Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Changes Galore...

I am in a place and situation I never expected to find myself in. I never thought I would ever have to sit in front of books with the intention of reproducing them in exams after the MS torture but here i am surrounded by a fortress of books all around my bed guarding me like a sleeping beauty, never thought I would have to sit in classes though I would vouch that they are a hundred times better than sleepy afternoon office meetings, after a few years of doing laundry, dishes, cleaning(hehe) and occasional cooking its a relief to have a cook, dhobi and a maid servant doing these chores. And in last few weeks i have begun to believe that we still need a lot of socialism to keep taking all our indians forward.

I have basically a subject called General Studies(covering Modern Indian History, Economics, Social Issues, Civics, Geography, Statistics, Sci & Tech) and two optionals, History and Sociology to study and I am supposed to put in 9-10 hours of self study besides 5 hours in class, 7 days a week. Am yet to get to full speed but thankfully I love all these subjects without exception and slogging those extra hours doesnt suck really. The cold is slowly setting in, studying on the bed(combine cold + bed + studies and u get an excellent cocktail to go sleep...hehe!!!) , jolly nice roomates who illegally tap cable tv wires and bring superb english movie vcd's home are breezy temptations i am learning to avoid. Thankfully I move into a single room next week and will have space for a table and chair!!!

Talked to my loyola bud, Kicha(Krishnachandran) who is also in Delhi and I just cant wait to meet him. Ironically while I moved to India he is moving to the US next year. I am sure his genius and flair for architecture will find recongnition there. Last night got a call from another pal I havent seen for 4 long years, Thomman(Capt.Ninan Thomas)...The cliched pattaalam that he is, the dear fellow without me asking for it, in army style started pepping me up(he calls it josh!) and i ended up pumping my fists and studying till 6 in the morning today. I always thought I had the quality to motivate others with my talking but it doesnt work for myself and I sometimes dont like others trying to inspire me, but his words last night did the trick for me. He has promised to spend a few days with me in jan and eitherway Jammu is only an overnite away and man...thats something i will look forward to...bcoz guys and friends just dont get better than him.

I had reserved the xmas holidays for 7 days of the most meticulously planned vacation of my life. 3 days with my parents and sis - including a much awaited celebrating of my uncle's 25th year of priesthood, my first christmas at home in 4 years, 2 days with school buddies - plans were on for a trekking expedition to meenmooti on its 4th anniversary(wait for the post on that guys, just wait for that...i promise to make u guys laugh a lot with that!) and the customary gettogether back in school where we play football, basketball and cricket and at the end of the day just sit back on the quadrangle steps and relive every moment of our schooldays before leaving for dinner at kalavara and a second show to taper off the night - these have been a continuing tradition for the last 8 years. After this I leave for 2 days for the high-point of the vacation...a day at kumarakom coconut grove in a houseboat with my buddies from college - the savages for company and the next day at varkala beach resort. I am faced with a tough decision - whether I should go or not...a realisation that 7 days of lost study does mean a lot has come in...lets see what my heart tells me at the last moment.

The feeling of goin thru the most dangerous phase of my life is driving me, it will be all or nothing at the end of this journey. When I swam with the tide I just had to keep afloat and that wuz enuf to i feel a lot of spirit, the kind i never knew existed in me. My mom and i were making fun of my dad that he wud soon have to give up astrology as, the shukran he predicted for me had turned out this way and he gave us a sheepish smile with a dont-tell-anyone look. I am really thankful for my parents, despite their fears we talked and joked so much in those few days...they were god's first and most enduring gift to me... hope I can soon prove to be the other way round!! Anyways to round off with a bit of oddity, I read once again about Raja Rammohan Roy in History and remembered once more what he me he is as great as Gandhi bcoz he was the lone braveheart and first Indian in an age of utter decadance to raise a political agitation against the British...the first man to realize we fell to the British bcoz we lived and studied and glorified our past without perceing how Europe and the world modernized with an emphasis on scientific thought and learning. So until the next spark to write, its alvida from me...i wish i had more time for access to internet!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Chalo Dilli!!!

Arrived in Delhi. What do I say about this place? I am absolutely enthralled. Its an absoutely new experience for me...a new culture, a new language, new friends. I need to ge used to Delhi's shabbiness, dust, traffic and Hindi and I'll be absolutely fine here. All I knew of North India was thru books, films and the few good friends I acquired at USC...otherwise I've known little of India outside Kerala...being here itself feels like an education. Got a decent accomodation,my roomies are Assamese...they are nice guys and really helpful. I have already travelled quite a bit around thanks to my cousin's husband who drove me around quiet a bit of delhi and I walked around too quite a lot. I live near the north campus of Delhi University and its all infested with sudents here. The idea of Delhi being unsafe for women got lost for me as I see gals walking alone even at 11 at night.

Classes started today. My teacher Prof.Jha is just brilliant. I am really looking forward to a year of challenging myself to the extreme limit. He has set for me an 14hrs a day studying schedule...more on that in a later post. A cook comes in and makes us lunch and dinner and he does a good job. The climate here is pleasant for now but everyones warning me of the bitter winter setting in by december. When you guys hav kids and they are in school, shop for their books for a lifetime only in Delhi....y'all cud save a fortune. I am getting 30 and 40% discount...the bloody bookstore guys in tvm have really milked us dry of what wud have been good pocketmoney during those years of need in college. My hindi is improving rapidly. Still a lot of gaffes but I'll get there. My mobile fone still not working...heard i need to reinstall some software coz its US-made...eitherways i really dont need it. It sucks that I am not being able to check out all your blogs...but i'll soon start to make time...after all whats life when your only surviving hobby has also got to be suppressed. Before leaving tvm, got time to talk to fellow blogger, FlaashGordon but cudnt get hold of Neil when I called.

The reason I blog even due to lack of time and a computer at home is not anymore about my love and passion for writing. Its for all you family and friends affectionately following my progress in this endeavor. It will be impossible mailing you all personally again. Besides after reading about the Indus Valley Civilizaion I just wondered how it would feel for a human 3000 years from now to read abt a Jiby Kattakayam, his friends, and his life in places like Trivandrum, Los Angeles and Delhi....well that is if Blogspot survives...ooh dont think I have already cracked up!!! So consider this as me writing personally to you all. I realized this is the first time in life that since internet arrived I have not had it at my fingertips. This is a post I wrote in two shifts of 20 mins each when i came to browse at this cybercafe. India rocks guys...India rocks...I was always meant to be here. I love my India.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Heady Days...

The last few days I went thru old photos from college and school that had been lying on my computer for years and years. Thought of selecting a few and uploading here.
Snap 1 - The Kaadan Demo
Snap 2 - Viswan, the Mooppan!!!
Snap 3 - Bermuda Demo!!! Standing - Shinoj, Jofu, Jijo, Kozhi, Arun , me and Chaks...Sitting - Kevin, Shan, Sandy & Viswan
Snap 4 - Gundu, Ponnan, Muthu, Motta, Thomman and Jofu @ School - Undoubtedly our batch will become Loyola's best!
Snap 5 - With Motta at Kovalam - One of my favorite snaps for all time.

For a few days...

Hectic is the word. By monday I was fighting a losing battle against time. Booked my train ticket to Delhi and bus ticket to Thodupuzha at Thampanoor...I actually took the dear old city buses there, got on a new bus service called Ananthapuri Fast and for the first time sat back and relaxed and observed all the new, old and renovated structures that have come up over the last few years. After taking the tickets, I walked over to East Fort to visit the National Book Fair going on a the Putharikandam Maidan, crossing the rail tracks, and as I passed by the Ajantha theatre I looked at my watch, realized I had 10 mins to the 11:15 show of Ananthabhadram, though the balcony seats were sold out I was never a stranger to the "thara" seats. Barely made it in on time, the movie what do I say about it, I am the wrong person to review it since I had read the novel already(i read it an 8-hour stretch like a spell wuz cast on me!) and the story has changed considerably to adapt it to the silver screen which sort of pissed me off...but if you wanna see some great camera-work, great editing, beautiful sets and a film without the superstar concept dont miss this one. About the acting this movie belongs to Manoj K. Jayan and Prithviraj all the way.

Evening my closest bud from Loyola, Anand aka Motta(he gave me my Jabban nickname) came visiting and we sat and talked and joked for some time before he dropped me off at the bus-stand. He is getting married in May and tomorrow I head out for lunch with him and his fiancee (he had 6 girlfriends before this one and i remarked i have an idea for an autograph movie and he retorted with a "onnalla rando moonno autograph ninakke eduthhoode aa kathakalokke veche"!!!)... On the way we had a providential escape as the bus driver dozed off and insterad of falling over a cliff, hitting a vehicle or banging into a home crashed into a load of metal piled on the roadside for road-work. The entire front part of the air-bus was damaged, though scared shitless nobody ever complained...people seem so used to this kind of incidents...neways got to moolamattom without any further problems. On getting down I realized I had forgotten the way to my grandparents house...the funny thing about villages is if you ask people a question they take it as a license that in return they can ask anything about us!!! So instead of just telling me the way, they want to know which family i am from, what i am doing now and how i am related to the home i am going to!!

My grandmom has hunch-backed even further, my grandpa fit as a fiddle, even at 80 still driving a kinetic honda and a fiat car, not showing any signs of slowing up...this is their 60th year of marriage, yet they fight like schoolkids and they dont feel any embarassment in their grandson having to play mediator(i gave him a chivas regal and all day long appachan and ammachi were playing a cat-and-mouse game finding and hiding it from their respective hiding places!!!) Oh I had so much fun that day. Went to my native village Arakulam, visited my dad's and appachans brothers... its a fascinating land as i have written abt before...just acres and acres of rubber, just silence and solitude,and not even a neighbor in the vicinity...sunday's at church is the big social event in these places!!! Had some real tasty food...the food I have enjoyed for the last one week wuz just awesome!!! At night said goodbye to my grandparents and headed back to tvm was a quick 18 hour affair at Arakulam, have never paid such a short visit to appachan and ammachi, i wuz dead tired on arriving back, and i fell sick too. missed my train to delhi, went to a doctor who gave me some good medicines and here i am back to checking out all your blogs after almost a week.

I look at people here and i see so much apathy to fellow-beings and so much competition to survive...what i see on tv irriatates me, they show the nightclub culture and materialism of america, but they dont show how americans are law-abiding, orderly citizens who work honestly for a living and treat others courteously. Our population has to be brought down....otherwise there will never be dignity for a human life.About India, let me not talk about the bad things anymore. I see a lot of stuff which seemed liveable with, in an earlier time and age but not anymore. Maybe in a few months I will get used to it or not. Knowing the right people and working the system gets you results here. I am really tempted to find a job in tvm and settle down - there is so much of my kind of life here - the friends, the movies, the thattukadas and my people and my language I guess I will give the CS a few years effort and then see what is to be done next. And to taper off...I wonder...why cant Thiruvananthapuram be renamed means the same, is shorter, sweeter and has been used by our writers for ages, as a sobriquet for The City of Ananthan!!!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Where Everything is Mine...

Back home. Back in paradise. Back as an Indian and not a tourist. Wow, it feels great. 24 hours a day seems so do all I want to (and to think there used to be times i wondered why a day couldnt be 16 hours!!). I dont seem to miss anything...I dont even seem to remember the 3 1/2 years spent away. It just feels like I have always been here. I have melted into the system earlier than I thought. In the last 48 hours, came face to face with frustrating babudom when an Air India offcial at LA imposed a hefty fine of $266 for overweight baggage, paid a small token of appreciation to a porter-boy working at Jet Airways to save me the fine at Bombay Airport, back home after getting psyched out seeing all the crazy driving now I am honking away to glory, the car just in the same condition i left it - barely a few thousand kms added to it, i almosy hit a few crazy bikers, but despite that 30000 miles of orderly American left-wheel automatic driving seems to have evaporated totally from memory!

I thought it immensely patriotic of me to fly Air-India. But how stupid of me to even bother trying it out despite all the warnings I got from friends!! Their officials still seem to be stuck in the license-raj era of no competition and I cried and begged with them for my baggage and of my returning for good but to no avail. I told them straight in the face I would never fly Air India again and how Singapore Airlines would never do this to me...they didnt seem to care but a gal working there felt sorry for me and cut down the fine...time to privatise these b#$%tards! As always whenever I landed in tvm I have been met with pouring rain...this time wuz no different...but despite the rains the humidity just increases with each year...and despite what I saw from above on the flight...unlike other places every inch of kerala looked green, much like europe...i think its not our fault...lets blame it on global warming!!! I have had 4 showers already in the last 24 feels so fresh coming out of the bathroom but in half an hour I start thinking about another bath!

My dad is on his wits end since I made this decision...he is sending many of his students who wrote the CS exams my way and there are many more ppl i will be forced to meet...but hearing them out has been very mom, ever-cool and jolly wuz joking that bcoz of me in his "oonilum orakkathilum ithu maatrame chintha olle". The basement, my favorite place in the house, where i fine-tuned my cricket, and table-tennis skills has been rented bedroom has been turned into a guest-room and an a/c and geyser fitted there...all my novels in our library have been taken out and replaced by dads books, the 6 year old computer has aged further and looks like a relic and not been replaced and crashes the moment i open a few windows..looks like nobody ever expected me to come back!!!

Trivandrum is changing, there is an obvious emphasis on developing infrastructure, but our people seem not to have changed...maybe something like the saksharatha claSSes of the 80's and 90's will help...civic sense needs to be drilled into their heads. Well, despite all this I am grinning from ear to ear after a long long feels great to have a sense of belonging and to be amongst my own people. After 2 months, nobody even needed to tell me...I woke up at 8 and went to church...i absolutely felt no wuz hilarious to see my mom stare at me open-mouthed!!! I have a week at home and two days at my native place before I leave to delhi for the most gruelling year of my life...wonder how many of my friends I will get to meet...even watching Ananthabhadram looks doubtful!!! I had 30 mins before I head out to meet another CS-aspirant and since all my friends read this blog decided to post in a sis made the most telling comment about this blog when she remarked even she would henceforth be forced to following my life thru this site and not thru fone calls for which I have no patience!!! One thing, I know for sure, Civil Service or no civil service, I want to live in Trivandrum for the rest of my life.