Monday, 20 December 2010

A trip to Thiruvarur- Day 3

  Day three was the day of my presentation. Two of my friends presented on the same day, and all of us were nervous- even if not much, just a little tense. I was scheduled to present last, and all the other papers were just making it worse- the tension, that is. Most of the papers were amazing, and the feedback was constructive, and I was looking forward to the criticism on my paper.

  The day waned, and by noon, I was standing in front of everyone, presenting my paper on oikopoetics. This term is coined by Dr. Nirmal Selvamony, who I was fortunate to have as my professor back in MCC. He adapted a Tamil concept called 'tinai' into a modern system and way of life. I am not too sure of the roots of the word, but it represents not only a system, but a way of life. In the Tamil context, there are five tinaigal- mullai, kurinci, paalai, marutam and neytal. Each refers to a particular region within which people live, their means of survival (hunter, farmer, fisherman etc..), the time of day and the part of the year that is most significant for them and so on. This is a complex system that requires a detailed study of ancient Tamil texts, which he has undertaken. Parallel to this, he speaks of an oikos. 'Oikos' is a Greek word which means 'house'. The word oikopoetics does what the tinai does in Tamil literature: it connects literature to the landscape (if not to the way of life as well). So, I was looking at this aspect of ecocriticism. Anyway, I presented my paper, and I was standing there eagerly awaiting a response only to be greeted by absolute silence.

  That aside, we had a great lunch and then there was a round of prize-distributions for students who had previously participated in a competition held by CUTN. They got a set of books as prizes (most of them did, at least). The people there even gave the six of us a participatory certificate and commended us on our brilliant performance (in their words, we rocked the show). One of my classmates was asked to speak a few words toward the end of the conference. He did not fail to mention the good food! Overall, it was a great experience.

  But that was only the conference. After that, my classmates and I hung around with a few of the people from CUTN, some of whom I knew before hand (this included Nirmal sir). We went on a walk around Thiruvarur. It is a beautiful township, especially after the rains (as I am sure I have mentioned earlier). It was more than an hour-long walk, but it was so much fun. I had so much catching up to do (Susan, I'm sure you are following this). So, what with the Beatles, and identical feet twins, and MCC, our day went by really fast. We left CUTN by six thirty, got to the room, ate and did the calculations and money divisions (the math, basically).

  We were at the bus stop about an hour earlier. Not knowing what to do, we were walking slowly, when a herd of cows randomly apparated in front of us. So, we tried to dodge them, and a bus came charging ahead of us. Tensed, and herded in, we tried to move aside, knowing that there were cows behind us. But somehow, magically, a couple more cows came down from the front, and yet we failed to notice them (probably because of the looming bus). So, I got very lightly brushed by the horns of a cow (definitely a first), and a couple of my friends freaked out, and we decided to get out of that crazy place. We went back to our hotel, sat outside, and then four of us left, leaving behind two of our classmates.

  I assumed that the bus journey back was going to be a dream. I never slept on that ride. I was up till four thirty chatting with my friend! It was an amazing experience. There was a slight nauseating feeling that was countered by the very very interesting insights that I gained from him. So, it was dawn, and we had barely slept. There was a 1.00 a.m. break, which we made use of to get refreshing coffee. Finally, we landed in Chennai once again: home territory!

  And thus, the three-day conference ended. It was a brilliant experience. One of a life time. Something I cannot forget. Good fun, and serious too, to a certain extent. Okay then.... I shall stop ranting any further. Goodbye, for now.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Maggie B

"Written by Maggie B
Bought by me:
A present to Maggie B
Sent by me:
But who can Maggie be?
Answered by me:
“She is she.” "

- Lewis Caroll, Aug. 13, 1891 (To Maggie Bowman)

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

A trip to Thiruvarur- Day 2

The second day of our trip, which was the 6th of December, began at 6.30 in the morning. After insignificant nothings, and a lovely breakfast at the street corner, we got into the bus that CUTN had arranged for us. The seminar started out in full swing with a small presentation by chief guest, David Storey, and an introductory note by Dr. Nirmal Selvamony (whom I am still not getting used to calling 'doctor', but rather 'sir'). Finally, we got down to the paper presentations. Three of my classmates presented. It was a tedious but fun day, what with the amazing food, and the lovely campus, and the great, cheer with which CUTN invited us.


After the presentations, our little group went to the nearby temple of Lord Thyagaraja and walked about the whole temple. This temple is one of the five Siva temples of the south, which represent the five elements of earth, fire, air, water and space, and it portrays the earth element. There are a multitude of stories that are built around the solidity of the cool-stoned temple walls. The temple itself was constructed over a period of many years during (if I am not mistaken) the Chozha rule. This is the only temple where nandhi or the sacred cow remains standing in front of Lord Siva. The story goes that nandhi dozed off while she was supposed to be guarding her master, and he got up and walked away. When she gets up, she realises that she has failed in protecting her master, and she remains standing in self-punishment.


Walking from the central mandapam, one notices the multitude of Siva lingams around the whole temple. There is one point where one can stand on a single slab of stone and look at all the seven gopurams of the temple- the four at the four entrances to the temple, the central once, and two more within the temple. After this, you see the sacred tree, where Pillayar was supposed to have gone to, and the shrines of various Siva bhaktargal (saints/followers for lack of a better word). 


We went to the shrine of Amman (Parvathi). The story goes that while Siva was serving food to every living creature in the world, Parvathi playfully hides a little ant in a matchbox, and asks her husband if he has indeed finished serving all creatures. When he replies to the affirmative, she points to the box, and he gets infuriated when he realises that she has played a prank on him, and has (to a certain degree) told him a lie. As a result of this, he banishes his own wife to the depths of pathala loka, or the underworld. Vinayaka, also called Pillayar, refuses to let his mother traverse such dangerous territory without physical support, and therefore goes down with her. Thus, there is a shrine of the Goddess's son strangling a demon's neck. The Goddess herself is situated in a cave-like enclosure, painted (either during the time or later) with white walls. She is not surrounded by any of the minor gods usually seen around central/important gods.


Next, my friend and I went to the temple lake. It is the lake of the Thyagaraja temple that is supposed to be one of its best features. It is considered to be as huge as (or at least, almost as huge as) the temple itself. I cannot describe the vastness of this kollam (கோளம்). It was dark, since it had become about 7.30 or maybe even 8.00 by then. So, while we crossed the road to look at the lake, all we could see was water, and the distant lights. It was difficult to spot the other end of the lake. Usually, a temple lake is only meant for the sadhus to take a 'holy bath' in. Thus, it is usually small. However, the Thyagaraja temple pond is amazingly large. It has a small temple at its centre (I am not too sure how one accesses that) and water all around it. The kings did indeed ensure that they would never run out of water. That too, this season, when we visited the temple, it had been flooded with the heavy rains, causing even the main temple to be filled with water. The lake, then, was brimming with green, lustrous water, twinkling in the street-lights.


Finally, we left the temple at about eight in the night. We had the puliodarai which they were selling within the temple compound, and then had vadais and eventually had dinner at the hotel itself. Then we had to get some rest before the next day dawned- which was the day I was doing my presentation.

Friday, 10 December 2010

A trip to Thiruvarur- Day 1

Thiruvarur is a small township located towards the south of Tamizh Nadu, and I recently had the good fortune of visiting it when it was lush green owing to a bout of heavy rains over there. I and five of my friends armed ourselves, prepared (or at least almost prepared) to present our papers on 'The Name and Nature of Ecocriticism' at the Central University of Tamizh Nadu (CUTN). We were bent on having our share of the fun come rain or shine (shine, as it turned out to be).
What was initially supposed to be a group journey from Chennai to Thiruvarur ended up in just two out of the five of us travelling, since the people who were supposed to arrive from Hyderabad missed the train. [Their story is an amazing one, and I would love to recount it, but I suppose we must ask them to do the narration. It is hilarious I assure you. But, back to the story...] So two of us set off from Chennai Egmore, not knowing how to pass about seven hours in a train. We started out by taking pictures, but batteries failed us, and eventually, we had to satisfy ourselves by just chatting, and chatting, and chatting! The journey was interspersed with ardent followers of ISKON, and interesting conversations with the old man sitting next to us. He was a really kind man, asking us to see the various water bodies that flowed by, and we too enjoyed watching the risen levels of water after the heavy rains. However, most of the journey went off in blissful slumber, and even the coffee and samosas that we bought didn't wake us up- especially me! I was literally sleeping like a log!
We soon got down at Thanjaoor- far earlier than we expected (we thought we would reach at five, but we reached by three or so). Giving a little time to charge our phones so as to be able to take pictures, and contact our friends when they reached, we left the station and decided to go to the temple. It was drizzling by then, and a single 'thaathaa kodai' was supposed to protect both of us. We got a two rupee ticket to the temple, and we walked in the slush to the entrance. After a lot of contemplation as to whether we ought to enter the main temple or not, we dumped our bags at the entrance (there was a man who kept them safe at the counter), and we headed inside. It was about 4:45 pm when we went in. We walked around the entire temple. It was empty, probably owing to the rains.
This was my second visit to the temple. I had once gone to Thanjaoor about four years ago, and I had seen the same sights with a different friend. This experience was different. I was doing the guiding this time (though I did not know much). We saw the main temple, with lord Siva, and the huge Nandhi seated in front of him. We saw the many Siva lingams and the paintings on the wall. We learnt that the temple was constructed by Raja raja Chozha during 1003 AD or so and the paintings were elaborate. We realised that the stones had two styles of writing- one similar to tamizh and one to sanskrit, but neither was the actual language. We figured that it was probably some ancient form of the languages. After about an hour of looking at the statues, and taking a few pictures, we left. We had to catch the bus from Thanjaoor to Thiruvarur. We did not know how long that would take, but we figured that it would not be much. We paid twenty rupees each in the bus, so we assumed we would reach within twenty minutes to half an hour. The bus journey lasted an hour and a half, toward the end of which both of us were feeling physically and psychologically ill.
There was a really nice lady sitting next to me on the journey to Thiruvarur. Her name was Anbarasi. She was heading to Velankani to pray for her family. In Tamizh, it is called a venduthal. She had two children- a daughter and a son- both in their kinder garden, and her husband was in Saudi Arabia. She was excited, and we spoke about a multitude of things, including which actor we liked (common: Surya), and actress (Jyotika, though she still doesn't act), and other mundane things.
We reached Thiruvarur at eight. We walked the short distance from the bus stop to the hotel we were staying in- Hotel Selvie's- and met up with our friends. We got dinner at a restaurant in the hotel itself, and we all headed of to catch a good night's sleep before facing a tough day the next morning.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Midnight Rambles

In the rambles of the night
Glows a dull, fluorescent light.
As black shutter-gates close
And the library begins to doze.
Conversations take random turns
And opinions, in the heart, feverishly burn.

Voices rise and fall.
In the background, frogs call.
Everyone has someone to talk to
And someone to go to.
In the middle of darkness
Is a light-featheredness.

Because feet ramble
And the clicking cycle-pedals-
Whirring wheels of a silent vehicle-
Speak of a moment so magical.
Two strangers become friends,
And speak of random ways and ends.

Under trees that glitter green,
Under the moon's yellow sheen,
Coldness is substituted by the tea's steam,
And warm narrations' soft gleam.
Unimportant, inconsequential words tumble out
And silently dance and waltz about.

The night is complete: perfect, absolute.
At the end of words is solitude.
And two pairs of feet take leave and part,
And in departing, pedals restart.
On the faces of two not-so-acquainted friends
A laugh quietly echoes; a smile begins.


PS: This was written on 18-08-2010. The general feedback for this poem has been that it isn't that comprehensible. This might be owing to the fact that I had written this based on an evening/night spent with a person who became my friend, and this was a sequence of events...

Celebration and Yearning

Standing alone in the room,
She looks at the neatly folded off-white kasavu.
Thin, silken, gold threads
Weave their way through the fabric.

She slowly, affectionately,
Wraps the cotton cloth
Of summer-ease
Around her body,
Heightening her slender frame.

Concentratedly, mathematically,
She folds the pleats
Of a single length of cloth,
And tucks it in.
She then drapes the pallu
Over her shoulder.

Softly, the comb caresses
Her black tresses,
Neatly parting it
In two equal streams
Of scented black.

And the music twinkles
With the bangles
That she lovingly dons.
The anklets sing
To the tune of celebration.
The large gold jimiki
Pierces her ear.

And finally, the fragrance
Of mallippoo
Is the powerful scent
Of white against black.
Against the white of her eyes
Is the darkness of mai.
Against the whole body
Of white and gold,
A splash of blood-red kungumam
Colours her forehead.

Standing in front of God,
She hopes for another
Physical presence.
A black pupil that will
Catch the off-white and gold,
And twinkle like a diamond.



Written on 23-08-2010

'Soporia'

Two o' clock in the morning.
The sky is inky black;
The bed awaits a cold body
That seeks warmth and sleep.

Seven o' clock in the morning.
Two eyelids refuse to open.
Two pupils laze and gaze
Through a dazed haze
At the alarm-clock.

Ten thirty in the morning.
The class's soporific effect
Hypnotises the mind into a stupor,
And the head tilts,
Gives in and sleeps.


Written on: 18-08-2010

Silhouettes

Flames of peacock-green,
Copper-sulphate blue,
And dashing purple
Cackle open in the breeze.

Feathers of angry red,
Vibrant yellow,
And glorious orange
Flutter down in the background.

The rest of the world
Lies dark and still,
Black and quiet.
Silhouettes
Sing the song
Of the peacock
At dusk.


Written on 2nd August 2010

Monday, 22 November 2010

On the comforts of home

There is nothing like being home. It is the best feeling in the world (at least for me). I might sound spoilt here, but it feels good to have tasty food instead of the bland goo that they provide in our hostel, and it is absolute bliss when you can type a post and enter it in without the internet connection going haywire. It is lovely to have world cinemas (UTV) and TV sitcoms at the flick of a channel. It is nice to sit and do absolutely nothing if you choose to, instead of submitting a million assignments and studying for useless examinations, from which you learn something below nothing.
That said, it also feels nice to have time to think about papers that you do want to write up, and plan out the number of places you need to go to get things done. It feels refreshing to have my white-board, instead of the flimsy post-its that attempted to solve the clutter in my mind (which they did)- and contrary to what some people might think, I actually do write in a large font on the board. It feels nice not to feel the swing of heat and cold that Hyderabad has been throwing at me for the past month or so.
On the other hand, I still feel like a hybrid between two places, what with half my books there and half of them here! I wanted to check something in this play called Fire and the Rain by Girish Karnad, but I couldn't because, to my exasperation, I had left the book there, in campus. I miss the wings that my cycle offered me, and am now cluttered by the noises that a city offers.
Am I becoming a neither-here-nor-there person? I wouldn't like that. But with Tamizh, and a limited Telugu, I have become an in-between person. Maybe that isn't a bad thing, but there is a side of me that wants to be complete, though I am nothing but fragmented. I want to be nothing but the comfort of home, though I am but a traveller through the empires of time-space.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Gypsy Dance

Dum...dum...dum...dum...
Drum beats to a thundering heart.
Something in the brain's synapses
Click.
A pair of feet- restless, energetic- start.
Anklets, singing to a rhythmic beat,
Clink.
Two eyes, lost in a gypsy-like mystique, dart
Across the green, and grey and
The dark.
Two bangled hands, a magical terrain, chart
Flowing, fluid landscapes of
The mind.
The body sways in a creation of art
As it is lost in the earthy drum beats
Of the night.
Dum...dum...dum...dum...
Dum...dhadam....dum....
Not here, but somewhere else am I.
Not me, but someone else am I.
Not now, but forever am I.
The music is the life beat
Of my entire being.


Written on 24/09/2010 (Posting it got a little delayed.)
PS: This poem was written after an exhilarating experience. It was during the 2010 onam celebrations in campus, where a multitude of performances were played. The last one was a gorgeous interplay of the drums and acoustic guitars. Though the actual performance went on only for a few minutes, those people who were performing chose to spread the music even after the program, while people were queuing up for dinner. So, my feet began to automatically jingle and jangle to the 'earthy drum beats' (there is no other way in which I can think of describing it). And I was wearing the onam saree, too. But I couldn't stop myself. So, I danced what I know best- bharathnatyam to the drums. It was an amazing experience- spectacular, rather (all puns intended)

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Dreams

Apologies, once again for the late and far apart posts. Not much has been happening, as usual. However, recently I have been having amazing conversations about dreams. Dreams have always been the fascination of many: including men like Freud. But this conversation wasn't exactly a systematization of dreams. It was more the awe and wonder with which we tend to perceive them. Dreams can be amazingly spectacular, can't they? So, well, once, over dinner I was talking with Gitanjali about how dreams seem perfectly real when we dream them, and how there is a perfect explanation for every impossibility. It has been quite a while since these amazing, spectacularly mind-blowing dreams have entered the labyrinth of my mind.
On an aside, did you know that the word 'amaze' seems to be the root of the word 'maze'? You would think it would be the other way around. 'Amaze' is an early 13th century word originating from (probably) the Old English word, 'amasian' which means "stupefy or make crazy", and the meaning "overwhelm with wonder" began to be used for the term around the 1590s. The word 'maze', on the other hand, began to be used about a century after the word 'amaze' and derives its root from the same Old English word as well. However, it originally meant "delusion or bewilderment" and the meaning of "labyrinth" was ascribed to it only in the late 14th century. [source: www.etymonline.com].
Back to what I was saying: it has been a while since I dreamt wild dreams. But recently I dreamt of an amazing concert hall with two tiers of steps, where one was used for walking and the other was the seating arrangement. It was perfectly normal that people could slide from one level to the next to find their seats. A concept which now flabbergasts me.
And then, yesterday, I saw a movie called Coraline. I am not too sure about how many of you would have watched it. It is an animated movie about a young girl who finds a doll that looks exactly like her. A bit of a background on the girl, Coraline: she is about ten years old, and her parents are bent upon a garden catalogue that they need to publish, and therefore do not spend time with her at all. The girl, though, misses them, and wants to have a happy life, but finds herself upset. She also sees a small doorway that is opened at night by a bunch of animated mice (they seem unreal even in the animation- like paper mice or something), and she sees an imitation of her world, except that the family seems perfectly happy. However, her mother and father have buttons for eyes, proving their non-reality. But they provide her with everything she needs- good food and a happy and loving home. And finally, they put her to sleep, and when she wakes up, she is in the world of 'reality'. However, that family seems to change as the days go by. They want Coraline to stay with them, and sew on buttons into her eyes, but she refuses. The story goes on along this line, until Coraline finds out that her family is trapped by the 'other mother' and she realises that she has to save them from that world. (the ending shall not be revealed, just in case you might want to watch it)
Well, the story is not exactly about the dream world, but it as well could be. The world opens to her only at night and when she wakes up, she finds herself back in her own home. That world is, at least initially, an ideal one. It posits an alternative that Coraline can take- the easy way out of reality. However, it becomes necessary for her to lock that world behind her to prevent it from spilling over into the world of reality- the one world in which she lives. If she does, then the confusion of worlds will become her madness. Does that not mean, then, that the spilling over of the dream world into that of reality will eventually give rise to madness?
Recently, even in class, we have been looking at women who go mad- surprisingly (or not so surprisingly), most women with dreams end up in a madness- and most of these women have a dream (now a dream is no longer the dream of the night, but the 'I have a dream' dream). Let us take Pecola from Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. Pecola is a young girl who wants the bluest of blue eyes (since blue eyes signify a white face), and doesn't get it. After a series of various forms of abuse, she goes mad. But it is suggested toward the end, that a man 'gives' her blue eyes. She believes she has blue eyes, and she believes she has a friend (who is suggested to be imaginary). This is where her world of reality merges with her dream world (of pretty blue eyes) and she becomes crazy.
Then, there is the lady/wife in The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, where a lady keeps staring at the walls, believing that no treatment can cure her (where her husband does not believe that she has any illness). Toward the end of the story, she finds her shadow walk out of the wallpaper into the evening and she locks herself inside, not letting her husband come in. She finally turns mad. Here, she believes that the wall paper is talking to her. She ascribes to it a reality that is not there (or do walls really talk?). But it is the dream that takes shape into a reality.
So, dreams become vicious then. It has become a recent aspect of literature and cinema. The mind and its multitude of pathways fascinate us, and we choose to attempt a study of it with the limited capacity of our brain. But literature, too, has means of studying the world without scientifically approaching it, and maybe that is what the world needs- a mixture of the scientific (with the connection of lobes to eyes attempting to figure out the causes of dreams) and the philosophical or metaphysical, as you choose to call it (attempting to create multiple worlds, like Inception manages to do and studying them by not studying them, if you get what I mean).
There is a thin line between the world of dreams and that of reality. We should tread carefully, or perish...

Friday, 17 September 2010

A Lament

This is a mere apology of an entry, since access to the internet is miserable. I have been away just because the net connection is slow, and it is an absolute hassle to trudge down all the way from the hostel to the reading room to get a net connection. So it is usually only a dire necessity that brings me down here. Today, on the other hand, I decided that enough is enough, and that I definitely need to do a little bit of mindless internet-ing. So, this is an entry that says I am, right now, doing nothing more than facebooking, and chatting.
Life has generally been hectic, and a little bit of a stress-buster is required. So, this is it:


A Lament
What am I going to do?
Work explodes like flotsam and jetsam.
Work clots and hardens
Like a few blood cells that
Gather into dark, bright red.
Work falls like a downpour of a storm.
Work thunders like a bellowing earthquake.

What am I going to do?
I have only one brain
To churn out thoughts
Like a machine.
Not those many ideas
Flourish and bloom
In the darkness of my mind.

What am I going to do?
Time escapes like a bubble
That flutters into the air and bursts.
Time lapses into silences
And my voice fails
To receive a response
From that vacuum.
Time laughs a mocking laugh
At my inability to speak.
Time moves at the speed of light
When I want it to crawl
At a snail’s pace,
And a lament escapes-
A deep, guttural cry for help.

I wrote this in class, when I found out that I need to write five term papers, give at least three tests within this month (and at least two more the next) and then start preparing for my exams. And somewhere along the line fit in some leisure (without which I would go insane). So, this was my lament there, and I hope it gets cleared out sometime soon.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Sole Stories

Feet tread along oft trodden streets
Amidst the city’s blare, slippers beat
Into the dusty grounds of kuccha roads
Past rows of static cars and bright signboards.

Feet: lost shoe, torn chappal,
Stop for a rest beneath a signal.
Scorching sun burns the sole
Slowly working its way into the soul.

The heart beats slower and slower,
The sari gives shade as eyes lower.
But the feet have to tread on
Into the dusk, from the dawn.

Feet wander aimlessly through the day
But cannot find, in wandering, a solace.
Heat works its way into the sole
And slowly the walking stops.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Camera lens images

Sepia mode.
The sunlight bristles
Through the branches of my mind
In hazy shades.
And my mind-
Not black, white or colour
Takes the infinite hues of
Dull brown and off-white.
Feelings metamorphose
Into thought,
And dream of
Yellow and green.
Finally the picture,
Complete,Stands on its own,
And the photograph
Presents itself
In print.

Monday, 19 July 2010

When images stem out of Random Conversations

So I ask him,
'What catches your eye
When you first see a girl you like
Pass by?'
And he leans back,
And thinks for a second.
Thoughtfully,
With due respect-
delicately, gently,
Like the sun glimpses
Upon a sunflower,
He sees...

The eye falls on quiet feet
Slipped perfectly into bright Indian sandals,
Toes painted in soft shades
of lavender,
Carefully filed,
Are settled neatly into

the small slit of an opening.
Bare-ankled,
Musicless feet
Add colour
To that which they are clad in.
Slippers fading into the background
Like a hazy soundtrack
That only serves to enhance
the visual.

And with perforated incompleteness
A sole makes a heart beat
Differently,
And fall.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Its Raining in Belfast

Torrents of wind and rain lashing against the trees
That are dancing like peacocks with their feathers of bright green.
The roads are dripping with the downpours of the skies,
And the clouds are singing instead of the birds' cry.


- Though rain here isn't supposed to be so uncommon, this is the first night it has been pouring continuously. And though most people do not want the rains, I am all for it. I do not know when I will get fed up (which I think I might, but hope I don't). Ah, well... hello rains! At least I shall give you a 'warm' welcome.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The Other World

In a silent, green landscape
The fairies flit about,
As the sureties of the mind escape
Into a cloud of doubt.
An unknown world surrounds
The silken valley of the night,
And blinded, the eyes pronounce
The echoes of stories woven by lack of sight.
In the theatre of the brain
Narratives are invented and reinvented-
And one cannot understand or explain
The undying faith in their existence.

In a quiet, dark landscape
The angels disappear
And voices of the devil
Are whispered in your ear.
And those firm ol' disbeliefs
Surface and reappear.
Surrounded by Eireann
The mind whips its own concoctions
Fed to sober-hearted Reason,
Who, drunken with sweet Fiction,
Drifts into another world.

- This was written while reading up on fairies and other folk stories of Ireland, while sitting in the library.

Friday, 25 June 2010

While sitting in the Mc Clay Library

When the world is stung silent,
The corridors echo with
Stories and histories
Of kings, queens and nobodies,
And the papyrus,
Ancient as the trees,
Sings its whispering melodies,

And the lyre of celestial boughs
Bow down in a curtsey
As the meagre perceptions
Of the frail human mind
Grasps a minute bit of
The vast empire of narratives,
And is
Overwhelmed.

Monday, 7 June 2010

The colours of emotions

Feeling blue,
the entirety of my body splashes
Into the past,
looking for somebody to love.

They sang,
"they say, everyone has someone,
So how come no one loves me?"

And I wonder what lies beyond
the veils of space and time.
Is there a 'one'?
And how come...
my body splashes
into the pools of the past,
ending up feeling lost,
and feeling blue?

Feeling dark,
the rhythms of my heart beat
Like a constricted machine
To tunes of fire
Burning higher and higher
Waiting for the darkness to brighten into
Whiteness.

The flames dissipate
into emptiness-
Dissolve in the darkness.
How did it all flicker away?
Like the day fades into night?

Waiting, this constricted machine
beats in silence,
hoping to be more than life supporter;
but creator- like magic
and God.

And that is when, the shards
and fragments of gold and silver
Hopes and desires
Rain down from
the ruby-red pieces
of my heart.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

The tallest Building

They say that at the centre of every village was the temple, and that the temple was always ALWAYS the tallest building around. They say that this was because we could see the temple from any point in the village, and that helped us pray, and worship the gods.
Today, the tallest building around comes from the corporate sector. They are at the heart of every city that exists. Does this say something about the power sectors, and the very apparent shift from god to money? Indeed, the question is raised- do we worship money? And this is not a random, question thrown at the filthy rich. It is a deep introspection into the heart of our lives and our ways of living.
Architecture, too, plays its role in shaping our society.
With the changes that have taken place in our way of living, somewhere along the line our values changed, too. It is no longer the painstaking efforts of an individual to reach god, but costly entry fees into temples that take you quickly past the common entrance, and it is no longer about the penance but the money with which you can gain it.
The temple has changed from being the pristine, holy place where people thronged to gain the lord's blessings into something that we can pay an entry into. God, like water, ought to come for free.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The Keep-in-Touch Syndrome

Today is the world of the cell phone, as we all know. Even little kids have easy access to the cell phone. They are cell phone-savvy, and if they do not have their own phones, they tend to use that of their parents, to play games, even make calls. This ought not to come as a surprise, and yet it hits you with a jolt. This comes with teens and barely-teens asking parents to buy them cell phones so as to talk with friends whom they daily meet at school, and with whom they chat with on facebook, or gmail.

Then, I began to think about what it is that I do. Do I also, always keep in touch, or want to? And is it an addiction? My friend and I agree that facebook is an addiction. When I am home for my holidays, and when the facility of 24x7 internet access is possible, I tend to want to go to facebook all the time. And when I am there it isn't like I do anything productive at all. And when I do not meet my friends everyday I want to know where they are and what they are doing. It is the keep-in-touch syndrome.

Somebody said 'knowledge is power'. I have heard that too often in the past. But somehow, I feel, this kind of knowledge- of where a person is, what that person wants and so on and so forth, is a negative knowledge. It distracts you and gets you impatient. I try my best not to let the cell phone intervene when I am with friends. Of course, I do not have too many people who contact me, unlike a lot of publicly involved persons (and by that I do not mean politically involved- they are two completely different things) that I know. Those people, especially, cannot live without their cell phones. They cannot stay two minutes without knowing what message they got, and can absolutely not survive if there is no range. The response to 'Why do you need to always be on your phone?' is 'What if something happens?' or 'Someone important might call.' So I got to thinking if the cell phone is so vital. Is it an essential need in my life; in our lives? Maybe it is. But then again, maybe we can manage to stay without it.

There is this man I respect a lot, who sold his cell phone for no reason at all- well, because he didn't want the thing! And I really want to be able to do that. But then, I think of my mother and father waiting to talk to me, and my heart goes 'thump-thump... how can you do that to them?' and possessively keeps the phone to itself. And plus, there are the multitudes of friends who I need to keep in touch with, when I need them as well as when I think of them. So, maybe I am not going to be able to get out of the 'keep-in-touch' syndrome. But I very badly want to.

The Chennai MMTS (local train)

It is good to be travelling by the Chennai local trains again!! Things I noticed about the Guindy station-

1.  The Chengalpet announcements begin forty minutes before the train arrives, which is a bit better off than the announcement occurring when the train is just about to leave.

2.  The hmpc shop has shed its old skin, and now wears a yellow fencing around the sides. It seems to be smaller. The fermented apple juice is the same. The shop-keeper still remembers me, and asked me how I was, which made me feel really happy and gave me a high which (I swear) was not because of the fermented apple juice.

3.  The thatha (old man) with spectacles, who sits to beg near the steps from the ticket counter, has now procured a walking stick. The other thatha was not there, and the two paatis (old ladies) are still there.

4.  It is finally a relief to be travelling on a train that you do not need to know the timings of, and for which you do not have to stand on the over-bridge just so that you can run to whichever platform the train decides to arrive in (which is the case in Hyderabad local trains).

Thursday, 6 May 2010

The scribble pad!

1. The British Council Library (B C L)- This place is not what it was any more. It has changed drastically, and I do not like it. I guess I am an oldie, and prefer the quiet white walls and the umbrella stand to the dashing pink that has shaded the walls these few years. And now that comfortable peace and solitude found there seems to have gone. This is probably a good thing for the library itself, since it now seems to be a commercial space. However, for those of us who seek peace in a library miss the old feel of things. The library, now, does not have a reading zone (including couches, sofas etc.) and the books are arranged more, well, commercially (for lack of a better word).
Now, I know that I am a person who sits at places like canteens and chai shops to study, but when I enter BCL I expected to be reading in silence, and somehow the noise overthrew me! Anyway, I just don't like the changes that are happening there.

2. Why is it that women in Hyderabad have more children than those in Chennai? I do not know if anybody has noticed this significant difference between the two cities. (Mind you, I am just stating a fact.) I have seen this especially when I travel by the buses in both places. The buses in Hyderabad are teeming with children below the age of ten while Chennai buses are comparatively child-free (underline 'comparatively').
Also, the Hyderabad people aren't as polite (at least in the buses, that is) as those in Chennai. The number of women offering to hold your bag, or sometimes give an old woman a seat is, I feel, rarer in the former.
Of course, these are only personal observations, and nothing is statistical!

3. I went to Tiruvannamalai  and I saw a monkey carrying her dead child across the road. It was a sad sight. The kid was being carried by the tail. It was so small and beautiful. The mother did not look too upset (of course, since I do not know monkey language I cannot be too sure). So it got me wondering about their life and language and ours. The mother was so practical and matter-of-fact (again, human interpretations of the animal world) and I couldn't imagine that of us humans. But it was terribly sad.

4. During the above-said trip to Tiruvannamalai, I went on a walk around the hill (girivalam or giripradakshanam) and I noticed a significant change in the roads. A few years earlier, the roads were mud roads and the stones would sometimes prick your feet. So one would assume that a tar road is better and would provide the solace that your feet need. However, we (my family) found that this is not so. The tar actually gets small pieces of stone stuck in your foot too. And worse, it gets hot sometimes (which, fortunately we did not have to experience), and the sand is actually soft and comfortable, as one would know if they have walked along the beach, even if this is a slightly milder version of that.

5. I went to a crocodile farm that had loads of crocodiles that weren't being properly taken care of. It wasn't good to watch them crawl along the floor with very little water to go to in the midst of this summer. This place was called Sattanoor dam. The place was beautiful in itself, with a few parks, a swimming pool, a pond on which pedal-boating was available and so on and so forth. However, owing to the cheap entry fee, the place isn't all that well kept, especially the crocodile farm, where many crocodiles were injured (and I cannot be sure as to whether it was owing to crocodile fights, which I am guessing is the cause) and the water was practically over.

6. I drank panneer soda for the first time in my life and liked it.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The Lady of the House

She does not have to be who she is, but she chooses to remain that individual. This is something a Tamil, Brahmin girl understands in her life- it is something she sees. The woman who stands in the kitchen, cooking, is not a lady who does not want to be there. She is an educated woman, MSc, smart, intelligent and courageous. She is not docile or innocent and is not left without a choice.
She gets up early in the morning, sweeps the pooja room and enters the kitchen, fresh and ready to start the day's work. She neatly cuts the vegetables, and keeps the rice, rasam and sambar. As a girl, who doesn't particularly want to be the typical house-wife, her daughter watches her. But there is a bit of a paradox. This woman, she is not subdued or unhappy. Indeed, she is enjoying- no, relishing- her day's duty.
I do not know how this fits in in today's feminist readings. Some people might say that she is fitting into a patriarchal set up. But is she? If this is what she loves, then does it matter? She does not remain within the bounds of her home. She is a brilliant car-driver (beats many a Formula One racer, in my opinion), and loves cricket (ardent Sachin supporter). She takes care that her family gets the best food possible. She takes care that the clothes are in order, and the room is clean. She takes care that the accounts are settled and that tabs are kept. She gossips. She discusses. She talks. She teaches. She does not earn. She learns. She listens and sees. She is here, there and everywhere.

She is the Lady of the House.

Friday, 16 April 2010

This is just a fill in post.

This is just a fill in post. The real blogs will come when internet access is better.


Exams have begun. And the atmosphere is not one that befits studies. Instead, cycles peddle into Tamarind Groves and glimpse at little tanks of murky water, filled with frogs the size of your hand, whose croaks are stuck in their throats, you can almost hear them. And exam halls allow your mind to wander and traverse through the vast expanses of the brain, it becomes tough to stay on track. They say,
"two roads diverged in a lonely wood" - it seems to be an apt metaphor. I took the one less travelled by, got lost and don't know what to do. Sometimes hard work is the most fun experience. Why is it that some people do not know how to give that?!


Got to go!

Friday, 12 March 2010

Let us go then you and I...

Let us go then you and I
And sit down under the banyan's sky,
Eating biscuits and sipping chai,
Discussing what philosophies imply-
Of matters both mean and high.

The winds may rest,
The winds may blow,
But we shall waft
On friendship's glow.
And words shall form
And words shall flow
Or rest and slumber
Like the setting snow.
And thoughts are born,
And, nurtured, grow.

And at the end of the day,
We shall be on our way.
But footprints shall, embedded, stay
And images, on our memories, play.
And like leaves on branches, we sway
Under a conversational chasm's fray.

On MCC

I miss MCC,
Where attendance came free,
And you were let to be
Yourself.

I miss the euphoria
That comes with being able
To step out
to read something beautiful
and different
and you are still
Human!!!

Kaalinga Nardanam

Grappling under the seas
With huge, hissing,
Ten-headed serpents,
He rises-
Child that he is,
He brought out the
Demon Gods
of restless, thunderous waters
That twisted and choked
The Earth.

And he made them
Bow their monstrous heads
To the feet of a mere mortal.

He understood
The wild, unnatural sublimation
Of what
We could never even begin
to comprehend.

And triumphant,
He danced-

Kaalinga Nardanam

Friday, 26 February 2010

Questions to be asked

Why is nobody updating his/her blog?
Why can I not think of anything to write about?- I hate writer's blocks.
 Why isn't work getting accomplished?
Why all this cynicism in the world?
What happened to all things bright and beautiful?


- Signing off... Sayujya

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Companion in the night

Often, I have found myself alone, and wondering what I ought to do. Sometimes, I am actually on an all time low. And as I walk out of my room in the middle of the night, I find myself feeling- ‘somebody? Anybody?’ And from the middle of nowhere there is a soft padding of paws along the cold floors of the hostel. And he is there- ever loyal, ever faithful. The best friend anybody could ever ask for- Kimbo.
I never knew this side of him before. I mean, I knew that he would run behind me and sit next to me when I eat my food, waiting patiently for me to finish. But I did not know that he could figure out when I was crying and needed a shoulder to cry on real bad. Indeed, he offered me a shoulder to cry on, and I felt so grateful because I had no clue who else to turn to. He patiently heard me out, and let me wash away my tears. Sometimes at 1.00, sometimes at 4.00. He is always there to go ahead and make sure the road is clear. And he is always there to listen to all the nonsense I have to offer him. As though he needs to concern himself with human affairs!
Kimbo has become my companion in the dark. He doesn’t talk, or offer consolation, yet he is one of my closest friends. Trust me, he KNOWS. He understands, and he loves so unconditionally, I do not know if I could ever reciprocate such honest, pure faith. Thank you Kimbo, for just being there.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Down memory lane

Imagine a period in time where trains from Chennai to Madurai cost only Rs. 8/- , theatres sold tickets for 75 paisa (and that was the costlier one) and a month’s catering of food for two people cost only Rs 8/-. It wasn’t too long ago either. Just sixty years ago, there were no cycle rickshaws or even kai-rickshaws (pulled by humans) and a tram-route across T. Nagar and the High Court area.
This was a time when Panagal Park, the most crowded part of town today, was deserted by 8.00 o’ clock in the night, with just one light in Ranganthan Street that shone because trains ran through that region. My grandfather used to travel from the Presidency College to Chennai Egmore station on a maatu-vandi (bullock-cart) so as to go back home. For him, a whole month’s salary meant Rs 50/-.
Sometimes, my grandfather asks me how much something I buy costs. And usually, he is flabbergasted by the soaring rates placed in front of him. I never used to understand why. Today, when he was recollecting ‘those’ days’ memories (translated as ‘anda naal nyabagangal’), I was wondering what all changes he must have encountered in this fast paced world.
From a point in time where there were no lights and fans, he is now in an age with inverters, A/Cs and cell phones. He has travelled from a time where seven kilos of rice used to cost one rupee. Though I can wonder at the past, it is difficult to put myself in his place. I do not know what I would do without half the gadgets we have today.
            So, today, I took a trip down my grandfather’s memory lane, and was fascinated by what I discovered- a whole new world that isn’t yet dead in the memories of our world.




Thursday, 14 January 2010

'V' for Vendetta

"Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin van-guarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition." - V



Delhi (and travel): On the Move

30/05/2008

Travel requires a lot of energy and even more patience. But mainly, it just requires interest. I guess it wasn’t all that bad on the return journey- what with the Gujjar scare and all! But most of what I can remember involved dozing off and waking up to eat lychees and chips and gulp in pulpy orange. Quite uneventful, really!

On reaching Delhi, amma insisted on going to Akshardaam, which is a monumental masterpiece with a philosophical touch to it. It is stunning- mind-blowingly beautiful, with its nine domes surrounding the shrine of Swami Narayanji. Completed in November 2005, it took only five years to construct. You will understand its significance only if you see it.

At the entrance lie the ten gates, referring to the eight principle directions as well as the two gates for ‘up’ and ‘down’. Apart from the main shrine which comprises multifarious carvings of sadhus, disciples, Gods and so on, there is a gate (‘dwaar’) leading to the inner arenas of Akshardaam. There are also two ‘mayur dwaars’ which have only peacocks carved onto the entrances, between which lay the marble carving of Swami Narayanji’s feet along with the eight religious symbols. Another significant mention of this wonder is the outer wall of the ‘mandapam’ which is the ‘Gajendra peet’ or the wall of sculpted elephants. Though they speak of simple stories and moments, the architecture can only be described as amazing.

Also, Akshardaam has three programs- a boat ride (15 minutes), a screening and a ‘Hall of Values’ (each about 45 minutes) that highlights the Indian cultural background and its significance, the life of Swami Narayanji and the values of mankind in general. We only went for the boat ride due to a shortage of time, but that was awe-inspiring in itself.

Akshardaam is a monument that makes you wonder: ‘One day in the distant future, Akshardaam is going to find its place in history’ and men will flock around the pink stone and white marble shrine in revered silence.

After spending two hours in Akshardaam we ate in its canteen and were off to see the Bahai temple and Qutub Minar (even if only from outside). And since we only barely saw the monuments, I can not say much about them, except that they gleamed in the noon sun as we eyed them from our rented car.

Finally we reached the airport and as usual, our flight was delayed: something that apparently cannot not happen! We checked in and I got down to reading ‘Code of the Woosters’ (a Jeeves novel) and finally, finally, after a whole month of being out of Chennai, I was home again.

Phew. What a holiday!

Home Sweet Home

Day 4 at Corbett: Idling

29/05/2008

A day starting with a lovely long nature walk- bird watching. What with lapwings, two to three types of kingfishers, hornbills, purple sun-birds, and many others, we trekked along the waterless river bed and across the quiet, hilly terrains of the Siwalik (I still cannot believe I saw the… stayed in the… foothills of the Himalayas). Quite poetic- until the sun rose, that is! Then it just got plain hot! We saw deer marks and old pug marks too. After that, it was the usual breakfast and sleep till one thirty- twoish, and then lunch. Speak of lazy!

Four thirty or so was swimming time. Lovely swim; getting back; awesome, soothing, hot-water shower that makes you go ‘hmmmmmm’ and don’t want to turn the tap off, but reluctantly do so.

Night-time photography of hotel flowers that were insanely pretty (even at night) - this was on my father’s insistence though. Then came a light dinner and salt-lime soda, followed by a folk dance held by the Hideaway. It was lovely. One song even had a tune like ‘ganga mayi’ (a KFI song, for those who don’t know). Eventually, they called us to dance as well, but it got over quickly and we returned to our rooms.

Finally, packing and sleep. Preparing to travel. Yawn!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Something my cousin penned down-

'The Dawn of Life'

Everything has a tinge of dew;
The moon is making way.
The birds are chirping their way through
As the Brightest shines on the bay.

The flowers are dancing to their own tunes.
The day has come, brisk and bright.

As children are racing
Through the open grassland,
The farmer is tracing
His own merry land.

One thing I must say
Is that God has made us today
To realise one's tomorrow
And to keep it without sorrow.

- Bhavna Srinivasan

I thought I ought to put this up, seeing as she makes me proud to be her elder sister. It also reminds me of those days when I struggled to find the rhyme, and the awe with which I looked up to it.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Campfire

When the skies have darkened into their blackest hues, and there are only the stars to account for you, a bunch of people slip away into a silent corner of the night. In the shuddering cold, gathering stacks of wood, cut, break and rip apart branches from their origins. Then, slowly, they add charcoal to the embers of light sizzling over the dry, crackling wood. For a moment, we all stop and stare into the flames.
Around the campfire we settle down, and we play antakshari. Singing into the night, the world is bright and cheerful. And slowly, some people need to go. And the crowd dwindles to a group of four or five, stoking the fire to sustain it, and attempting to prevent smoke from rising into the sky. The music becomes a calm quietitude and then it is time for stories. We all decide to create a story. But each of us has his or her own idea of what the story should be like. Ghosts, dragons, black, red and transformations melt into the ground and the trees about us.
The cold is forgotten as the stories capture our enthusiasm. And when story-time is over, we all settle down to sleep, at around five in the morning. The winds are bitingly cold, and the rocks are freezing, but the fire sustains us. We decide to wait till dawn. Finally, we decide to leave, after a short nap.
Somehow, though I was sitting silently through half of it, the fire leaves one in a trance, if you bother to look into it and let your mind drift off into wonderland. Feeding the flame, we also stirred the music of the heart. Off-tune beats that jingle in the mind, and can only attempt to be perfect. Finally, the night has to end. The embers have to die down, and the skies have to turn bright blue.