We have all the Time in the World

The silence is deafening,

The guests, friends and relatives,

Have come, paid their respects,

Consoled me with words,

Some close friends with a hug,

Leaving me to ponder,

On the impermanence,

Of everything in life!

She lies before me,

In an ice-box of sorts,

Her face has that angelic smile,

That sent hearts abuzz,

In high school as well as college.

How quickly does time fly?

 

It just seems like yesterday,

When two teenagers,

Squabbled over the merits,

Of James Joyce and Joseph Conrad,

Each calling the other a pretender,

Saying – ‘You have not read – Ulysses’.

‘You have not read Lord Jim’.

Debate after debate,

Culturals at various colleges,

We would be pitted against each other,

We would go hammer and tongs,

At each other, gung-ho on our arguments,

Raising points on topics,

As varied as child-abuse and state-sponsored alcoholism.

Somewhere down the line.

A spark ignited within and there was a lamp,

A lamp of love that lit,

Within our hearts.

I still remember that day.

Culturals at IIT-M – the rains arrived,

Without any warning.

She stood along with her classmates,

Sheltered from the rain.

I walked up to her and offered my umbrella.

She smiled, – ‘What Mr. Hero?’

And I said – ‘Yes, my lady!’

We walked in the rains, an umbrella,

That sheltered the two of us.

From Gajendra Circle to the Main Gate.

Two souls bonded together as one.

College flew by in a flash,

Both of us went on to become lecturers,

By a quirk of fate,

We started teaching at the same college.

God was kind to us!

The wedding went on without a hitch.

We grew old together seeing life go by.

Two splendid kids who have made their parents proud.

A life really well-lived!

And now you have left me,

All alone to battle my remaining years,

Just holding your memories,

In a way it is good,

For I would never be able

To fathom your sorrow,

If I were to die before you.

Now that you have left me,

What purpose do I have here,

I shall meet you soon,

In another world and time,

Where we shall have,

Plenty of time for each other!

All the time in the world!

“I am participating in the #SoundOfLove activity atBlogAdda in association with Bluestone”.

The Price of Stardom

The cinema industry is a heavily schizophrenic one. On one side we bend over backwards to celebrate our heroes though in real life they are rash drivers, drug addicts and serial womanisers. On the other the heroine is always looked as an object of desire, a spark that ignites a thousand fantasies.

The price that actresses pay, the casting couch, the sacrifice of privacy, the roving eyes and a crazy media that scrutinises every action. Eager asses that focus on cleavage rather than actual news. The tough ask of maintaining an hourglass figure, restrictions on diet, a 100 other things, what is the price of stardom.

Many actresses succumbed to pressure.

Silk Smitha who committed suicide,

Meena Kumari who died of a broken heart,

Madhubala who was chased by so many stars but died a bitter death.

The problems faced by National Award winner Shweta Basu

The list is long.

This post is a dedication to all those ladies who struggle and still create a meaningful life.

Amala Akinneni who supports the Blue Cross and helps in animal safety awareness.

Revathi and Rohini who work for health awareness in women.

I would like to salute these and many other stars who do a lot of good and noble acts but do not seek media exposure.

This post is a part of #UseYourAnd activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette Venus

Waiting for Madras in Chennai

This post is a part of the blog tag in The Chennai Bloggers Club with the theme Chennai- A Blend of the traditional and modern. I was tagged by Asha who is currently based out of the USA and has been blessed with a beautiful baby – Princess Ameya recently. You can read her wonderful post here.

I landed in Madras for the first time in 1989 or 1990, the memory is hazy but it was an epic adventure as I got separated from my uncle at Howrah Station and was re-united with him in true filmi fashion. My first memories of Madras as a 7 year old-kid in a tee-shirt and shorts, alighting from the Howrah Mail at Chennai Central Station was the intense smell – a mix of sweat, piss, jasmine flowers, and a smell that I now know is a combination of milk and coffee powder. ‘Eau de Madras’ is what I would like to call it. Over the years the smell has become a pronounced stench with the mix of alcoholic fumes and chewing tobacco adding to strain on the olfactory receptors.

There is a lot of good in this city that has been brought out again and again in various forms. Today I present some harsh and inconvenient truths:

  • Every place is perfect to spit or take a leak or shit away without a care in the world. For every first-time visitor to the city, on alighting the train and walking out to board a bus adjacent to the government hospital the city appears like a massive public toilet – this is a bitter fact.
  • Loud, louder loudest – The concept of private space is quite alien. Be it bus, train, share-auto, shopping mall or cinema hall, everyone is yelling at the top of their lungs on their mobile phones.
  • Pavements a dying breed – The pavements here are a joke. Whatever space is there is taken by people putting up shops. Or they are too narrow for two people to walk side-by-side.
  • Loudspeakers, banners and pandals – Be it a death, be it a birth, wedding or house-warming, or a movie release – the banner, the loudspeaker blasting songs and the pandal make their presence felt. Elections and religious functions add on to the chaos.
  • Taking a Stand – As a city, as a group, the city’s citizens are too laid-back for their own good. Someone else will do this, someone else will report this incident, this takes its toll and no one does anything. Rampant bribing, rampant mis-use of power, hand-in-glove tomfoolery by goons, politicians and certain law-enforcers make me lose all faith in the judiciary.
  • No space for the old – There are so many old-age homes that have mushroomed filled with people who are no longer needed. The roads, the temples, parks and beaches are full of people who seem lost, destitute and in pain. There is a begging cartel that works and there are many genuine outcasts. Where are we headed to as a society?
  • TASMAC – The craze for alcohol is creating problems aplenty within the state. Families breaking up, domestic abuse, children beginning to drink at 13 and 14 years of age. Stealing and indulging in fights to get money to buy alcohol – this is an endless mess.
  • I am searching for the city’s true identity. In pockets I find the goodness of the gentle souls. The people who genuinely care for others. The unconditional support offered to outsiders. The wonderful joys of waking up to the bells of the temple, the aroma of fresh idlies and coconut chutney, listening to concerts both Carnatic and hard rock, film festivals where KB and Kubrick are discussed with equal ease. The city is a strange mix of a lot of good and a lot of bad elements. There is a lot to look forward to as the city is poised for phenomenal growth and the boundaries of the city keep extending to accommodate the people arriving every day.

The city is like a strange maiden whom I met on a dark night in the rains; she seemed to say something but before I could understand what she was saying, she vanished like an unfinished dream. The hunt for the maiden and the city’s true identity continues.

I pass on the baton now to Umashree Raghunath. She blogs on a variety of interesting topics.

Happy Blogging!

Anamika Does Not Live Here Anymore!

Married away at 15,

Separated from her parents,

Brothers and sister and pushed,

Headlong into a life,

That she was thoroughly unprepared for.

 

Having just studied till Class Eight,

Never ever did she argue,

With her parents or elder brothers,

Hoping that they had found,

The right man for her.

 

Ah! How cruel can life be?

Joining a brood of individuals,

Who cared only about money,

And were polished parasites,

She suffered a lot.

 

Then a ray of hope arrived,

As her husband,

Received a posting far away,

And she joined him on a long journey.

A man who felt it below,

His dignity to attend social gatherings,

With his lawfully wedded wife,

Because she was a simpleton from a village.

 

She would adapt, living on her own,

Assisted by the friendly old neighbours,

As her husband went away on duty,

She would pick the nuances of an alien language,

And learn to survive in the harsh cold climate.

She would remain the emotional bond,

That would bind two,

Dysfunctional families together.

 

Over the years the man,

Would display a seriously disturbing,

Personality trait – where the devil,

Would awaken with the poison,

Alcohol going into him.

Mood swings, domestic violence and abuse,

Stealing money, lying and all the sins,

That the mind and body,

Could conceive – the man,

Finally turned into the Devil.

 

One fine day her saint-like,

Patience and perseverance broke.

She slapped him tight,

Leaving him in a daze,

Packed her bags,

Took her last remaining,

Un-pawned jewels and walked out.

 

Out of a crazy life,

That sapped her grace,

A monster who treated her,

Like a paltry rug,

To be trampled upon,

Family which never understood her.

She just walked out,

Into the gentle rain.

The rain brought hope,

Hope of a new beginning,

An independent life,

Where no one would,

Trample upon her,

Or take her for a ride.

Where she would be respected,

For who she was,

And not looked upon,

Like a mere commodity.

It was the beginning,

Of a new life,

A Better Tomorrow!

This is a tale of many a woman in this great country of ours. Domestic abuse and violence is a serious problem. For ages, women have remained tied to their abusive husbands just for the sake of their children. But now things are changing, courage, love and respect takes precedence and women are taking a stand. They are walking out of abusive marriages and relationships and starting life afresh. This poem is dedicated to every single woman – be it sister, mother, friend, or someone whom I have never met; who have chosen to respect themselves and move on! I salute your spirit!

Note: I am not adding anyone’s photo as this is dedicated to every woman in this country!

This post is a part of #UseYourAnd activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette Venus

A Clean Shave

The trick was to be calm and level-headed and never to panic. The Master had always taught him to be a good listener and a silent observer. The student had learnt his lessons well and he was now a name to reckon with in a very closed niche circuit of professionals.

I looked at how things were going back to the old era. No more emails, no more phone calls, just the trusted non-descript cafes and tiffin-centres, the name and date on the bill or the napkin. I smiled – ‘Edward Snowden, well and truly made us all paranoid!’A hero of a different kind! Hunted by his own!

The idea was to meet at Mani’s Cafe. Sixty years saw no change in the quality of the delightfully tangy sambar, the soft fluffy idlies and the crispy vadas. The price alone had gone up in tune with the economy. But no compromise on taste and the filter coffee, to weave a pun – ‘It was worth dying for’!

V came in sharp at 7:30 AM he sat opposite me, no signs of recognition no smile, nothing at all. He ate his masala dosa and drank his filter coffee. As I sat amused, relishing my onion rava roast and coconut chutney; he finally pushed a small sheet of paper. He nodded his head and then left after paying the bill. I smiled as he left, good old V.

The target was Bappan Reddy a political heavy weight and an extremely prosperous farmer. He had been supplying arms to the Naxals by sourcing them from the Chinese and this mess had to stop. The instruction was clear, marked ‘Code-A’ make it look like an accident. No signs of any foul play.

As I wondered, on how to plan the ‘kill’ I saw an advert for the new Gillette Mach 3 Turbo razor and an idea struck me. Bappan was travelling from Chennai to Delhi by the Shatabdi the next week. It was to be a political discussion enroute with MLAs from the ruling party and the opposition and there was confirmed intel that enroute ‘women’ would be sneaked in for entertainment. Additionally catering staff would be taking care of the big-wigs and two separate coaches had been reserved for this entourage.

The Trip:

The Catering Contractor was a big name in the food industry who catered only to the elite. Joining the group as a ‘waiter’ was easy. I had taken over a chap who was currently enjoying time in Goa with the 50000 that I had offered him. ‘No questions asked’!

On the day of the journey the staff reached Chennai Central a full two hours before departure. We travelled to the railway shed at Basin Bridge Junction wherein two special coaches were allotted to us and we went about assembling our cooking apparatus in an area ear-marked for us. We were also in charge of housekeeping for the sahibs and given instructions to keep welcome kits in each of the big sahib’s rooms.

I opened one of the welcome kits. As I suspected it had a shaving kit. I replaced the disposable razor with my special weapon a poison tipped razor. The razor was coated with a poison extracted from the krait one of the deadliest venomous snakes in the world. It would do its trick.

The train departed on time and it was suddenly stopped at Gumidipoondi station. There was an emergency on-board senior leader Bappan Reddy was dead!!

I smiled and walked out. I went to the public lavatory. Neat by local standards, and took out my Gillette mach-3 and shaved my beard and moustache in three minutes flat and walked out!

Mission Accomplished!!!!

This post is a part of #WillYouShave activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette.

2014 – Glimpses in Verse

Running around in hospitals,
Chasing pharmacies for medicines,
Hoping things would improve.
Things are mildly better.

Of a solo visit to Tiruvanamalai,
Spending time in a shelter for animals,
Moved by the love that the workers,
Shower on the creatures.

Spending time alone,
In Ramana Ashramam,
And awe-inspired by,
The massive temple.

Visiting Thirukadaiyur,
And being blessed by elders,
A friend who is a brother now,
Thanks for the opportunity Bragadeesh.

Meeting a financial expert,
Akin to a character from a book,
Anand sir and family,
Thanks for the beautiful trips.

From Karur and Namakal,
To Kumbakonam and Thirumayichur,
Lots of wonderful memories,
To cherish all along.

Of Radha ji and the Azure Book Club,
Lots of fascinating things,
All centered around books,
Thanks for a wonderful time.

Of all the books that were read,
A book by a wonderful thinker,
Avis sir’s – ‘Fall like a Rose Petal’
Is indeed a special book!

Of losing my phone,
In the mad rush of the train.
And unexpectedly winning a prize,
A phone for a writing competition!

Of work and colleagues,
Thanks to the Lord,
For all the patience,
That my employers and colleagues have!

Of friendships lost and gained,
Of realizing that somethings are,
Just not meant to be,
One learns to put the ‘fake smile’.

Of marriages all around,
Good times and happy memories.
Lovely feasts and lengthy rituals.
The clock keeps ticking!

As 2014 draws slowly to a close,
With a week more to go,
Here is wishing all my friends,
Real and virtual, known and unknown —
A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!

#BOOKADAYINDIA – My List

With lots of book-loving friends putting up posts on a daily basis about the books they love – #BOOKADAYINDIA.

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Here comes my blog-post, it is finally year-end; but no great change in the ‘quantum of work at work’ – life goes on as usual.

But we need to make some time right :) So without further ado —-

Ideal December Read – ‘A Christmas Carol’

Book Cover – ‘Swami and Friends’ – Life in a simple unhurried time!

A book you identify with – ‘Oliver Twist’.

Wisest book I have read – ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’

A book you keep going back to – ‘The Complete Sherlock Holmes’ – Never tire of reading the book.

Your perfect winter read – ‘Pride and Prejudice’

First book that I remember reading – Very, very tough question – ‘He-Man’ pocket comics perhaps!

The book that gives me the chills – ‘Dracula’

My favourite mythological tale – ‘Mahabharata’

The book that makes me want to write – ‘The Jungle Book’ by Rudyard Kipling

A book character that I want to marry – George/Georgina from the ‘Famous Five’ series :) – Wonder how she would be as an adult!!! Fascinated by Lisbeth Salander as well.

A book that I pretend to have read – ‘Ulysses’ by James Joyce.

I curl up to read – A good crime thriller – Love Jo Nesbo’s works in the past two years he has become a huge favourite.

My favourite book series – ‘The Famous Five’ by Enid Blyton.

My favourite Jane Austen character – Emma

A book that made you hungry – All Tarla Dalal cook-books :)

Favourite Autobiography – ‘My Experiments with Truth’ by Mahatma Gandhi.

A book to read when homesick – David Copperfield

Favourite fairytale character – Betaal – from Vikram and Betaal.

Christmas Gift book – ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’

A book that made me cry – ‘Marley and Me’.

Best book that I got as a gift – Twelfth Birthday I guess – ‘A book of Feluda stories’ by Satyajit Ray.

My favourite family read – ‘Winnie the Pooh’ tales.

Favourite Christmas book – This is an overload of Christmas themed entries here – ‘Horton Hears a Who’

Book on my shelf that I have not read – Well I have two racks full of books to read!!!!!

A book I can’t put down – ‘The Phantom’ by Jo Nesbo.

An author I discovered this year – Barry Eisler.

Best read of 2014 – ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn.

Favourite Rudyard Kipling Character – Bagheera and Baloo.

Most awaited book of 2015 – Probably the next book to be written by Jo Nesbo!