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

"VoilĂ ! 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


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


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


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.