HOG Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders.
Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)
It has not changed since those days though there are no slaughterhouses here anymore thanks to refrigeration. Jogging on Lake Shore Drive at 6:20 am is great. Passed the river walk on the Chicago river. The breakfast houses were open on Michigan Avenue. Also I swear that the Tribune is much much better paper than the NYT.

The longest day
My greatest regret has been that despite my best intentions, I have not been sucessful in making the best possible use of the Summer Solstice or the Longest Day. Today was special.
I am up early. Though much after sunrise. Dad would have been pleased. Since this is Chicago and its at the edge of the Central Time zone, the sun beat me to it today.
Try to get almost all the cut strawberries out of corn flake box and let them soak in the milk.
I am standing at 924 E and 57th Street on the University of Chicago campus looking of any signs to the Neural Coding Workshop which I am here to attend. I try to see if I can spot any Nobel Prize winners. For the first time in my life I was as close to as many of them as I would ever be. I don't see any.
The seminar starts after the introduction by Dan Margolish, who is the Professor of Darwinian Sciences (A chair like this can be only at UC).
12:25 pm
Lunch is at the Quadrangle Club. One of the most swanky places. I feel a little happy that I am not in my shorts. Had a good time eating the baklavas.
Standing ...err nestled inside the Henry Moore sculpture at the site of 1942 atomic experiment
(explosion). They say that this was where the Strug basketball court was.. Aesthetically I saw no relevance except the suspicious mushroom cloud at the top otherwise the sculpture is a nice place to study in.

Walking to the train station. Trying to look the kinda of guys-you-would-not-want-to-mug. Man after all this Neural Coding 'n shit, no' whad i'm sayin' :)
6:37 pmWalking along Wacker drive which is much safer than the South Side. The Chicago river still looks green and I spent some time looking at the flower-petal Marina Towers.. I wish they would pass a law making it illegal for cars to display their rear to all the tourists this summer. I think it is kinda obscene.
Eating pav bhaji on the 31st floor watching the sun set over Lake Michigan
They have fireworks over Grant Park. I wonder if I can get back for the the Jazz festival this summer-end. Last time I did not have my chair and did not have my blanket. This time I may not have the time..
Discussion drifts from Indian women authors to how all religious movements become subverted after a while. Mostly after the founder dies. Then it becomes just a big bureaucratic shim-sham. Try for instance the RC church.
The longest day endeth thus...

Peck,GOST and some analysis
I just finished seeing 'To Kill A Mockingbird' day before. Gregory Peck was named the best American hero as Atticus Finch. As my friend Javed put it Peck has left the building. It was an interesting week. I finished reading the God of Small Things and the next day I saw 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. I loved the score and especially Badham ( the child actor who plays Scout). It was beautiful. It is silly to compare the two books beyond a certain level because they are about different things.
Could help but notice these superficial similarities
1)Both books see adult events through children's eyes. Or the sudden loss of innocence.
2)Jem=9, Scout=6, Estha and Rahel are both 7 years old
3)TKMB is about racism, GOST is about untouchability
4)Atticus and Ammu are both single parents
5)Ayemenem and Maycomb county both small,sleepy towns
6)Both written by women who have not written any fiction after that
7)Both won highly prestigious awards
TKMB->Pulitzer prizes, best American fiction written by an American
GOST->Booker prize, best English fiction written by resident of England or the Commonwealth
(Please let me know if i missed a few)

The God of Small Things
I am about 4/5 ths through the book. I seem to have finally broken the jinx of being some kinda anti-Magnus Magnusson(who?) of merely starting. I have shaken that off. Not yet, but close to it. Hah!
Nothing quite beats the quality of the description of Ayemenem and the monsoon in the first few pages. Indian writers in English are perhaps the most ambitious experimenters of the language. Roy is undoutably doing that with her 'No Locusts Stand I" and frequent capitalizations. Its very easy to be distracted by her style rather than what she has to say. It is also a funny book when one considers the humourous observations of the 'naked man at the railway tracks' , the ribald Malayalam boat songs, and the innocent, accidental profoundness of children.
I often pause to think how much of Roy is there in Rahel? Are all books mostly autobiographical in a large sense? They have to, I suppose.

Quizzing then and now
Of late Pune has got the title of the 'most improved quizzing city'. We proudly boast of Mastermind India who is not only Pune's own but Boat Club's own J. Ramanand. (His blogs make interesting reading. Ramanand's blog). It was good to hear that Abhinav Vidyalaya reached the TV round of the ESPN quiz and other schools like Bishop's also performed well.
This reminds me of my own quizzing days in school, when things were not so glamorous are they are nowadays, with being on TV, and all. The first interschool quiz that I took part in was the Maggi quiz in the 7th Standard. I had somehow impressed the teacher who thought I had good G.K. to merit a spot along with Siddharth Rege of another class to represent the school.
The elims were at SNDT which at that age for me, was another country. Luckily my father was free to take us. So early Sunday morning we wait outside our school for the great Rege to arrive. The man does not show up. There was little time left and I started panicking. Then strolls Paul James a classmate, who like a good Catholic was on his way to St. Xavier's Church for Mass just across the school. So I rope him in to partner me cause I had this idea that you SIMPLY CANNOT take part alone. He was not a quizzer at all. Something better than nothing.
We go for the elims and they were fine. Then there were two blank spaces at the top where you write the participant's names. I knew that the entry form from our school was Parikh and Rege. So I wrote those two names thinking that we would be disqualified. James, I think for his part contributed one answer. More importantly he helped me grab more Maggi packets, being sitributed for free than the other teams did.
The elims were forgotten in the mess of school HW and football matches. Then one fine day I was called to the office. We had qualified for the semi-finals. The two students were Parikh and Rege.
This time it was a Nehru Memorial Hall ( the scene of many interschool battles) which was kinda of home territory. Rege profusely apologised for the missed appointment. Apparently the rickshaw that he took broke down and he reached there late. We did not prepare much. I read the Manorama Yearbook. Everybody did those days. I wonder what they do these days. We were nervous under the arc-lights, the audience who clapped but you could not see and other teams who looked better prepared than us. We was 2nd throughout the quiz and then came from behind to win by a small margin beating Abhinav Vidyalaya. Also I thanked what proved to be fortuitous, writing Rege on the form instead of James Paul. We were in the finals despite some goofs. I remember a question "How many faces does a dodecahedron have?" Damn are you actually supposed to know that?
Finals of Maggi Quiz

We then took stage once again. This time we we better prepared with all the octahedrons and dodecahedrons and all that nonsense that used to ask. Its now considered impolite to ask such questions. Luckily it was a Saturday. So we had some support from students. Quizzing has been always a step-son and not considered worthy enough to send cheering squads. More in that vein Quizzers are not worshipped like rock-stars. Does quizzing make it easier to nail chicks? Luckily despite these odds, given a chance St. Vincent's students are usually very vocal supporters. At that time I felt the tension and the performance anxiety.
Rege and I had a look at the trophy before the quiz. It was HUGE. I wanted it bad. Real bad.
The finals started. The team from Jnana Prabodhini looked lethal to us. It is a school for high IQ kids. We thought we did not stand a chance. It was our day. We cleaned eveything that day. It was so magical, that one of the answers Rege blurted out incorrectly but the quiz-mistress ( I am being very PC and not dirty) heard the correct answer. We were slapping high fives and rolling along. We hit shots in the dark and they turned right. We just romped home. Abhinav finished 2nd. I later got to know that team well - Satyen Kale ( a legend in his own right) and Ashutosh Joglekar. Interestingly George Thomas representing Vidya Bhavan won the senior category. I have that photograph back home of the august George smiling benignly in the camera. I was to make his acquaintance later. Satyen and I for long recognised each other with the Maggi quiz. It's a small world.
Winning on debut was good cos I never wanted to give it up. I became a semi-hero for a couple of days. The Maggi quiz never took place after that year. So the rolling trophy after all these years (10 years ago) is still in the principals office. Hopefully beneath all that now dulled brass it still reads :
St Vincent's High School
Hirak Parikh
Siddharth Rege

Almost everything that happens in quizzing happened.
Missing partner. ..some lucky breaks...being asked just what you know...answering correctly what you did not..pre-final jitters..gleaming trophies..
Of course I did not attain immortality. Shucks!!