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A quick tale 207

Calamity Jane

If I told you my name, you would recognise me straightaway. If you saw me, I wouldn’t even have to tell you my name. You would know me from the thousands of news reports on television. I first came into prominence during that terrorist attack on that passenger train that killed 178 people three years ago today. I was on that train on my way to see a friend who’d just had a baby. One minute I was on the seat and the next I was thrown against the window. I can’t remember much from the first few minutes except that there was a deathly quiet where there had been the reassuring rhythm of the train. My mouth felt dry and my throat was burning and for some reason I found myself patting my chest. Probably because I was having trouble breathing. It all seems so hazy. But I don’t know how I found the strength to raise myself to my feet, locate my handbag, fish out my mobile and film what had just happened. I called my boss at the tv station where I worked as a runner and told him between rasping bouts of cough what I’d witnessed. Within minutes news had caught on and before I knew it, I had become the poster-girl for that tragedy.

Over the years, I’ve had to relive those harrowing moments several times on television, print and on radio. To be honest, I can no longer remember how exactly it happened but I’ve come to believe in my own version of it. Obviously, I’ve added a few dramatic touches here and there for effect. Two Christmases ago, I even brought out my memoirs of that fateful day and you may recall how the book zoomed straight to the non-fiction bestseller list. These days, I have a clutch of awards to my credit and I regularly report from war-torn areas of the world. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll be caught out. I can see the salacious tabloid headlines accusing me of profiting me from a disaster. There will be prime-time TV shows dedicated to how I milked the tragedy. So called snoop journalists will not even spare my garbage bins in a bid to unearth filthy breaking news. My boyfriends will be quizzed till they confess to how I revelled in new found celebrity status while scores of families mourned the loss of loved ones. Yes, I can see it all lurking in the not-too distant future. But for now, I have a job to do. So if you’ll excuse me, I have another mishap to cover.


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Guest blog by Chinna Ammani

Here’s an interesting write-up by Chinna Ammani on stereotypical portrayals in Indian adverts. The opinion expressed is strong and the language uncompromising. Read at your own peril!-a

The Aiyaiyo Syndrome

These days I do what is called as a shooting supervision. When ads are filmed (with lip sync) in Tamizh, my job is to teach models their lines and rehearse with them. Most of them are from Mumbai and are non-Tamilians. So when they have to do a line in Tamil, for example "Adanaaladan Dettol ubayogikaren" (And that's why I use Dettol) , they invariably say "Aadanaladaanu naanu Detttaalu ubayogikkareanu" (Something hideous). Their exaggerated delivery of our supposed accent is all thanks to Hindi actor Mehmood. My blood pressure rises and I yell "DO NOT DO A MEHMOOD HERE. WE DO NOT SPEAK LIKE THAT".

Though their voice is dubbed later with a Tamil voice-over, I ensure that they pronounce it the non-Mehmood way. Mehmood has done this major damage to us So…


Married for 31 years, 2 months and 17 days
Six cups coffee a day, brewed everyday of marriage
Three meals a day,
At least two dishes cooked, each meal-time
One snack for every Sunday
Big basket of clothes ironed every Tuesday
Average 18 items of clothing washed per day
Three children
1 miscarriage
One mother-in-law suffered
900 sq metre of floor space mopped, once a day
One caesarean endured
3 chicken poxes, 2 measles, 2 fractures, 8 diarrhoeas, depression, conjunctivitis every summer, 1 tonsilitis and countless common colds and flues
1 job held for 29 years
6 hours slept every night
Sex tolerated every 2nd week
Religious rituals everyone of them, carried out
Not one of them, believed in
Lived 52 years and some
Died exhausted

Overheard, “At least she had the satisfaction of having lived for her family”

The Saturday Poem

Found this in yesterday's paper. Again, I wish I'd written it.


Now and Then

"Now that I'm fifty-seven",
My mother used to say,
"Why should I waste a minute?
Why should I waste a day

Doing the things I ought to
Simply because I should?
Now that I'm fifty-seven
I'm done with that for good."

But now and then I'd catch her
Trapped in some thankless chore
Just as she might have been at
Fifty-three or fifty-four

And I would say to her
(And I have to bite my tongue)
That if you mean to learn a skill
It's well worth starting young

And so, to make sure I'm in time
For fifty, I've begun
To do exactly as I please
Now that I'm thirty-one.

-Sophie Hannah

Lost in Post

To a little boy

It cannot be easy being you. A follow-up act to your more devilishly charming, flamboyant older brother. Before you were born, I was convinced that no child could ever take the special place your brother had come to occupy in my life. I used to argue with your father you would always be a second-born. A runner-up. A bridesmaid (or a best-man, as you turned out to be). That you could never be the prized, cherished, celebrated apple of my eye that my firstborn child was. But how easily you tore down my flimsy little conviction. The minute I saw you, I knew I was gone. What was worse, I succumbed willingly.

My fears that you would be overshadowed by your brother have proven unfounded. Over the past year, you have come into your own as a person. Your brother demands and challenges our love and attention. You, on the other hand, are much more accepting of our distractions with him. It is almost as if you understand that he is used to being the star of the show for much of his…

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 …