Rat-trap Lessons

Today I learnt a valuable lesson from a rat. This rat had been troubling me for over a month biting out some of m books and running away with socks and vests; creating a huge nuisance.

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El-Diablo caught

Rat-traps, poison cakes, repellents – nothing worked. Finally the adhesive rat-boards that are quite popular in offices came to my rescue and it trapped the diabolical rat.

Stuck firm in the adhesive, the rat moaned in anger as it could not move away, each time I tried approaching the board, it would bare its fangs at me.

For over seven hours the rat waged a war with the board. Finally I got the board took it to the terrace and shook the board vigorously. The rat was stuck. With a bit of piping, I pushed the rat out after quite some struggle. The rat squealed one final time and fell into the scrubland.

Did it die? Was it eaten by the crows or snakes? Will its brethren seek vengeance?

Right till the end it fought for freedom. Be it the rat-race or the race of life – keep fighting.

Of Weighty Issues

When I was young,
I was the thinnest,
Skinniest child in the family,
In school, I used to be mocked,
There used to be snide comments,
That I would fly away,
At the mildest gust of a wind.

As the years grew by,
And I battled and cheated death,
Multiple times,
The medicines took their toll,
I look at old pictures of mine,
The boxer, the footballer,
Then I look at my reflection,
Now in the mirror.

The reflection mocks me,
Like Marlon Brando,
In “On the Waterfront”
I wonder – “I could have been a contender!”
Now I look fatter than the fattest bartender.
I am never one for these fad diets and all.
I am not a binge eater either,
Nor a fan of chocolates or icecreams.

New years come and Christmases go,
Resolutions are made and broken,
With the silver strands of hair,
Gaining prominenece on my head,
The waist not getting any slimmer,
The bones ache,
The knees hurt,
The back stoops,
I am transforming into a crazy,
Hunch-backed ogre from an old vampire tale!

Where do I go from here?
The heart feels old,
The mind is lost in its complex web,
The body keeps stressing,
That it is tired.
At times, I wonder of choices made,
In the distant past!
There is no regret, no gloom,
No joy or no pain!

I take solace in the fact,
That Po the Panda,
Was annointed the Dragon Warrior!
So I guess, I still have hope!

June-2

It is a day when two people whom I admire a lot celebrate their birthdays. Director Mani Ratnam sir and the Master Musician who has a score for every mood from life to death and everything in between – Isaignani – Illayaraja. There is nothing to say that has not already been said about these two giants of cinema. Whenever they united it was magic, a feast for the senses.

Dalapathi – Sundari Kannal….the violin – sheer ecstasy and agony at the same time!
Agninakshatram – I want this vintage Mani sir to return – deliver an action-packed thriller. Raja di raja, Thoongada vizhigal…
Nayagan – A memorable score – awesome acting by the Ullaga Nayagan – Neenga nallavara kaetavara??
Anjali – For making me cry like a sappy little girl every time I watch the movie. Anjali, Anjali, Anjali…., Veetuku veedu hey something, something.
Mouna Raagam – For giving us a pair that truly defines romance – Karthik and Revathi – lovely songs – Mandram vantha…, a fascinating BGM and of course Mister Chandramouli.

One wonders why they chose not to work again!

A new legend AR Rahman came into the forefront of music with Roja and the rest is history.

But we still long for a classic reunion of the masters!!!

A fitting song dedicated to the Master :)

Fears and Prayers

Hospitals scare me,
For someone who,
Has spent a lot of time,
In hospitals being a patient,
And being patient and attending others,
Hospitals scare me!

There is a deep sense,
Of dread within me,
I cannot put a name,
Or an emotion,
To this morbid fear,
That haunts me.

I am in awe of doctors,
Learned women and men,
With their white coats,
Stethoscopes dangling down,
Nurses attired prim and proper,
Walking up and down!

I am not scared of injections,
Bitter medicines or surgeries,
It is just the realization,
That one by one,
All those who mattered to me,
Bid me goodbye in hospitals!

As Mum and I battle,
Ghosts from the past,
And the demons of the present,
I wake up in the middle,
Of the night, a cold sweat breaking out!
I walk up to the bed!

And look at Mum,
Lost in the drug-induced sleep,
And I see her rhythmic breathing,
And catch my breath,
Pinching myself to make sure,
Everything is fine.

I say a small prayer,
And lie down on the mattress,
On the floor, chanting an incantation,
Forcing myself to go to sleep again.
This continues every night.
At times, sleep evades me.

I just sit cross-legged,
Staring into space,
Looking at the night-lamp.
The inevitable is the truth,
Life is but a gift,
And death a chance for redemption.

As visions and dreams haunt me,
I just cannot seem to come to terms,
To the brutal truth,
That I will have to bid – “Good Bye”
I am scared that it will be yet another painful
Heart-wrenching visit to the hospital!

Dear God! My only prayer to you!
If such an event,
Is pre-destined and in my destiny,
Please be kind my Creator,
Let the end be painless and peaceful!
Prayers, prayers, prayers – My Lord!!

What If????

I had a thought today,
A nagging doubt,
Fuelled my thought!

What if today?
Today was my last day,
In this mortal form.

Living this life,
On Planet Earth.
What if today was my last day?

If this poem,
Or attempt at poetry,
Would be my last piece of writing.

The meal that I shall partake tonight,
Be my Last Supper,
The “hi, hello, bye and see you!”

Are all uttered just one final time,
Never to be repeated again.
What if I never wake up tomorrow?

These are very troubling thoughts!
I have not been able to focus at work,
All through the day – death seems to envelop my thoughts!

Was this life worth living?
Did I use my talents and skills?
Did I touch any lives?

Did I make a difference as a human being?
Other than being a friend, son and brother,
What else did I achieve?

I am deeply troubled!
I do not have answers,
To many pertinent questions.

Will I meet you again friends?
Will I write again?
Will I live to die and be reborn, and live and die again!

What if today?
Today was my last day,
I wonder if I will……

S.H.E. is my – by Mohit Jain – Book Review

I received this book as a birthday gift from the novelist Mohit Jain. Mohit sir is an acclaimed teacher, motivational speaker and writer of academic books that are quite popular among students aspiring to study Business or join the Civil Services.

This blogger has reviewed a few of his earlier books, which were non-fiction and when I learnt that Mohit sir was writing his first book of fiction, I was quite intrigued.

Now moving on to the book. This has a fascinating protagonist, Eklavya. The book narrates his tale alongwith other characters like Krishna, Panchali, Menaka, Aayushi, Arjun and others.

Going back and forth in time, tracing days in college and afterwards, essentially the tale is a story of love, failure, success, redemption, failure and defeat, sacrifice and hypocrisy.

Why do we behave as we behave?
Can true love conquer all?
Does success in life and success in love mean the same? Does it give the same high? Are they inter-connected?
What is the chief purpose of life?

The book examines a lot of questions inner and outer at a deeper level, on the surface it may be a simple tale. But when you read the book more than once, you realise that you see a bit of yourselves in the characters in the book.

Published by Petals Publishers and priced at INR 225; the book has 335 pages and is not a romantic clone of novels that have flooded the market in the past two years. It definitely is different and requires a bit of patience and dedicated reading as you lose yourself into the characters in the book and root for Eklavya.

Koi hota mera apna,
Jisko hum apna,
Hum apna keh lete yaaron,
Pass nahin to door hi hota,
Par koi mera apna hota!

Fascinating lines from the epic movie Mere Apne by Gulzar saab! I guess that is an apt way to end the review.

Do buy the book and read!

Learn more – http://www.flipkart.com/author/mohit-jain

April-23

It is the 23rd of April today; William Shakespeare’s birthday, Satyajit Ray’s death anniversary and in the past few years in India; gaining prominence as World Book Day. A lot has been said about Shakespeare and we will let it rest at that! Satyajit Ray well definitely a series of posts are lined up soon. An icon, a master magician with the camera, a poet, writer, musician and artist. For someone like me who spent his childhood in Calcutta, Ray and his creations were a part of life! I digress again, another day we will look at Ray Moshai in earnest.

Coming to the crux of this post – BOOKS – Yup, books that created a life-long love affair with books and characters; this post is going to be about books. The few friends that I have and the fewer friends that have visited my house know the state of my house. Shelves stacked with books, cartons full of books, bags full of books, you get the drift! With my mother constantly threatening me to drive me out if I don’t stop buying books, I seriously think I might have to rent a small office/godown space to stock my books. In a world of e-books and e-pub files and Amazon Kindles; I guess I am still an old fashioned romantic who has to hold a printed book in his hands! Sorry, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks :)

Like most youngsters around the world Enid Blyton formed an inevitable part of growing up! Famous Five, Five Find-Outers, Secret Seven, The Adventurous Four, Mystery Series were all devoured and one longed for picnics and adventures with sumptuous spreads of scones, buns, sandwiches, jams and ginger ale!

As one grew up the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and Three Investigators garnered interest. How many of you remember the S.E.Paces series of abridged classics that would be a part of the English syllabus. They opened our eyes to classic tales of adventure and history. Gokulam and Chandamama played a big role as well. Tinkle was surprisingly something that did not captivate me much then. The few Indrajal comics that somehow I got and Target magazine were real fun as well. How many of you remember Gardhab Das the donkey-singer and Detective Tegrat?

Jaico abridged illustrated classics were safe and sound birthday gifts and I recollect receiving a few of them one year. By the time I was 12, I had moved to Sidney Sheldon, Jeffrey Archer, Agatha Christie, P.G. Wodehouse and Shakespeare’s first full length play – ‘The Merchant of Venice’ part of Class Eight English lessons. At this juncture one has to mention ‘The Abridged Shakespeare Tales’ by Charles and Mary Lamb with some lovely line sketches that offered a clear insight into Shakespeare’s plays.

The first Sherlock Holmes story that I read was ‘The Red-Headed League’ a single tale hardbound cover in blue and a love for Sherlock Holmes and the science of detection commenced. One of my treasure possessions for a long time was a Jaico book – ‘The Hound of Baskervilles’. Years later I bought the ‘Complete Sherlock Holmes’ it was by a small-time Calcutta-based printing press and nothing fancy. But the book still remains safe and is very close to my heart. I think it was the first book that I bought on my own at a book fair in Chennai. The princely sum of Rs 200 after discount was paid for the book – 16 years ago.

Other authors whose books created an impact include:

  • Jules Verne – for two very treasured books – ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ and ‘The Journey to the Center of the Earth’.
  • Alexandre Dumas – ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’, ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’ and ‘The Three Musketters’.
  • Anthony Hope – ‘The Prisoner of Zenda’
  • Satyajit Ray – ‘The Complete Feluda Stories’ – Penguin’s two volume set is again a special book!

But the one character who will always be special is —-???? – Guess???

It will always be Tintin :)

tintin

Herge and Tintin taught me a lot about the world, values, human nature and loyalty and friendship than all my teachers combined!

‘The Blue Lotus’ was the first Tintin book I got. My sister’s friend had the entire collection and thanks to her, every vacation I would go to her house and read the comics again and again. The greed of these publishers Methuen/Egmont has grown to unimaginable heights as they charge a premium price for these beautiful comics. Thanks to the internet old scanned copies are available and Tintin and Snowy will always remain close to my heart. I always hoped someday like Tintin, I would be a reporter, travel the world and have adventures. Instead, I have become a cross between the bungling Thompson twins, the forgetful Professor Calculus and the angry Captain Haddock. The closest that I had to Snowy was my dear Brownie, who now lives on a farm, I visit her once in a while.

The years have been gentle and kind at least in letting me buy and read books, I do not have too many vices, I splurge on books and movies, I am thankful for a job that lets me indulge in these two interests. Over the years novelists like Jo Nesbo, Ian Rankin, Stieg Larrsson, Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, U.R. Ananthamurthy, and the translated works of Sivasankari, M.T. Vasudevan Nair, Jeyakanthan, O. Vijayan, Basheer have created a strange sense of longing in the heart.

Will there be someone with whom I can sit together and read a book, share a coffee and a hug and hold hands and listen to the birds chirp as the sun sets, letting the breeze kiss us gently as I slowly part the strands of her hair and smile. The sweetest love story that I have enjoyed is a 10-minute introduction of the beautiful movie ‘UP’. I hope I will find someone with whom I can share my books, my life, my movies, my music and my dreams!

Where art thou my Queen of Hearts? Where art thou???