Friday, May 16, 2014

The 'Modi'fication of India

 Election Results Day, and the country seems engulfed in an orange haze. Change, they say is good, and Indians seem to have taken this very much to heart.

Like someone commented on FB, there was no Modi wave, rather, there seems to have been a Modi tsunami! All I can hope for now is that this tsunami spills well being and progress among the citizens, instead of destruction.

I had not been a Modi supporter. I did not vote for BJP, only because I didn't want BJP at the helm of the country. This was NOT because I wanted namby pamby Rahul Gandhi,(what a sad excuse for ANYTHING he is, unless it be a good Mama's boy!) or because I wanted Kejriwal either. Like I was commenting to a friend who was aghast that I hadn't voted for BJP, it was just that I was not comfortable with the fact that there were people in secular, tolerant India, who were AFRAID of Modi getting into the PM 's seat.  They may not have wanted a Congress or an AAP. But they certainly had no FEARS regarding either of them coming into power. Whereas there were strong fears over what would be the state of the nation with Modi coming to power. These fears to the best of my understanding were over secularism and the status of women.

But now that he has come to power ( And how!!), I hope that he is blessed  by God with powers to make our dear country powerful- economically, militarily, culturally, socially. That his tenure remains stable and that it can be remembered as a golden period for Indians. ( Like how in our history lessons, we learnt about the Golden Period of various emperors, I hope the next 5 years are his. For he has been projected as nothing short of an emperor these last 2 months. With men bowing to his lightest whim.)

1. I hope in his tenure, women across each and every state feel proud to be women. And are empowered to be equal citizens, walking shoulder to shoulder with men ,  in every sphere.

2. I hope that temples, mosques, churches, synagogues, gurudwaras, dargahs, all thrive in harmony. I hope religious fanatic cronies are kept on the periphery of matters, and not given undue powers or importance.

I do not profess to be very knowledgeable on the  economic and military strength of our country, but-
3. I hope that economically and militarily, we grow into a nation to be reckoned with. That Modi is able to let us blossom into a country that is prosperous, and self reliant. That we will be able to look any potential detractors in the eye, and make it very clear that aggression in any form, will not be tolerated, or taken lying down. No more Devyani Khobragades, please.

4. That we learn to be proud of our heritage. That as much as we take pride in our past, we go on to create newer landmarks, spiritually and materially.

5. I hope we hear less of corruption and scams, and more of meritocracy and efficiencies across all departments. That we have less of the super rich and super poor. That the gaps are lessened significantly between the haves and the have-nots.

6. I hope that every Indian, irrespective of caste, creed or sex,  gets water, food, electricity, and last, but not least, right to freedom of expression. Unshackled in any way.

Its a tall task, and there will be people waiting for you to take a step wrong ( as will always be the case when there are others vying for the same position).  
Here's to a good rule over the country, Mr. Modi! May you have good, capable advisors, and less of sycophants around you.  May you show your naysayers  ( I was one of them) that their fears were unfounded, and may you take our country to heights of prosperity.  God bless!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Of Gods and Goddesses

Today had a visit from our landlord, a good man, who in the course of other conversation, asked who our family deity was. And I told him that we worshipped all deities. Indeed he could see for himself that my puja room held a Vishnu and a Krishna and a Shiva and a Devi and . . . . lots more. But he was not satisfied. He insisted- you must have an ishtadevathai (favourite God)- all of us have one. . . I could see that he wanted ONE answer from me,  so I told him Shiva. He nodded in appreciation and told me that his was Lakshmi- Narasimha.

And then he told me, See, when you dig for water in a well, if you dig in the same place, even if you have to dig longer, you will ultimately get water. This saves you the bigger effort of digging in 3-4 different places. Same is the things with Gods. If you pray consistently to one God, you get more results.
I smiled, and agreed with the well-digging logic wholeheartedly. But after he left, I mulled upon that logic.

My principle is to not put all my eggs into one basket, I guess. When I pray, I pray to ALL my Gods. Starting from when I was a kid, to now when I'm the mother of a kid, from the mundane to the profound,  . I have changed allegiances, made joint petitions, I have prayed to Gods of a different religion as well, with as much faith as I did to my Hindu Gods. . . .  but never have I been consistently faithful to only one God. Some prayers were granted easily, some not, and some after a long wait, but ultimately, He/She has answered most of  my prayers. And if there has been a delay, I believe that He/She has a bigger plan for me.

The God of my childhood prayers used to be the Sundareswara in the local temple. The temple used to be the one I went most often to, and He was my fave deity, all through school and college, but even then, during exams, Saraswati used to occupy prominence.. .
When I went to University, Sundareswaran  changed avatar to Sreekantwesara, the deity at the temple in Calicut that I most often went to. And then there was Kadampuzha Bhagavathy, how can I forget Her?

Calicut University was in Malappuram district, and this temple used to be an hour's bus journey away. But the deity was a powerful one. . . The story I grew up on goes back to the days when Shiva and Parvathy were wandering as Kiratas ( tribals/hunters) . In the course of their wanderings, Parvathy developed a thirst, and wanted water. They searched some way, but couldn't find a water source. Parvathy was thirsty beyond words by now and  looked appealingly at Shiva. Shiva told her to wait there, and went hither and thither, but could still not find a river or lake or brook or spring anywhere nearby. He came back and reported to Parvathy that there was not a drop of water to be found anywhere near. A disconsolate Parvathy sank down to the ground and said she couldn't take another step till she had some water. She looked beseechingly at her husband. At this, Shiva the kaadan (forester) strung his bow and aimed his ambu (arrow)  into the ground. Lo and behold a puzha (mountain stream) gushed out. . he cupped the delicious water and gave it to Parvathy, who quenched her thirst happily. Belief has it that this place is where the Kadampuzha ( kaadan+ambu+puzha) temple is located.  The deity is Parvathy as Vanadurga. And the lore goes that here - since this is where Shiva overcame the impossible and got water for his beloved at her asking- if you ask the goddess for your heart's desire, she will prevail upon Shiva to grant it. . . The main offering here is breaking of coconuts- muttarakkal. The deity is a small idol on the ground and there is a wedge'opening in the floor in front of Her. The priest breaks the coconut and lets the water flow into the earth below,  symbolically quenching the Goddess' thirst all over again, and pleasing her. Hundreds of coconuts are broken here every day, but all that water miraculously disappears into the earth. The priests also have their way of reading the coconuts. At times, the nut does not break into 2 halves or is a nut gone bad, in which case it means that there is an obstacle to your request. To get the Goddess to overcome this obstacle, you are directed to go and get another coconut  and break it again. .  People come there in droves, to break coconuts for multiple reasons- marks, job, marriage, house, kid, overseas posting, tackling enmities. .. you can break a coconut for a non -Hindu friend too, ( you have to give the name and reason for the offering)  tho' they are not allowed into the temple.
Needless to say, along with the rest of my classmates, this was a Goddess that was visited very frequently during the 3 odd years I spend there, doing first my Masters in English Literature, and then my Masters in Business Administration.
There is another legend also, around another main offering- poomoodal- of the Kadampuzha  temple. Since Arjuna got the Pashupatastra from Shiva and Parvathy here, with which ultimately he prevailed over his enemies , the Kauravas, this legend is the reason why so many people come there for resolution of their shatrudosham ( harm from enemies). Booking for this offering however, are closed temporarily, since this has been booked for some years in advance.
Last year, during one of our trips to Calicut, when we'd been there, the temple was being renovated and we could not enter inside, nor could we break coconuts.  The Goddess has her moods, and only if she wishes it, do you get to meet her and offer her coconut water to appease her thirst. . . 

Monday, April 7, 2014

without you. . .

Tomorrow will be the 40th day since you left us.  Officially  40 days is a period of mourning for us mallus. I wonder if it ever ends, unofficially. . .

Not a day passes when you haven't been thought about, spoken about, LOVED even more so than when you were with us, if that is possible.  There are time when my heart literally aches with wanting to run my hands over your fur. Feel your warm, live, breathng  body beneath my hands. Was this how you felt, my darling, when we left you behind at home on our Cochin and Kannur trips?

And the nights. . . those times when it'd be just you and me, either watching tv, or facebooking, or blogging (long back) and you'd curl up cosily along with me in whichever room I happened to be in. And then when it was finally time to go to bed, I'd get up and stretch, and you'd lift your head up sleepily from wherever near me you were, and thank your doggy Gods that this woman had finally seen fit to go to sleep. And we'd go together and join the Acha and Sonny boy. Where were those Gods, my darling, when you were being misdiagnosed?

Do you know that nearly every day when I get up and go to sleep, I wipe a few tears off? Do you see those tears, my darling, that no one else is allowed to see? Do you ache to lick them off my face and comfort me? But ah, there is no comfort. Only emptiness.

The Acha groans every now and then as something or the other reminds him of you. . .a fallen morsel of food, the crinkling of polythene packets that never failed to get you up and running to check enquiringly as to what was being opened. I don't think he ever expected to miss you so. But then, he'd never loved and been loved by a dog like you before. Never seen that unconditional love shining out of melting brown eyes, spread  in the house by the happy wag of your tail.

 These days when we open the car, a fragrant perfume wafts out. . . and I'd give anything in this whole wide world to have it smelling of you, and to have it looking totally unkempt with your fur peeping out from all nooks and crannies.

Sonny boy has his summer holidays. He's home with his Ammamma. He talks every day about the puppies at his Moothamma's and at the neighbour's.
About how they jump up till his knees, like you.
And how they nibble his shorts just like you.
And how they are jealous, just like you..
He told me tonight that he dreamt of you last night. Of you coming back from the dead, and that you grew flesh and then fur. He told me that you freaked him out when you came back from the dead.  but then, that you grew all that golden brown fur, "just like Trinity, and there was no patch also". And it was when he mentioned that patch, that it struck me how MUCH he misses you too.  Both of us kept quiet after he said that, each lost in our own sweet memories of you. And he said- 'she didn't deserve to die but". I couldn't agree more.

Can you come back from the dead, darling?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mars and Venus

When I fall ill, I tend to curl up and draw into my shell. I shun company, especially solicitude and prefer to let the sickness work its way out of my system.

When the Acha falls ill, like a man, he lurrrrves attention, mollycoddling and generally making a mountain out of a molehill.

With our two opposite natures, when I fall sick, the Acha tends to be all over me, irritating me all the more with his solicitude.
When the Acha falls sick, I tend to leave him alone, catering to his needs, but not to his wants, offending the Acha with my seeming indifference.

The refrain is more or less the same in both cases.
When I'm unwell, every ten minutes, the Acha goes- "Jayelteeeeeee, you're unwell, ayyo paavam, what do you want, darling?" And I give him a speaking look and turn over to the other side.
When he's unwell, every ten minutes the Acha goes, " Jayelteeeee, ayyyyyyooooooo, am not well at all, I think I'm dying, darling, come and sit near me and stroke my forehead/rub my back/massage my legs. . . " I give him a glare and after perfunctorily performing whatever requested, walk off, telling him to keep quiet and take rest.

Lol. Whoever said opposites attract should be shot!
Poor Acha! Unwell, and alone, and having to take care of Sonny boy and T to boot! Muahhh, darling!

A full plate

Am in Chennai today and tomorrow. And after that, my boss is going to be in Bangalore on Thurs and Fri.

The Acha has been complaining of a stomach ache for a few days now. Is more when he walks or bends and stretches. Am worried that it could be appendix related.
These are times when I wish I didn't have a high pressure job. I'd hound the man into going to the doc or for tests, cos I wouldn't have much else to think about. But now- I have too much on my plate

1. Am doing good on numbers overall, but one of my team mates isn't doing too well on his numbers, not for want of effort. But somehow the results aren't coming through. ..
2. One of my biggest revenue earners in Chennai is down to half last year's revenue. . .
3. I want to cut down on the travel,, but seem to be having to travel more than ever now. .. .
4. Have been unwell, am better, but now the Acha has caught my nasty cold. . .
5. On top of it he has this nagging stomach pain. . .
6. Am worried Sonny boy will catch cold and get unwell too. . .
7. My usual guilt at not being able to pay Sonny boy the kind of attention I'd like to  is ever present!

With all this, am irritated with the poor Acha for falling sick.
Sigh. Whoever said life is easy?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

T, Tommy, Brownie, Ghost and Blackie

I love dogs. Mine and others' and strays too. T, our Lab, has many canine neighbours who'd like to be friends with her. But since being friends with her requires also being friends with me, Madam will have none of it! Possessive to the core where I'm concerned, she chases away most dogs who come around wagging their tails when we go for our walks.

For starters there's Brownie and Tommy, two dogs who guard our apartment gate and who were already established when we moved in. One of the security guards gave Tommy its name, and the other one is a brown dog, hence Brownie. These two used to be friendly initially, but after T started growling and rushing at them aggressively, they got miffed, and decided to give tit for tat.  As a result, the whole apartment used to get roused whenever we took T out for a walk. Brownie and Tommy's favourite haunt was by the gates, in proximity to the security guards.  We'd have to pass the gate, which is when the rousing barks and snarls would begin. T, normally a most good natured and friendly dog, would metamorphose into her Hyde personality. Incensed at seeing the dogs in what she considered her territory, she would bark ferociously and strain at the leash, trying to get at them.  The dogs returned the sentiment wholeheartedly, grinning and snarling ill temperedly at T.
There was another reason for this, which we found out much later. When our maid used to take T out for her walk, she was allowed to sniff around the dogs' water bowl and food that used to be lying around (something that was a strict no-no with us). Naturally, the strays did not take this kind of intrusive behaviour lying down. Hence the mutual antipathy.
After a time, it grew to be such a scene, that I was forced to ask the guards to shoo away the dogs when we came  for our walk. I hated doing this, but there was no alternative. But even so, we'd still have an encounter on the roads, and Marley like scenes with either the Acha or I running where T led, were quite common. Which is when I decided to make friends with the dogs without T noticing.
Accordingly, the Acha would go ahead with T, while I would lag behind. Initially, I tried with some biscuits or snacks, but later just affection was enough for the dogs. They sensed that I liked them. They'd grin at T, and then once she was at a safe distance, wag their tails at me.  Gradually, the relationship grew to an extent where I'd shush the dogs instead of shooing them away, telling them that it was only us! Of course, this was also over a course of time, by when both T and the dogs had marked their boundaries and liberties, and had settled down into a wary tolerance that could snap at the least provocation.

Also by this time, lots of stray pups entered the scene- probably sired or borne by either Tommy or Brownie. And T got entirely distracted away from her old rivals. There were newer ones on the scene! But somehow, T's motherly instincts came to the fore with the pups, and  though enormously curious about them, she was never aggressive, the way she was with the adult dogs. Also the pups used to scamper away in fright whenever we drew near. Over a period, the pups grew up, but they accepted the suzerainty of T over her domain, and would slink away whenever we came close.

Until, Blackie and Ghost. These were a black dog, and a pale brown shadow of a dog respectively, both quite young, that would materialise out of nowhere when we turned onto a particular bylane.  The Ghost would stare at us unnervingly and keep its distance.  No wag of the tail here to a snap of the fingers or a whistle, just a quiet watchfulness.  As we approached it would disappear into the shrubs by the side of the road, coming out again to stare, once we'd passed.
Not so, Blackie. He was black as the night, and in the beginning, T would almost be on top of him, nosing around for a suitable shrub to pee on, before either of them realised the other's presence. A startled T would bark and make a rush for him, more out of jumpiness than any aggression, and Blackie would yelp and make a run for it, in panic.  After a couple of such bark-and-run incidents, both of them grew used to the other's presence. Blackie started to follow T on her route in his area. But his initial scare remained and he maintained a healthy distance from us. He however was responsive to gestures of affection made by me, though very warily in the beginning. The Acha would scold me for that, saying 'you'll make T jealous of her now, and soon we'll have rousing barks here too'. And the very practical Acha would shoo him off if he came too close.
But something about Blackie was very cute and I couldn't help talking affectionately to him whenever he was close.  Blackie would prick his ears in attention, and twitch his tail, but keep a  watchful eye on T and the Acha. He'd never come and rub himself against me, and lick my fingers like Tommy would. But Tommy was used to affection from the Security guards whereas Blackie was a total stray. Gradually, he came to wag his scrawny tail at my talk, and follow, but he didn't come come close enough for a sniff..

For the last 2 weeks, I'd been traveling and unwell, and had not been accompanying T on her walks. It had been the Acha and T on their own.
Yesterday, having successfully transferred my germs to the Acha, it was he who stayed back at home, while I took T for her walk.  In the distance I saw Blackie's silhouette.  He came trotting forward. His tail wagged nineteen to the dozen.  Clearly he was delighted to have me back. Not so T, who didn't appreciate the sudden closeness.  I was torn between saying a warm hello to Blackie and keeping him at a distance from T. If only the Acha had been there!  Another day, Blackie, soon. Lets just wait for the Acha to get better, so I can hand over T to him and devote some attention to you. . . 

Cheating. . . a bit!

So we near the end of the month, and I find that I only have 16 posts, instead of 28. And this is including the 2 last 2 posts. The next week, am again going to be traveling again, so I'm going to be running short of posts by the deadline. So, skewing the rules a bit, here's a review of a movie that I did sometime back on another site.  This was written some years back- before this blog came into existence.  I'm posting it as is, without making any changes to it. Cross posting IS posting, in a way. Isn't it?

I read and was touched by Movie Zombie’s review on Parzania.
It reminded me of a movie by a debutante director- Blessy, in Mollywood. The same subject, treated by a different director, which yielded another heart touching classic. 

Blessy, the director of this movie, has dedicated it to the late P. Padmarajan who was was one of the all-time greats of Mollywood and whom he used to assist . The movie is a real tribute to him. It  talks about the bond of love that can spring up and grow, between persons totally unconnected by blood/language ties. But society finds it hard to let that love flourish unhindered....

Madhavan (Mammooty) is a 16 mm film operator, who tours festival grounds screening movies. In the course of his travels, he falls across an urchin, Bhuvan (Master Yash) who decides to befriend Madhavan. Madhavan is initially irritated by the boy, especially as he cannot understand a word of what he says. But gradually he gets attached to the boy and when he goes home, takes the boy with him, as the boy is alone and friendless. He manages to gather that post the quake in Gujarat the little boy had somehow reached the shores of Kerala and landed up with street children.

Madhavan’s family consists of his wife Lakshmi (Padmapriya) and a daughter Ambili (Baby Sanusha). They too open their hearts and home to the homeless waif, especially Ambili, and soon they are like one big happy family, loving and laughing. Bhuvan saves Ambili from drowning in a flash flood and that is when Madhavan, along with us viewers, realises how much the once homeless, vagabond boy has come to mean to him.  Post this incident, the boy becomes a local hero, but that proves to be for worse than for better.

Local politicians get into the act and  question the motives behind Madhavan harboring the boy in his house and ultimately get the child put into a Juvenile Home. The entire family is distraught at the sudden turn of events. Madhavan tries to formally adopt the boy, but for this, he has to first prove that the boy’s natural parents are no more in this world. And so, Madhavan leaves for Gujarat with the child, for only Bhuvan can recognise/remember his home/parents. But Gujarat, once they get there, is nothing like the place in little Bhuvan’s dreams.  What happens next forms the end to the movie- an end that wrenches at your guts.

After reading Zombie’s review on Parzania, what struck me was that almost the same incident forms the base of the two movies- the loss of a child. But while Parzania looks at it from the point of view of the parents who have lost, and are still searching for their son (as a parent myself, my heart goes out to the parents, how terrible an ordeal every passing day must be for them! God grant that they get their son back safe and unharmed); Kazcha looks at it from the point of view of the little son who has gotten lost and is trying to find his way back to his parents, failing which, at least  get back to a family that loves him as a son.

All of the actors have slipped into their roles seamlessly. -Mammooty effortlessly portrays the gamut of emotions from tolerance to affection to the protective love of a father. He won the national award for his role in this movie. It is hard to imagine Padmapriya as a glamorous model which she is in real life- she is the epitome of a middle class Mallu housewife- a loving wife and mother. Baby Sanusha shows you how simply and unconditionally children accept  and love. The countryside scenes are typically God’s Own Country- green and lush, and with undulating backwaters and fields. The politicians are also typical politicians- they cannot see a good thing happening without having their names linked up with it, and in the process manage to muck up the whole thing and create bad out of good. The songs in this movie are a treat for the eyes and ears. The Gujju song Jugnu re where Bhuvan remembers what he can of his folks and his home, and the song Kunhe ninakku vendi which shows the love of a father for his son are especially poignant. Kerala’s monsoons are beautifully depicted in dappu dappu Janaki. Lyrics are by Kaithapram Damodaran Namboodiri and music is by Mohan Sithara. There is a foot tapping number in the backdrop of the backwaters..

But what struck me the most about this movie was the little boy Bhuvan.
Master Yash simply tugs at your heartstrings.any which way you look at it.. As a forlorn, homeless waif in the initial scenes. The way he tries to makes himself useful in little ways and sometimes ends up being more trouble than help reminds you of your own little ones at home. He worms his way into your heart with his cute little lopsided smile and chubby features. Your heart goes out to him when  seeing the happy togetherness of Madhavan’s family, he is reminded of his own mother and father, from whom he has been parted so cruelly, at so young an age. And the scene where after he rescues Ambili, everybody crowds around the girl and he feels forgotten is poignant. He knows he is part of the family, and yet he doesn’t feel enough part of the family to cry and get comforted, but then Madhavan realising this gathers him into his arms and holds him close, never to let him go, almost...
The despair and helpnessness of the household when they HAVE to let go of Bhuvan makes you feel so helpless too. And it is heartbreaking to see his bafflement at the remnants of the Gujarat of his dreams.

The movie makes you wonder about the  humanity of humans, the absolute uselessness and heartlessness of bureaucracy and at the power of love that transcends barriers of geography and language and age. And it makes you ache at the futility of certain things that have not changed in our lifetime, but maybe will in our children’s.

P. Padmarajan would be proud of his disciple Blessy Ipe Thomas’ Gurudakshina.