Of Books, of Authors, of Reviewers, of Book Clubs and Moore Market

There was a time when finding a book meant something special. Look at rows and rows or rather piles of books on the pavement on Mount Road, Triplicane, or shops at Moore Market. Haggling with the book-seller, good-natured ribbing and persuasion and getting a deal. Look at the cover, reading the blurb, wondering how different the book would be… All very nostalgic.

Now everything has to be a big-launch, promo after promo, trailers for books – my God, where have we come to… Goodreads, FB, Twitter, stars, reviews, ratings, it is no longer a book for the love of reading and writing. Even the beautiful book has become a blasted product to be glossed, lots of make-up applied, lies pandered, images created, marketing push, review push, page-like push, events, parties, interviews… an endless loop. I gratify your ego, you gratify mine… The self-publishing revolution has unearthed some gems, but has set forth an entire chain of authors who will stop at nothing short of stardom.

OK–Why did I digress? Damn this random sequencing syndrome will kill me. The seed of the post was how book-buying habits have changed. The stores seem to be dying everywhere, except Bengaluru. Online book sales, discounts, stars and review-ratings dictate terms. The joy of finding a new author (hitherto unread is lost). We have blog reviews, newspaper reviews, magazine reviews and celebrity endorsements and how could I forget — Book Club recommendations to go by!!!

OK let me look up for the best deal between Flipkart and Amazon and buy a book…We need patronage for shops like Giggles in Chennai. Blossom and Bookworm in Bengaluru where we can still find gems. My dear book-seller Anna on Mount Road has been away on a long break – Metro Rail, police harassment, traffic, have all taken their toll. At Anna Nagar, used book shops have gone replaced by some store. Moore Market stands a testimony to a time gone by. The engineering, computing and medical books sell like hot cakes. Dig deeper into the complex, there are some thathas still selling old Enid Blytons, dig deeper you may find an old edition of Playboy somewhere, the Readers Digest condensed classics, Perry Masons, Frederick Forsyths and other popular writers all find a place in the dog-eared books.

Time to go visit Moore Market, so who is joining me!!

The Accountant – Ben Affleck Nails It!!!

It is not quite often that we in India get a chance to watch a movie on the big screen before it releases in the UK. Rarely do star-vehicles get a release here before the USA or the European release.

As “Inferno” continues the Robert Langdon saga, through various circumstances, I saw a movie on the big-screen on Day-1 of release that too first show in the participating theatre after ages. I had a couple of hours to kill before I could visit my doctor friend for advice on my mother’s health reports and I took a chance and strolled into the theatre. As usual, the show was going to take some more time to start and the ticket-handler at the counter said – “Relax sir”. Apparently the earlier movie was yet to end; height of advertisements being played to the audience, methinks🙂

“The Accountant” is an action thriller film, directed by Gavin O’Connor, written by Bill Dubuque and starring Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J. K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor and John Lithgow. Ben Affleck plays the eponymous accountant. It is tough to write a review for movies like these because even adding a bit of the plot will reveal away too many surprises.

Sample this — a start that sees a camera following a person entering a shoot-out spot with dead bodies piled up. Then the frames shift to a school for special children, then we see an accountant talking to a couple his clients on saving tax. Then we see the scene shifting to Washington where the director of the Treasury Services speaks to an analyst. A lot of things happen. Then there are flashback sequences of an autistic kid, his younger brother, their parents a teacher and an army officer.

A lot is happening. We have Ben getting instructions from a British voice via – mobile – instructing him on his next assignment at at prosthetics manufacturing mega-company. Mystery deepens, Ben befriends a junior accountant there who had discovered the original anomaly in the accounts. The anomaly is found, then deaths occur, we have a group of hired killers operating as well. In tandem, the investigators from the FBI and the Treasury are on the tracks of Ben as well.

Who are the mysterious killers, what secrets does Ben hide, why is Ben being investigated? The movie ties down all the loose ends admirably. Do watch it.

Ben is moving from strength to strength, have always admired him for his directorial skills. Here he gives a fair demo of his acting skills.

Scribblings from time spent at the Hospital

Last Monday at this time, I rushed my mother into the Emergency Coronary Care Unit Ward of a leading hospital in the city. The doctors said that I had been not a minute too late and asked me to step outside and wait. I sat along with lots of other people who had brought in their near and dear ones for treatment.

After sometime I was called and handed over my mother’s clothes in a plastic bag. Then the duty doctor apprised me of the situation and said that fluid had filled up in her chest and coupled with high BP and sugar she was in a bit of a critical stage and they would have to run tests to check if there was any history of cardiac illness. I was then asked to go to the billing section and make an initial deposit.

In tandem, the doctors and nurses were doing their tasks. I was seated outside for over four hours and I looked at the other occupants of the waiting hall. A family of four – two elderly ladies, one man in his forties and another lady his wife in her thirties;  two men in their thirties, businessmen, constantly getting phone-calls and going outside the main door to talk about prices of metal, an old man, dignified and stoic in his silence. By a twist of the dice of the creator, we were all assembled there waiting for the doctors to heal our loved ones.

By about 9 PM the doctor called me in he said, “Don’t worry for now, we have pumped out the fluid that had filled up in the chest, we need to stabilize her, run more tests and keep her under observation.” I got a glimpse of my mother connected to a number of tubes and wires and the proverbial oxygen mask pumping in the precious elixir of life.

Called up relatives, informed a few friends and am thankful to all the friends who sent prayers, asked me to stay strong, thank you. Need to really thank Ganesh who despite his busy schedule kept checking on the status of my mother and offered his inputs. Sai who offered inputs as well and Viji – someone whom I befriended recently, a mere thanks is not sufficient for the amount of support you offered, I will remain indebted to you for your words of motivation. Veena Amma, Avis Sir, BP, Sindhu, Shilpa, Salesh, Shashi  sir, Sundari, Aravind Anna and Vinod who kept in touch, family across the country who kept asking for updates, colleagues at work who asked me not to worry; thanks everyone!


Did not sleep at all that night, I kept walking through the hall, the attendant asked me to get medicines at about 11:30 PM and some disposables as well. Night progressed, the sounds of the city’s traffic went silent, the few attendants of the patients who remained were lost deep in fatigued sleep. The security guards smiled at me as I paced about the hall, the massive wooden idol of Maha Ganapathi seemed to offer strength. As the sky turned from pitch black, to a shade of orange-pink and then white and blue, the hospital buzzed back to life like a gigantic machine! Staff came in and set about their tasks and a fresh set of patients also started coming into the hospital.

I finally received an update that my mother is stable and would be moved to the general ward by evening! This update came late into the afternoon of Tuesday, I smiled inwardly, thanked all the Gods, the doctors, the driver who drove us down and sat down on the chair and closed my eyes and went into a deep sleep. This was a powerful nap – an hour of deep sleep! I woke up with a start from a nightmare wherein I was aboard a burning ship that was being swallowed in a whirlpool, I woke up with a fit, saw that I had perspired profusely. Got up went to the bathroom and washed, returned to the CCU and checked with the attendant, she said, “By 7:00 PM we will shift sir!”

When the shifting happened, we were given a double room, wherein one room would be shared by two patients and their respective attendants. Our co-occupant was a lady who had just had her bypass-surgery. She was being looked after by her daughter. The lady aged 65, same as my mother called me and asked me to sit by her side. She asked slowly about who I was, why my mother was admitted, why I wasn’t married, the long list of questions. Then she said, – “I have four children – three boys and one girl, this little girl is the one who nurses me. My sons are married, their wives have forced their ideas on my sons, I and this poor girl stay alone!” The poor girl was extremely embarrassed as this narration happened. The lady then told me – “Thambi, Amma va kai vitudadhinga, nalla paathukonga!”

The room had a TV set. The 8 PM Sun TV serial was played and I had the joy of narrating the proceedings to my Amma as well as the other lady in the room. Her attendant had gone to eat dinner, it was a strange friendship, I did not ask the girl’s name, nor did she ask mine, as usual, I got called Anna and I called her sister. She finished dinner and came and then sat patiently as I went up to finish my dinner.

The next day we had more visits by the doctor, dietician, nutritionist, nurses, everyone came and spoke to my mother. My mother had taken a liking to a particular nurse and at the rate words were being exchanged for one moment, I thought my mother would ask the nurse for her nakshatram, gothram and rashi!!! Jokes apart early evening on Wednesday Amma was discharged. Strict medication and diet and we need to return after 30 days for a detailed review and check-up!

The journey continues… rather than calling it a struggle, this is a test, a moment in time as orchestrated by the director above in the heavens who pulls all the strings…

Some Points:

  • Keep the medical records of your family members easily accessible.
  • However many cards you carry, the importance of ready cash in hand is paramount!
  • Befriend cab-drivers in your locality, it helps, trust me; you never know when an emergency may arrive.
  • Learn to pack, super-quick, learn to cook, when you have to nurse others and have no support, it is critical that you know how to cook.
  • Stay strong, be calm, though lots of people may spread negativity and not care two hoots about our troubles, there would be a small group of friends who really care for your good will. Remove the negative elements in your life and stick with the people who spread light and joy in your life.

Till we meet again, signing off, goodbye, good night and may God bless us all!

Anger Management


My mother does not realize,

That pleasing 1001 gods,

Is not going to help,

Her BP or sugar,

Every single time there is a festive occasion,

Fat-laden foods in the name of prasadam,

I am not a big fan of all this,

On top of that fasting,

Rituals, decorations, and what not??

Which God demanded all this?

So many years of doing these rituals,

To what effect? To what joy??

Falling ill, making me worry to no end.

Not heeding to my warnings,

And all to what end,

Like one idiot I have to rush,

Hunting for medicines, looking for a specialist.

I am tired, I am sick and tired,

Of this repeated loop,

That I am stuck in.

How easy it would be,

To run away from all this.

A cross and a burden,

That is testing my patience,

Where is this God?

Who plays joke after joke after joke on me!

Where is He/She/Power/Energy/Light??

What blasted adjective should I use,

To describe this all powerful,

Omni-potent, all-knowing energy,

That seems to forever laugh at my antics,

As I falter again and again,

In trying to create some semblance,

Of sanity in this great gift called ‘Life’!

How long does one keep travelling,

In this tunnel, hoping to get,

One glimpse of light,

That seems to be at the next bend?

How long should I continue??

To be weighed down,

Morally, physically and mentally,

Because of decisions taken by others,

Which have ruined my dreams beyond repair!

 Depression, anger, blindness,

What word does one use,

What phrase does one create,

To represent this massive lie,

That I am being forced to lead??

I shall never find redemption.

This is the truth,

Till the end arrives,

Like a welcome release,

Continue to mock me,

Continue to blackmail me,

Continue to destroy my life.

Thank you dear family, relatives and well-wishers.

Thank you!!!


True Friends in the Time of Facebook Drama Queens and Kings

One wonders if real friends,

Real friendships exist any more?

Everyone seems to be seeking,

A drug called self-gratification.

The number of likes, shares and comments;

Begin to define bonding now?

You ask a question,

Out of genuine care,

I reply, you acknowledge it please.

Stop generating sympathy for yourself,

You are an adult, not a nursery kid.

If you have self-created problems,

You can very well, self-solve them.

If it is a problem caused by someone else,

Face them, need help, call, will be by your side.

Don’t create a drama worth a Shakespearean tragedy,

And then chicken out and refusing to confront your fears,

And make me look like a filtered idiot of the first order.

Friendship works two ways. 

Friendship is not sitting and watching reruns of Friends and sharing old jokes.

Life is an open door, stay if you want.

If you wish to go, leave.

Stop creating a scene and portraying yourself as a martyr.

Every single person is going through a battle of one’s own.

One doesn’t want more drama!!!

Who is a friend?

Look into the mirror,

Smile at that reflection.

Only you can be your friend.

Oppam — Movie Review

Oppam is a return to form of sorts for Priyadarshan and Mohanlal a director-actor combo that has given Malayalam cinema lots of memories to treasure.

A long, long time back a movie called “Yodha” came out. It had Lalettan playing Ashokan who travels to Nepal and becomes the protector of a Rinpoche – Holy incarnation of the Buddha. There is a section of the movie wherein he is rendered blind by the villains and Mohanlal becomes a blind warrior relying on his hearing and martial arts skills to destroy the villains.

In Oppam, we get a sense of deja vu , all over again, but in a good way. After a fair amount of debacles in recent years and Priyadarshan choosing to remake movies in Hindi with varying degrees of recycled success; this is a decent attempt.

In Oppam, Lalettan plays a visually challenged lift-operator/care-taker who witnesses the murder of a retired judge played by Nedumudi Venu. He is accused of the murder and the movie goes on in how he proves to the police that he is not the murderer.

Samuthirakanni is in a purple patch of sorts and getting some real good roles. Here he plays Vasu a mentally deranged serial killer of sorts. There is not too much of suspense as the audience learns that he is the killer and the confrontation scenes between Lal and SK are well done.

There is a little girl as well who becomes the target of SK and how Lal saves the day is what the movie is all about. Unwanted drama towards the end with SK trying to ape Jack Nicholson from “The Shining” with an axe in tow. A fair bit of loopholes here and there in the plot and Vimala Raman in no way looks like a maid! Hopeless casting there!!!

Songs nothing remains in memory!! Mammukoya and Chemban Vinod have a good bit of comedy with a play on the blind man not witnessing/witnessing the murder!

One-time watch — Good fun!



A Ronin in the Twilight



Image Courtesy — Myth-Weavers

Tried to run a bit,

Gasped for breath,

Attempted to do push-ups,

Fell flat on the floor,

Thankfully nose did not get crushed,

Aimed to handle some weights,

Every muscle is stinging in pain.

The mirrors that are placed,

In the gym as walls,

Stare back at me – taunting,

Mocking me with scorn.

I wonder – what am I doing?

Was this the same individual?

How did so many disconnected incidents,

Turn to conspire and join hands,

To break me into this hopeless nut-case.

The gloves that used to adorn the hands,

Lie sealed in a cover,

There are a truckload of memories,

They all come rushing back.

The pain, the anguish, the scars,

That adorn the body, like laurels,

Burn at times, kindling a violent life,

That I keep running away from,

How long, how far, till what point?

Nothing makes sense,

I sought to find comfort in the written word,

That too evades the faculties,

If the body feels tired,

The mind weakens with scarier intensity,

I dread the day, when I will board,

The wrong train and land in some remote village.

There was a time,

When I would finish a novel in a day,

Now reading one book,

Requires immense patience,

Distractions are too many,

Worries and fears cloud the mind,

Nothing gives joy, nothing offers light.

There has to be a way,

To break free of all this chaos.

What was the point?

Of penning all this down?

I am as clueless as you are!!!!

Till we meet again,

If we do meet again,

Sending all of you prayers and good wishes!

One Moment of Madness

Why is it that the heart still bleeds?
Despite knowing very clearly,
That this was never meant to be;
Why like a fool,
Did I even dare,
To walk up to you?

Despite knowing with all my powers,
That I am a loser and a failure,
And you would mock me for sure,
Why did I even choose to ask?
Once a fool, always a fool.
This is the irony of life.

All I did was make,
An enemy for life,
How fickle is the mind?
All it does is take one,
One idiotic moment,
To ruin everything!

Bitterness is all that remains,
It increases in quantum,
With every passing moment,
And nothing placates the anguish,
The pain within that burns the heart.
No end to this foolish charade…., no end at all!!!

Come September

It is about five minutes past four in the afternoon or early evening, as I sit down to type this. A lot has happened in the last two months. Equations have changed, daggers drawn, daggers sheathed back, trust broken, trust regained, friends lost, friends gained, friends lost forever. It has been a strange two months, in more ways than one. I have shifted jobs after nearly six years of service in one organisation. At the new place of work, there is a lot to learn and implement, gain the trust and respect of colleagues, plan things, get work done, a lot of trust has been placed upon me and every single time from day one, the biggest fear has been that I will let down the ones who trust me the most. For all that I remember, the fear of failure and ridicule has driven me a lot in everything that I have done for the longest time that I can remember. I have been pushed to the corner literally and figuratively many a time and I have overcome challenges to focus on life.

This year so far has drained me out tremendously, I started the year with hope that I would set things right on the personal front, but everything that I do has returned to torment me like an evil nightmare that never stops. I thought I made peace with my past, but by some weird coincidence a bit of my past comes back and again I have to run, speak to people, calm things down. Friends have always appreciated my phenomenal memory power, but I seem to be forgetting a lot. The day I saw “Thanmatra” I was sure that I would go down Rameshan Nair’s way and like a weird premonition the memory lapses are recurring, a favourite book, a movie or a song, or an answer to a question or an important phone number, things are fading. The mirror does not lie, I try to run a bit the knees hurt, gradual exercise, patient breathing, controlled diet, nothing works, the waist expands like India’s economic debt.

For over 20 years, I have believed that I will write a novel of consequence, something that will be a treasured piece, but all I have managed to do is create a pseudo-aura of a pontificating puritan who just finds errors in what others write. When others come to me for advice, I wonder – “What do you see in me; that ensures you that you have come to the right person?” – I keep these thoughts to myself and help others.

No point in harping about Amma as she keeps vacillating between ill, very ill and forever bossing me around to get things done at home! One fine day, I am just going to stop, point at the sky, say “God told me to stop listening to you”, look at her and say, “I have a life as well”. As you know very well, all this is imagination and will never turn to reality.

Externally everything seems fine, but internally there is a deep-rooted melancholy at the inevitable tragedy that the visions foretell.

Come September,

Come embrace me,

In your comfort,

Far away in a world,

Where light and cheer spreads,

Flowers bloom and brooks babble,

Away from the madness,

Of the mundane chores,

Of an existential crisis,

And a battle for survival,

I hope to find peace.

Here’s wishing you a positive, fun-filled, productive and awesome September!

Promises Kept

How easy it is,
For you to judge,
Without knowing even,
A semblance of what transpired?

How easy it is,
For you to spew venom,
With such intense hatred.
It really pains me.

That despite my best intentions,
Despite being honest,
Despite not harbouring any malice,
Or any ill-will to you.

All I get is a bunch,
Of hate-mail and curses.
It is perhaps my destiny,
To remain misunderstood.

This is a curse,
That landed on my head,
And shows no signs of going.
I shall never be good enough.

I know that for a fact now,
So many people, can’t be wrong, right?
I am a two-faced hypocrite,
A liar, a rogue and a villain.

Yes, this is what I deserve,
For trusting you,
This what I deserve,
For keeping my promises.

I am a failure,
Nothing more, nothing less,
Each time I make an effort,
To move out of a quagmire;

I get pulled into,
A web of quicksand,
That traps me tight,
And all I do is sink.

I know you are reading this.
Relishing the joy,
Of reducing me to this state.
May you find what you wish!

Yours truly..

Dear Ones,

If I have to defend,
Each and every deed,
That I do,
If you fail,
To understand, why I,
Do things the way,
They are done?
Despite being patient,
To a fault,
You seek to create,
Mirages of your own,
Then I am sorry,
I feel that I have failed you.

You have a wonderful,
Group of people,
Who will always be with you,
Alas! I am not one,
Who is ‘man enough’ to crack jokes;
When others mock; its perfectly fine,
I am just a vile man immersed in his own ego.
I understand, I am not good enough,
For all your intellectual stalwarts,
I am sorry I am not good enough for you.

It does not make sense,
To go on with this.
It’s not my circus,
It’s not my menagerie.
There are enough visionaries,
To do a swell job,
For a way-farer, who was pulled,
Into this – I have tried my best.
But then I am still a failure.
Despite everything, I am just,
One big fat zero.

I will stay away,
I had a life before,
I lead a life now,
And I have to lead a life after,
So farewell to all of you.
Good wishes as always,
May all your dreams come true,
May all that you dream and desire,
And deserve – be granted unto you.

Yours truly,
A failure who deserves to lose.