Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Unusual lines...

Waiting in the dark corridors of uncertainity,
And whiling away your time in trinity,
A lot of things seemingly unclear,
Living with the hope of nothing to fear!

Chaos and confusion adorns your mind,
Time and work keeps you in bind,
But when were things perfectly clear?
Always a challenge to come out of the lair!

A perfect setting and a future,
A dream to stitch; your work a suture,
It is time to work your way,
Not wait for things to sway

A sense of uneasiness as usual,
Life trudges along the same lines,
Day after day; the trauma remains,
Are you still waiting for a change?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Kathas and their mite

As I was browsing for RK Narayan Books in the university library, my thoughts reflected back to the days when I used to read books from the local books circulating library near my old house in Malleswaram, back in Bangalore. For a period of 3-4 years, I was staying in Malleswaram 17th cross, next to MSIL Apartments, which housed 6 families. By the way, MSIL is Mysore Sales International Limited, and a public sector enterprise of the Government of Karnataka. The apartment was meant to be for the officers of this enterprise. The building in which I stayed comprised of four houses. The best part of these two buildings was that there were a lot of children in my age group (I was about 8-9 years old then). We easily formed a group of about 10 kids in the block. We had abundant fun in the form of innumerable cricket matches played in the apartment basement. You can still see the white chalk adorning the apartment wall in the name of wickets! Life was complete with school in the morning, cricket in the evening for a couple of hours, and by 6:30 in the evening, all of us were ready to walk about 200m upfront to Cynosure Circulating Library, which had a good number of children's books and nice magazines for the elders. The library uncle (don't know his name since we never address him in any other way) was a nice friendly man entertaining us with his jokes and suggesting us to read new books in the library. We would spend fifteen minutes deciding what to read, and then he would make an entry in the long ledger note book to keep a tab of the books we take.

All of us used to head back home eagerly, and without giving a thought to anything else, we would all be absorbed in Enid Blyton's Famous Five, Five Findouters, Secret Seven (though I never read much as even then I found it to be too childish), Nancy Drew, Hardy boys (occasionally), Tintin, Asterix, Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle, Champak, Chandamama, Gokulam, Wisdom, Alfred Hitchcock's The Three Investigators, and others. There would also be a competition as to who would finish the books first as it was a matter of pride to be the first one to do so. Since the library was not a charitable organization, there would be a nominal charge of 50p or 1Re for each book per day. So, we would read the books, and then exchange the books so that we wouldn't have to spend on the same book the next day. The fictitious characters of Julian, Anne, Dick, George and Timothy (Famous Five), Fatty (Five Findouters) formed a part of our lives with discussions hovering on what could have been done on their part to escape the bad guys. Moralistic books like Champak, Chandamama and Gokulam conveyed a lot through light hearted stories. The stories may be very simple but they carried a world of a message and it helped us realise what was good and what was bad. At that age, it makes a big difference to get the right message across, and these books did a wonderful job in doing that. Tintin and Asterix are amazing comics about which one can go on and on, and the readers are easily immersed in the sense of humour portrayed by Captain Haddock and Obelix. These are characters immortalised. Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha by India Book House have some of the best series from the Indian perspective. The comics were so simple and easy to understand that easily keeps the reader engrossed. Amar chitra Katha has taught me the importance of Indian culture with their depiction of all the mythological characters and the Indian heroes. Draupadi's swayamwar was never so fascinating again, Chandragupta Maurya's conquests were never so exciting again, Asoka's realisation was never so baffling again, Birbal's and Tenali Rama's wits were never forgotten, Ras Behari Bose's tryst with the British was mind blowing, Mangal Pandey could never be more fun even when replicated on the big screen, the Bhagavad Gita was rereadable a million times from that little book, Ramayana and Mahabharata taught us new meanings with those wonderful pictures, and so Amar Chitra Katha has easily forayed the Indian culture and its deep frontiers to the common man with ease. I always used to envy the intelligence of Jupiter Jones (he is the smart guy in Alfred Hitchcock's The Three Investigators) in solving a case with perfect reasoning.

The library taught me the importance of reading books. It is a lifeline which is as essential as your day to day activities. The amount of knowledge one gets from books is unparallel to any other source. Life is never more enjoyable with a baale-ele (plantain leaf) meal, and a book by your side, with your mother yelling at you to keep the book aside while eating. You should experience this to visualize it and life without this is never complete!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

What freedom of Speech?

It is funny to see the Congress party harping on the Aamir Khan issue, saying that freedom of speech and expression has been violated. On the same vein, the Punjab Congress government has not authorised the theatre owners to play The DaVinci Code. Why does Congress always gets involved in double standards? We live in a democratic society and the same yardstick should be used to determine issues that fall on the same side of the argument. But, sadly political parties flounder badly on these issues and end up issuing statements that are hardly in sync with the previously issued ones.

Take for instance the Karan Thapar interview of Arjun Singh on the quota issue. One cannot expect worse answers from a person who is supposed to be holding an important post in the cabinet. Any question posed was met with a response: I am just following the instructions of the Parliament. I cannot comment on this now. The Parliament has taken the decision and I, as a member am just following it. Truly unbearable! I guess, the reason for his being mum on the issue is because maybe he does not believe in the freedom of speech!

Why talk about Aamir, DaVinci Code controversy and other things, when we have people who proclaim to dispense freedom of speech, but then end up with total disorientation and disarray leaving us wonder whether they are really for freedom of speech or freedom of mum!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Aamir Khan't talk

It is surprising to see the recent spate of events surrounding Aamir Khan in connection with a series of political events. We all know him to be a popular actor, but he should understand that politics is altogether a different ball game, and it is no way close to reel life stunts. He came out in support of Medha Patkar led Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), opposing the construction of the dam which could provide respite to the millions of people in Gujarat. The whole issue is not about who is right or wrong, but if both the BJP and the Congress are up in arms against the actor, it really means that Aamir has ventured into this without even knowing about its pros and cons. The people of Gujarat are totally enraged by what is happening as increasing the height of the dam is expected to solve the water crisis currently engulfing this part of the country. If this is not enough, he has added fuel to the fire by getting caught in the Vadodara incident controversy by slamming the Modi Government. This hasn't gone down well with the people too. What is the result? Rang De Basanti was removed from the theaters and multiplexes, and it looks like Fanaa has met with destruction even before the start.
Maybe Aamir Khan expected to play the real life hero with not-so cleverly planned publicity stunts. The net result is that he is caught in a deep quagmire and I am not sure whether he has any chance of coming out of it clean. I think this is a lesson Aamir might learn the hard way, that filmdom and politics are totally different entities, and just by playing a rebel in the totally flawed movie of his, RDB, he cannot carry out the same intentions in real life.
The onslaught is still on...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Neat adaptation - Da Vinci Code unravels!

The outcome of the movie version of the hugely successful book The Da Vinci Code was eagerly awaited. It is not an easy task to generate frames in perfect adaptation to what was conceived in the book. It requires a lot of planning and skill to etch such a movie. Ron Howard must be feeling happy at the end of the day, as he has done full justice to the movie. The critics might argue that it maybe a good adaptation, but not a perfect adaptation. True, but they should know that the movie lasts only for two and a half hours, and it is no easy task to churn out close to a 1000 pages into a movie in the given time frame.

The story of the book is no secret as it has made big news in almost all the newspapers around the world a couple of years back. Dan Brown brought out a highly controversial topic, and the pros and cons of the theme are discussed even today with the same fervour. Everybody knows the book is unputdownable, and so the movie had to live upto the expectations of the millions of readers. Silas, Saunniere, Langdon, Neveu and Teabing are picturised in exactly the same way as what one would have of them in mind after reading the book. There are particular scenes in the movie where one would expect the finer details to be addressed, but fails to do so. In the beginning scene, when Langdon is brought to the Louvre to "help" the French police solve the murder mystery of the curator, one would have expected something about The Vitruvian Man. But sadly, there is not even a mention of it. There are many such places which are toned down, but obviously there is no choice but to exclude them in a two hour venture.

Tom Hanks, as Robert Langdon, is perfect. He fits the role to a nicety. Audrey Tautou, as Sophie Neveu has done a good job. But the biggest credit must go to Paul Bettany for his role as Silas. His varied emotions throughout the movie are well captured. Overall a nice movie, and while watching, one is not taken to wilderness with respect to the book as it absolutely follows the plot of Dan Brown. It is better to read the book and then watch the movie. It would also save the audience the trouble of I couldn't understand half the things in this movie.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Savitri...Part II

Continued from Part I...

Savitri had the penchant for handling difficult situations with ease, and she was a thorough diplomat. If there was a guest whom she did not like, whe would very cleverly abstain from any talks and move away from the scene without creating a fuss. Her religious bent of mind, coupled with her wordly experience she had over the past many decades, enabled her to wiggle out of any situation. She had the poise and composure to face tasks that seemed difficult for others. Iyer, in all these years, did not venture to find out the complications that could arise in the domestic front. Obviously, there was no need either, since Savitri was taking care of these things to perfection.

When things are going well, nobody seems to observe it. A slight deviation from normal conditions results in large variations in lifestyle. If life takes its normal course, one feels it is monotonous. But, once it begins to alter, the changes are easily noticeable. This is what happened to Iyer, when one fine day, Savitri fell ill. Though Iyer was concerned, Savitri dismissed it in a huff saying that it is nothing more than mild fever. Mild fever it was, but it can't persist for days together. That was not the case with Savitri. The fever stretched on to a week now and it showed no signs of subsiding. The relentless Savitri continued with her work, though with laboured effort. She did not want to show her tiredness to Iyer. As such Iyer was not in his elements from the day Savitri caught her illness. He reduced his morning walks, spoke a lot less with his friends, didn't spend much time in the idly shop, and tried to assist Savitri with all that he could. His concern towards her was always confined, and even Savitri knew that though he was bearing a tough exterior, he was an highly emotional person. He got the best doctors in town to check her illness. Sometimes, science plays havoc when different people try to analyse the same thing. There was no clear cut reasoning to Savitri's illness. Some called it as mild fever and cough, some of them said that it was the sign of old age, some went to the extent of calling it typhoid, and so it went on, with each of them giving his own view on the illness that could not be terminated. Being a religious soul, Vishnu Sahasranamam and Kanda Shashti Kavacham still played from the old tape recorder in the evenings. Savitri believed that God could be the only saviour to help her come out of her bad patch. But, her condition deteriorated day by day, and at a particular point, she was not able to move her feet. Iyer employed a nurse from the local hospital, and she catered to her basic needs. Now that Savitri was not in a position to cook, a mami was found to fetch food daily to the house. Though the food was nowhere close to the daily meal that Iyer was used to, he did not make a fuss about it. His mind was already rattled thinking about the unthinkable.

Iyer then asked his son to bring his grandchildren home for a few days hoping that it would make a difference in their lives. His son had two sons, and the old couple loved their grandchildren more than anything else in the world. The relationship between grandchildren and grandparents is a very peculiar one, it surpasses all boundaries in terms of the love each of them yearn for, and the affection towards each other extends beyond all limits. Both of them do not expect anything from each other, other than the mutual love and affection. There is always a speciality about this relationship which can be understood only by the two sides, and everyone would have experienced this wonderful phase of life. Savitri, seeing her grandchildren, found a new lease of life, which she had not experienced before. She sensed a new found vigour and sprang forth as if she was a little kid. There was a glow in her face, which was lacking all these days. Everyone immediately sensed the cause of her illness. She was suffering from the pangs of separation from her son's family. It took a couple of days for Savitri to get back to her normal self. It was indeed a big relief for everyone to see her come back to her old self. Her son also understood that there was no point in staying miles away if his parents are not happy. He took a decision of coming back to his home town as soon as possible. Even the doctors were surprised at the transition, and called it a miracle to see her walking back to glory.

Savitri lived to see her great grandchildren playing in the same cradle which she had laid out for her son.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Mandal II

The medical students have really taken the attack to the government. The quota issue has launched a scathing tirade from the student community, particularly from the medical fraternity. They have organized widespread protests in India, expressing their displeasure against the proposed quota system. This begs us to raise this question - What are people from the other sectors doing? Where are the Engineers, arts, science, commerce and economics graduates, literateurs, botanists, researchers, mathematicians, statisticians, socialists, historicans, physicists, chemists and others doing? Why don't we see much from the other sector of the educationists apart from the medicos? It doesn't make much sense for only one group to be fighting it out while the others are relaxing and waiting for things to happen. Things can never happen, and the "waiting" will definitely be extended to eternity.

I think Arjun Singh has made a mess of a move by bringing out the reservation policy. He has brought considerable damage to the Congress party. I am not sure how our honourable Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh is watching all these atrocities happening in front of his eyes. There are times, when the leader of the country has to take tough decisions, and Dr. Manmohan Singh is doing no good by just allowing things to take its course. Being a hardline reformer he should have nipped the issue at the bud. Arjun Singh talks as though he is the champion of the backward masses and their cause. What he doesn't realise is that this issue is going to pulverize the Congress party helter skelter. I still remember when the BJP was interfering with the IITs and IIMs, people did not take it lightly. Now, Arjun Singh has kindled the entirel education sector and the Congress can definitely not harbour hopes of coming back to power with plans of introducing such an outrageous policy. Everybody knows it is a political gimmick, but the Congress will realise that during the next elections. The whole country is feeling let down with the way the government has handled this issue. It remains to be seen what happens from now on. The country is witnessing a spate of protests from different parts and it is only going to intensify as time goes on. No sane person is going to swallow this easily, and there is no doubt that in the next few days, we will witness more of such protests. This certainly is one of the darkest periods of Indian history, with MANDAL II in the offing.

MF Hussain and his madness

There is no doubt that art deserves all recognition in the society. Everyone should have the right to express his feelings because we live in a democratic society. The society is so multivariegated that each person has the ability to communicate in a way that he deems it to be fit. But where do we draw the line? Should we allow sacrilege in the name of art? Why is MF Hussain making a mockery of Hinduism? He has time and again offended the sentiments of Hindus worldwide, with his nude depiction of Hindu goddesses. It has happened in the past and it has happened again. How can the country not be outraged if one has to see such forms of so called "Art". Does he think that people are foolish to accept his explanations? We all saw what happened when the Danish Cartoonist tampered with the Prophet's images, portraying him in not the right mould. Obviously, the Islamic sentiments were disturbed seeing such images. If the same analogy is applied here, how can the Hindu mass keep quiet seeing such atrocious forms of art finding its way from MF Hussain. He makes a mockery out of Hinduism and he also has the audacity to justify such images. Nudity is a form of innocence and maturity, all such statements are good for lesser mortals within the confines of their bedroom. It doesn't make sense to equate Godly figures with nudity and coming out with such outrageous comments.

MF Hussain should not be let go easily for deriding the religion to maximum limits. He should be taken to the courts and made to realise that one cannot abuse any religion in the name of art.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Savitri...Part I

The early morning light fought its way to the ground through the thick branches hanging out from the old banyan tree in front of the house. The sunlight wrapped itself around the branches, and the whole place bore a celestial appearance. Savitri walked upto the portico, opened the gate of the building, and watered the area with nonchalant ease. She had become accustomed to her daily chores, what with having performing the household duties with a dignified poise for the last thiry years. The pookara (flower seller) was punctual in his timings and at five in the morning, was ready to meet Savitri, his first customer of the day, with all the flowers collected from the nearby park. Savitri always made it a point to meet the pookara before he was swamped by the other ladies. That enabled her to get the flowers she wanted for the early morning prayers. She would then go inside to take care of the early morning chores. Senthil, the newspaper boy used to make his presence felt at almost the same time with a copy of Deccan Herald hurled perfectly that would get stuck between the window sills with a neat rustle, a perfect setting for Iyer to make his entry to the verandah. He would fold his dhoti to a nicety, spread the newspaper in front of him, read every minute detail from top to bottom inside out with a cup of fresh coffee brought by Savitri. Half an hour of the day's knowledge gained, and he would be ready to take to the streets in the name of early morning walk. That would mean a walk upto the Malleswaram Railway Station, and then once into the station, walk up and down the long platform as many times as the conversation with his fellow mates go on. Talks ranging from the current political crisis to the performance of the current Indian cricket team would fill the early morning talks. Then, a walk to the adjoining Raghavendra Idly store followed, with each of them occupying their usual positions on the wooden bench placed in front of the store. A bout of steaming idlies and chutney with everyday gossip was the norm of the day. If this was not enough, Iyer would be back at 8 in the morning to catch a glimpse of the morning news. It was also a different issue that they had all the time in the world, what with their only son happily married and living in a different city. He visited them once or twice a month with his wife and children to spend some time with his parents. It is never easy to leave your memories of childhood, the power of childhood keeps you pulling back, which is always a good thing. It helps you shy away from any wrong doings.

Savitri, in the meanwhile, finishes her morning prayers to the Lord. The old tape recorder chants out all the verses in a style that can be comprehended only by an ardent listener, but that does not perturb Savitri. By the time Iyer comes back home, she gets ready with her preparation for the morning brunch. It was pretty common for them to have their food in the morning for a meal which neither qualifies to be breakfast or lunch. Iyer is very meticulous in his food habits, so Savitri is very punctual when it comes to serving food for him. The vegetables are procured on a day to day basis from Ramu, who passes by the house with fresh vegetables laden on a mini-cart. Ramu has been supplying vegetables to every house on the street for the last 20 years and nobody bothers to buy anything from the market located on the 8th cross road. He was almost a part of family and would go out of the way to find out about the happenings in every house. It should hardly take more than half an hour to cross the street after selling his vegetables, but that was never the case with Ramu, who would end up parrying around for more than a couple of hours. He would have the details of every house in the street by the time he goes out to the next street. Ramu had always maintained very good relationship with the Iyer household. It was Iyer who translated his income into savings some years back in a cooperative bank. He had explained to him the importance of future and security, when Ramu had no idea of both the present as well as income. He lived out life one day at a time. Mornings would be spend selling the vegetables, and evenings in the arrack shop close to his house. All that changed after meeting Iyer. Now, he spends his evenings by driving a taxi, carrying tourists around the city. The initial investment was laid out by Iyer with the help of his friends from close business circles.

This was a routine which the Iyer family never deviated from. They had always got their priorities right and had planned out their life in such a way that it didn't bring hindrance to anybody, and also made sure that they were not at the receiving end of anybody else's. They also had the reputation of being a very likeable couple. Savitri, inspite of her busy household chores, always made it a point to devout time on temples and slokas. She would sit with her Thiruppavai, go through the various sthothrams, and keep herself awake in the afternoon, not watching the house-breaking serials, but spend time reading vedantic books. That in no way meant, that she was not interested in the latest happenings in the country. She would not miss a single one day match or a test match of cricket. She would engross herself completely, finishing her day's work quickly. Also, cricket match meant that Iyer would receive a good evening snack apart from Tea and boondi. They would be watching the match over a plate of bonda or bhajji. She would discuss the intricacies of the game and would give periodic opinions on the progress of the game.

But then, things had to change!!!!


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Or'cut' precious time!

About a year back, I got an invite for Orkut from a lot of friends, but I repeatedly ignored it. I was working then, and my company did not have internet access. So, these things hardly had any impact on me. About a couple of months back, I got the invite again, and this time, I had no hesitation in joining the social network where people spend hours of their invaluable time probing for contacts, and writing scrapbook entries that is absolutely meaningless and worthless. By the way, scrapbook entries are nothing but writing comments for your friends which can be anything trivial like Hi, how are you or Coming home for lunch. People get hyperactive when the number of comments in the scrapbook entry approaches a "milestone", which can be considered to be worthless again. How does it make a difference when people write 100 entries to you or 110 entries, I don't understand? There are people who also compete to write a milestone entry and feel really happy about it. Scrapbook entries float like this Whoa! Congrats on your 1000th entry! I need a party! I am the lucky one to do it!! What sort of an achievement is this now? There are hundreds of things one has to break his head for, but when you see a person entering a state of unexpressible bliss, I am left wondering with a few questions Am I getting this wrong or is it really of noteworthy achievement? Many of them know the in and out of this community network application, with all the little tricks hidden in them. If you have to ask your friend whether he is coming for tea, why should the whole world know about it? Everyone has a minimum of two to three chat applications to communicate with his friend, but when it comes to writing a message, it has to be only on orkut, and why is that? Obviously, you have to reach the milestone right! It is not a joke to be getting 1000 scrapbook entries. You really have to work for it.

Orkut is good as long as you want to find your friends who have been hiding from you. But, to use it as a communication tool is a big joke. There are hundreds of email providers and chat applications to take care of that. Atleast, it is not worth sending a message to your roommate - I am feeling very bored today! and it does not make all the more sense, when he is sitting in the adjacent terminal.

Ok, I need to go post a scrapbook entry for my friend. Who knows, he might be reaching a milestone and there might be a party!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Boje, Gibbs and their fibs!

Cricket is a religion in India, but there is no denying that it lacks universal appeal. Remember the South Africa tour of India in the year 2000, where the then most popular and dynamic South African skipper Hansie Cronje couldn't defend the match-fixing charges hurled at him. That opened a can of worms what with a lot of players getting caught in the match-fixing fraca. Herschelle Gibbs and Nicky Boje formed a part of the match fixing committee supporting Cronje in his madness. It was proved beyond doubt that they had a big role in influencing the result of the game, not by the way they played but by the way they weren't going to play. They were literally nailed by the Delhi police and Cronje was stripped off his captaincy as well as dropped out of the team squad. That really dented the image of cricket.

Now what is happening? Boje and Gibbs never tour India since the Delhi police have not dropped any charges against them. Why in the world would they do that? Why can't these guys tell the police what exactly happened? Just because they serve a ban for one year doesn't mean that these guys can be let scot-free. It was totally disgusting to see the way the International Cricket Council (ICC), the so called cricketing body, handled the whole issue. Would a one year ban serve the purpose? What they commited was playing with the sentiments of millions of fans who watch the game. Everytime the South African team tours India, these guys make an issue as if there is something wrong with the Indian police without realising the grave atrocities commited by them. According to me, they should have been banned for life and given no role in any form of cricketing activity. They should not even be allowed to play on the streets. Even the Australian cricket board generously allowed people like Mark Waugh and Shane Warne to play after they were caught red-handed. It was funny to see Waugh come out with a statement I just gave details regarding the pitch conditions and weather reports and this could have no bearing in the final result of the game. Don't worry Mark, We "believe" you! The Australian Board has handled the whole issue in a very unprofessional way.

It looks like only the Asian boards adhered to the strict policy of granting life bans to Azhar, Salim Malik and Jadeja, and though they weren't in the same position as their counterparts from the other countries. The ICC has to realise that they cannot get along with players who have no sense of pride for their country, who have no shame to be a part of a filthy scam that can rock the game, who are in no way doing a service to the game by bringing the game to total disrespute, and finally who can do anything for money inspite of striking rich deals through the game and endorsements.

These things show that ICC have no control of the game and they do not have the mite to take bold decisions that can absolve the game of all the filth borne out of these miscreants.