Saturday, April 16, 2011

Keeping a Promise

When I last went on the electric train (Leisurely Journey), the desire to do a similar journey and take the kids again was strong. This time, the target was the MRTS or the air rail...which goes over the city.

I also was reading up about Chennai Fort, and was amazed that there was a museum open to the public. So it was a natural desire to make this the destination.

The air rail been here for more than five years - it came up during the previous govt, and I had never been on it. What a loss. Better late than never. From the train one can see the beach at one point, and it passed so close to the Chepauk stadium where the match was going on that we could see the players on the field! Though it was crowded onward due to people using this for reaching Chepauk Stadium to watch the IPL match, it was still an experience.

The Fort Museum - I can't believe that in all the years I have visited Chennai and lived in Chennai, I have never visited this museum. Ironically, I have even visited the fort on work to meet Secretaries of government, but the building (now the secretariat has shifted) was so yuck, so matchboxish, no wonder I never associated it with the British monument.

The museum is no great discovery. But it is very neatly kept, and relics from the British period along with the original wooden model make it a worthwhile visit. It is small, just two floors, and so my two children and my friend's daughter didn't get too bored. Maybe the fact that we fed them just before going in helped too.

There is a St. Mary's Church that was quite and peaceful, with a beautiful garden. I could imagine the 1700 Britain there.

We used a different route to exit the fort and reach the station. And now we saw evidence of the fort ramparts, the greenery and the British architecture. What a tragedy though that Ezhumbur river, which flowed through the fort, is nothing more than a stinking canal.

We returned by train, now quite empty. In the evening sun, the 20 minute journey seemed too short, and immensely "redoable". But Chennai heat had sapped our energies, and I was thankful for the tea my friend - who had come with her family with us - offered.

This trip definitely took me back to the days when we didn't have the taken-for-granted cars and roughed it out in large groups which made us forget the difficulties. The backyard from where we exited took us to places that I had seen from the road but never thought I would ever visit.

What next, my friend and I are wondering. The zoo?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Life and Death

My seven year old daughter wanted to know: If life begins, it has to end too, no? So how and when will it end?

She had me zapped on two counts. One, that she could think such a thought. But secondly, because, I have had three different conversations with three sets of people of my age on parallel lives and death.

I hate to go deep in there because it makes me nervous and is like thin air - you understand it when you talk about it, but lose the meaning the moment you end your statement. Is this right, is this what you meant? Are what we think "other animals" parallel lives that we don't understand and so consider humans as the supreme creation, because of sixth sense etc? Or are their other planets where our lives are mirrored...or we are mirroring other worlds? Are we part of a reality show, or are we the audience? Are we in the dream, or are we dreaming?

Apparently the book Vasishta's Yoga deals with it...for those who are interested. I myself - I prefer the dream world of fiction. A parallel world clearly dreamt up for popular consumption.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Animal Farm

Somehow, I think this masterpiece will never be irrelevant. Have seen enough of it in a microcosm and at bigger levels. At the heart of every individual hides a desire for power - over something, anything.

I voted today and then wondered if I had selected the right candidate. After all, when in power, will he or she behave any differently? Maybe, initially, yes. But after a will be like the old regime.

After all, wasn't one party kicked out and another voted in with sweeping majority in TN? Yet, history repeated itself and we had corruption on a grander scale, at national level...

If you vote for a new candidate, there is the risk of splitting vote and a weak head of government. If you vote for a powerful party, then you strengthen it it more gumption to openly cheat...

Hobson's choice?


On another note, saw a short piece on animal planet - a weak old lion resting when a herd of buffalos attacked it and killed it. In Tamil, there is a saying: யானைக்கு ஒரு காலம் வந்தால் பூனைக்கு ஒரு காலம் வரும்.

 There is a time for everyone - if the elephant has its day, so does the cat. This short film seemed so appropriate with regard to power dynamics. Even the powerful become weak one day, and the weak will have a field day. But it seemed more pathetic than when I see lions killing a deer. For there is a purpose to that death. This seemed mindless. But these are animals! Why does man behave the same way?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Yet another victim of automation

My gas agency was one place where I could call, give my customer ID, be told when to expect my gas cylinder and be done with it in exactly 3 minutes. But today, I was given a customer care number, put on to automated voice message which made me press 1 and 2 to choose my options, get confirmations that my agency name was x, my contact number was y, and then give me a booking number (which I didn't realise was coming so was not prepared to note) and then rung off. Now I am not sure when to expect my gas cylinder! :(

Maybe for the agency this is some form of simplification, but for the tech-duh has me still shaking. What's happened to the human touch?
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