Last of the Letter-cans

This was found in a local settlement in a corner of Darjeeling, where a friend of mine and I wandered off to, after a disappointing sunrise trip to the much hyped Tiger hill. I just got it developed, and my first reaction after seeing the photograph was we don't use or even get to see them often anymore!

When I was a kid, I remember receiving letters from my aunt regularly, who lives in Durgapur, a town about three hours away from Kolkata by train. We would be amused by the way my uncle would try to squeeze in a few extra words, utilizing the borders. And of course, the signature signing off – “Aar bishesh ki?” or “What’s special happening?”. I remember buying onion skin paper (extra light) when we had to write to a cousin abroad.

Not that I can boast my letter writing skills. In my family, letters were always a group activity, with a specific order to follow. My mom would invariably start the letter, and use the chunk of writing space, detailing everything I would have ever wanted to say plus some. Then it would be my sisters reinforcing the important points. Then the dreadful time would come when I had to write “a few words”. I would think for minutes, and then come up with something which translates:


Please accept my regards. How are you? We are fine.


My nickname

I was never scolded for my lack of imagination though. It was always the handwriting! And on special occasions, when I tried to write an extra line or two – the spelling!

Unfortunately, no one sends us letters anymore. My aunt calls local. My cousin exchanges email. More than her, her daughter – my pre-teen niece writes email. Even my mom has her cell phone now. I haven’t been to the post office in ages! The only “letters” that come to me are my credit card statements, insurance premium receipts, bank statements, utility bills, and promotion offers. It seems the art of letter writing is lost, this time for good. Unless…

Chikmagalur chit chats

How was your trip?

What did you do?

That’s a typical conversation between my friends and me after my visit to Chikmagalur.

We started early on Saturday, cheating the Bangalore traffic. The drive was smooth, with only a couple of missed / early turns, both in cities. The weather was cloudy, but fortunately, it didn’t rain. Finding Woodway estate was not difficult, thanks to the precise-to-the-last-meter direction by our hosts at Woodway resort and estate. Let me introduce you to them, because they were a big part of this trip of ours. Shreedev Hulikere and his wife Susmitha runs this resort, along with the huge coffee estate. The Woodway bungalow was till recently the residence of the Hulikere family, and the rooms are still referred as “Parent’s room”, “Shreedev’s room”, etc! Shreedev is actively involved in environment and wildlife protection, and plays an important part in protecting the local ecology. Susmitha looks after the resort operations. Susmitha collectively calls their two kids - Shiva and Vaid - “two little men”.

Now, back to activities, which we did. Immediately after reaching the estate, we chatted for a while with Susmitha over the excellent cup of coffee. Next we strolled around the estate, and met Shreedev, and chatted for some more time. Lunch was simple but tasty, with the Koli Saaru (chicken curry) stealing the show. After the hearty lunch, some of us went for a siesta, while some of us went for a walk. In the evening, we spoke about life in a coffee plantation and local food and drinks, this time Shreedev’s parents sharing their knowledge with us. Coming back to our rooms, we enjoyed a quiet evening by the fireplace (yes, good old fireplace) over drinks and the seemingly endless snacks, provided by the very efficient staff. We enjoyed the outdoors for a while too, but soon, we were back in the comforts of our rooms. The dinner included some delicacies like “Akki roti" and fish curry.

Next morning, we took off for a long walk. Came back, had breakfast, and just when laziness was happening yet again, Shreedev came and shared with us some jungle and coffee plantation experiences. We were so engrossed in the interesting stories; we never realized it was getting late. An almost-evening lunch later, we were ready to leave for Bangalore. Just when we were leaving, we noticed a flat tyre, and that gave us an opportunity to chat for some more time and also to have one more cup of fresh coffee.

The return journey was mostly uneventful, other than the fact that we took a state highway by mistake, but ended saving a few kilometers and time due to that.

“Nothing” is an awesome thing to do!


I have been following Wimbledon for over 20 years (yeah, I am an old man). Those days Wimbledon used to be one of only a few "live" events. The days when Ivan Lendl was trying to win the only grand slam event that would elude him. Steffi Graf taking over from Martina Navratilova as the "Queen" of Wimbledon. The rivalry between Borris Becker and Stefan Edberg. The Pete Sampras era! The Roger Federer era! One of the most memorable match just happened last night! At least since Goran Ivanisevic became the only unseeded player to win the championship after beating Patrick Rafter in a five setter!

What a match it was last night! Consider this: Roger Federer, the world number one and defending champion, on his way to winning his fifth straight Wimbledon. On his path is Rafael Nadal, the world number two, and challenger to the Federer domination of men's professional tennis. And the match lived up to the expectations. For 3 hour and 45 minute, the match swung in favor of the two warriors. Till 2-2 in the fifth and final set, the match could have gone either way. Then suddenly, a few glimpses of Federer magic, and the championship was Federer's.

My heart goes out to Nadal: the clay specialist, who has overcome all odds to be in the second consecutive Wimbledon final, and lost again! But surely, this is not the end of the rivalry between FedEx and Nadal!

Shivaji - The Boss

I was warned! People said, it is a crazy movie. Blogs said, there is nothing in the movie! Chain email warned about the stampede-causing-hysteria. Friends said the laws of physics were defied! My knowledge of Tamil is limited, although it was recently boosted up by 30% (the three words that I learnt from the Bingo ad: Waango, Pongo, Ukaarongo)!

Still, I went to see "Shivaji - the boss"! Before going, I did some homework. Went through websites about the movie and its stars. Read spoilers to ensure I follow the story. Practised my two finger whistle. Drank a few mugs of beer. All that helped!

Enough has been said about the movie everywhere. I am not going to repeat them. These are my observations:
  • Myth busted: All South Indian actresses must have a slightly rounded figure. Shriya Saran was surprisingly normal!
  • Tamil language is very expressive! Though I did not follow the dialogues, the way they were said, I got the idea.
  • Rajnikant can't dance for nuts! He was very very natural otherwise though - I actually liked his acting.
  • People going to watch the movie hence should be warned about the length of the movie: it's a very long movie - guess that was required so that they could club four and a half plot in to one movie.
  • What dialogues! Want a piece of that? Here goes: "After six, there's seven. After Shivaji, there's heaven". Oh, here's another: "Pigs come in herds, Shivaji comes alone"!
  • Those Rajni stunts! Surprising what he did with a coin, and then his sunglasses. The "Tsook, tsook, tsook" sound is still playing in my head!
  • They must have spent some obscene amount of money for the sets! They were totally over-the-top!
Oh! What a movie! When I woke up this morning, for a moment, I thought, it was a dream!