Saturday, July 2, 2011

Read my Lips

“Drawing on my command of language, I said nothing”. Anonymous

Quite a few postings have had emerged on the Blog scene in recent past about  the privileged   ways of the usage of  the privileged language  that only a privileged few could call their own until not so long ago- “the Anglo- Saxon  English”! There was derision, fun and fascination laced in those postings and comments that followed. Though a section of the gentry in the former colonies of the Empire and that can include India may feel outraged at the way many of us speak, write English language, there is certainly often immense jocularity and tongue in cheek comments that can enliven a situation when a faux pas is committed in the terminology and usage of that language. In fact that may be the case with all languages. Sometimes some may consider the gaffe an offense .Using language as if in an inebriated state may be sometimes inappropriate and the late Professor Sri Krishnan Nair had very often mauled such use. His comments on such matters have also put the lid to the many self styled linguistic e experts. The funny moments happen when people with less expertise or knowledge of a language use it and without the slightest iota of doubt of the correctness, or fearing no embarrassment.

However being a person with ordinary skills in language, be it English, my mother tongue ,or any other language, I find certain bumbling  very interesting to laugh over and ease stress that often shadows life.

Some funny moments and acrobatics with the use of language happened quite some time ago. The central figure in question may be referred to in pseudonym, RP. He hailed from Tamilnad and was not a safe person with neither Malayalam nor English. And he was known to me from the days I  worked in Cochin. During one of my journeys on short vacation to Thiruvananthapauram, I and C alighted at RP’s house. It was some time since I met him and his wife who was a wonderful expert of south Indian Bhramin cuisine.

The culinary fantasies she created in traditional south Indian food were a gourmet’s delight and RP used to invite me and the Directors whenever they descended from New Delhi. Often in all those dinners meetings her food was raved and lavished with praise. It was truly so! And in one of those dinner occasions RP got much carried over by the extolments showered on his wife that he made a statement that he thought was ipso facto and unquestionable. He asserted in his loud oratory voice, “My friends as you all know my wife is a good cooker”. Was there a moment of shocked agape? I do not remember.

Now going back to the brief visit, I and C was into. We were all seated in the living room and exchanging pleasantries and catching up with stories that happened since we met last. Just then a tall – well over six feet, fair and charming young man walked in. He acknowledged us with a demure nod and went in. I asked, “RP, who is that handsome fellow who went in”? He said, “Ha-ha athu nammade K ,alle.Ninaku masilayille”? (Ha-ha, did you not see, it is our K, don’t you remember).  I was indeed pleasantly shocked to know that the tall, young and hand- some fellow was the little K, whom I last saw when he was five. The 'enfant terrible' that he was! I was amazed and said loudly, “RP that is wonderful, but my goodness, I cannot help being awed-  how tall he has grown”!

RP’s retort made me freeze, and wish the ground beneath broke apart and sucked me down under and I eyed C, a bit shyly and nervously. RP’s good wife was acknowledging his statement. He said, “athu pinne ninte height alle”! (Well he has certainly taken after your height, don’t you know).

This episode when often quoted by C and I wish that she does in jest!

RP was a fast driver both of the two- wheeler and car. He has had quite a few brushes and had crashed, fortunately with little or not very serious damage, bodily. One day he was explaining to a few people his latest adventures. He had crashed his car just a few days back and he explained in a riveting statement what happened. He said, “you see, my car went and ‘hitted a tree’, I can do nothing”. (!)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Impish kiss

She said it all began with an impish kiss on her lips and then a swift withdrawal with the dramatic air of innocence. I chose to make her believe that she could make me believe. It was like her borrowing all the light in the world to make believe it is dark.

She was always succeeded  to bring out the air of innocence ,the piteous and the prevailed. She always appeared demure, and displayed a taciturn air. However a close observation would penetrate through the veil of modesty and shy strain she displayed. Modesty, a  quality though unfortunately misplaced and identified with women who are  hail from surroundings of  conventions and traditions. And she was indeed from a background as similar as that.It could be said that a woman’s eyes are the portals into her being. And watch her eyes closely, and one may see the abyss and  the mountains that she and only she can pass over. It is fathomless repository and men know not what it beholds. She was such!

She could enthral young and old among men in the captive, enchanting regard of her eyes. And cast away women to moan in peeve and anguish emanating out of envy; make her spouse prostrate and crawl on his four, thus was the beguile and power of the enchanting sorcery of  her gaze and enamour.

So, it began, she alleged with the “impish kiss”.
The chemistry of adultery ingrained in Man like ineluctable chaff! I felt, and told him so, that it can only end up in a blame game with no end and reason in sight. The chemistry of adultery!

The room was well alighted by the sun that threw in its radiance . It was  a well lit place. The walls were pearl white and the curtain and drapes spotless in union. The snow white cotton -silky mattress laid spread immaculately on the mahogany cot .And seated on its edge lest the fabric crumble  she beckoned him to continue from where it all began. The impish kiss, genesis from her gaze that can behold men, young and old.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The' Gulags' of today

"Blow the dust off the clock. Your watches are behind the times. Throw open the heavy curtains which are so dear to you -- you do not even suspect that the day has already dawned outside".

-- Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"Udhara nimittam oru Gulf yatra" (In quest, a journey across the seas)

"Athilo mundee luncitha kesa
Kashyambhara bahukrutha vesha
Passyanapi cha na passyathi loka
Udhara nimittam bahukrutha sokha ( vesha)”.

                       “Men with hairs overgrown,
                         Men with a shaved head,
                         Men with a well- cut hair,
                         Men with ocher robes,
                         See the world,
                         But pretend they don’t,
                         And suffer all the way,
                         To fill their belly forever”!

No spiritual conceits this, or aided by exotics in spirits;
Reflections and musings,in search of spirit to move fore.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Blood of Dracula

'The creature bent over the young woman, whom its red bloody eyes put into a trance. The Count’s mouth opened and snapped shut in a deep kiss on her neck. His teeth felt the soft skin and went in through it like a hypodermic needle. The woman writhed and moaned in ecstasy.The Count drew in the young blood for a while and held back his mouth. Blood dripped from his reddened mouth and lips. The girl was still in the trance he flung her. Dracula beamed in maverick smile  and mused in content and surveyed around ,his eyes darting like that of the  he wolf that drank to its heart’s content’

The Vampire story with the eponymous antagonist Dracula must have descriptions like these. Though I do not remember the exact words and sentences Stalker used to describe the ritual of the Count Dracula.
I happened to hear on the regional FM channel the social advert meant to encourage blood donation. The feminine voice that exhorted the virtue of donating blood, took me back into many years in the past. With all respect to the solemn virtuous deed of blood donation and without any disparaging intent let me narrate some experiences with blood donation.

The Count Dracula story was only the visual symbol of the abstract idea that came to my mind from experiences long ago. The difference was that the Count was a petite paramedical nurse and the sting of the Count’s sharp tooth was the piercing of the syringe fitted with a thin, sharp steel needle which went through the outer layer of the skin and into the vein; blood of teenaged and youthful red exuberance gushed out first in a torrent and then dripping down gently into the glass bottle!

The display of virtue, though for a token consideration was not to be publicised at that period in time. So there was a lot of stealth and secretive planning that preceded the transfusion at that private laboratory. There was in fact nothing resembling moral excellence in that transfusion of blood. It was not donation ‘per se’. The consideration was Rs 20, as the blood filling up the glass bottle being RH positive.It would fetch Rs 40 for the blood with RH factor negative.

There was no ecstasy that the pretty lady lived through when the Count Dracula bent over her and punctured his sharp teeth on to the side of her neck. This was an anxious feel of getting done with the procedure, pocket the money and slither out hoping to be not noticed by the gentry in the city to whom I was familiar to.

The extraction ritual in the little room of that laboratory got over in even time. And the lass who conducted the transfusion ensured that I lay on the cot for a while. Later she gave me a glass of fresh lemon with liberal additive of glucose and a few cream biscuits. There was no signing of vouchers and I pocketed the twenty Rupees and slid out to walk the few meters to the bus station.

All avenues that were lawful and unlawful were exhausted before some of us decided on this new means of pocketing some money for mundane indulgence like, having a coffee and vada, a few chapattis and the infamous, but tasteful beef curry at the college canteen, or a ‘Charms’ cigarette and spending on tickets to the favourite Hollywood films that were invariably released on all Fridays at the Sreekumar /Sreevisakh movie theaters.The exercise that fetched “blood money” went on over a few times over a period. It sometimes gave a feeling of chivalry to us who struck upon the idea. We even joked on it as the symbol of “Eucharistic liturgy”.

Since it has passed three decades after those eventful days, I guess that there may not be something inappropriate in mentioning the end story which became a sorry saga and the name of one of the artist. Rajan was a boisterous, trouble shooter, both in the confines of his home or out at the college or elsewhere. He had the denseness of mischievousness that one will be surprised to see, concentrated in one person and always displayed in his fair chubby face. The movie was releasing through its first exhibition on that afternoon and we took the bus straight from the laboratory. We managed to be very early in the queue for tickets and ensured that we did not miss out the first days first filming. While we were in the queue waiting for the counters to open Rajan got embroiled in the most stupid of all indulgence. Hearing the violent cacophony we looked around and saw that he was into fist fights with a group of gamblers who were squatting nearby. They were fooling people to throw money into a game of dice promising a win of three or four times the sum that was put in. This idiot put all his “blood money’” into the game and lost squarely. Rajan was standing a cropper and he tasted his own blood!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

An Old Story

Dhandhapani Pillai hailed from Nagercoil, now a town in Tamilnad, south of Thiruvananthapuram. In fact before the restructuring of the States in the 1950s, Nagercoil was part of the Travancore Princely State. The influence that the old political dispensation has on the social fabric of Thiruvanathapuram from Tamil culture and from people from the former Tamil speaking areas of Travancore is remarkable. For instance Deepavali a distinct Tamil festival is observed with delirious energy in Thpuram, whilst its aura wanes as one travels northwards and beyond from Thpuram. The influence of the heavenly offspring Subramanian, the God with distinct Tamil flavour is widely accepted as deity in Thiruvanathapuram. And south/central Kerala has many temples where he is the presiding deity. Towards north Kerala he seems to be still like the BJP unable to make inroads.

Our Dhandapani Pillai was the namesake of this Tamil God, the distinctly egoistic son from the relationship between Siva and Parvathi. I was often narrated the early beginnings of Dhandapani Pillai by my mother.
It was way back in 1950s that Dhandapani Pillai, a widower, migrated with his son and daughter, to Thpuram. He was from quite penurious background and by chance approached my maternal grandfather who then owned a well known and respectable business in textiles in Thpuram. The helpful points in his general demeanour were his widely bared air of submission to authority and his verbal volleys that can bowl over anybody.

Thence began a new innings and Dhandhapani Pillai  gradually entrenched  socially as a Tamil speaking Mallu . He worked as a salesman at the textile counter and also trained as a tailor. He married a second time and begot three children, two girls and a son. Dhandhapani pillai was ambitious but was too anxious to go forward that he often stumbled and that put him back one step behind. When the enlarged family found it difficult to meet their living from one source of income which was his salary, he laid out his small plan to his employer (my paternal grandfather). He proposed to put up a small pan shop that those days meant an outlet for beetle nuts and tendu leaves, fresh lemon juice and local sharbath, besides local candy and bananas.He came on an auspicious morning to my grandfather along with his son and family- his son decked up as a priest and carrying a framed photo of the God Subramaonaian. And I ‘m told that they were helped with the initial capital and the tiny shop was begun very near the place where I lived in my childhood days.

My earliest memories of Dhandapani Pillai were from the time I used to buy small rubber balls to play. He also sold paper kites which was a fascination for kids like me. Occasionally I used to be send from home to Dhandapani Pillai’s shop to buy bananas. He usually used to play his smart tricks and pack for me amongst the good ones the mice eaten bananas too. He also used to charge me the extras anna for bananas. When I was sent from home to fetch half dozen chicken eggs and the tiny parcel  opened back home there will always be an egg short.This was his way of making the extra nickel.

Later I had been often given the feeling of being a “jack ass” by Dhandhapani Pillai’s cunning. He had by then expanded his wares and business that he bought a few bicycles which could be hired on hourly rent. He also had a couple of the smaller bicycles. They were hired by kids who were learning the art of cycling. My first lessons and subsequent many little escapades where first on the little bicycles of Dhandhapani Pillai and later on his more flashy “Raleigh” bicycles.

I remember well that it was twenty paisa for one hour of hire. And I and a few local friends used to hire them on weekends. The meanness which Dhandapani Pillai could not resist was very infuriating and gave us helpless feel. But when thinking about it now, I can sometimes smile at his crooked acumen as a business man and laugh at the trickery he used to regularly play on us. It was quite upsetting that the one hour we hire elapses in a jiffy. Dhandapani Pilli carefully winds forward his little time- piece soon after we have hired the little cycle. And after a few rounds when we check with him the time left he will in his shrill voice say, “smayam ayii ini anchu minute mathram”, (it’ is almost time and five more minutes left).The fact is that he ensures that we pay him the twenty paisa for thirty minutes and if we protest he will agree that we can keep the cycle another thirty minutes if we pay extra.

Dhandapani Pillai had electronic antennas all over his body. That he smells everything and anything in the neighbouring households.

The foolery that he inflicted on us was burning like amber, but we could do nothing. His forward winding the hour on his time- piece was continued even after I began hiring his bigger bicycles for my little clandestine trips. He had by then increased the charges to fifty paisa an hour. Though I knew his larceny, I was afraid to confront him as he was privy to my hiring the cycle without the approval from my house hold folks. And also he sort of knew where I have been. Grudgingly and helplessly I had to always pay the hire charges he wanted.

The opportune moment dawned like destiny come calling. I was well into my teens. I and a few neighbourhood boys found out like a revelations that Dhandhapani Pillai had an illicit affair with a vegetable vendor, a woman living a few blocks away. Since his house was adjacent to his outlet it could also be left unattended for a while. At 6.30 pm every evening Dhandapani Pillai used to vanish from his shop. And he comes back after an hour or so, with sandalwood paste and vhibhoothi on his forehead some pooja offerings in hand. This temple visit of Dhandapani Pillai went on without fail and undeterred.

The enterprising detectives amongst us boys found out the truth of the gloaming visits of our man. We, one day, keeping an undetected distance, followed him to the house of his paramour. We hung around outside on the road for Mr Pillai to alight after his courtship. It was getting quite dark but for the incandescent street lamp in front of the small path way to the woman’s house. Like a whiff Mr Pillai cycled out from the pathway and on to the road, to virtually ram into us. Mr Pillai was decked like after a temple visit, sandal wood paste on the forehead etc. His face in that street light is still amusing to relive. One boisterous fellow among us , tapped on the bicycle handle and asked, “Dhandapani anna njangade karyam paranjo akathe deviodu”(Dhandapani anna did you tell about us to the Goddess in there)?

Since that late evening, I cannot recollect one instance when he played his opportune tricks on us. But he continued his temple visits at dusk until the Vegetable vendor died. And the wonderful  end to the story is that he entrusted his little shop to one of those local boys while he was away on his daily pilgrimage at dusk.

He passed away after quite some years.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A recipe for Environmental Euthanasia

“Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth”, said, Henry David Thoreau. But that was more than a century ago and well before the Wright brothers dreams took to flight. But the reality stares. It does not blink, it stares!

All Fools Day has passed and the next one is quite many months away. Nevertheless here is an opportunity to become a “Fool for Forests”. The Government of India proposes to mine coal in forests and forest lands of East and Central India. This quixotic plan if it becomes real will have the potency to emphatically destroy thousands of hectares of forests for coal. The plan when implemented will be more destructive than the Armageddon. It  will destroy forests,wildlife and displace millions of people dependent on the forests. This is, when there is clean renewable energy and energy efficiency measures to power our needs. But the Government of India seems to favour the recipe for environmental euthanasia.

"There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before".  ~Robert Lynd. 

India's Prime minister was widely quoted of having said that when it comes to development, environment will have to take the rear seat. Rotting food grains and millions going without even a repast a day are not a bolt to the conscience of this septuagenarian whose Curriculum vitae has been circulating the NET as the perfect example of academic brilliance and erudition.. He has like the medieval knight declared that India has world class safety measures in place at all her nuclear energy facilities. And there is no room for panic and alarm. Stupid that he is, he does not see that when it comes to nuclear safety there is nothing consoling called “world class”.
What Mr. Manmohan Singh should know is that the first country in the world to include “Environmental” protection in its constitution is Namibia . And which certainly does not have much to rest in form of laurels of a bygone and rich culture or civilsation as we do.

Those voicing against this disastrous path have been labeled foolish by the government. And now
Fools have joined Greenpeace, a civil society group working on environment, to help save the forest. 

Read more about this movement below and become a Fool for Forests. 

The government plans to mine coal in the last remaining forests in eastern and central India. Remember that multinational conglomerates and behemoths like POSCO and VEDANTA have almost got foot hold there. These forests support millions of livelihoods and are home to the last remaining vestiges of flora and fauna unique to India. There are clean energy options and energy efficiency measures which can help us meet our energy requirements.But yet.......!

 To quote the great Indian chief Seattle, "We do not own the land air and water we have borrowed them for our children".
If our “farsighted”' government' has its way it will slaughter and clear all the forests and leave barren open pit mines for posterity.Do we want this to happen? If all the Fools for Forests get together they can help strengthen the movement to save our forests from destruction. 

You should become a Fool for Forests to help save the forests. 

A study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reveals that renewable energy options can power the world.[3] Forests cannot be created , they have to evolve. And no extent of trumpeted afforestation can bring back the forests that have been killed.  

Become a fool and tell them "Now", and before its is too late.! 


1.Allow mining in 90% no-go zones', Hindustan Times, October 29 2010 

2. Greenpeace provides an alternate energy vision for India, Greenpeace, March 24, 2009

3. Renewable energy can power the world, says landmark IPCC study, Guardian, May 9, 2011

"We say we love flowers, yet we pluck them.  We say we love trees, yet we cut them down.  And people still wonder why some are afraid when told they are loved".  ( Unknown)