Grandma's Tales

February 28, 2007

Jose reviews “Mozhi”

Filed under: Language,Movie,My Other Avtaar — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 8:18 pm

“Thank you, Geetha Mam,” wrote Jose, “for it’s through your website I came to know about the donor passes and obtained them.”
That was a wonderful gesture, Jose. Believe me, your money goes to a good cause. And from what you’ve written about the movie, I see that you had a great time watching. A win-win all right!
Jose writes a review that borders on the poetic, but the movie has that effect on you. Read what he writes and go watch it!
“I always had respect for Duet Movies (Prakashraj production) since their products have always been refreshingly excellent. I emphasize the word refreshingly since they are not run-of-the-mill kind of movies. They are unique but always make us relate ourselves to the characters be it “Azhagiya Theeye” or “Kanda Naal Muthal”. But with Mozhi, they have surpassed all borders and set new benchmarks. This movie will definitely serve as an epitome for good movie makers.
Mainly revolving around characters lived by Prakashraj, Prithviraj, Jyotika and
Swarnamalya this movie takes you to the zenith of life. Jyotika gets her lifetime role in her supposedly last film and performs to precision. Mozhi gives emphasis to
· Intimate characterization rather than introductory songs
· Witty one-liners rather than withering comedy
· Intimate portrayal rather than item numbers
· Emotions rather than extravagance
· Sensible rather than slapstick
· Respect for others rather than running around the trees
To wake up for a 9 am show on a Sunday morning seems ridiculous and a Herculean task. But once I saw the movie, I wanted more of it. Watching Mozhi was like meeting up with a couple of friends and being in sync with them. (Great writing there, Jose!)
On the whole, it’s glossy without being glamorous.
For once, I am proud of Tamil movies.
Mozhi – Reveals the power of silence.
Apologies for the lengthy post/review. But this movie deserves much more.
My two cents…”

Thanks, Jose. I’m sure you inspired a lot of readers here!


February 27, 2007

Grammar – 28 The hot difference between “alternate” and “alternative”

Filed under: Language — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 9:18 pm

This has been on my blog fodder list for a while, and here’s the reason why.
Chidanand Rajghatta, a favourite newswriter, recently did a story on which was the hotter chilly – Assam’s little known Naga Jalokia or California’s reigning champ Red Savina. According to his sources, the Jalokia chilly has now climbed the hottest seat by a big margin – 1,001,304 SHUs to Red Savina’s 577, 000 SHUs.
[SHU stands for Scoville Heat Unit, a measure invented by American chemist William Scoville to quantify spice heat.]
During the course of  this tear-jerking debate, Rajghatta writes: “Just how hot are Jalokias is evident from the prefixes it has earned – Bhut means ghost, for that’s what it reduces anyone who bites into it; Naga, the alternate prefix,is said to reflect the tribe’s fiery temperament.”
Now how do we understand the word “alternate”? Here are the options: alternate:
Occurring by turns; succeeding each other, take turns (verb): “He and his sister alternate washing the dishes.”
[2] One and then the other; every other, successive (adjective): “Each of the two pharmacies in this town is open on alternate Sundays.” “The zebra has alternate black and white stripes.”
[3] Substitute, backup (adjective): “If the main road is closed, take an alternate route.”
[4] Stand-by, backup, understudy (noun): “He attended the seminar not as a delegate but as an alternate.”
The writer obviously uses the word “alternate” in the third sense – Naga is the alternate (substitute) name for the now-famous chilly.  This usage is probably widespread in the US, but in the UK and in India this would be using the word in its narrow sense. In India, the preferred word would have been “alternative”. Let’s look at the word “alternative”.
alternative: A choice between two or among more than two things; something remaining to be chosen; choice, option, recourse: “Is there an alternative to going?”
If he wants to reach Delhi by tonight (to stake his claim for chiefministership?), he has no alternative but to go by plane.” 
So “alternate ” means “following by turns, one after the other” or “a substitute or second” or “every other in a series.”It is related to the adjective and means “to go back and forth” or “to change from one state to another and back again repeatedly.”
Example: The captain alternates the two fast bowlers in the slog overs.
Alternative refers to or implies a choice between two things. As a noun, it refers to the other choice. Example: If the flight is grounded, our alternative is to travel by train. (The other choice).
This sentence should throw more light on the word. A utility “plans to freeze its electric rates for five years, and by 2003 will allow all its customers to buy power from alternate sources.” It is clear the writer meant “alternative,” meaning, providing a choice among options. “Alternate” means by turns, or every other, as in “alternate Sundays.”
Verdict: When you talk of choice, use “alternative”. Huge grants have not stopped the farmer suicides in Vidarbha. We need to think of alternative methods of solving this tragedy.
If it is going back and forth, then there is no alternative but to use “alternate”. When he is sozzled, his mood alternates between bluster and self-pity.
Here is the final word: alternate or alternative?
The two words really do have quite separate and distinct meanings: alternate implies the taking of turns, and alternative implies a choice. Start with the verb “to alternate” and carry its meaning over to the adjective alternate. You have a useful modifier that says, in a word, “First this one, then that one,” or, “Now me, then you, then me again, and so on.” Don’t corrupt alternate with any other confusing meaning.
Then take alternative, which means the choosing of one out of two courses; as a noun, it means such a choice (or “option”), and as an adjective, it is a synonym for “substitute”. Limit it to that. Let’s not blow alternately hot and cold on this: the alternative to holding the line
(understanding the words to mean the above) is fuzziness.
—William Safire, On Language


The Elliot’s beach saga- 8 “Get together”

Filed under: Consumer caution,Games People Play,Society — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 7:57 am

We did get together behind the gymnasium on 25 Feb, 2007 as planned. It was a miniscule, but committed crowd. Mr. S narrated the history of “beautification” attempts of Chennai’s coastline. Significantly, an attempt to lay roads on the beach was proposed in 1985 and was resisted by the fishermen who feared it would kill their livelihood. They clashed with the police and some 15 died in the firing.
A represetative of the turtle saving group was categorical. Any road on the beach meant the sea turtles that came ashore regularly would die and eventually the others of the species would stop coming to the beach to nest – an ecological setback. Now all those who want development can ask: should we worry about turtles when several sections of the society benefit from the walkways?
MLA S. Ve. Sekar came in. He admitted that it would be near-impossible to stop the proposal from being carried out, but said, the fishermen would never allow their territory to be encroached on. He promised to apportion funds for the cleaning of the beach. We dispersed pledging to form a committee to represent the beach-users’ interests.
Last morning, however, newspapers published reports of the exact plan to improve the looks of the beach. (Three beaches have been targeted.)
I thought it was all over. Can we fight the establishment? One flew over the cuckoo’s nest, remember? But here is what I got from Mr. S.
Dear concerned citizens,
As a follow-up of our get together at the Elliot’s Beach on the evening of February
25, Mr. Vijayakumar, SE, BRR (Superintending Engineer, Broad Road Repairs), Chennai Corporation, has agreed to meet us at Elliot’s Beach near the Gymnasium between 9-30 and 10-00 AM on Wednesday 28th February. He has promised to come with available sketches to interact with the residents.

I welcome all those who attended the Sunday get together to attend this Wednesday meeting. In addition to those I am reaching through this mail I will also telephone as many as I can. Please pass the message and try to attend the meeting. You need not worry too much about the news item in the Hindu today about the comprehensive plan to beautify Elliot’s Beach drawn up by the MEASI Academy of architecture. We can discuss and formulate our strategy after we have heard the SE. S.SATHYANARAYANAN.

February 26, 2007

Why you should watch “Mozhi”

Filed under: Movie,Society — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 11:14 pm

Our (Ability Foundation) fundraiser went off without a hitch. After every such event, we pat ourselves and say, “We pulled it off and you know why? We’re an all-girls team!” 🙂 Well, it was a sell-out show.
During the break, director Radhamohan (RM) climbed up the stage at Shantham. He was followed by Actor Jyotika, an extremely pleasant young lady; it wasn’t a surprise she got a welcoming applause. Prakash Raj jumped up, again to applause, and behind him were Bhaskar, an excellent actor (appears on TV serials) and Dhakshaya (I hope I’ve got her name right) who made/chose all those lovely costumes, Jayshree Raveendran, director of Ability Foundation and Vijaya who made the movie possible by teaching the cast sign language.
If you know Tamil, or if you’re the let’s-go-anyway type, DO NOT miss this movie. I’ll tell you why.
[1] After a very long time, here’s a movie that can be called a genuine comedy. Radhamohan has re-defined situational comedy for us. It comes as a breath of fresh air, after all those innuendoes and unspeakable violence that people had come to accept as cues for laughs. I’m sorry, I cannot understand how a guy being beaten to a pulp can evoke chuckles. Is it because you know it’s all fake? Are you happy because you feel the guy deserves it?
What can and should make you laugh are unexpected situations that we find ourselves in, situations where laughter can heal, where a sense of humour is the best way out. Good comedy can be based on a misunderstanding, a totally innocent, not-well-thought-of act, a train of thought that has a totally unexpected twist in the end… and sometimes on a play of words.
[2] The comedy is not just a bellyful of laughs – oh, the one-liners are not what you forget the minute you reach the parking lot. You watch, you go ha, ha, ha, and then you wonder why there’s a lump in your throat. Where did that come from? Yes, you are likely to remember some of the situations for a long time to come. RM makes you think even as you double up in the seat. The Prof’s lines, for example.
[3] RM scores on the analysis of disability in a very big way. There are issues that he makes crystal clear: what it is to live in a silent, speechless world. What it is not to be able to listen to all those sounds (lovely, if you ask me. I live on the noisiest street in Chennai), not being able to follow conversations around you, not comprehending what people call music, not being able to know what’s happened to grandma … you know the rest.
[4] RM wants you to know that speech/hearing-impaired people don’t want your pity, far from it. They are quite capable of looking after themselves, just as you and I do. What they need is friendship, that accommodation (how many of you will learn sign language because your classmate can’t hear?), that readiness to accept them for what they are. See them as people first, he says, echoing Ability Foundation’s philosophy.
[5] To put forth these ideas in the most acceptable, celebratory, joyful way, RM has roped in an impeccable cast. I’m not sure if it’s the actors or RM’s direction, but I guess it’s both. Some directors manage to get the best out of everyone, right?
[5] The montage. The colours, the lens work and the sweep of the camera are an integral part of the movie. This is one movie where the frame is as much part of the theme as the dialogue and the action. RM has created every background lovingly, with lavished care. The effect is often a stunning, photographic effect that complements that part of the happening in the narration. Watch out for the poster that keeps appearing when Jyotika makes her dramatic entry. Look at the backdrop of the sky in the outdoor shots. Soak in the gorgeous interiors, the changing lights and shades of the outdoors. Who is the cinematographer here?
I did an insta exit poll. I asked a dozen people what they liked about the movie. No, that wasn’t a loaded question. Hey, they liked it, they gave it a standing ovation!
“Comedy is superb!” said most of them. They picked lines I wasn’t laughing at, but there is a generation between us. But I was happy they did laugh at the “situations”. One couple, after a bit of prodding said, “The acting, and the way they showed deaf people.”
The finest compliment came from a speech/hearing impaired viewer. She walked over to the stage during the intermission when the VIPs stood there telling the audience their experiences while making the movie. And began to sign.
“Thanks RM, thank you so much,” she signed, while Vijaya translated. “You made a movie for us, about us. This is exactly how we feel. You’ve told the world our innermost feelings. You made us feel we count. You made us proud. Now we’ll feel less disadvantaged, less unwanted, a little less stereotyped. Thanks and god bless you.” There wasn’t a dry eye on the stage. Actor Revathi, who introduced the director and the cast was seen choking with tears.
That’s it. A 2-hour movie did what reams and columns written on mainstreaming people with disabilities couldn’t do. What a 10-year-old comprehensive Act of Parliament couldn’t achieve. In the pleasantest way, the movie told us how to view disability, what accepting disability as a part of the diversity of the society is all about.
Go, watch the movie. Overlook that one scene which will put you off if you are over-sensitive like me. But go to the theatre and watch. That will encourage people like RM and Prakash Raj (producer) to attempt more poems like “Mozhi”.

February 25, 2007

Do you want Abdul Kalam re-elected? 2

Filed under: Government — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 9:09 pm


I have no problem with this particular SMS-ish. It goes “We want A P J” and students are punching it to friends and family. It’s really not surprising they are rooting for APJ. Among a lot of reasons they may have, the most prominent would be that APJ has been a visibly student-friendly Prez. He seems to attend functions in educational institutions quite regularly. He meets students of all ages all the time, wherever he is. He is tech-savvy and has a web site that works. For students, a person with a web site is a person with brains.
The student campaign, initiated by Pune-based NGO Pune Nagrik Manch (PNM), has an online petition to the government of India urging them to make sure Dr. Kalam is re-elected as Prez of India.The petition posted on, a free online service, in October last year has already been signed by more than 1,74,800 people.
This online petition reads: “We need the dynamic leadership of Dr A P J Abdul Kalam with his vision. I am a young citizen of India, armed with technology, knowledge and love for my nation, [and] I realize aiming small is a crime.”
“Our mission is to re-elect President Kalam as he is the only person who deserves to be the first citizen of our country. I cannot think of another name for the coveted seat,” said Sujeet Shimalkar, president of PNM.
Vibha Dham, a student of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), who has signed the on-line petition, said she was impressed by the President when she met him at a function in 2002.”The President expressed a genuine concern for the youth of the country. The scientist-turned-statesman is enlightened and has the right vision for the young population of India,” she said.
Kalam has become an idol for young students not only in India, but across the globe. Proof for this comes from the popularity of his official website The site recorded one crore hits as of August 15 last year. The President himself responds to the e-mails sent to him.

February 24, 2007

The Elliot’s beach saga- 7 Mr. S writes to D’Souza

Filed under: Consumer caution,Games People Play,Society — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 9:10 pm

Vincent D’Souza was concerned that the invite Mr. Satyanarayanan circulated wasn’t strong on the words. He wanted the letter rewritten with more focus and in much stronger terms, not an invite at all, but an exortation to come and do what they should, to save the beach they all used.  Please read previous posts on this for the story. Here is the reply from Mr. S.

Dear Mr. Vincent D’Souza,

I got all the three messages posted by you on 23rd and I could understand your anxiety that my

communication was not enough to convey in its emtirety  the problem to the recipients. As I had

already explained to you in one of my earlier messages the meet on 25th is intended to focus

on the  protection and preservation of the Beauty, ecology and environment of the Elliots Beach. Many 

of us in Besant Nagar neighbourhood were worrired that since our last meeting with the AE, Zone-X,

they were not sharing with us further information and our personal letter to the Commissioner of the 

Corporation did not also evoke any response. We were afraid that they would act first and reveal 

later. It was Mr. S.P.Ambrose who broke the ice chasing the information through the personal 

secretary to the Governor, Secretaries to PWD., Municipal Administration, CMDA, Commissisoner 

Corporation and finally helped us to land on the lap of SE., BRR, Corporation who is holding the 

baby. We discussed with him and he was willing to share the information with us, meet a few of us

and explain the same, and even form a committee with us to examine and consider our views. 

The limited purpose of the agenda on the Sunday get together is to be informed about all the above,

form a group of citizens to meet the SE. BRR and examine the drawings and plans. At this point

of time we should be worried as to what kind of campaign that we should be thinking of etc.

Please let us meet on 25th at 5 PM at the Elliots Beach behind the police booth and gymnasium and get ourselves focused.   Best wishes, S.SATHYANARAYANAN.
As for me, I’ll attend the “Mozhi” fundraiser in the morning and will be at the Elliot’s beach at 5 pm sharp.   

February 23, 2007

Want to save Elliot’s beach? 6 Vincent D’Souza is in!

Filed under: Consumer caution,Games People Play,Society — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 8:49 pm

Vincent D’Souza is the highly respected editor of Mylapore Times and Adyar Times, both first-on-the-block community newspapers. He writes a popular edit in the papers and I’m sure that’s what you look for when you pull the paper from under the door on Sunday mornings. “Community Orientation” is D’Souza’s clarion call. Here he is, responding to Satayanarayanan’s invitation to join the meeting on the “beautification” of Elliot’s beach.


Somehow I feel this note does not really put in focus the issue – the issue is more about the city corporation, and the Highways drawing up plans on their own , plans which affect us all. Perhaps it will be better if you reword this note and resend to all you wish to invite. Am afraid the severity of the issue we shd address is not there in your note. It looks, to a ‘lay’ person, as if we are all gathering just to chat abt general issues. And have tea after that!!
A preamble of 6/9 lines is must. I am also asking my colleagues who are part of the Orkut community on the Net who relate to Elliots Beach, to read this note and sign up. There is a need for a larger community move . . . .and the youth who love this beach must have a space too. Vincent D Souza

On 23-Feb-07, at 11:25 AM, sathyanarayanan wrote:



S,Sathyanarayanan, “Gayathri”, No.29, First Main Road, Indira Nagar,

President. Chennai – 600020. Dated : February 23, 2007.

e-mail : Tel: 42185352.

Dear concerned citizens,

I am copying this message whieh I sent to you on 12-02-2007, just to remind you

about the event. Please make it convenient to attend. Best wishes,



“The Forum of Adayar Civic Exnora (Face), is convening a get together of

interested individuals to discuss and plan for the protection and preservation of

the Nature and Ecology of the Elliots Beach, Besant Nagar.Chennai – 600090.

The meet will be held on the sands of the Elliots Beach, between the Police

Booth and the Gymnasium on Sunday, 25th February, 2007 from 5 PM to 6 PM.

Your participation and sharing of views will be helpful to plan our campaign

and strategy.

Thanking you and regards, S.SATHYANARAYANAN.D


Did I tell you Vincent trains school kids to write reports and publishes them in the paper?

February 22, 2007

Do you want Abdul Kalam re-elected?

Filed under: Government — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 9:08 pm

Friend Swati has joined this campaign to re-elect Abdul Kalam for Prez again. That means the present President of India will be President again for another 5-year term. In case you haven’t noticed (how did you miss it?) APJ is the most child+disabled+scientific temperament-friendly Prez India has had so far. He has also been a Prez who wouldn’t hide his displeasure when politicians indulged in shameful shananigans. He exercised his limited constitutional powers when he was asked to sign the Office of Profit Bill with retrospective effect. In fact, the thought that he might repeat that performance and send back the request kept the ruling party from imposing President’s rule in UP recently.
So here it is from Swati:
Hi folks,
Take a minute and respond to this please. Even if it may be a spoof, its worth a try … If you agree to this email, try to send it to all your friends and relatives. Please spend a few of your minutes for Dr. APJ.

Our honourable president’s period in office ends by 2007. He had been informed not to continue (can understand that!). Some youngsters of INDIA have set up a site (given below) to request the Indian government to extend his term for the next five years. If you want Dr.APJ to continue as president, you can enter your support in that website. Hurry up. Please forward it to all Indians. /There are 132,499 signatures so far. We need dignified leaders like Dr.APJ to lead the world’s biggest democracy… Let’s start signing. Please forward this to all your friends.

And enemies, I would say, since they too might want APJ to continue.

February 21, 2007

It’s “Mozhi” again!

Filed under: Language — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 11:41 pm

Ability Foundation, a cross-disability NGO sent me this promo. They are screening the movie as a fundraiser. The movie is special because one of our staff was involved in the production. She taught sign language to Jyothika, the lead actor, who is speech and hearing-impaired in the movie. It’s a fun movie, so try not to miss it! mozhi_tamil_poster1.pdf

February 20, 2007

Did I go and vote?

Filed under: Games People Play,Society — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 10:52 pm

Yes. I read some psychobabble that there are people who deliberately opt to do things very different from what others think they would do. Now I know it’s true. I did go out and vote in the (by, not bye) elections to the Chennai corporation. All my colleagues had said bye-bye-elections and so were very surprised to see the black ink on my finger. This is what happened.
I went to the Government High School on Beach Road Thiruvanmiyur, walked into the area for women and checked the list of voters. My name was there on the voters’ list, I had a voter ID and all this established me as a bona fide voter.
I asked for the form for not voting.
The man with the list looked at me quizzically and said, “What?” (The Tamil equivalent of “Pardon me” is a long sentence.) I repeated my request. The man said, “Please go to the PRO officer.” Was that Poll Related Offences? Another example of how men have evolved into great defenders – of themselves. The PRO was a woman.
I crossed the room to the table where the PRO stood. I repeated my request. “What is that?” she asked.
“It is a form that I fill up if I am not voting for anyone. It allows me to say, “None of the above”.
“Are you sure there is a form like that?”
“Yes. Very sure. Newspapers advised us to ask for this form if we didn’t want to vote for anyone.”
“Does the form have a number?”
“You should know. Were you given an orientation course for poll duty?”
She glared at me and began to shuffle the papers on the table. She looked around the room for help. Her colleagues did not spring to her defence. They did not even stand up. They just watched.
I said, “It’s form 13. You could look that up in the book of instructions.”
“Oh, yes. I can see the instruction here. So there is a form for it. But I don’t have it.”
“No one gave it to you?”
“No.” At this point she asked the others, “Does anyone know about this form?” Silence.
“Do you have a list of the forms?” I asked.
“Yes.” She found it and began to look through. I peeked, and pointed out, “You have put a tick mark against all the other stuff you have, but the line that says “form for not voting” has been struck off.”
“Yes! That’s true! That form was never given to us!” Sigh! No, she wasn’t going to escape.
“Do you want to check in the other rooms?”
Now the list man decided to come to the aid of the damsel in distress. He said, “I don’t think anyone has it. None in this booth.”
“But I don’t want to vote for anyone. I have to record it or someone else will vote for me. And see, your consolidation form has a column for “Number of voters saying no”.
“We’ve never filled it up. Why do you want a problem? Just vote and go, please.”
Were they saying my vote was invalid anyway? I stood there. And said grandly, “It may be a problem for you. For me, it is a right.”
The man had a brainwave. He said, “We have to get in touch with the zonal officer. (That sounded like, “We’re now calling the police”).
“Please call him. May I speak to him?”
Quickly, “No, he is not available.” Probably in the bathroom? “Come after lunch. By that time we’ll make some arrangement. And BTW, when you come back, we’ll see that you don’t stand in the queue.”
Democracy at work!

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