Skill Development.

Cheerful Monk has a rather intriguing blog post with the same title as this one and I urge my readers to read it in full.

As she always does, CM asks this question at the end of the post.
“Do you agree with James at all? Do you ever think in terms of skill development?”

I could not resist the temptation to be a little facetious and responded – “What is skill development? I have got two left hands and two right legs. I have a sound box that faithfully echoes a frog.”

And came the totally unexpected googly as we would call it in cricketeese or the curve ball as the Americans would call it in baseballeese from Ursula. This is of course to thank her for coming to my rescue like a knightess, (is that the word or is it baroness?) in shining armour riding a white horse with these comments.

“Don’t make me laugh, Ramana. Stop it right now. Two left hands, two right feet? Think about it. If you were left handed (which, admittedly, I don’t believe you are) you’d be laughing. Two for the price of one. Productivity going through the roof.

Feet don’t care whether they are left or right. The poor sausages and their intricate network of fine bones are occupied enough to carry us and our body weight through life without going all philosophical. In fact, I sometimes think feet (and mine don’t even hurt) must be looking forward to finally being put up (to rest).

On this cheerful note,


Okay. I will give you something to really laugh about Ursula. In my misspent youth I did go through a period of intense training to develop mathematical skills. So, here is something that I will give you as a skill that I developed. Learning useless information and sharing it with others to impress them with my skills and or knowledge.

6 and 28 are the only perfect numbers before one reaches three digits (100). It is so because they are equal to the sum of their factors. 6 is divisible by 1,2 and 3 and 1+2+3 = 6; and 28 is divisible by 14,7,4,2 and 1 and 14+7+4+2+1 = 28. You will have to do a lot of summing before you hit the next perfect number 496.

Have I impressed you Ursula?


sabbatical-mug-300x260I have understood the term to mean a break from one’s usual activities. Often people take sabbaticals to do something else other than what they normally do.

If that is the definition keeping in mind which I have to write this post, I am afraid that I have to disappoint my readers. I have never had a sabbatical in my life nor do I see any possibility of taking one ever in the future.

If however the definition is to mean that one takes a rest from what one normally does, I have been on a sabbatical for the past fifteen years. This would mean of course that normal activity would imply working at something to make a living. Since I have not that for such a long time, I can safely say that I am on a permanent sabbatical.

How fortunate!

On the other hand, we have in India a national leader who is currently on a sabbatical leading to much speculation and merriment in the country. I somehow do not think that he is fortunate.

This topic was suggested by The Old Fossil who oddly enough has been on a sabbatical from LBC posts, for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where currently eight of us write on the same topic every Friday.  I hope that you enjoyed my contribution to that effort.  The seven other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order,  AshokgaelikaaLin, Maxi, PadmumShackman and The Old Fossil. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, or not at all this week, do give some allowance for that too!


Whiplash-5547.cr2 While it is still fresh in my mind I want to write about this film.  Unusually for us, we went to a late afternoon show which took us almost to dinner time and I am writing this just before I have my dinner so that I don’t lose the enthusiasm for the review.

It has been a long time since I have seen a movie of such raw human emotions on display.  A hard driving mentor, an ambitious mentee and jazz thrown in makes for a heady combination.  Add to that, the human element of a competitive if somewhat pedestrian family background and a little bit of romance, and it makes for a perfect drama.

The movie revolves around just the two protagonists, the band leader and mentor played by J.K. Simmons in a powerful portrayal and the mentee and drummer played by Miles Teller in an equally powerful portrayal.  Throw in the superb and tight direction by Damien Chazelle and you have a potent mixture that offers just short of two hours of gripping viewing of high drama.

No fights or car chases, no big romance or titillating scenes.  Just plain drama and some excellent jazz music.  I give it [rating=6] rating without the least hesitation and recommend it to people who are interested in jazz, and human drama.

Secunderabad Railway Station.


Raman and Sudarsan,  family friends from my teenage days, now live in Secunderabad. They have recently been posting some old photographs from the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad on Facebook and this is one such photograph taken in 1928.  The station is very much different now, but when this story takes place, it was not too different.

Secunderabad station had a special place in my life and let me tell you why.

Despite being North of Hyderabad, all trains from anywhere in India, terminating at Hyderabad would first go to Secunderabad and then to Hyderabad and would halt their for up to twenty minutes while some engine exchange took place.  A bit of a nuisance really, and once I settled down in the Northern parts of India, if we went by train, we would get off at Secunderabad and take a taxi or an auto rickshaw to go to Hyderabad where my late wife Urmeela’s family lived and continue to till today.  That would save about an hour’s time spent in the train at the Secunderabad station, the time taken to go to Hyderabad and from there to her home.

In November 1968, I was travelling from Chennai to Hyderabad by train to get married. Urmeela had come to the Secunderabad station to surprise and receive  me.  Since I was not expecting anybody to receive me at Secunderabad,  I had decided to go to Hyderabad in the same train, as I was to stay in a hotel near the station there till the marriage.  When the train halted at Secunderabad and all the passengers had alighted, I found a shoe shine boy to polish my shoes and sat back to relax and read inside the compartment.

Urmeela missed seeing me anywhere and decided that I had changed my mind about the marriage and had given her the slip.  She went back home and was inconsolable with the entire household in panic as all arrangements had been made for the wedding in the evening.

Just picture the scene.  Those were days when there were no telephone connections  and I in any case was living off a suitcase as a travelling trainee.  The family did n0t know how or who to contact and there was a pall of gloom.

After checking into the hotel at Hyderabad and showering and changing, I got myself an auto rickshaw and reached Urmeela’s home around 11.00 in the morning and there was stunned silence but great joy in seeing me.  Urmeela was quite furious and till I calmed her down was ready to call off the wedding for having put her through the experience earlier.

Till the day she died, the one joke that would lighten up her mood was her husband’s tryst with a shoeshine boy at the Secunderabad railway station on his wedding day!

Call Me Mister.


It is bad enough that one has to listen to a lot of recorded music, and to add to that insult, a new phenomenon in telephoned customer support is the use of the first name of the customer by the representative. As galling as that is it is worse when in written communication too this is done.

When this happens I take serious objection and in the case of telephone calls I ask the representative his/her age and usually find that it is in the early twenties. I tell them that I am as old as their grand father and ask them if they would call their grand father by his first name.  I use the same message in responding to emails as well.

I still do not call people I am not very friendly with by their first name unless I am asked by them to irrespective of how old they are. It simply is not in me and I find it in very poor taste when the same courtesy is not extended to me.  In the blogworld however we bloggers seem to be quite comfortable using first or nicknames and I do not find it least uncomfortable. Perhaps because we share so much of our personal lives in our blogs it becomes easier to be informal.

So, it was quite an amusing spectacle in India’s social media when our Prime Minister called the POTUS as Barak although I think that the POTUS found it difficult to call our PM as Narendra. Perhaps he just could not pronounce it properly!  Somewhat like Bikehikebabe not being able to pronounce Narasimha!

Now what happened in Germany is exactly the opposite of what happened in India.  The POTUS kept referring to Ms. Merkel as Angela while she was unable to call him Barak!  Do the Germans take quite some time before they get to first name basis?

How are you on this matter of protocol?


WILD-MovieOccasionally a film comes along that makes the viewer want to read the book.  This is one movie that does that to me.  So, despite my resolution not to buy any new books, I intend buying this book by Cheryl Strayed.

The only reason that I could think of for seeing the movie in the first place was that the actor was Reese Witherspoon.

I have been a fan of Witherspoon from her very first film The Man In The Moon which I saw sometime in the early nineties of the last century!  Another film that I can never forget with he in it was Legally Blonde with a very unusual story.  She has come a long way since then, and if she is in a movie, I go and see it.  In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, I saw a film produced by her, The Gone Girl, and was not disappointed.

This film did not disappoint me.  It is a story made for an actress of the caliber of Witherspoon and since all the other roles are more or less cameos, her histrionic ability shines through and through as there is literally nobody else to steal scenes from her.  My friend Ramesh however could not understand the story and after we came out asked me to explain it to him.  And that is likely to be a major drawback of the film because, unless one has been exposed to the kind of life that the hiker leads before she decides to redeem herself, it will be difficult to understand the story.

Since my rating is based on how much it appealed to me, I have no hesitation whatsoever in giving it [rating=6].