For the heck of it

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

My roots...

Conversion of paravas by St. Francis Xavier

I belong to the Paravar cast. I didn't know much about it, till I got to this post in WikiPedia. It's awesome that my cast has a really great history!

Parava or Paravas, also known as Bharathar, Paravar, Meenparavar and Fernandos, is one of the oldest Tamil castes.

Traditionally, the Paravas had been for centuries, Pearl-Divers - until the 19th century, when pearl-oysters in the Gulf of Mannar, between India and Sri Lanka, became scarce. Tuticorin city in Tamilnadu, India, still a stronghold of the Parava community, was the centre of the pearl trade. The Paravas later diversified into fishing, salt-making and other maritime professions.

Paravar also refers to the people living on the coast of Tamilnadu state in India and in parts of Northern and Western Sri Lanka (Ceylon). (In Tamil language and literature, the coastal areas where they lived were called 'Neythal Thinai') - The other old Tamil castes, the Maravars (Devars) and Kuravars live in the neighbourhood and in ancient times were believed to be akin to the Paravas. Now, the Paravas are also commonly referred to as 'Fernandos'. Significant numbers of well-educated paravas, many of whom have diversified into major professions and business also live in the major cities of southern Tamilnadu and in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The Paravas in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) migrated from India during the British colonial days ; many prosper in trade and business in Sri Lanka and now generally speak Sinhala, the language of Sri Lanka.

Paravas were the first whole community in India to get converted to christianity in the mid 16th century. The name 'Fernando', a predominant surname and other surnames were acquired from the Portuguese, under whose influence the Paravas came into, in the 16th century. There are as many as 100 or more of these surnames - Fernando, Fernandez, Mascarenhas, Victoria, Miranda, Devotta, De Cruz, De Souza, Gomez, Dalmeida, Vaz, Desoyza, etc., which were given by St. Francis Xavier, other missionaries and Portuguese officers during the 16th century.

In the olden days, the Portuguese called the area where the Paravas (or pearl-fishers) lived as "La Pescaria" - or land of the pearls.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

It all started with A.. - Part 1

He saw her the first time at Sr. (forgot her name)'s house. He was in the 10th standard, and they were all gathered there to practise for their parish's annual day, which incidentally was celebarted on Don Bosco's birthday. They were to perform a gujarati dance item (also called garba). She was to be his dance partner. For the D-day, he was to don a colouful gujarati dress, which he borrowed from one of his neighbour's son, who was saving it up for Navratri.

(Image Courtesy: Getty Images)

She, as pretty and cute as she was, was to wear a traditional gujarati dress meant for girls. He had no idea how she would look in those colorful dresses... but right now at Sr. (forgot her name)'s house she was looking like an angel from heaven. When he looked at her, he thought - "My God! Heaven must surely be missing an angel!!"

So there he was... love at first sight. Since his first encounter with her at Sr. (forgot her name)'s house, his eyes would automatically start scanning the prayer hall for her every Saturday evening. He used to go for the Saturday evening mass at 7:30 p.m., which used to be held at a marriage hall. This marriage hall, called Perriera Hall, was made available to the Chirstian Community in Virar by Mr. Perriera, till they got an official church in place.

So where was I?... yeah...eyes scanning, scanning, scanning... and there she was. Sitting admidst the huge congreagation gathered for their weekly mass. As soon as his eyes found her, his heart would pound twice as fast... He would get goosebumps too quite often, as and when he looked at her. Though he was physically present in the prayer hall, he would mentally be with her.

Then, after communion, he would close my eyes to say a little prayer and include her too in prayer. Well, yeah... you would just think of him as a stupid loser. Every second a sucker is born into this world and may be he was one of them. Hmm... this happened every week and he started looking forward to go for the Saturday evening mass... he became religious all of a sudden, his parents thought. He still remembers his first Christamas Party of their parish with her (with her... in the crowd of course). It was fun, with her around. He got to know at the party about the school she goes to, the apartment she lives in, etc, etc.

Since their parish was growing, one fine day the parish priest announced that the church council would soon be forming a Youth Group. This group was formed with a purpose of bringing the youth of their parish together, and then create a proper parish choir, a festival group (who would take care of arrangements for special masses such as Christmas, New Year, Good Friday, et al), and so on. He go to know from a friend that she joined the group... and it was time that he joined it too. Why, you ask? Well, first of all he was a religious guy ...remember? Ok, Ok... he was not a religious guy. The reason was, he wanted to make friendship with her. Friendship was obviously the first step towards growing much closer to her, which would soon bloom into a really nice relationship...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Failed six times already...

Well, you'd laugh your heads out, if I said I failed six times trying to obtain a driving license. But then, that's the case here in Dubai. You don't get one unless you have failed at least once, since the rules are very harsh. And yeah, if you passed in the very first instance just like my cousin Jerry, you'd be expected to give a party and considered God!

It was about 2 months ago that I enrolled with Belhasa Driving Centre in Dubai with an intention to get my license "ASAP". I started off with just 15 classes and since I had the Indian driving license, I was exempted from giving the Parking test. I was only supposed to attempt the Signal test and the Final Road test. I was happy - just 15 classes and I would be touting my driving license soon...

Unfortunately fate had something else in store for me. My instructor Abdul Azeez asked me to extend my classes by 10 more, since I wasn't looking "relaxed" enough while driving. My instructor kept saying, "Body ko thoda loose karo" and "Dimaag thoda relax karke gaadi chalaneka". For those unfamiliar with Hindi, the translations of the above quotes would be "Don't hold the steering too tightly" and "Be relaxed".

After about 20 classes, I attempted the signal test and passed it!

"Mission One - completed," I said.

Then one week later I was asked to attempt the Assesment Test - here's where your driving will be assessed by another instructor of the institute. I was given a green signal and asked to appear for the Final Road Test, which was scheduled at 8:00 in the morning, two days later.

The D-day dawned. I reached the driving institute at 7:30 in the morning and waited in anticipation for my name to be called. I was instructed to get into a ca. A traffic cop was sitting inside the car and giving me a look as if telling me "Your driving sucks!" The test started... and it ended in a flash. The cop handed me a paper with doodles everywhere. I had failed!

I said to myself - "Hey, this was just the first attempt..." I guess I was just assuring myself that in the next test I would certainly lay my hands on the license.
Some of my colleagues even suggested me to stay at a certain colleague's house for a night to get passed the nest time. "You know, he stayed at Rameshwar's house and passed the driving test the next day!!"

However, the number of classes went from the initial 15 to 30 (and still counting), and my driving test went from "just the first attempt" to the current sixth. After having spent a huge fortune on classes and test fees, I decided to take a break for sometime... so that I would change my instructor.

I now plan to start my classes again next month... and here's hoping for the umpteenth time that I would pass in the next test!

Monday, January 16, 2006

BEST will soon run Volvo buses on Mumbai roads

It’s called City Bus and though the Sweedish automobile giant will soon be delivering the first batch of 25 swanky and comfortable Volvo buses to the Bangalore Metropolitan Corporation, the company has also forwarded a proporal to aamchi Mumbai!

The BMC has finally awakened!!

What will a City Bus have?
* 256 Horsepower engine (BEST buses currently have a 115 HP engine)
* Fully air-conditioned interiors
* Low-floor, without steps to make entry and exit easy
* Automatic doors
* More standing space
* Comfortable reclining seats
* Automatic gear change
* Better fuelling
* FM system to entertain commuters

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Intel Leap(s) Ahead

Intel Corporation, the world's largest chip manufacturer has changed its logo ...and its tagline from "Intel Inside" to "Leap Ahead"!!

The company claims that the new brand identity, "represents a significant milestone in the company’s history and further signifies the company’s evolution to a market-driving platform solutions company". By this, the company wants to convey to the world that from now on, Intel is not just "a processor company". The company plans to expand the use of its technologies in areas such as mobile, digital home, enterprise and health.

Eric Kim, Intel senior vice president and general manager of the Sales and Marketing Group, says, “Intel has one of the most valuable brands in the world, and we intend to grow the value of our brand as we evolve the company. This evolution will allow Intel to be better recognized for our contributions, establish a stronger emotional connection with our audiences, and strengthen our overall position in the marketplace.

Though the new logo looks good, Intel could have definitely done better.