Sunday, August 30, 2009

Onam and some food for thought

Onam is a festival celebrated by all Malayalees no matter what his caste, creed or religion is or no matter which part of the globe he is from. Athapookalam is a kind of multi coloured design made on the ground with the flower petals.

It is a really funny sight to see men dressed in their gym outfits(Tight Tees and tracks) sit down on ground and pick the flower petals to do a Pookalam. It happens in our gym and I am quite sure it never happens in any other.

Kerala Police started this gym in the name ‘Kerala Sri’ to increase the interaction and cooperation between the common man and police. It is really cheap but has all the multi specialty equipments and so is worth it.
The man who really needs to be mentioned is our Nixon sir. He is a simple man coming from a simple background. He went on to win the Mr.Kerala in ’85 and is still passionate about body building and does heavy workouts even in the age of 40s.
I have heard people making fun of him behind his back for his simplicity (they will never do it in front of him). Today if you are not able to stand up and claim your achievements and some of other people’s you end up nowhere. Nixon never goes around boasting but he is one guy responsible for people’s participation and thus achieve the purpose of ‘Kerala Sri’. But we are reluctant to realize the achievements of a common man and so whatever he does is taken for granted.
Nixon organizes programmes on festive occasions like Onam, Christmas and anniversaries. This Onam was one with a difference.

We do need a lot of money for the celebration and Kerala Police is never able to contribute anything. So we members have to pool in the money. But Nixon makes sure that one member is only disturbed once awhile and members mostly never complains. This year I did my part in buying the flowers for the decoration.
On the morning of 20th August we gathered in our gym in the early hours and started picking the petals of flowers. We don’t have much budget so we ended up buying flowers of the basic colours. A guy from the forest department draws the design using chalk on the floor and we arrange the flowers over it. This time there were some flowers left over and we managed to make the extra petals into another design.
As a chief guest we had a Dr.Kusumam from Regional Cancer Institute. There are really few doctors who does what their duty demands them to nevertheless anything out of duty. Dr.Kusumam is one among those. In a country like India the healthcare facilities are really limited and Cancer is something that needs lots of attention and care and not the least- money. The sad part is majority of the people who falls prey to this disease has no means to get any of the three.

Children with cancer have got more chance to survive. But somebody has to boost their morale to stand up and fight the side effects of chemo, the hair fall, the weight loss. The parents of these children will be in a worse mental shape than them. Most of them would have taken leave from their job, and if it is daily wage labor they would have lost any means to support their family. The worst part is asking for help and donations from people around. You will need large amount daily and so you would have gone around searching and begging at any door you come across. The last thing a man would want to lose is his honour.

That is what she said while receiving the amount members had collected for the cause of the children suffering from cancer.
There is a famous song in Malayalam regarding Onam.
‘During the days of Mahabali all men were one.’
Does it mean that there was no rich and poor, fool an wise, healthy and sick. No that is not what the song means. All had the feeling of oneness. Those who had the resources shared with the people who needed that. It is not just the money. It can be your time, talents, love.
This Onam take some time to spend your time and love with some less privileged around you. Not necessarily someone poor. It can be some one among your circle who needs your love and care.

Happy Onam!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009


One more Independence day passes by. I hate this year’s independence day because it fell on a weekend. I lost a holiday (break from job), which is my birthright. As years passes
I-day becomes more and more irrelevant for us. Ever since getting into a US based company, I have started following the independence day of USA because it is also kind of another holiday I don’t know if I-day makes any difference to me be it in US or India.
After 62 years has the relevance of our I-day reduced to that of any other holiday.

Basheer came into contact with Gandhi when he was doing his high school. At that time Kerala had a very unusual law by which low caste were prevented from entering any temple. Against this inhumane act some prominent people started an agitation. Gandhi came down to Kerala in support of this agitation.
Basheer was not in to politics then. He went to the lake side out of curiosity. Thousands and thousands lined up on the shores to get a glimpse of this great man. When the boat carrying Gandhi came near the shore atmosphere was filled with ‘Bharath Matha ki jai’ and ‘Mahatma Gandhi ki jai’. Basheer in his boyish desperation wanted to touch Gandhi. As the car carrying Gandhi passed by he desperately jumped to the side he lost balance and so he caught on to Gandhi in order not to fall down. Gandhi smiled at him.

Gandhi called Indians to break the salt law peacefully. By salt Satyagraha Gandhi meant the beginning of end of all the injustice meted out at Indians.
Gandhi declared ‘Either I will achieve what I demanded or my dead body will float in the sea.’
This statement was enough to shock the ordinary Indians in to actions. Thousands of people from different parts of country including men, women and children marched in to the seashore on the auspicious day. Irrespective of the caste and creed people from all over the country participated in the Satyagraha. But similar to places all over India police was waiting with boots, lathis and bayonets. Peaceful protesters were mercilessly beaten. Small children lay on the beaches with heads broken by the horse hooves and ribs by the lathis.
This incident provoked the consciousness of the ordinary people.

Basheer was an ordinary boy. He came from an ordinary Muslim family and at that time Muslims had not been drawn much into the struggle. Basheer saw the charisma and passion around. He was pretty sure that his country was about to be set free and he wanted to play a role in that. But he was just a boy.
One afternoon as his mother was cooking his lunch, he asked her for a glass of water. After glancing at his mother, he left the house to sacrifice his life for the cause of freedom. He reached a town from where he wrote a letter to a friend who was a known freedom fighter..
He got a reply soon ‘I am in the jail now. You stay there and don’t do anything or go anywhere until I am released’.
Meanwhile Basheer’s parents had started searching for him.

Basheer didn’t want to wait for his friend. So in a hurry he went to the Congress office and asked for a membership. He was met with some apprehension because Muslims rarely joined the Congress.
He was standing in the office of congress secretary while the scrutiny was being made. He went out to take a piss when the secretary saw his diary. On seeing the scribbling in Arabic the doubts doubled. Basheer could probably turn out to be an informer.
‘Are you really a Muslim?’
‘Are you ready to come with us tomorrow for breaking the salt law?’
The next day morning Basheer along with others got ready to march at the sea. But he never got a chance to do so. The early morning he was surprised to see a bunch of police officers barge in to their room and arrest them.

On reaching the station, Basheer for the first time saw the bayonets and lathis lined up on the wall. He felt like his courage being drained away. One by one the arrested men were taken up into a room and beaten. Basheer stopped counting after it reached twenty. The next day he couldn’t get up or walk. A fellow fighter massaged him with oil.
He was sentenced to 3 years into prison. The prison was a small room with a small jug full of urine in one corner. As lunch they got worm infested broth. They had to remove the worms before eating it.

Gandhi Irvin pact was signed months later. All the political prisoners were released. Basheer didn’t know where to go or what to do. He had one purpose in life now. To kill the officer who beat him up brutally in the lock up. But he had no option of obtaining a weapon. He stole a pen knife from the motel he was staying.
That was when he met Achuthan. Achuthan was surprised Basheer hadn’t gone back home after being released. Achuthan talked with Basheer. Basheer revealed his secret desire for vengeance.
‘Then why do you claim to be a satyagrahi.’
Achuthan told him sufferings the freedom fighters had to go through. He narrated the story of how the Mahatma lost a tooth. Achuthan explained to Basheer that police was another helpless tool in the hands of this corrupt and oppressive regime. He persuaded Basheer to go home and paid him the bus fare.
But Basheer was still unwilling to do so. He was too ashamed to face his parents. One night he finally made his decision. He walked to his home in the midnight.
He saw light in his home
‘Who is that?’ his mother called out.
When she saw Basheer asked him as if nothing had happened ‘Have you eaten anything son?’
She set out the table for him.
‘Ma how did you know I will be coming today?’
‘No son I was waiting every night for you’. She waited every night for him, for months.

Our present life of abundance is embedded with past full of sacrifice and deprivation and loss by innumerable ordinary men and their families.

So when skinny NRI babes in USA celebrates our I day wearing bikinis spotting our tri colors, I believe that would be the best way to remember our freedom fighters who had to spent the lion’s share of their youth in lock up with no much food and clothes. Anyways these girls also have made us proud of our tri colors and identified themselves with the freedom struggle.

Bharath Matha ki Jai!!!!!

Basheer later became one of the greatest writers in Malayalam- Vaikkom Mohammad Basheer

This post is a rough translation of the short story of the great writer ‘Mother’

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

True love

I write this post with a heavy heart. I don’t know why I feel sad. I am like that sometimes. But I try to put a happy face in front of my friends and family. But how long will the mask stand?
The most of the agonies that I went through in life is related to some woman- direct or indirect. This heaviness in my heart is also because of a woman. She didn’t do me any harm. In fact, she cannot harm anyone.

Other than my Mom, there are two women who have influenced my life the most. The first one was from my college days. She had such a great character and personality. I am her biggest fan to this day. I believe she has got steel balls. (Haven’t got a chance to check it out yet)
Two weeks back Sandra came into my life uninvited. I haven’t seen Sandra to this day. I have only spoken to her once and that too for a few minutes. I believe she must be beautiful because she knows nothing but love. Even when she is cheated, she waits expectantly for the love to come back some day.

She taught me what love is. I have spent most of my life in cities. May that’s why I link romanticism with economics. I always believed that people who fall in love and marry also weigh the financial strength of the opposite sex. I believe the rich man- poor girl or the rich girl –poor man love stories are things of the past. Even they don’t show it movies nowadays. I had to sadly agree to the fact that everything was up for sale and even relationships are not spared.

Sandra was from a lower middle class family and she got into a great IT company far away from her home. She had an attractive personality and so had great gang of friends around. Arjun was one of the gang members. He was good looking and jovial and favorite of all girls. The marital status of Arjun was ‘single and ready to mingle’.

May be it was because of the work pressure. May be it was peer pressure. They grew fond of each other. Arjun gave the poor girl lots of hope. The parents from both the sides were notified and all the planning was completed. Sandra’s hearts bloomed with hope of a happy family and future.

Fate can sometimes be cruel with those pure in heart. She was transferred to a place far away from home. She consoled herself with the fact that it is just a temporary transfer. Besides love strengthens when the lovers are separated. Arjun called her the first day and there was no hint of unusualness.

But she was in for a shock. She got a call from him the next day.
‘I don’t think I will be able to fulfill the promises I made you. I realized that I don’t love you. It was just an infatuation. I was too lonely and away from home and there was no one to advise me. There is no love in me for you.’

The mutual friends tried to intervene for a easier break up. But Arjun was too adamant.
The heart broken Sandra had no one to console. She was on the verge of suicide. Old friends tried to console her through the phone.

She wrote Arjun a letter.
‘I won’t be there in your life as an obstacle for your happiness. Live your life happily and in the way you want to.
I am writing this letter to tell you everything that was left to say.
I was ready to change my caste. I was ready to leave my family for you. But still you are unwilling to accept me. Didn’t our friends warn you against the consequences? Why do you say that there was no one to advise you?

Thanks for the love you gave me for a month. You say it was an infatuation. For me it was love. What I gave you back was love. You will realize it someday.
If you had a bit of love for me you would have told this when I was there with you. I have no one here to cry with me. Did I hurt you that much to deserve this?

I am not sure even if you will read this. But I just wanted to say the one month you were there with me was the happiest period of my life. Thank you again for all the happy moments’

Sandra, I don’t think you will read this but I pray that you will find the love you lost in someone who will be there for you to the end.
Readers, all the characters are real. So if you happen to read this take a moment to wish Sandra good luck.

When I finished this I am feeling some burden lifted from my heart. I was feeling the struggle inside me for past few days while I was converting my thoughts to words.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Beer Summit

The sensational news in Washington in the last week of July was not suicide bombing in Iraq, Taliban invasion in Afghan or economic recession. The sensation was the arrest of a professor and the reason it made headlines was that the professor was black and the officer a white.

Gates was a professor specializing In African American history. On the fateful night he was returning tour to China. The cab driver was a black too. On reaching home Prof. Gates discovered that his door was jammed and there was no one else at home. And it was too late to search for an alternative option. So Professor decides to break into his own home with a little help from the cabbie. Don’t know if the cabbie had prior experience. As they went on with their ‘perfectly legal’ house-breaking, a neighbor was watching all these. It seems now that the neighbor didn’t know who was staying next door. She called up the police.

Cometh the second hero, Sergeant Crawley.

Sgt. Crawley like all efficient officers arrives at the scene in a jiffy. What happened thereafter remains a mystery to this day.
Crawley claims he asked the professor for identification which he refused at the same time showering choice words at him.
Gates says he showed the officer his identification papers proving that it was his house. But Crawley refused in his arrogant style and detained him.

But one thing is for sure. Professor Gates was arrested for breaking into his own home.
The humiliated Gates claimed that he was detained because he was black and the sergeant could not come to terms with the fact that a black person could own a house in a posh neighborhood. The entire NYPD sided along with Crawley claiming Gates was trying to distract the investigation by giving it a racial color.

The third world media saw this as an opportunity for America bashing and chance for a dent in ‘equal opportunity’ image. I rejoiced on seeing the agonized face of Gates, I hate self righteous nations like USA. At least here is our answer to allegation by US based human rights organizations that in India there was no religious freedom for minorities.

The incident would have remained in the newspapers had not our chocolate boy hero Obama headed into the scene with his take on the incident. Obama remarked that Crawley had acted ‘stupidly’. NYPD was not sure if it has to stick with its earlier stand or stand with their president and in the process sacrificing one of their faithful. This turned in to a national issue and a potential racial misunderstanding. It seems that Americans have not come to terms that they have elected a black to be their president.
So this became an international issue with people like me eagerly waiting for a racial riot or something of that sort.

Then the bad boy played the good boy too. Obama called both the main characters of the story for a coveted visit to white house. Well, if he had called them to a bar or a park they could have refused... But here is a chance no one would have the guts to refuse and which won’t obviously come again.
The two men met in the white house just as they were about to begin their tour. After some awkward moments the air cooled and it didn’t take much time for them to become friends. Gates remarked ‘when Crawley isn’t arresting you he is a good guy’. They agreed to meet over lunch some time

Later along with Obama and Biden they shared some beer and munched on nuts. The media dubbed this exercise as ‘The Beer Summit’.

Barack Obama is in a peculiar situation. The whole America is watching if he can cut across racial divides and reach out to all people and thus become an icon for whole world. Therefore he won’t get the privilege George Bush got, to be treated as another dumb kid in the white house. He is expected to do a lot.
Whatever he is going to say or do will attain a racial profile. So ultimately each and every statement he makes will be judged based on the racial impact it is going to make. People watch if he is biased and in the process compromising on the values.

What I love about the man is his ability to judge the situation and make the apt decisions. Even in this case when both the men met no one was asked to make an apology. The president wanted to set up a platform for them to meet and listen to each other. And both couldn’t ask for a better venue than the White House. And both spoke to each other without anyone to meddle in between.
‘We stated our perceptions and stuck on to it. We decided to revisit our perceptions some time later.’ this is what they said about the meetings.

This is what I loved about it. If anyone was asked to compromise on his statement it would have been equivalent to humiliation and a racial hurt. But they were asked to listen to each other. The first step for any kind of reconciliation is dialogue.

When Obama was elected to office there was a book that caught the attention of the world. It was Irving Wallace’s ‘The Man’. It was published in 1964. It’s the story about a black man becoming the president by accident. It was written before the 25th amendment of constitution. At that time the order of succession when a president dies was Vice president, Speaker, President Pro Tempore of the senate. Vice President was already dead. The president and speaker get killed in a freak accident. To their utter shock they discover that next in line was a black man, Dilman, who was elected as the President Pro Tempore of the senate as it was a namesake seat and that would give an impression of racial equality to the government.

In fact this book caused such uproar that the copies were burnt and it had to be pulled off the shelf. This was published when segregation still existed and all blacks were considered as crooks.. The advisers of Dilman hoped he would be a push-over and they could pull the strings. But at a crucial point Dilman sticks to his stand. They conspire to bring him down.

Dilman had appointed as his secretary a white lady, Sally, who had a troubled past. Sally joins with the conspirers and frames a sexual harassment against Dilman. They bring in an impeachment motion against Dilman.
But as the impeachment draws to a close Dilman gets inconclusive evidence that the charges against him were falsely framed. But he refuses to present it before the committee because that would reveal that Sally is a mental patient.

When I read about the Beer summit in the newspapers, this was the book that came into my mind. What we need in this world divided by race and religion may not be a stubborn stand but a tough stand covered by the softness of love. The courage to admit that you were wrong when you said or did something.

Hope Obama lives up to our expectation….

Monday, August 3, 2009

Vinayak Part-II The fall and The Rise

It’s high time if someone researched whether falling in love degrades the part of brain we use for reasoning. I have seen people taking some of the most stupid decision which they would not have taken in normal situation.

It might be true that loves is selfless, blind and that sort of crap. But in this age when every emotion has become materialistic and when there is this strong belief that even relationships can be valued in money, there is no point in making those sacrifices which will make you feel dumb at the end.

But Vinayak took some time to understand this. As Swathi was in Gujarat and he down here in Kerala, they had to make many sacrifices for their budding love. If you don’t have complete faith in each other, there is no chance that the love will survive this distance and time.
You get some clue of the behavioral trait of a person on continuous interaction with her. We who were pretty close with Vinayak had begun to notice some uncomfortable behavior from her. But alas, for Vinayak love was blind. Vinayak was a kind of Casanova. He had been in and out of relationships. She too had her share of relationships. In that scenario the best option, for both of them would have been not to revisit the past if they didn’t have the heart to accept the past. But Swathi insisted that they should never keep any secrets between them.

This is when the most hilarious and notorious thing started to happen. She started suspecting him. So shouting matches started over the phone and the intense love would call off for sometime only to resume with renewed vigor.

Here enters the villain. The boy friend who had dumped her in college was making a comeback. This set the panic button on. Meanwhile he started to search for options that would take him close to her. May be he understood the limits of love through phone and internet. Panic had begun to set on both the sides. He could not forsake this high paying job and migrate north without giving a proper explanation to his folks. He got a brain wave. Why not MBA? The recession had not set in at that point. He got in to IIPM. Not a great one but a good one considering he had not written any exam. So the stage was set and resignations submitted. All formalities completed.
But the twist of the story was turning from bad to worse and poor Vinayak didn’t suspect a thing. She insisted he find a goddamn college in Gujarat. Vinayak couldn’t find any college that would accept him without writing any relevant exams. He managed to find out B school which started out that year. He had to do a painful research in the internet for that college. When he called up the college asking for details, they were so surprised that the first question was
“How did you come to know of our college?”
He asked for the location “Don’t worry sir. We will come to the station with vehicle”
“Will I get any accommodation near-by”
“Don’t worry sir. We will arrange everything for you.”
They must have pleasantly surprised to get someone from bottom tip of India in their first batch. Vinayak’s intelligent friends warned him not to take this big step. You cannot sacrifice a well paid job for a starter, unheard of college whatever the meaning of love is.

So ‘bye-bye’ s and ‘see-you ’s were traded and Vinayak set off to Gujarat. Swathi was tied up with work and she lived a 3 hour distance-by-train from Vinayak’s college. So the only option with them was to meet in weekends. Since once in a week was better than once in a while they were happy. Meanwhile Swathi’s previous boyfriend continued to torture her through phone. No one knows why she picks up his call when he made her sad. Vinayak felt like bashing up the guy but he was nowhere close to him.
Vinayak and Swathi met the first weekend. They went out for a movie. They planned for his upcoming birthday which they wanted to spend together.
They had a good time and then comes the first weird call from Swathi that night.
“Vinayak, let’s make the meetings alternative weekends.”
Vinayak was too perplexed. She explains that Vinayak will have to concentrate more on studies from here on. Good girl.

From here on she started ignoring his calls often. Our innocent little Vinayak didn’t understand a thing. She started going ballistic for small incidents. Her calls started going on call waiting for hours and Vinayak started getting only 5 minutes of the talk time. When confronted she said that it is her former boyfriend
“So you are ready to spend hours for the person who makes you cry. Should I make you cry for your time?”
“Vinayak you are not a part of my life anymore. Our relationship is over”
“Don’t say that. I put my career at stake for you and ended up in this goddamn place. Did you call me to come all the way here for abandoning me?”
“Vinayak, our relationship was a mistake. Since you are not part of my life I don’t care for you or your future.”
Thus ended the blooming romance ended in a couple of weeks after Vinayak threw away his job.

There is no point in playing the blame game after any incident. Especially when it involves breakdown of relationships.
Be it parental relationships or romantic relationships or friendships, when there is a fall the success is how much you can salvage and move on with life.
When Vinayak had a problem I could not do much for him except to pray to almighty to give him the strength.

Last week we met again. Yes, Vinayak had moved on and he started taking relationships just like everyone else did. He is having fun with those short-term make and break relations. He might be enjoying screwing pretty girls. I will not call what he did a mistake because mistakes are relative to situations, relative to people. . Only time will if he will repeat what he did again.

Anyways hats off to you buddy. I will never have the guts to do what you did. I can never dream about facing the situations you went through. You prevailed over all those who tried to pull you down.


About Me

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Shakespeare,Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin and Lincoln never saw a movie,heard a radio or looked at TV. They had loneliness and knew what to do with it. Thay were not afraid of being lonely because they knew that was when the creative mood in them would work.