Monday, October 30, 2006

I ask, you write 2

Thank you for your fantastic responses to my earlier question. Here's the next one.

So what was Krishnaswami thinking when he said yes to her?

Again, please keep your stories short and post them in the comment box. Thank you.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I ask, you write

Okay, here's the idea. I ask you a question and you write a short story explaining it. Let me give you an example.

What happened when young Padmavathi was drawing water from the well to wash her clothes, early one Margazhi morning?

Annon's story

One morning when Padmavathi was drawing water from the well, she found Pettai Rowdy # 1 Govindarajulu inside the bucket! She dropped it at once and Govindarajulu went down and down and hit the bottom of the well with a Nung sound. His upper and lower teeth fused together and since then he has been fed intravenously. Pettai Rowdy # 2, Ragothaman Iyengar, who suggested this to Govindarajulu, now rules the roost.

After marrying Padmavathi, he is inviting all of you to a water drawing ceremony at the new well they dug in their house.

Jai Ragothaman Iyengar! Jai Padmavathi! Come one, Come all!


Here's a question for you.

What happened that made young Meenakshi change her mind about the parrot green saree she had originally chosen and go for a coppersulphate blue saree instead?

No deadlines but please keep your stories short. You can leave your story in the comment box. Get scribbling.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Thank you

Dear all

Thank you ever so much for your fantastic response to the Ready, Steady, Charity fundraising appeal in aid of Projectwhy. A conservative estimate reveals that you have helped raise almost Rs 20,000!

I am most touched by your generosity. Thanks in particular to Neha and Shoefiend for their prolific output of stories and poems of extraordinary quality.

Hope you had a wonderful Deepavali.

Thank you.

Update: Anouradha Bakshi writes...

.. and this time her fund raising diwali effort was a huge surprise.. as it came before my now jaded appeals for help..It meant a lot to me personally and to all the 600 planet why inhabitants as it brought hope, cheer and above all showed that someonea cared.The whopping 25 000 Rs that have been collected may seem small to many but it can sustain a class for more than 2 months or pay one teacher for a whole year.The short story book project is still on and now we can add these delightful tales and make it a souvenir for all...We hope to see you all at pwhy one day and hope that you will keep supporting us by sending your wishes and love.Thank you all and do keep in touch, at least virtually through or blog and site


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Ready, Steady, Charity!

This is a sticky post. Please scroll down for the usual.

Do you remember this?

This Deepavali we're doing it again.

Only this time, I've got two wonderfully talented women to help with the task. Neha and Shoefiend have kindly volunteered to write around the words you suggest.

So email me 3 random words at ammania@ And we will come up with tales, prose, poetry, advertising copy, recipes...something delightfully silly (or at least plain silly) using those three words. And then you could make a small donation (no amount is too small!) to Projectwhy.

Go on, challenge us!

Please note: You send the donation directly to Projectwhy via paypal/money order or any other preferred method. Not through us. Not through anyone else.

Four already!

They grow up so quickly!

Reading My Son

His last school days; he strolls through the door,
his shirt signed in fat felt-tips by his mates.
Sophie loves him loads and Todd reminds him
to keep in touch by nightly MSN.
Jodie's going to miss his wicked laugh.
Mel rates his hair and someone wants his babies.

I try to read him. He drinks orange juice
straight from the carton, towering over me.
He's going out tonight. He turns the bass up.
The shirt's sloughed off. I'll hold it once he's gone.

-Catherine Smith

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Nine of mine

A good friend from my pre-blogging days, Deepa has tagged me. The tag is about revealing nine things about oneself. So here goes.

1. I'm alright. But I'd like my tea white with no sugar please.
2. I don't always enjoy cooking.
3. Politics tires me.
4. I'm not entirely sure what my shoe size is. I'm a size 5 1/2 at Clark's and a size 6 elsewhere.
5. I watched Swan Lake at the Royal Opera House performed by the Bolshoi Theatre recently. I loved it but the seats were very uncomfortable.
6. I feel guilty when I put my little on in front of the tv.
7. I don't think I can ever jump out of a plane.
8. There's a photograph of me standing with my feet on either side of the equator.
9. I feel very touched when people remember my birthday.

The tag's up for anyone to take. Let's hear from you.


Annon's 9

1. I dream sometimes about my past life in Italy
2. Today I am wearing an underwear which I bought in 1998 on a short trip to Dubai
3. When I cut my fingernails, I leave the ones for the thumb and middle finger to be able to use them to open stuff. Only one hand
4. Sometimes, I suddenly say stuff from old memorized slokams like "Mandrapushpam vahamahe" in a meeting and astonish people
5. When I was a child, I wanted to have a falcon that I would call Jimutavahana. I still want one.
6. Friends call me T, after the character in Soprano
7. My favourite hindi film is an obscure film called Anant Yatra based on Woody Allen´s Kugelmass episode. I cant find it anywhere.
8. I wanted to join the Indian Forest service, but they rejected me.
9. I sometimes do a breakdance to an old ad that goes as "Ok, ok, oh, Tata ka Ok. Dhulai ka Sabun, Tata ka Ok. Ok Ok, oh, Tata ka Ok".

Monday, October 09, 2006

Ready, Steady, Charity - 27

Jordi's words - Paella, bicycle, karma

Ammani's take

What are you cooking?, he asked as he parked his bicycle outside their house.

Chicken karma, she replied stirring the pot a little more vigorously than usual.

I thought you said you were going to make paella for dinner, he wondered aloud.

Not pa-el-la, she corrected him, it's pa-eh-ya. I changed my mind. It's going to be chicken karma tonight.

Not karma, he offered, it's korma. K-O-R-M-A.

Really? she demanded turning around to look at him. Ask the chicken what he's doing on our dinner table and chances are, he'll say that it's his karma and not korma.

It must be a certain time of the month, he reckoned as he walked away.

Ready, Steady, Charity - 26

Kamla's words - Goldilocks, teen taal, mamanaar

Neha's take

He’s dying in his sleep,
or maybe the afternoon
has become so hot that
each limb breathes, exists

On its own. He wonders if
Goldilocks talked to her hair,
Like he murmurs to and
scolds his arthritic knee

The ceiling fan, its cap
loose, goes Dha Dhin Dhin
Dha, Dha Dhin Dhin Dha, Na
Tin Tin Na, Tete Dhin Dhin

Dha. His dead wife,
draped in indigo appears. Teen
Taal she says, he nods and
she vanishes. Fat air of

The afternoon gobbled her. He
looks at the stern photograph
of his mamanaar, asking “Why
did you not teach her to

Live for longer, as well you
taught her to annoy me with
the names of taals and leaves?”.
Frustrated, the afternoon dies.

Neha's take two

He’s obsessed with the growing baldness. Everyday he holds the smaller mirror over his head, standing in front of the bathroom mirror to monitor the perceived hair loss. On the street, he constantly compares his own crop of hair to the ones of people walking by. His mother fears that if he balds anymore, he cannot be married to anyone. Any self-respecting mamanaar would refuse to accept a more bald man than himself as the husband for his daughter.

Kuppuswamy gave him a bottle of mystic green oil that promises a puzzling hair growth rate. Teen Taal: For your Baal. Three strands of hair a day. If they can send a man to the moon, why couldn’t they make an instrument to count the hair on his head. Maybe if he went to Google Earth, it could zoom in on his pate and he could compare the image from a week before.

That night, the grown man crawled onto his mother’s lap and cried. His mother says, “Don’t cry da. Don’t you know, all the hair that’s fallen off bald men runs to join Goldilocks’s hair. How else will they keep fairy tales alive, but for brave men like you.”. Satisfied, he sleeps. Unmarried and slightly bald.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Ready, Steady, Charity - 25

Nanyaar's words - Pendergast, Tamil, Beyonce

Ammani's take

Last week it was Tantia Tope. And this morning it is Pendergast. She wakes up with these strange words spinning around in her head. Like trapped pebbles in a shoe. She has no clue how they got in there. Were they part of a longer sentence and like stray lambs, lose their way? And often, she has no clue what the words mean. Take Pendergast for instance. What on earth is that? Sounds like a syrup to ease indigestion. ‘I think I ate too much of that sweet you made’. ‘Have a teaspoon of Pendergast. You’ll be okay in no time’.

What’s worse, Pendergast will remain inside her head getting in the way of all her sentences that day. I’ll call you later, she will tell her husband, I’m busy drafting a little pender…I mean, a letter. And later, on spotting an old friend across the road, Pendergast! she will yell out and immediately wish that the friend had not heard her.

How does she get rid of the word? She tips her head to one side and taps her ear hoping that it will spill out. But the moment her head is up, Pendergast is back in circulation. There is only one thing to do. She resolves to speak in Tamil for the rest of the day. And that plan works until she goes out that evening and orders ‘one plate of Beyonce!’. Biriyani, she later explains.

Ready, Steady, Charity - 24

Inquisitive Akka's words - Chikungunya, rasa podi, cracker

Shoefiend's take

Her joints were swollen. Her fever raged like her irate mother-in-law. She was confined to bed, the television had been unplugged (God knows what had happened on Yen Pondatti Thangam) and she was on a diet of stale crackers (sprinkled with rasapodi.) It was just a particularly vile fever, she consoled herself as she swallowed another crocin on the sly. What had the Doctor called it? Chikungunya! Madasambrani! Didn’t he know she was a Brahmin?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Ready, Steady, Charity - 23

Aish's words - Exercise, rejoice, temperature

Ammani's take

Vatsala wondered, not for the first time since morning, what the point of the whole exercise was. They had been standing in the queue outside the temple for close to 6 hours in the soaring temperatures. And from the looks of it, they were condemned to be there for at least another couple of hours.

The temple was the second busiest religious centre in the world after the Vatican and attracted over 12 million people annually. And looking around her, Vatsala was sure all 12 million of them had decided to converge on a single day. Govinda! Govinda!, chanted someone from behind her and the throngs joined in obligingly. Govinda! Govinda!

A few months earlier, Vatsala had been down with a serious bout of jaundice and her mother-in-law had prayed for her recovery. So no sooner was she able to sit, than the family had started planning a pilgrimage. She had mounted a weak opposition. I'm sure the gods will understand if I did not come, she had suggested one night to her husband. Why don't the three of you go and mark attendance for me by proxy? But he was adamant. You don't want to incur the wrath of the gods, he had insisted. So she was left with no choice but to come along.

They had arrived at 2 in the morning only to be confronted with thousands already ahead of them in the queue. And with every passing hour, the crowds had swollen and the lines barely inched ahead. Just as Vatsala was about to give up and collapse with exhaustion, there was a commotion ahead of her. Step aside, step aside, someone was shouting and there was a sudden scramble of people to get out of the way. The orderly arrangement of people a moment ago soon began to disintegrate. A posse of sniffer dogs materialised out of nowhere. Policemen, bristling with authority, promptly appeared behind them. And the crowds, as if jolted out of a stupor, decided to scurry for cover. Bombs, muslims, terrorists. Words came tumbling out at random as no one seemed to have any clear idea.

Soon thereafter they learnt that the temple was to be closed for the rest of the day. And devotees were advised to stay away until further notice. Looks like the Lord will not grant us a darshan this time, sighed her father-in-law as they slowly made their way back to the hotel room. The Lord is punishing us for something we must have done wrong, muttered the mother-in-law who thought of Him in much the same way as her high school maths teacher. Thank you, Lord, thought Vatsala as she lowered her head and grinned with relief. She would have to rejoice in private.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Ready, Steady, Charity - 22

Shoefiend's sister's three words : Puli, Arnie, Lois

Shoefiend's take

The washing machine shuddered to a halt. Ramanujam's ageing hands flipped the lid open and his cataracting eyes peered at the twisted, serpentine heap of petticoats, brassieres and trousers. With a sigh, he heaved the bundle of clothes out and threw them in to a plastic bucket.

How had it come to this? How was it possible that he (who had been nicknamed Iyengar Puli by his college mates for his prowess in a boxing ring) was hanging out his wife's underwear to dry? 'Lois Panties' the label said. 'Idhukku onnum korachal illai' he thought savagely. The woman had been his downfall. His Mother had warned him about her.

"Don't marry this one kanna. Vendaam. Amma will find you a nice girl."

He had pushed aside his mother's remonstrance's and gone ahead and married Kamali. Thank God Amma wasn't around to say I told you so.

The steaks had been replaced by vendakkai ('But I belong to the Blue Cross! How will it look if my husband eats meat?'). The training to become the next featherweight champion was replaced with a job at the local bank ('If anything ever happened to you...' - never mind that 10 years service at the Mandaveli Branch had slowly killed him anyway). The pictures of Arnold were replaced by images of pot bellied Ganeshas. The children that they were saving all their money for never came. And so they got themselves a dog. Or rather she had. Arnie (nakkal!) the Pomeranian was her baby.

'Yenanga. After you've hung the clothes out to dry don't forget to feed baby.'

He silently went to the kitchen. The blasted dog was whining and pawing at the cupboard already. Ramanujam opened the can of dog food and carefully spooned the chunks of meat in to a tiny sterling silver bowl. He placed it on the floor and watched as Arnie attacked it with relish.

'Lucky Bastard' he sighed.

Ready, Steady, Charity - 21

Words: Baby, Cigarette, Kamal Haasan, Burp, Goddess, Disposable.

Neha says, "Decided to combine three words from 2 requests. Six words now. Just like that!"

She wondered if the Goddess had written Mylapore Maami on her forehead the minute she was born. At the age of sixty-four, she was too old to change her habits. Orthodox by default . In the years following the birth of their first child, she had become involved in housekeeping. The baby took much of the time. Her MA in Mathematics had landed her a good husband. The nice rational man wrote regular letters to The Hindu apropos of this and that, while she was pushed to the corner to become more traditional to balance the entire household.

Her husband however had become more religious since his retirement. It was this that annoyed her the most. Would their karmic equations be the same? What use of observing rituals from the age of twenty three onward, if a retired man was going to gather as many brownie points to enter heaven. He had decided to go on a sudden trip to Rameshwaram. Religion was so much fun for retired men she thought. She wanted to retire too. She took care of their grandchild instead. Everyone kept yapping about how much easier it was with disposable nappies and what not. You still have to wipe the shit off their bums she thought. She wanted to shave off her husband's moustache without his knowledge she thought, the only man who looks good with facial hair is Kamal Haasan.

She goes to the Pooja Room. She strikes a match and lights an incense stick. Nobody else was at home. She then took a cigarette out from behind the picture of Ganesha. The Lord of Good Beginnings. She lit the cigarette with the same match. The smell of incense would overpower nicotine. Besides, the heat in Madras burnt all odours. This strange habit had brought out all the skills of connivance wired into a Mylapore Maami. Going all the way to Pondy Bazaar, and demanding a pack of Wills Navy Cut every week from an always-puzzled shopkeeper.

That night, while serving her son and his wife Pepper Rasam, a burp found its way through her mouth. Her son looked at her with some sternness. She would have cried, but with every burp, she tasted a bit more of her afternoon cigarette. And grinned.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Ready, Steady, Charity - 20

Mumbaigirl's words - Burp, goddess, disposable

Ammani's take

Ei Pattu!, called out the young girl, I want this washed for school tomorrow. Pattu deftly caught the balled up shirt that came flying her way. She unrolled it and put it to soak along with other shirts and sarees that were waiting to be washed. But first Pattu had to mop and clean the house and wash the cooking pots from last night.

How quickly these children grow up, she thought to herself as she brought out the broom and started dusting the floor. It seems like yesterday that I helped Suguna Amma bring her new born from hospital. She had been devastated that this too was a girl. A third daughter, Suguna had wailed, why Pattu? Why are the gods testing us? Did we not pray enough? Why, even you fasted so I may bear a son! Why, Pattu? Where did we go wrong?

Pattu had tried to console her distraught mistress. Don't say that Suguna Amma, she had offered, you are now blessed with a trinity of Godesses. Durga, Lakshmi and now, Saraswathi. But Suguna had refused to even handle the new-born. So it was upto Pattu to feed, bathe, burp and care for the infant. Just like she had cared for the child's father.

The years rolled swiftly by and the infant was now a strapping young girl at the cusp of becoming a woman. Pattu always had a soft corner for young Saras and considered her her own grandchild.

Ei!, a sharp cry brought her back to the present. It was Saras. What have you done to my shirt, Pattu?, she was screaming. She was holding up the white shirt in her hand and Pattu could see that it was badly stained from being soaked along with other coloured clothing.

Illai, Saras amma, Pattu started to explain. Enough Pattu!, spat out the young girl, you've wrecked my new shirt. And I don't want any of your pathetic excuses. She hurled whatever was in her hand at Pattu and stormed off.

Pattu bent down and picked it up. It was a small disposable pen that had been twisted in rage. It could have been me, Pattu told herself wryly.