Sunday, December 02, 2007

A Time To Rewind...

I decided to move this by now customary year-end post up ahead. Two reasons for that, one is I had to get out of a blogging rut and this post had a template I have set in the previous years and was easy to replicate, the other reason being me getting back to my hometown in december, and memories, family, friends, places, habits, occasions are all going to come together in one overwhelming medley and hopefully supply a lot of posts to this blog. Readers have read most of this crap already, skirt it unless you have nothing better to do. 2007 was my year of passivity, it was my year of stability, it was my year of restless soul-searching, it was my year of loss and gain, and a year of lot more, which I intend to flesh out as I write on.

Ups - God - I haven't mentioned before that I spent six months from late september last year to late march looking for a job. The money I had saved up was all but over. God came along and took me under his wing once again as I was about to lose my direction in life. I had quit the UPSC preps by January when my forms didn't reach India in time. I had a return ticket back home for May, but a return to what and for what. I didn't have the answer but HE saved me the trouble. I haven't seen the inside of a church in six months, but every time I look back at how I overcame miraculously the challenges at work and in my mind, it is his unseen guidance I am compelled to acknowledge. Why is prayer such an impossibility for me...i struggle to find the answer. Maybe god lives only in a home, i am living in a sathram, maybe when i make a nest and settle down to it, HE will have a permanent dwelling place.

Ups - Career - The the longest I have worked at one place in my professional career - 8+ months now and counting. Last september when i returned to the US, I had made a firm decision to not go back to programming, i kept with it despite the delay in getting a job, took training in Cognos, a business reporting tool, and it has looked so far to be a right choice I made as a kind of wayside gas station to refuel and a stop-over motel to rework strategies on unravelling the big mystery to my purpose of living. Work was lazy till managers changed and now its hectic but I have been able to deal with it. I continue to be sick of meetings, the dozens of emails to be read and replied, the tasks to be managed, there are times I feel like running away but the money that has come in has helped. Thoughts of frustration and mediocrity have been relegated to the fringes of my existence. Love for, needs satisfied and the temporary security provided by money have given me justification and motivation to carry on for a few more months. A new career will beckon soon, it is a start from scratch, unless I find myself in it, I won't believe I made the transition. I am scared too. That is why I keep it secret.

Downs - Blogging - The latter part of the year has been a struggle to keep this blog going. Except for the upcoming expected interregnum in december I except this downward slide to continue next year too. Decided not to put pen to paper on thoughts arising from nostalgia and past memories and instead write only of present and future. Sadly I didn't do anything significant in the present, and the few posts I came up with in the last few months arose from career thoughts. To be frank, the hazy dreams of the future is the only thing playing in my mind now and there is space for nothing else. My mind is muddled and my words are lacking in flow now. Hopefully being back in tvm will put me back in some creative orbit. Still there will be positives from this year in that I arrived on the guts to post on this blog, a malayalam short story in january. There is some mystic almost spiritual energy for the malayalam language bubbling in me...I have a gut feeling that if I write to publish, it will happen in malayalam and not in english, despite all my inadequacies in the language. In february-march when 5-6 months had passed and i was still jobless and at wits end, i dug into my reserves of humour and memories and wrote on funny incidents to conquer all the worries and regain my sanity. Beyond blogging, as a writer this year was significant in that I tried to take classes in creative writing and screenplay to master the techniques behind it - I lost interest midway through, but I have the notes and hopefully will peruse them some other day. In writing fiction, a thankless process is coming up with story ideas, atleast once every day for the past one year, I have gone on a journey with my mind to craft many a tale, most of them never got anywhere, some find their way to summarized scribblings in my notepad jotted down while half-asleep, possibly never to be expanded on. I finally have another story to write now, but am troubled, with both the english language and determination deserting me in the effort to write. And finally grammar. I have given it a total miss all these years in the freedom of ownership that blogging offers...maybe it as to do with the rigid syntax checking enforced on us techies by programming tools! But using the right tenses, placing commas, spellchecks, I am making an effort to get these as right as possible nowadays. On re-reading my older posts, I now wonder if I slept through the english grammar classes in school!

Downs - Travel - Last year presented me with the opportunity to travel in North India. It was a great learning experience for me, my eyes soaked up the lives of so many people, and the sights of so many places. a lot of that found expression on this blog too. In contrast, this year found me wallowing away at home. In the past, I have done road trips in the US and covered the country, from the Pacific to the Atlantic coast. The absence of people, and not learning anything new in these travels has affirmed in me an aversion to travel here. All i can think of as travel this year, was a trip to chicago to hang out with cousins, one to florida for a family reunion, a weekend camping at hollister hills near san jose and a sailing trip few weeks back(my initial enthusiasm to don a sailor's cap during the trip and hoist and turn sails, etc died down in the open sea with rough waves giving the boat a real tossing and me a mild attack of sea-sickness which I did well to conceal from friends...whoever named the Pacific Ocean so, had an incredible sense of humour!)

Downs - Reading - I'd blame the computer and the internet for distracting me with youtube and malayalam movies and indian websites but my inability to set all this aside and take up a book and read, which i know would give me the same pleasure, is baffling to say the least! First library books, then thought since the library books are free, buying from amazon would force me to luck either ways. Brought a lot of malayalam works from kerala to read, most of them are still waiting for me. Shame on you, jibster!

Ups - Health - One day I took a bus, it braked, I almost got thrown but for the grip on the sidebar, i felt the muscles on my back stretch and dreaded for a second, of it tearing(I am now on my fourth year running in the US without medical insurance. I don't know why i keep taking these foolish risks...but i am glad i dont give any money to the scamsters!). That day i came back home, and announced to my sis, who had been cajoling me for a long time to hit the gym, that i would join her. We hired a personal trainer, who has managed to work wonders to my lean, atrophying physique and after years and years of being skinny and perpetually underweight, i stand today at a healthy 70kgs. I have had the worst eating habits too...i have skipped breakfast for close to 10 years now because of stomach trouble or because of running late for school/work but have now got back into that habit. I have been a compulsive outside eater too for the last many many years, cheap junk food from the fast food chains here like MacDonalds,BurgerKing, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, etc have been my main source of nourishment in the US, i'd rather starve than cook, but now its been goodbye to junkfood for quite a while now, salads and a little fruit is all part of my diet now, and its as great and feel-good as chicken. The sis has been urging me to eat at home for a long time, I feel guilty making her cook after a tough day at work, but she convinced me that despite all my liberal postures, in my heart of hearts i am yet another mallu male chauvinist and that she wouldn't grudge me for it, but asked me to think of money i can save, not eating out, that i can put to better use for the future. Anyways all's well that ends well and i haven't had a fever for more than a year now. Touch wood! Looking forward to the reunion at school next month, and giving all 'em big boys a good run for the ball, when we play football and basketball.

<-> - Sleep - Is it a blessing or a curse I dunno. I have to take a nap once I get back from work. Without the nap, I am like a chathakozhi all evening and feel totally passive all night. Some nights, I get a good early sleep without the nap, but my habit of digging for stories is at its peak when i lie in bed, sometimes this causes me to become restless or excited and i stay awake for hours. But with the 2 hour evening nap, it gives me a cushion to go to bed at 1 but fall asleep only by 2 or 3 in the morning and wake up at 8am, and it all adds up to the perfect sleep hours! The sad part following the 2 hour nap, is that I haven't channeled my rejuvenated self to any constructive work in the 5 waking hours i get after.

<-> - Time - Time flies. Another blessing and curse dimension! A blessing in that my life from monday morning to friday evening at work and from friday evening to monday morning at home is over so fast, that the months gone by feel like a thankful blur and the months lying ahead to my D-day also look to pass by in that same fashion. It is also a curse in that, I look at some illustrious people in their twenties, many of them my classmates, and it pisses me that while I laze away, these people are working hard in their respective professions and doing a lot of fruitful stuff. Maybe my time is yet to come. Ha!

Downs - Friends - This was the year that friendships moved several rungs down the priority ladder for me. Previously I couldn't conceive a world without friends. As a part of my experiment with life, erected a wall between them and me, for several months of this year. I angered many of them. It was a cold, dark and empty world without them. But I managed. I joked to myself, talked to myself and lived for myself. The cellphone became an irritant. The experiment ended the day I decided on my next career, and rang some of them up. I was relieved, that I hadn't damaged the ties I consider more important to me than the ones with my relatives. I now see how these friendships will work in the coming years, from daily, the contacts with them had become weekly, now its monthly, in time we will be lucky to catch up once in a year or years. Career and family first, everything else comes second. Its a practical law of the universe, and it has caught me also in its drift.

<-> - Misc -
a. Watched quite a few good indian movies, old and new.
b. Have become an absent minded, impatient driver
c. Learnt to skip.(with rope!)
d. Drink a lot of water nowadays
e. Drinking rarely now, but when i drink its becoming a binge.
f. Too much youtubing (my faves)

Downs - Resolutions - The latest resolution made was just yesterday to take the 25 day lent for Christmas. There are a set of bad habits that I wanted to give up. Inspiration came from the 41 day Sabarimala vratham that Sreenivasan took in Chinthavishtayaaya Shyaamala! Maybe I love my weaknesses too much or I am too stuck in the morass of worldly indulgence. Not even one full day into the fast, I sheepishly promised infant jesus that I would try and welcome him into the world in better fashion next year! So no more resolutions...i have given up on reforming me...whatever good things happened, came by itself, the bad i invited in. Hopefully I have atleast learnt to reject new temptations.

This is my log of the year's activities. Sorry for the occasional bad language and haphazard writing. Goodbye 2007. Yours was a year I was caught stationary in a place, time and circumstances helpless in pursuing the call of my heart, meanwhile the earth went around the sun and did its full are also almost history now, but I am still standing. What if I run with the earth in 2008, do a lot of things differently, where will I be, 366 days hence, will I look at yet another winter sun and sing to him a different tune, will I perceive his balmy warmth on my face, and be able to offer a thankful smile in return? Is happiness always a thing of the past? Is satisfaction always a soother of the present? Is uncertainty always a primer for the future? Well life goes dances only to the tune of those who can clear their minds of all the jarring notes, but Hope is the brand name of the dancing shoes I wear, and it keeps me on my toes. Enough of getting profoundly idiotic...wish you all a very happy new year.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Idle Blogging...

I have blogger open. I usually type up my posts in notepad and paste over. Today is the day before thanksgiving. I have a four day weekend coming up. My friends in LA are off on a trip to Hawaii. Our ideas of a vacation differed. So I backed out. Now I will sit at home and twiddle my thumbs. I am not in the mood to work today. I have had a hectic month. So today is payback. I am not in the mood to blog either. But I have to do something. I am tired of browsing and reading other people write. I am obsessively compelled to add my share of bytes to google's huge memory dump.

I am at my desk, surrounded by 4 walls which do not reach the ceiling, the glorified work space we post-modern employees call a cubicle. Papers lie carelessly strewn all around. I am not a sucker for order. The carpet is clean today. Someone must have vacuumed the floor over the weekend. Last week, there were bits and pieces of chocolate strewn all over the floor which I frantically tried to clean, but ended up smudging with my shoes. I had bought a slab of white chocolate. It was too hard to break it. So I had to bite at it. Chocolate is one of my innocent pleasures. I will never outgrow my childhood when it comes to chocolate. Lets not speak about childhood here. The coffee is growing cold. I need to get another cup. I love the coffee in winter. It warms me up. I hate the taste though...they call it by different names nowadays but it all tastes pretty much the same...for me nothing better than filter coffee at a South Indian vegetarian restaurant. It also helps me overcome my hunger. Speaking of hunger, I mix up my lunch on weekdays. Monday and Wednesday are Indian, Tuesday mexican, thursday american, and friday something different. There wont be a friday this week. So today I had italian for lunch. A cheesy lasagne with spinach on top. I spend liberally on food. It is in revengeful memory of the days I had to starve, some years back. But let me not go back to the past again.

I was in an all-day meeting yesterday and this one was productive for a change. I looked at the 10 faces around. Faces from all over the world...america, china, india, england, south-east asia, persia. I noticed this glib-tongued desi consultant who held forte for most of the meeting. He spoke remarkably good english, a very healthy usage of american pronunciation enhancing his already perfect indian accent. I was envious, i would never speak so good english. I love the way americans pronounce words. They stylise every word to give it the best sound. I think Indian English sounds the next best. I hate the way brits and aussies speak is hard for me to understand. I hate their accent. Period.

I am biding my time to get off work. Usually we get to leave early on the eve of a long weekend. No such email announcing early pack-up has come today. I don't care. After all there is nothing to do at home. And I bill by the hour. I have deadlines to be met, but I will come back on monday and start over, I have decided I can't work today. I am not a professional. I never will be one. I will never make a good manager either. It is going to get dark early. Even if I drive back home at 4, I will need headlights turned on. I hate driving in the dark. There is nothing to look at, other than the road ahead. By now the road has been mapped firmly in memory. I know which lanes are faster at each bend, and at each stretch, I know the side roads to divert to when I hit traffic. The commute takes me 25 minutes sharp, both ways. I wonder if I am part robot, part zombie, part human or like in Matrix am in a world someone's programmed for me.

Now what? I have four holidays. I love to sleep heavily on weekends. I have been sleeping a lot lately. I have a dozen books and movies in various stages of reading and watching, my concentration span has always been short. We don't have a TV at home so that I don't waste time. My knowledge of american pop culture is at zilch as a result. TV shows, the NBA and the college football season, music bands...i know nothing of all that. What I know is from the internet and google news, I am loving the dems' presidential debates put up on youtube, i am supporting Hillary just because i absolutely love Bill Clinton...Obama is definitely the better man, but i don't think he will win this time, I hope Hillary takes him on as running mate so that in 4-8 years of his stay in DC, he will have grown in stature internationally. His strong candidature has shaken the rest of the world which thinks America is racist. Alright the email has come in for us to take leave. Blogging for the sake of blogging...the fall of another blogger, ain't it? Enough bull, i have served you all...that was a real overdose of disjointed and random musings. Apologies and Sympathies! My holiday season is beginning. This is the time Americans erupt in a wild orgasm of senseless spending followed by gasping at the depleted bank balances. There is a lot of mysterious excitement building up for me too...more of that later.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Young And The Affluent...

This weekend some of my mallu juniors from the Bay Area came visiting. These are the kind of guys I would love to avoid but they shower too much affection on me that I just can't get away from them how much ever I try. It is just not them, even my best friends from school and college...the way their lives have taken off has left me breathless and of course, inspired. Some years back I wrote a post on how my American friends were faring professionally. I also wrote a post on our awkward beginnings in America. Today all that is history. I am amazed really at the changes happening in front of my eyes, half-scared, half-wondering why none of it rubs off on me. The flashiest cars be it the Porsche Boxters, the Nissan 350Zs, Infiniti G35s, Ford Mustangs, Range Rovers rest in their garages, the coolest accessories like Versace glasses, iPhones, Diesel shoes...they have it all and flaunt it too with a panache that makes me laugh at all those cliches of Indians being geeky/nerdy/shy, sticking to corollas, camry's, civics, can't even get it up with a girl, etc. My friends are changing all that. These guys dine and wine at expensive places, have begun travelling to exotic places, some look to and succeed in dating americans, you name it...its all there in their "resumes". These same guys who were once so self-conscious of their FOB status, now look at people coming from India, especially the hordes of on-site visitors and watch with amusement as they too learn the ropes of becoming cool.

We drove in to this high-end shopping mall in Beverly Hills. I assumed we were in for another one of those bouts of window shopping and kept muttering restlessly.To my surprise the guys actually went into a few stores and came out spending a cool amount of money on designer stuff that left me a little irritated, a little unhappy that I who probably made much more than these guys, thanks to a greencard holding, free-wheeling, overpaid consultant job felt the pinch in my pocket, though it was they who laid off those greenbacks.
I asked one of them, "Dey, nee enthina inganathe carum saamagrikalum vaangiche kooti kaashe kalayunne?"
He told me,"This is why I came to the US. I want a good life. Why did you come here?"
His poser left me sorry for asking, and I gingerly replied, "I had the greencard."
"What do you do with your money?" he asked not letting me off the hook so easy, I guessed there was talk amongst them, that I was a miser.
"I let it add up or send it home. I don't know what else to do with it."
He thankfully left it at that...but I felt like a child in front of this "kid" who was 4 years younger to me.

A few months back I was in Chicago at my cousin's place, and similarly put-off by the high-end lifestyle she and her friends lived. I probed her about it and she gave me and the rest of us younger kids a pep-talk that went miles into helping me decide finally what I wanted from life. She and friends studied hard through school and college not wasting time fooling around, found good jobs, banded around other super-achievers like them, made sure they were placed for vertical growth and now could fall back a bit and enjoy all the best things money could provide. She advised me to do the same, identify the right career i wanted to pursue and start putting in the hard work atleast now. She opened my eyes to a grave misreading I made about youth, friendships, etc. I was the kind of guy who prided myself on having an amazing school and college life, great friendships, wonderful memories, etc but I realized none of it was of any use now. I was wasting time then as I was now. I looked around, and realized those same friends who were part of those rowdy gangs had moved on, started taking life seriously, are in line for great success,some married already and are great husbands, yet they never lost their bonds with me and could talk in the same vein of our heydays, crack jokes, call each other obscenities, give each other advise knowing it wont be remembered in the bonhomie of our chatter.

You guys will be wondering why I have so many back-to-back personal posts. The reason is, these are some new lessons I have learnt along the way the last few months, lessons that if you who is one of my younger readers who is enjoying life like I did, may not have realized or won't have anyone to tell you. I am at a stage where bad habits have hardened and tough to be changed, where its natural to come home after work and rest and do nothing though your mind wills otherwise, where weekends are spent sleeping, browsing, watching movies, or hanging out with friends even when something keeps chanting in you to change course, where the danger of being satisfied and even further accept this mediocre existence lurks perenially around the corner. I have always wondered why the world has so many proverbs and aphorisms on time, but now I feel the pinch for every minute wasted. Happily there are no regrets for the past yet, but the present lies wasted(Sarah emailed asking, besides telling me other good things, "Why do you think the tense for now is called "present" in the english language?"). The title of this post may be a misnomer...i may or may not agree with the materialism that has gripped my friends, i guess i have no right to judge them...their lifestyles may have changed but they are still the good old guys i knew back then. Their affluence, my restlessness, the youthful vigor on which these friendships were built, our paths are diverting away from the junction we once ran into each other...when we meet again, years hence, at another confluence, what new tales will I have, to tell of their exploits?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Oh! Its Oct 2nd...What's the Big Deal???

I almost forgot today was Gandhi Jayanti. And I dont remember anymore if the last many years have also gone by in that manner. We live in a day and age where the only heroes we get to truely celebrate are armymen who give up their lives in the service of the country, business czars whose enterprise have provided millions of jobs and then we have the idols of young India, film actors and cricketers whose smiling, glamorous faces look up from a million posters and billboards throughout the homes and streets of gung-ho India. Those grand old men and women who fought the British, their memories relegated to school textbooks, their place in the sun not yet lost, ironically by idols installed at prime locations, yet I am sure not a single passer-by notices them except for birds looking for a nice spot to rest and shit. There is this statue in Raj Bhavan road of freedom fighter Akkamma Cherian, I must have passed it by for many years and always thought it was Indira Gandhi until a chapter in the textbook about her forced me to open my eyes. Later we studied about Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai, the first of many men who fought for the amazing Freedom of Press, we now enjoy today in Kerala, whose statue I was told could be seen in Statue Jn but I never found it till one day waiting for a bus near the Marikar showroom I spotted him shrouded in the tree cover leading up to the AG's Office.

There is this favorite moment I have had with Gandhiji. It is a feeling I will cherish forever. It was during my MS days and I was walking to work on a campus road which stretched out in a straight line and ended up in an undergraduate student housing building. It was dark, close to midnight and there was this one light shining from a room, which seemed to guide me on ahead. Like most guys, the first fancy that came to my mind was seeing a girl in that room, in a state of undress. As I kept getting closer, the faint outlines of a picture on the wall caught my attention. I couldnt make out who it was, but it held me transfixed until the shape of the Mahatma grew clearer and clearer. Besides him on either side was a poster of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King. I smiled to myself and wondered what possible source of inspiration could the Mahatma be to a person in the most affluent country in the world, when even Indians don't care anymore. There are moments like these, when you recognize the presence of a great man in your life, and you acknowledge his contribution to making your life a better one. Isn't that what is called immortality? Some months later we were walking on the street, when a homeless guy sniggered at us, "Gandhi Boys!" It may have been a racial taunt but we smiled, and I shouted back at him, "Thank You!" and would have loved to add, "But we don't deserve the compliment!"

Gandhiji's outward political postures, even if not in spirit are kept alive and kicking in our country, if you see the kadar clothing, bandhs, hartals, jathas, satyagraha what not. We have politicians to thank for that...if Gandhi was just a politician he wouldnt have survived...even he displayed selfishness and lack of grace at times. But his greatness was that he had lessons for ordinary people too. Even between politics he taught the importance of hygiene and a clean is funny that when ministers like Kamal Nath fight for India not to be brought under purview of greenhouse emission, he hides the fact that global warming is hurting India more than any other country in the world. I feel it...the biggest challenge before India in coming years is not democracy, corruption, economy or is climate change. In India, every man grosses wealth, in the safe knowledge that he is doing it for his children, but when it comes to anything that is global wealth, these same men exploit it without realizing they are digging their grandchildrens' graves even before they are born. Man is always helpless, for centuries we feared and grappled with the challenges earth posed, now we are so in the grip of technology and modernity, and acknowledge we face an earth we have tapped at indiscriminately, but cant face upto even a few minutes of power-cut, loss of transportation, air-condition or connectivity!

One moment, I make all these utopian(maybe even gandhian) schemes on how I should lead moment, I find that same me, doing the exact opposites of what I thought of earlier. Truth, Non-Violence, Conquest of the Self...such impossibilities for us pampered people. For me the biggest challenge has been to win over my baser instincts...a lazy nap, porn, mindless movies, pointless net-surfing, companionships past their shelf-date and associated habits...the first book that ever gave me the tools to deal with it was no Bible or motivators like Dale Carnegie, Lee Iococa etc...but Gandhiji's My Experiments With Truth. Once you finish reading the book you realize that it wasn't an accident of history that a man like Gandhiji lead India to freedom. In his seemingly-pointless-for-us abstinence, vegeterianism, brahmacharya, etc he toughened his soul to give him the courage to face the higher aims of his life like truth, non-violence and India's freedom. It is the simplest yet most profoundly touching and inspiring book you can lay your hands on for as less as Rs.30. Truth, Non-violence and probably most of his experiments in the book are i guess beyond what we mere 21st century zombies can aspire for, but it also has lessons in simplicity, time-management, humility, health, social commitment and work-ethic we still can commit to, which can help us succeed and feel good about, in our busy lives. Gandhiji once lived amongst us, he still lives in us, we rarely seek to find out...a brilliant Rajkumar Hirani makes a Lage Raho Munnabhai and we rave about Gandhigiri for a while, every year we have an Independence Day and a Gandhi Jayanti, but if each of us truely want to celebrate him, his life and the freedom he and his men won for us, pick up his book, buy it for your friends, who or that person might discover a Gandhian thought in some simple action of yours, and who knows...we might even end up saving Earth! Happy Birthday, Gandhiji.

P.S - Albert Einstein, the man who pipped Gandhi to the 'Time Man of the Century' Award said of Gandhiji, "Generations to come will scare believe such a one as this in flesh and blood, walked the face of the Earth". I wonder if Einstein's fine statement will become a prophesy...Gandhiji becoming some unattainable freak great soul rather than the very human being he was...he will be remembered for sure...but how he is remembered lies very much in how much of him we can find in our lives, we the youth of India who are a link between a morbid, stagnating recent past and an exciting but hazardous near future owe atleast this much to that man.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

On The Birthday Eve - Ten Confessions

Two years ago was my 25th birthday and it proved a singular milestone that offered to a lost traveler, a chance to once more feel the joy of living...I don't know what was different with me then and today...maybe I have grown in the knowledge of who I am and what this birth means to me, or maybe not. I remember of being content then with all I had to do to get to that point, and thus wrote that post...I was ready to take my life in my hands, though I knew not what I wanted from it. Today is another story, the past is a distant blur, the present an insignificant blip on the horizon, and the future stands right before my eyes unattainable yet. Every approaching birthday, these last few years has been a time for churn, change and new resolve...2003 i dug my heels in and decided to salvage my MS, 2004 i quit my first job without saving up a single penny, 2005 mustered the wits to give the UPSC a try, last September swallowed my pride and came back to the US. This time I have been lucky to have undertaken the by-now customary bday revolution quite earlier than September, but find myself dealing with the struggle of surviving 200 days before the next attempt to chart yet another course in life begins. I donot know what the intention of this post will it to record for my posterity, my frame of mind at this point of time, or is it to find some clarity, which writing, more often than not, gives me.

I am appalled that several people close to me, expect wonders to happen. I think this blog gave them that idea. I can't think of anything else worthwhile, that I have done, during my time on Earth. Several things that I did, I now see as being done to give meaning to my existence at that point of time. In school, I read books to escape the confines of my introversion and my complexes. Later it was my friendships that defined my existence, and the books lay forgotten. In college, I took up drinking, hoping it would make me a man, hoping it would nullify self-questions of my adolescent manhood - such superficial stuff for me today like unsprouting facial hair, being underweight, and lack of physical courage. During Master's working at the Film School and my growing interest in movies gave the "Jeene Ki Ik Wachah". At work and lost, blogging came to the rescue, at Civil Service coaching travelling saved me, today surprisingly it is the naked need for money to satisfy a lot of my needs over the next few years that is helping me cling on. Of course it is my hope that these experiences/memories help me in future.

Blogging used to be not just about letting my thoughts wander and capturing them in words but also about being part of a blogger community, reading my fellow bloggers, appreciating and imbibing their views and writing styles, leaving comments, etc. Nowadays I hate to wander in blogosphere. I feel a sad guilt at not doing my duty because I know how much a blogger loves to hear from a fellow blogger about his/her latest post. I am reading, M.Mukundan's Haridwaril Manikal Muzhangunnu, a superb novella of hardly 100 pages, but I can't read beyond a page at a time before my concentration wavers. It must be jealousy at play, how such wonderful yet simple writing takes shape, whether in blogging or fiction writing. I worry that with my interest in reading at such a nadir, how my thoughts and ideas and love for writing can grow beyond the frankly adolescent level, that it is now at.

For a lot of my life, I have waited for others to give me a helping hand. More often than not, that hand never came. I have longed for friends or relatives to begin path-breaking companies, so I can go work for them, for friends to break into the entertainment industry, for my dad to push me through into a field I can succeed in...riding on other people's wings was a lazy fantasy that I nurtured stupidly for far too long. Its been some time since I have realized the initiative to better my life had to come from me, and yet I can't help thinking why things are taking so long to change for me. My dad always tells me, "If I had your talent, I wouldn't have wasted it"...and I wryly muse,"Pops, if I had your ambition..."

I remember I used to have a perpetual warm smile, once upon a time. I have caught myself several times with a frown on my face, several times with a weak, laboured and artificial manufacture replacing that once all-powerful beacon, while a deep emptiness resides in that mysterious place somewhere inside, that once powered the lone good thing about me.

What is the idea of home? It cant be just the four walls of my house, my parents, my people, my language, my awareness of culture, tradition and must be something much deeper than all this, that has found an abode in me, that has me going back, every moment these last many years. At a family reunion few weeks back, my uncle the novelist chap, remarked, that "Perhaps Jiby, has not, unlike the rest of us, found himself melting into the American mainstream like the rest of us." My sister's reply confirmed why she will probably know me better than anyone else on earth, "Achacha, it is nothing about America that he finds uncomfortable, it is India that drives him." Those words from her mouth, had to find its place in this post...she has stood like a pillar carrying me along, speaking for me when I lost my voice. No sister of today's times ever lifted a brother from failure like she saved me...I've always wondered how the finest human beings are people who are unassuming and seem ordinary to me.

why cant I approach every day with reinvigorated zest. Why every day begins, continues and ends in intermittent tired yawns. Going to the gym would help, I thought, but the physical energy just doesn't seep into my spirit. The brawn is beginning to show up, the brain remains clouded in a perpetual suspension of all purpose. Wonder if Yoga will help. I tried hypnotism but that's a hilarious story for another day. Took online creative writing and screenwriting courses but gave up on it midway for lack of ideas and inability to stick to class schedules. There was a time in life that I had a spring in every enthusiastic step I took. The summer of my fatigue has bade goodbye, now the winter of my discontent is past the threshold and at home, will an eternal spring with fresh spirits come knocking at my doorsteps soon?

For several months now, I took life as coming, Week by Week, with the weekend resuscitating and rejuvenating me. Until I took the decision on the next career. Now it is becoming harder to plough by each day. Each hour brings thoughts of what will happen ahead, the thousands of hours to be furrowed ahead to get there worries me no end. I used to be the guy who others envied for living life carefree and how I have changed! Will i lose my job and not find another one soon enough, will I meet my financial targets, will I fall sick, will my plans be derailed, a myriad such thorns plague my path ahead, wish I was that witch with the broom who could sweep past all this and fly ahead to meet the next call of life. Or is this life in all its colours?

A week back, I serviced my car, then took it to a carwash and on the way back a feeling of well-being on how smoothly it ran and how good it was looking coursed through me. For some months now, have been urging my weak soul to reconcile with the material losses to be suffered and luxuries to be rejected, if I am ever to shed this moneyed mediocrity that is pinning down my happiness. Unguarded moments of such coziness will surely keep making life difficult. Will having all the accessories and luxuries of life compensate the sadness of living a most sterile, untested, homogeneous existence...I ask myself if I am the most foolish Indian in America.

There was a time I earnestly looked up to this bday as a time for setting aside singledom. I was vainly confident in the knowledge that family, NRI-ship, career and character could win me the right girl, any day i set out for it. As I set about rebuilding my ship caught in choppy waters, I realize its just not the career that is wrong with me, the person that I am today is a demon shrouded deceptively in human garb. If there is a fear in me today, it is one of commitment to another human being...I find myself incapable of any kindness, even to the people who love me most. Ironic that having discovered the girl who had captured for a long long time, my wonderment and unrequited, unspoken inquisitiveness, I scared myself away and realized it best to let things be and stay off it all. Some lives move in a tangent, barely touching, never intersecting...maybe that is the fate with this un-dis-lodge-able pinprick in my heart too.

I don't know what it is. Something tells me all this will change. Something tells me I will find motivation. Something tells me I will persevere. I trust that Something...I agree to play along.

P.S - After the first read, I thought this was quite a silly post and decided to junk it. But the second read prompted me to resolve and I realized it wasn't such a bad exercise of looking inwards after all. Resolutions for this bday include surfing news websites every day without fail, reading two novels a week, blogging once a fortnight, writing one short story a month, and pen down a malayalam film script within a year. I leave you folks with a beautiful song as a birthday treat, my favorite this season, it is a christian devotional, but then doesnt good music transcend all these narrow boundaries.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Nee Veruthathe Aare???

It is a dilemma that hits me hard every time I sit down to write. English or Malayalam? I have heard people say the language that you think in is the language that you are most comfortable with. English is the language I grew up with - learning, reading and loving but Malayalam was the language I was raised up in, speaking and hearing. I have scarce given attention to the language of my thoughts, but when I began to write them down on this blog, English was the natural language of choice. But as time progressed, the itching to see what little of Malayalam survived in me, had grown to a point, that I have come to curse myself for the step-motherly treatment, I have meted out the mother-tongue all along.

It all began twenty one years ago; that summer vacation in my native place stays ever so fresh in memory. A 6 year old kid sat teary-eyed and shivering before the stern glare of the woman who taught the basics of malayalam to the children in the village. I was getting the alphabets wrong; my mom, ammachi and appachan crowded around the dining table trying to help. But I just kept getting worse and worse. The slide that began then continued year after year. I barely managed to scrape through exam after exam. The malayalam textbook, the malayalam teacher and the malayalam language remained a recurring nightmare of childhood that eluded tiding over.

The 6th Standard, was the first time I came into an oddly tangible, but then-unwanted inheritance - the knowledge that a small part of the malayalam literary corpus ran through my blood too. We had to study a poem, Aethen Thottam (Garden of Eden) written by Mahakavi Kattakayam. Inquired of him to my dad, but the pride which radiated off Pop's face as he recounted the Mahakavi's works and achievements scarce resonated in me. And then it happened. Our Malayalam sir, a literary critic of some renown then, an ancient hoary figure who scared us beyond all mention, was distributing answer papers, he reached mine, looked at my name, then my marks, and asked, "Cheriyan Mappilayude Aarayitte Varum Nee?" I replied and with an expression of pathetic condescension, passed me my paper. If ever I wanted to toss the family name attached to me, it was that moment. Jiby John offered me anonymity. Jiby John Kattakayam was an embarassment in Malayalam classes. Since then, I never used Kattakayam in school and in a gesture befitting my hallowed ancestor, bunked school, the day Aethan Thottam was taught, to skip further shame!

There were brief moments of magic - like when learning SankaraKurup's Mambazham, Malayatoor's Mummy, ONV's Oru Vattom, Lalithambika Antharjanam's Bhoomiyile Malakha, Uroob's Mindapennu and Poonthanam's Jnanappana but those were minor blips in a rigid syllabus that restricted malayalam into an academic subject, rather than a rich language with a good corpus of literature, we just didnt have avenues to know of. The way ICSE and CBSE schools which today are mushrooming throughout Kerala, treat Malayalam, needs to change. I went on to pass Malayalam with "high honours" in the 10th...the second lowest mark in the whole school...I didnt feel shame but blew a sigh of relief that I was done with Malayalam for life, but how wrong I was, how ironic has the turnaround a blog where I extracted maximum mileage and sought self-gratification for the years of anglophilia, I write in loss today about a phobia that grasped me all those years to the cusp of a feverish hatred. Knowing English is good, but trust me, knowing my mother tongue better has been one of the most fervent prayers on my lips, these last few years. I read Basheer, Mukundan, MT and Vijayan today in the hope of reversing my ageing, hoping to make up for the many lost years, in the hope of finding the ability to write in Malayalam too, as freely and with the same youthful abandon, as I can in English. Remains to be seen if I can succeed...

Last year in Delhi, we had a discussion on Khasak, and a dear friend who was part of it, asked me if the english translation by Vijayan himself was anywhere close to the Malayalam original. Embarassed, I told him I had read the english version only and couldnot help on that question. It got me back into reading a malayalam work again and some events from a little later which I have blogged about before, gave me the impetus to atleast try. All said, even this post on Malayalam, I have succumbed to the easiness of writing in English. Maybe its too late, maybe its the overwhelming delusion of my still-strong fascination for English that is preventing me, maybe it is the laziness to master Varamozhi, but it's a restlessness that wont stop devouring me unless I write just once more in malayalam. I guess its true, that old saying - Pettammeyolam Varumo Pottamma.

P.S: I have said somewhere that the books read in the schooldays, the experiences in later life especially the exposure to a new world, have helped in the blogging process...I forgot to add something else to that potent combination. It might seem absurd to you guys but it is a fact...the 5000 strong wordlist I memorized day in and day out for my GRE preps. That took my vocabulary to a new plane all together...and I have rarely needed an english dictionary since then. These days I look at the Shabdatharavali wistfully hoping I knew atleast 1% of the malayalam words it carries, I know I am too old, lazy and busy to slog through its 2000 pages. If only someone has a wordlist of malayalam words prepared and put out there, that I can read, memorize and equip myself with...maybe to talk, maybe to write or maybe just to think in! Forget writing, these days very few people talk good malayalam, colloquial and commonplace words have taken so firm a-firm-hold on us...that I feel the wordlist is a viable option to save both the spoken and the written language.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Did You Know???

In an age dominated by the lazy game of cricket, that even a pretender like me can play with aplomb, the news of India reaching the final and then winning the Nehru Cup, screamed at me for attention and then filled me with a genuine feeling of happiness. If you still thought, it was another cricket tourney, forget it. Be ready to blink...the game was soccer and the opponents were not our regular South Asian neighbours. I went through this video and countless articles on the triumph with hope of a turnaround in a sport that India was genuinely good at until the mid-90's and then faded away. It can't be a coincidence that India's performance in athletics, football, tennis, and countless other sports took the downward trend once cricket attracted our singular attraction? A regular, pleasing, thrilling sight on train journeys through Kerala was local youngsters playing football and volleyball and a small crowd watching took that place for a while, but last year again i saw those small-timers back to playing football and i rejoiced. Maybe the soccer World Cup last year has certainly helped India.

The Nehru Cup held in TVM in the late eighties was my first initiation into watching a sport as a spectator. A C.V.Pappachen goal from the left flank beating three Czechoslovakian defenders and netting the ball from an almost 180deg angle to the goal mouth is still fresh in memory. I.M.Vijayan debuted the next year for Kerala Police who won the Federation Cup, following which Kerala won the Santhosh Trophy after 18 years. V.P.Sathyan, the captain of the two victorious teams, who tragically killed himself last year was the hero of every malayali then. In school, I still remember every one of my classmates playing football with these names on their mouths. In the eighties and early 90's Kerala sport reached its pinnacle with supreme performances in athletics by PT Usha, Shiny Wilson and co, in basketball with CV Sunny, Jayashankar Menon and the rest of their Kerala Police team, volleyball under late Jimmy George besides the legendary football team I wrote of earlier.

Some years back a very talented young footballer who promised a lot and should have been part of this victorious team, Pradeep Jose(not sure that is his name, memory has faded, there is a kerala footballer, Vinu Jose, i think he is his brother, or maybe...), whom I had seen playing for Calicut University once, on that superb Trivandrum Doordarshan programme, Kalikkalam, who made it to the Kerala State team and indian team but died of typhoid, unknown, uncared for, in a hospital in Andhra Pradesh where he had gone, representing Kerala in some tournament. Last year or year before, I saw a Santhosh trophy match, i think the semi or final, which could be termed listless at best, long overhead cross passes failing to reach their intended recipient, clumsy tackles, a boringly sedate "friendly" performance, and i flicked channels, wondering how things came to so low a level. Its heartbreaking to see Leander stretch himself to his limits to keep India in the Davis Cup match after match, and no youngster coming up to replace him, either in skill or spirit and you wonder how, in earlier times, a steady flow of talented players like Ramanathan Krishnan, Vijay Amritraj, Ramesh Krishnan, Leander Peas and Mahesh Bhupathi kept arriving to take over the baton from the older set.

Is cricket responsible? Are we responsible? Were the men who marketed cricket more smarter than the ones who helmed football, hockey and athletics? With enthusiasm, I told my colleague of India winning the Nehru Cup and he scornfully remarked, "Maybe it was some local team." This same person keeps bombarding me with cricket scores each time India plays. If an Indian, can show such extremes of apathy and empathy for two Teams' in Blue, all of us can imagine, what sort of inspiration, support and pride indian sports persons outside cricket have to play for. I don't know if its a mentality developed as an offshoot of globalization, that the weaker ones are left by the wayside...but we see it happening everywhere. In the agricultural sector, in movies, in sports, arts and in almost every aspect of Indian life, a lot of what has been welded to make up our India has been ignored and left to fend for itself. Surely, all this doesnot bode well for us. Ironically, it needed an Englishman to coach, impart confidence and set free a young set of caged boys from the stigma of being ignored by their own countrymen and gain their attention, not by marketing, sponsorship or hype but through a renaissance on the football ground. Is Indian football rising from the ashes? I'd like to believe so.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Goliath Is Winning...

I was in a bad, bad mood. Got into the car. Put on one of my fave songs lately, from Vadakkumnathan, Gange, the last classical song from the late Raveendran & Yesudas combo. Mohanlal's voice came up previewing the song and I shut it off hastily. "Drat! I want some silence." I clenched my teeth and felt like biting my lips to grind out the irritation with that voice which once soothed, once made me laugh, cry and fall in love with love. My sis giggled at my frustration, making an effort to hide hers. We had just come out from a screening of this years mega-blockbuster in malayalam, hit directorial team of Rafi-Meccartin's Hallo. This year had seen me repeat the angry act many times over...after watching Baba Kalyani, Mayavi and Chota Mumbai which have been the big hits this year. I have a new cardinal rule in place for watching malayalam films...also watch movies from newer untouted directors, younger fresh-faced actors, scriptwriters who have never delivered a hit and films that came and went without making a blip on the malayali conscience. As a result I have watched some good malayalam films in the last one year which many of you evaded, never heard of or never bothered to know of. As I write this two small films, Veeralipaattu and Thaniye, are dying or already gone from Kerala theatres.

The reason I write about Veeralipattu, though I havent seen it yet, is because it has my favorite malayalam actor of today, Prithviraj in the leading role, a debutant scriptwriting team, Ashok-Sasi who deserves early encouragement and finally the young director, Kukku Surendran whose debut film, Oraal, which I will write about later, was a brilliant effort. On Prithviraj, an actor whom I dedicated a post to, in this blog in July 2005, after watching his debut Tamil effort, Kana Kandein and realizing this was one man who deserved to succed in Kerala, i find he is in no better position, two years later in 2007. 2006 was his career-defining period where he broke out and away from all accusations of copying the superstars, limited range, lack of flexibility with such diverse roles as a wrongly accused victim of a sex scandal in Achanurangatha Veedu; the intense, brooding, rough-toungued corrupt cop of Vargam; the fiery SFI student leader with a romantic side who returns years later broken and mellowed in Classmates; the harmless, honest govt clerk from Kasargod whose transition into a guily, ambitious and cunning bureaucrat caught in between three women and salvaging his career when surrounded by enemies, all leading to his salvation in the classic film, Vasthavam and finally ending the year with an understated performance as a young, idealistic journalist in Pakal who reports on the actual scenario of Wayanad's crop failures and suicides blending himself beautifully into an otherwise shoddy film, Prithvi's career has come a long way but is Kerala listening? This year, in Mozhi, he made an indelible mark in Thamizhakam, in the role of a young, earnest musician in love with a deaf-and-dumb girl and in the process proved he could do comedy also effectively, if given the chance.

Well enough of Prithviraj, you guys might say I am overtly praising him, but I am frustrated by the continuing apathy of kerala's youngsters to go out and watch his movies on the big screen. It seems fashionable to say he is arrogant, loud-mouthed, not that talented, over-hyped and therefore his movies shouldnt be watched. I came across many people who pass judgement on him, without even watching his recent movies. Both Mammootty and Mohanlal are prisoners of their fanbase. Good Mammootty films like Karuthapakshikal, Kaiyoppu, Mission 90 Days and Big B have failed to run as they should have because his fans, especially in Malabar, crave for just a typical masala potboiler with comedy, action, romance, melodrama and sentiments thrown in. Mohanlal on the other hand is lucky he has admirers throughout Kerala among the old, kids, women and beyond his huge rowdy fan association, all of which will ensure even his good films like Thanmatra, Vadakkumnathan and Keerthichakra have a decent run at the BO, even without fan support. A few months back 3000 Mohanlal fans were present at the launch of Alibai and a similar number on his birthday celebration in Chengalchoola in TVM. What has Lal done to deserve so much praise since the late 90's. Teenagers and youngsters talk of him like he is their youth icon. But I am sorry. He is 45+. He was the icon of an earlier age...the eighties and early 90's when he did all those special roles. There is a simple explanation for all this. It is the psychology of the mob on display. It is cool among the rough and tough guys of Kerala to be a fan of these superstars and everyone else just joins in to become yet another cool guy and be part of a fraternity and soon they are sucked into believing these two are demi-goods and everyone else in Malayalam, a threat. Unfortunately, this is Kerala with a shrinking audience for cinema where across the board support is needed to rescue a film and not TN, Andhra or Bombay where theatre collections easily run into crores by the opening weekend itself. These superstars have lost it...they are treating us to average fare and we are deluding ourselves that Hello and Mayavi and others are another great effort from them. I have had enough pouring scorn and being cynical and all those things i hate to do and be...I move to the main purpose of this eye-opener to recent good malayalam cinema which failed at the box-office that many of you maynot have had a chance to see, and which is available on vcd/dvd for all of u out there.


Oraal(2005)- The pair of Kukku Surendran-T.K.Devakumar's debut movie, a psychological thrller, Oraal, had Mukesh and Sreya Reddy in a leading role, telling the story of an avante-garde film director and his live-in partner, making a trip to a forest where he intends to write his next script. There, certain fears in the form of a young, bearded man who questions the pseudo-achievements of Mukesh, and gains the attraction of Sreya, enter his mind, all of which leads him down a path of self-destruction. It is what many of you call a slow movie...but I felt there was good suspense allthroughout, unguessable climax, and a very interesting young "villain" character, who is from a theatre background. Adoor Gopalakrishnan praised Kukku for his direction at a film festival.

Mayookham(2005) - Hariharan returns to a genre of film-making he seemingly ditched after the rotten, Prem Poojari. With Saiju Kurup and Mamta Mohandas in the lead, the film dealt with a young, jobless ruffian from a Brahmin family, Saiju Kurup, who fails repeatedly to find a job due to his upper-caste status and turns a rebel and falls into wild company. Enter Mamta Mohandas an NRI girl on a vacation who manages in him a change of heart and prompts him to pursue his old hobby of writing poetry and taking up a lowly press job. Shot in and around beatiful locales on the banks of the Nila, with beatiful songs by the last veteran standing, Bombay Ravi, enchanting cinematography by S.Kumar, a solid script by Hariharan himself and a splendid debut effort by the brooding and intense Saiju Kurup this film sadly went unoticed. The only flaw in the film was that it failed to factor in the IT age where jobs are available for those who try for entry there. Moreover today noone seems interested in the concept of wayward, idealistic youth rebelling against the establishment.

Achanurangatha Veedu(2006) - After the blockbuster, Chanthupotte in 2005, no one expected Lal Jose to take up an offbeat subject, give it as commercial a treatment as possible and extract a fine understated, sensitive performance from over-the-top comedian, Salim Kumar, in the scripts of Babu Janardhanan, for whom this was a second birth in malayalam cinema. Devoid of any sort of melodrama, this film based on the Suryanelli sex scandal, tells the story of a christian-converted widowed clerk, bringing up his three daughters, of whom the youngest is his favorite and a good student. She goes missing one day and incidents from there throw the life of the family upside down and gradually destroys them. Not at all dragging or slow, and not senti-senti, which many people cited as a reason to avoid this movie, i must commend director, Lal for the final shot of the movie which leaves a lasting impression on the viewer. Undobutedly he is a filmmaker at the prime of his talents, as proved later by Classmates and Arabikatha, but unfortunately all the clout he commanded at the box office failed to save this one.

Nottam(2006) - Everyone has listened several times to the wonderful Pachapanamthathe song in this movie. This movie is no less special for the wonderful performance of a handful of veterans of malayalam cinema, Nedumudi Venu, Jagathi Sreekumar and Gopakumar. A young man arrives in a village in Kerala to shoot a documentary on Theyyam accompanied by his friend, a native of the village. Nedumudi plays a traditional patriach who gives in, to videographing his performance, on the urging of his close friend and co-artist, Jagathi's insistence. Jagathi plays his age but comes up with a delightful performance which makes us smile(the malayalam world i use for his character is sarasan...jovial is a close parallel in english...but its not the same!) and then sad. Venu steels the scene in a spell-binding climax. Samvritha Sunil is lovable as the young, village belle. Directed by Sasi Paravoor, I felt gladdened, if only for consolation, that this movie won some awards also this year.

Akale(2005) - Perhaps the first of many noteworthy performances from Prithviraj which went unnoted by the masses. Akale tells the story of a middle-aged, almost broken poet who is still trying to reconcile with his disjointed, cruel past while akcknowledging his present is crumbling. Akale is about Sheela, in the role of a nitwitty, pushy mother whose repeated attempts to straighten her young, helpess son who hates his day job drives him to drugs, alcohol and despair and prods her fragile, physically unable daughter, Geethu Mohandas to escape the confines of her house and find companionship and love, only succeeding in driving her deeper into a shell. A young man in the neighbourhood catches Sheela's eyes as a prospective groom for her daughter, but much to the despair and lack of faith of both her children, she succeds in getting them to agree to it and what follows is a touching portrayal of four human lives thrown amidst a cauldron of opposing emotions, one night. Brilliantly scripted and directed by Shyamaprasad, and photographed to drop-dead perfection by the veteran, S.Kumar and costumes by Kukku Parameshwaran, besides superb performances from Sheela, Geethu, Prithviraj and Tom George, this is a must-watch movie for all. Our movies have become too fast-paced recently, if you are willing to slow down your pace, you should enjoy the artistic powerhouse that is this movie.

Vargam(2006) - If you are looking for the film, that for the first time opened a lot of Malayali eyes, to the talent and screen presence Prithviraj can command, it was this film. Out of theatres in a few weeks, but incredibly popular on torrent sites by word-of-mouth, this movie presents Prithvi as a never before seen policeman on malayalam screen. For the "superlatives" on his character refer to the passage on Prithvi above and I have nothing more to say. Scripted and directed by M.Padmakumar, on an evil cop's rough ride to salvation, the movie has slight similarities to his mentor, Ranjith's Devasuram, but saw Prithviraj improve his dialogue delivery and his physique to deliver a truely break-through performance.

Vasthavam(2006) - Babu Janardhanan returned for the second time in 2006 and paired up with M.Padmakumar to tell a gripping tale of the rise and fall of an ordinary secretariat employee, who plots his way up the bureaucracy to become a powerbroker, but one by one, finds himself losing the people close to him and finally alone...all leading to a finely shot climax stunt sequence, filmed by upcoming cameraman Manoj Pillai. Prithviraj in leading role shows why he is the only young actor around with the flair to take up a multi-hued character whose personal life is in a muddle as he deserts his lady love for a marriage of convenience, seduces and then ditches a divorcee who gives him a helping hand in his career, ignores his wife and connives to draw his lady love closer to him, even apologizing for his behavior to his wife while still helplessly in love with another. His professional life is not much better either with problems recurring again and again, most of it of his own doing. Jagathy in an unforgettable character, of a benefactor to the lead character, draws our applause, smiles and thoughts, sometimes all these, even in the same dialogue. Good performances from Salim Kumar as the tottering businessman trying to shore up his fortune, Samvritha Sunil as the docile, all-suffering wife is a revelation and Kavya Madhavan as the lady love, who does a balancing act with Prithvi, even after her marriage, finally having enough of other people drawing the strings of her life.

Oruvan(2006) - A badly scripted film which stood out for Indrajith's intense performance as a psychopath and debutant director, Vinoo Anand's deft handling of the subject and coming up with some finely shot scenes.

Pakal(2006) - What I call an activist film. A young journalist goes to Wayanad to investigate farmer suicides and crop failures. He lays the blame squarely on the private money-lenders in the area and goverment's callousness and negligence when formulating policies. The film is taken us through the lives of some families, and introduces us to sitiations like women unable to find husbands, people who got overtaxed by uncaring offcials, people taking loans beyond their means, etc. Despite the good efforts of debutant drector Nishad, the script is too bad to give him a chance. Again if you are a Prithvi fan like me, you notice how, he manages to stay the course despite the uneven script.

Sancharam(2005) - A brilliant movie set in a central-travancore village depicting the friendship between two girls growing gradually to the point they fall in love with each other, catch the attention of teachers and family, and are seperated, with the movie ending tantalizingly at a point where one girl stares down a waterfall and the other is about to tie the knot. Possibly, only the second malayalam film, about lesbianism, this film directed by NRK, Ligy Pullapally, stands out for good direction, very life-like dialogues, haunting background music, excellent camera-work and splendid performances by the two lead girls and the supporting cast. A must watch that deserved a lot of theatre time.


No apologies for this long post. I had to get it out of my system. I am no intellectual or know-it-all film critic. I just want people to open their eyes to the mediocrity before us. Good malayalam cinema is not dead...the movies i wrote about above are some of the good ones...small films we fail to know of, drowned in the worthless, pointless advertising, marketing, superstar-centric overdose that you and I are spoonfed in Kerala. I don't want Prithviraj or any other youngster to be a superstar in the future. The reason I loved his movies recently was that he played characters who are vulnerable, characters with flaws and faults, a leading hero who lets other characters also have scope to perform, even at the risk of outshining him. Mohanlal, Mammootty, Suresh Gopi, Dileep films are all about themselves. None of the acting talents of malayalam are allowed to shine in their movies, no slice of life of Kerala comes out in their movies, finally none of their characters look like you, or me, our parents, or any ordinary person in Kerala. It would be good if you remember the kind of films, they did earlier for us to put them up on such a high pedestal, now it would be equally good for us and our cinema, if we pulled these superheroes of Kerala down to our own level. Its just a suggestion!

P.S - In the malayalam film, Rajavinte Makan which propelled Lal to stardom, a character delivers this line..."Ente Achane Paranjaal Njan Sahikkum. Pakshe Ente Nethavine Paranjal...". On a discussion forum I saw a Lal fan use the same line, but substituting the Nethavu with Lalettan!!! Mohanlal is only a reel-hero, damnit...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Antony, You Too Brutus!!!

Like Antony, who has now forsaken his mushinje naariya kadar shirt and mundu, even I made a decision few weeks back on my was a choice my close ones suggested much earlier, but I rejected on the grounds of some principles, which today has been rendered obsolete by change. Change is good, change is a must for me...less than a year remains for me to face the choice i made...until then its my little secret. So, no questions asked!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Selfish Existence...

I was in the process of taking up another tag from Silverine but what struck me midway as I wrote it was I didn't know the real India of today at all to finish that post. And I digressed. When the summer began I had anticipated initiative, peace and drive to fill up in me. Nothing like that happened, beginnings were made but never finished. A little over 5 years have gone by since I stepped out of my home. In my heady youth filled with non-stop excitement I skipped the most important question of modern life - a career. No one warned me either. Everyone thought I'd figured it out already. The question came back to haunt me with a vengeance when I turned 25 and has seared my soul into searching for the answer ever since. Its almost 2 years and that search still goes on...

A few days back I inadvertently caught myself in the midst of doing a tally up of my debt, duties and plans. It still revolved around money, money that will burn another few years of my precious twenties and a fleeting moment of disgust passed by before I returned to happier fancies. India has been in my thoughts but fact is I am a stranger even in my own home. For me, India is an IDEA. I haven't known what it is to work there, I havenot known the pinch of paying Rs.50 for a litre of petrol, of going to a wedding and being expected to gift nothing less than gold, of falling sick and reconciling to a huge medical bill. I am a simple fool who knows nothing of cost of living, all I think of is some dreams of returning to a glorified past, which today seems a make-believe nest weaved inside a cocoon built over years of effort put in by my parents. A few years back I warned my friends in trivandrum, Shan and Anoop that they were leading a too lavish lifestyle. Their reply was a lesson on New India that still fails to strike root in me. "When you spend more, the drive and ambition to earn more also increases"...this was the answer they gave me and it sent shock-waves through my antiquated system for a few seconds...I was still in the world of my parents and their generation who disparaged any wasteful expenses.

When the accursed first discussion on my wedding plans came up and I replied with a fierce indignation which surprised me that I would marry only if I can live in India...Pops quoted me a desired earning of 1 lakh a month in trivandrum, for me to sustain the family and the high standard of living he has maintained so far. Should I do an MBA in India and get a firm foothold on home soil? The thought troubles me, because unlike the corporate-obsessed youngster I was a few years back, the same thought of working for them feels revolting nowadays. Which brings me to the status-quo. I go work, I come back, take a long nap, some days I hit the gym, other days I watch a good movie, browse for a while and then go back to the struggle of getting another few hours of sleep. I stay away from my friends in the US, much to their pain and anger, but they are from my past. My present is a struggle to thrash a way out for my future and the deluge of free advice I keep getting irritates me. I never thought the reclusive trait in me would resurface but it has. Solitude is bliss and the cellphone is a bitch. Reading has suffered and the booklist I had made up many months back to start on still awaits my perusal. Blogging works best when your mind is clear and thoughts flow in order, but its a churn in there and I unfortunately have sidelined this hobby too.

I don't know and havent cared what picture of me people take out of this blog. I have been warned to stay away from writing personal or negative stuff on this blog because of some news-piduthakaar "anubhaavikal" back in Kerala and I acquiesced for a few months. But this blog is for me. It is to remind me years later of the person I was, the angst I've been through and the person I want to become. The weaknesses in is time to kill it.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Never Been Kissed ;-)))

Been tagged by the biggest brat in blogosphere, Silverine, to come up wth a post on one of the landmark moments of youth, the first kiss. I must warn y'all at the very outset that this post will be a big letdown if you expected to read my antics. Without further ado, lemme jump headlong into the story of a first kiss. My final semester of university, only one course to do, the job hunt yet to begin, I was mourning the coming end of my student days and readying for a farewell to all fun and frolic. That is when a bait to visit the Silicon Valley for the first time was thrown at me by my senior and good friend, P. P had a habit of dozing behind the wheels and needed company on the trip.

San Jose - circa Jan 2004 - The trip as i casually mentioned was something more than that, P was getting married. S, his fiance, a Mallu ABCD, was an American citizen while P was on an H1B visa and the situation necessitated a legal wedding having to be registered. We arrived at S's house. There was some talking going on out of my earshot. P came out and asks, "Da, can you be the witness at the ceremony?" Most of S's family had to be at work that day and the rest were all minors. I gamely agreed and we left.

Clerk: "I pronounce thee, man and wife".
(I click fotos, P & S are visibly relieved. That is when the bombshell drops.)
Clerk: "Now you may kiss the bride."
P: "Ayyo!" (He turns to me with a pathetic Enna Cheyyum Aliya look.)
S: (quickly pinches P on his arm hoping the clerk, an old woman couldnt see).
Me: (scratching my head, touching the wall, as though examing and smelling the fresh paint, unable to muffle my laughter. I get my camera ready.)
The clerk begins to wonder what is happening. Obiously the poor thing didn't know this was an arranged wedding and the church ceremony was yet to be held.

P&S comes closer. I watch out of the corner of my eye with bated breath for the first kiss between two virtual strangers and that too indians, i was seeing in my lifetime, debating whether to snap a pic or not. P moved quick all of a sudden. S readies her lips. P makes a lunge, reaches her side, lands a peck on S's cheek and is back at base position in a matter of seconds. My fingers trembled and ruined the kodak moment that never found its way to pixeldom. The clerk's puzzlement had reached its zenith seeing my uncontrolled laughter now and i wondered if the sternness she now exhibited was a primer for an upcoming reprimand to me for spoiling the pristine moment.

The newly married Mr.& Mrs.P sign the register followed by the witness, whose fingers still trembled from the unexpected thrill.
Clerk: "Phew! That was some wedding!"
The three of us made good our escape, redfaced with P making me promise, never to reveal this to anyone.
Me: Cheh...Chammi! Indiakaarude vela kalanjallo Annai! Itharinjaayirunnel namukke coaching erpaduthaamaayirunnu.
P Mindipokaruthe. Ithe neeyo njano allaathe moonamathoraal arinjaal anne ninte anthyam!

Anyways this is one promise i break for the sake of a kiss. If you guys thought you would get to read me in sorry to disappoint...too many nosey parkers from tvm haunt this blog...anonymity is a luxury i would have loved to afford for this tag!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Anecdotes from the Loyola Days...

This was one of the initiatives that served as a precursor to my blogging days. Initially written just for my classmates, I saw its universality and propped it up on the net following which I have recieved appreciation not just from Loyolites, but also people from other schools in Trvandrum, who admired our batch's wild ways, for compiling this ode to our heroics, villainy and foolishness. Recently I recollected more anecdotes and its becoming a pain keeping my ancient tripod home page going, as it gets pulled down every few months. Ever since Blogger started labels, I have itched to place this crown jewel of my campus memoirs at the very top of my Campus Nostalgia category. Moreover a desire to rewrite the jokes, conforming to rules of better english grammar had been preying my mind. So finally after 3 years this revamped write-up comes to its final resting place.

Thomman and ponnan go to the cyber cafe on his first vacation from nda to check his email.after some time he goes to the owner and in anger says " anna enikke mail check cheyyaan pattunnilla". the guy walks over to see wht the problem is and much to the cafeowner's total bewilderment and ponnans unmuffled laughter finds that thomman types in and expects all his emails to pop up on the screen.later thomman threatens ponnan with dire consequences if this is revealed and it took 2 yrs for ponnan to muster the courage to reveal. The irony is that the armymen gifted him with a B.Sc in Computer Science from the much-vaunted JNU for his physical and "mental" exertions at NDA.

Motta and Dadu are in animated conversation while Joy Sir is teaching. joy sir looking at them says "hello" intending to put a stoop to their banter. Motta immediately puts his fist to his ear as if holding a fone and asks "hello aara samsaarikkunnathu". Joy sir is stumped!

Mr.Madhusoodhanan Nair(our "beloved" 9th st malayalam teacher) is holding fort and he asks a question to vince in class..."marangalude upayogangal vivarikkuka" and vincekuttan after great thought gives the answer which would have made his pre-historic ancesators proud..."vanya mrigangal kattaalanmaare akramikkan varumbam avarke keri olikkaan marangal sahaayikkum".We broke out laughing uncontrollably hearing his answer and madhu in his trademark punch line says "entha , avan paranjathil oru paayint ille?"

DP asks Leelu to give a character sketch of Rosalind(the heroine of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night). Leelu who had then embarked on a mission to understand the female psyche better after countless failures by reading women's mags gave the shortest, most perfect answer to a question the rest of us would have spent minutes explaining...that Rosalind was a woman of substance!

Muthu on the fone to jaru: incidentally its jacob's father who is most of the time at sea picks up the fone and says hello. Muthu replies back "enthaada hellokke ithrem kaduppam"

Motta calls up thommans house and asks for ninan. thommans dad's name also being ninan responds..."yes ninan speaking". Motta immediately starts a theri abhishekam. Uncle realizes the call is meant for his virtuous son and says,"hold cheyye njan ninane kodukkaam" and motta learnt to be careful next time on.

Abba calls up jabbans house and in his trademark way asks,"hello jibbbby ondo". Jabbans grandfather picks up the fone and says, " ninakke ethe hippye aada vende"

Those were the times of great debates in our class btw mammooty-mohanlal, azhar-sachin, juhi-manisha fans and we reached a consenus by having polls. Chairman one day decided to stretch things too far when he demanded the mother-of-all-polls to find out from the guys whether anil kapoorinaano babu antonykkaano kooduthal glamour!!! Funny part is chairman still cant understand why we cruelly rejected his poll!

After joy sir's tuition we have a nice beautiful walk through a village to reach school. We started scaring puppy that the ppl here were staunch communists and one of us shouted out "oru congress manthriyude makan ivide onde" and as if on cue from one of the huts somebody said,"kathi edukkada". We looked around noone was there. On turning back we had the fun of our life seeing Puppy run for his life. Since then Puppy never walked that way with us!

China once took the goal kick for his team during games period. What happened next was unbelievable. The ball went back over his head and into the goal post which he was supposed to be guarding. The whole class laughted so much we ended up lying on the ground clutching our stomachs. Thankfully for him those where the days before we heard of match fixing.

At tuition, China once saw a gal getting onto the pillion of her dad's bike. He immediately shouted to alert us..."aa kale nokkada"...when we turned someone had come in front of us and all we could see was her dad's musular leg which was bared as he wearing a mundu! Since then whenever we chance upon a well-built guy someone would throw a poke at china, "Entha Chinae, nottamonda?"

Then there was the homo in pongummodu who chased ponnan whenever they set eyes on each other owing to Ponnan's legendary "butter-bun" and once even had the guts to walk into china's house and grab him while our jackie chan was washing his car(neigh "kuthira" in jayan style) and china bet the pulp out of him.

Ponnan always gave gays the creeps and once he accepted a lift from this guy on the bike who after a few minutes slid his arm behind and touched ponnan where it mattered most. Ponnan in his trademark style which only we guys can imitate says "ehhh, enthuvaaaado ithe" to which the man says "ithonnum ishtamille?" and ponnan shouts out "vandi nirthedo...njan erangattu".

Pothan gets into a ksrtc bus for the first time and when the conductor came over, he said " oraalke ulloor vareyolla oru roopede oru ticket" and the conductor is like "ivan aareda".

Pothen couldn't read malayalam properly in those days. He got into a bus whose board he found to read KizhakeKotta...finally the bus took him to the most inaccessible of all places in trivandrum...PulayanarKotta!!!

Pothan used to have a driver taking him to all the tuitions and once in 10th jaru who was with him criticized him for something he did. Pothan immediately says..."driver vandi nirthe...Jaru get out!!!" ...right in the middle of nowhere. funniest thing is the pothen of then and now bears no resemblence except for the fat.

Pothen's dad once came to drop pothen at tuition and comes over to us to make small talk. That is when a jet streaks through the sky and puli as we called him then exclaims in english "Look,a rocket!" and we burst out laughing leaving him chammufied. And to think he is an engineer!

During some program in school..Chakka the announcer says "I thank the chief guest on behalf of the auditorium!"

Ammavan another announcer allegedly used to do this...he would shout through the mic "Agil is needed at the announcer's desk immediately" and then slip away and walk back very importantly in front of all the junior school kids who adored him.

During a rain-hit basketball match the non-teaching staff was mopping the court and ammavan not playing that year and sorely missing the limelight wants something to do and helps with the cleaning...Fr.Mani, our princi then totally unhappy with agil's cleaning technique..and famous for his anger...walks over and gives him a merciless scolding takes the cleaning sack and shows how it is to be done...with the whole school watching with unbridled joy from the quadrangle steps, the needless labours of a dictatorial princi and his over-enthu student.

Ammavan got selected in the 8th itself for the school basketball team and motta would make fun of him saying his main duty in the team was say "vyaasa(our captain then)...vellam".

Fr.Maani, our princi is taking class and he catches Kozhi talking and tells him to stand up. Then he launches a tirade against Kozhi but Kozhi maintains his typical, cool smile throughout. Finally not being able to control his rage anymore Mani shouts out "Stop that cynical smile!"...only to make matters worse as we also start laughing now!

Once one of our guys chanced to read one of raman's essays in his english answere paper. We noiced a sentence circled out by DP. The essay was about an unforgettable day in your life. The offending line went like this..."the boys talked and made noise as though the bus belonged to their fathers"! Raman's justification for this was that "dont we say in malayalam...Ninte Achanteyannoda Ee Bus!!!"

Appu had written a superb essay for the same exam mentioned above and DP impressed by his talent thought of making use of it. She asked him to write a letter requesting permission for an industrial visit. Peri produced the letter the next day but poor DP was totally horrified to find her new promising find had made 15 spelling and gramatical mistakes in the one paragraph letter that she remarked "how will the gal u marry trust you with her life?"

Chairman, Abba and Gundu are walking through statue with a gal in holy angels from their tuition. Chairman is determined to strike a chord in the gal thru sentiments says stuff like nobody likes him or wants him. With no warning right in the heart of the city and amid hundreds of ppl the gal starts crying hearing sreehari's sob story. Abba and gundu are scared to death and run away leaving chairman to do the job of comforting her.

During the contact class, thomman, ponnan, jabban and muthu enter a really expensive restaurant at kochi...immediately 4 chicken fried rice and something new they had never see before and the most costly item in the menu,barbecue quail was ordered. With mouth watering up in anticipation, the guys started deciding where on the table everything would be kept and which part of the quail each guy would take. Finally when everything comes they see the fried rice they ordered came in 4 small cups and the quail was the smallest,thinnest chicken they ever saw. Thomman takes up the quail by its legs, looks at in dismay, points us to a protruding peice between its thighs and remarks, "ithananne thonnunnu kozhiyude sunayi...ithaarkku venam"? After 400 bucks spent and pockets and stomachs empty we swore on vengeance and for the next contact class 8 of us went in..order 2 fresh lime and 8 straws and came out tipping the same old waiter 5ps.

At the restaurant above, the four mandanmaar sat awaiting their food. The waiter was pouring water into their glasses. Some soft music is playing in the room. To show off his range in songs in front of the other guys, Jabban says, "Country Music". The waiter looks up shocked and stares at jabban who cringes. The guys pick up the cue and laugh uncontrollably while thomman within earshot of the angry waiter responds,"Eda Jabba, lavanmaar americayil ninnu hashbush paatukal konduvannathe neeyaayitte tharayaakiyallode" and all hapless jabban can respond is "Sathyamaayittu...enne vishwasikke...ithe Country Music aane!"

Chairman, dadu and motta had a crush on the same gal studying in st.thomas. Everyone resorted to different tactis to win her attention. Motta befriended her younger bro studying in our school, Dau made it a point to attend the same tuitions she went to. Chairman whose ex-classmate this gal was in another school, on his part instituted a planning board(that's how he got this name) with abba,gundu, annan,saami and raman as members to observe who she looks at when our school bus went by hers'.

Then there was bimbu who until the 10th thought that babies were born thru the mouth.

And we had kicha..our genius in all things who wasted an entire roll of film bcoz he thought by taking fotos which could capture a bird flying whose reflection on the lake to ganesh's glasses would be the next biggest thing in the world of fotography ending up with 30 blank fotos in the end.

Leelu was crazy abt this gal in holy angels and one day decided he would go talk to her, whatever happens. At pongummode he deliberately bumped into her and said in one breath..."hi i am arun studying in loyola..u must be Poo$%". Guess wht she replies. So what should I do...and our poor leelu was left licking his wounds....again.

Once we went trekking to Meenmooti and muthu as lazy as ever is finding it tough to climb a small ridge.khaja directly ahead of him is using a creeper, hugging the surface to move on. Muthu clings on to khaja hoping khaja will drag him up. Khaja immediately gave the most stunning repartee we ever heard..."uriyil thoongunnavante pariyil thoongunnoda"! Tired as we were, we threw our bags on the forest floor and broke out into several minutes of unbridled laughter.

On a trip to was raining...and naga is havin a harrowing time on his bike, he had already fallen off twice...once of all things a creeper fallen on to the road trips him. and the third time a fast passenger comes along and he makes way for it to go by going too much to the left and falls. the bus driver stops beside him and says with a smile "mone oru bus koodi ithile varunnunde". All naga can respond is "Thankyou saare!"

At meenmooti we camped for the night at a cave but we suddenly remembered we didnt have any garlic to ward off the snakes. Naga saved us the trouble by starting a vomitting spree and we made him form a lakshmana rekha around us. Thanks to the odour not even an ant came anywhere nearby during the night.

During the contact class at kochi we were hanging around the marine drive. A flying squad sees us and comes closer. A foreigner steps out of the jeep looks, inspects us carefully and turns to the cops and points at jofu and says "He is the man. He is the thief. Those same big, white teeth" and a cowering jofu responds "I...I no thief...I, I student of loyola".

In 7th standard V.C teaches us that "mole is the short form of molecule". In 8th Manorama M'am says u guys must be knowing wht a mole is and we all shout out to impress her..."Mole is the short form of molecule"...leaving her flabbergasted and asking..."who taught you that"...and when we told her..she is left in total despair.

C.T, our PT sir, during basketball coaching telling us..."divide into four halves".

Rajamma madam in 6th standard sees abu talking and asks..."ey abu whaaat do u waant"...abu replies.."madam i want an icecream."

Bangu in his 6th standard composition on "My Birthday Party"...wrote..."I had porridge for my birthday party...", thinking porridge was some delicacy..not knowing it was kanji.

Thomman had a crush on this St.Thomas gal who was his neighbour. One day he was walking up the road by her house and he saw her inside combing her hair. He jumped the wall, stood by the window and just stared admiring forgetting all sense of time and place. Suddenly she turned, saw him, without any shock or surprise to see him by the window, asks, "Enthaa??"...Thomman shrugs his shoulders....blinks his eyes...turns around, jumps back out over the wall, and walks away like in a hynotic spell! Atleast this is his version of the story...his guts is unparalleled, so is his knack for tall tales...and we never had the courage to cross-check with the gal in question, what really happened.

Jaru playin football is the funniest sight..he would come running from miles away to kick the ball and everyone would move away scared to even be in the path of what would be a powerful shot and he finally ends up running over the ball totally missing it.

Raman sees a chinese model on chairman's 10th std notebook.he asks him..ithaarade... chariman tells him..."silk smitha"....and he responds..."ithaanalle silk smitha" and from then on he was called mandan raman.

Dear Fr.Pulickal's history exams were met with dread in our class. He would pick up blunders from our papers and post it on the school notice board for everyone to read with the culprits names also. Some of the blunders which the passage of time still hasnt eroded from our memories are
- Rani Laxmi Bai had no male natural hair! (Paili wuz the villain)
- The 1857 War was fought by the British to get Independence from India
- Elections are held by secret bullet.
(if any of u remember more of the blunders we made let me know)

Pulickal father launching a tirade against princi in class..."angere ayaalude andiyude shapeil oru fish tank ondaakeetonde" luck would have it princi walked by right then...they stare at each other and we are scared a fight would break folds his hands and walks away with a small smile on his face and we are left wondering abt their curious chemistry.

Bazoo and Pothen had a fight in Std.8 but none of us bothered to mediate or find out the problem. A few hours later Pulickal strides into the class with a disgusted expression on his face. "Ninakkoke njan kore standard theri padippikkaam. Melaal immathiri chavarumaayitte ente aduthe varalle." And he proceeded to give us our first official class on obscenities. It was hilarious to say the least. The reason...Bazoo calls Pothen Blood Basket...Pothen responds by calling him Bloody Bus-stand...and they proceed with the case to none other than Puli!!!

Bazoo used to go for a tuition where owing to his extraordinary IQ he was the otherwise strict teacher's pet. But unfortunately for Bazoo the sir had a beautiful daughter from whom Bazoo could never take his eyes off. One day she passed by the tuition room, Bazoo's eyes followed her, the sir notices his distracted pupil and in his typical, high-pitched shrieks, "Bazoo, look here, look here"!!!

Muthu's mother is taking a young cousin of his for admission at loyola with the boy's parents. Muthu's mom is waxing eloquent about her son and the parents are impressed about muthu's prowess. That is when they run into Pulickal who sees muthu's mother and says..."Ningade makan rekshappedathilla...Avan historykke veendum thottu!!!" Muthu's mom struggles to wipe the sweat and shame off her face.

Paili and paramu in 7th are goin doubles on a cycle thru Vellayambalam and become ada to a scooterist and all 3 fall down. The man is very angry and he asks how can u big boys be so careless. To escape paramu tells him they are only in the 4th and the man softens down. That is when paili says..."eda nammal 7thil alle"...the man says..."paavam veenathinte aaghaathathil ethu classil padikkunnathu marannannu thonnunnu"....and paramu breathes a sigh of relief and paili is still confused.

In 10th standard...thomaskutty sir asks china wht is bacteria...apparently a simple question...he starts of confidently..."Bacteria is a microscopic organism..." and falters there...that is when someone prompts from behind...suspect that it is gani...that it cannot be seen with the naked eye...china not knowing wht that phrase meant and suspecting gani made a small mistake in his prompt but still having trust on the gani's judgement...finishes his answer with.."and bacteria cannot be seen by a naked man's eye!" That was one of the most hilarious biology periods ever.

The gal who cried at statue had a lot of admirers in our class like annan, chairman and raman. The guys noticed that whenever plans were made for movies, games, etc annan had started to excuse himself regularly everytime with a strange excuse..."ente oru thengum purayadathil, thenga pothikkan pokanam" and once after tuition he used this excuse and left while chairman and the other guys proceeded to the above said gal's house and surprised on seeing our new romeo, annan at his flame's place, chairman in anger and jest tells the gal, "Ivide thenga kedappondo...ivan nannayi pothiche tharum"!!!

In 1996 AniyathiPravu released and went on to run for a record 250 days in trivandrum, and we soon found out the reason for that. Every guy in our class had watched the movie 4-8 times at the theatre. That is when a friend in Sarvodaya shocked us by saying he watched the movie 28 times and that he saw Bazoo too at 18 of the shows!!! When quizzed, Bazooka, our prodiguous geek, revealed he had watched the movie a total of 30 times, from its releasing centre at Kripa, thru its first change at Pattom Kalpana, followed by our very own "hometheatre", Sreekaryam Joshi crowning his odyssey with a last lap at Kazhakootam Maharaja!!! Oh man...we were one crazy set of buggers.

Bazoo had this unbearable crush for this amazingly beautiful gal in St.Thomas. He didnt like the convential route everyone else was taking and got our daredevil, Thomman's advice on how to proceed in a revolutionary manner. Thomman tells him to walk towards the gal, stick his tongue out, then slowly pull it back and rub it over his lips in a sensuous manner. Bazooka soon finds the gal coming in his way, and does the job. Next day, the gal goes over to one of our guys, suspect it was Muthu who she was friends with and in a very concerned manner asks..."Did I hurt your friend bazoo in any way. Yesterday he stuck his tongue out and blared his lips and teeth at me in a threatening way." Muthu can't control his laughter and she adds..."to tell you the truth, he looked like a monkey at that moment." When thomman came to hear of this all he can say is, "Eda panna bazoo, nee ente paavanamaaya number ithrekke chalamaakiyallo"!

GG House was in a neck and neck race with JJ house to avoid relegation to the 4th spot in the Youth Festival. GG didnt have a participant for the Fancy Dress Competition. That is when Jaru struck upon an idea and found a hesitant prey in Pappachan. The costume was readied in no time and the event started. Pappachan comes out wearing a coat whose cuffs fell shorter than his wrist and a pant which didnt even reach his ankles and dusty, almost worn out shoes which failed the frantic black polishing it receieved prior. "Wow, we thought...jaru is a genius...Pappachan as a who could have thought of that...he lives the role". That is when the thundering announcement fell upon the unwitting auditorium which had almost begun to cheer, "GG House presents Pappachan as Michael Jackson!!!". Thriller began to play from Joseph Uncle's sound system, Pappachan begins to wave at the crowd...loud hooting and catcalls can be heard including a shout from one of our guys..."pappacha, ineem moonwalk"...poor pappachan runs away all red-faced and we have to date never spared him the blushes and jaru the plotter joins in the laughter smugly with a njanonnum arinjille ramanarayana attitude!

For malayalam exams we have a question...shailikal(metaphors) upayogiche make sentences.One of the shailikal was baalikeramala(which i think means something difficult to do) paili's sentence for balikeramala-"randam loka maha yudhathila america japante balikeramalayil bomb ittu".

P.S- No real names used. Only nicknames. Some of the protagonists in these stories have sworn at the altar of decency and gentlemandom and have experienced selective amnesia, especially now that they are hot market property! My apologies if despite all precautions taken, i still manage to cause pre or post-marital damages and discord.

(AMDG - Ad Majorem De Glorium - For the Greater Glory of God!) With these 4 letters which didnt make sense to us, scribbled at the end, Fr.Pulickal encouraged us to wind up our answer paper in exams...we did it, hoping against hope that those 4 letters would compensate for an almost blank history answer paper coupled with the strictest valuation possible and save us from sure failure. This is a tribute to that man who opened the world of humour to us and taught us to laugh at ourselves. are still fondly remembered. This is also a tribute to a great teacher who shepherded us admirably in the Plus Two years where a great majority of the above recounted incidents happened...DP was as much a part of our class as every one of my classmates. And Loyola...Long Live the school which gave us all the freedom for what we wanted to be and do. Finally The ISC'98 guys were the guys continue to evoke great spirit and cheer!