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

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.



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.

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.