The solitude of the evening
Gnaws at me
It crawls over me
Like a crippled lizard
Minutes ticking away
Turning into silent hours
They grow like a monster
There are distant voices
I long to hear
I ought to utter
Lest this boredom
Inflicts upon me
So pitch black that
Blindness gives up
In its fight for blackness
I want to set free
From these walls
Of roaring monotony
There is an urge
To just scream
Scream out loud
Someone out there
Ought to have a word or two
To say.. to me..
Saturday, December 13, 2014
The solitude of the evening
Saturday, December 6, 2014
My limbs are tired
They inflict a pain deep inside
I move and they pull
In these tender moments
I find love
It runs deep to tell me
The strings of marriage
Have a deeper commitment
There was a need
To hold your hand
To feel your skin
To know the feeling
That I was protected
Ah my limbs fail me
The chords within
The feeling lingers on
Like the dew..
The first time I heard the name Madhavikutty was from my father, when I was a child. The name just settled down in my mind to gather dust. When I was an adult, and started my feeble attempts at writing, I read about Madhavikutty on the internet and learnt that her official name was Kamala Das. I bought "My Story" her controversial autobiography and honestly never completed reading it. I read the essentials of the book and left it there. This was more than five years ago.
Recently due to some reason I switched from fiction to non-fiction and found myself looking for books about Kamala Das. I wanted an original English work because I knew she wrote in Malayalam and personally do not prefer translated books. The element of the book, the essence of what the author pens down is lost in translation. A complete personal belief. So after some considerable research I found "The Love Queen of Malabar" by Merrily Weisbord. Since the author was Canadian, I was sure that the major text would be in English, and would be confined to limited translations. I just finished reading the book and was proud that I selected the best book.
The book is a conversation between Merrily and Kamala Das during their trips to Kerala and Canada. The acquaintance that grows into a deep friendship. I was glad that Kamala found Merrily during her later years, a compassionate friend whom she could trust.
I felt sad at the plight of Kamala Das, and I believe she wrote the truth. She was born in a time where male chauvinism was at its height. Man used women for their gains. I came to hate Sadiq Ali who was man enough to sleep with a 60+ year old woman, almost twice his age, but was a coward who succumbed to the pressures of society. Most men are man enough to sleep with a woman, the commitment to nurture her for years to come is where he plays the dodging game.
Her story is what happens in most households. There is only one in crores of women, who can write about it, honestly. I understand why men abused her when the book "My story" was published. She was unmasking their real face. She shed the pretenses they wear when they walk out into society.
In this book she says "This new person accepted that "marriage to Dasettan was not good, but my destiny". And since we are all just instruments of destiny, it was useless to struggle against it".
Another excerpt from the book, which lingers on -
There is a house now far away where once
I received love……. That woman died,
The house withdrew into silence, snakes moved
Among books, I was then too young
To read, and my blood turned cold like the moon
How often I think of going
There, to peer through blind eyes of windows or
Just listen to the frozen air,
Or in wild despair, pick an armful of
Darkness to bring it here to lie
Behind my bedroom door like a brooding
Dog…you cannot believe, darling,
Can you, that I lived in such a house and
Was proud, and loved…. I who have lost
My way and beg now at strangers' doors to
Receive love, at least in small change?
Thursday, October 23, 2014
They think they know me
do they really know me?
They take the smile as happiness
They don't see the inside
The don't see the behind
I have passed many stations
Most untold most best forgotten
But it is me who passed them
So do they really know me
There have been heartbreak
There have been sorrows
There was this station of the mind
Where i left behind many relations
They look at me
And think this is me
Those stops of loneliness
Those abysmal silences
I drove past them at snails pace
And yet they think they know me
They tell me it's not about me
Its about others
Will that make me me
Or make me someone they want me to be
I want to be me
With all the stations i have passed
With all the flaws and grievances
With all the smiles i attempt
Just let me be me.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
The wave of a wand
Or some shining white goblets
Whatever it may be
After treading past
For half a lifetime
I am not the person in the mirror
I am someone else
So they say
Putting on painted masks
Each and every day
I don’t know who I am
So let me
With the wave of a wand
Or some shining white goblets
Did she feel cold, when the railings touched her hands? Her last thought must have been about me. As she pulled herself above the railings, didn't she have the fleeting thought of being in my arms once again? I wish she had felt like running towards me instead of running towards the end. What did she feel as she left contact with any structure? Did she feel the air hit against her as she fought against the rising air. She is scared of heights, now I remember. So was she scared when she looked down? As she was descending the array of life, did she for an instant want to be caught, in my arms?
If only I could talk to her, be with her, she would have been sitting at her desk now, waiting for me to ping her. How could she do this? To herself, to me, to everyone.. I love her and yet, now.. she's gone.
What you are pleasing in the process, is the mind. The mind is the supreme leader. It has the power to control everything you do, think, act. It plays on emotions, and feeds on its ego. The mind needs to win, in some form or the other, in situations, with people, in life. The win could be small or big, just as long as it keeps winning, it keeps you going.
You would be dumb to think that you have complete control over your mind, the mind is the silent killer. It hides, when you wish to seek answers, it rumbles with thoughts when you want to shut them off.
Its my mind that drives me to write, even this word. So it seems like God created man, built in the mind and gave the control of the human to the mind. So what happens at death? Where does the mind go? Does it die? I don't think so. Like the body shrivels up and the bones remain, human life is done with, but the mind remains. Where? Well, that's a question I don't have an answer to. Maybe it wanders around us, is that what we call the spirit? Aah.. thoughts.. aah.. my mind!
Monday, August 25, 2014
Friday, August 15, 2014
August 15th, the day India succeeded in ending the British regime and established a democracy. A democracy which gave power to every Indian to select and elect people to power to do good for their nation. Most of them were illiterates and were unaware of the ways of the world. They chose people whom they believed would propel the country to prosperity and growth.
Sixty eight years hence people mostly illiterates and unaware of the ways of the world choose people whom they believe will propel the country towards prosperity. There has been some prosperity no doubt but largely the common man still lives with the hope that there will be a better tomorrow. There will be a set of people who will indeed steer the country towards prosperity and growth.. real prosperity and real growth.
Let me define what I exactly mean by prosperity and growth. It is definitely not measured by the number of high rise buildings that this country can build, it is not the number of people who feature on the Forbes list of richest Indians and not by the number of babies that this country produces on a daily basis.
Prosperity will be achieved when every person born in this country can afford three square meals a day; when he can build toilets in is house, when he can have a house to live in and not a shack, when the girls of this country can walk outside safely without the threat of rape.
Prosperity is when the children, all children receive basic education, they don't have to work to feed their family, when every person can do a decent job and earn a livelihood, not clean up sewage waste.
So are we really independent? We are not independent from the perils of society like poverty, hunger, homeless, rape that we have inflicted upon us, so what exactly are we celebrating here? Is it the fact that our forefathers fought like one to establish a democracy sixty eight years ago? Well then my friend it's a thing of the past. The British have moved on and so have our forefathers. But we are holding onto a memory to find an excuse to enjoy a holiday, hoist the tricolor and well up assumed pride at being an Indian.
I may sound a little too obstinate here but my friends in the US or outside the country who have long migrated from India send wishes of independence and a happy one at that. My friend, you are not stuck in the traffic jam every morning, driving to work, you are not waiting for the water to appear in the tap in your kitchen, you are not sweating it out waiting for electricity.. so feel happy about your independence from these pains and enjoy life. We are good without your wishes.
India should stop having any elaborate ceremonies and celebrate independence when the country has ousted poverty, hunger, homelessness and rape.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
You are holding on to your loved one
There are smiles around
And I lonely, tired, battered
You are sharing a meal
Emotions flowing through words
And I quiet, solitary, silent
You are looking out at the cold winter
Feeling the hug and warmth
And I yearning, cold, bare
You are lost in your dreams
Of the future, of belonging
And I real, sans dreams, sans hope.
The smile which is there yet not
The loneliness in the crowd
The cold blanketing the warmth that could be
The realisation of the truth
The blind chase
Where do i stand
Where do i stand
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Prior to my onshore stint, I spent about five years at the Nila building in Technopark. It was second home, because I spent a big chunk of my day there. Post onshore, I moved into the Bhavani building which is bigger and better than Nila.
As you walk into the atrium of Bhavani, you feel its magnanimity. There would be and there are bigger buildings in other cities in India, but this is one of the biggest buildings in my small place call Trivandrum. I feel a positive energy as I walk through those doors day after day. Some days there is a floral carpet or pookalam adorning the floor of the atrium, welcoming someone in the traditional way of Kerala. On some days the atrium is decked up with stalls and party favors, from some organization celebrating a milestone or simply hosting an event. What I like about this place is that its never empty, its so full of people all the time and from one end I can see the entire length and breadth of the building.
What intrigues me more than the architecture of the building are the people and the umpteen number of stories tied to these people playing out simultaneously.
If you look at floor 6, where all the cafes and eating outlets are located, you will find a group of people chatting, laughing and having a good time. This is probably a group of people, where more commonly there is atleast one resource who is a non team member or an onsite returned person taking the rest of the group for a treat. Then there are groups just walking out of some eatery and enjoying dessert talks. What you would more find in common is someone waiting for someone. A smile erupts at the appearance of the someone on the someone who was waiting.
Floor 5 has the offices of UST Global, where I work. People are rushing for meetings from one side of the building to the other carrying laptops or notepads. They make a pitstop at the security desk to scan the laptop and move on to their business. Then there are the phone holders rooted at various intervals of the corridor. And boy this is a sight to see. Personal calls mostly with the highlight being koochikooing calls. Some boyfriend calling his outside Technopark girlfriend, some girlfriend talking to her boyfriend on another floor. A wife calling her husband in another part of the world. A friend calling another friend and pouring out her woes. All sorts of conversations in hush hush tones so as to ward off the eavesdroppers passing by. Love.
Floor 4 always has an Airtel or Docomo or Vodafone make-shift stall put up. Guys showing off their company and trying to lure potential customers to buy their product. They spend so much time talking, and the passion each of them holds to sell their product, because their daily bread is probably tied to each sale they make. Passion.
Floor 2 had some plastic chairs lined up today. There were young people, some with their parents beside them. A guy dressed in formals with a tag around his neck comes with a sheet of paper and we see one of those seated girl/guy get up and follow the guy with the tag. Looked like an interview. They had been there in the morning, when I walked into office. This is most likely their first time in Technopark and I cannot help reminisce the first time I walked into those huge gates of Technopark many years ago. I can feel the anticipation, fear, hope that these young people may be going through, because I was on those plastic chairs, once.. waiting to be called. Hope.
Floor 0 is of course the entrances and exits. People getting to work, with laptop bags, lunch bags, some alone, some with a friend or a spouse. Groups of people walking out to grab lunch or make it to some appointment post lunch.
This place has seen so much, so many people walk in and out of its space. And me a tiny speck in the realm of stories that are played out everyday.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Waiting outside the airport at the arrivals lounge is always a happy feeling. There is so much anticipation, excitement and emotions flowing in that close to thirty minute time frame.
I was waiting at the arrivals lounge this morning with my children anxiously waiting the arrival of my husband after a brief stint of two months in the USA.
During my forty five minute wait there it was interesting to note the wave of emotions on the curious faces of people waiting and tired yet excited faces walking out of the airport, laden with goods. They try to squeeze into that one inch of space between a crowd of people near the railing to catch a glimpse of the dear one. They wait and watch at each opening of those automated doors hoping that the person walking out next would be their loved one. When it is, the face lights up and calls go frantically in all directions to other waiting family members of he's here or she's here or they are here. Then it's a rush towards the end of the railing. Hugs and smiles and happiness galore fill the air like no one is watching. Fathers hugging their children, spouses looking lovelorn at their better half, parents enjoying their moment of pride at the sight of their child coming back home.
Just down the road you would see the exact opposite of all these emotions at the departures. Like many of you I don't like the idea of departure. I seldom go to drop off someone, but am always eager to pick up someone.
Happy and sad - the only two primary emotions. Everything else evolves from these...
How quickly does an individual become a body?
Bodies were transported on a train they say. A few hours back they were on that god forsaken plane taking a nap or watching a movie or having a snack. All of a sudden somebody they never knew or will ever know decided to aim a sophisticated missile at the plane, for no fault of theirs. They were not even given a chance to ask "why me?". Nobody boarded that plane to die. They were on their way to do something, somewhere. Somebody on the other end of the journey was waiting for them. A wait that will last a lifetime and yet remain unfulfilled.
The big wigs of the world are contemplating on who dunnit? They have no idea on what the families of the people on the plane are going through. They will never know, unless somebody from their family was on that plane. Their families walk around with security and protection from the evils of the world and the irony is that these exact bigwigs are responsible for creating evil in the world.
Why do they make these missiles or any weapon that can take a life? Weapons that can cause such large scale destruction. You are not wreaking havoc on uninhabited land, you are aiming at alive and kicking people and destroying their dreams, their hopes, their future, their life.
NDTV ran an article on what a few of those on that plane were doing in life just before they got on that plane. Their stories, the people who mattered in their lives. Where they were heading and why. It's depressing to read about their life and know that they reached the end of their journey in such haste and amidst hate of a section of individuals who don't deserve to live.
What touched me deeply was the eleven year old boy who was travelling to his grandmother's place leaving his mother behind in Amsterdam. He asked her before boarding the plane, what if i die? I cannot imagine the plight of the mother who probably brushed aside her son's question thinking he was naive. Had she known or had an inkling of what would happen to her child, she would have held back her son.
There is no philosophical thought I want to add or write about here. There simply isn't one. It's plain life and the ruthlessness of a bunch of hooligans lead by a bigwig hiding inside his huge office probably giving directions for inventing the next weapon or planning the next murder..
Saturday, June 21, 2014
I happened to open the matrimonial classifieds supplement sheet this morning and to my amusement found some hilarious descriptions of requirements.
I have always thought, how do people find life partners with this, me being a happy victim of the socially classified "inter religion love marriage". The concept of arranged marriages with these newspaper descriptions is outright hilarious.
Let me quote a few phrases/words used in these ads -
Seeks fair employed girl - how fair?
Seeks pious beautiful girl - is going to the temple everyday pious enough?
Vegetarian with clean habits seeks fair, well educated girl - clean habits ?
Seeks highly professional affluent boy - how affluent might that be?
A gentleman 58 seeks sincere committed pleasant lady - committed to?
Seeks soft good nature bride - so she should not shout
Fair qualified brides - qualified for?
Very fair employed in USA seeks professional qualified bride - like being employees in USA is an added feather or extra qualification to filter out the desi employed girls.
Hindu girl senior position mnc abroad, widely travelled, multi lingual, modern outlook, traditional values seeking well educated and settled, broad minded groom - PHEW!
US citizen doctor parents seek alliance for their US citizen daughter, born and brought up in India with strong Indian values - they need the US tag but Indian values !!
Hindu healthy rich active widower 79 needs a healthy beautiful lady life partner around 65 - beauty matters even at 79.
Good family background professionally well qualified and well settled. Honest good human values clean habits vegetarian tee totaller - aint you asking for an ideal guy who is non existent?
... and the list is endless.. I may be mocking these ads here, but marriages do happen this way, and in large numbers everyday. What amuses me is the first step in the selection process of a spouse are the phrases listed above.
And the flip side is you stand very less chances of getting married if you do not for into these flowery adjectives. The outlook that people enter a marriage with is defined by these phrases and it is none of these things that makes a marriage happy. Well maybe parents think that these are pointers to a happy married life.
Long live marriage and classifieds !!
Friday, June 20, 2014
I don't know what title to give to this post. That is the reason I have named this untitled.
It was October 1st 2012 - my birthday. I come home in the evening and our family doctor calls from Bangalore. As soon as I finish my Hello, he goes.. "Your father.." my heart starts racing.. "He was here a couple of days back with some blood work results. I asked him to do a CT scan and we found that he has cancer in his stomach... We have to operate on him immediately so you come to bangalore tomorrow."
Cancer was detected in people who smoked, drank alcohol all the time and had unhealthy eating habits. Not in a person who had been a vegetarian all his life, who never smoked, who very rarely had alcohol. Not my father. Not he who was scared of getting a blood test done. Not he who had never been to a doctor except for his cataract.
So we first get and endoscopy done where they show us in colour the vehement devil called cancer. He gets admitted at Sagar Apollo for blood transfusion to improve his RBC, haemoglobin and platelet count before they could operate on him. The date of the operation is fixed. One day prior to the operation they discover through a immunohistopathology report that he has non hodgkins lymphoma, cancer in his lymph nodes and the stomach was a secondary infection. Operation is stalled and we are referred to an oncologist.
After a bone marrow test which classifies him at stage 3, chemotherapy starts. We get him into the executive ward in the hope that he would get the best facility and comfort.
So here we were with my father who had never been to a doctor getting shots after shots for blood tests. All through out my only prayer was that it should not cause him pain.
In those four months of six chemo sessions I saw my father shrivel up to an old man of say eighty years old when technically he was just 66. He looked healthy and full of life a few days before that birthday of mine. And in four months, he lost hair, his skin sagged, muscles were gone, he looked like somebody else. By the grace of God he didn't have any negative reactions after the chemo and took it very well.
So after six sessions of chemo, a PET scan was scheduled and we anxiously waited for the results. It was the toughest exam we had written until then. The result was out and he was not cured. He belonged to that rare % of people who are not cured completely after a round of chemo.
So now the doctor advised radiology and more chemotherapy. My father looked so frail that it was obvious he would not withstand radiation and more chemo sessions.
The doctors told us that palliative care was the only thing we could give him. And on the other side he refused further treatment.
We stayed exploring alternate forms of medicine and on the advice of our homeo doctor who had heard this from her professor while she was studying medicine, gave him a dose of ground neem leaves and raw turmeric paste in equal proportions, the size of a small dice, two times a day.
He took this regularly for a month and followed up with a PET scan. There was a significant reduction. He continued for another couple of months and he was clean!!
We don't know if he would have a relapse, but for now we are good. It's been about two years now, he still takes the alternate medicine as a preventive cure.
I am no doctor to prescribe anything but I had to share this so that people know that the could be hope. I don't know if this would cure everyone who has this dreaded disease. But sharing information helps and doing my part in sharing the experience, just in case it helps someone...
Thursday, June 19, 2014
My parents took a bold step of paying Rs 50 in the year 1982 to Bishop Cottons for admitting me to Nursery. Then on, their next 14 years of life was spent on raising money to keep me there.
I was this short, stout mallu kid who never had anything fancy. While my friends brought magnet pencil boxes, I brought an ordinary close the lid box. While they brought pen pencils, where the lead from the front went into the back when it ran out, I had nataraj pencils. They brought erasers that smelled of perfume and mine was an ordinary nataraj eraser. Sharpeners were of every kind on display in class and bore no resemblance to the ordinary sharper, the cheapest in the Shetty stores opposite my house in Sampangiram Nagar.
Their bags were fancy which were often pink or some flashy color, while mine was a brick brown bag without clasps, and only had a buckle. When we switched to pens, mine was a local ink pen. My black shoes wore out completely before I got a new pair. My hair was oiled almost always and plaited with black bands. My lunch was always rice. As I moved to 8th std, I got a pair of big spectacles that made me look even more dumb.
Many girls in my class had everything I didn't have for school supplies. They came in a car with a driver or with their dad on bikes. I went with the automan or walked back home with my parents. Somewhere in senior school my mother bought a luna. Boy.. It was a wonderful feeling sitting behind the luna and going home. She was probably scared to death to ride with my brother, me, our school bags and lunch baskets on the tiny pillion.
In Junior school at the Christmas party Santa Claus never chose me to handover a chocolate. I waited every year to get that diary milk or 5 star. Each time I was disappointed and I convinced myself thinking that only Christian girls got gifts from Santa.
Girls in my class took to sports, since this was not important at home, I just watched. In the 8th std, I wanted to become a prefect. I thought I had it in me to lead, not sure how. But I was not made one. The girl who was made a prefect from my class was an athlete. So I thought maybe that's why.
As the years went by and I migrated from one class to the other I grew a sense of inferiority within me. I was not invited to other girls house and I didn't invite anyone to my bare establishment of 300 sq ft of space that I called home. I felt ashamed. I somehow felt I was out of place. I only had 1 best friend all my years at Cottons.
In the 9th I was made class captain ! Phew so I was noticed and I was someone. I loved the title. 10th again, I was made class captain. Double jackpot ! I was an average student all the while, didn't fail in any subject, was not scolded by the teachers, did my homework on time, no comments during PTA meetings. But this inferiority feeling stayed with me.
My true moment of pride was when the music teacher and English teacher called me over and asked me if I could speak on behalf of the outgoing students during the graduation ceremony. This was what I had been waiting for, for many years, the moment of recognition. Maybe my participation in the debate competition gave me this opportunity. I don't know. I prepared the speech and read it out in front of the entire 10th and 12th outgoing students. It was the best moment of my life, until then. I remember borrowing a sari from a neighbour to keep up with the dress code - plain sari, any colour.
I didn't know that the best had been saved for the last. My 10th results. I was the 6th rank in school, missing the 5th by a mark. That was the highest I had scored in my entire years at school!! I had left behind the prefects chosen, the athletes, the captains.. It sounds really silly now, but what I felt on that day was like I had received a present from Santa on Christmas.
My batch is planning for a reunion after 22 years and these memories came rushing back. I have 14 years of work experience behind me now, an Account Manager at an IT firm, published a book, a wife, mother of two kids... I managed without all the fancy stuff I missed to own during those years. But the things I learnt, living in the meagre 300 sq foot house, the years at school, the scarcity of things are some of the best lessons I learnt in life. It took me a few years to realize, I am a little dumb that way.. so here goes.. "Thank you" teachers and girls for the best years of my life !!
Monday, June 16, 2014
Anjali Menon - "the" person on my mind for a few days now. More than the person, it is what she believes in and the woman she is.
Anjali Menon is a film director, she rose to fame in the malayalam movie industry with her flawless "Manjadikuru", delicious "Usthad Hotel", whacky "Kerala Cafe - Happy Journey" and more recently her beautiful "Bangalore Days".. I have been enthralled by her movies, no doubt, but it is not until recently that I looked up youtube for videos of interviews with her and I was exposed to the kind of person she is. And Anjali as a person fascinates me more than her movies. What an amazing lady!! Its not that she talks about rocket science or the next space mission or what the various heads of governments are planning to do.. It is plain life. The life of you and me. She talks from her heart, and they are things I can identify with so well. She talks about malayalam serials on her blog and my, the negativity that flows through houses because of those serials is dampening relationships. She does not have the luxury to take a month off to write a script, like you and me. Her kid is running around and when she gets breaks she writes. What she has grown up with, is freedom. The kind of freedom I grew up with. And she has put best use of the freedom she got, no doubt.
If you have watched movies created by the legendary Padmarajan, then you would know that each time you watch the movie you will discover something new that you missed the previous time. Anjali is the only director who has been able to recreate the effect.
"Manjadikuru" is one such example. Its my third time watching the movie and it feels like I have not seen it before. The cast of the movie is the who's who of the malayalam film industry - Thilakan, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Murali, Urvashi, Jagathy, Rehman, etc.. and each role has its space never enroaching on another and yet such natural appearances. It's a story that many of us have experienced as children. Writing about human relationships and its nuances through the eyes of a child without negatively influencing the thoughts of the child and at the same time taking away the positives from each situation.. REMARKABLE!!
After watching Bangalore Days, I feel Anjali has exemplary ability to space her characters out and carve out a niche for each of them.
Anjali Menon - is a gifted director. A master story teller. A woman like you and me who shuffles through the everyday of life and in between finds time to create magic.
Thankyou.. for.. memorable cinema !!
What do you do to vent out ? Big.. Big Question. This is one question you better have an answer to. Well let's see what are the possible ways ?
Scream at someone - as simple as that. This is by far the easiest way to vent out. What is important here is that the person you vent out to understands this angle and therfore strives to keep it at a monologue rather than converting it to a dialogue. The moment it turns into a spat of words what gets tarnished in the process is a relationship. For some reason you got angry and took it out most likely on someone else who was no way involved in the first place.
Keep quiet - the best thing to do. But this has a negative effect, pent up emotions are like a volcano waiting to erupt. There are people I know who prefer to keep quiet, but I have not known them long enough to know if the building up of suppressed emotions has a negative effect on the long run.
Listening to music - yes, that sounds interesting. But you are not talking your thoughts, just passing the moment.
But is that it? Will passing the moment help? After all the need to vent out is an instantaneous emotion.
What am I doing to vent out? I am writing 😊.
Scientifically, rain is accumulated precipitation pouring out, but poetically or emotionally it could mean a thousand things.
The planning for the trip started over a cup of coffee on any normal day, and that the trip turned out to be extraordinary. There was no disagreement about the fact that all of us wanted to breakfree from the mundane and just be us. So we started with Goa which Ren thought was boring and common. Then we moved to Kolkota, but Resh's uncle lived there. Next was Mumbai, a place that Resh and I had never been to, but again Ren had family there and we could not visit either of these places without paying a customary visit to family. So I rejected both the options. We then moved to Hyderabad, a neutral choice, but what would we do there. That is when we went international. Why India? Why not out of India? So what were out options, let's see - Andaman - too expensive, Laskwahdeep - not exciting, Thailand - Urggh, Sri Lanka - YESSS!!
So the decision was made - we were going on a trip to Sri Lanka in February sans family - the best part :)
I booked the tickets the next day, lest they change their minds. Ren was a little surprised - so we are really going - is what she said. I took charge of the visas, delegated the where to stay to Resh and what to do to Ren. Resh and I knew that Ren wouldn't start looking for what to do until we boarded the flight. Now this was the topic of conversation at every lunch and evening tea - what we would take, what we would wear, how many pairs of shoes, the list was endless. Resh the manager sent out calendar invites and set meeting times to discuss our upcoming trip and these meetings were serious.
So finally the day came - Feb 22 when our spouses dropped us off at Trivandrum International Airport, with the biggest smiles on their faces happy to be free for a couple of days. If it was evening, they would have celebrated the happiness with clinking glasses. We tagged along with our luggage which was quite a lot for 3 days and 4 nights. As we waiting to board, Resh got into a conference call to keep the lights on and Ren was seen leaning against a pillar kuchikooing with Subz - she did this so many times during the trip (aaah!)..
Finally we hopped on Sri Lankan Airlines and sat next to each other with a gleam in our eyes and smiles stretched from east to west - We were actually on a flight to Sri Lanka and just us! We observed everything and passed comments on everything. The air hostesses were kind of plump and dressed in Sri Lankan attire - seeing that Ren wanted to dress up in their costume and take a picture. We thought they showed off too much skin ;) The men on the flight looked a bit scary to us, but probably they were scared as surely we must have appeared as aliens. After an hour of flying, during which Ren claims she saw the tip of the Sri Lanka, we landed at Bhandaranayake International Airport, Colombo.
The hotel we finalized was Galle Face which is a 4 star luxury hotel founded in 1864. We got our on arrival visas stamped and went on to convert some Euros (courtesy frequent flyer Jayan) to Sri Lankan Rupees. We also bought a calling card to inform our families that it was sad but true, that we had arrived safely. While Resh and I were doing this, Ren hooked up with a travel agent who gave her his number and promised to call to book a day's trip to Kandy (more about this later). By the way, Ren did finally find some places for us to visit and also conjured up some Sinhalese words, which she alone knew.
As I was the hotel in charge I called them to find out about the Airport pick-up they had promised on arrival. After walking up and down the terminal, a 6 foot dark guy walked up to me and said - Galle Face Airport pick-up. We hopped onto his dirty, stinky, dusty car which had no A/C praying that he was genuine and would take us to the correct place. After an hour long drive, which seemed like forever, we reached Galle Face Hotel. On the way, we felt we had been transported back to Kerala. There were road-side shops, traffic with no idea on who went where, honking and people jaywalking.
We checked in and and went to meet the person at the travel desk to arrange a tour of the city. He arranged a chauffeur driven Merc to drive us around the city. We went to check out the room, and boy it was HUGE!! With colonial chairs, a huuuge bed and wooden floors, it was just perfect.
We changed to dress #1 and went down to have lunch. It wasn't lunch, it was a feast!! One of the best buffets we had eaten. The restaurant was sea facing with the Sri Lankan flag hoisted on the beach. A lighthouse, the sea, the flag, benches on the porch and the endless ocean filled the view. Bliss!
After lunch the travel desk informed us that our car was ready, and we hopped onto the Merc, and the driver - old chap, showed us around. He spoke pretty good English and this was a blessing. He drove around the World Trade Center, Independence Memorial Hall, Bank of Sri Lanka, Indian Bank, the President's house - with the army guarding his residence, on the streets where cricketers lived, war memorial and to Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple. We got our first jolt here. This place was on Ren's list of must see places, and as we entered there was an old guy who demanded that we leave our footwear with his agent who charged an exorbitant price to take care of them. Our instincts got the better of us, and we decided to leave the premises. We stood outside and watched the other entrants into the temple, and they kept their footwear in a separate place where they didn't have to pay money. That is when we realized that we were FOREIGNERS and we could not go by local rates.
On our way the driver told us that we should probably have dinner at one of the restaurants at the Dutch Hospital Complex. This was an open quadrangle with various restaurants offering a bistro style dining. The entrance smelled of cigarettes and liquor. We paused to think if we should enter, and we even walked up to an army guy and asked him - is it safe for three girls to go in here? He laughed and said, yes. We walked in an OH MY GOD - this was going to be one of the best dinners of our life. It was not only the food, but the ambiance was just so good. We sat on one of the cement benches in the open air quadrangle, ordered food from one of the restaurants and felt the cool wind in our hair. The world trade center rising up to the sky right behind, lit up brightening up the dark sky. It was noisy yet peaceful. We were in a place many miles away from home, in the company of each other, just having a good time. The icing was pending. We walked back to the hotel, on the walkway alongside the beach, late in the night, the mellowed sound of the waves, stars shining above us and world to ourselves. We yapped, we laughed, we sat in silence on one of the benches looking out at the sea. One of my fond memories from the trip.
This was a day of adventure, not so much for the places we visited but for the mode of transport to Kandy. Remember the guy from the Airport who told Ren he would call. Ren set up a cab with him to take us to Kandy. So after breakfast this guy calls Ren and says that he driver was waiting outside the hotel. We gave him a few instructions and to each one he replied with the word OK. We three were off to an unknown place with a stranger in an unknown country. Some courage we have! Just to feel safe, like in the movies, I told Resh, 'hey my uncle is on duty at the military post today, but said that we can call him if there is a need'.. For people who have watched Kilukkam would recollect Revathi telling Mohanlal that "Uganda-de pradhana manthri ente ammavan aanennu".. After all this bantering we understood that the driver apparently spoke no English - except for the word OK! Ren called the travel agent and gave him instructions, which was translated to the driver in Sinhalese.
Our first stop was the Elephant Orphanage at Pinnawala. It was overpriced, but we were phirangi and had to pay a heavy price to see the orphanage. The skeleton of the elephant was a sight. Apart from some real phirangi's we were the only visitors there. And like the original phirangees we too rode an elephant. Ren and me on one, Resh by herself. This thing is really huge, how does it carry its weight.. ? After sweating it out in the hot sun, we called the Sinhalese driver and hopped on his cab and continued our sight seeing trip. Next stop was Royal Botanical Garden which turned out to be acres of green carpet. Pine trees towering into the sky, orchid garden, a huge park with kids running around like the bogies of a train, couples romancing in hide-away corners - it was all there. We had lunch at a restaurant inside the garden overlooking the pine trees.
Outside the garden we bought 3 identical bracelets as a keepsake from the trip. Our next stop - Buddha's relic temple - Kandy.
A huge temple, four time bigger than the Padmanabha Swamy temple in Trivandrum. After climbing some steps, and passing by a narrow alley we reached our destination. The place where Buddha's tooth is stored. The architecture and surrounding was no different than a temple in Tamil Nadu. Most of the people there were praying, and we were looking around. We sat on the steps of the temple and took in the peace and tranquility of the place. Around the temple, some steps led to another hall. The opposite side had a door to exit this hall. We entered the hall and looked left to find a HUGE statue of Buddha in white. Standing there looking at the statue of Buddha descended us into a state of peace and calmness. Just looking at the image, we felt the strain of the day, stress of our life drifting away. Another fond memory from the trip.
There was a cultural show in an adjacent auditorium, comprising the dances of Sri Lanka. We jumped in there and more than the dance what we liked was that we found a place to rest our bottoms :). After the hour long show we left Kandy for an adventurous ride back to Colombo. It was dark, and although we were with this driver since morning, not one instance in the entire day led us to trust him. His driving had turned rash, and we took turns in taking a nap. We were scared - shit scared, but on a brave front and sat firm. At 9.30pm we reached the hotel and thanked God that we reached back safely. After dinner we went to see a stage show opposite the hotel. There was this girl dressed in a red flashy dress singing songs in Sinhalese.. made no sense to us but still we stayed on and listened.
For one good reason, the society we live in is not safe, it would be more apt to say that the men in our society igniting the spark for social evils in the society makes it an unsafe world for us. But its not only that. The true reason is that many of us women dont tread the path to discovering the power within us. We seldom celebrate life, instead are burdened by the responsibilites we are "supposed to be carrying out", which often suppresses our spirit to live happily.
Why is it that we dont understand the power in us? Why are we born to be submissive? The nasty truth of the world. Somewhere down the line, someone during our growing years would have told us atleast once, that 'you are a girl'. And almost all the time we have not learnt /have been taught to ask "So what?"
If you understand the power in you, will you be able to celebrate life? Maybe; maybe not. But looking at the mirror everyday and telling yourself that "I am special" makes a difference.
Give me one man who will do everything you do as perfectly as you, from the moment you open your eyes till the time you fall asleep any single day? I can bet that there wont be even one. And that makes you special. The unique being made to do a thousand things, think a million thoughts, go through unbearable pain to bring life into this world. Its the goddesses within us that we should worship. For the power within us makes us strong and no way inferior to men.
I still want to be born a man in my next life and see the world from the other side of the fence, it definitely looks a lot greener from this side. . :)
I see a Dad and walking along the trail around the lake followed in a short distance by a boy who must be six or seven years old. When a sharpened my focus I saw a little walking beside the father holding his hand.
Scene 1 – Little fellow stops to fix something that crept into his shoes. Dad continues walking. Older brother walks up to the little fellow and waits for the little fellow to finish up. The little fellow after fixing his shoe runs up to his Dad leaving the older brother behind.
Scene 2 – Older brother is too slow and cannot catch up with Dad and little fellow. Little fellow stops and urges older brother to run and catch up. Older brother runs and catches up with little fellow. Dad continues walking. When older brother catches up with little fellow, little fellow runs to catch up with Dad. Older brother still trails behind.
Scene 3 – Little fellow is tired and stops. Dad continues walking and realizes that little fellow is missing. Turns back to look and little fellow has stopped. They have a conversation and Dad continues walking. Older brother has now caught up with Dad. Little fellow trails behind.
Scene 4 – Little fellow runs to catch up with Dad and older brother. He catches up, holds Dad’s hand and walks away. Older brother again trails behind.
I watched this until the Dad and boys disappeared behind the bushes. The little fellow was kind and wanted the older brother to catch up with Dad and him. Nevertheless, he did not want to lose hold of his Dad’s hand. The older brother on the other hand, wanted to catch up with his Dad and little fellow, however was happy walking at his own pace. The Dad had to complete the walk with the kids.
It was a beautiful sequence and the first thought that came to my mind is that that is how life is. Life is like the older brother, we choose to trail behind and at other times speed up our pace to catch up with someone or something. At times, life is like the little fellow, when we pause to help boost someone, so that, they speed up. We also keep focus and sometimes run to catch up with others. However, at the end of the day, life is like Dad, we keep walking and it goes on.
Wow! He took my by surprise. It was not a show, it was reality. Nobody is putting up an act, nobody has learnt any dialogues, it is all straight from the heart. After I saw the first show, the heroes where the people who appeared on the show and Aamir Khan took backstage. There are thousands of people like Harish Iyer, who struggle through everyday, hoping for a better dawn. Mothers' who wish they did not have to make that trip to the abortion clinic and have to go through the pain - physical and mental. Fathers who wish they didn't have to spend their last penny to get their daughter married. So many untold instances of so many people, the unsung heroes living in our society, around us, amidst us.
Which is precisely why I admire the initiative. I cannot say that I like the show, because it is not one. There is nothing to like about it, because it involves somebody's life and their hardship, so how can you like someone's hardship? That is why I say I admire the initiative that Aamir has taken to spread awareness of the multitude of common man's issues thriving in India, often hidden under the idiosyncrasies of our upscale bureaucracy. A Government which is more bothered about filling their pockets and proving their point than bringing up the basic living standards of every Indian. Just how much does it take to ensure that every Indian has three square meals a day, children have education, are safe from the perils of sexual abuse, have jobs to earn a living and give their family a safe and clean environment? Crores and crores of money wasted on idiotic deals which top notch officials deposit in banks for a future which may or may not come. It is extremely sad to see what has become of a country which was given to its people to build and flourish more than 60 years ago. Yes S-I-X-T-Y F-I-V-E years since the British left us, and we imprisoned ourselves within the bars of corruption, poverty and greed for power.
In such dwindling circumstances an initiative like Aamir Khan's tells the Government - Hello, now how about some real development? I would applaud Aamir Khan for using his stardom in such a manner, where he is creating an awareness of the social issues that has been crippling India. His initiative will feature as a yardstick to measure the growth of the country in terms of social behaviour and human outlook.
Hats off to this man, who perceived this idea and implemented it to showcase to the people of India, their own problems and tell them that stop, there is a way out... there is hope...
So, marriage is a social institution that a man and wife enter by legal commitments and religious ceremonies. What is important – the legal commitment or the religious ceremonies or none of the above? I belong to that stratum of people, who believes that the answer is none of the above.
I define marriage as a mutual understanding between two individuals to stay committed to each other, when they have a common or explainable understanding of the below seven key elements. When most of the below is shallow, the commitment breaks, the understanding disappears and marriage see a dead-end.
Acceptance – this is first on my list. Accepting the other person for what-who-how they are. This is of prime importance. The moment you consciously try to change the other person, you are creating a conflict in their mind about themselves. This is the biggest harm you could do to your marriage. So can you accept everything? May be yes, may be no. Therefore, what do you do about the things you cannot accept? You talk it out. If there is no way that you can reach an agreement, then my friend, you will do yourself and the other person good, by letting go.
Space – The second most important aspect is ‘space’. Yes, I understand you are at the doorstep of merging your worlds, but this is the set diagram, we learnt in school. You have two sets, Set A and Set B that are intersecting in the middle. Nevertheless, there is some part of set A which is independent of Set B, and vice versa. This is the exact nature of any happy relationship. Let your partner be, and give them the space to be themselves. The sets intersect anyways.
Change – change is the only thing that is constant in the world, somebody said. This is true of every human being. A person’s circumstances change and there is some change in the person when he/she tries to adapt to the situation. If your partner said they prefer coffee in the morning and after a few years start drinking tea, do not grumble. This is a lighter example, but what matters more is the change in emotions. If a person tends to behave different, emotionally, accept it. Every person is unique, and a single creation. How a person reacts to a particular situation would be different from another. Be prepared to accept change.
Thoughtful – this is something you need to determine before tying the knot. How important is it to you, that your spouse is thoughtful? If being thoughtful makes a world of difference to you, then you should ask this question to your “could-be” partner. If you expect a gift or expect a “Happy Birthday” greeting on your birthday, and your partner does not care, then this is a definite rift in the relationship. It is similar to the - I am good-you are good, I am not good-you are not good situation.
Communication – open communication. If you cannot have a heart-to-heart talk with your partner, then let go. You need to be able to emote, talk, and speak your mind without fear. If fear starts setting in, then normal human behavior is to cave in. Once the caving in starts, the person falls deeper and deeper into the abyss. Do not instill fear in your partner. Be a friend. I believe that Friendship is the basis of all happy relationships. If you can be a friend to your child, you will have the strongest bond with them. Similarly, in marital relationships, your spouse needs to be your friend.
Food – I would not rank this as important as the previous elements, but this is an element, I would not ignore. Food habits! How important is it for you that your spouse has similar food habits – the kind of food they eat – vegetarian, non-vegetarian, table manners, food cooked at home. Again, this is not a very difficult thing, but I have seen relationships where this matters. The spouse tries to push his/her food habits on the other person. Let be. There are people who are willing to change, to them, I would say, “Nice”. However, if your spouse is not willing to change, let it pass. Accept!
Parents – I am sure parents are a treasure to any child. The Indian system tends to believe that it is important for the wife to honor her husband’s parents and wishes, but the vice versa is not as important. Girl, if you are ready to follow the Indian system, so be it. However, if that is not the case, then ensure that you clear up the cloud around this, before taking the plunge. After a while it hurts to see how disrespectful they can get, and expect respect in return.
So don't marriages survive without the above 7 elements? They do, they "survive".
Now that I have shared my two cents on Marriage, let me tell you, there are thousands of books out there that tell you how to make a perfect marriage, how to fix one, how to keep up with one etc. From my perspective, this is what I perceive as important. If you have these elements in place, “everything” else falls into place.
Wish you a happy married life!
Once the budget session gave the clearance it was a wait and daily reminders to buy firecrackers on his way home. We even scared him by saying that the firecrackers would be over by the time he went to the store and we would be left watching others and not having any of our own. After some persistent pushing, an evening on his way back home, he would come home with a box of firecrackers. My brother and I leaped at the box to uncover the treasure. Happy at some exciting crackers and sad at some that he missed. We would also manage to sneak in some toy gun firecrackers (I forget what we called them), but they came in half inch wide long red strips, with bumps of concealed flash powder.. yeah "Roll pataaki". We fed the roll into the toy gun and boom boom started the fire roll. One variant was to rub the firecracker against a rough surface with your bare hands.
Come Diwali and the first step was partition, fifty-fifty was the rule, with our mother as the referee. We opened each box and split everything in half. This was to avoid fights. The long wait for darkness and planning with neighbours regarding what time we would go down and start the ritual. We planned and planned and talked and discussed like this was the most important activity in life. As soon as the sky darkened, it was our mother's turn to be target to our nudging. "Come on Ma, lets go, everyone is going".
We carried candles, agarbathi (incense sticks) matchboxes, our respective bag of firecrackers. FIrst step was to find a place to establish the candle without the wind blowing it off. And then we get set go..
Lot of kannada terms here - Sursur bathi of different lengths and colours , bhoo-chakra, flower pot - small one and big one, pencil, snake, pataaki in different lenghts, lakshmi bomb, eeruli bomb, rocket, double shot, sarra.
All the diwalis where I have burst firecrackers have been with my brother. And today as I see some kids enjoying their Diwali on the street, I miss him and wish for another Diwali with him.
I know, your first answer could be "because you are jobless", I'm afraid, that's not quite true. Even when I am busy the urge to login is constantly there. What drives the urge? Curiosity to know what happening on Facebook or in other's lives and sharing whats happening in yours with your extended group of friends? Everyone I know is not addicted to Facebook, but the majority are. And I wonder.. All the people on my Facebook "Friends" profile may not be my friends, they could be people whom I have just met once or known for a long time. Then what is the need to let everyone know "Whats on my mind?"
All sorts of things happen on Facebook. Who married whom, who broke up, whose daughter is doing what, whose kid took its first step, who is pregnant, who traveled where, its an open book. A world of people who seek privacy and crib at the smallest infringement of one's privacy are opening their hearts out on Facebook. People use it to express their thoughts, maybe to specific people in their life, or to the entire world. This definitely bridges the geographical distance between people in a very simple form. In a world without Facebook you had to pick up the phone or exchange emails to talk to people and share life events. With Facebook, you post a single message and Voila! your whole world knows.
There are people who browse Facebook when they have nothing else to do. There are some (many) who breathe, live, eat, sleep Facebook. And there are a lot of diligent users who keep posting what's on their mind. I wonder how much time the world spends on Facebook. Probably that is the next statistical survey results we should see. I am sure we would be alarmed by the number of hours even a particular strata of society spends on social networking via Facebook. Could all these hours be used productively doing something else? I am sure the answer would be Yes. Having said that, am I going to stop using Facebook? NO.
Facebook is an addiction, and Mark Zuckerberg has so successfully got the whole world addicted to. The young, the old and everyone in between is on Facebook. It has opened a new world of connecting possibilities for the elderly folks and made them computer-savvy. They may have not used a computer in their life before, but with Facebook they are learning the tricks of the trade.
One of Mark Zuckerberg's favourite quote from his Facebook page -
"All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up." - Pablo Picasso
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
I set out to watch the acclaimed movie "the lunchbox". It was playing at Aswathy theatre in SL complex, Trivandrum. At first i thought there would be a heavy rush and should try to book my tickets online. So i log on to a local site and it shows me a picture of the layout so that i could pick my seats. There are about ten rows with seven seats in a row. I think that probably the remaining are reserved already. I ditch the idea of online reservation and decide to buy the tickets at the theatre. I set off to the theatre. At the gates the security personnel asks me which movie i was going to. When i say lunchbox, he directs me to park outside the gates, otherwise i would not be able to move the car later on, as the movie was not a long one. I find a place along the overbridge and pace towards the ticket counter. I buy the tickets and head towards the theatre. To my astonishment the theatre was only as big as the layout depicted on the site where i was trying to book online tickets. The screen was as big as the overhead projector screen i used to have at home. The acoustics weren't as bad as i thought, but the screen had the shadow of a rotating wall mounted fan. I look around and there are about ten to fifteen people in all, to watch what could have been India's entry at the Oscars. I would have forgiven all these in lieu of the brilliant movie that "the lunchbox" is, if not for a group of three idiots who choose to sit behind us. Right from the start of the movie they started with their own script. After fifteen minutes of tolerating their bickering, i turned around and gave them a stare. They continued. After another ten minutes i turned around and said "please don't add your own soundtrack". At which the guy replied, "she is translating for me as I don't know the language". I can vouch for a fact that it was not translation that going on, it was indeed their comments and noisy laughter. The movie ended leaving me with a feeling of love and despair. Love for the growth of Indian cinema, for the scriptwriter for putting together a beautiful and simple love story, for Irfan Khan and his controlled emotions and many more.. Despair that it was shown at one of the worst movie theatres in the capital city of Kerala, that they thought -this was enough for this movie, for the three idiots who sat behind me disrespectful to the others in the cinema hall. Indian cinema has grown but there are people who don't understand its growth, such that cinema goers like me bear the brunt of their illiteracy. PS, the side view mirror of my car and bumper stickers on the right side were broken/missing, thanks to a few more inconsiderate people.. All in the name of love for good cinema.