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.