Thursday, January 21, 2016

Three recent Puttachi anecdotes

Nowadays, I am more active on Facebook, drawn to it by the instant feedback and conversation that Facebook affords. However, so many things just seem to disappear in the great fog of Facebook. And so I'm putting them all here, so that I'll have a record.

Anyway, here are three recent Puttachi anecdotes:

A couple of days ago, I asked Puttachi to wipe the dining table clean. Two minutes later, sensing no activity, I peeked in to see what she was doing. She was standing next to the dining table, clutching her head.
Me: Puttachi! What happened? You ok?
She: *no answer*
Me: *alarmed* Puttachi!...
She: Amma, I can't bear it.
Me: Bear what? Are you hurting somewhere?
She: Questions! Questions! My head is full of questions that have no answer!
Me: What kind of questions? Tell me, tell me!
She: Even you don't know the answers to those, Amma.
Me: Then we can discuss and try to find out, tell me Puttachi.
She: Who are we? Why are we here on this earth? What is life all about? Amma, I feel like crying when my mind is full of questions like this! What shall I do?
The question is - What shall *I* do? :O


Puttachi: Amma, I'm just going down with Papa to check the mailbox
Me: There's a hole in your pyjamas, see? Near the knees? Change and go.
She: Amma it is alright
Me: No it is not.
She: It is really ok, Amma. I've seen people wearing jeans, torn at both knees. Not just small holes like this one, Amma, huge holes, with the threads hanging out. It really is ok.
I let her go.


Puttachi: *peering into jar* Oh no! Nutella is getting over!
My cousin who was visiting: First World problems!
Puttachi: What is a First World problem?

I launch into a detailed explanation of First and Third Worlds. I go on for five-ten minutes, talking about poverty, hunger, and how privileged we are, and how there are millions all over the world who don't know when they will eat their next meal.
Me: .... And we are worrying about Nutella. The luxury of luxuries! This is a First World Problem - that is, it is not even a problem. We won't fall down dead if we don't eat Nutella. We can live the rest of our lives even if we never eat Nutella again. If you want to look at it another way, we are so fortunate that if we indeed want Nutella so desperately, we can go to the store TOMORROW and we can buy it! *I pause and assume an impassioned voice and a theatrical stance* We can go to the store TODAY and buy it if we want!!
Puttachi: So, shall we?

BS Madhava Rao Circle, Basavanagudi

A few years ago, my Tata visited me in my home in Basavanagudi, and told me that 70 years ago, he had lived just a couple of streets away from where I did. Later that day, as we drove out of our apartment complex, we reached BS Madhava Rao circle. My Tata read the board, and was immensely pleased.

"Very good," he said. "Excellent. I didn't know that they had named this circle after BS Madhava Rao. Great man."

Today, while translating my Tata's memoirs, Nenapina Alegalu (which I'm doing along with my aunt), I arrived at a passage where my Tata remembers the kindness and generosity that the mathematician Dr BS Madhava Rao displayed to him, by renting out a house to him at a reduced rent, when my Tata was in a difficult situation. It was the same house that my Tata had spoken about to me that morning all those years ago.

Now that I know all the circumstances behind that renting incident, I understand why BS Madhava Rao Circle made him so happy.

More about Nenapina Alegalu: Redemption

I Wonder - Science Magazine from Azim Premji University

My article "The Success of Costa Rica", where I speak about how the country of Costa Rica manged to run on 100% renewable power for 75 days, appears in the inaugural issue of "I Wonder", a magazine brought out by Azim Premji University.

It is aimed at middle school science teachers, but anybody with an interest in  science will enjoy this for sure. There are some great articles in the magazine. And it is free to download - here.
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