Sunday, November 1, 2009

Adieu Mr. Simpleton!

The first time that I read the story of a certain Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde I was in my pre-pubescent age. I was fascinated by the story and also petrified at times, especially when I used to see the gnome like structure of Hyde, who seemed to lurk around, behind each curtain in my small apartment. My mind would wander of to the streets in London as depicted in the story and I would follow Hyde to all the nooks and corners while he went about accomplishing all his diabolic deeds. Even though I was not able to comprehend the hidden gist of story at that point of time, I must say that I really loved the novel, and it remained in my memory, so much so that I had the urge to read it again after a long time.

Why, am I interested in this particular story, well because I thought that we all face the same situation in our life at least to some extent, I have felt that at times we behave in a manner that we know is despicable and yet we oblige ourselves in doing it, we all have different personalities packed as one bundle into our mind and it plays around on its own, and often wreaks havoc with our normalcy, at times makes us heroes, villains, earns us enemies in short we all exhibit different personalities based on our surroundings, you may beg to differ, well of course you can, as these are just my thoughts!

Off late I found that I tend to fight a certain Mr. Simpleton in me who is being held captive by a certain Mr. Suave and I find that Mr. Simpleton is fighting a losing battle! Not quite long ago, the simpleton was quite dominant as he was not corrupted by the pleasures of the world, quite straightforward, ready to help, and as the name would suggest very plain & simple. He would work for the pleasure of learning more, for the thrill of developing new things, he wouldn’t be hesitant to make new friends , he was willing to travel anywhere at any given point of time by any means without giving much thought about class, creed or any other darn thing, his spirit was free, he was energetic and had zest that none could match. He did not have pre-conceived notion about others, neither was he judgmental about others to such an extent that would cause a detriment to the relationship. Mr. Simpleton was having a good time a pretty relaxed life, but he was not getting anywhere in life, apart from having a good time, he was pretty much stagnated in terms of career and growth while things around him seemed to change, but such a Simpleton was he that he was oblivious to these facts.

This was the perfect time; the time was ripening for a certain Mr. Suave who had been dormant, well not exactly dormant, as dormant isn’t the right way to describe Mr. Suave, may be he was in a deep slumber since the very day he came crying out his mother’s womb. All these years, Mr. Suave was acknowledging the activities of Mr.Simpleton and probably smirking at the poor Mr.Simpleton, he might have been saying to himself, Mr.Simpleton your days are numbered, as I will be quite influential and all prevailing for the rest of the characters life and I will make sure that the main character (Mr. Suave does not acknowledge the main character as the same entity, he is detached from the main character, if you are not able to guess who the main character is, well its non other than me/you/any other person around the corner! Pretty confusing, isn’t it?) listens to me for eternity.

True to his words Mr. Suave started to pull the strings, and that’s when it was the beginning of an end for Mr.Simpleton, no more does the character work for the pleasure of learning new aspects from the job, the character is scurrying around to meet targets and achieve deadlines and demands so that he might exceed expectation and win accolades, and it doesn’t matter if he tramples and subdues efforts of others, Mr. Suave has made sure that the character does all that’s needed to meet the goals by hook or by crook! Mr. Suave makes sure that the character travels first class, eats and wines from the very best places and it isn’t of much interest to Mr. Suave if the bill burns a hole in the characters wallet. Mr. Suave wants to be spoiled, and he will go to any extent to achieve his means. Mr. Suave is very choosy in selecting friends, and friend circles he wants to be polished in all aspects, follow all the latest trendy western, eastern, northern or any other culture for that matter,he just needs to make sure that he is following the in thing and he is always happening. Mr. Suave always keeps pre-conceived notion about others and even if he is wrong in his judgment, he is too haughty to let go of his notions, as a result he has a diminishing circle of friends! Mr. Suave always strives hard to make sure that he puts in a lot of questions into the characters life that is sure to make him feel insecure, coz Mr. Suave knows that if he has to survive then he will have to make the character writhe in an agonistically painful state of insecurity. Mr. Suave has an insatiable craving for all worldly pleasures, which keeps on growing with each day, and his craving is such that it does not seem to have a horizon.

Despite of all the uncongenial attitude of Mr. Suave which the character himself despises, the character is under the dictatorial rule of Mr. Suave, and unless the character decides to bring up a new personality who can juggle and strike a balance between the poor simpleton and the incorrigible Mr. Suave, the road ahead will be a dark and mystic one. If the character does not hear that waning feeble cry of our yester year simpleton then it’s an adieu to you forever Mr. Simpleton.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


"The Eency Weency Spider went up the water spout
down came the rain and washed the spider out
out came the sun and dried up all the rain
and the Eency Weency Spider went up the spout again
up, up, up and down
up, up, up and down".

This poem still reverberates in my memory, it seems quite ironic to me, b'coz I struggle to remember things that have occurred just hours earlier, but this poem which was taught, probably when I was in my kinder garden has a strong presence in my mind. I remember how I used to try and rhyme up with the class, chat the poem along with the teacher but all while being oblivious of the classroom. My eyes would be glued towards the corridor window, craning my neck as far as possible, and trying to look for the familiar face of my mother who would be waiting outside in the downpour, to collect me and take me home. The rainy season had started, and the schools had re-opened after the summer vacation hiatus.

How I would run to my mothers arms, as i was scared stiff of the rain, the new surrounding, the strange people and toddlers all around, neither ammuma (grandma) nor muthachan (grandpa) were anywhere near to console me (as i had joined a new school in Bombay, a world apart from the sleepy town of Trichur where i spent the early years of my childhood under the care and guidance of my grandparents). Then once in the safe arms of my mother we would walk our way back to our flat, i would enjoy the rain, talk incessantly about anything and everything to my mother, much to her amusement and joy. Childhood, rain, innocence, its something that we had taken for granted but now i its something that i really feel deprived of, the innocence of our mind and yes of course " RAIN".

The media is splashing a grim scenario of drought as a result of delayed rains and some so called El-Nino effect, scaring the daylights of anyone who switches on the TV. The met department is trying their best to predict rain, and have promised that rain will kiss the Indian soil by the start of July, much to the relief of the UPA government, who are looking skywards to find some relief and respite from a possible drought and that too in a economic condition that is hanging by the precipice in quite a precarious position. While all this is happening, i couldn't help to resist my memories of rain in my native land of Kerala.

I haven't traveled a lot, but with the limited amount of travel that i have had, and with the knowledge of how other places look when in monsoon by the various programmes aired in discovery and other such channels, i have found that there is no other place that will give the true pleasure and sense of satisfaction that one can have from a rainy day such as that we have in Kerala. You might argue that here comes a statement that is yet again a prejudiced one, and probably biased as i hail from Kerala. Well i wouldn't comment on that, it can be true, but i must say that, i am being as honest as it can get, and voicing my opinion in a very neutral tone, as i have spent almost half of my life till now in Bombay and the other half in Kerala. So i suspect that i am being fair when i mention that Kerala is at its peak of pristine beauty just after the heavy showers have abated and it’s just the calm and the occasion drizzle after the fiery rains.

How i would love to be in that climate, given the opportunity i would love to run back to Kerala from Bangalore for a couple of weeks just to enjoy the rain and be in that state of bliss for some time.

How i would love to sit near the veranda and watch the rain wash down from the thatched roof and flow in thick muddy streams and form a puddle in our land.

How I would love to visit Vadakumnathan temple, tugging along with muthachan while he narrates stories and information on various things.

How I would love to hear the ladies sing hymns in praise of the lord just after the evening pooja, while I get wet in the slight drizzle and all the smell of the incense sticks, camphor, temple lights and the clanking of bells would add to a more spiritual high.

How i would like to sip on tea and watch the rain along with the thunder and lightning that it would create such a good music and lighting effect that it would mesmerize me and take me into a trance!

How i would rush with the paper boats and run all along the land(parambu), barefoot screaming at the top of my voice and getting soaked to the skin.

How my friends and neighboring kids would wander out and join me in this act, which if done here in Bangalore then probably we would be labeled as crack pots.

How good it would have been if we were able to play football in the thick of the rain, in the ground in front of first hostel, usually only the very mad would venture out for this kind of adventure.

How high would our adrenaline flow when we scale the mountains behind the hostel for having a bath in the temporary falls as a result of the rain.

How we enjoyed the bath in the temple pond, while it rained cats and dogs and an occasional "neerkooli" (a harmless water snake) passed by, much to the amusement and fear of some of us in the pond.

How high we would get, while getting drenched in the rain and sipping "naadan kallu"
(A type of toddy made from coconut tree saps) all this while we cruise slowly in a house boat that cuts through the placid Vembanad kayal in Allepy.

How the smell of the mud would arise from the ground with the fresh rains!

How the festivities of Onam would be celebrated just after the "naatuvela", (i think that onam comes just after the naatuvela, which is nothing but one part of monsoon when the rain gets quite fierce).

The list is endless, the stories surrounding it are countless, the memories abundant, but here i am ,quite redundant, wondering when will i have the time and opportunity to enjoy the above moments for at least once before i go six feet under!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

American on journey to try 50 jobs in 50 weeks in 50 States

Just read this one in a paper! I must admit that the moment i read it i got hooked to the concept. Fancy working in different states in India, getting to know the country better, working on different kind of jobs not necessarily white collar jobs. It can range from gardening, watering the park to working in a cubicle doing something else. It is definitely not for the money, but more of an experience to get a flavour of what lies ahead of you, there is high level of probability that your outlook might change after you have embarked on such an epic journey, then we might stop whining and complaining about the sorry state of affairs back home. I don't know about the feasibility or the job prospects and how long one might be able to survive such a feat, but it surely sounds inviting for the adventurous one.

Is this really possible in India, well tough to say an outright yes as an answer because of the various issues that has penetrated deep into the Indian mindset , the issues range from son of the soil theory, religion ism, caste ism, the binding that you have to your family which might restrict you in going forward, the social stigma that might dwarf the ideas of even the mighty.These are some of the issues. Well there might be n number of reasons to not to venture into such derisory acts but if given the opportunity to indulge into such an adventure i would be the first one vying for it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Feet on Street!

Running was never my cup of tea, some of the running that I am used to was the one to bathroom early morning, scramble to the counter for movie tickets, run past defenders while playing football back in college and the most frantic running would be when a fight broke out in engineering college and I would inadvertently find myself in the epicentre of it and suddenly my legs would take shape of wings, pooof I would disappear. That was running to me till now, unscrupulous and disoriented.

After years of mindless eating and an unhealthy life style, I must say that I have developed a big pack on my abs, well not six or eight pack's but a ridiculous family pack a rotund tummy! I was aghast, all my pants and tees were slowly refusing to embrace my body. Actions stations!!! red alert, panic buttons all sort of screaming alarms constantly bogged me down all the while. It was high time that I did something, or I would reach that stage wherein it would be a point of no return.
Dieting, gym, weight loss programmes, yoga, aerobics etc etc all these were some of the suggestions that were being poured in from all directions. I was at crossroads at what to do?

All the above mentioned options might be effective, but would create a dent in your pocket as these programmes are expensive. Also with the economic crisis looming overhead I needed to find an alternative, and thats how I decided to take up running, an inexpensive and effective cardiovascular exercise.

I must say that its a very good way to stay fit and loose weight. Around half an hour of mild jogging combined with some control over our own gluttony would work wonders on our body. Initially I used to run only on the treadmill, but I was introduced to the marvel of running around on the street by a colleague at office.

That's how I started training for the first event of running on street, called feet on street which was a 5 KM run on an early Sunday morning in Cubbon Park. I was skeptical of whether I would be able to run that distance at a single stretch, I was not too keen to get myself in an embarrassing spot,where I would huff, puff and chug along when all the others would just zip past me to the finish line. All this concern was put to rest as Maitreyee a regular runner assured that there is no need to get concerned as we just need to finish it and it really doesn't matter if we waltzed or walked our way to the finish. Even after reassurances, I was not convinced so I started training, running on treadmill and I managed to run on it for 5 KM. Although I was not able to run continuously, but still I was able to manage the 5K distance with an average time of 38 minutes on the treadmill.

So the big day arrived and i reached the venue at around 6.45 am. It was not much of a surprise that Graham and Ambrose were also present for the event as they are avid runners themselves. I was pretty confident that I would finish the event without much issues as I had been running the same distance for the past week without any hassles and I was also sure that I would finish well before Graham. The event started at the stroke of seven and around 200 of us started with a brisk run ( it was an event that supported charity as the revenue generated from this would be handed over to an NGO), I had plugged my i-pod with my fave music playing and as expected I overtook Graham, Ambrose and Maitreyee and was going at a steady pace with a small grin playing around the corner of my face. After around 15 minutes I started to loose momentum and pace , I was puffing, breathing hard and then I saw that things were in slow motion for me, Graham went past and so did Ambrose and I saw the trail of dust that they left behind them, within a couple of minutes they were past my eyesight. I still chugged along and managed to reach the finish in 40 minutes since the start of the event. That was a real eye opener, after asking Graham the secret behind keeping the pace and momentum I decided that it was time to go back and start again from scratch. Well, I must say that I have manged to improve, I can now run continuously for 5 KM in just under 35 minutes also I have lost around 6 Kilos in just less than 2 months and I plan to keep it going and improve. Also I might beat Graham to the finish the next time. So if you are keen to join , dont wait, as the popular saying goes the biggest step is from your bed to the floor. Start running!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Food for thought!

I usually enjoy having a beer during the weekend, along with some nice food. That's the only time of the week that i indulge in some good, the rest of the week its dieting to loose some stones that had been accumulated over the course of years as a result of overeating and squandering money over junk food and beverages. This weekend also would have been the same if i had not come across this article Its not that i was not aware of this, but the magnitude of the calamity (yes its a calamity); the calamity called hunger is way beyond any comprehensible limits . The thing that i have never known, for me hunger is a phenomenon that occurs while dieting. While in my neighbouring states children are malnourished and deprived of the basic amenities. Its an alarming statistics, a 42.5% of children below 5 are always going hungry, that's not acceptable, in fact its something that i cant even fathom, almost half the countries children go hungry to bed each day. The irony of the entire situation is that , we will never accept this fact, at least the government is oblivious of the fact. If they had been, then how come the system has failed to approach this nagging issue, which has been coyly put forward but our prime minister as a national shame. I hope that something can be done to help, apart from us paying our taxes, voting, not wasting food etc, which is so much cliched. I guess its more of a social responsibility! There is no point in me lamenting about this, i just felt very very bad about it, so thought of venting my feelings, coz i though that none in my floor will find this topic interesting and it probably hamper their spirits and weekend plans, the worst case scenario i might be ridiculed for discussing this, as they might say that the news is false. As for the beer that i had planned, well i must say its still beckoning!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

A lot has been said of this film, the comments and claim range from awe to awful! Why has this film been so successful, so much so that the Oscars has come beckoning to the film. I presume that neither Danny Boyle nor the cast & crew might have dreamt in their wildest imagination of the film having such a dream run. People in the film circles , especially in India will argue that the film has got undue credit and it has got so much attention just because a westerner is behind the making of the film. Indian film industry churns out more films than any other in the world, and till now none of them have been given much attention until now. Why this sudden shift in focus towards SM? It seems that our talented artists, directors and other film crew members were in total oblivion until this film. What is so remarkable in this rags to riches story?, which is in itself a cliche topic and has been experimented with, in all possible angles by various directors spread across the Indian diaspora.

I think much of this has got to do with the so called preconceived notion that the west has about India. I think that most of the westerners have visualised India as the land of snake charmers,poverty ,malnourished children and off late call centre and software professionals. For most of them its a land of mysticism mixed with some amounts of exoticism. From their point of view, they will be appalled to find that any Indian can go to college in a ferrari or they can go home which apparently is sprawling mansion in a private chopper as portrayed in some Bollywood movies. For them its pseudo-India, and they might have great difficulty in digesting that. Now when we look SM as an Indian, we will argue that what the film portrays is overtly over exaggerated. Now this is where I tend to differ from the populist opinion. When i saw the film, i never felt that things were exaggerated. What the director had shown was the real brutal India. Don't we have the poverty that is depicted in the movie ? Don't we have rude policemen? Don't we have corrupt officials? Don't we have reports of repeated attack and molestation of foreign nationals visiting India? Don't we have red light areas? Isn't it true that there is large scale child trafficking? Isn't it true that child sexual abuse is rampant? Isn't it true that murder, rape and extortion are quite rampant and the frequency of occurrence is quite high? Isn't it a fact that we have a very sensitive issues ranging from communal, regional, son of the soil theory etc ? which constantly flare up and when it does it takes a huge toll on the society. So these all were depicted in the movie, and a bit of masala was sprinkled in the form of love, the game show and nice background score. The result is a very peppy and nice to feel film of the year. The argumentative Indian as quoted by Amartya Sen, find this as an insult, we feel that we are not plagued by some of the social issues portrayed in the film, we feel that its something that is not true, whereas its a hard cold authentic fact, we do face the issues and this is happening in India.

Recently, when David Miliband a British politician who is the current Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs had toured India, he did not visit the swanky new IT offices, or the infrastructure growth of India or even if he did it was not highlighted. The only thing that was portrayed was his stay in rural village in Amethi, that too he spent in a cow shed! Well its an absolute humbug, i can vouch for that, i happened to read an article in The Telegraph by Peter Foster about this taradiddle and its heading is something like this "David Miliband's Indian village visit: 'What a *&^%ing joke!' Its no exaggeration, you can access this article by clicking on this link further reading.
Well things don't end there, we also have Prince Charles lecturing on the environment friendly Dharavi slum, and how this can be adopted to other structure's in the world to reduce the carbon footprint thereby reducing the global warming. So these are the major things that catches the western eye.

So as mentioned by me earlier a majority of the westerners probably go ga ga over the poverty stricken, undernourished, and underdeveloped India, rather than accept the fact that things are changing. The western world have not reached their present status overnight, it took them a long long time. Compared to that, we are flourishing at an enormous rate, its just less than a two decades since we have moved from a very strict conservative pseudo-socialist era to a more constructive capitalist era. If we can achieve so much in such a small span of time, then we have stand a very good chance of having a bright future i.e. if we can manage to sustain this growth. Even when the current recession is playing a spoilsport to all the major economies around the world, India is the least affected by this downturn as per the world bank report.

Coming back to the hype surrounding the movie SM, will the dream run continue at the Oscars? Well i guess it will, and it will be a clean sweep. We will have them dancing to the tune of Chaiyya Chaiyya at the Oscars!

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Axe Looms........

What does one expect out of life! Its quite an absurd thought, and that has been pestering my mind for quite some time. Well i am at crossroads if i think about what i expect from my life! I had not given much thought about it, although i do have ambitions to make it large in life but still that link , the proper angle is still missing. There is a weak link , a missing piece of jigsaw that requires to be filled in to complete the puzzle of my life. Having said all this i also secretly wish that i never find it. If that hypothetical missing link is found then i might probably be at peace and i might cease to exist.

Why this thought and why this scrawl about some fictitious missing link? Well i guess its fueled from a sense of insecurity, maybe these insecure times has evoked a sense of uncertainty within me of whether i am sailing in the right direction. Uncertain times , well yes that's what this recession is all about. Each morning you wake up and think not about breakfast but whether there will be that chair in office waiting for you or will it be a thing of past. The recent economic downturn has had a multifarious effect on each and every individual, that can be traced down to the grass root level. I am not a big economic pundit, but still after reading various articles and newspaper reports i could only come up to one conclusion that can be the underlying factor for all this economic menace called recession, and that's GREED. Big banks going bust, business's going bust well what not and a some one has said that its all AIG , American Innocence and Greed. Then since man is a social animal and since the attribute called greed is present in all human beings it easily got cascaded into other economies and soon we have the entire world reeling under recession of which the majority , including me and you might have had no role at all. I would not like to elaborate much on the facts and figures or any other economical jargon. The only evident thing is that we are facing a crisis of which the end is no where near in sight. Some of us might be affected and some of might have been spared. I was lucky enough to miss the axe, but still it looms and swings overhead, it is exactly this uncertainty that's made me think of what i should expect from life.

While having a chat with a friend, he mentioned that we should all be satisfied with the simple pleasures of life and be happy with what we have. We should change and modify our lifestyle according to the need of the hour. I somehow found that unconvincing, its again a matter of perspective, because if a person is satisfied with his life it means that he has either achieved what he had wanted or then he might have changed his mental framework to adapt to what he has and accept it. I cannot accept the fact that a person can be satisfied for ever. Happiness, satisfaction, success, sadness etc all these emotions are a temporary state of mind. It reaches a peak stays like that for some time then fades and lingers into some dark corner of our memory, and at times there is a huge amount of probability that we might reminisce about it. I believe that we are all in an eternal pursuit of happiness. When we face situations that need strength and courage then we should rise to the occasion. If we buckle under pressure and give up hope that we cannot make it and rise to occasion, then probably we will go into a different mind frame , a mind frame which will make us think that, this is my future and i should try and adapt to this and wait for better times to come my way. No, that is definitely not me, i will not accept any downturns in my life as my destiny of my fate and sulk over it for a very long time , i will face them and work a way out. The tunnel is long and dark, but there is light at the end and we will find it if we keep walking, sorry i had to borrow this phrase from my good old friend Roshan.

Recession can take away your job, not your future. It cannot snatch away the love from your loved ones, although you might have to fight the social stigma surrounding a job loss. As long as you have the support of your loved ones and your desire to make more out of life, as long as you have hope you will not be a victim forever. These uncertain times are an eyeopener, let us all rise like a phoenix bird from the ashes to a new future so bright that we might find that missing link of puzzle in life. I don't care about the looming axe any longer, let it loom and soon it will tire itself.