Monthly Archives: January 2013


Though this week did not go to dizzying 20800 levels like in October 2010, it was a week when the SENSEX had a paan on a day and red dribbled from the side of the mouth, the next day… till finally, it is the Taamboolam (exchange of betel leaves) occured on Friday…. to end the SENSEX at 20103.

Enjoy the Blog!

Making Sense of the SENSEX - Blog

Update for week ended 15 October 2010

Paan supari are an integral part of the Indian food and culture. It is the most common item eaten as an after-meal appetizer across cultures – north, east, south or west Indian and even across religions. Modern day urbanites, though, have been seen hover around the “paanwala” outside fancy restaurants after an elaborate or expensive dinner, but this is more of a fad, rather than the norm. But this leaf that grows on a vine, and reportedly has no flowers and that is perhaps where the vine got its name – paan, vetri-illai, meaning only leaf. And every state or region has a favourite that they cultivate and savour. So if the highly fragrant, but spicy dark leaf in Bengal is popularly called Calcutta, the melt in your mouth yellowish leaf of the Gangetic city of Varanasi, Maghai. The Tirur vethalai –…

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Sale! Sale! Sale!


Update for Week ended 18 January 2013

 

Radha was a compulsive shopper. She liked to visit Linking Road for her shoe and footwear shopping, Colaba Causeway for her knickknacks and the malls for the clothes. And when there is an offer of Upto 50% Off! Or Flat 40% off!, she was not one who could resist. So she dashed off that weekday morning. Now, on a usual morning, she has enough chores and activities to fill the morning and spill over beyond noon, but not on that day. She was eager to grab her hands on some good bargains, so she left early enough to be “early” at the sale. The mall was not a vast one like many people are used to in many parts of India or elsewhere or even in the suburbs of Mumbai – but a smallish building that housed a medicine factory many years ago and had failed trying to be a successful mall at least thrice… and this time around was a large department store spread over 4 floors. Now, South Mumbai residents are not the types to troop down to a mall to get their hands on lower than marked price goodies, or are they, wondered Radha, when she was headed to this store masquerading as a mall in South Mumbai. She was there at 11 am – half an hour after store opening, and she was greeted with a sea of humanity! There were women of many hues and shapes, lugging what looked like bundles of cloth in shoulder bags of the store. She even saw some men dressed like they would be if they were in office – formal shirts, trousers, black shoes and the ubiquitous Identity Badge strung around their necks… Radha looked for some trendy western clothes and was surprised to see a mother and daughter pair checking out the shelves. The mother had picked up a blouse and showed it to the girl, with a “how is it?” look on her face. The girl found it nice and hesitatingly said, “but mom, isn’t that a tad large for me?” to which the mom retorted, “this is not for you dear, it is for me”. Radha was shocked, or rather double shocked! First of all, here was a schoolgirl in her school uniform shopping with her mom during school hours, and then you have a mother who is trying to dress up like a teenager! Radha would have liked to shop, but she wanted to try out a few of the items before deciding on which ones to buy. The trial rooms already had queues that almost led out to the store entrance/exit… and Radha could not wait, so she picked up a cotton blouse that she felt would fit her well, and walked to the cash counter. On regular days, this is one part of the store that has only 2 – 3 staff members who bill, remove the magnetic shoplifter tag, fold and ask you that million percent profit making question, “do you want a carry bag?” But today, there were at least half a dozen of them mechanically doing the billing, removing the shoplifter’s tag, folding and a few more joining in the Million percent profit making question, “do you want carry bags?” With the bag loads that the women were lugging to the cash counter, the store owners were sure to cover up for the 40% sale on the clothing by the multiple plastic bags that they would add to the bill. Who really cared about the environment, especially not retailers!

 

The D Street Boyz also looked to making an announcement this week, as they ended last week kissing the SENSEX at 20,000 but had to pucker their lips before it descended and closed much lower at 17663. And with the announcement of the sale, the buyers were here in droves. The Foreigners, the Indians, the aunties in their nighties, everyone wanted a share of the celebrations at D Street when it would touch and stay at 20,000. And the sale tags were enough to attract attention. There was much shoving and pushing and jostling but no haggling as the Boyz bought and kept admiring their SENSEX as it climbed up and up till it crossed 20,000 and ended the week at 20,039.

 

Radha’s turn at the turnstile came, and she tossed up the blouse and pushed forward her credit card. A flummoxed cashier kept looking questioningly for more clothes to land up on his table. And then he asked the question, “anything else, Ma’am.” Radha smiled, “that’s it.” And after billing, removing the magnetic shoplifter’s tag, folding it and out of habit, asking Radha the million percent profit making question – “do you want a carry bag?” Radha extended her arm and said “no.” The cashier’s face almost fell to his knees, as he could see his bonus being clipped because of this unusual shopper. After signing her credit card charge slip, Radha took the folded blouse and folded into a neat bundle that she stuffed into her thin shoulder sling purse and cheerily walked towards the exit. On seeing the security guard, she did the usual extension of the shopping bill for his scrutiny and stamp. He looked at it and when he noticed that Radha was not carrying any bag, he was stunned. Radha didn’t bat an eyelid, and opened the zipper of her sling purse, and pulled out the neatly folded blouse for his inspection, and she was out of the store. She passed by mothers dragging their children in school uniforms into the store for shopping. She looked at her watch and it was 1 pm. Time for her to head home in time for her seven year old to be back from school in half an hour.

 

How many shopping expeditions have you gone to this week? Please share you experience with me, just like how Radha shared hers…

The Runner Boys


 Update for week ended 11 January 2013

Juma woke up late on the cold, chilly morning. His mother had to yell at the boy to wake up else he would be late to school. Late at school meant whacks on the backside and the kiboko, the cane like stick, was something he feared, as did all his classmates. He got ready for school, putting on the navy blue pullover. His mother had made the light gruel, uji, the warm, watery gruel made of milled maize. He tossed his satchel on his shoulder and started out of his little hut on the hill. The morning mist had not lifted yet, and it was biting cold. His navy blue pullover had holes in it, after years of wearing and handing downs from elder sibling to younger. But that was all he had with him, and he quickly made it down the hill on which his hut stood in the hamlet in the Western Highlands. He passed other such huts and small settlements along the way and the little cabbage patches where mothers had started their morning farm-work, with their little babies snugly tied to their backs with the colourful Kitange, colourful cotton waistcloths. The sun was yet to rise, but Juma could not wait for that. He had a long way to go for school, and the slushy and slippery, red earth beneath his black shoes were not helping him speed up. It had rained last night and Juma feared the kiboko for untidiness as well, if he was not careful. So he started a light sprint down the hill, carefully avoiding any puddles or slushy mud and kept running till he met Benson along the way. Benson was his classmate and he too was late to school. Both of them ensured that there were slightly apart while running, to avoid the splash from their shoes onto the uniform, and therefore ran in a straddle position and kept running till they reached the stream that ran between their village and the village by the highway on the other side. The wooden logs that were placed across the stream helped the village folks to get across the hill stream and both of them slowed down to walk over this precariously, not that they feared getting hurt if they fell. Falling would mean, wet shoes, wet socks, perhaps wet clothes and books, and the headmaster would punish them by asking them to kneel on the sunny patch of the football ground outside the school. That is what they feared, as the crossed the stream. They crossed the little market on the other side and started their slow sprint uphill to the highway. The road was better here, not exactly tarmac, but what they learnt as murram in school. These roads had a harder feel to it when you put your foot down. It was also used for the pick-up trucks that would carry the village vegetables to the district town. Juma and Benson could sprint faster here and they climbed up to the highway and then kept their sometime sprint, sometime speed walk routine along the side of the highway. They were not feeling cold now, as they had warmed up quite  a bit and Juma also felt like taking off his pullover, but dared not to. It was his uniform. And the two boys kept their run, walk routine on, and they were joined by Samson, Keino and John and they followed the contours of the highway, which went down a hill and then up another in this rolling hills country. The average height was about 6000 ft above mean sea level, but the undulating landscape made it ideal for crop cultivation and sheep rearing, as the weather was temperate and the rains less incessant, but plentiful to ensure green all year round. Though today it led to more pools of red water after  last night’s downpour. The sun was out, and the school was in sight. Juma could see the headboy walk towards the headmaster’s room to get the dreaded weapon on all the boys’ minds – the schoolbell gong.

 

The D Boyz woke up on a wintry morning and were slightly late for their daily work. They gulped down their breakfast in a hurry and as they rushed to get to office, they saw other Boyz practicing for the impending marathon due in the city the following weekend. The Running Boyz ran down the street and the D Boyz kept watching them and missed the bus to their D Street. This delayed them and hence were reprimanded by the SENSEX at D Street which caused them a big loss on Monday. Thereafter, the D Boyz tried to ensure that they did not get distracted by the Running Boyz, and succeeded on Tuesday, but on Wednesday the Running Boyz took over the street with their flat runs, leaving the D Boyz to keep their SENSEX flat. And ended the week at 17663.

 

Juma and his friends managed to enter the school gate before the headboy started his clang clang on the bell. They heaved a sigh of relief and were allowed to keep their school bags on the ground by their feet as they stood in line for the school assembly. After the morning school prayers and singing the national anthem, the headmaster spoke of how discipline in school was not only about wearing neat uniforms and being quiet in class when the teacher was not around, or being punctual. It was also a habit once inculcated, could positively impact other aspects of one’s life. Neat uniforms meant that you cared for yourself and therefore likely to care for others. Silence and peace are very essential for thinking and therefore useful in learning more and applying it. And being punctual meant that you had to beat the clock and sometimes would need to speeden up to achieve it. That way you also exercised your body and who knows what positive outcomes that could achieve? Juma and Benson exchanged glances and waited to get into class, away from the harsh Equatorial sun.

 

Wishing all my readers a great Uttarayan – the beginning of the Sun’s journey northwards – and symbolizing a new beginning. It is Pongal, Sankranti, Uttarayan. This is also the season when the runners get into their final round of preparation for the Mumbai Marathon and hence my post today is dedicated to all you runners and hope you get some inspiration from Juma, Benson, Samson, keino and John and others like them, who started their running careers way back, on their way to schools and today run international marathons winning them at record sunning speeds of 20 km/hr!  

 

Have a great week ahead!!

Mitthu and his friends


Update for week ended 4 January 2013

Mitthu was loud and talkative. He was not bashful, but always wanted to have the last word. Every morning he awoke early and started his chatter. His high pitched squawky voice was enough to wake up the neighbourhood. The sky turned from inky black to dull grey in the winter morning and the sunrise was still a few minutes away. Bulbul was an early riser too and she would use this habit to hone her other habit – of singing. Because of her dark complexion, she rarely left home, and even if she did, it would be at such hours when it was not easy to spot her. It was some sort of inferiority complex, thought Mitthu. But Mitthu would not disturb her privacy, though he has met her at mango feasts in summer. The low hums of the homely Gutar stirred up when she heard the sweet singing of bulbul. Gutar was not a singer, but she tried to hum once a while – and it always sounded like she was trying to say something, but her voice would never leave her throat. She wore a lovely silky scarf in bluish green, but otherwise always carried herself in a dull grey tunic, however with one colourful exception – her stockings – they were shocking pink. But the tunic covered her whole body that very little of this pink was visible. The neighbourhood vagabond was also woken up by the shrill tones from Bulbul – Kaalia was ready to take on the world and anything else for the day. He awoke with his loud cracking voice and disturbed everyone. His band of vagabond friends were also ready to take on the day. The sun was slowly rising – tingeing the grey sky with an orange flair, and it almost resembled a different version of the aurora borealis which is not visible in the tropics…. raucous cacophony crowd was enough to wake up even the old Tai, elder sister of the small community, Chimni Tai. She was tiny and hopped around busily doing her chores. And she always muttered and twittered whenever she moved around and she did it this morning too…. And as the sun rose, the cold wintry sheen slowly started lifting off and the old Brown Brahmin woke up and opened out his brown shawl as though to stretch himself out to sun a bit. But that is what got the neighbourhood alert. He was a tough one to please and although most o fthe time he just floated around, he was known to have a keen eye on pests and he would swoop down unannounced to rid the society of the little vermin. He had awoken, so everyone got to doing their work – staying out of his way. So Mitthu went off to meet his dear friend Maina, while Bulbul gargled a little and sang out her ditties. The busy, yet confused grey tunic wearing Gutar went from window to window looking for something useful to do. The Kaalia band decided to raise  aracket to hackle the Brown shawled Brahmin.

It was another cold day on D Street and it woke up this year to noise; lots of nose from the city of the Raisina. But that did not deter the talkative Boyz on D Street to wake up its denizens and get to work. So if the Mitthu like talkative D Boyz started off the noise on Monday, and some ladies who joined the D Boyz for the new year fun sang and danced with the SENSEX on Tuesday to keep it rising, and then even the matronly looking and drab D Boyz could not stop joining the party on Wednesday and when the noisy Black Boyz of D street let out their new year cries, the SENSEX looked like it would touch 20,000 (the N Street had already touched 6000 that day) and then finally with the Brahmins on D Street getting to work seriously, the SENSEX looked closer to achieving its near term goal of touching 20000 by ending at 19784.

And Mitthu met Maina and they squawked and flew off the mango tree where the bulbul was still singing, and the fluttering, confused Gutars flew from one window to a terrace and back with no purpose at all, as Kaalia cawed even as he scrapped over scraps thrown out by early risers and the brahminy rose with rising thermals as the sun rose higher in the eastern sky.

Have great year ahead and may the new dawn bring you cheer and joy ……

Cheers………….