Saturday, August 25, 2007

Crafts and talent in the family

My aunt Gowramma, though with a handicap of poor eyesight, had immense talent and enthusiasm to create works of art. Mother Savithramma is another naturally gifted lady, perhaps it is running in my genes. She was adept in Rangoli [both forms]. With the powder, she can draw lines with the thumb and index finger in a thin uniform line and in any direction and to magnificient proportions. With the liquid rangoli [for festivals, it is rice flour, mixed in milk and some water] it is another superb touch. Grandmother Thangamma was yet another special lady with special gifts - be it culinary or craft, they turned out to be very very impressive. Have a look at some of the pictures here in this album

Daughter has a bit of talent and here are her paintings done at Sri Raghotham Putti's painting classes when young

My father was skilled in Football, Ping Pong, Carrom and Billiards. Visit this blog for more, how and where sports runs in the family.

One of my favourite pastimes - little projects that turned trash to treasure Look at some pictures here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

R.K.Laxman, cartoons, autographs,

One small corner of me reserves my interest in cartoons . My cartooning hero is R.K.Laxman. I 'read' his lines drawn in his cartoons. They are so life-like and natural. So much like a picture! Of course, his old age, hampered by a slight paralytic stroke has changed the way his cartoons look but not the zeal to draw - he is a born cartoonist.

Sometime in 1986 I almost met him in his Times of India [Bombay] chamber. I was just passing by that heritage building, alone. Suddenly a thought flashed about trying my luck at meeting him! I went in and inquired for him. I was sent near his chamber from where the security guard gave me his intercom link. I told the great man on the phone in Kannada and English that I was from Mysore wanting to just meet for one minute for an autograph. He answered in English and a couple of words in Kannada: "Not now, may be some other time.... I'm in a meeting." I said okay Sir [what to do?] and then left the place a bit disappointed.

Had he said 'yes, come in.', I would have seen a scene like this!  This is a web-grab image.

In 1990, another thought flashed in my mind "why not try and get his autograph by post?" I had done this to many touring cricket teams from abroad and got what I wanted, thanks to the kindess of team managements. So I took my empty letter-head, wrote a short letter on another introducing that I was an admirer of his cartoons, hailing from Mysore and that I wanted his autograph on that empty letter-head. I also enclosed an SASE and mailed it to his ToI address. Much to my delight, I got what I requested and more - he drew his famous "common man" as well, within 10 days. Here it is:

It came as a great inspiration because I had with me a torn copy of his "You Said It" book which was a collection of selected cartoons. I tried to imitate the lines just for fun and not with any real purpose. Some of the expressions he gave to his characters were absolute beauties! Some of his caricatures of famous personalities were out of this world. Not for nothing he is considered a genius!
Here are some of my own attempts much later, not imitating my hero's,. Some of these were published in a local paper. My lines are not to be compared with that of Laxman's!

I had written a letter to a newspaper in Kannada about how they awfully mispronounce Kannada. Click here for my blog

Cartooning is just my interest, a fancy. I'm a great comic book fan too, as can be expected.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Thoughts from a 'helmetless head'!

[Wrote this in early 2007]

After much dilly-dally the helmet rule has come into force. The authorities are happy that thousands are being sold, but not the vast majority of two-wheeler riders as they have had to pay more for the product as well as put up with invoveniences among numerous others that our govt. gracefully offers!

Apart from being a burden on the head, the helmet continues to be so, as long as it accompanies the owner till it is put away. In our general lifestyle, we normally go out for short errands, often, many times a day (also those in the business houses that send workers out for little jobs for short distances and periods). The helmet can be a headache while on the head and also while it rests under the armpit, what with bags and other paraphernalia, or while hanging at the forearm. And there are people that forget to pick it back if they leave it somewhere, then try to trace their steps back to retrieve it wasting much time. Some scooters and bikes can be fitted with 'helmet locks' which help to avoid carrying the helmet around. Going by its demand now, helmet thieves may be on the prowl to steal the locked ones!

College students on two-wheelers will have to carry this round burden on their heads (not a burden to some, but a boon as it can hide identity!) whether going to college or for private tutions in congested classrooms where space is at a premium. Now almost all have to carry them inside classrooms. Helmet stands may come up alongside, everywhere, but one may have to pay extra if that stand is hired for a price.

There are some who do not use others' things in the same family, (esp. caps and now helmets, for their awfully unique smell) where there is just one two-wheeler used by more than one person. Sizes of skulls also vary in the same family! In such cases each one has to buy a 'shell' of his/her own, adding to the unnecessary expenditure.

These days, there are also many 'grandmothers' riding two-wheelers. They will be feeling the weight on the head and make odd reflex-decisions in traffic. Gone beyond the oblivion are the old days when eyebrows were raised when a girl or lady was noticed on a bicycle! Now these grandmothers on wheels are as common as a housecrow!

The govt. is much concerned about the skull. No doubt it holds the 'hard disk drive', What about other parts of the human anatomy? Is the govt. not much concerned about them? When the helmet can bring in so much revenue, other protective gear might add to it! I saw the poor newspaper adult-boy struggling under the 'round object'. Many were recently promoted from the bicycle to a moped. And the 'masked milkman' makes an awful scene, milk-can in hand, right in the morning.

Lots of people from nearby villages visit the city everyday for some work or other and most are now equipped with two-wheelers. Till now they were happy with the best, multipurpose towel that also served as a protective headgear. Now one wonders where the towel finds its place!

A helmet-less rider was caught by the police for this violation once. He showed his skull to him as he had a built-in helmet and there was no need for an exta cover. The irritated police then let out all the air from the wheels saying that you don't need it as plenty of air was all around him!

There are a few ways to run away from donning the shell. Buy four-wheelers! Or better still, ride the good old bicycle (saves petro-money and is pollution-free as well). Or if we have time, let's use our feet and get fitter. Because public transport is either too crowded or unreliable. Auto rickshaws are expensive for frequent travel. My friend Mr.Brown used to say "Things that go up must come down, but prices are the only things that defy this". The petro-price ever-qualifies his saying. None would have grumbled if the helmet was collapsible and put away in a small bag when not in use. Let's hope someone designs it! Till then, it will continue to be an "all-round burden" and till it saves lives. For that to happen, the riders have to fall first, which is, as it is, very very rare! Such is the choc-a-bloc traffic that one may ask "where is the space to fall?"

"She sells sea shells on the sea shore." "They sell skull shells and make many a crore."

Monday, August 6, 2007

My Compositions - a few "poems"

When the film roll was developed and the prints arrived, I was puzzled to see a blurred picture that I had shot of my daughter [above]. My pen went off spontaneously with these lines:

No, no, the earth wasn't quaking,
While my camera was clicking.

These things happen once in a way,
On any unknown night or day.

The camera is of Russian make,
But this photographer is no fake!

-({:o). -({ :o). -({:o).

There was another colleague with whom we had a close association, a much respected person by one and all. His name was Lakshmi Venkatesh [very very fond of tea, hence the title]. I attempted another rhyming poem and it came off well, while it reflected all his qualities. It was presented to him when he retired from service. Here it is:


Superannuate Lakshmi Venkatesh will, end September,
Miss badly our department will, one real noble member.

Prior to his CFTRI stint, he was a good teacher in a school,
He had enjoyed every bit, when that piece of chalk was his tool.

He's fond of teaching Mathematics even without a board,
His students learning the subject, never get bored.

The art of teaching is surely in his genes,
Never did he wear even the best of jeans.

He right-stepped into CFTRI in the mid-sixties,
And sipped off thousands of cups of coffees and teas.

Outwardly, he is a simple-dressed scientist,
Inwardly, he is by no means an atheist.

One of his noteworthy works for CFTRI was on rice bran,
But after awards or rewards he never ran.

Surprised and happy he was when a patent was awarded,
With tea, we, his colleagues were simply rewarded.

The walnut project took him up north to Srinagar,
That was when he was fit, energetic and younger.

Later when his backache took its toll,
He was no longer on the touring roll.

Our beloved Venkatesh was Sponsored Projects' "Lakshmi",
But from now on, our Ramesh may say, "that's me".

To many an election here, he was the Returning Officer,
None knew how he could reject hot tea in a cup and saucer.

He never did bend upon using the computer's keyboard,
But with his pen, gripped unusually, he wrote many a word.

When it came to Income Tax, he was our helpful adviser,
With 'Lakshmi' around, people got much more wiser.

Seriousness aside, he was all wit and wisdom,
People around him were never led to boredom.

His sincerity and industriousness deserve accolades,
His rough beard has blunted hundreds of blades.

He earned a reputation for honesty, kindness and generosity,
To emulate him, we need not require pugnacity.

With that twinkle in his eye and the depth in his voice,
He always hated making unnecessary noise.

His memory for quoting anecdotes is breath-taking,
The way he narrates them is awe-inspiring.

He is a man who believes in 'thought, word and deed',
For those who are in need, he is a real friend indeed.

He very often lost control over mind over A matter,
When THIS matter was a cup of tea served on a platter.

Our Venkatesh follows a strict regimen of diet as a rule,
But rejects his cup of tea only when it had become cool.

He used to share his vast ken of Epics and Upanishads with us,
None can doubt that he is deeply spiritual and religious.

The great aura of his personality commands respect,
From him in reciprocation the same thing one is to expect.

To fellow humans Lakshmi Venka-TEA-sh is full of compassion,
Yet again, sipping tea is his preferred and irrepressible passion.

His frequent "hello"s and "namaskaara"s, we will miss,
Associating with him on any matter has been pure bliss.

Let him teach, full time, Algebra, Calculus or whatever,
May health and happiness be with him and family forever.

Presented by Colleagues, Department of TIBD, 2002


I enjoyed composing this one in Kannada [two pages]. There was a popular colleague that served the Institution for 41 years and personally I had the good fortune of being in the same department for 18 years. This composition ["Nammukunda" meaning "Our Mukunda"] brings out most of his personalilty. It was read out in the farewell gathering by another colleague on the day Mr. Mukunda retired from service. The same was presented to him. It was August 2000. Click on the picture to read.

Page 1

This is a reasonable attempt of his caricature.

Page 2


Mr. Pillai was the head of the dept. On the eve of his superannuation, I had composed this, to bring out his qualities. It was presented to him that evening, after Sri Ramesh read it out in the gathering, much to the delight of colleagues as it was full of rhyming words. This is a cartoon of the man I ventured:

Our Sri S.P.Pillai lays down office at the end of March,
To Sri T.R.Prabhu he will pass on the torch.

As spearhead of TT & Business Development,
He brought laurels for CFTRI's betterment.

His great virtue has been the art of conversation,
Which fully deserves our appreciation.

When there was no question of an agreement,
He outwitted the other in the argument.

His forte was his courage and wisdom in decision making,
The speed with which he did so was truly amazing.

Working with him had been mostly a pleasure,
The rest of the time it was pure pressure.

With the pen he was ever ready to sign,
Many a time, he had to 'draw a line'.

The bell switch will no longer feel his fretful finger,
But those typical "ting-ting ting-tings" will always linger.

The engaged telephone at the other end drew him nuts,
And his own, suffered from bruises and cuts.

When situations made us feel his presence,
We wished for his temporary absence.

Up until the time he crossed well over fifty,
He was the Chairman of Doorvas Committee.

Saviour faire had become one of his top attributes,
Also to all his other good ones, we pay tributes.

What we all usually saw was Pillai the taskmonger,
But the real Pillai happens to be a humdinger.

Le'im settle at Cochin, Calicut or wherever,
Let health and happiness be with him and family forever.


29th March, 2001


WHAT THEY DEALLearn while you Rhyme!

[Composed, 2004]

History deals with chaps,
Geography, with maps.
Botany deals with plants,
Architecture, with plans.

Literature deals with books,
Fashion, with looks.
Doctors deal with health,
Scavengers, with filth.

Geology deals with rocks,
Paediatry, with tots.
Photography deals with picture,
Carpentry, with furniture.

Palmistry deals with palms,
Beggars depend on alms.
Hotels engage cooks,
Police hunt for crooks.

Aeronautics deal with planes,
Cartooning, with lines.
Philately deals with stamps,
Lalloo pokes in scams.

Barber deals with hairs,
Stock market, with shares.
Zoology deals with animals,
Law punishes criminals.

Postmen deliver mails,
Manicurist tends finger-nails.
Biology deals with life,
Dacoit wields the knife.

Astronomy deals with stars,
Mechanics repair cars.
Psychiatry deals with the mind,
We should learn to be kind.