Saturday, February 26, 2005

To be a girl, and to drive means..

I am supposed to be reviewing a book called “Political Economy of Under development” for my Economics assignment. I have read two pages of it, and the rest of my post isn’t about it. I just realise I have chosen the wrong time to start reading an economics book and before I could turn to the third page, I am already thinking of that irritating face that stared at me, as he zoomed past me on his bike yesterday. He was so disgusting!! And I suddenly feel this burning hate for him, that if I could stare back at him now, I would love to burn him down to ashes.

Sounds violent? May be. I don’t know if I echo a feministic attitude if I said that most guys driving on the road, can’t stand girls who drive confidently. (Well, not really trying to blow my own trumpet here, but its one of the things that I really feel confident about in life!). I reiterate, I said most guys, and there are exceptions. Let’s leave the exceptions aside. I drive a scooty pep and I simply love it (somehow gives me that independent feeling, can’t really explain!); So, the natural tendency is to drive at good speed and stay in the middle of the road.

I am not lying when I say that everyday that I drive down Mount road, I have at least one male chauvinist who can’t stand me going ahead. Yesterday, I met one such guy whose face I hate to recollect now. He kept honking from behind, so irritably and unnecessarily and me, I was in all moods for a fight that I refused to budge to useless fellows. I just drove ahead and this chap raced ahead of me, missing me by an inch. Had he swerved little bit, he would have gleefully dislodged me off my bike. And he just went ahead, turned and almost sneered at me, as though I was an insect who he could have squashed with his foot, if he wanted to.

“He-llll-oooo, Excuse me!”, I shouted back, appalled. Sadly, the vehicles on the road, and my big black helmet, shielded my voice and he was gone. And all the way back home, I wondered why vehicles needed horns; I mean they simply didn’t serve any useful purpose. They are terrorising tools used by men and when women use them, it simply didn’t make any sense. Times when I hear auto wallas or car drivers or two wheeler drivers go on honking, I would just feel like stopping my bike, getting down, walking up to the guy honking and just pulling off his vehicle’s god damned horn! Honestly, I haven’t seen people making judicious use of it.

Not just that. When you stand in a signal, by ill luck, in the front row of vehicles (missing the last round of signal unfortunately), you are gone for a toss. Even before the signal turns green, the vehicles behind you get so impatient and their horns blare with all the irritation. I have to forget respecting the signal, even if I wanted to, and just go ahead, else am doomed.

Main trouble makers. Auto rick drivers. They are unquestionable, masters of the roads. They would go on the left and suddenly move across the road to make a right turn, and if you happily assumed that they were just going left, you would head straight into hitting the back of the auto, missing it narrowly and screeching to a halt. Immediately he would put out his head, and point his hand at you, as if you did the biggest mistake by driving on a straight line.

Well, tough life! Not to mention those snakish looking new kind of buses, plying Chennai roads. Two buses linked by a vestibule(guess it's one), controlled by one driver sitting on the extreme right, he would never realise what devilish turn his bus takes when he starts from a bus stop. And these buses are really dangerous, because one can never predict the line in which they would move.

Yes, of course, there is the always existing size hierarchy and ego problem on Chennai roads. For a bus driver, a matador cannot cross his path, and for a matador, a sumo or sierra better give way. For a sumo, a maruti is trivial and you can’t obviously trail behind a maruti, if you drive a sumo, how could you? For a maruti owner, two wheelers better mind their own business and not come the maruti way. And for two wheelers, the cyclists are a real pain. Well, actually the cyclists are a pain to vehicles of all sorts because they just don’t feel they should obey traffic rules.

And how could I forget the fierce ego combat of two sexes? The male and the female. Females just can’t afford to be good. I admit that certain women who drive cars are lousy. Extremely lousy, that I hate them myself. But, most of them drive worse, because they feel intimidated by racing vehicles around. What is needed is some understanding, beyond regulating the traffic. Of course, traffic regulation is badly needed in Chennai. (something like Singaporean laws..I don’t really know how they are, elsewhere!).

I would also wish that some men didn’t generalise the entire women community to be bad drivers. There are good ones too. I always respect a good male driver on the road. Why can’t they?

Well, if I took a combination of size of the vehicle and the sex, the worst hit by that formula are the two wheeler female riders, assuming there aren’t women cyclists on Mount road ;). And, I fall in that category and that is why this post. Ah, a logical derivation to a social problem, ain’t I getting back to economics? I am conceptualising a problem..:)

Friday, February 25, 2005

Busy, Busy and Busy!!

I just realised I haven't blogged for two whole days..I don't know if I have a valid excuse for myself, when I say I was busy..
Oh hey, I was busy..I was..with all the assignments and tests and of course campus placements...
And, yes, I was busy feeling happy, on top of the world, on having got my offer letter!! I was also little confused, in convincing my parents, who despite their happiness, had more worries packed in their heads..and finally managed to convince them..still busy striking some deals..Boy, what a life!
Ideas literally pounding inside my skull, I feel I would burst any moment now..
Ok anu stop, full stop to ur excitement...Now, back to work..Blogging and reading others blogs reserved for the night! :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Giving a little space

9th Feb. To my post on "Beautiful Minds" where I mentioned about a programme by special children at the Music academy
22nd Feb. Correction: Programme held at Naradha Gana Sabha and not Music Academy.

It was about 6:30 PM by the time I raced into Narada Gana Sabha. Swabodhini’s banner greeted everyone at the entrance. Swabodhini, a charitable trust that runs a school for special children in Chennai celebrated its 16th annual day function today. I had listed it down as an agenda for the day, quite some days back. But I wasn’t really sure whether I would be able to manage it. But I am glad I managed to make it; it was a wonderful experience – two hours that saw many of my emotions being brought to the forefront, I laughed, I appreciated and I cried, all from the bottom of my heart.

I had never been to a function like this before. There were so many kids, all with different problems, of varying intensities. Their age would have roughly varied between 3 to 20 years. And all of them were there, with a unified purpose, to put in front of a fairly large and interested gathering, their best efforts to showcase what they were capable of.

The beauty of participating in the programme, lay in being able to discard the imperfection and non uniformity in the performance and enjoy the innocence and hard work of those really special children. Their casualness and absence of inhibition isn’t easy for any of us. They just didn’t mind, as dazzling flashes from couple of cameras lit up in front of them. They were themselves – a rare human quality.

There were dances, a beautifully re-enacted comical sequence of Kattabomman – Jackson durai, a skating performance, and the super hit fashion show. Some smartly dressed, some sweetly made up, they all walked up the ramp, posed and walked back, ignoring all their struggle to walk perfectly. I was stunned to hear a boy, (if I recollect the name right, Vishwanath) dressed in formals, state with perfect detail, what happened on a given day, as his teacher read out a date to him. A superb update of current affairs.

Behind all this, is the effort of the teachers in the school. Their patience and their noble heart deserves so much praise. That is an understatement! I only wish I could express it better. The teachers were there, all through the show, standing behind the children, telling them what to do. And no one minded - the mix up. The applause went to the children and to the teachers as well. They truly deserved it!

A powerpoint presentation on a day at Swabodhini totally shot in slow motion caught the children in their natural state of learning. With “Kurai Ondrum Illai” playing in the background and M.S’s voice singing, I couldn’t hold myself from shedding a tear or two. I was right there, sitting in the very first row, catching and video recording the precious moments on my digicam. As I sat there, one of the kids, came running from back stage, sat next to me, gave me a wide smile and ran back. I wondered why she did that, but I felt so innately happy at the recognition. It felt nice.

While some of the kids jumped and waved from the stage at the audience, there were kids who would just cry and struggle to walk, to talk, to do what they had to do. For all those moments, I really wished I could do something for them, I mean, whatever I could.

While, I came out I saw a contacts register lying at the reception, I just made an entry,
“Anupama Viswanathan
Asian College of Journalism
-Deeply Moved, Would really love to be of any help”, scribbled my contact number and walked back to the parking lot, hoping I could make a difference in some way. This blog is one such effort, to request empathy for such children and at some possible occasion, if you can really help them grow, I would deeply request that you did something.
I feel, we can, can’t we?

Sunday, February 20, 2005

I wanna sound byte!

Certain questions keep popping up inside my head, now and then. Those times, I would just feel like standing in front of a big crowd, and shouting the question out! Have never tried that but..
Then got this idea at 1 last night, when i was in one of those transient states, oscillating between sleeping and staying awake...
So, I decided I would put one such question here..Well, why not? If somebody could post a reply..I would at least get an answer.. to the question..
One, What do guys think when they look at a girl? Simply put, which girl would impress a guy most?
Two, the other way round, What do girls think when they look at a guy? (I have my own answers..I wouldn't put them here, probably, that is another post!). Simply put, which guy would impress a girl most?

I know opinions differ and that is why I ask for it..
So, Can i have some sound bytes please????

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Oops..I messed up!

I am smart. Know what I did. After posting stuff on Mega serials, with the HTML 'skills' that I possess, I tried something with the template code and I guess I deleted most of the code that my blog went blank. Gosh! I got psyched outa shape and went back to see the code and I realised the problem. But last night it seemed ok, Strange! Well, for all those who visited my blog yday (Hopefully!!:)), you would have seen a disaster.
One more post, reserved for the night!Catch ya soon..

Friday, February 18, 2005

The curse called mega serials

In an era, where running a TV channel is considered a really lucrative business, competition is high pitched, with the channels battling out to grab a lion’s share of the TV audience. The hindi channels, though my understanding of them is limited, has led me to believe that they rely on their long running soaps (the kinds of Ekta Kapoor’s “K series”) and the innumerable game shows that glitter with celebrities from the Bollywood, to boost their viewership levels.

My earliest recollections of a hindi mega serial that ran for days and days together is “Junoon”, which incidentally got dubbed into Tamil, triggering an entirely new domain of tamil lingo and jumbling up of word order. Aditya Dhanraj, Keshav Khalsi (played by Tom Alter), Mini Agarwal (played by Kitu Gidwani), Seema, those are a few names that I can remember now. I am reminded of how I hated Mini Agarwal for the vamp that she used to be and her dad, do I sound right, when I recollect that he actually was handicapped? Memories ah!

Moving down south and fast forwarding several years, to about five years back, we arrive at a period where mega serials started influencing the popularity of tamil channels. Serials like “Chitti”, “Annamalai” and the present super hit with most of the homes, “Metti Oli” belong to this genre. How could I forget Balachander’s serials like “Kayalavu Manasu” that dripped with melodrama?

I can’t explain how much the recent serials put me off. I return home at around 9, when “metti oli” would just begin. I would vent out all my frustration about the serial over the dining table, Poor mom! And I would just run into my room shutting the door behind. I just hate the ideas they propagate. What “hate”, Gosh, I can’t stand them!!

I see my emotional grandparents sob silently as the so called sacrificing cum patient females weep buckets and buckets in that idiot box. God, I don’t know how directors build such story plots. The central characters (esp. in Chitti/Annamalai) are seen smiling in the first five days of the serial. After that, they meet challenges from all possible spheres and they won’t strain a single muscle on their face to smile. They just draw a blank face and of course, weep.

And the torture can come in various forms – an unrelenting MIL (she is the villain in most women’s lives) as she pours out dialogues that a normal human would think a million times to speak. Even, if it’s a serial, come on ya, give me a break!! However, fictitious you claim them to be, there is a limit to stretching the gap between the good and the evil. The extent to which you can do that also has limits.

The serials are over crowded with bad characters with only a handful of the supposedly, selfless and infinitely patient souls. Torturing husbands who side their ever-reigning moms also find a frequent slot. And as the plot evolves, cunning characters crop up and disappear or stay till the end, to achieve their character moksha, a complete personality clean up aided by the ‘goodness’ of the central woman.

It isn’t difficult to assess the kind of impact it would have on the psyche of people watching such serials. With cable television, almost having become an integral part of most of the households, I wouldn’t doubt the capability of such serials influencing the mentality of the viewers. For children, this is more damage than one could ask for. It just ruthlessly shatters their innocence. From playing games with Barbie dolls, they would probably imitate a fight sequence between a MIL and her dotter-in-law. Who knows?
There is a famous quote that goes, “Children are like wet cement, whatever falls on them makes an impression!” these serials are unconsciously imbibing the wrong qualities in children.

Talk about elders. With already so much unrest bothering their minds, they would sit and watch such serials till they go to sleep and any kind of insecurity that they might already possess, only gets complicated through views propounded by such ‘master pieces’. They tend to believe that the old are left to suffer and you simply can’t blame them for that. Believe me, I am seeing live examples before my eyes.

My granny gets easily confused and mixes stories and characters, across the six and odd mega serials that she watches through the length of the day. Its so funny to watch her actually asking my grandpa doubts on serials, who is much better in keeping track of stories. He would only blame her for her forgetfulness and continue to shed a tear or two, for the poor soul who would actually be subjected to torture in an ongoing serial. Kadavuley, idhu nattukku thevaya?? I only hope that this gets to change some day.. to hell with mega serials!!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The poetic spirit of Bharathi

(Backgrounder, in case I am losing someone on what I am talking about - Mahakavi Bharathiyar, popularly known as Bharathi, is one of the most talented poetic minds that Tamil Nadu has ever produced. Bharathiyar kavidaigal (poems of Bharathi) span a wide variety of topics and are especially famous for its spirit of freedom. Bharathi didn’t live long, but his poems continue to ring in our lives, in different forms.)

Tamil, as a language, is something I feel extremely passionate about. Well written Tamil pieces – essays or stories and poems, or for that matter, well written lyrics in movie songs, find a great fan in me. That way, Bharathi’s Tamil has been a source of inspiration, a wonderful means of relaxation for me and I possess this small book of Bharathiyar kavidaigal that I keep going back to, whenever I find the time.

Most of my exposure to his poems, have been through film songs. Nevertheless, I have heard many of his songs being sung by the all time great Carnatic singer, Late M.S. Subulakshmi. I haven’t read all of his works but certain lines amaze me because of their simple yet powerful construction.

Many of his poems carry a burning desire to see a free India, as in,
“Endru thaniyum indha sudhandhira dhaagam?
Endru madiyum engal adimayin mogam?”

Or cases where he would describe the pride of being an Indian, “Paarukulley nalla naadu, engal bharatha naadu”.Powerful words of his would inspire anybody to fight for what one truly deserved.

A set of Bharathi’s songs are entirely dedicated to Goddess Shakthi, on whom he bestows a beautiful form, completely through his poetic prowess. Shakthi for him is “Nitya Kalyani”, also the destroyer of evil, and one who could bless our lives with goodness – “Thunbamiladha nilaye Shakthi; thookam illa kan vizhipey Shakthi” and there are many, many more.

Bharathi was a visionary. He wanted a whole new, free world for women. “Pen Vidhuthalai vendum” he said years and years ago. “Manadhil Urudhi Vendum, Vakkiniley Inimai Vendum”, he wrote on the need for courage in one’s mind also emphasising that politeness should mark one’s speech. A brilliant piece and one of my personal favourites.

Bharati’s sense of romance is mind blowing. Kannama figures as the fictitious lover in many of his poems. The passion with which he describes Kannama and the love for her is exceptional in, “Suttum Vizhi chuddar thaan kannama, suriyar chandirano?”. If that sounded familiar, this is the song sung by Hariharan, in Kandukonden kandukonden. Again, one of my favourites. “Chinanjiru Kiliye Kannama..”, she is the little girl here. “..selva Kalanjiyame” talks about the sweet little darling that she is.

His poems also bear a testimony to the deep thinker that he was. “Nirpadhuvey, Nadapadhuvey, Parapadhuvey..Neengal ellam kanalin neero, pala thotra mayakangalo?” he questions the reality of what we see around us. Are they Maya, mere illusions? My third favourite piece, and it features as a song in the movie “Bharathi”, the song being sung by Harish Raghavendra.

And that just isn’t all about Bharathi. There is much more to him than what I know. As someone, who has begun reading and interpreting him more seriously, I recognize that his poems are a journey into realising certain truths of life. Bharathiyin thamizhil moozhguvadhai kaatilum perinbamum uundo? Reading and comprehending him is truly a matter of pleasure. He IS marvellous.

(if I sent people mad, with all those tamil quotes, am sorry, but if you could understand them, they are a real treat! I consciously refrained from translating them, because it would do utter damage to the beauty of his work.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

People who make a difference

Twenty days back I was walking down towards a mobile dealer shop to purchase a recharge card and I saw a familiar face trying to cross the road. She too caught a glimpse of me and she kept turning around hesitatingly, trying to place my face inside her head. By then, I had recognized her and the smile came across her face. All this in a few seconds and I beamed, “Hello, Ma’am!”. In a moment, Ranganayaki Ma’am held my hand and asked me how I was doing.

It was a pleasant surprise. Ranganayaki ma’am was my class teacher who also taught me maths in my +1 and +2 classes. I was meeting her after seven whole years and she hadn’t changed one bit. Quite unlike me, I actually saw myself absolutely free as I went on and on about what I was doing now, what had happened in the last two years, ever since I finished my grads and I found an earnest listener. I gave a whole round up of the post D.A.V life and finally ended with “No ma’am, am not yet married!” when that was the first question, she asked me after, “How are you?” “You look the same, you haven’t changed one bit,” she smiled.

Today, my mom, who also happens to be a teacher, a science teacher to be more specific, showed with all interest, one of the answer sheets that she was correcting. She was pretty amused about the way one of the guys in her class had written an answer, partly proud too! There have been many, many occasions where she would come and tell me all the fun that she had with her “kids” at school.

I would often think, what a noble profession, teaching is. It is a vocation marked by selflessness and one that would give a very high level of job satisfaction. After all, isn’t it a matter of pride to actually guide so many lives up the ladder of success? Personally, if there is one set of people whom I spontaneously give respect to, it is my teachers. I don’t know why, but till now, every time that I ran into a teacher, there is a reverence that appears almost immediately. I would agree to do anything, if they had any work to be done out of me and that would come without the slightest hesitation. And this has been true, especially with ACJ.

My granddad has been teaching for the last sixty years and at 84, today, he still continues to hold math tuitions. While kids who are much younger to me, come to study under him, I have seen batches and batches of guys and girls, attending his classes before who were much much senior to me. Infact, generations of students studied under him. I remember at least 3 cases where the parents and later their children got his training. One ought to be really gifted to light the lives of so many people.

And for all the teaching that he did, to this day, he commands respect from the oldest of his students, one of them being about 60 years or so of age. My mom too, comes home, loaded with gifts and hand made cards from her students, especially on Teacher’s day. She would come back and describe with heartfelt happiness as to how her class students burst the balloon on top of her head and a whole lot of glitters landed on her. I remember how my sis used to dig into her bag for “bday toffees”.

Teachers would send out batches and batches of students, hoping their kids would all settle down well and would come back to them some day. A post wouldn’t do to tell how much I respect the profession, especially with quite a few of them in my family itself. I have sometimes thought to myself as to how good it would be to handle KG students as a teacher. It should be so much of fun listening to all their sweet little complaints, “miss, he is hitting me..”, “miss he took my pencil” etc. etc. All cutie pies that could get really attached to you, if you could show them the right kind of affection! Probably, I would do that some day, who knows? :)

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Rick trips - taken for a ride?

One can probably get into a controversy when saying, “An item of luxury is always evil,” of course when giving a generalised opinion of that sort. But not when it comes to auto rickshaws of Chennai and their unbeatable auto drivers. I am sure I have at least a couple of heads, nodding in approval when I say that “rick” trips, most of the times, gives you the shakes.

Some of us call it the “yellow bus” and the “yellow bus” is omnipresent – anytime, anywhere. The most interesting aspect of an auto drive is the fare. Tell them the place, God knows what kind of a computational mechanism resides inside their head, that they spell out such bizarre “unfair” rates. Let’s say, you want to get in near Pothys at Panagal Park and get down at North Usman road. Ask the auto wala and he says, “Madam, 20 rupees,” when both he and you know that it is not even worth ten rupees of distance! Ask him, “ennanga?”(What sir?) and he says, “No madam, very high traffic. Lot of petrol will go if we move slow” – technical reasoning for a monetary point being made, I suppose? Some of them are smart enough to give time as a reason. “Sir, night time, I won’t get a return trip” or morning times, “peak hour sir. Traffic will be high.” Or it might be, “Petrol prices WILL go up!!”. You could probably release a book titled, “1000 reasons why auto fares are high!!”

Sometimes, the place from where you emerge to take an auto also matters. They see you come out of “Ispahani Centre” in Nungambakkam, (a posh shopping mall, for the benefit of those who don’t know), the price on you is definitely more, than what you would be asked for, if you had taken an auto a few yards down the road. And guess the weapon of terror, in the city? It is the auto driver offering to turn their meters on. The moment they say that, you can see panic stricken faces saying, “Vendam Pa!” (no!!). The heated up meters show devilish numbers that run faster than the fastest athlete in the world. They are a passenger’s nightmare! Once they see signs of you not having a complete grasp of the geographic layout of the city, you are done! You are surely taken for a ride!

One fine day, near the Marina, I see a foreigner in conversation with a “rick” fellow. She wants to go to Adyar and our sir triples the fare. I never realised they understood the dollar equation! How smartly unfair!

You get into an auto and you hold your life in your hand (more on his, rather!) and he traces all possible geometric figures through the road, with his driving skills. A twist, a turn, a bump and a jump and you are lucky to land back on your seat only to hear his fierce “madras lingo” outpour on an “ill traffic sensed” cyclist nearby. (Want an example? Here is a very common one, “Yeh, Savukrakki, vootla sollitu vandhuttaya?Otraan paaru!!”). By the end of it, all you are spared of is, a series of “sss” hisses, for the money that you pay and finally landing in the destination, thanks to your lucky stars!

Despite everything, autos are now an integral part of the daily routine of many. We have drivers who are so eco-conscious that the back of their autos read, “Please don’t pollute the air!” (Well, what are you doing, by the way ?) and there are drivers, who now have the tech edge apart from everything else. Ah! You wanna pick, just give them a ring on their mobile!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Between you and me..

Warning: Pure Valentine Special. People who get freaked out by reading romantic stuff and think, man, this girl is mad, please refrain from reading this post!

Quote. A dream sequence. Unquote. Full stop.

I am strange, ain’t I? I would just hesitate and meditate a million times to tell you six simple words. The point is I haven’t managed it this time around too. I would have thanked God a thousand times that you walked into my life and offered me all that you had to. But..

I am funny, ain’t I? I would sit in a corner, reading a book and suddenly wonder what you would be doing right then and drift..and jolt back into reality, and tell myself, “Idiot, stop dreaming!”

I am crazy, ain’t I? Every time that I wake up and pray, I would say a small prayer for you too and wish all went well for you and that you had a day that gave you all that you wanted.

I am stupid, ain’t I? I would shut myself up in a room, stand away from the mirror, close my eyes and mutter weakly through my lips your name and say, what I wanted to say. Quickly then, I would open my eyes, look around with a sense of guilt, pray that the walls didn’t really have ears and dash out of the room.

I am silly, ain’t I? Sometimes, I would wonder, whether what I thought and nurtured was actually right or whether I committed a big crime. Beads of sweat would line up over my brow and I would shiver and tell myself, “Rubbish, hell with your day dreams!” I would cry into my pillow in the night, cursing my mind for all that it had to think unnecessarily.

I am confused, ain’t I? I would wake up next morning and feel weird about what happened over the night and go back to my old state of mind again. Well, the most spectacular thing about falling in love, is the inability to identify when it all happened. It just flows, the liking, to take shape into a desire, of being with you all the time, no matter what.

I am human, ain’t I? I would hate you like a kid when I saw you acting as if you didn’t care much about what I thought. I would die to know what ran in your head, whatever the heck you thought about me. I would, despite all conscious efforts to control, dream of a life with you and feel happy and secure with the sheer thought of it.
I walked back, after that fight with you, thinking all that I said. My pace got slower and slower and I forced myself to a stop. I retraced my steps, walking faster, my heart literally racing and thumping that I almost felt it would stop in a minute. I wished fervently you hadn’t disappeared in that five minutes before which I had bid you good bye. I turned round the corner, saw you there, rooted to the spot where I left you.

“So?”, you asked with that teasing smile on your face and I just stared at the ground and mumbled, “ahem..well”. I looked up to see you right there in front of me, moved in closer, my whole body literally shaking out of fear and suspense. I wouldn’t dare to look into your eyes, for I feared the worst – a total emotional surrender. And then you took my face into your palms, looked into my eyes and just muttered, “My crazy little darling!” And me that silly kid, just hugged you tight and said, “You mean bum!”

What next? Well, that was just a fairy tale story for yet another Valentine’s day! Nothing more, nothing less..and for those who actually wondered what those six simple words are, they are, “I am in love with you..!”And that brings us to the end of a Valentine weekend series..marriages, romantic movies and a pure romantic fiction!!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

More than just a movie..

With so many movies releasing every year, how many of them actually leave behind an impression that lasts in you forever? As far as I am concerned, I can count them in less than a minute. Movies that have made me go back to them, without the slightest tinge of boredom are probably three or max four.

Divya, Chandra Kumar, Manohar – do the names ring a bell? They are characters from a movie that stole my heart more than any other film, “Mouna Raagam”, the outcome of a spectacular piece of direction from Maniratnam with music from the all time great Illayaraja.

What makes Mouna Raagam so special to me? Many a reason. The best aspect about the movie is the inherent simplicity and correspondence to one’s day to day life. It doesn’t boast of grand settings and hyped up song sequences and the story unbelievably stays on track, which so often falters in most movies. Mouna Raagam is a reflection of sheer directorial brilliance boosted by an immortal musical score.

Every time that I watch the movie, it remains as fresh as I watched it the first time and the title track, Illayaraja has no parallel! He is just splendid with it and the soft piano and the tender violin pieces just caress you; it would be the most romantic background that one could ask for.

If there is one thing, I have wondered most about Mouna Raagam, it is the perfect characterization of Divya, played by Revathi. (I bet, nobody could have done the role better!). Hers was a character etched to perfection, by a director who would make you relate to a star, through an unbelievably natural role. For me, I can never isolate myself from Divya, in all that she is and everything that she goes through.

Divya is a reflection of what a girl of marriageable age would go through. She is a showcase of carelessness, ego, the recipient of a sudden outpour of attention (remember the opening scenes), someone who suffers from a discomfort of unfamiliarity and a girl with a tragic romance. Manohar, the iconic representation of youthful, vibrant romance, though appears for a very short time, leaves you thinking of him, even after the movie got over.

“Unakku en charm, en grace, en style idhellam parthu mayangiduvennu bayam”. (You are scared that you would fall for my charm, grace and style). Thus he goes to Divya, and I wouldn’t deny the fact. It’s Mani’s best nuances at work. This is probably where one would hear the haunting, title score recurring through the background and you just sink and melt into the short and sweet love, that is so close to you and is yet fictional. Beyond a point, the distinctions just blur..

And the other man, is the mature and composed MBA man, Chandra Kumar, played by Mohan – a performance so subdued and yet par excellence. He would be a hubby whom every girl would dream of, someone who could come with an understanding, as genuine and accommodating as his. He would willingly accept the insecurity of his new wife and give her the space but is sadly left unreciprocated, for most part.

Mouna Raagam is the story of a transformation, punctuated by a gamut of feelings – confusion, insecurity, helplessness, ego, sympathy, compassion and finally, culminating in love. Divya transforms from the bubbly girl in love with a naughty, crazy youth to a mature wife who is bowled over by the tolerance and simplicity of the new man in her life.

Mani’s structuring is truly fabulous. He centres his story on three main characters, with a brief romantic flash back that sweeps you, off your feet. The central character is the girl and the other two, men, one from her past and one from her, present and future.

Mouna Raagam is more than a movie – it’s a divine experience of living through one’s life under characters carved out by a master director and a perfectly blending music offered by a genius. Mouna Raagam is a masterpiece.. a timeless one..

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Marriage talk..

I have never seen myself hitting such high pressure peaks in my life. My temper soars high, words just fly out of my mouth, sometimes its hot anger that leaves me fuming in silence – well, I never knew it took so much to get married to someone, through an arranged, parents settled proposal. While the alliance seeking process goes on in full swing at my place, I am finding it increasingly hard to digest certain shortcomings of arranged marriages.

Before I say anything else, let me make it clear that I am not against arranged marriages. All the business of horoscope matching and knowing the family well and all that is definitely worthwhile and something that is unique to the Indian society. But what I look for is a change, to suit the present generation. Things are not the same as it were, some 30 years ago, when my parents got married.

Now, the scene at home. My mom has registered my name and horoscope with at least three places, hmm..let me recollect – Taamras, Sringeri mutt and Mahalingapuram chart (well, all that is what I found out hearsay)..and you would see her settling down with the classifieds of The Hindu on Sunday and dutifully ticking and sorting out the vadamas and ashtasahasraams and brihacharanaams..Man, and what happens to the other charts? They send you piles and piles of computer generated sheets that list endlessly, a record of prospective grooms.

The Taamras thing really sends me into fits of rage. The ‘wonderful’ software actually matches your profile to all the other such groom profiles based on gothram, nakshatram and all the nuances of zodiac. When my mom told me this for the first time, I was shocked. Shocked. And I just yelled, “you trust a computer, but not me??”

And how could I forget tamil matrimony in between all this? It lines up in my dad’s inbox so obediently , “Tamil – matches on 12/02/2005” and so on and so forth. The mechanised messages read “Dear Member M123456, Congratulations!! (Well?) you have received a message from profile id MXXXXX” and probably ends with a good luck. And Imagine, for once I regretted having been in software, for I had to sincerely open my dad’s inbox everyday and show them the mail. Since, my parents didn’t understand the complicated working mechanism of the colourful site, they would make me do all the messaging part of it, while I sat and cursed my luck.

I would sit and wonder, how I would ever find the man of my lifetime there. Ah, no offence meant to the people who got married that way, but it’s all a question of choice or one’s individual way of looking at things. My biggest problem is that I need the time to know a guy before I married him. But as my mom reasoned it out two days ago (during yet another fight) that time constraints are high in an arranged marriage, I just wondered why a small accommodation like this couldn’t be made. After all, even mothers work these days and they would be more outgoing.

Girls today are more independent, much more educated than before, and hence wouldn’t just give into a relationship after a one time meeting with the person, whom you are expected to spend a lifetime with. At least, I wouldn’t. while I continue to ask for time, my parents insist that the family is good and the guy ought to be good. Fair enough, he might be a good guy but the question is, do I get along well with him? Do we really “click”?

Frustrated parents and relatives would immediately say, Ok, if you have someone in mind, let us know, we will get you married to him! And whenever, someone said that, I would question, “Then, would you drop the gothram and nakshatram business?”.Once my mom said, let me give you the list of nakshatrams, you shortlist based on that. Fantastic!! Might as well go for an arranged marriage.

My stand is probably confusing to many or may be everyone. But all that I am asking for is, a little bit of flexibility. Some bending of rules. Honestly speaking, I wouldn’t easily settle for someone, even if I tried looking for somebody, all by myself. That is the way we (I add my sis here too!) have been brought up. But if I did find someone, good enough, I would just wish my parents would accommodate, without all these lengthy rituals, trusting me! Even if it’s somebody whom they see for me, all I want would be some time to know the guy!

All said and done, last year, at the marina beach, I tried my hand at “killi josiyam” and the parrot, that spelt out my fate, took a card, which the guy described to me. “while you and your parents have different things in mind about your marriage, you would get married to a guy whom you like and who suits your parents wishes too,” he predicted. And what do I do now? I only continue to hope that what he said would be true! Then, I would thank him and his cutie parrot!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Murder of religious sentiments

Today, the Madras High Court has granted conditional bail to the Junior Acharya of Kanchi Mutt, Sri Vijayendra Saraswati, on the Sankararaman murder case. Since the arrest of Sri Jayendra Saraswati on November 11, the reputation of the 2500 year old mutt has gone to the dogs. There are three main reasons, why I am taking up this serious reflection on the turn of events in the last three months. For one, I belong to a family that has been an ardent follower of the Kanchi mutt for years now, second for the fact that I am training in a field that affects the lives of people in more ways than one, "the media" and thirdly, I personally view the whole affair as a serious damage done to my religious faiths.

My friend's father once asked me to comment on the arrest issue, as a "journalist". I said that being a journalist in the making and hence being objective, I would take the stand that what is happening to the mutt and the seers is clearly a matter of shame to the country, especially with the way, the media is handling the whole affair. While, it goes beyond saying that the law has to take its own course, it is disheartening to find all the yellow journalism and gossip that is running high in the 'culture honouring' Indian society.

The arrest followed by the PP's (Public Prosecuter) rash comments on the senior Acharya sent tempers running high amidst the followers of the mutt, the Tam Bram community. The political parties have been up with appreciations, followed by complaints, careful enough to set in balance, the required rivalry.

The senior Acharya was linked with women and all sorts of demeaning statements were made about his conduct in many regional newspapers and magazines and all unsubstantiated. It surprises me that a profession that needs to hold up truth and honest reporting, has literally failed in every aspect. It has almost been feeding gossip into mouths of those who love talking (deliberately a mild word) about others.

Catchy headlines infact became selling points of many mags as ads went on and on saying that their reportage was the best. While print is on one side, the broadcast is busy showing the same footage again and again and there have been reports claiming that the junior pontiff ran towards the 'Kanchi Periyavaal's sannidhi' to hide, when the police came to arrest him. And who is there to substantiate it? atleast till now, no one.

How would it feel, if devotees were told by unaccountable reports that the junior pontiff actually fell at the feet of the police and told them not to arrest him? Clearly, I am shocked at what is happening to the religious values in this country. By making such statements, people don't realise that they hurt the sentiments of so many followers. To me, I know how sacred, we hold the mutt to be and whatever be the case, I still remember the reverence with which I fell at the feet of Sri Chandrasekara Swamigal, the predecessor to Sri Jayendra Saraswati, when i visited the mutt some years back. He did possess the 'Godliness' about himself and there is no denying the fact.

And thinking about what has been happening now, I wonder where the country is heading to. There are only the devotees who are terribly upset and feel pained about it, for the rest of the crowd - the political leaders, it is a weapon of propaganda, for most of the media, it means business and for certain people, it is a celebrated insult to the much envied Tam Bram community. Well, it is a shame to brand India as an epitome of culture, following this murder of religious sentiments.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Beautiful Minds

A pretty long one..but do read on..!!
Months before, when I was standing at one of those roadside stalls at pondy bazaar, I saw this girl, who with fear blanketing her face, was clinging on to her mom and was wading her way through the crowded pavement. As I saw her, I quickly recognized her to be that "different" kid, she wasn't a normal child. In medical parlance, she was a down syndrome girl. It was also immediately apparent - the features spoke the truth. Stunted growth, small eyes, a pressed in nose..

And what surged in me - a wave of pity and sympathy? No, its not just that...because I have been through more than just looking at such children. Suganti, I have known her long for now. She is 26 and is one such girl. My experiences with her have been more than revealing of certain very very pertinent truths, which most of us "normal" humans fail to realize, in our mad race to lead sufficiently "meaningful" lives. Sugi, is brilliant. She studies in a special school, takes part in almost every co curricular and extra curricular activity, and not just that, but comes back overflowing with prizes. And what could be most priceless, is her joy and pleasure, in showing them all to you.

At 26, if someone could be innocent, its only possible in her case. Sugi loves tamil mega serials. I still can recollect how she used to literally dwell in "Chitti" world. She would recount every episode with fantastic precision even today, and holds that special, and innocent liking for "chitti". The love and compassion that she holds for someone who is very dear to her could drive you to tears. She loves my dad and I can't forget the day, when she sobbed in silence, sitting at our balcony, just because she discovered all by herself that my dad was ill because he wore a sweater.

At 20, she would love all those things that a teen would love to possess in her wardrobe. She would fancy the earrings that I would wear, the mobile phone that I have, the glasses that I have. She would insist that she wanted a pair of glasses like mine and she hated hers. And talk about her craze for watches, man! its mind blowing. She loves every other watch in the world except hers.

She would beautifully correct her idea of what is happening in the lives of transition of the people around her. When I was in Pilani, she gave me a title, "Mr.Pilani" and that is how I used to get addressed. Never was it 'Anu'. Later, when I passed out, she made the change in her mind's register; I was then in Bangalore, and she would remember exactly where my hostel was situated. And I was back to being addressed as 'Anu'. I sometimes call her movie dictionary; she would just see a scene from a movie and would promptly narrate the entire story, probably give you the name too and if you are lucky enough, you get to hear a hit song from the movie too. Her only problem remains that she can't register what she learns.

She writes beautiful tamil and would dutifully clip sheets of paper to a writing pad and copy paragraphs and paragraphs from a tamil newpaper or tamil weekly, with perfect clarity. All this accompanied by those long syllabic 'aaaaaaaa', 'vaaaaaaaaa' 'nnnnnnn' 'avan..' and then the next word. There have been numerous occassions when she would wonder, when she would ever get past her twelfth and then go into college ("REC trichy", she mentions) and finally land up in a good software job in "Wipro" for a salary of 30 lakh rupees per month!!

Those times, I would feel a surge of helplessness in me and a strange kind of anger on God, as to why he ever did that to her. So many dreams and ambitions packed in her and yet crippling her from not able to achieve that..what kind of a punishment was that? She would laugh and suddenly cry and try to speak some english sometime..Well, why all this? I wonder what little world of dreams Sugi carries in her mind, which would probably never see light. But, beyond all that, she would hope and hope and hope, that her day isn't far off.

Having said all that, what is it that I am looking at? I believe there are lessons to be learnt from everyone. As we run everyday, chasing our so called dreams, we forget some human elements that sadly lack in most of our lives. We forget compassion for fellow humans, we lack the ability to emphatise with someone who suffers and we hardly speak nice words to those who mean most to us. Sugi would care immeasurably for those she loved and would pray earnestly for their well being. It is amazing how we could call that mind, problematic. Life isn't all about scientific functioning. It has a human element, by all means and that is what is ultimately what everyone looks out to, than your material well being.

The second important point is how we land up complaining for trivial things in life. We are immensely blessed, we are what we want to be, we can think and act the way we want and feel socially secure, in many ways. We don't have strange eyes staring at us when we walk down roads. We escape those rude mumbles which some meany mouths would talk when such a kid walked down the road.

The other day, I was talking to Mythili patti. She wished earnestly that I covered a programme staged by differently abled children, at the music academy on 22nd february. "The programme would not be professional. Nevertheless, it is good to see that they are capable of all that they manage to do," she said and she broke down. I felt a lump in my throat. I only hope I could go and write a story on the event. More importantly, I pray I continue to emphatise with such children and their beautiful minds!

Back after a break!

Talk about being regular in what you do..I had decided when I restarted my blogging efforts, that I would come back to it at a time period (??) of 24 hours..but sadly, I haven't lived up to my decision, even within the first one week..and imagine, I have so many ideas literally "whirlpool"ing inside my head, that I am all set to pour it out..
I had told vani, that I am posting something last night, thanks to a stupid fight at home (for obvious reasons!), I lost all the enthu..
Lets see how much of justice I can do to my blog today...
Being the ed of our website , I am all stuck ripping people's articles apart!! Shall be back in a coupla minutes! Hang on:)

Friday, February 04, 2005

The odd 'woman' out?

At ACJ, I seem to be taking people by surprise and that too for two main reasons. First, for the fact that I don't look like I passed out of college two and a half years ago but way much younger. (Well, I do wonder whether that is a boon or a curse, because, it is always good to look your age, isn't it?). Nevertheless, the second reason is the more important of the two and what this post is all about.

Three days back I had gone to college dressed in a white and sky blue salwar, a white kameez with little pale blue flowers scattered around and a blue salwar. The dupatta was a pleasant sky blue with light crushes. Promptly came questions along with compliments, "Kya yaar, aaj kal thoo badi achi dheek rahi hai?" ask my colleagues with that "hey don't hide it from me" kinda smile. So, obviously the next question is, "Who is that special guy?". And I only sigh and reply for the 'nth' time that I really don't have anybody 'special' in my life.

They almost jump, but well that is just the latest episode of this million dollar question that has been fired at me from the time I landed in this college,in all its variations - "Do you have a boy friend?" (with all the seriousness!) or "Don't tell me you don't have a boy friend!" (Oh hell! how does it bother you? Be happy with yours!) or "Do you have someone in your life?" (a much better and refined question, Boy friend sounds very crude and unromantic and flirtish, if you ask me..hey, to all readers, no offence meant!!)

My answer is almost immediately out - "Well, actually no!". And I am the odd girl out that I send rude shocks to everybody with my answer, that these days, I have started feeling a great deal surprised at my 'single, non dating' status! Taking off from there, I have often wondered, how people manage to almost stick their mobile phones for hours and hours together to their ears and carrying out those romantic "umms...hmms..and then whats". If it's not the mobile phones then there are those long awaited daily dinners or routine walks. I have infact asked those in love, what they talk everyday for hours together, they just throw me those looks and say, you have to be into it to feel it, and you would infact feel and wishfully think that you had more time. The separating moments are so painful, they would say.

And if till that point of discussion above, I sounded unromantic and lifeless, you have got the wrong impression. People around me wonder why I haven't really gone ahead with somebody, as if it had to happen as a matter of routine. The truth is that I am like that. I don't easily get into relationships and if I do, I would take care of them with all the care in the world. Truly speaking, there have hardly been any occassions for people to see how romantic I could get - and so I really can't blame them for the impressions they carry about me.

I am a true piscean, if not for anything else, for the way I dream. Dreams are a part and parcel of my life, and most of them translate into my writing and it would be a blatant lie if I said that I am in my dreams, what I am in reality. I could be as romantic as I can get, and sooner or later, they would all find their ways into those bits of paper, where I scribble the dreams of my lifetime and dump them into that inconspicuous corner in my cupboard.
(Probably, I would post one of them, for Valentine's day!!)

I wonder sometimes at my courage - and feel that I am so quiet in the real world to actually venture into something, as boldly as I go about in my dreams. I would rather talk and talk and talk in my dreams, than in reality and feel secure about me, "him" and our lives together.

Today, I just hope I meet him sometime (or probably have run into him sometime, already!) and pray that if I did meet him, he wouldn't say, after everything, "I still haven't met my girl ". Fears, probably, of rejection, that is what holds me back, from venturing into anything. All said and done, for now, I can only wait and continue to convince people, I can't easily find the boy friend that they so badly want me to have!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

My lovely technophobic lady

Moms, they are the sweetest things on earth and my amma, 'ammu kutty' , as I call her when I find her really adorable is a darling! Now this sweet heart of mine, among her different avatars, is a technophobe too.
Example - Couple of days back, my dad and I were discussing about shifting from dial up to a broadband connection and at a point we talked about changing the modem. What does amma say? Her monetary concerns rise high, and she advises my dad, "well, why do you want to go in for a new modem and invest in it unnecessarily? We might as well use the old one. Think twice before you invest." "Well, see raji, you can't really do that..they are two entirely different things," that's my dad and mind you, he is suppressing a smile there. The next moment, needless to say, amma has shot into a peak and says, "oh come on, don't laugh, I know I don't understand these things, don't tell me anything" and she just shuts her ears. Well have you seen a kid in her late 40s she is..

Surprisingly these days, she prides herself about the lastest 'comp' terms that she is picking up. Now, that Vani is in Singapore, amma is emerging better and better. Click, double click, password, inbox, yahoo messenger, chat, online, offline and of late, your (mine) website (sometimes web) - she is definitely walking through the jargon maze! She now connects to the net, opens her inbox, not only hers but my dad's too!!

Vani is jumping. I ask her what and she says, "Amma is so cute!".Well, why? Because amma REPLIED (from the reply option!!) to one of her mails and further still - all the words in the two and odd sentences that she wrote literally stuck to each other. Amma didn't use the space bar. Goodness me, I shriek, "That's brilliant!" and I go back home and give her a big hug! I know she detested the thought of peering into the keyboard searching for the 26 alphabets that she knew by heart, as if she didn't know them.:) and now this is too good.

On days when I keep sitting glued to the comp, she would come to me and ask, "Are you done?" and without a pause she would say, "Give it to me for sometime. It has been long since I played Solitaire." Days that I go back late she would discuss her luck with the 'n' solitaire games that she played with the comp! Talk about improvements..

The transformation fascinates me to this day. Any mail that she doesn't like on my dad's inbox she would tell me, "Del pannidu" and I would just smile. Everyday, there is a new problem that the confusing machine gives her, and yesterday she tells me, "I saw Vani online. But I clicked once on her name and it became black. Something was wrong." I tell her "Don't click, but double click," and she meditates on it and nods. "I shall try tomorrow," comes her thought out response...well sweetie, good luck!!:)..It only makes me love you more!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Making a beginning..

Probably not a very significant day in my life, except for the fact that I have decided to restart sincerely my blogging efforts. Its already 8:35 PM and the lab will close in another 15 am just scribbling a few words as I chat with Vani . (Ooh..Multitasking!!) Gosh..she is so damn fast..
Well, let me get done with these four lines for the day...Promise (to myself ofcourse) to return dutifully and blog tomorrow..I have loads to write apart from my reports..Wishful thinking..Let's see..Goodnight:)