Saturday, 21 May 2011

A conversation between a Soldier and Software Engineer


Via Indian Army Fans.

Vivek Pradhan was not a happy man. Even the plush comfort of the air-conditioned compartment of the Shatabdhi express could not cool his frayed nerves. He was the Project Manager and still not entitled to air travel. It was not the prestige he sought; he had tried to reason with the admin person, it was the savings in time. As PM, he had so many things to do!!


He opened his case and took out the laptop, determined to put the time to some good use.


"Are you from the software industry sir," the man beside him was staring appreciatively at the laptop. Vivek glanced briefly and mumbled in affirmation, handling the laptop now with exaggerated care and importance as if it were an expensive car.


"You people have brought so much advancement to the country, Sir. Today everything is getting computerized. "


"Thanks," smiled Vivek, turning around to give the man a look. He always found it difficult to resist appreciation. The man was young and stockily built like a sportsman. He looked simple and strangely out of place in that little lap of luxury like a small town boy in a prep school. He probably was a railway sportsman making the most of his free traveling pass.


"You people always amaze me," the man continued, "You sit in an office and write something on a computer and it does so many big things outside."


Vivek smiled deprecatingly. Naive ness demanded reasoning not anger. "It is not as simple as that my friend. It is not just a question of writing a few lines. There is a lot of process that goes behind it."


For a moment, he was tempted to explain the entire Software Development Lifecycle but restrained himself to a single statement. "It is complex, very complex."


"It has to be. No wonder you people are so highly paid," came the reply.


This was not turning out as Vivek had thought. A hint of belligerence crept into his so far affable, persuasive tone. "


Everyone just sees the money. No one sees the amount of hard work we have to put in. Indians have such a narrow concept of hard work. Just because we sit in an air-conditioned office, does not mean our brows do not sweat. You exercise the muscle; we exercise the mind and believe me that is no less taxing."


He could see, he had the man where he wanted, and it was time to drive home the point.


"Let me give you an example. Take this train. The entire railway reservation system is computerized. You can book a train ticket between any two stations from any of the hundreds of computerized booking centers across the country.


Thousands of transactions accessing a single database, at a time concurrently; data integrity, locking, data security. Do you understand the complexity in designing and coding such a system?"


The man was awestruck; quite like a child at a planetarium. This was something big and beyond his imagination.


"You design and code such things."


"I used to," Vivek paused for effect, "but now I am the Project Manager."


"Oh!" sighed the man, as if the storm had passed over,


"So your life is easy now."


This was like the last straw for Vivek. He retorted, "Oh come on, does life ever get easy as you go up the ladder. Responsibility only brings more work.


Design and coding! That is the easier part. Now I do not do it, but I am responsible for it and believe me, that is far more stressful. My job is to get the work done in time and with the highest quality.


To tell you about the pressures, there is the customer at one end, always changing his requirements, the user at the other, wanting something else, and your boss, always expecting you to have finished it yesterday."


Vivek paused in his diatribe, his belligerence fading with self-realization. What he had said, was not merely the outburst of a wronged man, it was the truth. And one need not get angry while defending the truth.


"My friend," he concluded triumphantly, "you don't know what it is to be in the Line of Fire"
.


The man sat back in his chair, his eyes closed as if in realization. When he spoke after sometime, it was with a calm certainty that surprised Vivek.


"I know sir.... I know what it is to be in the Line of Fire......."

He was staring blankly, as if no passenger, no train existed, just a vast expanse of time.


"There were 30 of us when we were ordered to capture Point 4875 in the cover of the night.


The enemy was firing from the top.


There was no knowing where the next bullet was going to come from and for whom.


In the morning when we finally hoisted the tricolour at the top only 4 of us were alive."


"You are a...?"


"I am Subedar Sushant from the 13 J&K Rifles on duty at Peak 4875 in Kargil. They tell me I have completed my term and can opt for a soft assignment.


But, tell me sir, can one give up duty just because it makes life easier.


On the dawn of that capture, one of my colleagues lay injured in the snow, open to enemy fire while we were hiding behind a bunker.


It was my job to go and fetch that soldier to safety. But my captain sahib refused me permission and went ahead himself.


He said that the first pledge he had taken as a Gentleman Cadet was to put the safety and welfare of the nation foremost followed by the safety and welfare of the men he commanded... ....his own personal safety came last, always and every time."


"He was killed as he shielded and brought that injured soldier into the bunker. Every morning thereafter, as we stood guard, I could see him taking all those bullets, which were actually meant for me. I know sir....I know, what it is to be in the Line of Fire."


Vivek looked at him in disbelief not sure of how to respond. Abruptly, he switched off the laptop.


It seemed trivial, even insulting to edit a Word document in the presence of a man for whom valor and duty was a daily part of life; valour and sense of duty which he had so far attributed only to epical heroes.


The train slowed down as it pulled into the station, and Subedar Sushant picked up his bags to alight.


"It was nice meeting you sir."


Vivek fumbled with the handshake.


This hand... had climbed mountains, pressed the trigger, and hoisted the tricolour. Suddenly, as if by impulse, he stood up at attention and his right hand went up in an impromptu salute.


It was the least he felt he could do for the country.


  
PS:- The incident he narrated during the capture of Peak 4875 is a true-life incident during the Kargil war. Capt. Batra sacrificed his life while trying to save one of the men he commanded, as victory was within sight. For this and various other acts of bravery, he was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, the nation's highest military award.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Diary of a Baby


15th jun: i got attached in my mom's womb

17th jun: im tissue noe

30th jun: today i was fed by MOM

15th jul: Mom told Dad "U ARE GOING TO B A DAD"
MOM and DAD very HAPPY

15th sep: my heart is BEATING strongly

14th oct": I hav lil legs, hand, head n stomach

13th nov: today i was in a ultrascan. Wow!!! I'm a GIRL.

14th nov: oops! My MOM n DAD killed me.

My oly crime was that I was a girl. 

Sunday, 24 April 2011

To Hell with CRICKET


Yes, you read it right; to hell with the World Cup; to hell with the celebrations; to hell with all the free land and money being showered by different governments on the players; TO HELL WITH CRICKET. How can I jump, scream, have gallons of beer and cheer for the nation when a few kilometres away the farmers and feeders of my country are taking their own lives in hordes?
Do you know that, on average, 47 farmers have been committing suicide every single day in the past 16 years in our shining India — the next economic power, progressive with nine per cent growth?
Last month, on March 5, Friday evening, when Bangalore's watering holes were getting filled up, when all the DJs were blaring out deafening music, when we were busy discussing India's chances at the World Cup, sitting in CCDs and Baristas — just 100 km away from Bangalore, Swamy Gowda and Vasanthamma, a young farmer couple, hanged themselves, leaving their three very young children to fend for themselves or, most likely, die of malnutrition.

Why did they do it? Were they fighting? No. Were they drunkards? No. Did they have incurable diseases? No! Then WHY? Because they were unable to repay a loan of Rs 80,000 (a working IT couple's one month salary? 2-3 months EMI?) for years, which had gradually increased to Rs. 1.2 lakh. Because they knew that now they would never be able to pay it back. Because they were hurt. Hurt by our government which announced a huge reduction in import duty for silk in this year's budget (from 30 per cent to 5 per cent).They were struggling silk farmers and instead of help from the government, they get this! Decrease in import duty means the markets will now be flooded with cheap Chinese silk (as everything else!) and our own farmers will be left in the lurch.

On average, 17,000 farmers have been committing suicide every year, for the past 15 years on the trot. Can you believe it? Most of us wouldn't know this fact. Why? Because, our great Indian media, the world's biggest media, are not interested in reporting this! Why? Because they are more interested in covering fashion week extravaganzas. They are more interested in ‘why team India was not practising when Pakistanis were sweating it out in stadium on the eve of the match?' They are more interested in Poonam Pandey.
The media are supposed to be the third eye of democracy and also called the fourth estate, but now they have become real estate. Pure business.

So any attention from the media is out of the question. Who is left then? The government? But we all know how it works. The other day, I was passing by Vidhan Soudha in Bangalore and happened to read the slogan written at the entrance, “Government work is god's work”. Now I know why our government has left all its work to god!

Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa announced plots for all the players. But land? In Bangalore? You must be kidding, Mr. C.M.. So he retracts and now wants to give money. But where will it come from? Taxes, yours and mine. Don't the poor farmers need the land or money more than those players who are already earning in crores?

A government-owned bank will give you loan at six per cent interest rate if you are buying a Mercedes but if a poor farmer wants to buy a tractor, do you know how much it is charging him? Fifteen per cent! Look at the depths of inequality. Water is Rs. 15 a litre and a SIM card is for free! For how long can we bite the hand that is feeding us? The recent onion price fiasco was just a trailer. Picture abhi baaki hai doston!
In 2008, Lakme India fashion show venue was in a Mumbai five-star hotel and was covered by 500 journalists and the theme was ‘Cotton'. A few hours drive from there, cotton farmers were committing suicide, 4 or 5, everyday! How many TV journalists covered this? Zero!
Sixty-seventy per cent of India's population is living on less than Rs. 20 a day. A bottle of Diet coke for us? The electricity used in a day-night match could help a farmer irrigate his fields for more than a few weeks! Do you know that loadshedding is also class dependent? Two hours in metros, 4 in towns and 8 in villages. Now, who needs electricity more? A farmer to look after his crop day and night, irrigate, pump water and use machines or a few bored, young professionals with disposable incomes, to log on to Facebook and watch IPL?

How can we splurge thousands on our birthday parties and zoom past in our AC vehicles and sit in cushy chairs in our AC offices and plan a weekend trip to Coorg when on the way, in those small villages, just a few minutes' walk from the roads, someone might be consuming pesticide or hanging himself from a tree for just Rs.10, 000? How can we?
There was much panic when there was swine flu. Every single death in the country was reported second by second, minute by minute. Why? Because it directly affected our salaried, ambitious, tech-savvy, middle-class. So there were masks, special relief centres, enquiry centres set up by government to please this section. On the other hand, 47 people are dying, every single day for the past 15 years. Anybody cared to do anything?

It has been observed that within months of a farmer taking his life, his wife follows, either by poisoning the kids first or leaving them on their own. In Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, a distressed woman farmer went to the government seed shop, bought a bottle of pesticide, on credit, went home and drank it. She was under debt for most of her life and now — even her death was on credit!

Centuries ago, there was a Roman emperor, called Nero. He was a strong ruler and also very fond of parties, art, poetry, drinking and a life full of pleasures. Once he decided to organise a grand party and invited all poets, writers, dancers, painters, artists, intellectuals and thinkers of society. Everybody was having a great time eating, drinking, laughing, and socialising. The party was at its peak when it started getting dark. Nero wanted the party to go on. So he ordered and got all the arrested criminals, who were in his jails, around the garden and put them on fire! Burnt them alive, so that there was enough light for the guests to keep on enjoying! The guests had a gala time though they knew the cost of their enjoyment. Now, what kind of conscience those guests had?

Nero's guests
What is happening in our country is not different from Nero's party. We, the middle-class-young-well-earning-mall-hopping-IPL-watching and celebrating-junta are Nero's guests enjoying at the cost of our farmers. Every budget favours the already rich. More exemptions are being given to them at the cost of grabbing the land of our farmers in the name of SEZs, decrease in import duties in the name of neo-liberal policies, increase in the loan interest rates if the product is not worth lakhs and crores. Yes, that's what we are, Nero's guests!

I'm not against celebrations. I'm not against cricket. I'm not against World Cup. I would be the first person to scream, celebrate and feel proud of any of India's achievements but, only if all fellow countrymen, farmers, villagers also stand with me and cheer; only if they do not take their own lives ruthlessly, only if there is no difference between interest rates for a Mercedes and a tractor. That would be the day I also zoom past on a bike, post-Indian win, with an Indian Flag in hand and screaming Bharat Mata Ki Jai. But no, not today. Not at the cost of my feeders. Until then, this is what I say. To hell with your malls. To hell with your IPL. To hell with your World Cup. And to hell with your celebrations.



(The writer's email is: naren.singh.shekhawat@ gmail.com)
Source: The Hindu- Open page

P.S: On average, 47 farmers have been committing suicide every single day over the past 16 years in our shining India.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Experience

It was a long time ago. I was young and bright, bold and idealistic.
I was in the final year of my Master’s course in Computer Science at
The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore, then known as the Tata
Institute. Life was full of fun and joy. I did not know what helplessness
or injustice meant.
It was probably the April of 1974. Bangalore was getting warm and
gulmohars were blooming at the IISc campus. I was the only girl in my
postgraduate department and was staying at the ladies’ hostel.
Other girls were pursuing research in different departments of Science. I
was looking forward to going abroad to complete a doctorate in computer
science. I had been offered scholarships from Universities in the US. I
had not thought of taking up a job in India.
One day, while on the way to my hostel from our lecture-hall complex, I
saw an advertisement on the notice board.
It was a standard job-requirement notice from the famous automobile
company Telco (now Tata Motors). It stated that the company required
young, bright engineers, hardworkingand with an excellent academic background, etc.
At the bottom was a small line: “Lady candidates need not apply.”
I read it and was very upset. For the first time in my life I was up
against gender discrimination.
Though I was not keen on taking up the job, I saw it as a challenge. I
had done extremely well in academics, better than most of my male peers.
Little did I know then that in real life academic excellence is not
enough to be successful.
After reading the notice I went fuming to my room. I decided to inform
the topmost person in Telco’s management about the injustice the
company was perpetrating. I got a postcard and started to write, but
there was a problem: I did not know who headed Telco. I thought it must be
one of the Tatas.
I knew JRD Tata was the head of the Tata Group; I had seen his pictures in
newspapers (actually, Sumant Moolgaokar was the company’s chairman then).
I took the card, addressed it to JRD and started writing. To this day I
remember clearly what I wrote. “The great Tatas have always been
pioneers. They are the people who started the basic infrastructure
industries in India, such as iron and steel, chemicals, textiles and
locomotives. They have cared for
higher education in India since 1900 and they were responsible for the
establishment of the Indian Institute of Science. Fortunately, I study
there. But I am surprised how a company such as Telco is discriminating
on the basis of gender.”
I posted the letter and forgot about it. Less than 10 days later, I
received a telegram stating that I had to appear for an interview
at Telco’s Pune facility at the company’s expense. I was taken aback by
the telegram. My hostel mated told me I should use the opportunity to go
to Pune free of cost and buy them the famous Pune saris forcheap!
I collected Rs 30 each from everyone who wanted a sari. When I look back,
I feel like laughing at the reasons for my going, but back then they
seemed good enough to make the trip.
It was my first visit to Pune and I immediately fell in love with the
city. To this day it remains dear to me. I feel as much at home in Pune
as I do in Hubli, my hometown. The place changed my life in so many ways.
As directed, I went to Telco’s Pimpri office for the interview.
There were six people on the panel and I realised then that this was serious business.
“This is the girl who wrote to JRD,” I heard somebody whisper as soon as
I entered the room. By then I knew for sure that I would not get the
job.The realisation abolished all fear from my mind, so I was rather cool
while the interview was being conducted.
Even before the interview started, I reckoned the panel was biased, so
I told them, rather impolitely, “I hope this is only a technical
interview.” They were taken aback by my rudeness, and even today I am
ashamed about my attitude.
The panel asked me technical questions and I answered all of them. Then
an elderly gentleman with an affectionate voice told me, “Do you know why
we said lady candidates need not apply? The reason is that we have never
employed any ladies on the shop floor. This is not a co-ed college;this
is a factory. When it comes to academics, you are a first ranker throughout.
We appreciate that, but people like you should work in research lboratories.”
I was a young girl from small-town Hubli. My world had been a limited
place. I did not know the ways of large corporate houses
and their difficulties, so I answered, “But you must start somewhere,
otherwise no woman will ever be able to work in your factories.”
Finally, after a long interview, I was told I had been successful. So
this was what the future had in store for me. Never had I thought I would
take up a job in Pune. I met a shy young man from Karnataka there, we
became good friends and we got married.
It was only after joining Telco that I realised who JRD was: the
uncrowned king of Indian industry. Now I was scared, but I did not get to
meethim till I was transferred to Bombay. One day I had to show some
reports to Mr Moolgaokar, our chairman, who we all knew as SM. I was in
his office on the first floor of Bombay House (the Tata headquarters)
when, suddenly JRD walked in. That was the first time I saw “appro JRD”.
Appro means “our” in Gujarati. This was the affectionate term by which
people at BombayHouse called him.
I was feeling very nervous, remembering my postcard episode.
SM introduced me nicely, “Jeh (that’s what his close associates called
him), this young woman is an engineer and that too a postgraduate. She is
the first woman to work on the Telco shop floor.” JRD looked at me.
I was praying he would not ask me any questions about my interview (or
the postcard that preceded it). Thankfully, he didn’t. Instead, he
remarked. “It is nice that girls are getting into engineering in our
country. By the way, what is your name?”
“When I joined Telco I was Sudha Kulkarni, Sir,” I replied. “Now I am
Sudha Murthy.” He smiled and kindly smile and started a discussion
with SM. As for me, I almost ran out of the room.
After that I used to see JRD on and off. He was the Tata Group chairman
and I was merely an engineer. There was nothing that we had in common.
Iwas in awe of him.
One day I was waiting for Murthy, my husband, to pick me up after
office hours. To my surprise I saw JRD standing next to me. I did not
know how to react. Yet again I started worrying about that postcard.
Looking back,I realise JRD had forgotten about it. It must have been a
small incidentfor him, but not so for me.
“Young lady, why are you here?” he asked. “Office time is over.”
I said, “Sir, I’m waiting for my husband to come and pick me up.”
JRD said, “It is getting dark and there’s no one in the corridor. I’ll
wait with you till your husband comes.”
I was quite used to waiting for Murthy, but having JRD waiting
Alongside made me extremely uncomfortable.
I was nervous. Out of the corner of my eye I looked at him. He wore a
simple white pant and shirt. He was old, yet his face was glowing.
There wasn’t any air of superiority about him. I was thinking, “Look at
this person.
He is a chairman, a well-respected man in our country and he is waiting
for the sake of an ordinary employee.”
Then I saw Murthy and I rushed out. JRD called and said, “Young lady,
tell your husband never to make his wife wait again.”
In 1982 I had to resign from my job at Telco.
I was reluctant to go,but I really did not have a choice. I was coming
down the steps of Bombay House after wrapping up my final settlement when
I saw JRD coming up. He was absorbed in thought. I wanted to say goodbye to him, so I stopped. Hesaw me and paused.
Gently, he said, “So what are you doing, Mrs Kulkarni?” (That was the
way he always addressed me.)
“Sir, I am leaving Telco.”
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“Pune, Sir. My husband is starting a company called Infosys and I’m
shifting to Pune.”
“Oh! And what will you do when you are successful.”
“Sir, I don’t know whether we will be successful.”
“Never start with diffidence,” he advised me. “Always start with
confidence. When you are successful you must give back to society.
Society gives us so much; we must reciprocate. I wish you all the best.”
Then JRD continued walking up the stairs. I stood there for what seemed
like a millennium. That was the last time I saw him alive.
Many years later I met Ratan Tata in the same Bombay House, occupying
the chair JRD once did.
I told him of my many sweet memories of working with Telco.
Later, he wrote to me, “It was nice hearing about Jeh from you.
The sad part is that he’s not alive to see you today.”
I consider JRD a great man because, despite being an extremely busy
person, he valued one postcard written by a young girl seeking justice.
He must have received thousands of letters everyday.
He could have thrown mine away, but he didn’t do that.
He respected the intentions of thatunknown girl, who had neither influence
nor money, and gave her an opportunity in
his company. He did not merely give her a job; he changed her life and
mindset forever.
Close to 50 per cent of the students in today’s engineering collegesare
girls. And there are women on the shop floor in many industry segments.
I see these changes and I think of JRD. If at all time stops and asks
me what I want from life, I would say I wish JRD were alive today to see
how the company we started has grown. He would have enjoyed it wholeheartedly.


Letters


It’s a story of a Brahmin gal who loved a non-Brahmin and due to father’s compulsion married a Brahmin guy and leading a perfect life with little happiness!! 


 Dearest Appa,
  27th Jan’1965
     Hope this letter finds you, Amma, Raji and Seenu in good health.  The weather here in New York City is icy cold.  But Avar sollraar- I have missed this winter’s biting cold. I still wish I had seen the snow… But then, I still wish I had not left Trichy at all. I do miss Trichy, Appa. You, Amma, Raji, Seenu, pakkatthaathu Rama, Vikatan,Ucchi Pillaiyaar Koil, filter coffee, Holy Cross College, the Maths Department and of course Sakthi. I know you wish I hadn’t brought his name in this letter.But not to worry Appa, I understand that you got me married to Visu because you thought it was best for your daughter.
I still remember Amma wiping her silent tears with her madisaar thalappu and you shouting at me the day I told you about Sakthi.Later, when the initial shock wore off you patiently listed umpteen reasons why I should not marry Sakthi. I agree Appa, that 20 is too young to decide, that Raji and Seenu would have been affected greatly by my ‘mistake’, the Agrahaaram would have scoffed at you… a meat eater was not a good match for someone who had never even tasted onion and garlic. The reasons were innumerous. I knew you’d still have objected and offered other reasons even if he had become a     Dhigambara monk.
Visu on the other hand, wore a poonal, he is the son of Neelakanta Sastri, an Engineer and he researched about computers which is what made you jump for this alliance. Am not complaining Appa, Visu is a nice man. Tell Amma that I could not try her kozhakkattai recipe this Pongal because coconuts were too expensive and Avar nenacchar that it was ridiculous.
Anyway, we went out on Sankaranthi day and dined out. He thought it would be a good idea to invite the Chatterjees also. But I didn’t speak Bengali and Mrs.Chatterjee spoke English in an accent that comes with living years in America. Hence I made myself busy with the menu card. They ordered various species of fish,shrimp and a lot more of items I had never seen in my life. I ordered orange juice and a sandwich. The other diners thought it was queer coming to a seafood restaurant and settling for a sandwich. That day, I learnt  that Avar prefer pannradhu beef, pork, bacon and seafood.
 Do you know, Appa… Sakthi gave up meat because of me? I didn’t ask, he just did. But then, Sakthi is not Neelakanta Sastri’s son and that made it imposible for Subramania Iyer’s daughter Kalyani to marry him.I will keep you posted on what happens here. I don’t think I can make it to Seenu’s Upanayanam. Tell Amma not to get me a pattu podavai for the poonal, I don’t use them here. I wore it once and felt like a clown here.
                                                                       Your loving daughter,
                                                                                 Kalyani.

     Dearest Appa,
     20th Oct’1968
     We are fine here. Gautam is speaking his first words and I swear they sounded like ‘Dosai’. But Visu claims it’s just gibberish. From your previous letter, I gather that pakkathatthu Rama is married and
settled in Jamshedpur. Nice to know that. Please find out her address from Saarada maami and write it to me. I want to keep in touch with her. I hope Raji is happy with her husband in Madras. I spoke to her last month, great to know that she has a phone. Do tell Seenu to study well and prepare for his school final exams.
Raji also told me that Sakthi is married now. I wish him good luck, but I could not convey the message to him. Raji refused to be the messenger and I know you have severed ties with Sakthi’s father, your long term friend Sankaravel, thanks to me. I hear his wife is his cousin… He must have succumbed to his mother’s wishes.
How did Avani Avittam go? Visu’s mother gave me a bunch of new poonals for Avani Avittam but Visu was in Boston that day. He wouldn’t have used it anyway, I haven’t seen him wear one in the last three years. Gautam is now playing with the spool of thread- mere thread it is, what else can I call it? Gautam will not even know what it signifies, I guess.
Visu is making sure Gautam grows up listening to English only. He says it will make his life easier. But I do read out passages from Ponniyin Selvan and Bharathiyaar’s poetry when I am alone with him. It’s more of reading to myself, I guess. I actually got that poetry book as a present from Sakthi, it still has his scrawling signature in the first page.

     By the way, Visu saw that book and asked me about Sakthi, I told him. Hold your breath Appa, he didn’t throw me out of the house. He is a good man, no question. He said it is okay and that he doesn’t mind. And then he told me of his American girlfriend whom he was once in love with, when he first reached America- Amy, a fellow Researcher who was in a brief relationship with Visu when she was in New York. They lived together for 3 months and decided against marriage,  somehow. Amy once dropped home when she was in New York. Nice lady, she was.
Ask Amma to send me Sambar Podi for this whole year. My friend Sudha is coming to Madras next week. Ask Seenu to catch the Rockfort Express and give it to her. I will collect it from her here.
                                                        Your loving daughter,
                                                                  Kalyani.

     Dearest Appa,
     3rd June’1974

     We have arrived here safely. After two months in India, I find it hard to adjust back to normal life here. Gautam and Ranjana demand vadai,paayasam and vaazhai ilai here. Visu’s relieved to be back in
America. I left a set of my books there. If it’s not in Trichy it must be in Visu’s parents’ place. If you find them, safeguard them until my next trip. They mean a lot to me since they were gifts from Sakthi.  By the way, Appa, I found out Sakthi’s present address in Madras from Rama and Saarada maami. I wrote to him. I am extremely proud to know that Dr.Sakthivel is a cardiologist much in demand there in Madras. He was thrilled to hear from me after so long. You know what he has named his daughters? Kalyani and Raagamaalika. He called me. You know what, he’s still a practising vegetarian, Appa. He didn’t revert back just because he lost me… He asked me if I still sang and whether Gautam and Ranjana could sing. I could see a proud father in him, when he claimed his daughters could sing upto Rara Venu Gopala. That’s when I remembered that I was once a good   singer.  I wonder why I stopped singing, wonder why I never exposed the kids to Music and Dance. But then, I realize that I had buried all that deep inside me when I left Trichy; after bidding farewell to my best Rasika, actually. Sakthi. After the call, I tried singing ’Kurai Onrum Illai’. I could not rquite reach Charanam, because of the lack of practice and more importantly because of the tears that filmed my eyes and the constriction in my throat.  I sang to Visu and the kids one of these days. Though Gautam was impressed, father and daughter could not just wait for me to finish! By the way, next time some friend comes to India, send me a Sruthi Box. I would like to start singing again.
                                                       Your loving daughter,
                                                            Kalyani.
     Dearest Appa,
     14th Aug 1978
     Just back after our tour to California. Find our photos,  picture postcards attached herewith. After you are done with showing all family members,relatives, friends and neighbours, pass them to Visu’s parents. It was a welcome break for the four of us. But I missed my paattu class students all along and was happy to resume the classes again last evening. Did I mention in my previous letter, before we left on the tour - I finally got my driving license here. I sent a few photos to Sakthi too. He has sent me quite a few records and  cassettes. I loved it! I’m reminded of AIR, almost! I’m circulating them among my friends too. And of course, playing them for my students too. They are picking up beautifully.  Funny news is, I, a Tamilian, is teaching Telugu and Sanskrit kritis to a cross section of Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada,Telugu, Marathi, Bengali students in an English speaking nation. The music sessions have resulted in a reborn Kalyani, Appa. Thanks to Sakthi, really. I would have never taken it up had it not been for his reminder. I am now thinking of what life would have been like if I had indeed married him. I would have of course lost you and Amma. But right now, with this life in America, Visu and these monthly letters to you, Rama, Raji and Seenu what have i gained?  I don’t find an answer, Appa. Neither do I think I ever will. Again, as I have always reiterated, Visu is a good man, no complaints there. He is every bit the son in law you wanted. Researcher, American Post-Graduate Degree holder, a dutiful husband and father,earning a  comfortable income. I know it is too much to ask for anything else. That is a fantasy I left midway in my life… Once upon a time in Trichy with someone else.

                                                     Your loving daughter,
                                                                  Kalyani.

     Dearest Appa,
     14th Apr’1984
                          Met Dr.Sakthivel after 19 years… He had come to New York for business purposes and paid me a visit. Visu and the kids welcomed him home with great pleasure. And they liked him too. Infact, they did most of the talking initially. And of course, he got me a whole load of books, cassettes, Mysore Paak and lots more.                                                                                                           Your loving daughter,
                                                      Kalyani.

     Dearest Appa,
     20th Jan’ 1990
     I just went through all these letters lying in my closet draw for years together. These are letters I started writing to you and then decided not to post. For obvious reasons. I could not mention Sakthi to you even though I was itching to. Not because I was afraid to invite your wrath. I just did not have the heart to hurt you, I know these letters would have hurt you. Because deep inside, I know you were disturbed- you knew Sakthi was a good man, you knew he was a man of substance, yet you didn’t want to go further. Society, I know. ..Family… I know…  And all these letters would have only wounded you more.Today, 2 years after your death, and 6 months after Dr.Sakthivel’s untimely death in a road accident, I somehow felt like re-reading all these letters. To me, all these unstamped, unposted letters mean a life that could have been.                                                                    
  Kalyani Viswanathan.