Sunday, November 26, 2006

Tell Tale 14

Following Ammani's lead, I wrote this Tell Tale. Here is my contribution.

First it was red. Then yellow. Now it's red again. Why can't Shailu make up her mind?

In her 30 years of service as lead of the elite bomb disposal squad, Shailu had never been in an accident. Somehow, she has always escaped the grim explosion that takes away life or limb. But today was different, she was not diffusing some RDX. Shailu had been assigned to diffuse the primary charges in an armed thermonuclear device.

Earlier the police had got a phone call about a bomb and they had located the device. The device had been moved it to a ship on the Bay of Bengal to minimize impact on the population. Now she had 5 minutes and a nuke to diffuse.

It is not everyday that you get to neutralize a nuke. The thermonuclear device was not state of the art. It is a 2 stage fusion reaction. First the conventional explosives detonates and creates an implosion, and compresses the Uranium 235 to a critical mass. The U235 fission is the primary. The x-ray emission from this primary fission is then focussed on to the fusion fuel, (typically deuterium) which then fuses to release huge amount of energy. Shailu, a conventional UXO (Unxploded Ordnanace) expert, was asked to diffuse the explosives that start the primary fission.

She removed most of the sheath and metal and was looking at the wiring. She deciphered the circuit board and all she needed to was figure out which wire she had to cut. The Red or the Blue. Shailu smiled. If it had been a movie, the audience would be sitting on the edge of their seats waiting in suspense to know about the wild guess the actor makes. It took her 30 seconds to find out that she will need to cut the Red wire and short a transistor to diffuse it. But Did Shailu want to diffuse it?

She had a 30 year itch. She had not seen an atomic explosion. The world had not seen a terrestrial detonation of deployment capacity fusion bomb. She had not even been in the vicinity of any explosion herself. Obviously she could not see this explosion if it detonates. She would die from the initial gamma ray burst, even before she could see a single spark. Red or blue?

Shailu felt very very naughty that day.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Dial T for TamilNadu (Part III)

I love Tamil girls. I think they are the cutest of all. They are very sweet to talk to and are very smart. Not very funny though.

I find many Tamil girls going through a grueling, unnecessarily painful journey in their twenties. If you forsee your life become a tired cliche, it is time to sit down and have a nice chat.

I know why you are lonely: fear and confusion. Everybody is trying to hurt you : female infanticide, the perverts in public transportation, the gender biased parents. You hear about the sexual abuses in the news, the road-side rowdies gawping at your body. Fear got the better of you and in your panic you built barriers around you. Soon you felt safe in your isolation but your age and hormones screamed against such a self imposed exile from normal interaction. In this deluded comatose, you appreciate anyone who talks similarly against such a union of sexes, however irrelevant the context might be. You think "Sex and the city" speaks to you at a personal level, even when you know that the characters are neither your age nor have a healthy sexual life.

In your safe haven you get uncomfortably alone and in your desperation you check out the guys your parents recommend you to consider for marriage. In your search for a companion for your next half century, you try to understand the other gender over dinner with some guy.

It is time to realize that there is something terribly wrong with Tamil Nadu.

A gender which has been told to avoid during high school, seen only as a chauvenistic peer in your career and demonized enough to exocommunicate even the determined prince charming.
You have male friends, with whom you maintain passionate platonic diplomacy, who are very useful as entertainment pawns, but you are unable to comprehend a romantic "MAN". Your bubbly teenage years long gone, prime years wasting away in your impossible conundrum, you are in your late twenties, a decade after you were the most beautiful looking. You settle for a guy whom you think is not too weird, and marry him in a decision based on a world that slowly turning more mature and against you. In all your mature glory, you skip over the lovey-dovey movies in the rental store, because of its unfamiliarity in real life.

I love Tamil girls and I think they are the cutest of all. I do not want this for any girl and would like to know if it is not true in your case. Many years into your marriage if you do not want to keep imagining about a guy who was cute and had a crush on you, but you were too scared to give him a chance ? give me a call. I have a crush on all Tam girls.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Tell Tale 13

I was bored one afternoon and was going through our almirah, the store room for something old, something with a long forgotten history, some amulet which was the pride of my paati. Other than the sneezes I got from the dust allergy I also found an old photo album. The album itself was not too old, but the photos looked much older, in contrast to the people in the pictures.

Most were wedding pictures of my maternal grandparents. I hear my great grand parents were very affluent and had grand weddings. I had seen the pictures before, but I could not recognize any of them in the pictures. The pictures mostly were of the kanyadhanam, Oonjal and nalangu. Typical of a tamil brahmin family. My grand parents were iyer, vathima (that is like sub-sub sect) to be precise. In case you were wondering, I am half black.

I was generally browsing through the pictures when I saw a particular striking picture. There was one young girl in the picture, just her near a tree. She must have been the bride. This girl had no resemblance to my grand mother and I guessed that it must be somebody else's marriage.

The more I looked at the picture, the more beautiful she was. She was laughing with with her hand on her chest, over her new thaali (mangalsutra) hanging from her bright yellow cotton thread still stiff with the starch. Her huge eyes gleaming in the sun, her mouth open wide, flashing her teeth in her laughter. She was looking at something in the sky. It was her marriage and she was glowing like a princess.

The girl must have been 18 years old. You would think she was too young to be married, but she looked very happy that day. She was not skinny at all and her cheeks looked chubby enough for me to want to give her a gentle pinch. The vangi (armlet) that was slipping down from her blouse sleeve was squeezing her bicep.

The short sleeved shirt or sattai of which only the sleeves were visible had a wide jarigai (zari). Her blouse colour was the same as her saree, which was ofcourse worn as a madisaar. Her umbodhu gajam (9 yards) or padinettu mozam saree was worn perfectly, in the proper "Vaathima" way. Her thalappu (pallu) was hanging for just about a foot from her tummy. It was very tempting to look at her waist where a small triangle of previously unexposed pale skin contrasted very very well with the thaali koorai colour (a dark maroon like a wet terra-cotta brick) of her saree.

She was standing bare foot and the heavy silver golusu (anklet) was almost touching the grass. I am sure her man kissed her shiny new metti (toe ring) over her red marudhaani (henna) tainted toe. Her right leg was actually behind her left, and her kosuvam (pleats) hanging between her legs was gently blown by the wind, revealing cute cupped calf muscles. She had her other hand on her hip which is when I realized her figure was stunning. It must be because of the "Vathima" style madisaar, which is to be worn "kreech" (chik), where you would not believe there was 9 yards of silk around the body. I could actually see her figure through the thick yardage. She was the sexiest girl I have ever seen and she did not even have lipstick.

Just then my mom interupted me from behind "She is my periyamma (mom's elder sister), and you should not be looking at elders like that."

My explanation was more embarrassing than my gawp, "I was just wondering what she was looking at , amma."

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Monday, November 13, 2006

The LIL protocol

Have you ever blurt out something that you were not supposed to say? talked to the one person you are not supposed? Was someone ever angry at you for not telling them someone else's secret? Are you tired of keeping other people's secrets?

Long story short, I invented the LIL protocol (Last-in-Line protocol) to solve a man's problem of dealing with too many people confiding secrets, which only a "subset" of their/my friends/family can hear. When most people started doing this, the stress almost gave me a heart-attack once. I think this the best thing that ever happened to humanity since Socrates pained everyone to ask the question "Why!"

The LIL protocol is very simple to follow and relieves the follower of any stress to keep secrets and the related book-keeping. It follows 3 simple steps:
1. Don't say anything to me that you dont want to tell me.
2. Don't say anything that you dont want anybody else to know.
3. If the above two are too difficult for you just dont say anything to me.

This protocol ensures that
1. I do not have to worry about what I might blurt out
2. I do not have to be restricted while talking because whatever I say, will already be known by all
3. Less intake of crap.

Actually it works really well. Beyond your imagination. Try it for a month. Honestly, I have been practicing this for about 2 years now.

I know I will be nominated for the Nobel peace prize for this, but I would prefer M.K. Gandhi to get it first before I do.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Man

Disclaimer: I have dropped my usual writing style and tried to follow normal english grammar which is of course easier to read.

I happened to enjoy the exclusive company of two women wanting to shop in mall. I used to do this with my mom when I was just a little boy. I would always find the closest clean flat surface to sit on, when my mom goes over and over the sarees finding the "matching" colour in the difference shades of light. Anyway, it had been quite a while since then, and could not resist the temptation to join them.

We started with lunch (which was my idea) and the ladies expressed their "need" to buy shoes. Since I knew about this need, I trotted along. I actually did not know that women's shoes had hair ahem fur and they wanted to try it out, and yes they did. There were shoes with fur, shoes with high heals, boots with heals, pink fluffy shoes with bunny ears (I tried them and is actually very soft) slip-ons, shoes with laces, zips, buckles, shoes with flat soles, hard soles, plastic soles, pencil heals. They tried them all. We came to buy winter shoes. Then one of girls bought a pair of shiny black leather shoe with hard soles and a soft inner lining. The other could not make up her mind. I was hungry again.

Then they realized that they had come only to buy socks. But Boston store did not have good socks. Walmart is better (I suggested this wonderful idea) but they did not want to go to Walmart because Walmart pays very little to its employees. People in academia cannot afford that kind of anti-capitalist priciples. And before the end of the day, we visited Walmart and collected more than just socks.

Btw, our picnic to the mall was mainly to only to buy socks and some cardigans (the need to buy cardigans kept coming in waves every time we passed a clothes store). "Ann Tylor" is more of a fashion statement and usually used to entertain girls on such mall outings. In we went, and they tired an array of expensive party clothes. There was a singular moment in the day when one of teh girls tried on a maroon gown, when I could not help staring. She was gorgeous enough to make me start flirting with her and make the other girl jeolous. I have not seen movie actresses in real, but she was looking like one that day. I was the one disheartened when she decided not to buy that, but I did not really give in to her insinuations, and did not open my wallet to buy it for her. Gosh, I am only a grad student. Unfortunately Ann Taylor did not have good cardigans.

Next came GAP, Banana republic and other easy to forget popular brands. On the way out of JCPenny, they got a glimpse of the jewellery section and again "need" arose. The girls were smiling so much at the proximity to so much jewellery. Babies don't get excited this much. I sat around another round of "does this stone look good?", or "does this ring match my shirt?" There were so many stones, red, blue, green, brown, black, tranparent, shiny, opaque. There was all kinds of stones that I used to have in my pebble collection. I tried a single clip-on earing: they though I looked "metro", but I looked more like "homo". I did not venture that again.

If I had not offered my help they would not have come to a conclusion that day. Basically girls need to be asked what they want. They do not always want glittery stuff, no pearls (that was for grandmas) So some geometric shape that goes will with one of their fancy clothes. Not too big and not tiny too. That was an awesome algorithm. I scavenged through the 10 or so shelves and got their heart's content. Even though they did not choose what I had selected, they soon settled for something close. See, the man is always needed.

And then after we heard an announcement that we had 5 mins before the mall was closed, I rushed to get my wool jacket for myself. Asked the ladies and got the right answer "It is too good for you" ... "I know!"

So after 6 hours, I made the most expensive buy of the day, in the last 5 mins. But I loved the day.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pulling an all-nighter

And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.