As per Arthi's request...

Every stage of our lives brings a different shade, a different experience worth treasuring. At 13, our fascination with the cricket bat gives a satisfaction that nothing else can. A girl in your class giggles and your heart breaks - it would’ve been the 16th or 17th year since your birth. Books, music, instruments, puzzles – these happen at various stages and each gives a distinct hue to our life’s rainbow. Enrique, Sheldon, Sachin, or Vivekananda posters embellish one’s mind and heart at different times as one’s tastes and thought processes change and evolve. I’ve also not been spared from this very syndrome that defines various milestones. When nostalgia overpowers me at times, I buy a ticket in time machine to travel some years back… my first game of Gilli… all those Indi-pop days… Paree hoon main, Piya Basanthi… cousins priding over ‘Most Tintin and Archies completed’ tag… Bhagavad Gita recitation – whose pronunciation is best … spending oodles of time and energy in making ‘my’ girl look at me :)… GRE wordlists… romancing with Anna and Britney magazine covers… spending hours with Star Movies to decipher the Uncle Sam accent… inspirations from Vivekananda and Hedgewar… Wow that has been quite a journey! And it has been just 23 years since I had set foot on the planet…

I’ve been thinking of bringing one such interesting influence, a thing that has influenced my thoughts to a great extent. Recently, I had been to a carnatic concert. As I came out of the hall, I was, as always, drawn towards cds on display by a music company ‘Charsur’. A cd titled ‘Aatma-Soul’ with colours from our national flag in its skin caught me - a collection by Bombay Jayashree. I like the depth in her voice. Superb. But I bought it for another reason altogether. It was a compilation of Bharathiyar songs.

Subramanya Bharathi made his advent into my life through the ‘Tamilnadu textbook society’ Tamil books provided by our schools for middle school curriculum. ‘Achamillai achamillai..’, ‘Panchaali Sabadham’ and a lesson exclusively on this man provided me with first glimpses. In college, one of my dearest friends, Syed, a die-hard fan of this great poet carried a ‘Bharathiyar kavidhaigal’ book apart from his lunch box as the two permanent constituents in his college bag. He used to read out few lines now and then even as we enthusiastic last benchers enjoyed those flashes of brilliance. This was a time when my inclination towards the works of Bharathiyar got renewed.

I’m not good at doing ‘Nayam parattal’ and stuff nor am I adept at understanding deeper meanings in Tamil kavidhai. But I couldn’t resist penning this piece, more so with me getting overpowered by his potent verses for quite sometime now. So, pardon me if I don’t strike sync with the poet’s emotions perfectly.

I sat awe struck as Bombay Jayashree recited verses from his renowned poems. So many varied subjects... Patriotism, love, spiritualism, progressive thoughts, nature, philosophy… so diversified was his pen in creating magic. ‘Kaani nilam vendum…’ – a song that catches me like anything. He explains his perfect setting – ‘oru kaeni aruginil thennaimaram keetrum ilaneerum…’, ‘katthum kuyilosai satre vandhu kaadhil pada venum’- golden! If anyone can describe it better, it’ll be Bharathi himself. What about ‘Kaatru veliyidai kannamma’? Planning for a romantic vacation with your girl friend – a boat house in Alappuzha with one of his ‘Kannamma’ songs playing in the background – the perfect setting. ‘Amuthootrinai otha idhazhgal’, ‘nilavoori thathumbum vizhigal’ – examples for the powerful imagery he uses. And then the evergreen ‘Suttum vizhichudar dhaan’‘natta nadu nisiyil theriyum nakshatirangaladi’, ‘neela kadal alaye unadhu nenjin alaigaladi’ – metaphors that will make Wordsworth proud.

‘Theekkul viralai vaithaal nandalaala ninnai theendum inbam thonrudhadaa’ – will the Lord not come down on hearing this. ‘Maadhar theengural paatil iruppal’, ‘geetham paadum kuyilin kuralai kiliyin naavai iruppidam kondaal’ explains Bharathi in his ‘Vellai thamarai’, a tribute to Goddess Saraswathi - a glowing example on how much he stressed education and enlightenment through learning. If you are the sort who feels that you’ve missed dwapara yuga and Krishna here is your tonic - ‘Theeradha vilayaattu pillai’. Know Bharathi know ‘Manadhil urudhi vendum’. He expounds his idea on the ideal world. ‘dhanamum inbamum vendum’, ‘pen vidudhalai vendum’, ‘unmai ninrida vendum’ – simple yet strong sentiments. Who can write like this? He sure is a Mahakavi!

‘Achamillai’ brings goose bumps – an eternal inspirer. ‘Ichai konda porul ellaam izhanduvitta podhilum acham illa acham illai acham enbadhillaye!’ – how much more confident can one get!

‘Engal Bharatha desam endru thol kottuvom’ – man does that not go bang into your heart. Makes me cry. How would it have been had we seen and heard this man live! ‘Paarukkulle nalla naadu’ and scores of such songs – had I lived during his time, I would’ve brandished our national flag the next moment to drive those vultures out!

One striking feature of his poetry is the way it gels with any genre of music. Bharathi had loads of what people call ‘music sense’. Be it Madurai Mani’s traditional carnatic renditions or Balachander’s film songs or contemporary Fusion – he fits into everything without getting distorted even a wee bit. All expressions or ‘ras’ are present – happiness, ferocity, divinity... You name it.

Little did the elephant that trampled him know about the endurance that this poet’s legacy will have for generations to come! And he was not yet forty then…


Mummy! :-(

If you are the sort of person who feels that being lean means ‘advantages alone’, stop and read this!

When I had been caught in swarms, many a time I had managed to sneak through, thanks to my built, or the lack of it rather. I kept patting myself ‘Good job. Being lean is great!’ Little did I realise the real troubles that will arise due to this pencil body until my college. That was when I did some serious commuting in trains and buses. I used to board EMUs at Chennai Central, the starting point, making myself cozy for the next two or three stations. When the train reaches Perambur, flocks of office goers and students flood the compartments. The eyes of fatsos get immediately drawn towards seats next to people like us, the ‘torture bearers’!!! For them it is comfort… for us it is … well HELL!!! The next 30 minutes will make you feel as if you could’ve sat on the engine of the train rather than here :-( . If trains are horror movies, buses are real devils!

The main problem with guys with big frames is that they never understand how much of discomfort we small fellas go through. My experiences of suppression are endless. Buses in Chennai come with two seaters and most of the time I get less than half a seat!

But there are fatsos who have a certain delicacy of ‘Bum parking’ while sitting with less fatter people. I was once sitting in the middle seat of a three seater in the office bus.. the window seat belonged to a man who cares a hoot about people sitting next… on my left was a real BIG guy - the biggest I’ve ever seen. And this guy gave me so little discomfort… didn’t know how comfortable he was… I learnt one thing that day ‘there are considerate fatsos also’!

I wouldn’t have wrote this piece but for yet another experience with two biggies (not too big though!) today morning. This was the office bus, more space to sit, more comfort… but not for me!!! I was sitting in one corner of the seat, like a twisted tendril ready to break at any moment. And this Newton, playing inertia games every now and then as our vehicle neared potholes, added to my woes. I was pressurised and squeezed to such an extent that I thought of jumping out. But then, of the two who were repressing me were a PA and a PM!!!!!!!!!


Saffron death?

Weather in Chennai has become too much unusual this time around. The pleasantness that has become a part of Chennai atmosphere has made sure that Cox & Kings take notice. Who knows the city might get the ‘Best Honeymoon spot’ tag very soon if every depression kisses the city on its way.

Bangalore has become total crap (this is a big problem of mine.. I tend to use the same word too often, like Alok of FPS. ) The rape and murder of a call-centre executive has left the cosmopolitan hub shell shocked. My strong feeling is that the entire system needs to be revamped. You can’t allow girls to wander like nocturnes. Not going to help… Equal rights and women’s liberation are all fine. But a man is physically stronger than a woman… always… nature’s stamp… no one can change this. If this issue is not seen seriously and persistently enough, this place we live in is going to turn into a land of rapists.

BJP has touched its pinnacle of insignificance. Party tussles in BJP looks like fight for scale and pencil among II standard kids. Atalji knew for long that too many vying for party power at the same time is not going to help. Yet his charisma seems to have vanished and he’s a mere shadow of himself. The Sanyasin’s outburst and her subsequent expulsion from the party would’ve relieved many a congressman in the Hindi speaking mainland as the Hindutva stranglehold in the OBC belt is sure to get softer. And the fact that none of the ‘Backward Caste champions’ – Kalyan Singh, Govindacharya, Uma Bharathi – is still active brings an irreparable blow to Advani and Co. If you have a video camera, you can execute a sting operation – this is the trend of the day. 6 out of 11 ‘Question for money’ guys are from the BJP. And the fact that all this happened in the backdrop of the BJP MPs raising so much of hue and cry over the Volcker report adds more fire to its wounds. All this notwithstanding, when the PM announced the expulsion of the 11 tainted ‘unparliamentarians’, Advaniji walked out of Lok sabha with his allies, while the party acceded to the same resolution in Rajya Sabha. Clearly a confused lot…


Filter coffee...

‘Suchi Suprabatham’ kept the eyelids of the occupants at least half-open. The Infy bus was maneuvering along what I would describe as one of the worst affected roads in the city, the culprit being incessant downpours here. Madipakkam, the lake turned-residential area turned-lake was slowly drying up, thanks to some mercy from Varun over the past two days. ‘Chennai Margazhi’ has always been pleasant. Today the sun was looking almost like a moon, only more illumined, what with the heavy mist veiling him every now and then. At 7-7:30 AM, the most happening places are the road-side tea shops. A glass of tea in the right hand…. cigarette, butter biscuit or ‘Dina thandhi’ – depending on taste - in the left… a perfect start for so many here. The IT Highway potholes made sure that motorists accumulate their share of misery for the day.

Suchi started the day with an over exaggerated discourse on how a cup of filter coffee early morning can raise our determination to unsurpassable extents and how one can conquer Mars and stuff… A cup of filter coffee in the morning is heaven, true… but why bring determination and filter coffee together still defies my cranium.

Inspiration can sometimes induce great feelings at the wrong time. I was remembering a Pa. Vijay’s verse my colleague had sent. “Nagam kooda naalukku 0.001 angulam valargiradhu… naam?” (“Even Nails grow 0.001 inch a day… we?”) Inspired I was! Raring to go and devour Java. Nevertheless, I’ve seen all these… flashes... will die out after some time…


An evening in Beasant Nagar

Wrote this a day after experiencing something out of the world. An evening I'll remember forever...

“How was the evening?”, Srikanth asked me. His Unicorn was speeding along the Beasant nagar road. I was speechless… it had been just minutes since we had experienced bliss!

Classes, null pointers, deliveries… we decided to take a break. The air carried music even as we entered the Beasant nagar Pillaiyar Koil at roughly 7:15 PM yesterday. A Thyagarajar Keerthanai invited us into the premises where hundred or more rasikas were witnessing a magician in full swing. O.S.Arun it was… Srikanth took a place in the floor and I made myself comfortable in a bench along with some old mamas. Arun was having a superb time with a perfect accompaniment. Music was flowing like silk. “Yamuna…” was touching. The situation - a group of Bhaktas inquiring River Yamuna about Lord Krishna’s whereabouts. The way in which he weaved the raga was stupendous. The unparalleled expressionism in his voice made sure that he captured the various emotions to near perfection.

I have never listened to a better version of “Jagadhodhaarana…”. His deployment of “Yashodha…” , “Kesava…”, “Hari…” in myriad hues made this rendition an outstanding one. He was not a mere artist. He was a creator, a sorcerer who conjured up a bagful of tricks ever now and then. As he gave a touching completion to this work, a tear fell from my eye…

Some peppy numbers ensued. “Premi Hari…” was a foot-tapper. The Mridangist and the Tablist gave prefect orchestration to Arun. It was as hot as any bangra number. Arun has caught the pulse of the gen-X which was evident with the good number of youngsters he had enticed for the evening. Each of his songs carried a mix of genres - carnatic, Hindustani and Bhajans – all converging so beautifully as to give pure nectar for the connoisseur’s ears. I looked at Srikanth. He looked back at me. No words. Just amazement in our eyes… And… Goose bumps all over…

“Koovi azhaithaal…” – the next. As I kept listening, I felt at that instant that there were not enough words in Oxford or Webber to describe this performance. It can only be felt. I told Srikanth, “ippadi koovi azhaithal yen kural kodukka mattaan kumaran?”. Taking your audience to a high plane of divinity is not too easy. Arun made it look too easy!

The entire Kacheri was dotted with improvisation, innovation and skilful usage of swaras and raagas. A refresher from the conventional “Aalabanai - Keerthanai” concerts, I’ve to say. I don’t know too much about Raagas and their nuances. Srikanth might narrate that part of it better. But I strongly feel that, to relish such a performance, it is not necessary to understand the technicalities too much. All you need is what they call ‘aesthetic sense’. As Arun signed off with “Pavamaana…”, I felt like wailing aloud (like those teenage girls in Enrique concerts) . Man he was simply superb!

The ambience, the quality of music, the mellifluous voice… everything about yesterday evening was perfect… including that girl in the yellow saree. What say Srikanth?

Ganaanaam thva...

My first post. New to blogging. Every 'dude' in town has a blog in his email signature. Lemme also get funky!

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