Sunday, September 30, 2007

Poor Pedestrians!

Kerala during the rainy season is a tribute to nature. Even so, nature is not something that hangs out as poignant as a pedestrian’s predicament here. The economic boom comes at a cost. Indeed the cost the pedestrians pay for it is dear. They seem to have lost their right to walk! With the roads getting congested and pending litigations preventing widening of roads, the pedestrians’ track has become more redundant than ever. Wherever widening is done it is at the cost of foot path which disappear altogether. Also, perpetual coagulation on roads forces the motorists to use every lane to reach the destination a couple of minutes earlier. Lack of maintenance and unabated torrential rains have reduced the road space by half. This too puts a pressure on the pedestrian’s path. While these are unavoidable there are others that could be avoided.

Automobile drivers use roads as some kind of racing track. Particularly the red town buses rocket down the lane or what is left of the roads, lurching this way and that way madly, without a head to the hapless passersby. They survive by managing to jump into any cranny to avoid the tons of steel goring through their entrails. And they manage just by the skin of their teeth! It’s high time the police became proactive to troubleshoot such problems.

The motorists tend to park along the roads and not in some parking areas. They claim the parking areas are not there in the first place. What I have witnessed in other urban areas is the administration levies a parking charge. Here that is not there too. The cash strapped administration can collect sizable amount from these motorists and half of the street parking will stop instantaneously!

Another hassle a walker has to face is the rain water. Excess and torrential rains spill water over to the roads. The sewage water from the clogged drains also mixes with the surface runoff. The decaying residential garbage left on the roadsides thickens the street effluents. If the poor pedestrian tries to avoid such a puddle, a row of automobiles speeding down will honk out his brains. If he gives way and stands aside awkwardly, the speeding automobiles will send sprays of the putrid water which will drench the poor soul! Proper drainage maintenance is all that is needed to avoid this.

What about crossing? Police is seldom there to help them. The speeding motorist never heed to them. Even at zebra crossings they wait patiently often spending 20 to 30 minutes waiting to waddle across. Why can’t the rules be enforced? Aren’t those that walk also humans?

Whatever man-made or natural significance this coconut land has, the Malayalies tend to be more selfish, uncaring and insensitive to the victims of their own creation. My heart goes to the poor street strollers. I deplore the indifference and callousness on the part of the city planners, traffic cops and the motoring public towards the pedestrians. I wish a day would dawn when walking along a street would be a lot more pleasant than it is now.
My Little Granny

She was small and myopic but a great lady. In my family the women folk had guts of steel. And my granny had tons of it! She lost her husband early and her only son, our silver tongued ‘Humko Mama’, died of a horrible accident in the prime of his youth leaving behind a young widow and two bonny children! Those did falter her steps, but she didn’t indulge in the misery, instead she immersed herself in work and more work.

I remember her as a cherubic, buxom and witty lady always ready with a smile and chirpy laugh. She would tell us crazy stories and help us in our studies with equal passion. Mind you, she was a professor at the reputed Banares Hindu University! Yet she was so down to earth and such a jolly good person that all of us loved her.

She was the one who named me ‘Samudra Guptan’ after an illustrious warrior king who invaded dozens of kingdoms and brought them under his rule. Don’t be under the impression that I was a warrior of any sort. Far from it, I was a timid one. Very Very timid indeed. Yet she named me after him because I used to move around in my sleep and kick the hell out of the unfortunate one who happened to sleep near me. In my teens I grew up in my uncle’s place. So at night all of us cousins used to sleep lying one next to other. Our little Granny would also sleep with us. During one unfortunate occasion, she was pushed out her pillow and came to realise that I was conquering her. Till her death, may god bless her soul, she used to refer to this embarrassing part of my life much to the delight of the audience, whenever there was a family gathering.

Her tutoring of one of my cousin was a classic example of the tenacity she displayed. He used to be in 4th or 5th year in school and it was mandatory to learn the multiplication tables by heart. Well, that was for every student except my cousin. Fed up with his poor marks in math, li’l Granny took it on her to drill it out my cousin, who was very enterprising and found some way to escape the torture. But granny was adamant. Loud sessions of chanting multiplication tables would reverberate in the study hall. She would ask, “Eight nines are?” and the sad boy denied playtime would scratch his head as if the answer was stored there. He would repeat, “Eight nines are. . . eight nines are. . . eight nines are. . .(all of them in different tones). Then granny would shout, “Tell me what eight nines are?” Purposefully, as if he knows the answer my cousin would say, “Oh you want eight nines huh? Well eight nines are,” “Are?” expectantly granny would urge. “Well eight nines are. . . hmmm . . eight nines are . . .lemme see (biting his lower lips and hiding a smile). . ” Granny would chide, cajole, beg and plead but my cousin would play her around his thumb no matter. Finally she would yell at him and ask him to get lost. Next day, again the hungama would be repeated without much variation and the next after that and next. But in the end we were amazed because my cousin did manage to learn the whole tables by heart every way; up down or centre. My granny had the last laugh.

She sharpened her skills in linguistics till her end, helping family relatives and neighbours master English. Indian history, yoga and kids fascinated her. She doted on us and was always obliging. We played with her, disobeyed her with impunity for she would never resort to punishment, took delight in her and sometimes even ridiculed her. Then, her greatness was taken for granted. Now, we feel ashamed for mistreating her at least sometimes by denying and disobeying. However we cherish the poignant moments we spent with her more.

Everything good has to stop someday. So did our li’l Granny. Till the end she was passionate about her chores. She stood dying as she prayed to the deities. I was fortunate to put her to her death bed noticing her awkward stance and give her last drops of life as she breathed her last. I will never forget the scene of stunned inaction, when slowly the fact of her departure sank in our mind.

That was the end of her physical existence, but her memories and legacy lives on.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

RAIN

It rains and rains and rains
In the valleys and the plains
On the road it spills o’er drains
And snakes up the tarred lanes

It makes puddles of strong tea,
which grows into a big sea!
The frogs gather for the party
There they orgy in real frenzy

Its little droplets march up to wind
Like smart regiments soldiers they sprint
In crazy gale they wrap nature in chintz
They tickle and play on the tamarinds

Cloudy by day and starless at night
The sky mourns draped in dark hide
Of her dear darling- the short-lived spring
All in its glory smiling and giving

Nevertheless, drizzles come tingling
Cloudbursts then come gushing
Sometimes hail go clamoring
Surely storms descend menacing

It sprouts the seeds and plants all green
On farmers’ beaten face a smile is seen
Once or twice it turns a violent sheen
It stays for a while and leaves the scene

Sulking rain stays up as dark brooding clouds
When happy it just drizzles diamonds around
And jovial hails laugh out much too aloud
When angry storms come hurtling down

Late or soon, the monsoon
To the parched earth is a boon
Wild goes the beasts’ platoon
Pops up the new born mushroom

Rain is a pain but also a gain
It enriches and ravages lives again and again
It bathes nature and yields grain
It breaks the knots of the complacent chain
In the Twilight

She didn’t say a word
But all of it he heard
In the dark their eyes flamed
All alone in a crowd

Her hair, he did brush with
His hand all boney and veined
She did heave a sigh of anguish
His moustache in tandem bristled

They sat huddled in the twilight
Huddled in the dusk of their life
A pair of wizened mortals living
The fleeting images of the past.

Gone were the days of their blossoming
Gone were the excitements of living
Gone was the confidence from winning
their spirited wars and coveted glories.

They started young toiling with soil and tears
A hut they had and it grew with passing years
Amina, Rafeeq and little Abu were born
And came the harvests rich and strong.

Happy were those days of honest sweat
In a Hindu neighbourhood they stayed
Nature’s bounty, with all they did share
and got cheerful welcome and lots of care

The Khan siblings grew up frugal in comfort
Yet they did have sumptuous meals in concert
Rafeeq grew to be an officer in the Indian Army
And, Amina was wedded to a youth from Ranchy.

Abu had grown to be a nice teenage boy
In his school he was first, yet he was coy
All coveted his role in the drama about a seapoy,
which he did so well to everyone’s joy.

Some years gave plentiful yield early in May
So the Khans saved some for a rainy day
They dug up canals and watered the crops
and built tanks to harvest rain on hilltops.

Then they started losing out on yield
Abu stopped studies to work in the field
Costs and pests doubled; beasts died like crazy
And many men perished in communal frenzy.

The battle raged; the dead littered with fleas
The leaders brokered a hurry-burry peace
Pain and fear nibbled everyone on and on
The Khans survived but their spirit was all gone

One day, a meeting was called to order
Big companies were coming to their border
More jobs and lots of money they promised
Factories plundered the soil they had toiled

The air and water got smelly like the loo
Few got jobs, but most had nothing to do
Machines pounded and clanked in chorus
Trucks and wagons made noisy ruckus

New creed called developers descended
They smiled a lot and talked so sweet
Those that got in their way quietly vanished
Their land was taken and they were vanquished.

Abu and father packed their bundle
At night they left their valley off to the town
Rashid waited at the station to pick them up
To his crowded flat they all went.

Three of Rashid’s kids and his begum
Welcomed them with open arms and loud talk
Abu got a job in the army garage and
Khan opened his small shop on their Street

Months ate up days and years months
One day Rashid came in a coffin amid loud wails
The Khan clan grieved silently and prayed
Officers came put a wreath awkwardly stood and left

Time healed the wounds; like it did always
But more grief was in store for them
Abu died in a fire wifeless and issueless
Amina’s husband left her a childless widow

There were other tragedies they had to brave
Nature killed many and brothers killed brothers
Death lurked everywhere reveling in ecstasyRavaging people’s lives in a mad orgy

The Khans were peace loving and law abiding
They raised their kids to be kind and generous
But their wretched fate was indeed reckless
What did we do wrong the Khans wondered

And wonder did they until their twilight
Sun had lost most of its golden glory.
They sat huddled facing the twilight
They sat thus defeated and sorry.
Fait Acompli

He was good looking, suave and bad and was the most important link in the Sri Lankan Felix syndicate, which ran several clean front organizations. But money came for the syndicate from several other unclean hidden agencies. One of them dealt with girl trade. JS was the lynch man for that operation which spread its tentacle to a good dozen countries. JS traveled extensively. His passport identified him as a Sri Lankan male, 28 years old 6 ft 2 inches tall and 60 kilos heavy. Neat! That part was true, but the rest of the information in his passports (he had several) were fictitious.

Angela was in late teens studying in Stella Maris, a reputed all women’s college in Chennai, when she met JS in a lending library. Then such libraries were popular. She fell flat for him. He was charming, talked with a sexy accent and had those dreamy blue eyes that ensnared girls in his trap with such succession that it even surprised him. He was the bastard of a Swedish diplomat stationed in Colombo. The blue eyes and the Caucasian appearance he inherited from him. But his mother was a Lankan.

JS was seen with Angela in cinemas, malls and one or two occasions even night clubs. For the orthodox household of Angela, this was all unthinkable. If they had got a whiff of what was going on, it would have brought the house down. But Angela cared less and was a lot luckier not to get caught. The fact was she couldn’t help herself. Through her JS met several pretty girls, who would all one day fall into his trap and end up in a Sheikh’s bedroom or a business magnate’s.

In a typical operation, Angela would have landed there first, but she didn’t for some strange reason. JS assured himself Angela would have to go eventually when the girls started disappearing so that no one should be there to corroborate with the cops. But JS kept delaying. On a wet Monday he got a call from one of his contacts in Mumbai. Then it was called Bombay.

Next week Angela disappeared. She was last seen by her friend Kaushalya. The city Commissioner of Police, Mr. Balakishnan, gave a brief statement to the press in which he claimed he was following certain leads after questioning the missing girl’s family and friends. Nothing would come of it, for JS too had disappeared. The police fed up with the investigation not yielding anything, concluded that it was a case of eloping and hurriedly closed the case.

Had they dug deeper, they would have hit the murky waters and linked her disappearance to two other girls who had vanished equally suspiciously. Angela and JS had left by air on a Sunday. For Angela, who was still in her teens it was all so romantic. She couldn’t guess the terrible plight that was waiting for her. On landing at Bombay, they checked into seedy hotel, where a night squad of police raided and took the two into custody. Later JS would mysteriously disappear and Angela would smell rat but it would be too late. The squad would beat her up and Angela would lose all hope of a rescue when dramatically a kind old lady would appear, persuade the officers to relieve her. Naturally, the naïve girl would go readily with the good Samaritan.

JS would not be in a hurry to reappear in Chennai. Instead, he would cool it for a while and then resurface elsewhere, when the hunt was off.

But it did not happen that way. Until the appearance of the old lady everything fell into place according to the script. But the old lady failed to appear. The police would later discover her in a suburban train bleeding and near death. To cut the story short, one bad link led to the other stinking one and soon the cops were on hot trails of JS. Eventually he was caught literally napping in a cosy suite of an international hotel.

As for much shaken Angela, she was returned to her parents who whisked her away from limelight. After a battery of tests and a series of counseling she rises up like a phoenix and wins accolades in her later life. Only she knew how lucky she was.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My Wedding - a Funny Affair

My wedding was a funny affair. It happened in a crowded hall. My bride and I sat on the raised stage under a lovely flower canopy. It was a short ceremony. Rings were put by the betrothed on each other’s right hand. A gold chain was hooked around my bride neck and a pair of thick Jasmine-Chrysanthemum garland was exchanged amid much fanfare and shouting and flash bulbs.

It was while having the prodigious feast that I started scratching my neck. By the time I had reached the middle of the feast, I had to discontinue the eating business and get on earnestly with the scratching business. My bride sitting beside me was bemused by my new- found passion. Couple of well-decked good looking teenagers sitting in the opposite row had started giggling. Now I was scratching away quite unashamedly!

It’s allergy! My uncle, who was a medical practitioner, seemed to understand the reason behind my not so acceptable behaviour. He quickly got me to a private room adjacent to the dining hall and sent the waiter with a prescription. My upper garments came off, so did my chain, glasses and watch. They agreed to keep the ring, however. My inflamed body had swollen up in places including my face and neck. My near tears bride was ushered in with assurances. One look at me and her pretty eyes nearly popped out if their sockets. I tried to smile but I don’t know quite how it looked.

It took a while to get my allergic manifestations to subside. The antihistamine administered gave me a good sleep. When I finally got up, the swellings had subsided, so had the marriage crowd. By the time my newly married wife was in jitters. We were whisked away to my ancestral home for the night. We reached there without further misfortune.

As the night approached the traditional yet so unique first night was about be staged. To accentuate the romantic air, some of my creative cousins had decorated the wedding suit with floral arrangements, mellowed down music and dimmed lights. The last one was not part of the organized scheme. It was more because of severe shortage of energy. The master bed was covered by a floral canopy and the bed was strewn by jasmine buds.

I was first led hearing some of the lewd jokes and pertinent suggestions contributed by all knowing cousins for whom the experience I was about face was long over. As for me it was a bit tormenting. You can’t possibly imagine what fear a closed door can invoke! What would she be like in our exclusive company? Would she laugh at me for the allergic manifestations earlier? Would she show some anomaly that was well covered by her glittering sari? I was absentmindedly biting my nails when she entered with the conventional glass of milk that is so much part of a Nair bride on the wedding night. I started and turned around slowly feeling very conscious. I was somewhat comforted to notice her weary look. I forgot my uneasiness and patted her shoulders as I would pet a dog. I really didn’t know what to do. Suddenly my tongue just wouldn’t move. My throat felt dry as it should according to the hurried education in these sorts of things given by Balu, one of my cousins. We looked a sight. Two clumsy individuals!

The moment passed. I found my tongue at last. I suggested we should sit on the bed. She readily complied. Earlier, I had removed every jasmine bud spread on the bed spread fearing another allergy attack. The cot creaked not so reassuringly. She extended the glass of milk looking at me out of the corner of her eyes. All shy! Hmmm, I thought. In my pretension of nonchalance, I gulped the milk down. But I choked on it, a spree of cough followed. The more I tried to subdue it, the more aggressive it became. My bride was up and looked at me with her bulging eyes. I don’t know what emotion was prevalent in her eyes at that time, but romance was the last thing there. I tried to assure her with a gesture of my hand. I got it under control eventually.

There was a long stretch of silence. Then I started laughing. My bride joined after a pause. The tension melted and we giggled like two teens. We held each other’s hand and there was an un-describable closeness at that time between us.

We talked at length. In subdued tone, still very conscious, we talked about this and that, I looking at her face she taking fleeting looks at mine. It must have gone on for some time, only when she stated to yawn I realized the need to sleep. I switched the light off and went to the bed, got under the canopy and pulled the sheet over. The swish of the fan was loud, but my heart pounded louder. Now what should I do? Should we do it now? Shouldn’t we? If I proceeded, would she think I was an impatient wild brute? If not, will I be judged an impotent? Or worse, a gay! You don’t know how extreme thoughts could be when you think alone under a loud fan and a quiet bride beside.

Finally I summoned courage and turned to her and was about to hug her when I realized she had gone to sleep. I could hear her even smooth breathing. I understood the tension she must have gone through. I longed to hold her close, but I feared it would wake her up. So I lay on my back as close to her and looked up at the patterns on the wooden ceiling faintly visible in the moonlight coming through the window. I must have lain like that for a long time before sleep angel brushed my eyes shut.

CRASH!

I jumped up. There was a heavy thing on my chest. After ruling out all the possibilities included an aerial attack or worse a terrorist attack, I knew the reason. One of the bed posts had given way under the weight of the copious flower decoration on top. Luckily only one side had come down. My spouse was spared. I gingerly got up, woke my wife up. She started! She was appraised of the situation in hushed tones. Having extracted a pair of cushions from the Diwan, we lay on the floor each one to one’s own thoughts. In two hours I woke up groggy. I was alone!

The worse was to come. All gave me knowing looks. My nieces in teens giggled when they saw me. Even my mom gave me a reproving look! As if I had done something wrong. I didn’t even touch my wife. Not exactly, but nothing other than touching! My wife was grinning mischievously too. She didn’t look her awkward self any longer. I was working up. My dad patted my back and gave me a look which seemed to say it happens sometimes. I gave up and smiled smugly. Who cares?
Kerala Fever

County, country! God’s own country!
One hundred percent literacy!
They make our land so filthy
They pinch us and become wealthy
We are the victims of democracy!

Fever! Fever burning bright!
Chikun! Dengue! What a blight
‘Course it’s all a terrible sight!
Fever! Fever burning bright!
Take our kids and give us fright!

Browning’s Tiger, don’t burn bright
They have lost their kin and might
Few is left to their sorry plight,
Sulking in what’s left of the jungle.
Project tiger- isn’t it a bungle?

Press is screaming yellow jello
“Yellow, yellow dirty fellow”
The paper’s leaders bellow
“Don’t be too good dirty fellow”
Mob won’t eat your marshmallow!

Did you hear of the Paper Bond Story,
Of the Patriot taking smelly bribery,
They swear: it’s a bond; we’re so sorry
They swear: return the booty, but it’s so silly
Where’s the crook that runs the lottery?

Or about the nun in query,
Her murder is a damn mystery
They say: The leaders caused the tragedy
Cops fret about her lingerie
We cry and curse our drudgery

CM goes on to proclaim
Land, we will surely reclaim
The Forest Minister says it’s lame
It’s just a bloody tall claim
It’s a shame, such a shame.

Munnar fever burning bright; we sigh
The opposition makes a hue and cry
Tata will take the hit they say, eh?
But no, they can’t touch his hair
Life is indeed so unfair

The cleaning n cleansing campaign
Gives us a terrible back pain
While they clean up the big cities
They dump up our rural crannies
With smelly stuff lying in the drain

The leader takes a javelin
And lands on gold at Lavlin
Ah! The loot? He surely didn’t
Red flag is swirling n twirlin’
We are all bleeding n dyin’

The flight in sky is burning bright
KC leader couldn’t just be right
The woman, aghast, saw no light
She felt his hand all black and white
And now he is in a slanderous fight

We farmers, in hundreds, die
Our kids in multitudes lie
Waiting in hunger and fatality
Jobs are lost also loyalty
LEADERS, LEADERS BURNING BRIGHT
WE CAN ONLY BEG FOR OUR LIVES!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Back Again!

Ya, Back again. Just was lolzing in the rainrich god's own country gone to dogs! Bugs and mosquitos are malicious, so are the politicians, kids, students, teachers and every chaprasi. what's come to the most literate, most liberal kerala?

Frankly, it doesn't bother me as much as those righteous guys nostalgic about the old times. As if world will stand still. Priorities change. Money is the most important thing. So try and make the best of it if you can. hordes of money grab as much and horde it. i don't know for what.

i believe great intelligentia around are contemplating big doom for our planet in a century at the most. So what happens to the money you have the property you own. I wonder! But then you cant just contemplate and fall to inaction. may be we should horde money after all.

I remember the Abba song Money, money, money..... Nostalgic! So what?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Mom's Delicacies

Being back in rainy Kerala, I feel nostalgic about Amma's cooking. She would make here concoctions out of a confusion of raw and ripe fruits, an assortment of vegetables, and garam garam Indian spice along with all season coconut gratings, which would find its way into all sorts of Kerala cooking, either as such or ground into a paste with a wide variety of taste makers. She would serve us with hot hot idlies ( fashionably pronounced Italies), steamed rice cakes sprinkled with inevitable coconut gratings with equally steaming black gram curry, puri-potato etc for breakfast; a sumptuous and spicy lunch with inescapable rice and pappads; a high tea with as much tasty spread as you can think of; and a mouth watering dinner to boot. No wonder all of grew fat on her love!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

My Mom

I remember her soft and all caring. I remember her feeding us rice. She would mash all the ingredients together, kneed it, work on it with such frenzy until it became a juicy paste, which we used to slurp up. Something in her hand made it all the more tastier. Her perseverance knew no bounds. Although bronchial asthma made her bent, it couldn't bend her spirits. She doggedly refused to be intimidated by the nasty disease instead confronted the difficult chores with a smiling countenance. She lived to make feasty meals and serve to a large crowd. She had such good hands. Even if she made a swift meal it would taste like a gourmet's delight! Alas, fate stole her away from us. It was abrupt and merciless. I feel a vacuum, which I can never really fill. Words become futile to convey my longing for mom. I love my mom.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Men's Enterprises Inc.

The chauvinistic men look down upon the chatty women deep in conversation. Many jokes have piled up one top of the other belittling this ‘women enterprise’ as if for men such trivial activities are demeaning and of course gross! Yet, wherever I go at least among the Malayalis the men talk as much if not more than their female counterparts, including myself; and louder too. The topics they indulge in – as bad if not worse than the women. If you consider one unit of air going out in speech per syllable, at least a million units of air are expelled from a male’s mouth a day! That itself is enough to trigger a global warming!

Some love to talk loudly, or may be softly or in some other unique way exclusive to them. I listen sometime to conversation among men gab, gab, gab on and on. Sometimes they are so monotonous that it serves as a lullaby and I have caught myself nodding off to sleep. Some argue among themselves and it sounds so much like a fight. I have been whispered to convey juicy gossipy. I have witnessed some interesting manoeuvres in oral intercourse. Some like to keep reading loudly the news paper and also join in a talk with others at the same time. Some talk animatedly shaking their heads, nodding their heads to emphasise the matter, while others fling their hands all over and knock down things perching precariously on shelves, corner stands and other places or laughing and talking simultaneously making it difficult to understand, especially, a joke. The words get stretched, get cut into several bits or are not heard in the vehement expulsion of air, which is so much part of laughing. It is so exasperating that I sometimes tell them to do one at a time; either laugh or talk. Some, while talking, bring out spray of spittle along with words giving a shower bath to the unfortunate communicator. For those inebriated souls words get stuck all over their mouth. The repetition of the idea being communicated is common among such cases. Some of them talk the same idea in several languages. The garrulousness of men is evident in places where they flock like the buses, bus stops, restaurants and so on and so forth. Some like to beat on the thigh of the listener while they talk, which I find terribly annoying. Some try to reach the opposite sex by talking unusually loudly to the unsuspecting crony. After having delivered the message they look in the direction of the intended person, all the while the person talked to remaining a foolish gizmo. Some, even when they abuse, like to give a sheepish grin so that the onlooker doesn’t get a clue as to what is being exchanged. Some like to explain a joke, some want a joke explained. Just Imagine!

It takes all sorts to make the men’s world which is sometimes so hollow. Have you landed yourself in a party of teachers or engineers? If you are not in either of the profession, you will surely be excluded from the talk. Also, the so called intellectuals can hardly talk anything outside their world and utter anything other than the jargon of their profession. If at all they attempt, they either ‘ump’ and pause before saying a full sentence. Interesting conversationalist are the ones I mentioned about in this update. I will talk about the other type in my next update.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

FAMILY REUNION

I was recently at the ancestral home for the puja, which is an annual affair without a break continuing for the past fifty odd years. Although it was started for pleasing the deities, in the contemporary time of insular fragmented family units, it also serves as the platform for social interaction.

So, the relatives gather for the event with enthusiasm and expectations. For several of us it is the time to indulge in nostalgia of our school days, youth and the good and the bad times unique to us. A kaleidoscope of events and a cascade of characters twinkle and disappear in our memories. For some it means sharing gross gossip, exchange juicy information of the black sheep among the family and have tempestuous orgy of criticizing everyone and everything.

The over-sensitive teens suddenly plucked away from their high-tech gadgets and skyscrapers and catapulted into the quiet rural setting would sit alone weary of the elders and scoffing at their village-bum cousins. They in their lack of sophistication would be curious yet keep away from fear of rejection. They would perhaps whisper among themselves or ogle at the city bred who would mightily ignore the transgressors or condescend to give mono-syllable-d replies to their chirpy queries. Some others would go seeking adventure in the verdant landscape only to get bitten by the itchy plants, mosquitoes, hovering wasps or irked honey bees. They would come with rashes or swellings all over and their mothers would cluck and fuss like big fat hens over their well cared children having to face such a dreadful misfortune. For some the stay would offer a love affair to remember, for several it would be just a waste of time.

The kids were the ones that really enjoyed in open minded merriment running around happily, making new friends and playing meaningless games. They would splash in the tank or slurp the hot stew of tapioca or just yell and make the grown up upset. Some would go into the kitchen to explore the unchartered territories much the consternation of the fussy maids and bewildered aunts.

Of course, the shriveled up senior members would sit and pray looking forlornly at nothing with uncomprehending eyes. They would smile toothless or too toothy and grip your hand in their gnarled ones and look at you intently with their cataract glistened eyes and ask you embarrassing questions, like “Do you remember me?” or remarks, like “My, my, look how this girl has grown into such a pretty thing” . How should you know all this? You may not have met her until then in your life. But you just show a happy face not to offend the nice old lady, even though the corners of you mouth must be twitching and aching from too much of continuous smiling.

The neighbours would stop by and look myopically to find the reason for the sudden hustle and bustle. They would search for familiar faces among so many buxom ladies, filled out men and well nourished children. If they find they would hesitantly march in and loiter around awkwardly until some member recognized and came to their rescue. Pleasantries would be exchanged along with some currencies. The group would depart after politely taking leave soon to be replaced by another and then another.

Day would grow old, haggard and die.

This puja I missed my Dad. He was a superb singer. At dusk, he would sing hymns and bhajans glorifying little Krishna or destroyer Shiva. Kids would sing out loudly in chorus and the whole atmosphere would be so harmonious that all will feel uplifted. I could picture him sitting crossed legged with his back erect and singing in ecstasy with his eyes looking up smiling at the pictures of gods and goddesses while relatives of all ages would crowd around admiring his vocal expertise and getting submerged in devotion. His deep voice would reverberate and echo down the alleys spreading warmth and peace.

Instead this year was pathetic. My uncle and his crony got boozed and he was itchy for a fight when he got sloshed. We knew his trick. He would just open a topic and encourage you to talk. Then he would pick an argument. Soon the situation would be irrevocable and irretrievable. He would quash his victim by calling them ‘stupid’ ‘idiot’ and other adjectives even more unpleasant. He would make his adversary squirm and cry. At last, he could trap my unsuspecting cousin to open her mouth. The friendly discussion of politics soon escalated into a full fledged fight. We tried to intervene and deter it. But the pair had by then started calling each other names. To cut the morbid story short, by the time everyone came to his sense terrible damage had been caused.

The next day early my cousin left in a huff with her family. My uncle got up with a nasty hangover but no frayed nerves. He was clueless why Raji and her fine husband had left so early. We never told him. Let bygones be bygones.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Where are you?

Where are you? O please tell me
I’m all alone a timid child of forty.
You’re a part that I took would be there
I can’t go on, my legs falter, I’m unaware.

How high up are you in your heavenly flight?
I sit up wondering many a sleepless night.
I dream of you hovering up in the sky
All in benign grace, blessing us by.

I heard you talk to me, “O, don’t worry son,”
I’ve heard your warm chuckle soothing and fun.
I wish you would chide me into fair action
I really oughtn’t sulk around moping in the sun.

Alas, the big armchair sits ‘ere empty and bare
It’ll rock no more in abandoned care!
I picture you rocking in your abode
Telling gleeful tales to the young from your horde!

In walk my pretty daughter in the pretty park.
She asks dismay in eyes, “Where’s Grandpa?”
What do I tell her? I silently ask,
Life will teach; perhaps not her Pa!

Monday, May 7, 2007

BRINJAL STORY

My dad used to be a wonderful story teller among many other things. He used to enthrall the children around him with his animated sessions in which the demons and gods from the Indian epics would come alive. Even the adults used to be drawn into the hypnotic performance. The more he said the more the kids adored him.
One day the brinjal fry made for the lunch was unanimously rejected by us kids, which made my mom mad. No amount of tempting, cajoling, bribing and chiding would make us eat the stuff. If the leader rejected all the desciples would not dare eat it! Finally mom came to her wits end and turned to dad.
Then he embarked on a story which went like this:
There was once a Brahmin who abondoned his righteous deity and resorted to baser life. His only qualification was his culinary expertise, which made him sufficiently rich to indulge in nefarious activities. As his life span came to an end, Yama, the snatcher of life called him to announce about his impending departure to the netherworld. The Brahmin nonchalantly, but politely suggested the Lord of Death should accept his hospitality and should have the brinjal fry that he had just made. It was hot and tasty, so it was such a shame to abondon it to rot! Yama who was hungry, readily agreed to have it and soon forgot all about his mission. Irked by the undue delay, Brahman came to the Brahmin's house to enquire. Yama, knowing this, was flustered. The vile Brahmin assured him he could park himself in one of the rooms and to keep him company, a plate of the succulent brinjal would be served. The lord of Creation soon landed and pompously asked the whereabouts of Yama who was supposed to have bound his soul and left. Again the Brahmin used the same ploy to trap the unsuspecting Brahma and he too was rushed in in a hurry when the angry Shiva descended. Shiva too was ensnared the very same way. Finally it was the turn of Lord Vishnu, who presently came to ask the Brahmin to pack up and get ready to leave. The cunning cook tried to fool the Supreme God, but He knew better. The brahmin having come to realise the futility of trying to con the Lord, agreed to go to hell but wanted a question answered. The Culinery expert informed the irritated God, that according scholars it was not possible for an individual to land in hell if he saw the Holy Trinty. Vishnu agreed with him. Soon a smile lit up on the God's countenance. He knew the sinner had had him! He couldn't but admire the presense of mind of the noxious individual and allowed him to go to heaven, and the sheepish looking Brahma, Shiva and Yama went away fancying how brinjal could be made this tastey!
At the end, all of us ate the brinjal fry that mom had made without any further fuss and realised it was tasty indeed.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

WHAT'S IN A NAME

In my Dad's days, names of people used to be typical. Kalyani, Karthyayini, Ammukkutty, Parukkutty and so on would be usual among girls/women. The male names would sound more masculine: Karunakaran, Krishnan, Radhakrishnan, Balakrishnan, Ravindran and so on. People never used to givre so much relevance to the variety, but insisted on grandpa's or illustrious uncle's name for males; so would the females inherit their grandma's or aunt's name. These names used to be functional and meaningful, yet not very individualistic. Naturally, if you call out for a Radha especially in a crowded occasion like a marriage, several Radhas would answer the call, in this particular case, even males ( Radhakrishnan's short form is 'Radha').

Names among citizens of other nationalities are also interesting. Some are very short like those of the Chinese, while Srilankans have very long names , so do the Telugus. Those of the Russians would end in -ov while those of the Americans are Hammer, Butcher, Strangler etc. The Potuguese fancy D'Costa, D'Souza, Da Cunha and so on, while their neighbours prefer names such as Dias, dicruz and so on. Some of the African names rhyme with their countries - Mugabbe of Zimbabawe! The popular joke in a Readers Digest issue on Chinese names was: when a child was to be named they would drop the cutlery and the sound made would be the name assumed, like Ting, Sung etc. Yet, on the occasion of a prize distribution ceremony, an ethnocentric American once asked me: "How do you pronounce these tongue twister names right?" I wanted to say the secret is to clean the toungue well every morning, but I didn't!

In my youth, the trend among Hindus was to name single-syllabled names. Binesh, Jinesh, Rinesh, Hinesh etc. would be rhyming quartuplet's name, while Remya, Soumya, Namya, Chamya would naturally be their female counterparts. So many such names sprung up as a result of this fashion. Even the typical Christian names started taking Hindu surnames such as: Rajan Daniel, Sunil Varghese, Ramesh Cherian and many more. Pals used to call weach other by abbreviated names - Praks for Prakash, Rems for Remya, Rams for Rema, goi for Govindan Nair and so on. This went to to such an extent that, dad would be call Ach and mom would be addressed Amms. My sister was once embarressed to be addressed 'Anus' that too in a letter!!

I read in one of the news features, that the female names among females made them disinterested in science and math. So, they argue that, Sally would not be interested in math, while Alex (female) would be.

I do have a rather long name. To help out Arabs and European associates having to exert themselves to speak my name, I once told some Arab friends my name was Menon. On another occasion, when I sort of bumped into one of those innovative guys, he called me Mr. Lemon. He must have understood he was mistaken from my facial expression, because he readily corrected " Mr. Melon" smiling smugly! I would rather have been addressed Lemon I thought, at least it was a great actor's name! On another occasion having given my card to a Philipino, he called on at the office and demanded the secretary to summon Mr. Mirinda. The bemused but humorous secretary blurted out that there was no Mr. Mirinda nor a Mr. Pepsi there!

My daughter has a typical female name - Remya, which she chose to change to Ramya. Don't ask me why. Now the trend is to choose ones own name, I think!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Another Miracle!

Recently my neice was struck with a bout of Amoebiasis, which affected her liver and nearly stole her life, but by God's grace she recovered rapidly. At that time of frayed tempers and constant prayers, a lady came in distress asking for some sandal paste which she had exhausted. When science fails, people often turn to devine blessing in desperation. In such an emergency the lady who came to my mother-in-law was also hoping for her husband's recovery from a hopeless condition. My mother-in-law, who is known for her generosity, gave away what was left of the sandal paste with kind words of encouragement. Only then did she realise her folly. She in her exessive urge of kinddness had given away the Prasaad, which was in short supply. It would take more than a day's of travel and consierable irritation for all concerned to get the devine sandal paste, but it had to be done. Turning to her alarmed daughter-in-law she confided in her the blunder she had made. She opened the bottle in which she had stored the paste. The daughter-in-law looked in. "What are you talking Amma?" she asked. "Look inside, the sandal paste is very much there!" My mother-in-law was stunned; the paste had indeed returned. In a shaking voice she whispered, "Bhagavaanay!" Tears were rolling down her cheaks. Her son marching in couldn't comprehend the reason for her tears. He rushed to his daughter thinking the unthinkable. He was both relieved and overjoyed to note that his daughter had open her eyes at last! She had been in a coma for a week almost!!!
Even today the sandal paste stays in the Puja room as a testimony for the devine grace. "When she talks of it my mother-in-law has four tougues," says her daughter-in-law. My neice has now fully recovered and runs around cheerfully.

Monday, April 30, 2007

MIRACLE

A long shot of a girl in a verdant hilly landscape. She emerges as a teenager, topless. She turns her head and looks up at the sky. Camera would greedily have sucked her rural untouched beauty if it had been a tele-film. It would further have siphoned out her perky breasts, exotic wheatish skin, shapely lips and upturned nose - a silhouette perhaps! This is not a tele-film, that I narate about, it was a scene from a tale that pertains to the genesis of a family that would have prematurely vanished into oblivion had it not been for the devine intervention.

A Brahmin -Nair couple of considerable wealth and fame lived in a the rural outskirts of Valluvanad. It was customary for the Veluttha Paaraappatty Mana Thirumeni (Devine body) to be betrothed to a Nair lady, but it was unusual for him to stay married to her for longer than, say, a couple of years. It was part of a farsighted custom of the Nairs to get hybrids of progeny through conception by Higher caste males two centuries ago. In a usual sequence, the Namboodiri would have some nuptial bliss for a time until the Nair girl was pregnant, thereafter he would withdraw from the Sambandham and move away to greener pastures. The Nair girl would get a Nair boy as husband, who would be formally married but stay separate. Ironically, the Brits tried this kind of ethnic cleansing 120 years later among Australian Aborigines!

As for this particular couple, they stayed in marriage, eventhough they were not blessed with a child. Grieved by the absence of an heir apparant to continue the matriarchal system, the pious pair travelled to Mookambika temple far away north in a bullock cart which was in vogue in those innocent bygone times. Their trip was based on a prophesy by a reputed astrolloger that the merciful Goddess would bless them with a baby. After staying in the temple surroundings unscathed by humans and 60 days of intense prayers, the couple were urged to return home by the Goddess in dream.

It was on the return journey they came across the rural teen. She was limping and looked so forlorn. The lady felt obliged to help the girl and asked her to accompany them. The legend is a bit sketchy at this point. There are so many unanswered questions, but I guess that's how miracles are. Anyway, the girl acccompanied the middle-aged couple to their rural abode. On reaching, the lass was instructed to have a dip in the tank and change in a room to the east of the house. That was the last time they would see her. The soul that went into the room to change just vanished into thin air!

It did not take for the astrolloger, who was summoned, a long time to guess that it was all Bhagavathy's miracle. He proclaimed that Vellat House would never end its saga because of lack of progeny. Three cheers to all the Vellattians!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

SEARCH

"Saro, I'm going to search for an 8 Ana coin," would be my Dad's way of saying that he was on his way to the toilet. This was one of the many strange codes they sometimes used to communicate in public without letting others know of their intention. Many sexists would find the need to convey the whereabouts of the spouse within the house quite restrictive and repulsive, but for my parents such a thing as 'individual space' was non-existant, nor would either consider it primeordial for survival of marriage. Full sharing and complete unconditional surrender between them made their marriage absolutely harmonious contrary to the popular belief of the western shrinks. How apt that name is for the psychiatristts/ psychoanlysts/ practising psychologists. They never broaden their vision, instead they prefer to typify and restrict. Sorry I digress!

Let's get back to the story. Hearing the cheerful utterance of my dad, one of the senior members, who couldn't believe he really had gone in search of the fifty-paise coin, called out to my mom. She was bewildered why on earth my dad would have to go in search of such a trivial sum. Having confronted my mother, she showed her an object and confided in her with an embarrassed smile that she had actually found the missing coin on the floor and kept it aside to give to the beggar if no one claimed it!

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Exorcist

Hello

Once when my cousin, Jayan, and I went to see “Exorcist”, we were confronted by a huge queue waiting impatiently before the box-office to open. We too joined the line not really expecting to get a ticket. Those were days before television brought multitudes of channels at home. In due course, after verbal tirade with those at the back trying to generate a stampede, we got to the box and bought the tickets to our surprise. It was conventional to take a packet of pop corn and a bottle of Thumps Up (then Pepsi and Coke were banned) into the auditorium, so armed with them we marched in. We got seats with two loonies in the rear. Being Tamilians, they were talking loud discussing the scary parts of the movies. We scowled at them, stared at them and frowned at them to make them shut up, but it was useless. The duo went on and on until the movie started. The part where the girl makes all those contortions, Jayan suddenly realised how silent the guys at the back were. We found them bent low on their seat. They had almost ducked their head between their thighs! Throughout the movie they sat thus!

So much for their guts

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

FARRTING

The college hostel where I was admitted turned out to be a virtual prison, with a priest warden to control and constrain. Father Stephen, a tall lean hungry looking man, was a tyrant and ruled his dominion with an iron hand. At least that’s what he thought, until some of us showed up! Prakash and Anthony were terrors; George and Gopalan were the wicked ones; we were no saints either. Anyway, to cut the long story short, we started a farting spree as a way of getting at the warden, who felt the numerous tubers planted in the hostel campus should be used in our diet. The farting Satyagraha rocked the foundation of the hostel. Scouts would spy for the warden’s arrival. The moment he climbed the steps from the porch, the collective farting would start. There would be different types of farts, the silent and deadly ones to the rumbling and thundery ones. Some creative boys managed to make the sing song ones while the amateurs got a variety of gasing going - longish ones, several short ones in a succession, chorus farting and many more. Manoj cojured up a potion with garlic paste to enhance the efficacy of the gas escaping from anus, giving it a deadly smell. Our performance would have humbled the skunks even. Many tried all sorts of concoctions to augment the result. In the end some got a bad stomach upset not from the tapioca but from such therapies. At the end of the five-day agitation, Father Stephen quietly changed our menu. And the farting stopped. This was a turning point. The warden finally quit and went in a huff! He never came back. I’ll narrate the story behind the hasty retreat of the warden in a later updation.

Monday, April 16, 2007

KATY MIRZA

The big-busted Katie Mirza was raving beauty when I was in my teens. She caused the young men to ogle at her massive mammaries. However hidden the pair of them were, they would still be seen. Men used to dribble spittle at her anatomic anomaly; even the old bandicoots would get a hard on just looking at her.

I am not talking about Katie Mirza described above; the one I am talking about is a stunning Pomeranian bitch. We acquired her as a pet when the Mathews decided to migrate to Australia. Katie was what they called her, but we added the family name as an after thought because of her sexy look. One day we had got back home after a long stint at the college hostel, when she bounced on us in ecstatic welcome! We were too surprised to speak for a few minutes, but became immediately apprehensive when she started jumping at us again.

For my sister without any female siblings to turn to, Katy was a welcome respite. The two of them would go on for hours grooming and looking good. It went on to such an extent that finally my dad put his foot down and limited the use of talcum powder for Katy’s make up. In 2 weeks three tins were over!!

She was a vegetarian and had sweet tooth too! She would relish sweet papaya, mangoes and hog cakes, ice-creams and puddings. My brother and I had a tacit understanding not to go on a collision course with her. However there was no such understanding with strangers. Katie would go snipping at their ankles or would give the chase of their lives! She would run round and round cattle barking the wits out of them. Yet, if we placed her on a table (she had one just for her to stand), she just wouldn’t jump down no matter what the dire need was.

Ms. Mirza went as abruptly as she had come. She spent some seven odd years with us leaving sweet memories to cherish for a life time. She died a spinster. The day she died, it was unbearable to my sis, she just wouldn’t stop whimpering. We gave her a grand funeral and buried her in the yard. Her tomb still stays outside the verandah, but she will be in our heart until end!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Great Job

There was a time when we used to stay in another rural area where my dad had built a house. It was surrounded by fertile land in which trees, palms and a luscious garden grew. We, as kids, used to play all sorts of games and get a lot thrill and sometimes chidings from the elders.

Once when my grandpa came from Madras for a longish stay, he felt obliged to plant a bed of peas or two. The rains came to give a respite from the summer heat and the peas grew into creepers. Soon grandpa got the farm hand to fix support for them. The series of interlocking sticks tied up supported the foliage. To our childish imagination it looked like a make shift shelter, quite convenient to go as our home in one of our games. As weeks passed, we were delighted to spy the pea flowers which were rather bright and attractive! One day we got carried away and plucked all the flowers. Then we had a bright idea. Why not take it to our grandpa. It would surely please him. So, off we went with our precious gift to him, but we got what we least expected. He screamed at us: You mad urchins, you had to spoil my pea garden! Uncomprehending the chaos we had created we looked at each other in stupor.

Later, when mom told us about the botanical truth of the pea, we just accepted we had perpetrated something terribly wrong. Nevertheless we never knew why everyone was so upset about our plucking the pea flowers, which were so, so pretty. Only when I was learning about growth of a plant in one of Mrs. Jacob’s numerous botanical classes much later, did I realize why all that commotion had occurred over the pea incident in our childhood.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Innooli

Exposed dangling breasts, weather beaten wizened face, liquid eyes, a mouthful of irregular stained teeth make up the five minus feet tall apparition called Innooli. She spoke in a grating voice and cackled when you least expected. This character came to our lives more by destiny than purpose. Innooli came with the ancestral abode, where my parents decided to spend our life after Dad’s retirement. She was the compound sweeper. In her younger days she was a raving beauty, who stole Koran the farmhand’s heart, soul and peace. She was one of those rural women who had great character, pioneering spirit untouched by erudition and so called sophistication. Down to earth, she raised her family almost single-handedly. Her husband bid adieu much too early for her comfort. When destiny shattered her life, she stood resolutely braving the storm of loneliness of destitution.

What I remember of Innoli is her excessive passion to keep the courtyard and the walkway in the front spick and span. She would forgo her breakfast, sacrifice it to her grandchildren and continue with tenacity the chore of uprooting each recalcitrant weed. She would incessant lecture to the trees, ants, passers by walking up the road in front that ran to the local market. Her stories would always be circuitous touching on all aspects of the rural tales: exploits of her kin, Koran and others, her short marriage, her maleficent neighbours, her obnoxious daughter in law, Ayyappunni- her mad offspring and so goes the never ending list. She would scold the insects stealing bites at her ankles, she would fume at the thorns of bougainvillea, she would brandish the broom at the gawking street kids trying to throw stones at the mangoes. By the ceremony of cleaning the courtyard finally comes to the end, she would not only have worked herself up, but worked up a good appetite too. She would then plod down to the kitchen where she would slurp up hot kanji (sort of a rice soup) with a spoon made of ripe jack leaf.

She produced in people mixed feelings. As young children, we used to find her fascinating, amazing and exciting. Innooli to the elderly was amusing, irritating and ridiculous as her mood changed, while to the youth she was an anachronism among modernity. To her in-laws who had become more fashionable, she was an embarrassment; to her daughter-in-law- a domineering pest.

With her death, an era was cremated with its vibrancy and vivacity.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Life is Like That!

Two Kuwaitis took time off from studies to visit the US and learn the “juicier aspects of life”. Having consulted one of their cronies and found a reference (Charley), they left. On arrival at Kuwait the duo caught up with their cronies and over lunch they were asked how their short stay in the west was. It was fun except for Charley, said one of them. Charley was a freak because he had two ass holes instead of one! “Everywhere we went the guys at the bar or at the brothel kept saying: ‘There comes Charley with two ass holes!’” he laughed. “That’s how we found out about his ‘little secret,” confided the other.

********
My dad was a great person. He was brought up in a large household with 12 other siblings and a horde of uncles, aunts and cousins. They lived in a sprawling rural ranch. The hot and humid climate and abundance of leftovers was ideal for the cockroaches, which proliferated and permeated into the household like family members. It so happened while my dad was exaggerating the giant size of an acquaintance he had met in Madras where he was learning medicine, that the girls from the next room queried whether the person in question was dark in colour too. Dad, puzzled by the question, said he was not dark; in fact he was quite fair. The next query from the adjacent room floored him. The question was whether he flew too.

This was a classic example of cross talk. While dad was talking about his classmate the girls were talking about roaches that flew mad!

*********
Another instance my dad was in the ranch after having been away for quite some time, he heard the gate open and discovered their relatives from far off Delhi come for a visit. As his mother was in the kitchen supervising preparation of lunch, he called out to her and informed her that some guests had arrived. Much to his chagrin and those of the guests, he heard his mother roar out from the kitchen, “In that case, just take a stick and chase them away”.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Helping Others

I found an old lady carrying two large bags of grocery. It was obvious that she was experiencing difficulty. So many young men idling there seemed to ignore her plight. I was in two minds; wheter to help her or not. If I volunteered will it be construed that I was being a show off? If I didn't I would feel bad about my behaviour. In the end I decided to help her. By then, a young lady came to the old lady's rescue. With a pleasant smile, she coaxed the senior citizen to part with her burden. I felt bad for two reasons; I was denied of the opportunity to help, the girl overtook me too.

This really opened my eyes! Take an opportunity when it presents itself. If you dilly dally, someone else will take it.

Monday, April 2, 2007

THE TEST

“Do not talk while you are doing the test,”
announced the mean bearded pest.

Now SHSHOW it, no one lookin’ this way
Quick! What’s the answer for 1a?

My chum is all glum and pale
“Pss-st!” I whisper down the aisle

Joey is mumblin’ the response in caution
Alas! I detect a footfall in motion!

My – my. . it’s too damn late
He has sealed his fate

A pair of brawny hands grabs my pal
And hauls him up paper and all!

He’s going to blurt; I fear a demotion!
The beast is squeezin’ a confession

No beans spilt no cats let out, but
Poor sobbing Joey got a rosy butt

The ugly teacher contorted and yelled
“I told you do not talk while doing the test!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

MY GIRL

I have met a lot of people who have influenced me deeply. One of them is my girl. I find in her an unusual strength of character. She could bring in some changes in my life and outlook, which even my parents couldn’t. I respect her a lot. We do have some differences, but I admire her sense of optimism, courage to face the world (almost on the verge of recklessness for choosing me as a life partner) and abundance of happiness. She celebrates every moment of her life cheering herself and those around. Negativity has no place in our household! Yet, she is realistic and not an escapist. She is ready to confront issues and redress them pragmatically. She can judge characters readily – too readily. Despite her positive qualities she is not vain. That’s the best part in her. And she doesn’t use emotion as a weapon against me. We do shout and yell at each other sometimes, but everything is forgotten and forgiven after the outburst. We don’t accrue negative feeling and horde animosity. She has taught me lessons of practical living and importance of involvement. You may think this poor bloke is hen pecked and smitten. After 20 years of marriage to my girl I still feel youthful and indulgent because of her. The golden rule in our marriage is: never encroach into the other’s space. Hats off to her!☺

surmon on the mount

Hey hey. . .

Its me again! Life is dull. I am reminded of the industrious ants. By the way, who qualified them as ‘industrious’? We humans did so, because the actually dumb six-legged creatures displayed similar mad behaviour as themselves. Like those industrious chums, we too go in a line to collect things with a wild obsession matching those wild creatures, who spend three fourths of their miserable life in grain gathering and logistics. In the end, when it is time to retire and enjoy the booty accrued over the years, we are too sick or too dead! Yet we never stop this mad goose chase. Our creator must have designed toys like us for his pleasure – to enjoy our misery. The instant we reach success mostly by the Creator’s intervention, we gloat about our greatness and glorify ourselves soon to fall in a deep chasm and lose it all!

Take time to enjoy the golden sea at dusk, the flutter of the dragon flies near the dandelions, the gleeful mirth of the tiny tots. There is God in those! There is solace in those.

PS: Sorry if I sounded too cynical, but I am also one of those ants by the way.
Occupation

They moved into a new flat
The father arranged all in tact
And the Mother rearranged it all in fact
To end the war, they declared a pact.

The father put a dining table
With chairs all around, not so stable
Then came the books, litter and the cable
The mother chided: “The room is a stable!”

The children played around, made a mess
Of the new carpet and their dress
“They are like their father, can they do less?”
Says the lady to a neighbour, who couldn’t guess.

The computer brings more worries
The fridge not working, the fruit turn purees
While their bellies burn with spicy curries
Off to school each member hurries.

The father is a teacher in Maths
A wild and fiery temper he has
The mother takes for the seniors, humanity,
And drives them surely to insanity!

Their brats, a troublesome pair,
break things while pretending to repair!
“What to do?” the teachers lament in despair
Their parents sigh and moan but don’t really care.

Both are in 8C sitting in front row
They become restless as the days grow
During the recess the two gave Tom a blow
His nose has bloated, giving a red glow!

To complains the parents have gone deaf
While their neighbours have grown rough
At home they put chill dust on powder puff
After wash, their Mum went mad putting that stuff!

The manager after six long months complained
He chanted: the couple can’t be retained
As peace and order were constrained
And many damages the building had sustained!

They soon moved out of the flat in haste
From unforgettable past, past the rusted gate
They blame it on society and fate
“We didn’t do anything,” they simply state!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hey its me again. I just got to remember my childhood when i used to be a rural unsophesticated giggly boy with dribbly nose and scruffy hair. I used to be bullied by the Nasser and gang. I was no match for their rugged physique and rude behaviour. I used to cry silently at home when lights went out and Mom gave a good night kiss. I used to cling to her hand. She would gently cajole me to sleep. I never felt like telling her the truth and despair her turbulant mind. I kept it to myself and suffered humiliation day after day. In due course of time, it just turned out to be a weary ritual. Eventually the bullying ended when the gang got kicked out for harming an influential boy. Why am I telling this anecdote? It is to tell all those out there: if you let it pass and be patient you can survive without much ability. Don't get carried away by situations; instead handle them with patience. Soon you will acquire the finesse to handle difficult situations. If I can survive anyone can!
Moments


The tear of a petal,
The mirth on a church bell,
The smile of my daughter,
So pure ‘n’ natural.


She’s so precious,
Her manners so gracious,
As Hindus do in ritual.
I name her Harmonious


Every moment she teaches,
Of trust and love she preaches
by her glee-rich smile;
Like sanguine beaches.


Yet, in a moment of anger
Alas! I did beat her in rancor
How frail I’m, I curse and cry
Ah! She hugs me in sweet slumber.


I now see her in the garden,
Talking to hibiscus in passion,
They nod their heads so crimson,
In blatant amusement.


I bid adios at the wretched gate
I now regret the recalcitrant state
Clueless of the deceit, ‘bubbye’ she says
Her eyes linger as I seal my fate.


That’s the picture I remember
In my forlorn days of separation
Of the terrible, terrible treachery
Of a father to a child, so fair.


The moment, I would strain
Within the four walls of pain
As I’d twist for tears of shame
But they never came.

The mornings were merciful
But the nights were cruel
As the shadows danced in fury
As phantoms leered in frenzy.


Now I stare at her image
Time rolls in hysteric rage
Her silvery image mocks back
From the glazed album page.


One day I open a mail
‘Dad it’s me, your li’l quail’
Elusive tears flood my eyes
Tears smudge many a sad travail.


Tomorrow’s her convocation
From the school of medication!
I brush back my thinning hair
I look at myself in despair.


Will her medical degree have a cure?
For a cut so deep in her bosom-
For the daggers of misery;
Only Lord knows for sure.


At the gates I fumble
‘Move away ‘, they grumble
I see her far away I want to reach her
Inside the hall, clumsy I stumble.


There she is taking the paper
I flail my hand at her as she searches
Her dad’s face in the perches
Our gaze meet as Death reaches


I lie in heavenly bliss
As she stoops to give me a kiss
As life flutters by, I hiss
My last breath in her bosom.

Narendran
Education

Education is an ongoing process that helps to transform the unskilled to skilled, the narrow-minded to broad-minded, the inefficient to efficient and so on. Education has many meanings. Basically through education we learn the rudiments of social structure, behavioural patterns, character building, manners, morals and principles on the one side and on the other it gives you lessons on efficiency, skill and organization to do things. “The truly educated know there is no end to education and are humble about their knowledge.” – This was told by a visiting dignitary to our school – Mr. R.V.G. Menon when he interacted with us. Needless to say, this means education never stops. Vanity is the quality of the uneducated. While literacy and numeracy are a part of the educational process, they are not the only part of education. We must learn to be responsible, dedicated and empathetic, to the unfortunate; we must strive hard to better ourselves and those around us; we must seek higher goals both spiritually and economically and attain them; we must bring pride to our locality, region, country and the world as a whole. These are the duties of the educated. Principled life, dedicated work and adherence to social responsibility are the major tenets of education. We the students of GIS are role models for the student community at large. So it is our duty to bring value and principle to our life. Remember – compromise is the sign of weakness or lack of education.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What must we do to overcome terrorism?

When we neglect a person, we deny him proper understanding of our attitude. We abandon him to theorize about our intension and deduce based on such a theory he harbours. Communication gap aggravates the misunderstanding and resulting in the person getting ostracized. Apply this to a larger section and we get such a group of disgruntled people. After a considerable span of time communication among the group furthers this process and brings a chasm of difference between them and the main stream of the society. Neither seems to understand the other or bother to. Now the sidelined group has two options; to accept or react. One of the extreme reactions is terrorism.

First of all, there must be a paradigm shift in global and national initiatives. Rather than merely emphasizing on economic and material development, policies must target human development. Prominence must be given to micro societies and their pertinent situations to bring them to the mainstream of eco-socio centric activities. The current tendency to initiate policies in this direction should shift from remote national initiatives to active local centers where the NGOs/ social workers understand the needs of the society. Pragmatic programmes for human development should be implemented without red tape. Rural and urban administration must have more of people consensus rather than bureaucratic interference; nor should it be thwarted by political indecision and inaction. Time should be given to understand, analyse and troubleshoot indigenous problems with the help of people’s forum. For this there must be radical changes in several government and non- governmental procedures, attitudes and mode of activities.

Fanaticism, sectarianism, communalism and ethno-centrism are fragmenting beleaguered societies that are vulnerable to indoctrination and entrapment by the individuals with vested interests. They take advantage of the spirited yet helpless youth, and enroll them in terrorist organizations. So special programmes should be aimed at the youth to identify them, nurture and empower them.

Media takes special pleasure to sensationalise such issues purely for commercial purpose, although lofty claims are made about enlightening the public about what is happening. What must be done is not just talk and rave about such issues; perhaps such announcements only help to give free propaganda for the people’s enemy. Why not give greater role for the NGOs to be among the bitter people and sooth their wounds? Today, a giant share of the rural empowerment and disaster management are done by the NGOs, yet not one of them is mentioned in the news channels after the tsunami recovery. No chat shows either!! The press/TV folk can do something to prop these NGOs up a little bit. In fact the administration can share a lot more of their power with the NGOs and give them money and means.
Com - muting

All are sitting in a huddle
I get in as it hurtles
‘Good morning!’
No answer given
All niceties forgotten
My balance is shaken
I sit in the last row
My head bent low
Unceremoniously
Lips curled morosely
Amidst the huddled figures
Mind roaming in high gears
The vibration
Of the moving contraption
Spill all over through my buttocks
Sitting like two estranged bullocks
Partly from sleep so gay
The girls ahead sway
As the van trundles away
The man at the wheels
Drives as he feels
Reeling from the lanes like
drunken Mighty Mike
The boy sitting next
drums on the seat, vexed
fearing his job being axed.
Then the van breaks tires screeching
We pitch forward bouncing,
The bobbing heads banging,
Laptops plummeting,
Cars in the rare honking!
And then nothing!
We settle down unthinking!
The pilot is smiling!
Sorry!
Not to worry!
We ARE in a hurry
And ARE ready for the flurry,
No matter what it does carry.
We rush past Romans in toga
And hear the Indian raga
Of unwritten saga
And turn to Rigga.
Past the rows of splendid villas
Past fences of drooping bougainvillas
Past the smoking chimneys
Past the crawling companies
Round the junction
Full of nagging premonition
Just too fast
Not a way to last
As the girls nod in frenzied sleep
As the brakes squeal in slush deep
The van does stop
I make a hop
No glance stolen
No chance taken
Deliberately
Silently
I get down.
Job

Application
Jubilation
Probation
Subjugation
Approbation
Congratulation
Coagulation
Intimidation
Culmination
Condemnation
Litigation
Termination
Extermination
Exciting maturation
Of exasperation and
Furious purgation, a
Kind of emancipation!

Work until the last second
Work until you’re a legend
Work until the undoable is done
Work until the end of your hope
Work until you become a whore
Work until you’ve lost your conscience
Work until your blood has lost it ambiance
Work, work, work, until. . .

Time has delivered hours and decades
Swallowing vigour, vitality, viscera decadent
Like a humongous black widow, crouching hideously
As the pseudo- humans watch you
They ridicule your plight behind your back
While clucking their tongue in sympathy
You bleed alone
All alone
All alone

Darkness spreads around you
Like a monstrous octopus
Like a ignominious tarantula
In its horrifying viscosity
You falter and fall into the doom
Into the cantankerous chasm
Like a boy in a rattling circus train gone crazy

You hold your breath and look for your siblings and daddy
For your magnanimous friends and family
Then you turn around and see their
Contorted faces chiding you
Admonishing you
We’ll not pardon you
You’re at fault
Shame on you
Shame
Shame

I look up with my blood-shot eye into the oblivion
Can I search for a beginning at the end?

MY POEMS
MY MOST PRECIOUS

In wide toothless glee her eyes screws shut
She smiles benign whole-hearted joy from gut
Now her face shrinks into a pinched mood
How her passing time colour her infinite mood!

Her head tilts and momentous gurgle pours mirth
She’s now groping for some precious thing of worth
She finds one so good, it’s a torn bit of paper
She now sleeps may be a shut-eye or slumber

As morning sun sprays golden rays
Her shock of hair frames her creamy face
Like a well-sucked mango stone
And her pudgy fist holds for dear life the paper torn.

She wails, she burps, she sings, she shouts
She crawls, she sprawls, she bawls, she lolls.
Her creator must puzzle in his wisdom profound
How such a small thing makes her world go round.

No possession makes me feel so precious
No one but her consider me great and gracious
No time is enough to share her lively joy and cheer
No gold can buy a bonny daughter sweet and dear.
THE DOOR
Behind the door
They’re sore
Afore it
Smiles galore
They hide
Behind the façade
As it yawns open
What’s gonna happen
No one knows

The door when shut
Some do hope
In fumes of dope
Or as they lose hope
On a fatal rope
Traps destiny
When the trap opens
The truth never dawns

You’re shut
Your ego’s bust
As you get a slap
You take it out on the trap
The rage is spent
The knob is bent
As it’s yanked open
All regret what’s happened

He’s got a GUN!
BANG BANG!
Bullets make patterns
Call up someone
The wall’s open
The corpse has fallen
Another life forgotten
No one gives a damn
As the door opens

It’s night
The cuddly bride
Shuts the door softly
The spouse hides his impotence
With feigned fatigue
‘Darling let’s do it,
‘Let’s not do it,’
Says the wily goat
And feigns a head ache!
As the wall slides shut
Nuptials bust!

‘Tom is learnin’!’
‘Don’t disturb him.’
The door, he fastens
His love the teen pens
Learning can surely wait
With Lila he can’t placate
‘She’s got to get this.’
‘And blow her a kiss’
The door is locked
Love is rocked!
Study mocked

They say the door traps you
But it does well for a few
The door is an enigma
Or evokes a stigma
Yet it’s a guard in defense
Or a curtain of excitement
Or a stupid thing
To vent your feeling
The door is our soul
When it closes makes us whole.

Menon's Musings 20

I am just an everyday guy- nothing great, no one ordinary either. Just the sort of guy anyone would accept easily. But let me warn you. Better to keep me away with a barge pole especially girls. Yet people who know me say I am not so bad! Hats off my girl, she just can't give me up. don't conclude that I am a LOSER! I am not just a LOSER; I am the BIGGEST LOSER in town. I sort of got drifted to the languid dunes of the Arabian Desert with it mystic mysteries. Of course by the time I drifted in it too had lost its rugged charm and had become one those busy oil-rich settlements the Middle East has reduced itself to. Predictable humdrum life made all the more monotonous by the mechanical life style and narrow interests haunt me here too. In my fiftieth year I finally made another migration to the virtual world of forums and blogs. "Never too late" goes the saying but I wonder! In Malayalam there is a saying "Wherever a sinner goes it turns out to be a hell". Hope it doesn't happen with me. . .