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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Change of address

Hello world. I have had a great time posting and sharing my ideas on this platform. But occasionally, there comes a time when one is left with no other choice but to move on. I just discovered the wonderful world of wordpress. I have shifted every single article I've written here to my new residence, which happens to be ʎʌɹnʇ ʎsdoʇ

This page will remain close to my heart because this is my first blog. I also happened to meet a lot of interesting people here and this site has helped me initiate constructive conversations, which was the sole aim behind blogging when I started off. I have also been lucky enough to have a small but religious fan following (Yes, I am proud of it) I expect you people to support me on my new platform as well.

What are you waiting for? Come, follow me on my new platform. Let us talk!

Cheers
Sudarshan Varadhan

Monday, July 16, 2012

The story of justice

It is so heartening to see such a massive public outcry and media coverage opposing the animalistic acts that took place in Guwahati recently. In what seems to be a moment of pride for the media, something that has given the people of India another reason to believe, I’d like to remind you all, especially those belonging to the fairer sex, about an incident that happened in 1990. An incident that involved a 14-year-old named Ruchika.

Ruchika Girhotra committed the grievous crime of allowing herself to be molested by a respected gentleman who happened to be an inspector general, whose name I shall not reveal, for it shall bring great amount of shame and disrepute to a man who has relentlessly served our country throughout his illustrious career.

We live in a country that believes in Karma and providence. The rest of the story justifies this belief.
The gentleman in question was the president of the Haryana lawn tennis association when Ruchika committed the heinous crime. Prior to the incident, the gentleman was popularly known as the policeman who happily played tennis on a clay court that was built on an encroached government land.

The gentleman was known for having an observant eye that effortlessly recognised talent and hand-picked Ruchika, a promising tennis player, for special practice. In connection with this, he asked Ruchika to meet him in his office. There he casually molested her. The extremely disobedient Ruchika made a big hue-and-cry of the small issue and complained to her parents about it. It is blasphemous to report any form of molestation in India, to anyone including your parents. Our scriptures are full of stories that highlight the consequences of blasphemy. Poor Ruchika probably didn’t read them properly and hence had to pay the price, quite rightly at that, for having committed the unpardonable crimes of 1. Allowing herself to be molested. 2. Reporting the same to her parents.
The parents, like fools, tried to drum up support and question the powerful gentleman in question. The gentleman then realized that it was high time that he swung into action and did something about the egregiousness on display. He called friends and well-wishers from his caste and intelligently coupled the sheer weight of their populated presence with that of the power oozing from the chambers of political muscle he had access to. The assembled group that had divine intentions and the backing of ex-MLA J S Tikka, protested democratically by raising slogans in front of Ruchika’s house.

All good men enjoy the support and blessings of the higher authorities. The gentleman in our story was no exception. He seemed to enjoy the unanimous support of all MPs, MLAs and CMs from his state, regardless of the party ruling it.

Lesser mortals don’t deserve education. The “Sacred heart school for girls,” Chandigarh, which has sacrosanct milk overflowing from its apposite name, realized the truth behind the preceding statement and immediately expelled Ruchika. Some bastards tried to prohibit the school authorities from doing the right thing. Unfortunately, the school authorities had to incorrectly accuse Ruchika of not paying the fees and expel her. The immoral acts of a few miscreants sometimes lead to revered institutions having to stoop down to levels not down to them to restore justice. This was one such event.
After her dismissal, Ruchika confined herself to the comforts and company of the four walls surrounding her in her room. She unjustly protected herself from being followed and abused by our gentleman’s henchmen. But the gentleman’s saviours and the guarding angels of divine justice on this holy land realized that Ruchika’s father and brother were also partially responsible for Ruchika growing up to be the vamp that she is( ‘was’ actually, but let me finish this part first).

So they framed false cases against Ruchika’s father and brother. Five cases of theft were filed against Ashu, Ruchika’s 10-year-old brother. Ashu was also subjected to continual physical torture. His feet were tied with a weight. A roller was rolled on his legs and thighs. While still in illegal confinement, Ashu was taken to his house and beaten mercilessly in front of Ruchika by the gentleman. Ashu was paraded in handcuffs in his neighbourhood to elucidate the evils of messing with a reputed gentleman to the commons. The benevolent gentleman took mercy on the little boy by not acting according to the garudapurana which demanded tossing the boy into boiling oil.

The gentleman however kept Ashu in confinement until an act of cowardice on Ruchika’s part unfortunately necessitated Ashu’s release. Ruchika committed suicide by consuming poison. Men of justice rarely get a reason to rejoice and celebrate. The gentlemen finally got his. He threw a party to celebrate the occasion!

The witnesses and people who sympathised with Ruchika got what they deserved. Aradhana, Ruchika’s friend was threatened so much that she married and fled to Australia. Attention seeking lawyers who offered to take up the case for free were filed under some case or the other immediately. The witnessed were accused of being Ashu’s accomplices and filed. Ruchika’s dad, a bank manager, was accused of corruption and rightfully forced into a job he deserved to do for a living: Earth filling.
Justice finally prevailed after sometime. The gentleman, after all the embarrassment, was promoted to the post of an additional DGP and was later nominated for a presidential honour. Most importantly, the case was dropped and it was party time again.

Loud talking media-heads, CBI enquiries, adjourned verdicts, 16 prosecution witnesses, parliament debates, one suicide and 19 years later, the gentlemen was grilled. He was promptly sentenced to 6 months of rigorous imprisonment and was slapped with a fine of a monumental Rs.1000. Thankfully and predictably, justice prevailed. He was seen chewing paan outside the court, 10 minutes after the judgement. He had received a bail from the judge, who had got into a property feud with the Girhotras in the 80S.

The gentleman lived happily ever after.

So my dear sisters, never mess with an influential gentleman. For all the badass girls who could have been in Ruchika’ position that are reading this, remember that nobody will help you, neither the media, nor the judiciary, if and when you mess up with a gentleman. The media especially will talk about you and make you famous. They’ll glorify your existence by repeatedly telecasting videos of you getting molested by gentlemen. Truth alone triumphs; the gentlemen from Guwahati will get away too.

 There have been instances in history when evil elements like Ruchika have succeeded. It has been when they haven’t had to depend on anyone, especially other men. It has been when they have turned to lethal weapons like the pen knife or the pepper spray. Gentlemen are wary of the independent, brave women; they are considered to be the embodiment of all evil.

For those wondering about the gentleman’s name, he’s called thevediya paya here in Tamil Nadu. I don’t know how the rest of India calls him.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Through a glass darkly


Existential questions have always intrigued me. The answers are often unanimously dogmatic, with people belonging to different wavelengths of the colourful spectrum of opinions trying to vociferously voice his/her own opinion as the eternal truth. The enigmatic nature of the questions sometimes makes the answers seem equally probable, though it might not be the case in reality. But what is this reality we are trying to define here? Isn’t reality another name given to a product that’s a powerful edifice chiselled by the human mind? The problem with trying to answer existential questions is that, the answers are likely to be dictated by your subconscious. Your thoughts and actions are guided by your beliefs, rationalism plummets to the backseat and your emotions reign supreme. Equivocation becomes the debater’s best friend in times of intellectual oblivion, obfuscation the obvious strategy of the argumentative disputant trying to establish himself as the unquestionable oracle. 

The ones that try to tread on the neutral path, plainly trying to examine the mysterious unknowns with the curiosity of an innocent child asking his dad what exists beyond the sky and the stars are often belittled. You’re likely to be accused of being a chicken not big enough to form an opinion. But these opinionated myopic eyes that disparage you of being indecisive don’t realize the fact that such a cold-eyed stance could actually help you stay at the centre of the spectrum thus enabling you to gape at the titanic beauty of nature which encompasses these talking heads.

A dispassionate stance, one that appreciates the exquisiteness of the phrase “I don’t know” with all the humility in the universe can actually lead to a comprehensive analysis that subtly tries to take the best out of every extremist stance. The study of a mind with such a stance or the study of a work of a person with such an attitude can be extremely fascinating. One such mind is Ingmar Bergman and one such work is “Through the glass darkly” , which tries to investigate diverse perspectives from a birds-eye viewpoint, coincidentally and ironically playing god in the process, though playing or reaching a conclusion about god maybe the last thing on such a person’s mind.

Whether Bergman was an atheist is a debatable question but the pointers seem to be too evident especially in the latter part of his life. There is no explicit confession in his autobiography too, but you’re tempted into conclusion, like in most situations, including the god question. Bergman could have died an atheist but my instincts tell me that Bergman hadn’t formed an opinion when he made this film. He was born into a religious family, his dad being a pastor. He probably started questioning faith during his formative years and “Through the glass darkly” was probably a product that resulted when his mind was witnessing a tumultuous war between his theistic persona that could be attributed to his upbringing and an iconoclastic, inquisitive side that wasn’t willing to ignore the logical loopholes in his beliefs anymore. The convolutions have resulted in one of the best films I have seen, probably the best you are likely to see.

I’d like to share a few interesting things about the movie here. The only female character in this movie, Karin, is shown to be a mentally ill person. She has supernatural visions and is shown to be living in her own sweet world and she seems to enjoy that. Her problem begins the moment the line that separates her perceived world and the real one starts blurring. This probably represents the state of mind of Bergman in his earlier years when he started questioning religious faith. He wouldn’t have had problems being a closet theist but the disastrous nature of the “disease” would have started troubling him the moment his intellect started questioning the veracity of the holy angels close to his heart. Rational questioning and introspection can be assumed to be a disease only by a fanatically raised theist told to be embroiled in his faith, come what may. His atheistic side or the rationalist side should I say, takes over satirically as he takes a dig at revelations and supernatural envisioning by allegorically classifying them as a mental delusion that keeps the victim away from material reality. On the other hand, it was hard to ignore the fact that the other characters in the movie would have appeared to be mentally ill from Karin’s point of view. This is evident from the way she disregards her own husband at the expense of a god that might (MIGHT) make an entrance through a big door in that perceived reality of hers. Bergman probably tries to imply here that the extravagant possibilities and the positives that could arise out of the existence of such an omnipotent god actually drive people into frenzied faith and hope that they exhibit; so much so that they disregard the immaculate material advantages that their faculties could appreciate, like a caring, freethinking and handsome husband in this case.

Another thing that struck me about the characterization of Karin is the degree of sexual exuberance and tension on exhibition, scene after scene, something that’s brave and anachronistic considering the fact that the film was made in the black and white era. The way she goes about happily kissing and embracing her brother with evidently palpable lust, the manner in which she uses subtle occasions to trigger conversations about her brother’s sexual fantasies give us brief glimpses of the free spirit that Karin could be without the societal limitations. The allegories happen to be the dad and her husband for the patriarchal stranglehold the society (she moves about without restrains and converses without inhibitions when her dad and husband are gone) has over women and the supernatural visions for the influence of religion over the freedom of women. The portrayal of incest again appeared to be subtle here. The director must have had all the audacity in the world to choose incest as an abstract representation to convey something. For a promiscuous viewer, it might appear to be blatant proselytism of incest but the brother here probably just represents a non-chauvinistic male community ready to give women their due with respect to sexual freedom.

The movie has a universal theme that is likely to be relevant perpetually. The music (J.S. Bach?) is haunting and extremely appropriate. The film is basically a drama caught in camera but then an intricate study of the camera is likely to reveal something else. The movie as such is extremely talky and the director chooses to go for long shots when he could have gone for close-ups everytime just to give us a taste of the setting and the abstract expressionism on display. The outdoor shots in the movie are exquisite. We often get to see the splendid, calm sea through a window as the characters engage themselves in a serious conversation inside a room. It seemed to be subtle mockery of the behaviour of the human race that is always seriously involved in its own problems, failing to appreciate the beauty to the big, gigantic embodiment of gorgeousness around it.

The dad’s character in the movie makes a good case study again. He’s shown to be in possession of a vacuous emotional drive with the anomalous expressive bursts happening occasionally.       He finds out at one point that life is possibly pointless and even contemplates suicide. He miraculously escapes death and the twist in the tale enamours faith and hope in him again. He develops new found love towards his children and becomes relatively selfless. He drops a tear at the family reunion, the allegorical play that his children stage strikes a chord. He garners the guts to confess his errors and makes an honest attempt to complete his transformation process. The theist in Bergman takes over here as he even makes an explicit statement before the curtains are drawn: “Love is the evidence of god”. The son, Minus, asks a few questions that put his dad in a soup but the dad reassures him that there is hope as long as there is love. The boy appears confused, but is convinced: not because his dad was cogent but because his dad had finally spoken. His dad, his idol, his hero probably, whose ways were unknown to him, his symbol of hope and his personal god that he was ready to trust.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The end


February the 12th was quite an amusing day. I had actually come back from college that very day with a heavy load of books that I had picked up at a fair a week before and I was dying to get my hands on them. It was then that mom instructed me to go to the hospital. I was disappointed, but I didn’t have a choice. Grandpa was ill and there was no one to take care of him. I wasn’t really attached to my grandpa. In fact, I’m not emotionally attached to most people around me.

I had to endure a lot of embarrassing moments that seem to be extremely funny in retrospect. Thaatha( Tamil word for grandpa) seemed to have lost track of reality. He didn’t seem to be aware of the fact that he was actually in a hospital. He thought that he was still in his house. Coincidentally, the room that was allotted to him in the hospital was scarily similar to his living room. His living room has a cot in the centre and a bench alongside. Opposite to his cot, there is a door which leads to the kitchen. Behind his cot is the entrance to his house or what used to be his house rather.

The hospital room had a cot in the centre as well.  Parallel to the cot, there was another cot which had a green bed sheet on it. It was the only hospital in my small town and hence it was crowded outside. My grandpa, according to whom the place we were in was his house, called me closer to him and asked me, “Dai Sudar, why are there so many people outside my house today? What’s happening? “. Aakash, my little cousin who had accompanied me, was grinning while I was pondering over how to answer my thatha’s question.  I gave him a random answer and put him to sleep.  A few moments later, he woke up suddenly and called me closer to him again. This time it was about the cot alongside him. “Dai Sudar, what is this big green banana leaf doing on my bench?” This time I burst out laughing along with my little cousin. I told him that Viji Chithi (Tamil word for aunt) had kept it and will be coming back shortly to take it.

My Thaatha was an independent person all his life. After Paati (Tamil word for grandma) passed away, we asked him to stay along with us. He refused. He held privacy and individual freedom in high regard: both his and ours. So he obviously didn’t prefer being chained to a drips bottle in a hospital room, though it had been hydrating him all along. Once every three minutes, he made a valiant effort to break free from that pipe which had been curtailing his freedom and independence. And every time, we had to disturb our inertia in a bid to stop him from disconnecting that pipe. My Thaatha was a short-tempered man and he saw us as people who were pulling all the stops to prevent him from doing what he wanted. The first two times, when I took his hand away from the pipe, he pinched me hard. Given the state of his body, I could sense that he was giving it his all to stop me.

From the third time, the smarty employed a different strategy. He threatened to spit at me. And I obviously didn’t want to be spat at, though my heart kept telling me that it was a mentally unstable old man living in pseudo-reality. I was helpless and hence did what any sane person would do. I called for help, LOUDLY at that. As soon as the nurse came in, I stepped out along with my cousin and as expected, people in the corridor gave me weird, apparently judgemental looks. Unperturbed, we went to the nearby hotel to get my grandpa some milk to drink.

He had low BP and wasn’t supposed to drink anything hot. But my grandpa had been used to drinking piping hot tea early in the morning. So when I offered lukewarm milk to him, he wasn’t satisfied. His big booming bass voice was heard again. “Dai Sudar, milk is not hot. Boil it again and add some sugar”, he said and pointed to the door in front of him. In his house, it would have been his kitchen door. There, in the hospital, it was the toilet door.

 “What are you staring at, enter the kitchen and boil it?” I stood right there, helpless for a second and went blank. The two most obvious things followed. He threatened to spit at me and I called for help again!

At 4 in the afternoon, Chitapa (Tamil word for Uncle) came to relieve me. As I walked back home, I thought about a lot of things. I started thinking about my relationship with Thaatha, the days when he used to take me to school. But one startling visual memory of my grandpa is this image of him sitting and watching TV alone during the last leg of his life, the one post-Sulochana (my paati’s name). That image will never cease to haunt me, the image of a lonely old man not interested in anything in life watching TV only because he had no other choice or desire. His wife was long gone; sons were busy with their own families and grandsons found him too boring. I didn’t dislike him, I didn’t like him either. It’s just that I never felt anything about him.

I was also pondering about how religious my grandpa was, like most people belonging to his generation. He used to be extremely fit and was a perfectionist. He was a very serious person in life; it’s ironical that he contributed to some hearty unintended laughter on the last day of his life.

I then went back to the hospital. He was sleeping. Chitapa, Appa and Amma had reached by then and we were discussing about the various things that had happened that day. Not a single soul in the room, including Thaatha would have imagined it to be his last night alive on this planet. We were so optimistic that he’d be back home in a couple of days that we didn’t even take him to a city hospital. And Thaatha was a person who loved anything and everything cooked at home. So we saw no point in taking him to a city hospital.

I went back home and had a disturbed sleep. Chitapa and Appa decided to spend the night in the hospital. I woke up hearing Appa scream at half past four the next day. He had called mommy’s phone. Mommy was unusually calm and I could hear Appa panic over the phone. I sensed what was happening and sprinted to the hospital. Unlike city hospitals, anyone can storm into an ICU here in Tiruninravur. Thaatha didn’t like the oxygen mask and he wanted to get rid of it. Appa was trying to hold it tight, in vain. He was obviously not able to watch his dad die in his arms. I took over from my dad and held the mask close to his nostrils. After a while, a nurse took over. I went and stood near my grandpa’s legs and was looking right into his eyes. He was struggling to breathe but was looking right into my eyes. Slowly the eyes started losing focus and started looking upwards. I started screaming at him, I told him to look at me, my eyes. The eyeballs rolled back to their original position again. We were making eye contact again. An eerie 30 seconds followed before my grandpa’s eyeballs looked upwards permanently. The doctor, who was adopting desperate measures towards the end, left the room in despair. My thatha slept that day and never woke up again.

Chithi, my cousins and Amma had arrived by then. All of them were crying and I didn’t make any attempt to console them either. I was just shell shocked; I was plainly staring at my grandpa’s walking stick leaning against a cot in the room. I wasn’t crying, I have never cried after someone’s death. But this death had definitely affected me. It was ironical that at 4.15, when the doctors were in desperate need of an ambulance, not a single vehicle turned up. But at 5.45, the ice box arrived within ten minutes of our call.

A slew of rituals that seemed pointless to me followed. I was under constant siege for being lazy. I am irreligious and I just wasn’t interested in the proceedings.  But I wasn’t lazy here. I wasn’t ready to the question the blissful pseudo-reality that everyone lives in. Each person has his own pseudo-reality and it’s unfair to question it because you’re living in one yourself. The body was then taken to the graveyard. The undertaker apparently charged a whopping 7000 bucks to burn the body. It’s funny how people can be extremely heartless and selfish even in times of extreme grief. My dad was obviously not willing to bargain with the undertaker with his dad’s corpse on his shoulders.

I stood behind the funeral pyre and watched the body burn to ashes. Beyond the raging fire, I saw people cry. I then saw them leave. And after a point, I was alone. The fire was burning faintly. Director Bala’s words struck my mind as I watched it burn. He once said in an interview that he preferred going to a graveyard to a temple. After all, if peace is what they want, what better place than a graveyard. I realized the truth behind that statement. My grandpa had finally reached a state of eternal peace.

I also pondered over his film Pithamagan. I marvelled at the thought process behind the story, the concept of an emotionless orphan drafted into the seemingly beautiful world of emotional give and take only to be stranded in a limbo after his friend’s death. I was more like the protagonist. I didn’t feel anything towards my grand-dad till that last day of his. Why did he have to make me laugh like that and disappear the very next day? God is a sadist!

I also realized how death effortlessly achieves the equality all of us strive for, throughout our lives. It makes us humble, keeps us grounded and tells us with an evil smile on its face that it owns us. And that it owns all the citizens of the world and remains impartial. I wonder if there can be an alternative to death at all! Death after all, is such a beautiful thing.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wayanad- tour diary



I’m generally against travelling as a group to any place. In fact, I do most things alone. I’m a narcissist and I love to analyse the way my mind behaves every time I set out on an adventure or anything slightly different. The very equanimity I cherish when I travel alone is grossly abused when in a group. My freedom and privacy take a rude beating every time I travel with my family. I wouldn’t blame anyone specifically because I’m a very rigid person and I prefer sticking to myself and cannot bow down to authority or control of any form. My eyes seem to mistake care and excessive love for intrusion into private space and that explains my mom bearing the brunt of my fury and mood swings every time we decide to take a detour from the normal. I have also consistently made it a point to avoid travelling with fellow students, right from school, because such trips usually have a martinet at helm wielding a whip to ensure punctuality. Punctuality is not an issue here; it’s the scant regard for letting the beauty of a particular moment set in and absolute disrespect for man’s most fluent emotion, the tendency to enjoy natural beauty that puts me off. People so often tend to ignore the glorious present in a bid to experience an uncertain future.  These martinets also have their own crude ideas about morals and virtues, thus enforcing serious limitations on the amount of fun one can actually expect to have. And more than anything else, I’m a spendthrift and I consider myself smart enough to maximize on the amount of fun regardless of the quanta of resources available at my disposal.

So when Preetam and Jockey asked me to join them and set out on a trip to Wayanad, the answer I was going to give was quite obvious. It didn't surprise anyone, including myself. Preetam and Jockey had on earlier occasions made it a point to accuse me of being partial towards my friends in Chennai and behaving indifferently with friends back here in college. The unfair accusation was definitely getting on my nerves. In spite of all that, I persisted with my rigid stance before I finally agreed on one fine morning, the rationale behind which seems to be inexplicable at this point of time.

I wasn’t pinning any expectations on the trip. Initially, my ego received a nice pat on the back. It was a diverse, random group I was travelling with. Other than Preetam and Jockey and of course butter, I never really knew anyone properly. The others were having their share of fun and the way they conceived fun seemed to be completely different from the way I did. Preetam and Jockey meanwhile were at their irritating best initially. Jockey especially was such a pest. I plugged in my earphones and played music in full volume. That settled a few issues and for the next few moments, I was in my own sweet world as I experienced myself breeze past the static world outside.
The next day, we set out to conquer Chembara peak, but due to an unfortunate turn of events, we had to postpone our plans of scaling the peak and take a detour to Edakkal caves. There was nothing noteworthy about that place except the unanimous concern for the environment on display there. It was a place that deserved not more than an hour of anyone’s time but unfortunately, thanks to my generation’s obsession with taking photos, we ended up spending a little more than five hours there. By then, I had acclimatized myself to the group’s culture. I had even got myself to play a game of dumb charades with them. But the criminal waste of time in taking photos was something that tingled a murderous rage deep within. The lesser said about the time taken to eat, the better.

I was willing to take into consideration the varying fitness levels among the people who had made it. But in spite of the allowances, the time we wasted was unpardonably high. I wasn’t sure though, if we could actually do anything about it. On our way back, I noticed that a lot of red flags and photographs of communist luminaries were fluttering against the strong winds. It was as if the commies were still in action in Kerala though the UPA is in power there right now. I realized that regardless of the ruling party, the hearts and minds of people were still painted red. Not very surprisingly, the commies had lost only by a margin of 2 seats.

Next we went to a museum, which mostly had insignificant statues in place. But I did manage to find a few interesting things there. For example, I have been told that people traditionally worship lord Shiva in the form of the Linga. But I managed to find a five-headed Shiva, the significance of each of the heads obviously remaining oblivious till date. I also managed to find an idol of a woman dancer wearing the holy thread referred to as poonal in Tamil. I have seen statues of goddesses wearing the same elsewhere, in Haleebedu, Karnataka, if my memory serves me right. In the present day scenario though, the poonal seems to be an exclusivity among the Brahmins though I have seen people belonging to other castes wear it after marriage. But I am dead sure that women of today don’t wear it though I am certain that given a choice, most of them wouldn't want to. It threw light on what seemed to be an ironical possibility to me. The holy thread is considered to be supremely sacred and is worn by the caste right on top of the hierarchy ladder today. But then the image I witnessed the other day projected a dancer woman, probably one belonging to a lower caste and more importantly, a WOMAN wearing the thread, which implies that there could have been a point in time when women and the lower castes of today were on the same platform as the others. The above observations are obviously wild speculations but then I believe that there could be an element of truth behind such extreme imagination. It also lead me to another thought, one in which I was pondering about the absence of women priests in temples. I wondered if women priests wielding the poonal across their torso performed poojas and archanas in temples every Sunday back in those days. I also came across a lot of archaic weapons I had seen in my history books long long ago.

Next, we went to Banasura dam and surveyed the place briefly. We were a little late and after gaping at the exorbitant prices for boating across the vast expanse of fresh water, we settled down at what the locals called the nature park. It had a few swings and I had typical childish fun there, swinging to and fro at crazy speeds. Next we set out to explore the huge circumference of the dam and in the process, we trespassed into private property. We kept moving only to eventually realize that we were short of time and had to go back. Someday, I hope to go back there and complete my mission.
After quite an eventful day, we went back to the hotel. After spectating brief sessions of dancing and taking photos, I hit the sack. The next day, all of rose early in a bid to scale Chembara. A good number was late as I expected and after wasting some more time taking pictures of scenery that would be available in better quality online, we reached the foothills and started ascending one of the largest peaks in Wayanad, 2100 metres to be precise. Jockey and I lead the way and proceeded at breakneck speed until we reached a checkpoint, a heart shaped pond. We were asked to wait there and it was our turn to waste time taking photos, though it wasn’t at the expense of anyone else. We also took a detour and found a heavenly place near the pond. It was an area densely populated with trees and thanks to our speed; we reached the place quite early in the morning, relatively that is. It was around 9.30. The amount of sunlight was just right and the thin rays coherently seeped through the leaves creating an amazingly pleasant feeling inside. Jockey and I were delighted with ourselves for discovering that place and weren’t in any mood to leave it any soon. So we let a lot of people leave ahead of us, people who were mostly ignorant about the existence of the paradise, only to catch up with them later of course.

For me and jockey atleast, the ascent was more about enjoying the subtle intricacies involved in the construction of the humongous masterpiece termed nature. We made it a point to take detours on a regular basis and discover new places of intrigue most likely to be skipped by the others. We took great pleasure in climbing the peak off the beaten track; we seemed to be in love with the process of creating our new path, scripting our own destiny.

A person like me who is heading down the extremely tempting and convenient path of agnosticism, a trek like this can be quite a tease. Have you ever realized that it is almost impossible, ALMOST, to enjoy a composition or a performance without getting to know about its creator? It is as if our mind is designed to sing paeans about the creator of something we enjoyed; it has been like that since time immemorial for me atleast.
But if there was something I really enjoyed about the trek, it was the fact that I was fit enough to do a task involving a certain degree of physical strain with such ease and pace. Mostly, the mountain terrains resembled the description of the steppes I used to find in my 8th grade geography text book. They looked like huge grasslands until I reached the last leg of the climb where we had to do some steep rock-climbing. After enduring those moments of extreme fun and adventure, I finally reached the top and I have to tell you that it is a feeling that’s likely to be unmatched for a long time to come.
Boring is the word that best describes the descent. There were no expectations and it was as if we had seen everything. The descent is actually tougher than the ascent, for people like me especially. I take huge heavy steps and don’t walk on my toes. So every time I landed with a thud on the rocks, my calf muscles experienced some amount of pain. After we got down, jockey and I ran all the way to the place in which our jeeps were parked. The vehicles were a good 800 metres away and the fact that we were able to run all the way after a demanding trek gave us a feeling of fulfilment about our fitness levels.

We then reached Suchipara falls late in the evening and had a nice refreshing bath before we headed back to college. Overall, it was one of the best trips I have embarked on. It taught me a lot of things about myself. It also taught me that all trips and all people who captain expeditions aren’t the same. It was a pleasure meeting a diverse group of people with different ideologies and ideas. I also discovered that I was capable of exploring alternate methodologies and avenues as far as having fun was concerned. I was extremely satisfied with the way the faculty members who accompanied us made us share responsibilities and remained open-minded throughout. The process of occasionally adjusting to satisfy norms and accommodate other possibilities didn’t seem painful to me this time. In fact, I realized that adjustment was sometimes necessary and could be fun too!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

MY KINDA GIRL


It’s definitely not a good time to be an Indian cricket fan. We’re getting raped by a bunch of kangaroos that seem to be rediscovering their ability to molest bigwigs. Earlier, the men in blue were beaten black and blue by the Poms. The worst thing about being an Indian cricket fan is that, like our politicians, we are so autocratic and arrogant and can’t think of turning to another sport for comfort in times of bad weather in familiar terrain. Not that we’ve been doing well in other sports.  The Indian cricketing team is not the only Indian sporting community that seems to be bad at tests. The Indian weightlifters are worse; they are horrible when it comes to tests, they seem to fail every time, especially dope tests. And do we even have to discuss Indian hockey and tennis?

Unlike the typical Indian fan, I’m a little open minded. I don’t mind looking elsewhere for a reason for entertainment, though I wasn’t left with too many choices. I had to choose between the disastrous Indian sports scenario and the Tamil film-world that seems to be experiencing a dull period now (It becomes quite obvious when critics start raving about a Vijay film). I chose neither and as I started ruminating about the possibility of exploring other options that had never appealed to my mind till date, my eyes started to lose the capacity to stay tuned to what was happening in front of it.

The conductor woke me up and told me that the bus had reached its destination, Poonamalee. Poovirunthaveli A.K.A Poonamalee is a village on the outskirts of Chennai and I had to get down there to take a connecting bus to Tiruninravur, my hometown. My mind found it tough to migrate between the hazy thoughts that had breezed past it before it chose to turn off and the busy and noisy surroundings that characterized the Poonamalee bus stop.  So it did what it was best at. Going blank! It stayed in that state of ecstasy before a storm woke it up.  A storm that woke us all up, all of us whose minds were experiencing a state of blissful nothingness.

It was a scene straight out of a movie: a kudikaara, kodumakaara purushan (a ruthless drunkard husband) walked up to a responsible wife who was selling flowers to address her hunger and to sponsor her husband’s drinking bouts and gave her a hard pat on her head and said,

Hubby (In an “I am cool, check me out” tone): Yei. Kaasedri. (Hey you, gimme money)

Wife: *With a paavam look on her face, looked up, endured a moment of eye contact with her hubby and went about her business again.*

Hubby (With a “How dare you ignore me, I am so cool” look on his face): YEEEEIIII (The message was loud and clear) Kaasedrii.

Two things followed:  The busy, noisy bus stop went silent all of a sudden and a slap that cannot be classified as hard or soft, landed on the wife’s cheek. The wife stood her ground, seemingly unperturbed. The blow seemed to have obtruded more damage on the stability of the inflictor than the inflicted, thanks to the degree of alcohol in the inflictor’s blood.

The hero in me was wide awake by then. He wanted to do a thousand things. Like for example, he wanted to call the police. But then it could become too late or he could end up embarrassing himself as the incident may eventually have a meek ending.  He wanted to negotiate with the drunkard but then some timely Gyaan from Swami Sudarshananda saved him. “Drunkards are the second most idiotic bunch of people on earth. The first are the bunch of people that try to negotiate with them”. He wanted to interfere and settle scores with the drunkard for inflicting violence on women, but then he had already lost trust in the journalists of his age. To make their news story interesting, they could come up with something like, “Brash youth lose life in a tiff over alcohol” or worse, “Angry, drunk husband kills 21-year-old for being involved in an illegitimate relationship with his wife”.  The hero in me wasn’t afraid of dying, but he was very philosophical and was certainly worried about “life after death” and didn’t want his friends to wake up to such headlines!

The worst thing about death is that you will never be given an opportunity to prove people wrong after that.
But the mental chaos finally came to a halt and I put my right foot forward hoping for the best when something happened; something that brought the world around me to a standstill. The drunkard lifted his hand to come down heavily on the woman once again when another force counter-acted at the right instant to prevent the inevitable from happening. I never knew that the paavam-looking poo vikkara(flower selling) woman had such a MAASSS side to her. Or did she? But then, things were surely heating up.

The counter-acting force was strong enough to send the guy down and there he was on the road, his eyes red with fury. His male ego had taken a thrashing and he had to retaliate. He rose up and all hell was set to break loose. He picked up momentum though it wasn’t uni-directional, thanks to the alcohol in his blood again.  He was up and running with a definite plan. The woman seemed to be in mortal danger and there I was, my mind blank as usual! But then, I am talking in terms of reaction time tuned to the order of seconds, so even Jonty Rhodes in my position wouldn’t have been able to do much.

As the guy rose his hand up once more, the woman landed a quite a hard punch on the man’s tummy. Yep, you read it right, HEROINE INTRO!!! TWISTU!!  After that, it became a bit too violent for my liking. The game entered the Kolaveri mode; the woman probably forgot the fact that the guy she was beating up was her husband. One more kuthu on his tummy and then she made him bend down and gave him three more on his back and he finally got the ultimate strike on his cheeks. Down and out. Poonamallee was busy again, people went about their businesses and rightly so. I wanted to go ahead and congratulate the woman but a second thought helped me stay back. I realized that I was on the verge of congratulating a woman who had beaten up her husband, though he was a drunken Baskar(That is not his name. I chose that name because my mom advised me not to use expletives on the internet).

I wasn’t able to conceal my adulation towards the explicit “heroineism” on display but could do nothing but contain my outrageous wish to congratulate her for the same. Once the initial shock left my brain, I started laughing like an idiot. And once I stopped laughing, I realized something. I realized the fact that I had been celebrating reel-life heroes who had landed punches on drunkards on screen all my life and was laughing when a woman did the same in real life. I wondered how idiotic it would be if a woman replaced all mass heroes on screen and for a second, I questioned the rationale behind men doing it.  I realized that both the drunkard and I were dealing with the same problem- MALE EGO. I realized that I had to stop celebrating heroes who were possibly celebrating the biggest flaw in my system; and in that of drunkard’s too. I realized that women were capable of defending themselves and that they don’t always need a hero to rescue them. The hero in me had been beaten black and blue too, like team India, my male ego and the helpless dude on the floor.

Finally, I realized that I had experienced the truest form of admiration towards a person belonging to the opposite sex. I realized that my school boy notions about my dream girl were untrue and was grateful to the universe for letting me wake up to the truth. I am most likely to fall in love with a person like the woman I saw in the Poonamallee bus stop that day; a woman who shatters my male ego and manages to do that consistently to eventually make me realize that this is a planet that houses equals, afterall.
But the most important realization of the day was this: I had finally got my share of entertainment; from a highly unlikely source though!

The incident also brought to my mind a beautifully written song from Mouna ragam:
naan pennaanadhu kalyaanam thaedavaa
oa kannaalan vandhu poomaalai poadavaa
ae ammaadiyoa pen paarkkum naadagam
yaar vandhaalumenna thirumbaadhu njabagam
poovilangu thaevaiyillaiyae


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Nanban:Review laam illa ba, chumma jolly kosoron


                               WARNING: I didn't like 3 idiots.
        WARNING 2: I don't like Vijay and for the record, I'm an Ajith fan! 



1.       New pilim, director Indian Speilberg Shankar. Orey the brahmanandam, sorry brammandam. Never seen before visuals like painted trains, colour-colour flower beds, big big glass mahals, heroine's midriff close up shots. Wah-re-wah, Indian Speilberg OFC. You disagree; you suck because the ilayathalapathy himself agrees you know.
2.       Remake of 3 idiots. Brilliant cinema in which the number of lectures given by a single student outnumbers the lectures given by all the professors in that particular college. One man army ba, sooberu!
3.       Very intelligent film which has a vital message at the end of it. Woah Indian cinema is going places in terms of novelty.
4.       Brilliant dialogues. “life la exams neraiyya varum but appa onnu thaan”.  Ladies and gentlemen, presenting Madhan Karky, the new kid on the block.
5.       HARRIS. NERUPPU. TAMIZHAN. Speechless. Watch this video.

             
6.       Manoj Paramahamsa in attendance ba.
7.       Since I am an Ajith fan and am not sure if my opinion about the acting in this movie will be unbiased, I’ll leave you with a few images. 
STATE OF SHOCK

SELF-KALAAI
??!??!??
HUG SUBSTITUTES AN ELABORATE SCENE IN WHICH AAMIR BREAKS DOWN

Vijay can take heart from this snap. Yup, she is trying to cry too
                           
Thiruvizha la kaanama ponaa kuzhandha.

King of Self kalaai

No comments
Enough said. DOT.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

LICENSE TO KILL


The judiciary’s license to kill is a hot topic in the country today. The fate of Afzal Guru, Ajmal Kasab and the three Sri Lankan Tamils charged for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi hangs in the balance today. On one hand, there are people waiting to get rid of these averred murderers who have put scores of human lives in peril and on the other hand, we have people concerned about human rights, questioning the very logic of a civilized society carrying out an execution. I don’t belong to either of the categories though I’m inclined towards the latter. My allegiance grew a little stronger after I completed watching the Japanese anime series titled “Death note”. Death note not only put to rest a few doubts I had about the moral precision of capital punishment and a human being’s right to kill, but it also got me pondering about other movies that were judgmental about the power to carry out an execution.

Death note is about Light Yagami and his dream of creating a new world devoid of crime after he gets access to the death note, a notebook that could be used to kill people by writing their names on it. The turn of events as the series progressed clearly seemed to indicate the fact that it’s impossible to exterminate misuse for selfish gains when a consummate amount of power is rested on one’s shoulders and especially, when the power allows you to kill another person. It also left me wondering as to how I had appreciated a movie like Anniyan that not only advocated killing but also professed carrying it using the most gruesome methods one could imagine. I finally convinced myself by assuming that I had fallen for the literary genius of the late Sujatha, who had made myself and a million others accept something that would have garnered appreciation only in a Barbarian society.

The Brad Pitt-Morgan Freeman starrer “Seven” is another case in point. The antagonist orchestrates the last of a series of murders in such a way that the termination of his own life is almost impossible and a noble soul who had dedicated his life to saving lives is to carry out the execution which would eventually help spread the message and inspire mislead psychopaths. It’s an undeniable fact that terrorists are trained to be philistine and phlegmatic even in the most extreme conditions of emotional stress and aren’t afraid to sacrifice themselves in an attempt to accomplish their mission. And its also beyond doubt that the terrorists who die in pursuit will be idolised as martyrs in terrorist camps and for all you know, they could be the role-models of the next 16 year old terrorist. So what exactly are we trying to accomplish by killing people who don’t mind dying and in the process of dying, possibly inspire a million others to continue the heinous crimes they had been notorious for throughout their lifetime?

Kamal Haasan acted in two movies that pronounced opposite verdicts on the issue. If Virumaandi championed the cause of abolition of capital punishment, Unnaipol Oruvan, a remake of “Wednesday” seemed to lean towards eliminating terrorists from the face of the earth. As usual, he remained confused and confused other people by equivocating effectively and thus disguising his original opinion on the issue. But it was the mediocre “Payanam” that actually planted certain serious questions in my mind about the absence of too many options as far as this issue is concerned. If at all we are to progress towards the elimination of terrorism, we are expected to make investigative progress which involves questioning captured terrorists and hence detaining them in custody. But once the job is done, they become a financial liability besides the security concerns that are tagged to it. “Payanam” depicted a situation where in a plane is hijacked and the hijackers demand the release of a high-profile terrorist kept in police custody. In such a situation, the police and the government don’t have much of a choice but to release the captive, endangering millions of lives in the process. Plus, all the money spent on the security of the captive, the lives lost in a bid to capture the terrorist to further investigations comes down to nothing.

 This leaves us with a lot of food for thought though I think the idea that the death of thousands of people killed in a terrorist attack is to be avenged by executing the captive is flawed at the basic level as it thins the line that differentiates a civilised person and a terrorist with boorish ideals. The ability to think without emotional prejudice in times of mental stress is what separates a civilised person from a terrorist, who you would expect to bomb a city at the slightest provocation. The ability to forgive is the most appropriate representation of evolution of the human mind over time.  But do we have a choice when a question mark looms large over the survival of mankind?

The analysis of psyche of a terrorist makes the whole thought process a little more tortuous.  The conditions under which people resort to terrorism is definitely worth taking into account. The book “Mind of a terrorist” (forgot the author’s name) is a good way to start your analysis. The very reason why people oppose terrorists is reason enough to consider their clemency petitions: no human being has the right to kill another. Just like terrorism, the turn of events in life is arbitrary. And unlike terrorism, life deserves this arbitrariness. I think we ought to leave death to the cycle of arbitrariness that dictates life on this planet as far as we can.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Assorted thoughts, catch up time

It’s been quite some time since I have written something about movies. I have watched quite a few of them in the recent past but somehow, I haven’t found the motivation to write about them lately. This queer behaviour can be attributed to my newfound passion for world history, something I have found to be extraordinarily intriguing. But amidst fun filled hours of learning about the conquests of Napoleon, the diplomatic strategies of Charles Metternich and Bismarck, I have somehow managed to squeeze out time for the likes of Engeyum Eppodhum, Muran, Vellore Maavattam and Vedi. I have missed out on Vaagai Sooda Vaa and I don’t intend to watch it in spite of the positive reviews it’s been garnering ever since its release. I don’t think I’ll be able to come up with a rational explanation for that; I just don’t feel like watching it.

Firstly, I found Engeyum Eppodhum to be engrossing. The movie’s gotta great script and the screenplay could have been messed up by any typical newcomer but Saravanan(surprise surprise: Murugadoss’ apprentice) doesn’t come across as a typical newcomer. The first scene itself comes as a big surprise. Amidst sentimental directors who commence their respective films with the sound of a temple bell and a long shot of a temple, here’s a newbie who keeps all such illogical irrationalities apart and comes up with a killer of a first scene (literally). The shocking first scene gives way to an exquisite orchestration of visual poetry. The non-linear narrative isn’t a gimmick here and its justified usage creates the desired effect as the film races towards the climax. The director has received plentiful support from his young actors. Sarwanand’s casual and elegant portrayal seemed to be the best of the lot. He was a treat to watch on-screen and effortlessly went on to show that you don’t need six-packs and forced histrionics to prove your prowess. But acting, I guess, is subjective and popular opinion can be widely different from what I think. So please feel free to pick on my opinion.

 It’s just that I feel we give an actor due credit only when he plays a larger-than-life character. Plus, a bad performance muscled up with histrionics designed to bring out a star’s “acting talent” doesn’t get the criticism it so badly deserves whereas a casual performance by an unacknowledged star that deserves attention goes unnoticed. On the hindsight, the bad performance is passed off as a good one, an award winning one occasionally; in cases involving a star gifted with a huge adulatory fanatic fan base, like Vikram. A detailed justification can be found here

Coming back to Engeyum Eppodhum, the other performances also came in as a pleasant surprise. Anjali has already staked her claims as an actress with considerable level of acting talent and she has furthered her case in this movie. Her voice though, is irritating. But again, it’s a value addition to the realism, an integral part of all her renditions so far. After all, how many good-looking girls are blessed with vocal cords emanating euphonious voices? Ananya has come up with a cute portrayal and this is Jai’s best performance till date but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to conclude that it’s good enough. It definitely wasn’t a bad performance though.
The dialogues were witty and I loved the Yaettu-DIG exchange between Jai and Anjali. The scene where Jai, dressed up like a corporate honcho (new, branded clothing and all that), enters a communist meeting in a bid to locate a person also impressed me as subtle humour. The music actually seemed pretty ordinary but the visuals made up for it and I don’t believe the fact that I’m almost addicted to them now.

I also managed to catch up with Vedi and Vellore Maavattam; unfortunately, at that. Sample this scene: “Hero gets beaten black and blue by 20 men double his size and four times his muscle weight, is left to die. His ear drums have just the right amount of energy to imbibe a faint attenuated version of a loud high pitched cry from his sister and realising this, the sister screams “ANNNAAAAAA” and magically, like in a Glucon-d advertisement, the hero regains full energy, gets up and effortlessly bashes up the gang of 20, also ending up disproving the laws of gravity several times in the process.” This scene forms the climax of Vedi and I think the rest, is self-explanatory. The lesser said the better. Vivek, the comedian who used to be hilarious once upon a time deserves a graceful exit from Tamil cinema.
Vellore Maavatam is another worthless movie I ended up watching. It’s a new movie that’s straight out of the director’s recycle bin known for its abundance of cop stories festooned with spice. There’s not a single reason why you must watch this movie, even if you are as vetti as the author of this article.

I also happened to stumble upon Rahman’s new album “rockstar”. It’s got two tremendously engaging rock songs, two lilting instrumentals and a sufi number that sounds similar to his earlier trysts with Sufi. The album as whole doesn’t sound as impressive as “rock on” did, but “sadda haq” and “job hi main” are truly terrific.

But one man who never ceases to entertain completed a rather boring week for me. Wilbur Sargunaraj’s new video “first class bhangra” is a scorcher. This man is truly a rockstar. Ranbir Kapoor you idiot, learn!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Silly question?? I don’t know


This is not going to be a conventional blog post of mine, one that’s going to bludgeon its way past the 1000-word barrier I usually set for myself and end up breaking habitually. It’s about a thought, a question that breezed past my mind as I watched trains screech to a halt on both sides of the platform; as the sweepers waltzed to and fro delicately holding on to one of those brooms that are characterized by long handles; as I was subconsciously trying to steal the attention of the lovely lass sitting beside me though she had dug deep into that novel of hers; as I laughed deep within because she reminded me of this(she was lanky and had long legs as well) 

I have been reading a lot of history of late and as I sat there in my chair observing the surroundings, thinking about what I had read and also fantasizing about the girl beside me, this fellow PROUDHON’S famous assertion, “property is theft” struck my mind. This Proudhon fella is known to be quite a rebel and a controversial thinker. At this point, I won’t be able to conclude if this statement of his influenced my line of thinking, but I thought this post would be meaningless if I didn’t mention his name. After all, how can I afford to call a post about a thought process complete, without contemplating about the origin of the process?


I have always been fascinated by trains and train journeys. Check this . This time, a simple (silly?) question struck my mind. Why does the person who pays more enjoy greater benefits? How many cases of first generation AC passengers do we see today? People who travel by AC or first class compartments mostly do so only because they’ve been entitled to better resources right from their childhood. In other words, it’s pretty clear that they are not beneficiaries of their own Karma, especially students. So why is not possible to have a first-come first serve system where the person who books the ticket first gets to enjoy better benefits? Its implementation is obviously going to be an arduous process, close to impossible I guess. But it isn’t wrong to dream, is it? Whaddya think?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Enna Koduma Saar Ithu?!?!?!

The following is a narration of an incident that happened last Friday. It’s one of those incidents that usually happens in movies and you tell a friend nearby, “Ithellam padathula mattum thaan da nadakkum” (all these things happen only in movies). But in movies, such an incident usually leads to an even more improbable incident. For instance, a ravishing female foolishly falls in love with the ugly looking hero with unkempt hair, who bathes only once every week because the hero’s attitude is too casual and simple; and something complex yet logically perplexing needs to be done to take the story forward. But since I’m no hero and since I’m in one of the many obscure ABC engineering colleges in India where there are no ravishing females as beautiful or foolish as cine-heroines, the story ends with the first incident.
Coming to the incident, it happened in the first case as a result of my biological clock getting reset. It’s not insomnia for sure because I sleep eternally in class and thus make up for staying up till 5 o clock in the morning on an average. As I had an exam on Friday and wasn’t anywhere close to falling asleep till 2 o clock, I decided to revise a few things before I made a virgin appearance in an examination this semester. I was damn confident that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning if I went to bed as late as that. So I started revision and by the time I was done, it was four o clock. After that, I didn’t see any point in going to bed as I wasn’t feeling sleepy and didn’t want to attend the next day’s exam half asleep. The possibility of me falling asleep in the exam because I didn’t sleep the previous day never struck me and my adrenalin was unusually charged up, pumping and boiling at 4.30 in the morning. So I started doing things that I usually do when I’m bored: played music, started writing, about a friend of mine who has been pestering me to write something about him and put it up on my blog (!?!?). After that I signed into Facebook and started chatting with a friend of mine who currently happens to be somewhere in North America( or so she says). She was the founding member of the vetti society back in school which consisted of her boyfriend Kabalath and herself. (I hope this statement doesn’t anger another friend of mine who proudly embossed the name “SRIGYOSS” on the first page of his 11th grade physics record.)
As soon as my north American friend pulled the curtains on a highly intellectual conversation that meandered over assigning some degree of meaning to the completely obscure and a deviously abstract display pic of hers (the photograph of a white cloth with a brown dot in the middle) that could be understood only by her and Stephen Hawking, a good friend of hers, I realised that it was six o clock and rushed to the hostel balcony to drink coffee. Soon I realised that I was running out of things to do. The newspaper hadn’t arrived either. After roaming aimlessly and waking up a lot of friends who wanted to study in the morning, I retired to bed with no other choice. It was 7.15 and I went to bed after checking the time on the alarm in my mobile twice: 7.35, it read.
I opened my eyes to a gloomy picture of quite a big mosquito sitting on my nose. I waved my hands over it and watched it fly off as I lazily reached out to my mobile. BLISTERING BARNACLES! The time on the top right corner read 21:58. “Ah, come on”, it can’t be. The sun was beating down hard on face, must be some problem with the clock; guess it tried aping my biological clock I thought. Yet I had a problem on hand. I wasn’t sure of the time and the bell symbol on the phone indicated that the phone alarm was yet to ring.
In a moment characterised by chaos and panic, I got up and put on my clothes and got out of my hostel only to witness a deserted picture of the hostel corridor. It was dark and amidst all the darkness a plump image with a divine aura surrounding it emerged, like a symbol of hope. I almost got my hands together to pray it as its presence reassured that I wasn’t late for the exam after all. As the figure came closer, I found it to be my friend Sibi, who walked up to me with a gleeful smile. I was about to say, “Machi two minutes wait pannu, we’ll go together” when he said those words, the words that shattered all hopes and left me gaping for a while!
 “Machi, exam eppudi da panna?” (How did you do the exam buddy?”) I stood right there, motionless and expressionless with an image of Premji saying “enna koduma sir ithu” flashing across my mind. As soon as my friend realised what had happened, he wasted no time in spreading the message. I explained the story myself to all my friends and watched each of them laugh to their heart’s content. (enna oru villathanam :X )
Today, the world is a different place. After an examination, the almost unavoidable question. “How did it go?” is not a part of my life anymore. It’s been replaced by “dai, exam ezhuthina la?”(Hey, you wrote the exam right?)
I haven’t told this to my mom and I sincerely hope she doesn’t come across this post. She reacts adversely to even the least significant incidents like my toothbrush falling off my cupboard. Mom, if at all you come across this post, I just want to remind you that all is well and my professor has agreed to give me another chance to write the exam.

Friday, September 2, 2011

SRIVIGNESH!


Dai naaye, this article is about you and is exclusively dedicated to you, as you have been pestering me to write one and put it up on my blog, for reasons known only to yourself. I am writing this only because I have nothing else to do, now that I have finished blatantly copying an assignment without much strain. I must thank the brilliant sound output of the JBL speakers on your laptop, Harris Jayaraj and the composer who originally composed HIS song for the same. I would also like to thank you for teaching me FEM today, a subject in which I hope to pass, thanks to you.
You have surely come a long way from the day when I laughed like I never have ever since or before, when you came up with a serious doubt when all of us had dived deep into the sea of applied thermodynamics. How could someone ask, after a semester of engineering studies, if density was the ratio of mass to volume or volume to mass? Others may find this hardly amusing because regardless of the effectiveness of my description, they’re likely to find it a mokka comedy. They’ll never be able to relate to it because: 1. They didn’t see YOU ask that doubt, that silly, characteristic expression on your face. 2. The timing can’t be recreated, not even by the scientists who recently simulated the big-bang!
When I first saw you and observed your reactions in class, I thought that you were one of those hopeless guys who would drop out after the first year. Very much in tune with my thought process, you failed in five of the six subjects in the first periodicals of the first semester (correct me if I am statistically wrong). The density incident only contributed to the Srivignesh-is-dumb thought that had stuck to my mind ever since I saw you. There was big air of mystique surrounding your entry into college. Every single person was talking about the guy who declined a mechanical engineering seat in NIT to join Amrita. My bullying-instincts itching severely, I badly wanted to rag this dumbass who opted for such a deal. And the dumbass was in attendance, right across my room and goodness-me, I was completely oblivious to it for quite some time, mainly because of two reasons: 1. All faces look the same during the first year of college. 2. I was busy with OTHER things.
But I wasted no time once I learnt about your whereabouts. I started bullying you everywhere: in class, in the hostel, in the mess, in the canteen, absolutely everywhere. I even gave you the nickname NIT: In memory of the famous college that you rejected. It became so famous that even Mallu dudes in our class, usually known to stick to themselves and the girls in the campus, started referring to you by that name! My ecstasy was short-lived as the film “saroja” released and people started calling you Bun: a character in the movie that happens to have a physique similar to yours.  After countless bullying and kalaichifying sessions, after becoming good friends, it was time for the spirit of equality to take over; it was time for us to get even. Thanks to some untoward incidents, that now look like sappa matter I came under heavy siege from you. You had successfully learnt to don the mantle of a bully and a kalaichifier, something that you had borrowed from me. The bullying and the teasing brought us closer and made us realise that we were of the same type. Rather, you had become my type. The scared, shy and taciturn bun was long dead by then. The sirripu don in you had taken over by then.
Cut, holidays, second year! We were separated by two floors and other things had kept us busy and we didn’t get much time to discuss things that were happening in each other’s life over a cup of tea in the night canteen. You were every lab in charge’s darling, as there was no one in class who could equal you in terms of submitting records on time after religiously copying them down from scarily long, totally incomprehensible notes. Inspite of repetitive warnings from you about a possible failure in the labs, I stuck on to my pudungi stance that I don’t see a point in chumma copying down stuff from a random notebook. And subsequently and fittingly, I failed in both the labs! REASON: I didn’t submit my records! Thanks for all the hardwork you put in as my lab partner in my absence, as I lazed around discussing about a movie I had seen the night before, mostly with Prahalad!
Cut, holidays, third year. By then, the logic behind you passing in all subjects without an arrear was beyond me! Though you were punctual and worked hard before the exams, I have always felt that you deserved to fail in any of the subjects. In my third year of college, I was spending most of my time in the company of you and your room mates. It was as if I had travelled back in time to the first year of college. Siddarth and Adarsh were missing though. Vijayanand, Arun and you had purchased laptops by then and I busied myself by playing ASHES 09 as you guys slogged it out before the periodicals. We were back to our vettiest best, discussing about pokemon, girls and college. Kulla thev***** had joined us by then and this led to the orchestration of eternally pointless discussions in the last bench of the volleyball court near the hostel. I committed a blunder when I posted a shirtless picture of yours on facebook. You got really angry and that was when I realised that you weren’t as sportive as I expected you to be. You had an emotional side and there was an iota of shyness still persistent. I didn’t let go after that incident though. I posted an image that featured you holding a knockout beer bottle, as if you were advertising the product. Thanks to the presence of your brother and cousins on Facebook, your teetotaller image back home took a serious beating. And I don’t want to apologise for that. I am proud of myself: evil laughter: P Saavu da Pun**
In the fourth year of our association, I am able to witness a significant level of maturity in you: the enthusiasm you displayed when L&T came to our campus to recruit students said it all. You suddenly seem to have let trivial things like vocabulary, aptitude and technical competencies bother you. The innocent, shy bun who struggled to string a few English words together to help a sentence make sense has given way to a new, enhanced Bun 2.0! We have also been lucky and gifted enough to have the one and only Steve koshy Mathew near our room. Ellam seri, but i am yet to understand why you wanted me to write this! But I tell you what; I will definitely treasure this more than you, when I read this ten years down the lane.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mangaatha review by a Thala "Fan"atic

WHY THALA, WHY? Why the hell did we have to wait for so long? But I tell you what, this film is surely a dedication for all of you that survived and endured the likes of Asal and Aegan, those of you who took the harder route of sticking on faithfully to your favourite star, unlike other fans who walked away at the sight of stars half his height and one-fourth his charisma! As a Thala fan who believes in his star’s ideology of being frank, honest and outspoken, let me make things loud and clear. Mangaatha is definitely not the best movie I have seen: in fact, it’s a very average movie that’s slow, occasionally immature and has a leading lady at her irritating best. Then why is it being celebrated and wowed over and over again by fans and critics alike. One word: THALA!

This film is nowhere close to the likes of Saroja and Chennai28 in terms of quality and I’m sure Venky knows that. But Venky is a smart cookie who plays his cards intelligently: that’s precisely why he made Mangaatha! He has made a lot of compromises, it’s a genre which is not within his comfort zone at the moment, but then he has built up his game around his trump card: a calculated compromise which has eventually won the game for him, comprehensively at that. Unlike his other ventures, Venky has got himself to accommodate unwarranted duet numbers and romantic speed breakers into the plot, possibly to woo his leading lady (a saleable, popular star herself) into the ensemble. This is probably Venky’s biggest blunder as he should have realised at some point that he doesn’t need backup stars when the king of screen presence, who can literally walk his way through a movie and yet make it a success, is in attendance!

Mangaatha is bound to be a resounding success because its maker has effectively used the hype, the symbolism and the euphoria surrounding the movie in an innovative manner. It’s a sensational celebration, a coronation of a king’s attitude; a king who doesn’t mind calling himself one, without a hint of worry about the responsibilities that are attached to it. He doesn’t flaunt a six-pack, he doesn’t have one in the first place, he sees no point in blowing up one’s biceps to the size of balloons, he doesn’t dye or colour his hair, he doesn’t speak dialogues oozing male chauvinism and resorts to mouthing expletives if and when he gets a chance instead; he drinks, smokes and sleeps around. He is not a champion of the poor and he doesn’t hug the heroine in the climax as he dumps her earlier as soon as his job is done; instead, he hugs a bit**, shoots her and says something that would have made her repent her entire life for that one moment before she dies as cheap fans like me got up and roared. The director has intelligently gone in for a close up shot fully aware of the fact that those two precious words were going to be censored! Thala is bad, dangerous and menacing; most importantly, he remains that way till the credits roll. He doesn’t reform and head towards the Himalayas after speaking dialogues laden with ambiguity and hope. Full marks to Venky for the beautiful, consistent characterization.

Venky comes up with a mixed bag this time: he has erred quite frequently, his immaturity and inexperience showing up here and there. The film deserves some merciless scissoring and the film’s length would put the Mahabaratha to shame. Venky has this tendency to overdo certain things: the shot before the climax where Thala looks right into the camera lens in a staggering close-up with a sinister smile on his face is a tad too long. It makes us feel a little uneasy: the uneasiness of sitting in an interview and thinking for an answer as four stern-faced people stare at you, waiting. The scene where Thala makes Trisha understand that she has been conned, without any dialogues but with a single action very much in tune with the attitude of Vinayak Mahadevan is simply brilliant! But why the hell did he have to follow it up with a “soga paatu” in which Trisha sheds plastic tears, especially when Trisha’s foray in the film ends with that song? How many times do we hear Thala say “money, money, money” and “I’m impressed”? The scene before the climax where Thala charts out his plan with a chessboard is gimmicky and unwarranted, but it definitely serves his purpose: putting “Thala” at the centre of everything and giving him a chance to exhibit his inherent exuberance and an exhibition of the exorbitance of lazy elegance that he’s famous for! Come on. It’s a star vehicle, stop looking for logic and meaning or relevance in every scene. The same holds for the very first scene.

Most of the songs are horrible and are a pain to watch onscreen. But Vilayadu Mangaatha was brilliant and Thala looked awesome! Machi open the bottle is peppy and offers us a pleasant treat: THALA DANCE! @Thala: graphics thaaney? :D The background music is apt and beautifully enhances the feel. And the grand trumpeting to signal the arrival of Thala in his fiftieth Avatar: WHAT AN IDEA YUVANJI!

The rest of the cast don’t have much to do but Arjun does impress with an extended cameo. Mangaatha is a gamble that has been materialised with two big gambles in mind, two sacrifices done in the hope of achieving a bigger bounty: Ajith at the expense of Venkatprabu and the box-office result at the expense of the film’s quality. Fair deal, I should say! GAME WON! Make way for the king and for the first blockbuster of the year. Ajith fans, enjoy youselves and Venkatprabu fans, you guys have some waiting to do! And the others, it’s definitely worth a watch!

                                                            MANGAATHA DA!





Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Anna and Hazaar problems


Coimbatore, a city that’s quite different from Chennai, my hometown is apparently destined to witness a student upsurge in a bid to join Anna Hazare and a dozen other talking heads on TV in their fight against corruption. I am yet to reach a consensus characterised by clarity on this issue; I am still oblivious and confused about a lot of things in pertinence to the whole saga. I have been a silent spectator of the thousands of debates that have been happening on Facebook.
The members of the civil society themselves seem to have different stances on the nature of Lokpal that should make the final cut. The opposition, as usual is busy uniting the “majority” on the issue with secessionist forces working overtime to paint the town orange. The ruling party meanwhile is craving for the support of the minorities urging them to call the movement undemocratic. The Netas meanwhile have been equivocating and contributing to the rich, old tradition of the Congress by spouting nonsense 24*7. The media is hyperactive as ever, discovering and rediscovering various angles to the protests, inventing or even creating a few occasionally. The “experts” have been quite cynical and haven’t minced words by calling it an undemocratic movement. The general public, on the other hand, are at their garrulous best: clichés are omnipresent. Some call it India’s second war of independence, some are equating Anna to Gandhi or JP, and some are associating the scenario with the ones in Tunisia and Egypt. Some people sincerely believe that the inception of the Lokpal is gonna bring about a radical change and that its members possess magic wands that are likely to completely wipe out corruption. Few people understand that Anna Hazare is Anna Hazare and not Harry Potter!
I personally feel that it’s plain absurd to call it India’s second war of independence and refer to Anna as the contemporary version of Gandhi simply because the ground rules are different. Back then, we were fighting an alien imperialist force that was dictating terms and hell bent on keeping us on a lower plane; the convenience of an established system of representative governance was not available at our disposal. With a democracy in place, there is no need for us to take up an aggressive anti-establishment stance; atleast for the enlightened middle class that knows nothing about the struggles of the oppressed that are fighting a charged up capitalist class. There is no term in English to describe or abuse the comparisons of this movement to the ones in Egypt and Libya. It’s a blatant insult that’s been designed to hurt and abuse the concept of logical thinking and rationalism.
The biggest joke, however, is the belief system that the mere passing of the bill will lead to the eradication of corruption. I have my own reservations and queries about the constituent members of the Lokpal:
1.       How can we afford to select the members purely on the basis of faith and past records? What’s the guarantee that power won’t corrupt the committee after the bill is legitimised?
2.       Isn’t there a high probability that certain communities may remain unrepresented in the Lokpal and hence, feel insecure? When I talk about communities, there are infinite grounds of classification to complicate things.  Classification can be based on geographical, religious, casteist, political and ideological basis.
3.       How can there possibly be a proper system of selection wherein a team that satiates most of the people, other than a plebiscite? And in case a plebiscite is arrived upon as the method of selection, how can we even dream of a team devoid of political leanings?

I also feel that it’s unfair to bring the PM under the ambit of the Lokpal. Any minor reference or a trivial allegation by the Lokpal against the PM may initiate a nationwide upheaval which in turn will initiate a domino effect on the opposition and the media. So the PM will be forced to put all his responsibilities including that as the leader of the ministry on hold; nationwide calls for his resignation will become inevitable and a person of supreme national importance will be reduced to a position of helpless self-defence.

Calling it a totally undemocratic movement is an argument that doesn’t hold water though. 65 years post-independence, we are still being ruled by the same family that took over the reins as soon as the clock struck twelve on the 15th of August 1947 though they have been far from efficient in terms of alleviation of the various problems that plague the country. It says a lot of things: about the lack of options (a proper opposition that is), about the high-handedness and oppressive tendency of the ruling party (though that’s an issue that’s definitely not beyond debate) and the general tendency of the Indian public to constantly ignore the power of democracy and the serious issues that result when one chooses to neglect the duties of a citizen of a democratic regime. So the whole concept of democracy and its functionality in a country known for its diversities needs a re-think. I think we need to be quite liberal about its definition. The people have taken to the streets to fight corruption today simply because the popular definition of democracy seems to have failed them. Since the outcry against corruption is unanimous, peaceful and doesn’t marginalise anyone at the moment, I think it’s ok to take the liberty to call it a neo-democratic movement that places people’s views at the forefront. But the point is, if and when we dedicate one-tenth of the time and effort we have put in to make this movement a resounding success to our democratic duty, won’t the world be a much better place to live in? Do Anna and gang have the guts to take it to the next level and educate people about their responsibilities as citizens of a democracy? Do they have it in them to contest the next general elections and win it on the basis of good faith? Will the ever hypocritical middle class keep their casteist, religious preferences aside and vote for them?

Another critical point put forth by cynics with respect to middle class hypocrisy and media preferences is the constant snubbing of fasts orchestrated by Medha Patkar, Irom Sharmila and others for significant causes that demand attention. I think it’s not reasonable to expect the middle class to join the struggle against a cause that they can hardly relate to. On the hindsight, the media should take the blame for not sensationalising non-glamorous issues.  At the end of the day, I think nothing’s gonna change unless we evolve from species longing for spicy news on the arrest of a high profile minister to responsible citizens willing to contribute whole heartedly to the functioning of the democracy.