March 30, 2005


The one phrase I hate. The one phrase that makes me feel irritated to the core!
DISK BOOT FAILURE. Insert System Disk and then press Enter.

Blame it on my father!

We’ve had a computer at home ever since I was in my third standard. Initially we got a black and white 386(I think. I still don’t now my present comp’s configuration or make but ask me everything else and I shall enlighten you!). Then we got a new colour PC. We then got an assembled one. Then, with his extra-super computer knowledge, dear father of mine assembled a PC using parts he had bought abroad. After a million visits to Ritchie Street for a few miniscule ICs(HOW CAN such tiny things as much as make a difference, leave alone store info!) and bus lines, with me tagging along gasping excitedly at the new sleek speakers and the crazy ‘smiley’ faced CPU cover, ‘THE’ system was created.

THE system had everything I wanted- Windows XP, Internet, CD writer, Fax, Web Cam, Digital Camera, A Stick-RAM, two printers, speakers, headphones and mike, etc, much to my jubilation! It didn’t have a scanner and still do not, but I am sure, I’ll get it sooner or later. That’s because if you ask my father for A2 sheets, T-scale, new set of scales or a scissor, he would refuse, but ask him for cartridges, an empty CD packet or a new hard disk, voila, there it is! He is THAT crazy mind you, that we actually have 2 PC’s at home- one cozily sitting unused, inside my father’s ‘electronics’ shelf!

So then, ever since THE system was created, I’ve been on Cloud 9. I simply love meddling with computers- exploring the different files, folders, the various options present in every application, programming( ah… isn’t C++ my first love?), back door entries for a few stuff, learning DOS as well as Windows, loading new applications, programs, changing settings and configurations(sometimes with my father’s help and sometimes even without his knowledge), playing games etc. The instruments and machine-lover in my father is present in me too. Any latest gizmo, any new software, have always interested me and THRILLED my father!

My father is majorly into repairing TV and radio sets, odds and ends etc. It has been his hobby from childhood. It might be hard to believe but during his early teens, when my grandmother used to give him money for his bus tickets to school, he used to save them, walk to school and end up buying chips( not the eatable one, silly!) and ICs to make mini radios and stuff!

Ok, I never was this geeky. I just can repair a few stuff here and there. My study occasionally transforms into my father’s work-table and an occasional screw and a coupla wires are no big deal on my table! I can solder to repair the TV, assemble any new equipment quickly and I have a natural comfort with electronic gizmos (except the cell phone… I dunno but any model except 3315, refuses to be comfortable with me!).

Back now to ‘THE’ system. One by one THE system started to turn into the system (Get the difference?). Initially the ink cartridge got over and my father bought another printer instead of a cartridge! This printer kept causing troubles. The ink got over in a jiffy and my father decided to refill it himself. On followed days of ink strewn tables and messy inky old veshti thunis (bits of cloth) all over the house, much to super-clean mom’s exasperation.
Then, the CD drive flopped and Appa decided to just use the CD writer as a CD drive. Then connecting to the Internet made some trouble but it was rectified fast. Appa dear then suddenly decided to change hard disks and ended up deleting all my precious files- almost 500 photos/articles of Rahul Dravid collected over 4-5 years, web pages relating to Anne and L.M.Montgomery, my XII projects(!!!Thank God I had stored them elsewhere!), stuff about Harry and a really wonderful collection of Tamil and Hindi songs which I hadn’t burned into a CD!
Then followed some problems with Windows XP!

After all these trouble, could you think any more was possible? YES, my friends, YES it IS possible!

Zoom forward in time… father out of town. Quarter-baked Computer expert Sandhya Ramachandran switches on her computer to find

Exasperation, Confusion, Tension… and much much more!
Clasp head and dramatically sit on the ground as if you just found out that 3+3=6 and not 9 as you thought all along in life!( ogay… bad example!)

Frantically call up a known computer expert to find that there might be a permanent fault in the hard disk which might even require replacement! “Oh God. I can’t lose my precious files AGAIN! No no. Idhu unakke gnayama irukka? Idha naan engaa poi solven, yaarukkunu poi solven…” On and on I went!

Suddenly, something in me woke. The steely resolve to rectify it arose in me! I am not a machine-lover’s daughter for nothing!
Roll up sleeves!
Kick the computer, shake it and punch it hard…
Shake the computer, punch it and kick it hard…
And so on ensued the battle between man (girl, rather!) and machine! And ultimately, when the Power switch was turned on, Man won!
DISK bootna sonna? Bootala ethi ethi, seri pannitten pathiya? Ihahahaha… (Kumarimuthu style)

Shift scenes to 2 weeks back, again same problem. KICK KICK KICK! No way. Machine moved intelligently! But man was super intelligent. SR, the great opened the comp and reconnected the million dangling wires properly.
Switch on…
BINGO! It works…er… not completely *sigh*. CD-ROM not sensed.
Open again. Operation Perfection ensued. Press ALL wires securely into their sockets.

Land back to today!
Encounter again with trouble-maker Disk Boot!
Kick, shake, punch, scream, stare, curse, yell and switch on! DISK BOOT FAILURE Open, press, secure and switch on! DISK BOOT FAILURE

Oh God… If you make it ok, I’ll definitely blog about it! I’ll change my User Account name into DISK BOOT FAILURE for a whole month after the romantic and beautiful ‘Moonglade…’
Pray, promise, pray again, promise, switch on! LOADING WINDOWS XP…


Machine fries, Man cries, God rectifies

I know that this piece is too unrelated and disjointed, but a promise is a promise and so if you’ve patiently read through all the above, THANKS!!!

March 26, 2005


Two friends made at different times in life and great ones both! One..a dear, jolly and close friend by name Vani Vishwanathan, in Singapore( amma... nee ellam RANGE!!!) doing her course on Communication and Journalism blogs under and

Another funny friend of mine, the director of my future movie, Arvind Caulagi, stepped into blogsville under

Check these two awesome friends' splendid blogs...

March 24, 2005


My trips to Cumbum always are full of simple living and joyous times. There is no school homework to be done- so the mind roams. There is beauty to be drunk- so the soul flies. There is yummy food to be relished- so my heart remains contented! All in a sort of wild abandon!

My grandparents owned a hotel once- Lakshmi mess. It used to attract a huge crowd due to the tasty food that was available. But after a few years, due to some problems, the hotel had to be closed, and my grandparents had to shift over to supplying sweets and savories to the many bakeries and shops in the town. This they continued till my mama got a job. From then- life has been a pleasanter and relaxed sailing.

Out of all the delicacies, my grandmother is expert in making, I love her kuzhi paniyaarams, aapams, puttu, veechu parotta( my mama is an expert at this. Its all in the genes you see!) and many others. As a rule, paniyarams and chutney welcome me the first day. This is ambrosia, my friends and maybe better than that! The night is spent in talking non-stop about family matters and sometimes before retiring; we have a game of ‘express’ in cards. My grandfather is an expert at it. Sometimes ‘rummy’ occupies the slot. What varieties of card games I learnt? I was quite an expert at most of them and at times even managed to beat my ‘guru’- Mani mama. Ace, rummy, Hidden ‘Joker’ rummy, Joker, Bluff were all at my finger tips and I even learnt a few card magic tricks from our family friend!

Initially, my grand parents did not have a TV. So most of the time was spent looking at the old photo albums were shy, smiling and ten times younger grand parents and aunts and uncles were captured posing every which way possible. The photos always make me travel back in time and imagine their lives!
We went for all the movies being shown in the theatres. Yuvaraja, Thambis and Shakthibala-Devabala are my favourites. So many movies have I seen there but to name a sparsely few- Alai Payuthey, Padaiyappa, Tamizh (the Prashanth Starrer), Jeans, Ennavale(seen for 3 hours of drooling over Maddy!), Paanjaalamkurichi, Priyamaanavale etc. In the interval we run to get the popcorn and cone-ice. Though cheap, they tasted awesome!

Speaking about ice-creams, when I was in my UKG and I standards, I used to eat ice-creams everyday, during my stay in Cumbum. Bhaskaran Ice-cream’s push cart used to unfailingly come every afternoon at 1, after discovering the loyal customer in li’l me. I don’t remember how much it cost, but I think it was a rupee or maybe three! A measly amount for a divine delicacy!

My younger days were also spent trying to learn cycling from my mean and unforgiving mama. A slip here, a wrong turn and I was finished! We used to rent cycles at the rate of a rupee an hour from the roundtanna on the main road joining Appavu Pillai Theru. My best and worst memories are associated with it- for both I praise and blame Mani mama.

The rented house on Appavu Pillai Theru is a paradise. Three steps from outside led to a small porch. The living room came next with a partitioned room to its right. Three steps down and there is a room with a kitchen to our right. This was where the grinder, attu kal, ammi and all were placed.. Three steps down and the bathroom is to your right and the steps to the long and lone first floor room is present. Walk a li’l further and the swami room is there. Then a garden opens up with pretty balsam and kanakambaram plants in little pots. A toilet is nearby. The only thing I dislike about the house is the location of the toilet. Its way too far and at night, it’s real CREEPY! The roof top has a few potted rose plants. The house is pretty big and has another gate in the garden which opens out to a parallel street. Though simply decorated, I loved it and still do due to the million magical memories associated with it.
No child would have had a childhood without a game of Police-Thief. I was no different. I was always the upright and brave cop and poor Mani mama always happened to be the beastly criminal. We played our games in the long room in the first floor I used to be such a meanie- I would tie him up and after half an hour only untie him!

My mother’s two younger sisters used to take tuitions for the lower classes in that big top room. During my long stay there when my sister was about to be born, I with my city-bred attitude, UKG brains and er… dominance, used to boss over their students. With a wooden scale in hand, I used to torture their lives by yelling, “Keep Quiet!”, though they were at least two years older than I was!

Few instances of Ultimate bliss I remember:
The staircase to the top room had a small landing before opening out to the room. From this landing, most of the town could be seen. In the evenings, the city looked like a sheet of green silk with little sequined ‘Ujala’ blue houses with brown mountains hemmed at the edges! Wow… it was a pretty sight! Some evenings, the sky turned into a deep red as those ‘most amazing photographs ever-taken of the sky’ show! Divine turbulence- I used to think though not exactly using the same words. 

There used to be a door in the top room which opened out to a clean drop into the neighbouring ‘maatu kottagai’(Cow Shed). It had a million windows always open letting the breezes in. The door was never opened as they were frightened, I would try to explore it and end up breaking my neck due to the fall or being trampled by those hefty cows! Once, it was opened and I stood almost near the very edge. The windows were letting in the Wind Woman fiercely and as I caught to the hinges of the door, I felt something divine pass through me and move on. I felt uplifted then. I can NEVER forget the moment!

Playing in Kaarthi-Laavanya’s house, watching old movies like Server Sundaram, Paasa Malar etc, in the black and white TV there, trips to Suruli water falls nearby, taking with us soft idlis and ‘Suruli’ chutney, Visits to Thekkady by jeep drinking in the beauty there, Catching movies in our neighbour-Paapathi athai’s house and eating the lollipops which her son generally bought for my sister and sometimes for me also, hand pumping water and bringing pots full of them in a ‘thalluvandi’( push cart), the first time I ate cake-ice cream in the ice cream shop there, yearly visits to the houses of family friends- The Bodi Iyers and the big ‘Pathara Kadai’ owners, the infinitely many fights fought with Mani mama, visits to the one of the most best temples, according to me- Mariamman Koil and performing the yearly ‘Maa-Velakku’ ceremony, anthakshari games played with my sister in the other houses rented after the one at Appavu Pillai Theru, few memories of my last chithi’s marriage, faint memories of playing top with Agraharam neighbours- Amar-Sabari, little images of going to school for 2 months during my UKG to catch up the last term’s portions, waiting on the steps at 5 in the evening to catch sight of dirty pigs drinking from Chaakkadais( drainage) and goats and hens going in hordes, Paal kaarans(milk-men) bringing litres of milk in cans with pipes in cycles and many other memories sometime raid my present.
What wouldn’t I do to get back the simplicity in living? Though Chennai is still my home and life, Cumbum is where I go…or rather, used to go, for a soul-wash. For, no more will I go there; at least not in the next 5-6 years, as my grandparents shifted recently to Coimbatore to stay with my working Mama. This recent trip happens to be the last trip for the next few years and it’s a sadness too deep for tears that seizes me at the very thought of it! Dear old Cumbum is where my heart will always be as there’s nothing that enriches life than simplicity and there’s no place on earth that offers me that other than my very own CUMBUM!

On my way to Cumbum…

Every year, my mother, my li’l sister and I took off to Cumbum for a 3 week holiday. As I was just in my early schooling years and my sister was a toddler, holiday assignments and such mind-wrecking stuff were not introduced, the three of us left for the journey ahead with mental calm, usually accompanied by my father or my maternal grandfather or Mani mama.
To reach Cumbum, one should go by train till Madurai, Dindugal or Theni and then catch a bus. We generally went to Madurai or sometimes preferred to take one of the direct buses being offered by private companies- KPN, Parveen, etc to Cumbum- enjoying plush seats and an occasional video coach.
Night trains are something I’ve always loved. My ever-fearing family, always make it a point to go to the railway station a good hour and a half before the train actually chugs its way into the station! And I, on my behalf, always make it a point to repeatedly ask when the train would arrive- sometimes, for the sole purpose of irritating them and sometimes as a vent to my restless soul and at others just to make an excuse to go take a peek at the Higginbothams stall.
Once the train arrives, I run to catch the window seat. I make sure that I catch the one that’ll enable a ‘backwards moving’ travel as I simply LOVE them! Then till it becomes so dark that there is nothing to be seen outside but a black expanse, I keep looking out. Then, I climb onto my middle berth (I don’t like lower berths as they offer no scope for my ‘mountaineering’ skills. Upper berths, I loathe due to the presence of only a thin gauze to separate one bay from another! It FREAKS me out!)
I try to dream a while. Many awesome story plots have bloomed out of such train journeys. Sometimes crazy philosophical stuff shoots out. Sample this, which was born out of the depths of my mind two years back…I sorta REALLY like it!
“Boarding a night train,
To destinations varied,
Our sleep- enclosed in the same serpentine form.
Our journeys cross one-another,
Do also, our dreams?”
When destination Madurai is reached, we board a bus to Cumbum- 3 hours more of travel. For the past 8 or so years my aunt- my mother’s sister- has been living in Madurai, so after a day or two’s stay, we leave for my birthland!
What ecstacy fills a soul during the trip, oh butwords JUST can’t say! You ACTUALLY need to undertake the journey. Vast stretches of unpolluted greenery with distant mist-covered mountains for a back-drop. It’s a picture- postcard beauty! Who said the best painter was man? It definitely is not! From God’s pallete, has arised the best of beauty for man to untiringly, feast his eyes on! The rich fields growing healthy crops which slowly shashay to the winds- ah… its elation to see it. And if you actually happen to see a white throated bird in flight along with this picture- voila…you just captured perfection! That God is a master of creation can not only be seen, but also experienced when you pass by a contented farmer resting a while under the shade of a wide-boughed tree hiding his face from the late-evening sun’s golden orange rays. Ever since I read L.M.Montgomery’s Anne books, I’ve also caught the fever of naming trees and mountain ranges. Thus have born- The headless Hermit, ‘I touch the sky’, The invincible one, The silent sorcerer, and innumerable others!
The evening’s slanting rays somehow kiss my face as it peeps out of the bus window! Prayers are born out of such touches between man and god. Man just looks up, smiles unto himself, makes a prayer and looks on again- but after something called tranquility slowly slids into his heart! Man had just seen God!

Many have been the times that I’ve experienced, what I term ‘Ultimate Bliss’ during such travels to Cumbum.The long, slender coconut trees set against a rioutously coloured twilit sky, the ‘clipped-nail’ moon shining(…or was it smiling?), the distant mountains imposingly shielding some distant hamlet and the first star blushing silver upon the world after stealthily slipping away from God’s hand! Ah…there’s beauty spread on a platter… just let your eyes open to simple joys!

Previously, every time we reach Cumbum, it used to rain. Though it was the summer rains just pouring down, my mom and I always felt that it was our land welcoming us with a rain song!
And then our 5 or 10 minute auto journey to my maternal parents home begins. All the while I’ll try to catch the innumerable movies that the town’s theatres- Sakthibala-Devabala, Yuvaraja, Amaravathi, Thambis and Crescent(now closed) are playing! The Tickets are priced from as low as Rs.3 till the maximum of Rs.10(this continues even now, much to my elation!)
Then the first step out of the auto to follow it up with one wild run towards my grandparents yelling, “Cumbum thatha,Magalam patti…eppadi irukkel?”(that’s how I call them- not out of disrespect but out of practice!)Then a wish to my dear sulking Mani mama. Dear because he is someone who should have been my elder brother but instead, due to some strange working of god’s mind, was born as my mama. Sulking, because from the second we arrive, the genius cook in my grandmother starts to prepare delicacies ONLY as per the requests of my sister and I. For a good 3 weeks my mama’s foodie wishes seem to reach no ears!
Thus begins my stay every time. Just that the last few years the stay has shortened to a week or less and Mani mama welcomes me no more as he’s been working in Bangalore, Chennai, Madurai and now Coimbatore! But Cumbum, still thrills my soul and how it does, I’ll follow it up in the next blog…

March 06, 2005

CUMBUM…Part one.

Hi ppl… just back after a week’s trip to my native place- a town named Cumbum, near Madurai and Thekkady(Kerala).
After two years, I stepped foot on the land where I first opened my eyes to. A trip to cumbum is so fulfilling and pleasant. The people there show simple affection and are friendly to the core! Life there moves at its own sweet pace and with an ease and effortlessness, hard to be perceived in present times.
Though I have been a Chennai girl from when I was 80 days old, my best childhood memories are associated with Cumbum. My childhood achievement- making my neighbour’s li’l daughter Kashanya talkative, after having been shy and introverted all her 3 year old life. My childhood friends- my uncle- Mani mama( who doubled up for an enemy too!Innumerable are the times we fought…er…fight!), Kaarthi and Lavanya- the playmates with whom every idling hour was spent playing cards or cooking rice in toy mud paanais or burning matchsticks using magnifying glasses! My play area- the wonderful rented house on Appavupillai Theru- a house which I love next only to my Chennai house.

Oh… lots more stories. Will blog them soon. Time and pending assignments permit me no more to blog. So tata.
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Maira Gall