Saturday, July 30, 2011

Matters of Fact

Over the years a regulation that is so true and that I trust, is the fortune of having friends who are quite a notch above me, as persons- intellectually and as general human beings. To be peeved and be jealous of the qualities or achievements of one’s friends is as foolish as sky diving without parachutes, as trekking to the poles in your sneakers.. To be sequestered in a circle of friends or even acquaintances who are better persons than one, will only enhance one’s being and to think otherwise is because of the paucity of commonsense and the stranglehold of ego. Both can be detrimental.

I advise my children, A and R who are much charmed by the small number of my intimate friends, (as many as half as the fingers I have) that each one of them are notches above me as individuals and in their own distinct ways. They have been from the days they began toddling around as bundles of joy privy to the close relationship, bonhomie that I maintained with these fellows. Both A and R, was closest to one of the guys  who was star-struck in himself ( ‘star –struck’ refers to  a story, an anecdote referring him, I once mentioned in a Blog post on C’s gaffes)  more than they were to us, their parents. And even to this day A is still joyously  animated when he meets him- the hug and kisses..! Whilst R has developed a social restraint that probably age brings to girls. I and C used to once refer to him as the pediatric who lived with us (he was in my house on a transfer to my place of work for almost three years). And that was when he showed his deftness in babysitting and both A and R got so moonstruck by him,( girls generally are and also so he thinks even to this day). His late parents were immensely  affectionate to us (me and the small circle we kept), in a way that they may have even thought of thrashing us as they did him. They were unique loving parents, and those qualities have been greatly infused in him. The help, the support which he and his demure wife extended me and C many years ago in a crisis was a life time apart, which ones very own siblings may desist and ignore.

I, once in a Post titled “An officer and a Gentleman” wrote a about another close friend, whose singular obsession and spirit has seen him become one of the decorated and dedicated officers in the Indian Army, and is now very near to the top of  the pyramid - the hierarchy. It is certainly a matter of pride for me than for him!

And then the ever green unblemished boy old as I’m! He stays so even in his fifties. Modest and affectionate, and was my trusted pillion on many motorcycle diaries we could pen about. A modest, helpful fellow in his own silent way.

Fortunately, despite the intemperate attribute that subsume my character I have been quite able to manage friends with diverse predilections and moorings.

I first noticed this burly grizzly bear standing by the gate of the blocks of apartments where I lived in Cochin.  He displayed a fearful, Kathi expression (those who have a lay idea about the dance drama Kathakali will know what Kathi vesham is),each time I and my fellow -in-mates passed him at the gate. He threw glances that sent the message, “nihilist rascals, exhibitionists, nuisance creationists.” and many other expletives that only he knew about. I felt that he aspired and claimed to be the only modest, cultured and decent individual in that vicinity, while we were impertinent and irritants best avoided, got ridden.

Then one night he crashed (virtually) through the door of my room, with my roommate in tow .He had come there to borrow some pornographic books (in the early eighties we were not lucky to have the luxury of PCs and the NET).My mate introduced him to me. ”Man look here, this is another specimen from your town and look what he has come for”. He shook hands with an impish giggle. What a contrast from the fearful sentinel at the gate, I thought to myself!
And from that day about thirty years ago, to this I have not had one instance to disbelieve that  his rough exterior  is a face of affability. But why? Like the pines of porcupine! Only he can tell!

I was an average reader mostly confined to the ordinary world of less thinking and more pleasure that was fictions of the genre of a J.H.Chase  , Desmond Bagley ,Alistair Maclean and some Earl Stanley Gardner stuff. Though excursions to other books of substance like Dumas, Dickens, SKP, MT, Maurice Procter, James Leasor was not uncommon. But a revelation into the wide expanse of Hemmingway, O’Henry, Maugham, Peter Matheson, a distinctly new appraisal of matters through an introduction to J.Krishnamurthy , the awe world of National Geographic ( I ‘m a subscriber of the magazine, now for almost thirty years), these were some of the lasting  gifts that I could imbibe from the association with this beefy guy.

He and the Narcissus whom I mentioned early were (I must say) the best men who managed the tense moments at my home after my proposing to C, a catholic, evoked a discernible quake.

Obstinately passionate about mountains, the fellow perhaps would have been better off born to nomads in the mountains. He was also instrumental in instilling ideas of environmental care and conservation .A fiercely private person even be it his spouse and as individualistic as she is, if not an iota more. Possessive about the tiny little private space that he zealously demands for himself and also agrees that is the right of every individual. An affectionate fellow who may not succeed in diplomacy, niether at home or outside.And I realise and give up at this age that it is best to leave him with his idiosyncrasies and his liberty to be himself. It is always a trifle silly to expect, even it be your close as close can be friends that they be congenial to the pedestal that you want them to be. Because when the nuance of personality is lost and then, I guess they become strangers and friends no more. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Contagion

Sometimes I wonder why do people always sport a smile, why are some jubilant in words and the way they conduct. Even in the 'Blogdom' some have not yet posted a piece that is melancholic or depressing. In the presence of some, one could feel their positive, happy chemistry in the air. They spread the redolence of their being, their personality. That becomes contagious.

Whereas some like me though not the exact opposite, one may not find the fullness of the day neither vocally nor in what is now ostentatiously aired on the Blogs. It may be that, only the limited few are my friends is because I'm  so .And the many prefer to vanish at my sight? Yet some are very depressing to be with and gives the feeling that one is cloistered in a subterranean drain. Some people seem to radiate only the sunny side of life. It can be a wonder if it is so true about their lives in real!

Cynicism is betrothed to the state of disappointment in the mind. Isn’t it? But often one cannot help not being cynical and any amount of contrived exuberance may not help and may be unfair to ones reason. But still why is it that some have only stories of ill, sadness and tragedy to tell? To some the dissatisfactions and discontent they get or see in life reflects in their countenance as penumbra and again, even that is also contractable.
My friend often talks about corroding one’s mind and the black bile would diffuse in your being. The intent of his advice is warm, but what may become corrosion to some may not be necessarily the outcome always. Reactions, thought or action is corollary to what we have in life as I mentioned before. The goodness that we had may be imbibed to pervade in ourselves. And to me reactions are an outcome of the situation. I do not see corrosion afflicting my mind, but the reaction on the contrary washes out the pent up elements that can corrode .For me it is a letting out, fortunately so, because by nature I confine .Again it differs from people to people.

But it takes a great effort to radiate positivity and only that. Or is it in the body chemistry, inborn? To not tell a sad story, to not hold bad blood, but to see only the goodness in things is a very lofty trait. Though I would debate if wishing away will make bad not exist, perhaps?

Sathyan Anthikad is a very good director of movies. He has been churning out movies in Malayalam, from the late seventies. I have not missed even one movie of his. What is unique and that stands out in his films and stories are the ending. It is always felicitous and happy. There are no villains in his movies. Yes there are elements that seem lost, who stumble, but they seldom evoke a feeling of revulsion, disgust, fear or dislike in the viewer. We sometimes even pity the bad and the ugly in his movies. The goodness that is in life that we all would like to see is with what he ends his movies.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

In Search of The Time Machine

It is a misfortune that befalls man that we get wiser (supposedly) only as we age and live through a considerable part of our existence. It is no wonder that the eponymous tooth of wisdom, the wisdom tooth breaks through the molars at a later stage in life! And in the middle ages of our life or when we are all most over the hill that we look back and feel what was in store for us and what we missed, what we did not. Then you feel having wasted much.  But then it’s quite late for introspections- to bring back time that went by and we have to sigh with breath of regret-for moments that we missed, things that eluded us, that we did not notice, we did not appreciate, perhaps with little bit of wisdom, it could have been different. Why did it have to be me? The question comes up.

Someone once told me long ago, when I was single and leading a fairly irrepressible living that it was only until he became a father that he knew what it is to be one. He said he then deeply regretted his missed opportunities and life denied, as a son. I did not think much about the statement then. But as years went by and now often, I could feel deep, the pang of the reality of what he said. I can only hope and wish the A and R may not three decades from now sit back and muse like I do. Because with relationships, what we miss and lose at the moment is lost forever. There is no time machine or “black hole’ to board and journey back in life, in time.

My relationship with my father as (brief) as it was for less than two decades was not even a roller coaster like, it was cold- from my point of view. Yes, now I do remember that, he had mourned to mom on a few occasions that I maintain a painful distance from him. Indeed that was the case. The simple matter was that I did not much like him, was afraid, was uncomfortable when he was around and that reflected in my moods and my behaviour. Quite a misfortune as a father for him and as a son for myself!

Why and how that feeling enveloped my relationship with him is not quite known to me, its genesis is something I cannot now recollect or point precisely. However trying it is to build up stray incidences and bits from distant and faint memory! I can recall that he was a disciplinarian of sorts. He, I feel often targeted me and was critical of me, reprimanding me often from my early age I can remember – let me say as six year old. He used to compare me with the boy next doors and ridicule me for not being like the jolly good smart fellow like his friend’s son , a distant relative – a  boy or girl displaying  a flowing outward charm and speaking without fear the good Anglican language. He, I do not know if it was the fall out of his Air Force  days insisted that we speak English and converse at home in English. Something I detested because I was not comfortable speaking that language. Though the early education was in a respectable convent run by a very old order of nuns, there was no diktat that only English must be spoken at school. Yes the nuns who were at that period mostly from outside the country did not speak Malayalam they never were not silly and false like the Neolithic educationist of this day. I remember that once he slapped me in the face, for something that irritated him. And mom was quite harsh with him for that. Not that Mother was an epitome of softness and feather touch. She was quite tough and would vent her other irritations on me. Father would, whenever he could and have me in his sights, begin his advice, his lecture on how to be in life. Perhaps there was a bit much of the dose that was not to my liking. Not that I was a saintly fellow at that. He, I now feel was a bit unsure of my direction .And did he fear that I may turn out to be the lamb that went astray? Now I understand that the apprehension about one’s children is in every father, parent.

But should that constrict the child to an extent where the freedom to breathe freely in their presence do not exist? Freedom to be with children of the same age? Freedom to dream like children does? But be sort of incarcerated within the four walls what was called a home? I feel that the answer to these asking will be provided by my children. I’m certain they are at home and do not feel asphyxiated.

A particular incident that is still haunting me when I think of him was one that bled me to a considerable extent when it happened. I was eleven or twelve years of age and not more. There was this very important football tournament that was held in Thpuram in the 1970’s. It was an All India affair where clubs like Mohan Bagan, MH Sportings, East Bengal, Vasco Goa, JCT Mills etc used to compete. The carnival used to be for forty five days. The match began at 5 in the evening and was over by 6.30pm. My maternal grandfather who was among the respected gentry of that time was given a VIP complimentary pass to watch the tournament in full. He gave me the pass and asked me to enjoy the matches. I was thrilled and it was seamless. I ran home from school and was at the stadium in the elite VIP box before the players began their warm up. It was a dream come true. The next morning back in school I was the cynosure, the one who has the ticket for the tournament and that too an elite pass.

The exhilaration and euphoria was mercilessly wrenched out and my father was the villain of the piece. After a few days he found out that I have been rollicking at the tournament. He asked me from where I got the tickets or the money for them. I told him appuppa (grandfather) gave me a VIP pass. He asked me to fetch the pass. And when I did, he snatched it from me and curtly decreed that it was time that I began my studies in earnest and not waste time at these places. Later I found that he gave the pass he wrenched out from me to one of his close friends. I still cannot chance a word to describe his doing or my feelings. Did I begin to hate him then? I think I did, it was the gradual slide into gradation from not liking into hate.But that was just one of the few incidents that began to eclipse him from my mind, sadly though.

Looking back I feel miserable for him, but the damage that he perhaps unwittingly inflicted on his image as a father and my psyche resulted in losses to us both.
And no time machine can help!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Common Trait

Sometime ago I happened to see on TV a live footage of  the aftermath of a minor collision involving a motor bike. There were quite a few onlookers around the accident spot and in animated arguments. Little scuffles also seemed to happen. Then came a Maruti car, which stopped nearby. A man alighted from the car came eagerly into the crowd, he jumped through the small group and gave two hard slaps to the guy who was probably the rider of the bike. And he exited as delightfully as he came.
This, though comical to watch, perhaps tells the underlying psyche of people. The uncontrollable passion and eagerness to comment on anything and everything of which they may not know much. To pillory someone without even knowing the antecedents of the matter.

When the going is wonderful or seems to be so there may not be accolades, but when one stumbles you have raised hoods coming at you from all possible places. Authoritative dissertations, statements and, advices even unsolicited are thrown at you by all and sundry. The cruel and equally jocular aspect is that none of these opinionated gentry has been privy to the road that you have tread and the travails that you have felt or survived. How great it will be if one could retrospectively correct the course, and out- fly the insightful ones!
Is it proper then to make an imperiously authoritative statement on something that we cannot honestly claim to know about? Commenting with mere speculative knowledge and hearsay to substantiate our opinion is quite unjustified. But then the world is such that we have more people who know more about our life, our difficulties, our means and sources of happiness and distress than we ever could.

I think that it is the pleasure that people get when they involve with something that they have no knowledge about and make statements like they were  experts of the matter, that drives people to be so. Like the man who ran out of his car to slap some stranger he presumed was the villain of the piece,  how often have we uttered things that may have added to another’s misery, all along being aware of our ignorance of the truth of the matter.
What goes on these days in television news channels ( call them ‘tabloids’) perfectly sums up the state of the matter. Tragedies are dissected to suit the ratings, victims are disregarded  and culprits are decided by the visual media, carefully playing on the mindset of the gullible viewers. The pleader, the juror , the judge and the executioner is the media. A blatant trampling of privacy and ones basic rights.

It must be a careful tread I guess, else  may result in mauling an already bruised person. Isn’t it better to be silent, quiet and  sympathetic than be a marauding ,boorish and insensitive? It is quite true , that when the going is good you have a score and many to revel with you and in distress may be your ghostly shadow for company and brick bats to chase you.

But  then  why must you be sensitive to someone’s feelings and plight? That is what is in most minds.
Ironical life is! Indeed it is!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Just Another Story

I met this guy the first time many years ago on the Nilagiri Express from Coiambatore to Chennai. We boarded the locomotive from Tiruppur. We were both in the second class compartment. He was in his late twenties. Christy and Aravind (who was a baby and about two years) were with me. He had met Christy before at some official meetings and seemed to be fairly well aware of her and where she came from, so on and so forth. Aravind got quite friendly with him during the travel and was reluctant to come away to sleep. We got to begin casual chat and by the time we arrived at Chennai early morning the next day, we got to know one other quite well. I felt it vibed. An infamous person I'm at creating friendship or acquaintance!

He was a senior level merchandising manager in a multi crore garment manufacturing and export company. We did not have any contacts after, for quite a while. And at some point we got again in touch. I asked him for dinner at our home and he obliged. We went to his parent’s house in Chennai during one of our travel. His mother liked Christy much, and since she was adept in being liked and affable to any stranger, they jelled.. He hailed from a respectable family – an erudite, scholarly father- retired as the principal teacher and since researching in temple architecture of Kerala. Mother was a fiercely strong willed woman. Loving, caring and very matter of fact! She was insistent that the children send her a certain sum every month (I guess it was about Rs 5000) without fail, and did not care if they starved because of that. And she meticulously planned that money into bank accounts in the boys’ credit. She once told Christy, 'I have to force-out this money from the boys- else they will be penny less one day. For thrift and care for the future is not with the kids of this generation'.  Some months he used to  run out of money and would desperately come to me and ask me to send the amount to his mother, which I did quite a few times. He had a brother younger to him and he was sailing with the Merchant Navy.

This guy became a frequent visitor to our house and always came running to us when he faced any crisis and for comfort. He had exercised such freedom and enjoyed much bonhomie at our home that he would come come at night after work and ask Christy to cook him dosas, with the taste of dosa his Amma cooks. Aravind used to go around with him often in the car. Once Aravind  who was then about four years,went with him to a distant town and it was much after that we joined them.

At his wedding, his parents wanted Christy to be in the forefront like she would if she were his very own sister. I remember Christy had conceived Radhika during that time and was a couple of months away from labour. We were at the wedding and treated by his parents like we were their own. This fellow repeatedly exclaimed that he was very lucky to have Christy there, that he does not miss a sister.

Years passed …… and he grew in stature, left his job, commenced fashion garment business with a client from Europe and rocketed through the roof, wealth wise. We were at the inaugural pooja of his business, which began out from a tiny little office space. The last time I met him was at his office which stood on a huge area and would rival a INFOSYs or an MS. He was quite tensed during the early days, before and after the commencement of his venture. He always called me for comfort and any form of pep. He wanted a name for the firm and I suggested he pick a name to identify with a beautiful bird. I lend him couple of my prized possessions “The Penguin encyclopedia of extinct birds”, and the “Time encyclopedia of Birds of the World”. Outrageously, but true to his subsequent nature he declined to acknowledge that he borrowed the books from me. They are lost forever! Penguin ceased publication of the former!

He was outlandishly superstitious. And the nadir of all that was when he put his pet a  Bhutanese pug to sleep after an astrologer allegedly confided that if he keeps the canine at home it may bring bad tidings. Do not know what befell him, ensnared by the new mounting riches, he distanced? Not only from us, even from his parents. His mother wept once we were in Chennai to call on her. I sensed the hurt, the wound a mother bore. His father had passed away in the mean time. And she lived all alone. The sons were too concerned about their affairs and well being that they rarely went to her. Never their wives!

At a point in time he was a helpful person to me Vis a visa companion and also as a business acquaintance. But those relationships were abruptly severed. And the last was he declined to attend my calls.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


“Possessiveness was not felt when it all began.She was obsessive and possessiveness gradually engulfed every sinew in her .Expressively she began to resent my absence. And imperceptibly it became no different with me. The annoyance that followed me transformed into a reciprocal feeling ” He said.

We had discussed on this phase of his life before. And I was privy to a considerable extent of  what I can term only as, “la affaire amour”. I suggested may be by his genial attitude to her preludes and subsequent displays of frantic passion, he encouraged and fanned her infatuation.                                  “May be yes, maybe not”, he said.                                                                          
“It was so, you even continue to retain the feelings that infected you”, I put in. He was silent for a while and drove looking ahead on the seemingly never ending stretch of the road through the plains, before it would hit the first bend towards the hills.

“Yes indeed, it was extravagant advance and I felt many a time towards the plateau of the ‘affaire’, the relationship, she was slipping into insanity. I was afraid that she was fast becoming psychotic. Gosh how one could infer otherwise, how one could explain her wailing moods, her uncontrolled passion, and her foolishly incongruous statements and intends?" "But...” He muttered eyes still transfixed on the road ahead. Again, a relapse of doubt, I wondered?

“Without knowing, you imparted your feelings for her. You pitied her mental state, her tenderness tripped you. Your affability, understanding and consideration to her, made her hold on to you like a limpet. And you flew around her like a mayfly oblivious of the enflamed amber that she was. Her physical nature that was the knell of  men who knew her, aroused you too, made you excited and servile. And she decided that she will have you, possess you and no one else should. You let her be the conductress. You danced to the calling of her intimate needs, you towed behind her. It was mad infatuation”. I added, once he stopped.

“And, you did slip, you were washed away  by the deluge. The twigs you clasped were tiny little drift woods, nay you clasped on her to be saved from the deluge that she was – she and her lonesome, selfish aim to arrogate you, your life. It was her selfishness”. I paused a bit and glanced to my right to see his expression. He displayed a asinine appearance - driving without exhibiting any other reaction to what I said. I continued, “And now you thirst for her and in your moments of solitude you want to hold her, possess her again. The roulette has turned a full circle. My friend that was a Russian roulette she played. Don’t you see? She needed you emotionally and physically, she masticated you, her purchase over you was emphatic, she won! It was nothing but amorous dance drama, a ballet that she conducted and you it was  bêtise of you to fall for it".

He swerved the car to the left to steer clear of a small flock of sheep that crossed the road as if from nowhere.                                                                                                                                            “Mad infatuation, that was what you said”. He began in a hushed tone and he cleared his throat to continue, “You call the passion that engulfed her, me, thus! Adults, grownups, people who have known the world, felt life in their palms .And like dimwitted teenagers take extreme steps, willing to go beyond what  that would gorge out life, ruin it forever, for us both. You trivalise it,call it Russian roulette? You do not understand. There are moments when sensibilities desert the sensible and the senses are numb, indifferent to conventions."

I was not quite prepared for his outburst. There was resentment and the longing, for “Aphrodite” has not exited him, I understood then. He was quietly ravaged within and he was disturbed by moments when he disagrees to believe that it was all over. The temptress refuses to fade away, beckoning him to her lair, often come calling in his dreams. Mercifully it is all over, but he longs....! Man, man has this inexplicable itch to take the extreme tread- to serenade with peril, to flirt with peril, socially, emotionally and physically. Trade like traders who cannot trade! Like horse men who straddle the stallion but cannot ride!

“But, yes that was so. It was illusion, illusion of paradise before tempest and destruction”. I said.

He smiled- a wry smile and with rictus. He recounted from his tale, moments when she was overwhelming, blistering like a volcano, fiery, and unrelenting. At times she was like a nestling, a loner within. And then she needed him more. When she could not have him she glared like a feline, was filed with jealousy .  On one plane she knew that she was fanning a mirage, running after one, pleading. But something sometimes told her that she will grasp the mirage and clasp it close, like a child. And like a child warily looks at her clenched fist shut tight, hoping the clutched fingers are impervious, afraid to relax the muscles around the fingers, lest the glow worm fly away! She beckoned him, flagellated, cried piteously to take her away- unperturbed at his aghast, protestation, regardless of the social status and  life they have, She willed in earnest to elude the trappings that constricted her  and let her be in abandon. Go wherever, do whatever he wills, she affirmed, but she cannot be different. She will not sit and wait to see the clock inexorably move back.        Electrocuting! She exclaimed once and she longed for that, more of it, a life of it. Defiant, she desired to begin afresh. She did not hide the adoration for him and that was much to his discomfiture. And in a moment of desperate candour confided and beseeched him if he would accept her so that she willingly would confine to the status of paramour and even a recluse. In her unrestrained expressions of affection, chided him for forsaking her all these years.  She cursed the Gods in the pantheon for not bringing him to her, let him see her and run forth into her, but rather consign her to waste and live a woeful life all this while; let her languish her youth in wilderness of ennui and of uneventful marital confinement. Hang her, decapitate her, ostracise her, brand her whorish, she cannot be different, she is what she is.  

I felt, she was- because the wolf eats the lamb, will you hang the wolf, if that will make the wolf different so be it, hang her.
Many a monsoon has passed by since. I mused, as we drove on, turned the bend on the road and on to the mountains.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Flying Tales

The longest   period in time I stayed away from the country and most importantly, the longest time that I was away from home, happened with the day ending the past week. The first time it was 22 days, away in Rotterdam in the early 1990’s while on a seminar plus business prospecting tour. And now with the day ended yesterday, the unexpected swings in life have seen me away from home, for thirty days at the trot. Call it “the moving ridges” of life!

After literally cooling my heels in the UAE, I landed in Bahrain a day ago. During all my journeys by air, I have from the beginning been finicky and careful of my choice of the airline company that I fly with. One of my friends who was in a dilemma before his heart bye- pass surgery asked his consulting physician to suggest a cardiac surgeon he could approach for the bye- pass. The physician said you must go to the surgeon to whom you can "trust and give your heart". From there it was not difficult as he flew down to Cochin and the surgery was performed by an old mate who was the surgeon in a hospital there. So like the difficult and delicate choice of entrusting ones heart, I wanted to be confident about the airline I took as for a good part of the travel, not just my heart, even my life was pledged to their good will and skillfulness.

‘Puppet on a chain’ was an  Alistair Maclean thriller that became a movie in 1972.The breath taking boat chase though the canals of Amsterdam, the Schipol airport , the KLM air planes  and the Dutch locales placed a good imprint in me. And I dreamed and fantasised the fascinating chance that may one day come, to fly with KLM airline and boat ride through those canals and walk the streets of Amsterdam. The fantasy became true much later. And I was off to Holland for a pretty long time away from home. The flight was indeed out of coincidence the big white and blue KLM jumbo. The feeling of security and that the passengers are being cared for, was present all throughout the travel. And there and then began a good travel partnership with the airlines.

I garnered lot of miles on the airline and once even had a frequent- flyer platinum card. I used the miles I accumulated to travel with C to the USA and Canada, and to Italy. On an occasion, while on a journey to the North Americas, I and C had to cool our heels for seven hours in the Flying blue lounge at the Schipol. It was early morning 8’o clock, and till the connecting time which was a long time away, C sat in the lounge and polished off a bottle of “Bailey’s Irish Cream”. That was an astonishing feat! Thanks to the courtesy extended by the Airlines.

On another occasion on the flight from New York, KLM gave us a bonus- they upgraded us to Business class, and C again indulged in liqueurs and wine. Though I felt a bit embarrassed, she reveled. But believe me, the true hypocrite I’m there were occasions when I have had the most of spirits from the lounges waiting for flights even before sunrise. They were great travel times with the airline.

But the one hour flight from Sharjha to Bahrain was the first time ever that I flew with an airline that stakes more on the volition and whims of Providence than on the machine or the pilots who man them. It was an early morning wake up and travel. And I collapsed into slumber as soon as I took my seat. I was jolted by a haunting recitation and woke into an acoustic ambience that one would feel and hear in a medieval monastery; the monks invoking the gods with the haunting eerie chants of the sacred psalms!  Shaken jerkily, I looked out through the window and saw the aircraft taxing and about to take off."Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar.......” went the chant played through the public address system. The aircraft moved into the take off speed and began hurtling along the runway. The intensity of the chant seemed to be increasing spookily.
I felt a sort of fright, for the first time. I have heard that passengers fervently pray loudly when the state of the flight was disastrous or the likely hood of a crash loomed large. But this was an awfully disturbing moment even for a person who did not subscribe to any faith for absolution or comfort.

The aircraft was soon airborne and the chanting eased out. I tried to get back into the sleep that was spolied, thinking, thankfully the invocation did not end with the statement,(Insha Allha.......), “God willing we will land in Bahrain”.
I wish to state that no disparaging intent is intended here but, it was awfully too far from comfort to me to hear such desperate sounding prayers(sic) on the public address system and at a crucial moment before being airborne. I understand that the phrase is recited by Muslims in many countries in many different situations. They, when they are happy, to express approval to praise a speaker, or even as a battle cry and even during times of extreme stress.

I slid back into sleep recollecting with some amusement the prayers and hymns that were sung in school, “Father we thank thee...:”; “guardian angel from heaven so bright...” and then later at the Government run schools, the pledge, “India is my country...”.But nothing like this in an aircraft about to be airborne.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Holier Than Thou" - a musing

 I was trying to figure out the kind of attitude in people that I cannot avoid scowling at and see as a very hard choice of character to deal with. But I also felt that if I phrase it that way, the holier ones would allege that a plebeian like me is obsessed with self styled air of infallibility. That, I do not want, because I do not intend to stake 
claim to flawlessness.

There are an awful many distinct imperfections in my person .I, though not intolerant, may throw it in the face. Diplomacy would have seen me in a far comfortable life than I managed till now. Would have certainly increased my circle of acquaintances but not friends! I may not even practice to the near last letter what I pontificate. But I do not necessarily claim that I do and in reality hold a little different course. So I’m a student of the “Art of Imperfection” and a practicing hypocrite. Is anybody out there willing to be comrade in arms?

The biggest threat a man can be to another is to be an offensive person in character, countenance, and bound by rudeness. It is also when words of appreciation for the good in him or her, be it the persona, artistic or literary creative excellence, manifests as a malignant ego  
and fed by that, the qualities of offense, rudeness and intolerance sets in. A discernible contempt towards everything and anything, disdainful attitude and intolerance towards all that is different from his/her professed (not practiced) ways. The decency in the culture of argumentative tradition is found to be at the nadir in such people. They fume, frown, and even abuse in their own subtle ways.

The only matter that threatened to affect dangerously even my wedlock was orchestrated by the folks who were eagerly acquiescent to my proposal to C, twenty three years ago. A junta of people who then were commoners but with some goodness!  C has an inexplicable quality of unrequited love and affection especially to people who are from her immediate clan. My unenviable lack of tact and diplomacy when up against insolence, diabolism and manipulations has made me severe all sorts of links reinforced and kindled by the nuptial cording. Whilst C bends head over heels, eyes glistening with affection and immense love at the sight of even a lowly (literally) a wiggler from amongst the clan. That confounds me exasperated, anguished and angry.

However I have never forced her like a fascist despotic spouse to tag on my outlook without any demure. Coercion, emotional or otherwise is not my forte and liking. Even with the children, I contain to expressing my strong displeasure and disapproval, but I seldom let my annoyance plummet into insolence and physical reactions. C will vouch for that, I’m certain.The annoyance is when people who are privy to my personal life begin to pontificate, whilst they adept themselves in doing all that I do, and even sorrier.

To talk disparagingly about a person and  slander him,only to get even with him is silly and mean as it can get. I saw this happen. And as since the people concerned were known to me, it was embarrassing and ridiculous and the matter was trivial.If jest cannot be taken as such among friends,and triggers a one sided diatribe it is only a pathetic reflection of  penury  of ,not wealth, but .....! To personally abuse and rake up a friend’s self confessed personal infractions, with the desperate intention of satisfying and covering one's faux pas! There is only one word to describe, ‘miserable’.
So, let me also for a moment try to revel and exult in the feeling that “I’m, holier than thou”..

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Moralists, Missed Opportunities & The Parade

It is quite easy to gauge the depths of hypocrisy and insensitivity that has got rooted in the society. One need not be an erudite in sociological behaviour of this gregarious creature called man. And succinctly the visual media in Kerala is agog with the news that tells the tale.

There are, as of now, two or three cases of alleged abuse of girls who are said to be minors.And they  are being brandished day and night on the local mallu channels and their woeful stories narrated with new revelations to the utter moral outrage of the morally conditioned Keralites. This was not the first time that such sensational story of newsworthiness that is well cherished by the general public has surfaced in the State. Many instances of abuse of hapless girls have been reported and many big wigs and persons of repute in the social and cultural fields have been accused. Many have wriggled out by the virtue of their clout and wealth .There was also a very poignant and moving film that was made by the director Lal Jose, (Acthanurnagatha Vedu), which I think can be loosely translated as “A father’s tale of woes”.

The investigation goes on-collection of evidences for which the victims are paraded around the country in police vehicles; the thronging of people to all such places with facial expressions of unrestrained orgasmic pleasure at the sight of the victims, (whose faces are generally covered with some fabric). And then the sensational names of the alleged men who abused them and the TV news reporters  stating in a tone of immense achievement that the girl was repeatedly abused by around one hundred men in matter of a month.All this adds much value to the news cast. As a master coup in adding spice and flavour to the news, the father of one of the alleged victims has been accused and arrested for parading his daughter to many men as if she was ware.

The alibi seems quite intriguing on many accounts.
Firstly, it seems quite beyond plausibility that these girls being incommunicado or were unable to visibly inform someone while they were being shunted from one destination to the other, that they were being abused or sexually used without their consent. And this as it is alleged was perpetrated on one victim, by around one hundred men in a month’s time. Medically questionable perhaps! I wonder, Kerala society is not a feudalistic citadel like some of the north and central Indian societies, for women to be absolutely subjugated and unable to communicate. There certainly must have been some means in the course of the alleged atrocities, for these girls to come out.

Secondly it is hard to believe that these men were all  quite naiveté and foolish and some who are allegedly wealthy and influential ,chose to vent their wild urges on girls who were below the age of majority and brought to them in circumstances that were questionable. Unless it points to some perverted evolution of preferences of Malayli men folks.

There seems to be a bigger side to these sleazy and disturbing tales! As it is held by courts in all countries that subscribe to civilised jurisprudence, non consensual sex even if it is between husband and wife can be seen as determined by force or coercion and defined as rape. Fair enough! That will nail all the men folks who show these kinds of uncontrolled sexual aggression. And violating a minor girl automatically falls under various section of the criminal penal code. So unless the witnesses or the victims turn hostile or indifferent it is certain that the accused will be convicted.

But still, larger questions remain unanswered. How is it possible that in an open society with various communication channels, that teen aged girls doses not send SOS but passively wait till scores of men violated them? What becomes of these alleged victims? Not much light has been thrown on that. Though, a victim who once even got a senior politician in the State running for cover later turned hostile and settled quietly for the sudden flow of largesse that came to her.

Does these stories point to the insatiable excursions that men make outside wedlock? Has religious edicts and commandments failed pathetically in reigning in mans sexual urges? Have the laws of the land, archaic as they are, failed to curb rape and molestation of women?

Let me make a submission here in this regard, though it may invite raised eyebrows from many puritanical sections. The laws that we have are archaic and money can change course of any event that is considered amoral or unlawful. Society like to exult in sleaze and news of philandering. The crowd that the incidences mentioned earlier attract are because of so. Nirvana in morality is the consolation often grabbed by people with missed opportunities. Courts often are loaded and biased against women, that a misdemeanour in an early instance can be raked up to effectively throw out an allegation of rape or molestation, while the accomplished philandering of a man may be ignored to his benefit. The society’s moral outrage and the law that illegalise paid sex are archaic and nuisance. Legalising paid and consensual sex, though it may not greatly help in reducing instances of rape and molestations or attempts, they can certainly avoid the need to parade a woman through the streets and locations where the police claim that she has been taken to and abused. And that parade is bigger abuse than any physical act on her with or without her consent ,with or without gratification and consideration!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Story of a Mongrel

Ramu was perplexed!
 He has not seen such faces and such expressions in men. They were going around him, encircling him, and were all carrying, menacing swords, machetes, sticks and steel rods. He was having his siesta under the tamarind tree. Its canopy was very thick that, from mid day it effectively eclipsed the hot sun light from burning down under. The shade offered cool and gentle breeze.

His master had hurried out this morning after chaining him to the iron pole that was entrenched into the ground. Ramu didn’t mind being chained or being unleashed during day. He was only particular that by late night he was left unchained so that he can effectively police the boundary of his master’s land. He considered that his prerogative and a right by birth. By birth, because he was born to parents who lived their life in the same house and had the same master.

The mongrel Ramu was an intelligent and alert dog. He was clean and had a wonderfully bright brown coat. He reminded his master each morning if he missed the routine grooming. He never frightened squirrels, or birds that scurry down the tamarind tree. He felt peace in sharing the goodness of life with other creatures. By night he lies on the veranda his fore legs stretched out and his right paw over his left. He loved moon lit nights and spent his nocturnal duty gazing at the stars and glancing at the moon through the corner of the eyes. His bright eyes widen a little amused at the silver- gold ball up there in the skies. He shows alert surprise when the clouds eclipse the moon and the game of hide and seek is enacted up in the skies, go on for the most part of the night. He isn’t worried about the occasional hedgehogs and racoons that skitter at night. For he knows they are harmless as the moon above. Even snakes, he let them pass, and they seldom bothered him. There was a discerning oneness he felt with the surrounds. The blades of  grass, the trees that lend shade to them, the thicket further down the land where the old priest ventured on a special  day every month and performed rituals to the serpent gods, the spring -pond near the thicket with its white and blue water lilies and the fishes that dived and swam in it. The dragon flies that flew low each morning and at dusk, the birds that chirped and tugged at worms and crickets, the smart ravens! But something always told him that he should be wary of Man. Though his master was one! He knew that dogs did not have a choice as they are made so, to be always subservient, to look up to man. And being servile was his destiny, the destiny of a dog.

The group of menacing looking men now encircled him. He could not in the beginning understand what that they were animatedly discussing and arguing amongst themselves. They frequently seem to be invoking the heavens as they looked skyward and raised their hands and weapons in union. And they were menacingly glancing at him as he lay there, still quite confused, but with a sense of ill that something not good was to happen. He began to wish that he was not leashed. He could  have jumped at the intruders and turned them away from any threatening ideas ,or if it was wise enough, moved away passively, leaving human beings to their own wild moorings.

He recalled the haste and the consternation that showed in his mater’s face that morning. He seemed agitated, a bit listless and moving about with a sense of foreboding and urgency. His master packed off in his old automobile with his wife and kids. They even did not remember to latch and lock the gate to the entrance of the compound. Ramu lay beneath the Tamarind tree and let out a deep breath which he usually does when human conduct is incomprehensible.

A man who seemed to be among those who have now encircled him came running out from the house. Ramu heard him gesticulating and shout, “No, he is not in there. That kaffir and his family are not in there. They seemed to have decamped”.Some one in the group swore, “The rascal must have found that today he will meet his nemesis, his judgement”. The beefy man who seemed to be leading the mob raised his hands as if to silence the comments and looked Ramu in the eyes. He pointed his long knife at Ramu and shouted a command at his accomplices. ”If the pariah escaped our wrath, then let us do with this unearthly creature this haram. Mince the dog. Let us make sure of our place in paradise. Kaffir or his dogs, both are haram”.
Ramu did not get a moment to stand up on his limbs or defend, but he saw the shining knife, its blade lunge at him,it hit him like bolt of lightning. He winced and the wince was muffled when his head was severed completely. The mob did not stop there; they chanted praise to their God and  hacked Ramu, by now a cadaver, into bits. The fury of Man, Ramu always did not understand!

He was privy to many similar invocations and violent planning by his master and his coterie of men with flags in burnt orange shades. He had noticed his master gesticulating the way this huge man did, swearing, hands stretched  towards the skies that, “Thy will, will be done”. And that the land will be cleansed off alien faiths and men. Ramu could not understand what was alien in man, beast and flora when it is the same air they breathe, the same moon they see shine at them and the same stars that twinkle at them.
He always felt deep within to be wary of, Mankind!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Missives- of mutual encouragement

" Certain is that there is no kind of affection so purely angelic of a father to a daughter.In love to our wives there is desire;for sons, ambition;but to our daughters there is something which there are no words to express".( Quote)

It is great feel to write to one's children , especially when you are separated by much physical distance. And exhilarating  it is ,to get back in reply a missive so comforting. I reproduce below  letters exchanged between a father and child, these came to me a day ago. First the letter that came in reply to mine.

Hey atcha ( Dad).....
Everything here is going good.... So there is no need for u to worry since you are far away!!!!
I'm going back to school today!!!!and will be back next studies are going well.
Its gtng better exams are beginning on the 16th of august....I will be. COming home next month 13th.....
I will keep mailing you!!!!whenever I get to use the Internet.... There is always a problem with that!!

You take care atcha.... ( Dad) ,don't keep worrying yourself about the things here!!!!
See you sometime....sooooon.

With love,


Dear Monkeys,

I only want to remind you ,that, you both must take care of yourselves
and one other. Don’t slip. Take care and well of your studies. If I was
there it would have been comforting for me,but now as it is I might
have to live away from you for long.
Do not make Amma unhappy.

Remember that most important, do not lose your self-respect. Make all
effort to build up a good future. Now remember, especially Aravi, not to
 feel disheartened. And do not be unduly worried about your
future. There is not something that should make you apprehensive. You are only twenty. And still some way to travel before you reach a place to settle down. You know what I mean? Take good care of your studies and be sincere to the field you have chosen.

When people realise that you are sincere, honest and dedicated
they will all lend you all help. Aravi, remember to meet Sangeeth uncle.
Send him your number and as he asked you meet him in Trivandrum, call him on the day he will be there and meet him.

Aravi now that you have realised the limitation  you have because of the
absence of any reading habits, what you and also Radhu must seriously
do is to develop a good reading habit. It is never late to possess good qualities.Aravi remember to read at least
three books a month. Begin reading good fictions and slowly
develop reading  serious stuff, writing will follow. Remember, even Sangeeth's father
reminded you of the need to cultivate reading.

Aravi you have capable people who really matter in their profession and that which now you have chosen, who are willing to assist you. Utililse that gratefully to your
A stint at the Film Institute  and under good  tutelage will do wonders. Just imagine the fortune of having men like Santhosh Sivan lecturing in the class!!!!

Radhu your college admission and your liking for Mumbai and Pune Universities  will depend solely upon the marks you
score in your ISC 12 th examinations this year.So take care. When you study , learn not just from the exam
point of view., but use that to develop an all round knowledge.

Always be careful about people. Observe them. Do not jump into
conclusion of a person being good or bad. All smiles are not smiles and sincere.Absence of smile also should not discourage you.
Especially Aravi, you have a habit I feel, of trusting and loving
people. Good, but take care and not to  be carried away. Most people are
opportunist and will vanish when you are in need or after they make use of your proximity and labour.
Again never lose "self respect". That is the worst form of suicide.

Keep a positive outlook to life. Sunshine  and rains will happen in life and that must be
taken with equal feel.

And both of you keep in mind to do today what you must do today. Don’t procrastinate,
postpone things that you can finish today.

Keep mailing me.
love Atchan ( Dad)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Country Cousin

Little more than a year ago, ‘face book’ helped a friend who was long lost in the wild to send me a sms on my mobile. It was a pleasant surprise! And I immediately responded with a call. We spoke for well quite a while and then she spoke as much to C too. And, as I felt all the while, whenever she fleeted through my memory, that she must be a divorced mother, she told me that was the case. I was waiting for her to tell me rather than I ask if she was still carrying the suffix , and she said, “Anil, I chucked the fellow out”. I told her I presumed so.

 She had impetuously acceded to the proposal of a effete fellow who was the branch manager of the office she worked. After knowing her, I and C , besides some other friends too, felt that , that was going to be an awfully wrong decision that she made. The fellow was not the right kind of a man for a girl like her. We did try to dissuade her, but she jumped the line unilaterally. She told us of her marriage only when that was done with.

And now, she was living in Bangalore with her two sons and parents. I promised to meet her while I travelled on work to Bangalore, but somehow I did not ring her up despite being there often.  Though phone calls were common after that, somehow and after my turbulent transplantation from the place I lived and worked for twenty plus years, I ceased to have the mood to call her and be in touch. I see her often on my Facebook wall, but seldom reciprocated, why, I do not know.

There was an interesting twist to how we befriended and how we exchanged visits (I , C ∧ kids),she to our home and us to her lovely ancestral house in a remote country side in Palghat.
It must be about ten fifteen years ago. I got a telephone call to my office. The voice, a woman’s with good accented English at the other end. She introduced herself that she was calling from an International courier company and would request a meeting to see if it was possible to begin business with my firm. I do not remember if I agreed, but she promised to send a sales executive from her office for discussion. She called me a second time to thank for the meeting and the contract. She used to call often enquiring if there was any courier pick-up from my office. She sounded interesting and her language and sense was impressive. She in fact thought all the while that I was someone from north of India. She was, I felt, a bit excited when I told her that I was from Kerala and now settled in that part of Tamilnad. She exclaimed,”Oh gosh, so you are my country cousin that is wonderful”.

We used to in some manner call either almost every day. She invited me home to her parents place, and in fact I happened to meet her once in her office. I told C about this interesting person with good conversing ability and sweet husky voice. Whenever she called, I used to direct rather mischievously, the conversation into fields that was interesting. I felt that she was in a way excited about talking to me and I could feel her keenness to know if I was espoused. On few occasions she told me that she had called the office while I was out and the call was directed to a lady. I was impish in my reaction! One day she said, “I called your office and happened to speak to the lady there, by any chance is she your wife”? I was at the end of my tether withholding laughter (rather wickedly). I guess I managed to deviate the conversation, said neither yes nor no.

That evening, back home I told C about this interesting conversation and my ‘deft’ handling as I put it.
It was the day after or so, C got the call from the Courier’s and she let the “cat out” as I jocularly, but with a little disappointment, commented. The two of them spoke as usual as by then they were fairly at ease in conversing with one other. And C told her that she was not in the office when she called before, the other day and that I,( her husband )often tells her much about this girl from the Courier’s who speak beautifully.

Later, during some time when she called me, she said, "A, I spoke to your wife”. (!)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Mogul Who Loved His Son More Than Him

Often we blame the industrial age and the cyber age for the ills in the social fabric and the values that we now have. While at the same time acknowledging the wonders and astonishing changes these revolutions have brought forth. Though our social behaviour  have a general disposition warranted by evolution, I believe that, culture along with the shackles of religion have an important hand in determining and controlling human behaviour, determining values and systems. Our feelings too!

The subject of Love was touched upon quite manifestly in the blog ‘B-Log’. Reactions have poured in plenty. This post intends to nudge upon the matter and not just love as was discussed then, but on a more micro level.

I have had ( in retrospect) the amusing  experiences of attending a couple of discourses ostensibly called ”Yoga sessions” and “Inner engineering course”, organised by two gentlemen in ocher robes. I was intoxicated very much during those few days I was at those sessions ,that, when I left the venue I felt wonderfully inebriated and I was virtually walking levitated. A few days after, when reality of life knocked me with its characteristic knock out hook,my behaviour and attitude went back to my old self. I used to say and acknowledged by C that,the immediate aftermath were the days I seldom nagged C or picked up a fight with her. I was floating in blissful spiritual hallucination. Here there was nothing to do with religion or faith.In fact the change for the brief few days was noticeable in me and C. I must categorically discourage any notion that we went to those two ‘vacations’ for transforming ourselves or to seek divine interventions in our affairs. We were cajoled by a couple of acquaintances and thence we undertook the fact finding missions.

So that tells a lot about the impact that  spiritual, religious and occult discourses that are dispensed at the many “divine abodes” and prayer congregations that have mushroomed all over, especially in that stretch of the national Highway from Trichur to Aluva.

If these centres of divine ordinance and dispensations were of any impact, society would have usurped what we are told that heaven is like. Love, compassion, understanding, unselfishness and the few other virtues would have eclipsed the many other vices that are corroding the fabric. There would not have been necessity for “old age homes” – a refuge where we banish people when they turn feeble, sick and old. There may not have been the real life picture of an old infirm mother in her nineties confined into the corner of a cow shed by her own sons and daughters. There may not have been avarice, greed and insensitivity, even amongst siblings and children of the same womb.

A fascinating anachronism has to be mentioned here, however trifle it may be to some. A respected elderly gentleman passed away a few months back. He is survived by his three children. The last many years of his life was spent with his youngest child. His children are all well educated and in respectable positions in life. It was after a couple of months after his passing away, that his youngest child noticed his bank balance of a few lakhs of Rupees. Instead of cornering the small fortune to her, which would not have surfaced anyway as nobody else had an idea of that, she divided the money into six equals and deposited into six accounts in the credit of the late gentleman’s six grand children and sent the deposit receipts to them. “A watershed in stupidity in the present day”!

No divine ordaining was required for the act I mentioned. It was ingrained in the gene. While learning history in the middle school, most of us may have been told about the unrequited love of the Mogul invader Babur for his son who was ailing and sinking .It is said that he spent an whole night by the sick son’s bed and prayed to his God .He pleaded and beseeched his god to relieve his child from the suffering and appropriate his life instead. The wish was granted, so the legend notes! This act of the Prussian monarch was espoused as selfless, laudable and heavenly. In simple terms a father bartering his life if that would save his child.

If a parent is told about his or her child’s illness, accident or misfortune there may not be parents who would not overcome everything in their way to be near the child. They may invoke all gods and offer themselves in every which way, if that can provide reprieve to the child. We call it selflessness; we call it love in pristine form. We may enact a “Babur”. By the same token how would Man react if it is the parents’ life that is on the block? Will Man, without batting an eyelid exercise the same love for his/her father or mother?
It may not be untruth to say that Man may not and that may be because Man see little of him in the parent, but see himself in his biological creation.

And we call it love- selfless!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

An Evening

Self importance- the feeling of inflated pride and consequently the tormenting feel of hurt to his ego, it has happened to all of us at some point in life, but it happens to him often. Instances which dented his feeling of self importance! The reluctance to let go the consequent urge to fight back, to retaliate any which way he can. The social and other etiquette are flung away as his pride is hurt. He knows that the subject that is instrumental for the feeling is insignificant and of little importance, but his mind does not accept the little pin -prick to the ego. He hits back and makes a mountain of a trivial little mole hill. Matters then reach a stage of serious consequence. The situation threatens to explode out of his hand.

On another plain he knows that the other person was brash and offensive. And that he was directed by his 
vanity and imperious nature. He also knows that the other is strong, physically. And a brawl may be unsafe for him. But still he refuses to see the writing on the wall and retaliates. His pride is inflated and does not subside. The consequence bruised ego and bruises all over. What if he had let the other enjoy the momentary imperial satisfaction, what if we had ignored his impetuosity and turned away? The blind rage of the bull is always to the advantage of the toreador!

The fields were green with grass, there were crickets hopping around. In the setting sun the shallow brook nearby was sparkling gold. The horizon touching the hills was crimson as the sun slipped slowly beyond and below. On the field I stood, there were a few crows pecking at the buffalo droppings. The Mainas were pulling at an earth worm they managed to pick. The dragon flies were flying low and dancing a ballet. Further down the field a group of little boys were chattering away while playing football. The few water buffaloes in the stream came up and eyed the surroundings. I noticed one of them a brute of a fellow poke his horns on another, inviting a confrontation. The offended one turned around eyed the brute as if telling what and how he felt about him. He did not charge back, he moved away from the brute. Apparently he must have seen that there is space around to be at peace and not engage in the war of pride. A physical confrontation was unlikely to be in his favour. The brute looked helplessly miffed for a moment and moved to another to vent his brawn. 

He has not known , he did not foresee that his match would arrive one day!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

How Candid , Candid can be?

“But of all plagues, good Heaven,thy wrath can send, save me,  oh, save me, from the candid friend”! (Quote)

While I was in college, I wrote a piece – an essay and submitted for publication in the college magazine, on a subject which the moderator who was one of the professors declined. He presumed that the topic was controversial and candid for comfort. Those were the days when the British Council Library was my favourite jaunt and there, there was no dearth of books to provoke the thought process and turn an adolescent or a teenager into persistent rebel. I do not have the copy of the essay now with me.

Over the past years I do not remember having many associates who would be comfortable if an open discussion or observation were called for and opinions are possibly straying into unconventional. There was one person who used to be open and uninhibited in discussions and that was an unlikely person, the late mother of a class mate and friend of mine. It was she who assisted, when her daughter and some of us got together and began conducting program  and discussions in the “Youth forum” of the All India Radio. Yes, indeed there was a code that could not be crossed and that was the code of being “goody, goody” as society deem. Sometimes she used to open her eyes wide and look at me which conveyed the message that my expression was stark, though she did not encourage me to refrain from expressing so.

However I do not see that in the society we live, for there is no room, space and allowance to be candid as candid can be. And that can be because of the barriers that exist and the element of hypocrisy that has eaten into the social fabric and has come to dwell in each one of us. Can anyone claim to be untouched by the trait?

Then the next best medium to vent one’s thoughts came along through the virtual medium, in the form of “Blogs”. To me it was a Utopian idea that became a fact- fortunately so! I suddenly found that I could vent myself and be not worried of what the other would say. To quote a fellow blogger, “nakedness”! The best, the wonderful, the most elegant and the most comfortable suit and it doesn't cost a nickel-it is “the birthday suit”. So, blogging for me is reflection of nakedness in spirit. I stumbled on the Blog title “Musings” and opted for that, as I felt whatever rubbish I write and post are thoughts that happen to myself and are not much encumbered by premeditation. The virtual world listens to you and that is a privilege you may be refused even by your spouse! Blogs are often stereotyped by its owner- the content, the subject etc. Many chose to wade away from controversial or uncomfortable subjects; they may not even touch some post even with a barrage pole. Well one has the right to choose any which one wants.

I do not claim or intent when I write a Post that the topic is meant to change a generally held opinion. That is not in my realm. If a reader agrees with it well -'salam'- and if someone doesn't, 'salamu allekum'. If someone decides that I have no right to disagree with his/her views, well that may not convince me, as agreement or disagreement cannot be blind like faith to many. I express these, because generally I Blog on subjects those are not tasty to the conformist.

In due course of time, I wondered should I be unhappy and disappointed when someone rebuke and tear down my postings, or silently edit or eliminate my comment, the content the idea of the subject or an observation. Heck why must I? Criticism is a healthy fodder, its fun, can provoke healthy discussion should the criticiser will and most of all it helps one to analyse an observation that one made to invite the rebuke or a disagreement. It was Voltaire who opined wisely, “I detest what you say, but I’m prepared to die for your right to say that”. I feel one must keep to oneself if one disagrees to someone disagreeing. Better go incommunicado for life if one fears strands of disagreement or a divergent view.

What if my postings are termed jeering in content, expressions and choice of words too potent for satisfying prescripts? I reminded myself that the Blog is named “Musings” and that very much denotes and empathically states that there must be no forbiddances. I noticed there will be, occasions when the state of mind, a subject, or a matter that created feeling in me getting delivered as a Blog- post. The content, words, the sentences, all may reflect the state of mind. I let it be, because it is outrageous and utterly false to claim, and make believe by writing or saying something that is pleasing when your mind says the contrary and vice versa. One cannot, unless one is a maverick who has parented the art of dominating thought, write or say something that one does not subscribe to. What I blog are mirror to my thoughts and feelings and I shall not deny that. However  when I post, even Blog posts alluding to a real life persona does not have any mention of the protagonist or antagonist by name. Perhaps people who are familiar with the story may notice through. And I see Blogging, a means to palliate stress.

Now I come to the other companions in the Blog world. Some are irregular and some are less inspiring in comments. To receive comments such as, awesome; how true; beautifully said, and many other such one word and one liner seem to be the ones less inspiring. It is waste of cloud computing space when superficial, trivial and insignificant reactions are noted in the Blog. Then there are Bloggers who keep an imperial air and seldom reciprocate a comment or a Post, though I admit that sometimes their blogs are the ones with substance and I read their postings unfailingly and also leave sincere and honest comments. Certainly it is their prerogative to reciprocate!

There are Bloggers who dislike a comment only because they perceive offense in every word. I do not find something to agree with comment moderation. That in my opinion is stifling speech and expression. When I write and post in my blog, it is in principle like leaving the doors of my house open for visitors. I, while I leave my doors open cannot pre-empt a visitor from stepping in. That is, in my opinion inappropriate. And deciding on the comment you want on your post is indeed pre-empting. If one is not receptive to a different idea then one must not be expressing it in public. Blogs are after all a public space, domain. This opinion is in spirit of the matter and not to be literally taken if someone disagrees and decides to tear it down. Postings with explicit nature are a different proposition.

However the fascination with blogging is enhanced with the “nakedness” of thoughts that are translated into Posts! And the young man Oshu is a good example. No holds barred expressions without sautéing and garnishing. B’s blog, B-log is immensely refreshing. She has the acumen to touch upon subjects that are flung apart; her comments too are a genre apart. “My Travels, My Life” is a glass prism that reflects the factual image if one looks into it carefully. Balan’s poetry – subtle and crystal like, they shatter when dropped, but the vibration of the shatter stays for long like pleasance one would refuse to let go. Kavita’s -Room is like spring with burst of flowers all the while. She seems to be well researching her subjects. I cannot understand how Shilpa Garg’s roving camera can pick up the nuances around so wonderfully. Her short fictions are quite good. Doc Antony is always ensuring the heart beats in rhythm. Arun Meethale Chirakkal has very good poetries up his sleeves, but sadly he is irregular. Pavizhamalli is as refreshing as her poetries. Thommys cartoons are thoughtful. Happy Kitten doesn't post much. And Melange seems to be always discovering and creating recipes. Sumi Mathai’s poems are as beautiful as she is, but a blue-moon visitor to blogging. KPJ would like to believe she is in her own niche world, and hardly ventures into my blog or many other blogs- perhaps she finds me often in disagreement with her and hence distasteful, but comes out with good posts herself. Jyothi Nair as Juxtaposition is in a state of reincarnation!

On the whole it has been a great experience. But honestly the extent of being candid is very much inhibited by social moorings. I wonder what reactions it would have provoked if one gets candid more than one should be, and more than one could be! So it is always the story half said. The other half may perish with me.