Sunday, January 30, 2005

Gorgeously red flowers, the name of which I know not

I just love their bright flame-red colour edged
with gold... gorgeous!

Tree which has the red flowers

Not a very good photo of the tree, but you can see the clumps of lovely red flowers on it. Photo taken from the balcony of amma's flat. In the compound beyond the wall is Kottivakkam's private (but very public) Mosquito Breeding Centre. Damn the NRI who bought the land only to let it get bogged down while he lives it up in some First-World country, safe from all bloodthirsty mosquitoes!

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Is Jacko really whacko?

The latest about Michael Jackson is that the American jury is going to see the British documentary (Martin Bashir's Living with Michael Jackson) where Jacko said that he let boys sleep in his bed(room?) and didnt see what was wrong with it. I believe this was the focal point for the American authorities to start the investigation into his alleged sexual activities with minors. And, of course, until Jacko himself announced it on television, nobody had the least suspicion that anything was wrong in Neverland... exactly how true does that ring?

I have my doubts about the charges brought against Jacko... Granted, he's an eccentric to beat 'em all, rich beyond any normal person's wildest dreams, definitely a musical genius and an amazing dancer. That said, though, he's not stupid. Nobody who got that rich, who's made such brilliant music, who overcame childhood abuse to become a success on his own, could be stupid. Misguided in many things, yes, including the increasingly grotesque efforts by way of plastic surgery to look "white", which have ended up making him look more like a zombie than anything else. Misguided, but not stupid.

I'm certain that Jacko would not have said what he did to Martin Bashir in the interview if he had only known the trouble that it would bring down on his head. His Public Relations Manager (and he would certainly have had the best) would NOT have even imagined that Jacko would seal his fate with those fatal sentences. If anybody had realised that, I'm sure Jacko would NOT have been allowed to say it at all. Very likely, he had only tried to create some controversy that would put him back in the limelight. And boy, it sure did. Only it was ALL negative.

Is it really feasible that Jacko would admit on TV, before millions of viewers, that he was actually having carnal relations with minors? And not only that, but that he didnt see anything wrong with it? I think it's more than likely that he meant literally what he said - that he let boys sleep with him in his room. (And what are the odds that his bed alone could well have been bigger than the average apartment?) What he did was not strictly normal, but that's no reason to assume that it was child abuse, either!

A man like Michael Jackson, who's wealthy, successful and famous, who is admittedly a kook and always in the news for his kookiness, is the perfect target for scamsters. Like, for instance, the parents of the boy who was allegedly molested by Jacko. They demanded justice, but decided that a payout of an unnamed sum in an out-of-court settlement was compensation enough. Does that sound like truly concerned parents? Not to me.

Parents who truly cared about their son's welfare would have followed through on their accusation, taken Jacko to court and exposed him for whatever they thought he was. But no, they settled for money and their 15 minutes of cheap fame! So, in my opinion, what they got away with was blatant blackmail of Jacko, who was screwed in any case (pardon my french) - he would have been vilified whether he'd taken them on or whether he'd tried to nip the trouble in the bud by offering the out-of-court settlement. A no-win situation for him, and a totally win-win situation for the greedy parents!

It's probably true that X-rated magazines and videos/DVDs/whatever were found in Jacko's house. And why not? Dont millions of people own such things? So what if Jacko's prints AND the boy's prints were on one DVD? The boy was a guest at Jacko's home. He would certainly have had enough opportunity to look around and be nosy. And given a chance, wouldnt any hormone-crazed, red-blooded teenager sneak a look at X-rated magazines or movies if he possibly could? I'm no lawyer, but it would seem that Michael Jackson is being pilloried for being weird and rich.

I used to admire Whacko Jacko, and now I just feel sorry for him.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Bonsai kittens - sick hoax or sicker reality?

I couldnt believe my eyes when I saw the website about Bonsai kittens (from one of those chain emails that come my way occasionally, and which I normally ignore). I honestly couldnt tell if the whole website was an elaborate, tasteless joke or whether the chain mail senders were, for once, justified in their spamming. There have been enough chain emails about the 7-year-old cancer patient or the 6-year-old brain surgery candidate, or even the "make millions by sending this email to 10 others" routine, so I guess I was sceptical about this one as well. But I thought I'd check out the site anyway... and how utterly repulsive and cruel it turned out to be! I cant believe there are people in the world who could deliberately grow kittens in bottles. Cant believe they have the gall to advertise themselves. Maybe it's a hoax... a hoax in unbelievably bad taste, but still only an elaborate leg-puller designed to shock and horrify. If not, wouldnt some animal cruelty organisation have created a ruckus? I hate to think that it ISNT a hoax... it made me feel almost physically sick. I can tell you that was one chain email I was happy to pass on...

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Here I go again

New skin, because the old one was a bit too blue and I'm not as blue as all that any more. Also been warned that the blue one was apt to crash out for reasons unknown. I've already had that happen with another skin for no known reason, so I'm not eager for a third such incident in less than three weeks!

But the main reason is, orange is really my favourite colour and I found a skin with bright orange on it. (This oughta satisfy a few of my pals who think that I ought to walk around in an orange glow looking at the world through orange-tinted lenses. Maybe I do at that... but then luckily it's such a lovely colour!)

Hello everybody, I'm back in the UK! It's great to be back but, as usual, it will be a few days before I shake off the strange feeling of seeing too many "white" people around! Heheh.
Got lots to do... for starters, I have get all the photos organised and put some of the more interesting ones up on my blog. Maybe I'll write another post on my Travelblog, but it will have to wait till I get the photos sorted so that they can add some much-needed interest! Brows

Monday, January 24, 2005

Another day, another post

Sleepless in Chennai, that's my problem at the moment. It's 5am, and I've been awake since 2.30am! It's the damn mosquitoes... where I live, they're the size of midget sparrows - not particularly big for a sparrow, I suppose, but believe me, ENORMOUS for a mosquito! The problem is that I'm a mosquito magnet. If I'm in a room and there's a mosquito... hang on, what am I talking about - A mosquito? There's never just ONE mosquito. They move about in squadrons!

Ok, here goes again... if I'm in a room which harbours mosquitoes, everybody else can rest assured that the vicious little bloodsuckers will invariably - and immediately - attach themselves to me. I've probably donated enough blood to them to keep a good-sized blood bank busy... as it is, I'm probably a legend to generation after generation of mosquitoes that have fed on me and raised large, thriving families.

However, problematic though the mosquitoes are, they're not REALLY the reason I'm awake at this ungodly hour of the morning. The reason is that the countdown to my departure has reached D-day minus one already... tomorrow night, I go back to Shrewsbury, England. Where did the time go? I've been in Chennai nearly three weeks, and I havent come close to doing all the things I wanted to do. Yes, the essential tasks have been completed but those werent really the priority.

I wanted to spend more time with my family - but it turned out that we all had things to do, places to go and people to meet... usually in different places at different times! Not to mention, with different people.

I wanted to spend more time with my friends... but then - not very surprisingly - their life doesnt come to a stop just because I'm here for a brief while. (It OUGHT to, but it doesnt! Something I must take up with their various employers. They really should learn to have more consideration!)

I wanted to visit more restaurants in Chennai - the newer ones, in particular. But I ended up going out only twice so far... and both times to old familiar places with old, familiar faces. Which, on consideration, wasnt such a bad thing really. What irks me is that I got to eat samosas only three times. That's once a week. So much food, so many places, so little time!

On the positive side, though... I managed to meet all my relatives at some point. A favourite cousin of mine stopped by for half a day, en route from Banda Aceh to his Navy posting elsewhere in the country. That was a very pleasant surprise. Played a LOT of carromboard - and surprisingly, considering the lack of practice, I was pretty darned good if I say so myself! :o) Managed to corral most of my friends (a couple of them escaped, but that's par for this course) and spent a couple of hilarious, fun evenings with them. One more is on the cards, with some luck. Also met a couple of new friends and spoke to one more on the phone. Princess Pavithra turned out to be as entertaining and interesting on the phone as she is in her blog, and I hope to be able to tell her so in person the next time!

Parting is such sweet sorrow, as somebody once said (No, it wasnt me. Honest!). I'm torn between wanting to go back to Shrewsbury, back to my other life and other multiple persona as wife and homemaker and student, and wanting to stay on in Chennai and be with friends and family for some more time. But no matter how much I extend my stay, it will never be enough. I have to tear myself away at some point and return to the UK because of the choices I made in life... and although I dont regret the choice, I DO regret the fact that there had to be a choice in the first place. Confusing, possibly even deep, but true, all the same. I havent left Chennai yet, but I miss it already.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Cut off and abandoned

It's been a really frustrating couple of days. First of all, the broadband connection at home decided to conk out for over 48 hours... a calamity of monumental proportions for someone like me who is addicted to the Internet - whether it's checking the news sites or my emails or reading the blogs of friends and strangers. All calls to the customer service (I have a small three-letter prefix for that word - "dis") folks only resulted in vague explanations (once in such a strong Malayali accent that I decided to drop any attempt to understand).

And when the connection DID return, I discovered that my blog had undergone strange and arbitrary changes. My posts were intact but every other customisation on my blog had inexplicably disappeared. Which is the reason for the new skin, if anybody's wondering... I thought that if I had to put back everything manually, I might as well give my blog a new look. So, blogger friends, no more pink from me. It's gonna be blue all the way... until the next unannounced disappearance of vital parts of my blog.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

This was quite a shock...

I believe Gmail is dangerous to use... according to this article. But since I have no links - online or otherwise - to anybody who could be a danger to anyotherbody, I figure I can still go on using it. But gosh, the article was an eye-opener...

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Chennai bloggers mini-meet :)

Two days back, there was a mini-meet of bloggers from Chennai at Hot Breads on Cathedral Road. The bloggers in question were Magix, Ferrari and Shyam (real-life identities: Harish, Prabhu and Shyam… heheh). Well, strictly speaking, there was only ONE blogger from Chennai – Magix. Ferrari and Shyam were (are?) from Bangalore and the UK, respectively… but since they were once residents of Chennai, I guess the term used originally wasn’t too far off the mark.

The meeting wasn’t a long-winded one, and there were no speeches – especially from Magix, who’s as quiet in real life as he isn’t in the world of blogs! But I suspect that he’s totally different once he gets to know people better! Prabhu didn’t seem any different from his online personality – what surprised me (and made me jealous, as always!) were his dimples! Just WASTED on guys, dimples. Girls could do better with dimples. Me, in particular! ;)

Personally, I thought the meeting was fun. I’d originally felt that there was no need to meet bloggers in person – the reason being that online personalities can differ quite wildly in reality. Well, that was SORT of true for Harish, who was shy – but not too shy to refrain from his trademark “kadis”! So I guess that wasn’t too different, really. I don’t know what the guys thought of the encounter, but I hope they had as good a time as I did. I'm looking forward to meeting more of my blogpals in the future…

Friday, January 14, 2005

Thoughts on Chennai

Well, it’s been a hectic ten days in Singara Chennai. Which, unfortunately, is no more singaram than it was two years before, or even five years before. Or possibly 10 years before. I guess I’m going to be raising the hackles of the staunch Chennai-ites (bloggers included), but I defy anybody to say that there’s no truth in what I say.

There are many more glitzy looking, “exclusive” shops, restaurants, eateries and jewellery stores. The billboard ads are all a lot more “hep” and purportedly reflective of the times. There are more and more and more apartment blocks where there used to be gracious houses. Okay, that has been said before, but there are so MANY more flats and apartment complexes, and quite a few of them have weird outlines because of the odd-shaped building area. What greenery is there is so awfully dusty looking. To think that Chennai looked like a forest from the air, a couple of decades ago…

There are many more flyovers which have changed the surface of the city, squeezed in where there’s hardly any space for roads on either side of the flyovers.There are digital clocks at major signals, counting off the seconds before the light changes. I’ve seen cops who have what I think of as “light-sticks” that flash red and green (I haven’t noticed amber, though).

But I can’t help feeling that these are only cosmetic changes. Under the thin veneer of modernity, lies the same old Chennai - chaotic traffic despite the influx of modern new cars; indisciplined drivers, whether of a dilapidated old truck or a spanking new Mercedes; even more corrupt auto-drivers who, it seems, cannot be controlled; piles of rubbish lying around, presided over by mangy stray dogs; roads that are more holes, bumps and dust than proper tarmac; glamorous restaurants that are hugely expensive but offer indifferent food; superficially westernized boutiques that, again, offer very expensive items but have not yet taught their staff about customer relations or sales techniques -the list can go on…

I’m comfortable in Chennai despite all this only because I’ve lived here before and have so many good memories of the city as it used to be. I cant imagine NOW that I ever wandered the little streets of Triplicane for no reason other than I could. I remember the buses I took to faraway areas that I had only heard of – terminus-to-terminus trips just for the heck of it. I remember the early-morning walks with my friends along the Marina, to see the sunrise (and , after which we would wander back to the Karpagambal Mess, in the heart of Mylapore, for a piping hot, traditional South Indian breakfast. I haven’t been to Annanagar in years and (and probably wont this time either) but I really liked the wide avenues and nice houses there. I guess I’m talking about Annanagar West, because that’s the only area I was reasonably familiar with on account of my friend living there. I’ve no idea if the wide, good roads still exist, or whether the roads have degenerated to their component parts of stones and dirt… but at least I have the memory of a fairly clean, logically designed area that didn’t seem cluttered and claustrophobic.

There are many more things, events and occasions that come to mind, but they would be too many and too trivial to most readers to list out in their entirety. Suffice it to say that no matter how much things seem to change in Chennai, they really don’t. Good or bad? I simply cant decide!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Hello, Chennaivasis!

I am here. For the next 2-3 weeks, at any rate. Havent seen muc of Chennai so I dont know how much has changed and what's for the better or worse. I guess I'll find that out soon enough tomorrow... funny how things change but in general everything stays the same in Singara Chennai. Anyway, plenty to do in the next few days... I expect to collect lotsa material for my travelblog - already begun, in fact! :)