Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Should I message?

I am down with the Viral and have been given (God sent time??) to relax after a hectic month.

I have caught up and read all the blogs I wanted to. Even read a lot of the Fun Wall posts my friends have been sending me on FaceBook. (Yup! I wasn't checking them either!!!) Until now, I'd not given due attention to all the applications on FB and finally did that as well!

On a lark I thought I would look for somebody through the Friend Finder. And it was easier than I thought. I found him...on top of the list of profiles, with a photograph that was clearly him, only 15 years older!

His profile is 'Private' and therefore, I know nothing about him. I am so tempted to send him a "Hey" message.

Even discussed it with hubby who thinks its a bad idea. Because we have been estranged for the past 15 odd years and it will seem odd to him, that I am trying to initiate contact with him after the lapse of all this time.

And its not just the lapse of time. It also has to do with the bad blood that has flown between our two families, over this last decade and a half.

He is my first cousin and the son of my dad's older brother who cheated my father off his life's earnings in one single shot... (Wrote about it when I first started blogging dated Oct 9, 2003).

Its not about forgiving or forgetting. Somehow, I feel life is too short to hold grudges forever and we should all move on!

Somehow, seeing a thumbnail profile picture has brought many memories, mostly good ones. He was my Guru in my growing years, since he is just three months my senior. Taught me what I know about music... We were close, and during summer holidays, or wedding celebrations, virtually inseperable. "Thick as thieves" my mom would say!

We have shared several good times together .... Isn't it sad that I can't just open his "Message" window and write to him?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Silent Raga by Ameen Merchant

A tale of two sisters, bonded by love, divided in hate and reunited; a plot oft heard and repeated.
But Merchant has a way of gripping the reader. His narrative flows, between years, events, past and present unfolding the story of love, betrayal and renewal of faith like the strains of a raga, smooth and melodious.

Janaki the female protagonist, caught in a web of imposed household responsibilities, at 13 becomes the caretaker of her home after her mother’s sudden death, unwittingly becoming mother to a younger sibling….thrust into maturity and immense responsibilities of a brahmanical living.

Reinforcement of her tedious daily schedule page after page is unnerving and invokes pity. Janaki’s hardship of living up to the expectations of the father, an aunt (who is in an illicit relationship with her father) and the society, ties her down in shackles. Her only getaway comes in the form of a weekly Veena class that she is passionate about.

Set in the Tamil Nadu of the eighties and nineties, the story illustrates the conservative Tamil Brahmin society of a shanty at the outskirts of Madras, where girls are sacrificed at the altar of back breaking household chores, easily withdrawn from schools; where dowry forces many a girl to plunge to her death from a Nagalingam tree.
In short, a society and living far removed from ours, yet so close that a peep into any neighbouring agraharam (compound for living near a temple) will spew forth several Janakis, Kamalas and Revathis crushed under the burden of being “nice brahmin girls”.

Janaki’s love for her sister is unquestionable. But her walking out is spurned by the rejections she faces at the hands of prospective grooms and their families. She fears that the only option for an unmarried Brahmin girl would be death, like her friend Kamala, and she, the optimistic fighter, loves life and what it has to offer her too much to end it in a cowardly act. So she flees.

Leaves her home and her sister in the same predicament she found herself in when their mother passed away. Except that her sister Mallika is lucky to continue her education while playing caretaker to the home and their father.

Perhaps the most poignant parts of the book deal with the mental breakdown of the father that Mallika first blames on her sister’s departure. In reality though, the father, somewhere deep inside knows that he had deeply wronged his first born, a shame that manifests itself in the form of a mental illness that requires him to be institutionalised.

Janaki’s flight and subsequent marriage to a popular Bombay film star gives her the breakthrough to pursue playing her Veena, leading to her salvation as she accomplishes her dreams. Her meeting with the sister after 10 years of stoic silence and their subsequent journey to their ancestral home leads the story to its climax.

Janaki is a protagonist with a heart of gold and guts of steel. A girl so hopelessly trapped in circumstances, and yet who finds the way out, makes an incredibly optimistic tale and serves as an inspiration for those of us, who under insipid circumstances also tend to get bogged down and lose our will to fight.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

God's Own Country

As we drove past the greenest of green landscapes, I wondered why we had stopped venturing in to Kerala, and discovering its hidden treasures, virgin beaches, waterfalls etc.

Along with the mist that rose from the falling waters of Athirapally, rose the mist that crowded my mind as well.

All looked well as we surveyed the crowd gathered at the Falls.

Athirapally is a beautifully located waterfall, surrounded by greenery that is refreshing and verdant even under the glaring hot sun.

The Forest Department allows visitors to access the river that falls down a height to form the waterfalls. So you can find people soaking in the stream of water, splashing others with the cold water and generally having a lot of fun.

The river bed is rocky and requires a lot of careful manoeuvring. As we decided to cross the stream, to get to the middle, (since the flow of water was better there and it wasn’t as much crowded) a bunch of young boys decided that we needed help.

They started by extended their hand to help us cross the stream, as we tumbled over rocks and tried to get a grip to prevent ourselves from falling.

One of the boys, wearing just a calf length track bottom (he had even left his fly open), looked visibly high on something. He came quite close to me and I guessed it was not liquor since he wasn’t smelling. I reckoned it was grass (marijuana), which is quite easily available this side of the country. (It actually grows in the wild.)

Soon they were following us and kept getting uncomfortably close. As my husband confronted the boy I’ve mentioned, it seemed as if they would back off. But the stares and looks in our direction continued much to our discomfiture. My husband could not enjoy the water or play with the kids as he stood watching, guarding us from these probable predators.

As time passed, the boys zeroed in on another family consisting of two girls who were with their parents. At one point, both hubby and I saw the boys lying in knee deep water and masturbating. The sight was so revolting and disgusting that hubby swore, “I hate Malayali men.”

Even as School going kids we had encountered flashers (men who raise their ‘lungis’ to show off their private parts to unsuspecting girls) and I’d thought over the years, perhaps, this phenomenon had been curbed by the cops.

But somethings just do not change.

As we packed and left the area an hour or so later, they followed us almost till the car.

As for me, as I said earlier, the mist disappeared. There is no wonder why we had stopped venturing to discover the hidden beauty of this gorgeous State.

Friday, June 13, 2008


I generally don't write movie reviews because as in books, people may just have a different taste in movies.

But this is one flick, like Rang De Basanti, or Taare Zameen Par, all of us must see.


A movie that tackles a very serious topical issue, in a very in-your-face manner, yet, focuses on the sensitivity of its viewers. A movie that is unemotional, dealing with the unfathomable. It gives the issue a new perspective, one that will be etched in my mind forever.

I will think of the protagonist before I quickly allow my self to label an individual a 'terrorist'...

Together with the awesome acting (Big screen debut of Rajeev Khandelwal is striking and compulsive and he is a handsome dude), is a very strong script backed by amazing direction (no leverages granted here for the first time Director), and sensible music and background score (not the AR Rahman/Sandeep Chowta type of run-of-the-mill stuff).

Considering the kind of movies that have been churned out lately (Krazzy 4, Race, Tashan etc), Aamir is a class apart and above.

But be sure, it won't be hanging around in Cinemas too long. Go see it while it is still playing.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Gran'ma's Home

My kids usually take off for the granparents' home during the Summer break. Its not just the change of place and the relaxed atmosphere they look forward to. My mom pampers them silly year after year, catering to their littlest whim and fancy, with love and absolute adoration.

Example: She knows they love ice creams. So she buys huge family pack tubs of different flavours, with cones and makes them a double cone WHENEVER they demand.

So, after a fulfilling lunch or dinner, you'll hear the squeals of excitement as my mom hands out cones, with "Vanilla on top and Chocolate down" or "Strawberry on top and Butterscotch down"!!!!

She makes them milk shakes of every imaginable fruit, lick lollies (ice candies) of every imaginable colour and flavour, buys them all the 'Kurkures, Bingoes, Lays, Cheetos and Cheese Balls' they desire.

Mom lets my son walk down to the neighbourhood store to buy a toy EVERY single day. Armed with a ten rupee note folded and placed in the pocket of his shorts, hand in hand with our family gardener, he gets himself a knick knack because he has a fixation for "new toys".

While both of them suffer from swollen tonsils when they are in Pune, even in the warm summer months, all the ice creams, shakes and ice candies don't aggravate the tonsils at mom's place. They don't fall ill or even get a sore throat.

Its the strangest thing ever!!!

At home in Pune, we are strict parents, denying the Ice creams (due to the tonsils), or junk food. But at gran'ma's place, there is no such word as "No". Mom spoils them so much that it takes us atleast three weeks to "unspoil" them again.

Funnily, I don't get perturbed by the 'spoiling'. It just makes me love and adore my sweet darling mother even more!!!!

I am also reminded of a dear aunt (mom's sister) in Delhi we would frequently visit for our 'Weekend Rejuvenation Package'. Leading hectic lives through the week with school routines, jobs, hubby's MBA etc, we'd just reach her home on a saturday morning and crash. We'd sleep for hours, chat, eat whatever she'd cook for us, and just relax.

She would not only feed us, she would also take care of the kids and their requirement...easing the pressure on us, atleast for the weekend.

Gran'ma's are adorable. But I have not seen anyone as adorable as my mom and her family. Obviously, I believe that this runs in my mom's family... Actually, I am quite certain of that. I only hope and wish and pray that it has percolated down to me, so I can be a good gran'ma to my grand children as well!!!!