Saturday, December 26, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Breath comes catching, careful i tread.
In a frustrated punch,palm meets palm,
as I tiptoe around the calm eye of a storm.
One by one, did i watch them fall.
Surrender their freedom, as chains are worn.
I cringe as i gnash my teeth,
their looks of contentment, let me down.
A farewell to a happier time.
Smiles and cheers didn't feel like a crime.
When we rode the winds without a care,
worries didn't drag us, death did we stare.
Now my fellow riders are bogged down,
bearing a cross made of worries, a world of doubting frowns,
Lines of sorrow, do mark a once cheerful face,
Mighty steeds, tragic, as they slow down.
A beacon that calls to those who would heed.
as i stand firm, in the bulwark of single hood,
Hark unto me, escape the noose that hangs,
to yank you into a life of servitude.
Heed my clarion call, turn a deaf ear to marital vows.
Women and men, learn to overthrow the yoke.
Live life as we were meant to live,
Not reduced to rehashed sitcom jokes.
Those trapped do yearn to be,
free as nature, like you and me.
Stay happy, stay single, stay strong.
A life full of grief, despair, arguments, inadequacy,
is surely a way of life that is wrong.
A life without commitment or "Quality time".
Guilt free to pursue what I think should be mine.
Sample the various flavors, drink in all the hues of the sun.
Why stop an epic tale, with an end at Chapter One?
Tumultuous, torrid, confusing, soul shattering thoughts that makes one relive the imagined glories of the past in the morning, contemplate the exciting mysteries of tomorrow in the afternoon, before being dragged kicking and screaming, to live through the weary, burdensome chores of today, in the evening.
Well, one particular morning, when pangs of nostalgia proved exceptionally enchanting, i pulled out my school album. Besides the initial shock (S#$T, i used to look like that!! Wow, i had so much Hair!!) one thing that particularly struck me was, almost everyone in the album had moved outside Chennai. I'll be the first to admit I'm rotten at keeping in touch with folks. There's just a couple of people from school I keep in occasional touch with. But i do know that a lot of the people smirking, giggling, whispering, with a shine in their eyes, unaware of the disappointments, joys and turbulent phase of life ahead of them. As i looked at them, i wondered, how many of them will look at their school photos and wonder, Chennai is where i became the person i am today?
And as is usual, my thoughts then extended to a generation before us. A lot of them from small corners of India. In a Tam Bram family like mine, places you come across frequently in the journey into what has gone past include Kumbakkonam, Sriperumbudur, Virudhangar, Thanjavur, Karaikudi, and so on. A lot of those folks used to tell me, that Madras (love that name) used to be the promised land for them. A place with the promise of ever flowing rivers of milk and Coffee. A place where people got rich, and linked to the grand engine called South India.
A lot of them have grandchildren growing up in America. And in the span of two generations, a chasm has emerged. A gulf dividing cultures, sensibilities, viewpoints and beliefs. I have sadly, never made a trip to the towns where my grandparents grew up. Yet, i can imagine that my urban upbringing will bring about a disconnect if I ever do manage to make a trip.
There are stories there that i will never know about, sadly. About the frustrations at the moment when it dawns on you, that the well which forms the limits of your world, the arduous fights that mark your climb outside, being awestruck at the expanse of the world which awaits outside, yet which doesn't greet you. And the knowledge that once you cross the line, you can never truly come back. And the consequences of that moment.
The struggles of adjustment in a foreign land, coming to terms with the demands of frugality. Learning to cope up with the battles of being a lone wolf, away from the cocooned existence in the pack. Watching your children grow up as total strangers to your way of life. The proud moment when they spread their wings, and the sadness which marks their journey away from home, to lands beyond the extent to which eyes can see.
And finally, the loneliness. In the twilight of your life, in a land which you made your home. Cutoff from the past, yearning for it.
Stories that repeat themselves, over and over. Stories I would have loved to hear, Stories that will sadly, remain unknown to me.
Why do such thoughts occur to me? I really don't know. Will they continue to come to me? Absolutely. Will I make something of them? Working on it.
That's all i wrote.
Monday, November 02, 2009
of the blood,
streaming from beheaded foes.
Red is the colour,
of the warrior's eyes,
before facing the gallows.
Red is the colour
of the evening sky,
as day draws to a close.
Red is the colour,
of his flag,
A symbol of the fight against woe.
A hero arose from a people suppressed,
questioned those who did not forget.
Marked him for sacrifice, an example to make,
of those who questioned the steerage of their fate.
Oh they mocked, with glee they cackled.
And smote his village, with fire that crackled,
and burst and thundered, as it consumed,
the lives of those chained, now lost in fumes.
A black heart was created, with the cindered dust,
that rained on ravaged land, on a fiery dusk.
He howled a last cry, and with an oath,
unsheathed the sword, enemies to smote.
Silent as the night, invisible like sin.
All knowing yet untraceable, like misty wind.
Strong as a storm, fueled by rage,
furiously calm, a warrior sage.
He fought a long battle, won a few wars,
his sword gleamed red, his face earned scars.
Retribution, eye for an eye,
left the kingdom blind, toothless to try.
Try to stop him, they did,
with methods old and new.
Bribe, seduction and other vices,
the jolly motley crew.
Impervious he proved, and the losses kept mounting.
The final battle approached, the hour of reckoning.
And he walked onto the fields, where once flowers bloomed.
The assembled army quivered, awaiting their doom.
What happened at the battle, is a lore we'll never know.
No one returned alive, neither hero nor foe.
The ground had turned red, a stench filled the air,
severed limbs scattered everywhere, in the mad stampede of despair.
They say that when he went down,
he took thirty more with him.
They say when the authority taunted him,
he spat and smiled back at them.
And that was the last that was ever heard,
of the man who never spoke a word.
Who conquered the cowards who hid behind arms,
and never fell prey to their corrupting charms.
The tale of the warrior of the unsheathed blade,
lives on in legend of the truly brave.
We whisper his name, to grant us courage,
while he rests under an unmarked grave.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I mean, yeah, having to save all those passwords each time can be a minor headache, and I have to install adobe flash each time i boot off the USB drive, but still, the idea of running an OS from USB and leaving my poor old SSD alone, holds an irresistable charm at the moment.
The default setup does include Open office, Firefox, Rythmbox, Pidgin, Evolution and a rudimentary movie player that is not a VLC substitute, but still, pretty much covers almost everything that i use my Aspire one for. The right hand SD reader doesn't show up at start, but since i use the left expansion slot permanently, it's a fault that i can live with.
The more Linux i use, the further away i go from MSWindows32.exe. Now, if only there was a decent WINE script to run those Directx and OpenGL wrappers.
Overall first impressions are very favourable. love the redesigned interface, with Maximus being the pick of the lot. Boot times aren't as good as Linpus and i think the battery dies out half an hour quicker, but otherwise, being Ubuntu, everything else works well out of the box.
Will give this baby a live trial for about a month. If I don't ever feel the inclination to get back to Linpus, then UBNR it is, for the aspire one at least. That or Linpus Lite 1.2 which should be released in a couple of weeks.
Make mine TUX 4 eva!!!
Saturday, October 24, 2009
All those chimps, when you see em.
Give yourself a pat on the back,
We've come a long way baby.
Take a look at the ground,
sinking under footsteps all around.
It once was the floor of the jungle,
but We've come a long way baby.
Can you hear the roars of the cars,
the cacaphony of conversations?
The bellow of civilisation, that surely proves,
We've come a long way baby.
See that bird, or that majestic beast,
that adorns the giant TV screens?
Once they roamed the earth, in their multitude,
when our deserts were green.
A time when waters flowed free and clear,
gave rise to life, and which now fear,
the return of her plundering murderous children,
snuffing the life that she holds dear.
Sorry, please excuse that cough,
dust riddled lungs don't do me proud.
A cancer on the planet, clogging our skies,
Death in pollution's disguise.
As we strip our forests bare,
and suck the oceans dry.
Our time may be running short but still,
our ambitions still fly high.
And till the last man draws his last sigh,
each of us will still smile.
Pat ourselves on the back and say
We've come a long way baby.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
There you are, in front of my eyes.
You linger on in the periphery of my sight.
Your tantalising form, mocks and burns,
the lightest touch, sends shivers through the nights.
I know you do me no good, killing me slowly.
A shadow of who i was once, awaiting only,
another interlude, a stay in paradise,
A hunger that grows stronger, approaching its demise.
You have no idea, do you? Of what it takes,
To turn my head away, only to hesitate.
Another glimpse stolen, weakening resolve,
Fingers start twitching, tremors cascade from above.
I thought that i was strong, I thought I had the steel
to remove you forever, from the kingdom of my dreams.
But the worst part of all of it, is that you just don't care.
You lie there, mocking, resplendent, shining in my hungry stare.
All those sweaty nights, spent trying to rid myself,
of your lasting effects, the curse of your spell.
I still can't quit chocolate, diet as i might,
a burden heavy on the heart, and yet filled with delight.
Some day i will leave your shores forever,
and hopefully move on another vice.
Meanwhile I'll have another,
filled with nuts and crispies rice.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
There's this great joke doing the circles everywhere. You know it all too well. Every day now, some random unknown banker/world bank official/ previously unknown economist will tell you, quite seriously, "There are serious indications that the Recession has bottomed out and the recovery has begun". Flip over to the next page and you're greeted with " (Insert region name) Unemployment still at worrying levels/Decade High)". Flip over to the India page and you'll have bankers, consultants, ministers pat themselves at the "Fundamentally Sound Indian economy which has emerged unscathed". Right next to the para talking about rising prices and negative inflation(talk about about mutual incompatibility).
Nothing works on Time? Recession
Prices are high? Recession
Fraying relationships? Recession
Hate your job? Recession
The latest buzzword for chai wallah to your respected retired uncle? Recession
We parrot the word, dive into panic, and follow the herd without pausing to ask the 5 Ws and 1H we learnt about in journalism. Who caused the recession? What caused it? Where did it start? Why is a property bubble implosion in America threatening my paper wallah? When exactly did it start?(2007, 08 or 09? make up your mind Friedman). How exactly is the global economy (read America) different today from what it was three years ago?
Oh, it's not just economics. Let's talk about healthcare. We know all about the Swine Flu. However, how is it fundamentally different from the regular flu? Or the Bird Flu? I am not knocking on the unfortunate victims, but I question the panic mongering and (sadly) profiteering indulged in by pharma cos, in the name of treatment. The sad fact is, all of us take so much of what we've been told for granted, that if I were to ask you about how exactly black money could be brought back to india, when we don't have any idea about it's size, you'll splutter in indignous disbelief. "It's money that will go into children's education(like the 2.5 % we have been charged on every item, to see no visible difference in schools), healthcare (like the supposed thousands of crores the government is pumping into the sector every year) and development( the biggest black hole in the indian budget)."
Hey if Rajni and Vikram have made two movies about it, it must be true, right?
/ End Rant
Friday, September 18, 2009
The newspaper delivery boy
The Onyx worker who cleans the garbage dump
The Bus Driver and Conductor
The people working at ticket counters
Your fellow passengers and driver on a bus/ share auto
The waiter who serves you at a hotel/pub
The beggars you meet in a day
The shop owner at the mobile recharge place
The store assistants at the grocery/clothing store
The temple boys
The doctor's assistants
The usher at the movies
The petrol bunk boys and girls
The people who clean our excrement ridden railway tracks
The lady who sweeps the dust off the roads in the morning
The iron man
The chaukidaar who shouts on nightly patrols
The cable guy
The delivery guys
The list of people who we see but do not notice. The new invisibles. I'm sure there are tons of people i've missed.
Monday, September 14, 2009
There were certain formulae, certain rules which every story followed. There would be an Asura, who is fuelled by certain motivation, to seek certain boons from either Bramha or Shiva. And the way to get your boon? AUSTERE PENANCE!!! I am not kidding, right from Hiranyaksha to Rahu to Chanur, and so on, every major antagonist undergoes severe meditation (with the classic anthill forming on their bodies) and god miraculously appears, grants their boons, (indirectly sowing seeds for chaos) before god/goddesses save the day.
Well, imagine my surprise when i opened today's paper, to see the word "Government's Austere Drive". Having once watched the Lok Sabha channel once (don't ask, it was a dull and lonely afternoon), i could not for the life of me imagine any of our beloved saints in delhi undertaking fasts and chanting sessions. But then again, i could imagine them as the Asuras of myth, seeking forbidde boons to obtain forbidden fruits.
But as i read through the article, i couldn't help but laugh. Austerity in India means a minister must fly economy class and make a fuss about not making any fuss. Austerity in India means only taking 3 additional people along( when only the minister is needed). Austerity in India means "Sacrificing" five star hotel stay and "only" living in posh government guest houses, situated in heart of the cities.
Do away with austerity and start collecting their dues i say!! the mountains of unpaid BSNL bills. The Crores of unpaid travel bills (for family and friends on official trips), electricity overuse, and plain old bungalow grabbing, even after being booted out by their constituencies! levy charges from their personal pay and disqualify them, when they fail to attend even 30 % of the parliament sessions.
Cynical i know. perhaps i should switch over to Hindustan Times. what say?
Saturday, September 12, 2009
a sigh emanates from your lips.
Feel like whooping, too tired to shout,
and slowly, with a dream, sink into the couch.
The world goes silent, or perhaps you grow deaf,
and listen to the music of your soul.
A light that shines from within, fills your eyes,
and you discards the burdens of growing old.
Then the sting, that travels up the spine,
eyes flare open, bliss left behind.
A dread that throbs and burns you up,
a buzz announces terror, come to sup.
The nightmares that never ever leave,
on stormy nights, or humid dreams.
An enemy who cannot be slayed,
mock our progress, to our dismay.
They dwell in our homes, much before we do.
And linger long after we've left.
An evil so ancient that it will endure,
and outlast humanity, with contempt.
You slap your skin here, Oh another spot there!
Stop moving so fast, it isn't fair.
There's one of me, and thousands of you,
powerless in the glare of your stare.
There goes that hum again, the call of pain.
Of parting with blood we'll painfully regain.
I've tried smoke, mats and gel,
yet you soldier on, with total disdain.
I close my doors and windows are shut,
The lords outside try to burn you out.
Yet you always killed and continue to,
helpless we are, our defenses few.
Perhaps we only get our due,
for killing this world to suit our needs.
We may conquer space, land and sea,
but your creed conquers us with glee.
Through the ages, you've truly earned,
the title of being our greatest foe.
We will pray and hope for a day,
when we lay to waste, the menace of the mosquito.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Saturday, September 05, 2009
nauseous and yet not.
Seldom does panic desert me,
the way to the shore, lost.
While i try to ponder and decide,
is it murder or suicide?
To waste your life as it goes by,
Always shrinking and shirking,
from a burden only you can feel.
Not an anchor on whom to fix,
my empty reserves of prayers. Bliss
which teases and never comes,
into my arms, efforts undone.
Am i alive? Am i dead?
Not a feeling left in my head.
A heart that pumps a blood so cold,
freezes love and blackens gold.
Where is the rope that will bind,
a person to what they hope to find?
What is this elusive hunger to live?
A shoulder to lend, a hand to give?
The kingdom of life, a paradise, an island,
on the ocean of eternal sleep.
As i bob up and down, i slowly part,
with all the memories that i keep.
The temples of Beauty, Love and Lust,
Affection, Sympathy, Hope and Trust.
Their flames burn a bright farewell, to those who travel
ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
The silent sea all around me,
frothing and never still.
Impatient to claim me for itself,
moving in for the kill.
No regrets or unfulfilled wishes,
Stilled ambitions, lost kisses.
No remaining ties to my world,
nothing of note to remind.
As i bob up and down, I duck and sink
and leave the living world behind.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
The moon, when she croons.
The sweetest song, enthralling,
which she whispers, to us loons.
When she bathes the world at night,
our stage is flooded with her spotlight.
The dogs and cats let us know,
and await us, as their eyes do glow.
And the winds that rush through the trees,
bring noises and messages with the breeze.
A whole world ripe, ready for taking,
filled with chaos of our making.
The fools who term our freedom as madness,
shiver with fright, that we harness.
Your deepest fear, always thus,
that you too could be one of us.
Why bear one life, when you can be,
not one person, but rather three.
Why live chained by a moral code,
and not take a journey down our road?
To do as you please, live in the now.
Focus not on the why, but the how.
fearing death, why live so weak?
Stop the talk and start to speak.
See the world the way we do,
break the cages you're shackled into.
See reality, so mundane,
bland enough to turn one insane.
It's not too late, even for you.
Take not one life, spare not two.
Behind every circle lies a square,
happiness is a mask for despair.
It's not a thing entirely bad,
to be called a person mad.
It means that you don't conform,
like these idiots, from the day they're born.
The moon, she knows all this.
Smiling as she sees our bliss.
As long as she guides our flow,
our blessed tribe will continue to grow.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
As we so proudly proclaim, we are blessed with one of the longest coastlines in the world. The sight of the Marina beach on a Sunday evening can be a sobering reminder of the multitude that reside beyond it's shores. I've read in several books that one can smell the sea much before gazing upon it. Sadly, that remains another art that I've yet to master.
As you approach the water, you become aware of the noise of the city, slowly ebbing away until you reach that magical mid point, where neither the city nor the bay intrude upon the aural senses. A time where you can actually hear your inner voice, feel your heart beat, temples throb. Then you feel the caress of the wind, that welcomes you like a lover, long lost. You soak in the warmth of the sand as it slowly sinks, to accommodate the rude intrusion of your feet. And as you proceed, you hear the gentle grunt, not the mighty roar, of the water as it crashes upon the eastern shelf of the Indian subcontinental shelf.
Once you look back at where you came from, you realize that this is a city built around the shore. This becomes apparent as you gaze upon the several Victorian architectural splendors, each with a rich history, all along Kamaraj Salai. Then you look forward to the coast and notice the litter strewn across the shoreline, all the way from the light house to the harbor. Such callousness towards a natural wonder leaves one seething with anger.
That anger soon evaporates when a gust of sea breezes pushes you as you push against it, to reach the grayish muddy waters. Water that approaches discreetly, as if shy of it's coolness, in calm defiance of the scorching mid day sun. With each wave that laps your feet, you feel the tug of that ancient bond. The bond that we, children of the ocean (after all, life did take it's tottering steps in it's nurturing depths) can't deny, though our history of progress has made us forget.
And then the knick knack vendors, beggars, horse riders all clamor for your attention, breaking the idyll of the spell. It reminds you of the noisy bustling and ultimately soul sapping world that you must return to. Ever notice how one always “Rushes to the shore” but always “Trudges back to the land”?
As you return back to the mainland, and look back at the sea with longing, you also notice that your footprints are lost in the midst of a billion footprints of all shapes and sizes. Which will be replaced tomorrow by a million more footprints, all lost and swept away by the winds of change and time.
The only things that will remain eternal are the waves, still gently trying to reclaim and bring back the errant land, that ran away from it's fold, eons ago.
Questions that sear and plague the mind.
Riddles whose answers seem unkind.
Despair that seeps into your bones, so cold.
Worries that leave the young feeling cold.
The burden of the world we seem to bear,
taking on risks we'd never dare.
All for a smile or a loving look,
measuring one's worth, summed up in the pass book.
Envying your peers, as they move on.
Trying to shake off that attitude forlorn.
Lack of opportunities, your only excuse,
which lets you sleep- the classic ruse.
Never admit that you're bored.
Bored of yourself and insecure.
Make a resolution, determined to change,
and fall back into the routine you wanted to disengage.
Now your chair creaks in an empty home.
A shrine to the past that will soon be gone.
And you're forced to admit – you weren't that good.
No one will mourn your passing,
nor they should.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
We are a nation that is in love with it's history yet mystifyingly ignorant of it. We're great on the names, not so good on the details. For e.g. We know the main ruling dynasties – the Mauryas, The Guptas, The Mughals etc. Some naughty people would also include the Nehru Gandhi family in this category. Yet ask any college going (Non History obviously) student to name all the rulers in succession and you'll hit a stone wall 9 times out of 10.
There was an auto strike called yesterday, to protest the rise in oil prices. While i appreciate the fine samaritans that the auto wallahs of Chennai are (after all, it's not like they fleece their customers , or demand non standard fares, or tamper with non functioning meters, or anything), what drew my ire was the lack of uniformity in their protest.
Now, being currently domiciled in the northern parts of the city, i had to rush to the western side pretty urgently. As i neared the bus stand, i saw a large crowd, which was explained by a bystander – Auto strike Saar! Naturally this meant an unusually tense struggle, trying to get into the bus. That was fine. However, when i reached my destination, to my surprise, i found various autos plying. When i asked one guy why this was so, all he said was – those guys belong to a different union sir. We dont have any issues.
Here's my gripe. On what basis, or authority, does one bloc of public service decide to suspend activities, restricted to one part of a city? What were they protesting really? Didn't we have a severe hike in oil prices last year too? And isn't it the government itself which is fixing the prices, and not some shady private company?
Our civic authorities have not designated areas for bus stops in most of the city. So, elderly and sick citizens often have to stand in the heat and wait for a bus, or as a recourse, employ the services of an auto. Never mind the fact that our buses are extremely hazardous for any senior citizen, right from the steep steps, to the lack of adequate support while standing, or the impatient driver, who just can't wait to get out of the bus stand.
When i quizzed a protester after returning, he claimed to be a follower of the glittering example set by our father of the nation. “Sir, Gandhiji launched a civil disobedience movement to protest injustice. We are also protesting the harsh raise in price.”
To cut a long story short, i was so astounded, shell shocked and overcome upon seeing such accurate understanding of our founding fathers' beliefs, that i silently muttered a prayer. A prayer to save us from such stalwarts of public order. Jai Hind!
Monday, July 06, 2009
I can recall watching the Sampras Agassi showdown in Wimbeldon, back when i was in school. Which happened before humanity discovered the joys of Twittering, Social Networking and sold it's collective privacy to online marketing. But i digress.
Watching the match, i could feel the goosebumps on my skin, and a sinking awareness that i was witenssing something that was transcending the much abused "great" and settling into the abode of the "Immortal". While the tennis on that day was nothing short of genius, it was the poetry that it inspired on the next day, that etched the occasion into the forefront of memory. One particular line still brings about a smile to my face- " Today, Pete Sampras did not just play tennis. He walked on water."
Roger Federer is one of the unfortunate men to inspire awe, appreciation, respect even. But never love. Just like Michael Schumacher, Sir Alex Ferguson, Lennox Lewis, or even Pete Sampras at the peak of his powers, Federer is a sporting champion. But not a People's champion.
Perhaps it has to do with envy. Envy that singes most of us, when we see examples of God's gifts seperating the tremendous from the common. We like to cherish heroes who give us hope that those hailing from our world can ascend to the heavens. We cheer heroes who seem to carry the same flaws, suffer from the same anxiety and moments of doubt that plague our daily lives and act as excuses, holding us back.
And when sheer genius appears, slapping our complacence and laughing at our idiotic beliefs, we react with anger, envy and derision.
Yesterday's match was one of the greatest displays of tennis you could have ever found. A true sporting afficionado would not have held it to be below the drama and skill of last years epic battle. There seems to be a unanimous opinion that this match simply didn't have enough "Attacking" tennis. Hey, it wasn't for the lack of effort from either player, who spilled their guts and then some, on the court.
The reason why most people still seem to put down Roger Federer ("he hasn't achieved a Grand Slam like Rod Laver!, "Hey, Rafael Nadal owns the guy! Let him come back and then we'll see!") is because he laughs at the time honored theories of how to succeed in tennis.
The man makes his tennis effortless, which somehow, to the majority of the public, doesn't seem exciting or magical enough. We were mesmerised by the speed of Roddick's serve. Yet were baffled by how 50 of Federer's serves went unreturned. We keep hearing about how good his forehand and backhand is, how he uses angles and dips the ball into his opponent. But none of that craftsmanship is visible to us.
No matter how many grand slams he goes onto win, some of us "Sporting Gurus" will continue to lay doubts on his legacy and place in the pantheon of sporting gods.
Federer could aptly care less. While Sampras did walk on water all those years ago, Federer has created a symphony on the lawn court, with the racquet as his instrument. We who are deaf, are yet to hear the magic of his lute.
Almost a month has passed, since my return to my homeland. A return that had conjured thousands of scenes in the confines of mind. A passage that i thought would mark an evolution in my thoughts and approach. A journey that i'd eagerly anticipated & somewhat worried over.
And now? All i can think of is -"For this? You devoted the focus of your cortex, towards this?"
You know, it's funny how most travel stories always center around the disenchantment of a traveller when he returns home. But i think we always get it wrong. It's not the wandering and now returning native who finds his home "Alien". Oh no, it's the home that's moved on and made peace with his absence.
I spent a week, furiously noting down what i felt were brilliant notes on what exactly is wrong with the system of our country. The noise, the crowds, the chaos, public displays of Litterage (PDL anyone?), random chaos, failure to provide basic infrastructure etc. You know the routine. It's happened to all of us, when the fabled "US Relative" makes a visit and starts on the "This country" rap.
But two quick trips to different cities have proved to be a boon. Travel is a gift bestowed on us, that we seldom appreciate or indulge in. Yet it presents us the only opportunity, to hear our thoughts, while in transit. It gives us refuge from worries of the present, regrets of the past and fearful anticipation of the future.
I realised that India can function with all it's weaknesses, accomodating the dreams, desires, schemes, ambitions and anger of a billion people.Yes, things are wrong. Terribly wrong here. And salves for our festering wounds still seem far away on the horizon. But at the end of the day, the grumbling voice of one, is lost in the uproar and cries of a billion. A system that somehow seems to work, trudge towards progress at a pace that would grant a snail a gold medal at the Olympics.
A system that can be summed up in two phrases : "So What?" and "No, it's not possible".
And you know what, i've settled into the movement of the city, adjusted to the roar of my people, sweating like the rest of us, prostrating, cursing, resisting, screaming as we go about trying to be better than the person sitting next to us.
I know what you're thinking: "Yeah yea. So you've returned from the Gulf. So What?"
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Glad to know that the demand for the cuppa hasn't reduced despite all the downturns.
Kaappi and i go back a very long way. It is an essential part of the Tam Bram upbringing. The urgent demands to get some "Kaappi Podi Urgentaa" from the market, whenever a relative from the south would come by. The wonderful smell from the gunny bags in the shop as the boy in the "Chettiar Kaddai" (now that's an exclusive outlet, in Jamshedpur, if there ever was one) would lift a bunch of them in that weird shaped spoon.
The tiny pouch that would be the receptacle and fit in my tiny palms. The mad rush home when Amma would begin the process of making that "DecoGtion" which would act as the ultimate benchmark for south indian hospitality. That wonderful smell that would waft into all rooms of the house and me silently abusing those lucky relatives who would get a sip of that wonderful elixir.
Oh Yes, being a coffee aficionado in the heart of Tea(Chai) country was perplexing, exasperating and wonderfully rewarding in terms.
Moving to Madras(Yes, i still love that graceful old name for the city) was in small parts the equivalent of a pilgrimage for coffee loving me. All those wonderful shops of Kaafee Podis, waiting for me..
Alas, as was to be a trend for the rest of my life, rubbing my hands in glee with anticipation was always a precursor to the shattering of hopes subsequently.
That vile invader called "Instant Coffee" happened. Battalions after battalions of the army of true coffee lovers fell victim to the pretender to the throne. In vain, did i see the weak of the soul fall prey to the sweet lies proclaimed in the beautifully shot ads. Oh, the enemy was well organised. He found allies in all parts of India. And the horror!! That last bastion of "Kaappi", Chennai, caved in and drowned in the sea of coffee packets!!
I must admit, to my eternal shame, that witnessing the loss of the nobility of the bean, scarred me and i hid. I hid under the rock of plain milk for several years, doing nothing.
When Kaddai after Kaapi Kaddai shuttered their doors forever, i hid. When "Nescafe" and "Bru" became synonymous with the term Coffee, I Hid.
When my Patti betrayed the elixir of gods and took her first sip of packet podi, I shed a tear. While I hid.
Oh The Carnage...
Now, as i come back to the battlefield, i marvel the efficiency the enemy has shown. There are no carcasses here, rotting away, oh no. The bones have been pecked and cleaned and all indications of blood have been wiped away.
the kingdom of the packet has also been butchered and swept away in the annals of time, by the Empire of the "Starbucks" that stretches across the globe. Truly, it can be said, "The Empire of the Cafes catches no Winks".
I am the last of my kind. I am a lone warrior, a pariah who is wandering the desert, in the search for my manna. I have sinned a hundred times, consuming cup after cup of that celebration of manufactured taste and smell. Yet feeling dirty, as a vampire who sucks the life out of the hope for a Kaappi revival.
Where are my brethren? Are there no remnants of my ilk, who dotted the landscape just a decade ago? Is there no one who will join me as we try to reclaim the holy land? Will no one heed my call, and join forces to defeat the greater foe, the cult of TEA?
I shun the sweet waters, I abhor the daughters of Grape.
I turn my face away from packets of artifice.
I live, therefore i thirst and wander weary
awaiting a return to erstwhile glory.
Oh Coffee Oh Kappi
How far art thou fallen.
Oh Coffee Oh Kappi
Vitality that has been stolen.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
But a bit of distance helps changing perspectives. This is my first election from foreign shores. And if i were to sum up my opinion on this one, in one word, i would choose APATHY.
Granted, Shekhar Suman's plunge into the matkas and jhatkas of regular politics has robbed us of the excellent Poll Khol programme. That apart, this election seems remarkably bereft of character. While i can't put my finger on the exact reason, the maddening passion that generally marks the tussle and tumble of the Indian politics just seems off this time.
Whether this is due to greater concerns on the impact of the recession, or saturation of political coverage due to the armada of TV Channels, or the gradual blurring of ideology that used to distinguish our major parties or perhaps, the lack of a young leader, with a refreshing change of attitude/ideas/approach is up for debate.
While every Raju, Ganpat and Murari is predicting a hung parliament this time, i am a firm believer that opportunism and greed will hold their sway and give us a sworn in government at least for the next 2 years. what happens post that is beyond the scope of even the magic crystal ball.
What is of much greater interest to me however, is the voter turnout among the newly registered voters. I am also going to watch out for the positions and maneuvering that the so called "Third Front" is doubtless going to indulge in.
Sadly, i see the sun setting on the stellar public life of Dr Manmohan Singh a year from now. He was a spotless man in a muck of rajniti, and he along with Montek Singh will go into the history books unsung.
I will not put my neck out to predict a winner but i do think that unless BJP finds a new generation of leaders or allows the current gen to step out of Vajpayee and Advanis shadows, the party risks being relegated to the fringes of the right. Which is a danger in itself to our country. A Congress that is fearless of the "Threat from the Right" will relapse into the babugiri of the last 5 decades at the drop of a hat.
Dont agree with what I've written? That's ok with me. So long as we all take the Elections seriously, i dont mind anyone faulting my views at all.
Love It or Hate It
Dont Ignore IT.
Now back to my regular mind killing, creativity sapping, spark sapping dreary existence.
However the main plot of the movie, which deals with aristocratic discontent in a post Indira Gandhi India, got me thinking. Here is a chunk of Indian history, which had huge ramifications for the notion of a democratic republic of india. Here is a piece of celluloid that deals with one of the most important issues –the absorption( or devouring, depending on the viewpoint) of the 600+ erstwhile princely states that now make up the landmass of our country. Here is a movie that deals with the struggle of assimilation, a tale that involves coercion, bargains, deals, unfulfilled promises and threats.
And yet, I as an Indian who underwent the prescribed education in school, remain blissfully ignorant of this part in the story of the country. In fact, most of the education I received has since fallen by the wayside. This by no means is a knock on my wonderful school. I would like to look at it as a symptom of our faulty view of education.
History is one of the most moving and overwhelming subjects that ought to be taught with a view of not just imparting dates and places and sizes of kingdoms on maps. No, the objective of our lessons should be to transport us back into the palaces. To visualize the splendor as well as the societal conditions that existed then. To not drill plain names into our heads, but to give us living breathing figures, prone to the same passions and miscalculations that plague our daily lives.
When I refer to historic India, we all remember the grand names, like the Mauryas, Guptas, Mughals, Marathas etc with all the fervor of a freshly landed tourist with a guide book in hand. But how many of us can actually recount the shaping of our culture, the evolution of our language, the introduction and spread of several faiths, the sowing of the seeds of future conflicts, the reasons for the various conquests, the reasons for the burgeoning population, the wealth and eventual pillage at the hands of invaders, the arrival and reasons for the spread of the east india company.
Bluntly put, we are taught history in 3 main stages. The classic age, where we are told India was “the golden bird”. A whole lot of pats on the backs as we recall our advancements in sciences and arts and commerce, upto the Gupta period. Then we deal with the Mughal Rule and the subsequent shameful era of the Raj. The crowning glory then is the freedom struggle and the partition and 15th august.
But where are the details, of our participation in the World Wars? And what happened to our story post independence? What of the struggles of a young India, tottering after 2 crippling centuries of british looting? What about the simmering communal tensions, that devastate us even today? What about the genesis of the march of the Dalits to the forefront of national politics? What about the License Raj, a time when there were limits on the amount of sugar a family could consume? What about India’s struggles against Pakistan and China? What about the battles with domestic terrorism in the west, the heartlands and the northeast?
The story of the accession of J&K, Junagadh, Hyderabad and the ilk remain silent chapters, safely skipped over in our classes and exams. And the biggest omission of them all, in my eyes, remains the criminal exclusion of the Emergency.
There is no way that you can instill the meaning of freedom, democracy, rights and duties, the influence of judiciary, press freedom, censorship etc without teaching us about the Emergency. The other silent areas include the Sikh Riots, The crushing of the Khalistan Movement, the IPKF fiasco, the Babri Masjid, the Stock market crashes of 92, 2000 etc.
If you ever wonder why the new generation is apathetic to the trials and upheavals that we have witnessed as a country, look no further than to our text books. We call ourselves a nation, yet we do not know the meaning of it. The value of freedom, the meaning of it, as opposed to the definition, will only be truly found out when one is locked up in a cage. Far too many of us abuse the electoral system with our non participation, to really understand the magnificence of the privilege afforded to us.
Enough of the rant. Maybe next time, my anger would have simmered down enough to write in a more cohesive manner.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
i made a solemn vow to shed that ugly bulge that manages to make itself prominent on the sides. and just about everywhere else. i made this solemn promise while looking into the mirror (eye of the tiger in the background).. and couldnt help notice my triple chin do the best imitation of a ripple. when i growled.. or was that my stomach?
wish i could cut to a montage of me running on the beach, lifting heavy trunks of wood, smashing blocks of concrete, changing the earth's orbit with my pushups etc. and finally, coming back to the mirror and marvelling at the rock hard abs and rippling biceps.. keyword - " WISH"..
woke up for three mornings straight, and proceeded to sleep straight away. getting ready for office is tough right?
evenings fared no better. somehow, coming home always coincided with dinner. which can't be postponed AT ANY COST!! but something had to give somewhere..
enter brainwave, bulb lighting up, apples falling from trees, bath tubs and the like... i found the perfect formula.. no carbs, no proteins, no fats... no problem..
how much time does it take for laser to come back from the moon? how much time does it take for a chocolate bar to enter the mouth? that's about how long my resolution lasted..
end result, i have to get myself new pair of pants, shirts and shoes.. but hey, dont knock it. i am a member of the time honored " Healthy Indian" club. i dont mind that i leave a lasting impression on the road, or that it takes 5 people to sit in the back, to balance the taxi out. or that the lift screams in agony whenever some moron steps in with me.. seriously those people need to lose weight...
see, my brutal honesty is intact as ever. now if you dont mind, i have that wonderful milkshake to catch up with.
Monday, February 09, 2009
i have never bought into the whole hoopla of first impressions. there have been lots of times when the book turned out to be much better than the cover. one such case is the netbook that my sis got for herself.
ostensibly, the netbook was to be utilised for academic pursuits. basically, i got her the cheapest netbook that i could find which happened to be the Acer Aspire One. Running on an Intel Atom processor, with 512 MB ram and 8 GB SSD drive, in a small package that throws in a 9 inch display with wifi. sweet deal with the linux option.
although i scoffed at this weakling initially, i must admit that as time has flown, i prefer using it to my godzillaic 17 inch presario laptop. and the Linpus Lite linux distro grows on you like a charm. getting the VLC, Open Office rpms from the yum installer was simple, and installing the NTFS debian package also made it read my external hard disks.
nifty and nimble. boots in 20 seconds flat. easy to lug around in a backpack, and attracts the right kind of looks. the only downer is that the battery lasts for 2 and a half hours, with the 3 cell version that i bought, although a more expensive 6 cell battery option is there.
desktop replacement it aint. but for practical portability, this one is hands down the best deal on the planet, which i had for 999 AED (around 250 $ i think).
kudos for intel and the atom, for making the netbook a reality. however, it's more of a case of intel cannibalizing it's lineup. lets face it, why splurge 400 $ upwards for basic functionality? in these times?
Friday, February 06, 2009
his house is his no more.
his mom is moving him somewhere else
little tommy bids goodbye to beloved shores.
there is mohammed, worrying about
his father's land that will now be sold.
and his feeble protests fall on ears deaf,
as roots are severed, to stock up the gold.
IT meister Arjun sighs,
as the pink slip greets him.
all those loans for a house and car,
have claimed another victim.
Peter Han is worried sick, as
his stocks obey the laws of gravity.
mountains of unsold goods touch the sky,
but the base reeks of depravity.
history repeating itself again,
once again we succumbed to greed.
countless tears that have been shed,
hopes and ambitions bleed.
is there an end in sight?
i dont know.
will tomorrow be a better place to be?
i dont know.
perhaps this is a passing cloud,
not a thunderstorm.
but dreams shall endure
when nightmares come true,
tis our curse to carry on.
why does each day make me loathe 8 to 5:30 jobs?
why does an uncertain future scare the $%^& out of me?
why am i doing what i am doing?
why does everything seem so meaningless?
how can i be so tired of living when i havent even lived half of it?
is it good or bad to want to leave one's home?
why does guilt always accompany any answer to the above question?
what does one have to show for 40 years of service?
how come, no matter how much progress we make, the middle class never becomes affluent?
why cant one shake off worries and take risks in life?
why does one long for solitude and then subsequently long for company?
all of us speak. does anyone really understand us?
is leaning towards deism a step towards heresy?
why do we create borders when only 30 % of the earth is land?
if all the world is the stage and we are all the players, where the hell is the audience?
does anything that we do really matter?
is life really hell and death our redemption?
are these the questions triggered by a recession?
why am i so prone to fatalism?
why are you still reading this?