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Emosanal Atyachar

September 7, 2013

If a part of my body sticks out into outer space, what happens?

It says here that Mandela went to prison in 1964 and came out in 1990.  How long was he in prison?

Hmm, 30 years

Are you guessing?


You should be embarrassed, didn’t they teach you subtraction yet?

Oh, subtraction’a, why didn’t you say so? Then, it is … 26 years. Wow! I can’t believe anyone would want to be in prison for 26 years.

Well, they don’t usually have a choice.

Must be boring, no computer, no TV, no books.

They may give you books.

But, they will be classics, like Little Women or something.

What’s wrong with Little Women? It’s one of Amma’s favourites.

Aw, Puke, Puke!

One -hundred-and-sixty-five, one-hundred-and-sixty-six, one-hundred-and-sixty-seven.  Appa!  I counted them, we have one hundred and sixty seven paper clips.

But you started from one-hundred-and-one.

Yes, Appa, I started from one-hundred-and-one and finished at one-hundred-and-sixty-seven, so I have one hundred and sixty seven clips

If you started from one-hundred-and-one, you have only sixty seven clips.


Illaima, you should start counting from 1, then …

I don’t care of it.  Why should I always listen to you?  You are always right only, no?

Yo, what’s the hurry?  Why grow up so fast? You were this little bundle just a while back and now, you are already up to my chest.

Appa, I am eating all my vegetables.  You only said, no? if I eat my vegetables, I will grow fast.  Do you want me to stop eating my vegetables?

Hmm, maybe you should feed you a little less.  Before we know it, you are going to be in college, and you will leave me and Amma to sit in an empty house

Appa, …

What will we do then?

Appa, don’t worry, by then you will be really old and die.

Appa, see what I drew.  And I spelled them too. S-U-N, … F-L-A-G, … D-O-N-U-T

That’s great’ma.  Cool drawings, what’s that? Sprinkles on the doughnut also’aa? Really beautiful!

Aaama’pa, there is also jam on the donut, so I can get my fruit.

Hmm.  You have spelled sun and flag correctly.

Also donut.

Actually, doughnut is ‘D-O-U-G-H-N-U-T’.  Not, ‘D-O-N-U-T’.

Gee’aa? There’s no Gee-guh-God  or Hetch-huh-hat in donut.  Your spelling is not correct.

Yes, there is no Gee-guh-God or Aitch-huh-hat in doughnut, but they are silent.

Are you saying that those people  in Africa are wrong?

Which people?

The ones in Africa that made the donut.


Are you saying that people in Africa don’t make donuts?

No’ma, I didn’t say anything like that, I was just thinking …

Why? People in Africa also like donuts. I am just going to erase all these pictures, you don’t like them, no?


Anupama Bhagwat in concert with Aditya Srinivasan

February 25, 2013

Organizing (finally!) a concert for Anupama Bhagwat at 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 2 at Biotechology Seminar Hall on IIT Madras campus. She is now Chennai’s own, please do join us, she is simply awesome.

If you haven’t heard her before, here’s a teaser; and a map for you, if you are coming from outside.  See you on Saturday.

(Added on 14.3.13)

Concert review at

Preview of coming attractions – irandam bagam

June 14, 2012

Appa, look. An ant-house.

Aamam, lovely. Actually, it is an ant-HILL.

Correct.  But, you can also call it an ant-house.

Illaida, kanna.  Ant-hill is the correct term.

amma and anna told me that you can also call it an ant-house.

I see.

Sometimes you can say ant-hills.  Sometimes you can say ant-houses.

I see.

Do you know?  The ant-house is full of antelopes. They are always running here and there carrying food.

You mean, ants?

You can also call them antelopes.

Illai’ma, antelopes are like deer.  You see these blackbucks here?  They are antelopes.  Antelopes are big, and you can’t fit them inside ant-hills.  But, ants are the tiny things that you see around the house, and some types of ants live in these ant-hills.

Correct, appa.  Antelopes cannot live in ant-houses.  Only ants live in ant-houses.


Sometimes you can also call antelopes ants.


Can Surya live in ant-houses?

Which Surya?

appa, my favourite actor, you don’t even know this?

Oh, that Surya.  Why does he want to live in an ant-hill?

You said he is very small, no?  Remember, you said he only looks big on the computer, he is kuttikoondu.

He is not that small, kutti.

So he is big?

Not really.

appa, ayyo, you said he is not small, that means he is big, no? Silly appa.

He is medium-size.

oh? ok, he is medium-size.


He is the best guy in the whole world.

What? I thought I was the best guy in the whole world.

Yes, but Surya is the very very best guy in the whole world.

And anna?

He and you are both best guy in the whole world.

And Surya is …

… the very very best guy in the whole world.

Thanks, that really takes some pressure off.

Enna sonna?

Nothing. If Surya is the very very best guy in the whole world, I really hope he can make you stop sucking on your thumb.  It looks like something the best guy in the whole world cannot do, but maybe the very very best can.

appa, you are so silly. (whispers)  Surya is not real, he is only real inside the Youtube.

Unholy smoke

June 13, 2012

Chennai, I am really sick (literally) of smoke from the Pallikaranai dump every night.  Our mayor apparently blames it on rag-pickers.  Yes, indeed!  These rag-pickers must be going through some deep religious experience, because they have been burning the garbage dump like clockwork every night for the last two weeks .

But, it is a great excuse, no?  Feel the urge to work it into casual conversation.

‘You couldn’t even get me a card for my birthday? Have you become so tired of me already?’

‘Jesus, baby, what makes you say something like that?  I actually got you not one, but three cards.  Unfortunately…


‘… the rag-pickers got a hold of them and burnt them.  You know it is their holy month, no?’

‘Oh, shit, I totally forgot.  They didn’t hurt you, no?  Three is so sweet of you, baby.  I love you so much and let’s live happily ever after’.

Ah, so sweet.

Where were we?  Smoke of the garbage kind, yes.  Nasty, choking crap that makes you feel like you live inside a psychedelic homa kundam and makes a restful night’s sleep a distant dream.  Every evening it floats into our campus which is probably a good few km away from the dump.  But, even here, it is enough to cause serious respiratory problems.  Two of us are already on Allegra-type things and soon the entire family will be on drugs because of this nonsense.  One can only imagine what it must be like for folks living right next to the dump.

And a couple of days back, this happened.  Probably, just to show how much worse it could be everyday, but isn’t.  The City tells us that this was an accident.  As a colleague of mine put it, what they meant was that the fire was business as usual, but it getting so big was an accident.

Just the callousness of the city in letting this go on for so long is hard to believe.  Of course, you will call me cynical if I point out that the city bigwigs all live far away from  here northwards.  Where they live, there are probably no garbage dumps.  Nor rag-pickers.  At the very least, no serial-arsonist-rag-pickers who will be able to set fire to things every single night for who knows how long.

SingarachChennai Vazhga!

A great start

October 18, 2011

I know we like to pick on our students, but this time they deserve a huge pat on their backs.  The MARG Chennai Runners Half Marathon 2011 is being held on Nov. 6 on our sweet campus.  In two and a half days after I sent out the announcement on the campus newsgroups, we have received a whopping 375 registrations for the race, almost entirely from the student community.  Most of them are for the 10K, but there are about 30 for the half-marathon.

We offered to help anyone who wanted to finish the race with their training.  The first training session was a couple of days back and 13 students showed up at 6:30 a.m.  On a sunday!  And each of them completed the assigned 5 km without any issues.  I am feeling really kicked that these kids showed up and went with the plan.  Hopefully, we can keep this going for the next three weeks and they will all receive a nice finisher’s medal.

And now, it’s time to get some faculty and campus residents to join the party.

Cape Fear

April 4, 2011

People, if you are not following the elections in TN, you are missing out on a whole lot of fun. Especially, the adventures of one Dr. Cape-tan, who used to be called Vijayakant in his acting days.  Our man has a party called DMDK (not to be confused with DK, DMK or MDMK), which is in a coalition with ADMK.  BTW, the Dr. was awarded by the International Institute of Church Management (IICM) ‘in appreciation of his services to the society’.

My retired parents have become certified Cape-tan watchers and first thing in the morning, even before coffee, they feed us Cape-tan news (some of these facts might be less true than others, but it is more fun this way, so just play along):

1. A few days back, our man was campaigning for one of his candidates. He was belting out the usual stuff: ‘Pandian will make you all rich, Pandian will lay roads, Pandian is a lion, Pandian is your son, Pandian will restore virginity to all mothers and grandmothers … etc. etc.’ Except that the dude’s name is not Pandian, it is Bhaskar. So, Bhaskar a.k.a. Pandian goes up to Cape-tan and tells him softly, ‘Anney, en peru Pandian illay, Bhaskar’. Cape-tan acknowledges his mistake and promptly grabs him by the head and beats the crap out of him in front of TV cameras.

Newspapers report next day that Cape had taken it out on a mic. 🙂 Yes, a mic owned by a man called Bhasdian and worn on top of his torso.

2. And Cape himself releases a statement the next day: ‘I didn’t hit anybody. Even if I hit someone, it is only MY candidate. And, whoever I hit will become a Maharaja’. To the uninitiated, three divergent statements that may seem like multiple choices to an exam question that has only one answer. But, these are in fact, bullit-proof defenses based on solid principles: Denial of guilt, slavery, altruism.  All three time-tested responses used by the best of us when pushed into a corner, so who are we to judge?

And comedian Vaidvelu has taken it upon himself to ridicule him because Cape had him and his house beaten up a couple of years back. He says: ‘Maybe he should just go around beating up everyone, they will all become rajas and the country will be propserous.’ Great idea, actually. Given a choice between a free home appliance and becoming a raja (especially, A Raja), heck, I will take the raja any day.

3. At another meeting, Cape sees an ADMK (his coalition partner) volunteer holding his party’s flag. Cape gets pissed off because he wants his flag to fly higher and asks his people to get that dude to down his flag. The dude says ‘No’. (Who can blame him? He knows that if he downs the flag here, he will have to face Amma when he gets back. Cape might just give you a few slaps, but Amma might sit on you. He is properly caught between a dick and an extremely soft place).

Simultaneously, this whole episode reminds Flag-Boy of that scene from ‘The Holy Grail’ in which the French taunt Arthur and  his knights. He says:  ‘I look at you Cape-tan types and fart in your general direction’. So, no, no way the ADMK flag is coming down. Cape yells a couple of times, lets out a loud belch and a fart, and then doing what every leader should do more of, runs away from the stage crying for ‘Mummy’.

4. People have finally come around to noticing that the perennial redness of the Cape eyes is not genetic nor is it runny rose-powder, but is internally generated and maintained by a constant supply of several 1 #s. And, the party (I think Cape interprets this word slightly differently) comes up with a slogan ‘aaf (half) adicha thaan aapu adikka mudiyum’.  Roughly translates to ‘Only if he is drunk can he destroy’.  Sheer genius!  I think they have latched on to the fact that in the long history of superhero-dom, there hasn’t been one fueled by alcohol.  I think they are going for that niche, and boy, are they going warp-speed ahead!

What a man! What a party! Makes me want to buy him a half and a few votes immediately.

Ensoyulu and Happy Ugadi to all you Gults out there!

Those who can’t teach, can’t

February 14, 2011

Ah, this had all the makings of a personal feel-gooder.

Teacher finds out that some women working in his building are illiterate.

Teacher asks if they would like to learn.

To a woman, they say ‘Yes’.

Teacher’s mind plays movie of the cream-of-the-cream-of the-nation sleeping through his classes on one half of the screen.

And these women saying ‘Yes, we will’ on the other.

Teacher rushes out note to campus students, asking for volunteers.

A dozen are moved to action.

Meeting is arranged in cafeteria and roles and responsibilities discussed.

First class scheduled within a week.

Stationery items purchased, classroom arranged.

Students show up, and the Tamizh alphabet is taught.

Basic math lessons are delivered.

Women become literate, and pass high-school equivalency in 3 years.

All involved in noble activity pat one another’s back.


Nnnnnnnnnot quite.  You seeeeee, the ladies kind of decided to not show up, in spite of several personal reminders, the last one just a couple of hours before class.  Teacher and four volunteers spent 45 minutes twiddling thumbs.

Makes the teacher wonder if he is just too hopeless a romantic.