Monday, August 29, 2005

THE Rising...

I finally got down to watching The Rising and I loved every bit of it...what struck me most about the movie was how it rightly pictured an India at its lowest ebb, at the very nadir of its 5000 years of history, of a people who had degraded into a spineless, fractitious, humiliated race to turnaround the history of the world by declaring the arrival of modern-day civilization with a 90 year awe-inspiring, non-violent freedom struggle. August 15 heralded the birth of the world's largest democracy and the proud Englishman, Churchill's prophetic words of the sun finally setting on the English Empire became true.

Mangal Pandey, may have been an accidental hero as historians claim but when he lit the spark of rebellion he had also unknowingly checked the centuries-old decay of India's civilizational ethos. The very instruments of modernization the East India Company created to expand their trade and wealth helped catapult their fall. They united the entire Indian subcontinent from Afghanistan in the west to Burma in the East, Kashmir in the north to Kanyakumari in the south under their sphere of influence, networked the whole country with roads and railways bringing into contact people of different lands, started schools and colleges to educate men and women to work as their babus, and as greats like the Mahatma, Swami Vivekanada, Ramunjan, C.V.Raman, Tagore and Netaji kept springing up they realized it was only a matter of time before the Indian Nation would rise.

The India of today...where else in the world would you see such diametric opposites...people who speak more than 1/2 of the world's known languages, people who look and dress differently, people who believe in different faiths, people who differentiate between each other on the basis of castes, a people ideologically divided from the day of the country's birth...yet we dont see civil wars based on these contradictions i mentioned above which have torn apart nations like Ireland, Sudan, Pakistan, Yugoslavia or bloody dictatorships like in Nigeria, China or Afghanistan...even a supreme power like the Soviet Union fell apart not being able to manage their internal contradictions. I belive the way we won our freedom has the answer to this paradox....if we had taken to the gun instead of satyagraha, the Indian psyche would have altered to an aggressive, hotblooded race which would have turned violent for every issue caused by the co-existence of such diversity and though many within and without, ridicule us for being a "soft" state, the Indian people havent suffered at-all for belatedly exploding the atom bomb or the countless withdrawals from Pakistani territory after each Indo-Pak war(America sweating it out to ward off Iraqis on their own soil wud give us enuf ideas...wht it wud have cost us to hold on to those Paki lands we gave up!)...many violent movements have cropped up in our country but none have succeeded or will succeed...from the early Tamil nation movement, to Punjab, Assam, North-East to the himalayan fortress god gave us...Kashmir! Many of these movements began in non-violence but without the support of the people they claim to represent, they failed and the extremist elements within them took to the gun...and u know where that story ends or will end!

Kerala may accuse Tamil Nadu of stealing water, TN charges Karnataka with blocking the Cauvery, Punjab and Haryana hotly claims Chandigarh to be their own(the Govt wisely named it a Union Territory!), the demand for Khalistan has reared its head again, Gujarat remains divided on communal lines and Bihar on caste, the naxals fight for their version of utopia as they strive for the naxal corridor...superficially it all looks a bloody mess! But watching The Rising...i felt there was this chord lying deep within each of us that makes us an Indian which ties us up so inextricably into a nation which will rise up again...and again when affairs go out of hand...too many lives have been taken and too much blood has been spilled on our soil to build this country...the memory of those martyrs and good movies like these that keep coming out(if not for our history textbooks...anytime i'd choose one like that over a movie) should serve to remind us of a nation built of sweat, blood, toil and satyagraha and how each and every one of us is a vital cog in taking our proud nation to greater heights.

Jai Hind!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

പുതിയൊരു മാനം തേഡി...

അമേരിക്ക കണ്ടാല്‌ പിന്നെ അമ്മയെ വേണ്ഡ...ഈ നാട്ടിലേക്കു ഞാന്‌ ഇറങ്ങി തിരിഛപ്പം എന്റെ അമ്മഛി ഒറ്റ വാക്യത്തില്‌ അതെ പറഞ്ഞു...പക്ഷെ എത്ര അകന്നാലും എത്ര അകലാന്‌ ശ്രമിഛാലും ഇന്നും എന്നും കേരളവും മലയാളവും നമ്മട സംസ്കാരവും എന്നെ വിട്ടു പോകുന്നില്ല...ഇന്നിതാ ഈ ബ്ലൊഗില്‌ പര്യവസാനിചിരിക്കുന്നു എനിക്കു പൊട്ടിക്കാന്‌ കഴിയാത്ത ഈ ചങ്ങല.

മങ്ഗ്ലിഷില്‌ എഴുതാന്‌ ഞാന്‌ എന്നും മിടുക്കനായിരുന്നു...പത്താം ക്ലാസ്സ്‌ പരീക്ഷയില്‌ മലയാളതിനു എറ്റവും കുറവു മാര്‌ക്ക്‌ നെദിയ വിദ്യര്‌ത്തി ഇന്നിത നമ്മുടെ മലയാള പദന സംബ്രദായതിനെ ചൊദ്യം ചെയ്യുന്നു...മലയാളതെ സ്നെഹിപ്പിക്കാന്‌ എന്തെ നമ്മുടെ ഗുരുനാതന്മാര്‌ക്കൊ പാഡപുസ്തകങ്ങൾക്കൊ കഴിയാതെ പൊയതെ.ഞാന്‌ മലയാളത്തില്‌ എഴുതി തുഡങ്ങാന്‌ ഒരു കാരണം ഇങ്ങ്ലിഷില്‌ ഞാന്‌ വിരുധനാണെങ്ങിലും നറ്‌മം കലറ്‌താന്‌, അറിയാവുന്ന പണി പതിനെട്ടും നോക്കിയിട്ടും പറ്റുന്നില്ല. സ്കുളിലും കോളെജിലും പറഞ്ഞ തമാശകള്‌ എല്ലാം നമ്മുടെ മാത്രുഭാശയില്‌ ആയതിന്റെ കുഴപ്പം ആയിരിക്കണം അതു.

മനസ്സില്‌ തൊന്നുന്ന പലതും ഇനീം മലയാളത്തില്‌ പ്രകഡിപ്പിക്കാന്‌ ഞാന്‌ ഒരുങ്ങുന്നു...ഈ യജ്നം വിജയിഛാല്‌ ഈ ദിവസം എന്റെ ചുരുങ്ങിയ ജീവിതത്തിലെ എറ്റവും ധന്യമായി ഞാന്‌ കാതു സൂക്ഷിക്കും. ഓണം കൊണ്ടുവരുന്ന സമൃധിയും സമാധാനവും സന്തോഷവും ത്രുപ്തിയും ഞാന്‌ എല്ലാ ബ്ലൊഗ്‌ ചെയ്യുന്ന എല്ല മലയാളി സുഹൃതുകല്‌ക്കും ഞാന്‌ ആഷംസിക്കുന്നു. നീന്ദ നാലുകല്‌ക്കെ ഷെഷമുല്ല മലയാളം എഴുതാന്‌ ഷ്രമിച ഈ സംരംഭതില്‌ ഭാഷയില്‌ പറ്റിയ പിഴവുകള്‌കെ ഞാന്‌ മാപ്പ്‌ ചൊദിക്കുന്നു.

P.S - ഈ പോസ്റ്റ്‌ തയ്യാര്‌ ആക്കാന്‌ സഹായിച്ച കലേഷിന്‌ വലരെ നന്ദി. ദൈവതിന്റെ സ്വന്തം നാട്‌ നീണാല്‌ വാഴട്ടെ! Best read with IE6!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Poulose Poulose!!!

As usual I listened to my fave songs, lost in some other world and negotiated the Hollywood bound LA traffic with the experience and complacency of three months on the same road. Suddenly the blare of sirens and lights flashing from behind woke me up from the reverie...and I saw the cop gesturing at me to pull over to the side. I was in deep shit...the only thing on the road i kept tabs on for quite sometime have been police cars and their bikes...and how the hell did I miss this one...I had a missing front license plate, a dysfunctional rear brake light and an expired auto insurance to boot!!Today wuz just my day...I thought. As she headed towards me I could see in the rear-view that she was a black female cop and looked very pleasant. This was my chance...I thanked my stars for having prompted me to shave off my french beard and without that, the innocent smile I reserve for the choicest occasions of trouble came out with all guns blazing...she fell for expected gave me a citation and told me to report to the LA station with the fixes done by September 30 but amazingly no fine...i was expecting anywhere between 100 and 200 bucks but the escape notwithstanding, i wuz really shaken up!!

Summer of 2003, four of my friends from USC...Mathew, Bipin, Vikas and Rohit decided to go on a road trip and we took off to Mexico, returned via San Diego, spent a night at Las Vegas and though totally road-weary decided to push ahead to Grand Canyon...halfway through, our camera melted in the torrid desert-sun and tempers flared as we seemed to be getting nowhere...finally at breaking point we decided to head back towards Los Angeles and I was so pissed at the turnaround and folishly decided the only way to escape the arizona desert and heat was to drive as fast as possible...but a state trooper had other ideas! He flagged us down and Mathew tells me,"veshamikkathe...ipppppam njan ellaam solve aaki tharaam" and proceeds to open his door...the cops hands go to his gun and he shouts "Stay Put!"...for a second we thought mathew would get a trophy to show off for life...he forgot he wuz not supposed to leave the car!

Kerala Police...every youngster must have had a run-in with them many a time. In the seventh, my classmate ganesh and i were going doubles on his cycle when we passed a flying squad...a passing comment from a khaki stopped us dead on our tracks..."mone, inne bournvita kudikkaatheyaano veetil ninne erangiyathe"...the other cops started laughing and totally chammufied i got off. In the 11th, for an IIT contact class in Cochin, we were squatting on the middle of the Marine Drive road at midnight when a flying squad started watching us from a distance...we continued with our chatter and star-gazing but Abba who picked up the unpleasant name abbithoori after this incident chickened out and moved away from us...the cops were by now suspicious and we watched the distant jeep move closer to us as we debated whether to give it a run! A foreigner came out of the jeep examined each of our faces closely...then looking at Jofu says..."He is the man...he is the thief...those same big white teeth!"...and turns to the cops! Jofu shivering with fright forgets his english and blabbers to the man...."I...I, no thief...I...I, student of Loyola"!!! We couldnt help laughing out in front of the grim-faced cops who ordered us to go back to our hotel! Then in the 12th 25-30 of our guys ganged up to "take care" of a guy from KV Pattom in front of his school to settle a score but a shout of "Poluose, Poulose"...was enuf for our ruffians to leave our bruised prey behind and jump into every passing KSRTC and private buses and any two-wheelers willing to give us a lift!

College guys and cops never get along...there is this story of an sfi senior who lead the cops, who came into campus to break up a fight, on a wild-goose chase promising to take them to the spot where the fight was going on and leading them elsewhere while the abvp guys in between getting bashed wondered why the cops hadnt arrived! And at theaters the many friends who took blows from lathis at first-day first shows never again showing the fervor to watch a movie until a few weeks went by! Then there was this bud who sheepishly got pounced on by cops waiting right outside a bar as he just took off on his bike! The mahan spent a night in lockup and his comic struggle to othukkufy the case gave me goosebumps, thinking wht wud happen if my mom stumbled on him at the Vanchiyoor court! My last bump-in with KP happened on the last visit to India and rejoicing at being able to wear a lungi without feeling embarassed, i took it too far by wearing it to the second show at Kaplana theatre, a few hundred meters away from home...after the show as i crossed the street was intercepted by a flying squad who gave me the dressing down of my life...expletives, harsh words, probing questions all answered with the chammufied smile mentioned above...finally they let me off! When I recounted this at home, my mom wuz telling how A.K.Antony's free hand had transformed the police and the royal treatment awaiting brats like me in police stations and how contacts wont work anymore...which sent a chill down my spine but i managed to awkwardly joke, "mummy, ille enne erakki tharaan"!

Seeing a cop evokes so many emotions in me...when i know i am on the law-abiding side a smug look escapes my face daring them to try their luck, when i am bad..i avoid eye-contact unless absolutely necessary, somebody else caught gets sympathy, a cop dressed smartly evokes admiration and your heart goes out to them watching rioters damage public property and pelt them with stones as they ponder the consequences of giving these anti-socials a deserved pasting! Today, that lady cop graciously let me off lightly...i wonder how lawless, people like me would have turned out, if these men and women in uniform werent around to keep an eye on december when i am in india and in the company of old pals and am stoned, wonder whether occasions will arise to make us shout out again...Poulose Poulose!!!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

For men who missed the elevators...

The American Dream! What an anachronism this phrase is in danger of becoming for today's indians moving to the US as we find the dream merchants outsourcing their wares to our own country of birth...sadly we who landed on this soil lost our footing at home...for the last two years I have seen the angst of friends who saw the H1B quota filling up in no time...thankfully, I never had to go through that, coz of my GC...moreover my fights were entirely against myself. Its been a long struggle for us who landed here...all the advantages we once took for granted were undone the moment we landed English education which lost its bite when faced with the american accent and deteriorated with every "Say, that again" encountered, the money we once took for granted and now had to be earned, the friends that once abounded, food that once could have been wasted without a second was a learning experience that came with a lot of heartburn, "akkarapacha" and "paapi chellunnidam paathalam" were always the thoughts of the hour as the moment we got here, India moved into BPO mode and the economy grew by leaps and bounds.

Some months ago, I used to think my sheni dasha had rubbed off on my close friends too as noone got to the heights they aspired to reach(after 3 long years it ends next month!) and were left trapped in tiny companies with challenges and opportunities that ceased to inspire after a while. Today, I laugh at that because my closest buggers have all turned the corner. Bipin kicked the jinx out with a job at Boeing, following which Vikas was snapped up by Cisco, I was hired by Universal, Mathew landed a job at Disney last week and just yesterday Muthu by Argo Consulting. We were the wrong kind of desis to land up here, bcoz other than the thought of making it big in America we didnt know the effort needed to even make a start for our dream. After 30000 dollars spent on becoming a Master of Science...I questioned the Almighty's sense of justice as Bipin went to work at a small earth-sciences tech firm in Long Beach which didnt do justice to his abilities, Vikas at a document-search company in the Bay Area where despite his dedication...his project managers kept hounding him, Mathew languished at a small Telecom company in Los Angeles for two years, I went skipping from one disastrous job to another and Mithun first bade goodbye to MS and US with a promised job in Dubai which ended up as a dead-end, returned with his tail-between-the-legs and a girlfriend who shut the door on him(wuz so reminescent of Lakshya)...studied his ass out and pulled his grades out of a big hole, went to work in Business Warehousing...only to get fed up and drop out, landed a job at a Patel's liquor store and at the very end of the rope he had clung to for two long years found this job as a strategy consultant.

Looking back, I still remember a Vikas asking the dumbest possible questions in the Introduction to Computer Networks course in our first semester at USC totally embarassing us...but his dogged research and passion for the field rewarding him with a coveted job in the largest networking corp, Bipin even dropping a course in computer communications which he thought he wud fail but fought back to graduate as summa cum laude with a 3.8 gpa, Mathew working many odd jobs to earn money for leading a stylish lifestyle which made me really proud of him while carrying his MS along, Muthu who cud chatter hours and hours about any topic on earth other than studies taking such overwhelming command in his field of Operations Management that I had to bear hours and hours of lectures on Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma and Strategic Consulting and me(lemme not say anything more abt myself....coz compared to these guys mine wuz a much more charmed existence in university!).

I feel so proud of these guys today...long back to motivate me and themselves these pals wud tell me of university mates getting jobs at Microsoft, Qualcomm, Paypal, hefty paypackets, etc, etc and I would offer back comfort in my carefree way by telling them we were meant to take the stairs up and not the elevator, despite wondering whether we would ever get there and yet we all did it. Last week, when Mathew talked to me about getting into some sort of entrepreneurship and to stop thinking in the mallu way of a salaried job for a lifetime I finally gave the self-employed idea serious thought...well I am still thinking about it! Making the quick buck is easier said than done... like the past three years I see another struggle for this new thought thats crept up on me...hopefully the idea of moving back to India in a few years with capital to fall back on will give me some motivation! This post is dedicated to all my friends who are still looking for their way to a little sun and succor that a job offers in the mentally tiring journey which is the reality of America life...if these dimwits I wrote about above could do it...I am sure you guys could outdo us by miles. The inspiration for this post came as Rajay, a junior at USC and SCT I befriended and became very close to in just the last few months was left devastated by the H1B quota getting exhausted...aliya, the Master's quota still stands...this may very well be the last struggle you gonna face in life...all the best to you and the thousand more brethren faced with this situation here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Wonder Years...

More often than not I have stayed away from dissecting the four years of college as I have found it difficult to bite into (which wuz odd considering, Arun Hari, a pal I closely relate with has stubbornly blogged with this same title to keep our flock together when it seemed we drifted away by reminding us of all we did)...For one, those days were far too romantic beyond the harsh realities of today's working life...two, I still couldnt figure out whether that era made me or dismantled me in the long run. Nothing better than putting thoughts into words to gain a better perspective. College...where every schoolboy raring to grow up dreams of finding himself...watching chetanmaar streak thru in front of their eyes on shiny bikes, pretty girls in salwars and jeans, freedom from a never ending phase of uniforms, discipline, parental excertions, heavy textbooks, progress cards to be signed by guardians, etc, etc and etc. College was all this to me then and more...I had an added incentive to ensure that all the confidence picked up towards the later years of school life which lay dormant there would find meaning, purpose and achievement here.

Well, things turned out much differently to my surprise. A few months on in the first semester...after I organized our first excursion and new year party a big vacuum settled in and in a college standing on a few acres with space only for ugly buildings and a forever choked and dusty pappanamcode junction just off the campus and with an atmosphere of perpetual tension lingering arising from pitched strikes and fights between sfi-abvp-teachers-departments I yearned for a change. The trajectory, my life took from then on has constantly played out in the back of my mind...with all the good that came with the choice I made there was a lot I lost(or did I???). I became one of the first a loose confederation of like-minded, like-spirited boys looking for all the color, all the adventure and all the frills and risks that neither the college, or the textbooks or the strikes or gals cud give us. I was so happy then...though all along I knew I was changing in ways I found too helpless to deal with...I quit reading, money, money and money...nothing wuz more important, though I wuz studying to engineer computers the only way i cud relate with my field wuz thru email and mp3, materialism corrupted forever whatever inherent idealism had struck root in me...even god became a casualty.This lifestyle set me back by a few years in the US, there wuz a constant struggle to learn to walk without a cruch in every aspect of my days...when my grades slipped to the edge of a very dangerous precipe, when my credit history took a beating b4 i realized the vagaries of student loans, credit cards and paying untility bills in time,when i stayed hungry or lived off junk food b4 i forced myself to start cooking...everything wrong with me then...i simply laid the blame squarely at the roller-coaster of a college life I led.

Time has a way of turning around our perception of history. For some, it is through experience, for others it is through knowledge acquired...whatever be my case, today I am able to put some of the peices back into the jigsaw puzzle that life is. I have seen the 'highs' of being an unabashed extrovert and connoiseur of the good life, the 'lows' of being an introvert steeped in a world of the characters in the books i read and a fascination that I was one of them and the 'medians' of having to straddle these two extremes of human behavior. College gave me many things I never realized, though I lost out on a lot of valuable reading in those years, my classmates there encouraged me to start writing...the savages gave me experiences I will value to the very end...from taking risks, building relationships, being able to laugh at myself, to be street smart and most importantly to be a responsible person. We all fell in and out of love, failed and excelled in exams, won and lost more cricket matches than we can remember, opened our hearts to each other whether we boozed or not...sometimes they were humorous, sometimes tinged with sadness and though many a teachers curse might have fallen on us...we never became the run-off-the-mill set of vaalis...whenever there wuz a dumb charades, quiz, song, dance, cricket, programming contest or semester exams in the offing one or most or all the savages were there to give our best.

Life is short...who knows if there is heaven or hell or say you have done it all and given your best in everything you did is a hard task for any man. Every person, every incident that happens brings me closer to finding out what I want to do next. Though college set me off on the bewildering path of thinking in code and bits and bytes, huffing and puffing to catch up with every programming problem i have to encounter day-in and day-out it may have just set the tone for what the future holds for me...I know not if it will be the 300+(maybe 400+ too) movies we saw at the tvm theatres in the 4 years(shinoj arrived at this approx figure considering a "low' avg of 2 per week which we most likely surpassed) or the economics we debated hotly then or the countless long emails in the same nature of this blog i wud shoot to our class egroups or the data structures, algorithms and the C++ code we scratched our heads abt once in a while that will give me my livelihood. Even if none of these things work out...the friends from whom I benefitted, learned from, bonded with and most importantly still keep in touch despite distance and the passage of time ensures that those 4 years were after all not spent in vain. Today, i am passing through a phase where i feel my friendships drifting the struggle for survival gets more pronounced, my need for them is lesser...its a lonely path in life henceforth...i took a long time to make peace with this existential fact...i am happy for one thing though...ever since this blog started I have been able to pay tribute to a lot of people who moulded me into what I am...if this post didnt come out now i knew i was in danger of committing a grave injustice of overlooking a group of people who sold me a dream once...a dream which I could have lived in only once in life...It would be amusing to see how our kids live out their college life...many years on I will look forward to the amusement and consternation of seeing a Junior Viswan, Chota Shan , Kiran Jr. and the progenies of the other Savages live out their Wonder Years...


Thursday, August 11, 2005

To some old companions...

I am sorry my who contributed so much to my growth as a human who opened vistas to a thousand dreams and words like the ones in this who gave beautiful expression to my Pip in Great Expectations I have turned you all, my best friends, away...yet when these posts keep adding up I never found it worth to dedicate one to y'all until this blessed night... a friend recently complained that my blogs were one-dimensional and that I can never write without getting emotional about my subject. Blame it all on Boz! I have read his David Copperfield and Great Expectations too many times over and over again to know of any other way to write. Every word he has written in the two great novels lies imprinted somewhere in my soul.

One of my favorite memories of reading was my mom frisking my textbook whenever she saw me studying without even exams around the corner. Many a time she had caught me with a novel hidden inside my textbook and the lurking suspicion that I was again upto my old tricks always entered her. 95% of the time the sound of her steps up the stairs would be enough for me to toss the novel far away and in all innocence i would say, "ho, padichaalum kuttam, padichillengilum kuttam"!!! I really dont blame her...though she never ever discouraged my reading i was such a weak student upto the ninth that they had no way other than to forcefully suppress my addiction...even without anyone around I ended up reading that way all through school life and in classrooms it wasnt really an odd sight seeing almost 75% of loyolites having a novel resting on their lap while presenting an occasional straight face to the unsuspecting teachers. Again another abiding memory of how desperate we were to get our drugs was of our librarian, the dear Susheela madam sighing at the young souls searching under book shelves, standing on our toes reaching out for the the top of the shelf, the space behind the shelf, and the wall to which it leans, for long lost books or those hidden by other possessive i write this cant help smiling at one discovery i made from beneath a had lain there for almost four years...Irving Wallace's Celestial Bed...and the steamy scenes in the book, made our lives...for a few days(remember those were the times b4 mms, pc's, cd's etc - and the vcr and video cassette library were our only recourses and even there i remember many of my friends getting shooed off by owners with the "meesha polum kilichillalloda" dialogue!

Well my reading took the same paths as everyone. From Enid Blyron's Noddy I moved to a period of early enlightenment...where I read a lot of indian and western folk tales, stories from the Puranas, the Mahabaharatha, Ramayana, Bible and a condensed version of the Quran. I dont think I comprehended the spiritual side of the holy books much but that wuz a period I wanted to become a priest after getting inspired seeing my uncle, Fr.Isaac Karoor. Well boys will be boys and no boy who stumbles on a Hardy Boy can get away from it without reading atleast a hundred of them. When an HB became hard to get, the Nancy Drew's, Three Investigators and Famous Five's abounded in our out-of-the-world school library. Sometime in the 7th a friend introduced me to Frederick Forsythe and I graduated to the world of thrillers. Then followed a line of similar writers like Archer, McLean, Higgins, Hailey, Wallace, Grisham, Ludlum and Clancy. Sometime in the 11th I got initiated to the Victorian classics and the plus-two years were well-spent building a collection of the best novels of that age. In between, Shakespeare and Poetry which we had to study, analyze and dissect for the ICSE, ISC exams grew within me and like history I let my mind loose and never once thought of it as something to be studied. Sadly that was the phase parental restrictions relaxed, friendships spilled over beyond classroom hours, the onset of cable television and a film craze that grew manically and has ever since refused to yield ground to anything else in me. The reading since my college days reduced to a trickle in comparison...haha lemme not get into it...i ofcourse read, but at the rate of maybe 10 books a year with that number coming down with each year... not to be left unsaid, the usual exception was Great Expectations and David Copperfield which i read and keep reading countless times just like I have watched Manichithrathazhu.

Moving over to Neil's Book Tag

1. Total number of books owned: I took great pride in how our library at home looked and nobody needed to tell me a second time to keep it clean, i really feel proud of the three sets of encyclopaedias we own(one in malayalam) and once in a while my dad, sis and I would get together to stack the great heaps of sociology books he acquires one time I had like more than a 100 novels but carelessly lend many to friends expecting them to return it but I have found much to my despair that Loyolites are never gentlemen when it comes to one thing...books. After coming to the US, I have found thrift stores here which sells books at a nominal 50 cents for charity and aarthi pidiche I have snapped them...but many of them I have been forced to leave behind when the time to relocate came which was like once every six months or so.

2. Last book bought: Da Vinci Code - I am willing to give this away for free...its nothing more than a novel to be read and forgotten...except for a few truths which every objective xian like me must have thought abt(jesus wuz human...i wudnt blame him if he felt attracted to mary magdalene) i have found some of brown's claims in the guise of fiction totally jesus having a child whose descendants became the merovingian dynasty...he hasnt substantiated many of the theories he puts forward.Spent freakin 30 bucks for this...that too at a time when i wuz strapped... i am mightily and rightfully pissed!

3. Last book read: Well thats an embarassing one to answer - Check out Anish's Blog. He has a link there to a book written by Rajan's father, Prof.Eachara Warrier if you havent already. It is definitely recommended reading for every Indian and Malayali. If you say thats not a book I really cant remember what I read last...but does it matter??? What with so many fantastic bloggers in our midst!!!

4. Books that mean a lot to me:

Great Expectations - The Pip who conveniently forgets his childhood friends and grows to manhood amidst riches, carefree pals and false pride in his social standing before he sees everything he once lived with crashing to the ground is such a splitting image of myself.

David Copperfield - David's journey through life was Boz's way of writing his autobiography...Mr.Dickens, as long as the world turns and men live in it and know to read you will remain unarguably the greatest writer in the English language.I always wonder how much I am like the David, who fell impractically in love for the immature Dora amidst working odd jobs to survive before his true calling came visiting.

The Covenant - This epic story by James Michener which begins in the middle ages right to the modern-day world of the 60's telling the saga of three families in England, South Africa and Netherlands and how their destinies inter-twine held me engrossed to the very end of its 1100 pages.

Khasakkinte Ithihaasangal - After reading this, I wondered why O.V.Vijayan was never considered good enough for the Nobel or the Jnanapith Awards. His breath-taking style of narration and description of the political, social and geographical landscape of Kerala as it transformed...was so spell-binding. Made me so aware of my ignorance of my own people...wished why i wasted so much of my precious youth in awe of kerala's cities when i could have experienced far more beautiful things in her villages. For those who cant read malayalam his own english translation of the novel is equally brilliant.

Mindapennu - Fascinating novel that we had to study. It depicted the winds of social change blowing across the kerala of the 50's as women ventured outside their homes to work in offices and of men still caught in the time-warp.

Godfather - Do I really need to write anything about this one!!!

My Father, My Son - I wept like a baby reading this one. Apart from a numbingly beautiful storyline it has some great subtly written humor too...somebody in college took it and never returned it.

Little Pricks - This book was an all-time bestseller written in 1916 by a Ralph Moore...another book I retrieved from under a loyola shelf...its a great book about a young boy in the american midwest of the 19th century who grows up to adulthood surpassing great difficulties.

Tom Brown's Schooldays and P.G.Wodehouse - These books virtually mirrored our schooldays though they were written so many years many colorful characters in these books were similar to many of the guys who studied with me not to mention all the hotly contested cricket, basketball and football games we indulged in akin to these novels...i wonder when a book on our loyola days will get written by anyone of my multi-faceted classmates there.

Neil, thanks a lot for this book tag. I thoroughly enjoyed keying in this post. And to you, my dear old friends, whatever I read in you is all that this blog contains...i am certain you guys live...bcoz u breathe so much passion, so much sensitivity, so much life, so many dreams into us who befriend you...maybe you live in another plane of existence...I hope to soon come visiting you guys as of yore...

Sunday, August 07, 2005

For a few cents less...

I just couldnt help laughing at myself. Had just come off a heated argument with my sis who wanted to get a tissue roll for $1.97 when i saw another brand for $1.57. Thought about my parents who squirmed in displeasure when I squandered imprudently and of moms regular taunts at me saying "ninakku kaashu ondaakumbam athe veruthe ozhukki kalayunnathinte buddhimutte manassilaakum" and my own inner voices which wanted to shout to them saying "enikke kaashu kittumbam njan kaanichu tharaam life engane jeevikkanam enne". Moving to the present like most of their words of wisdom this one rings true too. As every paycheck comes in I brace for doing a hundred meaningful things I wanna do and the rest to be saved and lo! it has disappeared even before I take stock of the situation. The feel-good part of it is that most of it went into repaying long-standing personal debt...a remnant of the struggling days, meeting far-away relatives, fixing my increasingly rickety car, helping pals out, tickets to India or running the house in style. Occasionally i sit staring at my right palm which has gaping holes between the fingers(my pops is well-versed with astrology and says it signifies all i make will leak through...what comforts me is that he has them too and yet manages his affairs well!).

Once I had this run-in at home when my dad gave me a fair scolding for pulling out crumpled rupee notes from my pocket and leaving it at his certainly must have hurt to see his hard-earned money treated in some dememaning fashion by response was "spectacular" to say the least...i walked out of home...when i returned without even being apologetic all he did was leave a new wallet in my room. When my sis accidentally dropped my laptop on the floor, my mom and sis smiled as i ranted and raved at her for being so indifferent...the revenge of time! But fact is, she is a smart gal...though she earns much lesser than me, is a compulsive shopper and shares in our expenses when it comes to things i need like replacing a worn-out wallet of many years and a watch that hadnt run for a month...she went out and got stylish ones while I procrastinated and she beams at her bank balances while I look at mine's mournfully when we get down to our once-in-a-while who-beats-who sibling rivalry.

I have learnt valuable lessons in money management from my parents...their entire adult life they have lived on credit...improving their standard of life by taking out loans and investing instead of saving up their salaries and though I wondered when i was small why my sis and I had to wear tailored, old and ill-fitting clothes compared to my cousins who were always well-dressed but today i realize that their journey from a studio apt in kunnukuzhi to a small two bedroom flat at pattom to our present house and then to our both immigration to the US were all vectors that represented the upwardly mobile middle-class ambitions of the india of the eighties and the little things we all sacrificed then certainly played its part to get us here. Its just awesome...I talk to all my friends and they all have such tales of their parents to say...when we were kids they were in their struggling phases, yet put us through the best schools, got us most things we asked for while we never ever had to worry about all the financial worries they hid under a veneer of smiles reserved for us. My dad got his first job at the age of 29 and his current job at the age of most people then, while most of us yuppies are already at work and settled by our early 20's.

I look at most of my friends here and see a confused lot...some go out and get bmw's and benz's to signify their increasing social life, some absolutely crazed about the accessories the internet tempts them with acquiring, others worrying where to invest their money and squeeze out of the IT field and others abt sending money home for parents to take care of it...but we are all alike in one way, scratching our heads in bewilderment wondering how our parents made sense of needs and dreams and made intelligent spending decisions. Maybe its something we will all figure out as we go along...while we learn, earn, loose and live with these decisons, make mistakes, rectify them, then make other mistakes and finally get it right some day! ...and so we both continued our shopping...i passed the cereals section where I saw the brand i once ate 4 times a day for a few days to save money for a trip to vegas ending up with dysentry and a green-colored poop, then the one dollar rice grain which if boiled even a minute longer makes for excellent fevicol and on which i lived on once three days in a row eating as kanji coz of a paycheck that didnt arrive leaving my bank balance at nil(i bought that again a few months back only to see my mom trash it while giving me an atleast-now-go-get-a-life look) and while going home the one-dollar burgers at macdonalds, which wuz my life giving bread during the university days. We all do crazy things to save money at every point in our life and we all will have evenings like this when we think of those days fondly(and secretly in terror of their ever returing) and how much ever I deny the importance of the rectangular strips of paper my admiration just grows for people who know to spend their money wisely and unselfishly for their dear ones to be happy as i try to figure my way through this maddening maze that adulthood which I once foolishly craved for as a kid landed me in!