Saturday, January 23, 2010

Astrology, study of people!

The moment my eldest sister Sujatha’s horoscope was taken out to find a groom for her, my fascination for astrology begun. And this was in the year 1980 when I was barely 11 years old.
My first teacher in this science is my mother who introduced me to the 27 stars. Slowly, I started learning how 2¼ stars fall in one zodiac. At one stage when I completed my graduation (by which time three of my sisters were already married) I started sessions with my Thatha to learn the study of horoscopes. I learnt the basics, gave up and jumped to palmistry.

My Chittappa studies palms well and he studied my palm and my husband Ranganathan’s palm on the day we met each other and said that my temper will be balanced by Ranga’s calm approach to things which happens to be very true.

My Chitti, Revathi used to study palms as well as numerology. I found this an interesting subject and learnt a bit of both palmistry and numerology from her. Studying was nothing but making a mental note of the various points when she used to predict for others reading their birth numbers. I also had some inputs from my sister Sundari who passed on whatever information she had gathered from her friends on numerology and palmistry.

With a bit of knowledge of stars, moonsigns, sunsigns, palmistry and numerology I started studying people. I find it quite thrilling to observe how the star, sun and moon sign and birth number influences a person’s behaviour. Even if I have one of the above data about a person, I am able to understand how those factors influence him/her. It is more amusing in the case of people related to me or whose families I know well as in these cases, I have the opportunity to understand the percentage of the play of genes as well, along with these factors.  If two persons belong to the same birth star, the similarities are easy to notice, but any marked difference in character makes me study the reason which is due to the other factors viz., sunsign, moonsign, birth date, genes in case I know this person’s family and the gender. I find the gender influence on two people under the same birth star/zodiac/birth number very interesting. 

My sister-in-law, Indra manni teases me that if I ever quit my present job I have “kaivasam oru thozhil” (have a readymade job on hand as astrologer), but actually I don’t have enough knowledge to predict anything, but only study people which is great fun!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


1, Ranganathan Road, Nungambakkam – part I

For everybody the place they grew up is special and they have great memories about it. My Thatha says his first 20 years of life was the best, Appa says he had a great time with his Paati in his childhood, Amma was happiest enjoying herself in Kumbakonam temples with her dear brother Babu Mama. My favourite place to this day is 1, Ranganathan Road, Nungambakkam. I am sure all my sisters will also say the same thing! Sadly, the building is not there anymore, even the road name is changed to Village Road! But what a time we all had there! The number of friends we all used to bring, Thatha’s friends who used to come and stay overnight playing cards with him late into the night, even distant relatives like cousin’s cousins were welcomed and had a comfortable stay with us. We shifted to this house when I was just about 3 years old. My first memory of this house is meeting Lakshmi Mami (house owner Subburathina Mama’s daughter) and her daughter Vidya. I remember being fascinated by the stairs going down from our verandah to the ground floor house hall (where the owners stayed). I and my immediate elder sisters Sabitha and Jayashree were put in the school next door. To this day, we call it pakkathu school and not by the name of the school. The school was let out for weddings during summer holidays. Though I don’t remember, Amma tells me that I used to cry that I want to attend the weddings there! I do remember that the school ground was used as an open air theatre where movies were shown. We had a great view of the screen from the open space (veli maadi) behind our house and enjoyed the movie sitting at home, which was a great thing those days with TV unheard of!

Side maadis - As soon as we climb the stairs, before we reach our front door, on the right side there used to be an open space which we used to call side maadi (as it was in the side and we were in maadi) The number of afternoons were spent in this space is countless! As there was a huge neem tree giving shade to the whole space, it was a great place to spend the afternoon. Only thing is we did not have any steps to reach it, but have to climb over a small parapet structure. Even my Thatha and Paati did not have difficulty to climb over. I recall that we used to take Thatha’s easy chair to side maadi and he used to rest there in the chair. I heard that the side maadi had a very low wall initially and when I was sleeping there with my uncle, I fell over on the asbestos sheet (which was the roof of the shop below). After this the wall height was increased and we had 2-3 concrete seats attached to the wall from where one can have a view of Ranganathan Road. Sabitha and I have spent so many evenings there sitting on the concrete seats and talking nonsense!

When my Chittappa and family used to come for holidays, I remember that Sabitha and I used to sit there and count the number of cars and check out which taxi they were coming by! When the then President of India Mr. Fakrudeen Ali Ahmed passed through our road, all of us gathered in side maadi to look at him. When Indra Gandhi died, I remember that my friend Manju who was staying quite far away, stayed in our house overnight and we checked out the mobs on the road only from this side maadi!

Behind this side maadi, there used to be two more side maadis – again we were supposed to jump on a small parapet to go to each side maadis. The house owners used to dry vadaams in the second side maadi and the third side maadi overlooked our hall window.

More on my favourite place in part II

Friday, January 15, 2010

Kolam: The lovely art of South India!

I am fascinated by this art! Marghazi has always been the best month when you can feast your eyes with colourful kolams all around you. The number of colourful kolams we see nowadays have reduced but still I have the pleasure of seeing at least a few everyday. I can do only small kolams in front of my house as I stay in a flat. When we were kids, I remember that my eldest sister Sujatha and our neighbour Anu used to compete in drawing huge kolams in front of our houses.

There are many kolam specialists in our family. My mother-in-law, nearing 80 years, still draws very beautiful kolams. Her enthusiasm is such that, the other day when she saw a kolam in some thamboolam bag she immediately took a paper and pen and tried it out. How many ever times I practice a kolam, I remember may be 10-15 kolams by heart and for the rest, I need to refer to my kolam book every time.

I have noticed that my sister-in-law Susila akka also does very grand kolams which I get a chance to see when I visit her during Navaratri.

My aunt Bhagya Chitti was very skilful at this art. My mother admits that this is one thing in which she is a novice but I feel that she did not have much exposure to this because during every festival my Paati used to draw all the kolams and later Bhagya Chitti being an expert took over.

I am jealous of my sister Jayashree, who does lovely kolams out of imagination. She does not follow any traditional pulli kolam or padi kolam, but just does unique floral patterned kolams which look great.

My niece Divya also does good rangolis and specialises in Kerala pookalam.

But for me the greatest kolam expert is my sister Sujatha. From childhood, I have been fascinated by her kolam notebook and it is captivating to see how swiftly she manipulates the pullis to form a grand kolam. Being a specialist in Mathematics, she is a keen observant of the lines drawn or the pullis curved to form a kolam and in case there is a mistake, she can pinpoint very easily where one has gone wrong. Everyday when I draw a kolam at my main door, I think what Sujatha will say about the symmetry of this kolam or the way the lines are drawn in case of a padi kolam. Thank you Sujatha, for introducing me to this art!


Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Morninglenthu pesi pesi en vaai valikarathu” (my jaws are aching due to so much of talking from morning) my boss looked at me strangely as I usually don’t speak such long sentences to him in Tamizh.

My first working day in the New Year started like this:

I had received from our printer the proof of the new packaging material we are making for our buyer in France. It is full of French, German and Dutch – right from product description to the recipe with a list of ingredients to be used along with the material we are supposed to put in the packaging.

By checking, I mean that I just compare the artwork sent by our buyer with the proof sent by the printer to ensure that the strange markings - ˆ ´ ` are put in the right places and the nutrition facts are printed correctly. This is apart from checking the colour, picture, production/best before date etc.

1. To our Malayali printer: Good Morning Mr. Sadiq, Happy New year, the proof is okay, I am sending you a confirmation, please go ahead with printing.

2. To our Malayali Muslim supervisor: Mr.Shanavas, kaise hain, aap kab Bhimavaram jaa sakthe hain? Packaging Friday thak ready hoyega, lekin thoda packer se baat karke production jaldi complete karneko boliye. (Mr.Shanavas, how are you, When can you go to Bhimavaram? Packaging will get ready by Friday; but please speak to the packer and ask them to speed up production)

3. To our Telugu packer’s office: Bhooshan garu unnara, ledha, yeppudu ostharu? (Is Mr. Bhooshan there, not there? When is he expected?)

4. Talk with Tamil QC in packer’s office: Mr. Nagaraju, Mr, Bhooshan eppa varuvar? Evalo cartons readynu kekkanum. Vandha phone panna solrengala? (Mr. Nagaraju, when is Mr. Bhooshan expected? Would like to know how many cartons are ready. Can you please ask him to call me?)

5. Follow up with our Cochin office regarding Printer: Kuttan, Sadiqenda officela poi, innala courier cheydhalla, aa carton kaanichu, thirichu officela kondu varanum (Kuttan, please go to Sadiq’s office, show him the carton we couriered to you yesterday and bring it back)

Not only my jaws ached trying different languages from morning but I also got confused and made the above statement to my boss!

Hope I have more opportunities to improve my vocabulary in all these languages and learn more this year!

Happy New Year!