Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Destination Pichavaram!

It was yet another christmas morning; I was lazing around rather aimlessly, which is what I have always done all the Christmases I have ‘celebrated’ so far. Well, this one I didn’t celebrate, thanks to evolution, which is happening a little late in my life (anyway, it’s better late than never)! Ok, I was lazing around wondering what to do with the rest of the day, and nothing but only sleep seemed delectably alluring, and as I was about to give in to it, when the little devil at home started one of her songs (this one was called, I will do everything in my power to irritate you into submission) about joining her to Pichavaram (the second largest mangrove forests in the world). So, just to shut her up and since a phone call also confirmed that I wouldn’t be doing much over the weekend (no one else needed me or my company you see, which is how it has always been, hither to…), I set sail on a journey to the mangroves, though with a heavy heart, since I will have to put up with 4 attention seekers! Imagine, giving attention to so many! Nevertheless, I set sail…

At CMBT, we boarded on to this government bus bound to Chidambaram. All of us managed a window seat, but two windows refused to open, and we had to make do with whatever images filtered through the dust-coated glass windows. Of course, the ECR ride was pleasant, filled with memories of other trips on the same road…we crossed Dakshina Chithra, the ECR dhabba, Muthkadu, Croc Bank, etc…by the time, we hit Mahabs, it was dark already and our bladders seemed to be bursting at the seams, and one of us even refused to move even a micro inch for fear of tipping over the bladder! Thankfully, the bus halted and we were relieved. After some stretching and walking, we got into the bus to resume the ride. Do you see the relief on our faces in this picture?



Then, the attention seekers started their own trip of antaksharis and what not; and all I could do was feign a sinus attack and snore. Intermittently, I was woken up by Deepan’s inimitable capacity to catch the most difficult of some Tamil ragas; in fact, he gave me a complex. (Ok, for those of who miss the satire...I can't sing like two lines to save my life. So, does the satire come across at least now??) It seemed like one unending journey, punctuated only by the hungry noises my stomach was making! Mercifully, the journey ended and we could finally grab something to eat. After some essential cleaning up and stuff, we slept, only to be rudely awakened by a radio that blared some gibberish at 6 in the morning! It took Sri some super human effort and ingenuity to figure out how to turn out the damn thing! Anyway, after some more inane things, our journey began…

First, I walked into the Chidambaram Nataraja temple. I must say it was truly a beautiful temple, though hidden under its beauty was untouchability and brahminical fascism. You can read about these here and here. I went around the temple talking to different people about what they felt about the government take over; each one had a different take. One thing that was common was the overall acceptance among people about the brahminical domination over a place of worship! Anyway, the issue is sub-judice. But, that doesn’t mean one should be quiet and let justice take its course, considering it's rather dismal record so far! What’s now necessary is a dialog or a debate on the temple, on who can conduct the poojas, on why one mustn’t sing in Tamil in that temple, on why it’s essential for the government to control the temple and its property! I walked out an agitated woman…wondering what is happening to the case and to the 10-year-old movement spearheaded by Arumugasamy, a Sivan Adigalar who's been waging a lone battle here. Quietly, I boarded the bus to Pichavaram, and as an answer to my various questions, a young man boarded our bus and started talking in clear language about the issue, making the ordinary people understand the importance of thinking, the importance of participating in the change process, and also contributing to making the change!

Rejuvenated, I embarked on the rest of the journey. The bus route from Chidambaram to Pichavaram is a picturesque one…vast stretches of green fields, cool breeze from the back waters, canals, birds, snakes, etc dot the road. A Muslim woman was my co-traveller who explained to me many more things about the area and of course even invited us for a fish lunch! Slowly, the green fields opened out to something that looked like a huge lake, but no! It was a bloody sea filled with trees! Check out the pictures that follow. Read here about what a mangrove is. I am stopping here so that you guys can enjoy the pictures…













Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tis the season to be jolly…

It’s just another sleepy morning as I wait for the sleepy clouds to clear out and the bright sunny mood to come out. In fact, a colleague remarked that this is not the season to be snappy or even crabby, and as she said to those words, just to irritate her and myself, I started droning (in my besura voice) tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la…

In any case, the post is not about my mood swings, rather a collection of some thoughts that trapeze through me as I negotiate yet another day in this day and time.

Today, I managed to find the ‘right’ bus; an air-conditioned one, which plays FM radio and also provides nice view (the windows remind one of French windows). More about the bus in the next thought. So, as the bus negotiated a turn, where we (the metropolitan bus passengers) get a view of the moffusil buses, my eyes fell on a tall, dark, handsome guy. He had pierced his ears and had also grown his hair just a bit and perhaps was quite aware of the effect he had on women. One thing was writ large on his face though, and it was hope. I started wondering what that hope could be…and my mind whirled past to a rather disturbing article I had read in the Tehelka about many such beautiful young women who alight at this very bus stand with the same thing this young man had: hope! Read the article here to know what a terrible place this city could be for dreamers…
____

These AC buses are something of a novelty to the city. These buses charge 3 times the fare and have conductors and drivers in uniform! Imagine wearing a cap and all in this hot city! A couple of days ago, I had the opportunity to speak to a bus conductor, who shared his story of how terrible their working conditions are. They no more enjoy any kind of job security, or at least the kind ‘government servants’ are supposed to enjoy! In making things ‘better’ for the IT crowd, these buses are quickly replacing the ordinary buses that working class people take to go to work. For example, a construction worker just stepped into this bus only to be shooed away by the uniformed conductor, who anyway has a broad grin for the IT crowd! His grin of course hides all the actual grief and insecurities he has…and, we the IT crowd smile back, hiding our insecurities spurred by recession! At such a state, I can’t even articulate my thoughts…
____

Then, I come to office and my mail box contains an invite (only for people with Christian names; well, didn’t someone know that first freedom one is denied in life is choosing one’s own name!!) for a Christmas dinner! Coz, it’s the season to be jolly…yea, to be jolly! Let’s all be jolly, decorate our plastic Christmas trees (even if buying them means contributing to globalization), make and distribute cakes (even if it means workers at McRennet and other cake shops must overwork and be underpaid), attend our morning services (even if it means being sleep-deprived for the sexton and his family), and order Biriyanis (even if it means an exponential amount of goat slaughter and extensive, back-breaking work for the children who work for a pittance in catering houses!). Yea, let’s all be jolly!

So much for my thoughts, people, this jolly season…

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Selective Politics and Individualism

Often, I have been branded as being ‘backward’ or even ‘regressive’ for some of my views. Although this post is about how I wish I were neither, it is also about a certain kind of pop politics that seems to make up for politics that comes through serious study and application.

Firstly, my views on the ‘pink chaddi’ campaign. For those of you who didn’t know what it was, read it here. While I totally empathize with the sentiments expressed for the right wing group, what I found repugnant was the coming together for one’s own class, and in such large numbers, aided by the press. The press that is a mute spectator to the millions of women who go through rape and torture in police thanas, at construction work sites, on the bus, in the street, and, why, even the Khairalanji massacre etc.

And, of course, I have my views on the pub culture per se, especially in the context of women empowerment (sic!)! Very simply, are all the women who go pub hopping or the ones who participated in the campaign empowered? Well, empowered to do what? Well, what with new ideas of empowerment doled out: a woman with sindoor on her forehead sipping wine and having a cigarette in hand; and even worse, you would wear the mangalsutra, wear jeans, and party, and you are empowered! Give me a break ya, guys!

A brief glance at the pubs today! A colleague, sometime back mentioned about some new types of pubs that have come up all over the place, which have an amazing d├ęcor and color combinations because all of them were cotton mills earlier! Yea, the mills from which thousands of workers (both men and women) were thrown out on the streets and all their families reduced to migrant labor so that all you pub goers can go and have a good time, gyrating to the latest rap and consume litres of liquor! What else does this pub culture do, well to the those very people who pub hop! Guys, don’t you all have a life? Really? I mean, look around, people are on the streets (actually thrown out so that u can have a cozy space to gaze deep into each others’ vacuous eyes), there’s rampant diseases spreading (because you guys can have the best treatment), and even the planet is breaking away, and all that you can come together for is your space to consume liquor and send pink chadis, after even chadis are in abundance! How much more pathetic can you get! The more you (or we) continue this, the more are we going to land up as broken, individualistic dehumanized robots! Wake up, when it’s not too late!

Secondly, clothes! Especially, the way (young) women dress. I have been at the receiving end of a lot of flak of late. I know, am almost opening a pandora’s box here, I would still go ahead and do it, so that perhaps all of us gain some clarity about what is ok! It is my view point that most of the clothes that women wear are designed to make her look curvaceous and attractive and appealing to a man. Now, I am not getting into attraction and sexuality here (which again, I don’t think rest on one’s looks as much as they do on each others’ attitude and mental makeup). So, what is the need for clothes? Just find something to walk out of the house, rather than spending thousands (at branded outlets finding the right fit, etc.) and hours before the mirror, and all for what? Just to turn some heads! I mean how much more pathetic can it get? And, what amazes me is the amount of vacuous politics that gets into the picture about justifying or even rationalizing skimpy and even vulgar clothes! And, it really leaves me befuddled when people ask me to explain what I mean by vulgar! Ok, now, am open to the bullets…let’s get the discussion rolling.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

For the Working People!

It was late morning when Dhatichiyani akka, our domestic help, came running to our house last Sunday, when most of our family had gone to church. She came to tell us that she wouldn’t come to work only on that day because a close relative of hers had had a fall. Her relative is a construction worker and so is her husband. They have all migrated into this city in search of jobs, fleeing perhaps caste oppression or agricultural labor, which is again unreliable thanks to the failing monsoons and of course land grab under the name of development! She had to make the arduous trip to another city, with the promise that she will return by the very next day so that she could save her job here, which anyway pays her a paltry sum. In any case, she returned one day late with the terrible news that her relative may not make it after all, or it would be tough to save his life. But, why did she return, if that’s the state of affairs? Obvious: to save her job and also to arrange for the money the family so dearly needed! It’s with a heavy heart, filled with anger, distress, sorrow, and helplessness I make this post, in the hope that we, the ones who have the means to read this post (we didn’t get here only by accident; there’s an entire class/state machinery that’s working continuously to keep us where we are) will think; yes, at least think when a entire generation of humanity is perishing under our very eyes as we surf channels, read the morning astrological predictions, match horoscopes, meditate on world peace, and shop at lifestyle to deal with our depressive episodes!

Why did this person have to fall? A skilled worker, who has experience in construction for the last 10-15 years, falls just like that and crashes his rib cage! This is how safe our construction companies are! And, the metro bridges crash in Delhi is of course not old news as yet. And, in this case, apparently the construction company, which must be grossing its profits in crores, has the murderous gall to say that the worker must have been drunk and so missed his step and fell! And, these companies will even be recognized with standrads adherence awards for their excellent working conditions (spit on you, you murderers!). In this case, I do not think the worker was drunk; even if he was drunk, why does he have to work under such high risk areas for such something as meager as Rs. 150 (or even less) for a day? And, our dear army personnel are paid in lakhs because they risk their lives every day; and, of course it is a separate matter that they also rape and murder women as part of their job requirements in Shopian and Meghalay! If it’s not bad enough that the worker had to fall in this manner when his management is distorting the case to save their skin, the civil society/government (the great welfare state that we are) doesn’t even have proper hospitals that can give him proper healthcare (where will our government have the time when it brings out stamps to commemorate the great service renedred to the uppermiddleclasses by private hospitals?). Of course, not to mention that the worker has been admitted in a ‘service-minded’ Christian hospital for better healthcare; the hospital apparently says they can’t do much, but please get a hefty amount ready, for which our domestic help rushed back!

Tell me, all of you, who is to blame? Is there a real way out of this capitalist mess? Is there any hope to redeem humanity? Can we really hope to make a new world? Can we break out of this tapestry of violence spun only by greed and selfish motives?

Only these words come to my mind; does anyone have any other alternative? (words in bold are my additions):

The Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.
In all these movements, they bring to the front, as the leading question in each, the property question, no matter what its degree of development at the time.
Finally, they labour everywhere for the union and agreement of the democratic parties of all countries.
The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.
Working People of All Countries, Unite!
----The Communist Manifesto.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

In the Eyes

Do eyes really speak a million stories?
Of the million moments
They traversed
Through the sandy waves of time

Of the smiles that lay buried
That refused to play
With the lips

Of the tears that lay heaped
That shied away
From the lashes

Of the wordless language
That communed to itself
And not you

Of the intoxication that spreads
Unslurred by reputation lords
Guarding the divine

Of the potent dreams that spin
Pain and poison and hope
In the grey tapestry of freedom

Monday, November 30, 2009

Welcome back, Sir

Yes, sir, welcome home
You must be tired.
After such a tiresome, fearsome company
With only your wall flower to accompany
You
In your partying with sashas and michelles
In their designer clothes
Sashaying to the melodious ringtones
Of our very own
Musical, global Indian.

Yes, sir, welcome home
You must be tired.
After such an eclectic, learned company
With only your few Ratans and Ambis to accompany
You
In your forking and corking with the fates of millions
Whose blood have reddened your fingers
And you think
Of liberation through your liberalized open-door

Yes, sir, welcome home
You must be tired.
After such a momentous, first-time affair
Or, should I say, a coitus forbidden
Only by the blood of millions before
Which you today spat on
With your spot-on deals and pacts
Of stealth, greed, and blood thirst

Monday, November 23, 2009

Like a ...

Like a clear cool stream that meanders on
Unaware of its trails
Of the puddles it created
The little moth houses it filled
The thirsts it quenched
Flows the never ending song of solitude
A song in search of its tune
A homeless bird in search of a nest

Like a gusty gale that rages on
Completely aware of its ravages
Of the houses it broke
The trees it uprooted
The seas it parted
Blows the east wind of passion
A flood in search of an unbuilt dam
A tidal wave shying at the shore

Like an innocent little bud that blooms
Oblivious to the fragrance it spreads
To the hopes it builds
The beauty it spreads
The dreams it spins
Plays the music on the harp of eternity
A note in search of a composer
A rain drop in search of its poet

Friday, November 20, 2009

Please don’t disturb; great mind at work

Sometimes, I wish I could hang that board around my neck or in a way that would tell the world not to mess around with me, especially when I am processing an important thought or trying to catch an intricate tune, not that I can reproduce the tune!

Ok, this post is basically about how people get irritated with some of my responses, especially when they startle me when all that they did was just a happy nudge or a warm hug!

Today, I was listening to the radio on my new, beautiful cell phone, and they were playing an old Illayaraja number (must have been a tame channel like Rainbow, for the tame and tepid souls like mine) as I got off the auto and my eyes beheld the beautiful clouds (shaped like two, smoky, pristine white monsters about to get into a cloudy fist fight) against a clear blue background, flood lighted by the sun! Can you guys feel the joy I would have experienced at that moment; the way my sense of being came alive with the miracle of the earth? Extending that moment blissfully, I trudged along, only to be brutally shaken out by a colleague! Well, she didn’t mean to be violent; she’s in fact one of the most soft, petite and pretty women in my office, who is also quite friendly with me (which is a rare combination; I steer clear of anybody who remotely looks pretty, fair, or beautiful...in the conventional sense; in any case, my friends are the most beautiful people on earth!).

Back to the episode: it was a brutal snuffing out of the moment, and understandably I was disoriented! And, I kind of collected my thoughts and tried to listen to what she was saying; nothing, just a hi and then she disappeared, because she had some work!

Heaving a helpless sigh at social etiquette, I trudged along, getting back to the song. And, in no time, I was lost in the ocean of music; how Illayaraja had knit one raga with another without any trace of a bump; a journey he had created to be enjoyed each time your mind and soul came together on that road. And, just when SPB was hitting a high note, my phone shrilled deep into my ears! It was a phone call…sigh! The world seemed committed to getting me out of my world! Well, and the world has the gall to call me an Attention Seeker, when the world wants my attention all the time!

Well…yet another morning…another bag full of goodies. :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pavazha Malli Pukkal


En vaasalil vizhundirundina pukkal
Pavazha Malli Pukkal
Thisai theriya kaatru
Avaikagalai angu vitu sendradu


Pookolam pola padindruda pookalai
Paarthen, thazhuva ninaithen
Azhaigiya pukkal endradaal matume
Avaigalai saerthen

En vaasal thedi vanda pukkal
Velainira pukkal
Velai niram, azhagin ore elakanam
Ulagam marandu, anda pukkalai rasithen

Velai nira pukkal, en vaasal vandhada
Velai niram, eraivanin niram
Metukudiin niram
Ennayum un velainirathil atkola ninaithayo

Azhagiya pookale, poivindungal
Azhagiruku, pudu ilakanam thedum karmegam naan
Idhai arinduma ennai suzha ninaithirgal
Velainira pukkale

Karukum suriyanil azhagai paarkiren naan
En kangal thedum azhagu, neengal alla
Edhai arinduthan, ennai thisai thirupa ninaithirgala
Metukudiiyin meykavalargale

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Another Morning

It’s another morning here, miles away
No, lifetimes away
Away from the evenings of shared smiles
As we straddled, haggled with the vendors

I see another row of neatly arranged boxes
No, cartons that carry food
Not just to exist, but survive
Survive the mundane conversations on right and left

Another sun here shines bright at my smile
No, a stifled sob, a swallowed grief
On the murder of throbbing life
Painted on the outside with hollow laughter and love

Yet another ride, high over the seas
No, over the highway of life
Only, I don’t fear the potholes of your tradition
Of love paid only through the needle of your sacred thread

It’s another evening here, dreams away
No, nightmares away
Away from the mornings of prayerful submission
To purified stone gods that putrefied the soul

I see another of row of bright yellow flowers
No, little love poems floating in my garden
Not just to cuddle, but live
Live to see the face of truth, face of pain, the face of God

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Things to do while it’s raining cats and dogs outside

Basically, you must be in a room (preferably alone, an occasional company is also acceptable) with a warm bed that faces the TV and any musical instrument. Importantly, the room must have a window that allows you to stare at the rain.

Now that you are in the room, you can:

1. Read a nice little novel munching a pack of chips, listening to the rain.
2. Watch an interesting, riveting movie with a nice drink in hand (I mean tea, coffee, or juice ;)).
3. Cover yourself with a blanket and use a torch to read old letters.
4. Switch off lights and fans, open the windows, hear the rain, and lull yourself to sleep.
5. Listen to old rain songs, I suggest Illayaraja, and hope someone special calls; most often, this wish isn’t granted, so don’t hope this.
6. Switch off lights, cover yourself with a blanket, and stare at the rain, leaves, little insects, and the street light.
7. If you have a door that opens outside, write little poems on strips of papers and float them.
8. Lie on your bed and remember all those things you never wanna forget.
9. Call people; well, only those who will like to receive your call; this is again a sticky area, so tread carefully.
10. Draw/paint or hum a tune.

So, if guys can think of anything else that you can do, let me know.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Thookam Ennai Thuranta Pozhudugalil

Thookam ennai parthu
nagaithu
mazhai thulikaludan
vannathupuchi pol
vilayadi kondu irukiradu

En Mudhal Tamizh Kavithai

Poongatrudan poo vanam
punagai poo kirathu
poo mazhaiyay

Ps: No translation people; sorry. Purely for people who understand and appreciate the beauty of Tamizh...I know, I sound exclusivist...sorry:)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Temptress on the road



Was it a year ago or an aeon ago
When you first sprouted
Each moment adding a curve
A brush stroke here
A nudge there

How did you come to be this way
A moment in history
A tree frozen in the folds of time
An artsy bend here
A curve there, everywhere

Where do you stand, was it
A design to stand testimony
To the ones denied entry
Into the sanctum sanctorum
That can’t behold your magnificence

Why do you stand apart, alone
In the beauty of your splendor
One of a kind
As my eyes behold
Your imposing countenance

What do I say to you
The artist’s handiwork
Or, the temptress on the road
As my eyes seek you each dawn
And, you strike a smile on my lips

Ps: This was written for the tree that stands right behind the Madhya Kailash temple opposite the CLRI campus on the Sardar Patel Road, Adyar. Next time, you take that road, just take a moment to look at this peculiarly beautiful tree. It almost looks like a curvaceous diva. :) Sketch: Rajeev Rajan
Photo: Karthikesawaran.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A search comes to an end…

It was sometime in mid 1998…almost out of one college, and on the verge of getting into another, also a time of great moral/economic crisis that the country was going through. We, though were old enough to herald a revolution or at least choose to learn, chose to sit in student conferences that gave a ‘platform’ to become undergrown arm-chair intellectuals!

It was one such conference/meeting on globalization and how it affects the ‘poor,’ which was organized in the pristine Yelagiri hills, where we munched beef and mutton and talked about what can be done to combat globalization! Of course the person who sat through those conferences has hardly anything common with the person typing this, but, yes, something that happened in that camp/conference has its relevance today.

After one the usual ‘awareness raising (read as hair raising)’ speeches, each college was told to present something creative on globalization; could be a skit, a song, a poem, etc. There must have at least been a dozen presentations on that day, but I distinctly remember a guy and girl (from a not-so-hep college), who confidently take the mike and sing a Tamil song on globalization. It wasn't the people who sung the song, but the song itself that stirred and unsettled me! Today, I wish, I had overcome certain hurdles and walked up to them and asked how and who taught them the song! Their answer might have been a definite turning point, but I did let go that moment, and lived to regret it for a very long time. In all these intervening years, I must have hummed a couple of lines of that song each time I would come across Coke or Pepsi. In a way, that song has been a very strong reason to why I quit drinking cola! But, my search continued...And, today, purely by chance, I check my reader, and what awaits me! Bingo, the same song; a search of almost 11 years comes to an end…in some ways, it feels like homecoming…

Hear the song here!

For those of you, who don't understand Tamil, I have tried to translate the words for you! All of you know am no authority on translation or on Tamil, but still I have attempted so that you all share what I felt as I heard this song!

The country’s developing!

The country’s developing, says he
mmmm….jim jim jim (just for the rhythm, and also connoting to glitter)
In the path taken by Germany, America, and Japan?
Country, our country’s, developing, says he

Coca-cola to quench your thirst
Foreign ‘goods’ to heighten your spirits
Mix up Pepsi and Lehar
The rest of the tasks will be taken care of by mineral water
There’s dearth of water, and you want rose water to rinse your mouth
Slipper him, and his cheeks will puff up

The TV shows a smiling complan girl
As the doctor commands you to give fruits and eggs and milk every day
His child eats voraciously and bloats
As our child only sees the ad and desires
And runs with the plate to get the free meal at school before its over
And, what are his nonsensical schemes swatting?

Morning coffee at Meenambakkam (the Chennai airport)
He goes to ease of (to shit!) at the great city, London
In a private jet, which is fly-like
You need a police delegation for this
When just the rains have washed away our roads
And, the big-mouthed fellow comes talking about country development

The school is hanging with its nameboard
But, what you see is just three walls
The students are hanging on the trees
As the teacher sleeps
The moneyed-man’s child goes to the convent
While only liquor flows in our corporation schools

The government hospitals are at hand
The disease starts right from there
He says he’s operating
He cuts open and says there’s no thread to stitch back
The moneyed man’s crowd goes to Apollo
And, the government in its great mercy conducts postmortems for us

Within the AC cage, the doll stares
As the golden bordered saree glitters on its body
The coffers of Nalli and Sarathas are bursting at the seams
Only white buffaloes are loitering inside
The charka is laying in wait for the cotton thread
Your silk’s glittering in our hunger deaths

Forests, trees, seas, fish are private
Even electricity and telephone are private
All government plants have been divided
And auctioned off thrice
What’s left to be called our country?
He’s dancing and the director is jungle-raaj

© www.vinavu.com

Monday, October 26, 2009

Wake Up Sid put Me to Sleep!

After some deliberation, I decided to watch Wake up Sid the past weekend. What follows is basically my reasons to why I fell asleep watching the movie and considered my Saturday afternoon a criminal waste!

Firstly, the plot, or well…what to say, the incident/the happening…coz, I couldn’t see any plot, whatsoever it may be!

Ok, it’s the story of this stinkingly rich and spoilt brat, Sid, who flunks his graduation, but still manages to continue his exceptionally rich lifestyle, and in the end even manages to ‘win’ an independent, self-made woman’s heart! That’s all it is to the movie! He having his heart broken because of flunking his exams, walking out of his home and straight into another, and then finding a job are all merely fillers!

This movie is solely for those people who go/went to college driving their own cars, start/ed boozing in swanky pubs even before the legally permissible age, wear/wore branded clothes, and shop/shopped by using credit cards that don’t have any spending limit! Even today, I am unable to afford this lifestyle despite being a corporate employee, and it’s several years since I passed out of college! I am now genuinely interested to know how many young people in India go to the college like this! Just a word for Karan Johar: the majority of college going students use government concessions and take the public transport, wear ordinary clothes (and they don’t own anything more that 5 to 10 pairs of clothes, and mind you they are hardly branded!), and don’t simply walk out of their homes!

Then, the woman, who travels all the way from Calcutta to make her own destiny, who does nothing big than find a flat, get a job, and fall in love with a rich guy! And that’s her definition of liberation/independence and perhaps Karan Johar’s ode to feminism (sic!)

What is it in this movie that makes the young people of this country go gaga over it? There are orkut scraps that say this movie is best, best and bestest! sigh, sigh, sigh! Does everyone want to ape the lifestyle of the protogonist of this movie? How vacuous and silly is this generation then? What can one expect from this crowd then? It's a quite a sinister trend for the young people to like movies as this and even A Wednesday!

I dunno from which angle I should trash this movie…the flat plot, lack of characterization, silly pace, or the utter ignorance of the reality of this country? The movie failed, failed, and failed to entertain, make one think, or even live up to the money we paid for the tickets!

Ps: Sorry folks, it’s not a review review, just an outpouring of my messed mind, thanks to the 2.5 hours spent inside a movie hall watching (actually sleeping) Wake up Sid!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Memories

Like the last few labored breaths
Of a dying flower
Whose scent may travel far
With the wind
Comes to me the scent
Of your last words
As they resound in the
The fine sands of history

Thursday, October 15, 2009

This too shall pass

As the dark clouds gather
Amidst a bright day
Dispelling the crude reality of life
Quenching the incessant thirst
For a while
And pass on
Like it never was

As the weeds that grow
Over a freshly made grave
Lush, green, and new
Flowering on the death beneath
Few more days
It shall be no more
Like the heart that burns underneath

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A date with…

Since my boss at home (a.k.a sister) and a friend had ordered me to make a mutton biriyani, I thought it was important to juggle some office work and be back home on time with mutton in hand! So, yesterday, my plan was to take one of the long-distance buses to Koyambedu (which is as close a bus can reach me to my house), do some inane things around, and take an auto to the nearest meat shops (which are like 4-5 km away!) So much for my planning! But, the evening had completely other things in store! Now, don’t imagine anything interesting or romantic; those are only in the storybooks we stole and read at school (the title deliberately misleads)!

Now, back to my evening date. First, the buses…they were late; I use the plural pronoun because these buses come in bunches of 3 or 4, and then, there’s none for at least 30 minutes, which are really precious moments when you are working under a biriyani deadline! Anyway, a video coach arrived, and I tried to will myself to watch some nondescript old Tamil movies, none of which were least bit soft on the ears! As if that wasn’t enough to irritate me, a tall, dark, handsome, (sic!) 40-something tried a couple of romantic nudges only to be gawked at by a daggers-drawn-self-defense-trained tigress (and, that’s me!).

Then, it was time to be unceremoniously herded and dumped at the Koyambedu bus stop! So, time to do the inane things (what are those? Content suppressed!)! There, I try to pay my bill, but my always-loyal debit card behaves badly! So, paying off with the last penny in hand, I trudge to the nearest mutton shop to check if they have any mutton; and as expected, no mutton! Then, started the ordeal of finding an ATM! The first one identified me by name (usually, they don’t, and I tell myself that since my account is still in Delhi…some tech problem, but I was surprised by this one!), but declined to part with any money only to me! And, again, another irritant in the ATM is almost volunteering to give cash, just because one’s alone and is female (Grr! I could have killed him, but just carried on!).

And, the traffic had to also put in its bit; it jammed for a good 20 minutes, which were punctuated by calls from the boss! Finally, found my own bank’s ATMs, which were all uniformly out of service! Even then, my brain didn’t tick that it may not be my account’s problem, but the bank’s, and have saved myself some angst about technology being a conspiracy against me and funnel out all my hard-earned money from my account!

To cut a long story short, I reached home penniless and mutton-less and had to borrow money even to pay the auto! As if this wasn’t enough, a friend tries to be funny and smses, great! Now you can save money! And when I don’t reply, he gets more ‘funny’ and says, it’s not a savings account, but a forced savings account, hahaha!

Now, aren’t you guys jealous of my life?????????

Now, for those you, more interested in whatever happened to the biriyani, yes! It was made this morning. Here’s the recipe for the cooking-inclined and some pics for the graphics-inclined.

Ingredients

1 kg mutton and Basmati rice
150 gm ginger garlic paste
50 gm curd
1 bunch of mint
2 tablespoons chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 green chillies
½ kg onions
250 gm tomatoes

Method

Marinate the mutton with some curd, ginger garlic paste (only a bit), tumeric, salt, and couple of green chillies. Leave it aside

Put the cooker on your stove and fry onions followed by ginger garlic paste and mint leaves. When the flavors are released, dunk the mutton with the remaining chilli powder and fry a little before you shut the cooker for 1 whistle. Then, open the cooker, put in the tomatoes and pour adequate water (if you take about 4 cups of rice, use about 6.5 cups of water) and check the salt (it must tasty salty). Then, put in the washed rice and shut the cooker. Keep it on high fire for 5 minutes and in sim for 5 minutes.

This is how it should appear when you open the cooker after 15-20 minutes.





Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Response to the Times (Now)!

Yesterday, I had the misfortune of tuning into TimesNow, which I believe is definitely sponsored by some right-wing, casteistic, anti-people, anti-woman party. It’s one channel, besides of course CNN and NDTV, that strives consistently to remain true to upper-class aspirations. Be it Australian attacks, the Indian cricket team’s deplorable behavior in other countries, or naxalism (latest in their kitty), TimesNow and its journalist Arnab Goswani have shown to the world where their real interests lie, what they want to promote, and whose shoes they lick! All that they care about is just money! And, they go no holds barred to achieve their sinister goals by spreading lies, lies, and lies!

Yesterday’s debate (well, that’s what the channel called it) on naxalism (the new threat to internal security) left me hopping mad! Not only because of the hollowness or the stupidity of the debate, but also in the manner in which a TV channel, claiming to be the media, conducted itself! They just sunk to levels lower than what can be comprehended as the behavior of a demented and deranged mind! It seemed like a circus in which a drunken, illiterate monkey was doing a salsa with its own reflection! Of course, for some funny reason, there were the most radical of the dissendent voices on the debate, but what was undeniable is how the entire debate seemed just like a farce! I couldn’t quite put my finger on what I was seeing; why should a clearly pro-establishment, highly regressive news channel appear to have a free and fair debate!

The following quote of Chomsky came to my mind as the actual reason for this farce:

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum - even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there's free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate."

Now to the event that triggered off this great, informed debate that this demented psycho kicked off. Even before the debate can take off, he looks all sad and deep into the camera and clears his throat and goes on and on about how naxals are terrorists and that they have resorted to Taliban style killing; well, I didn’t know the channel hired people who were experts on Taliban; it makes me wonder if Taliban actually trained these people! The point here is a TV channel seems to declare ‘truths’, even without proper investigation of proof! Of course, you can always resort to a tame apology the following day when the world has already been poisoned enough! This brings me to the next question: what does the channel and its monkey actually want! A country that is intolerant to any kind of dissent and people who condone extra judicial killings in cold blood. Isn’t it incumbent upon the media to play the role of a devil’s advocate? Why do the hell do we need a media like this? They are even worse than the state itself! They are already pronouncing judgments even when the cases on people are sub-judice! What do we, as sane people, do? I couldn’t find a more fitting call for all of us; interestingly the call has been sounding for over a century!

Only through the people's highest intellectual maturity and inexhaustible idealism can it (society) be brought safely through all storms and find its way to port.

Rosa Luxemborg
.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tears

When words die down
As the world closes its doors
As the blood congeals half way

When the stupid heart bleeds
As the feet forget their chosen path
As the hands wring in despair

When the winds stop blowing
As the crazy gods cast their die
As a soul dies within a body

When memories fail
As a tiny droplet gathers grief
As it flows down the living corpse

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Can?

Can an actor pull down the curtain?
He doesn’t want to act any longer

Can the river stop flowing?
It’s tired flowing over hills and valleys

Can the breeze stop blowing?
It’s bored of the unchanging colors around

Can the greedy humans stop living?
Coz we don’t want to work to satiate their greed

Can the rich become poor?
We are furious about your daylight robbery

Can the world stop for a moment?
We need to take stock
We need to undo great mistakes
We need another chance!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sickled Through!

When the lights dim
As a thousand stars light the dark sky
Your words lit the darkness that clouded my heart
Slowly, but surely
You nudged away the flickering light
Stationed yourself as my reading light

Was it a mistake?
A slip of your tongue.
An error in my understanding
Or in your lesson
Words from your mouth
Sweet nothings, faded, as the lights went out

A buzz you were in the depths of my heart
An imagination is what you think
Perhaps you are right
As always
Crashed yourself in
And walked away like none happened

Can you possibly know this?
Perhaps, never again
Will you take this road again.
I may be standing,
Please be informed, there’s no more me
For, you have sickled me through

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Periyar; 130 Years!

A couple of days ago, Chennai was splattered in red and black, especially the Valluvar Kottam area; it was Annadurai’s birthday. Now, my readers please don’t embarrass me by googling Annadurai’s name. You must know him! Okay, anyway, for my young readers, here’s a small refresher: he’s the ex-chief minister of TN and one of the important voices of the Dravidian Movement, which had its beginnings in another very important movement called the Self-Respect Movement that was spearheaded by one of the greatest thinkers of this millennium, E. V. Ramasami, fondly referred to as Thanthai Periyar.

Today, the post is on Periyar since it’s his 130th birthday and there’s hardly any trace of the celebration! Never mind, Periyar would have liked it this way. I know some of you have this highly annoying habit of zodiacing the moment you hear someone’s b’day and have rubbed off that habit on me too! And, today, as I realized it was this great man’s b’day and tried to zodiac him, I almost had this ethereal experience, where I only remember a firm knock on my head with Periyar’s walking stick; perhaps, he tried to knock me out of such irrational nonsense! And, I thought it would be a fitting way to remember this great man by reviewing one of his books, Penn en adimaiaanal (Why did the woman become a slave?); it’s actually the first of Periyar's books I got to read, but that too a translation only!

Read the review in my other blog

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Morning joys and pains

It was a nice bright morning; I woke up with a nice start, with the remnants of last night’s dreams (good dreams are so few and far between, you see)!

With Horlicks in hand, I started skimming through the paper when madam scientist (who actually should be awarded, or given discounts, by the movie theater owners for keeping their coffers running) described the story of the best picture, Kanjeevaram. Wonder if it was her description or the reality of the lives of workers in this capitalist system, I almost choked on my drink. Swallowing my tears, I restarted my newspaper reading (it had to be paused when the story was being narrated).

After groping my way through the Ishrat Jehan fake encounter, I was elated to see the Jet Airways fiasco! And, finally, the corporate employees have woken up to the reality of the capitalist system, and have formed some sort of a union, and are working up a strike that is striking the ruling classes (their own class, though)! So, now that put a song (revolutionary) in my heart and I trudged along to work.

Now, here, I see some men and women (again the corporate employees) holding some placards! Now, this can’t be happening…I thought, are we nearing a near-revolution…have the corporate employees woken up? Are they protesting against the indiscriminate laying off of their co-workers in the wake of the recession? Or, are they demanding more regulated working hours? My day-dream was brutally snuffed, as the letters on the placard became visible…road safety! Hug your children! Those of you who know me, can guess my expressions…no wonder the security anna singled me out and asked me for my ID. Of course, I said, “why only me with a pout” (forgive me folks, the morning was crazy), immediately, he relented and said, “no, no, never mind just carry on, madam” with a brilliant smile!

Yet another morning…a mixed bag!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Whys?

Why
Yes, why?
For what?
Then again why?
No, why?
Why the holy hell?
what the hell, anyway?
like who cares
anyway!
the anyways and howevers
a split second now
and then
gone away in a moment
been there
far away in the past
flippant talk
what the hell
like who cares
who cares
the unshed tears and careless whispers
why
and, why?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A moment to behold

A moment to behold
To treasure, to hold close
Dark skies, save a dollop of bright light
Grey clouds clearing slowly
As the waves heave and puff
Mirroring my heart
As my fingers feel the warmth
Of the memories
Of the sadness
Of the pain
Of the love
Of life ebbing away
Of life throbbing within
I close my eyes, holding the moment
As I let go the garb of childish whims
Shaken out of my cloak of fanciful dreams
As the clouds draw back
And the clear light of life emerges through
As the waves draw close
My heart smiles as it hears a new, strange voice
Of hope
Of reality
Of life
Of purpose

Friday, August 28, 2009

What has life come to?

Before:
Hunger pangs: trip to the nearest dhaba, one kadak chai, followed by a bread pokara (deep fried in oil)
Now:
Hunger pangs: trip to the fridge, one clean, healthy apple, followed by peeling and eating!

Before:
Boredom: trip to the nearest shop, salted, masala peanuts, followed by a masala butter milk and may be a deep fried puff!
Now:
Boredom: trip to the laptop, may be some music or books!

Before:
Lunch: lots of rice, with fish/mutton, dal, dahi or plain biriyani with chicken curry and raita.
Now:
Lunch/dinner: bland rice and dal with boiled veggies.


Before:
Evening snack: salted, masala peanuts or vadas or bhajis with kadak chai or coffee
Now:
Evening snack: Horlicks, period!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Homecoming

I am home! Yes, after 4 + 1.5 years, I am home! After, almost half-a-dozen years and tasting ‘freedom’ and all that comes with the package, it’s almost surreal to think am actually home. A place where I wake up to a steaming cup of coffee and at least one person ready for a short conversation. Even if choose to stay quiet, I simply have to walk out to my favorite place outside; the stone bench to enjoy my coffee and news paper.



The stone bench--my favorite place.

Frankly, I had my doubts about returning home, since I had almost worked up the reputation of a prodigal daughter! But, what I didn’t expect was the reception of the biblical prodigal son, well minus the ring and the fattened calf, that I received! A lot of people keep asking me why the hell did I return; yea, why the hell did I return? Mmm…my job, basically is fun in Chennai and yea, I wanted to be with folks for a while in the big house that my dad gets as his staying quarters.

Okay, the house. It’s a beautiful old building that has really huge rooms; but of course no privacy, in the modern sense of the term, in any one room! Talk about family bonding ;) it’s lovely nevertheless. Couple of rooms face just greenery and a park, which is sometimes visited by Egrets! Now that am down with Typhoid and I spend long hours in bed and gazing out, I have seen some kingfishers, some blue birds, and even a brown-colored koel! And, of course the song of the koel is ubiquitous. There are several little dogs and cats who also keep us company besides our own pets. As if these animals aren’t enough, once in a while our neighborhood snake also makes an appearance!


Can you spot the long, snake? It's a Cobra! AT least ma says so, though pop, poohs poohs it as a water snake! But, in such matters, experience has taught us to take ma seriously. :-)


Then, yes, the majestic Badam tree that greetes me every day in the morning; lush, huge green leaves on the tree and brown, dry leaves on the ground. Sometimes, all these leaves are collected to a pile and set on fire, which keeps burning for a while and spares the neighborhood of mosquitoes for at least that night! Enjoy some of the pictures…



The Badam Tree



The Brown-Colored Koel


The greenery from my room..:-)


Some of ma's jasmines.


Ps: If you want high-resolution pics, just click the pictures; next time round I'll keep the appropriate radio button selected! Technology, half the time seems is conspiring against me!

Loneliness—a tad overrated, a tad underrated.

Loneliness, is one word I keep hearing on and off, especially from friends and peers. And, it doesn’t mean am in anyway exempt from experiencing the word in all its entirety at times. But, what’s funny is this: a generation that has access to an average of 30 smses a day and 10 cell phone calls and three active chat windows finds itself in the throes of loneliness every second day! Are we overrating our sense of loneliness, when we actually aren’t lonely; or are we missing something quintessential about real relationships and the role they play in loneliness?

A friend of mine once said that she and her husband are constantly on chat the whole day that in the evening there’s hardly anything to say to each other! Now, isn’t that bizarre? Chats have totally hijacked real conversations; leave alone the deplorable standards to which our spellings and grammar have sunk to. Getting back to the friend, I immediately told why should you guys be on chat the whole day through then? She just looked at me as if I were talking in an alien tongue! Yes, it’s unimaginable not to be on chat! But, then, doesn’t chat rob one of real conversations…don’t we miss an occasional smile, a grimace, a frown, an instant silencing, a blacking out, an adorable expression, etc…these, are the very things that make a conversation real and help make a relationship, especially when one is chatting with someone you haven’t met.

Sometimes, I think, would I be able to chat with my dad! Half the times the conversations begin with a shrug and end with a scowl; and believe me, I would have had the best conversation with my dad, which could never be possible on a chat! Of course, I do not deny the fact that chats have ridiculed the distances between Delhi and Chennai and New York! However, chats can never replace real communication and hence real relationships. So, if we think we are nuts to experience loneliness in the presence of so many friends on chat, we are really nuts! Since chats don’t mean anything, they cannot in anyway replace real feeling.

Next, I wonder if loneliness in itself is bad? Sometimes, loneliness teaches a lot of new things about our own selves. It also teaches us the value of relationships; the importance of bonding; the liveliness that another human being brings into one’s life; the value of friendships; and even how to work on friendships. Yes, one can learn a lot from loneliness as well; just don’t make the mistake of chatting just because you are ‘lonely,’ since chats are at the end of day, empty like loneliness itself. :-)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Missing you…

Your gentle caress on my skin
As the dirt of the day eases out
The clear mirror that you were
As I looked into you before
I began my games with you
Warm, hot, lukewarm, cold
All the same
You brought me joy
You eased my pain
When will you be back?
Why have you left me?
My hair cries out for you
As each cell within my skin sobs
Come back, waters of heaven
Come wash me clean…
I long for you…
Wash me clean…


Ps: Nobody’s allowed to laugh! Yes, I have been down and have been kept confined to my bed, and hence this longing for, well…

Monday, July 20, 2009

Don't, Yes, Don't, No

Don’t laugh, yes, don’t laugh
Not because it annoys me dry
But, cause it scares me
Each time your laughter chimes
In my ears
A million doors open
Doors, I have locked, never to open again
But, your laughter
Pries open my heart
Catches me unawares
Makes my eyes moist

Don’t talk, yes, don’t talk
Not because it bores me through
But, cause it opens my mind
Each time you talk
In my heart
A thousand rivulets start to flow
Dams, I had built, always to lock the flow
But, your words
That sound like poetry
Make me dream
As my lips curl into a silly smile

Don’t smile, no, don’t smile
Not because it disturbs me
But, cause it threatens to stay on me forever
As I walk
Your smile plays on my lips
Like a never ending song in my heart
A sweet song in my ears
As your smile becomes mine
Does mine become yours?
No, don’t laugh, don’t
Not because it annoys me dry…

Friday, July 17, 2009

Money, Money, Money!

In the last few weeks, one has been subjected to teasers and promotions of yet another reality show: Sach ka Saamna. It’s a program inspired by the very popular western show, The Moment of Truth. The promotion includes very provocative slogans like, can your truth tear asunder your marriage, your family! Can you face the truth!

Another popular reality show is the much publicized Rakhi Sawant ki Swayanvar, in which Rakhi Sawant (who needs no introduction) chooses her groom from a list of wannabes who go through multiple rounds of qualification, including a horoscope-matching round (or something similar with a Brahmin priest going through the palms of the guys and Rakhi).

Both these programs will undoubtedly have an enormous number of viewers and hence will prove to be great money spinners! And, that’s all that matters to the producers, to the actors, and everyone involved in this despicable attempt at entertainment!

Let’s look Sach Ka Saamna first. What does it promote? Or, what does it exploit? One word that comes to my mind is voyeurism. The perverted pleasure that a person experiences by being privy to the intimate lives of other people! So far, we have been told not to read other people’s letters, diaries, and ask ‘personal’ questions even to partners! And, here, you go before the whole world and talk about your ‘affairs,’ and also go through a lie detector for some money! Are the participants of this show so hard up on cash? Then, the viewers! What kind of mind will want to watch such crap? Or, have we all really lost touch with our real selves? Pornography is still banned, but Sach ka Saamna is aired on prime time! So, it’s all about money! More and more and more money! It’s really scary beyond point; where are we all headed at this rate?

Next, Rakhi Sawant ki Swayanvar. Here’s a young woman who wants to get married, and wants to make money in the process of her selecting her better half, after subjecting him through multiple rounds of tests! I have heard some flippant talk about this being feministic! It’s one of most ridiculous things I have heard in the recent past. Just because a woman comes on screen, shoots off her mouth, wears skimpy clothes, and declares her wish to go through a traditional, Hindu marriage, does it make her a feminist? Or, should it be considered as a victory for the woman’s movement? I really would like to hear what the women groups have to say about the Rita bahuguna’s anti-woman and anti-dalit statements! Coming back to Rakhi Sawant: one is subjected to the processes involved in a traditional Hindu marriage, which in itself is highly derogatory to women, preceded by equally despicable ways in which Rakhi chooses her groom! In one of the episodes, the wannabe groom’s are made to write and read their ‘love’ for Rakhi! And, Rakhi evaluates each one on the basis of how she feels about each of them! Now, I really don’t know why one should choose a TV program to talk about such things! All for money! In the face of money, everything ceases to remain sacred or even human! Only the following came to mind as a fitting end to this story.

The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers.
The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.--- The Communist Manifesto

Friday, July 10, 2009

Keys

Between door hinges, atop the window panes
I have hidden the keys to my house
As you stand knocking, the same strange
Smell of blood wafts through the hinge
Shutting up my ears, running helter skelter
Groping in the dark, finding more darkness
Human-shaped shadows
Hope-shaped jokes
Yet another crash awaits my house
Yet another thunder bolt
Your knock grows louder, as the first cracks start to appear
I hear your receding foot steps
Yet again, the doors have broken
Yet again, I lock my door alone
Struggling to hide the keys
Where there are no more hinges or windows
Where there is no more a house
Only keys to remind the house of dreams

Thursday, July 2, 2009

My fixation with old Tamil songs - 1


Sometimes, when am blue or in a vague, sad mood, I hum an old favorite, or these days, log on to the internet and download some of these old gems and hear them to my heart’s content. I wonder what it is about old tamil songs that makes them so divine to hear; is it the melody or the lyrics; or is it the mixing of the two in the singer’s ethereal voice that transports you into the depths of the universe, to its very beginning when nothing, but everything existed together…

One song that’s my favorite is poojaiku vanda malare vaa…from the lyrics, it’s a song between a newly married couple. Some lyrics, especially the woman’s can jar at a few places where she refers to her partner as God, but, somehow, the melody and the joyous concoction the song creates is just unbelievable. One interesting part is the woman refers to how beautiful her man is! Such a lovely conversation between them ensues, and the music or the melody seems just a mere detail or a language used to communicate something deeper, something beyond words!

Another favorite is partha niyabagm illaiya…yet another masterpiece! The casual challenge the woman throws at her long lost lover is just unbeatable! What a feministic assertion! Unimaginable in today’s Tamil cinema.

I can go on and on about my fixation or fondness for old Tamil songs. It’s almost like an ocean where one wants to just remain in perpetual drowning!


Ps: Will talk of sad songs at some other time; they need a longer and a deeper piece. :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rains! At last!

For the past 2 weeks, I have been making a fetish about waking up early so that I get more time to do everything I want to in my life! But, as some friends will smirk and roll their eyes and testify, I haven’t been very successful, but let’s say I have been a bit successful; please folks, have a heart, I have woken up early! Anyway, this post isn’t about my tryst with early mornings, but about today! Today, I didn’t wake up early! And why? Read on…

Delhi’s been burning, literally! People have been most inhospitable; I have been told not to come to their houses because either they are only half clad or because they themselves are dying to get out of their houses because the walls are hot and emanating hot sulphur! A lot of people have been caught sitting in the cars and running their engines so that they have AC! So much for climate change and the global warming lobby being active in Delhi! So, how has been my state: the less said the better!

In such a state, the heavens decided to open last night! In the evening, there was some breeze and some dark clouds. And, we Delhities are a loony lot and to acknowledge even this marginal change in weather, we decided to snack looking at the heavens. Perhaps, someone up there (my atheist friends, don’t take note!) decided to quench our throats and opened the flood gates. So, in the morning, I don’t even remember a moment before 8 O’ Clock! I woke up with a phone call from a friend suggesting a get together in the evening! All Delhities are loonies, I tell you and all it takes is just a change in the weather, and bingo!

Even then, I wasn’t sure what the outside will look like, and I gingerly made my way to the balcony, and ho! What a sight! Yes, green leaves, bright clear sky, wet roads, water logging! How much we missed all these! Of course, that was reason to get dressed in jeans and t-shirt even on a weekday! Anyway, it was a great morning, thanks to the weather! And, I will pardon myself for oversleeping today! After all, the rain gods have played a prank!

Ps: Re-reading it, it seems narcissitic! Anyway, please pardon me! I promise to be less narcissitic next time round!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Two Rapes and a Bandh

During the fag end of last week, one was assaulted with twin rape stories, a gang rape of a girl and a rape of a domestic help by the house owner. What’s interesting, or rather revolting, is the way people/media/the police interpret rape and these cases. In the first case, the police say that the victim was in a ‘compromising’ position with her boyfriend. For once, the state viewed this statement from the police through a feministic lens and promptly transferred him! Well, one mustn’t forget the fact that this incident happened in Gujarat (whoa! Only the name sends shivers down one’s spine), where 1000s of Muslim women were not only raped, but also had steel rods and wooden planks inserted into them during the Gujarat 2002 riots! Before looking at the communal edge this rape victim has over the several other women raped in her state, we must try to see how rape is used as a tool by the patriarchal society to: 1. Perpetuate violence on ‘the other’ community, class, and gender 2. Subjugate woman by making her think that honor is all that MUST matter to her. 3. Make the woman herself responsible for the violence as well.

Rape, as a lot of movies, media, and books would have us believe, is not about sex. It’s about power. Several studies have been done and books written to ascertain this fact. It about the ultimate subjugation of the prey by the predator, where the predator uses all available mechanisms to acquire the prey. In a way speaking, if rape can be considered murder (of course, it’s an extrapolation), it’s a premediated, cold-blooded act. Therefore, it is a well devised tool to cause damage to ‘the other’s’ sense of dignity and humanity. This takes us to the next point: honor. Here comes our understanding of the origin of private property, which led to the commodification and ownership of women. In this scenario, the woman and her body are owned in toto by the nearest patriarchal figure: father, brother, husband, or son. So, any ‘harm’ done to the woman’s body (she doesn’t have a mind, you see!) directly affects the owner. And hence, the man is supposed to protect his woman with his life (in reality, by erasing any semblance of her real self). No wonder, the society developed institutions such as the purdah, sati, dowry, sindoor, and many other practices, basically to make a commodity or an inanimate object of a woman. She’s the most guarded, especially her sexuality, which if left unbridled or unchecked can cause the biggest shame to the family, even worse than her death. This idea will help us understand the honor killings that happen in most parts of the country even today. This brings us to the third point where we look at the codes or rules of behavior (unwritten, at least, today) for a woman. She (if she comes from a lower class that depends on the upper class for its sustenance) cannot afford to be alone in the presence of a man from another community or class (as happened in the Ahuja case) or be in a ‘compromising’ position with her lover (in the Surat case). In both cases, the woman invited it upon herself! And, this is not pronounced by some uneducated, fundamentalist fools (who we can ignore), but the guardians of the constitution! If this is what the police will say, what is point of a State? Or a law and order department? If women must take care themselves, which is, basically, shut themselves up in their homes, not study, learn household chores, have arranged, caste-, class-based married and of course get raped again (marital rape, I believe is still not recognized as rape) and be safe! Women needn’t be equal partners in nation building, in bringing the revolution, in making new discoveries, or (damn it!) in anything! Should all the women just disappear into thin air?

Now, the communal angle! In just hours after the incident, one of the right-wing parties in Surat called for a bandh! I mean what kind of an opportunism is this? The same state where 1000s of women were inhumanly raped, killed, and burnt, is calling for a bandh for the rape of one girl? How is this girl different from all the other victims? Is it because she's among the beautiful people of the society? The bourgeoisie or the uppercastes? Whereas, all the women ambushed in the riots were from ‘the other’ community or from working class backgrounds? After all, who is the society for? Can’t we have sanity even in the way we deal with crimes? Can’t we divorce ourselves from our hangups about class, caste, and gender at least while dealing with crime?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sleepwalking

In the depth of my sleep, within my dark room
Within recesses of memory
A vision of uncertainty
Clouds my heart, awakening years
Of untold stories
Of wordless guilt
Of unconfessed pain
Of timeless, elusive search

Monday, June 8, 2009

Nuggets of Heaven

People talk of heaven as if it were some place far far away from this world. But, none of these people are in any hurry to leave the world, in any case!

I, for one, believe that the earth is a beautiful place to stay, and it has nuggets of heaven for everyone, but yes…some people tend to appropriate more..ok, ok, this no class-caste politics; it’s supposed to very light, happy reading.

So, here’s a list of nuggets of heaven I experience…

A dark, empty room with minimal streetlight streaming in; a cup of hot, herbal tea in hand, and a favorite tune playing. (at the end of the day)

The taste of little mulberry fruits straight from the tree, as you rush through the morning.

Fresh, dry, comfortable clothes after a bath in an open, dirty waterfall like Courtallam (a popular tourist spot in TN).

Watching hail, storm, and dust from a speeding bus.

Spotting fish in a clear river from a hill.

10 missed calls and 8 messages on your cell when you forgot to carry it.

More than 30 people at a protest to resist oppression.

Watching stars and the moon, lying flat on the earth.

Hugs and missed-yous when you return after a break.

To remember the words of an old song that brings alive old, romantic (;)) memories.

To lay your head on dad’s big, strong, and dark hand.

Have a heart-to-heart, bitching-cum-gossip session with girl friends.

Chatting with people, who are mirror images of course, with well, some kinks!

Listening to great minds that promise a revolution, fire your imagination, and make you dream.

Hand-me-down jeans and books.

Managing to hit your fund-raising targets for your collective.

Getting love bites from your cat and dog.

The smile on mom’s face as she smells the new, office-wear cotton sarees you got her.

Seeing new buds every day on your plant.

Hearing praises about your sibling.

Unplanned parties.

Liking a new song.

Getting drenched in rain and falling horribly sick.

Walking along a sea shore, just with your thoughts in deep communication with the sea (ok, am not mad, neither am I on that road!).

Getting lost in the web of music.

Sight of white, glistening snow on far-away peaks.

Continental breakfast in Dharamshala, facing green, blue hills.

Talking in local, colloquial, street Tamil after several months (which feels like centuries).

Making eye contact with the cook in a food van, and he heaping your plate a wee bit more!

When you spot guys like Shahrukh and Surya on rail crossings and traffic lights, respectively, and they spot you back! (Am not lying; it happened!)





Monday, June 1, 2009

Dried, forgotten tears

Dying strains of sound buried in a mire of silence
Sounds of despair, of hope, of undead love
An unquestioned birth into mirth
Silent, muted voices of dissent
Consumed in consumerist rusting of soul
Rotting of mind,
Unshed tears of wordless, numbing pain

Retreating within a cocoon of notes, blinded by darkness
Borrowed lines of expression
Of intimate pain, of sorrow, of loneliness in a desert
Parched, dry wells of living water
Bounded in boundaries of love and lust
Putrefying of soul,
Unspoken words of violence, stinging consent

(Ps: Written while listening to Bheegi Bheegi from the Hindi film, Gangster)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A movie that I wish was never made...

Thevar Magan (1992)
Starring: Sivagi Ganesan, Kamal Hassan, Nassar, Gauthami, Revathi
Story: Kamal Hassan
Direction: Bharatan

I had the misfortune of watching this rather ‘old’ movie, which couldn’t have come from a more ‘original’ pen like Kamal Hassan’s!

For those of you who have forgotten this movie, here’s a short refresher. The story is set in a pristine village in the interiors of Tamil Nadu, where the local, ‘kind-hearted’ landlord lords over the lesser mortals, the dalits and landless laborers. The landlord is from a community called the thevars, (Today, these people top the list of castes that thrive on committing atrocities against the dalit people in Tamil Nadu). The movies centers around the rivalry between this kind-hearted thevar and a nasty thevar, who’s actually his cousin! The seething rivalry’s fuse is blown with a younger thevar breaking the lock of a temple to enjoy some private time with his scantily clothed muse. Then, several things happen, and finally peace is restored by this younger thevar chopping the head of the nasty thevar and going off to prison! Now, I don’t know what kind of great minds would have selected this movie to represent the country at the academy awards! In any case, my faith in the academy awards remains intact, thanks to the way they sent this movie packing.

What is problematic about this movie?

Firstly, the movie is casteistic, eulogizing caste-based, ad hoc monarchies that run in the villages, which are nothing but cauldrons of dalit atrocities. This only shows the crying need for land reforms! How the hell can one family (damn it!) own an entire village? No wonder, the differences are stark; Kamal (the son of the kind-hearted thevar) and Gauthami (his muse) all the time speak in flawless, accented English and smooch around when the sons of the dalits become nothing but landless laborers and foot soldiers who get their hands cut off, defending the thevar honor! The movie was outrageously anti-dalit; Vadivelu (the side kick and also the humble, devoted slave with zero esteem) is named after a dalit god!

Secondly, the movie is sexist, showing women as either clingy, cry babies (Gauthami) or silly yappers (Revathi), singing to their husbands! Which Indian woman (even the ones educated abroad) would strut around half naked in the presence country brutes who ogle at any inch of visible skin? Does the average Indian woman lack even that basic sense? And, the same old story; two women quibbling over one silly man, who couldn’t even stand up to his own father!

Finally, the entire movie lacked any fine imagination and acting! Yes! Acting! Kamal Hassan and Shivagi, both were terrible. Yet another patriarchal bullshit, served to us by a bunch of upper caste, patriarchal men!

Am sure in the West, this movie would have invited at least 10 law suits from several groups! But, no, not here. Yes, it’s with dejection that I sign off this post, but with hope that someday we will have sensitive mainstream movies that portray reality, question discrimination, and reinstate hope for a better tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Destination Mumbai!

A discussion between feminists on caste and gender was something I have been waiting for ages, and when it was happening in Mumbai, I couldn’t stop myself from impulsively booking my flight tickets to attend it. Although, the discussion was the highlight of my visit, several other things happened during the weekend, which definitely qualify to be recorded on blogsphere. Let me do justice to the interesting events of the weekend by categorizing them into: places, people, weather, and food.

Places

I left my office at Okhla, which is a dry, dusty, hot industrial area, filled with nothing but office goers and dull, brooding dabbas (small-time eating places). An auto dropped me at the airport, which was so different from what I remembered of it! A monstrously huge building stood, ready to swallow one into its cold, comfy confines. I stepped in rather gingerly wondering if I’d be hauled up for looking lost. Anyway, suppressing my urge to look disgusted, I walked in, got my boarding pass and decided to take a tour of the airport.

It was clearly modeled on the Singapore airport with lots of space to move around and, very importantly, for shops! Different types of shops littered the airport; from books to bags to clothes! I wonder what brands like Satya Paul and Fab India are doing in the airport. As if this wasn’t enough, the monster’s belly contained a full-blown food court that had glass walls overlooking the runway.

It was a lifestyle-building place, it seemed. I couldn’t help, but sneer and smirk. But, don’t ask me why! But, no, I am obliged to state why I felt disgusted at all this. I felt disgusted because the people who built this monster will never be able to enjoy it, leave alone see it as their creation; they will be given just enough money for a square meal so that the next day they are available to give their labor. The ones who enjoy the fruits of such labor will have no clue of what went into moving a single brick, and also how it’s become easy for them to fly and ‘enjoy’ these at the expense of the laboring class. The ruling classes will never realize that they got blood on their hands.

People

Now, coming to the people of Mumbai. I must say, as a woman, I was absolutely comfortable with Mumbai, thanks to its people. There was also a sense of purpose on each face, which was unmistakable, which perhaps made it impossible for people to stare or tease women. And, yes, they are fast, man! You could see that in the way people would rush into and out of the electric train like a lightning bolt. And, yes, the trains were full of women even at 12! Now, isn’t that one reason to live in Mumbai?

Weather

Now, this is a bit shaky, depending on the type of weather you are used to. And, yes, your habits too. If you hate bathing, please keep out of Mumbai! You may have to bathe at least twice a day to keep yourself from going insane! The worst time is usually between 10 and 5 when you could sweat profusely and maybe even lose some weight! By 6 of course, the sea breeze starts and it’s awesome; you must be there to believe it. Swarms and swarms of people are out to enjoy it! Now, that’s another thing about Mumbai; the number of people and the anonymity you will enjoy in their presence.

Food

Yes, if you are a foodie, Mumbai is the place to be. Especially if you like fish! I always thought Bengali fish is the best, but it’s all changed now after tasting the divinity called Malvani fish curry! And, yes Bombay duck, which is actually a fish. And, the prices are unbelievably cheap! For something like 50 bucks you can be satiated with great fish curry and fish fry and rice! And, if you like ice creams, definitely try natural ice cream, which is a brand or type of ice cream in which you will taste fruits like water melon, tender coconut, chikku, and even jack fruit! And, of course, what to say about the delightful chats, dahi puri, pani puri, bhel puri, pav bhaji, etc. Overall, it’s the place to be if you want to take a short, happy, fulfilling break!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Seams of the Times

Collusion of minds and ideas
Within a sea of desire
Threatening the subsuming of identities
Of politics, of strange bed mates, and unrequited love

Mails and web pages between network servers
Firewalls and messengers
Outsmarting blocking software
Break out romances, friendships, liaisons

Rum and lemon do mix to a heady concoction
Scalding the throat, healing the soul
Wanting a neat shot on the rocks
To shock the rice grains off your hair

Headphones and ipods define the notes
The moods, to smile, to gloss, to perish
To steal a glance, to hide a tear
Of suspension between abandon and detachment

Blogs speak a million words, unmonitored
Out bursting of irresponsible history on the fly
Quoted in intellectuals circles
Facing banishment and righteous crucifixion

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Musings in the Morning

The day dawned rather early today, or did it? Me waking up earlier than usual is perhaps closer to reality, but one has every right to live in a fantasy of one’s own making, as long as it doesn’t affect the reality or fantsay of one’s neighbor…ok, I came up with that myself! Don’t google to check if I plagiarized.

Since the day dawned early, after much deliberation, I dragged myself out of the bed and decided to go for a walk. Actually, the park isn’t as far as the distance between one’s decision and the actual implementaion of the decision! Now you know the perils of me waking up early; I turn into a philosopher, theorizing the most inane and silly things!

Cut. Next scene at the park.

It’s a fairly green, quiet park, where I do have some friends among the security guards and drivers, especially because all of them speak my mother tongue. So, after some pleasantries, I started my sprint in the park. This is one time when I try to indulge in walking mediation; basically, try and concentrate on your footsteps, breath, thoughts, and everything else, except daydreaming! But, not today, there were better things happening at the park. There was this group of middle-aged and slightly old men sitting in a circle and trying these impossible postures and groaning and moaning in the process. On close examination, from a distance of course, I realized that they were performing a kind of yoga that it is accompanied by some chants! Chiding myself about the irreverential and mischievous thoughts, I walked on, stifling a guffaw.

The second time round, these men jolted me out of my reverie! Everyone started squealing and laughing loudly that would even put our Amjad Khan (in Sholay) to shame! I actually looked around to see if something’s really funny, but no; it was another yoga practice to bust stress! Now, this was too much, I just held my stomach and ran to safety under a tree to deal with my laughter pangs! Who comes up with these ridiculous ways of stress busting? Regaining my composure, I restarted my walking and tried to have as serious a face as possible. Now, again, they went into some impossible postures and started burping loudly! This was getting serious! The burping sounds were accompanied by a rhythmic thumping of the chest. I decided that I am enrolling my dad in one of these male-bonding sessions so that pop looses some of his extra flab and we could have a good, legitimate laugh in the bargain, but no, my decision was to be reevaluated in my next round!

The next time round, a box full of sweets dripping in ghee was doing the rounds! Now that explained the number of tyres all these men had and the long burps! I just put my head down, smiled to myself, resolved to take three more rounds before ending this rather amusing walk in the park!

Cut. Next scene at the tea shop.

This is Lakshmi’s (my help at home) tea shop, which she runs with the help of a cousin, who has some disabilities. She’s told a lot of stories about this cousin who helps her so much, but nothing caught my fancy as much as his sudden disappearance during the elections! What is it about me that I always wind up with these ‘political’ people! Anyway, I stop at the tea shop to chat up about the outcome of the elections in Tamil Nadu, especially because he was campaigning for amma’s party, which faced a bad, bad defeat, despite incumbency and thereby creating history! He’s was quite an amma fan and went on and on about how the ballot machines were rigged! But, it was good talking to someone who really laughed and smiled and got angry, unlike the men in the park!

When I returned home, it was only then time for the day to have dawned! It just seemed like somebody gave me a bonus of about 2 hours today! It was an enriching, beautiful morning, and am already in office, doing the usual things: jotting down things to do, checking mail, planning training sessions, chatting with friends, making plans for coffee, etc. Only that I feel like I have won a lottery of 2 extra hours! Now, isn’t that a happy thought?

Ps: This was written to gladden the heart of a friend, who’s been accusing me of writing only sad stuff! So, JSP, are you happy now?

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Holy War of Redemption

Will I hear the children again?
Oh mother land
You broke my home
My life, my name, my identity

Will I see the sea beyond the smoking corpses?
Oh neighbour
You drank my blood
My garden, my labour, my ethnicity, my liberty

Will I hear the birds sing beyond the hills?
Oh lover
You killed me in my sleep
My passion, my pain, my pleasure, my sweat

Will I see the rain again from my home?
Oh friend
You drew your dagger through my heart
My love, my friendship, my land, my roof

Will I taste the sweet springs in the jungles?
Oh soldier
You tasted my blood on your sword
My soul, my heart, my mind, my body

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Strange Strangulations

Meandering deep within jungles runs many a rivulet
Knocking down rocks and debris left by the birthing of new life
A life breathing new, strange fragrance
Untouched by the world beyond, explaining the deepest jungle

Eking out an existence within a class lives many a life
Questioning control and hegemony left by the long gone property
A womb creating fresh, strange life
Unquestioned choice to produce and reproduce to the familial urge

Burning out the flesh of a high born lives many a low born
Attaining repugnance and decay left by texts authored by so-called gods
A strange beating of the sitting up, high-born corpse
Beaten to a pulp to accept subjection and unquestion humiliation

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sy(E)mpathy for a Stranger

Bejeweled, painted hands and feet
Reddened parting, not with powder
Your blood, it is sister
Right foot in, to be counted in with pickle bottles

A university degree, or a school-leaving certificate
Written off as unnecessary, with sandalwood paste
Your hands, will only chop and cook
According to the rule book

Rice and lap don’t mingle, just as evening and tea don’t
The unpolluted gods may be angry
Not at the community suckling of an old widow
But, at the love for thy neighbor

A hundred sons for you, O blessed one
An inside-out curse, I say
Keep your eyes closed, head turned sideways
Tears shed only at hurt pride, not at a bleeding neighbor

May you live a thousand years to see
With my eyes
May you walk away one day
With my feet

Monday, April 27, 2009

Disgust

Bitterness, fermented
Spiraling expectations
A lost heart
A rotten soul

Anger, rusted
Gnawing at the pit of the stomach
A bygone era
A fallen hope

Questions, unanswered
Silent hanging
A lacuna of desire
A lake of bile

Marbles, held intact
Godly obedience, consent manufactured
A sea of want and need
A search in darkness

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bye, bye, CP…

In a few days time, my office will get shifted to Okhla, which is rather uncomfortably close to where I stay. It would of course mean lesser traveling hours, in fact, on a cool morning or evening, I can walk to or from office. Now, some people might think of it to be a luxury, given the fact that several people travel even 50 km (one way) to reach their offices. However, I am rather wistful about this turn of events despite the prospect of regular gymming and having wholesome, home-cooked food.

Every day, I leave my home by 8 and take an auto to Connaught Place, where my present office is located. I always thought of myself very lucky to be working in CP. And, I have always wondered what makes CP so special to me. Is it just the buildings or access to the ‘best’ shops that the capital has to offer? After a lot of thinking, I realized it is the people. Well, they are NOT different from the people you see in other places, but only that you see people from all classes. There’s the way side chai wala, pappu chaat wala, the British Council, the American center, antariksh bhavan, and the majestic white columned round buildings. Such variety of sights, such heterogeneity, as against the homogenous, ugly white-collared executives stomping around in their tailor-fit suits and sparkling shoes with bags from wherever!

Then, of course is the auto ride and my daily chats with the auto drivers. I will certainly miss that. I know that the auto costs 4.5 lakhs, and you can make close to 1000 bucks if you owned the auto and drove it for about 12 hours. On the other hand, you could make only 300 or 400 if you took the auto on rent. The owners charge at least 300 bucks per day, and they do not pay for the petrol or the vehicle maintenance.

Then, the ride…filled with colorful sights, especially when the spring was in full swing. Violet, red, yellow, blue, etc…the roads would be strewn with these colorful flowers, and one had to only lift your head to the see the colorful miracle on the trees with the sky as a clear blue background. On some days, the journey will be accompanied by rain with the smell of wet earth. At the umpteen signals, I’d look around to see people hurrying up for their jobs, some engrossed in the newspapers, and some just waking up and stretching.

Well, as they say, only change is constant...perhaps, who knows, Okhla might also have some beautiful things to capture my imagination...Only one thing I wish...I don't want to see capitalists, who do not use the term recession, big cars, and dumb fakesters!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dangerous shallow waters

Never fear the depth
Fear the shallow waters that appear deep
Deep only to the extent of the slush within
The deceptive muck

Fear the quiet demeanor of a smile
Couched in years of venom
The unmatched wisdom of chivalrous lies
Co-opting the blank, impressionable mind

Away, I tell you, run as fast as you can
From the soft grasp of empty sweet nothings
Values, traditions, duties, customs
The bog that buries dissent and humanity’s hope for tomorrow

Close not your eyes and ears
Simpletons may rule you in no time
Creating their make-believe houses of joy and empty pride
Telling you what is right and left

Swim against the tide to be alive
Than be a dead log and think
You are carrying the river
That consumes even your shattered corpse in holy tradition

Break or be broken down by vacuous, obscure pride
Solitude, small price in the face of definite
Human decay and a settled, seething cauldron
Of shallow waters that appear deep

Dream of a new world order
A world devoid of pretentions or wanton amusement
Savoring each day in the magic of music
In the stillness of waters that run deep

Destination Sikkim - Till we meet again

On the third day, we went to the Sikkim Himalayan Zoo. It was day of little rain and much mist. The walk into the zoo was surreal because o...