May 29, 2009


Some of you might have come across the F Puzzle. Those who haven’t, please try it now before you read any further:

Count all the F ‘s you can find in the red coloured passage
(The answer will be revealed as you read the rest of it)

Ever heard of Susan Boyle? She is a matronly, frumpy looking lady who wanted to try her hand at a show called “Britain’s Got Talent”. When she came on stage, most judges thought she was going to be another freak show because she dint look the part. Anyways, cue music and she started to sing. Lo and behold, an awesome and inspiring voice – the kind which can take you over the mountains and seas! And the judges, spellbound took her on! You can see this for yourself here.

It happens so many times isn’t it? When we see people, we would expect them to be of a certain type. But if we get a chance to know them better, we are sometimes quite taken by surprise. I am a student of Psychology and I had a lesson on why people “judge a book by its cover”. Its a shortcut for us to perceive things faster. Imagine if every time, you wanted to read a word, you read all the letters in the word individually? That would mean it would probably take a couple of hours to read this article! ; The human mind develops short cuts so that we can read faster. As with all shortcuts, mistales are bound to happen – because we think they are foolproof but they are not.

In the game you tried above, most people might have guessed 3 letters. Well, I did. But the answer is 6 – the F’s in “of” is genrally not considered by our engine. 🙂 In fact we skip commonly used words like prepositions, articles etc.

This is one example of shortcuts backfiring. Similarly, the way we judge people through shortcuts also have chances to backfire. Even judging certain events to have certain outcomes is a victim of failure. When we judge correctly a couple times rightly, we think we are great at judging – but our nature is such that we dont count the number of times our predictions/judgements were wrong. We only think of instances where we were right and hence we feel our judgement is accurate.

Its human nature to judge a book by it cover. But knowing its pitfalls and the “free radical” type errors that it creates, it is best to keep an open mind. As much as we are aware, let us strive to keep judging people by their backgrounds or even judging oneself based on past events. A human being is a persona in motion. What a person is now, the person may not be in future.


Peethukka Ramblings

May 27, 2009

My dear sister and brother in law, Peethukka and Rajesh Bhavaji completed their 8th wedding anniversary on 27th of May. Here is wishing the two of you and your handful bundle lots of happiness, health, wealth and many more.

It wasn’t that long ago when Peeths and I were inseparables. Though she was based in Coimbatore and I in Kochi, we somehow always were together. Those were the days of “phone calls are for emergencies” and practically no internet in our lives. So we wrote to each other on a weekly basis. Atleast she did. Me being a strange creature, would write long elaborate letters/replies which Peethukka would read she visits us. 😀 She would be so disappointed but very forgiving. Her first day of visit brings so much joy into my life. She would be so happy to see us, she would practically not be in her senses. On one such visit, my mom was in the kitchen boiling milk for Peethukka’s coffee. She cut Peethukka short in her chatter and told her to keep the milk vessel on the counter. Eager to finish whatever she was chattering about, she picked the HOT HOT vessel without using the handle!! She was screaming but placed it on the counter so that my amma wouldn’t have to boil more milk again!! That is her extent of excitement. 🙂 We loved her cute weird ways. 😀

People often told her she appeared arrogant at first sight. And I agreed with them. But there is not one person who can beat her sense of loyalty. No matter what crime the person she loved did, she will defend them with all her might. Typical Sagittarian. 🙂 And yes, she never forgets birthdays or anniversaries. Even now. 🙂

Peethukka’s antics are a legend in our family story book. The kind of things she does are all so unexpected of her. 😀 At one time, she told her primary teacher that her “heart is paining” and that her cousin will come to take her home. Teacher was quite puzzled – how did Peethukka’s cousin know her heart is paining? On digging further, she found that all Peethukka wanted was to go home so that she can meet her aunt who is visiting. 😀 Anyways, for her creativity, Peeths was given the day off. 🙂

There was this time when our grandma’s house was under renovation and there were several wooden planks lying around. One of the carpenters complained that a piece of wood was missing. We immediately started asking Anand, who was 5 at that time, whether he had something to do with it. He kept saying no but we dint believe him and continued grilling him. Peethukka who was passing by, caught on what was happening. And then comes the truth – Peethukka had taken it to make heels for her shoes!!! 😀 Who would have thought?? The carpenter shot her an ugly look – it was a very difficult piece to make and now he had to do it all over again !

And then was the “Mango episode” and I was in it with her. We were then living on the first floor of a 3 storey apartment. During the afternoons, Peethukka and I would go up the terrace and while away our time. One day we noticed a mango had fallen on the parapet. Peethukka wanted it but it was too far down. We found a stick but how can you pick up a mango with a stick? So we took a towel from the drying line and tied it to the stick and then tried to pick the mango again. Of course it was not going to work but we were desperate for the “forbidden fruit”. So next thing left was to jump to the parapet. But there was a catch- easy to jump but too difficult to limb up. And besides there was a deep well right next to the building. Chances of landing in the well was pretty scary. I discouraged her, saying it was too dangerous. However at times like these, our esteemed lady rises to the occasion. She says she will jump and throw the mango up. And then we will figure what to do next. Before I could get another word in, the lady is on the parapet and the mango is in my hand! And now the time has come to figure out how she can limb back up. She sees some bricks lying about. And tries using them as a step-up. But they were too few to help. We think and think. Then something horrifying happens – a bunch of labourers spot us and they start yelling. All this while Peethukka did not want to involve our parents in helping us out of the mess. Unfortunately, my dad heard the commotion and he came to check. he was horrified to see what we had been upto, nonetheless he pulled her out. My dad is a very sweet person and so he agreed not to tell anything to our mothers who would have had a royal fit it they found out. So everything was cool except that Peethukka blurted it all to her mom who began jacking us right away. The next couple of daya we were target of sudden fits of anger – especially for Peethukka. It was horrible then but something to smile about now.

The times I cherish the most with Peethukka were the ones where we talked late into the night. I wasn’t comfortable talking in general but with Peethukka, there was nothing to be scared of. She knew me inside out, all my secrets and I hers. She is 4 years older than me, so all her stories were fascinating. School years, college years, and her teaching years – I have heard it all. All her stories reflect her loyalty, her eccentricities and her warm nature. If I have to talk about my childhood, Peethukka’s name would pop up an awful lots of times( Its not awful – just an indication of her part in my life). Ever since she left for UK, it has been difficult to be the way we were – family, job, her little baby and what not. But the memories of those days are there in our hearts and that will keep us the way we were – Tight for now and for ever.

My cousin Swetha has done all of us proud! Her 10th std results are out and her marks are astounding. Straight A’s, even in Hindi!! A 94 in Hindi, a 97 in Mathematics, a 91 in Science and a 95 in both Social Studies and IT!! Congratulations Swetha …You are going to go a really long way!!

Udipi Tales!

May 26, 2009

Last night my sweetheart had pain in his leg and so I offered to massage. As I was massaging, Sachin was getting drowsy. When I looked up next, I was quite puzzled to see the fellow chuckling to himself. When I asked whats so funny, he started telling what it was. But to decipher a story being told by a person who is laughing at the same time, it takes patience – trust me!!

Sachin and his folks always visit Udupi for their summer holidays. Sachin, Chethna and their twin cousins (Vikram – Viju) made merry during this time. One of their past times was to make money by pressing Pravin Mam’s leg. Pravin Mam* was then a bachelor and often had a good time with the kids. Anyways, all the kids would press his legs, walk over his back, put talcum powder on him and Pravin mam would continue dozing, enjoying all the fuss made over him. Even putting water over his back wouldn’t get him out of his nirvana. And the kids, quite a rambunctious bunch, they wanted to see what would stir him. One of the devils, thought of a very bright idea. He cleared his throat and made a noise khrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr – as though he is going to spit. Pravin mam, fearing a different kind of wet back, immediately jumped to his feet and fled!! It was only later he realized, it was a ploy! 😀 The whole scene reminds me of the way Tom (of Tom and Jerry), reacts to a hammer banging on his thumb!

Anyways, this story may sound really disgusting to some folks, but I hadn’t laughed so hard in a really long long long long time. Even after an hour passed since the retelling, Sachin and I were both giggling. Sachin doesn’t remember who culprit was, but my bets are on Sachin himself!! 🙂

* Mam is the konkani word for maternal uncle

Have you come across young children on Indian roads – either begging or asking for money? Most of us ignore them like we would ignore bugs. Or we would quickly give them money to get rid of them. We don’t really notice that they are little kids, do we?

Then I saw “Born into Brothels” which focused on children of Kolkatta’s red light area. Zana Briski, a photographer who wanted to see Kolkatta through the eyes of these kids. So she handed out cameras and gave a basic training on photography. The documentary follows the progress of these kids and alongside we get a glimpse into their lives. The games they play are just like our kids except they make their toys with spare objects. They are intelligent just like our kids are, sometimes even more so. They love to have fun, after all they are kids. Sadly though, these kids are in a tough place and a very unkind world. They are judged because of their parent’s profession, because they are poor and other unfair reasons. Most of these kids were denied admissions into schools. One school offered to take in kids if they tested negative for HIV and mercifully they were.

Its easy to talk about their problems and feel sorry for them. But is that enough? Most of us are not inclined to social services, so how can we help? Is there a way that we can help? Of course! If we dont want to be nice, atleast be civil. How about if your kid’s school takes in some of these kids? Be kind enough to give the kids a chance to come out of their rut. One way for these people to come out of poverty is if their kids get an education and that is possible if we, the middle class, allow it to happen. If you are in a position to allow them their progress, more power to you! There, so we dont have to lift our finger if we dont want to, but atleast allow progress to happen at its pace.

Lets hope our little world be filled with kids who are happy and healthy. Children are children after all and should be handles with care for they are our future. 🙂

PS: I am too emotional about this subject and so may not be really coherent on this subject. But please do watch the documentary “Born into Brothels” to get an idea about how tough and unsurmountable life is for these little kids.

People pray dont they? Especially when they are in a mess! That’s when they make vows, send up offerings and what not. If you back on your life, you might recollect several instances of such times. And now, in the present, you would have passed all those obstacles. Did God grant all the prayers that you asked? I am sure most of you would have some prayers answered and some not. Ever wondered why?

That set me thinking – How do prayers work? Well, I have a crazy theory. Strange as it may be, did calm my curiosity. So here goes my theory:

When I am in a mess, I generally offer prayers to one of the many Gods that we have. Which God I pray depends on the kind of mess that I am in. (I dont want to get into that !! 😉 ) Anyways, lets assume that I have called upon Lord Ganesha and asked him to give me more vacations. (How typical of me 😉 ) Lord Ganesha would take note of my wish. At the next weekly meeting of the Gods, He would present my problem to the other Gods and they would discuss at length whether I deserve the extra vacations, weigh the pros and cons and then cast the vote either in favour of or against. If theres a clear majority in my favour , I would automatically find a lot of opportunities for vacations. If not, no matter what I do, nothing would click for my holiday. Sometimes prayers are answered after a long long time. That is probably because of a tie (equal votes both ways) This is when, more discussions are held and ways to break the tie are sought. And the loop continues …

So what do you think? I would love to hear whatever you may have to say. And yes, I am pretty jobless to think all this up! 😉 Thanks for taking the time to read and humour me. 🙂 Have a great day!!!