Tuesday, September 27, 2005

musingS oF aN earthbounD guitaR

Jithu owns a guitar. But the poor guitar never felt that it was owned by someone. Like an illegitimate child of an anonymous mother, it dwelled at one of the darkest corners of Jithu’s room. It used to think about its siblings and wondered how well they would have been kept by their masters. For keeping a guitar in good condition, its master has to know at least a bit about music right; it consoled itself. Thus, with a broken heart, a broken string and a body dressed up in dust, it spent its days in dismay.

Three years ago, in one of the unknown locations of Mumbai, popularly known as Vashi aka New Bombay aka Navi Mumbai, the guitar was bought by a ‘magnetic individual’ called Jithu. They were three. Jithu, Pramod and Sabari. Despite having zero knowledge about music, they didn’t hesitate to aim high and start a musical band of their own. The destiny was clear and set. To give a competition to Metallica, Iron Maiden and the like and drive them out of business! They joined a music class and paid 2475 bucks each (after a one and a half hour long bargaining session which resulted in the reduction of the fees by 25 bucks!) as part of the fees for a six month course. They bought three different musical instruments. Well not exactly three; Jithu bought a guitar, Pramod an electric organ and Sabari, not able to afford a costly drum set, bought two drumsticks instead. They named themselves as 'Musician J. I. T. Hu', 'Musician P. R. A. Mod' and 'Musician S. A. Bari' (pronounced like Berry as in Hale Berry)

They were working for a well-known IT company in Mumbai. Well, the company always made it a point to let them off from the office only after 10 pm so that they won’t start a music session in their flat and become a nuisance to other flat owners. With an extremely rancorous mind, they joined a weekend class.

In the beginning the guitar loved its owner very much. Jithu took good care of it by caressing and cleaning it every other second he got. He never kept it down, even for a minute. He always played meaningless notes on the guitar. And the contented guitar sang for him. The guitar used to showboat in front of its siblings.

Good things don’t last forever. So did the guitar’s kismet. After four classes, the three of them concluded that the music teacher was not up to their level and decided to discontinue the class. Some people may say that it is due to their laziness or inability to learn music that they did that. But that is not true!

The guitar got ignored in the dusts of time. Whenever the house maid cleaned the floor and the guitar fell down in her endeavors she used to give an awkward grin to its master but never did she clean the guitar. When Jithu left the job, the guitar thought that its life will become better now and that it will be taken to his home. But that was just a dream and it remained so.

Jithu took the guitar with him to his new location. But for the guitar the only difference was that it got replenished by the Ahmedabad dust instead of the Mumbai dust. The Mumbai dust had at least got that metro status! Oh! Jithu just came to the room. And as usual he didn’t look at the guitar...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

remembrancE oF thingS pasT

I was sent to a distant place. A place I haven’t gone anytime in my life. The bus reached there on time. I stepped out from the bus and looked around for a while. Hey, this place, though I haven’t visited at least once in my life seems to be a lot more familiar to me. It seems as if I had been here a long time ago. But I am sure I am here for the first time. Am I dreaming?

I was asking for a book to my friend. She looked for it in her shelf and after finding it, handed it over to me. It was a green book. But hey, I remember this sequence. The moment this event occured, I remembered the same person giving me the same book some where in the past! But I know that it hadn’t ever happened! Did it really happen in the past?

My mind remembers similar situations. Sometimes it comes as an event; sometimes as a word/sentence in a conversation; sometimes as a face in the crowd; all ignite some unknown memory bit hidden somewhere in my mind to expose itself, without informing my grey matter its birth (rather re-birth) and amazingly its very existence in my memory. And it makes me remember that the same/similar sequence had happened somewhere back in time.

Remembrance of things past’ is a book written by Marcel Proust (1872 – 1922). There is an interesting event in this book. The protagonist is having a cup of tea together with a cake. He eats the cake after dipping it in tea. Suddenly that sequence of events remembers him something. He had faced the same situation somewhere else. And came to his mind the memories of his aunt. She used to give him cake the same way when he was a child.

Many times, such spontaneous disentanglement of memory bits are referred to as involuntary memory. ‘Involuntary memory by definition anti-intellectual nevertheless refines away all the unnecessary details of a forgotten moment and retains only its unadorned core’ – Edmund White. In the case of Proust’s book, a similar event had actually happened in the past (his aunt used to feed the hero like that). But then what explains the events I mentioned in the former part?

In fact this is felt by most of the people (70% of the population) at least sometime in their life. French psychic researcher Emile Boirac coined the term Déjà vu to describe such phenomena. Why the other 30% of the population doesn’t feel it is a matter of discussion. Parapsychology associates it with precognition, extra sensory perceptions etc. I was just wondering whether the prophecies made by prophets like Nostradamus and all aren't just a result of Déjà vu?

I forgot about Déjà vu when I first posted this and added the last paragraph afterwards. Thanks Sonia for reminding me about it.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Hello, Onam? Its Maveli here!

Today is Onam, the harvest festival of Kerala; celebrated alike by all the Keralites! This is the fourth consecutive Onam I am away from my family and relatives. I feel jealous of Maveli (the king who once ruled Kerala). What if he was sent to pathaalam (underground; location of purgatory) by Lord Vishnu for a holiday, at least he is able to visit Kerala during Onam; and me... Well, it is not the time for such senti stuff. Onam is the time to enjoy, to celebrate and above all, to be happy!

I think it was in my 4th standard that I set an athapoo (Floral Carpet put for 10 days ending on Thiru-Onam) in our patio for the first time. Our house was well known in the village for its huge assortment of flora. Three cheers to my achan (father). So getting flowers for the athapoo was not a problem. But there was a threat. During Onam different societies (short lived co-operatives run by children & jobless majority of Kerala youth, which spring up during Onam even faster than a mushroom colony whose primary objective is to collect money in the name of Onam and secondary objective to enjoy life with that money) come to my house to get those flowers for their respective athapoo extravaganzas. So I have to surpass them to get the flowers for my athapoo.

After the sadya (lunch), children of our family assemble at my grand mother’s house where we play different games. One of my uncles would already have tied a swing in the jackfruit tree. In the evening there would be film shows (using a TV and a VCR) by the aforementioned cooperatives. Films like Vandanam, Indrajalam etc. were advertised heavily. My parents didn’t allow me to go and watch these films in the open air auditoriums aka road-sides. I continued this athapoo-ing for quite some time and it stopped somewhere in my high school.

Athapoo during Engineering, S5 - Designed by yours truly.

During engineering we had college level athapoo competitions. Our class put athapoo on all the Onams we got there. In college, someone will come up with puli-kali (a game with people wearing costumes of leopard) and stuff like that. Then there would be payasam (kheer / a sweet) distribution. In the evening people go outside their classrooms and what follows is a scuffle which even beats WWF, in what we call Ona-thallu. We also conduct Vadam-vali (tug of war) competitions and Uri-adi (madka-phod / breaking the pot) competitions.

When I was working in an IT company, a few of us decided to celebrate Onam in our company for the first time in its history. We wanted to put an athapoo in the reception. We went through all those hierarchical battles to get it approved by the admins. Well they can't be blamed for this. What if clients from GE and all see this at the reception of a Top 5 IT company of India on their visit to the company? When the athapoo was put, and the more than 1500 employees saw and appreciated it, we felt like having a cup of hot pal-payasam!

Now history is going to be written once again. We have planned to put an athapoo in our institute on Thiru-Onam. Yes, the first time in its history. I am just back after drawing the design. Early morning we will go to the nearby flower market. And I dont feel like sleeping!

Wishing you all a Happy Onam... Onashamsakal!

Latest News!

Athapoo that we put today

Athapoo a bird's eye view

Monday, September 12, 2005

What Diary Pages Said

16. Jan. 97
I don’t know when exactly I noticed her for the first time. But one thing I know. After that I couldn’t refrain myself from seeing her again...

It all started on a December; the December of 1997. I always had my own things to do in life. Never ever did it confine to loving a girl; rather I believed it shouldn't. I always felt like they are the species that truly are from Venus. So near, yet so far...

My college life always started in the college bus. I had a permanent seat in the bus. The seat next to the door! I managed to get that seat because I got into the college bus from its first stop itself. I preferred a lonely journey, a journey without talking to anyone. There was a reason for that. Even though the bus went through the same places everyday, I always found something different in those places and I wanted to enjoy those differences to the maximum. And then I saw her one day...

She was an ordinary girl. Simple, less talkative, big eyes, always looking outside the bus as I did... I don’t know what in her attracted me so much. Yes, something was there in her, which caught my mind. She never got to sit as she embarked on the bus from one of its last stops.

[[It was a cozy afternoon and Hari continued turning his diary pages. On that week-end, on a break from his hectic job, he had decided to clean up his flat. He came across this old diary of himself from one of his suitcases]]

17. Jan. 97
I didn’t get the college bus today. There is a cultural event going on in the college. I didn’t participate in any of those events but I should have. I couldn’t see her today. But that doesn’t make any difference to her right...

18. Jan. 97
Thank God, I got the college bus today. She was at the front end of the bus. I had a direct view of her. Sometimes our eyes collided. I wanted to smile but I didn’t, rather I couldn’t.

21. Jan. 97
I got the college bus today. I saw her at her bus stop. Her eyes seemed to have longing for something. May God bless me to have a nice session with her tomorrow! May God bless me to write something which my mind wants, on the next page of this diary!

22. Jan. 97
I got the college bus today. But somehow she missed it. After reaching my classroom, I went to the college lobby. I saw her coming from the main gate. She didn’t even notice me. Tomorrow I have to talk to her for sure. It is time for that.

23. Jan. 97
She missed the college bus today as well. At the college, she was looking great in that light blue dress. I wanted to tell her that. There was a strike in the college today. Everyone went home after the first hour. So I couldn’t see her in the return bus.

24. Jan. 97
I got the college bus today. She was standing near me. Divya, S4 Electrical; read the file she hold near her chest. During lunch break I went for a walk with one of my friends to the Electrical department. But...

25. Jan. 97
In the evening bus, I put my bag on a seat and guess what happened when I returned to my seat after having a lemon juice? Her friend was sitting next to my seat and she was standing beside her friend. Wow! That was so unexpected. I talked with her friend for quite sometime. ‘Ma Chérie’ was listening to us.

28. Jan. 97
The bus was too crowded today. She was there near my seat finding it difficult to stand in the crowd. I pointed towards her bag. She gave it to me to keep it. God, I got a start and I smiled at her for a return smile. Man! What a smile it was! It took me away with it!

29. Jan. 97
Today was the greatest day in my life. The bus conductor sitting next to me went to the front end of the bus due to some reason. That was all I needed. She sat near me. I asked her her name, her branch, her school and what ever was possible in those 20 minutes. Thank God! That was all that I needed...


25. Mar. 97
Today’s exam was good. Two more to go now. Next month I am going to join a company in which I was placed during campus recruitments. I am going to live a life which I have dreamed so long; to stand on my own feet; to earn something of my own. But God, I really want her in my life. I want to propose her. I bought this small gift for her. Tomorrow I am going to give it to her. Please tell me something to write in this letter...

“I don’t know when exactly I noticed you for the first time. But one thing I know. After that I couldn’t refrain myself from seeing you again. In two days I am going to say good bye to this college. After that everything pertaining to this college will be nothing but a piece of memory in my mind. I want to make my otherwise dry life happy. I want you in my life which otherwise remain dry. My dear Divya, I can’t think of any other words to convey you my feelings than ‘I Love You’!”

26. Mar. 97
I went to the college mainly to give her the gift and then to write my penultimate exam. God! But why didn’t she come to college today? Later I came to know that she didn’t have an exam today. Tomorrow is the only day left with me. I have to propose her tomorrow itself. Yes. I will...

27. Mar. 97
Today was my last day in the college. My four years of technical education has come to an end. She had an exam today. But... Somehow I couldn’t see her... All of my friends stayed back after the exams; on our last day. We shared our experiences and in between I, the duffer, the moron, missed her. I missed my life... How could I do that? I don’t know I will ever meet her again. Three days and then I’m going to go to Mumbai. Oh my God! I don't know what to do now! I lost her... I lost everything...

[[Hari couldn’t turn the pages further. The diary was quivering in his hands. He took the small gift which was there inside the suitcase along with the diary. It was a nicely wrapped box. A small piece of paper was stick on its side.]]

It read, “To Divya, With Love!”

Friday, September 09, 2005

hepta-wonderS galorE

Jiby and Geo tagged me for this quiz. I thank them coz it gave me an opportunity to retrospect my life and remember my goals :-))

Seven things you plan to do before you die!!
– write a book
– start a firm & eventually employ >1000 people
– adopt a girl child
– buy a naalukettu in Alappuzha, Keralam & own a house boat.
– conduct an exhibition of my drawings
– travel around the world eastwards (intentions: see the world; add one precious day to my life)
– meet Chacko at Amsterdam on 22. sep. 2013 (we planned this rendezvous on the cozy afternoon of 22. sep. 2003 at our 7th-floor-flat in Vashi, Mumbai, when we had nothing else to do, with entire Navi Mumbai below us as the witness; obviously with our spouses)

Seven things you can do!!
– slog for the exams
– start with my guitar & violin once again
– read Lord of the Rings
– travel through out India
– touch the acme of a pyramid
– write, draw and fool around
– lie on the green grass of Vellayani lake-side, looking at the night-sky

Seven things you can’t do!!
– i can’t complete things until it is the last minute
– i can’t say no to people
– i can’t succumb to an arranged marriage
– i can’t help myself from my laziness
– i can’t take things seriously
– i can’t see/talk with my ex-crushes
– i can’t help myself from calling my home and talk with my achan, amma and aniyan, once in a week.

Seven things that attract you to the opposite sex!!
– foolishness - i like girls who are slightly stupid ;-)
– eyes
– simplicity (need not be traditional)
– childishness
– talents (nothing specific)
– gestures/expressions
– jealousy - innate virtue of women; like it in smaller doses.

Seven things you say most!!
– cool (aftermath of globalization/americanization)
– mayiru/shit (a few more are there in this genre; refraining due to excessive obscenity content)
– ethra vivaram undu (amma used to tell me this when i do something impish; in engineering i used the same phrase on my friends; it became an instant hit!)
– kidilam/great
– sala (and its different blends)
– what the fuck
– payye venam/thuppi/unners aayi – CET slang

Seven celebrity crushes!!
– elisha cuthbert (the girl next door)
– emmanuelle chriqui (100 girls)
– monica bellucci (malena, matrix, passion of the christ)
– meg ryan (you've got mail)
– kaavya madhavan (meesha madhavan)
– liv tyler (lotr)
– charlize theron (sweet novemeber, monster)

Seven + 1 people you want to take this quiz!!
dasan - my friend, dorm-mate, classmate
triplesix - i like her candid, confused way of writing ;-)
manu - his posts make me nostalgic; i live in the past
msdreams - the first ever person to appreciate my blog.
HnL - i curtsy at her experiences as a doctor...
poison - the confused (read as thinking) guy ;-)
niki - her pictures tell different stories, Japanese are brave. they live under threat from the mountains, oceans, skies and the land.
flutteringeyes - i like her narrative style of writing

Monday, September 05, 2005

The journey which changed history

One week break and I was all the way busy watching movies. Since most of them were romantic ones, I was also in a romantic mood :-). Before Sunrise, Before Sunset (These are sequels), 100 Girls (Romantic Comedy) were some of those romantic flicks. The Mating habits of Earthbound human was too funny. I have watched one of my all time favorites, Amelie, once again. Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, Ong Bak – Thai Warrior etc. followed suite. Everything was going fine until I saw The Motorcycle Diaries.

Diarios de motocicleta (2004) talks about a journey embarked by Ernesto Guevara (23) and Alberto Granado (29), typical college students of the 1950s, on a motorcycle, looking for chicks, fun and adventure before they grow up and have a more serious life. They decided to travel across Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Peru covering more than 10,000 kilometers.

Initially the journey was adventurous. But Ernesto, who was in his final year of medicine and an acute asthma patient, as they explored the inlands, was touched by the hardships and exploitations faced by the normal people of Latin America. The poor farmers' lands were captured using power and were made to work like slaves in mines and factories. After completing his journey, he flew back to Buenos Aires with a mind that had decided something. He finished his graduation and then what he did is history.

After liberating Cuba along with Fidel Castro, Ernesto moved on to other Latin American countries for their liberation. He believed that only a revolution can bring out a change. People called him ‘Commander Che’, ‘Che Guevara’, or simply ‘Che’ (corresponds to mate/pal/man/dude in colloquial Argentinean dialect). Later in October 1967, he was killed by the CIA backed Bolivian army in La Higuera near Vallegrande, Bolivia. He was on his feat of liberating Bolivia and was engaged in Guerilla Warfare in the Bolivian forests when he was caught.

The thing I liked about Dr. Ernesto Rafael Guevara de la Serna is the power of his vision. He dreamt about a united South America without borders, bound by a common mestizo (mixture of European and Amerindian, the people of Latin America fall under these origins) culture. Since he chose the revolutionary way, no wonder why the US felt an imminent threat growing in the form of a leftist super nation in their vicinity and assassinated him.

Meanwhile I was also thinking about the recent US attacks on Iraq as well as Afghanistan and the ‘forced-peace’ prevailed during cold war time. When USSR was there, there were less such attacks done by the US and whenever an attack happened the USSR was there to counter it. That is why I called it ‘forced-peace’. Had the USSR been there, these attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan wouldn’t have happened. Hence, history would have been different if a big leftist nation as dreamed by Che, was formed near the US under their nose. Might be a gut feeling, but still, I feel that if such a nation was there, the US wouldn’t have dared to attack other countries as part of its deliberate act of proclaiming supremacy and looting natural resources of other countries.

Thus, The Motorcycle Diaries, based on the diary notes of Che Guevara, talks about a journey started for fun but changed the course of history. It is a matter of fact that the rural India is still under exploitation of the weaker classes, particularly in states like Bihar, UP, Andhra Pradesh etc. (Please don’t get offended, but this is a truth). May be not to revolutionize things like Che did, but when will I start such a journey through the hamlets of India?