Tuesday, February 26, 2013

LIEBSTER Award



I was nominated for the Liebster award by Mrs. Usha Menon (http://eccentricgrandmum.blogspot.com/), who is a retired educationist. Thank you, Mrs. Menon for the encouragement.

The Award, I understand is to promote amateur writers in the Blogdom. And is a kind of chain that links bloggers with modest following.

I found the process a bit confusing and tiresome that I delayed accepting and following the process prescribed in the nomination-
1- Answer your nominator’s eleven questions
2-. List 11 things about yourself
3-Choose up to eleven bloggers with less than 200 followers and ask them your questions
And sign off by mailing them on the nomination.

Now, on Mrs. Menon’s prodding here I go.

1-      ANSWER TO THE NOMINATORS QUESTIONS
a)      If you become Prime Minister of India what will be your priority?
      Ensure the Police Force need not be pliable to the executive
b)       Which Book are you reading these days?
None
c)       Why did you start writing a blog?
      Just chanced upon the idea
d)      Do you like to see the Sun rise or the Sunset?
      Both
e)      Do you think cooking is a female’s prerogative?
      No
h)   What do you like to see on TV?
      BBC, Sports & Wild life documentaries
i)        Which games do you like to play?
Cricket & Badminton
j)        Do you believe in Destiny?
No
     What do you prefer arranged marriage or love marriage?
   Neither
kl      Do you believe in God?
No
l))       What is your favourite pastime
Movies/Reading/Blogging

2-      List THINGS ABOUT MYSELF
a)      “Retired” from business
b)      Sometimes temperamental
c)       Not religious or believer and must confessto being not quite holy.
d)      Not fascinated by any political ideology
e)      Tries to be dispassionate but cannot help becoming emotional at times.
f)       Choosey about befriending people.
g)      Content with a few good friends.
h)      Do not feel happy if I impose my opinion on others and the family, though I get annoyed when they disagree.
i)        Anxious about what is in store for posterity, the way the World is moving.
j)        Despises fanatics and charlatans

3-Choose up to 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers to answer my questions
http://rama-ananth.blogspot.com/
http://blog.chowla.in/


4- My Questions
      a)      Are you proud of your country, if so why and if not why?
      b)      What have you given back to the world you live and or what do you intend to give in your life time?
      c)       Are you afraid of death?
      d)      If you were to meet God in real life what would you do?
      e)      Would you want to make the future not mysterious?
      f)       Will you stand up for banning capital punishment, if not why?
      g)      What would you like to be if given a choice- King, an elected ruler or a fascist?
      h)      Would you like to be like somebody? If so why and if not why?
      i)        Do you think emotions are for weaklings? If not why?
      j)        What is in your opinion the reason for the misery in the world?
      k)      If there is another life what would you want to be a, Male or a Female?

So folks come forward and accept the nomination please.





Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pazhan Kanj,Uppu Manga & Kandhari



I remember from long time ago, having read a short story that narrated the tale of a young man who shelved his plan to end his life at the very last moment. He was tempted by the aroma of his favourite cuisine (puttu) his mother used to serve him. The smell of the fresh steamed meal whiffed through the air from a nearby restaurant adjacent to the railway track where he was contemplating to end his life. There was little time left for the early morning train to steam by and the sun was just about peeping over the distant hills. Suddenly he was pulled by utter craving - lust to live. The urge to live pounded him incessantly with the aroma that the gust of air brought- the smell of the food that  reminded him of his mother,whiffed away  the despondency that ploughed him under till a moment ago. He ran back home along the track and along the river’s edge that wound by, to his home-where he saw his  mother  was indeed cooking his favourite meal that morning. He inhaled the flavoured steamy air in the kitchen and felt a voice tell him that what a fool he would be if he had done the mad act when he nearly deserted the things that were dear in life. That morning he devoured the food his mother made and like never before. He relished it much, which words would toil to account.

The aroma of favourite viands that linger and whiff by unexpectedly and the titillation it provide for taste buds are sure to make all those who have known of it desire the pleasure more and forever. We all have, often in our life. So it was with amusement that I recollected the scene at the dining table quite a few mornings at a friend’s house. He has of late joined the club of hyper tensed people and is on medication for elevated blood pressure. I was speaking on the phone to him and his wife and could not resist the tongue in cheek comment to her that all those morning breakfast he indulged and went overboard because of those wonderful pickled dishes his mother was wondrously adept at making. Those mornings breakfast which he persistently used to relish- the previous days cooked rice soaked in water and then his pompous and arrogant discretion of mixing it with pickled brined mango and those special tiny heavenly chilies’ fresh from the garden (pazhan kanji and uppu mango with kandhari mullaku)! This he devoured before speeding off to college for work, while we lazed by eating like respectable people iddlis or dosa and even bread toast with omelet. At the end of it all I would prefer an existence laced with hypertension. The contentment is after all one had had the fortune to eat every day to the heart’s content what one loves most in life- a special preparation of excellent cuisine by ones mother. A high blood pressure is only incidental to the happiness of the soul day after day for a long time in life.

Thinking of it, I must confess that I drooled and drooled figuratively speaking I would have drowned. For, I have been often privileged to have food at his home and the simple mundane native delights his mother used to cook, though she was handicapped by paralysis from a severe stroke.

It is not an exaggeration and wee bit dishonest if I say that the aroma of those fabulous dishes do linger in that house even now though it is a few years since she passed.  Perhaps something exist or stay behind even after we are gone?


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

RIP


There is an irony about eulogies; there is an element of hypocrisy too in some expression of commiseration, let it be about death or other forms of misfortune. Don’t you think so?

Honestly, I have desisted from thinking twice about certain people’s demise or their plight. And I do not see it even an iota truthful when expression of condolences are made, empty rhetoric of concern is  soliloquized when somebody had passed, while it was true all the while during the life time of the deceased that he was widely and severely detested or he was unjustly hounded, abused and trampled.

I remember writing in this space about a person whose passing did not evoke a tiny bit of sympathy because while he lived he was among the most devious of mankind and displayed utterly loathsome character. He trampled upon many without remorse and guilt. Well, this thought will be directly antagonistic to the philosophy of Christianity.

It is a fact that there are detested and abominations walking around. And while they live they disperse only misery and agony. There is another kind, the unfortunate lot who are hunted when they live and when they are gone, canonized.

Coming to the incident, I want to discuss- yesterday one of the bigwigs in the organization saw a personal loss, his father passed away. The deceased I guess was in his early seventies. Mentioning about the son, one cannot refrain from saying that he is perhaps among the most devious and specious person. Arrogant and reprobate he is silently and overtly detested by both people higher up in the hierarchy and commoners. Except for the big boss for reasons known to him alone, no one, virtually no one but for his couple of cronies would stand for him. But since he has some stranglehold over the ‘Big Man’ and has him in a garrote, he could continue with his charlatanism and chicanery with almost uninhibited impunity.

I have had a running feud with him and he is very uncomfortable with me around. He wanted to see me exit from the day one. My character being such and devoid of diplomacy and salesmanship when it comes to such people, I would not care a hoot about what becomes of him. So the news of his father’s demise yesterday morning and his taking the flight to his country immediately was of least bearing to me and I seldom thought of it further than when I heard the story. However some who has had open confrontation with him and had outspokenly branded him all that he really is, took no time to place telephone calls to him and express condolences, concern and etiquette of what we call civilised hypocrisy.

One can argue as some did that when death visits one must forget all hostility and disapproval. I was unsure for a while and then this morning, I placed through a call to his mobile phone. It rang its full length of ring but he did not attend the call. Perhaps he was busy with some subsequent event or perhaps he cared a damn to attend my telephone call.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Another Chance


                                      

        “Give me some sunshine, give me some rain;
          Give me another chance I wanna grow up once again.”

But then, if wishes were horses and if horses could fly….!                                                                                    
Well,because there is no restraint on what one could dream. And every one does, I do. Dreams that are no holds barred, dreams about cunning, avarice, love, fear, death, pain, happiness, Jubilation, profanity, lust, titillating dreams, dreams that will wrench away the mask and expose hypocrisy naked..…  .The list is endless. Since my divorce with organized religion and God many years ago in my teens, the gentleman has not come into my dreams. Good for him and me, as you will agree it all boils down to self-respect, I shan’t blame him for that!

“Give me some sunshine….” resonates with desire that has no seam. A longing that is not lustful and covetous, but of yearning for a chance to relive, fully aware that there is beauty in sunshine and even much in the rain! I wonder if life without pain and loss, sadness and parting can relish or attain the beatitude of life. It was Van Gogh who said,” A man who has not suffered has nothing to tell with his paintings”.
That said, I do not think that if life was not a roller coaster as it was until now, I would think of a second innings as a wish that is endearing like the endless horizon caressing the ocean. Metaphors apart, equating rain with the dreariest moments in life that went by is quite rude and ungracious.

There are essentially many things that would be put on the block for correction and paths that will be trodden that never have been before. The fear of the unknown, I certainly want relegated. A mystery stays mysterious until you know and perceive it. It is ephemeral, isn't it?

Well talking about something that is foremost is the woman in one’s life. It was rather a fascinating and jovial coincidence that I and C have two more lives where we cannot be separated-so said the revered astrologer to my mother. I wonder if I would see him around in the next life! His predictions or rather call it statement is comforting as I doubt, if my disposition would ever change in a reincarnated life and in that event no woman other than the poor C can be apposite. Tough days for her in that eventuality, because if I seek to change from what I’m, the raison d'ĂȘtre of a second chance will be consigned to triviality. However I wish her unrequited affection and love is garnished with more of logic and sensibility, lest ….!

It will be uneventful and ennui if I should not meet the people who I may want to be distanced now, for it is such creatures that give us the lessons of unconventional wisdom that no erudition and university can impart.
I might want to be a different adolescent, and understanding teenage son so that poor ones at home who rear me may not feel the pangs from my delinquencies.
If good old blokes who are friends are not around the nimbus is lost and one is halved as human being.

“Give me some sunshine, give me some rain;
Give me another chance I wanna grow up once again.”

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Sham



                       “Oh hang your head in shame
                        Oh, doesn’t your conscience ever bother you
                        Every time you hear my name
                       Well, try and think all that I’ve gone through
                       And then you hang your head in shame
                               And cry…” RC

Conflicting views and opinions that are at logger heads have been aired by many from different quarters after the execution of Mohamed Afzal in the terror attack  on the Indian Parliament.. Much of the observations, statements, outrage, sadness and all other forms of humanly possible expressions have been based with the eye on political brownie points, besides they were mostly bigoted, impetuous and moored in the perverted philosophy of retribution that we camouflage as justice meted out in a civilized and morally conscientious society.

Foremost, every Indian must ask unto them, why a man accused of (indirect) complicity in an act of war on the country itself, was condemned to die by the Indian Judicial system even when it was apparent that the case against him was only circumstantial, when many pegs did not match the holes and when the accusations against him were not impervious nor fool proof. To put it in simple words how conscientious and prudent was it to send a man to the gallows based on circumstantial evidences? When it is often seen these days by the unnerving dissection of judicial pronouncements by the media and the thinking intelligentsia, that the learned college of Justices do err , it was Afzal Guru’s misfortune that he met the fate he eventually got. I ‘m not in any erudite position to dissect the judgment of the highest court but it is apparent after scouring through analysis and comments on the charges framed on Afzal Guru that vital links are amiss. If death penalty is warranted for the rarest of rare cases surely circumstantial evidences and lack of proper legal recourse for the accused, besides the glaring flaws in the case filed by the investigating agencies will in them question the sentencing to the gallows.

Secondly it was immoral, and cowardice of our society and the government that the man was killed in secrecy and without following humane principles, ethics and decency that other abominable felons were provided. It was an Orwellian morning last week for the biggest sham –called Indian democracy!
When the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination were given reprieve because of being confined in the death row for an agonizing length of time, why was not that largess or equitable consideration provided to Afzal Guru? He was certainly not a terrorist, though he did have a shadowy past as an aspiring jihadist and later disillusioned by the jihadist philosophy came back into the social stream of the Kashmiri society. Are we trying to believe that there is no place or chance for reformation in a civilized society and in the human mind? If so there is indeed a glaring fault in the very idea of Christian philosophy for instance! And the action of the Indian State sends disconcerting signals to the discontentment boiling among the youth of Kashmir and also a lesson for those disillusioned with fanaticism and jihadist life,- those who want to integrate back into the main stream..

Thirdly, the hoarse braying for Afzal Guru’s blood and for retribution that was heard on and off and the endorsement of his hanging reeks of a vermin psyche. Does it do justice to what we claim to be a civilized, democratic and just society? If his life was to be extinct to save India, the fact is there are plenty who are at large in different walks of life and even cocooned in the immunity of our legislatures who bear direct and indirect threat to the very fabric of civilized society and democracy.

Finally, Afzal’s execution and the swift course of the law towards that once the Presidential pardon was denied, deter separatist tendencies, militancy and negate all reasons for Kashmiri youth to take up arms against the Indian State? Why has the Indian State failed miserably in transforming the outlook of Kashmiris? Why do they foresee or believe that a bleak future and serfdom awaits them and their posterity if Kashmir remains in the Indian Union?Why do they want to opt out of the Indian Union even when they know the misery of the twin nation theory and the abysmal state of Pakistan next door? Why have the Kashmiris not emotionally integrated with the concept of India? And this, even after sixty six years of independence and signing of the instrument of ascension by the ruler of Kashmir, speaks disparagingly of various governments in New Delhi, opportunistic politics and insensitivity of the Indian State. It speaks of total failure of Indian polity. And such judicial outcome and the execution that rivals the secrecy practiced by the former USSR after confining a person eight years on the death row smacks of political expediency and are not helping the cause of sealing militancy and terrorism in the valley.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cornucopia




It happened some years ago and this man with whom I had a brief acquaintance whiffed into my thoughts this morning. It is the easiest thing in life to be critical about another, while we may often ignore or overlook into ourselves and be critical of self. Nevertheless, as I try to be not judgmental about this person, I cannot refrain from observing how silly and stupid his actions and thoughts were. It was naiveté!

An unassuming quite man, he was known to me for a while through a friend. He and his spouse were Bank employees by profession and was enjoying a middle class life .It was without forewarning that abruptly something triggered in him the urge and longing to be rich- rich as rich can be. Having being transferred on his job to the industrial town where I lived and worked, he was dazed by the speed and maddening pace of commercial life in the town and the rapidity in which people became neo rich. The industrial city was equally famous and infamous for all the good and the bad reasons of commercial entrepreneurship. Certainly money that could be made in that booming town was amazing. But what he did not recognize was the stupefying speed at which the money, made and the richness got could also be nullified in even time. I mention the word money specifically as he, like most of the town folk related money to wealth and material wealth alone.

I, one day came across him at the local railway station and he was boisterous and in greatly enlivened spirit. To me it appeared quite strange, for he was reticent and soft spoken by nature. He took out a book from his bag and thrust towards me. ”Read it”, he said. “This will change your life overnight”.

With the least presumption and prejudice I took the book and flipped through, for I did not believe that a book could change one overnight. I do not remember the title of the piece- it was something like, “How to make money or How to become a millionaire”. Instinct told me that the book was the kind of ‘Dale Carnegie’ stuff and that was something I was never fascinated about, all those quick remedies and quick firing in matters of life. I remember thanking the man for the advice and persuading him to take back his book and that I would borrow it later. But he was insistent that I have it then and read it. For, he swore that he saw his life brighter than ever before and he will not have to turn back. He was very persuasive of the value of the book and its contents. I do not have the book with me now and remember casting it somewhere soon after.

I must indeed have to mention that the poor fellow was later heard to have been chastened and disillusioned. But only after losing as substantial part of his savings and provident fund benefits which he literally squandered by following his “Bible” to the letter. Apparently he invested with some local charlatan in the latter’s business there and was squarely cheated.

A doc friend once told me that money is in fact necessary and is a vital life line. I cannot disagree for it will be pompous and silly. He also added that those who swear having no need or value for money would rue when they are penniless and their turgid statements in the twilight of their lives. For not all are lucky to have a smooth sailing into the sun set.

The important point is what is the limit of sanity in terms of wealth? And what is wealth per se?

I ‘m aroused by a comment of Warren Buffet. He said, “I know people who have lot of money and they get testimonial dinners and hospital wings named after them. But the truth is that nobody in the world loves them. When you get to my age, you will measure your success in life by how many people you want to have loved you, actually do love you. That is the ultimate test of how you lived your life.”






Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Warmth of Hearts



I had a dream.
It is strange that sometimes events and people from long ago visit us in dreams. Whatever may the Freudian analysis about such episodes and of which I must confess I have no knowledge of, it is certain three things in life would stay in our subconscious- people, places and events. Perhaps flavour of good gastronomic delights too!

It is often irksome and wakes you from the deep slumber when a quiescent and pleasant dream is cut short without an end and in haze. One such happened the other night.
The genesis of the story was long ago when I was in my twenties and the three of us who were from Thpuram used to with unfailing routine meet over weekends and, breaks from work in between on other holidays. I used to travel back from Cochin where I was then placed. The meetings were generally at S’s house and we used to spend much time of the day and evenings in his room tucked away downstairs. We used to spend hours talking nothingness, women, and all nonsense under the sun. In gradual time we acquired the audacity to have a few glasses of booze as well, secluded there. All this, while two noble souls used to be sitting up above, watching television and chatting – S’s wonderful parents!

The extreme difficulty was we had to go out through the living room upstairs where his father and mother spend most of their time. So sneaking out after the few drinks was ruled out and invariably one of them caught us on the way out and we had to sit with them and politely spend sometime chatting. It was awkward to be around with them after our episodes with alcohol.But,I'm certain his father was aware of our audacity but he did never mention even in passing.

The uniqueness I have not seen in other parents was the unbridled affection and love they had for us. The difference between their son and we, his friends was something they were alien to them. It was one particular incident when B, reached the house and found his parents with a few old guests seated in the living room. When the strangers saw him behave like an  inmate and straight  into conversation and unrestrained chatter with the father and mother, one impertinent old fellow in the group eyeing him suspiciously asked the father who the fellow was. His immediate response was, “This is S’s friend and he is  like my son, rather he is my son too!”
It is beyond the capability of words to describe the pure love and feeling they maintained for us. They were not from the economically  upper-class of the society. In fact his father retired as a policeman in the common rank. His parents reared six children and we now sometimes reminisce that all the six are in very good realms of life, it is because perhaps of the nobility of hearts of the old couple.

It was on the occasion of the sixtieth birthday of B’s mother that we had a small luncheon at his house. It was during the peak of the simmering upheaval in the aftermath of my decision to marry  “C”, a catholic girl. I was there with my mother and S with his mother too. Besides us there was B and his mother. I had not met S’s mother since the news of my audacious and unconventional decision was out. She looked me straight in the face and said in an admonishing note, “You little scoundrel .Do not grin, after all that you were up to, do not keep smiling at me. You boys take pleasure in hurting us, parents and our feelings.”S and B were taken aback by the suddenness of the rebuke and its tone. My mom was affected severely and she later confided to my sister. B's mother was elegantly callous in appearance as if she did not hear the reprimand.  I was taken aback for a brief while (though it seemed like eons) by the severity of the rebuke. But after, I was feeling sublime and serene within- for her angry short expressive outburst and censure was something different from the more passive disapproval I faced from my mother who was then nonconforming in a different way to my decision. It was then and where I understood the intense power and rage of affection. I still remember the happiness in her face and how she took C by the hand and held her when I took her to S’s house after our wedding. The bond sometimes exists even when one is not tied by the superficiality of relationship.

I saw them vividly in the same living room and like I may have seen them many a time while they were alive. It was hazy as dreams often are. But then is it not the haziness and the abrupt ending of dreams such as this that makes one live with fond memories?