Friday, December 21, 2007

bbbbrrrrrreeaaaakkinnnnng news...

the rumour mills in the corridors of power at the fort st george have started churning out the latest. as promised, the dmk patriarch, is likely to crown his son, the heir-apparent, on his return. not as the chief. but deputy chief. with finance and industries, i suppose.

the prodigal son, is holidaying in the backwaters, musing from a house-boat along the still waters of kumarakoam, when heavy rains have claimed 49 lives in his own state. the poor chap, who has had a whirlwind tour of the state, is relaxing with his family. with wife, son, daughter and playing grand-daddy.

the son's close confidant, for a change, a male, once-upon-a-time teacher, with a foul mouth, is likely to take up the local administration stuff. the genial, the gold, once-upon-a-time, an engineer, with mild manners, is likely to take care of the higher education as well.

its confirmed, the wind says.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Ram and Rich

Ram Leelas...

If you thought, it was only Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi who is a (lord) Ram baiter. you are mistaken. MK, who excercises control over the state press, clearly had no clue about satellite channels breaking news all the time. or else, the veteran dravidian leader was shrewed enough to have used them for the purpose of propaganda of his old-world dravidian ideals.

Reading William Darlymple, I was rediscovering my fondness for the printed pages. `At the age of kali', he quotes Laloo: ``Ram should punish these murderous fundamentalists - if he exists, that is. But he is nowhere. If he was there, so many poor people would not have died, there would not have been such poverty, such fights...''

In a country obsessed with religion, both MK and Laloo have demonstrated their ability to attack the saintliest of the hindu god, or his avatar, and continue to win elections. If it was dravidianism for the former, it was casteist pride and criminal power that helped the later.

But both, inspite of the personalities they are, can take pride in plunging the polity of the nation towards new lows. Of corruption and criminalisation of politics. While Laloo wears these two traits on his sleeves, MK prefers it to be an open secret.

Rich Ragas ...

Consider these two numbers. 358 and 2,500,000,000.

First, the audience at a preview cinema theater and the second almost half-the-population of the world.

The World's Rich and The World's Poor. UN 1996 Development Report: the riches 358 people in the world have the same aggregate wealth as the poorest two-and-a-half billion.

In other words, as Ambanis get richer, it is likely that millions of poor will get poorer.

This is a fact. Infact, it is globalisation. The modest, but neverthless historic, reductions in wealth and income gaps during the most of twnetieth century are being reversed under gloalisation.

Interestingly, it is intriguing to note that the two binding forces, both exploitative to the core in nature, religion and feudalism, continue to thrive even in the era of globalisation. Studying the political systems and predicting the State responses to these all powerful and all pervading forces could be an exciting profession for future social scientists.

Wither socialism and the welfare state? A friend said yesterday that the world is no more innocent. May be, the world is no more just as well. The planet is already paying the price for rampant industrialisation with its, and our, survival at stake. Still, the rich want to be richer. The poor will always be poorer.

Let us hail stock-markets but don't mistake brand and equity with brotherhood and equality.

its a pleasure... and pain

it was a pleasure driving on the roads of good old madras the day after deepavali. it seems all the migrant population has gone back to their native towns and villages and only those who really belong to chennai were moving around leisurely.

it was similar to the pace i witnessed when i migrated a decade-and-half back after which the city has also become too mechanical like any other teeming metropolis. it is time, the state thought of decongesting the heart of the city and take development truly to the suburbs by providing the required infrastructure.

it looks like an extended weekend and the city is at peace with itself. with easy mobility, you feel relieved and relaxed. after the wasteful extravaganza, that is diwali. i spent last evening in a park and the sky was littered with brilliant sparks.

here were a thousand blasts from all over the city every second. think of the level of pollution the city inherits in a single day of celebration. its like undoing a year of good work. its not just about the pollutants. its about the purse as well as the city has come to be gripped by the vulgar consumerism, a global culture.

i live in a home by the side of a shopping district and the last week has been terrible with lakhs and lakhs trouping in and out of all sorts of shops. people would have spent crores on buying sweets. forget that we are the diabetes capital of the world. it was a mad rush for plain consumerism.

you may ask what do people earn for. only to spend at times of festivals. i remember deepavali from my childhood, which may require another post. its no more the same. that culture is gone. today, the festival is celebrated in front of the idiot box romancing the stars. dont forget the first day first show madness and the all powerful dressing.

the skyline was lit up till late in the night. i was having a headache after having watched the sloppy indian team losing it to arch rival pakistan in a humdinger. the image, i carried to my dreams was that of a small boy, made to be a beggar, with her mom with the little sis on lap, begging for alms in front of the crowded sweet shop on the high road.

is narcisst and narakasuran the same? i wonder.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

sometimes...

Sometimes, sinners become saviours.

It happened that the sinner, a minister in tamil nadu, wanted to destroy 40 hectares of shola rain forests in the fragile eco-system of kolli hills, and lease it out. Believe it or not. For mining.

Already battered by uninterrupted mining for bauxite for over 40 years, kolli hills, in the eastern ghats, with not many even visiting his pristine beauty, has been languishing for long. The predator, the mining company, wanted nothing other than the rain forests this time, and applied.

the forest department said a firm no. rightly so. which forester will ever accept to the destruction of shola? but the file was sent back to the forest officials by none other than the minister asking it to be reviewed in the positive. the file has been sleeping in the forest office for five months now.

now the minister piles up pressure on the top conservators to keep the file moving. inspite of the fact that the file have to travel a long way, till the supreme court's central empowerment committee to get the nod. he was confident of taking the file till that committee as his partyman happens to be sitting in the chair that seats the man who matters most for the environment and forests that are under threat.

he failed to realise that there is one paper that can spoil his designs. the paper carried the report. not the one it wanted to. in an effort to protect the sources, the sinner had to be shown as the saviour. never mind. another time will come to fix the minister. for now, the shola forests are safe.

the battle is by no means simple. think of the fragile habitat under pressure from development. the melting glaciers in the upper reaches of himalayas, the unabated pollution of the rivers, the thick, smoky urban air, mining in most of the forests, and the list could go on.

if the tribals are to be believed, the mining company, that has about 70 hectares in possession, has applied for rights over 650 hectares, including that 40 ha of rain forests. mind boggling. we may save the shola. but can we save the companies digging deep into the heart of the hills?

hope, eco-terrorists start surfacing soon to send terror along the spines of the mining managers.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

dancing in the rain ...

i haven't watched people dancing spontaneously for a long time now. in my early twenties, i used to dance for hours in a small town below the ghats, my soul town, by the western ghats, as it rained for hours.

yesterday, the nation rejoiced as bombay was seen dancing in the rain to the tunes of chak de for five hours with a band of boys on a historic march. most of them have not seen the sweet home for three months. they have been away, in the land of whites and then in the land of black and white. breathing cricket all the time. well, none of us even dreamt of winning a world cup. but the band of boys had a rare self-belief. like, the kapil's devils.

at hindsight, the boys, it looks, had the right willow. shewag, gambhir, yuvi, robin, dinesh and dhoni. everyone likes to hit. they all crave to get after the bowlers, each one in his own characteristic way. shewag, square of the wicket; gambhir, driving down; robin, scorching and scooping; dinesh, always innovating; yuvi, the thunder bat and dhoni, straight cutting! given an option, they will attack all the way. twenty overs suited these daring batters perfectly.

on sep 24th at johannesburg, gambhir was dancing, not in the rain, but down the wicket to caress the cherry to extra cover and mid-wicket boundaries, in an expedition of elegant batsmanship, on a slow pitch.

to start with, walking in for the injured shewag, yusuf, when a nation was wondering on his identity, hoisted asif for a straight six. no one expected such ruthlessness. it was plain disdain. robin floundered again driving a rising delivery. tactical and shrewd, shoaib brought the spinners on straight-away after seeing yuvi's scintillating form against pacers.

at times, the most indisciplined attack, the pakistanis were on target. they knew that their record against india in world cups. not even a single win. this was the final. umar gul had measured the pitch well and the indians faced the music. the one length delivery he bowled landed on the scoreboard. he had the last laugh as gambhir's scoop was gulped by asif at short fine-leg. gambir had showed the world that even in the shortest format, batting is not about breathing fire but is also about craftsmanship.

if we look back, the team dancing started with the brutal aussies wanting twenty from two on a cool night in durban a few days ago. harbhajan doing a banghra at deep mid-wicket. the team was a minute away from eliminating the champions.

but one billion started dancing at the same kingsmead as yuvi carted the cherry over long-on for a sixth time in six balls at the kingsmead ground to the delight of one billion. having seen the same faces and strokes for fifteen years, sachin, dravid and sourav, the india had something anew to celebrate.

the little fellows were not the masters. they knew little about reputation. they are not purists. they had no respect for opposition. they had a plan. and the plan had a place for a young boy named rohit. hardly a hitter of the cricket ball, the little chap has a brilliant cricketing brain that rescued his team twice taking the total to respect and thereby giving the bowlers a chance.

ah! the poor bowlers, in a baseballish version of cricket. there were two reinventors in the bowling department. it was remarkable for pathan and bhajji to have found the lost rhythm when the nation had finished them off. the cup is as much a tribute to the duo who were nowhere in the cricketing horizon as much it is to the young guns rudra, straight and swinging, and sreesanth, wayward but wicket-taking. after a long time, the nation delighted itself to the constant clatter and cart-wheeling of stumps.

i am not sure if joginder can dance. the televisions did not show his true emotions. well, those bowling at the death, the very death, can't have expressive faces. by design or by choice, the wary-looking joginder was tossed the ball to bowl the last over. twice, that too in the semi-final and final. remember, sandhu's inswinger licking the off-stump of greenidge. like that ethereal image, joginder's run up to bowl the last over, and misbah's lone mishit and sreesanth's near spill, will remain etched in the memories of at least two generations.

thats the emotion, the game of cricket has on the lives on the people of the sub-continent. while an entire nation erupted in joy and dis-belief, another nation went into deep mourning across the borders. that is a nation that never forgets, especially the defeats. on the field or on the front. it always looks to hit-back. on the cricket field, we can always hope for another fairy tale final, like the wanderers.

i wonder if there could be another world cup final as dramatic as this. from the first six to long on to the last six over long-off, it was thrilling all the way. with ups and downs at every corner. think back on the pak innings. imran freeing arms, hafeez edging and kamran missing, the out-of-place younis khan, and the run-out of imran. then irfan's three dismissals. shoaib mistiming a pull, the stupid-slog by afridi, no one knows if he will ever mature, and the rattling of tariff.

you think you are home. misbah is still there. taking it to the very end. wonder how the pak selectors took these many years to unearth such cricketer, cool as a cucumber. he is thirty three. he also represents the raw cricketing talent all over the sub-continent, mostly undiscovered. the last six off a full toss brought back memories of chetan sharma's full toss at sharjah two decades ago.

thankfully, the band of boys were too small at that time and probably have no memory of it. the rest is history, including dancing in the rain. it is nice to have new generation, dancing all the time, not caring for the mumbai rains.

briefly, the boys will be back in the homes, in small towns, by the villages, shouldering the soul of the nation. these small town fellows have truly emerged from the shadows symbolising the spirit and soul of the nation to a whole new generation.

this is an unprinted page in the nation's cricketing lore. myself waiting for the day the small town fellows will make it big in print. To imprint the simplicity of soul truly on the literary landscape.

lets keep dancing in the rain, even if its a hailstorm!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Gram Jyoti aka e-Exploit

Ericsson, BSNL, Airtel, Apollo Hospitals, Edurite Technologies, Turner Broadcasting and an NGO Hand-in-Hand are partners in reaching out to about one-and-a-half dozen remote villages around the
ancient sea port Mahabalipuram.

Pioneered by Ericsson's WCDMA/HSPA technology (basically 3G), the Gram Jyothi scheme would ensure that these villages are connected to the world through broadband for e-health and e-education. It may look like a programme of combined Corporate Social Responsibility, though in reality, it is the roll out of a fantastic business model to leverage cutting edge technology to tap the rural economy. Not in lakhs or thousands but in installments of one or two rupee per family per day.

Each partner provides a service and has his share in the business. After a visit to Vadugambadi panchayat to have a taste of the pilot project, an Ericsson boss said the 3G technology could be rolled out simultaneously in the villages along with cities once the government grants license for the technology. Using the existing GSM towers of the operators, Ericsson could roll out broadband to lakhs of villages with no landlines across the country but connected through GSM network in a cost-effective manner. Offering 3G using existing GSM network could cost about 25 percent more, said Ericsson's director for 3G Programme.

Radiating 3G signals through existing telecom operators, Ericsson would have business partnerships with like-minded service providers to offer services like e-health, e-education and e-governance for the benefit of the local community. At the office provided by the panchayat free of cost, the staff of the concerned agencies and a few trained village youth help doctors from Apollo Hospitals in Chennai to diagnose the illness of the villagers through a detailed discussion and prescribe tablets or syrup for common ailments. The medicines are also given to the villagers free of cost; for now.

``There is no free lunch,'' says Prof K Ganapathy, president, Apollo Telemedicine. For the system to be self-sustaining, there has to be business in it ultimately, he emphasised. Apollo has a plan to collect 50
paise per person in the panchayat that roughly has about 3,000 inhabitants. The panchayat is yet to accept the plan.

Once the deal is through, Apollo will earn about Rs 50,000 per month from the panchayat. ``If we can offer the e-medicine service to thousands of villages, then it is blue chip,'' Ganapathy said. Insurance companies also are in the loop. We presume that there will not be thousands of patients to be take care for serious illness, Ganapathy reveals his heart. With his experience in tele-medicine for over seven years, Ganapathy feels the 3G platform to be stable. So, the technology is there. Will the villagers accept? Giving away a rupee or two will not be a problem, says an elder adding that the men spend hundreds in bottles.

Simultaneously, a teacher sitting in Chennai starts lessons to three schools around Mahabalipuram. As the technology was being tested, the teething troubles are there. But the video and animation are quite good.
Again, e-education comes free of cost for the first three months, the trial period. ``We will offer lessons in Tamil as well,'' assures a technician from Edurite. It will come at a subsidised rate. Wonder, why the state that distributes television sets to houses is not giving it to schools and have the best teachers take classess. Vikram Sarabai thought this fifty years ago. Still, the governments are thoughtless.

Services on e-governance like obtaining birth and death certificates, paying bills or tax among other things would also be offered in future, for a nominal rate. As e-governance is still in its primitive stages not many villagers have a taste of it. The internet kiosks are basically for kids to play karate and car race. But we are talking about private companies here. Ericsson, plans to have partners for information, entertainment are also
in the loop.

Theoretically, the business model is possible through unwiring and cross-subsidy. Just a reminder. It is not a service. It is purely a business model. It might work but the question is will it work wonders for the rural folk?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Left, Right, Left ...

At about 9 am on a damp, sultry morning in front of the port of chennai, the march against new imperialism was to begin. As always, the Red Flags lent majesty to the air. Sadly, the crowd was so sparse that it could have been numbered within minutes.

None other than Karat was to lead the march. Chennai has a huge chunk of CITU members. It looked like the comrades were asked to work for their families and not for the nation. For now.
A couple of spirited Communist cadre were shouting anti-imperialist slogans. As Manmohan Singh thinks, the voice of the proletariat sounded shrill and meek.

Only a stern-looking Karat and the resolutness of CPI national secretary Raja gave some sort of credibility to this historical march for sovereignty through mass mobilisation. Raja explained why chose the city that had hosted the US flagship carrier Nimitz that bombarded Iraq not so long ago.

Chennai was one of the cradles for communist movement in the nation. In fact, the first May Day parade was marched on the streets of this very city. Till the 1980s, soviet literature was part of the reading habit.

We have conveniently forgotten all of it. The new generation will not even know. Times have changed. This is the New Age. People are no more idealists. They have turned to commercialism in a big way.

For once, it looked the Left was not without allies. The State Agriculture Minister, the DMK strongman, Veerapandi Arumugam and PMK president G K Mani were at the venue. Not to lend solidarity to the Communist struggle but to pay tributes to VOC, a true swadeshi who sailed ships on his own fighting the old-world (British) imperialism. While Arumugam arrived before the Left leaders, Mani came after the march had left. It looked deliberate as the DMK and PMK, share power with the Congress at UPA. They want more money.

Moving on, the Left leaders were accorded warm reception at several points enroute Vizagapattinam. It was off the coast of Vizag, the joint naval exercise was taking place.
It was evident that the Tamils had not cared about the Left's fight against imperialism or they did not care to come out in support. The convoy led by Karat in a Tempo Traveller, a few vans and comrades in motor-cycles, stopped at Sulurpet, Gummidipoondi and at few roadside points.

A dhoti-clad Karat, sweating profusely and shying away from the crowd, spoke as sternly as he could, warning the UPA Government not to take the Left for granted. ``The UPA's commitment is to the people. Not for George W Bush,'' he remarked.

Raja warned the UPA not to deviate from the common minimum programme or face the consequences. ``We mean what we say,'' Raja kept reiterating at all the points.
Into Andhra Pradesh, the Left leaders were happy to see more crowd. At the same time, their hearts must have been gripped with melancholy at the sight of poor peasantry gathering around them. To see if the socialist leaders can give them a cent or two to be sheltered in a hut.

There were many farm women as the landownership was a issue in those parts of the state. The children with thin legs and vacant eyes were there. They are there like that in the rural countryside all through this nation. Not many notice nor care.

When the educated Chennaiites could not comprehend the Left's zeal for sovereignty, the poor women folk visibly had no clue as to what the leaders meant by joint naval exercises or nuclear agreement or even 1.2.3. It was a sad commentary on the times we live in.

The march went on.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

poetry of the past

I must confess that I am amazed at the language skills of the young writers, mostly girls. Reading blogs of these girls, in their early twenties, has been a pleasurable passing time.

I was wondering what all things I wrote when I was in my early twenties. I know that I penned down two of my most memorable poems ever when I was 22. Titled `Framed Forever', on a lost sister and an untitled one about a young man watching his very own funeral. Both lost. I have been searching 'em for years. Yet to find them.

I stumbled upon two other pieces of paper. Here are they. The first one was written the night, I had a glimpse of two unknown women, in the same crowded market place, where we reside now. And the other, on an introspective birthday.

Little bit of editing has gone into it. Not all that bad, I think.


***

An ode to feminity

Walking along crowded market street
I saw the lady-little, yarned in yellow

Radiant was she, ransacking my heart
it was evident 'at she was collecting hearts

She had a poise to carrying objects
and lashes to filter animated subjects

Fortunate was I, for the twin stars
illuminated dark holes of this avatar

The creative colour had crossed me in a flash
consoling a humiliated heart heaped all in ash

A rare glimpse to cherish from a dark night
but 'at was not to be the end of that lone night

I saw a girl warped in white as
i climbed down from a complex story

Serene and simple her soul was
stranding me in a moment of victory

Creative was i before, complete i 'came
at that graceful glance of girlish purity.

Years of forlorn vanished, with 'at mind insane
planting in an untamed heart at once morality!

Away from realities of darkness and time
Light pure and new hath entered my mind

Hail the women of this world
the benign bonds of lasting love
and charming chains of continuity

Pray, my soul rests in 'at vast ocean
Of cosmic love. Called compassion.



***



Happy Birthday


On this day you 're born
Now seem to feel forlorn.

You wish you were not born
for the life has revealed thorns;
In the span of wishful years
that have gone concealing tears.

New rays alight the endless horizons
of earth where we all will be buried soon.
The cloudy mayhem of illness surround
the reality of existence present all around.

When there is an inner ever glowing flame
Why then seek wealth, power, place and fame?
When there is so much of light within the self
Why seek comfort in the murky, egotistic self?

Nature seems to be the only solace
relations deter the mind of its peace
Free you are to give everything in nature
attachments demand things giving pleasure

You never realise the truth within
and search for eternal liberty - wherein
you forget the beauty of being born
on a planet 'ch is being continually torn

You are the person, You are the planet.

When will humans understand this facet?
Even if you are a miniature cosmos by yourself,
Hope seems to be the only saviour of soverign selves.

Monday, August 20, 2007

the neighbourhood series...

It was while crying upstairs for a lost friend for long, I got to know my neighbour number four, five and six. Dovely friends. As I sobbed uncontrolably for having not been in touch wtih a very good friend for over a decade, a whitish dove, in all radiance in the evening light, landed on the stairs outside.

The iron gate was locked. My cries stopped for a moment. Then the other two friends flew down. An ash smeared and a grey necked dove. For a moment, I was caught in between crying and smiling. Even a cellphone camera could have captured the thriving vitality of the birds. Life couldn't have been stranger than that second.

To lift my soul, the three walked in a slow, measured, procession in front of me. This way and that way. Unmindful of my presence. I sat still. Smiling inside. The birds kept on picking the grains on the floor and ambled across, leisurely and lyrically. The terrace has been home to a dovely clan. I dint knew it before.

Birding can be levitating. For humans have long desired wings. Poor creatures, they are bound by the laws of gravity, all the time. The human flight is confined to the realm of imagination. Forever. Forget the steel birds. I am talking things natural.

Then this morning, I kept watching through the window. Three butterflies. True Blue, Mellow Yellow and Gorgy Green wafted through the sultry air one by one around the mango tree. I lost myself watching the beauty and carfree creatures. The Gorgy came by the window, the Mellow drifted wide and wide in semi-circles and the True kept licking the little leaves.

It was 12.30. The kutti kingfisher flying from the western side perched himself at the same place when i took that picture a few days ago. Almost, the same time. Not to be missed. Jawa was there. Stupid being, he said the bird could not be captured better.
Wonder why they have lenses like that? Told him straight that he cant be a photographer, if he was not willing to take even a shot. Grumbling he went.

By now, the birdie flew the same way he did few days ago. So, he must be a regular.
Then the squirrel came as well. On the same branch. Today, he was not lazy and kept climbing up and up. Like me, they too were at work as well!

Sat there expecting the shikra to drop in. He never came. A long parrot, out of the mango foliage, flew around in a circle, and disappeared. Parrots must be there in plenty. I could hear their constant conversation loud and clear.

As I stepped outside, someone climbed down from the terrace. Up there, there were hundreds on a flight around the city's skyscape. On the high-rise apartments. On the ground. They were everywhere.

A wonderful world waiting for me. Back by the window, I saw a squirrel (is he the same?) chirping at the branches and a piece of paper tangled looking for food. There was no need for a camera. He was so close. Watching him that close, you also could free yourself.

I was hungry. A pot-belly brewing with acid. Yet, I lingered on for few more minutes. I think I will have to dedicate a post to the crows criss-crossing my window. For now, I leave my window. Back to my home.

``What is the purpose of writing the same things again,'' Tangled had asked me last night when I told her that a column on natural world in a concrete city could be a good idea. I had told her that columns could contain the message of conservation. I am not sure, if there is any in this post.

I remember the wife of an ageing but agile photographer telling him this. ``For forty years, you have been photographing the same tiger, the same leopard, the same elephants, and the same butterflies. For what joy?''

Well, any answers?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

neighbour number 3

After shooting the squirrel for sometime, I was content watching Lilian typing her story. I was not expecting anything more to fall into my favourite eye.

Closing the windows, I sat there silently in the chillness of the aircondition. It was early in the noon and it was quite hot and sunny outside.

Suddenly, something caught the corner of my left eye. I sensed something strong and powerful. And there he sat like this.

He or She, I have no clue. It looked like a falcon. It was also like an owl. I shot about five pictures and then realised that the glass window was between us.

Slowly and silently, the window had to be opened. He was patient and sat there posing for me. Only his head was moving side to side. Few more pictures later I realised that I could level the lens straight at him and shoot.

With the 200 ED Nikor lens, it was kind of eye-to-eye. The bird was hardly a hundred feet away. And this is the picture. It looks ferocious in the eye and claws. Otherwise, he looked a soft bird with a round belly with brown stripes and greyish wings. Two pictures later, he dived down into the dense foliage of the mango leave. May be, he caught something.

None of us in the desk had no clue as to what the name of the bird is. Later, Kumaran told that in Tamil it was called `vairi'. To him, it was the most ferocious (falcon) kind in these parts. ``It is deadly. Look at the beak, it can rip apart the soft bellies of the victims in a single, swift attack.''

``It is rare to catch him in the camera. Splendind job,'' he said. From what you have read above, I think it should not be a tough job for seasoned, wildlife photographers. Has luck favoured me? I was not sure. One lensman said the bird visits often (for lunch).

Then I googled up for a hour. Still, I could not fix his name. It looked like Northern Harrier but those birds live in North America. Tropical harrier. Google did not give correct pictures. One Dravidian language site had compared it to white headed kite. Again, Google was not of help. Someday, I will have the answer when my IFS friends come home for dinner.

As I type these words late in the night, hundreds of birds, may be, even thousands, rest in the shades of the handful of huge trees, behind my glass window. Leading a silent and content life. Lend your ears, it is the quietest neighbourhood in the city.

neighbour new


I have never seen a squirrel standing upright. There is another picture that showed his ``white'' side. The side untouched by the legendary Rama who was fond of squirrels and who used to caress them in the back. And so, the three long lines along the body!
That was a long time ago. But I believe, the squirrel, as a species, has existed even before the time of Rama. This fellow is a good fellow for he gave me pictures of a life time.
I have read an account on squirrel by the first naturalist writer M Krishnan in which he had said that squirrels used to sleep on the branch of guava trees looking into the sky with the legs hanging on the sides of the small branches. I have not had the patience to watch him do that.
In the `House of Insects', I have seen them sporting around all over the guava and mango trees. The squirrel eating rice from our courtyard is etched in my memory.
Here in this quiet, huge garden, amidst towering high-rise apartments, this little fellow was having fun, climbing up and down the huge (athi) tree. Satisfied, I dint pursue him much. May be, I will have to walk around the garden with the camera dangling around. I will love that.
PS: Jawa has come back and started complaining already. I hope the other cameras also come soon. This fellow can be incorrigible.

the neighbourhood!



I have been away from the animal kingdom for a year now.
From the time, I came back to the big city, from the forested city nestled amidst the western ghats, I have been longing to return.
To the woods, to the streams and to the winged world. Life has been rather hectic. Even if you are a leisured life, the other world is nearly invisble.
Then the miracle happened. The paper after years chose to buy cameras for the photographers. I got to test the first piece. A Nikon D200 with an 80-200 ED lens. Jawa got it. Someone who has never allowed me to touch his own camera (reluctantly) allowed me to use the office piece.
On an afternoon, the camera dangled from my neck. Raju fixed the 200 ED and gave it. As I opened the backwindow, this bird came into the picture. I had no time. I knew that it could fly away anytime. I took the first shot. The result is what you see. A bit out. As I tried to place myself better, the bird, sensing my urgency, flew low and out of the frame.
As I always do, I kept looking into the trees. Raju spotted the squirrel. He was resting on a huge branch. The eye was visible in the lens. After a while, he got up moved around, scratched himself, all around, from the nose to the tail. It was fantastic watching without him aware of the lens.
I took quite a few pictures. I wanted to go back to my `House of Insects' where squirrels are the lead actors. I had to be content with what I had. The lens rolled. The distance and his dancing movements left most of 'em shaking. Then he strestched himself to reach out to the leaves or else small fruits and the camera delightfully took him in.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

மழை, மாமரம், மறந்த காலம்

வெகு காலத்துக்குப் பிறகு, மழையெனப்
பெய்த மழையை ரசிக்கும் வாய்ப்புக் கிடைத்தது

ஆனி மாதத்தின் இறுதி வாரத்தில்
மாலை நேரங்களில் பெய்தது பேய் மழை

நிற்காமல், நீண்ட நேரம், நினைத்து
நினைத்து மனம் திறந்தது வானம்.
என் நல்மனமும்.

அமைதி தவழ்ந்த அலுவலகத்தில்,
நீலநிற நியான் ஒளியில் நின்றிருந்தேன்,

கண்முன் நீண்ட கண்ணாடி சன்னல்கள்,
வெள்ளி முத்துச்சரங்களாய் மழைத்துளிகள்.

மனதினுள் ஈரம் படர்ந்து,
நினைத்தது நினைவுகளை,
மறந்த காலத்தை.

பின் சன்னலைத் திறந்தால்
மாமரங்களில் மழையோசை,
முகிழ்த்தது மனம்.

நீண்டு உயர்ந்த மலைகளின் அடிவாரத்தில்
மஞ்சளாறு பிறந்து, பாய்ந்த என் ஊரில்
மனதுக்கு இதமான மனிதர்கள் மத்தியில்
வாழ்ந்த அந் நாட்கள் மறந்தே விட்டன.

நகரத்தில் வந்து நானாகவே நிற்கிறேன்.

மாமரமும், மரப் பொந்தும்,
மண்வாசனையும், மழைநீரும்,
மருதமும், மாணவப் பருவமும்;

இன்று பெய்த மழையில் நிழலாடின.

காற்றின் கீதமும், தாகூரின் கவிதையும்,
காகிதப் படகுகளும், காதலியின் கண்களும்.

ஆம், அது கனாக்காலம்.

படரும் இருளிலும் பார்க்க முடிந்தது,
ஆங்காங்கு தங்கியிருந்த நீர்ப்படலங்களை.

இன்று பெய்த மழையில் ஏனோ நனைய விரும்பவில்லை,
நகரத்தில் மழை பெரும்பாலும் சலிப்பைத்தான் தருகிறது.

முன்னர் ஒரு நாள் மாலையில், கண்கவர்
கானகத்தில் கால் பதித்தபோது,
இதேபோல் இடியுடன் கூடிய மழை.

மலைகளின் மேலே முகில்களை முத்தமிட்ட தருணமது
மறைவதற்கு இடமுமில்லை, மனமும் இல்லையன்று,

பச்சைப் புல் படர்ந்த மலையில்,
நெஞ்சம் நிறைந்த நிலையில்
படுத்திருந்தோம்.

வரையாடு வானத்தை முகர்ந்து பார்த்தது;
கோணலாறு கண்ணாடி போல் பளபளத்தது.

வெளிர்நீல வானுக்கப்பால்,
வெளி விழித்துக் கொண்டிருந்தது.
மௌனத்தில் மயங்கிய நாங்கள்;
மோனத்தில் ஆழ்ந்திருந்தோம்.

நனைதலை விட சுகமொன்றுண்டோ?
மழையை விட அழகுமுண்டோ?

ஆனால், அது மறந்த காலம்.

நானோ நகரவாசி,
வாழ்வைத் தொலைத்து,
வாழ்க்கையைக் கடத்துபவன்.

மழை சற்றே ஓய்ந்திருந்தது, வீடு
நோக்கிய நெடும் பயணம் தொடங்கியது,

விஸ்தாரமான வீதிகளில்,
கலங்கிய குளங்களைத்
தாவி, தாவி நடந்தேன்.

மரத்தின் உயிரை வழித்துச்,
சொட்டிய அப்பனித் துளிகள்
நனைத்தன என்னிதயத்தை.

இன்றிரவு நான் பாடுவேன்,
என் தனிமையின் தாகத்தை,
பின்னிரவின் சோக கீதத்தை.

ஆம்.

இது,
மரித்தவற்றை
உயிர்ப்ப்பிக்கும்
மழைக்காலம்.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

the blue pencil ...

i am not sure what title i should give to this post. it is about the man who gave me the opportunity to be a journalist. he is dying. slowly. surely.

the last time i met him, he talked for a few hours about the paper he edited. how bad it has become and how worse the editor-in-charge was. it was in his air-filled house under a whole lot of trees in a quiet neighbourhood in besant nagar.

he had just come back from library and a stroll in the nearby park with his wife. he thought he was fine and that the cancer has been completely cured. i thought so. he was filled with vitality, as ever. he wanted to know how my parents, wife and daughter were.

with half-a-century of journalism behind him, he wanted to work in a newspaper till he breathed last. he had another regret. he had never owned a newspaper. he had only been an editor.

however, he had to fight cancer after retirement. i am sure, if not for the cancer, he would have lived close to 100 years. i am not sure now. i just returned from seeing him in a bed, deathbed. with wires running all through his body, and he, can you believe, unconcious.

those who have visited the desk will always remember this tall, energetic man, in whites, with a pen in hand, commanding the newsroom. once he had told me. ``you remind me of my young days as a reporter, therefore i like you a lot''.

that was one of the reason he allowed me to work inspite of the numerous mistakes that appeared in print because of my stupidity. when it comes to criticism, he can be more than harsh. he actually hurts. sensitive people will never be able to work for him. those who take it in the positive sense, as part of a learning curve, continued to work with him.

the legend has it that he has made many, many ordinary reporters into great reporters and on the flip side, he has killed the hopes of equally the same number of aspiring journalists.

my father still thinks me that only because of my editor, i have been a bit useful to myself and to the people around me. i think i should have to accept it. i was an aimless, arrogant and an addict.

the first time i met him, he asked me if i can write in tamil. and gave me a test. he threw my certificates to a corner of the desk. he dint care for my masters. after corrections, he loves doing that, he asked me if i knew what it meant by *otru pilai*.

son of a tamil teacher, i had no clue. still, he gave me the job. in his style, he said. ``stick around for a few months. if you are good, we will take you. otherwise, you go home.''

and thus began my journalistic career. in another six months, i would be completing a decade in journalism. what i have achieved, i don't know. perhaps, like him, i can take pride that, i have introduced many youngsters to journalism.

unlike him, i plan to write a lot, provided there is space for serious stuff. and if i am not lazy, he was one man who had the courage to ask a rookie like me to write edits for the most prestigious and authentic language paper in the tamil country. i am not sufe if any other editor will allow a reporter, just three months into the profession, to write edits.

my editor had the courage and a rare belief in the power of the youth. he taught us sincerity and how not to be corrupt. even to this day, the english daily, for which i work and for which he served really long, is the least corrupt.

his wife tells me that he often says that he wants to survive. in the hospital bed, he looks pale. with a white veshti around his waist, he is induced to sleep. that broad, always thinking, forehead is smeared with ash. this man was known to have associated with the reformist and dravidian movements.

he has a mask. his wife tells me that he often bites his tongue. those who were bitten by the harshness of that tongue can take delight in that. when someone visits him in the hospital and calls him saying that he has come, he murmurs long, acknowledging it.

is he conscious? his wife says that the doctors plan to open his skull and remove the clot in the brain. she is not sure if he will survive surgery. even if he survived, he already has lost the ability to walk. he hates pity.

his wife is in a dilemma. she has never taken a decision in her life. he takes them. in a moment, always. has he been kind? i think it will be debated for long. personally, he has been kind to me.

whether he learnt or not, he always wanted journalists, young and old, to learn and improve everyday. ``only self-improvement will help.'' that tall man would stand there from 11 am to 11 pm. commanding and communicating. those who dint communicate, lost favour with him. there are scoundrels around to spoil others life everywhere, you see.

for my editor, work was worship. when he breathes last, editing would have reached an end. only temporarily. i pray editing gets sharper and sharper. and he, hale and healthier.

we have thousands of things to write. the society is selfish and stinking.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Gift of Life

Well, this could be really interesting. Last night, we walked with three childhood friends, a photographer, a writer and a journalist.

The last time the three had met they were in school finals. The journalist used to sit in the front bench, pretending to be studious. The writer, in his very own imaginary world, right behind, will be watching the world through that green window. The photographer, in the third row, was the innocent fellow, who liked to be himself.

Years have passed. None of them ever thought they would travel this far in life. How far is difficult to say. For, we are not talking about the distance between the city and their hometowns nestled in one of the fertile valleys in the tamil country. It was truly a countryside. A hundred kilometre stretch of green carpet, gurgling small streams criss-crossing the fields, a string of small town gods along the narrow reddish roadsides, a radiant sky littered with purified clouds.

Nature, in its pristine beauty and godly glory. The abode of simple souls. They too were simpletons in childhood. The world was very limited then. Like anywhere, they were taught to dream of becoming a doctor, engineer or an agricultural scientist. Professionals, in short.

The journalist had no great ambitions, we know. The writer wanted to be a writer. We had no clue as to what the photgrapher wanted to be. Last night, we were there, with them together. They were a bit surprised at what they were. All three had come to occupy a respectful position in the society and a bit known, and even prominent (the writer and lensman) in a wide circle.

Over to the party. The journalist quit drinking. He still likes liquor and smoke. His system rejects though. The other two friends had a hearty drink after a long time. They had only few minutes in between all the introductions and hand-shakes to be friends again for a few moments. In childhood dreams, we can see that journalist, with his vacant eyes, wanted to be with women, all the time. If we read the semi-autobiographical stories of the writer, then we will know he was waiting to fall in love with any girl, anytime. The lensman never said or shared such things in life then.

In the party we spot the photographer's father whom we recall from childhood. We overhear the friends tell him that his son has succeeded in life. He feels happy and extremely satisfied. Later over a drink, we listen to the photographer whishpering to his friends. ``I owe most of what I am today to my wife.'' That is nice of him. Even before meeting his wife, he was successful in modelling, his chosen profession, definitely not a male domain in this conservative city. At the party, we could see his wife. Full of life and energy, dancing to any numbers. We could not speak anything to her as she was busy all evening. We could sense her in him. She looked like life's gift to him.

Well after midnight, the journalist went to drop the writer at his home. As he has never been to his friend's home, he walked up with him in one of the first apartment to be built in the city. We may not be able to comprehend how the writer creates characters staying in one n'th floor of a bare building, seemingly without any life.

``My wife is not at home. So it will look like a bachelor's,'' the writer said, taking his friend in. As we enter, we, walking with the friend, can't miss the framed photograph. The writer, looking calm and composed, and his wife, revealing her warm heart in a rare smile, stare at us.

Opening one of the doors, the writer shows the sprawling city's skyline. ``You jump from here. I promise you heaven,'' he tells his old friend in the balcony. Within the walls, the writer shows us the world he lives in. The world of words. We catch a glimpse of J Krishnamurthi's translation in Tamil. Truth is a pathless land, reads the chapter's title.

Knowing not that we, with his friend, already have seen his wife, he gives his friend the marriage album. The city's whos who were there. They will be there for him. His words have the power to take them to millions of homes in the tamil country. In his heart, there is only one.

``I fell in love with so many girls. She was the only one who fell in love with me. My lovable girl.'' The writer went on to tell us the wonder his wife is. Brilliant, intelligent, caring. Simply, out of the world. We will have to agree to him. Seeing her in photograph enough could be a testimony to all that the writer said. To know her in person, we, like his friend, will have to wait till September when she will return home from United States.

``She is life's gift to me,'' he confides. Later, we hear the writer telling his old pal how to reach out to the climb the tallest mountains and reach out to the peak or how to look beyond the horizons and travel that far, letting the world know that we were masters in our profession and to be helpful to those in need.

At the end of it all, the writer said, the friends should go back to our valley of streams and sit with a meditative mind to contemplate the cosmos and sleep staring at all those stars littered along a clean, deep blue sky, resting in the shades of eternity, where words will be the winds and rhymes, the rivers.

By now, the journalist was thinking about his wife. After a bear hug, the journalist drives home in his half-broken bike as it drizzles. At home, we see the journalist's wife waiting for him well after midnight for her half-stupid husband had failed to inform her of his late coming. Totally disorganised, this fellow has this habit of coming home after midnight regularly.

Neverthless, the wife waits for him. We can't ask her to sleep and not to mind his stupid being. She will not listen. She will be there waiting to prepare food for him. We premise that it is not about the food. It is all about her feelings for him.

The journalist has never confided before that his wife is his life's precious gift. Well, he has!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

sea, sorrowful

for a few fortnights,
melancholy visits often;

the wandering waves,
wash ashore wantonly;

the sea, sorrowful,
groans and mourns,
the death of two:
born and blossoming.

the first, a baby, of,
almost an angelic sister,
still nursing lost little one.

then this distant friend,
known for the first time,
sadly, after she lost breath.

the answers are not known,
that vain search though is on.

words, like wavelets,
wash my worried soul.

the sea, sorrowful,
sinks into the silence,
of simple looking sky.

when will we know,
what depths we go,
when we wear out.

welcome to this harbour,
where love plays valour.

dears depart to distant shores,
yet your ship has to be anchored,
not to be drifted deep into the sea.

the sea, sorrowful,
waits without waves,
with deep blue waters.

let me untie the knot,
let us drift against waves,
to be that sorrowful.

when will we know,
what is with this death,
when we sail itself.

sorrow visits me often, by the seaside;
thinkin of those two, travelling through;
troubling my heart, cleansing the soul;
deaths do purify, mending the mind.

the sea, sorrowful,
wavers, then waves,
wanting me,
you.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Nimitz has Nukes.

Well, USS Nimitz, the lead ship of the United States's aircraft carriers, has nuclear weapons on board as it is anchored peacefully three nautical miles of Chennai's coast.

No more. May or may not. To the media, Rear Admiral Terrence Blake and ship's Captain Michael C Manazir have confirmed that they were heading back to the Persian Gulf. For Iraqi Freedom. The ship has come to the city from the Persian Gulf only.

It is sheer common sense for anyone to infer that the largest warship of the United States, infact of the world, in an assignment as volatile as the Gulf, must have nukes on board. It will not have nukes, only if it had transferred the tactical weapons to USS Princeton, the destroyer accompanying it. I am not sure, nukes would be handled like other cargo.

There is another possibility, Nimitz could also have dropped its nukes at Diego Garcia, if it respected India and her sentiments. And might pick 'em up again. But the world knows that, the Americans have no respect for anything and believe in only their audacity.

Tonight also, Chennai will sleep without the knowledge that there is a warship, with about 80 F-16 and F-18 fighter aircrafts that can reach even Delhi and beyond, could actually be armed with nuclear weapons. The city is happy looking at the crew having fun.

Of course, India can be proud of United States's clean record in handling nuclear facilities, including its 9 aircraft carriers, led by none other than the USS Nimitz.

Now, Comrades step aside. Welcome Nimitz!!!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Gogol's Overcoat.

I wanted to write a review for Mira's Namesake. Without reading Gogol's `Overcoat', I thought I was not in a position to write that.

For my friends who watched the movie and who couldnt come to know of the complete cycle.

Here's The Overcoat:

From that time forth, his existence seemed to become, in some way, fuller, as if he were married, as if some other man lived in him, as if he were not alone, and some charming friend had consented to go along life’s path with him—and the friend was no other than that overcoat, with thick wadding and a strong lining incapable of wearing out. He became more lively, and his character even became firmer, like that of a man who has made up his mind, and set himself a goal. From his face and gait, doubt and indecision—in short, all hesitating and wavering traits—disappeared of themselves.

It is interesting to learn that Fyodor at somepoint had said: ``All of us (Russian Realists) were born out of the overcoat.''

Monday, July 02, 2007

Ship, eh?

My first trip to a warship. It happened that I landed right on the lead ship of the nuclear powered aicraft carrier of the mighty United States _ USS Nimitz on a sultry Sunday. The namesake had listened to sea stories from his grandfather at a small German-like town in Arizona and on seeing a Captain in uniform one day turned a sailor and led the Pacific Fleet after Pearl Harbour.

The warship, in the eye of the storm, was sailing towards the city. And we were to fly to the ship somewhere near Sri Lanka. ``There is a 99 percent chance that you will be back here,'' said Capt Gillis of US Navy, on introduction. Briefing about the ``flight'', he asked us (a dozen scribes) not to expect the ``luxury'' of airlines.
``You will be flown in a C2 - Greyhound. It is a military aircraft. It is bare. You will have to sit backwards''. Thumbs Up.

The bus took us to the tail of the runway where the two greyhounds were humming. A soldier stepped in to hand over the helmets and life jackets. Posing to the cameras, we boarded the flight through the tail. The 20 seater was truly bare. There was nothing except the twenty seats and belts. And the cockpit.

I took one of the two small windows in the aircraft. Jet Airways had to take off. The tail was closed and we sat sweating for thirty minutes. ``We are waiting for ATC clearance. Will leave shortly,'' said the other officer with a moustache. ``We will be flying over sea. In case of emergency landing (on the sea), you will have to open the door on the top and get out one by one,'' he had said earlier.

Finally, we took off. As the Greyound climbed up, the pressure went up the body felt so light. Thought of Sunita for a moment. Outside the window, there were houses, fields and lakes for few minutes. And then the East Coast. I was not sure of the location. A 90 degree small cut of the coast could be noticed. Then over the sea and soon above the clouds. By now, most were tired and sleeping.

After thirty minutes, the descent started. The sea was a brilliant blue with sparkling silvers. The other Greyhound was flying to the left below. It would land first. Landing on board Nimitz is a ``trap''. Flights at 150 miles per hour speed coming down from three storey height would catch any of the four ``steel wires'' on a massive flight deck, spread over 4.5 acres, to come to zero speed in four seconds.

``Here we go,'' said the officer on mike. With a thug, the flight came to a joltering halt. A smooth touch down. Stepping out, we saw a busy airport. F-16s and F18s were taking off every other second. Men in ``dirty'' blue, maroon and yellow were all around guiding the flights.

Straight away we were led into a VIP room. It looked like a Five Star Hotel. After the customary briefing by the Admiral and Ship's Captain, we were given a separate set of jackets and were back on the flight deck. ``You can be thrown into the sea. Don't step the lines. In case you are in the sea, pull the four buttons. We will get you before the sharks.''

The thirty minutes thereafter should remain as an unbelievable sequence in space and time in my memories. The Hornets, Super Hornets and Prowlers line up one by one for take off in a runway of 400 metres(!). The engines are on. The wings flap. The signs are shown. The pilot salutes. The tyres screech the runway. There is this silent thud in your heart. At the edge, the rockets fire and the flight takes off. In two seconds flat.

A little later you realise that the other runway in the aiport is also busy. It was amazing to watch two jets taking off and flying away in different directions. Time to move on and clear the runway for the flights to land. They did. One by one. About 20 of 'em. Except for the first one that caught the fourth (last) wire, all others were trapped in either the second or third. We are told that the flights land with full throttle to be air borne again if the tail fails to catch the wire.

Once the flight comes to a stop, the tail releases the wire. The aircraft is parked. The pilots walk past us smiling. There are girls too. ``We do it out of adventure, challenge and love for our country,'' said a girl pilot. They take out sorties in the nights also. Stunning Souls.

We are shoved in. Time to leave. It was a short trip. As you come out the cabin with the old life jacket and head gear (hurting the ears) and as you climb the stairs, you see water below. Only then you realise that you are actually in a ship. Occasionally, you feel the floating and a huge wave crashin on the walls of the 23 storey ship!

On the deck, you sense the enormity of the water around on which this mini-city is floating. To know more, visit the US Navy wesbite. Thrown back into the Greyhound with a warning, we perspire again. ``Wait for Here We Go. Sit Tight. In one-and-half seconds, we will be airborne,'' the radio in the ear-piece warns.

You can feel the full accelerator. The brakes are released. You feel like being hanged for a second. And then you are off. On air, leaving the ship and sea behind. It was like a giant eagle plucking you up by the collar, flying away, in a swift second.

``Hang on guys,'' the radio says. And you hang-on to the experience. Tired, most sleep again. I think the Greyhound is designed to sleep. Some sort of smoke comes from the sides. You sleep. The landing at the airport can't be smoother. In fact, those on that Sunday afternoon flight will never be afraid of landing or take-off in any of the airports around the world.

Shaking hands with the US Consulate officers, we salute the Greyhound's young (22 years!) pilot for flying us down. Looking very relaxed and calm, he said, ``Hope you enjoyed the flight.'' For him, its child's play. He does that day and night.

``Come again.''

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Cheran's poetry

by the sea, three notes

1
Rising as
tides high and above
dies as bubbles
Water
2
She walks ashore
me still
within waves
3
Sea swallows sun
Splits bloody red
Spraying the clouds

In the shore
day dries
Slowly
night fritters

waves sorrowful
will be shriller.


***


past tense

a desolate street
in the rain,
under sirissa tree
suddenly

to see you coming
was unbelievable;
yet it happened

after lengthy days,
i saw trembling fingers
holding tight
a book bunch and an umbrella
and battering eyelids
like a butterfly;
you were shocked.

face,
can't look away
rain;
leave,
can't walk away
rain

`let day dawn and rain go'
that heart of yours
prays i think

my little girl

mine,
that day's sun
died that day
itself.

- Urudhiramurthy Cheran.

Note: Cheran is one of the foremost poets of Sri Lanka. These two have been selected from Kalachuvadu's - Nee Ippozhuthu Irangum Aru (You, Now The Downhill River - Cheran's Hundred Poems. Hope I am able to translate many more.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Shame, Mr President

Shame Mr President for wanting to continue to be the President.
Shame Mr Vice President for working backdoor to be the President.

When the whole nation was expecting Kalam, i don't think he needs respect anymore, to turn down the ``tired'' third front's offer of Presidentship again, Mr President has asked the front for ``certainity''. Jaya did not go. Naidu asked the nation to infer for herself what ``certainity'' meant.

It means. Show me the numbers so that I feel confident that I will win. I will contest then, Mr President has said. Has not this young nation adored your silver flocks and scientific temper? It has come as a shocker to many, like me, that Kalam, caught in dirty politics, would behave like a politician. Unwilling to let the chair go.

He looks all the more stupid as the nation is waiting to have its first ever Woman President. We are not sure when History will present another opportunity to the womanhood, tortured to the core in every nook of this country. May be she looks frail and old. She, definitely, has a will. And, most likely a soul.

Kalam, who quotes *thirukural* often, after all may not have a soul. I was expecting him to come back to Anna University and live out of those two 10x10 rooms to design devices to help disabled children. Or may be head to Thumba to inspire more rocket scientists. But Mr President wants to sit at Rasthrapati Bhavan. His vision looks narrow.

Pray, Kalam is not thrown away from the chair. That would be a national disgrace. There's still time for him to step down. With all his grace and welcome our first lady Prez. Then, the nation can rejoice. And, at least in paper and in position, free the Indian woman!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Sivaji, The Stunner.

Rajni fans can't ask for more.

Sivaji has turned out to be a perfect blend of Rajni style and Shankar story-telling. The story is simple. As Shankar would like it, Sivaji, a senior systems architect, comes back to his own country, to serve his people.

He has 200 crore. He wants to build universities and hospitals to serve the needy free of cost. Essentially, the Good Soul. Right in the beginning of the film, he comes across, Adhi, the educationist-money-spinner, whose interests would be affected by the ``free for all'' idea.

Shankar's ability to leverage the corruption in the minds of the Tamils comes handy. Against his wishes, he pays till the Minister. Adhi, the criminal, changes the Government itself. Buildings are sealed and Sivaji is on the streets.

Adhi gives him a one rupee coin and asks him to beg thereafter.

There is this sub-plot, the love-comic story with Shriya. Wanting to marry a Tamil-cultured girl, Rajni falls for this frail woman, working in a music store, at a temple. His family and friend barge into the girl's home. After funny, funny moments, as can be expected of Rajni, they decided to marry. The other villain, astrologer, warns against the marriage. It could make Sivaji a pauper and even kill him.

On the streets and facing death, Rajni starts starring. Has not Rajni has this habit of standing in the street in most of his films to emerge victorious at the end? Here again, Rajni treads the same path.

With that one rupee coin in his hand, he calls up Adhi and informs him of the IT raid next morning. The foolish villain packs his docus and sends it to his farm house. The hero picks them up and blackmails the villain. Rs 100 crore for Rs 200 crore (black money).

That was only the beginning. Of the 20 lakh crore in the black market, Sivaji squeezes 46,000 crore from educationists and politicians to realise his dream of serving the poor. He converts all the black money into white money by changing them into dollars and asking the NRIs to deposit them in his bank accounts. He builds hospitals and colleges. The villains are sent packing to the jail. How can villains trust the Hero?

Coming out, they devise a plan. Meanwhile, cornered by the CBI and fearing for her husband's life (they are married now), Shriya reveals the truth to the CBI chief. But there is a hitch. The laptop recognises only Sivaji's voice and password.

Cool. Tmrw, the Tamils across the globle would be uttering this same word. Cool. Sivaji ishtyle.

In between, the chief villain wants to kill Rajni. He devises a plan. Caught in camera by one of those souls whose relative was treated in Sivaji's hospital. No constable wants to cane Sivaji in police custody. They are also benefitted from the private government run by Sivaji.

So, Adhi beats him up. The hero counts to pay them all back. When everyone think Sivaji is dead and go out seeking a doctor, Sivaji electrocutes himself. Flashback. During construction of the Sivaji university, a boy goes unconscious after stamping on a live wire. Dr Raguvaran kisses his soul and brings him back alive. So Rajni remembers that.

Now, when they take him to be killed. Dr Raghu and Shriya ``mastermind'' his escape and save the super star's life. If you expected Shriya to kiss Rajni's sould to bring him to life, you are in for a disappointment. Actually, two iron-boxes do it for him.

Meanwhile, CBI could not open the documents in the laptop and the data goes into self-destructive mode as set by the systems architect. Sivaji is dead and his accounts are gone. Unlike Indian (thatha), Sivaji is not flying abroad. He wants to live and serve here.

So, Sivaji makes a comeback as MGR(Ravichandran). I think the film should have been titled MGR instead of Sivaji. For MGR had perfected the art of taking it from the rich and, apart from keeping most for himself, give it back to people (remember the currency notes at times of his campaign).

The chief villain meets his own end. Shankar is most visible in the last scene. The poor student whose parents were squeezed for money for his admission at the villain's medical college stamps on the villain's throat.

Shankar's touch. Apart from this and few other scenes like taking the money in bullock cart, the anguish at the corrupt, the visual appeal of the songs and importantly the main plot, Shankar is completely overshadowed by the phenomenon called Rajnikanth.

K V Anand, Peter Hayne, the supporting artists, the visual effects, all have chipped in. Only A R Rahman is missing, especially in the songs.

From start to finish, Rajni, looking young and great, rules the roost. Should I say more things about Rajni's acting. We all know that the superstar can tickle the funny bones of even the tiniest in our houses and break the rib bones of tens and tens of villains with his steely wrists. Here, he dances too. His fans will be surprised. It can't be more delightful. Rajni fans have plenty of reason to celebrate.

The film is strictly not for the intelligent or artistic filmy fellows. It is better they stay at home. The film is for those who want to enjoy cinema purely as an entertainment. This is the film for you. A comical first part and an action packed second part. Only, the climax is bit boring. Only after you walk out of the theater, you realise that the film was 3 hours long.

Have you booked your tickets? It is likely that the housefull days will stretch a bit farther. You may have to wait. A word of caution. Don't waste it by watching at home. It is of no use. AVM has spent money. Of course, the cash is gonna flow.

One last word to Mr Shankar. Why don't you make films that are real and not just cash in on that deep rooted thing called corruption in this country? Sivaji is truly a reel story. They say it in the beginning that nothing in this film is actual. It will be sometime the society will have a real Sivaji. It may not also!

Till then, the Tamils' superheroes, Rajni and Shankar, will be cash-richer, basking in glory.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The First Lady.



As I was driving to the office this afternoon, I was thinking why not a woman as the President. I was thinking that Congress would think about Sister Nirmala. In honour of The Mother. I could not think of any other person, considering Kalam is vacating the highest office, after inspiring a generation, inspite of his comical gestures.
Here we are with this woman likely to be the first President of The Socialist, Democratic, Republic of India. The picture must have been taken decades back. She is quite old man. Nearly 3/4ths of a century.
Seasoned, non-controversial, and above all a woman. By the way, she is also a shekawat by way of marriage. So Rajputs are fighting it out. Pratibha is expected to beat Bairon easily. Now, can Jayalalithaa, the unofficial third front leader, argue and articulate against a woman candidate.
Congress thinks its a master stroke. I think, the nation has become uninspiring and political again.
I am not sure if she can walk around the Mughal Gardens.
Oh man! I think she looks so tired of life.
May she rest in Rahstrapathi Bhavan.
They forgot this is a young nation.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

life and death

i wondered,
how can life come out of concrete?

in the crowded chennai,
i live in a cement jungle.

walled on all sides,
amidst narrow dusty lanes.

i see light through the window,
that has flowers on an orangy screen.

then i noticed life breathing,
it was a plant out of the brick-wall.

it grew and grew,
to be life giving greenish.

then came my sister,
to give birth to a baby boy.

at the peak of summer,
she suffered from exhaustion.

had to fit an air-conditioner,
like every other house in the city.

it was really cool inside,
outside it was hotter than before.

while we felt chillness at home,
the plant was struggling to survive.

may be a week from now on,
mom and little sons will go home.

then the hum will stop sure,
and i hope the plant lives long.

only the seed will know,
the difficulty in giving life,
amidst bricks and cement.

may be,

for every baby born,
a plant sacrifices its life.

how long?

Friday, June 01, 2007

home, sweet home.

thanks for all the souls that read the previous post yesterday and for the prayers.
this is to say that *kuchu* came home this afternoon.
spats is delighted to have him home.
like you all.
:-)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

baby, come home soon



All of us are waiting for him to come home. Life sometimes is lifeless. It has been thirteen days since he was born. He is still in the hospital. For the first 12 days, he was like this. Under phototherapy to get his bilirubin count reduced.

In the peak of summer. Under lights for 22 hours. For two hours everyday, he was with his mommy. We haven't named him. As his big brother is *achu* we have christened him *kuchu*.

They were pricking him and sucking out blood to be tested on a daily basis. Inspite of 11 gold medals in medicine, his doctor mother could not stop crying. ``He may not feel it like us,'' she said often.

The big brother and their grandma take the auto to the hospital everyday to be with his mommy and spend time with his little brother. Grandpa and daddy take alternate turns to travel the 500 miles to be with the dear ones.

Inspite of visiting the hospital daily, I could see him only on the tenth day. The little one at home hasn't seen him yet. She keeps asking us when will *kuchu* come home. I am not sure even the doctor knows answer to this question.

``His count is neither high for procedures nor low for him to go home,'' said the doctor. On the 12th day, mommy found him pale, apart from being yellowish. So they tested the haemoglobin level.

Soon, he was shifted to the neo-natal where his brother breathed life four years ago. He had a total transfusion. Two strangers had saved his life then. For his little brother, some stranger has been kind to lend his life-fluid. It was an ordinary transfusion. Nothing was taken out.

This morning, the little fellow was pinkish. Mommy and daddy looked happy. The count has gone up to 11. By tomorrow, the doc expected it to climb up to a safe 15. Pray, *kuchu* comes home this weekend. Even if you don't, pray for those half-a-dozen beauties under lights in a warm room, plugged with wires, connected to life-monitoring systems, and breathing hard.

Yet, Smiling.

Monday, May 21, 2007

the light of life

Fathers!

I am still not used to this particular word. In half a life, I have not really been fascinated with my father. I liked him a lot when I knew that he was a Communist during his college years. As he turned a businessman, he has never really interested me.

A few months back he had said. ``My whole life has been a failure. I may not last long.'' He was referring to his uncle, my mother's father still healthy at 88. Past sixty, my father has breathing trouble. He has very poor lungs. His heart has 11 percent problem and he eats tabs everyday.

Worse, he, who loved everyone, and who passed on that particular trait to his sons and daughter, is limiting his love to his ``own'' children and grand children. ``Others are not of use anyways,'' he feels.

Poor man, he never succeeded in his business. Everytime, he started something he only lost. Never profitted. And so he kept on spending lakhs and lakhs and has not given anything in cash to his children. You can't say he has been kind too. For he has always been authoritative and dominant. And disciplinarian.

With grandchildren, he has been absolutely kind. You can watch the little ones jumping and climbing over him and doing all sorts of naugty things on him.

My brother always told him that fathers should fund the education of children and not just preach morality. My father never paid the fees. In my memory, he used to give a couple of ten rupee notes when he comes calling to his sons' colleges.

However, he was there. All the time when the sons were in the small town. He always sent the sons off to college or to different destinations when they started working and when they went as a family. He always thought about the safety of his sons. Then, when he had money, he bought the tickets to the big town also.

The family, especially, his wife thinks he has wasted money. Not saving or giving anything for the children. For neither of her sons have any home on their own. And have nothing in bank also.

She is worried. Of late, my father is worried too. They keep fighting with each other over the wasted money. If there are a few things that can't be stopped in this world, its the family fight. Sometimes, it can hurt the children. But mostly, its a war of words. Nothing more than that.

Even now, my father spends the thousands he manages from somewhere. And the fight would resume. Thinking about all this, I was trying to sleep last night. I was sleeping near my father after a long time.

He was a shadow in sleep. With his medical kit by the pillow, he was swaying in his dreams. It was dark, if not pitch dark. I was thinking of all things past. Of my father and his family. Of course, materially speaking, my father's life has been a big failure.

The world and wives think that way. Sons should not think like that. To me, money and all those associated with it never have mattered. I have always wanted peace. Inside and Outside. To my knowledge, my father, despite a troubled life, has passed on his inner peace to us. My sister also feels that way.

His elder son is yet to realise peace within. He continues to live like his father, taking all the pain in the earth upon himself. Yet wishing the children and the world to live happily. Of all things inherited, this second son still thinks that moral inheritance to be a virtue.

It may be non-sensical to even talk of morality in this world. Yet, from his experience, this son states that his father's moral preaching has given him the peace, even if it was momentary and fleeting, that otherwise would have eluded him for life.

Friends often ask this son why was not he fully exploiting things material and sensual, inspite of life presenting opportunities in a platter at work as well as in the bed. The son always says to himself: ``My father has asked me to go by the book.'' This book has never been written. It has always been passed from fathers to sons, mostly unspoken.

In darkness, the son could see the light in his father's soul. Amidst the darkness of life. So pure and radiant. The great, guiding light of the family. Who said fathers are a failure? Let them waste all the money they want. Sons are here not for comfortable homes or crores of rupees. Only let them not drink.

Sons are here to pass on the light.

The light of life.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

all allies !?!

In the assembly, the allies of the DMK, talking about madurai violence, wanted stern action. For some reason or other, the allies did not point the accusing finger at Azhagiri, the chief minister's madurai based son. It was a shame on them that they did not even record his name in the assembly.

For, the violence on a newspaper office, that too owned by the chief minister's family, was set fire on broad day light, killing three innocent people. Everything is on record in the pictures and videos. Still, the allies failed to mention Azhagiri's name. ``It might hurt the chief minister, that is why we did not mention the name,'' reasoned a leader, later. Of course, to the alliance leaders, public and press come only after karunanidhi. For the first two are not going to benefit in anyway.

Later in the day, the leading and sensitive journalists met together, as usual whenever the attack on the press happens, a day later, to condole the death of three and condemn the violence on ``press freedom''. Speaker after speaker spoke. I am not sure if it is diplomacy or lack of courage, none of them even uttered the name Azhagiri. The same fellows had carried his name in titles in the newspapers published early and later that day. Beginning with the bearded veteran whose marriage was solemnised by karunanidhi.

It was Ram, not liked by many serious and sensitive journalists but respected for his forthright views, who actually had the courage to seek an end to the extra-constitutional authority of Azhagiri in southern districts. Poor papers, none of them gave it in the title for the articles carrying the report of journalists protest.

Are the papers spineless? Blame it on the corruption, like elsewhere, deep-rooted and destroying the fourth pillar also. And the slave mind-set. Or as an agitated friend of my often says, ``You have to be sucking up to the fellows in power all the time?''

That's politics for you.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

ignoranz.

Ignorance rules at every level. Everyone is ignorant of innumberable things. I left the temple city to the conservative city in that same blue bodied train. Midway, one lady, a legislator from the Opposition, accompanied by her husband took the train.

She has seen me a few times in the assembly. I am seated second in the reporter's gallery. After recognising me, she asked why was I absent at the assembly. I told her that I was in the temple city on deputation.

I was not sure she understood it. Then she told her husband, ``These reporters are all on our side. (The press gallery is by the side of Opposition!). On the other side, the reporters are all the ruling party's supporters.''

Turning to me, she said, ``Am I not right, brother?'' ``Whenever the old man, read chief minister, comes all of them stand up. So I think they are all their reporters. None of you stand up. So all of you are good reporters.''

I had to tell her that those sitting in the other gallery were not actually reporters but actually IAS officers, representing the government, out there to help the ministers answer the queries of the Opposition.

You can't find fault with her. She's a first timer to the legislature. Many of the ex-ministers from the Opposition are ignorant. Politically and Rationally. All, leaders of the self-respect movement of the Dravidian culture in the new age!

Is India ignorant of its politics?

Friday, April 27, 2007

commerce and communal harmony


Kallazhagar, the stone beauty, descends down in the Vaigai river during Chithirai festival. Azhagar, the incarnate of Lord Vishnu, is on his way to his sister Meenakshi's wedding with Lord Sundareswarar, incarnate of Lord Shiva.
Therefore, Madurai, the temple town, had Saivites and Vaishnavites. Basically, in conflict. Saivites should have come before. For Thiruvilayadal Puranam has scenes from this temple town during Sangam age (I am not sure of the history. Pity me and you for not knowing it).
Vaishnavites must have come later. I presume there was a bitter rivalry between these two major sects of Hinduism in those days itself.
If you dont know, Madurai and its surrounding areas have artistic as well as literary evidences of the massacre of the jain saints. Imaging piercing the jain priests straight on a spear of sword to kill them one by one. In Tamil, it is `kazhuvetram'. So, the fight between the two dominant communities must have been bitter.
When Thirumalai Nayakkar ruled the city, he desired the union of these two warring sects. A case study for communal harmony in the medieval history. He wanted to the commerce of the city to flourish. And conceived, the 51-day Chithirai festival. Celebrated till today.
Azhagar who was being worshipped in Cholavandan, 10 miles before Vaigai enters the city, was taken around to 353 mandapams to be brought to a specially constructed mandapam in Vandiyur, located at the tail end of the river in the city.
Madurai is still a large village, the market for produces from the south, west and east, comprising mainly of a well-oiled network of villages. During the 51 day celebration, at the end of harvesting, during the dry months, when farming will not be taken up, the villagers will gather in the city to bargain, barter and business.
How do you bring in communal harmony. The presiding deity Meenakshi's marriage was the only way. Azhagar was made her brother and was invited to come to her marriage. As he has to come down from the hill and cross the mighty Vaigai river, it takes a few days before which the marriage gets over. When he is half-way, crossing the river, he is told that the marriage is over.
Knowing not what to do, he loiters around and around the city. I am not sure where he goes back. May be back to the hill. There is nothing special to this whole thing. A brother is disappointed for not able to attend his sister's marriage. The speciality lies in bringing the two communities together.
It has to be mentioned that there is a *thulukka natchiar* (a muslim lady) and many other characters in the festival. I don't have the details now. I am sure there is still a lot we can learn from the past. From our great rulers.
Wonder-struck?!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

bombing a village?


It was the first ever show by Suryakiran jets in this temple city. I just walked down to the virahanur dam for the show to begin. A day before, I had watched the rehersal from the bridge parallel to the dam and knew that the dam site offered a closer look.
Few women came with children in an auto. They were quite excited to see the red and white painted Kiran Mark II jets performing aerobatics in the sky.
A middle aged woman said, ``You know what? Yesterday was the shock of the life. Three planes targeted our colony repeatedly. When we saw it first, we were happy. When the planes that climbed up came down straight towards us, we were terrified,'' she said, still in a state of shock.
About forty women in the colony had no clue as to why the planes were targeting them. ``We thought some enemy planes were coming to bomb the village,'' said another woman. ``As the planes came down at high speed, we ran away from our homes to the shades of trees outside. Even there, the planes would not leave us. We kept running between our houses and trees,'' says a woman wearing a green saree. Now smiling.
``No one told us that the planes were rehearsing. I watch Sun News also. They also did not say anything,'' she rues. Later, as the planes did not bomb, the women said they came to a conclusion that the government was spraying mosquitoe repellent from the air to prevent chikungunya. ``There was a lot of smoke from the planes that filled our houses,'' a woman recalls vividly.
``For hour an hour, we were so terrified,'' said the green saree with big eggy-eyes. ``I would have even died of heart attack. How could we know that they were practising?,'' she asks, in all her ignorance. ``We have been watching planes (the descent to the airport begins over their village). But these planes were really fast,'' she said, now fully smiling.
The next day, for half an hour, yesterday's terrified villagers, watched the show with their wards, amused and amazed. In fact, the Surya Kiran's aerial ballet thrilled the residents of this temple city, still considered to be a large village grounded in nativity.
For one day, Madurai, that also worships film stars, came to knew the real heroes of this nation.
This land, with a brave cultural past, thought the daring pilots to be super-humans.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

shocker...

I walked into my college again after a decade. As a visitor now. The entrance to the college itself has been changed. Now, the students have to enter through the sides. A banner reading `College Sports Day' warmed my heart after a long time.

As I walked in, I was looked as a stranger. The competitions had just been concluded and prize distributing ceremony was to begin a hour later. Boys and girls were talking to each other, freely. It was a common sight. During my college days, it was a rare sight. Most of the time, we used to speak only through the eyes and our smiles. Friendship flowered only in silence.

I just walked through the college. Went to my department and I remembered my first day in college. And the last day in the department. I could recognise some of the faculty but I did not want to talk to them or write about them now. None of them had inspired me in college.

Then I went around the swimming pool, our favourite jaunt, and went around the small campus and came back to the red-soiled smallish ground with two goal posts, with the principal's office and zoology department as the boundaries.

It was here my greatest moment in cricket happened a decade-and-half ago. Chemistry, captained by me and English, were to clash in the finals. In English, ten players, other than me, were in the college team. Four of them in the university! It was truly a match between Aussies and Irish (i like irish and scots, by the way).

We had a rookie paceman in a rameshwaram boy. With a fierce spell, he cleaned up the top order. I was fresh with the memories of the previous year, when a fine willow had despatched my offies to all the corners of the ground with disdain. This year, I was leading the team. I sized up the middle-order and we had a match on our hands.

When we batted, I dropped anchor as others cross-batted to the required run rate of six per over. My opening partner in college, keeping wickets, kept telling that I can be the hero of the day. The college, especially the girls, was there on the ground as cricket was popular even then. I was not fortunate to hit the winning runs.
I was bowled by my best friend with three runs to score in the last over.

The captain of the college, and the university, bowled the last over. Five dot balls. It was almost over. Then he made the mistake. He brought in the third man and bowled a bouncer. The dusky, lefty hooked it and the top edge flew to the third man boundary.

We had won. Not my team. That win gave Chemistry Department, the Championship for the first time in forty years of the college history. I had played my part by winning in tennis, badminton, table-tennis, hockey, soccer, high-jump, four into hundred relay. That rookie boy from rameshwaram and a muslim boy from arasaradi both bagged championships in athletics by winning golds in three events.

As a sportsman, that was the most memorable day in my life. On behalf of Chemistry, I received the trophy.

The first thing you will notice about me now is my paunchy beauty!

Not just women, also the men here most often fail to keep 'em fit.

A national shame.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

flower flagrant


When I travel, I miss my camera. Eye can capture. Only for me. Not for others. I am back in the soul town, to the essence of living. I was wondering, as I kept travelling in busses between towns in this hillock-filled valley, how much I missed *malli* (jasmine). The fragrant flower.
There were this bony, blackish women looking fresh with a bunch of *malli*. They have always fascinated me for the freshness in their faces inspite of the innumerable household and farming work they do from dawn to dusk. When they come out of the homes to the towns, they are all cleaned up bright faced, eager, filled with enthusiasm, with an infant clinging on, spreading the fragrance of feminity.
I have failed to notice *malligai* in the mechanical life of my conservative city. Back here in the backyards of modern civilisation, I am back to my senses. As I took the ``dangling'' bus to the Village of Gods from my wife's Good Blacky hamlet, there were two women in the front seat. One with four strands of *malli* and the other with few strands of *malli*, a strand of *kanakambaram* (the orangy flower sans fragrance) and a fresh pink *rosa*.
Back in madurai, the home of malligai, typing these lines, I, with a 100 percent block in left nose, and 90 percent block in the right, still smell the fragrance. For those not part of the soul town, think of having a honeymoon here. With a bed full of fragrance and for a full life thereafter.
;-)
PS: The picture is not indicative of the beauty of malligai.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

free at last


Parameshwaree as released Thursday at 10:00 a.m..


Discharge papers to release Mawbima journalist, Munusamy Parameswaree, 25, who was arrested on 22nd November under Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), and held for nearly four months, on suspicion of "helping the LTTE and a suspected suicide bomber," were sent Wednesday morning, by Harshika De Silva, State Counsel representing the Attorney General (AG), to Colombo chief Magistrate Court.
Parameswaree's friend, Ms Thambirajah Susanthi, is still in jail.

Copyright: Tamilnet.com

Few Definitions

Chris forwarded this to me... Not bad ... If you wonder who this Chris is, i will tell you someday...

Life Insurance: A contract that keeps you poor all your life so thatyou can die Rich.
Nurse: A person who wakes u up to give you sleeping pills.
Lecture: An art of transferring information from the notes of theLecturer to the notes of the students without passing through "the minds of either"
Conference: The confusion of one man multiplied by the number present.
Father: A banker provided by nature.
Criminal: A guy no different from the rest....except that he got caught.
Politician : One who shakes your hand before elections and your Confidence after.
Doctor : A person who kills your ills by pills, and kills you by bills.
Classic : Books, which people praise, but do not read.
Smile: A curve that can set a lot of things straight.
Yawn: The only time some married men ever get to open their mouth.
Experience : The name men give to their mistakes.
Atom Bomb: An invention to end all inventions.
Philosopher : A fool who torments himself during life, to be spoken of when dead.

-Dr.Bagirathan




__._,_.___

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Age of Innocence

Of late, I have developed a desire to move away from this conservative city to a new city and new life. I feel like reaching the stagnation point at work. No inspiration at all. It is all too mundane and murky.

Then I will have to leave my loving ones behind for a few years. For we are not sure how the little one will adjust to new climates, be it bang or bomb or del. I would love to live in Cal, but may be later as I age. Not for now.

I will have to set out on my own. Whenever I am free from family, I have always worked hard and true. Still, the family lingers in me making me reluctant to leave them to work far away from home. But again, If experience is life, I have no new experiences.

I sleep with these thoughts.

Early last morning, I awoke to innocence. As it dawned, the white light seeped in with the wind through the flowery-curtained window with deep brown frames. The little one was fast asleep, in innocence.

I have the habit of looking at the faces of little ones all these years, especially early in the morning. I am not sure if I should post a picture here. May be my loving one will object. I am sure many of you, particularly the parents, have experienced a similar sight in your bedroom.

Baked in that white soft light, I have watched sleeping children for hours till the glow gets yellowish. I look at the mirror and I see no innocence. I take a look at others sleeping in home. It is not there.

Where have we lost our innocence? In the daily struggle for work and money or by living along wicked and greed; by thinking triviality or by consumerist senses; by forgetting the child in us or by the sheer hatred the humanity has accumulated. I am not sure.

And then a thought gently flowed into me. I imagined the soft light bathing the earth as it revolved ceaselessly. By now, the sun was bathing the sub-continent with his soothing light as it dawned early. For ages, the mornings have dawned on us in perfect innocence.

Our elders woke to it. May be, we are sleeping over that blissful innocence (of the morning). Are most of us not living in the darkest corners of our minds, living our deepest desires (not necessarily known to others) strung together by that ticking time? If you want to see the beauty of timelessness, watch the little ones sleeping blissfully in the mornings.

Then, I slowly sensed time. Vaguely, I think time too is innocent.

Eternally.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

partying with salma hayek

When I told my father that I am off to a party, he was surprised. He knew I quit drinking long time before. And he happens to be the one who bailed me out twice before for street fights after a hard drink when in the university.

When I said I will be in the company of girls (drinking), he was kind of bewildered. I did not realise what was in store for me. As with most partying nights, it was a disastrous start. Few feet before the pub, the cop caught me talking over cell while driving.

No papers, no wallet. I had only the jean, t-shirt and mobile. No wonder my mom, wife and now my daughter call me absent minded prof.

Stood stupid for a short-while. Called salma as well as Sush to bail me out. Salma spoke to S, chief, T. ``Ask your friend to leave the vehicle and produce the documents and take it later.'' It did not work. With all respect to him, you cant expect him to call a constable! We had to apologise.

Somehow, sush got the local inspector to bail me out. I walked up the stairs. The burly (burmese?) guard before the pub stopped me straight. ``Shoes are compulsory for gentlmen, Sir''. This is not the Tamil country where lakhs walk bare foot. This is the new world.

Big B, the host, promising to show the changing chennai, came down to help. B's business card helped. Enter Z. It looked awful at first. For someone who hates girls smoking, there were many, many of them. As I sat down, a punjabi girl, dressed in pink, lighted a fag. Behind, to the left, a lean Iyer girl, slightly stoned, drew it in deeply and to the left, a saree clad young lady, was smoking in style.

It was a smoke filled room. It has been years. For someone who revelled in smoky rooms, this one was a bit different. Here, women were smoking harder than the handsome young men, looking little foolish. They were happy to hug the girls. I was not sure about their thinking talents.

Opposite, Salma was sitting with her vodhka and Big B with gin.

I switched side to have a better view of the whole room. Far right, two lovers were living to themselves. To the left, the man with one eye was helping the others in his table over the next drink. Apart from the smoke, the crowd was swinging to the beat. ``Pink Flyod,'' said Salma, once. I had no clue to the composers but the beats were swerving everyone of them.

It was an enjoyable evening in the company of changing culture. Only, the group opposite, the cultureless software pros, were shouting over their pharynx. Smoke, drink and music. A heady mix for talking sensitive and sensual things. Sounds spoil.

The cricket match on the big screen was another spoiler. It took away the companionship but gave way to loads of laughter and cheers as we and our sworn enemies were losing it badly. By now, the Lord has joined. It is amusing to observe his eagerness for a drink or two. I haven't seen his face lighting up often, except when he is offered a drink. For the record, he went home to wear a pair of shoe to dash down to the pub.

They had two drinks each. Salma was forced into the second. And swerved a lil bit at the end. I drank pineapple juice! Predicting the changes to come to this conservative city, Big B asked what will I do as a father (of a daughter). ``Will I police her?''

``I have no problems. As long as she doesn't hurts herself.'' I was not so sure later. For I, as a father, am not for my daughter to smoke or drink. From my experiences, read as mistakes, I am quite sure that there is no need for anyone to smoke or drink. But if life is a big party, why not a few times?

All four felt fine. Down, I saw Salma's friend hug a bearded bear a dozen times in half-a-dozen minutes. I have not been hugged a dozen times in all my half-life! And someone actually hugged (a reluctant) Salma. It is time to party, guys!!!

PS: Inspite of the fact that I was stinking of smoke till next morning, I loved the pub for one thing. Something precious lost quite a long time ago. Above all the smoke, smell and songs, what i loved last evening was the ambience. for friendship.

and may be for love, i suspect. for bold and beautiful symbolise change.

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.