Porcupyn's Blog

March 2, 2014

Humpty Dumpty … and the coefficient of restitution

Filed under: Family,Humour,Sports — porcupyn @ 8:27 am

The original Humpty Dumpty’s coefficient was, obviously, 0. Mine is closer to 1. Let me explain:

We were at a carrom tournament yesterday (wish I could say I won it all). The tournament was in an auditorium/cafeteria. Carrom boards were all around the hall. On a stage were kids playing with these humongous exercise balls. Unofficial cameraman, yours truly, was trolling around taking photos at random, when one of those huge balls leapt off the stage, ably assisted by a kid.

Camera in one hand, I attempted a classic football/soccer move to kick the ball where it came from. Unfortunately for me (and for mother Earth), my planted foot slid along the ground thanks to the diffused carrom powder.

In my defense, the ball would be ashamed by my elasticity, as I bounced right back onto my feet before the admiring (really?) onlookers could say my name (which, being desis, they wouldn’t need a lot of time for) or come to assist me or check me out. Checking all my extremities, I counted myself lucky that my wrist is the only part that came out the worse for the wear. And the camera thankfully still works.

January 14, 2014

A tale of the two walkers – Part 1

Filed under: Family,Humour,Travel — porcupyn @ 3:14 pm

We – Baab and I – had to go visit a friend in Bengalooru. It being India, the commute options were practically unlimited, the main ones being bus, taxi, autorickshaw. I had about made up my mind to take an auto when mother-in-law told me that it might be easier to take a bus to Majestic and another one to the destination. Given that she has lived in Bengalooru since time immemorial (OK, the late 1970s), I decided to take her advice.

Reaching Majestic was a piece of cake as we got a bus within 50 metres of the house. Once in Majestic, I asked a couple of bus drivers/conductors where I would get the bus to my destination. Upon being informed that the bus would be on Platform X, I proceeded towards that platform, Baab in tow. Just to confirm that the bus would be leaving from that platform, I asked the conductor of the bus on the adjacent platform. Upon being asked where exactly I wanted to go, I showed him the address. He said that his bus would drop us off close to the destination, and we would just need to take an auto to the final address, and it would be minimum auto fare from that point on.

Brave travellers that we were, Baab and I, hopped on to the bus. After a good 45 minutes of A/C comfort, we were informed that our stop had arrived and that we should take any bus from the diagonally located stop to get to our destination.

Having thanked the driver and moseyed over the indicated stop location, when we asked the folks waiting at the bus stop which bus we should be taking, most were clueless. The one auto driver who was around appeared to be confused about the address and asked if we knew the directions and could direct him to the destination. As we obviously had no clue of the directions, we decided to wait for the next bus and ask the driver or conductor for information. The driver of the first bus that came along – five minutes later – informed me that he could drop me off at a point along the way from where I would have to take another bus to get to the destination. We hopped on.

No sooner had I purchased the tickets from the conductor than he told me to hop off and take a left at the intersection, from where we could get the bus to take me to the destination. Having waited for five minutes for a bus that we rode for about the same amount of time (a distance of maybe a km), I figured that we might as well walk the rest of the way – after all, how far could it be? My logic was that since we were told to take this bus for about a km or so, at most the rest of the way would be a km (note that we had already come from PhaseIII to Phase V and we needed to only get to Phase VII).

How wrong I was! We started walking – after a few minutes, I decided to confirm that we were walking in the right direction. The dude I asked told me that we were on the right track and it was less than half a km away – just about a five minutes’ walk. As we kept walking, we had a few buses pass us by, each of them with the number we had been told to catch.

A half-hour later, when we were about to get to our destination, after seeking confirmation from a few good folks along the way, what do we see but the same bus number stopping right in front of our destination. Not only was that irritating, but what was doubly galling was when the host informed us that the same bus comes directly from Majestic!

PS: I did get my walking exercise for the day out of the way. ;-)

PPS: Next time in Bengalooru, I will invest in a city map and/or bus schedule!

September 29, 2013

A Mahabharata weekend

Filed under: Family,Parenting,Religion,Sports — porcupyn @ 6:38 pm

It all started with a ploy to get Katya motivated in her football (soccer) game. This is the third week of the current season, and – after two weekend games and a weekday game – Katya’s team was still scoreless. As one of the older, taller and swifter girls on her team, the coach had put her in the center forward or flank position in all those games; however, the team was yet to score a goal.

So, in order to motivate her and to try to make her understand what she was missing (a razorlike focus on the goal), on Friday morning as the kids were getting ready for school, I decided to tell her the story of Drona’s test for the Pandavas and Kauravas; how Arjuna displayed his focus on the target and did not let outside distractions to stand in his way; how Arjuna never looked away from the target and was even unaware of the tree that the target was hanging from.

Given how well that story telling session went, that evening on a car-ride home from the local Indian grocery store, Mrs. Porcupyn decided to tell Katya a story as well. For some reason, she picked Abhimanyu’s story and finished it by the time we got home – after many interruptions by my (for corrections and, in general, comic relief) and Katya (for extra knowledge). it appeared that Katya finally got the import of this story also and it whetted her desire to learn more about the great Pandava warrior.

With the backdrop that Katya has not really been exposed to our vast treasure trove of religious texts (in any format other than Amar Chitra Kathas, which do not go too much in depth), I was surprised at the eagerness with which she devoured it all and wanted to learn more. We have the entire set of Mahabharata DVDs at home; however, until now, she had been interested in watching one and only one episode – “Krishna jumping on the snake,” DVD #3. Whenever either of us parents had hitherto brought up the Mahabharata  DVDs on weekends, her refrain was “Krishna jumping on the snake.”

Now that the opportunity appeared to have presented itself, I took the next logical step and reminded her of them. So, yesterday afternoon, after her football (soccer) game, I got her to watch the Abhimanyu episode with subtitles. There were many pauses along the way where she stopped the DVD to ask questions about what was happening and why. We watched the gruesome scene (in all blood and gory detail, Indian movie style) of the disarmed Abhimanyu being killed and mutilated by the Kaurava warriors. Later, we went shopping, daughter and I. Along the way there and back, while we window shopped in the local mall, I was peppered with question after question about Abhimanyu, why he was killed, why he was defenceless, why Arjuna was pulled away, why no one tried to save Abhimanyu, what the Chakravyuha is, etc.

After a second (late night, for her) session with more Mahabharata episodes, Katya got started early this morning with her Mahabharata marathon. Folks who go on a James Bond or Indiana Jones or some similar all-nighter binge will appreciate her concentration and desire to sit through the whole epic. [Latest update: we are now at the end of the tale, only Duryodhana is alive.] Questions have been streaming from her all day; the DVD remote pause/play button has seen a lot of action. Now, I can safely (and, I must add, happily) say that my daughter has become a Mahabharataphile.

Oh, and BTW, Katya’s team scored its first – and, as of now, only (but, hopefully, the start of a deluge) – goal of the season yesterday. No prizes for guessing the scorer (and I would like to hope that the story of Arjuna was the catalyst). :-)

September 26, 2013

A sunset photo quiz – identify the quirk

Filed under: Uncategorized — porcupyn @ 10:12 am

What’s different about this photo?Image

August 14, 2013

A Tale … of two kids

Filed under: Family,Parenting — porcupyn @ 1:02 pm

He was scared of his naughty nephew, who was prone to have ‘accidents’ with household objects (especially toys) that led to the decimation of said object. So, he would always keep nephew at arm’s length.

Then one day, he fell off the stairs* and hurt his back. He needed hugs from his little daughter for comfort; however, daughter being the diva that she is, refused to give him one (after her tolerance limit was reached).

Seeing him pleading with his daughter thus, naughty nephew said to him, “You can hug me whenever you want!” and won him over!

* – only three steps and all is well now :-)

Katya and Tennis …

Filed under: Family,Tennis — porcupyn @ 12:34 pm

So I was at the doctor’s waiting to be called in for my back to be checked up. Because of the logistics involved, I had taken Katya from her daycare and brought her with me to the doctor’s office. Bad move – the office TV had a talk show going with Ellen Degeneres. Let me tell you folks – you do not want to have this show on if you have kids around you.

Anyway, I tried to distract Katya. DIdn’t work. So, I had to be more forceful and ask her to read a magazine or at least look through some photos. When she did not demonstrate an inclination to do so, I picked up a tennis magazine and asked her to thumb through it.

Today, as we were driving in to her day care, we come across a advertisement board for a dance class by Some Murray. She glances it and reads it and exclaims, “Murray! I know that name.”

I was thinking that it was the name of some classmate of hers or something, when she explained, “I saw the name in the tennis magazine yesterday – Andy Murray!”

Looks like we have a new Tennis fan in the family :-)

August 8, 2013

To California … and back – Part 3 (Day 2 of travel – Kettleman City to Sequoia National Park)

Filed under: Family,Travel — porcupyn @ 11:41 am

From Kettelman City, we drove up to Sequoia National Park. Enroute, we stopped by to get some munchies to make sure that the kids were not shortchanged :-). Even before we got to the main entrance of the park, we spotted a beautiful lake with scenic mountains in the background and decided to make a small stop. Everyone in the party got to wet his or her feet (except the one person who was wearing his shoes and was too lazy to remove them, aka yours truly). Katya fell in love with the lake because the water temperature was just right. However, we had to move along and so left the lake behind after a few minutes.

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At the park entrance, after purchasing an annual pass to the National parks, we got to interact with folks who were taking a survey aimed at improving the customer service. We got out of our car, and got photos with the Sequoia chief’s signpost. Also, got a good look at the stream flowing right by the road and the mountains surrounding the park.

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IMG_1997The giant sequoias are the most massive trees on the planet and among the oldest as well. Some of them are estimated to be over 2000 years old. Can you imagine seeing trees that were just starting to sprout from seeds in the years of Alexander the Great?!

The unique environment of this area of the country lends itself to these trees. According to the guides and the signs all over the park, though the Redwood trees elsewhere in the state are taller, in terms of overall volume, nothing beats the giant sequoias. Many of the trees have been given names after hardy American generals of the past. The most fam

ous among them is General Sherman (most massive of them all) and General Grant (most wide at the base). Tourists typically spend time walking around the Sequoia groves marvelling at these giants that dwarf the humans. What is really surprising is that apparently the roots of these trees extend only a few feet (or a couple of metres) underground. On the other hand, they do spread wide – as wide as an acre, we were informed – and the reason they go straight up is to quickly gain access to the sunlight in competition with their neighbouring sequoias.

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