entry for Corrutption Perceptions Index
You can read all about his letter to the PM or the lokpal bill
Make giving bribe legal while taking it illegal-Kaushik Basu
Poverty in India-World Bank

Tuesday, April 5

Wedding 2011

Yes so finally it did happen- after being together for almost 6 years, the wise guy and I tied the knot. It has been a very surreal experience so far and in my books- nothing has changed except I now adorn a ring (could have been a lot more of traditional permanent jewelry indicative of a married woman except my lectures on feminism and how such adornments are not really me paid off). Yes, they did spend a ton of money but the family was all smiles and who in their right mind would ever say no to all that attention that is being given? Sure the price tag is huge but hey we can afford it, can we not?

Friday, January 28

News worthy

We are the nation that does not deal with what needs to be now, we only know to celebrate dead people and their achievements. No disrespect to the great minds that we celebrate but come on- when do these thugs otherwise known as politicians get away with not doing an iota of good for the people (never mind the people are stupid enough to vote for them everytime!)