The elusive palm leaf and an honourable draw

November 28th, 2013

(First appeared in the Hindu Business Line, November 28th, 2013)

There are at least three people assessing me as I enter a large veranda and take my seat, facing one of them, for my first encounter with Nadi Jyotisham (astrology based on palm leaf). I have my camera with me and I am wearing a floppy hat.

“The camera must be costly”, says a voice from behind me. I escape economic profiling by saying, “Yes, new cameras cost a lot, but second hand ones are cheaper”. “You get them cheap in Malaysia and Singapore”, the voice from behind is exploring my travel range. I play it vague with a half nod. The youth sitting in front of me hands over a printed ‘menu’ and explains to me that the opening gambit will cost me Rs 150, something like a minimum entry fee; each of the 15 additional areas of insight (wealth, love, et al) will cost me Rs 150. I confess to him that my budget for the evening is just Rs 150.

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The Dilemma of Reluctant Retirees

November 18th, 2013

(A shorter version appeared in The New Indian Express, November 16, 2013)

Arguably the greatest hoopster of all times, Michael Jordan retired twice, each time after taking his team to triple NBA championships. On his second rebound, he was a pale shadow of his gravity-defying old self. Soon after celebrating his seventh Formula 1 title, Michael Schumacher quit in style but on his comeback career he was mostly an ‘also ran’.
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Of a hate-love relationship

October 16th, 2013

(First appeared in the New Indian Express, October 16, 2013)

In an otherwise happy school life in rural Kerala in the 1960’s, my gravest dread was not snakes or ghosts, but Hindi. Text books presented it as rows of clotheslines, on which hung squiggly shapes. Staring at them, the pages would turn dismal black, pockmarked by bright yellow-rimmed white circles – the exact colours of stage fright. I came to recognise in Hindi the only real threat to my passing my exams. I was relieved to bid adieu to my nemesis by scoring 50% in my School finals.

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Can we also have Indians against corruption?

August 10th, 2011

(First appeared in The Hindu, August 6, 2011)

Never has corruption dominated the public consciousness as obsessively as it does in today’s India. That there are more offenders outside than inside jails has helped the democratisation of corruption, which has seeped down to the pores of economic activity and the grass roots of governance in day-to-day living.

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