Tuesday, December 29, 2009
It seems that guy sitting next to me do nothing except work. Never saw him go for lunch or tea. Does he use the loo? The question I hate to ask him ‘How did your weekend go dude?’. Obviously he would have spent the quality time in his cubicle.
So here I am sitting desperately crawling to see light at the end of tunnel. I pick up my mobile and SMS my distress friend, Zara.
Yes, she is there and I pour out my frustration. No, she is not any Ms. Agony Aunt. But she is good at dwelling on the brighter side of life. How stupid and inconsiderate of me to tell her about the travails of a professional life when she has got no job of her own.
As usual she expertly steered the topic to things we would have loved to do- writing, reading, more movies…
Out of the blue came the question ‘So, what is your new year resolutions?’.
Wow!! What about that? I have never done a resolution except during the school years. And I made sure that resolutions were forgotten after a couple of months.
But this time around I desperately need to make some resolutions if it gives me some directions. I want these resolutions to make 2010 livable and lovable.
The big question in front of me is- should I be part of the crowd or should I stick out? I look around me to find softies doing their certifications, attending trainings, burning their midnight oil in front of their computer. May be I should develop a fear for pink slip. I come late to the office, browse through all the unblocked sport sites, blog, leave early, spend hours for lunch, nap after lunch, phone friends, give a shit about the technical junk and worst of all stare shamelessly at the married and committed women. But I am pretty happy here.
So here goes the resolutions I am going to make
a. From the beginning I had this feeling that I have been misplaced here. Find out the things you are passionate about and chase your passions no matter what the cost.
It’s not that easy to do considering that you are not sure about your passions. So I am rephrasing my statement.
Find out your true passion
b. I don’t know exactly what made me take up blogging. It must be a potent mixture of boredom, faint hope that I will be able to write well. Besides it is very easy to start a blog in blogger.
Another one of my resolution is to graduate from blogger to writer. Do not blog for comments. Do not blog for followers. Maintain the quality each time, every time.
c. May be it’s the absence of camera in our home that made me crazy about photographs. I used to stare at the photos appearing in magazines. Photos have the ability to tell a story by themselves. So as soon as I could afford it I went ahead and brought a camera.
Now there is lot of hard work to be done. I want to be good with the angles and lights. I will have to be fast with my camera (moments never wait). I will have to travel places and get the best snaps. By the end of 2010 I will be looking forward to owning an SLR.
d. One of the best gifts my folks gave (indirectly) was the habit of reading. My dad is averse to cable channels and movies. So the only time-pass I could choose was reading. To tell the truth my dad has a poor taste for books. So I had to sneak most of my books in. As soon as I finished my school I literally fought with my folks to get a membership in the public library. I was looking forward to the Famous Five, Secret Seven kind of stuff. Seeing the red and green bound books stacked on the shelf neatly piled opened a new world to me. I shifted from detective novels to good works in literature, history. Recently, because of a sweet friend of mine, I started out into the golden age of Malayalam literature. During my college years I paid a visit to a friend of mine. He is a softie too with a 6 figure salary and his main hobby is to collect books and DVDs (only originals- no pirated no Indian editions). Seeing his huge collection of books I promised myself that I will buy myself a collection.
The first thing I learnt when I began the book collection was that never judge a book by its cover. After some initial blunders my book collection is progressing with low cost good ones. The biggest blunder was getting ‘The argumentative Indian’. I realize I haven’t grown up to Amartya Sen yet.
So the next resolution is to keep up the collection and keep reading good books consistently.
e. After a brief encounter with religious authorities Bheemapally is back with their pirated movies. The sad part is there are no pornos anymore.
Watch some good movies, classics and some bad ones too.
f. Learn the guitar and strum out the John Denver songs. The main purpose is to woo good looking girls.
g. Date some hot girl.
h. Build a hot and attractive physique (Farhan Akhthar is my role model).
i. Last but not the least- Find another job
So these are the New Year resolutions I came up with. The list can be subjected to further scrutiny and modifications
God help me to see the list come true.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Who am I? What am I? Are we spiritual beings which comes into the world with human body attached to it?
We are so acquainted with our bodies right from our birth. We identify ourselves with our physical body. People are ready to spend anything on their body to preserve it and keep it safe.
What if I wake up one day with a part of me missing? Or what if some part of me refuses to obey my commands? I can't imagine myself there.
I still don't know the reason why I connected with him so fast. May be it's the similarity in our names. I will call him by J. J was studying in the tenth standard when Cancer struck him. J's parents were doctors and they resigned their jobs and shifted to the capital for his treatment. I had never seen him and only knew him through his grandfather. A young kid developing blood cancer was bit tough for me to contemplate.
Taking a break from his studies J started his treatment. He seemed to be on the road to recovery when his doctors found out that the cancer started raising its tentacles yet again. The bad part was that his arm was in danger of amputation. A costly operation was done to save his arm. But fate was unkind yet again. They had to amputate his arm.
We had heard of and seen videos of brave people fighting back to life after really bad accidents. But when some kid we knew lost his arm, it sent out a shock wave in the community. The toughest challenge such a person would face is the community itself.
- 'Good-hearted' people smothering them with sympathy. Sympathy is one of the useless emotions in English dictionary.
- Judges who try to figure out why this malady happened. Irrespective of their facial expression or voice tone they will obviously be deriving secret pleasure from taunting others.
- People staring at them as if they haven't seen such a specimen.
I saw him for the first time after the amputation. I had the picture of a scrawny kid. But he was well built (almost as tall as me). The hair was trimmed short. He looked healthy except for his arm. His physical appearance unsettled me since I was not prepared for that.
With some difficulty his folks got him admitted into a private school in the city. The authorities were hesitant at first. No one is sure if it was his fellow school mates who taunted him or if he couldn't adjust with the environment. In a class of 60 if you are the only one without an arm there will be some problem for obvious reasons. His conditions deteriorated. What started as a mental agony spread to his body. The supposedly dead cancer cells reappeared in his lungs.
One night I got a message that J passed away after a long struggle with cancer.
Monday, December 14, 2009
I was standing at the theatre complex proud at having made a choice of coming here (elated by the feeling that I am going to resurrect the Indian film industry from its shackles). There was this 'Rocket Singh' being shown in a different theatre in the same complex. Girls in skin tight outfits and ram-rod-straight hair were queuing up for their tickets. Needless to say, I was tempted to move on to the next queue. What if I got to sit near a beau? What if we start dating? But still with great resoluteness I didn't move from my queue. It's a great surprise to me that a production house with one flop after another manages to get the dates of the big stars, the prime spot in media and not the least the audience in the opening show.
The entire Indian film industry has fallen trap to laws of market. You produce only what the consumer needs. But sadly the need of the consumer is also decided by the producer. Maximum profits, that is the ultimate goal.
In the movie hall I searched for a seat far away from the college crowd. Thankfully I got one. Starting from the way credits appeared on the screen the movie promised to be different. There was an assortment of scenes showing a woman giving birth, a woman getting raped, a man being drowned. The opening simply captivated the entire hall. In fact the viewer picturise the big story in his mind within these few seconds. The method in which the entire exercise was depicted and the camera angles conveyed a big message in a short time. You will never feel such raw human passions with the minimum exposure. So my first set of applause to the cinematographer Manoj Pillai. In fact he is the star of the film.
Before going further let me give you the story in a capsule. It's about Haridas (Mammootty) who comes in to investigate the murder that happened in his village some 50 years ago. The murdered lady is Manickyam living in the village of Paleri- hence the name.
Mammootty appears in multiple roles and for the first time the main Mammootty appears as a 52 year old man with a broken family. (The real age almost)
The protagonist moves into investigate a crime that happened in the village the day he was born. He has got an assistant (cum girlfriend) with him. She too is a lady with broken marriage.
Although Haridas says he is drawn to the case by the nightmares haunting him, the viewer suspects that there is more to it than the bad dreams. So here Renjith pulls out the rabbit from his hat. If you are planning to watch a crime thriller you watch every other day, better change the plans. There is more to it than the crime. There are a lot of undercurrents in the movie. You will see the social, political, emotional and sexual scenarios of the 50's. The crime is interwoven with the dogmas of the society that day.
My second set of applause to director and playwright Renjith. He has been proving himself again and again in the last few movies he has done. After a long time I felt that a director is the hero of his movie. Renjith has written his name along with the best in the field. The movie is totally unconventional with many ideas out of the box. The screenplay moves in a leisurely pace. There are no many gaps in the script. Unlike the rest, female part of the cast has got plum roles and the sexuality is beautifully and sensuously shown.
In fact never before had I experienced living through the period while watching a period movie. I felt the experience here (equal credits to cinematographer). The colour tone set for the 50's gave it the smell of olden times. So when the scenes moved from the 50's to the 2000's we felt the shift – from a village caught up in the dogmas to a fast developing mini town.
Kerala was moving in from the 'village ruled by landlord' system to the democratic governance when a woman was brutally raped and murdered. Mammootty dons the role of evil landlord. Hey, I had thought that like all the super hero movies he will turn good in the end. But it doesn't happen. My third set of applause for Mammootty who shows the courage to play an evil man (evil landlord Haaji) and does it superbly too.
We see the birth pangs of democracy here. The common man desperately needs a change but the inertia of tradition still holds it back.
There is the hope for a new tomorrow for a young barber. He dreams of a future where the proletariat will hold the keys of to its own future under the shadow of first communist government under EMS. But his dream gets shattered on seeing the alleged nexus between the party leaders and the evil landlord, Haaji.
Here is a social set up in which the landlords are gods for the tenants. The reason why I used 'God' is because the landlord decides the entire course of the tenant's life right from the birth The profession he should choose, the wages he has to work with, the woman he should marry are all decided by his god, the landlord. In fact he will have to present his own wife if the landlord fantasizes her. Seeing the movie I felt a relief that we are living in a different era. But still couldn't help noticing the similarity with our times when people with money has the power to decide the lives of people with little money.
Male domination over the fairer sex is shown realistically. My fourth set of applause for Swetha. I had the view that she is just a sex doll. But the way she did the character of old village prostitute proves way beyond doubt her acting prowess.
Women are supposed to stay in the framework set to them by the society and if she strays out, she is labeled as an outcaste. Haaji uses Chiru for his pleasure and is thrown away later. She becomes the village prostitute with an idiot son. Later she has to marry off his son to another girl whom Haaji develops a fantasy on, knowing fully well that she will have to present her daughter-in-law to Haaji. Justice and equal rights are terms excluded from the dictionaries of these people.
The deterioration of socialist ideologies is the favorite subject of many directors nowadays. The teaming up with land owning class for the capital is shown in such a way that viewer has to take the stand rather than the director doing it for him. Like every other organization party needs capital to grow and the way it gets to the capital is a relevant issue even to this day.
'I am neither a communist nor a believer, just a barber', some dialogue that rings in our ears.
So much for the positives. Now what I didn't like about the movie.
The climax was something that entirely took away the beauty of the film. What was the need for Mammootty to be cast in a third role if the director was not confident of putting the same actor in two roles in a single frame. It could have been subtly done. The otherwise good technical film fails towards the climax part.
Mammootty who drew applause for the evil Haaji failed as the main character, Haridas. Mammootty could not sink into the role of Haridas. The man famous for voice modulation looked as if reading in Haridas' dialogues.
Malayalam has to look out for newer dubbing artistes. For every heroine who can't speak Malayalam, dubbing is done by a particular artiste in every movie (I don't know the name). The sad part is the dub is too good for the heroine who can barely act and the voice looks fake. This happened with the crime analyst. I think it would have been great if the dubbing artiste reduced the intensity keeping in mind the less talented actor.
The film was a great experiment. To say the story about an investigation of a crime that happened 50 years ago is a tough task. There were no characters from the period left alive to tell the story. No sudden twists in between. The 90% of story is narrated by Mammootty or Siddique. This can lead to boredom. But when thinking about it again, there is no other way for telling such a story.
May be someone else would find a better way to tell the story, but Renjith would forever be the brave one who tried this out. Way to go!!!
Monday, December 7, 2009
Life can throw surprises at you along the way as you make your journey- some nasty and some pleasant ones. These surprises are what make this otherwise dreary journey somewhat interesting. The last week this life threw a surprise at me- big time. Let me convert that into a blog while the freshness still remains.
11th and 12th were the worst years of my life till date- I will dub them as 'The shit years'. I have no much clue about what went on. Those were the years of my transition from a teen to early years of adulthood. So I had to grapple with my psychological changes as well as studies. The life was uneventful but for the early rise @ 5am, journey to tuition classes, from there on to school, back to tuition and home.
The school was too big for me. The tuition classes were too crowded for me. The only good thing was I met people from different schools. St. Thomas was one of the famous schools in the city. The girls were beautiful and hot in red skirts, the guys handsome in their grey trousers.
Bunny was stout. His friend, Nebu, was taller but as stout as him. They studied together, went to same tuitions. I was surprised to learn that they were my neighbors. So many a times we travelled together in the same bus back home. The only difference between Nebu and Bunny was that Bunny had lesser grey matter and so ended up in my college.
Well this is going to be an interesting story. It was the initial days of Orkut. Orkut became a rage in college. We rushed madly to get maximum number of fans, scraps, and friends. Orkut Buyokokten was an admired personality in our circles.
In one community there was a small game being played. It was like completing a story from where the previous person left off. It was a religious community and so others were acting pretty decent. I and this girl were coming up with horrific ideas (like bishops and priests as Mafiosi going to Italy to assassinate someone). Later everyone else dropped out of the game and we became friends.
I still remember the display picture she had put on- her Labrador. We used to exchange thick scraps. She was a jolly good girl and since she was doing her literature, had a good language.
I was quite surprised to see him again at college. He was in different branch though. Anyone's first impression of the guy was a show-off with a beard, slight stoop and a cigarette. At that time there started a prayer meeting, run by a few NRI girls. Bunny was experimenting on religious beliefs and since the girls were good looking, he went for the meetings. He was the favorite of the prayer organizers. If he was to come for a prayer meeting 3-4 girls would come too.
That was a time when cell phones came cheap and connections started coming cheaper. Everyone started getting a cell phone of their own. Zara got one cell phone from her brother. (I got mine after I joined my first company). She send me her number through mail (as Orkut started losing its privacy).
So one fine afternoon I called her. It's the first (and till date the only) time I heard her voice. I don't know what got in to me. I started stammering and sweating. I messed up the whole conversation. Zara thought what a nerd I were and threw me out of her life. Meaning she deleted me from her orkut account. (Later it turned out that many girls deleted me from their life and so I got used to it)
I didn't complain but felt pity on myself.
There were a handful of guys in college who did politics to make their ends meet. I am not blaming them because they had no one to guide them. So the wise stayed away from their surroundings.
There were two rival gangs and had regular fights with each other. Soon after the fight and head-smashing and bone-breaking there was ritual of filing a case in the police station. Every one with a small scratch would file a case against anyone whom they had slightest suspicion of enmity.
The first mistake Bunny made was hanging out with these useless guys. Hanging out literally means sharing a cigarette or a bike or small stuff like that. But enough for the other gang to look on with suspicion.
The second mistake was to hang around when a fight was going on. The opposite gang members filed a case against him for no apparent reason. But case charged was in the name of attempted murder.
Now the sad part is the useless guys had the right people in the right places. They negotiated their way out of trouble. But Bunny was left behind.
His dream of flying to US right after the studies never materialized because of the lone case. He had to wait a long time to resolve the case. Meanwhile he turned into a heavy smoker.
Some six months after graduation I joined my company. My folks brought me a mobile, my first one. I was elated. It had been a dream for some years. I remembered someone who had been a friend long ago. It was a mobile that broke our friendship. I had written the number down somewhere. With some difficulty I found out the number and send a message. There was no reply.
I felt a bit sad. But what if she had changed the number. I searched for the old mail in my inbox and send out a mail apologizing for my odd behavior.
Months passed and I forgot about it.
I was adjusting myself into new phase of life with new friends, new office, new principles and values. One fine evening I got a SMS.
'Checking if this is Jon's number.' I was quite surprised and send a replied back asking who it was. That was not a local number and soon got a reply back.
That was how Zara entered back into my life.
Bunny too joined my company. He was not very lucky to get into a not so good project. The night shifts coupled with smoking led to high blood pressure. He took up to jogging and passed through my street often. So we renewed our friendship. He was trying to kick out smoking too. After a long time the case was mutually resolved.
I guess he never thought he would work in the crap company. No one knows where our fate leads us to.
It was reunion for me and Zara. She was gracious enough to admit that she had goofed up a bit too.
This time around we switched our chat to SMSes. We had a lot of catching up to do. She had lost her mother long time back and a few years back lost her dad too.
She moved into with her brother in Bangalore and is happily engaged to someone. I was happy for her.
She was into movies and since it was a matter of mutual interest most of our chats were on what we saw this week. And sometimes it turns to the books read and even philosophies of life.
Once during such a chat I asked her plans for the weekend when she said her cousins are coming over. It went on and on about shopping, costs and so on when she said that Bunny and his mom are coming over next week. I was a bit surprised 'So you people are close to Bunny and his family?'
'I thought you knew we were engaged to each other.'
Engaged!!! The guy I met so often near my home or office is engaged to a girl with whom I chat often through SMS. I was stunned. It all happened a few years back and their family is happy with it seems.
This is what I call a pleasant surprise. Two persons from two phases of my life are getting married to each other.
Zara and Bunny may you two happily live ever after.
Zara challenged me when I told her that I am going to blog about them that there is no big story to write about. Well, there is a story in everyone's life. A story worth telling.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I FL IS OFF AT LL , THIS STUI OMANY AN TH THINGS THY O.
OUL YOU MAK ANYTHING OUT OF THIS.
I mean could you guys make anything out of the first sentence?
I feel pissed off at DELL, this company and the things they do. The difference between the two sentences is that first one was typed using my keyboard and from here on using the On-screen keyboard.
The earlier keyboard had a trouble with its 'J's and '0's. I ask for replacement. A guy from DELL came soon after with something that looked like brand new.
After a couple of hours its 'E', 'D', 'P'…. started going down and to make the matters worse all these characters are there in my password. So if I lock my system and go out, will have to borrow someone else's key board type the password and then use On-screen for further typing.
I couldn't believe DELL, an international brand would come with such a shitty crap. Then someone said that my company replaced my keyboard with a faulty one from our own store.
Anyways On-screen keyboard is painfully slow and frustrating. I am posting this frustration straight away.
Moral of the Story:
- E is the most important English alphabet in the world. You simply cannot live without an E.
- Everything is not smooth in the corporate world. Sometimes processes gets worse than the license raj days
Monday, November 30, 2009
There are times when you happen to hear beautiful, tragic stories and you simply fail to notice. We are just a part of creation. We are unable to contemplate by ourselves the supreme idea behind the whole exercise of creation.
One evening I was sitting in my favorite hangout, a juice shop near my home. It may not be the expensive place ideal for couples to hang out but the guy there is so dedicated with his work that the quality standards are really high. So I go there most of the days after office. Another aim of me going there is to read the evening newspapers to get an idea of what happened in my city when I was busy at office.
That is when this story caught my eye.
Sabarimala is a pilgrimage centre down here in Kerala. There is a season when the temple will be open and there is a throng of devotees from Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra and Tamil Nadu. Traffic will be heavy in these routes during these days. Special buses ferry passengers to and fro during this season. There are many historical and unhistorical temples lining this route. Devotees stop and seek the blessings on the way to Sabarimala.
It's on this route that the incident had happened. Kerala has got many people friendly and eco friendly laws that are never meant to be kept. Some of them are 'Do not smoke in public', 'Do not drink in public' and 'Do not spit in public'. Elephants are integral part of temples in Kerala. There are many households, temples and societies who keep elephants. It's a matter of prestige and sign of wealth for them. Owning an elephant is tough in terms of costs and most importantly it's tough to get a good mahout (known as pappaan in Malayalam). Since elephant is blessed with the intelligence of a human but cannot speak out, pappaan must be highly qualified, experienced and be close to the animal to understand its emotions. He must read when elephant is getting sick of the noisy processions and when he is not feeling well. A misinterpretation can cost many a lives.
Elephants and pappaans have been in the news in recent times for the wrong reasons. 'Elephant kills Pappaan'. 'Pappaan hurts the elephant'. Everything is because of the lack of mutual understanding between man and animal.
This is a story with a difference. After a temple procession pappaan stood smoking his beedi. (For those who don't know, beedi smoking is the ritual for unskilled labourers.) The elephant was standing nearby silently munching the food he was given as part of the festivities.
Policemen are the ones around who has the privilege to enjoy most number of bad days at the office. An interfering boss or a politician can piss him off. He may get punished for the wrongs some others did and others may get rewarded for some good deed he did.
Unfortunately there were a couple of pissed-off policemen in the vicinity. The cops called him over. A shiver passed through his spine. He put out his beedi as he went over to them.
'Don't you know that it is illegal to smoke in public?' He stood there silently. The policemen gave him the necessary medical treatment (typical police treatment- bending the patient down and planting heavy blows on the back). As if this wasn't enough our pappaan was taken to the police station and an unheard of case filed in his name.
But our policemen failed to saw the other guy standing and watching the whole episode- the elephant. He didn't like the incident a bit. Elephant raised a frightful cry as his pappaan was beaten and dragged by the policemen. May be he understood that something was wrong in the entire episode. Onlookers were frightened and ran for safety. If an elephant gets mad virtually nothing can possibly stop him from destruction and death. But the elephant wasn't mad. He went and stood in middle of the road. The entire traffic to Sabarimala got disrupted. Different mahouts came and tried to coax him with delicacies to move out from middle of the road. He didn't bother. Then efforts to frighten him by beating of drums and fire was tried. Still nothing big deal changed.
News spread like a wildfire that an elephant is fighting silently for the justice of his master. The superintendent of police came. He took stock of the situation. Of course, if it was a human who was in question diplomacy mixed with strong words could have solved the issue. But here SP can only be a spectator like others. He ordered the release of Pappaan and reinvestigation of the entire episode.
Anyways elephant ended his agitation on seeing his master.
I was thoroughly enjoying the story along with my juice when my eyes caught a guy whom I have seen at the gym. We exchanged smiles and got into the introduction part. We warmed up pretty soon to each other. I realized that he is pretty older than what I thought him to be. He was married with a kid (or two).
While we were exchanging details about our professions, personal lives, etc. he told me his story. The interval between his first and second child was pretty close. His wife was working in an IT firm. When she applied for the second maternity leave soon after the first, her employers were pissed off. They decided to squeeze the maximum out of her. So while pregnant, she was made to work long hours and always blamed for poor performance. Thanks to the extreme pressure she lost her baby. The company saved the cost of her going on leave.
An animal standing up for justice when other men failed to.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
That week was a tough time at the office for me. It sucks when you do a slogging work knowing really well that you will never really get appreciated. The only good thing was I learned some Photoshop. I love the tool. Really high end stuff for a fresher.
In between two weeks of utter distress came a weekend I will cherish for many reasons.
Some nine guys who studied together for some 4 years came together at that city and spent some 2 days together, completely forgetting the heck of a life they are in. One of them was me.
As years go by reunions are getting more and more precious and a lot more nostalgic. When the time comes to say 'good byes' and 'see yous' we never know when the second part is going to happen. There is a silent cry in our hearts.
None of us are fully settled into our lives. The world seems to be more miserable than what we thought it would be. Everything is for sale- relationships, jobs, abilities. It's a bad, mad, sad world.
One among us got married. Very few of us are hitched. Many were ditched. In the end we turned out to be the same ol' gang enjoying the same old jokes.
It is difficult to plan for reunions. It is nearly impossible to get some 60 people together at the same place and at the same time. When you study together for 3 years it is not necessary that you develop the same mindset as the others. There are impenetrable gang of friends, politics, dislikes, dissensions and enmities. When you graduate you carry the same feelings buried within you. It takes someone with great patience and persistence to push people to come together.
Ours was not a reunion just a get together of friends who met during their journey of life at a college. They played, ate and joked together for three years and went apart to earn their livelihood. They learnt that memories are too precious to let it go wasted and so met again at the place that made them what they are.
The hero of the meeting was Vattu. It was because of him that entire exercise was happening. Vattu and his aunts has happily hosted us many a times before at his place, Palakkad. Palakkad is the most beautiful place down here in Kerala. You won't believe when I say there are innumerable trekking spots, waterfalls and not the least really beautiful girls. Unlike the metro-city bred ones these girls do not need heavy makeup or tight shirts or any props to make them look beautiful.
When I say his aunts played happy hosts, it is not that easy. Especially when you have a bunch of guys who get hungry all the time. The tough part is two of them are veggies. Unlike the other veggies they make no consolation in terms of food. For these two veggies a separate menu card has to be prepared.
For a change we decided to invite him over this time. We never expected he will go ahead and book the tickets straight away. When an e-mail came that he is going to be here on 6th of November (Friday), we were caught out of blue. Vattu had moved to Chennai and was doing something related with IT. He befriended a cash rich NRI who was too eager to dispense with the extra cash she had. We guys used to boil with jealousy on his exploits. But sadly losers are always losers when it comes to girls. He found a greener pasture, dumped the NRI and went after her. As he started weaving his future plans with her, he learnt that her favorite dish was raw meat (literally). He claims he escaped with his life and balls intact (no guarantees on the second part).
Antony readily agreed to play the host for Vattu. That means his place is going to be the control centre for the entire operation. Antony stayed with his dad and he was on the lookout for someone to taste the dishes he expertly cooked. Vattu was expected to arrive with an empty stomach.
Kuruvi was the first one among us to escape from the clutches of IT. The famous folklore is that his former employers were more than happy to see him go and held a farewell party for the first time in the history of I-Flex. Needless to say the loss of Indian IT industry turned out to be gain of BEML. Out there he is expertly using up all the leaves he gets as a government employee. And when he is not drinking he is in Trivandrum.
Kuruvi has got a car here and more than willing to go for long drives. He didn't think twice when we told him that we are planning to meet. So the transportation plan was solved to some extent.
Another famous character in our gang is Kalam. Please don't think that he is a geek or studious. He is a genius but only uses his brain for purposes others would not dream of. The last thing Kalam wants to have is a job. So in order to occupy his time he enrolled for a computer course and went on and on until the computer centre informed him that there is nothing left to teach him. With a heavy heart he boarded the train to Bangalore for his next course. Today he has no idea of which course he is doing. There is a good chance that he might be doing his masters even though he is not aware of that.
In Bangalore his exploits became so famous that his room-mate started a blog http:///memisan.blogspot.com/ exclusively dedicated to him. His recent exploit happened a few weeks back. We had the great privilege to hear it directly from him. He was on a train to visit some cousin of his. Mistakes happen to genius but they turnaround them to a real genius idea. He learnt from a fellow passenger that the train doesn't stop at the place where his cousin stays but the next station, which is just a few kilometers away. Kalam didn't stop to think. He took out his baggage and jumped out of the moving train. If you are thinking how brilliant the idea was, wait till you hear the rest of the story. Kalam was suffering from pain all over. He went out and took an X-ray of his body. We ordinary mortals would have gone to a doctor. But he hated doctors with big syringes and knives. Kalam went out and Googled for the X-ray of a normal man. He compared his X-ray and Google X-ray and self diagnosed that he was quite okay and there was no need for a surgery or plaster. He just has a side effect that he can't raise his arm much. But geniuses have to make sacrifices for the human race.
Ashad switched jobs, switched locations and at last settled here in Trivandrum as ATM installing head. Something that hasn't changed about him is eating habits. If the costumes are changed he can easily be mistaken for a lady.
VR is another one who resigned from the great Infy only to return and make lives miserable for Trivandrum by digging the roads in the name of pipeline. The only difference that has come over him is the scraggily beard.
Jino was known as the 'Sir' during our college days because of the neatly ironed shirts he wore. We guys never wore a shirt expect for our campus interviews and never wore ironed ones and never ever tucked in. He rarely wore a T-shirt and always tucked in.
Challenges seemed never ending. And that what made this outing beautiful.
A bachelor's party was planned on the Friday night. Lots of food, booze, movies, reminiscences and little sleep was on the menu. But heavens opened up the Friday night. Rest of the guys made it to the party but I couldn't.
The next day morning rain continued as a drizzle. We were supposed to start @ 10 in the morning. Braving the weather, a broken specs , two erratic guys and one still suffering from yesterday's hangover we started 3 hours after the schedule.
The next big challenge was the lunch. Jino systematic as always had been ready from morning, had his breakfast and lunch. After some arguments decision was made to stop at Attingal. We walked around the place looking out for a restaurant. Found one at 3 and ordered a heavy lunch. Wonder what the waiter would have thought about a bunch of guys walking in when they were about to clean up for the afternoon.
Anu had been waiting for us the whole day. He too was part of our class and his house was on the way to beach. He was doing his MBA and thankfully came down with a chickenpox two weeks before the trip. So he was there at his home and had recovered when we informed him about the plans. He was waiting with juice and cake from the morning . He kept the cake on table and to our surprise saw it emptied within seconds. Ashad who was suffering from yesterday's hang over made a remarkable recovery and finished the entire cake.
After picking all the shorts we could find from Anu's home we set out for the beach.
At last, the very last we reached the destination of our dreams. Varkala beach is really beautiful, white sand, surrounded by cliffs. It is not crowded and unlike Kovalam young tourists come there and locals don't bother much. We ran to the beach with the football. Before getting down we stripped ourselves to T-shirt and shorts. The smelly clothings were deposited in Kuruvi's car
It had started to drizzle. But that wouldn't stop us from running wild into the sands. The game started by showing off the skills. I haven't played football for years. Thanks to the 9-hr office jobs guys had developed pot bellies. As soon as the game started our yester year star striker Ashad went down and lay in the sand throughout the game. Game went on. Kuruvi had slimmed down and was playing beautifully. VR was our college football team member and not even the paunch could stop him from doing some stunning moves. Vattu was deadly. He is lean, fast and athletic. Kalam was playing with his PUMA shoes on while rest of us played barefooted. Since someone stole his branded shoes from his Bangalore apartment he even went to bed in the new ones.
The game went on in full swing when two foreigners came to watch us. They had the looks of good footballers and we invited them in. Xavi and Pettit were from Barcelona. They were athletically built and had no ounce of fat in their body. We were quite ashamed of ourselves when they covered the entire field and didn't seem in getting tired at all. Something that touched us were these guys introduced themselves as from Barcelona rather than Spain. They might have got quite surprised that we played football in somewhat Spanish way. Thankfully we put the Spaniards in different teams or else there would have been a complete rout,
When we got tired, we called for interval. The Spaniards seemed surprised. We talked with them and came to know their Catalan spirit when they spat on the ball with Madrid inscribed on it.
After the interval teams was reduced to 3 per side. Rest were too tired to get up. We played for good one and a half hour when the guards came and stopped us. There was a plan to hit the toddy shops but Kalam had to get back to home and he can be a nasty driver when he is in a hurry.
We got back to Kuruvi's car to change back. I was the first one to put my head in and boy it stank. Kuruvi was pissed off but what could he do except to open the windows and put on the fans. We dragged in the entire sand from the beach on to his car. He would have a handful of car washing to do the next day.
We reached home in the evening damn tired after some physical exertion after years. There were vague plans to have lunch together the next day. I had to go to office the next day.
But reaching the office I realized nothing worthwhile is going to happen there and so I silently walked out. Antony and Vattu was at Kalam's. Since Kalam forced us we had a (light) lunch from his home. And no one was hungry enough to go out for lunch again. Our topic was how much Kalam had changed since college. Kalam had been addicted to anime, manga etc. etc. By sheer stroke of coincidence he got over all that, wrote all his back papers. He is still allergic to jobs. But he is sure looking out for one.
There was a great story from college. Kalam was a lean guy with a slight stoop and due to lack of sleep during the night he slept throughout the classes. Unlike us all the teachers were thankful to him because he troubled none. Our college is the battleground of two gangs in the name of politics. The main leaders of these fights are in our class. Regularly some one's head gets broken. Someone gets beaten outside the college and there are revenge battles. So there is an air of uncertainty always. Teachers have no clue about how to control the situations.
Once all the teachers complained about our class. The Head Of Department summoned our parents. HOD knew he was in a precarious situation. If he stir things up situation could get worse. To 'everyone's surprise HOD caught Kalam pushed him to front and announced 'This is the ring leader behind all the gang fights'. Even the real culprits were surprised. They were ready with propaganda if they were blamed. Teacher's got busy trying to protect and the attention diverted from the real problem. What an idea Sirji.
Time came for Vattu's train. Antony had an idea about the dessert. We went to the nearby shop and brought three ice cream family packs. The shop keeper said 'I think two would be enough for you guys'. We said 'No uncle, you don't know our appetites. We don't think even this is going to be enough'. Wish we had listened to the wise. In the end two of us had to finish it off. Needless to say for two days my digestive systems worked overtime.
When Vattu set off from Antony's home the skies had begun to darken. Surprisingly Sunday morning was blessed with clear skies. As we saw him off at the train, I doubt if we felt a tug. We said we would meet like this soon again. But god knows when that is going to be.
As soon as Vattu's train started rain started. Another excuse for the rest of us to have a tea together, Life is beautiful.
I dedicate this to all my friends who made my years in SCT wonderful. Its that special feeling that me do this blog
Afterword: Special thanks to Sarah and _Anish A who did the review for me and encouraged me to go ahead. I was plagued with doubt on doing this and felt it might turn out to be a crap.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Many a times we are not bothered about how much others will have to put up with you to keep you happy.
There are people who cannot stop themselves from talking. They go on and on about something which is of least interest to the listener.
A week back one of the unforgettable character from my history books walked back into my life. He studied with me in my school. Surprisingly years hadn't changed him a bit. He is a pretty nice guy and means no harm. But he has got no clue when he has to stop the chatter. He goes on and on about his college, work, students, old mates and things he has repeated million times before.
And he never speaks standing in front of you. He stands at the side and begins his non-stop express into one of the listener's ear. Due to his peculiar sound the listener literally developes a head ache which he will have to counter by turning around voluntarily so that the other ear will take the strain as well.
He is a pretty harmless, straight-forward guy. So on sighting him there develops a feel good phenomenon which later turns into 'Shit!! This guy hasn't changed a bit.'
It feels good to sit in the judge's seat and do the judgment. But there is someone special who has to endure some 30 minutes of my chatter almost every day. I don't know if she will read this post ever. If she does I would say I am not sorry and am going to bother you until you throw me out or go and sit with someone else. Something I would definitely say is
THANK YOU for bearing with my boring chatter.
But before that the old guard has to find its way out. More importantly a new bunch of producers who love cinema has to come in instead of those who see film field as the place to wash their black money white.
Most of the reviews had claimed ‘Pazhassi Raja’ as a path breaker in Malayalam cinema. So on a drizzling Saturday morning I stood on the queue for the ticket. This movie was about to change the face of Malayalam cinema in the same way ‘Chemeen’ did years back.
Pazhassi Raja was released with much fanfare and controversies. It was claimed that the movie brought bad luck to the producer in terms of money and lives lost. Many crew members lost their lives during the period and so did his son. Later he demanded higher rates for tickets because of the huge production costs. The movie boasted expert technicians including Resul Pookutty (his first Malayalam movie).
I was late by 10 minutes. From the first moment I realized that movie was far away from what I expected. This is a strictly personal review.
In my view the negatives outweigh the positives. So positives first. The music was exceptionally good.
I feel proud that great Illava Raja was accepted with both the hands by Malayalam audience when Tamil seems to have forgotten him.
Another positive from the other side of border is Sharath Kumar (Kunkan, Pazhassi’s commander). The movie is tailor made for him even though the credits must have gone for the king rather than the commander. Blame the script.
Yet another positive from the Tamil side is Padmapriya who looked vicious. She slimmed down to perfect figure for a fighter. She showed her versatility to do roles other than the stereotype housewife. She looks fast and fearless while doing her part of the action. The reason I appreciate her is there was this Hindi movie ‘Gunaah’ with the gym fanatic Bips playing a police officer. There was a scene where she runs on a roof and it seemed that she is finding it tough to keep balance on the roof because of the heavily bouncing boobs. Women are cast in action sequences in Indian movies merely for the sake of sensuality . Padmapriya did a path breaking performance and it was genuine.
Cinematography was good in parts especially the shots in forest. The reflections on water, rays of sun falling through the trees are fantastic shots.
Coming to the negatives.
Producer is not just a financier. There was a loss of purpose throughout the movie. Pazhassi was a strategist and not an action hero. He devised the guerilla warfare against the British. But the movie was given (or attempt was made to give) a ‘Brave heart’ touch and it failed at that point. Mammooty was made a spectator while Sharath shone.
Stunts were okay but for the flying part. It is pretty indigestible to see fat guys doing a vertical take-off. Besides the flying motions were made too slow and thus looked funny.
In other words it should have been a script based movie. But MT’s script was sidelined. MT is a proven veteran and he delivers consistently. Even though Malayalam fell short in terms of finance compared to its South Indian counterparts, it could proudly say that it comes second to none when it comes to quality. Even now I believe script need not be sacrificed for the sake of big budget flicks.
The main players seem too old for the movie. When I saw Hariharan’s ‘Mayookham’ I thought he was about to retire from the industry. No matter how veteran you are the treatment has to match with the times. Hariharan failed to convert an ‘epic in paper’ to ‘epic in reality’.
Mamootty carved a niche for himself in the industry with his character, talent and hard work. He is incomparable in terms of his achievements. While watching the movie I wondered if anyone ever told him he is too old for the role. If not, I would say humbly ‘Move on’. It seemed that he is too tired to do this. The ineffective punch dialogues too didn’t help the cause. Throughout the movie Mammootty walks around in silk dresses holding the sword in a peculiar fashion.
The worst part was the climax fight. In all the period films there would be a war where the hero will die. The spirit of the whole movie lies there. In this case, I haven’t seen a more funny fight. It resembled mock wars we did as kids in school ground. Handful of people on both the fighting sides. A few guys standing around as audience to watch the fight. Interestingly British wanted him alive and sent people to take on Pazhassi in sword fight. But Pazhassi finished them one by one just by the swing of his sword. At last British got bored and shot him. There was a fiery speech in English by Mamootty before the fight. It’s supposed to boil your blood but you will surely fall out of your seat laughing.
An essential ingredient in war based films is action and thrills. It is mostly stimulated by the camera. The post production masala gives the finishing touches. But in our movie cinematography was so sore in shooting the war sequences. Camera work was ordinary, inexperienced and amateur. The jungle fights was so boring to extent that many a times it seemed that the entire jungle warfare was made to exhibit the tree climbing skills of Manoj K Jayan.
Dialogues and mannerisms looked as if the cast came out of a stage drama. I don’t understand why there is a tendency to paint the characters in period films as idealistic rather than realistic.
Social, religious and political scenarios were totally ignored in the film. I doubt if audience is able to connect with the environment. The entire films revolves around Pazhassi and his compatriots
And the unforgivable sin is introduction of an unwanted character- wife of the Asst. Collector. I doubt if she is there in the real life story. She appears as half lunatic. When she leaves him with the dialogue ‘I pray convey my best wishes to Pazhassi’, it seemed that director was too eager to get rid of her. Why was the need to fall into this familiar cliché, when you have no much substance for the character.
The Englishmen in the movie resembled a jobless lot from UK with their funny beards, sideburns. They could have done well as a bunch of clowns.
Other than Padmapriya the entire feminine characters are sidelined. The only women actors in the movie is Kaniha and Padmapriya, two aunts appear now and then (one of them with heavy lip gloss and lip liner), a few women fighters. Out of these Kaniha’s job is to cry and exhibit the beautiful figure.
Overall if I am asked to name the movie in a phrase it would be –‘Opportunity Lost’
Friday, November 6, 2009
This weekend I found out that I was running low on my movie stock. So I went to the usual piracy centre.
After picking out the usual quota of classics, I moved to the Tamil section and found a DVD with cover picture of a hot lady finding it difficult to hide her assets (read cleavage). As usual good senses failed to prevail. I picked out the DVD.
When rest of the world went to bed I remained awake to satisfy my carnal pleasures.
The movie satisfied my desires and gave me a few good lessons on sexuality.
I couldn’t make out what was written in DVD cover, so could make out the title only when I started viewing the movie. It was the much controversial ‘Velu Prabhakarin Kadhal Kathai’ (which literally means Velu Prabhakar’s love story. Velu P is the name of the director). This movie got into the news for Censor Board’s reluctance to let it go through. The news had floated around that it had complete exhibition of nudism. Velu had to edit the movie to get the nod. Hmmm! How sad.
But guys before entering into the details let me tell you it’s a movie with some content and controversies are no public gimmicks.
The movie opens with a dedication to motherhood. A baby is shown being formed from the embryo and its delivery. Right from the scene where a baby is breast fed so openly, you will realize it’s a no holds barred movie.
First things first. Technically this is a real crap. Amateur acting, cinematography resembling a soft porn and poor dialogue presentation are the trademarks.
If you ask me to tell the reason for the singular reason for failure, I would say director didn’t have much clue on why he made the movie. Initially you think it’s his way to educate the common masses on sex. Then it seems the director wants to portray his difficulty in making this movie. Then it is about evils of caste, inability to accept lust and love. Then in the end you feel it’s a semi autobiography.
He could have made a sensous classic like Kamasutra or a ‘Rathinirvedam’(Malayalam). At times he goes on rambling about his difficulties in making the film, the next moment about casteism, the next moment about lust inspired love.
Through out the movie director appears on the screen delivering his sermons. Films are meant to give a message whether good or bad through characterization. Director couldn’t help but show his utter lack of creativity.
The film opens with a crowd chasing a young guy and beating the hell out of him for peeping in when a woman is changing her dress. Director makes his grand entry and lectures the crowd of this neo morality.
Relevant parts of the sermon:
‘You accuse him of perversions. But in act he is one among us. We all have our own perversions. But this guy gave into a moment of weakness.
Why does people like him have to succumb to these circumstances. Because he has a sexual need suppressed in him. We do not find women doing these sort of things because right from their childhood they see the body of men in various forms of undress.
Allow boys to grow up in a similar way so they find that women’s body is also natural’
You may find this a bit amusing, but I found it true to an extent. If you put in front of me the same woman in two forms- one perfectly naked and other barely covered up I will pick the second one. It is because we go after something that is prohibhited to us. In the same way Eve went out for the fruit prohibited to her.
There is another good one when he is accused in the court by the opposite lawyer for making a film depicting Indian women as sexual objects while culturally they are considered as goddesses. To this Velu remarks ‘Please don’t say that we consider women as goddesses. Even before ascending to the post of President of India the woman has to touch her husband’s feet. We can at least consider women as humans’
Coming back to the movie, people standing on higher moral grounds can call it a soft porn. I am a bit immoral. So I am not going to judge. But there are many instances when director fell below the standards. As mentioned director was not sure about what to do.
He tried to touch upon everything and in the end ended up doing a bit too amateur work.
There are three heroines in the movie based on whom the entire plot turns. The story happens in a small village torn apart by caste differences.
As you suspected hero hails from the upper strata and the lady no.1 from the lower one. They fall in love with each other. The guy acts without much pretensions and hence does a decent job. The girl is also good enough in the acting department.
The only good portion in the film is the relation between the two. She tries to hide his love for him which burst out at last, resulting in a hot dance number. In fact it is one of the rarest occasions where the heroine appears totally nude in a song. The song is sensuous. The censor board tried to label the movie as ‘XX’, but since the director raised the trump card about sexual freedom the board settled for an ‘A’.
The boy and girl decide that it is not possible to get married in these difficult situations and decides to take the easy way out- suicide (after some intimate sex). The director appears again under mysterious circumstances and lectures to them on love and courage. The couple agrees to fight it out.
Sadly the narrow minded villians who finds about the relation beheads the girl. The guy out of blind rage beats his father to death. Typical to modern Tamil Cinema this scene is shown in all gory violence. May be, director wanted to say that when love is denied to someone he turns a maniac.
As for the second heroine there is no connection with the caste. She is just a hot hot village maiden who goes to work in a teacher’s house. The teacher is single and ready to get hitched. The poor guy couldn’t keep his eyes off the ample bossoms when the pallu drops off, and so couldn’t I.
Mind you the lady is a real good character who was cheated by the man she loved. She was labeled as a prostitute by the village. But she worked hard to feed her girl through honest means.
A peculiar mixture of love and lust is shown. The guy is concerned about her well being too. She asks her to marry him and the guy is shown as pretty serious about it.
I haven’t seen many Indian directors portray lust as a positive quality. So may be this feature of director trying to draw the similarity between the two and his philosophy of lust coming out of love and vice versa is pretty interesting.
But sadly the guy expresses his inability to marry her after having plenty of sex sessions preceded by a rape. The woman spits on him which he accepts meekly. Regarding the rape scene, I haven’t seen such a kind in a long time. It used to be the regular feature in Malayalam films of 80’s.
If the director had treated the story with little more creativity and sensibility the treatment would have been different and hence a new dimension could have been shown.
The director completely loses the plot when he comes to the third lady. She is a beautiful one married to a poor lower caste. She wants a good life and develops an illegal relation with a high caste elder who is the father of the boy mentioned above. He enjoys his sessions with her in spite of his tough stands on caste in public. And as usual the husband finds out about this at last.
The only positive out of this is the hypocrisy shown by the society elders when it comes to their sexual pleasure and the ample bosoms of the luxury searching heroine.
There are innumerable movies which can be dubbed as opportunities lost. The film maker gives into the commercial success sacrificing the art and message.
There was a school of thought in psychology that said sex is the emotion that motivated men to live.
The film caters to the average tamil staple of violence and cleavages.
So to sum up I would say it is a bit above a porn movie. In the end it would give you some sexual fulfillment and some message to carry to bed.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
For those who came in late: some 763 days back a group of people settled forcibly in Harrison rubber estates. The settlers consisted of people from deprived and landless sections in Kerala. It was not a sudden decision but one taken after repeated talks with government had failed.
I think may be government had better things to do. Issues are meant only for the election period. As soon as the election is over issues are placed in refrigerator only to be revisited during the next election cycle.
If I were the government I would have ignored these useless people. If you allocate lands for these people, the urban middle class will only consider it as a charity. This sympathy won’t translate to votes. Besides the government will not get any revenue out of it. So allocating thousands of acres will only get an annoyed response from the well to do.
But if this was for an IT park, the government will attain the eternal glory for job creation and development.
The communist party was confused that if they were to support the class struggle or caste struggle. Clashes broke out between the rubber plantation workers and illegal settlers. The opposition seeing it as an opportunity stuck their noses in. As you know oppositions look for clashes and where there is peace there is no opposition.
Prominent people like Medha Patekar and Arundhathi Roy came to lend their moral support.
The settlement developed into a mini town with schools, health care facilities etc.
The issue went on unnoticed between the elections until the news came in headlines that it was settled once and for all. The photos showed smiling faces of CM, revenue minister and Leader of opposition. Everyone heaved a sigh of relief..
Some of the terms are like this scheduled tribes gets one acre, scheduled castes 50 cents and others get 25. Scheduled tribes get a house worth 1 lakh, scheduled castes gets 75000 and others get a house worth 50000.
Then comes the interesting part, the leader of the stir Laha Gopalan had demanded I acre of land for scheduled tribes too. But the CM said there is no enough land in the state for that.
Leader of opposition said ‘We too had demanded only resettlement based on availability of land’.
All the news papers summed up the story by remarks of Laha. ‘ We are withdrawing from the stir because we do not have the power to resist the forces opposing us. People without authority or power has to be contended with the leftovers from the table of their masters. We will move out of the land as soon as we get the leftovers promised to us. ’
The remark is a sword meant for questioning the pseudo morality and equality of the society. Laha was an ordinary agitator when he was unanimously elected from the group of agitators to lead them. He lacked the political acumen or cunningness to lead it.
The father of our nation was a sinless soul but he had the political ruthlessness to negotiate with the enemies, to slash down people who went against his ideology (remember Subash Chandra Bose). Its not simply about morality or purity but it’s about shrewdness. However good you are, sometimes you have to rise up to put down your enemies.
In the case of Chengara agitation, opposition came from the workers of the estate. No one bothers to ask if there were any playmakers behind it. The illegal settlers were banned from doing any transaction outside the settlement. Death threat came for Laha. New factions from the agitators rose up against Laha. The situation came to such a state that the fight between the factions reached on the verge of bloodshed. Then government came up with a settlement they were forced to accept.
Beats any film script.
I read somewhere – Government is the biggest mafia.
And nowadays opposition is in the same boat with the government if it is for common good (read money).
Do you think that its only in our times that people are exploited based on caste and creed. No my dears, this has been happening from Mahabharata.
Pandavas are cheated into staying in a palace which are about too be burnt. A tribal woman comes with her five sons for alms. Kunthi becomes unusually friendly with them and invites them to sleep in. She secretly explains to Pandavas that when they make their escape the dead bodies of tribals will mislead Kauravas to think that it’s the bodies of Pandavas and their mother.
The Pandavas looks on with doubt about the dharma to which Kunthi replies ‘They are tribals. No need of any guilt feelings.’(It was believed they won’t inherit the heavens.)
Tribals are the real inheritors of earth who refused to get carried away by ‘development’
I was about to close this post when I happen to read an article in outlook.
Now its from the other end of India- Modi’s vibrant Gujarat.
Balmiki Children gathered in Sabarmathi ashram from different parts of Gujarat. Balmikis are traditional cleaners and sweepers. They lead a horrific existence collecting the leftovers and cleaning the shit of upper castes for little money.
These children spoke about their plight the schools they study in. They are made to sit on floor, away from other kids. If they touch anybody or anything it is cleaned with water. They are made to clean the toilets and classrooms for 10 rupees.
And the horror part is it’s the teachers and the principles who made them do this. If they refused to do so they get beaten.
When NGOs went to these schools to speak to these teachers, the reply they got was ‘If they don’t who else will clean it?’
When approached to state principal secretary of education for comments. ‘If this issue is brought to our notice, necessary actions will be taken’ Now what the hell does that ‘if’ mean?
And the politicians won’t raise a fuss about the issue fearing loss of upper caste votes.
Yeah, what a vibrancy!
Sunday, October 25, 2009
For an ordinary cricket lover like me who started watching cricket into second half of 90’s, the Indian cricket is divided into three eras. Pre-Ganguly, Ganguly era and post-Ganguly era. Yeah, I hated him during his fall from grace. But any cricket fan with a basic intelligence knows, Ganguly is the man behind what Indian team is today. Dhoni & co. merely built on what Ganguly did.
I fondly remember Indian team in the later half of 90’s. The greatest advantage India had was there were only 8 or 9 cricket playing nations in the world. So India always managed to stay in top 10.
Most beautiful memories when I sew cricket and childhood together are the few years spent in Gulf. There you get a wide mix of Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and what not? We had a healthy competition. The cricketing patriotism ran in our blood, although we tried our best to disguise it.
The best part was the Sharjah cup. There is no venue in the world where ordinary Indians and Pakistanis come together with much fervor. This was the only occasion we get to show our love for our motherland.
The Pakistani team was damn good back then. They had a never ending supply of deadly pacers. Their yorkers were the nastiest. Their swing was the best. The truth is even the hardcore Indian fundamentalist respected them.
The world cricket was at its best back then. There were top class cricket in every team who reached their peaks. I believe we have never seen such a period later. To be honest India was the a nation who played well nowhere else but in India.
I always wondered with billions of supporters ready to do any sort of Puja for them, how could Indians manage to fail each and every time. We knew this was the worst team, but we were still benevolent to their errors. We saw our weaknesses personalized in the team.
Fielding was the most attractive part. For us any catch worth talking about was the one Kapil took running backwards. No one bothered to dive. So you could see a bunch of men running after the ball each time India fielded.
It took two or three men to throw the ball in relay from the boundary to the stumps.
Catches were meant to be dropped. We dropped high balls, sitters, almost everything.
Team selection was the most hilarious exercise. Selectors gathered in the best hotels and went on and on discussing about our cricket and in the end mutually agreed to bring in their chamchas into the team. As a result many got a chance to add the tag name of international cricketer to their surnames. Few names we would love to forget- Noel Joseph, T Kumaran, Mohanty, the list goes on. If you don’t have the right contacts you may end up your life in Ranji teams.
And there were old horses who refused to go away. To tell the truth, we loved to see our old men battling out there. I still remember Azhar hobbling around, desperate to reach the other end. Still he was labeled the most athletic in the team. No doubt Azhar might still be on the lookout for a chance to make a comeback.
No coach feared about getting sacked. Because he was sure to get invited back after a season of sackings. There was no innovation in the strategy, no attempt to improve the game. The great Indian media aided the stagnation by dubbing the team as champs if any irrelevant match was won.
The run chase stopped after a couple of wickets fell. Further attempt was made only to reduce the margin of loss.
The Ranji winning team got the advantage when players were selected for national team. There was a tri series in Kenya long back when 6 out of 11 was from Karnataka. India beat South Africa in the first match and got avenged fiercely in the final. The star of the tournament was a Bharadwaj. It was such a shame to watch such a guy in the international arena. He resembled a geek who ended up in the cricket field accidentally. Batsmen were lured into ballooning his balls(not the biological ones). He managed to scramble 30 odd runs in a few matches. He won the man of the series in his first tournament. After which he performed so badly that selectors couldn’t get any reason to pick him up.
If there was any country who benefited from the betting scandal it was India. But South Africa never recovered. What the world cricket lost was the best captain of all times, Hanse Cronje. India got the best of its captains- Saurav.
The face of Indian cricket was about to change forever. In his first match at Kochi when India chased down a target of 300+ with newcomers, it announced the arrival of team India. Legacy no longer mattered, winning did.
Ganguly introduced a bunch of young cricketers who stayed on to become the pillars of the team in coming years. When they were out of form, Ganguly stuck by them. The recent failure of Indian team in Champions league was blamed on absence of Yuvaraj, Sehwag etc. This itself proved that crux of Indian team today is the young bunch Ganguly brought in.
Something that always sticks to my mind is the debut of Yuvaraj. India was chasing against Australia in Nairobi. As usual after the fall of Sachin couple of wickets more had fallen. If my memory is correct India was four wickets down before even reaching three digit mark. The first ball Yuvaraj faced was struck to four. India had been a team which tried it best to reduce the shame by salvaging maximum number of runs rather than chasing the target when three or four wickets fell. Every one loved this new India. For the first time Sachin didn’t feel that the Indian batting line up pivoted on him.
I believe Sachin would have risen to heights unimaginable now, if he had the luxury to play without any pressure.
As the team selection based on legacy changed to selection based on performance, Ganguly systematically weeded out the team. He made some unpleasant choices for the sake of team. Srinath’s comment about the dressing room proved the change in atmosphere. He said it was for the first time he is in a dressing room free of cultural or religious prejudices.
Ganguly’s performances suffered after his ascension to captaincy. We never got to see a fearless Ganguly leading the charge while batting. But as long as the team kept on winning he was forgiven. But when the team started to lose his batting started to fall under scrutiny. The leaked letter of Chapell to BCCI worsened the matters. He feared fast bowlers. He moved down and down the batting order. This will be taken as matured captaincy if team wins but when it fails it will be taken as cowardice. For the first time BCCI took heed to the words of the wise one- Chappell. Ganguly was axed out of captaincy and the Indian team.
Then began the reign of dummy captain Dravid. The real playmaker never played and he was the coach. To be fair to him Chappell introduced measures that were needed in the team.
India lacked a genuine all rounder. Batsmen were rotated in batting positions. Bowlers started batting up the order. Indian batting got deeper teeth. Players got out of their comfort zones to venture out into unexplored territories. One good thing that happened was Dravid retired from wicket keeping and handed over the gloves to specialist keeper Dhoni.
As long as the experiments worked Chappell was hailed and Ganguly forgotten. Soon bad patch started. An uninspiring captain failed to help the matters. Dravid batted very well. But during his time the morale of the team started falling down alarmingly and the body language showed it. The greatest casualty of Indian cricket was Irfan Pathan. He came with a bang in Australian tour. His pace and swing resembled the Pakistani trio at their helm. He was someone who batted decently. Chappell moved him to the number three slot. I can’t guess the reason but he started to play as if he forgot both his batting and bowling lessons. He was axed from the team and he makes comebacks regularly even today. Seeing him reminds everyone of a dark era.
As expected India exhibited the worst performance in the world cup. Dravid went out on his own. Chappell went away blaming the Indian system.
It heralded a new era under Dhoni. Surprisingly selectors were in no hurry to pick up a coach. Indians had bowling, batting and fielding coaches. But this era heralded the end of the trio. Ganguly made a comeback years later. Since Dravid made a fool of himself as a captain no one shed a tear for him. It seems Sachin is playing for records or the world cup. Recently his body has started showing fatigue and I am sure Indians would be glad to say a good bye. For him a world cup may remove the last blot out of his record books.
Dhoni never brought any amazing new talent. The simple fact that a captain from a small state has fired the imagination of Indian youth.
He has no technique and is not a beautiful batsman. Its an unwritten rule that batsmen with the wrong shots wont last long. But he has made no attempts to correct his helicopter shots. He may not be coming from a Metro. But he knows a simple fact- winning and he knows how to do it. He bats down the order and grinds out runs with his horrific shots. The viewer may get tensed that he may go out any moment. But he stays on in the field like an ox. Since the fellow batsmen have the confidence that there is trustworthy player down there, the batsmen like Viru or Yuvi unleashes their natural style.
This has affected the overall temperament of the team. Players have learnt to churn out victories from near impossible solutions.
So our busy cricketing analysts have found out that the team is in danger. True we are not winning like the old days. Cricketers older than the coach are making comebacks. This is not healthy. But every team goes through a rough patch. Remember the Australian team during and prior to the Ashes tour.
Form-out is a mental block and it takes a good captain to inspire them out. Something we have got to remember is Indian team goes on winning matches and tournaments even when they are not playing their best.
So I believe it’s a phase that will pass through. Thank God it didn’t happen during the world cup. But bad phases are the best time to re-examine your strategies, correct our mistakes and bring in new blood.
A few humble suggestions no one is going to listen:
1. Develop a pool of players. Give the domestic players to play international matches as B team or C team. Organize more B-team matches.
2. Rotate the players. There is no rule that senior players should play all the matches. Let them warm the benches once in a few tournaments. We must have a handful of people ready for the substitution, Develop a guideline that no player should play more than this number of matches. The guidelines should be based on his age, form and responsibilities.
Something I cannot stop wondering abut is footballers play two match a week of maximum one and a half hour durations. Why should a cricketer play a match 3-4 days long?
3. Special attention for fast bowlers. Better domestic pitches. Never insist that a test match should last 5 days. Well none comes to watch domestic test anyways.
4. The final one. T20 is an evolving game. Be open to changes in the format. The current one will not last long if it goes on like this. Better develop a special team for T20 matches. T20 is for young ones. Let it be that way
Monday, October 12, 2009
As usual government machineries went into damage control mode. Ministers were sent. Look out started for people on whom blame has to be put.
Kerala is a land blessed with lots of accidents. As usual the people look for government to do something about it.
Thanks to the limitless NRI money we have got lots of rich families who can afford two cars and a bike per four people. But mallus are really reluctant to give away their land for road developments. So if a road widening happens in their place, they get stay orders from court. And then they blame the officials and government for lack of negligence in road development. We have become too much of a socialists for our own good.
Boat accidents have become a routine every year. Each time it happens our media people rush to the scene and all the gory scenes are captured. All the sensitive and senseless questions are asked. In short they conquer the air space. We guys, who has got nothing to do with it sit in our living rooms, shedding our valuable tears. Government order funny things such as judiciary probes when every one knows what the reasons are. Then everybody forgets it till the next season comes around for another accident and the cycle continues.
May be for a change why don’t we think about those people in the boat as humans rather than victims.
A few would have been elderly people who spent their lifetime for their kids. After marrying them of time would have come for them to spend some of the money they earned on themselves. May be their kids would have seen them off in railway station or airport, thinking ’Wow, now we got them off from our hands for a few days at least. But who will look after the kids when we are at office and who will get the breakfast and dinner ready in time’
I travel rarely to northern part of India. Once during a travel to Pune, my train stopped at Kochi. A lady with heavy make up got in. She was decent looking. During train journeys my first prayer to God is to get a good looking co-passenger. I haven’t been lucky till date. I thought ‘May be this is going to be my day’. But she had come to see off her in-laws. One thing that surprises me about north is there are lots of customs that shows respect outwardly. We southies don’t have that. After customary farewell the old couple sat near me. I was surprised by this gentleman. He has come in to the train with neatest, well pressed shirt and highly polished shoes. After getting in he placed his shoes and socks in a box and wore his chappals. I don’t get why people wear executive style of dressing when you get into a train. You will any way have to change that when you get into toilets. I wear one of my worst T-shirt and jeans. And usually I change from jeans into more comfortable but less clean cotton pants (tor pajamas).
As soon as they settled down, after changing into chappals, we traded our ‘hi’s, names, travel purpose etc. That was a time when many cases of train robberies were reported. So we were a bit cautious at the beginning. Soon we warmed up after realizing our mates were no potential dacoits. I had trouble in making out his broken English. He tried his best to cooperate speaking slowly. I succeeded in sewing out their story from the bits I understood.
The couple was from Himachal. He was a retired government official. His son got into Navy. The son got married recently and is posted at Kochi. They were planning for a trip when his son met with some freak accident. So they had to advance the travel. As a result the entire train reservations fell into mess. Through out the journey they were worried about how they will manage to get connection train from Mumbai.
Soon the old lady took out from her box the sewing needle and woolen roll and started knitting a sweater. It was a beautiful scene which I had seen only in televisions. She was a picture of calm and poise, knitting silently. She only looked up when it was time to server meal or to watch a small kid nearby. I watched with amazement as designs formed.
So today you will see many old couples shuttling between their children’s homes. May be they are trying to make sure that their children are doing good.
In the face of death, what will be the scenes that pass in front of you. It could be the loved ones. But the most depressing ones would be the tasks you have failed to fulfill. Things you could have been or things you could have done.
It is not about spending money on something that gives you high for a moment. It is not about the parties you attend or the bars you go to or clothes you buy. It’s about the dreams you nurture, however silly it may sound, that makes you proud of yourself at the end of day.
Life is too fast. It may get over faster than you may figure. It is a good idea to maintain a bucket list. ‘Bucket list’ is the name of a movie starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. They are successful people almost entering the last period of their lives. They are respected by people around. But they have this big void in their lives. They put down a list of things they wish to fulfill before they say their last good-byes. But their wishes are wild and the family members oppose them. But Jack being the pusher pushes himself and Freeman to finish their dreams. But time never waits. They are not able to finish off all their wish list.
So tomorrow is not the time to chase our dreams,. Dreams are meant to be chased today.
I have heard someone say, ‘Life is like coins thrown into the bowl of a hungry beggar’. For him the coins are precious than gold. We have come into this bad, mad, sad world with a mission. It may be to give smiles into the faces of a few. When the curtain falls at the end of our scene, we must be happy to say ‘It is finished’
As a personal note, I am on the lookout for a mission and purpose of my life .