Sunday, March 16, 2014

I belong in...



I haven't often been able to talk about what really happens in my life on my blog. I've never been comfortable with sharing my personal thoughts on my blog. I have kept it strictly for the purpose of exploring my creativity. But of late- I've begun to wonder if I ever felt that sense of "belonging" about anything! Had I felt that way about my blog- that blog being mine, I  have not felt so bad about writing what I think in it. It's created after all by me- to be my own personal space. What's wrong if I post in an occasional rant about my personal life in it?

The more I thought about it- I learnt that I had never "belonged" anywhere. Sometimes- I feel like I don't belong in the same thought space as my parents or friends or any one. I consider it to be just fine. A friend once told me that all Taurians are supposed to be secretive/mysterious. They cannot just share everything about them to anyone. I now believe that to be true. For I find it very hard to maintain a journal. Even after trying it out many times- I hardly write any truth in it. After a certain point- I didn't see any purpose in it.

I had often considered the idea of having a personal blog. For writing about what I felt or thought- not just creative pre-written articles in it. But I could never manage that either. No beautiful notebook or pen- could tempt me into betraying my deepest thoughts. I find that strange for this shows a real stubborn mind. A mind that would only have its way and no other. But I am not that stubborn on other issues. That is a paradox. 

I crave to belong somewhere. Even though I know that I can never be completely honest- I wish I could belong. I really do... Unlike many of my essays- that I feel compelled to conclude; I am going to let this one end- with a hope...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Unreal Reality


Late into the night
When the dreams become real
A wish blooms within
To wake up and live;

Dreams tempt the soul
Endless possibilities- it shows
The heart yearns for more
Yet the- eyes remain closed!

How does this happen?
Do the eyes know?
That it is- but a dream;
Lasting, just for a while?

The dawn arrives driving dreams away
And yet, she- returns the morrow
Showing endless possibilities of life-
To be dreamt and to be lived!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

“PAPPU MAMMU” AND THE ART OF EFFECTIVE STORY-TELLING


It was part of tradition at my house to season every food that a child eats with a spicy mix of Indian folk/mythological tale. These stories would vary each time they are told- yet the spice-mix; a secret combination of action, romance, magic and the traditional- “good triumphing over evil”- keeps the flavour of these tales intact- each time they are told!  

As one grows older- they are either expected to read books on their own- or simply- the elders run out of stories. Hence- the insatiable appetite for stories, begin to get fulfilled by reading books.  Yet- there seems to be something missing in them. The amazement and wonder, which one gets to experience through the little modulations in the voice of the story-teller-, can never be replicated in the books. One grows older and more mature, yes. Still- there is always a child deep within, that craves for the awe and wonder that can only be given by the traditional method of story-telling. 

Tamil- was then an unfamiliar language to me- a language that I was not used to reading. All the while- it was my mother who kept telling me about the book “Ponniyin Selvan” by Kalki- about how they would wait for the Thursday issue of “Kalki” magazine and compete to read the episode of “Ponniyin Selvan” in it. It was during my college days- call it a stroke of “good-luck” (for this is usually the time for kids to go way-ward and ‘anti-parents’)- that I decided that I would find out what “Ponniyin Selvan” is all about. I owe it all to my mom- for she spent months- reading it aloud to me. This phase in my life- is what I call- “going back to my roots”!

I had read and revered Alexander Dumas! I had wondered about however could he even think of a character like “Milady de Winter” in “The Three Musketeers”! My first book was “The Count of Monte Christo”. There is something wonderfully fulfilling about reading “revenge stories”. They give the “ultimate satisfaction”. And this book had everything in it. That was when I fell in love with this writer. Be it “Manohara” or “Vanjokkottai Valiban”- I could find Dumas re-told in most tamil films of that age. Then I realised, when I was read “Ponniyin Selvan” that “Kalki” deserves the credit to bring Dumas alive in Tamil literary world. No- I am not accusing Kalki of copying Dumas. In fact- “Milady de Winter” only became better when she got transformed into “Nandini” (Ponniyin Slevan).  d'Artagnan was more valiant and likable as “Vanthiyathevan”! What had caused this? Then it occurred to me- that- it was the language. The word “affinity”, when used appropriately- is a beautiful word. It was affinity to the language, which brought the characters alive!

“Kalki”- introduced me to the world of tamil language and literature. I was motivated to become better at it- so that I could read more books on my own. Still- doing something for the “first time”- leaves behind its magic- and it so happened that the three of the major works by Kalki- “Ponniyin Selvan”,” Sivagamiyin Sabatham” and “Parthiban Kanavu”- didn’t appeal to me, when I read it by myself. The words in them needed a voice. I began to wonder- then- about the traditional method of story-telling. It is time- to call it a “lost-art”. 

Recently, I happened to read in the news paper about an “audio-book” launch function. The “audio-book” being “Ponniyin Selvan”. I attended the function with my dad- without any expectations. I was so amazed- that half way through the programme- when they announced a break- I bought the audio book!  Need I say- that I totally got carried away- by the sheer effort they had put in- to make this book come alive- that recently- I purchased an audio book copy of “Sivagamiyin Sabatham” by “Kalki” at the Chennai Book Fair!

No. This is not about holding on to the past or carrying the past to the future. This is something else. This is about introducing a language and its literature to the future. Make the future more tolerable and appreciative of the past! This is about reviving a “lost-art”.  The art- of effective story telling- and also- yes, why not, the “Pappu Mammu” too...

PS: "Pappu Mammu"- Dhal Rice:: Picture- Thanks, Google!
PS2: The Audio Book is compiled by a person named "Bombay Kannan"! Truly deserves appreciation for the effort put in behind creating the audio book!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

THE CULTURE QUESTION

Some people say that nostalgia is over rated. I agree. There is no use dwelling in the past. But I differ on one argument. That the past creates the present. This cannot be untrue. When a civilization ends, the history it leaves behind connects the future to itself. 

Today- there was a show in the TV that spoke about the thousands of years of tradition that India beholds. The spirituality and the rituals associated with the spiritual quest that Indians undertake- towards the salvation of their 'souls'- made me wonder about an entirely different world that these people live in. On the one hand, there is a dire need to alienate oneself from the concept 'religion' as such. For I believe that 'religion'- as a concept is man-made and should be done away with. But on the other hand, there is years of culture that had got finesse under the shade of religion. And yes- culture does have a religious flavour in India. But it is also something that defines us. Rather- it is our history. 

Education- I hope, had helped us in our cultural refinement. But again- what is 'culture'? It is subjective. 

A collective responsibility is on our generation- to carry forward the culture of the past to the future. This is true, if at all, one feels that responsibility. Again- there is another argument that why at all should a 'culture' be carried forward? At one point of time- it is bound to become redundant. We can always make new culture. But culture- is it something that gets made in a day? And what is an 'ideal' culture? There is no definition for it. So whatever that has been carried forward to the present- are ultimately interpretations of what existed once. A version of the original. 

So does this mean that- what was original has already been lost and that what we have is a pale interpretation of what was? What could have been the original?

I guess we shall have to wait for thousand more years- to analyse the route that the interpretation takes. Until then, one just has to keep arriving at questions... 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

THE RELEVANCE OF RELIGION

It was a sad day for me, when I realised that it took the man's death to bring him to our notice. The death of the anti-superstition crusader, Dr Narendra Dabholkar was a shocking affair and a wake up call for us, as Indians, to take some time and ponder over our diminishing tolerance and helplessness. The articles on the late Doctor and my further reading about his Anti-Black Magic Bill, only saddened me further. What went wrong through our 66 years of Independence? Where are the leaders- who could at least spell the word  "Intellectual" for us now? And has our education system been successful in "developing scientific temper" in our minds - as dictated by our Indian constitution? Where a 72 year old self-styled god-man can prolong arrest over his alleged sexual-assault on a minor, why can't a man, who had devoted his life towards creating a society free of barbaric superstitious beliefs be allowed to live?

We are left now- with a society that is intolerant to another individual's thought. Are we even able to understand that individual's thought- is a different matter. "Protests" were the "in-thing" these days. Where are they now? Or is this because that there has been no or not enough media coverage on this issue? Is an hour worth of "prime-time" slot in a news channel- enough to discuss and come to a conclusion about depletion of  intellectual thinking or "scientific temper" in India?

I read somewhere that critics of Dr Dabholkar had called his Bill too vague and abstract- and something that cannot be understood by common man. Aren't the concepts of "religion" and "superstition" themselves abstract? The Bill- in reality does not target any religion. It presents a general outlay of illogical practices that are being used to target victims. Political parties that have opposed this Bill have claimed that the Bill could be used to ban or make some of the religious practices like puja or pilgrimage unlawful. The claims are absurd. But on another thought- so is the concept of secularism in India. 

Had our education been more effective, it should have helped people to think and come to a logical conclusion about the relevance of religion. "Religion is a way of life"- are we capable anymore- to understand what the statement tries to convey? When the society was largely uneducated- there was a need to govern a mass. Hence a blind faith in religion was encouraged. And religion, with its set of rigid rules was able to help rule the society back then. But there always comes a time when the old system becomes redundant and a new one takes its place. And this time can be recognised by growing intolerance on the part of groups that have vested interest on existing system. The logic seems simple enough to me. 

I can only make an appeal to people who read this article or people who have read about the murder of Dr Narendra Dabholkar in the news papers. "Is religion relevant"? Or rather "Are we secular enough"? Please think about about it. 

Photo: Thanks, Times of India.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

DEFINITION





Sometimes I wonder what this heart seeks;
The ideas and thoughts that flash through this mind
What do they mean,
Or what do they wish to mean?
I wonder if they were real;
Real- is that even a possibility?
For some claim the real to be unreal;
'What then is real?' seems an obscure question.
To define oneself- one must aim,
Or so a few have claimed.
How do you contain what you are,
Within the boundaries of mere few words?
"I am..." 
The sentence is destined to be eternally unfinished.
A constant evolution- is what the self is;
If that be so- then why do some
Find this pleasure to be caged?
Caged into self-created ideological prisons.
A constant struggle to finish the sentence.
"ism"s and "ist"s- do not define one;
For one is born to be many-
Or so they say, hence let go of beliefs
For who knows- 
As the mind sways away
What new world- may it encounter;
And that world may present with
What new definitions;
One wonders...

Picture Courtesy: Google Images

Saturday, January 12, 2013

DAMINI


A meeting was organised, to discuss "Women's Rights".


The netas attended the meeting but few had anything to say. Suddenly, one of them thought of something "intelligent" to say and came up with a plan to cover up the "dented and painted" women with "over-coats".

"Let's forbid them to speak with the boys".

"Let's ban skirts for school girls".

"Let's stop women from going out on the streets after 6 pm"- another said.

"Let's enact a 'Nirbhaya Act'...", one said.

“Clever plan”! A few shouted.

“Wait-wait”, said a spiritual guru. “We need to teach them Indian culture”, he said.

The politicians had not thought of that earlier. So they invited the Swami to their meeting.

“We need to ask the girls to address the rapists as ‘brothers’..” said the Swami. “She needs to fall at his feet and plead for mercy”, he said. “She has to chant Saraswathi mantra”, he said.

Politicians were mesmerized with this Swamiji. They lauded him.

“A woman is bound by contract to serve her husband” said a neta.

“A woman”, another said “shouldn’t talk back at men. Shouldn’t stay out at night or wear clothes- that are inappropriate”.

As they spoke, reports are in, that say: Girls/Women raped. Aged: 2 yrs old, 5 yrs old, 6 yrs old, 10 yrs old, 15 yrs old, 16 yrs old, 23 yrs old, 29 yrs old, 33 yrs old, 40 yrs old, 45 yrs old....70 yrs old, 75 yrs old...

Damini: As she breathed her last, a nation lay exposed.

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