Friday, December 01, 2006

As Appu lost himself

Appu was sitting in the veranda of his home, watching those raindrops percolate through the coconut leaves and shatter into a million minute droplets as it fell on the pebbles. The petite pools of water around seemed to linger for those tiny droplets, like a hungry cat waiting to devour its own litter. Rains always carried a wide range of emotions with it. He was reliving those old days, when that tender cold drizzle somehow rendered his psyche gloomy, when that sudden gushy flow of torrent made him march ahead with inspiration, when the flowing rhythmic rain slowly rambling on the leaves made his teenage life romantic. Rain always seemed to mystify him; he understood that rain had always remained a part of himself. And there he was - after all those years of roaming around, back in that old chair watching that slight drizzle turning into a ferocious downpour. There he was - drinking a glass of black tea, with a book in his hand. It was on the same chair that he let his adolescent mind wander free in those rains as the heroic Dostoevsky of ‘Oru Sankeerthanam Pole’ or in search of that lost ‘Athiranipadam’ of ‘Oru Deshathinte Kadha’. It’s been ages since he got some time in peace to himself, like this- with just books for his company. When he looked outside of the compound wall he felt that years had not moved at all, as he watched those different shades of umbrella cloths traipse through the road as if they had lives of their own – poor ones, elderly ones, indignant ones, bouncy ones and even colored ones. An old gray umbrella that walked quite slowly, took his mind to those old days.

It might have been in his school days when he was studying for the exams, that Appu noticed a hand with a gray discolored umbrella opening the gate to his home. It was raining from morning, and he saw an old hand clasping tight to the cloth bag that hung from the shoulder to prevent it from getting wet. As that gloomy shadow turned in the rain, he saw an old man with a wrinkled face and pure white beard walking towards him. He saw a kind smile on the old man’s face and the presence of a crude walking stick told him that the old man was a beggar. When he dropped a 25 paisa coin to the old man’s hand, he saw a kind grateful smile and a kind voice that seemed to come from his beard said “Let Murugan shower you with all the blessings.” The downpour had reduced to a drizzle when he saw the mystifying character closing the gate. That was the first time he saw ‘Velu Appoopan’.

Velu Appoopan used to come to his house every Saturday noon and call ‘Appooo… Dharmam Thaayo…”. And Appu would take the coins that he used to collect for his pocket money to raise a rupee for Velu Appooppan. Velu Appooppan used to tell the stories about his small hamlet near Palani, where they had lot of land in which they used to farm almost everything in the fertile soil, where the green paddy fields meet the blue sky at horizon, where the ‘Jallikkattu’ race is so much a part of everyone’s life. Their conversations went on for weeks, and Appu shared many a joke sitting in that veranda with Velu Appoopan when rain was lashing its soul out. He remembered putting his books down and listening to those tales from Velu Appooppan with an open mouth, with lot of worship. The stories ranged from the floods of 1950s that erased quite a number of souls of his farmer kin, the killer malaria which followed, that took his wife and sons with it, the cock fights and murders following that which used to ensue after harvest festival at his village. Appu was largely inspired and thrilled when he heard about how Velu Appoopan organized his villagers with his speeches and poems, even after he was down and out with the killer disease that took his family with it, how he built a farmers union to fight the case for the grand of agricultural land and how he became the chief of that village. Appu was mystified about why a village chief would roam around begging for food and coins. All Velu Appooppan told was “When everything is lost for yourself, and then you go through the process of gaining everything for others….there comes a time when you realize that you have served your purpose. If you are lucky, you reach that phase of your life - when you realize that you can keep smiling and you become a part of those clouds that travel places to keep raining with no tomorrow. But most of the people would be unlucky, as they keep standing in that rain, looking up at the pouring heavens, shivering in the cold, wondering when the rainy days would be over. I am glad that I am lucky to be a cloud that cools down places with these rains!”. He did not see Velu Appoopan after that…Maybe the cloud moved on to create new rivers…

Appu woke up from the trance and kept his glass down. The black tea had gone cold. He wanted to go back to those times; he wanted to become a child, sitting in that veranda hearing those heroic stories again. He wanted to see that wrinkled hand holding the gray umbrella, and the kind old face that told him inspiring stories with that constant wheezing of the raindrops in background. He wanted to gape his mouth in adoration, and dream about being a good man in the future. But…there he was. Sometimes years stop passing by, and you realize that it’s not Time that moves ahead – it’s just yourself that’s moving ahead and the time actually stands still. He walked into the rain. He felt those drops kissing his palm. He realized that he was smiling….he was floating around, in those clouds just like his Appoopan told him.

It took him sometime to realize that the music he was hearing was not that of nature, but of the mobile in his pocket. The usual voice told him “Test case 248 is failing. Report immediately. Priority 1”. Appu jumped back to the veranda. His mind wandered to the test case and the priority deadlines of the work. He looked up into the pouring skies, shivering in the cold, wondering when the rain would stop. As he cursed the rain, little did he realize that he was that unlucky human, just like Appooppan told him. Appu just kept looking at the firmament….And rain fell down in buckets. He kept staring at the horizon, as the rain began to blur his vision … He steadily dissolved in it, as he lost himself.

* - Picture courtesy - Dhanush

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Indefinite Strike strikes again!

Private bus owners in Kerala were definitely on ‘Indefinite strike’. Well, Yet again! And No – This time it’s not over the mounting gas prices. They were protesting against the Supreme Court order of putting speed governors in the bus. They had affirmed that this court order was gross ‘injustice’ to the work ethics of their ‘very quick’ community. Their points were very legitimate and I feel that government and justice should not haunt these poor bus owners with ‘inhuman tactics’ like speed reduction. Let them contribute further to the nation.

These were reported to be their contributions to the nation as mentioned in bus owners/operators petition to the government:

1. We, the peaceful bus operators, know the worth of time. We made a decision - for our country, for its GDP rise, with nothing other than ardor in our mind – that we will risk our own lives to take our passengers at 120 km/hr so that time is not lost. Sometimes they don’t reach the correct place, but they still reach a place where they should reach eventually –Mortuary! See – We deliver the passengers early, sometimes by years.

2. While many research scientists in US are trying to crack the speed of light, we regularly shatter it with an extra 100 passengers through a special skill called ‘matsara ottam’ (competitive racing) in a special environment that can hardly be termed as road. You guys will realize our worth only when we get the Nobel Prize for this remarkable achievement next year.

3. All the big people made their mark by knowing the difficulties in life, and then climbing the ladder to their destination. If you see our bus in the morning, we train a lot of guys to become excellent people by making them climb the ladder behind the bus, and take them to destination. Some fall by, some reach there – but hey, that’s life!

4. When governments and police are trying hard to evacuate roadside shops in the midst of all these mobs, we easily manage to evacuate them by running into these shops every now and then.

5. We are able to envisage the future. Many a times, in traffic signals, we get the intuition that the signal will turn green within a minute, through our sixth sense. As described in point 1, why squander time when you know what’s going to happen – so we set an example by racing our bus immediately! Some idiots driving their vehicles seeing the green signal, without being able to predict their future signal to be red, become ‘futureless’ in the process. Very natural indeed.

6. Major aim of our nation is to reduce population. Leave the implementation part to us. Trust us, we will deliver. We do a CMM level 5 business. Maybe we will come up with some service license agreements with national population control forum.

As I was coming home sometime back, I saw a couple of flashily colored private buses full of people from North Kerala whizzing down NH47 for NCP-DIC merger, and prompty swearing in the most uncivilized language at a family with little kids in a car, for the heinous crime of stopping at a red signal. The merger is unquestionably heading to be a huge success for its 'humanitarian values', not to mention the liquor bottles that were circulating freely on the bus. And, just 2 weeks back, I saw a private bus running in Aluva-Ernakulam route overspeeding and jumping the HMT Signal, hitting an old man driving a scooter. As the man was lying in a puddle of blood, the private bus driver didn’t even show a bloody human emotion to stop and see if he was alive. Thankfully a flying squad came flying, and the man (who happens to be a shopkeeper near my place) escaped just in the nick of time.

It’s high time that some one jumps in and does something about these ruthless rogues. The callousness needs to be snapped by the décolletage. Be it through speed governors or through modern ‘Anniyans’!!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Motorcycle Diary - Ramakkalmedu

Trip Date:

October 21, 2006


Ramakkalmedu, Idukki, Kerala

Start Time:

6:30 am - Oct 21, 2006

End Time:

7:00 pmOct 21, 2006

Total Drive Time:

9 hours, rest accounting for breaks and sightseeing.


My Cousin Manu and Me


Royal Enfield Thunderbird (Me) and Kinetic Blaze (Manu)

Distance covered:

346 kms with around 300 kms of hill route. Although my previous biking trip from Bangalore-Wayanad spanned 800 kms, it had very less hill route drive.

Top Speed:

74 kmph, while overtaking a Truck in the beautiful MC Road. Otherwise maintained consistent speeds of 40 kmph on hill routes and 60 kmph on normal roads.

Fuel Consumption:

The giant 350CC engine of Thunderbird drank just 7.85 liters of petrol for the 346 kms, giving me a record mileage of 44 kmpl, for a trip that had almost 300 kms of hill route drive. I salute thee, the Legend!

Tour Bag:

Cramster Stallion Military Camouflage biking bag.

Tour Kit:

Spare Clutch & Accelerator cables, Spark plug and Fuse for the Thunderbird, Extra Cloths for the riders, 5 litres of Tang, Registration & other essential papers for the bikes, First aid kit, Chocolate bars, Canon Powershot S50 digital camera, Flashlight and Swiss Knife

Route to Destination:

Kalamassery- Aluva- Perumbavoor- Kothamangalam- Neriamangalam- Karimanal- Cheruthoni- Kattappana- Ramakkalmedu through NH47, NH49 and majority through normal broken roads

Route from Destination:

Ramakkalmedu- Kattappana- Cheruthoni- Thodupuzha- Muvattupuzha- Perumbavoor- Aluva- Kalamassery through SH33, MC Road, NH49, NH47

Road Conditions:

Hats off to Kerala State Government for that State Highway 33 from Thodupuzha to Kattappana. Spectacular would be a lesser word about this road – Spotless and Perfect with great road grip. Great curves made very safe with correct bordering of tar and warning signs. Awesome drive. MC Road is also in a great condition, and looks like interstate highways of US. But, NH 49 is nothing short of pathetic reminding me of soil excavations at places, while NH 47 is just ordinary. NHAI really has something to learn from SH 33. The road to Idukki through Neriamangalam-Karimanal is quite bad, but the ride offers quite a lot of beautiful views.

Destination Features:

Ramakkalmedu is a beautiful view spot in Tamil Nadu-Kerala border, giving breathtaking views of Kambamnaadu villages in TamilNadu on one side and the villages around Kattappana in Kerala on the other side. The view and greenery is nothing short of spectacular, and the gushy wind proves that this place is one of most windy places in South India. The giant 40ft statue made by sculptor CB Jinan, depicting Kuravan and Kurathi (tribals) is nothing short of spectacular. Being a lesser-known tourist location makes the place even more peaceful and blessed. In short Ramakkalmedu is 'Where wind plays its heavenly bliss!'. Feels like God’s own country, indeed!

Interesting Conversations:

I was coming out of a local hotel near Karimanal on the way to Idukki, when this seemingly well-dressed and educated gentleman approached me, after keenly monitoring my Royal Enfield Thunderbird for a few minutes.

The Gentleman: Your bike?

Me: Yes, Sir. (Thots: He’s noted it! )

The Gentleman: Hmmm… (looking at the sides, handle etc)

Me: :) (Thots: Seems to be a bike lover. Must be a knowledgeable person)

The Gentleman: My son also has a Thunderbird

Me: Wow! (Thots: So this guy is an expert!)

The Gentleman: He bought it 10 years ago.

Me: Ehhh? (Thots: Oops. That must be a mistake. TB is 2002 release)

The Gentleman: His Thunderbird had right side gears.

Me: Oh ohhh…(Thots: Syntax Error. Only left side gear found. )

The Gentleman: Handle was not curved. It was straight.

Me: Ngeyy?? My Gawd! Ahem..Push slowly sir. (Thots: My god. Bulls horns are straight?)

The Gentleman: How many gears?

Me: 5 (Thots: Now, Whats that question for?)

The Gentleman: Might be a cheaper version. His one had 6

Me: Including neutral! :) (Thots: One must be spare! OR He must have had a bulldozer, sir)

The Gentleman: And he bought it new for 55,000.

Me: What a Deal! (Thots: Next he will say - in spite of being offered a minister post, Karunakaran rejected it!) and I start running towards my bike

The Gentleman (shouting over my shoulder): And my son’s bike engine was……….

Me: Thumppp…Started the bike and escaped!! (Thots: his son’s engine surely was Google Search Engine!)

Other Bikers:

Not many. Saw a Foreigner driving a brand new Royal Enfield Thunderbird (black/silver) to Kattappana through the SH 33, and he had a ‘naadan’ chap with a ‘lungi’ as his pillion and guide. Then saw couple of ‘real’ bikers with long hair, beard and cup type helmets driving on an old Bullet Standard 350 – the moment they saw the Bird, they started shouting and waving the hands! Was nice to see the long runners!


None, except almost every single person on the road ogling at us and hearing comments like “Nokkedaa!” (“Look there!”). Had a nice time when we overtook a school tour party and the kids started clapping and whistling…

Overall Ride Feel:

Safe, Beautiful and Serene!

But, I missed the company of Dhanush’s Red Bird as much as I missed his Chikmangalur trip. I hope we make the Bangalore-Pondi trip soon!

Ride Safe, All!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Alexis' Tag - II

The versatile Alexis Leon tagged me almost 2 months back. And the eversolate me is finishing the tag only now!

I am thinking about how I can make my carpenter finish the furniture work at home that he should have finished 40 days back. The best scheme till now is to assault him with my Chalus (PJs).

I said what I said. I am trying to take some back, but can’t. Seems there is some error in my system. :)

I want to do something that makes me feel contented when I seal my eyes. I might well be on the way for it.

I wish that world is a better place, which does not make me feel undeservingly fortunate.

I miss no no. I mister :). I miss a person who used to give me answer to all the questions I asked.

I hear the silence and start dissolving in it. Then I hit my head in the keyboard, which made me wear a helmet, while sleeping at work. :)

I wonder if the valley would turn green tomorrow. I wonder if tomorrow would rise as a Utopia.

I regret absolutely nothing, except a few things ;-).

I am a mystery to myself. I hired Scotland Yard to solve it. They committed suicide.

I dance when I hear ‘duppankoothu annaachi’ songs.

I sing and they declare Nationwide Hartal.

I cry in my mind, without tears.

I am not at all a serious chap as people think I might be….

I write stuff that basically can be termed as crap.

I confuse myself by thinking what I would do if I was the person I see in front of me. I think I have exhausted a key fraction of my life doing this.

I need my thoughts, my drive towards my dreams and some time to let it evolve.

I should try to control my temper, which I only show to people really close to my heart.

I finish only when I get finished. Till then, let the madness continue.

Anyone interested can pick this tag. Alexis - This one was real nice.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The fall into our heart

He was still falling, facing the firmament above, with the advices about the Swami still lingering in the back of his mind. They, the society, were creating a racket about those protracted journeys of endurance that Swami went through to attain the state of definitive knowledge. He expected the halo of awareness that was possessed by the Swami to change his world over. But he was helpless, he was diminishing everyday.

It seems like a long time since he enthused away from his world. He seemed to be isolated into an act, with hardly any streak of light around. He could hear the movements around him – the sense of breath and anxiety that spread. The vicious sorrow that surrounded him seems to have gradually sunk into the environment. The dear ones realized it and have moved into the reality of day to day life. Life started moving on, and he still tried to spread his age old graceful self, but he was miserable, the descend never stopped. Then, as it was destined, days after he met Swami, he decided to do exactly what he was supposed to do.

He went back to those early days…His mind was nomadic….It moved across those blue oceans and hopped on to relish those green meadows. It played with the white snow and walked beneath the calm silence of the palm trees. It ran through the heights of the tallest peak, and it was there – capturing the essence of life. Yes, his mind was at its zenith, its best. But all of that eternal luminosity was suddenly blinded by that deep plunge into the gorges. He knew he dived into that…So much was the temptation. He was pulled in by his craving. It’s not fair, because he knew his mind swept itself to unknown territories. Still, he was sucked in by the vacuum. He has been falling deep down for years now – and the worst part is, he is not over yet. He tried holding on to those hands trying to save him, but in vain. He seemed to be trenching into a journey of his own…He started to think that he liked where he was going, but those around him did not. He tried to escape, but the attempts were rendered futile. Suddenly, It grabbed him…Swami’s hands were neat. They tried to inject that passion to move ahead. At least in a direction that everyone around him thought was forward. Swami was ever smiling, with that narrow of sense of guilty tenacity around his smile. He could feel strength emanating from the hand that held him. Swami’s hands were guiding him. Swami’s voice filled his psyche – ‘Bury your past. Gaze only at the future.’

He started packing. He started searching his brains. He picked out those spots, those binary chips that held his memories. He started piling them into that black box. It was tough. There was too much of data he had to scrape through. But he knew his life. He had his memories, which always cheered him up, which made him smile, and which made him dive into that deep valley of unknown. He packed them all. With his new felt energy, he started digging deep in the soil. He pushed that black box into that hole in the hot core of earth, and closed it. His heart felt lighter. He started to float around. There were claps all around, the society around him applauded as he became a new being. He felt elated. Swami was great – Swami managed to hold on to him, and make him divert the journey to a better path. They all were so right, everything felt so much in place.

As he started to walk back, he noticed that his foot imprints were no longer binding on that moist beach. His evening shadows seemed to be missing, and he saw that he no longer cast any physical attributes. He felt disturbed. He jumped head first into the rocks, but there was no pain. He was not himself. He saw that his individuality has been robbed. He transformed into a walking ghost with his identity buried. He could not stand it anymore. The pain was unbearable. He ran back to that hole and started digging….he was very far, but still….

It might be late, but he was sure…Contrary to what they say, it’s not about burying your past, it’s more about building on your history. He decided to persist his fall into that spacious and green valley which made his dream. He ignored the loathe of society. He kept on digging. He thought he saw Swami's hands burning in that heat. He kept excavating deeper. He needed to liberate his memories and be gratis. He wanted to drop free. Into the nadir…into those remote trenches. Again....Yet again…He wanted to fall into his heart....

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Out of my comfort zone

Changes are inevitable, and they keep following us through our lifespan. They may catch us unaware at many times, they may take ages to arrive after playing in milieu, they can make you happy, they can render you gloomy, they may bring a brilliant sense of expectation around which you fondly call hope, and they drive us through this journey named life. On hindsight, it’s changes that put together our existence.

Such a change is lingering right beside me, staring at my eyes with a smiling face - it arrived through a lot of contemplations and reached me quite gradually. Yes, I am leaving a much celebrated, coveted family which started out 25 years back with 7 sturdy pillars holding their hands together with nothing more than loads of determination, a place which used to be in the dreams of all of us while we studied, a family which adopted my career at its infancy and made it grow to what it is now, a name that earned me the best hug of my life from my father when they selected me, a company without which I could never dream my life to be what it is – a magnificent place named Infosys. Moving from such a status-quo domicile to a small-by-comparison organization in Cochin raised a few eyebrows. I refrained from giving a bulleted reason list, and reduced it to one easy word of truth which people don’t tend to question further ‘Personal!’.

The life with Infosys family has been a grand ride - with lots of new thrilling experiences during the journey, a lot of passengers – old and experienced, young and thrilled – all who gave a lot of lessons to me, most of the times we went through bumpy landscapes – but that allowed us to cherish each and every destination that we stopped by. I am sure that I was able to imbibe a lot of new thoughts, study specific behavioral details that made some excellent managers here, create a lot of friends and few not-so-good ones, help many of my team members to imagine and work better, tell my opinions frank-on-the-face to people irrespective of their level – which sure resulted in some happy and unhappy incidents, but more than anything this place has paved a way to crystallize my thoughts about what I want to be. The values followed by the founders really makes you aspire and reverie that you can be a person of your dreams. Yeah, I agree that it was not an eternal easy ride; there were moments of frustrations which can clearly be seen in some of my previous posts - On Retrospection, An offer Coolie could not refuse, Ruthless, Well-Balanced Life. Then there was this new high level manager who claims himself to be a ‘great-attitude’ person, who learnt that I am leaving and asked me – “I heard that you are leaving due to some health issues of an immediate relative. You are not lying, right?” – I was wondering if anyone who has a sane heart would lie about these things…So much for culture and professionalism of that person. But, that sure arrives as a ‘part and parcel’ of any large corporation. My life here for past 5 years has been nothing less than good - I was recognized, valued and there was lot of visibility for career growth. I could learn from some exceptional managers in Mohan and Shashank who would really be the examples to follow in life and career, I could lead some exceptionally intelligent talents in Sudhesh and Anirban, both of whom I am sure would soar to radiant heights in their life.

Yes, it would have been real simple to move ahead in this habituated circle of affairs, when you are comfortable with the present and secure with the future. Then there is that human element of change-resistance, where you have that inherent lack of confidence about the new environment and challenges that you are going to be stacked against, and a conscious apprehension about how you will embark upon it. On the top of all these, there are those claws of a circle of distant-relatives, which form that creamy layer of the ‘society’ around you, who will pounce on you with that ‘I told you not-to’ façade, should my new step falter a bit. And stupidly enough, when odds are stacked against, I thought this is the perfect time to call for a change. It’s a road traveled less, a deviation from the abode of opportunities and I am ready for the adventure :).

Also, there is a tenderness that engulfs me, when I know that the gorgeous winged beast that has been carrying me around for the past 1.5 years is no longer with me. We had a great time together, our long trip to Wayanad being the best among the lot. All those early mornings and late nights to/from Infy during my past two ultra-hectic development projects, when the mind would be saturated with the stress surrounding the work, the red Honda Unicorn acted as if it had its own mind. It took my tired physique promptly between places, and carried me around like a close comrade would do. He has been a kind friend, and was too close to me to be drawn apart. The risk involved in transporting him from here to Cochin in freight, the running around that needs to be done with the RTO offices to get him registered in Kerala made me a bit hesitant to take him with me. But, more than anything, the love that struck me when I met that uncomplicated country maiden - a bird that flew with an imposing aristocracy which left me awestruck, made me decide that its time to part. I handed over the keys of my dear friend; to a person I am sure will take care of him like family. Yes - I also bought a Royal Enfield Thunderbird back in Cochin, which would be waiting for me once I get back there. Hopefully, me, PP and Dhanu will all fly in our birds in the 2008 Royal Enfield Himalayan Odyssey.

As I stare at these changes, I realize that the fact is that I have been too used to this life. I was too familiar with the place I was employed, I was confident about the work I was doing, I always had a great time from my gang at home, I have been very unperturbed and easy – and it’s been too comfortable to face any sudden turbulence. Just like it was when in US, I am getting into that narrow zone of ease, that zone of pure comfort and relaxation, which I don’t savor too much for long durations. There is more to life than that, there are more challenges to take and live with. It’s more about reaching forward, clinging to your roots and dragging it along with you. It’s more about striking a balance between life and career. It’s more about doing what you believe you are capable of. It’s mostly about realizing the price tag that you put for yourself. At least, I wish so – when I drive out of the land of opportunities, the garden city of Bangalore which was my home for past 5 years, on August 12, 2006. There is a long long way to go, and I feel sure that I have made the initial few steps right. Or so I hope….as I take leave from my routines, as I move out of my comfort zone....

Friday, July 28, 2006

And quiet flows the river

It took some genuine compulsion from my cousin Manu to pull the lazy me for a swim in Periyar. The water seemed so untainted. The Aluva manalpuram (sand banks) and the Shiva temple which lie a stones throw away were almost deserted, quite unlike what it is during Shivarathri. In the dawn, the manalpuram would have many people who come to do the final rites for a deceased relative, by breaking and immersing the mankudam (sandpot) with chithabhasmam (ashes) into the river. I could see the stones through the sparkle clear water near the kadavu of the manalpuram, and it all seemed so alluring. I walked through those steps and was soon immersed in head deep water. There were some boundaries marked with boulder pillars, beyond which the waters are supposed to be dangerous. People who knew swimming were venturing near those columns and the amateurs were sticking nearer to the steps. I started floating and swimming around, sometimes throwing the plastic balls back to the kids who were playing near the steps. It’s been a real long time since we got a chance to enjoy a quiet bath in the river, with the fresh evening breeze negating the otherwise humid weather. I was quite surprised when a young kid hardly 12 years old, dived into the water and started swimming beyond the stone pillars. He kept on swimming, and to the amazement of all the people in the kadavu (shore), easily managed to carry on and cross the river, which was around 400 meters wide, through that brawny current.

As night started to prowl in from the horizon and shadows set in, the crowd started dispersing, leaving only a handful of people in the river. Sinister clouds were gathering around from the west, and the menace of shower loomed around in the horizon – the monsoon in Kerala was predicted to be earlier this year. The reflections of the gloomy sky darkened the clear water that was flowing around me. I must have floated around for a while, facing the dark skies above watching the clouds move by swiftly in the gushy wind and abruptly, the torrents from heaven started pouring in tons. The river that was flowing like a beautiful country lass started to scuttle profusely like a model on a pageant. I watched the lights inside a train starting to move in the railway bridge at a distance, through the hazy weather. I could hear the rhythmic rattle echoing through the subtle surface of the river, and noticed that the train looked like a stretched snake moving rapidly to catch its prey. As I fell in love with this vicious flow of the river, as I was energetically swimming against that surge almost like a challenge, as I started to dissolve in that looming obscurity and silence, as the chilly gust started to freeze my mind into a single photo frame, I felt myself gripping my toes on a piece of sand pot which would have carried the ashes of a deceased body (chithabhasmam). In the shock, I started to move away, but I was too late. A hand grabbed me from the darkness of the water below. As I tried to scamper my way out, I saw the smile in the cold boyish face of my friend who had drowned in that river 12 years back. I instantly recognized him with panic, I felt the weight of his hand on my shoulder just like he used to do in school, I sensed the world shrinking, and my mind was dazed in that thunder. When I broke free and swam frantically for the steps, I noticed through the darkness and heavy rain that the distant yellow lights from the train were disappearing and the rattling sound was fading out. Panting heavily as I stood on the soggy sands of the manalpuram, I noticed the yellow boards on those boundary pillars with poems written on them. Through the downpour, I read those chilling Malayalam lines. ‘Little do you know about thrill and enjoyment! Little do you know when you take pleasure by going beyond boundaries. Little do you know how the serene tranquility can turn into brutal vigor. Little do you know about the tears that have flown into this river. Little do you know what you lose, unless you suffer. Little do you know the pain and void that death creates. We know it more than you. We are the souls that sank into this river in a small pot. We have seen it all’

I was poignant in that depressing silence. I walked back with Manu to my car as the heavy rain evolved to a light drizzle. It was a bit late into the night, but the lamps in the Shiva temple were still burning hazily in the gust. As I drove through the ‘Marthanda Varma Bridge’, I glanced down at the manalpuram - The leaves of the banyan tree in the temple which were lashing against the fierce gushing wind was flagging around peacefully, the wild flow of the river had turned into a calm walk and I realized that the unruffled beauty of that maiden named Periyar was luring me again. The traffic signal ahead indicated green. I kept going, I could not turn back. And underneath the bridge, even now, quiet flows the river.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Combat named 'Badla'

It’s not a cakewalk. I never expected it to be. I sense I had a terrible accident. My head was whirling, and I stood facing the wall, with repugnance to myself. But there was no one else to blame. I need to face the anguish and pain myself. Why else should I try to play a pull when the ball is so short, quick and directed at my face? I missed the ball completely and it battered me right on the sweet spot in the wedge of my nose. There I was, batting on 29, on the verge of a triple century to reach the highest ever score in our Playground, but hit the 7th time precisely on my face by a short quicker one from Guru. I needed to focus. I needed to take those moments off my memory, and concentrate on the next ball. Guru has already declared that it would be his last ball. After this Dhanush would start off his whizzers, that shoot off like a bullet from good length on leg stump and whizz past the off stump. It will be difficult for me to adjust quickly to that, and there are chances that I miss out on my first triple century. Guru is ready with the ball looking ominous from his hands. I forget my pain, I try to focus. I try to see only the green patch of tennis ball and the movement of fingers holding the ball. I see that slinging yorker, that Guru often gets me out with, wriggle out of his hands and loom towards me like a speeding bullet. I see the green circle that’s approaching me and I bring down the bat to my legs. I hit my toe on the way to meet the ball, but yes – my bat met the ball on yorking length, and it bounced off the pitch to the wall – I hit the first triple century. While jumping around from the pain on my toes, I slowly and proudly raised my bat at my opponents, the fiercest enemies when in The Playground – Guru and Dhanush. And shouted at them… Badlaaahhhh

This was a scene at midnight, couple of weeks back in our house. There have been lots of queries raised to myself and Dhanush, on what exactly is this ‘Badla’ that features in our blog often. Hence, we decided that we would handle ‘Badla’ in the blogosphere together.

Let me issue the warnings first.
Those who are not aware of cricket might find the post a bit absurd.
Those who are aware of cricket will find the post totally crazy.
And for us, the world consists of only these two kinds of people :).

Basic intent of this post is to popularize this variant of cricket named ‘Badla’, and to get some money stinking big-shot to buy our ground-breaking scheme so that we can earn millions of dollars as patent privileges. (Ahhh – A slight compromise– millions of ‘Rupees’ is also ok. No more negotiations please!)

History of the game

Well – It all started when Guru moved in with me and Aravind at our rented house in Bangalore around Jan 2005. It took some sincere compulsions and lot of big time ‘therivilis’ to make him shift with us from a dingy PG, but since we all closely knew each other for around 9 years he was quite apprehensive about the madness that’s going to follow. Anyway to cut the long story bermuda (aka short) Guru moved in with us. The first weekend itself, we declared the bigger bedroom in our house as ‘The Playground’. No one would sleep there, no furniture, bags etc would be allowed to be kept there. The biggest room in the house would be rendered for only one purpose – ‘The Playground’. We went around and bought a small size ‘MRF’ bat from roadside at a fair cost of 22000 Rs, with a tennis ball made with original gold feathers which we decided would be used only inside the house, so that we can keep the painted walls neat (Neat – gulp! – You should see it now!)

The Rules

There were no well-defined rules in the beginning. We started off with the usual indoor rule of direct hit on any walls being out, in addition to bowled and catch. Over-arm bowling was allowed, and that made batting even more difficult with the pace, bounce and movement that can be brought by that variation. Any shot hitting the walls after pitching the ground is rendered as a run. On due passage of time, the average winning score was found to be around 2-3 runs, with anything greater than 5 runs being a huge total. Scoring 10 runs has been declared as a century, and the batsman would raise the bat to the huge applause of the crowd watching the match. (If crowd is not there, bowler will applaud the batsman – mostly with swearings). Also, there is no LBW or hit wicket to ‘favor’ the batsman. There were some other rules like – If you wear specs, keep a spare ready since the ones that you are wearing can be broken at any time, If your blood group is rare, then please arrange for a bottle of extra blood before coming to the game etc etc.

The challenges

It won’t do any good if you are a fine cricketer on the cricket field. The concept of Badla is totally diverse. The challenges are very intense; chances of injuries are very likely, saving the proud face while returning is an unattainable solace. Bowling bouncers that hit right on the nose bridge is usually a source of inspiration for the bowler, almost everyone bowls bouncers to consciously injure the batsman and hence break the morale of the player. One lapse of concentration and you will either get an edge or have one banged on your nose pretty strong. The pace of the deliveries combined with the mix of spin/swing makes it thorny for even good players to survive. And another big challenge is for the close in fielders (again – the room is so small that everyone is close-in :)), to make sure that they don’t get hit in the face by the edgy shots. We have 2 pairs of broken specs, 3-4 instances of swollen eyes, blood oozing from the mouth etc as deterrents to the game. But still we play on – We enjoy the challenge - after all, we are real fighters!

The name of the game

How did the name ‘Badla’ evolve? I needed to think quite a bit into history to remember the rationale, and a smile braces me when I get the memories about that day. Guru was hell bent upon on winning the game, after a disastrous six months of 'Badla' – he used call himself by superhero names (Spiderman, for instance) for winning the tournaments, but nothing was working out. He saw a series name in ESPN, and declared that from that day onwards it’s the revenge time for him. He named the game for the day as ‘Badla’. After bowling every ball he turned himself back to the wall and shouted in a ‘Kroor Singh’ish way ‘Badlaaaaahhhhhhhhh’. Somehow those moments were too full of hilarity and wit which eventually made the name ‘Badla’ jammed to this game. It’s still going on every night, with me, Guru and Dhanush skirmishing it out with all our might, to earn the all vital distinction of becoming a champion. We still thrive for it and we pay hard with our time, our sweat and our blood!

The opening and closing ceremonies

The opening ritual of every match is marked with all of us shouting together ‘Badlaaahhh’ and throwing off our shirts to start off the game topless ;-). This is usually accompanied by the famous dialogues from Guru to the non-players at home (Now - PP and Aravind) ‘If you want to see Abhi and Dhanu with a smiling face – see it now. When they come back from the game, they would by crying with embarrassment of defeat and humiliation’. The closing ceremony of Badla is usually marked when someone slips, falls down on the ceramic tile floor and loses couple of teeth, after the floor gets completely wet with sweat. This is followed by a ‘Tang Refresher’ session when we prepare couple of big bottles of Tang that we devour in a flash while the one who has lost his teeth would be searching for the lost glory. Most of the times, even after the refresher session, we observe our eyes meeting again indicating that its time and everyone nods their heads in approval, and we walk back to ‘The Playground’. We are ready….And the cycle continues. (Couple of us have lost all of our teeth…We are growing them back by drinking Kamilari. And Eureka - its working!)

You can find more details about Badla in my dear friend Dhanush’s blog here. All the gorgeous caricatures and stunning sketches for this post were drawn by Guru and his friend Teju. Our sincere thanks to both of them!

Badla is not just a game for us. We cherish each and every moment that we spend for it and I am sure that it will adore our memories for times to come. Of course, it does not come easy. It needs you to have the zeal for waking from sleep at 2 am for the sake of the game. It mandates you to have a cold heart, coz you are going to have quite a bloodshed there. It’s a passion. It takes some grit and lots of mental strength to participate. No wonder ‘Indian Miscellaneous Games Association’ certified the game as ‘Adults Only’ because of offensive language and excessive use of violence. For facing this music, you are all welcome anytime to our abode!
Come, join the mighty combat!

Text Copyrighted © by Pophabhi & Dhanush ®
Images Copyrighted © by Guru & Teju ®

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Picture Tag

I was tagged by Silverine, long time back. As usual I am awfully late, but I did complete the tag. :)

1. Most Desired Celebrity

Julie Delpy

Comment: The character, Celine, that she played in the movies Before Sunrise and its sequel Before Sunset made me adore the incandescent expressions, reflective charisma and the uncomplicated beauty of this wonderful actress. I don't know whether I liked the character Celine more than the actress herself, but the way she has portrayed the role was so captivating that the subtle touches of her natural, intelligent acting gets you arrested. Julie is just amazing!

2. Want to do this someday

Cycling past the Sunflower fields of Burgandy

Comment: Its been a dream in my mind. To cycle past the sunflower and lavender fields in Burgandy which extends to limits unknown, To just stand by them and watch them make a magnificient beautiful world of colors for me, To just whizz across those yellow petals in an evening with the setting sun illuminating the twilight skies with flames of yellow. Wow! I guess I need to carry a very good camera to capture those moments. Nice dreams. But what dreams can't come true?

3. Want to visit this place

Golden sands of Bharathapuzha

Comment: To idle out. To simply lie down on those sands where heritage and culture grazed. To hear the songs of mamankam. To smile at that tender breeze that kisses the neck deep water. To just sleep in that cold moonlight rendering the psyche to hypnotesis. To relax. To float. Those sands can do it all for you.

4. Random Favorite

Barkha Dutt
The most popular, daring, eye-catching reporter I have ever seen. One of the rare breed journalists who put their lives into risk to bring in the nations most momentous minutes right into our home - Be it the mindblowing coverage showing the sacrifices and valor of our soldiers during Kargil war when bullets and shells were spraying all around her, Be it the monster cyclone that shook up the heart of Orissa or the ruins of Gujarat, when she stood amongst the debris of the very broken souls of these states, Be it the enormity of the tragedy that was brought about in Tsunami - This brave lady has destroyed all the boundaries of traditional media coverages. That new emotional and personal element she has brought into news has not only negated the time acclaimed ruthlessness of journalism, but has also brought about a new found emotional and personal pathway between media and the viewers.

5. Tag Origin

Comment: My apologies for not 'pic'ing the origin of the post from Silverine. Please see her tag here.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Theory of 'Well Balanced Life' (WBL)

I still remember those days during the project that I managed 9 months back. The project used to sap up so much of my time, that I used to reach back at my abode at Bangalore only by 1 am in night, that too when work was ‘less’ and application was in production. It usually occured to me that I never see or talk with my gang at home, since they would be deep in sleep for the duration I am at home. The one who reached our home earliest was Mr. W, who had just joined one of the famous firms around Bangalore, and didn’t have too much of work to extend his working hours to night. Others at our home had enough work to hold them back till around 10 pm.

I remember - it was on a Wednesday, when all of us had come home by 9 pm (an occassion that demanded celebration - NASA reported that this occurs once in 2.65*e598 million years -which is approximately equal to the probability of driving through hosur road without getting caught in a traffic block) that Mr. W taught us the theory of ‘Well Balanced Life’. It seems one of his GMs had come from US, and he had given a talk to the employees in India about striking a balance between work and life. This was precisely the most confusing thing that intrigued me, since I moved to the ‘less’ work period which made me sit for 18 hours at office and I was still recovering from the 20-21 hours that I used to spent during the ‘actual execution’ of the project. I found it really difficult to even think about my existence, about my family, about my life, during this period. It was like I was ‘in a hole’ for a respectable span of time. I used to look jealously at my roomies all the time, especially Mr. W. That day was a similar day when Mr. W started giving this theory of ‘Well Balanced Life’, which he called fondly as WBL. He was telling that we need to fix our priorities, utilize the time effectively, get some free time so that our mind would be liberated for the apt amount of rest that it needs, endure in giving the body enough relaxation by sleeping 7 hours etc. Mr. W had his usual style of attacking us, especially me, telling ‘ I need a passport size photo of yours since I don’t know when I would see you next. The usual retaliations and arguments did not happen, because for once he was making a strong point – he was having a well balanced life. We were all convinced about it. He was managing things effectively. He was implementing the principle of WBL. He was practising what he preached. He was having a life, he was enjoying it and most importantly he was able to rub salt into our sad misery. :)

He told us – ‘The key is to have a Well Balanced Life, like me. Practice WBL, guys. Otherwise you will keep suffering!.’

Was'nt he spot on?

In a totally unrelated incident, Mr. W was moved into a new project the very next day. And since then, we saw him only for brief spans of time, that too during weekends – He always comes so late that we would have slept by then, and he leaves the home before we even get up. Mr. W was renamed as Mr. WBL, and we all make it a point to unleash the hell for him by holding inspiring talks about ‘striking a balance in life’, whenever we see him. No need to mention that Mr. W had a ‘Well Silenced Life’ at our home, till he moved into his next project.

So much for WBL – or ‘Well Balanced Life’. WBL stands as a cliche now, whenever we are into a difficult project. :)

Monday, July 03, 2006

Tag of four

Dhanush has stamped his foot on me with this tag - I don't have an escape and hence I am finally taking it.

4 jobs I’ve had:

- Developer/Marketing for our small venture right after Engineering.
- Near 5 years with Infy
- Shift worker in Achan’s chemical plant
- Car Driver (But no salary :( )

4 films I could watch again and again:

- The Shawshank Redemption
- Before Sunrise/Before Sunset
- Thoovanathumbikal
- Jakob the Liar

4 places I’ve lived in:

- Kalamassery, Cochin – Home sweet Home
- Cherai – All vacations and most weekends at my native place
- Auburn Hills, Michigan for those 20 cold months at customer site
- Bangalore

4 TV series I like to watch:

- Just for Gags in Pogo
- Whose line is it anyway in Star World
- Raagotsavam in Kairali
- The old ones – Crystal Maze & Wonder Years in Star Plus

4 places that I’ve been on vacation to:

- Goa (The great Goa Poa trip with the Boyz - Kichan & Seena, Dhanush, PP, Guru, Jyothi, Aravind!)

- Florida (With Auburn Hills gang - Sreeraj, Ganesh & Preethi, Santhosh, Prashanth, Mani and Dhanush who joined at Orlando)

- Wayanad (Our biking trip – 800 kms in 36 hours! - with PP, Aravind, Guru and Visakh)

- Michigan upper peninsula (With Mohan chettan and Pavan)

4 websites I visit everyday:

- Blogsites of my blog-friends
- Cricinfo, Prem Panickers blog in Rediff
- Wikipedia
- Gmail

4+4+4 books I’d love to read again and again:

- Janitakam by M.Sukumaran
- Samanathaalam by Radhakrishnan
- Any Basheer book
- Aithihyamaala by Kottarathil Sankunni
- Verukal by Malayatoor
- Bobanum Moliyum (I confess)
- Oru Deshathinte Kadha, Sanchaara saahityam by SK Pottakkad
- Screenplay of Moonampakkam, Thoovanathumbikal by Padmarajan
- Some Camus books – I haven’t half understood them yet!
- Rita Hayworth & Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King
- Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
- Calvin Hobbes by Bill Watterson

4 favorite dishes:

- Maangatholi (Dried mango with lots of chilli powder, salt)
- Puttu, Njaalipoovan pazham and sugar
- Kappa Meencurry
- Dosa and Mulaku-chammanthi that Amma makes!

4 places where I’d like to be right now:

- Home
- The green Chrysler Grounds, Auburn Hills where we played Detroit Cricket League
- Those golden sands in the banks of Bharathapuzha, Thirunavaaya
- Driving a cycle through Central Europe

4 people I’m gonna tag:

- Anyone interested can take it!

Friday, June 23, 2006

An insignificant puzzle

It would be good to see your blog being updated more frequently” – chanted some of my friends.
I have been out of the blog world for virtually a month. It’s been a bit of a crazy time. (Only a bit?? Quite a paradox when I am involved :) ). Well - Lots of imperative decisions. Heaps of out-of-routine behaviour. For instance, I didn’t visit the blog-spaces of my friends during this time. This is the second time I am doing this scandalous offence of moving to a different orb, the first being mentioned in Desert Roses.

And when I return, I appear with quite some trivial judgments. I have been plagued with thoughts about the insignificance of life. It feels so dull when you discern that whatever you perform is so meaningless, when you are uncertain about the moment at which you dispossess all that you have/want and then abscond to some anonymous consign or entity. Yes, I am puzzled (yet again!) with this mystery around Death. There might be different incidents that trigger these tantrums in me, and I am sure that I have experienced it multiple times. I must have gone through scores of personal opinions from people who have lived less/more, innumerable pages of religious and philosophical arrangements of words, scientific and modern logical thoughts and even the ramblings of human gods. They just drove me through various roads. I saw different patterns and colors in the sky. At times, the occasional brightness blinded the eyes for brief spans – and they claimed “See – Everything is clear. This is the sunshine you were looking out for!”. But I could still see the clouds. And when I alighted from the drive, I still felt insignificant.

Don’t get me wrong – I am neither depressed nor philosophical. I still wake up snoozing the alarm three times, I still leave office in the evening thinking about the world cup matches, I still play “Badla – the indoor cricket” with Dhanu and Guru, I still keep laughing at the chalus with Bangalore gang and I still keep breaking the promise of sleeping by 11 when I hit the sack at 1 or 2. See – I told you – I am still the crazy me.

Still, I am fazed by these disconcerting thoughts, at irregular intervals. And, the truth is - I still have those insignificant questions. I will keep looking out for an answer.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

In Silence

She was enjoying it. She listened to the ripples of music sweetly brushing against her soul; she reached the peaks of harmony in variations of pitches and tones of the musician. She had always loved hearing those melodious timbres from times unknown. It’s been her greatest joy in life to walk through those theoretical time structures between sound and silence, that they fondly called music.

It was like a stride through her life. It carried all the beauty and pain of loneliness in which she was dwelling. She saw the stings that pricked her mind and the memoirs that evoked smiles. She saw the candles of timbre light up the beauty of conscience, lingering as a shadow behind the rhythm. At times she felt that she can rewrite her script to experience the wholesome harmony. She could see it all in music.

She has been carrying the pain with her. She was lacking something that most others had. She could sense the vibrations of loneliness all around her. She felt that she was singled out, that she was an object of sympathy. That’s when she started to hear those voices. She sometimes heard her own conscience weep in patterns, which she felt was musical. At some point of time, she started to harmonically chant sequences of voice in her mind. She freely wandered through the mountains and valleys of pitches and tones that she never anticipated to attain by herself. She had set herself on a magical journey. She blazed into the voyage that cut through the borders of tones and silence, of patterns and combinations, of culture and humanity, of melody and harmony, of rhythm and timbre, of tears and smiles, most importantly of conscience and pain. She wriggled into the space between tones and turned her back against solitude. She won her fight.

When she closed her eyes she traveled some years back and she heard the doctor tell her “There has been no other option but to perform total laryngectomy to remove the cancer. Without your vocal cords it will be difficult for you to talk again”. When she opened her eyes she had tears in her eyes, but a peaceful Mona Lisa smile sported her face as she alighted into her new world filled with beautiful notes. Her heart was so quiet to hear the music in the air around her, the music amongst the trees and mountains. She set her foot on a confident new journey, which was about to turn her life around.

How true are the words of Yehudi Menuhin, the great violinist - “Music creates order out of chaos: for rhythm imposes unanimity upon the divergent, melody imposes continuity upon the disjointed, and harmony imposes compatibility upon the incongruous

- This article is dedicated to a person, who had achieved new heights in her small world of music, who had created a life for herself out of void when falling into that black hole was so likely, who inspired all of us who knew about her, who realized there was a music even in silence.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The long wait for the new Zeus

I stood in that gloomy valley, facing the magical beaming light which showered its golden rays across the horizon into my very enticed retina, which has not seen light for past thirty years. The light was so soothing - I acknowledged the new found warmth and freshness from it, the nice invigorating cold zephyr around me and I felt that this was it – I have attained what I was looking for. Destiny always finds you a bit late.

I had been idling in that dark valley for quite some time, and was waiting patiently for the better force to show me the way and take me with it. But HE had different ideas…It seemed as if HE knew the mission of my life and would not take me to the eternal bliss without letting me fulfill it. With that supernatural light fading, there was a torrent current in the air, the strong wind almost making me fall over, losing my balance. I could see a long rope being thrown at me, and through the darkness which still haunted one side of the valley, I could see four dark human shadows tied tight together at the other end of the rope. I strained my eyes to get a sight of their identity, but all I could see were four distinct figures taped tight in mysteriously black attires that hid their whole body. I could faintly recognize that they were wriggling in the tight bonds they were in, and their distant wails seemed to strike me hard. An unearthly voice whispered to me from eternity “Take them towards the sharp rock at the eastern tip of valley, which points to the unknown depths of grey gorges of suffering. Tie them to the rock and I will guide you from there.”

I was haunted by questions countless, as I pulled those distant voices to the east. I felt that I did not know who I was or what I was doing there, in that dark arena of mystery. I wondered if I was going to have a bout of nervous fits, but I realized that I was experiencing an unusually peaceful aura in mind. Although there were many a things that were unanswered around me, I was trying to be consciously edgy. I must have walked for ages, but I did trample down to my destination. The rock at the eastern tip shaped like a huge sharp nose, and there was an evil presence of the gorge, which seemed like a black hole sucking even the air around the rock. With a bit of difficulty, I managed to tie the four human figures to the rock. They kept on wailing and wriggling, even after being sealed strongly to the ropes. I slowly dropped off to a distance and got a resting place near the stream of sweet crystal clear water which I savored till it quenched my thirst, as I waited for that better power to guide me and take me further. My identity was still a mystery and I was hoping that I would be deprived of that pain as early as possible. I tried to look at the clear stream to see myself, but I was even dispossessed of reflections.

I was woken up by the cry of vultures from horizon. In the pale mysterious light that was peeping from the west, I could see the shadows of a number of vultures fast approaching. The scavengers neared within seconds, and headed straight towards the rocks. Hiding behind the trees, I looked at the horrible sight of the vultures hungrily devouring parts of flesh from the bodies of the four figures tied tightly to the rocks. I could hear the loud clear screams of pain that was endured by them, I could see the dark red color of flesh all around and I was engulfed by the nauseating smell of fresh blood in the air. I could see the vultures tearing off warm meat from the body and faces of the poor sufferers, and all I could do was stand helpless hoping that they would die faster void of all the pain they were suffering. The faint magical light started to fade out, and strangely, the vultures quit their cruel task and flew back towards the light. Life had not left the preys, and they were wailing from the pain they were enduring. I wanted to offer some water to them, but I could feel myself being tied down near the stream, unable to walk, unable to tender some helping words. They might have suffered for more than a day from that never ending pain, but never fell unconscious as if some mysterious force wanted them to suffer. By nightfall, the magical beam of light appeared above the rock and before I could get up it showered its rays on the victims and disappeared. I noticed that the wounds of the victims had healed up and the deep wailings of pain had stopped. I heard the healthy breathing as they fell asleep after giving some deep sighs of relief having been acquitted of all the pain. Before I could even think about the meaning of the drama I was seeing, I noticed the vultures arriving from the horizon yet again. Their cries of evil hunger woke up their preys at the rock, and they started screaming, knowing the dark fate that awaited them. Same trauma awaited them, and by the time the vultures left the same old chaotic atmosphere had sworn itself into power around me. These might have continued for days altogether. All of it looked like the story of Prometheus, who was destined for similar fate by Zeus, the god of gods. My thoughts became even hazier. Seeing the sufferings endured by them, tears started flowing from my eyes and as I wiped them off I could realize that my face was old with lots of wrinkles on it. I cried aloud for the magical force to come and take me – I had seen enough of these cruel sights, I had been hit hard by them. I prayed for my identity, I wanted to wipe off that mystery and the destiny that made me to see these people suffer.

Out of the blue, a bright sunlight engulfed the valley and I saw the rocky terrain lighted for the first time. I eagerly looked in the stream to see who I was. I saw myself – A strong old man, with sharp pointed eyes with lots of depth in them, determination radiating from each miniscule of the face, grit and strength written all over the psyche. I recognized myself – I was the father of Rajan, who died mercilessly in police custody around 30 years back – I am the professor who had advised words of wisdom and knowledge to generations of students – I am the man who suffered endlessly in the hands of tyrants, I am the man who endured the worst of fears, the worst of pains – I am the man who had been pricked by a thousand needles falling on me in the rain, when I heard the cries of my son who has been calling for me in the pain for past 30 years. Yes, I am the same helpless man, who fought years for justice, for bringing out the truth to public, for creating a new dawn in the place I was born – all as the last rites for my son. I am Professor Eachara Varier - I was pushed into dark by some heartless forces. They gave me a dead son, a mentally ill wife and an even darker 30 years to live. But I had the rage, I had the spirit to shout against the advent of dark….I, being an old man, needed an outstretched hand at times, but was deprived of that too. But, I fought. I fought hard with vigor, with verve.

The mystery about my self was solved, when I saw my face in the bright light. I turned back towards the rock and I saw the faces of the people who were enduring all that pain. The same people for whom I was sympathizing while wondering about the heinous crimes they did to get so much pain that was mounted on them. I could clearly see the visage of each person. The same faces that were pricking my consciousness for ages. The same faces which made me, wonder whether I can ever forgive them. The same faces that created doubts in this old man’s mind whether I had tiny droplets of vengeance in me. They were

Mr. KK, a well-known bureaucrat in Kerala who believes that every evil that he did in his holy life can be wiped out by visiting a holy temple. The state home minister during the time of emergency, who fought vigorously for injustice to prevail.

Mr. JP, Deputy Inspector General of Crime Branch - who personally orchestrated the sadistic entertainment of implementing heights of physical torture. The man who proved to the world that such nazist treatment can be implemented as a part of democracy as well, at the well-known Kakkayam camp, where Rajan was brutally murdered.

Mr. PN, the duty officer who supposedly kicked the life out of Rajan’s body on the nod of Mr. JP. From the descriptions of the fellow students in the camp, Rajan was pleading for his life when Mr. PN kicked him. I saw the images of Rajan’s young face begging for some more years in this earth, all nights for last 30 years. Will Mr. PN ever know what I lost?

Ms. IG, the mastermind behind hundreds of brutal deaths like these. Under the pretext of securing the country from danger, a single leader who was the Prime minister of India then brought in emergency which stayed from June 22, 1975 till March 21, 1977. Just before she had declared emergency, she was defeated in elections. She filed election petitions, filed cases in different courts of law, in vain. There comes declaration of emergency, and the darkest age of Indian democracy has come into existence as a result of the search for power from one tyrant person.

These were the people who contributed most for ruining my life. These were the people who killed my only son. Now, I can hear their cries closely. I see the pain that they are going through. I see their red tears flowing down their facade. I see their open flesh being torn apart by vultures. I should be happy. I should be celebrating. But….But, I am in a vacuum - I don’t know whether this is what I sought for. I am not a person who believes that counter sufferings would open the world for me. All I was looking out was for confession – Blunt confession for all the sins that this world has done to me.

Then, I saw the magical light again. I knew that the better power had written this verdict for them. I knew that HE wanted me to accompany him only after my destiny was fulfilled. I walked with HIM, hand to hand. I whispered “Free them. Let them learn”. I saw the smile in HIS face as we walked, and I heard the four mouths chanting confessions aloud from behind. We kept walking. When we neared the golden forest ahead of us, the chanting ceased and I turned back. There was no nose-shaped rock facing the evil dark gorges of the east. It had fallen. It fell to the depths of the valley where darkness of anguish lurked. I turned back. As I walked into tunnel of light with him, I had tears in my eyes. “Please let them learn. Let them have a chance, which they never gave my Rajan. I rest my case”. HE smiled at me again. At the very end of that tunnel of light I saw the shadowed silhouette of a young man with open arms welcoming me. He looked happy to see me, after 30 years. He brought hope in my mind, after 30 years. I….I realize that it’s the end of my journey. I smiled…with tears in my eyes, as he held me.


Since the moment I finished reading "Memories of a Father" - The autobiography by Prof Eachara Varier, I have been disturbed. I think I dreamt about it that night when I slept. I saw those vultures flying in, and I was happy. That's when I thought even more deeply about the professor and his life. The above reflections are my fiction and not a part of the book. Please use the link at the end of the article to see the book.

I remember Achan narrating the horrible incidents that happened during emergency (some of them in which he also suffered) during our long talks in the terrace. Although I had heard lots of stories about emergency from him and his books, I did not possess much info about Rajan murder case, until our dear Dhanush (Thanks to you!) passed the autobiography of Sri. Eachara Varier - ‘Memories of a Father’ (Translation to English by Neelan). I started the book at 1 am after I reached back home from work, and finished it by around 3 am, with a heavy heart. The pain and suffering that Sri Eachara Varier had undergone is beyond comprehension. If I had read this book before, I am sure that I would have given a visit to this great person before he passed away. Let there be more people like him who grace and touch the heart of our God’s own country. Let there be more warriors who are embodiments of mental strength and spirit. Let there be more people like Adv. Ramkumar (who was with Sri Varier from beginning till end, as an ace support in the fight for justice), Mr. Appukkuttan Vallikkunnu (the journalist who brought the inside story of Rajan case), Adv Eeswara Iyer (who took the case in court), Mr. Vahabudeen (the then, principal of REC, Calicut who assisted Sri. Varier for finding the truth). Let there be more people who can impart some change. Let there be more of us with open eyes and warm heart.

As has been mentioned by the translator (Neelan – An amazing job of translation by him), when we finish the book we feel that we are drenched in a rain. We feel that there is much more to be done to make ourselves more beautiful. It takes a lot to do something which can make our mind feel lighter and better. Let me stand in this rain for some more time, searching….yes…searching for a new Zeus, who can bind these dark forces to the rocks….I am waiting, with water in my eyes. It’s still raining and the horizon is dark and cloudy for me, with no magical ray of light or hope in the vicinity. Let it rain, let us drown in it.– Get the book from here.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Journey to the Roots!

Today is Vishu, and yet again – for the third consecutive year I am missing home…errr…missing Vishu.

I miss those days before 2001, when I savored each and every Vishu at our ancestral home at Cherai.

I miss the wake up call from Amma at 5 am, when she used to close my eyes with her hands and lead me to the beautiful vishu kani, (the lucky sight with coconut, grains, vegetables, money, gold, lot of lighted golden lamps and silk in the pooja room), and open my eyes to relish the beautiful sight and pray. At my side would be Amma, wearing a beautiful Kerala kasavu saree with her face glowing with all the reflections in the yellow shades - being a kid, I used to think that she was the goddess herself (Well, she is, I admit! :) ).

I miss the moments when I used to be seated on the kitchen step and observe Amma and Chitta prepare Vishu Kanji with Pananchakkara, under the vigilant management of Amoomma (Grandmom).

I miss the time when I used to open the hidden enclosure (called ‘ara’) behind the Pooja room, to take the tiny statuettes of our ‘Karanavanmaar’ (Ancestors), bathe them in fresh water and apply ‘bhasmam’ and ‘chandanam’ on them.

I miss the time when I used to feel so pompous when I used to carry the Karanavanmaar to the Kalasham Room, light the lamp there and serve the vishu kanji and sadya to them. And of course the thrill of watching the envy of my little cousin sisters through the side of my eye when I did all these, since this chore should be carried out only by male members of the family.

I miss the time when me and my cousins used to go for distributing the vishu kanji (basic motive is to extract some kaineetam) to the scattered roots of the family which are spread across the vicinity due to constraints of time and money, as it happens in an old Nair family.

I miss the sumptuous sadya that we used to devour with so much thrill, and those moments when we looked like animals who haven’t seen food for months.

I miss those times when I used to run behind Achan’s bike when he used to reach Cherai after having lunch with his parents, and the mischievious smile he used to have when he hides the hundred rupee note behind the ten rupee note while passing the kaineetam to a ‘very-disappointed’ me.

I miss the times when I used to stroll around the big parambu (land) near the house holding the hand of Achan in the night, and the wonderful discussions that we used to have about almost anything under the sky while sitting on the steps of the pond in Vadakke parambu (North Plot) and watching the evening heavens with shooting stars.

I miss those luminous days….

Now, I am staring at the computer while creating some useless report which is going to be looked at once, and then thrown into garbage. After this I will create some schedules and update the project plan. So and so it goes…. So much for this Vishu!

But hey – If I was sitting back at home without any job, would I even care about Vishu? I would have been deliriously crazy, praying to give me a job - at least in a small networking firm as far as Thumbaktoo, even as an apprentice. So is there any room for after-thoughts or regrets? No - An absolutely blind No. Still, my mind is so juvenile – it’s still wandering like mad, it’s still searching for the roots, just like Malayatoor had written!

These fluctuations, these aberrations, these minor foibles – they beleaguer me more than anything. These are the times when I feel too small, too vulnerable, too insignificant…..and too human. I want to wriggle out of this sticky plethora of consciousness and get back to a unique world. But…..I remain conscious. So do many more of us….We all will remember the trails we hiked through!

Let our madness continue; let us dwell in these obscurities –

Meanwhile, Happy Vishu to all! Enjoy the new dawn of the new year!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

An offer Coolie could not refuse!

This is the story of Mr. Hernandez Coolie.

He works for one of the fêted bubble gum companies.

He was born there, he was brought up there, he lives there, he feeds there and he sleeps there. (And he thinks he will die there).

He has been working indefatigably for a long period with the company, in an unbelievable co-existence of reciprocal consent and reverence. He was loved by all and he enjoyed his freedom of not enjoying more freedom. Charachterwise, he was a philosopher and he always made it a point to employ his philosophical ideologies in his life.

His Don’s were always concerned about him, because they just loved him too much. They never wanted him to be sitting jaded and idle. They said they respected the abhorrence of Mr. Coolie towards free time. They asked: “Hey Coolie, You are anyway working till late, why don’t you take up this work as well. It will just take 2-3 hours more.”

Thus Mr. Coolie kept on working for blowing the big bubble even bigger.

Although there were times when he grew sentient about superior ‘mouth-freshening chewing gum’ firms outside, he never moved out. There were moments when he told his Dons that he has decided to move ahead, but the loving elders always used to say that he is one of the best people they had, and that they would provide some bizarre protein supplements for his ‘growth’. Every other occasion where he almost had a foot stamped outside, he realized the truth that these well wishers are never going to let him go easily – not without creating lots of problems. The supplements never came and he imparted in his psyche a ‘selective amnesia’ to the thought of moving to ‘mouth freshening chewing gum’ companies – It’s his destiny to ‘learn’ and ‘grow’ by being an ethical bubble blower – Anyway, he was loved so greatly and cared so vastly by his Dons, so why look for greener pastures? Many a times, many a things, he forced himself to believe – Being a philosopher helped him a lot.

It was on such a week that the organization triggered a survey named TIMEPASS which is the supposed to be the abbreviation for ‘Campaign Against Replanting Trees Which Are Already Replanted’ (abbreviation?? – aah..Whatever - Dons can’t be wrong!) survey. Various departments organized diverse backstabbing techniques in getting more people participate, since the department who gets maximum number of participants will have their department name pasted in the company boundary wall and the Dons in the department would win a free Dairy Milk chocolate.

Mr. Coolie ignored the campaign since he really did not mind replanting trees that are already replanted. He was a man who had a clear judgment about philosophical things (as I already mentioned!). The campaign TIMEPASS was supposed to end by Friday.

Meanwhile, the Dons had recently read some books about team motivation –They even had some sessions by experts about providing motivation to the team and leading by example. They were brooding for a chance to apply their leadership ideas and tactics - TIMEPASS is their golden chance and they see the guinea pigs grazing in front of them. Dons starts injecting motivation to their employees through a rapid operation portraying 'leadership by example' named ‘Operation Fool’s Gold’.

Monday morning: Mr. Coolie sees a mail from his Don Apostrophe, copied to his whole department. Don wanted the department name on the boundary wall.
Our department is now 82nd in ratings. We need to pull ourselves up. Do your TIMEPASS.
I have done my TIMEPASS. What about you?

Coolie thought "Wow!! Even Don Apostrophe did TIMEPASS. This is really motivational"

Wednesday Morning: Mr. Coolie sees a mail from the Don Semicolon (who is the Don of Don Apostrophe), copied to his whole department.
“Do your TIMEPASS.
I have done my TIMEPASS. What about you?”

Coolie thought "Wow!! Even Don Semicolon did TIMEPASS. This is really motivational"

Friday morning: Mr. Coolie sees a mail from ‘Don of Dons’ Don Full Stop (Don of Don Semicolon), copied to his whole department. Don Full Stop is a ruthless person who would do anything for a Dairy Milk.
You cannot pay abstinence to TIMEPASS.
I have done my TIMEPASS. What about you?”

Mr. Coolie who had done lots of research and even discovered the close relation between replanting of trees and evolution of 45th leg of centipedes, was disappointed that he could not pen down his thoughts due to the workload he had been given by the Dons. (Coolie is not very clear on his thoughts, now – although he still remains philosophical!)

The disappointed Mr. Coolie did not think further when he replied to Don Full Stop with CC to all the people in the department:

I didn’t do TIMEPASS.
I have work. What about you?”

That's it. Within a couple of weeks, the affectionate and compassionate Don Full Stop himself took the initiative in allowing Mr. Coolie to explore the world outside. Don Full Stop told Don Semi Colon “He might have been a great Coolie, but he deprived me of a dairy milk, and also let the whole department know about it. Don’t worry – We will get another Coolie from somewhere, there are so many on the prowl”.
Don Semi Colon told Mr. Coolie in 'Don Michael Corleone' style “I will give you an offer that you can’t refuse!”. Mr. Coolie did not refuse it and in the process achieved what he could not for the past 10 years!! He finally moved into a ‘mouth freshening chewing gum’ corporation.

In an unrelated incident, a bubble started to burst elsewhere.

Hernandez Coolie lived happily ever after.