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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!

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


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. 


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

King of Self kalaai

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Enough said. DOT.