Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I haven't discovered anything new, just that there really isn't any place like home, like Madikeri where I discovered that I still belong.
This time here I learnt again to have faith in the people who saw me grow up. There are still plenty who still smile for me, those people I can be a small town girl with. It is still the place where I can hear myself think, where the mountain air does me and my soul good. It is still where I belong. And that makes me smile.
Madikeri, I love thee :-)
And here is a teaser. This evening, I randomly took a picture of a window in my room; the window sill is where, like in Jean Webster's Daddy-Long-Legs, I used to perch up with a fat book in my hand and read into the lazy Sunday afternoon. The picture, in black and white, turned out interesting. For sometime after that I was taking several rather unusual B&W pictures, my favourite medium of photography. You will see some of them here soon. :-)
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
But Bollywood in particular and other Indian movies in general, as far as I know, still rules. Cinema, beginning from my favourite professor Dr D S Poornananda’s film studies classes, continues to fascinate me. Even as I write this, I am watching a Kannada film called ‘Cheluvina Chittara’, a very controversial film at one time. And it is, for now, the perfect example of how influential a movie can be.
This film, starring Ganesh, a popular actor and Amulya, a then 15-year old girl, is about the two of them, him a mechanic and her, a school student who fall in love and elope. She is the proverbial rich man’s daughter and he is, well, the mechanic. At the time the movie released a couple of years ago, there was much hue and cry for a) getting such a young kid to romance a man on screen and b) for the messages it was conveying. Someone the other day was telling me that in his town, there were at least four girls who had eloped with mechanics, bus drivers and the like after watching the movie.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with two people in love. But looking beyond the hormonal charged impulses of teen hood, there is that practicality, that thing that makes you doubt how happy Jake and Rose (of Titanic fame) would have been if they had gotten off the ship and gotten married. We all like happy endings, but then movies never show what happens after the ‘happily ever afters’.
Now this is something I have always wanted to write about movies and especially Bollywood. I speak of myself here too. Any Indian, with access to at least a bit of television or radio or the internet, would know at least a few Bollywood numbers. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, Hindi movie songs are something everyone hums all the time. There are of course the other regional songs too but travel to any part of the country and you can be sure to connect over Bollywood.
When I was on my defence course recently, there were journalists from every part of the country. Even the armed forces we interacted with was drawn from every state. But be it during the baraa-khaana (an evening when all ranks of people in an Army unit eat together; the Army is otherwise very hierarchical) or during the famous Indian pass-time ‘Anthaakshari’, Bollywood was what would bind everyone. If you start a song, you can be sure that someone will sing along or at least hum.
Bollywood works in this country and it is not too difficult to see why. It gives you a dream, a dream that you can be in love too, whether you are rich or poor. It is a dream where you can be a millionaire within three hours, where hard work still counts but unattainable things are within your reach. It is a dream where you wear good clothes even if you are poor, where the good always wins, the villain is always caught and the hero always gets the girl. And if you ask me, I don’t see anything wrong in that.
Most Bollywood films defy logic. But then, how many dreams can you call practical always? The audacity of dreams is what makes these films work. Forget the nuances of cinema, leave out the techniques, the montages, the pan, the neo-realisms, the importance of music, the sophistication of the plot. A typical Bollywood movie would have a rich girl meets poor boy story where after much fighting the bad guys, they live happily ever after.
Bollywood is audacious. But then so are dreams. They work. They unite the country in ways that no religion, no nothing else can. That is because we all believe in dreams. We all want the good guys to win. We all want happy endings. The audacity of those dreams never really has anything to with ‘reality’, you know. Practicality is boring, even if the dreams are audacious.
As for the movie that I was watching, for a change, the boy does not get the girl and goes insane but is rescued by the girl and her husband two years later!
The journey now. I don’t quite like clichés now. But then sometimes, there is nothing truer than a cliché, I notice. Wasn’t it a cliché again now, that thing about the journey being the destination? On a day bus, something I religiously avoid normally, with a Kannada movie in the background grating, many varied voices about me, I look out at SH 17. There are many more voices in my head too; for a while, I try to ignore them. There is today, much to see.
Many fields. Corn and maize and sugarcane. Villages. I like those that dot highways. It is like they cropped up just to break the monotony of roads and green fields. The roads on this stretch used to be bad; I have traveled here many years. Smoother stretches, better buses, worse traffic. The villages remain the same, save for crude advertisements on huts and their roofs, the people flashing mobile phones and an odd internet/cyber games/DTP/ typing/e-mail centre.
What do I spot? Several cattle grazing, some along the roadside, some in the fields. A farmer still ploughing the fields, even as the sun rises higher above his head. Coconut trees. A small fire. Earlier, another fire warming up a little boy. Tender coconut vendor. A tiny hut. Sheep in front of the thatched hut. A little temple for the little village, brightly painted in pink and blue and green, the oddest of colours. Little boys still at a game of marbles; they actually play that still! A Panchayat katte, they still have those! Farmers. Their wives. The children. The lives so different from what we otherwise perceive as ‘real’ or ‘developed’ or ‘modern’. Lots of fields and farms and beautiful landscape. Makes me wonder…what on earth am I doing in a city?
Most times, I blissfully sleep through the journey home. I prefer the mundanities of a usual journey to pass that way. Today, with my thoughts and some music and some audacities that I subscribe to what I am dreaming of, a journey becomes a destination again.
Isn’t this the vestiges of a nomadic culture. Isn’t humankind, most often than not, nomadic, be it in thoughts or otherwise? Am I not a nomad by those parameters too? It is not the romantics of the idea that inspires, it is the idea in itself.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
You know how we all, the working class so to speak, have grouses against work in general. And so did I, day dreaming what I might be able to achieve without going to work for a few days. What do you know! I am doing just that, all strapped up in a fancy bandage and feeling bugged about having to keep my ankle up all the time. The leg hurts really really bad though.
Perhaps for the first time since I started working, I am at home doing nothing except lazing around. All my previous days off from work were spent traveling. In nearly four years, I have so much me-time that I am still wondering what to do with it.
(This is a mindless post, bear with me please.)
Bangalore’s famous Strand Book Stall has a sale again with the usual amazing collection. I finished The Abduction of Sita by R K Narayan (a flamboyantly titled ‘The Science of Ramayana’) will be up here soon. Right now, I am with Transmission by Hari Kunzru. I liked his ‘My Revolutions’, I like the way he writes, random sentences, a rather interesting style. I also like the way Mohsin Ahamed and Daniyal Moinuddin (good looking guy too!) write. I am into trying new authors I haven’t previously read these days.
Where was I? Ah, Transmissions. I have finished only chapter 1 so I can only tell you what the blurb on the jacket of the book says. It is about this young boy who gets to go to America, the land of his dreams. He gets laid off and in a desperate bid, he unleashes a computer virus that creates a havoc around the world. I haven’t yet reached the part where he takes off to the US in the first place.
That apart I have a stack of magazines to keep me company. The usual Open, Outlook Traveller, Geo this time (has a interesting piece on India’s tribes--I wanted to do tribal studies at one point of time; a part of me still does) and for the first time ever, the glossy People magazine. That is one yummy issue, I tell you! All my eternal favourites, Johnny Depp, George Clooney, Hritik Roshan (his new beard and long hair look soooo works!) and Milind Soman! I can imagine how two of my dearest friends (stop smirking you both, now!) will be grinning when they read this. Well yes, Milind Soman is my permanent crush, I confess. I don’t care what you say, he is simply Greek God gorgeous. I must have had a crush on him for the last 20 years at least now.
I so digress here. And yes, I continue to read Jean M Auel’s epochal Earth’s Children series. I simply love her research, I love the story for the way it whets my old interest in anthropology. There is also Jeannine Auboyer’s Daily Life in Ancient India--From 200 BC to 700 AD that promises to be interesting.
Movies too. I picked up some old favourites recently, The Blue Lagoon, 10 (Bo Derek wow!) and The Mirror Has Two Faces. I recently also loved August Rush (the music is super good and of course Jonathan Rhys Meyers), Nicholas Cage’s Next (I so want hair like Jessica Beil’s in the movie) and Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani (a mindless entertainer that I watched with the parents). A lot of old ones, I need to be goaded to watch movies most of the time, especially the mainstream ones. Next to my TV sits Top Gun, The Bicycle Thief and some of Satyajit Ray’s films. Oh yes, except for that nagging pain in the leg, I quite like this forced confinement! Pity I just can’t move.
Well, so far it has been a mindless post. But, watch this space, you will see a lot more of me.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
I was going to write a philosophical piece about birthdays, growing older, wiser and all that jazz. But then, what the heck. They do matter. This year, in keeping with the many many other significant changes in my life, has been the most girly birthday I have ever had. I continue to grin silly. It is, despite everything, sometimes great to be a girl :-)
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Sunday, November 08, 2009
I am luckier than most people, I have more than a few of these. One of them is a dear darling friend Liz. When she and her colleague walked into my office last November, I was asked to meet them just because it was something to do with the Aero Show 2009. Never once did I think that we would talk to each other again, let alone become such great friends. But it so happened that I needed some information and we began chatting over Gtalk and the hours of chatting turned into one of the best friendships of my life.
It has been a year now. And Liz, one of the most adorable girls I have ever met, I know, will be just a phone call and just a 2-hour flight away. Like she loves saying, “we will grow old together!”
She sent me the most lovely flowers this evening, part of her ‘making me a propah girl’ plan I suppose! It was that little ‘anniversary’ joke between us.
It was a lovely surprise, one of the sweetest things anyone has ever done for me. Thank you Lizzie for making life so much better, for the ice creams at 2 am, for goodie bags and advice and gossip and girly stuff. Love you for all of that.
For one year! :-)
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
That said, for the record, this morning looks promising. I don’t see the sun as yet and with the fan on, the recreated winter in my room brings back days many years ago, in that paradise of mine.
My hatred of getting up early in the morning continues. It was all the more worse when I had to wake up for school. My room back home was a cozy one overlooking a hedge which was (and still is) home to several rat snakes who sun themselves in the afternoon. One would often slip into my room and create a flurry around the house. But then, those are tales for another day.
So my cozy room, the best in the entire house (but of course!), sprawled across my bed under my favourite red and black velvet blanket and some others, I hated every morning. But once I managed to wipe sleep off my eyes, every morning was a new marvel. It was too cold to stand on the veranda, but through the window, you could just see one plain screen of mist, so much sometimes that it was hard to see few feet ahead of you. Sometimes we would open the door and the mist, grateful for a new place to settle in, would waft in, gliding along with the cold breeze.
After about ten o’clock, the mist would slowly clear and on some days, the sun would be out. We would have been so cold by then that despite knowing that the sun and the wind would spell disaster for the skin, we would be sunning ourselves to the point of nearly getting burnt. Maybe that it why I rarely get sun-tanned; much to the envy of others. The mountain air must have done some good, unless I am roasting in the sun for more than half a day at a stretch, my skin is sun-happy.
Cold creams, litres of moisturisers don’t help there. Even if you are decked in wools and caked under creams and lotions, your knees and cheekbones and elbows will still crack. Oh goodness, I miss all that! One year I remember, we had such a long monsoon and a longer winter that we didn’t see the sun for months on end that year. By the end of it, we all had had wrinkles all over. Another year, it got so extremely cold in December that we had to actually carry hot coals into every room in the house.
Nothing beats the joy of getting wrapped in sweaters and boots and walking into the mist. And again, for the record, I hate Bangalore for not being cold enough.
Winter, for all its worth, looks like it has begun. For the ghoulish nightmare that 2008 and most of 2009 was, November, my favourite month, is looking nice, despite everything new, despite the skeletons of the old.
My morning walks are proving to be a delight; I have started writing again; there are plans to start running soon; green tea is proving to be a blessing; my soul is thanking me already for waking up to its needs. New friends, new understanding of who are not friends, or family...There are still many ripples that need to be soothed. But it is winter. And for better or for worse, the seasons will change.
I must quote here, Ann Trason who said, with reference to running, that “It hurts up to a point and then it doesn't get any worse.” I find that it applies to life as well.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
The toys from there that I grew up playing with, so the place was especially moving for me. I just had to paste it here.
Read the story here, originally published in the Sunday Express on Jan 13, 2008.
Does the survival of art mean art in its original form, I wonder. To a puritan, the digression of the artisans at Channapatna could mean the shameful fading out of an institution that staggered on for almost a dozen decades. But can that evolving tradition be seen as one last desperate attempt before the final blow of modernity, of Barbie dolls and GI Joes, strikes? That is the question I want to seek answers to at the lazy little town of Channapatna, 60 kms from Bangalore, home to the world renowned, very colorful wooden toys.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
At the worst of times, by flux or otherwise, at least in the meta physical sense, I tend to be standing alone in the face of the stormy winds. Those times when the moral support of the loved many fills but three fourths of the void. Those times when all you crave is a simple smile, a warm hand, if not a full hug.
Times like those, you get a chance to see what it must feel like to be really poor, to be standing outside a restaurant and not have money, you know, those sad, sad things....
What is it that they say? History repeats itself. And there is a pattern to that as well....
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
My journey has been, for lack of a better word, an incredible one. And I include the good and bad part of it. Family is something that you are born into. My friends....except for perhaps the best friend Raksha, I met the rest of my bestest friends in the most unusual of circumstances---on bicycle rides from school in another state to an assignment to college to another random meeting at work. I have been told off for the friends I have, well, that's another saga for another day. I shall not talk of them that form my support system.
What can I say today? People come in, travel a while in this journey with me and get off. There is often pain at that, in various degrees. There is shock at the unexpected, at the unannounced. All I have today is the best of wishes. A hope that all lives that touched mine are happy always. Goodbyes are never nice words. I would prefer good wishes, good luck and take cares.
And that is all I have, all that is left. No clever quotes, no lines of melancholic songs, no screen of mist before my eyes, no smart lines to write. Just a take care. Just a wish for happiness and peace forever along other individual journeys.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Sometimes, life or people in it try to teach you something. Rebel that I am, I resist and scream and shout, but life wins, most of the time. At other times, it lets me have the delusion that I have won, but the lesson I learn either ways.
If I sift and sort through all the layers and peel apart the many worries that plague the days and the brief nights, I notice that, conditions applied, life is still beautiful. Not screaming from the rooftops, jumping with joy kind of happiness, but there is still a lot to smile and laugh about.
There are beautiful people, lovely times, each memory a page I can later turn back to and smile again, fleeting moments that, collectively, make it all worth it.I might not agree with myself on some days, but given a choice now, I wouldn't have wanted life any other way. It is, after all, a strange ride. And I can proudly tell the world, I survived.
And that is what makes life, my life, the greatest journey I have ever been on.
Originally posted at http://thoughtsthatcomeby.blogspot.com
"This is what happiness was---he'd never known it before; this melting away, this exaltation, your guts spilling into your head, filling your eyes---your mind transformed into your body, your body instinct with the joy in your mind; this sensation of reality having met its end." Amitav Ghosh, The Glass Palace
I have always wanted to be in Cherrapunji during the monsoon, even after it has been usurped from its wettest place on earth post. I like to believe it would be just as beautiful as Madikeri during the rains. Wet, very very cold, misty. It was through all this that we forced ourselves out of bed every morning for school. It was quite impossible to stay dry; I don't think I ever went to school dry, unless Appa was dropping me. The rains thunder down from the sides there; with strong rains, it was impossible that you could keep yourself and the books dry. The books invariably won that battle.
But I tell you, monsoon in Madikeri is as romantic an image of paradise as you can get. It gets cold, very much so. Forget rain dancing, a single drop is enough to start shivering there. What seems fantasy now was what I did almost every afternoon, curl up in bed with a book, a hot cup of coffee, a thick blanket, possibly a diary too, for those rushing thoughts. It has remained, the epitome of romanticism, the urge for every rainy day thereafter.
And there I was, soaking it in again. The cold. The rain. Getting wet. The gush of wind on my face. The wetness. Green the colour of live. Home. The joy and exaltation of being a pahadi, a girl of the hills.
The mountains. There was a peace and a brief peep into childhood, its simplicities, its dreams.
And it was raining in paradise.
Monday, June 22, 2009
ಒಳಗೆ ಬರಲಪ್ಪಣೆಯೆ ದೊರೆಯೇ?
Chennaiah, the bangle seller, comes home and seeks permission to enter. He is from the town of Navilooru, where the women are known for their beauty and the jasmine for its fragrance. The lovely town is where the master's wife is from, where the smell and soul of the earth emanates. An old man, with a cloth bag full of the most colourful glass bangles, hunched from age, walks down the flight of steps to the background of those famous words and sits besides the house of the master. And thus begins one of the most beautiful plays I have seen in recent times, Mysooru Mallige (ಮೈಸೂರು ಮಲ್ಲಿಗೆ) based on the poetry of Dr K S Narasimha Swamy.
The parents and I were at Ranga Shankara yesterday, a delightful place, a brilliant concept. The play, directed by B V Rajaram, is a musical by the playwright Rajendra Karanth who plays Chennaiah. The story, interspersed delightfully with poems of Narasimha Swamy, was humourous and touching towards the end, though it dragged for a wee bit in the middle when my mind went wandering. The play follows the life of the poet from the time he gets married till he grows old, when the children are away and his life's work sold off to buy medicines for his wife.
Most of the actors were good, especially Chennaiah himself. The bangle sellers have always fascinated me. I last wrote about them here. The play brought it all back, the large doses of nostalgia and memories of all those lazy afternoons spent listening to Ajji's stories, humming these songs that my mother taught me or letting my imagination run amok.
Narasimha Swamy's poems are mainly on love, at least that is what he was most famous for. From ನಮ್ಮೂರು ಚಂದವೋ, ನಿಮ್ಮೂರು ಚಂದವೋ where there is a tussle between the girl and the boy, during their courtship, as to whose town is better, to ರಾಯರು ಬಂದರು ಮಾವನ ಮನೆಗೆ ರಾತ್ರಿಯಾಗಿತ್ತು where the son-in-law rushes to his in-laws house where his wife is visiting and is not allowed to meet her for a long time.
Well, you know what, I simply cannot translate those words. His poetry was known for its simplicity and I shall not do any further injustice by attempting a translation. I just wonder how long these poems will survive. Chennaiah is slowly walking away with his bangles, the earth does not emanate the smell of its soul anymore, no one wears jasmine flowers in their hair or wears bangles. Love is no longer waiting for long letters and being happy with a glance from beneath the eyelashes.
Nostalgia? You bet. I am as much a part of this guilt as the next person. These are all songs I knew the whole lyrics of once. I rarely sing them, most people have probably never heard of the poet. What do I do about it? What does anyone do about it? Zilch. We are all so involved in trying to earn a salary that there is scant attention that the practice of living gets. Of course there is that easy way out, that dubious front of 'excuses' we all hid behind and pass off the "burden" of carrying forward culture and tradition. Tradition is nice, to explain away that saree you wear and the rare bindi you sport. Culture is nice too, on a Sunday evening when there is a music concert (most likely a fusion or some esoteric music form) you can attend in a little room with wine and loud speakers. But no, it is not your responsibility to ensure you teach others the songs your mother taught you.
You and I continue to chase the Chennaiah with his bangles away. How pathetic can culture get?
Friday, June 19, 2009
No, I don't volunteer a smile to a stranger; not even to those I see everyday in office, the ones I don't talk to. That's not too nice a thing, and I am not doing this for that necessary surge of my otherwise little known cynicism about life in general and nicety and smiles in particular. I just probably learnt lessons, got drummed down that a smile---how dare you think otherwise---is rarely just that.
I have got myself stuck with dumb ones, irritating ones, lecherous ones, the whole gamut of varieties humans take shape in because of little smiles and a hi, hello now and then. And yes, I mainly mean men here. (And no, I am NOT a feminist, no matter how many times or ways you accuse me of being one. I truly believe men and women are different, not better, not worse, just plain different with different strengths and weaknesses.)
So back to that elusive smile. Have you been in a situation where you, most likely totally by accident, caught a colleague or someone you see often's eyes and couldn't turn away without that bit of awkwardness creeping in? You try and salvage a bit of what is soon turning even more strange by smiling, not a 'happy to see you' one, but more like a 'ok, I see you often and this was a little strange, so I might as well smile' kind of smile. And then, that colleague will see you again another day and smile and then some days later a hi creeps in and suddenly, it is all spiralling out of control and that person thinks of you as a new best friend! Eesh! (Another Bengali expression another colleague amuses me with.)
I would like to be cynical. But these things do lead to good friendships also, no denying that. But the scales tip towards the other lot who see this as a license to flirt and pass snide remarks and then the offer for coffee. Eesh again!
For heavens sake, a smile is a smile. Full stop. Period. Doesn't mean you are my new best friend. Doesn't mean we will be having dinner together two days from now. Doesn't even mean you can text me asking if I had my breakfast/lunch/dinner/tea/whatever, as if all these days I was starving, given that you were not asking before. It means nothing, no invitation, no nothing.
And then, suddenly, with more embarrassing moments, you have to begin to ignore that person like there is a direct chance of contracting swine flu (H1N1, politically correctly!) and find excuses to look away and the rest of the story....
But then, when people choose not to understand, you can scream down their throats and they will still not get it. It is just safer to look away and not relax your muscles upwards. Whoever said smile to brighten up someone's day, smile--someone might be falling in love with you and all that super sugary quotes lived probably in a children's/teen's novel.
And this was another surge of the little known streak of cynicism that I previously mentioned.
This one was entirely for you Sa.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
You know what, they (don't ask me who "they" are) say that a picture can speak a thousand words. Now, the other best friend is a brilliant photographer and I have been across some brilliant pictures of his, and others. I like to believe that I take ok-ok pictures too. So ask me about the power of pictures and I could tell you my two-bit opinion. Now, I know all that, but somehow, it is nothing compared to the memories you get.
I went to the best friend Raksha's house today, newly married girl and all that. As is our practice, we talked too much and I forgot to check the time and ended up horribly late in the office. Also, as usually, I was out taking pictures of both of us, precariously holding my mobile (I DON'T like the camera in E71) at a distance, trying several angles, exasperating her, again as always.
And so one of the good ones has landed up on my mobile wallpaper. It has us showing all our teeth and giggling. I love the picture but it comes no where close to that moment, and many such, where there we are, laughing over something downright silly, cribbing about everything but ourselves ;-) and being girls. No matter how good the picture, it can never capture moments, the sounds and the smells and the whole moment that buries itself soon in the banter of everyday life, in the folds of pages that you live through.
You visit a place, a lovely range of mountains, a brook, a whatever that catches your fancy. For me, no picture can be equal to the memory of me being there, the people I was with, the moments.
It was good, being with the girl friend. Sometimes there is no better mood-lifter than talking to the girl friends.
That apart, Rishi sir told me how to use the Google transliteration tool. It is so super cool for the me who can't type otherwise in my own mother tongue. I was also humming the lines below, apart from several others. Here's a little secret: I hum or sing a lot all day long, I need music when I am working at home and I do love music of strange kinds. (Not that this 'secret' should make any dents to your lives!)
ಅತ್ತಾರೆ ಅತ್ತು ಬಿಡು ಹೊನಲು ಬರಲಿ
ನಕ್ಯಾಕ ಮರಸತಿ ದುಃಖಾ
ಎದೆ ಬಿಡಿಸಿ ಕೆಡವು, ಬಿರಿಗಣ್ಣು ಬ್ಯಾಡ
ತುಟಿ ಕಚ್ಚಿ ಹಿಡಿಯದಿರು ಬಿಕ್ಕ
Roughly translated it means:
Cry, if you have to, why do you try to forget pain by laughing, open your heart, don't keep your eyes wide open, don't suppress the cries with a bite on your lips.
Immortal lines, written by the Kannada poet Dattatreya Ramachandra Bendre. And but of course, the translation does no justice to the original.
Sometimes, it would be nice to just let yourself go. Cry. Smiling would be easier then, I suppose.