Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Perennial Question

What do u do when some one asks you to do what is against your beliefs and ethics?

Lets call the "Action to be done" as X

Objectively analyzing:
1. X does not cause harm to anyone
2. X is encapsulation. So to say, is to delay disclosure of something
3. X gives hope to some one and those hopes and expectations can - MIGHT - come crashing down when the encapsulation ends.

4. There is a way of justification that can make X perfectly over-the-board-action.

But you believe that X is not fair. You believe that doing X is selfish and does not take into consideration the feeling of the other person.

At the same time, the person who requests X of you is a very close person to you. It hurts when that person hear your NO and breaks down.

If only the world rotated with the power of brain and not by heart….


P.S. : I chose not to do X. The person so close to me, after the immediate emotional upheaval, saw my point and agreed to re consider. I was lucky.

Friday, June 24, 2005

It's Raining!

5:15 on the clock and it's raining in Chennai!!!!!

Feels awesome ! :)


4:35 on the clock on a Friday afternoon.

Desperately waiting for the week to end. In my mind though, it already had ended. Am just waiting for the time to push itself through. :)

The team here has booked tickets for a Hindi movie titled Paheli. Believe it or not, it's all about romance between a woman of the rural Rajasthan and a Ghost of the same village.

Amol Palekar, on a review, has been appreciated as a guy who has bought an Amar Chitra Katha to life. Dunno whats in store for the night!

It's 4:39 now :):)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Anniyan - The Men Within

Director Sankar seem to have this crush on duality. The characters in his movies always have two ( and now more than two :) ) characters intertwined within themselves. The depiction of this duality, although, has been varied, without repetition, and there, i believe, hangs the success of this director.

In Gentleman, it was this brahmin "appalam" seller who converted into the scheming, brave and strong 'Robin hood'. In Muthalvan, it was the govt service loving laid back cameraman with a strong politician alter ego ( remember the " Kadasile enneyum arasiyal vaadi aakkiteengale!!" ). In Indian, it was this frail old retired man who inverted into a brave soldier of truth. In jeans it was the two look alikes, dress alikes, talk alikes who took the focus and in Anniyan, it is the 'Rules Ramaswamy', a staunch brahmin lawyer with a penchance for "rules" who heralds fearsome and suave impersonations within himself.

It is very difficult to try and review the movie that takes you by your throat, pulls you into the matrix, drenches you with fantastic panorama, without really being a spoiler to the plot. "Rules Ramasamy" is the stenciled Triplicane Iyengar with the trademark Kudumi, and a i-stay-out-of-trouble attitude to life. So much so, that when he is getting thoroughly beaten up by the baddies he mumbles "naan thayir saadham saapidaravan, ennale thiruppi adikka mudiyaathu"! And, he has a obsession with rules. He wants everyone to do thier duty, to do the best they can and not to be corrupted. And because he has studies law, he takes it upon himself to take cases where the common man is fleeced by corrupt non-rule-following baddies. Needless to say, he loses all his cases under the clout of influence and money that his opponents have.

"Rules" discovers a web site http://www.anniyan.com/ where the site urges common man to log in information about any wrong doer. To give vent to the frustration, "rules" continuously logs in information about the wrong doers.

Enter "Anniyan". With a lock of hair hiding his face and a voice that beats Intergalactic transmission easily, the fearsome avatar of "the punisher" appears myseteriously and kills the wrong doers. Every wrong doer is punished as he should be in Hell - Gruesome, scary and more than a murder, a statement to the world.

To top all this, "Rules" has this un-proclaimed love to Nandini, the pretty doe-eyed Aiyengar Damsel next door. But Nandini is the girl of the world and has almost zero tolerance for the Ramasami who barks rules into everything. Well, it is difficult to love a person who calls the TT and returns the dinner that is given in Indian railways because, the curd is watery; or who calls the TT because the Railways washroom is dirty; or who calls the TT because the railways fan does not work!

Enter "Remo". The smashing dashing catwalk burning male sensation of the fashion world. and one who's dearly in love with "Naandi" - the dude way of calling 'Nandini'. In between sizzling yana Gupta laden ramp walks, or rides in flashy bikes, Remo steals the heart of Nandi. And Nandi reciprocates, desperately in love with Remo, the flashy avatar with the flashy accent but "with a true heart"

Nandini decides to buy a plot. (No, not the plot of the movie, but a plot of land! :) ) Going along with usual practice, she undervalues it so that she can "cheat the govt. of paying extra tax". "Rules Ramasami" refuses to help her do this deal as cheating is against his rule. And Anniyan has to come in as the sole purpose of his avatar is to remove the world of cheating souls.

Ramasami loves Nandini. Nandini loves Remo. And Anniyan wants to Kill Nandini. The World come crashing in. And so do the walls around the three characters. What follows has Prakash Raj as the inspector who wants to resolve the case, Nasser as the doctor who helps identify the case, Vivek as the CBI inspector and also the hero's friend and a whole lot of special effects to handle the movie!

Packed with thrills and kills, the movie rocks you. But, on another line, "Hangover" is the top most thing about this movie.

Director Sankar seems to have a hangover from Boys, and that is so clear in the language that Anniyan and Prakash Raj uses. Usage of local conversational words, stopping right at the moment beyond which the censor boards would censor is spread throughout the movie.

Actor Vikram still has his hangover from "Pithamahan". The pout that he uses as the evidence of being innocent is so clearely a carry over from his previous hit.

The fight scenes and couple of "jump and chase" scenes are hangovers of the Matrix Neo and the 10,000 Smith's fight; and the Agents jump on running cars during Trinity's Chase scenes.

The be good and be patriotic lecture scene in the stadium gives you a hangover the TV broadcast in Indian.

One of the climax scenes (where the alter ego of Anniyan comes and goes ) give you a hangover of the brilliant performance of Edward Norton in the movie Adaptation of William Diehl's Primal Fear.

But then, putting all this together, creating as gripping and taut a storyline as has been created, is another task all together. And Sankar together with OSCAR Ravichandran;s almost unlimited money flow has done an exemplary job of the same. You are riveted to the chair, looking at the screen wanting such a messiah to exist in real life and living anniyan's life. He could have gone low on couple of things though - Specifically, the be-good-for-your-country lecture by Anniyan. We have had so much of talks in so many movies, that this time, it almost rings artificial and false. And on all this, the gargantuan effort could have fallen flat on the director's face had it not been for the brilliant acting performance of Vikram.

Vikram, although hints at the Pithamagan performance with his pout, holds up his performance with brilliance. His alteration between multiple egos are convincingly scary. In one of the climax scenes where he alterates between his egos is simply superb ( for lack of other words ). He swings through the "Kadavul paathi, mirugam paathi, kalanthu seitha kalavai naan!" so believably easy. As easy and as effortless as possible. As much s he is able to induce fear through Anniyan, the next minute he is able to convert himself into the suave Remo and the next into the Kudumi tied Rules Ramasami. Effortlessly, he induces comedy into scenes like where he writes an apparent love letter to Nandini as through it is a letter to a govt. dept. Although the accent seems slightly artifical and put up, his characterization of Remo also holds him as a very attractive guy ( as he says at one point to Naandi - 'Don't come to see me if your heart is weak!" ) Physically, he has grown, seems to have put on weight expecially a flabby paunch. 6 pacs of (fl)Abs? :) But the thing worth mentioning is the "generality" of Vikram's face. He looks smashing in any kind of hair do and any kind of moustache- beard set up! Almost makes me wish for a face like that :)

The supporting cast is as good as the main. Prakash raj shines - brightly as the vengeful inspector. His acting has almost become trademark and iconic and he easily portrays the specific role with flamboyance. Vikram, manages to be the funny bone especuially the scenes where he inserts his characteristic punch lines while trying to fix up Ramasami and nandini ( " looking for a Kalai-'mama'-mani award" as he says at one point ) Nedumudi Venu is a he always is. EAsily slips into the character so easily that you forget that there is an actor there - You almost belive in the character. Sada exists in the sidelines - a pretty face an a doll like appearence. Not much of a scope there for that role :)

The Choreography is indulgent. From the Tulip Gardens to km's of pinted roads and rocks, everything exists. Colorful, Bouyant and Vibrantly loud, the music has it's own pace and charm. But then, on a storylinme like this, it does hamper the narration. It could not have done any harm to have cut down on couple of songs here and there.

On the whole, the movie is definitely more than paisa-vasool. Slick direction, indulgent choreography, wonderful casting and performances up to the expectation from each of them - Go watch it! :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Hyderabad ! - Where Cinema meets Chaos: Part 1 - The Journey

It was a long awaited trip to Hyderabad. The common excuse was to see Junior Reddy, but on hindsight, i guess that was just one of the excuses. We have been wanting this break for quite some time and i guess Reddy Junior was just the excuse to convince us that this trip was necessary!

Friday evening saw us arrive at the bus stand on time to get the volvo bus to hyderabad. As usual, planning was last minute and train tickets in India, where population grows faster than the train speed, are scarce and rare. Expecially when u plan as late as what we did! :) We were lucky to get the bus tickets actually. There we were - Me in a well worn Jeans and a t shirt with my usual backpack, the slim Reddy - the proud dad, Mrs and Mr. Iyer, the family - also known as Ganesh and Latha. Mrs. Iyer had wanted the volvo trip - she had apparently heard a lot about the same and had wanted to try one of the same.

Our last bus trip to Andhra land was quite some time back on a time line, but down memory lane, it was still quite vivid. We were on a crowded bus, stifling around with a tv screen showing a wild telugu movie and the speakers blaring the sound track, even when it was quite late at night. The matter of fact was, none of them except for us seemed to mind that, rather, most of them, i still think, enjoyed it.

Waking up from the flash back with a snap, i turned to Reddy and asked him if this being a volvo bus would make any difference and would they restrain from playing a movie or playing songs on the speaker. Reddy, who was busy trying to settle down in the seats, looked at me with a smile on his lips and said that he couldn't be sure. The smile turned to laughter, when two seconds later, the speakers started giving out wonderful telugu music! But even his smile curved into an agry frown when he realized that the driver or the cleaner liked one set of songs and two hours later, were still playing repeats of the same set !!! It was my turn to laugh, then! The Andhra buses do have some pretty wierd customs though. First, they distributed woolen rugs for all of us. They gave us one each, but to the Iyer family they gave only one and unapologetically mumbled that they were short of one and they have to adjust. ( When we saw them sleeping later that night, we realized wehre that one short had gone! :) ) And then they walked past the aisle handing us one bottle of 'Rama' packaged water. We were kind of apprehensive about ho much we would have to pay, when his voice rubbed it on us that it was on the house ( rather on the bus! :) ). So then, when that guy came again with trays of chips, we were more than happy to pick one packet for each of us, when with a smile, he anounced that it was fifteen bucks a packet. Promptly, we kept it back on the tray. I even arranged them the same way as it were before they were picked up!

The night wore on with a pleasent bus drive with only the repeated telugu songs to trance us. My friends say that i am extremely gifted guy for i can sleep, whenever and wherever i want. ( There are so many instances where i have displayed that talent - in sanskrit classes, in maths classes and in so many other classes :) ) ... Anyways, it wasn't long before i left the Reddy and Iyer to fend for conversation within themselves and dozed off to a nice and smooth sleep, the air conditioned sway of the volvo suspensions cradling me with a wonderful lullaby!

Was it the Rip Van Winkle who had slept for twenty years? When i was woken up later that night, i did really feel like that, but i guess it wasn't more than a couple of hours. It was a dark bus stand and those unrecognizable characters on the wall could have only meant one of the two things - that i was still sleepy or that we had already crossed into telugu desam! Although i was almost sure, it is the former than the latter, my friends convinced me that it is also the latter. And, they warned me, if i wanted any food, i had better go down, wash myself and help them open out those packets of grub! :)

Half an hour later, with sleep washed out of my eyes with splashes of Kinley water and lovely Tamarind rice filling my stomach warmly, i was ready to enter dream land again. The bus had started its journey from the bus stand, and i could see Reddy and Mr. Iyer looking at me with jealousy while i comfortably slid down, made myself comfortable and was about to snooze off. You know about the time just when u r about to sleep where any disturbances can really wake u the wild animal in you? It was when i was getting on to that, when Reddy or Mr. Iyer would poke me in my stomach to make me get up ! Sleep has it's ways, it seems! Couple of pokings later, i could not care less about those worrisome fingers and i started to daze back again. Am sure those guys also got bored of poking me and left me alone.

I apparently do a little bit of talking in between my sleep. Not the kind of rumbling mumbling, but apparently, i wake up, speak coherently to the guy next to me, but i wudn't remember anything of that the next day! Well, it seems that night i told Reddy that one of my slippers was missing and Reddy had pacified me saying we would look for it the next day morning (as, he told me, the law of inertia or whatever would make everything inside the bus move along with the bus - so we could still find the slipper in the morning in the bus itself! :) ) I had no clue of this conversation in the morning anyways and of course, i did have both my slippers right in place.

Morning saw me wake up to see two characters just short of white faces and hairs almost standing. I was sure that my snorings or my mid night conversations could not have caused such an extreme reaction, but as they, an elephant does not know his own strength, so i couldn't be sure !! :) Anyways, i delicately asked them which ghost made that effect on them. They looked at me and asked me to watch the driving for some time. Nothing could have prepared me for the next ten minutes. The driver, was either short sighted to see the vehicle in front of them only when they were close enough to be kissed or thought that the right side of the road is for overtaking and not for letting the on coming traffic to go! By the time the clock ticked ten minutes, he would have easily crashed on to couple of cars, couple of "Qualis"-es, and couple of people too. Ten minutes later, i was pale, white rather, had my hairs standing on edge and my knuckles white from holding on to the seat handle in front of me :) It was then that i realized that seeing my friends smiling face is actually blissful - especially when the other option is to look at head on collisions options every two minutes.

Somehow, i still belive, due to the simple fact that God could not have wanted my presence up there so soon ( he is a peace- loving soul!! :) ), we did stop at a road side Dhaba without any mishaps. The only thing that we dared to buy from there was a strip of paste and we did the rudimentary clean up and the rudimentary "downloads", before boarding the bus for the final lap of the road rash to Hyderabad. With taste of colgate shakthi in my mouth and with fear of the driver's shakthi in my eyes, i felt the the best thing to do was to close my eyes and doze to dreamland. And with the god given natural ability - provoking instant jealousy in my friends, i dozed into a nice sleep only to be woken up almost immedietely ( or so i thought ) by Reddy asking us to step out as we were nearing our destination.

Once down on terra firma, the tormenter who tortured us with telugu rap , hip hop and blues half of the ngiht and from early morning, helped us to take our bags out and demanded the money for his chai pani. Glad to have been out of the telugu song ridden atmosphere, we gladly parted with couple of tens and took our luggage and followed the leader of the pack.

Stretching a little, with my backpack securely on my back, i looked around to see a sunny street with traffic starting to ply the roads and... Rocks. I could see rocks everywhere. Roads that go up and down over and above the sinusoidal curvature of the rock laden topography. And of course, as our luck would have it, we had to walk uphill to reach the apartment. A fifty meters up the hill road and two floors up in stairs, we finally opened the door to see smiling faces of my bhabhi and her household. With the custodial namaste and the custodial answers about the journey and weather, we couldn't stop ourselves from asking her to get the Junior out. After all, he was the reason we were there. After washing our hands and faces, we finally saw our first nephew. Covered with the baby clothes, with shrivelled skin, long arms and limbs and a slightly haired head, there lay the miracle of our lives. With eyes that were opening and closing, he took in the new faces all around him before he started his only means of communication. To cry! Oh the joy of seeing our first nephew. Everything the junior did was news to us. Hey there, he moved his head sideways, and there, he looked at me, there there there, see the way he has his arms at the side of his face ? everything - Anything !!! :)

There was only smell strong enough to take us away from the baby - the smell of freshly cooked puries.. And ont he table our accommodation arrangements were discussed. We were to be there for three days... But then, that's another story altogether!! :)

The days would continue, so will the narrative !! :)

Adventure to Wayanad

We had Googled, we had read articles and we had seen pictures. But nothing could have prepared the 13 of us from the tools team for the magical world that was waiting for us in Wayanad.

It all started during one of the late night stays in office, when we all realized it was time to take a break. Google was unceremoniously attacked by multiple browser windows and plausible destinations were looked at. Couple of pictures of Wayanad and we were all ready to go to Wayanad. Couple of days and lots of phone calls later, we had made our arrangements. 13 of us would leave Chennai to Calicut on evening train on 1April and would transport ourselves using a pre booked cab from Calicut to the ghats of Wayanad.

It was like crossing a line. The winding roads up the ghats took us far away from the roaring sounds of civilization, from the grindings of machinery to couple of decades back in time. There were greenery all around us. The height at which we were commanded a view where even the shadows made by the clouds could be seen. The world, was under our feet!

The first step

The mystical world had a fitting entry. The fabled "Chain tree"!

A huge banyan tree has a chain running through it. Along with the physical chain, the tree also had a lot of stories chained with it. Popular legend goes that during the time of the reign of the white skinned, a white engineer was helped by a local tribesman to make a pliable road to the Ghats. Once the road was done, the White Engineer killed the tribesman and took the entire credit to himself. The Tribesman, not to take things lying, became a Ghost and killed all travelers through that road, until a magician chained this waylaid spirit to the tree. Ra, ra, Chandramukhi ra ra!!!

We turned off the NH when we saw a board that proclaimed the name of our resort. Expecting people and the usual hustle bustle of a resort anytime, we were caught by surprise, when we saw the fine print under the name board "9 km ahead!". We were put up in a resort which was 9 km into thick jungle. And no pseudo foliage here, we speak about unkempt, thick jungle. Traveling 9 km through pathways, mud ways, kuchcha bridges brought us to a huge compound dotted with small buildings around. There was something weird about the set up but we could not put our fingers into it.. until, well, until we spoke to the resort management.

We were escorted to our villas, about half a km from the main building and was given the option of taking two villas. The two villas were around 50 meters apart. We took our rooms and it was then the thing that was bothering us were revealed to us. We were in the middle of the jungle. And we were. We were so much into the jungle that we did not have electricity supply tot he resort. The power needs to the resort was managed by generator sets and in the nights, inverters with very, VERY, limited powers. Of course we were brave guys, and couldn't we stay in separate rooms and villas??Of course we could. Scared? Who, us ???? OH come on, we are the type that Ghosts get scared of! But then, won’t we be speaking and playing till late night? So shouldn’t we all stay in the same villa?? :):)... You know, its not about fear, just about being together so that we can play and talk together. :) It was easy to get the concurrence, especially with the fact that once inside the villa we aer compeltely cut off from everything else - even going to the other villa through the forest! :) So stay, was together, in one villa, the first people to take the best beds available and the rest camping out in the hall! :)

Encounter with Nature

After the settling down, showers and a sumptuous lunch, it was trekking time. And we went to the deep jungles with wide eyes and whispering mouths. Even whispers strained to inaudible levels when the guide pointed the location where elephants come to quench their thirst. The last thing we all wanted was to be running for our lives with elephants on our trail! We wouldn't have worried so much about the big mammals had we known how exposed we were to the small little blood sucking leeches all around us. It was not until we were deep inside the jungle that we realized that there were few of them feasting comfortably on us. Their modus operandi is very simple. They crawl to you, clamp their claws in and start sucking blood. Once their potbelly is full they just fall out. Well, within couple of hours, we were as used to them as they were getting to our warm fresh city blood!

We walked through what could easily have been the sets of the movie "The Blair witch Project". Surrounded by mist, silence and dense jungle, we prodded on to reach a small hillock that greeted us once again, with flowing mist which attempted to envelop us from all us side. Panting, we were humbled so simply by the astounding beauty of nature around us. But then, the trek was just a preview of things to come.

The next day saw us going to Edakkal caves. A cave that boasts of drawings by Neanderthal men. Human endurance, evident from the Neanderthal age, took us even further than just those caves. We had the quest to climb the mountain, which, they said, was possible. As we moved higher and higher, slowly the crowd thinned. From 13 of us to the cave, it was 7 of us to the next level, and then 5 of us to the final climb. There we were, standing and looking up at the perilous climb, when a family with a lady garbed in a saree, coolly climbed up. Ego, the y say, is the strongest motivator of all!!! Once we saw that, there was no stopping us 5 to climb to the top. Enthusiasm took us almost to the top, Well, Almost. At one point, we looked down and realized that what goes up has to come down too!! The slope down looked more scary than anything in life. Crawling back most of the time, we inched our way down to safety. The high point of the climb was when one of us looked down at the slope that we have to climb down and decided he would make a call to his mother and speak to her :). He did speak, by the way! (Technology bears its re silient step there too. There was full signal up at the mountain pe ak too!!!!) Well, i am here to write this now, so we did make it down, but come to think of it, how, i am not sure if we would remember now !

And our descent was not a minute too soon. For as soon as we re ached the comfort of our van, that it rained - not rained, poured incessantly. And with the rain, life poured into the already lush foliage. We made our way back after a wonderful drive through the wild life sanctuary of Muthanga. It was pretty late and still raining when we reached the side road ( with 9 km still to go ! ) to our resort. our driver calmly proclaimed that the van cannot go up to the resort and we will have to call for the local jeeps that can take us up to the resort. The danger was not driving, but if the tyre slips - well, he left the rest unsaid and i think we too preferred it that way! Anyway, the jeeps were there with our resort manager, who was probably used to such trips. They took us to the resorts, fed us good food and we dropped off to dream land.

Humbled by Heritage

The next day was to be spent playing hide and seek with the symbols of heritage spotted across the wide district. We were forced to pick and select few of them for want of time. Diversity makes you want to visit all of them without missing any one of them. Where else would you find a mossalman mosque that was built by Hindu community, a Hindu temple where everyone is allowed to come inside without no religion / caste creed barrier. Where else would you find the papanasini with the Thirunelli temple, arguably one of the best architectured temples of olden kerala - situated on top of a mountain and surrounded by three more. The whole atmosphere was enough to build reverence in anyone. We were lucky that we could visit few of the rare temples - a temple for the matsya avatara of lord Vishnu and a temple where there are three pratishtha' s of Durga. The same temple also hosted a pratishtha of Sita Devi with LAva and Kusha under the 'Ashoka tree'. But, the reverence reached the highest point at the Thrissillery temple.

Reputed to older than 4000 years, the temple at the foot hills of the mountain that holds the sacred Thirunelly temple, holds some very rare pratishthas. It boasts of one of the only eight pratishthas of jala durga, placed by the warrior sage Parashuraman himself. This deity has a body of water around it, which has been reputed ne ver to dry up all these years. The same temple holds a deity of Goshalakrishnan and also of a Lord Ayyappa in a penance post in the jungle ( which forces the temple authorities not to have a roof for this deity ! ). The main deity if a swayambhu ( self evident ) Siva linga which is inexplicably tied to the lord Vishnu deity up in the mountain of thirunelly.

And back to reality

It was with a filled mind and a very very satisfied heart that we started our journey back to civilization. It was a memorable trip where the wheels of time turned back all the way. Un-spoilt virgin Wayanad, where we could still drink sweet cold water from any tap at the road side and not be worried about the he alth hazards, the Wayand where bottled drinks like coca cola and Pepsi were unheard of, was bidding us farewell. It took about 4 hours for the Van to travel through decades and take us to the hustle and bustle of Calicut.

The train greeted us with the same cheer that it greets every one of her traveler and soon the never tiring chuk chuk of the train drowned all our senses. Lots of memories, lots of conversations and a wink of sleep later, we were back in Chennai. A new day, 3 days away from the last w orking day, and it was as through we had made a trip to an alien land far away in time and space. Amongst us was the feeling of satisfaction of having gone through a wonderful trip and the longing for a longer more relaxed trip to the same magical land of Wayanad. To get drenched in its magical serenity again, to dip in its agonizing simplicity again.

We were all in Chennai, and yet we all carried a part of the magic with us, in our heart!

Vishu trip!

This is one of my older write ups... posting this just so i can have a centralized place for these small write ups that i have:

As usual, the chill wind woke me up. I almost always select bus travel as my mode of travel from my professional home of Chennai to the home of my heart – Kerala. And almost always, it is the chill wind of Kerala, just after the entry at check post that wakes me up. I wake up to the lush green trees around me, to the sight of the bus waiting at the check post for clearance. I wake up to my home. But this time it was different. I was coming home for Vishu. It was after 9 long years that I was going to be a party of Vishu celebrations with three generations of my family. I could not wait to get back home.

As usual, the clearance got late; as usual, I could not control my excitement and I jumped into a local bus to get me to the town faster; and as usual, after ten minutes through my journey, I saw my bus from Chennai overtaking the bus I was in, hoping to reach the town faster. Sigh! Certain things never change!

After two bus journeys, one from the check post to the town and the other from the town to my village, I realize how an actor feels. In a drama, the stage always remains there. The Actors go on and off stage. And every time the actor comes on stage, he is back home! It is exactly how I felt then. The trees had gone a wee bit older, the unpaved roads had gone a little dustier and the old gates and fences had become slightly more rustic, but it was there – the stage was there.

The gates to my grandmothers opened wide, but not wider than the smile that lit up her face at seeing that sight. It never ceases to amaze me as to how this wonderful lady could always bring in so much of love and so much of peace to me. Both of us cannot resist hugging each other before she throws me off and says “Uggghhh .. u have collected the entire dirt of everyone and everything in the bus.. Take a bath and go get yourself clean.” With a wink and a small kiss on the little lady’s forehead, I would smile and make my ways inside the house. I am back! And how much ever I try, I cannot resist sipping the nice (and delightfully huge) glass of tea, standing in the backyard before my bath. With nice scented oil in my hair and a towel on my shoulder, I would stand there relishing the clean air and the wonderful smell of my own house. The chitter-chatter of the vessels in the kitchen (Hey, there had better be some nice cooking, the young one is home!) the calls of the neighbors seeing me, everything repeats as clockwork. My grandmother would sit in the dining table right behind me and would read the paper aloud. The servants, who are as much a part of our household as I am, would lovingly scorn at my grandmother for having done something she should not have. And with all the youth and vigor that only a young women of 70 can posses, she would bite back.

There is only one thing that can break my reverie and hurry me to take my bath. The spittle of water and hiss of oil in the dosa tawa before the ‘maavu’ is spread on the tawa! The oil on my hair would have been replaced with water (not completely toweled ) and my dirty clothes would have given way to a nice white mundu- shirt as i sit on the dining table joining my grandmother in front of the hot and yummy dosas. In between eager mouthfuls of dosas dipped in spicy chutney, I would update my servants on the latest happenings on my life and also update myself on the happenings by trying to read the paper. I am sure the ladies of the kitchen must be equipped with some kind of telepathy, for just as I tend to stop with the seemingly unstoppable hand-to-mouth actions, the steaming glass of tea reaches the table.

With a satisfied belly and very satisfied heart, I would lean back, enjoying myself the uncivilized pleasures of licking my fingers and sipping on the ever-silver glass of tea.

My grand mother would sit next to me, massaging her legs with oil – as a part of the preparations for her bath. She would hum some nice song or talk to me about the plans of what we have to do in the coming days together. Usually, I exist in that world for a weekend, so it would be either plans to go and watch a new movie or some movie that she had missed. But this time it was slightly different. The entire family is to gather for this Vishu. And the conversation revolved around who were there previously and who had done what and how and when everyone is coming to the celebration; what crackers have we gathered, who likes what crackers… and the tea!! Life could not get better. And this already sweet tea was interspersed with more sweetening of the instructions to the servants to ensure that they have procured all the vegetables and ingredients required for the big ‘sadya’ on the eve of Vishu!

With a wonderful smile, my grandmother would then finally say “So, let me take a bath!” The entire procedure including the mise-en-place and the actual event of a bath would take more than an hour. I walk to the kitchen to request for another glass of tea and retire to the living room, sitting comfortably in the easy-chair, which was a fixture of the house from the days I could remember, with my legs over the arm rest, the glass of tea delivered to the window still, and a paper on my hands. Everyone knows the outcome.. the glass of tea half consumed, the news on the paper not even half consumed, I would land in the world of dreams.

We can jump onto internet, do commerce at the speed of light, make friends with any person across the globe in seamless realization, but nothing can ever take away the peace and pleasure of being where you belong. It makes me wonder, where does civilization take me, or is it that I belong to the side-lane where I prefer to stand back and look and amaze at the technology movement? I am reminded of ‘Agent smith’ in the cult movie Matrix, who while searching for Neo, stands in a railway station and puts his head in a moving train to look through the entire train as the trains race ahead. I guess that is how I also feel. Deep roots strongly within this realm, I feel i dip my head in the racing technology train to get a glimpse! There is only one problem. Almost the entire world is in the train and that makes it imperative for anyone to make a trip in the train, so do I, so do I! Also, even in this serene tranquil world, where time is told not by digital beeps but by the patter of the multitude of school children’ feet running after the school hours (which signifies four o’ clock and time for another glass of tea and evening snacks), technology has started to creep in.

The day goes on with the love and care of my grandmother. The next day, one of my uncle and his family arrives. The huge house which anyways never looks empty was becoming even more alive – with sounds of little feet running around, with sounds of little bodies tripping and falling, with warning cries of parents… the home was building itself up. My uncle has two kids – I should not say kids anymore, they have grown to the age where you feel you are an adult and you should be treated that way! It was after a long time that I was seeing them and it was nice being jumped on (albeit from heavier feet and bodies!) and being hugged! The pleasures of technology have enabled me to bring in the power of visual memories capture through my handy-cam. The memories and the sound became even heavier and louder when my second uncle arrived with his son. His arrival was announced, as he blew the small bugle that he keeps in his car!

On check with the stock of crackers, the expert opinion was given. They are not enough! There was no second opinion. “Let’s Go! Let’s Go!” But before this aim was to be achieved, there was another small unfinished business to be attended to. The all-so–awaited bath in the river! The whole battalion of my cousins, led courageously by me, started to the river. Nothing comes free of cost, does it? As much as the creep of technology had brought TVs, radio and a plethora of convenience equipments, it had also caused erosion of sand from the river-beds for construction use. So we had to walk a couple of kilometers to reach the place where we could conveniently take bath. There were no complaints, all of us would love the walk though the unpaved roads, teasing and victimizing each other. There was nothing that could stop those young naughty guys to jump into the river directly, once we reached the banks.

Some memories are frozen in time as photo prints of the time when I was small enough to be led by my uncles to the river. One of them, shows me and my two elder cousin brothers in the river, frozen in the moment of jumping over each other! It is one of the most loved photos in the album.. and today, I felt a sense of deja-vu. I was sitting on the bank of the river with my handycam on my hand watching the memories etch itself on the cobalt tape as my cousins splashed water around everywhere and jump all over each other! Time had come one full round and I was still here. Civilization had not drugged me, technology had not corrupted me. The only thing that was corrupting me that moment was the temptation to jump into the water. And I indulged. After few minutes of memory generation, I put everything aside and I jumped in to meet my cousins in the water.

It was only when we were trying to walk back to our house, late in the evening when we realized, how far our enthusiasm had carried us! We had to actually mark a pit stop in the middle of our trek back to stop in a shop and force the shopkeeper – cum – juice maker to make ‘nannari-serbath’ ( a concoction of lime, soda and a flavored syrup) for us. It was not a surprise to us that we kept on drinking for a long time, until he ran out of lemon, but it was definitely a surprise to the man on the other side of the counter that his serbeth had suddenly become so popular. Had he belonged to the ‘techno-civilized’ era, he just might have measured the amount of ingredients he mixed that day, maintained the recipe as one of the most closely guarded secrets in the world and started bottling his product! The second pit stop came when we came across a shop selling crackers. We stopped there to balance our load; My load was lightened with a largely light wallet and my little cousins shared a lot of my weight by way of the new cracker packets got in exchange of my wallet contents!

The night before was alive with my grandmother making preparations for the Vishu morning. The traditional vessels came out, were filled with the fruits and vegetables in front of the picture of Lord Krishna and a mirror. This was the arrangement for ‘Kani-kaanal’, the event that marks seeing the Almighty as the first sight in the morning. In the morning, the children were bought in by their parents, eyes covered, in front of this arrangement, now complete with ‘Konna’ flowers and the yellow glow of the lamps glowing in front of the arrangement. All of us would sit in front of this arrangement and would open our eyes to be greeted by this wonderful sight of the Almighty himself covered in the yellow glory of the lighted lamps. It is a sight unparalleled by anything at all in the whole world. It is not just the sight of the Almighty, but also the realization of the anticipation of seeing the result of preparation on the previous night. And suddenly, everything gets back to normalcy and eh, a little urgency! The crackers, are waiting!

When you look at it for the first time, there is a huge load of crackers, but three generations of hands trying to reach into the packets deplore them in a speed that challenges the speed at which the Chennai Auto-rickshaw meters move! The whole front yard, well swept by the ladies of the household the night before, echoes with booms, cracks and fizzes. And in between this run down and flying booms, the elders of the house would search for you to give the ‘Kaineettam’, the first earning for the year. We would all accept it with blessings from our elders. Without age bar, all of us across the generations would seek blessings by touching the feet of our elder. I missed my grandfather then. Of the vivid memories etched in my heart, I would accept the token money from him which would come to my hand with so much of love, affection and a big smile which even now I cannot forget. He is one man whom I have found very difficult to imitate and very easy to admire. I am taken out of this reverie, as soon as I get into it, by my cousin who was ardently waiting for me to light a cracker that was too dangerous for him to do himself!

The dawn would wake up to he rough sound of sweeping broomsticks across the loose gravel of the front yard. These thin sticks sweep the cracker remains off the yard, but nothing could take away the lingering smell of crackers, the sense of enthusiasm and the sense of peace and happiness that enveloped all of us that morning. There is a dome in Pondicherry, I have heard, that houses a crystal in the center and allows a ray of sunlight to be hit on this. This crystal disperses the sun ray and provides light for the dome. People say that as u walk towards the crystal there is a moment, when your eyes fall on the strong rays and you are blinded for an instant. That instant, you feel absolute perfect peace. But, they warn you, it is for an instant as the next moment, you are back in this world.

I experience the same peace, the same sanity, the same absolute serenity when I revel in this atmosphere. My people. My home. This is where I belong and irrespective of what I do where I go, I would always belong. Nothing, absolutely nothing in this world, can take this away from me. Until, death do us part, that is. But even after, I know, that ‘The music in my heart I bore, Long after it was heard no more.’ How much ever I discover new technology, how much ever technology eases our life, whatever distance the rockets can take you, I wonder if they would ever be able to take this out of me. I do not search for a realization here, nor do I make a derivation from the facts. I know this and I always knew this. If not for this, I would not be what I am now. My body might be constituent of blood, flesh and bones, but this is what makes ME. ‘This’ is a constituent of the sunlight, of the green leaves, of the dust that sifts in the sunlight, of water that flows in the river, of the happiness that surrounds us all and of the energy that moves through this all. ‘This’ is my root, my identity, me.

The wonderful smell of brewing tea wakes me up and I happily consent to being a part of the noise, to the songs, to the cries (“look amma, he has taken my glass of tea!”), to the clear voice that reads aloud the news, to everything. Normal life takes it toll again, the rush for taking bath (and the long walk that comes before getting to the river! – bathrooms, did you say a bathroom, the enclosed room?). the day passes in its own hum, after a wonderful lunch which is a subjective realization of all the vegetables and ingredients that piled up right in front of my eyes in the previous days! As we all crowd together in the same room, trying to watch TV and sleep off as soon as we convince that others that the movie that you want to watch is the best, the house becomes slightly less noisy. Only till the evening arrives with more energy and more talks!

As days pass, some uncles have to leave and some stay back for some more days. One of the days we decide we must make a small trip to a temple nearby. With no schedules or no bosses to stop you from, there was no delay in the trip. This temple is to be accessed on foot, crossing fields and railway tracks. The temple is a single sanctum sanctorum covered by a wall. It stands on the bank of a river, by the side of a huge banyan tree. With no cellular phone beeps, no ‘sundall’ sellers and no plastic waste dropped around, it is a sight to behold. The huge banyan tree flaps its leaves with a murmur sound, set on a base made for people to rest and a temple silhouetted against the horizon next to it. The setting sun adds to the beauty of the temple. You walk down the irregular stone steps to the river and dip in it before entering the temple. It is not the sounds that fill your senses, nor splendid sights that fills your eyes, not phenomenal smell that fills your nose, but the entire feeling that fill your senses. The climb back up the stones lead you to the temple, where the Almighty gives his darshan to you as a ‘Swayambhu’ ( a deity formed out of natural causes). The walk back to the car on the road is a dream one, with my grandmother’s hand in my hand, and filled with talks of the era not yet totally bygone, but still on the rolls of ‘past tense’. Once we reached the car, my grandmother had a small request “The ‘mannaathi’ (the lady who washes, starches and irons clothes) have not come for a week. I heard she is sick, can we go visit her?” It is one big family in the village. And we go.

The house was well known to the people sitting under the darkening sky in the road side tea shop. Directed by them, we went up an alley. A small girl was sent to direct us to the right house by the inhabitants of the first wrong house we visited in the alley. A simple village girl, she marched and jumped while leading us to the point where she pointed the right house to us. Civilization made me utter the words in reflex ‘Thank you’. It was not the reply that surprised us, it was the speed and reflex with which the reply came ‘You are Welcome’!

As Gandhi once said “Western Civilization. A Good idea”!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Pick Me Up

Hours melt to nothingness in this cubicle of Luminescence. Am back after a mid day jog and i still feel empty down in my guts.

I need a pick-me-up. Any volunteers?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Slowly, moving clouds darken the sky. The scroching sun rays slowly disappear from the horizon and cool wind announces the arrival of monsoon. The heart leaps in joy even though the hands try to shield the eyes from the wind. As you look up to see the clouds smiling on you, suddenly, unexpectedly, un announced, the first drops of the cool fresh water fall on your face. The smell of fresh earth pierce your nostrils and fills your heart with joy unabound! Unbelievably, you stretch out your palms and look at it searchingly for more drops that splatter your body and suddenly, the realization dawns! With one last fleeting look of thanks skywards, you run to the nearest shelter.

It pours.

The Rain remains, till day the most impressive tranquilizer for me.Even the lightest pitter patter is enough to spread a thin film of fantasy over my eyes. Whatever i see then is an absolute mirage of idyllic beauty. The noise is gone, so are the visually blaring sights of the city around me. What remains is peace, is the feeling of being washed over.

Rain also gives me duality. Being in a close room while it's pouring outside gives me a feeling of security. It makes me want to hold on to some one near and makes me want to live life. The laziness, the longing, the bliss of doing nothing, of saying nothing settles in. The flowers of fantasy bloom and if you are with some one you love, well, chemistry would definitely happen. It is the feeling of a littel cove of security within the lashing rain. Just out of the cocoon, it is chilly, it is cold, but inside your cocoon, it is warm, cosy and you know it is much more than just the closed room. The warmth is more from you and the steaming cup of coffee you lovingly hold wrapped in your palms.

At the same time, out in the open in the rain gives me a feeling of being one to nature. It makes me feel that nature has decided that i've had enough of the civilized world's dirt, talk and life. And thankfully decides to give me a heart warming but bone chilling sensation with her smoothest gestures - a nice big hug with her watery arms. It makes me feel one with whatever is out there - life, creativity, God, Nature.

Which one of these feelings is dearer to me, is not known - here -another mystery for you to solve!! :)

Isn't rain always romantic ? The light chitter chatter the early rains make as u run towards the nearest bus shelter; the heavy downpour that suddenly catches u unaware that makes u look skywards and give a half thankful half giving-up smile to the One above; the continuous torrential downpour having masked the sky in dark black clouds - doesn't all these spell Romance ?

Those small legs that jump on the poodles of water braving the rain, the droplet of water that traces the arch of your lover's eye brows in its lingering defeat to gravity; those streams of water that try to so sensuously escape your palm as you wipe your face - is it not romance ?
Those swish swash of the wipers as they incessently clear the water from your windshield while Kishore Kumar breathes melody into your ears, those green leaves that bend down bearing the weight of the falling drops, that swirling smoke that creates a misty curtain on the window glass as you gaze out, those splatters of rain drops they fall on the wondow sills, don't they make up the word romance?

Those unsuccessful shoutings that every mother gives seeing her child run in gay abandon to the muddy street on a rainy day; that given up pose, still with a smile, as she sees her child's hair, shirt and body drench; those tightening grips as you pull their lover to a shelter in the sudden downpour; those lovingly harsh words whispered to your lover under the crowded bus stand for not having run faster and for having got wet, that defying smile on your lover's face blatantly disclosing that getting wetter is not really out of consideration; isn't this that makes up romance ?

Rain, for me is all things combined. It is a bit of sadness, a bit of rejuvenation, and a bit of wonderful amaze!

As they say
small boy at glass door,
befuddled by pounding rain,
claps to rain's tattoo.


Monday, June 13, 2005

The lazy week

If you've read the Linda Good man's books, you would know that the Librans are apt to have these mood swings - where he decides that - enough ! enough of the positive side and with a smooth trasition, navigates to use the darker side of the Force. Sometimes, during such times, life leaves you with a high and dry feeling.

It was such a week for me last week. Nothing much happened, no energy to take anything forward, just wanted to let everything flow. Remind me of the haiku that conveys this - I loved the stream and i returned back. The stream is there, but the water has flown. Sublime, yet so powerful. I always wonder what would the man would have felt, had he really come up with that feeling.

Absolute Madness ! :) But Order among madness- The total ordered Chaos Theory. We can give it so many names and as more and more names play on my keyboard tapping fingers, my mind sees a glimmer of humor and my lips slowly arch into a sweet small smile. So many things to define the feeling of nothingness. If so much can be said about nothingness, then nothingness is actually much more than nothing. :)

Am at office right now and i think this is going to be a dull borign days with me having to get some cheer myself... One of the times, when i want to be wrong.

Now - that was better.. After having bored you with my nothingness, i feel lighter already. Its' gloing to be a wonderful day - yaaawn !! Am slightly sleepy though! :)

Catch u, the unknown unlimited quantity of net population, a little later!