My Second Favourite Trip

When I was 15 years old I had to beg my parents to let me go on the class X two day trip. The reason they didn’t want me to go was that the trip was to Kodaikannal and it being a cold hill station and during the peak season when it was the coldest in that area, they were afraid that I would have an asthma problem. I was able to convince them that it would be alright and as that was my last year in the school, I really wanted to have these memories with my school buddies and my teachers.

So I finally was given the go ahead and the next day I went and registered for the trip and paid my charges for the trip. The best thing was that all my classmates were going on the trip and we had two of our favourite teachers with us. We left on a Friday evening and reached Kodaikannal by the next day morning. We had a blast taking in the scenery, buying the small knick-knacks and knock off cheap touristy souvenirs and stuff. We had some fun riding boats and riding horses and I took a lot of photos.

The evening before we were to leave we had a bunch of singing and mimicry and all fun stuff and though I did have a bit of an asthma problem, it went by quickly and didn’t cause me much comfort. It was one of the best weekends I can ever remember having.The down side – we came back on Sunday night, the next day was a holiday for us kids from our school to give us time to rest. My family was waiting for me and we went out for dinner with a few of my relatives. I ate some good Chinese food but the trip took it’s toll on me and late at night I woke up and puked my guts out. Whew! I remember being so tired after that.

But It’s Still A Mystery

Street of Dreams is the first single from the band Rainbow’s Bent Out of Shape album released in 1983 and was a big hit and a long time favourite for fans. I was about 12 in 1988 when a friend of my sister from her college gave me a compilation/biggest hits of Rainbow songs. I don’t remember if this was an official release or one of those tapes we used to get from Hong Kong or Japan.

Anyways, this song was a big favourite of mine from the time I heard it. My sister’s friend was a rocker chick who had a ton of great albums from really cool 70s & 80s bands and even had some VHS tapes filled with rock band music videos. I can’t remember her name though. But I remember I got introduced to bands like Rainbow, Deep Purple and a few others through her collection.

Back to the song, in 1988 I met this girl named Sofia who had just moved to my school. She was a class ahead of me but about 2 years older. She had fair skin, curly brown hair and she was tall. Taller than me too! But I had this magnificent crush on her. Probably my first real crush. I remember all those feelings I had for this girl. And I would play this song and imagine it was me singing to her, while she danced around me in a white sweater and a grey skirt! I remember it so well even it was almost 30 years ago!!!

Seeing Visions Of Cracks Along The Wall

This song is special for me. When the album Yield came out in 1998, I was going through a rough personal time. When was the last time I had a fine personal time? Anyways, I was about 21 not yet 22, and I saw that the album was out in record stores here in Kochi, India. I bought my tape and went home. Post dinner and it must have been around 10pm when I finally settled down in my bedroom. Sometime later I put the cassette in my stereo system and listened to the album for the first time.

Just before In Hiding came on, I fell asleep and woke up at around 2 am, I woke up again. I decided to play the album again at this song and the lyrics hit me deep. According to Eddie Vedder, the song lyrically was inspired by the work of Charles Bukowski, who often locked himself way for long periods of time so he could work in absolute solitude. “It’s about taking a fast from life,” Eddie Vedder has said. “Doing anything to get yourself back in touch with something real.”

I felt that the lyrics meant that the protagonist was in hiding from society, from family, from friends because he wasn’t happy with several things about life and therefore he decided to become a recluse for a bit. I felt really sad at that time and started tearing up listening to the song, which I ended up playing several times over the next few days. It has remained a strong favourite since then.

New Kid In Town

How Have You Handled Being the ‘New Kid’?

The main time that I remember having been the new kid was in grade 6. I had moved with my family from Kuwait to India and we settled in Cochin. A whole different country – well since I and my family are Indian it should not matter at all. But then I was born and raised in Kuwait till the age of 11 and it was a different experience for me – not as different as say a Western nation and then coming to India – but still it was a change.

I was in a new school and country and I stood out for a while. I was the only one who could not read & right the local language, Malayalam. So I was put in a different class for the second language as the school system has “Special English” for out of state students. You studied English & Hindi with everyone else and then the four to five of us who couldn’t read or write Malayalam went to sit in a smaller class room with a teacher who took additional classes for us but they were in English. And it was fun.

But I made friends quickly and within a few weeks I was fast friends with a bunch of guys and girls who I still keep in touch with even now (30 years later) albeit on Facebook.

Prompt from The Learning Network at The New York Times

Diaries And Journals From Years Gone By

What Old, Worn Out Thing Can You Just Not Part With?

I do have a problem in throwing out stuff. Just look at the keyboard drawer of my desk (where I do not have a keyboard since I use a laptop) where I have a bunch of old, used batteries. For no reason that I can think off, I just haven’t gotten around to get rid of these. Not that I like them or have a connection with them. I just procrastinate or am plain lazy.

But some thing or some things that I just cannot part with? Some old diaries/journals. In a physical form. For a sentimental reason I just cannot bring myself to get rid of them. Even if some of them are torn and worn out. Even if there is a musty smell from some of them. Even if it has been 25 years in one case or 18 years in others. Geeze! I have kept journals/diaries since I was 15-16. Though I didn’t write in it everyday.

Just looking back at my thoughts and ideas and what I considered to be important back then is a rush of nostalgia for me. In some cases I have a few photos as well. At one point when I was 21, back in 1997, I was at home for 5 weeks recovering post a surgery and all I posted in my journal at the time was the songs and albums that I listened to each day as I was mostly resting in my bedroom and couldn’t go out much and the tv was downstairs. But I find it fun to go through those pages.

Prompt from The Learning Network at The New York Times

That First Drink

Do you remember your first sip of alcohol? Of any kind? This is irrespective of whether you are a drinker now or if you don’t indulge at all.

When I was 15 I drank some whiskey by accident. I had just come back from school and I had changed my clothes as I was going out with an uncle to pick up by dad at the railway station. So I got ready and came down and just before we left, I rushed to the fridge and grabbed a bottle to drink some cold water, opened it and poured some down my throat – only to spit it out!

You see it wasn’t water but whiskey! I felt the burning sensation as it hit my tongue and throat and out came everything. The reason I took that bottle by mistake was we had this rather looking whiskey bottle which had a cork instead of a regular bottle cap. Once the bottle was empty of whiskey my mother had rinsed it out and washed it thoroughly and we used to keep it our fridge filled with water. It was my favourite bottle to drink water from as I rather liked the cork style bottles.

The culprit was my uncle who had come in my home that morning with a brand new bottle of the same distillery. He meant to keep it for my dad but also had a little himself in the afternoon while he was visiting with my mom, his sister. The rest he meant to keep it for dad. And I hadn’t noticed that there were two same bottles in the fridge and picked the one that I saw and got a nasty surprise. And that’s how I had my first taste of alcohol!

Ode To PaiCo

It used to be the place where I loved to go as a child. When I moved with my family to India back in 1987, 11 year old me needed a place to hang out for a little while and check out books and comics and get something for home. That place of choice was PaiCo. PaiCo, short for Pai & Company, or Paico Books was a book store and later included toys, greeting cards, novelty items, gift items, cassettes and cds and other stuff. And I loved to go to the main one on MG Road.

They also had one on Broadway and another one in Mattancherry which were more books and stuff but the one on MG Road was the coolest one. I remember buying many of my now nostalgic favourite albums and cds from this store. I bought many books and comics like TinTin & Asterix as well as many gifts and stuff from here. This was a happy place for many years. Then I stopped going there too often by the time I turned 22-23. Once in a while I would still go in but I had better choices. Still it was a landmark store on MG Road and for Cochin as a whole. In 2007 I moved to Kacheripady from our house in Thrikkakara and since I lived nearby every Sunday I would pass by that area. Often during 2006-2010 I would go get coffee on my day off and then walk by to Paico and browse through books there as well as the used book stall nearby.

I realize that sometime around 2010 I stopped going in there altogether. I didn’t have to get new books anymore as I barely read anymore. And then they closed down. Not sure exactly when but I guess it happened during the last 2 years though I only noticed it last year towards the end of November. It feels sad that an icon had closed. I am not sure about the one on Broadway or the one in Mattancherry. I doubt they survived though in Mattancherry they have a better chance. I will always hold them dear to my heart.

Out Of Reach

Was there a toy or thing you always wanted as a child, during the holidays or on your birthday, but never received? Tell us about it.

I don’t think there was anything like that. I stopped being interested in toys by the time I was 11 and before that I don’t remember having any one toy that was out of my reach. I got all the toys I ever needed when I was a kid because my parents bought me a bunch and they knew when too much was too much.

I loved my toy cars and they were the ones I always enjoyed playing with. Maybe there were one or two toys that my parents didn’t get for me when I asked them (can’t remember any though) and who cares! I had plenty to play with.

Prompt from The Daily Post at

Kerala to Re-open 3 & 4 Star Bars!!!

In a major move, the Kerala government on Thursday approved the new liquor policy under which all closed down bars in three and four -star hotels would be allowed to reopen. The timing of the bars has been changed from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., while in tourist places it will get an hour’s extension, from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. The minimum age to drink liquor has also been raised from 21 years to 23. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, announcing the new policy, said he has full regard for the anti-liquor campaigners but “this is not a feasible and practical solution” and hence they were forced to come out with the new policy. He said toddy will be allowed to be served in star hotels, which was not allowed earlier.

These bars were closed two years ago during the previous Congress-led government, which sought to make Kerala a “dry” state with total prohibition on alcoholic drinks by 2023. Only five-star hotels were permitted to serve liquor. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said prohibition has been ineffective around the world because the record shows people go to any extent to get high, even narcotics. His government would rather give priority to abstinence than a blanket ban. “The previous government’s liquor policy was a flop, statistics show. There was no let-up in consumption. Besides, we have to consider the plight of 40,000 employees working in the sector,” he said.

The Congress, which is in the opposition now, rejected the chief minister’s remarks. “Our government closed the outlets in view of the alarming consumption rate. This government removed all restrictions. It is suicidal,” party leader Ramesh Chennithala said. Church organisations too criticised the government’s move, saying it is chasing money at the expense of people’s health. Liquor revenue accounts for around 25% of the Rs 40,000 crore the state earns from various taxes and services.

Musical Marker

We all have songs that remind us of specific periods and events in our lives. Twenty years from now, which song will remind you of today?

I guess I haven’t really found songs for just today but if you ask me about the past month, I guess it will have to be the song “Drifting” by Andy McKee. It’s because of me changing processes at the job, attending an interview process and getting through and looking forward to the new challenge. Also a friend at work, who I am close with, is moving from this industry, the only one she has ever worked in, and moving to another. In a sense we are drifting a little bit.

Prompt from The Daily Post at

Salad Days

Is there a period in your own personal life that you think of as the good old days? Tell us a story about those innocent and/or exciting times (or lack thereof).

For sure my childhood from the age of 1 to 11. Those were great times and the good ole days for sure. No care in the world, with plenty to do and lots of friends to play with. I was in a great school with lots of friends and in my building as well I had a lot of good folks. We had some wonderful though cheesy tv shows which are still great like the A-Team, Knight Rider and V. And whatever advantages and better toys kids these days have, their cartoons suck! Ours were so much better.

We had fun at school and after school we played games and maybe football whenever we could. Board games and cartoons on tv were the best part of a holiday. I also remember family dinners (with my sister, parents, an uncle and aunt and my cousin who also lived in Kuwait) of either shawarmas, kuboos n hummus and fallafels or KFC! I will always associate those foods with my childhood. Good times!

Prompt from The Daily Post at

First Crush

Who was your first childhood crush? What would you say to that person if you saw him/her again?

I don’t remember every liking a girl that way until I was 13 years old. As in I had my celebrity crushes and all that (some of them still to this day) but the first time I had a real crush was in 1989. There was this girl called Sophia who was a year older and in the grade above him at the time and I had a thing for her.

She was tall and fair and had thick curly hair which I loved. She was hot too! She was a bit of the silent type so I had difficulty in getting to know her. And ofcourse I was kinda shy and not really confident in my ability or lack thereof to win the heart of a girl like her. I think at one point of time I did tell her how I felt but she didn’t feel the same way. But that didn’t stop me from being friends with her. Eventually in a year or so I got over my little crush on her.

If I met her now I would say hi and catch up and then move on. She’s just another memory in a long line of memories.

Prompt from The Daily Post at

On The Stage

Have you ever played in a band? Tell us all about that experience of making music with friends. If you’ve never been in a band, imagine you’re forming a band with some good friends. What instrument do you play in the band and why? What sort of music will you play?

I was in a band actually…..for a few days! Hehehehe, I was the singer for a “band” that we setup at one of my previous work places, First Source Kochi all the way back in 2007. It was me, a guitarist, a bassist and a keyboard player and we had additional tracks (including guitar parts and drums) added to the keyboard.

We practised and performed three songs for a company function back in 2007 and it was great. For 15 minutes or so I was rocking on stage and it was fun. When it was over I was on such a huge high and it was intoxicating. And literally a few minutes later, a friend I went to smoke weed under a large tree. Yeah, just like rock stars! Hahahahaha

It was a very memorable and excellently radical time. I enjoyed every moment of it.

Prompt from The Daily Post at

Kajala Beans

A misused word, a misremembered song lyric, a cream pie that just happened to be there: tell us about a time you (or someone else) said or did something unintentionally funny.

Kajala beans! I tell you Kajala beans made me laugh so much and I literally couldn’t stop laughing for a good solid 20 minutes or so. It was so hilarious that just thinking of the words made me burst into laughter.

Many years ago, I think I was about 22 or so, I was in Mattancherry hanging out with some cousins and the two young ones, Aswin and Sree and I were cracking each other with jokes. I heard about this thing called “kajala beans”, a totally made up word by their older brother Harish. It doesn’t mean anything at all. But a song came up and we started singing kalaja beans to the tune of that song when at the end of the chorus one of my cousins farted – twice!

And it was in tune with the song! I laughed so hard and I kept singing “kajala beans a, kajala beans b and kajala beans (making farting noises)” and breaking up laughing. My cousins started laughing too but I just couldn’t stop! I was singing the line again and again and laughing so hard tears were streaming down my cheeks. I had to stop and compose myself but it was hard to do.

Prompt from The Daily Post at

Unforgettable Trips

What is your very favorite holiday? Recount the specific memory or memories that have made that holiday special to you.

I haven’t been on a holiday in many many years. I just don’t do them. But if you ask me what my favourite holidays were, its the two trips my extended family took back in 1988 and 1989. During the summer everyone pooled and got a couple of 14 seater vans and a couple of cars and went on extended trips to a few cities in India. Mostly in the south. Bangalore, Mysore, Madurai, Coimbatore and a couple of others.

It was days of fun and enjoyment. It was rip-roaring laughter, laughter so hard that tears would stream down our cheeks and yet we learned so much as well. I have a bunch of photos from those days some where in my boxes of stuff. I have to dig them out someday and get the pics scanned and keep them safe online somewhere. They were some of the best moments of my life.

Stuff like that just never seems to happen anymore.

Prompt from The Daily Post at