An old Ambassador car and a watch that ticks MGR’s grave

I recently visited late Chief Minister MG Ramachandran memorial house in Arcot Road, T.Nagar. You would think that memorial house of politician who died 30 years ago would invite hardly any enthusiasm. MGR, as he is fondly called, is obviously an exception. He was an actor-turned-politician who served as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu…

South Indian’s obsession with curd rice

One of the perks of being a business journalist is that you get to eat in fancy hotels, where more often than not wonderful array of mouthwatering delicacies from pasta salads to exotic desserts are spread before you. But no matter how much I drool over those refined dishes, my eyes always look for that…

Nagercoil Summer diary: Nungu Sharbat

Summer in Nagercoil is not pleasant. It is hot and humid. Air that blows is so hot that your eyes are burning all day. You sweat all over. But there are rewards though when you go out brazing the blazing sun, like Nungu Sharbat. You could say it is the watermelon and tender coconut equivalent…

Walking down the memory lane in Nagercoil, a small town I grew up in

I remember evenings the most as I was growing up in a small town in the Southern tip of India, Kanyakumari. Memories of receding sunlight that breaks through the branches of a neem tree; birds returning to their nests after the day’s hunt; a group of five or six children including me playing hide and…

Vinayakar Chaturthi: When eating kozhukattai is all you think about

If there is one thing that I look forward as Vinayagar Chaturthi dawns, it is the thought of eating endless supply of kozhukattai my mother would make that morning. Those sweet filled dumpling and the kaaram (it is a bit spicy to accompany the sweet)ones, I would eat them all day in installments. These dumpling are…

When you are a Tambrahm and cannot sing

Oh! the irony of being a tambrahm and not being able to sing. I’m a Tamil brahmin and I really cannot sing. This is partially due to my inability to understand ragas and partially due to my lack of interest in carnatic music, something my parents never understood.   It is not that I have…

India’s Godmen culture

Godmen. Demigods for whom people are ready to die for. Godmen. A term so loosely used in India, where there are thousands of Godmen with crores of followers. Godmen. A topic I had always wanted to write about but never had the confidence that I could do justice. But I’m still going to give it…

My first memory of Madras, 20 years ago

The memory of my first time in Madras is still clear. It was probably 1996 when Madras was still Madras and yet to become the Chennai it was today. That feeling of awe I felt when I first got down in the Egmore railway station, which was foreign yet exhilarating, is something I don’t think…

When work takes you to 12th Century Samburavayar dynasty

I wonder when was the last time I was in the midst of lush green paddy fields surrounded by mountains and smell of tilled earth. It had just stopped raining when I reached Padavedu, the capital of Sambuvarayar dynasty during 12th Century Chola period and four hours from Chennai. The small town under the scorching…

Tattoo culture in India, then and now

Tattoos. I had always wanted one but kept away from it for various reasons, pain being the number one. I have wondered why people would want to undergo the pain to get themselves inked. I have asked my friend who got himself two tattoos. According to him it a form of expression. Something he feels…

Could Avvaiyar and Thiruvalluvar be siblings?

Can Sangam poets Avvai and Vallurvar be actually siblings? History suggests that they could be. My mother and I were having a long pointless chat, the best kind, on a lazy Sunday evening after our evening coffee. We were talking about how different Kanyakumari is from the rest of Tamil Nadu. I don’t know how…

Poetry slam: A war of poets in modern times

I was having an interesting conversation with a poet and graffiti artist Martijn Bekvegter Nelen I met in Belgium last year. He was telling me about how poetry slam is a fad in Europe now and how he has become a full-time poet. Poetry slam. Though the phrase was vaguely familiar I was not all…