Sunday, 1 April 2012

“Nostolgic Namaste Hanoi”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 25, 2012 NEW
Nostalgic Namaste Hanoi

As an Ex-pat Indian working abroad for more than 15 years, the first thing I ever sacrificed and compromised was the food. Gone are the days of steaming Idlies, crispy Dosas and hot coffee with milk! When I moved from middle-east a couple of years ago to Vietnam, I was told 'watch out veggie, you are entering into a strictly non-veg. zone'.

They were not totally wrong until I re-discovered my taste buds after a long dormant period, back in Namaste Hanoi. The first thing that strikes positively in Namaste is the ambiance. The dining halls with different Indian themes of places, dance etc give a momentary feeling as if I am back home in India. Neatly arranged clean tables with bold and bright lighting welcome us in Namaste.

Name it, a north Indian delicacy or a south Indian special, you are granted with a spectrum of menu. Most of us have the habit of ordering 'repeat items' or simply fall a prey to 'other table syndrome' to instantaneously copy the fellow dinners.

Mr. Gopi the owner and a pioneer for Indian restaurants in Hanoi, is there to guide us through a wonderful experience of 'random choice'. Surprisingly, he has a mental database that could compete with a super computer in storing your 'past eating records'. He chooses your menu like 'Google feel lucky'. Also you are protected from 'over ordering' your food, given the number of people joining you that day.

The food you eat is fresh and Masala or the spice does not feel refrigerated or long-stored any more. Sambar with onion tastes quite authentic south Indian. I tried a variety of items over my frequent visits to Namaste and added them to my favorites list.

This ‘Fine piece of Food industry' has still got a big room for improvement at any given time. Any big or small happening on every visit can change the situation momentarily and elevate or spoil the mood. If at all I have to suggest some improvements in Namaste, there could be a few in a positive sense.

Firstly Mr. Gopi can't be there practically at every table doing his miraculous service. Hope his staff pick his 'street smartness skills' and emulate him and relieve him to concentrate on further developments of Namaste. Of course any new restaurant will have the same issue for the staff to grow along with time and mature.

Other visible thing is the quantity of side dishes for food items, the variety of chutneys look merely smeared in mini-cups. While any requests for re-fills is never discouraged or demanded for extra cost, some shy customers may not venture to ask in the first place. Another thing is the beverages like juice/ rose milk etc. The satisfaction from sumptuous salivating food does lead to higher expectation for equally matching drinks and hope this will be taken care in future.

All said and done, Namaste Hanoi makes me feel nostalgic of my childhood days of tasty Indian food. Thanks to Namaste for keeping my Indian side alive with week-end doses of palatable Indian delicacies!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Dammam Times


Its more than an year I left Dammam, Saudi after 15 long years of harmonious and happy working together in Zamil Steel. I am posting some snaps of 'parting party' in remembrance of those glorious days. cheers!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010



By Dammam Bala

Friends, this is rainy season in Tamil Nadu. It all started with tropical

depression JAL and followed by heavy rain and subsequent floods in the south.

Its our usual complaint that Cauvery is dry due to Karnataka's denial, Mettur

dam could not be opened for irrigation and all. For a change, it was different

news in TV this time. They said people are happy to see the Sun after a week,

especially the road side merchants.

When it comes to clouds, they are often attributed as a metaphor for confusion

or unclear situation. They call as war clouds, a cloud of worries etc. For an

optimist, the cloud is a natural umbrella against scorching sun. It is god

driven `metro water lorry without wheels. His motto is `Be positive' in his

outlook towards all happenings or at least to look into the positive side of

every incidence.

This can be put in short as B+. As usual, I pondered over this B+ and got some

strange connection over words, they entirely change meaning with B+. This is

totally an uncontrolled thought sequence and I thought of penning it down for

your glance.

B1. Most of us keep complaining that whatever we have is less. Say less money,

less resources, less support or mostly in common very less time at our disposal

(as if Hon. Man Mohan Singh or Obama have 48 hours a day as a special grant!) Is

there any way to make this less as more? There is!

Less + B = B + Less = Bless (ing in disguise) !!

B2. Day and night, dawn and dusk, dark and bright, dry and wet, high and low

time we all have. Are you feeling low? Don't worry, you have Vitamin B for your


Low + B = B + low = Blow (it over)!!

B3. Remember paper roast? The dosa that is wafer thin and those varieties of

salivating chutneys! Not only to read, but also to eat with the magical additive


Read + B = B + Read = Bread(mummy, mummy modern bread!!)

B4. Is life taking you for a ride on those sinusoidal roller coasters?? Here is

the remedy in B..

Ride + B = B + Ride = Bride (yourself or for you, gender dependent)!!

B5. Well known ring.. the wedding ring.. is it giving suffering to you? No

problem, beat it with B…

Ring + B = B + Ring = Bring (happiness from inside out)!!

B6. Life is a puzzle. Let's solve it meticulously. Look for the missing links

and put the Bead B in its place..

Link + B = B + Link = Blink (ing is a sign of life, right?!)

B7. Life is utter waste.. says a pessimist. Open your mouth and utter any word

and I will kill you using it as a weapon against you, says your boss. Is there

any way to make this utter, a bit better? B complex can help…

Utter + B = B + Utter = Butter (your boss at home at least :-)

B8. Feel you lack something, add B…

Lack+B = B+ Lack = Black (is beautiful, white is waste)

B9. Can't figure out what IT is? Soak it in B..

It + B = B + It = Bit (by bit things will become clear!)

B10. Ever feel ill? It is to B or not to B situation?

Ill + B = B + ill = Bill (doctor's bill as well as US $ bill.. equally


Some more…

B11. And + B = B + And = Band( listen or face the music)

B12. At + B = B + At = Bat (man or Batsman, the choice is yours

B13. Estimate + B = B + Estimate = Bestimate (a new English word coined by me



B14. Alas, we never say in any situation, since the equation goes as

Alas + B = B + Alas = Bala's

My spate of discoveries and inventions on B+ end here (temporarily at least!)

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Chitapa                                                            For listening the audio, please click here

By Dammam Bala

While English has generalized the term ‘uncle’ for father’s as well as mother’s brother, in tamil it is unique. Uncle or mama refers in tamil to your mother’s brother. Chitapa is the other term.

Your father’s brother is your chitapa by default. However, as your mother’s sister is Chiti, her husband also falls into ‘Chitapa bracket’. Many a times the latter could be more affectionate to you, by the very basic rule, he needs to like what his wife likes!

This episode is about my ‘Narayanan Chitapa’ He married Ramani Chiti, my mother’s younger sister in 1975. Their marriage took place in 1975, when I was in grade 5. It took place in Bangoor chattiram, at the vicinity of famous Mamangulam (remember, the Maha maham or Mamangam that comes every 12 years?)

The marriage is memorable to me, because of our Bhopal thatha and family coming down all the way from North to do the ‘Kannika dhanam’ Having 5 beautiful daughters, it was my thatha’s pastime to combine annual vacations with marriage plan in tamil nadu.

The fact that my Ramesh mama, left me in the chatiram and went to Hindi movie ‘budda milgaya’ makes me remember the episode until today I guess. We also had Ganesh mama, who was two/three years old and keep running behind my Ramani chiti, shouting ‘Ammi, Ammi’

At that time of Ramani chiti’s marriage, we had most of our marital relationships in sondham. Mostly its like a unbroken magi noodles to name the relationships as we call in tamil as ‘Idiyaapa Sikkal’. Narayanan chitapa was also distantly related to my father and even before marriage, he was my ‘Ondru vitta chitapa’ and got promoted to my ‘Direct chitapa’ after marrying Ramani Chiti.

He had great respect and love for my father, calling him Anna and he visited us in Tanjore few months after his marriage. He was working in Pvt Firm in Coimbatore by then. Though chitapa had to truncate his education due his father’s early demise, he had a good job and looked pretty fashionable. In fact when he visited us, he had brought with him a fancy memento.

It was a hemispherical hollow glass piece, filled with water and some shiny particles submerging a Taj Mahal minature model’ and it was a night lamp. When my brother Radha said it looks beautiful, instantaneously chitapa presented it to him. (After many years only, he told he bought it for personal use and since kid liked it, he gave it away!)

Our relationship with our chitapa grew stronger as we keep visiting each other in Coimbatore and Tanjore. We travelled together to Kanchipuram, Chennai and Rameshwaram too. Narayanan chitapa had special interests towards English movies; but he genuinely admitted that ‘too many conversations sometimes make a movie, incomprehensible’ During my annual leave visits to Coimbatore , he took me to the famous Enter the Dragon and Invincible Six.

He was a pioneer in usage of electronics in our family; the first one to have a ‘Jumbo size- Panasonic Tape recorder’ (just a mono, but state of art technology of 70’s). He had a hand held mini projector, viewer to watch spider man cartoon movie. He decorated his house with beautiful things and he did influence me in many ways to become a gizmo later.

After schooling, I joined PSG and started my first year as a day scholar from Ramani chiti’s house. Even after moving to college hostel and subsequently to GD Naidu’s I kept visiting them during week ends. Chitapa paid great attention to my studies and kept paying my college fees even before funds arrive from my father’s side. One time he even paid my senior Cheenu’s college fees to support some unexpected delay.

What I like with my chitapa is his positive attitude and self confidence. At times he faced career reversals, but took them as challenges to make a come back every time. He kept learning by self and mastered ‘Tally and other accounting practices’. He could be found very strict and blunt with people in transactions and even in normal conversations. But to me, he was exceptionally kind and it was my week end responsibility to do massaging to him.

He stood all the way with me at my difficult times too. My dad was severely ill during my college final and went into critical condition during my masters. Chitapa supported as physically, mentally and financially all along those dark days. If it was not the case, I could have easily become as one of the drop-outs!

Chitapa galvanized my mindset and taught me to face the world. Once we took a house for rent and changed soon to another one nearby. The house owner kept dogging us without returning our advance money. Chitapa, guided me to put a second lock to the house, the owner came running to us to settle the amount, the very next day.

In the past 25 years, Chitapa has supported me in my decision making including my marriage with Radhika. And all these years I stay outside India , we keep visiting them during annual vacations. Chitapa has extended his love to my son Aakash and he keeps chatting with him, Thata, thata which makes me happy too.

He keeps telling that me the employers abroad are very clever. ‘The pay you a good salary, but they make you spend a lot of money in their own country by making you live there maintaining a good standard of living’. We keep visiting our Family Goddess temple in Karur, travelling together backed by Chitapa’s meticulous planning and excution right from Lodge, Puja items, ticket booking to every single detail.

Narayanan chitapa is 63 years old now and yesterday happens to be his birthday. In my busy firefighting in office, I missed to greet him yesterday. I no longer attempt to do massage to him at this age. But just a random thought on him, makes me think.. ‘Responsibilities are NOT to be given, they are to be taken!’


Bala G(ot to thank Ashok for inspiring me to write on my Chitapa :-)

Saturday, 17 April 2010


Dammam Bala

The departure

“You have 24 earth hours to leave this place” said Master is his soft silky voice.
“24.. WHAT? EARTH hours..? What is that new thing in the heaven?” I was getting little nervous while I asked that question to Master.

“THAT is your NEW destination. You will have a new name, new family and new assignment too. Don’t worry about it; I will be with you all the time. The only difference is you can’t see me or talk to me like this for some time”

Master… I am not feeling comfortable to leave this place. I have no idea of my new home. Can I carry some of my favorable items with me? I guess they will come to my rescue?!

“No. You can’t even carry your thoughts and memories* with you! Our teleportation requirements are very stringent and you need to off-load as much you can and stay the lightest. Memories will make you feel heavier and severely interfere your performance in the new place. It is better for you not to carry them along”

That was the last thing that I could clearly recollect. In no time, I was moving across the worlds if not universes, at a lightening speed that much exceeded the ‘speed of thoughts’, I crossed a main gate, before I could see what was written there, I lost my conscious fully!

The Arrival

“Mr. Gurusamy… CONGRATS! You wife has delivered a healthy baby boy! You can go and see them both. They are perfectly fine. BTW, there was only a small problem; the boy doesn’t even know how to suckle! I guess he is too innocent and delicate. He will need your nurturing and protection a lot.” – Location Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh India, PLANET EARTH!

From the conversation between the doctor and nurses I came to know that I was the first child for my parents, Mr. Gurusamy and Mrs. Sarojini. I tried to join their talk, but something in me prevented me from doing so. I was not aware, that I was too young to talk then!

The word

World was full of words, to start with. I was sleeping most of the time. In between I cried a lot and made crazy sounds to get my mom’s attention and subsequently the milk. My vocabulary kept increasing day by day with Inga, Amma, Appa and by this time I was even responding to calls “Mani” like a trained pet dog, later to realize that my actual name was Balasubramanian, when I was admitted in school.

One day, my dad took me and my mom to a strange place. From outside view it was like a big hall with sloped roof. People were standing in a queue and we joined them. We went through narrow and winding corridors and collected few slips with a counter foil against exchange of a few rupees. We then proceeded to the hall through a gate, where the person tore the slips, returned the counter foils to us and let us into the big hall.

When we settled into our seats, I could notice the doors being closed and lights getting switched off. A strange feeling and fear started gripping me and I was just about to cry aloud. My dad then gently touched my shoulder and whispered into my ears. “Mani, we are in a cinema theatre; just don’t panic”. The screen in front of was big, wide and white too like my dad’s dhoti. Soon, colorful images started filling the silver screen.

More than the screen, I was fascinated by the doors. Though they were closed, they were easy to recognize and they had some thing written on them and back lit in red color. My school had taught me how to read alphabets. I read them one by one.. E…X…I…T… yes… EXIT!

Though it was the first time I came across the word, it sounded very familiar to me as if I have heard of it even before my birth. Also I wasn’t aware that word would keep appearing now and then in different colors and different denominations.

Re entry of Exit

While I kept entering and exiting different stages of life through schools and college, the word exit was not explicit except the election times and so called exit polls. It was in my thirties, it re-entered my life and it was exactly when I entered Saudi Arabia as an ex-pat worker.

We Indians are familiar with government as well as private sector jobs. However even in private, the hire and fire is not common considering the fact that we are professionally qualified. The so called ‘job security’ is taken for granted in our place. But this mindset takes a big blow when we happen to work in Gulf. The job becomes contract based and subject to renewal every year.

At the end of yearly or bi-annual contract, if company stamps ‘exit and re-entry’ in the passport, you can be a guest in home country and return to make more riyals. It is all short time gain, redefining life styles and re-writing proverbs as ‘make money, while moon shines’

Initial jump in financial status, brings in more expectations and more commitments. Vacations become vicious spending trips to return to Gulf empty handed, to re-charge the wallets for future drain. With this situation, there is always a constant threat on ex-pat employee in the form of our famous word… EXIT. If the company is not satisfied with him, he can be sent on exit; never to return and never to dig the mine of fortune. I still remember very vividly how my colleague who joined my company along with me was sent on exit, within six months period, jeopardizing his life plans for ever!

Having come to Saudi with a short term plan of a year or two, people keep extending it indefinitely by bringing family in, putting kids in school and continue to live in the ‘Trisangu sorgam’ I was no exception to this. Five years passed, Ten years and finally Fifteen years went like this. There came the change in the form of Vietnam offer.

The office, home, friends, toastmasters, familiar roads, shops, hospitals and super-markets all were to be forgotten once for all; never to visit again. Fifteen days were enough to demagnetize the bond that took fifteen years to build. Mind knows very well that middle-east is not home land and one day, return to India is imminent. But the heart finds it difficult to believe that fact.

What makes this desert attracting our co-camels and keeps them glued to its invisible tentacles? I don’t know really. Is it the known devil is better than unknown angel concept? It could be so. Venkat and co from Dubai may have better answers.

The fact that I tried to evade exit might have held me so long in Saudi I guess. Once I decided to quit, things were moving fast. Fair well parties from toastmasters, followed by tamil groups, telugu groups and kerala groups of the company reminded the roots that have set in without my notice and realization so far.

When I was travelling back to Dammam airport, with my wife and kids, I felt as if the buildings were looking at me, with a mischievous smile and shouting…”Hey, you are not going to see us again! A sense of vacuum instantaneously filled my mind with emptiness. I was fiddling with my mobile phone and when I tried to close and application, it was asking me, ‘do you want to exit?’ I was telling no to myself and yes to the phone as my only choice of the moment!

Enter the Dragon

Now that Radhika and kids are at Chennai and trying to settle back, I here in Hanoi. Like a full grown date tree moved over night from one place to another, I feel plucked and planted into the new set-up. Life has changed for ever. The people around, the environment, the attire, the accent and the approach all look different. (From burka to bikini..)

I am back in the forum to read Sumathi’s moral stories, Ashok’s Silver Streak contribution updates, Pandy’s punch dialogues and many other interesting things that take place in our PSG planet. It is good to see Swarna back in the forum, at the same time we do share her worry related to her husband’s slip disc. Let us hope and pray that things clear up with her like passing clouds and she returns back to her usual major general status.

Slowly but steadily I am trying to gel with my new transit home. Like the feel of facing outside world after a matinee show in a theatre, one chapter is over and another has just began in my life. I have lot of pleasant memories with me that I have collected in Saudi Arabia. I begin to realize that every EXIT is nothing but an ENTRANCE to a new world of adventures and opportunities. Hope you do agree with me, folks.

Bala G(ates of happiness always open from inside :-)

PS 1: The intelligent ones among you (most of you in deed are) may question my memory retention contradictory to Master’s words. In fact this missing link was established during one of my recent dreams. If you need further clarification on this, you are welcome to join me in my future dreams.

PS 2: Just while I am posting this piece of writing in the group, the sad news of our friend Shanmuga sundaram’s untimely demise is in the air. I do pray for his soul to rest in peace and condolences to his family too. I would like to know more details about this and share the grief with you all.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Landing Hong kong, with two drops of tear rolling down


With co passenger Chang Yen at Bahrain airport

Landing Hong kong, with two drops of tear rolling down
Dammam Bala

“Mr.Ronald, I am Engineer Bala from PEB Engineering! Just now I received your email. It shows my e-ticket booking from Bahrain to Hanoi. What about Dammam to Bahrain link?” – I called my admin personnel, the other day.

‘You need to report to Gulf Terrace Hotel at Khobar by 5 o’ clock in the evening; Cathy Pacific limo will take you to Bahrain from there!’ – replied Ronald in his typical philipino accent.
Thursaday and Friday were hectic, purchasing and stocking items at home, including gas, drinking water,cooking water etc. Friday evening, as usual last minute packing was going on when my colleague George visited me to wish bon voyage. By the time I had messed up the home as if we all were leaving the place. Our office driver Jiji showed up exactly at 4 pm to take me to Gulf Terrace.

With a few parting hugs and kisses with kids (I always include Radhika too in my kids’ list :-) I left home. Jiji was talking something with his usual cheer while my mind was lost in thoughts connected with my future placement and responsibilities. At times I did envy Jiji a bit, in spite of his meager income he too kept his family in Saudi, his wife not working, somehow managing to retain a broad smile in face. I myself have never counted my blessings and always brooding on opportunities lost and missed!

Gulf terrace was not new to me; we had conducted our toastmasters area contest, a couple of years ago. But after reaching there, I was informed that cathy pacific’s pick up point is another location; the gulf terrace plaza, few buildings away. Jiji dropped me and left.

When I reached hotel reception, the attendant told me that the bus starts by 7pm only and not 5pm! All because of this Ronald… I thought. Should I stay there or should I go back to home to come again? I was pondering. Suddenly a thought came to my mind. Two hours.. YES..TWO HOURS.. I have got as bonus in life! Two hours free from schedules, deadlines, releases, pending requests from Boss, pending play station 3 dvds from Aakash. Two hours in no mans land; two hours in international waters beyond country borders!!

I kept recapitulating many ideas and felt relaxed; I picked up a casual conversation with my fellow passenger, Hong a chinese business man from Hong kong. He looked really smart and was commenting high about Indians, supporting his index finger pointing the head, compensating for his broken English. He did mention his observation that he found plenty of Indians and Philipinos working in Middle east, attributing the reason to their English!

Since I had more than an hour at my disposal, I took my mobile and started calling Amma, my aunts and uncles, seeking their blessings with the courtesy of cheap fring calls. Apart from talking to them, it also served as my preamble for radhika and kids settling back in Chennai.

Fifteen long years have passed in Saudi Arabia, thirteen of them with family staying together; all of a sudden, the change has come. Now I need to get adjusted to new place, back to forced bachelor hood; School admissions for children in Chennai, people taking about difficulties in obtaining them, endless queues and sleepless nights associated with! Is it all worth? Whether it is worth or not worth, it has to be done that way. The decision has been taken; the ball has started rolling!

By 7:30 pm our coaster started its journey to Bahrain. The van had an attached cabin, that housed our luggage. Dammam to Bahrain via Khobar is only a short distance. I could not see a single Indian apart from myself around. Other than my new Chinese friends, there were few philipinos and Koreans/japnese, all looked the same to me with their tiny eyes and flattened nose. Dammam to Khobar is 20 km by land. From Khobar to Bahrain, the travel is by the man made bridge across see, called King Fahd Causeway. This connects a small island in the middle. Half of the island houses Saudi customs and the other half the Bahrain’s. Week-ends witness heavy rush and queuing of cars from Saudi side with people longing to get liberated in liquid state. That day being Friday, the rush was from Bahrain side with returnees.

Our driver collected all our passports like a bunch of vegetable and went to the counter. Later, we were requested to join. The Saudi official in the counter was in his usual unfriendly style and greeted us in Arabic monosyllables similar to our po..po.. in tamil. I greeted him salam alaikum and he became friendly for a fraction of second and went back to his original status. The building was a curved roof cubicle, with 10+ pc monitors, but only one person. There were two window acs. The L shaped full length open counter had an un matching full height glass door on one side. There was a telephone at the corner and on its concrete slab stand, there was a concrete hollow block too, without serving any purpose what so ever!

When our driver returned to our van after half an hour, we thought we were lucky to leave in record time; but as usual it was not to be so! He came inside and asked who is thi yen? A lean, clean shaven (may be birth, like that?!) boyish gentleman raised his hand. “Come down.. your exit re entry visa has expired, four days ago, it seems. Now you go back to Saudi, get it cleared and then travel!” poor fellow.. hope he is not going for his own marriage; the Arabic wordings, dates and letters, goofing up of his company admin.. and lack of his own double checking has cost him this trouble. By the time our driver disposed him and came back, we lost another half hour.

Clearing the Bahrain side of cause way, we finally entered ‘business friendly bahrain’ as they call themselves, we came across a bit of free air and huge colourful hoardings all the way. Bahrain, such a tiny country has cleverly encashed the conditions imposed by its neighbours. My Chinese friend kept appreciating the sky scrapers of Bahrain as we advanced towards its airport island Muharraq. On our way, we could see the cinema hall with a big display of ‘my name is khan’.

This khan has had lots of resistance in not only in Mumbai, he could’nt enter in Saudi too. With no theaters around, the only way for him to sneak in is in a compact disc form!

After we entered Bahrain airport, the passengers in van were eager to get out at every stop over. The driver kept on telling.. wait.. wait.. all the way. I, have been waiting a little too long for 15 years my dear.. I was telling myself silently :-))

Our flight to Hong kong was scheduled for early morning 1:00 am. By this time, Hong and I have become good friends by this time; we had some French fries and coffee in Mac Donalds and I got invitation to visit Hong in Hong kong in the near future. Like Dubai airport, Bahrain airport too is more a hypermarket and less an airport. So passing time there was a breeze as usual; the wifi helped to complete some unfinished business in my sleek and inexpensive acer netbook.

As per scheduled time, Cathy Pacific flight departed to Hong kong. They showed their professionalism the way they treated us. The airhostesses were quite friendly; one by name Jim was initially amused to learn that I was looking for vegetarian meals. Some how he arranged to get a look alike stuff! He did handed over a bag full of muffins and fruit salads, to bail me out during hong kong – Hanoi travel, as Vietnamese airlines could find it difficult to decipher vegetarianism and eventually he did prove himself right, later!

7 hours by flight looked pretty longer for me, against my usual 3-4 hours flying to India. Most of the time went in sleeping. Whenever I was awake, I was juggling between the 50+ channels in the mini lcd tv before me. Half of its channels were repetitions, with a funny time lag of few minutes. Finally I settled for a Chinese movie with English subtitles. (I didn’t put the head phones at all). The movie appeared more Indian to me with too many dadas, mafias and street fights, but for a bit of explicit adult content.

By the time I started watching the movie, half the way, I understood that the heroine Pamela is a comfort worker(!) but she is good at heart and has a mentally retarded physically grown up sister to protect from the hawkish thugs. There is a petty rowdie by nick name ‘porcupine’. He irritates us with his looks and keeps chasing Pamela and her sister with lust. He competes with another young and corporate style don by name Peter for ‘number one’ slot in the locality. It is the time, the hero by name ‘Fai’ enters the scene. Fai is an old time ally of porcupine. In fact he has been a active hitman in his teens and has killed 20 opponents before getting shot by a cowardly police officer. As Fai gets released, both porcupine and peter try their best to win his friendship to their advantage.

Fai, resembles udayanithi stalin with ottu dhadi ; surprisingly cool and seasoned with his long served jail term. When he returns to his home town Mangkok, he is totally disappointed to see it as a different place altogether with a his old frequenting places, theatres and midnight shows gone. The police officer who shot him 30 years ago, is still around and he tries to bring Fai, porcupine and peter into his iron fists. Some graphics here and there extends the prison mentally to Fai, and when he says, we are never free.. just out from one prison to another’.. we do agree with him, momentarily!

Fai, incidentally saves Pamela and her sister from porcupine. The really touching episode starts when, Fai visits his mother. Demoralized by Fai’s imprisonment, Fai’s mother fails to recognize him with her demnitia; she keeps telling him, her son is working in a far-away place. Fai coolly tells her, he in fact is Fai’s friend and his name is Pschyco. She then allows him and his friends to her house and serves them water, generously!

After a couple of scenes, Pamela too joins them. In a cinematic way, Fai’s mother regains her consciousness; he gives her a head bath and they have their hearty chat and his mother dies smoothly at that moment as an anti-climax. Suddenly that scene made me emotional; I thought why am I wandering like this in my life? I could have also done a graduation in tanjore poondi pushpam and settled in AG’s office like my elder brother (cousin) Kumar and at least I could have been lucky to meet my mom every day evening! Tears started rolling down my cheek, by the time our flight safely landed in Hong kong, bringing me back to the realities of life!

Hong kong Air port was clean and elegant, surprisingly with low activity and less passengers around. It took another 2 hours flying for me to reach Hanoi airport. From the above, it is all green and water everywhere around. With the airport not even matching the Coimbatore airport(ashok, excuse), I felt a bit disappointed as if we have made an emergency landing in a paddy field. But for the remoteness of the airport and the approach route to Hanoi, I am pretty impressed with Hanoi city. It is peaceful, nice buildings, people and excellent weather! To some extent it reminds me of the Bangalore which I was familiar to in 90’s.

My Zamil Steel senior colleagues as well as fellow Tamil friends Satheesh and Mani were generous enough to pick me up from the airport. Satheesh extended the hospitality by arranging a grand dinner at his home, introducing many fellow tamil friends cum colleagues; the place looked like a mini extension of Chennai then!

Now that I have spent more than 24 hours here, I am lucky to have a relaxed Sunday to share my little and big thoughts and bore you as usual. Tomorrow onwards, I need to be on my toes for two weeks take over and subsequent return to Saudi Arabia, final wind up operations, selling the car, settling family and move to Hanoi in April, permanently(!?!) I don’t know whether I will keep the same enthu and energy to write in this forum with my newly acquired assignments.

Ultimately, where will I go? Kazhuthai ketta kutti suvar!!! :-))))

Bala G(ot to make a mountain out of a mole hill, as usual :-)
PS: BTW if any one knows the name of the movie that I have described, please be kind enough to tell me.