Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Herbert and Pip...

This is a story of two friends, Herbert and Pip. Ofcourse most of you have heard those names come alive in Dickens great novel, Great Expectations. I looked at the shiny smiling faces seated opposite me. To compensate for missing his wedding, I was taking my longtime chum, Motta and his fiance out for lunch. Motta with his goodnaturedness and unpretentious simplicity, the girl...sweet and pretty with a shy smile, the both making a very winsome couple, and myself carrying a burden of wondering what future lay ahead for me but overjoyed for my friend...all brought alive the characters of Herbert, Clara and Pip in my thoughts. It reminded me of a memorable line from the book about what Pip says about Herbert..."We owed so much to Herbert's ever cheerful industry and readiness, that I often wondered how I had conceived the old idea of his ineptitude, until I was one day enlightened by the reflection, that perhaps the ineptitude had never been in him at all, but had been in me."

Right from school, I would wonder how motta would survive in the hard, tough world out there. He was forever falling in and out of love, never interested in his studies(well, for some reason i considered myself superior to him in this dept!) and never serious about life. While a huge horde of us took up all the elite engineering branches, he took the only seat available to him in kerala...for architecture, but there again he ran into serious problems of back papers and impossible odds of clearing his arrears. I would advise him, but as usual it all hung lightly on his shoulders...in terms of unflinching optimism I never ever met a more equal match to him. Life has its ways of bringing out the best in a person...personal tragedies which we feared would drown him, instead propelled him to emerge stronger...breaking university records he passed his exams, intime he had begun to love his field of work and his peers began to admire his drawings. He had taken on life with a smile, when friends needed a kind word, when old classmates returned to the nest called trivandrum, he was there organizing weekly gettogethers to keep the loyola spirit alive, after many girlfriends my "Herbert" atlast found his "Clara" and finally he had learnt the trick that lay behind the success-act in life...hard work!!!

One of the most memorable moments for me this time in tvm was visiting motta's office, as last time was all abt seeing my collegepals Shan's and Anoop's new chic office building at Vazhuthacaud. It was around 10 pm at night...motta was holding deliberations with a client who had come all the way from malappuram...letting them go on I wandered around the unruly office...there were papers lying strewn all over the place with rough drawings, calculations and unintelligible scribbles on them, his portfolio lay on his drawing table, he motioned me to the computer where I browsed thru a ppt file of his drawings...my admiration for him growing with every next button clicked. Among his works there were a few houses outside tvm, a small shopping complex at medical college, and a superb mini-mall coming up at Vazhuthacadu which I am sure will soon become a building-of-note in tvm. All this he had achieved after labouring from morning to evening at a senior architect's office for a pitiable salary, and then from evening to midnight at this office of his which he shares with a few guys also running a web-designing firm there...so that he could afford the rent. His way up the ladder that lay ahead was obvious to me...soon he would need to hire more staff, kick the guys who shared his office out and finally earn the fame and respect which only the best get. I was really overwhelmed...the friend who I always despaired would never make it to the league of the rest of us go-getters, had raced past all of us. The moment the client left and he turned around to face me I enveloped him in a bear-hug and said..."Motte today you have made me so proud"...what I didnt tell him was..."I always thought of you as inept"!

Ofcourse like Pip the ineptitude always had been in me...Unlike motta never in life I could take firm decisions what best to do with my life and kept deluding myself that i had taken the easiest possible path to wealth, independence and contentment. I looked at his fiance...she was timidly stealing glances at me all the while instead of looking me straight in the face(this was the first time I met her!)...unlike many of my friends or myself, I knew by now with an absoulte surety that Motta coz of his rough ride to maturity, would make a great husband and she was a very lucky woman. As were leaving, like old times he joked to me..."nee ente pazhaya kaaryangal okke erakki kalyaanathine mumbe divorce aaki tharaathathine valare thanks"...we broke out into a smile and parted with a customary warm hug. As I walked away from them, I thought about myself...life's journey leading me back to delhi, an exam where my chances stood at a razor's edge, and beyond there was hardly any light to show me a way, almost 26 and still unsure what career-path lay ahead...I thought of my dear Herbert and prayed that his success find echoes in my life too.

Vadakkumnathan Rocks, Mohanlal's Back!!!

The second-last day in tvm turned out to be a really memorable one finally. For lunch went out for something which simultaneous to this one is taking shape as a parallel post. In the afternoon I finally kept an old promise to my dear friends from college Shan, Anoop and their partner Jenu to take a class on DotNet programming for their employees to get them started on a new technology. After almost 4 1/2 years after my seminar in the final semester of college I took a sort of lecture and it was an immensely enjoyable exercise, though the only jarring problem was my memories of the language have turned rusty and have begun to fade. I sincerely hope I dont have to program another line of code in life again. It was funny...Shan, peaking into the conference room every half an hour with a muffled grin on his face and Anoop sitting thru the lecture asking questions like an obedient student which he never was in college and me, one of the Savages who made life hell for many a teacher at college, breathing a sigh of relief that the guys and gals seated in front of me were attentive and very disciplined kids unlike me and my friends in college.

I had resolved to see the movie, Vadakkumnathan for the last few days since it released but everyone discouraged me saying it was impossible to get a ticket for a mohanlal movie so early unless i heckled in the crowd. Tonight I decided to take my chance, and just as I was about to leave, the heaviest downpour since I landed, began. Already a bit despondent that I failed to gather any of my friends for company, I decided not to let it dampen my spirits and decided to take off. It was a big risk...watching a malayalam movie these days is a big gamble, i can name just 4-5 movies in as many years that I have loved but today I got the chance to add another one to the list. I came out gushing that the 80's style of filmmaking is not dead and people still appreciate it...a simple yet impressive story and script from first-timer Girish Puthencherry and wonderful direction from the until now considered "unlucky" Shajoon Karyal and brilliant camerawork by veteran S.Kumar and to cap it all, the most profound music recently coming out from our films by the late Ravindran Master with a Mohanlal who looked younger, fresh and with the kind of acting that made him our hearthrob coming in as a triple topping on a pizza/icing on a cake...whatever you wanna call it...I just loved every minute of this movie.

"Pandathe Kaamukanaayi Lalettan Veendum"...was a comment I heard from somebody coming out of the theater and it brought a smile to my face. I just cant believe Mohanlal didnt have faith in this movie and delayed its release by more than a year...but give him a strong script and a difficult character...the acting skills which we think have deserted him just flow back and keep us spellbound on the screen. Apart from all the people I mentioned above who made this film so special, Jesudas and his "Gange" song echoes your mind long after you come out of the movie...its so sad that people have to get old, its such a pity that suddenly you are seen as having a voice that isnt divine anymore and then out of the blue he has shamed all those people who predicted his end. I wonder if I've gone overboard in praising this film...but I really loved it and I believe so will you all...keep your expectations low, expect a movie which has malayalitham written all over it, a very subdued and life-like performance from lalettan where you get to see that same vulnerability in his expressions we missed lately in all his super-human performances and just go to the cinema hall and sit back and let it grip you.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Waaanderer's Tag!!!

This is a long overdue tag...better late than never...i leave in 2 days...dont think i will be venturing outside often in Delhi to blog in this heat...it'll be almost 2 months b4 i lay my hands on my laptop.

5 people who top your sh1t list..... and why:

- Arjun Singh, for taking reservations to the realm of a new social injustice

- Arjun Singh...anyone wants a reason???

- Arjun Singh...my blood boils when i see his slippery face on TV!!!

- Arjun Singh...I am not against any of the reservations till date and pray that reservations be only for the poor in our society but he forgot he crossed a line...for the first time since independence, ordinary indians have raised their voices against our bastard politicians.

- A.K.Antony for wasting a gift-wrapped super mandate from the people of Kerala for developing the state

Close brushes with death/danger:

I never had a close shave with death yet...i guess God doesnt want me spoiling his party at heaven any time soon!!!

- A bike accident on Christmas Eve outside the Jimmy George Stadium...didnt even know what hit me...lost consciousness for a few hours and spent a precious night in a moota-infested medical college general ward observation room.

- Getting lost in the Agasthyakoodam
...we were scared shitless then, but now we laugh abt it like veterans who were out then for a casual stroll.

5 Modes of Suicide

What an irony that the guy I have found most easiest to unnerve, initiated the craziest of questions for a tag. well its not my idea of fun...so i move on!!!

5 Guilty pleasures:

- Chilled beer, a friend for company and a little sun and heat to go with the ambience

- At my native place, drinking kallu right off the palm trees.

- Chivas Regal, with 4 icecubes(my friends joke that ever since i took a liking to it, they never thought highly of it again!)...

- Amul Chocolate...you wont believe the reaction on my face, when I set eyes on it in a Delhi Bakery. Eating it after 16 years brought back so many sweet childhood memories...oh shit! i forgot to mention it in my Remembering the 80's post. I actualy bullied and tempted Pappanabhan, a frantic chocolate eater for a few days until i felt sorry and told him where to get it.

- well I criticize the Church a lot, and even feel at most times, that Christianity and religion arent important to me anymore(though God is), but yet on early sunday mornings being at a church and spending some quiet time there and attending mass makes me feel just great!

5 things you never want to forget:

- My grandma fainting the night i was leaving for the States

- The pride on my parents face when they saw me recieving the Master's diploma

- The first time my sister thrashed me...i was shellshocked...the thrash on my baCK erupted like a Deepavali cracker...since then she lost the surprise factor...but having got to taste blood whenever we quarrelled she would begin to cry unless I let her beat me atleast once.

- The only accident in my driving career - i had just finished learning to drive and my dad handed over his new Zen to me...trying to get on to the main road at a curve banged a boundary wall...the left rear door was a sight to behold...still can hear my dad's wild shriek ringing in my ears...the bill came to around 10000 bucks...but it was a lesson well learnt!

- Having beer with my dad for 1st time. When I'd finished 3 he was struggling with his first...his question, "nee hot adikkumo"...my response, "illa hot enikkishtamilla, pinne friends nirbandhichaal oralpam...."...cant forget his sarcastic quip..."ho, ashvaasamaayi"

5 things you wish to forget:

- The first time i wore a mundu with my mom's help...in the 8th. Wore a bermuda under and a belt over the mundu as protection and i was sure i looked like a dork taking feeble steps...the comic relief was coming to class and guys who didnt dare to wear it from home coz of the crowded schoolbus begging me to help them tie theirs thinking i had wrapped mine single-handedly...i remember that whole day we were skipping from tree to tree, hiding & tightening the mundu when it loosened. We realized we couldnt get better at it unless we started wearing lungis at home.

- Last Labor Day weekend in Baltimore...my uncle had arranged a karioke party with all his mallu friends...we kids were by now given the license to drink...the uncles and aunties made me sing "Onnam Ragam Padi" in front of them...afterwards everybody had a huge grin on their faces.

- The onset of adoloscensce...wasted an entire pilgrimage trip to vellankanni meant for my 9th standard final exams on praying to god to find me a remedy to this illness!!! If I was an anonymous blogger I would have had so many anecdotes to share with the world on how a band of brothers bumbled their way to enlightenment!!! Much later in college, thanks to Arun Hari's loud tongue I realized to my dismay that the story had even travelled to the gals in the class.

- The first VAAL...had too much to drink on an excursion to Kodai...passed out, began a vomitspree, got dehydrated, hospitalised and much worse...became the laughing stock of the guys and had to suffer great indignities...anyways it saved me from becoming an alcoholic...i have mostly stuck to beer and scotch ever since!!

- Having the indistinction of being hit for last-ball sixes twice in schoollife...lost both the matches on account of my complacence...and that too to two tailenders who barely knew how to hold a bat...and at every reunion somebody brings it up to put me to shame....again and again!!!

5 really exotic dishes you have tried:

Have eaten a lot of cuisines of the world while in LA and San Diego...cuban, ethiopian, korean, lebanese, mexican, thai, etc, etc, etc...embarassingly enuf i still found some of our traditional mallu dishes more exotic as they were more rarer...but then i've always been like that!!

But dishes i really like and savour.

- The Kappa, Karimeen Pollichathu, thavala and Anthikallu at the Karimpankala Shappu near Chenganasseery

- Puttu, Payaru and Pappadam for Breakfast

- Any nonvegetarian dish my mom cooks...an amazingly capable woman the speed with which she cooks is a sight to behold...chicken curries, cutlets, karimeen varathathu, fish moily, prawn, crab, fish curry, parinjeel...its all part of her amazing oeuvre...i can never eat non-veg food at a hotel to my satisfaction coz of her...but i always tell her that like most xian women she sucks at vegetarian dishes.

- A dream meal for me wud be...rice, pulisseri, payar thorran, aviyal, pappadam and a fish fry

- The Dosa and Chicken combination we once tried at a small village kallu shappu near the Neyyar Dam while in college...its taste still lingers!!!

5 crushes/loves in your life... in chronological order

- if i was an anonymous blogger...first names would have sure made its way here...neways most of those gals are wives and even mothers now!!!

But lately - Ash Rai in the new Lux Ad just knocks me out of my senses every time i see that...the only words that escapes me for a few mins is..."Abhishek Bachchante times"!!!

Strangest dream you ever had:

- its a childhood nightmare. A snake chasing my sister and me thru the paddy fields in our native place and how i escape....BLACKOUT!!!
i cant recollect dreams/nightmares anymore.

5 most valued personal possessions:

- Except for my clothes all the other material possessions I acquired I have lost/given away...but then 4 other possessions wud be

- my family, they have been so understanding, so encouraging...yet i have never done justice to their love/affection...only time i wish i was a different person is when i think about them.

- strong friendships nurtured day by day, over the years...it is in moments of loneliness that you thank God for these people who by chance becomes part of your life.

- a wealth of experience/mistakes...wonder where i get to mortgage all that!!!

- my smile, its a personal ahangaaram...i have seen a smile melt hard-nosed interviewers, soften unrelenting cops, cool down agitated teachers about to take me to task and win friends by the dozen...its a genetic/acquired/studied trait from my dad who i have seen use it as an effective weapon with foes, strangers and friends alike.

...today all of my possessions are abstract at one level but more concrete/lasting than anything material at a higher plane.

5 favorite superheroes..... and why:

- I'd say I loved Giant Robot and Johnny Saco so much...I was heartbroken when GiantRobot got killed and the series ended...like Mohanlal in the the film Adhipan I wanted to dial Doordarshan Kendra and call the man-in-charge the only theri i knew...PODA PATTI!!!

- Inspector Garud of Balarama(heard Dileep is planning a movie on him...am sure it'll be a bigger hit than CID Moosa!)

- Mayavi and Luttappi(yeah!...luttapis face makes me laugh!) of Balarama

- He-Man...he certainly was a phenomenon in those days

- James Bond...for all the babes he beds...when i wuz younger he misled me to thinking women were easy prey!!!

To pass it on...I think everyone else except Arun Hari and Neil have done it...upto u guys then!!!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Musings from Trivandrum...

42 days spent struggling on a quest whose summit is still miles away. 6 days of vacation and bliss as a sweet reward for 6 months of a harsh, back-breaking effort...it feels like heaven...of course in a few days I leave for the roasting of my life...all the news of record highs and power shortages in Delhi is draining my courage as I head back for more classes.

The Exam...
Among the casualties in tvm's vial flu epidemic, I was one of the unfortunate victims, down for almost 20 days...thankfully i had enuf reserves of perseverance to sweat thru it with my books for company. The day of the exam was brutal...4 hours, 2 exams and 270 questions to answer...i think i may come out with my reputation intact...but it will be 2 months more b4 the results come out!!! Will give you all a more concrete update on where I stand in a week's time when the solutions/key come out!!!

A Dying Lake...
Pappanabhan and I decided to laze away the next day at one of my fave haunts in Tvm...Akulam Lake. But the site of what was once a lone paradise in a concrete jungle saddened me. In a year or two the Akulam we once knew may not be there...its water polluted and the stench reminding me of Delhi's canals, the lake filling up with silt and plants taking root in the silt...i uttered a fervent prayer for its survival.

Its Getting Hot In Here...
Atleast 3 showers a day has become a norm for me! From the skies no place in the world is greener than kerala. There are trees everywhere, but the max temperatures in kerala have reached 35degs and worse still the humidity has reached records highs. Still remember how until 3-4 years back it was surprising to even see the mercury hit 32degs.

Widened Roads...
The corollary to Tvm becoming an old-age city, i discovered to my joy was that the newly widened roads didnt have enuf occupants to clog it up...for the first time in my 8 year career as a driver i have been able to zip all thru the city in 5th gear!!! Though the city roads are a source of pride the NH47 continues to be a sure-shot way to get into a coffin quickly...my dad and i together clocked almost 15 close shaves driving to our native place. I have decided only to take the train henceforth...unless they make the NH47 4-lane and split up the oncoming lanes!!!

Sharja Shakes...
Little did we realize that the favorite drink of our schooldays would become a rallying point for our reunions in later days. The Sharja continues to find acceptability among both drunkards and teetoallers of our batch of Loyolites as a drink to unwind, nostalgize and catch up. The terrace of the shop up the road from Bakery Junction to Vazhuthacaud has become our haunt every Sunday evening...the roar that rises there has been an integral part of my life for so long...i hope it never subsides in the pressures of adulthood.

An Industry Fades Away...
Not a single critically appreciated, aesthetically appealing or sensible malayalam film released this summer. I got the first jolt in tvm when the Pattom Kalpana theatre which served as a lighthouse to my home disappeared, making way for a shopping complex. I enquired abt the other theatre screening first change films, Petta Sreekarthika and it had shut down too! I landed in tvm hoping to watch Prithviraj's classy film Vargam but instead was greeted with theatres here screening tamil films like pattiyal, mercury pookal, brahma and a horde of other tam movies!!! Balram Vs Tharadas was a big letdown and so was Rasathanthram, Dileep's nasty remake of Rain-Man was deservedly rejected by the audience while Suresh Gopi salvaged some pride thru a good performance in an otherwise pitiable Chinthamani Kola Case.

The Ghosts of Dot Net...
This trip to Trivandrum...I was met with an old request again...Shan and Anoop wanted me to take a class on Dot Net technology for their employees...its been 7 months since i have even seen a line of code...but i just need to shake my idleness off and contribute in some way to their growing company.

Policy of Ringed Fence...
The way Pinarayi has encircled VS with all his close accolytes reminds me of the old trick the British played on our native rulers of the same name above. Will the old revolutionary break the shackles which his younger opponents within his party has thrown and keep the promises he made to the underpriviledged of kerala who voted him in??? I stood witness to the huge red flag gathering on the Secretariat lawns on the night of the swearing-in and wondered how soon the euphoria surrounding the mandate had disappeared and how easily the people's will dissolved amidst political bickering.

Who's Scared of The Code???
The book has come and gone...Dan Brown may have resurrected Mary Magdalene succesfully in Christianity in one of the highest selling works of fiction...everyone expected it to shake the foundations of Christianity...but everyone underestimated the power of Faith...why does the Catholic Church fear the movie version now...and what is this so-called Catholic Secular Forum's right to represent the whole of Xianity in demanding a ban...Xianity today is beyond all the symbolism that Da Vinci Code strives to decipher, today the church is a mix of harcore believers in all the church espouses and a growing populace of "upstarts" who likes to set their own parameters and boundaries to Xianity and find God through their own ways/means/ends.

Last Pal Met...
I have finally met all of my closest friends from school and college...kevin the last one standing reached tvm with a bottle of tequila and our depleted gang of Savages from college got together, finding ourselves still on our feet after 8 shots of tequila the scotch meant for kevin's other set of friends in quilon was also drowned in our hunt for the kick!!! Tomorrow we head to kollam to visit anoops new house, where i guess a sumptuous lunch will be waiting for us and on the way we pick up Kevin from his home at Tangasseri Beach where the fish tastes the best in the world!!!

To Orkut or not...
I am one of the few pessimists who think Orkut has a short shelf-life. But everyone else seems to disagree. Since Orkut has caught the public fancy, the mails in our egroups have noticeably subsided. Most of the people who scrap me are close friends who i have stayed in touch thru irregular emails or who read my blog or who i email thru school, college and univ yahoogroups but suddenly orkut seems convenient to say a hi and bye...a few people whom I had almost given up to oblivion have suddenly come back but i wonder if i'll ever see them again...I scrap back and the interaction just doesnt flag from there on...i guess it works!!! I grew a beard in between and uploaded a pic...and suddenly there were doszens of queries of depression, new look, exam tension and even failed love coming from everyone...though not physically the world just keeps coming closer!!!

Aideu to Tvm...
There is no place like home and no city like your hometown. The last 50 days here were memorable...dunno when I can return. Dunno in what condition i will return...will it be a victorious one to write the main examination or will i come back cloaked in failure, shrink away from my friends and pack my bags to again hesitantly head away to some distant land...i guess time will tell.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Mandate for a Time-Freeze???

The elections are over...I felt depressed seeing the difference in calibre of the two left leaders who won...buddadheb in bengal, looking at the way ahead for his state and asking young men who left its soil to return, talking astutely on a wide range of opportunities for bengal and vs achuthanandan in kerala on the other hand looking back into the past and raising his bogeys of forest mafias and sex scandals and of the great foreign investment conspiracy!

The Congress didnt do badly...all over the state from trivandrum to kasargod all the congress leaders with a mass-base and who consider themselves answerabile to the people...have won belying all predictions!! Oommen Chandy's victory in Puthupally, G.Karthikeyan in Aryanad, Aryadan Mohammed in Nilambur, Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan in Adoor, K.C.Venugopal in Alappuzha, C.P.Mohammed in Pattambi, etc, etc are just some of the names i need to mention. Even when everyone predicted the UDF would go down I always had this feeling that several Congressmen who had worked hard in their constituencies would still romp home comfortably.

The DICK as predicted by all is over as a party...it was tragi-comic to see Mr.K in tears...the kingman of kerala politics looks set to waste away in oblivion(ouch...i feel the cruelty of my own words!). I have a suggestion for K.Muraleedharan...with all the allegedly immense wealth he has inherited, should get into film production and save our poor cinema industry. The Muslim League is finally paying for ignoring the poor people who have been their votebank for ages...I really dont think fundamental groups like PDP and Jamaat mattered too much...their leaders had lost their abiding link with the masses. Anways, sad to see Dr.M.K.Muneer who was an intelligent leader too getting felled. And to make it super-sweet all those good-for-nothing allies of the udf jss of gowriamma, mv raghavan of cmp, the rsp's, the kerala congresses of balakrishan pillai and tm jacob(now erstwhile!) have bitten the dust...next elections i'd like to see young congressmen get to become ministers instead of these big guns who've been ministers for too long and had just as much vision as their failing eyes afforded them!!!

Coming back to the cpm...there's a lot of things to cheer about too...there are some capable and reform-minded men among their midst too...Thomas Isaac, M.A.Baby, P.J.Joseph and some really decent men like Paloli Mohammed Kutty, N.K.Premachandran, Ramachandran Kadannapally, etc who will be becoming ministers. Lets hope for the very best from them. And another interesting thing to note is that more than 130 of our mla's are atleast graduates which is great but when we juxtapose them with national level leaders of cpm, inc, bjp we find they pale out in terms of their fluency in english, and media charm...no wonder most of the mp's we vote from kerala are derided as backseaters in parliament...someday hope even that changes!!!

Well, i just wanted to key in a quick post, as a quick aside i'd like to report that the monsoon seems to have set in a few days earlier than the weathermen predicted as its been raining non-stop for the last 5-6 hours and getting back...everyone's crossing their fingers on the fate of kerala, but then lets face it, there's a huge class-divide here. the peasant and labour class root for everything v.s.achuthanandan stands for while we the middle classes cant bear his sight for a second. Kerala has kept its date with its past and voted out an incumbent, sadly this was a well-performing one. It wont be long before the new govt gets into its act, spells out its policies and shows where its political and economical leanings lie...until then i'll wait in silence and not rant and rave anymore about a missed opportunity!!!!