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Do u laugh or grow alarmed when a 15 month old does this: In the middle of the night he gets angry at his mother trying to repeatedly tuck him up in a blanket that he sits up, pulls the blanket from his mother's hand, makes a ball out of it, crawls to the end of the bed, throws it on the floor, comes back down to his mother, plops down and instantly sleeps!

May. 15th, 2010

It has been so long, not because i had nothing to say, but because i wanted to write something that would give me pleasure, and not just an occasion to vent out my frustration.
A few years ago, on one of my field trips, I left my camera on the luggage rack of the library, I was visiting. I came home and realized my mistake. It was already 6 p.m., after office hours and the library was two hours away. I decided to call up. Luckily for me the watchman picked up and I told him that I had left a small bag of mine in library. He went inside, checked and asked me to describe the bag. I was reluctant, but told him that it contained my camera. The digital camera cost peanuts these days, but I bought it some four years ago, when buying one had meant putting aside three months of my salary. He said that the bag was intact, and then asked me my name. He wanted to know where I was from, and then whether I was married. After that he wanted to know whether I had any children, and then if I was newly married, and finally why I had no children. Phew! I had to put up with all this and then as a final goodbye he told me he would return it the next day, but I would have to take a picture of his. Fine! The next day, I went up to the librarian and he smilingly told me that the watchman would be off duty, but directed me to where he would be. I went to meet this guy, and found to my surprise that he was 50-60 something and actually very sweet. I took a picture of his, and sent it by mail a few days later.

random thoughts

This incident happened long ago. It suddenly cropped up in my mind yesterday. A couple of years ago, as part of my project I had interviewed this retired doctor, who had told me at the end of the interview that she will provide me with the phone numbers of some of her friends if and when I return. These friends were well known writers and would have been a great addition to my body of work. The next year i returned and decided to call her to get the numbers. I had to re-introduce myself and remind her about the phone numbers and she asked me call her back after a couple of days so that she will have it ready. i called back after a few days, and she said she was busy and asked me to call back later. She did not sound too pleased. Now, I hate speaking on the phone generally. But, since she had asked me to call back, i dutifully called her again. Oh boy! I was primly and angrily asked why I could not lift up a phone directory and find the numbers for myself. I immediately apologized saying I did not mean to disturb her and had called because she had asked me to do so. I felt like a fool for taking her at face value. I had forgotten this incident, but yesterday when i suddenly remembered, all the hurt and humiliation returned. Anyway writing this down has certainly helped me put the incident in perspective and hopefully it will not haunt me again.


Our house is situated in the corner of two small, but relatively busy roads. Now that the summer holidays have started it has become a hub of activity for footloose school kids. There is a fish tank that they find extremely interesting, and periodically the jump the wall to steal the big fish. I suppose none of the fish survive because the fish are stolen every other day. The pathetic array of flowers and flower buds in the garden are also plucked for whatever reasons. The shrubs and other plants are trodden on mercilessly and many of my brand new plants have undergone sudden deaths. There is a drumstick tree near the wall, the leaves and branches of which disappears every so often.
I was seriously considering about attaching some bells to the net or attaching a live wire to electrocute whoever touches the tank. My other wild ideas included digging a small ditch near the wall and covering it with coconut palm leaves and other leaves so that whoever jumps the wall lands in the ditch and there will be enough noise to alert us to their presence... much like how wild elephants are caught. Or planting bougainvilleas to stop the 'jumpers' from jumping. I was surprised to learn recently that Rani, the other inmate of the house was harbouring similar thoughts.
That set me thinking... after all these are kids. They will be around only till the school holidays start. (But, I am going to grow bougainvilleas once the rainy season starts!) Meanwhile we are having great fun walking near the wall nonchalantly and thwarting the kids. Their frustration makes up for all those dead plants and flower buds.
Next time I build a house in the city, I am aiming for higher walls.. What can be seen is what is coveted. Out of sight, out of mind!

News reporting

The recent blasts that took place in Bangalore, I was at home watching the various news channels, and could see how effective news channels can be in creating panic, where none exists. One had to only listen to the news reporter in TIMES NOW to think that it was total mayhem in the city. Not only did they get some of their facts wrong, the very tone of reporting was, if not senseless, like what one expects of a tabloid! Since I was surfing between different channels and also listening to other news channels, and quite close to where the first blast site was I had a general idea of what was happening. The sad part was the death of the woman was not the issue for this channel but what they could make/concoct out of the incident.
I wish there was some law which could put an end to such senseless downright sensationalising kind of reporting.


I have this theory that many people from outside research circles cannot understand that a discussion or an argument need not be personal. Any intellectual argument tends to get personal and often they turn mildly abusive, particularly when the opposing party is of the male persuasion. Maybe i am biased.


What is useful knowledge? Can knowledge be useful in itself?

Some research is useful, some is not. Who decides?

Mating ritual of x wasp is science- funded by the government, hence must be good and useful

History of women’s education is funded by who? Why is she doing it? How will it help?

Is it history? History is about kings, and Gandhi and freedom movement, this is not history.

Why history? We only need the present.

So your market analysis of buying patterns is not based on history?

Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.
Imannuel Kant

News to gladden the heart

I just had a mail from a senior who is working on local histories saying that the first year degree students in certain colleges seem to be more open to ideas, good with their presentation skills and self reflexivity compared to older students. He seemed to think it is to do with the introduction of the DPEP system almost a decade ago.
I was reminded of a heated discussion I had with a couple of school teachers who were finding it difficult to cope with the changes that the DPEP system had brought about to their methods of teaching. They could neither understand the merit of the system, nor would they accept that the existing system was outmoded. I was feeling desperate, not just for personal reasons, but also because I didn’t have the knowledge to explain that the education system that might have been good enough for decades of school going students was insufficient in the present world (economy). I did not have concrete examples to give them of what might be wrong with the then existing system. I also did not know then that the DPEP system was being put in place in other states in India, and not just Kerala; that it was not a ploy by the then education minister to make money.
I wish I could meet them now, and say “I told you so!”

God works in mysterious ways

Nearly two decades ago, when I was informed that I would have a second sibling, I was excited- and I wanted the new addition to be a girl- until one week before the actual appearance. Some not-to-be-mentioned-adult told me a week before that I would lose my status as the only daughter if it was a girl. I desperately wanted a brother to be born after that. Only it was a girl. Did I lose my status as an only daughter? Probably. Did I lose my parents love/affection? Definitely not.
The seeds of insecurity sown early on did not vanish overnight though. It took years for the conscious adult mind to throw aside perceived loss of position. Yes, I am still miffed to think that my father’s nick name for me was later on used for her. :-)
But, I don’t remember any other instance of “unfair play”. After all the first born is always the first born.
Now, I think it is indeed great that I have a sister. The reasons are many. For one I think it is great to have someone to share your tastes with- not that we actually share our tastes- to go shopping with you, to help you out in the kitchen- and this is the major attraction. From earlier posts it should be clear how I hate anything to do with the kitchen- so now I have someone to share the chores with- misery loves company?
And most important of all, someone responsible back home to take care of the aging elders when we, the older ones, are not home. In many ways she is better at taking care of them than we are because I think she has accepted the fact that our mom is middle aged and not as well as she used to be. We, the older ones, still like to think of parents as they were when they were young, healthy and caregivers. It is easier for us to conveniently forget to ask about their health, because it would be affirming that they are not as healthy as we would like them to be. The fact that she is a girl means that she helps out a lot at home. It is not that a boy would not have helped, but she stays at home and is there for them in terms of time than if she had been a boy.
When there are parties/festivals at home, I am really thankful that she is around, because there is company when the men leave on their “men-only trips”.

...God does work in mysterious ways.

Full circle

Years ago, when my aunt first married and joined the family, she found the orthodox atmosphere at home very restrictive. Women could not go out alone, sit in the drawing room and so on. A few years down the line, my mom too became part of the family. One day she told my aunt that they could go for a movie. My aunt was scared and skeptical. How were they to manage that? My mom told her not to worry, went up to my grand mom and said, “Mother, we are going for a movie.” And that was that… They were not asking, but making a statement.
Around fifteen years ago, my brother could get away with almost anything, and go anywhere he wanted. So, then one day I asked him how he managed to do so. He told me, “you should not be asking for permission, you should state!” Ok, tried that. The first time it did not exactly work, could have been my tone.:-)
Anyway, I think I have sort of mastered it these days. Of course the timing has to be right, you either ask right before, or tell after it is done



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