Sunday, July 30, 2023

Kispay ! Kispe bharosa karoon ?


Kispay !  Kispe bharosa karoon ?

Many years ago,  I was one of the first few people who signed up for Paytm. 

This was much before the demonetisation days.  UPI PAYMENTS were not so popular in the pre -demonetisation era. I was sold out on the idea and truly thought it was cool and exclusive thing to be signing up for the digital way of payments through the phone without having to handle cash.   
With demonetisation, Paytm had the first mover advantage and a windfall considering its business model scaled up due to that what management consultants would term as the ' black swan event'  called demonetisation. Until then currency notes and funkily shaped coins would go out of print and mint and fade away from public memory every now and then. It  was all seamless and painless and nobody really gave it a thought leave alone give it a name. 

This was before ‘demonetisation’ became an adjective, verb and assumed historical significance. It has since then become  the much abused 14 letter  (un)parliamentary word’ in India and possibly elsewhere. For a long time coin and currency collectors made a fortune out of their hobby as Indian currency notes and coins went out of circulation and became a colletor's delight. 

Never before had anyone appeared to make an announcement at dinner time on national television channels about a certain currency note going out of circulation and shake up an entire nation  and send everyone scurrying to squabble with their bank tellers. 

Be that as it may, no one predicted that  digital India would go almost cashless in a few years to come. 
Thanks to COVID that followed a few years after demonetisation, every digitally savvy Indian cringed at the very thought of handling cash.  
You never knew when and who picked or wiped their nose ( or any other body part) before opening their wallet and hand out the cash to an unsuspecting shop keeper who then handed it to another and then to another and then you ended up being the unfortunate victim from the nasal remains that sheltered that deadly virus in that long chain of cash transfer.  
There was no scientific evidence that Coronavirus could survive and  spread through the remnants of currency notes handed over by those who swiped their fingers after wiping their noses or other body parts.  

But no one took any chances.  

It was what historians of the twenty second century would describe as the era of heightened hygiene in the attitude of the otherwise easy going digital Indian who was known to go easy when it came to public hygiene and cleanliness. 
Digital Analysts who tracked data from various sources from that era would tell you that in those years  even the most hopeless alcoholic consumed less alcohol in an entire year compared to the hygiene conscious tetotaller digital Indian whose consumption of alcohol soared every time she soaked her hands (and other body parts) with sanitizers that promised to kill the deadly virus in no time. 

The Coronavirus was god sent for the young and ambitious startup that launched Paytm. Their timing was impeccable.  The next morning after that dinner time announcement on national television they put out a front page ad in leading newspapers about this new digital payment app called Paytm. 

Trust me when I say they could have had no  insider information on this. The god of good fortune was on their side a day after that eventful night.  

In the months that followed, no one blamed them for disrupting the credit card and debit card market.  They came in believing that the cashless payment wallets could peacefully coexist with the VISA and Mastercards of the world. There were no lobbyists lobby hard against UPI unlike in the other ‘developed’ economies. Closer home there were not too many competitors in that space either.  

‘ Proudly handcrafted in India’ read its tagline and it appealed to all the ‘make in India ‘ fans like me.  

A little trivia revealed that they had their main server which stored all our data was located in some unholy place in China, believed to be the birth country of the Corona Virus. It still did not deter the ‘make in India’ fans and we conveniently looked over the server location, since we were being served very well with enticing discounts and cash backs.     

Unlike many others, I have had a long standing and monogamous relationship with my  UPI id.  

Off late I am grieving  because the app with which I have used my UPI id has betrayed me.   
I suspect my paytm app is being subject to some technical glitch or malicious bug. 
A few weeks ago I was automatically logged out and now I am being asked to login again if  I want to transact through paytm. 
You would say that is a fair thing to ask from a data security point of view. 
However now I am asked to cumpulsorily tick ( the tick appears by default) that feature which says, I allow access to my WhatsApp to Paytm and for it to access my credit beaureau report. 

If I untick that feature, I am logged out automatically. Technically it is not even a choice.  

I feel cheated and betrayed.  

Who does that ?
WhatsApp is your competitor damn it !!!  
Why would you want to sell my data to them ? 

You too Brutus !!! 
You too ... sucking up to Suckerbug  !!!  

I have been your faithful customer and I am not that naive when you say my data is 'secure' with you.  

You ask me why I am feeling cheated and betrayed ?  
It feels like my long standing partner is selling me out like a whore to that ugly world where data privacy is increasingly becoming a big joke.  

I do not feel safe and secure with you anymore. 
Don’t cajole me with your deep discounts and cash back offers.  
I know, I hopelessly fell in love with you for all those sweet somethings that you sent me and the and silly cash backs that you dangled before me during our courtship days. Truth be told, they amounted to nothing.

Now,  I know better.  
You followed me. 
You tracked me, everywhere I went, everyone I met and possibly everything I spoke.  
You tracked me and you tricked me.  

The last time I was standing in the long queue outside the passport office and bought myself a sandwich and a drink, I got this message asking me to call up this agency that guaranteed a visa, a job offer and later a citizenship in Canada or to a much warmer and prettier Australia, if I so wish.  
For a moment it really rekindled my 'on-off' relationship with God. 
I thought God was really answering my prayers and made a mental note to call up that immigration agency once my passport was renewed.  

As I nibbled on that soggy sandwich, I shoulder surfed and read the message on the mobile phone of the guy who was sitting besides me  at the passport office. He had scanned the UPI code from his mobile and had bought himself a stale, smelly and  oily samosa a few minutes earlier from that kiosk. He got exactly the same message. 

A thousand such messages later, I think I am now wiser.  
Don’t you dare, whore me out to every desperate seller out there on the digital street.  
I have spent an entire week without using my UPI id.   
I have enough immunity to fight the virus and bacteria, amoeba and Protozoa that may lurk beneath those soiled currency notes. 
Atleast they would never track me to figure out which beauty parlour I go to and what exactly I get done out there.  

I have had enough.  
I have deleted my  app. 
It was a long standing relationship and there were good moments as long as it lasted. 

I wanted to move on ... 
I wanted to digitally untangle myself. 
I unsintalled the app.   

A  week later ... 

I did not expect to grieve like a much married widow.  

But then here I am. 

I have run out of  petty cash. 
I owe money to the shopkeeper, to the milkman, to the  ladies who organised the kitty party, the vegetable seller and even my domestic help.  This lady who sold me a nicely spiced up Corn cob would not believe that I had cash, I had a smartphone but no paytm.  
I gave her twenty and promised to come back with a fiver as soon as I get one.    

They all look down upon me if I ask them if they will accept cash.  

I know what they are thinking. 

I swear I never pick my nose ( or wipe any other body parts) before handling currency notes.  

But no.  They would rather let me remain in their debt than take cash  !!!  

Digital India is no country for anyone who wants to attain Digital moksha.   

And so here ends my monogamous relationship with my longstanding UPI id . 

Razor pay
whatsapp pe

Kispay !  Kispe bharosa karoon ?

P:S : Paytm - no bad feelings. 
And all you other Suckerbugs,  do not send crawlers to my blogpost, my email , my mobile number and to all my contacts from the digital world.  

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Ootta from Namma Thotta -2

 Ootta from Namma Thotta ( food from our garden) 

It has been a slow and steady progress , what with these incessant  and unseasonal rains attracting the pests, rotting out the seedlings and making sowing and harvesting so unpredictable. 

A big shout out to all those small farmers whose livelihood oscillates and depends upon mother nature's mood swings. Mother nature seems to be showing menopausal symptoms....

But ye shall not complain about the incessant rains... we need to soak in as much water as we can, because the summer is going to be scorching without all those trees that were sacrificed for the namma metro. And to keep us urban monsters fed and hydrated is getting to be a tedious tasks year on year. 


The harvest has been slow and steady. 

The conventional vegetable plot has been yielding some harvest although it has now massively slowed down. 

The circle gardens are a new experiment on the adjacent plot.  This is my home work after attending Krishna Mackenzie's Permaculture workshop at Auroville in April . 

Permaculture - shortened term to denote permanent agirculture aims to keep the human effort and intervention minimal and let nature take its course. 

Out there we do not till the land and do not plant 'Hybrid' variety of seeds that do not regenrate. 

Anything that is planted would either thrive, survive or die. If this does survive, and manges to thrive then the next generation of the seeds would automatically propogate and effortlessly yield in the next season. 

That is how agriculture was supposed to be. 

But our need for high and predictable  yields, good and consistent looking fruits and vegetables and pest resistant varieities, we let 'Hybrid' varieties rule our lives.  

Hybrid varieites are great. Althought when you consume them you would rarely know that the seeds in them are all infertile. That is why even if you throw a tomato or a pumpkin out into the soil they do not germinate. 

That is when you can tell between the 'Native' variety and the 'Hybrid' varieties. 

99% of the food we eat are all 'Hybird' varieties.  

Thr world is fast losing the diversity the varieties of fruits and vegetables that we get to consume. 

Here is  small effort towards seed sovereignity and to give space for the native variety of food crops. 

For now my fingers are crossed. Let us watch the permanculture vs conventional plots as they metamorphise through the seasons. 

Here are the six circle gardens as part of the permaculture. 


Saturday, November 05, 2022

Being gender neutral

 Being gender neutral ... 

I always associated the term  Batter to 'idli' and 'dosa'.

The other day I was watching an interview where Sachin would constantly repeat the term 'Batter'. 

I put it down to bad english although this was not the Sachin from the 1990's but a very mature, well heeled, sightly middle aged but the usual baby faced Sachin talking about how he and Rahul Dravid foxed bowler Chris Cairns with some of their shrewd and rather funny antics while Rahul was at the crease and Sachin at the other end at a match in Mohali.   

Interesting piece of story telling that one.  And a must watch. 

That is when I learnt Batter is the new gender netural term since the gentlemen's game has now caught on with the ladies as well. Although with the ladies' version the fanfare and bankrolling is nowhere near to what the gentlemen's version of IPL commands. 

Talking of gender neutral terminology, here is one one such place - the play arena 9 badminton place in whitefield  that clearly struggled between  

'to be gender neutral' or 'not to be gender neutral'.

But they managed to get to the point.  

      You cannot be always be gender neutral ... 

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Ootta from Namma Thotta - new beginnings

Ootta from Namma Thotta ( food from our garden)

July 2022 

It was a lovely morning and the Road to Khajisonenahalli was lit up with the bright morning sun as I drove back from the farm .

On that early morning drive from Bangalore to Chennai, I looked forward to rejunevante the vegetable patch that eluded me through the 2-3  COVID filled years in Chennai. 

Harish was kind enough to take care of the plot while I would still be serving my notice period and then return to Bangalore.  

Everything seemed perfect for the new beginnings. 

On the  way back on the NH47 Alexa aided the driving mood and blared Subramania Bharati's  'Kaani Nilam vendum' perhaps more than 100 times by several different musicians until the city traffic hit us out a put a stop to the mood.  
That was indeed a memorable drive filled with the promises of the new beginning. 

Here is the blogpost by Raja Thatha from where I have picked up the lyrics and its English translation.

Kani nilam Vendum, Parashakthi

Kani nilam Vendum, Parashakthi

Mahakavi subramanya Bharathiyar

Translated by

Ragam Ragamalika
Thalam Aadhi/Thisra

1.Kani nilam vendum –Parashakthi, Kani nilam vendum-angu,
Thoonil azhagiyathai –nan madangal thuyya nirathinathai –antha,
Kani nilathidaye –Or maligai katti thara vendum-angu,
Keniyarigile thennai maram keethu milaneerum,

2.Pathu pannirandu thennamaram pakkathile venum –nalla,
Muthu chuddar pole –nilavoli munbu vara venum –angu,
Kathum kuyil osai –chathe vandhu kaadhir pada vendum-enthan,
Chitham magizhnthidave – nanarya ila thendral vara venum

3.Pattu kalanthidave –ange oru pathini pen venum-yengal,
Kootu kaliyinile -kavithaigal kondu thara venum-Andha,
Kattu veliyinile –Amma, ninthan kavalura venum –enthan,
Pattu thirathale –ivvayathai palithida venum.

English translation

1.I need a small piece of land , Oh divine mother ,A small piece of land, and there,
In the midst of that small piece of land you should build me a house with,
Four pretty pillars and several floors and there near the small pond,
Cocunut tree leafs should shine in small plants.

2.Near ten or twelve coconut trees , moon light should come
Like a shining pearl and there the soft song of the nightingales,
Should come and fall in my ears to make mind happy,
Good light breeze should blow to make me further happy.

3.To mix music there , there should be a virtuous wife there,
and in our play together , you should bring and give poems,
And in that forest expanse, Oh mother you should provide guard,
And by the great knowledge of music , you should look after this world.

 For all his progressive outlook about 'Pudumai Penn' which  one must say Bharathi  was way ahead of his time,  the 21st century feminists would not quite agree with his request for 'paththini penn vendum'.  

Never mind, I guess we are all shaped by the social norms of our times and thatpoor  man lived and died, povery stricken and unappreciated in a different century. We have to give it to him, he was far ahead of his times and was navigating a far denser patriarchal set-up a 100 years ago. 

While singing along,  I compromised by substituting gender neutral lyrics instead of 'Paththini penn vendum' and sang along loudly and happily while cruising the NH47.  

Once cannot help but be little intrigued and humbled by that last line of the song, that says 'Amma nindru kavalura vendum'. 

Reflecting back I guess we all need thanks the guards that helped us survive the past and need to be guarded and blessed in the future to be 'looked after in this world' . 

Here's to new beginnings with the blessings and hope of being looked after by the forces of nature ... seen, unseen,  foreseen and unforeseen.    


Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Daily mobile musings : The Post box

 That quaint red box at the end of the street with a flap that said next clearance by 5:30 pm or whatever.

How faithfully they were delivered ...carrying messages of love and longing...of loss and hope... of news good and bad...

The cream coloured postcards and the blue coloured inland letters that filled up even at the flaps...

And for those wishing to write longer epistles there was the envelope again cream in colour with a brownish Ashok chakra embossed there.  

And they came affixed with the postal  stamps...

And because there were stamps there were stamp collectors...

Pictured at the back yard of a dilapidated post office this morning...

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Spotting the silver lining behind the clouds

The world is looking forward to the light at the end of this long tunnel called 2020...       

Here I was., Spotting the silver lining behind the clouds...

It promises to be a day with rain and thunderstorm.

Atleast , says the weatherman.   

Being watchful of the weather forecast is because

 the terrace farmer is making some new beginnings   

This was almost 10 days ago...

Seed of snake gourd
 bitter gourd  
bottle gourd and ridge gourd. Soaked and sown with a lot of love and care


Join me on this journey to see them grow.  


Sunday, July 19, 2020


It is a Sunday and everyone in Tirunelveli knows that ‘Iruttu kadai’ Halwa is closed on Sundays.  If you are a visitor to the town, you will have to wait if you want to taste their original fare.

But other shops claiming to sell the original ‘Iruttu Kadai’ halwa are sprung across all over the town and even online.   And their claims are not entirely spurious.  When the original ‘Iruttu kadai’ Halwa is open for business, they stock up knowing very well that the customers that visit the Nellai town on Sundays would not be disappointed.

There is also the claim that the ‘Master’ (i.e. Chef) that ‘Iruttu Kadai’ halwa employs also runs this as a side hustle and that is the reason you get the original Iruttu kadai halwa even if you do not buy it from Iruttu kadai.

The name ‘Iruttu kadai’ in itself isn’t very appealing as any brand marketing professional will tell you.  Literally translated, in English it means the dark shop.

And that is what it was, up until the late 1950’s, a small dark room, almost like a hole in the wall opposite to that imposing and ancient Nellaiappar temple.

That is until electricity came and they installed a couple of small bulb lights, to dispel the darkness.

Bijli Singh, a Rajasthani sweet maker established this Halwa shop in the 1940s

The word got around and the unique taste of the Halwa from the dimly lit shop opposite the temple was unmatched with any other. The recipe was no secret.
In fact, even today you can google it at try and attempt to make it yourself.  

Some attribute its unique taste to the water from Thamarabarani river that flows across Tirunelveli. Others claim that it is their method.  The hand pound and extracted wheat grain milk.   

Apparently the halwa is made from the milk taken out of well soaked wheat grains, and you can feel the change of taste even if the soaking and extracting of the wheat milk is done hastily.

There are others who attribute this unmatched and unique taste to the stirring of the halwa as it is getting prepared in the huge pans.   While other halwa shops, owing to bulk production have, over the years given up the manual stirring and have used machinery to stir huge quantities of halwa stock, Iruttu kadai continues to do it the old-fashioned manual way.That explains why they are able to produce only a limited stock each day and why they get sold out much before the sun sets.

It is perhaps the dedication and devotion to quality and their stubborn refusal to fall for profits that they could make if they expanded their operations, shows up in the unique and unmatched taste of their halwa.

There is usually a queue almost an hour before the shop opens in the evening at 5.00 pm.  A super-efficient set of men dole out half kgs packs of Iruttu kadai halwa pre-packed in trace paper and banana leaf while a male member possibly from the third or fourth generation of the family handles the cash.  You could buy multiples of a five-hundred-gram packet or buy a small quantity rolled out to you in a small banana leaf for ten rupees to indulge right then and there. Most customers, do both. Buy a few packets to take home for near and dear ones and also a couple of small ones for them the yield to the temptation right over there.

Local families visiting the Nellaiappar temple usually make it a point to stop by and relish a small quantity of a ten rupee per banana leaf halwa before heading out.   

Surrounding the original Iruttu kadai halwa shop are many shops claiming to sell original Tirunelveli halwa.   Yet the original shop is unfazed by competition.

There is always a queue and you count yourself lucky if you manage to buy some of the stuff while the stocks last.  They close the shop once the stock is over. 

They are like that.  Old fashioned and utterly unperturbed about competition, market share and lost opportunity to heap profits considering the huge popularity of their local product.    

When you put that sweet and slightly warm ‘Iruttu kadai’ halwa it meets your taste buds and slowly melts in your mouth. As you relish the taste, the feeling of pure ecstasy then travels along right down and up until it stirs your soul.  

That is when you instinctively understand and pray that they remain stubbornly old fashioned like that. 

Post script :

Sometimes you regret ... deeply regret to have missed out things in life...

Publishing that post on Iruttu Kadai Halwa was one of them.  Written alomost an year earlier ... it went into heap of draft posts in this blog ... blame it on the blogger's block.

And then the lockdown happened.
And this hit headlines of our local newspaper

The 70 year old  owner of  Iruttu kadai halwa, Hari singh, son of the original founder Bijili Singh and grandson of Krishna Singh kills himself in Tirunelveli because he tests Covid  positive.

OMG ... I  scroll down google photos and show it to my family ... I have been there ... I know ...
I fumble, gathering my thoughts and recollecting the image of Hari Sigh doing brisk business  that evening, that i did not have the heart to talk to him in that busy hour when his cash collection was ringing and halwa packets were disappearing.
The taste of that warm ball of halwa wrapped in banana leaf  for ten rupees and selling like hot halwas at the stroke of 5.00 p.m. It lingers in my mind but chokes my throat ... 

OMG ... I can feel the loss ...of a good soul ... of  undying trust ... of  uncompromising quality ... that brand that was built not just with ingredients but with those human qualities  that  so many other businesses have compromised in their quest to grow big and reap profits. Hopefully the legacy will carry on and will never be compromised. That is what 'Iruttu kadai Halwa' stands for.

RIP Hari Singh.

Thank you for getting me to publish this  long forgotten post ... written much before the tragedy and the lock down blues.


Kispay ! Kispe bharosa karoon ?

  Kispay !  Kispe bharosa karoon ? Many years ago,  I was one of the first few people who signed up for Paytm.  This was much before the dem...