Monday, October 23, 2006

That Tall Smoking Fellow


It has been years since i thought of a rhyme. May be my soul has missed the rhythm caught in the mundane missives. Pre-occupied with laziness, and with not many new experiences with the human kind, i have been wordless for years and years now.

I was at my poetic best, ten years ago. In school, as a teacher. Students might differ, and likely to recall and refer me as That Tall Smoking Fellow. It was an interesting episode in my life. I was smoking heavily for five years. Doing nothing but to smoke, drink and think hard, really, really hard.

I am not sure what I was thinking all those years for an answer that still seems so simple but too complex, beyond comprehension. I was sure, then, that it was all fake, the being, the father, the mother, the family, the attachment, the love. I was not seeing truth anywhere. Farce were the faces.

Everyone Was Eternally in Expectation. In despair, I used to smoke to fill the air above. I had given up on life till a smoke filled afternoon when I was asked to teach Economics. Even now, I have no reason to believe that I have any knowledge of the subject. I have no clue what the definition is.

It was the awakening. There were five or six girls in that classroom. Many teachers, including the vice principal and principal, had tried teaching them. Only to the disapproval of the girls. I walked in straight. Told them that I knew nothing about any-nomics, let alone economics.

They sat mutely, looking at a self-proclaimed stupid. I read a few pages and explained what I intuitively learnt as I read and intrepreted it to them. Wondering at the plight of students at the hands of teachers like me, I walked out down to the meadow after the class and smoked till darkness, with wry smiles in between, smiling to myself.

Tragically, the girls approved of me. I was sure it was not for my knowledge of economics. My friend blacky told me that the girls need not go outside to look at a handsome fellow when they have someone at the classroom itself. I had a charm. But was too bony for any girl to be interested in. Besides, the town knew too well about me and my friends. In fact, the three women who ran the school had to convince a community to send me to teach a bunch of girls!

I think it was one girl in that class who changed my fate forever. She had told the correspondents that I was extremely intelligent. I was their teacher for a month as they took the eleventh exams. She joined some other school, the next year. I have never heard of her after that. Poor me, I don't even remember her name. It started with S.

The year that followed in school transformed me totally. It was then that I discovered poetry. It was then that my heart sang songs of joy amidst a sea of sorrow. It was then that I lived in abundant love, saoking in the radiant light of unadulterated love of the little ones. Soul, the stranger, showed me the mercy. It was then I started living again.

Awake to love, life and longings, poetry pursued me. Attachment had a new meaning and definition. The then children liked that tall smoking fellow, their teacher, for a year. And I suppose, fondly think of that lanky fellow even now. For, he introduced them to many, many things, other than the language and sciences. Including poetry and philosophy. I will know, tomorrow. For I just visited them living as a community encircled in the web.

It is raining outside. It is raining in me.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

that familiar feeling...

last night came that feeling again. i had spoke my mind out to some stranger calling me up for something a day back. she had stirred my passions for life again by asking what will you be doing if you are not in journalism.

``filming,'' i had said without winking.

``Wow!'' was her reply.

i am not sure if i ever will be able to do filming. it has been a life long passion, like literature. i have very little knowledge of both. i feel these are two of the most interesting things in life, sex apart. these professions required an observant mind sojourning in solitude to tell stories to people of the simpler, smaller and beautiful worlds around us, poetically and philosophically _ the endangered.

the journalistic life is more of an emtiness or about efforts on a daily basis to fill the empty spaces. very rarely, the mind reaches out into its own empty spaces to discover the beauty of self, or rather selflessnes. journalism has turned more selfish than societish.

with my wife, tired from working all day, and the little princess, tired of playing all day, sleeping by the side, that feeling came back. for long i have resisted and to say the truth, i had forgotten that feeling for years, till it returned a month ago.

it visited the mind last night also. that feeling of what will happen to me. from where i came and where am i going. the feeling thats there in all of us, in the deep crevices of the mind, supreme, visiting time and again, at intervals depending on the urge to know the truth.

for long i have left truth to live alone and in peace by not trying to think about it or trace its origins or the present status. somehow, truth has a liking to me and loves to play the hide and seek game. it was doin the same last night too.

while i was not keen about my origins, what was i before. i definitely was not there. somehow i am here. a being. a living creature. living. living. living. with all my senses and feelings, from the sexual instinct to the desire to enlarge my heart and love the whole world. i feel happy.

the sadness comes when, i, with a sense of stiffness, thought what will happen to me. perhaps, i should have more children. then there will be few more people to remember even after death, the only absolute one can ever get to, with the mind, even if it it happens to be the supreme. but can i give them comfort while living. may be thats why i am satisified with my girls. they will think of me, then and now, till they live.

thats it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

for a sister...

i see a
gentle wind,

its not a cloud,
it neither has force.

it just sweeps through faces,
gently, soothing the stupid senses,
bored 'th outward objects of beauty.

in effect,
and in a sense,
it stirs the soul,

in all of us,
tired and desparate.

this gentle wind
named `venil' in tamil
happens to be my mom's name.

my so called sister's name is shyama
may be i should accept her as she is

do winds have colours and names?

is shyama, space?
only krishna knows

theres no wind
up above the earth

there's silence,
there's stillness,
there lie simple souls.

of yours and mine
minus the timid mind

beyond the window,
the wind flows gently.

i feel love
all around me
and within self

a rare calm,
resonates round,

soul sleeps,
with it shyama.

me says sorry,
feelin sleepy.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

the think tank.

It drizzled the entire evening. After filing my reports, I rode back to my sister's place in Mr City. On the third stop, I stopped my bike. It was still breezy. The sky was still leaking over the city. I took a stroll on the third Street. I badly wanted to smoke.

For days, we have walked the street smoking late in the night, early into the dawn. Sudha used to live here. On the third house on the third street on third stop. His ancestors were kallars before becoming christians.

Therefore, born to a christian family, he, the eldest, was the brightest of the three children. We need not step into his home to stay at his room on the first floor. We were like ghosts. No one in the house knew we existed.

Up there, there is an overhead tank. The Think Tank. We will climb over it. Smoke all night. Think all night. It was here we drew plans to kidnap film stars for ransom or asasinate politicians, including the great dame. We wanted to be the cleansing force.

The Purifying Spirit. Most of us believed in violence. With people becoming all the more selfish, we believed that violence to be the only way to clean up the system. None of us had studied Marx or The Revolutions, excpet in text books. We have heard stories, read quite a few war stories. We were fascinated with secret service, specially the KGB and the SS.

We wanted to be just that. Don't hesitate to kill to earn your living. The thought process sure was induced by substance addiction. The objective though was for the common good. We will have some money to spend and operate. The rest will be offered to others.

As we talked for hours, the dark blue sky turned darker only to change into a lighter hue of blue and then truly blue before it dawned by four o'clock. Staring into the bluish sky and into the stars, we wanted to be stars. Not the filmy kind but like those twinkiling from the sky.

We wanted to guide people who had lost direction. We were a gang of good guys. Drugs are a cruel kind. They killed all of us. Not fully, but effectively. Like all those brave sailors, we were also shipwrecked.

Time can be cruel also. Here I walk, all alone, thinking of my friends. It is midnight. I walk into the third street and stand in front of the third house.

The Think Tank Is Still There.

Above All.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

musings .

my best friend ever?

it was a decade ago i met my best ever friend for a last time. as i was walking on the road perpendicular to the road with the bus stop where i last saw my first girl friend 17 years back, mahesh jumped down from a running bus on seeing me.

``Can you give me five rupees?''.

i gave him mutely. Taking it, he walked away from me. i just stood there watching him till he disappeared.

as i said before, it was the last time i saw him. i have heard him over phone a few times thereafter. everytime, he spoke, he would talk of our days in college, always. we always felt that the college days were our glorious morning.

i will have to give our gang a name bfore i start writing `my friends'. he was the master charmer. students of the college in those three years invariably knew him. full of energy, he was a vibrant soul, exuberating radiance and warmth only one in crore will be bestowed with. with a spring in his walk, he walked around the campus making friends all the time.

i was lucky enough to be in his close circle of friend, inspite of betraying him once. perhaps, that was the reason he walked away from me on that day. he never liked betrayal. but on the phone, he was friendlier than ever. again, perhaps, he was without friends.

now he lives without friends. he lives in memories. i drove till his home. i have lived there for days and months. inspite of new houses everywhere, my memory guided me and i parked the vehicle under the neem tree in front of the house.

i waited there. twice before, his parents had denied entry to me.

``don't disturb him anymore,'' they did tell me.

i had to return then. i wanted him to live in peace. after that, twice now, i have returned after waiting under the neem tree, trying to be as close to him, for few minutes. he was under rehabilitation then.

may be even now. for the twelfth year.

in between, he must have died, at least thrice by word of mouth. sudha actually died. siva vanished. prem was inching towards death when i met him five years ago.

after dying twice, i still survive. like my best friend, i too live alone.

musings from madurai

my first girl friend...

nearly a decade after, i slept for three nights in this temple city. for years, i have wantedly refused to visit the town, inspite of fond memories filled in me fully. it was this city, i discovered myself, amidst darkness, pain, self-suffering and friendships.

i got out of the bus and walked through that street again. nothing much has changed in the street. it was a broad one with pedestrian pavements, uncharacteristic of the city. the bus stop was still there. without the shelter. seventeen years is a long time but i still remember her warm smiles and inquisitive eyes.

she, perhaps my first girl friend, surprisingly lingers into my mind as i walk. it was by chance that i arrived at this bus stop on my way to college. two girls, school students, were waiting for the bus to come. i found one of them attractive. perhaps, she too felt the same way. for i can see her liking to me from her eyes.

she looked matured beyond her age. she was beautiful. besides, she looked kind and caring. as characteristic of that generation, we never spoke to each other but only exchanged stares in silentce, in mutual admiration and affection.

from now on, i deliberately started taking this route to my college even if it meant spending a few rupees more from my always pocket, with a permenaent hole. my fortnightly allowance was a mere twenty rupee note and by then i had learnt to smoke also.

it was waste of money. but i preferred it for my friend. for a year we were friends. at least once, we came to very close to talk to each other. her friend warned against it. but could never really introduce ourselves, physically.

walking past the very same bus stop, i think of her. i suppose, she also thought me sometimes when she walked past that wide street, littered with memories of two strange souls.

Monday, October 02, 2006

civility: from politics to public.

I am not sure of the exact definitions of civility. my definition of civility here relates to the civilisation or rather culture of civic bodies in the state that present a pathetic state.

Elections are coming. Curiously enough, Tamil Nadu, especially its capital Chennai, was the only big city in the nation to have a system of direct elections to the post of Mayor. The present DMK government has done away with it, inspite of opposition from its own allies.

It is a well calculated move. The ruling party, with a strong alliance, believes in sweeping majority of the local bodies, esepcially the corporations and muncipal corporations. Then it will have power at every level.

It is accepted that karuanidhi's government is a performing one to that of Jayalalithaa's total inaction. For example, take the city of chennai itself. Except for the dozen parks, the previous government has failed to improve the infrastructure in all aspects, may be she can claim to have successfully finished new veeranam scheme. Her claim will stand exposed only at the time of an overall drought when the city develops a crisis for drinking water.

Coimbatore is the next big city. I have been there for three years. The infrastructure is nothing but pathetic. Neither the state or the district administration has an idea of the growth potential the city has and the level of insufficient infrastructure at present.

The previous Mayor was nothing but a clown. A flower merchant in the past, you cant see anyone more stupid than him. Of course, he made lot of money. The previous commissioner, insiders say, earned about four crores. I am not sure about the charges. But money sure can be made out of every signature. It saw three scams. None of it has been uncovered so far. No one resigned also. Cases have been registered.

I also had an opportunity to know the amount of money spent on panchayats through the district rural development agency. About 50 crores every year. May be more. It is all political. The ruling party gets everything on its own, for its own. Of course, others do benefit. But, only a bit.

Politics has a strong hold over panchayats. Effective panchayati raj system can remain only a dream. Seriously speaking, there needs to be an analysis of the fund allotments to local bodies for which there is no audit system is in place.

There are quite a few panchayat presidents, really good. In fact, they are national models. But the majority are selfish and greedy. The official machinery is 80 percent corrupt. It all, especially the delivery system, depends on the boss. The new regime has sent the right signals by posting young IAS fellows as collectors in most of the districts.

Mention should me mentioned here about the conduct of the last local body elections. It was totally rigged. We were witness to a state social welfare minister pa valarmathi going around with goondas capturing booths in alandur one by one. At the counting for mayor elections, no one was allowed. Stalin was to be defeated. However, he won.

It was violence everywhere. Democracy was murdered. Not many wrote about it. It only indicated how big a dictator Jayalalithaa will turn in the next four years. Ruthless can be the only word. No discussions. Only rule of (her own) law.

We will have to see if rigging will be there this time. The two phased elections sure has raised doubts. DMK is known for electoral rigging, especiall in elections conducted in two phases. Expect them to do it scientifically.

Jayalalithaa does everything with fanfare to earn a bad name. Karunanidhi does it all in silence and of late to others' praise. Comparatively speaking, k is better than j in all aspects. especially in governance.

What kind of civic culture are we expecting. Solid waste management, for which source seggregation is the key, has not been implemented in any of the corporations. For the people, it is not even an idea. When are they going to buy to bins? When are they going to be supplied with two bins?

It is a long ask. Tough task. The corporators, or the councillors, majority of them also have a role to play. But they are all keen in taking the cuts. Share the spoils. We will allow you to sign. Otherwise, council will not pass any resolution. This has been the case with most of the civic bodies in the state.

Should we make elections to local bodies non-political. Few nights ago, I heard C Rangarajan, talking about the need to keep SHGs out of politics. He remarked how politics has ruined the co-operative movement. It is time we think on these lines.

For, the present elections are going to serve mainly the elected representatives and not the general public. The time has also come to provide space for public personalities to enter politics. If we don't we will continue to be ruled by a nexus of politicians and criminals.

the pitch?

it was an intersting debate on 24x7 channel last night. the marriage between cricket and entertainment.
ajay, suhel seth and kadambari murali - sidhu plus mandira bedi. i missed the start. i presume shewag will spend sometime in the studios two hours before he steps into the field. ``inviting controversy'', ajay said. ``sony and mandira built a brand. fine. they shouldn't overdo it,'' said suhel. ``pre and post shows are fine. as long as they are not gender specific,'' rued kadambari. ``we succeeded in getting more women audience to cricket,'' mandira defended.

of course, it is a sticky wicket. ajay might have made a prediction. shewag, in terrible form with the timbers rattled frequently, will find himself defending off the pitch as well. still uneasy with bouncers, the fast balding man will have to bat out quite a few, may be many, beamers at him. if he fails with the bat, he may even be risking his cricketing career.

what was interesting to learn that the viewership went up to 35 percent, especially the women audience tuning in, claimed mandira. for all that we know, she still is showing the cleavage. even the night before, she had the dimples in her cheek and, should one say attractive, cleavage, made famous in the finals of last cricket world cup in johannesburgh. more than ponting's historic ton,. indians were stunned by mandira's cleavage. she did hide major part of it later in the innings. everyone accepted that she was representing the commoners and asking their questions.

is it not that the players themselves have no answers. it all happens in the field. if you fail, you fail. if you win, you win. its a game played there in the middle. not in the press box or the expanded media room where the extraas sit and stupidly talk.

the channels have already killed or overkilled cricket. commercialisation and as seth said bimbo cricket control of india have mesmerised the massess into making cricket an opium aka religion and making cult figures out of many ordinary men with a few extra-ordinary.

cricket is no more a gentle game. it still is played on green grass and a delight to watch but with too many add ons, before, after, inbetween and so on, Cricket, watching in an idiot box, is beginning to be tiring.

those wanting to enjoy a good game of cricket will have to walk into the nearest grounds, that are always empty, to watch future cricketers sweating it out in those million blades of grass that are still pure.


it will be a surprise to see me blogging again. it is just that i have time or i am not lazy or i want to say something. i was reading a tamil book few days back in my native. it was about a sleepy, dry village stepping slowly into modernity till the nation got independence, a sequel to the first part that actually traces the telugu speaking families, like mine, setting out somewhere in andhra and settling in and around madurai three to four hundred years ago.
while it made an interesting reading all through, there was a particular passage to which i was drawn to. for quite sometime, i have been wondering, why the state (tamil nadu) government has taken over the liquor trade. it gives you good revenue. in fact, one third of state's revenue flows from liquor. the book said something more and said it was nothing new. all through history, one can find examples of rulers feely supplying liquor to the residents. the objective is simple. kill the rebellious mind. get drunk and get lost in darkness. perhaps, whats happening in the state is the same. caught between two organised looters of public money, the men spending crores and crores on spirit are spineless. there are no rebels here. they are all consumed by the spirit and have nothing to protest.

extremely happy for the fact that they have plenty to drink. for men here, life is an enjoyment. but for millions of mothers and children, life is turning terrible. may be the women will have to revolt.

news broadcast

it all seemed impressive. i havent been watching the news channels regularly. but have been reading reports in broadsheets of how channels continue to break news all the time. i happened to sit before television to watch shah rukh, the star, present himself . it was a nice interview. the headlines for the day, however, was the dengue, a disease that killed one resident doctor in the country's premier medical institutions aiims. it was not yet an epidemic, said one channel. it looked as if they wanted an epidemic. or was it a warning to the establishment. others were running it as the lead story. as usual, it was the blame game. aiims was not willing to accept the prevailing unhygienic conditions in and around the hospital. the news channels carried the news, everyone's point of view. except the preventive aspect. may be not many of them knew that it was a mosquitoe that breeds in fresh water collections and that bites by the day. we all have seen the channels urging people to lit candles for the lives lost in terrorists attacks or natural calamities. prayers for the souls. now, there is an urgent need to tell people to look around themselves to prevent from a deadly disease. it is simple to stop dengue from spreading. but the channels were still talking about an epidemic. may be they are breaking news. news first. lives next.

Stories From The Soul Town

There lies a magical land. Surrounded by the green ghats to the west, gurgling great rivers on the east, the valley with the very blue sky. A temple town of the tamils. Sitting on the dancing rock on the highland overlooking the valley, the writer procreates the lives of the people of this lesser known south west. Full of strange yet simple souls.