Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The fable of Mallan & Mathevan

An interesting discussion came up at home the other day.

Incidentally I will be traveling to Cochin on the 2 nd of January for a get- together of our 1980 Graduation class alumni. The discussion was prompted when I informed about my travel and the get- together. This in fact will be the second time we meet after the grand reunion the alumni had with family after 26 years, in 2007.
Aravind began the discussion with expression of some envy that I always found myself much lucky in having friends and being able to reminisce with them. He and Radhu also mentioned the reunion of the 1975 Model High School X Class, I attended in 2005 in Thiruvananthapuram .The children suggested that it will be great fun and pleasure when old friends meet after a long period. I differed and expressed my disagreement with their thinking  though not in entirety.

There was quite a bit of exhilaration during the run up to both the reunion. But I was quite on target in anticipating that it will be fleeting, and it turned out to be so. The school batch got together after 30 years and the college folks after 26. There was curiosity and some excitement because one was to meet persons after long long time; and the curiosity was,it was difficult to anticipate individual appearances and positions in life.
I told Aravi and Radhu that bosom friendships are always a few and they stand the test and ravages of time and incidences. And that as they are also aware, I have, may be one or two close knit friends from my school days and the other few whom I gathered later in life are friends in all sense of the word. I opined that the word “friend” must not be defiled by loosely using it as a noun, a verb and as an adjective as well.

Just to mention an anecdote in this context, a few months ago I was in a business dinner and there were also present a couple of “friends “of mine (who in fact became related to me some years ago). And there these alumni meetings came up. One of the two “friends”(sic) of mine mentioned about my wide circle of friends. I interjected that I do not have a circle of friends but a few whose relationship I will take with me to Timbuktu.. . I mentioned  the old allegory from the Malayalam text book of standard II. The story of Mallan & Mathevan. And I said when many are like Mallan who scamper up to the safety of the tree in the forest when confronted by a huge bear leaving his friend Mathevan in the lurch and certain mortal  danger, the choice of friends will be limited to those whom one can call bosom friends and no number of getting-together of school and college mates can help much in altering the equation.

Am certain I conveyed my point to them, there.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Chris has been trying for sometime (in fact more wishing than trying) to shed her extra pounds, and has been running from one gym to another.

She has now concluded with a new fitness center to ensure that she lose 15 kgs in 6 months.And lured by their sales talk she even paid ten thousand Rupees towards my membership. Since then she has been virtually  pecking and pestering me  to go with her to the gym every morning at 5 .

Though my body clock wakes me up at 5 am every day (even if I have had a few extra whiskies the night before), I do not intend to oblige her and leave home for two and half hours every morning.

The reason is not laziness or the lack of will to stay fit. I do go around inside my, let me call it my little farm, for about forty five minutes from 6.30 every morning engaging in brisk walking and jogging. And that fairly keeps the system ticking for the drinks in the evening. The reason why I do not want to leave home in the morning are the wonderful sights I see in that forty five minutes of walk.. The  flock of peacocks, the manias and the crow pheasants, whot feast on the Chickoos, and the parrots that relishes the Guava and the corn. The turkey that sometimes mistakes the pea-hen for its mate and the excited flight of the pea-hen to safety. The pair of barn owls who nest on the roof of the house but watch me from the gulmohar tree turning their neck at 365 degrees. The Ducks that swims in the Lilly pond and the little chicken who run after every little flying insect. The whiff of cool air and the gradual break of sunlight through the morning sky. And my walk takes me through various thoughts which am sure cannot happen if I miss the mornings at home and join Chris to the gym and start the day mechanically amongst the fitness machines.I rather stay like this .

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Spirit Rekindled

“It didn't matter that the story had begun, because Kathakali discovered long ago that the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don't deceive you with thrills and trick endings."
- The God of Small Things

Seeing a movie and reading a literary creation with which you identify from your experience or events of the past is a pleasurable thing.
The two such instances were , my happening to see the new version of the movie “Neelathamar” and reading the book “God of Small Things”.
The Producer and Director of the movie and Ms Arundathi Roy the author of the book must be reminded of ones gratification.
Nelthamara brought back naughty memories of achievements and disillusionments of the teen and the youth, whilst God of Small things reminded one of even certain specific days of the past and smell of the air.
It is often a refreshing feel to revisit the good times of the past. Though sometimes memories can be stoic as well!
I do not want to flaunt or curb the experience and experiments which I or any of my friends could identify with that of the hero in the movie Neeltahamara.That must always be a pleasure or disappointment to be kept in confines and only to be unleashed in the midst of bosom friends. But still am sure not many were able to suppress the reviving memories while the song “anuraga
vi lochithanayi” was played out with some nostalgic visual treats, ha ha hm !!
And when Suresh confessed in some interview that he saw the old version of Neelthamara a dozen times and more, I for one was not unsure of the reasons that kept him running back to the movie hall then.
As for the God of Small things, the days when the anti Communist procession and the blaring of specific film songs is so identifiable, in the book as well as in real life in the 60’s.The escapades in the theater ( Kottayam Annanad theater) vividly described by Arundathi Roy will am sure tickle many. Am sure my friend B would like to add upon this.
And many of us could still feel the air of places similar to “Ayemenem” where we may have spent the days during summer school closure. There was much in the God of Small things and in Neelathamara that rekindles as they are both from the same genre as I’m and many are.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Do You want to be like the Jones Next Door????

I m called Mr. 10% percent. The pseudonym is suggested by me.
Because it is widely held that if they partake with me a share of their gotten bounty the ethical and moral questions that can come up because of their words and deeds are lessened by my plenipotentiary. And they believe if I’m offered gratification for their mendacity my temperament is such that I turn blind eye to their malfeasance and arrogance. People also call me God in Queens English and am also known by plethora of names and euphemisms. People from different creed call me by different names. ”In fact they call me names”. Well thinking about that is exhausting for me even though you may describe me as the all prevailing and all consuming.
In fact this is a confession, confession and acceptance of my absolute incapability. This is a self indictment of me for my affable view of the “homo sapiens” whose creation and existence is attributed to me.
Am accused of incompetence, irresponsibility and graft. The third allegation, for reasons that was never of my doing. Because they created the system where in greasing of hands of the giver has become morally impeccable and a quality that can be flaunted with hubris and pride. Am accused of malfeasance from inflicting epidemics, death, war, misfortune, abundance of wealth, lack of it and unexplainable hardships on mankind.
Am not disputing the biological theory of evolution of living organisms and of all man. That theory seems to be more plausible rather than an under performer like me being instrumental in bringing about all the chaos and anarchy in this planet. Nevertheless though, that misadventure is attributed to me. But the point is; now I have reached my nether and have to confess my sheer helplessness and staunchly reject all forms of innuendos, omissions and commissions that go with my name.
I will try to elucidate
My answer here in reply to my alleged incompetence and misdemeanor is “do you want to be like the Jones next door”?
Because there in this question lies the answers which would suffice for my defence. If situations sway you off your feet as it did with the 'Jones next doors',  then as it is said in the book which has allegedly my spoken words 'you will inherit the wind', and beware chickens will come back to roost. That is not of my volition. But law of nature is such!

Corruption and graft began with the Jones offering me in their little kind when they were at subsistence level and then in seemingly philanthropic tyranny when luck showered them with fortune in plenty. Honestly I never asked any. But they know where to dust their philanthropy, and they seldom part with their fortune when fan fare and fame is not at arms length. They gave in plenty to all embodiments that plunder and thrive in my name. They fabricated statuettes in their form and claimed that they were my replicas and invested them in their mansions and in grandiose places they call Temples of God...
They had some piety when their fortunes were little. But sudden shower of wealth from manna (where I do not dwell), have brought out the vile character that was dormant in them - both in young and old alike. They fathom to forget that “all the wealth will not erase the past off their back”.
But still they believe that I exist and I could be silenced by greasing of my palm.
They swear by the ten covenants fabricated in my name but immaculately cross them with impudence .Well they think they can grease my palm and get away!
They are as the quote goes, have never killed a man but read obituaries with great pleasure.
They live in delusions of Puritanism. They fornicate when the covenants they swear upon instruct against. They preach morals and embrace such conduct that suits them. They sodomise kin in spirit, words and in deed .They think they can grease my palm and get away. Pretense is their volition of heart. They are down on their knees every morning and chant gibberish with eyes closed only to remind me how traitorous they are and as what incorrigible fool they see me as. They are false unto one other. Well they think they can grease my palm and get away.
They are self-made men and women and worship the creator they created and not the creator who may have created them and given them the pleasure of existence. They have been snowed under by wealth and materialistic wellness that they would even pay off their mothers for bearing them.
That is the power of wealth they wield.
When the avarice and unremitting greed of man rule all characteristic traits in the likes of Jones, it eclipses all goodness and selfishness rules the roost. What can I do? They will then quote the scripture to their ends and morality becomes a loosely defined term to be shoved under the carpet when inconvenient truths glare back.
Man is hungry for power and to maintain power he needs wealth, wealth gathered by any means, and to have wealth he needs power. The twain is much intertwined

I the 10% percent have nothing to do with this ill blood as in fact I do not exist in flesh and blood as they want me to.

A Riposte to the Cacphony at Copenhagen

Over The past few days I have been in my position of arm-chair environmentalist trying to pen some thing on the climate-Extravaganza going on in Copenhagen.
And some thoughts and few readings I have done went past my mind, And poignant as to the way the so called civilised folks wrench out life’s and nature was agonizingly detailed in the book by Dee Brown, ”Bury my heart at wounded knee”. Those thoughts took me to the statements and Orations of Chief Seattle. And there and then I decided what eloquence and words can rival the inner most feelings expressed by Chief Seattle in the face of destruction and in the name of development. By the time I post this Blog in all certainty the thamasha played at Copenhagen would close with a whimper and pointing of fingers .And such is the nature of man that the wisdom of this Red Indian Chief will not be heeded. And the planet will relentlessly slide towards the destructive Black hole

How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us.
If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?
Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.
The white man's dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful earth, for it is the mother of the red man. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and man --- all belong to the same family.
For this land is sacred to us. This shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you the land, you must remember that it is sacred, and you must teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water's murmur is the voice of my father's father.
The rivers are our brothers, they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes, and feed our children. If we sell you our land, you must remember, and teach your children, that the rivers are our brothers and yours, and you must henceforth give the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.
We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He leaves his father's grave behind, and he does not care. He kidnaps the earth from his children, and he does not care. His father's grave, and his children's birthright are forgotten. He treats his mother, the earth, and his brother, the sky, as things to be bought, plundered, sold like sheep or bright beads. His appetite will devour the earth and leave behind only a desert.
I do not know. Our ways are different than your ways. The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the red man. There is no quiet place in the white man's cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in spring or the rustle of the insect's wings. The clatter only seems to insult the ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of the whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around the pond at night? I am a red man and do not understand. The Indian prefers the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of a pond and the smell of the wind itself, cleaned by a midday rain, or scented with pinon pine.
The air is precious to the red man for all things share the same breath, the beast, the tree, the man, they all share the same breath. The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes. Like a man dying for many days he is numb to the stench. But if we sell you our land, you must remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports.
The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh. And if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred as a place where even the white man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow's flowers.
Will the white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers?
I am a savage and do not understand any other way. I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train. I am a savage and do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be made more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive.
What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of the spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.
You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children that we have taught our children that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.
This we know; the earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.
Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We shall see. One thing we know which the white man may one day discover; our God is the same God.
You may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land; but you cannot. He is the God of man, and His compassion is equal for the red man and the white. The earth is precious to Him, and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator. The whites too shall pass; perhaps sooner than all other tribes. Contaminate your bed and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.
But in your perishing you will shine brightly fired by the strength of the God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man.
That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires.
Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone.
The end of living and the beginning of survival.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"Vande Mataram"

The recent row and cacophony over a diktat by a Muslim cleric/association is absolutely misplaced.

In the first place associating recital of the national song or even anthem with patriotism is ill conceived and silly notion. It tantamount to trespassing into the area of fundamental right and once freedom .If singing the national song or anthem is the yardstick to measure the intensity of patriotic fervor can we ipso facto accept the honesty and integrity in deeds and words of our ministers who undertake oath of office.? They swear by the constitution and some even further, upon God! And their subsequent conduct is best forgotten. Trivial instructions and legal enforcements to recite the national anthem have been overthrown in countries more liberal and at the same time with patriotic mindset that exceeds the average Indian.

On the whole the hue and cry over this fatwa is misplaced.

But looking from an impassioned perspective the song vande mataram- which literally means “mother I bow before thee” is a beautiful verse and has immense emotion and godliness about it. Here, mother can be God, biological mother or Mother Nature. And what is evil, blasphemous, and wrong about bowing to ,as a sign of respect to ones mother? We have been taught in childhood to cultivate respect and reverence for ones parents and teacher. It has been“matha, peetha, guru deivam (God)”, in that order. And Mother is considered as the God whom you can see, feel, be loved and know in flesh and blood. As because the existence of God in the conventional sense has or has not been proved, not yet.

The discordant part is that scriptures are taken into literally and the spirit and essence they behold is ignored or not noticed. Hence all these irresponsible statements and trouble!

If only ones heart has ones country in the forefront can one be at peace with ones god. And singing a song that reveres ones mother is not in any way sacrilegious to the spirit of ones faith and to God himself. The truth might be there cannot be God without the existence of a mother!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Inevitable

I can remember well when I look back that till about five years ago the obituary column in the Malayalam manorama news paper was the least glanced.

But since then the page has become imperative and unavoidable. I involuntarily perhaps upon auto suggestion go through the photos that are inlaid of people who wandered way. In case I stumble upon familiar faces!

I mention this because increasingly over the past years the consciousness of the inevitability is always in the mind. There cannot be any days when I have not thought , “How many more to walk”? It is not paranoia, but consciousness of the brittleness of life itself. ”Young man rejoice in thy youth”(Anonymous), and how true it is !

Rewinding to twenty five years when the nights were longer than the days back in Ernakulam in BOSBIG, Am certain that neither did I nor would the rest of the folks, we made, seldom have thought about old age, death or the unknown bend around the corner.

But then why now?

An answer would be those twenty five years of life since has chastened ones consciousness... The hubris and audacity towards life that youthful times harbored has been vanquished by the harsh and pertinent realities of life.

Though I can cross my heart and say that my feet have always been well grounded and situations and happenings have never thrown me off my feet. (though personalities have, and I bear the burnt in many cases).

Those qualities have been eclipsed by helplessness, humility when I look up yonder at the night sky and realize what an insignificant star dust I’m. Above all sense of outrage at things, and events that happen around me, and I watch like a eunuch, and still when people trample me when I m down.

And then the sense, that still there is something more to do. That helpless understanding makes me insecure, uncertain – about the life ahead- how long?

This is when death shadow dances. It is not that death will not snow you under at a young age but wait for you to ripen and rust .

Today in an informal discussion with the Asst General Manager of my Bank, he was expressing his anguish over the demise of his little sister who died of cancer a few days ago. He lamented that it was unfair that she the youngest should succumb before the elders in her clan. I suggested that perhaps death does not discriminate. He I thought nodded but was not quite convinced at the impudence of fate and life.

So then, life has to move on sometimes ebbing gently, at times tumultuously but the brittleness of life has always to be remembered.

Though the poet sang for it, is it worth to ask for another chance? This world no longer harbors the gentle sparkle of the moon light nor does the eternal dew shower like pristine white plumes, nor is it enchanting anymore.

God made a stupid decision- he created man !