Wednesday, December 28, 2011

To name a few...

Movies. What it conjures up is a magical world of make believe, where we get to see our thoughts and dreams come alive through characters whom we identify ourselves with, stories which run parallel to ours, and lives we get to live as if our own. It moves us to tears or sheer rage, or rollicking laughter or intense pain. It all happens in the celluloid world. And we are forever in a relentless search, for that one which would stir us deeply and enrich us, as the few others, which have along the years, have helped us grow and discover the oddities life has to offer, and the means of embracing them.  

Thought, shall cover few of my favourite ones, and to start with two of Mani Ratnam’s awesome works of art.  Any time all time favourite is Bombay. Absolutely loved it, from the word go. The dark coastal town draped in black with the bellowing winds, the throbbing streets and chawls of apna Mumbai, the decor including  the quaint window panes of the sprawling kitchen and tiny bedrooms; and the moods captured, be it the intense pulsating romance, the mounting fear and terror that grips you, or the terrible  feeling of loss and grief that engulfs you, it is all there delicately interwoven.

It is amazing to watch Manisha Koirala emote, especially as an anguished mother (where she searches for her missing sons), was portrayed exceedingly well. It was a class performance I would think. And then the mesmerising music of AR Rahman. Such a medley of pure bliss. The soul stirring ‘Uyire..’, romance dripping ‘Kannalene...’ and the rocking ‘ name a few. Somehow the film offers such wholesome entertainment, that you are left with a sense of having experienced something totally beautiful, as true art should be.

"Kannathil Muthamittal', yet another masterpiece from Manirathnam, one of the few which was not made in Hindi. In my scale the ratings climb up, if the movie moves me to tears, each time I watch it. And this one never fails to induce the tear ducts even as I battle with it. Even when you know what is to follow, and you brace yourself, the intensity and depth of the feeling conveyed through sensitive words and expressions, reaches out to you so seamlessly. You cannot but wonder at the ingenuity of the artistes involved be it the director, the actors, or the script writers.

Two social issues handled here, Adoption and Tamil Eelam Rights. They were done so well, that at no point you are made to feel that they are being addressed or presented. You are entwined into the story and with the characters, so much so that you begin to live their lives, feel their sorrows, understand their loss, even as questions thrown at the viewers rankle your mind. We do trudge back home with a heavy heart, but only to delve deeply into the issues, arriving at our own debatable conjectures.The characters and what they experience become a part of us. And favourite song from a mix of great melodies, Kannathil...for the lovely lyrics.

The list is long, and hope to cover a few more, but as I write it makes me wonder what a bereft place the world would be without movies and geniuses who make them. Closing with a song from 'Dil Se', (somehow never did like the Tamil version, movie and music, try as I did), for the pure magic that blazes the screen with AR Rahman-Manirathnam synthesis.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


At the onset would like to state that I am not an authority in the subject, and I endeavour to write purely out of personal interest, and so if there are any discrepancies or deficiencies in the content, do let me know. Would gladly rectify.

Thirukkural a classic, written two thousand years ago, is still looked upon as a remarkable work of a genius nonpareil. It is even difficult to comprehend the extent of the poet, Thiruvalluvar’s wisdom, perception and insight into the multitudinous fragments that make up life.  As many are aware, the literary work consists of 1330 couplets, under three main divisions – Arathupal (Virtue), Porutpal (Wealth) and Kamathupal(Love). But the amazing part is the 133 subdivisions, each with 10 couplets, which covers almost the entire scheme of life. 

Going through the headings of these subdivisions one is left with a deep awe and admiration for the poet, who has covered topics as Therinthu Seyalvagai (Acting with fore-thought), Nilayamai (Instability), Sengonmai(Upright Government), Vinai seyal vagai (Mode of Action), Avai arithal (Judging the Audience), Natpu Aarayuthal (Choice of Friends), Nanri il selvam ( Niggardliness), kurippu arithal (Ascertaining other’s intentions), Pasapuru paruvuthal (suffering from sallowness), pulavi (feigning dislike) and many more.

Shall just share a few, which appealed to me. It is a treasure trove, which I intend to fish, for more such gems.
நன்றே தரினும் நடுவு இகந்து ஆம் ஆக்கத்தை 
அன்றே அழிய விடல்.

Foresake even in the moment (of acquisition) that gain which, though it should bring advantage, is not fair to all.

எப்பொருள் யார்யார்வாய் கேட்பினும் அப்பொருள் 
மெய்பொருள் காண்ப தறிவு.
To discern the truth in everything, by whomsoever spoken, this is wisdom.

Quality of Action
வினைத்திட்பம் என்ப தொருவன் மனத்திட்பம்
மற்றைய எல்லாம் பிற.
Firmness in action is simply one's firmness of mind; all other abilities are not so.

Separation from loved one
நனவினான் நல்கா தவரை கனவினால்
காண்டலின் உண்டென் உயிர்.
My life lasts because, in my dream I behold him who does not favour me in my waking hours.

 A heavy topic maybe, but somehow felt that none of these couplets come across as irrelevant, even in today's context, which is what makes it an irrefutable 'reference book'.

(Translation version is available, of the above book. Get one for enlightenment!)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Time of the year

Distracted by the faint chirp of birds,
And besotted by nature’s symphony.
I willingly give in, to the lure of words
And within my self, I find harmony.

What’s with the seasons, you may ask.
That makes us spread wings at times,
And glide over the stars in the dark.
It’s the magic of the winter climes.

We shiver and swear, but love the air;
Snuggle and cuddle, in bundled up ware.
Socks and woollen gloves we wear
For this awful chill we have to bear.

New year is around the corner, I think;
And warm wishes galore, in the offing.
A small prayer, I would like to send in,
Let the good times and tides, gently roll in.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Do you remember..

Time for some quizzing!! Yes you read it right! Have been going through few encyclopaedias, the real ones; unlike its more popular online counterparts, are heavy, and they sit gloomily atop shelves, giving accusing and forlorn looks, at being abandoned and left to fend on their own. So with the noble intention of redeeming things, picked them up and went through a few of them. No heavy  stuff, just the light topics.

Well, the strangest thing that struck me while doing this was that, how in this age we're engulfed by information, and is all ours for the taking, at our bidding. And armed with this power of knowledge, we go about our lives, smug and seemingly ‘enriched’. But the brain, which used to be the reservoir of an amalgamation of knowledge and titbits, acquired over years, with great care and effort, seems to have been left with one job short. Retrieval. And with this faculty not being put into use, we may be in danger of losing some precious memories too, slotted or tucked away under the miscellaneous sections. The memory chip of ours may become obliterated, the function being outdated and redundant. Eerily reminded of scenes in WALL-E!

Well, I would be lying if I were to say I wouldn't be 'clueless' without Wikipedia or 'Google' around; but what I am trying to put across is that we are slowly being, or rather our grey cells are being overridden stealthily by the invasion of a species, which snares and weaves an intricate web, and in the process, rendering us a bit hollow, more so in the upper area, when left on our own. Its not going to happen in the imminent future, but I guess its a sad tale to foresee. And there definitely would be a few WALL-Es and EVEs ( prefer EEVA) around to set things right, if and when we turn into automated fixtures.

Anyways, here are the rules. Cross your heart, and solemnly say " I will not go to Google page. I will not hit the search button. I will try my best to retrieve what has been saved in my memory, by my very own nerve tissues" and then start the quiz, and let me know, how many you were able to get right. Here goes..and have fun!

  1. Subramanyan Chandrasekhar was known for –
  2. Where are the Aleutian Islands?
  3. Salties are refered to –
  4. Cyclops Polyphemus was –
  5. The country known as the Land of the Song –
  6. What are Frescos?
  7. Where would you find 'Wats' and what is it?
  8. Who or what is Aryabhatia?
  9. What is the difference between green tea and black tea? 
  10. One of the animals that can survive a nuclear bomb blast -

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Evenings have become frustratingly shorter, and trying to rush out to enjoy this pleasant stage of winter, is becoming increasingly difficult. There has been a month long celebrations going on, to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Japan-Kuwait Diplomatic Relations. And this weekend they had a string of activities, and one of them was an evening of Cultural Entertainment at Souq Sharq.

We went a bit early, and the initial arrangements were in progress, stalls and hoardings being put up and the likes. Came back after a while, just in time for their Song Recital, which included a list of Japanese songs. It had a nice gentle, tinkling beat to it, lilting and soft and filled with emotions all the while, which we could somehow feel and appreciate too. Had noted down the name of one particular song, and googled, back home. And now hooked to the song. It is Sukiyaki by Kyu Sakomoto and its lovely.

Had to leave with a heavy heart, as we couldn't do justice to the alluring dumplings which were up for sale. Many were dressed in their traditional attire, as there was to be a Parade later in the evening. It was amazing to see them sport the wooden footwear with complete ease.  It was an interesting day out, where we stepped into the Land of the Rising Sun, for a brief while, and realised that people seem different but are basically the same, bound by similar pleasures and travails of life, across the globe.

Following a sudden urge, went on to watch Mayakkam Enna ( 'why in a trance', or so I think!). As the reviews trickled in, of it being a good watch, couldn't resist the lure, especially the name! Well, the first half was pretty good. The second half was a mishmash of melodrama, morals, punch dialogue all thrown in for good measure. But still, my verdict would be, not bad. Though from the comments emanating from the co-watchers in the sparsely filled cinema hall, could gauge that it didn't go all that well with many. 

The high point of the movie would be, good acting. The heroine is a treat to watch. Richa Gangopadhyay, has traces of Meena and Revathi, both Tamil yesteryear actresses; a fine actress she could turn out to be, if she wants to be one, I think. Going form her recent history, hasn't done any serious movies, and I wonder why. Dhanush is his usual assured self, as an actor. A subdued potrayal of a 'genius', who goes through the trauma of being unrecognized and later on being a victim of plagiarism (not sure if it can be called that). 

Yes, many scenes especially the love triangle scenarios were contrived and wanting in finesse. Dialogues cliched and stereotyped in places, and had a suspicion that there seemed to be mild traces of 'A beautiful Mind' all over. But, kudos to the director and his crew, for coming up with a movie which is sensitive (in most parts), poetic and deep, without giving into the predictable-assured success-masala formula, again.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Why this..?!

Not being sure as what was to be, the subject of the post, gladly fell back on the good old comfort commodity, music. Just a mention of few songs which I get to hear and enjoy.

The recent kolaveri wave should set the tempo I guess. So for those of you (the very few) who haven’t got to watch this sensational hit, sweeping all over like a huge tsunami, in a matter of days, after hitting the you tube, here goes.

Defies all logic as to how it has managed to cut across such a wide audience. They seem to be lapping it up, but why?!  The lovelorn, drawling soulful tone of a simpleton, which evokes sympathy or a touches a string somewhere inside, or is it just plain bad English (if you can call it that), that amuses and appeals to all. Whatever the reason, Anirudh’s world is never going to be the same again, the unbelievably boyish 21yr old music director!

Adele has been around for a while now, and her songs remind me of those of Tracy Chapman and Sinead O'Connor (nothing compares to you), years back, maybe early 90s. Where its a very direct communication between the singer and the one who listens, with minimum intervention by way of music or irrelevant sounds. Come to think of it maybe Dhanush’s song also does that! Like this one from Adele.

With dish connection been taken off for some months now, the biggest loss has been that I don’t get to hear my regular dose of hindi songs. Miss that. Got to hear the Afreen song and found it not bad. Yet to hear it more. Seems Salim Merchant is very much in the fray these days. The Iktara song has been keeping me company for a long while besides the ZNMD ones. Actually wouldn't mind having some suggestions, regarding the latest hummable Hindi songs! 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Scarlet Letter

Had been away from Classics for a while, so picked up this one, knowing for sure it will keep me good company in the days to come. But didn't anticipate such a long run; took me almost whole of 5 months to actually finish it. Ofcourse the vacation intervened, but still, it wasn’t as if I couldn’t read then.

Had conflicting reviews when I mentioned to friends about the book, as I was reading it, and most of them not very flattering. So knew I was not in for a veritable treat. But told myself I wouldnt give it  up, but find out for myself what left the slight distaste, and discover why it had a scandalish hood all over it, over the ages.

Well, the book  has been universally certified as ‘morbidly intense’, and so was it. It has flashes of good prose, where you find yourself glide into the dark corridors of the churches and walk down the streets of an old England puritan village, led by the elaborate description of Nathaniel Hawthorne. But, at times the writing tends to become tedious and excessively overpowering, that to ease oneself from its grip becomes an effort.

The story is about Hester Prynne, who is made to carry the burden, wearing a scarlet red, embroidered hologram, on her dress, everyday of her life, as redemption for an act of adultery committed. It screams out to the world the debauchery she allowed herself to be immersed in, symbolically and is meant to put her to abject shame and misery. Two other central characters, being Rev.Arthur Dimmesdale who goes through a phase of self-afflicted torment, ridden by guilt and shame; and Roger Chillingworth, who ironically posseses some chilling attributes, which enables him to be the diabolic co-tormentor of the former.

Issues as adultery, sin, shame, guilt and redemption are handled with elaborate justifications and its ramifications, as observed in  the puritan era, but they comes across as too severe and  melodramatic. The reader is all along made to sympathise with Hester Prynne, the author trying hard to convince that she or the act was never ever a heinous crime. So what was the whole book about, one is left to wonder. It is an attempt to portray an era, a section sliced from the past, and elaborate on the lives, morals and values, people preached and in most instances practised too, I would think.

Back to our home ground, going through Rajaji’s adaptation of the Mahabharatha, and completely overwhelmed by the number of characters and anecdotes woven and all tied up together so well, and of which many of us (I think/assume) are not very familiar with. The main plot and characters remain to a certain extent clear in memory, but there is so much more to it. What a tremendous script!

It rained. It is tantamount to occurrence of hailstorms in India. So in for some showers, which would play hide and seek this November. Aren't we glad!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Winter is here...

The Eid Holidays here isn't over yet. It’s a long nine-day vacation sorts, and the holiday mood still prevails. But it tends to turn routine all topsy-turvy that getting back to the grind or the rut takes a while, and the process being a bit painful too. The longer the break, greater is the pain, as simple as that.

The climate has undergone a radical change. I would think winter is officially here, and no complaints as of now. It’s lovely during the day, and pretty chill during the breezy evenings and nights. Just right for mid-day picnics, followed up by evening walks with a light sweater or shawl thrown around. We did get to do it a couple of times, and the experience was totally refreshing and energising, as it always is, when you step out to embrace nature and her bounties.

The Marina Beach was a crowded affair, with hordes of picnickers, and we had to weave our way through. But it was enjoyable nevertheless, watching people of all ages and sizes and races, languishing in the spirit of the season.  The slight nip in the air towards the evening made us scurry for warmth, away from the chill breeze making its way from the seas. The tea, which was a mistake in the first place, (got swayed by memories of apna masala chai on wintry evenings) didn't do much by way of being a warm milky yucky concoction. The hot frothy cappucinno would've definitely been a better bet.

Anyways, headed towards Salmiya to make amends, and the Pani puri and Sev puri didn't let us down and the hot jalebi, was a not bad last minute addition. An impromptu visit to a friend’s place was a pleasant surprise, as they had puja (Ekadashi), and being a part of it,  somehow was gratifying. Well, it was good to be amidst friends, even if it be for a short while, and once in a while.

The trip to Scientific Centre along the Persian Gulf coast was a totally different experience. Less crowd, and more spaced out. Was peaceful and serene, even as we sat talking,  the waves lashing against the moistened glistening rocks and pebbles.

Was mesmerising to watch the twilight descend in all its splendour, transforming the skyline with a surreal crimson and purple haze.

A long lazy stroll in the walkway, with the sea breeze for company, the rendezvous with close friends was a blessing, a memory to treasure and reminisce later in life!

Closing with a song that has been added to my playlist and played frequently!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The day after

The past one week,  got myself into close encounters, of the oily kind! There has been an assault on the senses, mind, soul and the waistline.  Took upon myself to create these beauties, with love and pride poured in ample measures, (in equal proportion to the oil/ghee), eyes sparkling, dil dhadaking, with images of a perfect platter of goodies. Well, life is not perfect. Nor was my platter!

Well, lessons learnt are aplenty. Perseverance, not giving up even when thought creeps in, of  impending plight of poor unsuspecting visitors; and not giving up because you finish what you started out to do, no matter what, for festivals are all about prevailing over tides.

The curly twirly murukkus,  The enticing  laddoos, the fiery red jalebis, the colourful tangy mixture, the sedate kaju kathlis, the irresistible ghujiyas, the sober dahi vadas, and the ubiquitous gulabjamuns, on display, to satiate year long yearnings, to relish and remember yesteryears, with a resounding promise of goodies yet to come, even if not perfect.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Golden Stag

A saga of five generations, drawn beautifully on a canvas set in the deep regions of South India, the author leads us through a journey, dotted with sharply etched characters, coming alive through bold brush strokes of tumultuous emotions that surge and pulsate, all along the narration.

The Western Ghats serve as the essential backdrop, and with graphic descriptions, one becomes almost familiar and at-home with, the locations; be it the Mayan's humble thatched abode under the harsh scorching sun, or Manickam's sprawling bungalow along the dusty lanes of Chitur. Great care has been taken to capture the essence of life  lived in this part of the world, the everyday instances, the attitudes ingrained and adapted, the tenets held since eons, the tug of the roots, and the quest for the unknown, and sadly for many it turns out to be a hunt for 'the Golden Stag'.

The author has delved deeply into subjects as Siddha and Hindu Philosophy, that seems to have a tenacious hold on two of the protagonists, Naren and Nagalingam. It serves to soften them, but also confound them with innumerable questions and undecipherable qualms, that plague them incessantly. And as a stark contrast to these characters, are Manickam and Vasan who are impeccably practical, business like and feet firmly on ground. And there is Chandrasekaran who strikes one, as having shades of both, and trying to establish a workable mean, and successfully does so; or so I would think.

The author through the lives of these five main characters, and sub-characters weaves an enchanting tale that subtly brings out, the deceptive vagaries of human nature, even as man tries to wage the battle of life, with his own set of arms; it uncannily reminds me at this point, of the battle scene in Kurukshetra, where Lord Krishna advocates Karma Yoga to a despondent Arjuna, " Therefore, O Arjuna, surrendering all your works unto Me, with full knowledge of Me, without desires for profit, with no claims to proprietorship, and free from lethargy, fight."

The "Golden Stag" leaves one with a sense of having lived life, along with the characters, experiencing their emotions, and identifying oneself totally with it, as we do know, emotions, relationships, death, love, touches all, deeply. And Ms.Sivasundari Bose has managed to touch the reader in more ways than one, and that bespeaks of her success, in bringing out a piece of art, that edges the reader to ponder and reflect on the multifarious facets of life.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Magic Wand

If only I had a wee little magic wand...
I would swish and sway it around
With infinite style and great aplomb
If only I had a magic wand.

Aba..r.a.c.a..d.a..., and ofcourse it would
Dust the shelves and clean the room
The kitchen sink, the carpet and the loo,
As I drift into a corner, curled with my book.

Meals on the table, Mr. Wand,  if you please,
Finish the washing and a break after, is fine.
Piping hot flavoured tea and chips before nine
For I  need to wind up this so called poetic piece.

P.S. Sorry to trouble my (if any) readers with this pathetic attempt. Have willed to put in something every Thursday, so thought mebe poetry is easier than 'prose'! :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A very Happy Dusshera to all!

The 9 day long festival Navratri, did not do much wonders here, but then of course it does not mean there was no impact at all. I have heard from friends that there are Dandiya Raas programmes held every year, and would have loved to be a part of it, but it never did happen. The swaying rhythm, the soothing beats, the mesmerising fluid movements, is a treat to watch. In Pune, used to set off at nights, lugging along sleepy kids, to join the slowly thronging crowd, even as the participants  assemble in their chosen shamianas (colourful and well lit tents), with palpable excitement. The youth, in their best garbs, trying to put their best foot forward, and the elder generation turning up with gusto, allowing themselves to slip into memories of yesteryears, I suppose.  It was fun, and must be more so being a part of it, this ritual of losing oneself to the beat of the dandiya sticks, a sense of magic seems to pervade, even as they strike each other ever so gently.

And then the southern version of Navarathiri, includes the adorable display of dolls (Golu), accompanied by a veritable feast of sundals for the entire nine days(a savory dish of tempered dals) and rendering of divine classical music by accomplished and not so accomplished, singers. I have faint memories setting up the steps and unwrapping the dolls and deities, and deciding or rather awarding the prime positions to the dolls along the steps. The chettiyar pair with their wares before them was fascinating then and now. You would have to see one, the Golu display I mean, to understand or appreciate the effort and passion that goes in, and which sustains this yearly ritual, much to the delight of many a household in Southern India.

So, when the invitation for one such Golu visit, came my way, grabbed at it with both hands. Yesterday being the last day of the Golu display, managed to go and feast my eyes on a wonderful sight, which fills ones heart and soul. Being away from such things for long, sort of invokes an yearning for them I guess. Well, am posting along some pictures, as the Tamil saying goes, yaam petra inbam, peruga ivvaiyagam!( the joy I experienced, may the whole world partake!)  

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Indira Parthasarathy – Sirukathaigal (short stories)

The book is a collection of short stories by Indira Parthasarathy, who is a renown Tamil writer and playwright. When I decided to pick up this particular edition, was not sure if I had read his previous works, though had a faint memory of having read, maybe years back.  In the recent past, find myself being pulled into Tamil works, good ones, as if to appease the guilt, I seem to have harboured right from my teen years.

 Opted for French in my final years in school, as foreign languages, seemed to lure you like no other. Tamil was so ‘local’, of course when compared to its more romantic and alluring counterpart! Well, so when most of my friends used to spend hours labouring through their Tamil literature and grammar, we the lucky few had a heyday, skimming and dilly-dallying with basics, a la l’ecole, le garcon, la fille, and and by the end of the course, found myself bursting with pride, that I could dash off a decent letter, all in French, even if it be to a Bookseller, to order quelques  livres!

Well, back to the book in hand, was thoroughly impressed and even inspired by the writing. The style and content speaks of infinite command and mastery over the art of storytelling. Very powerful yet subtle. Silences brimming with intensity.  Characters with morphed rage and lust, vice and greed. Characters with pain, borne of abject poverty and self damnation. They’re all there. Reverberating hollowness amidst the opulent class, stark bleakness that strangles the lower class, and the just about surviving, caught-in-the-middle class, are elicited, through sensitive and intricate character sketches. The author sustains the anticipation of the reader by presenting in each story, a surprise element, either in the form of content or the persona he portrays.

So many images rush through my mind, as I try to recollect or list a few of them. The father with his 10yr old daughter, on a hot sweltering Sunday noon awaits a bus, to take them home; what transpires then, seem  to reinstate the absurdity, of trying to make a decent living, holding on to your mores.  A soft spoken aspiring poet forced into a marriage of convenience, in a quirk of destiny transforms herself into a thumping success; her friend though tries in vain to search for traces of the lost someone. Are some things lost forever, overridden in pursuit of success? The flashy call-girl who turns up as the friendly neighbour, the conniving politician, making a fool of himself before a phirangi, the ever faithful manager, quitting because he finally realises what it is, to stand for what ones very being believes in. The list is endless, and the characters are endearing, each in their own way.  

Another feature of Indira Parthasarathy's writing is that, the social issues, inconsistencies, delusions, codes, pressures, are brought out vividly, through the eyes of the protagonist, in accordance to his state of mind prevailing then, at that point of time. This helps the reader to totally identify himself with the situation, and the plethora of thoughts and emotions conveyed, making the reading process a very genuine experience, to be savoured and mulled over at leisure.

I would definitely recommend the book to all Tamil readers, and there seem to be translated versions available too. Seriously thinking of looking up his other award winning works, especially Kuruthi punal, the Sahitya Academy winner. Glad this quest for Tamil books, has turned out to be a rewarding and satisfying one, so far.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A different Life

During my stay in Trichy, this August, had an opportunity to get to know about a NGO organisation, New Life. It was a brief acquaintance and my association did not yield any fruitful results from my side. Was not able to contribute my time or help in a concrete, worthwhile form. But, it did leave an indelible mark. It opened up the fact that, there exists sections of society which we are totally unaware of,  or rather choose to be unaware of, and there is another faction of society who silently serve this neglected, but much in need-of-help section, who exists, camouflaged in every corner of our nation.

New Life carry on their services with the help of Donors and Sponsors but volunteers who pitch in, make all the difference I would think. When they gave me a brief sketch of their projects done so far, and the ongoing ones, I could see the level of commitment and sustained work put into it wholeheartedly. The successful attainment of several goals, achieved within a well knit network, reaching across a huge population in and around Trichy, holds testimony to this.

One of their projects involve identifying children who live in an environment deprived of moral or emotional support, an environment highly conducive to development of delinquent habits. This identification is done with help from Police Department, and subsequently these children are in a sense adopted by New Life. It is seen to that, the child completes his school education, atleast up to High School, and he or she is equipped vocationally, to enter society as an independent and productive member. This effort is greatly laudable as the follow up  is a long drawn process, which involves several hurdles, socially, economically and emotionally. Thanks to New Life which has consistently and effectively been carrying on this project for the past 15 years, there has been instances of many individuals, who lead a successful and meaningful life, head held high.

I have just touched upon a tip of an iceberg with regard to the services done and people's life being touched upon by Service organisations. But it was very heartening and inspiring to visit the centres and be an observer of the changes that are, and will be taking place in the chidlren's lives, instilling hope and self-belief, and heralding a promising, bright New Life.

This post is a part of BlogAdda's Bloggers Social Responsibility (BSR) initiative. I am exercising my BSR. You can too with three simple steps. Visit  and support the NGO's.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Taste of History

This Summer vacation did not have any major trips, but it was dotted with short and interesting trips around Tamilnadu. It started with, visit to Madurai, followed by Nagarkoil, Thirupurankundram and culminating in Kanyakumari. It was a pleasant trip, and Nagarcoil being a relatively new place to us, was exciting to get acquainted with the little town, which seemed to be an interesting fusion of Kerala and Tamilnadu! Kanyakumari as always was awe-inspiring, and a sense of calm and peace descends, while you are there. 

Another mini trip was made to Tanjore, which is hardly an hour's drive from Trichy. The highlight was, our visit to Saraswati Mahal Library and another museum nearby. The Library is a very old one, dating back to 16th century, started by the Nayak kings; but it was Serofji II, a Maratha king who out of his sheer passion for language and books, collected a huge collection (60,000 volumes), of old and rare books, in French, Dutch, Russian, Tamil and Marathi tooIt was truly amazing to see the collection of old palm-leaf manuscripts, illustrated medical books, detailed maps of old cities, (London, Moscow, Tanjore - how they had such clear aerial perspective was beyond comprehension), caricatures of rulers, common man, historic monuments, all preserved for posterity. 

The neighbouring museum was very interesting too, filled with works of art, on stone and metal. The exquisite skill was amply evident, and we were almost carried back into the world of the ancient dynasties. The mueseum was housed in an old structure as you can see here, which was used by kings or maybe noblemen as abode of residence, we presume. It was fun climbing our way up along the dark, narrow staircases, on either sides, all the way  to the top floor. A multi-storeyed building with perfect architectural symmetry, and provisions for numerous carved windows and niches, which opened out to the lushy green fields of the Chola land. Could almost imagine the pretty princesses and maidens peeping out, and chasing each other down the stairs! 

By evening, reached the Periya koil (Big Temple), or the Bragatheeshwar Temple, a renown structure in South India, built by Raja Raja Cholan in the 11th century. The vimana of this temple is very special, as the structure does not cast a shadow at any point of time! 
The huge Nandhi idol found outside, is made from a single stone, which is said to weigh more than 25 tons.The place was teeming with tourists and local visitors, and as the sun went down,  everyone seemed to be filled with a sense of being a part of history. And me for one, was glad, my children, were there with me to partake in this special moment! 


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Yann Martel's Life of Pi

The Life of Pi was interesting to say the least; a novel that effectively manages to transform you into a 12yr old lad,  'Pi' as he makes this indomitable journey across oceans, in a little bobbing boat.

It is slowly enthralling, a lullaby sort of book, which does not necessarily put you to sleep, but soothes you, as you slip into the folds of the little town of Pondicherry. The author manages to hold a conversation with the reader, a very direct one, where he draws you into his theories on religion, relationships and life at large, with consummate ease. 

Yes, it does have a lull, especially towards the end when you start yearning for land as much as the boy lost in sea does, his body shrivelled and dried to the bone, dusted with salt from the air, spirit almost squelched brutally, after many a battle with his once-sane mind. But the end does arrive, and you do make a landing, but find yourself having difficulty in bidding goodbye.

Not one of the 'truly awesome' books, but yes one that transcends you to places, where only the author and the reader are entitled to visit. Places that do not exist anywhere in the physical world, but captured and unfolded in those small grey pages, 'for your eyes only',  which is what a good book is all about.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Books and Kites

A trip to a Book Store has always been very special, all through the years. And it was more so here, in Kuwait as I had as good as given up hope that I would chance upon a proper book store; one, which could weave in a sense of magic everytime you enter its doorway. Well, it truly did this time around!

Had looked up this place via the Internet , and planned to hunt for it this weekend and make a visit too, for all its worth. Even at the outset was somehow convinced that it would be good, as the website definitely seemed promising. So making our way through the most crowded locality in Kuwait, Mirqab, on a Friday, wondering all the while, where could this shop be, hidden amidst the din and almost a maelstrom of moving throng of people. And lo, there it stood, almost obscure and aloof, a small but a cosy nest of books. A sense of joy sweeps over, as I take in the rows of shelves, and the small reading couches and the books of the oh-so-familiar authors. So, pleased as a pie, with a bag loaded with books made our way back home, infused with a feeling of having met long last friends, and bringing some back home with me! And yes the pleasure of having an unread book by your bedside, is inexplicable!

Never thought I would fly a kite at this age, and experience the pleasure of helping something soar higher and higher. And ofcourse realising the all encompassing truth - when to let go and when not to. So flying kites might actually instil in this dictum in a very effective, albeit a subtle way, for individuals who fail to grasp it, in their pursuit of happiness and success! 

It was a pleasant breezy day, just right for kite flying, at the Mahboula beach. And friends were excited too, at the prospect of rediscovering the much loved activity of their childhood days. And memories of yesteryears were rekindled and it was good to watch them slip back to their past, with a bemused smile on their lips. With the sea so close by and summer setting in slowly, promised ourselves that we should do it again.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Failaka Islands

This place has always been on the to-see-places in Kuwait, but had mixed responses when queried about. So we were in two minds until now, if we should actually make the trip, and if we did, would it be worthwhile. The reactions usually ranged from, 'yeah its fine, good..' sort of okeyish...or ' nothing much to see, just the ride on the boat and back, not all that good'. But having few days to kill, decided to go for it, come what may, and yes, we were not disappointed, thankfully.

Had to leave for the boarding point, quite early in the morning, and was surprised to see a huge crowd, groups, families, lugging baggages, cycles, and the general picnic paraphernalia. The place was actually teeming with people, jostling for want of space at the ticket booths, which set off the excitement to begin with. Then there was the wait for the boat or the barge to arrive, and the queueing in, to board. It was pretty well packed, and we just about managed to secure a place, on the open deck. It was a beautiful day, and it was wonderful to see the fading coastline, on one side and the vast expanse of open sea, on the other, as we gently bobbed along to the rhythm of the waves.

It was a almost an hour long ride, but it was fun observing people, the interesting sections of the barge, and of course catching up with friends, while clicking pictures. After landing on the island, we had to find means of transport to ferry us around the place. Settled for a mini bus, which could accomodate the whole group, and few more. Headed for the man-made lake, nearby and had our breakfast, as we were famished by then. Kids went on boat rides which included the kayaks too. The geese strutting around added some interest to the scene. Was oft reminded of the lakes and numerous boat rides of Kodai and Yercaud.

Next stop was the display of tanks and ammunition used during the Iraq attack way back in 1990. It gave an insight into the severity of the attack, and also the advanced machinery used during the war. Also visited some old buildings which had to bear the brunt of the brutal attack by Saddam Hussein and his men.
Time for lunch and we headed for a beach side resort-like arrangement. Children immediately headed for the beach, for a quick dip, to be followed by ride on the Water Scooter. Had awesome fun, as it was an exhilaratingly thrilling adventure, zooming at that speed. Ravenous stomachs were filled with the local fare of Shawarmas. Lounged for a while, played a round of cards and then headed back to the Barge, which took us back home.
It was a fairly eventful trip, unlike what many had predicted. Wonder why they didn't find the islands interesting enough. Maybe we are an easier lot to please!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Our heroes

Zaheer khan you truly were a gem,
Munaf your whipping balls dug in,
Harbhajan your hands spun magic!
With charm and immaculate timing.

Raina you were as solid as ever,
Shewag you caught a stunner!
Shreeshanth you were, but a
mere rollicking entertainer.

Gambhir our hearts did lurch
and cried, for your missed ton.
Yuvraj you were a sparkling star,
twinkiling incessant, unlike none.

Sachin you firmly believed, and
so did the nation with you;
we turned our elusive dreams
come heart wrenchingly true.

Dhoni you were our dhoom dhoom
You were our gutsy valiant warrior
you slammed home the truth, that

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sand Storm

Yes, we live in a desert, reigned by sand, and it was restated in no less means, on 25.03.2011, when the lands bordering the Arabian gulf, was swamped, smothered and benumbed by a monstrous sandstorm. It was an incredible experience, a natural phenomenon that one gets to see in the National Geographic Channel, as we lounge in the comforts of our drawing rooms. 

The strangest thing was that, we were totally unaware of the enormity of the event initially, and were happily clicking away pictures, close to the sea. The plan was to grab some coffee at the Cafe along the coast, with few friends. The sky seemed to change colours, and gave no indication of what lay in store. But when it did unleash its intent, found ourselves literally scurrying for cover, rushing to the nearest building, as fine sand particles seemed to overpower everything on its way, as a huge tidal wave would. 

As we were sort of huddled up inside the huge mall, it did hit me that, what was happening here is not much different from the Tsunami; Nature dictating terms, and not man, and when it does, - you are but a speck in space. It was a humbling moment, and a startling one too. The ride back along the highway, cars shrouded in dust, moving tentatively but intent on reaching home safe, was a sobering experience, one which will stay in memory for a while. 

The heartening part of the entire episode was that, except for the infiltration of sand carried from miles across, inside homes, hospitals, schools and airports, there were no major casualties. Mother nature had been kind, and we have been fortunate, and heart goes out to the ones on the other side of the world.

Few links you might be interested in. 

` Desert Farms '

It was after much deliberation we did leave the comforts of home, into the sandy highway, which was shrouded in a mist of grey hazy sky. It was not an ideal day for a picnic, but we had enough of staying indoors, the past 3 days, being National holidays. We had to get out somewhere, not yet another Mall. We started late, around 12, with some quickly packed light lunches. The drive was good, with some good converstation floating around, as always veering towards life in India vs Kuwait. 

As we neared Wafra, not knowing what to expect or what not to rather, we ended up going in circles, trying to find a farm-resort like setup, where we could pitch tent. But that was not to be, as there was hardly any movement, and activity in any form in that zone a zilch. But we did chance upon a roadside fruitseller, who drew our attention, and stepped down with a sigh, for having landed 'somewhere'! His fares were quite interesting, especially the Bhajiya chillies, and the huge red tomatoes too. Broccoli wasnt very impressive, the small 'ezhandhaplams' (bores) were. So with some boxes loaded, we set about looking out for some more impromptu stops. 

And lo where did we find ourselves but in the midst of a an almost busy junction, teeming with people, doing what, marketing ofcourse. There was this huge market right in the middle, acutely reminding one of many such back home. So entered all pumped up with excitement, at the prospect of setting eyes on veggies and fruits and sellers with whom we could actually talk about their wares, and maybe clinch a bargain too. When was the last time you got to do it? Maybe when you were sent on a emergency trip to the local market in Trichy? It was exciting, a rustic earthly atmosphere, nudging your way in, trying not to miss out the smaller or the lesser known species of both the botanical and the zoological kind.

The rabbits were a sight to behold, dressed up in their dainty skirts! The hens looked a tad different from their Indian counterparts, and the cocks had a more severe, but smaller comb. And there was a peacock too in this melee of two legged and four legged creatures caged or otherwise. Was an amazing experience.

More so, as here in Kuwait, we hardly get to lay eyes on any mobile zoological species around! As simple as that. Yes we have cats, plumpy ones at that, languid and would seem they are distant cousins of sloths. And yes, we have the small social group of sprightly sparrows with their lovely chirpings, which are music to ears, that are more tuned in to endless vroomning and screeching of cars and bigger cars.  So much so that the other day when we happened to see a huge herd of wooly sheep, gathered in flocks found myself showing signs of intense joy and excitement much to the disdain of a sceptical better half.

And so there are farms in Kuwait, however ironic that might sound, and it was wonderful visiting a crowded colourful noisy market. And got to know, that there is an animal shelter in Wafra, where they have pets for sale/adoption. Planning to make a trip, after I succeed in convincing 'authorities' at home that cats are benign cute adorable species, akin to its canine counterparts. Lets see how long that's going to take, wish me luck!