My Way

The chronicles of a common man

Scheduled to remain as tribes

A television channel is showing Ratatouille dubbed in Tamil. The promo showed Remy’s father introducing him to the clan – in thick Nari Koravan slang. The dubbing artist must have thought of this idea as a brilliant one, the dad rat who is, after all, a real rat – uneducated and unsophisticated. The artist must have either tried to send a message to every home about their plight or must have seen a rat to be synonymous with a Nari Koravan. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

“Does it come in black?”

“Does it come in black?” – When Bruce Wayne asks Lucius Fox, it hits a chord in the latent mind that reminds you that it is a fiction. Imagine a similar question being asked here? Well, is there something that isn’t black? The activists talk of black money as something to be exclusively associated with politicians and corporates. Probably, they grumble due to the enormity of the money involved.

Black money and corruption is part of our national character. No shame, accept it. Our leaders are just magnified or I would use – aggregated versions of an average Indian psyche. It starts from the time you wake up from bed and get back to it, at times, it even creeps into your dreams.

 

My family and other animals

I happened to read this article about crows and I couldn’t miss remembering one of our own experiences. Coimbatore, Karaikudi, Madurai and even Chennai, our family of four (we are now 5!) has not just remained 4. Fondly being associated with some animal. Coimbatore, it was a solo dog; Karaikudi, we had the best time with 19 dogs in a span of 5 years; Madurai was a bit slow start and surprisingly, brought us in contact with some animal other than a dog. It was cats! And, of course, I can’t forget those poor monkeys.

Forced to move out of their habitats in Thiruparankundram, chased away from our college in the foot hills of Thiruparankundram, they lead a nomadic life stealing from every opportune time. There just remained, probably, one house they never had to steal, it was ours. Serving nuts, fruits and rice, every time they showed up. Soon, they started to come and wait to be fed. My father took more liberty with them, they started taking the food from my father’s hands. But some day they stopped coming and we heard that the forest department caught most of these monkeys without territories and released them in Azhagar Kovil hills.

We moved to Chennai about an year ago. There was another surprise in store this time. It was no dog, no cat, no monkey but a crow, now known as Kaku in our home. Feeding the morning’s first food to a crow is a tradition in our society. One might wonder what makes this Kaku so special. Within months after our movement, Kaku came to understand its breakfast time. If it is not served on time, Kaku would knock the window with its beak. The knocking wouldn’t stop till its breakfast is over. Kaku has become more demanding these days, it will come over to the kitchen window and knock, every time it feels hungry.

Unable to satisfy its eternal appetite, my parents have now tied a couple of vessels to the grilled balcony adjacent to the kitchen and it is always kept filled with food and water! Kaku doesn’t even show a trace of fear for coming in such close proximity to humans. It remains perched on one end of the vessel while my parents fill. Biscuit, mixture, fruits and what not, it gets a share of everything I have at home!

Image

Often, looked down for their color, Crows are indeed brilliant and their survival instincts are inferior to none.

p.s The title is inspired from the one that comes in The Hindu titled, “My Husband and other animals”.

The dearer pets

Yesterday, for the first time, I visited a kennel. It was kind of a farmhouse (just a thought, how was the term ‘animal husbandry’ framed?); spacious, well shaded, immersed in multitude of barks. One could easily guess from the spectrum of the voices that the place must be housing quite a range of dogs. The lady, who seemed to be owning the kennel, showed us around and was trying her best to socialize with my friend’s pups, a golden retriever and a shih-tzu, who were really scared.

Saint Bernard, Pug, Shih-tzu, Siberian Husky, Miniature pinscher are some of the breeds I could register. The dogs cost between Rs.1.5L to Rs.15k and no doubt they were all caged. It was only the night before I watched The Matrix for the umpteenth time and I could not stop my mind from comparing this place with the human fields shown in the movie.

Apparently, the golden retriever pup was visiting his father’s place! The kennel had charged around 45K, with the condition that they would return the money if they were offered the best male pup from the litter. The lady complained that the pup’s hind legs were bent and was expecting them to look like ’11’. So, rejected it straight away.

Another shock I had in the morning was when I heard the cost of the dog food. The ‘Royal Canin’ sack I saw in my friend’s place is Rs.5K! After rejecting the pup the lady a gave piece of advice to my friend. She said, “It was foolish that you chose a Golden Retriever. Instead you should have taken a Shih-tzu initially. They are small and eat so little that one bag comes for three months”. To this my dear friend countered saying, “their litter is small, around 3-4 pups unlike the retrievers”. The lady replied, “Yeah.. but the pups need very little space and a small cage is sufficient for the entire litter. They also poop very little and its easy to clean”. Very practical indeed but my heart was sunk and I knew that I was in a wrong place.

We were about to leave and I saw some mongrels roaming around in the compound. In all likelihood, they are meant for guarding the facility. Karupu was looking beautiful and I asked him what he had for lunch. Probably, he didn’t understand and just kept wagging his tail.

Kumara Parvatha trek

I was too lazy to write and was expecting someone else to do this. But, I guess Senthil got busy eating!

The monsoon trek through Mullayanagiri-Bababudhanagiri-Kemmangundi has not gone well, the group had to return midway. “We should go for Kumara Parvatha”, said Senthil. I did not give it much thought. A few months passed and suddenly there was a mail chain but for god’s sake there was no chain! The Mullayanagiri gang didn’t reply to the thread; Senthil and myself decided that we would go about with the plan of Nov 15 & 16, even if no one else joined. Few days later I checked the availability of 3 of my close football buddies and they were game to the idea! That meant Anoop, Mahesh kini and Mohan would join the trek. Senthil on his part got couple of his office-mates, Chandra and Rakesh. And thus the seven of us started.

We reached Subramanya Road railway station in the morning and hired a jeep to take us to the town, for Rs.25/head. We had a tough time finding a lodge to freshen up. Understandably, the temple was attracting quiet a lot of devotees and all the lodges were full. At last, we found a place; A home, providing the ‘service’ for Rs. 50 per head. With the morning mission(s) completed, we started the trek around 10AM. The internet is flooded with the details about the trekking trail which I won’t cover. The path was a bit tough to negotiate and more than the path it was the weight on our shoulders that was causing discomfort. Probably, I got carried away a bit while shopping at More Megastore and bought more than what was required. Add to this, a tent and a sleeping bag.

The beauty of the landscape, the aroma of the green algae with their meticolous contortions and the sound of a distant stream dripping through the tree trunks made me forget the world, why not the pain? We reached Bhatta’s house around 2PM and had our lunch near the viewpoint (hoping to lose some weight!). We met two other people near the view point who informed us that it would take another 6-7 hours to reach the peak, in ‘our’ speed. Also, we need to cross the forest checkpost before 3PM. The forest department charged Rs. 200 per head for entering the Pushpagiri wildlife reserve.

We concluded that we may not reach the peak before it gets dark and the consensus was that we would reach Mantapa and move further towards the peak till it gets dark or we find a place to tent, which ever comes second! Few of our folks got terribly dejected at the sight of the Mantapa. I thought it would be quiet spacious to be called a ‘Mantapa’. The rocks near the Mantapa offered breathtaking view of the valley(s) we crossed. It was around 5PM and the mists had started to settle for the night but not us. The group moved with much more determination and they had to.

Inquiries with few of the gangs who were coming from the summit gave confusing accounts of the travel time and the place to tent. At last it was a gang of three who gave a more confident estimate. They told that we shall see some flat ground and a stream nearby in some 1-1.5Hrs of trekking and that shall be the excellent place to trek. They told not to try to scale a steep cliff, which will take us to the summit, at this time.

By this time, the footballers had started to gather speed and Senthil, who usually stays ahead, had to slow down because of his shoes and his office-mates. The three (Senthil & Co) coming behind were now convinced that we shall camp very soon and they spent some time taking photographs. The other four got caught by the misty anxiousness and treaded too far. At last, we saw some flat ground good to tent, but there was no water source in the vicinity. Suddendly, we saw another group at the top of a nearby peak. We could recognize the group as the one lead by a guide from basecamp. The four of us decided we should follow those folks as they definitely have a better knowledge about the place. Picking up pace we closed on them and the other three were left far behind. The guide (a lady) was mentioning that they shall camp in the next 5-10mins. This gave, the four of us, hope that the trailing three could find us easily.

And then, the path led us to a forest. I was in two minds whether to stop for the three to join or move ahead. The problem was, all the 3 tents was with us and we had no torchlights. The other three only had sleeping bags and the torchlights were left with them. By now we had crossed all the most-likely-places-to-tent. The basecamp guide kept saying that we were so close to the camping site. We had no other option but to follow the guide as we didn’t have any lighting options. It was darkness all around and I could only hear my own echoes and there was no reply from Senthil. The forest trail ended with a steep cliff and I could now recognize it. This was the cliff I was warned against and all through the path we were moving towards the peak and not a camping site midway.

This is it and there was no point going forward. The other 3 could have easily picked-up the trekking trail so far but not from here. The absolutely steep cliff shall make it look as though there was no route further. In the pitch-darkness, it can be impossible for someone to find the path if it was their first trip to the place. The four of us decided to stay put and not proceed unless we find the other three. Those were frantic moments, we 4 were perched on a slope and were saved from absolute darkness only by a faint pen-torch light. Such was the situation that I even prayed! In that chaotic mind I could hear a frail voice calling my name. “God”, I whispered. It was no frail voice but someone literally scowling and it was Senthil’s voice. It was not that those three were just underneath us, they were quiet a distance away but the fact that we were standing above the forest helped. The basecamp guide was just meters away and I asked her to help us. She said that the peak was only 5mins away and shall return after leaving her group there. My temper gave way and I said, “Lady, you have been saying this (the 10min thingy) for the past 45mins”. Again she said that she will come and started to climb further. It took us another 15mins to help the other 3 negotiate the terrain and at last the 7 were together. With the help of torch lights we found/made the way and reached the peak in 30mins, around 7PM. The peak was a bit crowded with tents and we found some place for three tents and I slept like a baby.

The tent woke me up. Yes, it collapsed unable to bear the weight of three damp jeans trousers. We thought leeches might sneak-in and decided to hang the jeans outside; unfortunately, it rained overnight and the dress was all wet. Now my bag was heavier than before, even after eating so much, because of the wet dress! The ultimate truth was, sunrise wasn’t that great!

We started to descend by the same route around 8AM and had good view of the path we came by. It was incredible! We reached our starting point around 3:30PM and were completely drenched in rain. The sense of achievement was immense and I vented the emotions in the wild in a wilder way! It has been my best trekking experience and I hope it doesn’t remain the best.

p.s: It would be interesting to hear Senthil’s account of the adventure!

Marriages galore

It was the second marriage that I attended in the last two weeks. Karthik-Jaya got married the previous week in Tirunelveli and this past weekend it was Venkatesh-Suganya in Madurai. These marriages really helped refurbish contacts with college mates.

Sheer coincidence or just that astrologers have become more cooperative, most marriages seem to fall on a Sunday! But, there are still some ingenious people left out on this earth. Not being one of that kind has helped me think of some trips in and around our destination.

On 28th morning, we ( Ashok, Arunprasaaaaaath, Hari Madhavan) reached Tirunelveli and checked into our rooms. We really need to appreciate ourself that we didn’t lie down and sleep! It was Ashok who suggested Thirparappu. We hired an Indica and set out to cover the falls and also the Padmanabhapuram palace at Rs. 6.5/km. Moving along in small groups is always good in one aspect, decisions are fast and you need not have to spend too much time on driving consensus. The bath in the falls is unforgettable. In the palace, I was stuck in awe seeing the intricate works on wood. Both the places are wonderfully maintained. Ban on plastics is adhered in these parts of the world!

For the Madurai journey, I felt some undefined inertia preventing me to make a decision on travelling. I couldn’t think of anything else when Venky phoned. I booked the tickets right away and am happy that I went to the marriage.

Madurai, she was as beautiful (mind you that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder!) as ever. She has also changed in all these years. Some small ad-hoc alleys have been made for bus stops (this was long overdue). Yellow-Red buses were now green and lots of blue (read ‘jnnurm’) buses roam around. Some posters have become smaller and others have grown. To keep it short, life just thrives here, no matter what. I stayed in Nari’s house and thanked his mom for the great food she prepared.

A visit to the college was on cards and few of us ( Ragunath, Sp Savaranan, Rajesh, Suresh, Nari, Sairam, Vins & myself) went there by evening. Took some pictures around the campus and spent almost till 8pm at Pump house. A very nice evening! Sunday evening I roamed around Town hall road and Nethaji road with Vins  and did a bit of shopping (I had walked so much in the weekend that the pedometer clinging on  to my waist read 38k when I reached Bangalore!)

Hoping to share the few photos taken, soon.

Both the marriages were splendid and I sense that more such marriages are in the pipeline!

p.s: bought a travelling bag and a pair of trekking shoes! So, whats next..?

Who is He?

Nothing is more difficult than trying to understand the idea of God. I belong to this special group, call it NAM, the neither-nor case. I sit and enjoy the debates between the two groups, at times chipping with points in favor of both!

There was time I worshiped God, but slowly different notions of God started to creep in my mind. I started of see God as an element of History. I found it hard to argue in favor of his existence and nor was it easy to argue against. I decided to leave the hard work to brighter minds and live in peace.

Recently, one of my friends found me in IM and told that his brother has been diagnosed with brain hemorrhage. He asked me to pray God for his health and I did, very much. After a few days he called me back to inform that his brother has left this world and asked me to pray for his soul. This time again, I did pray. The idea of God is more to do with psychological factors rather than anything else.

Just be what you want to be… and don’t ever push your ideas (of God) on another…

Democrazy

Today’s issue of The Hindu (26-12-2010) conveyed a pictorial sarcasm in the first page. It had to the left, A. Raja coming out smiling after a ‘torturous’ CBI inquiry for 9 hrs and to the right was Dr.Binayak Sen, visibly upset by the court ruling on his sedition charges.

Some serious questions arise about the functioning of the Judiciary. It all comes down to the prosecution to determine the outcome of the case. The prosecution is controlled by the ruling party (‘Govt.’  is not the correct word; after all, Party takes precedence over Govt.). If all the cases are to be sorted out only by the Supreme Court, why do we need a hierarchy of courts? Either it is meant for buying some more time or meant to filter out those who can’t afford justice. The Supreme Court observes that a lower court is rotten and how am I supposed to trust the system? And, I may face contempt proceedings for saying this and why not the Supreme Court judge, as his words carry more weight.

We need not always seek the west for an outlook, ‘Made in China’ is pretty popular now!

p.s: Kasab’s trial still continues…

11/29-12/03 : Mourning for India

Every time I read about a scam (includes those exposed and ignored by the media), I imagine myself standing among thousands of fellow citizens taking to the streets in protest. This could only be an imagination; practically, neither can I risk my current state of life indulging in such acts nor can those who commonly involve in such protests do it because they may never understand the scam.

But, what I can do is, mourn. Yes, mourn for the demise of the principles for which we got our freedom, mourn for the death of justice, and above all, mourn for the death of the conscience of all those who committed these crimes.

From 29 Nov – 3 Dec, I would wear a black band as a symbol of my protest.  Our silence shouldn’t be taken as acceptance, let the people know that we do take notice. Do you mind doing the same?

Madraspatinam – Chennai Citi Center

I  came to know about this photo exhibition from The Hindu on Saturday morning. I am a big time fan of The Hindu and their photo quality has always stood a long way ahead from the rest. So, got enough reasons to brave the rains.

Had to wait for one more day because of the rains and at last visited Citi Center on Sunday, which was actually the last day of the exhibition. Though, it was a nice collection from the archives I could not connect well, may be that I am relatively new to Chennai was the reason.

Three more things played a part in setting a rather not-so-good impression about the exhibition. One was the choice of location; a decent hall would have done but not Citi Center. Arts like these are better enjoyed in a silent or at least not disruptive environments. Two, the photo arrangement was awkward. In a congested maze like display area, photos were pinned even at knee level and surprisingly, the caption for those photos were to their bottom. Virtually, one had to lie on the floor to read them. Three, the article on the exhibition had set wrong expectations!

The photo which I enjoyed the most was that of the policemen in their baggy trousers.

Would love to see one such exhibition on Madurai.