Sunday, December 24, 2006

Silent night, holy night.....

Christmas is here. And Chennai, who looks out for every excuse for a celebration, seems to be out of steam. It seems that the hotels, malls and gift showrooms are the ones that are celebrating. Or maybe that’s what I feel because of the warm memories of the cool Christmases I had back home. The dry air, cold mornings and the wind blowing away the fallen leaves…. Another reason to say I missed Kerala.

Christmas became important to me just about two decades ago, after I became a kindergarten student in the convent school near my home. That was my first Christmas celebration. There was a beautifully decorated crib in the corner of the hall where we had our classes. That day, our class teacher announced that we’d have a week-long holiday.

Afternoon, a priest from the nearby church came and he told (read preached) the story of Jesus Christ. Then, a small packet of goodies was handed to us. It had a piece of cake, some toffees, a comb and a plastic whistle. From the next year onwards, students used to stage the Holy Birth. The fair-skinned girls from all classes were chosen to play angels, and the tallest of them would be Gabriel. Then there would be the three wise men, kings who came following the star. The pack of goodies shrivelled to some toffees in the coming years, but the show continued.

I got the chance to be one of the three kings when I was in standard IV. And during the annual day drama next year, I played Jesus Christ. But what made Christmas celebrations more joyous was the relief after the quarterly exams and the coming weeklong holiday.

Back home, I always tried to make a crib like the one I saw in school. But mine would always me a smaller, crude version. Walls of the stable would be made of book binds and the idols were cutouts from greeting cards. For us, making a crib was more interesting than making an athappoo during Onam.

My Christmas lost its sheen once I left the convent. In the boys’ high school, Christmas was just a huge chunk of holidays, when we got a relief from the impending cane of our class teacher. I had decided to make a crib every year, but failed in the second year there.

Then came the Christmas of 1999, the one I celebrated in a train! I was on my way to attend the National Children’s Congress in Goa that year. Our train was on December 25 from Eranakulam. I was roaming around in Kollam railway station with a newfound friend at Christmas Eve. That was the best winter in my life till date, I think.

I never regained the enthusiasm to celebrate Christmas after that, though I would assist my little cousin, student of the same convent, to make his crib. But every year, I used to wait for Christmas. The cold mornings and the dry December wind would bring fond memories to my mind. And during my plus two days, December 21 became more important than Christmas to me. That vacation was our study leave before the model exams.

All these sentiments completely drained away when I joined college. There, days were boringly routine. There too, the dry wind that shook the Cyprus trees, filling the playground with dead leaves, kindled the Christmas spirit. Once, when the wind blew up some dead leaves into the tuition class, my kindergarten buddy and collage-mate exclaimed, "Chritmasile kaattu!"(The Christmas wind!)

I will be leaving for home tonight. My Christmas this year will be spent in train, the second one "celebrated" out of my home. Before typing this post, I googled "Christmas spirit". Result showed a lot of ways to spend this vacation, offers waiting to make the Christmas shopping a wonderful experience, but didn’t show anything that says about what an infant born in a stable in Jerusalem 2000 years ago taught us through his birth, life and death.

Maybe, we should take a walk in a chilly morning, with the dry wind blowing away the dead leaves around us…

Stallone is back

One of my favourite Hollywood heroes is coming back to screen after a long time. Sylvester Stallone might not be a great actor for many film pundits, but I just love him, his movies. Rose to fame with Rocky and Rambo series, Sylvester Stallone was finally seen in his elements in Assassins (1995). Most of his later ventures were either guest appearances or rehashes of his earlier characters. I was happy to see a report on his comeback slotted in the movie page, and was equally disappointed when ads ate away the space meant for the story. I have just copied down the AFP reportby Rob Woolward, for me to treasure. Even if his new venture is a rehash of the earlier movies in the franchise, he has an assured viewer in me.

Los Angeles:
Thirty years after clambering through the ropes for a fairytale heavyweight title shot, cinema’s most famous boxer is getting into the ring once more. But can Rocky Balboa be a box-office knockout?

The first instalment of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky series was a monster hit in 1976, winning best picture and director Oscar honours and establishing a franchise that would go on to gross nearly $450 million.

But four sequels and 14 years later, Rocky was on a one-way ticket to cinematic palookaville, with 1990s Rocky V earning only $41 million and signalling the end of the road for the punch-drunk Philadelphia pugilist.

Now, though, the 60-year-old Stallone is back, pulling on the gloves once more for Rocky Balboa, which has the boxer coming out of retirement to fight the reigning heavyweight champion in a one-off exhibition bout.

Movie industry experts question however whether the ageing actor’s ring return is stretching credibility too far, even by Hollywood — and boxing’s — elastic standards. “No matter what they do with the story, will audiences buy it?” UCLA film department professor Howard Suber said.
“Stallone can still take off his shirt without shame, he’s buff. But it goes so far beyond credibility that there might be a problem.”

Stallone, however, has not attempted to sidestep the issue of his advanced years during publicity for the film, which opens in US theatres on Wednesday. In fact, he says, the movie is a bruising statement against ‘ageism’. “Just because people get older doesn’t mean they abandon their dream or their ability to want to do something, so Rocky is symbolic of still wanting to participate,” Stallone told reporters in Los Angeles. “Rocky says the last thing to age is the heart, so I wanted to do a film that shows our generation is not on the outside looking in; it’s still vital and wants to be part of the parade, not watching the parade.

“I want to show that life is not over at 50. People say, ‘Come on, grow old gracefully.’ No, why? I’m not ready. I know people will think Rocky is my story, but it’s also my generation’s story.
“I am a has-been, no question,” he says. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t still contribute.”

Getting back in trim for his cinematic return to the ring proved challenging however, even though Stallone stays in shape with regular visits to the gym. “I can identify with the Tin Man before he gets the oilcan — a little creaky,” he quipped.

Joe Roth, of Revolution Studios which financed the film, said there were strong parallels between Stallone, whose star has been on the wane over the last decade after a string of flops, and the character of Rocky. “The script was a perfect metaphor for Stallone’s life — at 60, he becomes an underdog again,” Roth said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
“This character is an expression of his own heart. Rather than fight it, he’s using it to tell us how he feels.”

Whether Rocky Balboa can deliver a box-office success hinges on its ability to appeal to a wide audience, says Suber, something it may struggle to do because of the boxing genre’s traditional failure to attract female audience members. “I think this is basically one of those films that appeals to a 14-year-old male mentality. This makes it quite a challenging sell because most of its primary audience weren’t even born when the last Rocky came out, let alone the first one,” Suber said.

“It’s going to have an awful lot to overcome. There’s age of the character, which affects the credibility, and there’s Sylvester Stallone. Sylvester Stallone is not an actor who has any particular following in the early years of the 21st century,” he added. (AFP)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bollywood in town

The copy in the local website last week was something interesting.
“Dhoom-2 created box-office history in Kerala. In its opening weekend (Nov 24-26) the film has netted an amazing Rs 40.40 lakhs from 19 screens in Kerala! In Kochi at Sridhar and Padma it has netted a record, Rs 6.08 lakhs. At Kottayam Abhilash- a new record has been set for a Hindi film with Rs 2.43 lakhs net in three days! Even in small stations like Attingal Gowri and Kanjangad Vinayak the three-day net is more than Rs 1.20 lakhs! The youth of Kerala are simply loving the movie and enjoying it.”

I saw the pirated version of the movie; the gimmicks are worth watching in big screen. I remember my childhood, when viewing Hindi movies was limited to the weekly shows in Doordarshan. The usual dose of technicolour flicks, with award winning movies on Sundays and an occasional Anil Kapoor/Sanjay Dutt/Jackie Shroff starrer.

Theaters were not better options either. Not just because I was a kid, but Hindi movies came to theatres very late. With a few, and at times no takers at all, those were used as fillers in between two Malayalam movies. The screen life ranged from three to five days and, for some very popular prints, one week.

The only theatrical release of a Hindi movie that aroused some attention among the then youth was the 1993 release Dhartiputra; that too because the movie was a Mammootty starrer. And we had to be satisfied with a badly subtitled version, titled Jailor, a late release late in Kerala.

Before that, I think Sholay was the only Hindi film that aroused some interest in the youth. I remember Unni maman (maternal uncle) proudly saying, “I saw it on 70mm screen,” when we were watching it on TV. The 1975 release was the nation’s first 70mm movie. The print came to Kollam five years later, and was shown in the only 70mm screen in the town. That was a time when the old brigade of Malayalam heroes headed by Prem Nazir was turning unpalatable for the younger crop of moviegoers.

However, we used to get a regular dose of new Hindi songs through Chitrhaar every Wednesday. I still remember the II standard days when we used to rock the classroom, singing the chartbuster “Chumma Chumma De De…” (Hum, 1991) in our broken Hindi. “Tu cheezh badi hai mast mast..” (Mohra, 1994) was a hit in Kollam too, but the movie came to town the day after our cable network showed the video – original!

The gap between the Mumbai premier and the regional shows decreased with the coming years. Even then, the two three Kerala prints went to the local metros Kozhikode, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. Hindi movies were fillers still.

During a strike called by the movie exhibitors’ association in town back in 1995, they refused to release new movies. The running movies were making profit, except in one theater. They had no other choice but to bring in a filler to attract the youth. Thus Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! (1994) came to town, after it’s golden jubilee run in the North Indian circuit.

The coming years saw the advent of cable TV. Hindi channels popularised new releases in almost all towns. Increase in the sales of audiocassettes was the first sign. Rangeela (1995), Raja Hindustani (1996), Gupt (1997) etc charted noteworthy sales figures in the state. And with AR Rahman music conquering Bollywood and the younger generation being regularly fed by the music channels, takers for Hindi films increased. Dil Se (1998) and Taal (1999) had tremendous audio sales. But premier shows still eluded my town.

The first premier show in Kollam came in 2000, when Fiza made its way to Pranavam Theatre; and that too because the scheduled Onam release couldn’t make it that month. Fiza had a comparatively neat run of two weeks, an effect of the hype created after the phenomenal success of Kaho Naa… Pyar Hai earlier that year. Even Kaho Naa… came weeks late, though it had a better collection than Fiza.

That year’s Diwali releases Mission Kashmir and Mohabbatein had three first-day prints in Kerala. Pirated CDs, to an extent, also contributed to the popularity of Hindi movies. Though movies such as Devdas (2002), Munna Bhai MBBS (2003) and Murder (2004) etc didn’t make big in the Kerala screens, they had good video circulation. The Ram Gopal Varma masterpiece Company (2002), even with the towering prescence of Malayalam superstar Mohanlal, could manage only 20 days in Kollam, but the pirate CDs were well circulated.

I saw a Hindi movie in theatre for the first time in June 30, 2003. Bhoot, the Ram Gopal Varma movie came to Kollam exactly a month after its national premier. Till then, Hindi movies targeted mainly college students, resulting in limited collections. Rang De Basanti (2005), a rage across the nation that season, couldn’t make more than 30 days in a youth-centric circuit like Kochi.

By then, the Mumbai bosses seem to have noted South as an untapped market. Aggravated marketing followed, resulting in the bumper opening Krrish (2006) had in Kollam. Kids were the target this time. My five-year-old cousin was so happy when he got a Krrish cape with the biscuit packet. Report was like this: “The Hrithik Roshan starrer has taken Kerala by storm. The film has netted an amazing Rs 16.55 lakhs from 10 prints in its opening weekend (June 23-25) the highest ever for a Hindi film in the state! It is the ladies and kids who seem to be enjoying this movie. The trade is also happy that the film could survive the football frenzy, which has ruined even superstar Malayalam films. Krrish has collected in Ernakulam Padma for three days Rs 2,51,175 and in Thiruvananthapuram Athulya Rs 2, 47,258 a new city record. At Savitha in Peruthalmana in Malappuram district it could net Rs 65,992 in three days.”

The Karan Johar juggernaut Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006) followed the suit with 12 prints in the state, giving tough competition to Mohanlal’s Keerthichakra (2006) released a week before. It was the first Hindi film to open in two screens in Kochi (Sridhar & Padma). From 2-3 prints arriving months and even years later to 19 premier shows, Hindi movies have come up a long way pretty fast. Really, is my small town turning big? Or is the nation becoming small?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Nightshift: Soren's resignation

Tuesday, November 28. 11.17 pm.
Pages were almost finished.
Editor: "OK, Whoever is on night…"
Me: "Me ma’am"
Editor: "OK, This Shibu Soren might file his resignation tonight…. Do you know the issue?"
Me: "Ya Ma’am. He’s convicted in a murder case."
Editor: "OK. So we have to expect a resignation. Keep a watch on the tickers and the TV."
Me: "Yes Ma’am"

11.50 pm.
I was before the TV, watching Boman Irani recalling his days with Sanjay Dutt during the shooting of the Munnabai series, comfortably seated in the visitor’s sofa.
Chief sub-editor: “Hey man, what’s going on?”
Me: “Waiting for Shibu Soren’s resignation.”
And we began a long chat on his former paper, our office and life.

12.11 am.
Got the first print. Headline read “Soren convicted in murder case” I dialed the Editor’s number.
Editor: "Hello."
Me: "Ma’am Chandu here. Got the first print, the pages seem OK. No sign of Soren’s resignation yet."
Editor: "OK, keep watching the tickers."

12.30 am.
No luck with the tickers. Googled “Shibu Soren Resigns” and found out an astonishing 13 full stories, including a front page one in The Hindu! Gone, I thought. We haven’t received even one copy.
Suddenly I noticed the dateline. 2004. That was when the #()$^@% resigned earlier, I heaved a sigh of relief.

1.14 am.
Our sports correspondent, my roommate, screamed, “Dai, Breaking news da! Soren resigns.”
I frantically began searching tickers and news websites. Finally grabbed the detailed PTI ticker.

1.32 am.
Editor: "Hello"
Me: "Ma’am, Shibu Soren resigned."
Editor: "OK, what does the PTI copy read?"
And the page changing began. After five minutes, the headline read “Soren held guilty of murder, resigns”

Friday, November 03, 2006

Chennai rains

The night sky in Chennai was clear on Tuesday: Half moon, stars, and not even a single wisp of clouds. And I almost thought that the cyclone that moved to the Vizag cost swept away the monsoon from Chennai. It took just a day for the rain-god to come back. And I walked in to my office, drenched.

Situation was not better back home, either. During my three-day escapade to my Kollam, I felt one of the strongest doses of Northeast monsoon in many years. At first, I was a little reluctant to get wet. Change of ways, maybe. Chennai rain is something that you would like to enjoy within the safety of your shelter.

But on the second day, rain left me and my bicycle with no choice but to enjoy the shower. Cycled from Chinnakkada Junction to my home, with the rain chasing me during the 5km stretch. I was so drenched that the water from the well back home seemed warm to me. Our crime reporter, a malayalee, remarked later: “Allengilum naattile mazha nanayaamallo.” (You can safely get drenched in the rain bak home) But many residents of my place didn’t enjoy the rain at all. Low-lying areas were flooded. Water reached even the sanctum sanctorum of the Thirumullavaram Vishnu temple, which was considerably high from the sea level.

There was a village pond in the now busy junction next to my home. The geography of the area was such that all the rainwater would flow down from the surrounding areas to the pond. Later, the panchayat decided to fill a part of the pond to set up a market place. Gradually, the pond was filled completely except for a piece of what you will see as a mud-hole. Now, every year, the place becomes flooded due to the blocked natural rainwater channels.

Same was the case in the areas that were rice fields once. An entire strech of about 10 hectares of rice fields, shared by many, is now transformed to a residential area, flooded every year during the monsoon.

Back in Chennai, the situation was different except for the cause of flood. The drainage in city is set up to dump the rainwater and the sewage to the two rivers, Adayar and Cooum, and they would eventually dump the entire lot in the Bay of Bengal. But the amount of solid waste, especially polythene, was so huge that the drainage system was blocked in several places, causing the roads to flood whenever the rains show their might. The low-lying areas were the automatic victims of the downpour.

How I wish to be back in my home when it rains…………

(By the way, it's been a year since I started blogging. Srini was the one who introduced me to blogging. Irregular posts, random thoughts, and 365 days.. Happy anniversary to my space in the internet!)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sorry, was a bit busy, u no.....

It’s been long, very long since I gave some feed to my page. Actually, I had nothing much to write about, or I had lost my nose for news!! So I thought I’ll scribble something on the daily Chennai, because that’s the only thing new.
(Sorry Chennaiites, my jottings about your city and the familiar sights might not be interesting to you. These are what kicked up curiosity in this lonely mallu, who’s out of his home for the first time!)

Let's begin with plagiarism. This is a forward I got just now.

The following is an excerpt from a blog (written by an Indian in America) Wednesday, September 28, 2005


My full name is Kalaivani, but I call myself Kalai. This is not for scene, how Madhavan does in Anbe Sivam (Anbarasu --> Ars).it has a looooong and pathetic history... I started hearing different versions of my name after coming to this country, and the painful fact is all the possible permutations and combinations of vowels in my name give meaningful words in tamil!!!

When I first joined the university, my professor wrote to me.. Dear KALAvani (meaning: thief; context: kalavani paya..) ... ... ... Sari adhuvachum typo nu free ya vittudalam.. Then after a year, I joined a company for internship.those people called me before I joined, to inform me about some test which I had to take.. "Hello is this Ms. Kizhavaani?" (meaning: old; context : kizha bolt..etc.) "No..this is KALAIvaani" " sorry KALAvaani" (Marupadiyum...)

Then I decided. Periya pera irukkinala thane ivlo confusion?!! So, I started calling myself 'Kalai'... but the story continued..

I joined my full-time position in another company recently. On my first day, we had a meeting.. "Let's all welcome our new associate.Ms. Kulai" (meaning: bunch; context: kulai kulaiyai vazhaipazham kaaithadhu) CLAP! CLAP! CLAP! CLAP! Followed by smiles. (Dei. ennangada... ellarum serndhu comedy panreengala???) Anniku arambichadhu...

Once my boss and I were talking about a project... after finishing the meeting... "Ok, Kali. Nice to have you here!" (meaning: last yuga; context: kali muthi pochu.) "That's KALAI" (Enakku idhu thevaya?!) "Ohh kAALi?" (meaning: goddess; context: badrakaali..)
"Hee hee .very close" (Podaannnggg...!!)
So, I stopped correcting my name after that..!

One fine morning, I was working. "Hey kiLai (meaning: branch; context: marakiLai) .howz it going?" "Yea good" (Sollitu thirumbitten. Nammaluku edhuku indha per thiruthura business nu...) "Is that how you say your name?"
(Aaahaa arambichutanya...!!!)
"Uhhh. It's KALAI" "Kolaai?" (meaning:pump; context: kozhai adi sandai.)
(Venaaammm...) "Kolai?" (meaning: murder; context: kolai panniduven..)
(Venaam!) "kaLai?" (meaning: weed; context: kaLai pudunguradhu.)
(Valikkudhu... azhudhuduven...)
"May be I'll get your name with practice. Haha." (Idhellam remba over da dei... Tamil la paatha rende rendu ezhuthu thaan da!!!)
Ennada, Chandramukhi la thalaivar 'durga' perai nakkaladikkira maathiri... namma per ayiduche nu nenaikkum podhu... my friend came up with a brilliant idea!
Adhavadhu... to compare my name with a I started using this word 'kaleidoscope'; which has the same pronunciation as 'kalai'! So, I started telling everyone. 'Kalai as in kaleidoscope'!. Ippo kooda romba ellam ozhunga solradhulla. They are saying 'kalaai' (kalaaikiradhu)..

"Hey Kalaai!!" "Yea?" "Just trying to say your name. Ha ha ha" "Ohhh sweet!" (thooo thEri..) Yedho vaandhi edukkira effect la per irundhalum... my life was in peace... until few days back... My net connection was down, so I called up the customer service (En kiragam. Madras call center ku pochu!) Enakku andha vishayame theriyala. So I started in complete American accent... "Your name ma'am?" "Kalaai" "What? Can you repeat ma'am?" "
Kalaai as in kaleidoscope" "I didn't get that ma'am. Can I have your number? I can check the records" (Sigh!... and gave the number) "Ohh, Kalaivani, right?" (in a sarcastic tone.) (Ada paavi makka... nee nammooora??!!! All American accents stopped. Back to Indian accent.) I could clearly see what he was thinking... per paatha 'urs pammingly' nu podra category maathiri irukku... scene podradhu mattum princess Diana range kaa...

Anna... naan sathyama andha maathiri illeeenganna!!!"

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Too homesick?

His call yesterday was a real surprise. Was having the usual wrestling with pages when he called. Someone who knew my past; someone from Kollam. He was in Chennai for the past 8 weeks and I didn’t know!

Boarded the busy local train from Guindy this morning. He was waiting for me at the Nungambakkam railway station. Seeing him was like reading the Manorama, hearing a Malayalam song! Gosh, I am too homesick!

I was seeing him after a year and two months, to be precise, and there was a lot to talk. How's that guy, did u know this happened and such….

His bike took me to a place where I made the discovery of the week: A restaurant named Kumarakom near Royapettah!

Kerala style boiled rice, Kappa, fish curry, and even Jeera water after the meals!
Malayalam songs being played! Felt like home, truly.

Am I becoming too homesick? Maybe all these will end, once I get used to the Chennai way, although I sincerely hope not to happen that way!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Chennaikkaran, Chennaiwala, Chennaiite?

Employed, finally.

Now Chandu is a sub-editor in a new Chennai daily.
Found a place at the border of the city.
Every morning my first sight is a big sign “Corporation of Chennai welcomes you.”

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Nanna Bengalooru

Finally, after a wait of five "vetty" days, I started the work in VT. The story goes on like this:

Sunday April 9
Landed at 7:30 in the morning at Madivala bus stop. Carried the heavy baggage to a nearby phone booth and called Sandy. He’s out of range. Tried after half an hour. He replied that he’s still in Dharmapuri, coz the bus had some problem.

9:30am. Sandy landed. As we began chatting, his friend and our local guardian Bibin came. Together in an auto, we headed toward our three-week shelter. Six jolly good fellows greeted us there.

1:45pm. The entire gang in the flat walk out towards the bus stop. Destination: National market, B’lore. Mission: To track the place where ipod is available at the cheapest price.

3:30pm. We were at the famous Forum Mall. Went inside the Apple showroom there, listened to a 30GB beauty worth around 26K. Attached it to a flying-saucer-like speaker and heard the unexpectedly loud sound. Both together would cost around 35K.

We walked out of the showroom of B’lore’s elite best.

Monday, April 10.

8:00am. Sandy n me were ready to join the papers. He went to DH office, which is on MG road and I, towards VT office in Chamarajapet.

9:15 am, VT office. I was waiting for the chief to come. Came to know on enquiring that he’ll come only by 2. Got the instruction to give my contact no. to the chief and he’ll inform me later. Called my friend Mathew, he promised to help to obtain a mobile connection.

Tuesday, April 11.
8:30am. Called the chief, gave Sandy’s no. Got the assurance that I can join by
Wednesday. I called Mathew, he asked me to come to City Market. Boarded a bus from near Neetha’s college.

1pm. I was at the city market. Near the market there is a huge Masjid, the biggest I ever saw. Went around with Mathew through the crowded galis in search of a sim-card vendor. Finally, a shopkeeper pointed us to a corner, we went there to meet a guy with a shop in the bottom of a staircase. He was catering us as well as chatting with people in his mobile and land line. Mathew asked in Hindi, in which he replied, spit tamil into his cellphone and Kannada into the landphone. I was pretty jealous!!
After a few minutes, I owned a binaami mobile connection.

Wednesday, April 12.
8:30am. Called Chief to give my number. Joining was still unconfirmed, as there was some “technical difficulties.” He assured to take me to office at Thursday. Promised to meet Sandy at his office at 5pm.

2:40pm. Message from Sandy: “Rajkumar expired.”

4:25pm. I venture out towards Forum. Purpose: To walk through it, reach the road on the other side, board a bus to MG Road and Meet Sandy n Sreeni.
I saw the main entrance closed, so I enter the complex through sideways. Inside, a Kannada announcement is going on and the only word I could make out is Rajkumar.
Saw police on the other side, they all looked worried. Bus came and I boarded it.

5:15pm. After a 15-minute effort, I located Deccan Herald office and when I was about to call Neetha, Sandy n Sreeni came out. By that time, the almost all stores were closed. We had tea from a wayside vendor, walked around to see the deserted street, and I ledt the place.
I walked around a little, then Mathew called me. He was in Shivaji Nagar, a place nearby. By the time I reached Sivaji Nagar Bus stand, he left. I waited for my bus for half-an-hour. Then Mathew’s message came: “Rajkumarz dead n crowds r creating prblm everywhr n u r out. Reach home safely”

Got in the first bus, realised midway that I am in the wrong bus, jumped down and began walking. By the time I reached our shelter in Thavarekere, I had covered 9 km. All the shops were closed.

Thursday, April 13
It took till 9am for us to realize that we have to find a way to secure us breakfast, lunch n dinner. Just then, chief gave a missed call. I called back only to confirm that I won’t join office that day. Entire Bangalore had come to a standstill.

Friday, April 14
Got the first greetings from my dad’s eldest brother, saw the details of Thursday’s violence in the newspaper.
3:15pm. I entered VT office. A 45-minute wait for the man in charge.
4:00pm. Man in charge asked me to come at around 5:30 because te chief reporter is out of station. I walked out to begin a one-and-a-half hour roaming around. Covered the Palace of Tipu Sultan, Bangalore fort and Sultanpet market.

5:30pm. I was sitting before the chief reporter. He gave me a copy of today’s paper and asked to go through the layout and briefs. I went through it twice before one of the staff borrowed it. Sat idly there for another 30 minutes. Then he asked me to come at 2pm on Saturday.

Came to the shelter to receive a treat of a huge watermelon bought by my apartment-mates.
Kal se aslee kaam chaaloo………………..

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Leaving MASCOM

Recieved diploma, time to leave.
A phase ends, for another to begin...
Nishad has the pics (,
Sreeni wrote the details..... (
I am left gathering memories....

Monday, March 13, 2006

One-day magic again!

Saw the most sizzling ODI in many years. A world-record reply from South Africa for a world-record challenge from Australia.

6:00 pm. I entered the TV room and Prasanth said, "See the score of Australia." I stared with wonder at the seemingly magical figure of 434-4. "Man, a world record!" I exclaimed.

7:30 pm. Sreeni and Shyamala were ready to go out for dinner, but as we neared the TV room to see the score, heard ecstatic applause from Aby . Herschelle Gibbs was mercilessly punishing the Aussie bowlers. We were literally glued to the screen with occasional ear-piercing cries and applause. He was 175. Just then, he was caught out. Disappointed, we went to the canteen.

9:00 pm. We returned to the TV room, SA was 48 to win from 59 balls. Height of tension.

9:25 pm. Hall was out, Lee’s delivery. Ntini came as the last man. Two runs to win. Ntini hit, and I was screaming "Run you bastard!" One run from two balls. Boucher struck a four, and history!

Our TV room was virtually shaking. We were all jumping out of joy. That was The match! I was reliving the excitement I had long back during the final of the 1998 Dhaka Independence Cup, when India beat Pakistan, chasing the 304 challenge. The match fixing scam had drained out the excitement. The old vigour is back!
Headlines in many online editions of newspapers are as follows
South Africa shock Aus, create one-day history - Hindustan Times

Cricket 'Dhamaka': SA makes history, smash ODI record - Times of India

Unbelievable! - DNA

ODI history: Australia 434/4, S Africa 438/9 - Indian Express

Avishwasaneeyam! (Unbelievable!) - Mathrubhoomi

Ithaanu kali! (This is The match!) - Malayala Manorama

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Name game!

"What is your name?" Asked the official.
"Chandu," I replied humbly.
"Really?" He was amused.

He was the umpteenth person asking me whether Chandu was really my official name. For some reason, it is given the status of a pet name.

Actually, I have met not more than ten "Chandu"s in my life. As I said, most don’t prefer Chandu as their children’s name as it is considered a pet name.

This naming game began when I was hardly two. My mother’s name is Shyamala and father’s name is Gopalakrishnan. So they opted for the combi "Shyam Krishnan." But my Unni Mamam (maternal uncle) and Thambi Kochachan (paternal uncle), close friends, stood for the name Chandu.

The reason they said was that they want their nephew’s identity to be something different. And they chose a real oddity to highlight my identity. They were very dear to my parents, and thus they became my Godfathers!

Alas! There was a villian in a famous Malabari ballad with the name Chandu and, without any doubt, he is the most (in)famous Chandu in Kerala, popularly known as Chathiyan Chandu (Chandu the cheat).

Then came the Hariharan movie Oru vdakkan veeragadha, written by MT Vasudevan Nair, in which Mammootty played the role of Chandu. The movie was an adaptation of the old ballad, but the story was how the good hearted Chandu was termed a cheat. He won his first national award for that.

I still remember my mother calling me to go for the movie. I said "NO," because Mammootty is playing Chandu as a Chathiyan (cheat).

From my first week in school till last week here, many asked me Chathiyan Chandu aano? (Chandu the cheat, are you?)when I tell them my name.
My friends from the North may not understand this situation, as names such as Bunty, Chintu, Babli, Munna and such are equally popular there as high sounding names like Prithviraj or Javed Khan.

But then, this is Kerala. Here the name, as an official one, is odd for sure. This oddity is my identity!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Too bitter to swallow, too sweet to spit!

It’s been 20 days since I gave my blog some feed. Good ideas came and faded away. I always put the work off to the next day, leaving my blog untouched for nearly three weeks. The one thing that has become a habit for me is practicing procrastination (read laziness).

I am sure there would be no one who, at some point of time, have not put off their work for a future point of time. For a few, the situation is once in a blue moon; for the majority it is a daily affair; for some, it is a habit. The third case is not appreciated by most, as those people are termed lazy. I don’t go for the heavy-sounding word called procrastination. Some time I am lazy; run ahead of schedule at times and strictly follow the timetable at very rare occasions!

My mother, a teacher, often reprimands me for my "putting-the-work-off" habit. I don’t know who said so, but it’s one of my mom’s favourite quotes. "Laziness is sweet; it’s aftereffects, bitter."

But I have a different opinion. Can't we put off a work that we know we can do sometime else? Do we have to strictly adhere to a timeframe, unless the interests of several others are vested in our work?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Celebrations? What for?

Slept at 2 last night. Fire crackers, Parathas, Paneer Tikka and three bottles of Vodka added glamour to our New Year Party in the lodge. "Working class" in other rooms and us plus three guests were there for the celebrations.

Joby was a bit gloomy, a shade that was quite unlikely of his nature. He didn’t have the mood to celebrate when his father had to cycle some 10km every morning to give newspapers. That made me think.

What purpose do these celebrations serve? Just an excuse for a change from the routine, to try to have fun by a change in the way you spend your day and money. This was the first New Year Party I attended. The reason for the party? A change in the calendar.

I still remember the night of Dec 31, 1999. When the clock struck 12 and kicked off the millennium celebrations, I was lying on the floor of a railway station in Goa. There were people outside and inside the railway station who had another year of poverty and misery ahead of them.

They had no means and reasons to celebrate. They might also be wishing for a change from routine, and that too more intensely than us.

Amounts being shelled out on New Year celebrations, or any occasion for that matter, are becoming more and more exorbitant. The gap between haves and have-nots is becoming wider.