Wednesday, December 30, 2009

THIS IS DUE...ADIEU

After 6 months of grueling job-hunts (during which period my posterior stayed put on my desktop chair except when ablutions were in order) this 2009 graduate is finally going to jump into the real world, the real industry and face real challenges to enhance his realistic chances of a real career (the word ‘real’ doesn’t really mean anything real here). The past six months have been a sugar coated pill for me; sweet outside but bitter inside. This page has helped me in reducing that bitter part to an extent. Besides the aforesaid activity of yours truly, updating this page with some frivolity has also been a pastime. It is now time to reduce, if not put an end to, that frivolity; more so because of lack of time than because of lack of ideas. This is bound to have a positive (I hope not a very exuberantly cheerful) effect on the million or so readers of this page (I can feel your eyes rolling with mirth already). It’s time to thank all of you for putting up with my amateurish short stories and impulsive epiphanies. I would particularly like to thank the 16 people who battled the personal odds of boredom and time-waste to follow this page. Some of you might have really been following this page while some might have just stuck their names in the list and forgotten all about it after that. I am very thankful to both of those sections of followers, as I felt a thrill every time I looked to the right of this page and saw the number grow gradually from 1 to 16. I should of course offer my profuse thanks to the guy who opened the world of blogging to me and has since been a constant source of encouragement and support to my attempts at short stories, reviews and blog posts in general. He is none other than one Mr. Hobbes (you will be able to see his comments in almost every post in this page). Thanks a lot mate!!

Finally, I leave you with one more frivolity (for last time’s sake). The last line is especially significant and expresses my gratitude. Cheers and keep visiting now and then…

22 years since I opened my eyes to see light…

It’s taken me all of that time to see what’s right.

For a decade and a half life was candy floss…

When I used to live like I was my own boss.

No struggles, no tension, no decisions to make…

I could dream, I could fly, the moon I could rake.

Then came six years like a bolt from the blue…

Events unfolded, limits crossed, without any clue.

Now as I sit back in realms, wondering if my life’s a trap…

I have no option but to thank you for reading this crap!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

'CAPITAL' BLUNDER

As a ten year Indian Cricket follower it was only natural that I just about sided with my sister when she shouted that Sri Lanka were cowards and didn't want to lose the game so they walked off. But I hadn't seen the 23.3 overs that India had bowled till then (One of those rare occasions I missed the start of an India match). When I did see those overs I had no choice but to agree with Sangakkara and Lanka. For one thing, Sudeep Tyagi looked like Joel Garner. What other testimony do we need than this to come to the conclusion that it is indeed a dangerous pitch.

Apart from all these allegations about ignominious playing conditions and evident injury threats to batsmen what was most dangerous about the pitch was the fact that it gave false hopes to the military medium paced Tyagi. When his good length dollies lifted viciously off the surface, the batsmen were not the only ones surprised. The bowler himself was dumbstruck. You could gauge it from the look on his face. 'Man!! Am I a great bowler or what?' he must have thought before Sangakkara gatecrashed his party. Such false hopes are dangerous for bowlers like Tyagi. His career was at stake and it was a blessing that the match was called off.

Coming to the pitch curator debates, I think the curator must not be sacked. Why? because he was not a curator after all. The original curator, one Mr. Radheshyam, was sacked due to DDCA politics and replaced by a cricket kit manufacturer. Yes you did read that right! Cricket kit manufacturer. What more will a Cricket kit manufacturer know than stitching and sewing? He did exactly that. He sewed up the cracks and patches in the pitch with tufts of grass. He did the job given to him according to his ability. What more do you want?

Coming to what can be done to avoid such fiascos in the future, I, for one, feel that it is high time people with technical knowledge be made curators; not some one-match wonders who played once upon a time for India. Just because you were a cricketer once doesn't make you an expert on pitches. This is the second time such a shame has fallen upon India and BCCI. What answers do they have for this one? Who will be held responsible? What actions will be taken?

Questions are many...where are the answers?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

PRO-AUSSIE...GO-AUSSIE...

What is it with Chris Broad and Australia? First of all he is English. Shouldn't he possess that subconscious animosity (often disguised as competitive spirit) against the all conquering Aussies? Of course, exercising that animosity will be quite difficult, being an ICC match referee. But when the perfect opportunity arises where he can literally bully a few Aussie players into submitting themselves to playing gentlemanly cricket, he lets them go scot free.

He happened to be in the hot seat a year ago when an angry young Indian opener 'hot-shouldered' a provoking Aussie fielder. Who got the ban? The Indian. Who was let go with a warning? the Aussie. Now, a year later, he again found himself in a similar seat.

Giant like West Indians with furious pace were quite common in the seventies and eighties. The trend continued into the 90s and 2000s. But the intimidating nature of the eighties pace battery, not only in their play, but also in their on field aggression, was absent in the later host of pacemen. Surprisingly, West Indies found such an aggressor in a lanky spinner- Suleiman Benn. It has always been an unsaid truth that when Aussies find their match in on field aggression, they just refuse to acknowledge it. Their behavior changes for the worse. That was exactly what happened in the just concluded Perth test. 2 hot blooded Australians provoked a 'not so cold blooded' West Indian and got a well deserved reply from him. People can easily understand the shameless nature of Aussies from this recent hearing. They don't mind one bit to plead guilty for their actions. Shrewd as they are, they know that by pleading guilty their charges would be lessened. Poor Benn, who didn't do much wrong except pleading not guilty, learnt another harsh lesson in cricket. When Aussies are involved, you end up with the bigger penalty, whatever the nature of charge be or whoever the actual guilty party is.

Chris Broad, who was in the midst of all this drama, once again proved that he has some speculative Aussie affinity in him which is preventing him from executing stern penalties on the wrong doers. How else would you describe the preposterous variation in punishment? A 2 match ban on the provoked and a light 15% match fee penalty on the provokers (Mitchell Johnson and his buddy Haddin had their cake and also ate it leaving poor Benn with nothing but the crumbs).

Unfortunately that is how the 'modern' Cricketing laws project themselves...Pro-Aussie...Go-Aussie... Ask Gautam Gambhir and Suleiman Benn. They bear testimony to this fact.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

‘PAA’B RE…

When the wrinkled eyes of Auro finally close, the lopsided smile still pasted on his face, you are left wondering how many other actors could have carried out this role without even a trace of their inherent styles and screen presence. The ‘PAA’ of Indian Cinema leaves a deep impact on the audience, not as Amitabh Bachchan, but as AURO.

The film starts off with a model MP (You don’t find such MPs in India for sure), Amol Arte (Bachchan Jr.) visiting a school to give away a visionary award. The fact that Auro is a student in that very school is any idiot’s guess and if that idiot manages the guess then he would also be able to guess that Auro would be getting the Visionary award. Thus starts to blossom an unusual friendship between an MP and a 13 year old boy suffering from a rare disease called Progeria which accelerates ageing. But there are unanswered questions in Auro’s life that very much involve Amol. For finding out what those questions are, you have to hit the theatres.

The film is briskly paced with generous sprinkling of cheeky comedy and tongue sharp dialogues that make you sit up and take notice or squirm in your seat to avoid getting noticed. There are phases in the movie which you will absolutely adore and there are phases which you will wish come to an end soon. It’s a mixture of well delivered comedy, theatrical sentiments and confused disruptions in the name of songs.

Coming to the cast and crew, Abhishek and Vidya Balan have carried off their roles with √©lan. The supporting cast is apt, especially Auro’s friends. The background music is master class from the maestro himself-Ilayaraja. P C Sreeram needs to be lauded for some astoundingly deceptive camera work. His lenses show Auro just as a kid mixing with his own age group. The height factor of Amitabh is expertly disguised in almost all frames except here and there.

The film carries its fair share of glitches- ill placed songs, unwanted flashback, a very very predictable climax which fails to move you. But despite all that if there is a reason for you to watch the film it is surely Amitabh Bachchan’s spell binding portrayal of Auro. He has gone to unimaginable lengths of difficulties for the role, what with 3 hour prosthetic make ups and that ‘Parkinson’s’ style of walking he had to perform throughout the film. His dubbing is brilliant and acting unparalleled. Auro casts a spell on you, makes you love him with all your heart and creates that urge in you to befriend him. If it was not Amitabh, all this would not have happened.

Watch PAA…it’s the least homage you can pay to the PAA of Indian Cinema- Amitabh ‘Auro’ Bachchan.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A CAREER DILEMMA SOLVED!!!

Posted below is a snippet of conversation between 2 people as heard by the writer, either during his early morning walk on the beach, or in his dreams (he is not very sure about the place). As the writer’s senses were a bit muddled when he was hearing this conversation, he has used some writers’ license with respect to some proper nouns by giving them names which he feels sound similar to what he heard from the two people. The writer assures us that the conversation which took place is not a figment of his imagination (though if it did occur in his dreams he might go back on his word) and that the views expressed are purely those of two individuals with whom or with whose views the writer has no association or affinity. The writer also warns the readers that they may correct the doubtful parts of the snippet (marked by “??”) in the comments column below, but at their own personal risk and that he will not be answerable to their corrections.

FRIEND 1: I am really confused about my career.

FRIEND 2: Me too. What are the options you have in your mind? Let’s discuss them and arrive at a conclusion.

FRIEND 1: I was thinking of, maybe, becoming a media person…A journalist or a reporter, something like that…

FRIEND 2: Now now…don’t get too hasty. Didn’t you see what happened to those CMM-IBM (??) journalists? They were attacked for criticizing Shin Seva (??).

FRIEND 1: Yes I did. But I will stay away from all that when I become a reporter.

FRIEND 2: Oh come on! Do you honestly think you will become a celebrated reporter if you shy away from Shin Seva, the most happening party in India?

FRIEND 1: You have a point there. Ok, No to media. What about, maybe, a public figure, a celebrity?

FRIEND2: Oh no. Absolutely no. You have to make national statements on TV and in papers. And look at what happened to Tachin Sendulkar (??). He told that he was an Indian and was heavily criticized by Mr. Pal Tacker (??), the Shin Seva leader. He became so afraid of being attacked by Shin Saiviks (??) that he refused to leave the cricket pitch even after the opposition captain offered to call the day off. People might say he was nearing a century and so only didn’t leave the field, but I am sure this was the main reason.

FRIEND 1: That’s true. But if I become a celebrity I won’t crane my neck into these controversies. I would rather highlight Shin Seva’s contributions towards National Interests.

FRIEND 2: Now, either you are exercising your paradoxical muscles or I completely heard you wrong. Did you just use Shin Seva and national Interests in the same breath?

FRIEND 1: I get your point. So it’s a No to public figure as well. What about, maybe, a Banker?

FRIEND 2: Hmmm…what qualifications do you possess which you think will help you?

FRIEND 1: I have finished B.Com. I have been preparing for banking exams for the past six months. I am sure I will clear the exam. I have a 6 month internship experience in a private bank.

FRIEND 2: All that is very good. But do you know Marathi?

FRIEND 1: How does that matter?

FRIEND 2: Didn’t you hear? People from other states cannot work in Maharashtra Banks. They are eating into the Marathi quota, according to NMS (??) leader Mr. Rai Tacker (??). Soon he is going to bring this amendment to all industries in Maharashtra.

FRIEND 1: Can’t I work in other states?

FRIEND 2: You must of course be sensible enough to realize that this rule will slowly be applied all over India. You must be knowing by now that taking parliamentary oath in Hindi is punishable by violence. It has to be done in Marathi. So, it is only a matter of time before Marathi becomes our National language. Hence it is absolutely necessary for us to know Marathi to have a career in India.

FRIEND 1: So, No to banking also. What other options are left?

FRIEND 2: We need to take Marathi lessons. That’s the only option.

FRIEND 1: You are right. Hey!! I have a better idea. Why don’t we join Shin Seva or NMS? That way we don’t need to spend money to learn Marathi as they will make us learn it. We will be free to carry out any form of Violence on whoever we dislike in the name of oppression against Marathi Criticism. And if we perform our duties to the letter, we will be making innumerable appearances on news Channels, CCTV footages will capture our real life stunt sequences and we will become famous in no time. Who knows we might become MLAs also some day. What do you say?

FRIEND 2: Brilliant!! What are we waiting for? Let me go and book tickets for Mumbai. Thank you for the ingenious suggestion…

Saturday, November 14, 2009

THE MEDICINE

Hope- A simple enough four letter word. Fuel- another simple four letter word. When these two simple words precede the most complex four letter word- Life, the sentence thus formed gives the eternal meaning of existence. Hope fuels Life.

This meaning was all but lost in little Camara’s deserted village near Ethiopia. Plagued with all sorts of epidemics ranging from meningitis to malaria the scent of death loomed large over this fast extinguishing tribal village. Eight out of ten people who came down with fever lost their lives for want of medicines and it soon became a preconceived notion that a person who came down with fever would ultimately lose his life.

Such was the case with twelve year old Camara. He lay motionless on the straw strewn floor of their mud house. The local physician or Shaman had given up all hope. Camara could hear the conversation between his father and the old man. Apparently, his days were numbered. Though his body ached all over, his eyes swelled with infection and his head swam with drowsiness his senses were still sharp. What was going on around him was a pre funeral, he realized. Everyone looked resigned and defeated. Camara did not want to die. How could someone only twelve years of age die? Surely he should live. He couldn’t understand why the Shaman did not give him any herbs, like the ones he had given to Abu. Or why he didn’t try to drive the evil spirits away from Camara’s body, like he had done to Bwana. Both Abu and Bwana were more than thirty years of age, and he was after all twelve. He wanted to ask all of this to his father or to the Shaman but he could barely open his mouth. So he lay there, fighting…praying…

Assefa entered his village after six years of struggle as a contract worker in the capital, Addis Ababa. Having scurried like a winter apprehensive squirrel, he had managed to save a small fortune which he intended to invest in developing his beloved village and its people. The abundant energy waiting to burst from his inside was met with unnerving stillness and gloom all around him as he walked on the empty streets leading to his house. The massive crowd outside his house belied the pin drop silence inside it. On entering, he was met by pairs and pairs of dejected eyes, all except one pair- That of Camara. Though swollen and watery with infection, they didn’t show pain or dejection. On the contrary, they blazed with fight, with spirit. Assefa was flabbergasted by the news of the waiting to happen death of his brother. “I am going back now. I won’t return without a cure”, he promised and took off.

Next day, as the sun rose above the wintry horizon, a new sound accompanied the usual chirping of birds and howling of dogs. It was a shriek of joy coming from the distant north street. As people gathered around to see the source, a single figure, flushed in the face with signs of victory, came running towards them holding a gleaming phial of liquid in his hand. “I secured the medicine”, Assefa shouted to the scattered cheers and generally puzzled silence of his onlookers.

Assefa looked at his brother’s face and whispered, “You are not going to die. I have the medicine that will cure you. You are going to get up and run about in no time.” The eyes gleamed even brighter.

The surrounding glum had transformed into tense expectations and a flurry of hopeful murmurs as drops of liquid fell from the phial into Camara’s mouth.

All it took was 48 hours.

Camara’s father gazed lovingly at the little fellow chasing stray dogs around with a tyre and a stick. He then turned to his elder boy who was sitting beside him. “We owe it all to you, my boy. That wonder medicine you brought saved your brother’s life”, he said with tears in his eyes.

Assefa remained quiet for sometime. He then turned and looked at his father. There was a triumphant glint in his eyes as he said “All I gave Camara was a phial of Sweetened Water. He was cured by the medicine inherent in him. The medicine called Zest…The medicine called Passion…The medicine called HOPE…”

Footnote: The unorthodox cure mentioned in the above story is termed as ‘PLACEBO EFFECT’ by doctors, where in a patient is given an inert medicine and made to believe that he is going to get cured by it. Though medical experts may name it after renowned professionals, for laymen like us it will always be known as HOPE…

Friday, November 6, 2009

THE MAN- THE LEGEND- THE GOD

What can bring us a cornucopia of feelings such as laughter, tension, exhilaration and sadness all inside three hours? Do you think only movies can do it? Think again. One man did it yesterday. He brought the whole nation to a standstill with a display of batsmanship that was beyond magical. He made us laugh with joy; he made us fall out of our seats in tension; he made us cry out of despair. I will never forgive myself if I don’t let out the emotions that were coursing through me yesterday into a written form as an ode to the legend of cricket. He has been my idol for fifteen years; the sole motivation for me to follow the crazy game of cricket; one of the reasons for my reluctance to leave this country- Sachin Tendulkar or, as I call him more often than not, Kadavul…GOD.

When Sachin started his innings yesterday I sensed that familiar glint in his eyes. Here was another chance to show his undying passion for cricket and commitment towards India. He batted in a surreal fashion, with nimble feet and amazing bat speed that reminded me of the year 1998 when he scored centuries at will and took India to series victories single handedly. It was once again down to that ritual of switching off the television once Tendulkar made his exit. But when he made his exit with just 19 runs required in as many balls, you would naturally expect the rest of the players to finish it off. Unfortunately, lack of temperament and patience did India in once again. An epic innings by a phenomenal legend ended up pyrrhic. It is not often that a batsman scores 175 runs in 139 balls only to end up on the losing side. But in sachin’s case it is quite common for him to bat as if he were saving his life only to be killed by his own teammates. It must have been the second time in his cricketing career that the champion cried; all cricket lovers will of course remember when the first instance happened- Chennai 1999. Both the cases are starkly similar. Sachin was the lone warrior in both of them. Sachin carried India to one foothold below the peak only to watch his teammates join hands in a combined suicide effort. He battled back pain and Saqlain that day. He battled the odds and the Aussies yesterday. Both turned out to be unfruitful, while both were a god given privilege for cricket lovers. All said and done, there is only so much a person can do. Sachin has done more than that for this team and for his country.

There might be recreation of the magic in the next game in Guwahati or the final one in Mumbai or in both of them. But none will come close to what this particular laborious attempt might have meant if India had sealed a victory yesterday. It was one win Sachin wanted badly and his teammates chose to let him down in pursuit of that. I couldn’t help but cry when he spoke at the presentation. It was the third time I cried after a cricket match…all three of them were because of one man-Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.

Monday, November 2, 2009

THE STRINGS OF LIFE.

Vijayan was aghast. Terrifying memories came flooding back as he witnessed the sight before him. He had endured a nerve wracking week of listlessness, starvation and insomnia after that particular incident. Even after three decades he could vision that fateful day in such kaleidoscopic fashion…

The competition was down to three. He was one of them. His hands were bloody and sore after four hours of non stop action. But it was all worth it. If he downs two more, his long standing dream would be realized. He was already at the top as far as number of kills went, but the last one standing was all that counted. He maneuvered his weapon with the skill of a professional, directing it towards the next target. With the familiar feeling of coursing adrenaline he pulled…down went the next one. And, so there were two.

As he lowered his hold in order to relax his muscles he heard an ear splitting scream from down the street followed by a deafening crash. Immediately he pulled, but it wouldn’t budge. Holding on to it, he raced down the street. The sight that met his eyes scared him to death. A motorist lay on the ground having crashed head on with a lorry. As people started to gather around, he caught a glimpse of something familiar entangled with the handlebar. There it was…the one precious thing he cherished, his Kite. He couldn’t believe it. His kite had killed someone. At least, it was the main reason for the deathly accident. When he had lowered his hold in order to relax, the glass coated string or Maanja, as it was called, had cut into the innocent motorist’s hand forcing him to lose his balance and crash onto the oncoming lorry.

Numb with shock, the only thing he managed to do was drop his string and make a dash for his house. The following week was the worst one of his life. Every knock on the door felt like the sound of doom to him. He pictured policemen barging into the house during a relaxed family dinner or the routine after dinner banter and drag him out. How he wished he had heeded his father’s advice and flown his kite from the terrace. But, as always, he had been indifferent towards it. It was only when he heard that the policemen in the area had issued a warning to all kite flyers and imposed a ban on the sport, but were not arresting or doubting anyone for the mishap as it was an accident, that he began to relax a little. But the guilt inside him remained forever.

That was thirty years ago, but still fresh in his mind. Ever since that incident he never got used to the sight of children flying kites, though he managed to put it out of his mind a few hours after seeing someone with the dreaded string.

But this particular day was something different. It was not any other kid. It was his son. With the same fierce passion in his eyes and the skilled nimbleness in his fingers he was flying a kite. A Maanja threaded kite.

He marched over towards the youngster. “You are to return home this instant. And, if I ever catch you playing that horrid sport again, be prepared to face severe consequences”, he bellowed at the horror stricken boy. With that, he caught hold of the Maanja and snapped it into two.

As he lay in bed that night reliving the afternoon’s happenings, he felt a stab of guilt. When he was a young boy, Vijayan had never given respect or even a courtesy hearing to his father’s words. But his father had never gone ballistic with rage even on one occasion. With calm understanding and careful reasoning he had made Vijayan realize the mistakes he had been doing. Even the seemingly unimportant advice of flying kites from terrace had turned out to be a life changing one for him. Still, Vijayan had never confided in his father as to how sorry he felt for all the disrespect he had shown in his younger days. Though he had started following the older man’s words and giving due respect to his experience, he had failed to overcome his ego and open up his heart to his father. Now the old man was no more. He had died a peaceful death two years ago without hearing about the sea of change he had brought about in his son’s perception of life.

Suddenly a warning bell sounded in his mind. What if his own son turned out like him? With such an understanding father also, Vijayan had rebelled for most of his childhood. What would have happened if his father had treated him the same way as he was treating his son now? He would have surely rebelled more, and would have even hated his father. What if his son started to hate him? Vijayan had never exactly been an understanding father. He had always taken the easier route…scold, punish and on instances such as the one today, impose a ban. He never felt the need to see reason. He had failed to understand the finer nuances of fatherhood, even after being under the wings of an almost perfect one. He decided to take the first step today.

Vijayan’s son was lying on the floor staring at the ceiling as he entered the room. There was a look of fear mixed with defiance in his eyes as he saw Vijayan at the door.

“For how long have you been flying kites?” asked Vijayan softly. The boy relaxed a little at the tone of his voice. “Just a week”, he replied and after an uncertain pause added “I was really starting to like it Appa”. Vijayan smiled. His son looked relieved when he realized that his father was not going to scold him.

“Do you have competitions as well? With the boy in possession of the last kite standing being declared the winner?” Vijayan asked.

“Yes Appa. Today was, in fact, one such competition and I was one among the last three”, replied his son with enthusiasm.

“Good. Now, can you promise your Appa one thing?” asked Vijayan.

“What is it Appa?” asked his son, nonplussed.

“Will you promise me that next time onwards you will fly kites from the terrace only and not from the ground?” asked a smiling Vijayan.

He could see the brimming of happiness in his son’s reply. “Of course I will”.

“Does that mean I can take part in next week’s competition Appa?” he asked.

Vijayan could feel the eagerness in his voice; he could feel the joy within him waiting to burst its way out through a ‘whoop’ from the mouth and a close fisted punch of the air. But apart from that, he could also feel the respect in his son’s voice.

“Go for it Son…go for it”, he said. He was sure his father would have approved of it…

He then heard the phrase “Thank you so much Appa” two times…The first one aloud from his son’s mouth…the second one, silently in his own heart…

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

SHHH...

For the first time in this cluttered reading corner, I am going to let all of you in on a little secret. Before that let me brief you about my activities for the past 4 months. There is nothing much to boast about...I have been sitting jobless at home (as you would have surmised by the frequency of the blog posts!!). But, I have been carrying on one particular activity other than blogging quite constantly. It is writing these recruitment exams of PSU companies. I have given a shot at about 10 exams till now, of course none of it giving the desired result. But thats not what I am going to talk about...

I am writing the recruitment test of ONGC this Sunday (25th October). During all of my preceding tests, I was given a test center which was a clear 25-30 km away from my house ( I literally had to leave the previous night!!!). So, imagine my surprise when i saw the admit card and found out that the center this time was just 2 km away form my house. Had the Gods opened their eyes at last?? At least one of them must have opened one of his eyes, I thought. How wrong I was!!!

As I neatly placed the Admit Card (Don't get fooled by the term 'card' its just a lousy piece of paper) on my table, my father glanced at it and casually quipped "when did you change your gender?? that too without telling me!!" As I cast a glance at the Card again, specifically at the column 'gender' I was astonished to see the word 'Female' printed against it. Now that is God's way of kicking me into the river after rescuing me from the pond. Ten desperate phone calls to different ONGC offices, and none were able to help me. 'We are sorry Sir. That doesn't come under our department' was the invariable answer I received (Of course, how will my gender confusion come under their department, even though i had clearly stuck a photograph, a manly one at that, on the card and given my name as JAGANNATH...get it people..JAGANNATH!!!)

Now I have to hope that God doesn't spring an even bigger surprise and clears me in the test ( I am sure that I will need a lot of his assistance to do it, for my academic appraisal of knowledge has been washed down the drain for good measure), because if I do manage to clear the same, it will need a 'show' of something 'more' than my technical and communicational skills to clear the face to face interview!!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

2 STATES, BUT NO STATEMENTS.

Inter caste marriages have been a pet plot for numerous filmmakers in our country. It is one theme where the different requirements of commercial cinema fall in place unobtrusively, be it naturally happening comedy, Bgm backed Drama or the tear jerking mushy sentiments. So why take something well established in celluloid and reweave it as a printed work? So that it can once again be screen tested in the filmy version? That, apparently, is the reason for Chetan Bhagat’s latest attempt…2 STATES (he subtitles it as “the story of my marriage”).

Krish (IIM-A) falls for Ananya (IIM-A) and they decide to marry. So what is there in this one line to make a book out of? Well, how about this line…Krish MALHOTRA (IIM-A) falls for Ananya SWAMINATHAN (IIM-A) and they decide to marry. Sounds cheesy doesn’t it? And 100% Indian Commercial Movie Material. As you would have guessed it by now, the book deals with the success story of their love, along with their struggle to gain the consent of their parents’ for both of them and mutually as well. As the book gist goes…” Boy loves Girl. Girl loves Boy. They get married. But, in India a few extra steps follow. Boy loves girl. Girl loves boy. Girl’s family has to love Boy. Boy’s family has to love Girl. Girl’s family has to love Boy’s family…”

First things first, the book has its fair share of niceties. The way humour is sprinkled all over the 260 odd pages is something which makes its publication worth the effort. Intelligence and wit is as palpable in this book as it was in Five point Someone. And one does not need to be reminded as to where the author developed this flair. Chetan Bhagat is also a very candid writer and warns us before itself that he is no literary stalwart to kindle our emotional senses. He writes to entertain. He has stated this on numerous occasions even before the release of this book, so we can spare him for going over the same old formula he adheres to…Flash back mode…some love…some pain…some sex…more sex…some emotion and a filmy ending. Chetan has also learnt from his previous mistake (titled “The Three Mistakes of My life”) and steered clear of over dramatization of the climax and unnecessary indulgence into unrealistic things (like a poor Indian becoming a budding Aussie cricketer.) The book is worth a read at least once, to savour a north Indian’s view of Tamilians and Chennai. Chetan, shrewdly, tries to win the average tamilian heart by resorting to the most saleable product in the state. The following lines from the book will exemplify my claim…

We passed a giant, fifty-feet-tall film poster as we entered Nungambakkam. The driver stopped the auto. He craned his neck out of his auto and folded his hands.

“What?” I gestured.

“Thalaivar”, he said, pointing to the poster.

I looked out. The poster was for a movie called PADAYAPPA. I saw the actors and recognized only one. “Rajnikant?” I asked.

The auto driver broke into a huge grin. I had recognized at least one landmark in this city.

The above lines brought an instant smile to my face, as it would to every existing Tamilian.

The author also cleverly takes a dig at both tamilian and Punjabi life styles and finally admits that each one should be respected for its uniqueness. The two page italicized mention of a huge spat between the protagonist and his father is written beautifully and strikes a chord.

Other than the above mentioned niceties, there is nothing very worthwhile in the book. It is a renewed attempt by Chetan to woo more filmmakers into copyrighting his work for filming. Its worth a read though, for it provides some fun, some laughs, some more fun and also acts as a sort of stress busting exercise.

Verdict: Go For It on a nice breezy Sunday.

Monday, October 5, 2009

MARTHA IS HERE TO STAY...

From Dawn to Dusk it’s kept at bay…

Cometh the night and it’s in your way.

Dangerous dreams will have their say…

But fear them not, for Martha’s here to stay

I grew up listening to this rhyme. Dreams…people say they are the spice of life. It is important to dream. But what if these very dreams threaten your life?

A face…devoid of gender, emotion, colour or compassion. The same mystical smile pasted on it. It used to come near…dangerously near…till I stopped breathing. That was the exact moment I used to get up, gasping for breath. Not a single night went by without the face making its chilling presence in my subconscious. It gave me the only disease I have till now…Asthma.

I had a troubled childhood till Martha came along. What my mother couldn’t do for me, Martha could. She filled me with a sort of calmness. The rhyme she sang for me every night gave me a sense of security. Her voice, barely above a whisper, got deeply etched in my mind. Martha was there…she would protect me. Slowly, the dreams began to diminish. The face began to fade.

The bond between me and Martha grew stronger. We used to talk, talk and talk. I poured out all my fears to her. She had the knack of allaying them and putting me at ease. It was not long before she became indispensable. She was my doppelganger.

When Martha insisted that a governess’s job is as good as finished when the ward turns eighteen, I wouldn’t hear of it. I felt that a part of me would die if she goes away. So she stayed.

All was well, until I met Joanne. After Martha she was the woman who created a surge in me. If Martha filled my life with calmness, Joanne added colour to it. Her beauty was angelic and her smile was like a rainbow splattered across the dull blue sky. I felt that she was the sole purpose for my existence in this world.

A marriage, which I thought was inevitable, became inauspicious. I still remember the look on Martha’s face when I informed her of my intentions. Those gentle, grey eyes became cloudy and mist-filled. The beautiful smile which used to invariably light up her face on hearing such good news was absent. In its place was a frown…almost as nasty as a scowl. At that instant I felt a sudden grip of fear standing near Martha. She was no longer my Martha…she was someone else. I had lost my doppelganger.

The dreams returned that night…all the more spine-chilling than before. I woke up with a severe bout of Asthma. After a drink of water, I went in search of Martha. She was nowhere to be seen. Her room was bare…and so was a part of me.

My hopes of a contented marital life with Joanne received a blow because of the recurrence of my childhood fear. There wasn’t a single night when I didn’t wake her up because of my screams and fits of cough. No amount of therapy could cure me and my health condition worsened. I decided to confide in Joanne about Martha. She was nonplussed and at the same time relieved to hear my secret. At least now there was a chance for my recovery. Joanne decided to go in search of my old governess. Gathering pieces of information from some old letters which Martha had received while working here, she set off.

Two days went by and there was no contact from Joanne. On the third day since her departure, I received a phone call. It was from a downtown motel. Mrs. Joanne Parker had been found dead in her room. She had died in her sleep, due to lack of breath…

Time passed by in a daze. I didn’t know what was happening around me. People came and went by. There were hugs, pats on the back and lots of sympathy. But none of it reached me.

I fell asleep for the first time in three days. The face came back to torment me. It made its way towards me…those pallid lips parted in a sinister way…sucking the air out of my lungs until I felt dizzy. Its hideous presence sent me into choking spasms. I was forcefully pushed into arousal for the want of air. I groped at the bedside table for my inhaler. It was not there. With extreme difficulty I sputtered my way downstairs.

I reached the front of the drawing room. In the dimness of the candlelight I could see a figure sitting on the sofa, its back facing me. I made my way around the sofa to have a look at the person. It was Martha…Martha with that face. That colourless face and that terrifying smile…I couldn’t scream…I couldn’t even breathe.

Then I heard that whispered voice…

From Dawn to Dusk it’s kept at bay…

Cometh the night and it’s in your way.

Dangerous dreams will have their say…

But fear them not, for Martha’s here to stay.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dispirited, Dishevelled, Direful

Its been a month since India began its new cricket season. It has taken all of my self-restraint to abstain from posting anything related to cricket for the past month and a half or so. Cricket makes me primitive; it makes me animalistic; it's effect on me is almost hypnotic. So I should pat myself on the back for showing so much control. This was broken last night. The same Indian team which fueled my heart with passion and angst...joy and sorrow...hope and resignedness, made me break my restraint with the show it put up yesterday.

From the moment MS Dhoni and his men stepped onto the field, there was something amiss. There were no springs in the steps, no familiar gleams in the eyes that you usually expect when facing Pakistan and no commitment to the core. The manner in which RP singh bowled his first spell personified the mood of the team...anything but cricket. His listless attitude enraged me; I would have become a murderer if the guy was within reaching radius. Nehra was patchy and effective in parts, but nowhere near international standards. Harbhajan seemed to have something else on his mind (maybe the leaked dossier...or issues related to its content) and looked clueless with the ball in his hand. Ishant sharma ran in like a pensioner, offering all of his allowances to the out of form Pakistani middle order. they should be grateful for his helping hand. The rest of the part timers were abysmal to say the least. Of course, the less said about the Indian ground fielding, the better it is. Have you ever imagined a scene where even the great Tendulkar fakes a dive, fearing flak? It happened yesterday. That one display on the field marked the atrocity which is often called poor fielding by our experts.

There is no point in having a go at the dispirited batting performance by India when its bowling and fielding didn't put up even a semblance of a fight. Dhoni's remark that he was 3 bowlers short showed his hollow mentality rather than derision or ironic comedy. It is typical of him to make a witty joke about the team during the presentation and save himself the blushes by showing his humorous side. With such lacklustre and clueless captaincy it wont be long before he jokes about himself...right now the joke is on him and his team. The biggest irony of all is the fact that the weakest bowling and fielding unit in the world was holding the top position in the rankings for the past 3 days. With any luck, Team India will return with at least one win under their belt, because there is no way in the conscious world that India could beat Australia. For all those die hard and still hopeful cricket fans...I can only pray...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

RAIN THAT NEVER WAS…DREAMS THAT NEVER WERE

Clear, blue skies with a searing sun had become a regularity in Kumarappan’s life. As he squatted on his paddy field thinking about the recent jolts he had experienced, the pain of failure was slowly setting in.

Kumarappan was a farmer, he was never meant to be anything else. With dutiful diligence, he had followed his ancestors’ footsteps in taking up the family profession. The love that he cultivated in his heart for his land, the soil it contained and the crop it heralded was unsurpassed. He had a vision when he was young…it became his mission as he grew. The vision was to own a piece of land. And own he did. He became the first person in his family to harvest rice on his own land. But all that seemed decades ago. ‘What is the use of being a good farmer if you are a failure at becoming a good father?’ he thought. Frustration was the only feeling he had, when he thought about Kannappan, his only son.

At the age of 6, the age when he had started to farm, his son had shown not even the slightest inclination towards it. Tinkering with the tools, tweaking the plough and repairing the cycle seemed to interest him more. Not taking this aspect seriously was a big mistake on the part of Kumarappan. When, at the age of 16, Kannappan announced that he was going to pursue diploma in mechanical engineering, it was the first dent to his fatherhood. Self pride withheld him from stopping his son’s career plans, which flummoxed him in whichever respect he tried to see it. How could he have not fallen in love with Mother Nature after having lived with it for so long? What more values were there which these beautiful greeneries couldn’t teach? The earth beneath you taught you patience; the soil it held taught you the virtues of filtering, the good from the bad, be it impurities or even people. The harvest on the whole taught you the value of hard work. Even with all these lessons staring right at his face, Kannappan had failed to grasp them. Kumarappan was abashed at the idea of his son venturing off to some city leaving their family tradition hanging in the balance. But he remained stoic and continued his passion-farming- with silent vigour.

It was about a decade later that he received a bigger jolt, in the form of his son’s Marriage. Marriage was something which Kumarappan once again related to the maturity of a crop. When the seedlings are first planted in the nursery, they grow into small shrubs which have no value as such. It is when these shrubs are plucked and replanted in the harvest field that they mature into a crop giving sizeable yield of paddy. Similarly, when a girl grows up in her own house, the significant title of womanhood is not attached to her. It is only when she marries and enters her husband’s home that she blossoms into a woman, bearing the burden of the family synonymous with the way mother earth bears the burden of its children. But when his son made a lettered account of his supposed ‘love’ in the city and his plans of marrying the girl and settling there itself, Kumarappan knew that he had made some serious mistakes as a father. He also knew that it was too late to correct them. Not only was his son breaking the family tradition of marrying inside the clan, but he was also putting a barricade to his father’s wishes of being a family again. Ever since his wife’s death, Kumarappan had longed for the day when his son would marry a girl inside the clan and get settled in their village itself, aiding him in the fields and raising a healthy family. That day would remain a dream, he thought sadly.

Compared to all these jolts, this season’s monsoon or, to be specific, the lack of it landed him the biggest jolt. Rain had never been his friend all these years, but it had never been a fiend either. He had managed to reap a decent harvest every year so far, at least a yield that would cover his loan interests and mortgages. But, this year was different from any of the previous ones. The scorching intensity of the sun combined with the staunch indifference of the rain was proving to be a disaster. It was October and there were no signs of rain. The water table was just a table, with no water to spare. Hence the bore pump he had installed in his field failed to produce any water for irrigation. The pride he placed on his land and his abilities as a farmer abstained him from offering himself to work on other peoples’ fields for money.

’30 days…’ thought Kumarappan pensively. Only 30 days were left for harvest. His crop was already bearing a yellowish tinge. The miniscule supply of water he got from the government was of no use. The field, which should have been flooded with water at this point of time, was almost dry. He would have no other option but to sell his land if his harvest failed this season. He would rather die, for his life was in the land. He would be a soul-less wanderer without it. His eyes swept over his beloved field. He longed to see the silent gushing of water through nooks and crevices in the field, energizing the soil, filling the crop with life and fuelling his heart with hope. But all he could see was an arid piece of terrain with almost lifeless crop.

The pain of failure seemed to expand in his chest. His son’s negligence towards farming coupled with his negligence towards his father…the fact that he would never be able to play with his grand children on his own field…the incessant absence of rain…the eventuality of selling his land. All these demons filled his heart with excruciating pain.

It happened like an explosion…all the built up infliction seemed to tear his chest spraying its fragments to the surroundings. As he lay on the field clutching his chest, his eyes looked up into the vast expanse of sky. It had become a murky grey. The last vision his eyes saw was that of a pearl like drop making its way towards him.

As the final vapour of breath left his body, the first drops of rain hit the scorched field sending up vapours of repressed heat…repressed sorrow…repressed dreams…

Friday, September 18, 2009

THE LETTER OF LESSON

Mr. Verma stretched towards the mahogany paneled coffee table in order to reach for the newspaper, the only bit of exercise he performed everyday. It was 7:20 in the morning and he was scheduled to head a meeting in his office in about forty minutes. But a morning wouldn’t feel like one without having a look at the paper.

Many people would refer to their habit of taking a cursory glance at the newspaper as reading. But Verma was someone who literally read it- he read each and every word in the paper including the places of publication. He was not much of a sports buff and could never make head or tail of what a Putt or a Dunk meant, but he wouldn’t consider discarding the last few pages as irrelevant for even a single day. It was a subconscious habit he had cultivated during his IIM days. Verma was not part of that elite bunch of people who were destined to whet their academic appetite in the most premier Management Institution of the country. He had to struggle for years, have a shot at CAT three times in a row before managing a seat in the institute. It was that period of his life, when he had had a single minded approach, which was responsible for some of his continuing workaday activities. It was the same single mindedness which made him realize his dream of entrepreneurship. Now he was the head of a company with a turn over of more than 50 crores. Verma attributed his success to the diligent routine he followed, the amount of hard work he put in during his early years and the impersonal ruthlessness he had cultivated over a period of time. He didn’t want any of them to change, and thus, the ritual of pouring over the newspaper never changed its schedule (he usually timed this ritual to fall in phase with his bowel movements, but was hurried into the latter on that particular morning).

Verma turned another page of the paper hoping to read an article which could be savoured. The news that particular day was bland, to say the least. He was astonished by the amount of publicity hype that filmdom managed to amass in the edition. The heydays of authoritative, bold journalism were as good as over. It was page 3 which ruled the roost in the paper these days. He was appalled by this trend. He kept up his ritual with great restraint and was about to give up the hope of any reprieve when his eyes spotted a curious looking column. It looked as though it was tightly squeezed into the usually empty space in the Classifieds section. Moreover it was not an Advertisement by any means. It looked like a letter. Verma’s heart gave a lurch as he started to read it:

Dear Mr. Vermin,

Yes…I am referring to you, Vermin. It’s high time that pallid face of yours registered a show of shock or surprise. I am very much aware of the daily ritual of your robotic mind to read every single page of the newspaper. That was the reason I chose to write this letter and squeeze it into this nondescript little column. I am also confident that after reading till here, though your heart will plead you to put the paper down and go about your business, that unemotional head of yours will pay no heed and you will continue to read.

Ok, let me come to my business. I know about the struggles you went through and the sacrifices you had to do in order to reach this elevation. But, tell me Vermin, do you realize the great many subtleties of importance you have missed in the process? Of course you studied in the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, but do you even understand the meaning of the Institution called Marriage? You are married and you do have children…Yes yes, Vermin, I know this counterargument is sure to spring up in your mind instantly. But do recount the last time you were out with your folk for an enjoyable evening! When was the last time you said to your wife that you loved her? I doubt if you have said it even once since your wedding. Do your children ever come up to you and share their experiences? Their anxieties, their problems with friends or teachers and their achievements?? All you want to know from them is their academic performances, simply to satisfy your egomaniacal reputation. When are you going to spend quality time with your children? When are you going to become their ‘Real’ father instead of the mere biological one that you are now?

Is that all? You might ask; believe me Vermin, there is more. I am yet to even broach the subject of your callousness as a son. Do you remember the last time you talked with your mother, Vermin? Do you even know her health condition or her needs? Do you think the monthly cheque you send her will suffice her needs? Oh, it will buy her food, provisions, medicine and other material things. But, what about love and care? What about peace of mind? Wasn’t she responsible for all that when you were younger and vulnerable? Now that she is old and careworn isn’t it your turn to reciprocate?

I am not going to go on after this. Please think about what I have said so far. Your family needs you not your fame, recognition or money…the real ‘You’…the ‘You’ who can love…the ‘You’ who can care… It is never too late.

A Concerned friend

Verma sat clutching the paper; the hammering of his heart was so loud that he felt it could be heard outside. His wife came out of the kitchen. She was surprised to see her husband still with the paper. It was almost time for him to leave. As she came nearer, she saw a dazed look on his face, a look she had never witnessed before. She wanted to ask him what was wrong, but felt apprehensive.

As she turned to leave the hall, she heard him calling her. She looked at him with meek submissiveness. His face broke into a slow smile as his eyes filled with unrestricted tears. It was the first time he had smiled in twenty five years of marriage…it was the first time he had cried in forty two years of adulthood…

Friday, September 11, 2009

LISTEN TO BLUE; FORGET YOUR BLUES!!!

Finally, its here…the Indian Oscar-hero’s first offering after the crowning- BLUE. Having set his foot firmly on the western soil after the stupendous success of Slumdog Millionaire, it is quite natural that Rahman has decided to give a full throttle to the smaller western influences we used to hear in his previous albums. BLUE has an extravagant techno feel to it; to this add a track with famous Australian Pop star Kylie minogue lending her voice and what you get is an Indian Album with a westernized USP.

BLUE Theme (Blaaze, Raqeeb Alam, Sonu kakkar, Jaspreet singh, Neha kakkar, Dilshad): A western-Punjabi fusion blast from Rahman. The most notable aspect of this theme is that Blaaze’s voice is almost unrecognizable in the midst of the pool of new voices. If it wasn’t for the energetic chant of “BLLUEE” we wouldn’t even know he is singing. The chant of “BLLUEE”, by the way reminds one of the chant “NEWW” in one of Rahman’s previous Tamil albums. But the similarity ends there. Of course, Neha kakkar seems to be the new Tanvi…she brings the singsong feel to her voice with ease. The song grows on you when you hear it more than once…and it ought to do full justice to the visuals.

FIQRAANA (Vijay Prakash, Shreya Ghoshal): you would be tempted to dust this song aside as a run of the mill type when you hear its start, but wait for the chorus blast of “fiqr hai, mitr hai”…its an instant attention catcher. And Vijay prakash simply walks away with all the accolades for this one, reaching high notes with ease and providing boundless energy to the number. Shreya’s voice is the perfect low note foil for Prakash. All in all a sure shot winner this one.

REHNUMA (Sonu Nigam, Shreya Ghoshal) : The start reminds you of “hey Goodbye nanba”, from “Aayitha Ezhuthu” but the track takes a different path after that. Guitar notes in between add to the western feel of the number and interestingly Shreya has sung in a totally unheard before dimension of her voice- a la Sunitha Sarathy…western feel in her voice is palpable. She carries it off beautifully with good support from Sonu Nigam. Another high point of the song is the way the Violin blends with the guitar after the Rehnuma chant.

AAJ DIL GUSTAKH (Sukhwinder, Shreya Ghoshal): Shreya rocks once again. Brilliant voice modulation and easy flow of rendition. Sukhwinder is not far behind, though the song must have been a cakewalk for him. The background guitar is easy on the ears and maintains the tempo of the song. The chorus “Ohyasa…Mayaasa…” perfectly blends with the number and gives it the ‘encore’ touch. How is it that when Rahman decides on some inscrutable words for chorus it sounds really catchy while the same when done by others (If you listen to Aadhavan you will see what I mean) fall flat like a PJ?

BHOOLA TUJHE (Rashid Ali): A mellow melody with the dreamy voice of Rashid Ali has become somewhat a constant in Rahman’s albums these days. This number is no different. The only melody in the album and Rashid does justice to it. Soothing to the ears and the mind.

YAAR MILA THAA SAYYA (Udit Narayan, Madhushree): Now this is something we haven’t heard from Rahman since the “Ah Aah” days. The number is full of mischievous masala music with the lead singers bringing a nice flirtatious feel to their voice. Watch out for Udit in the first stanza, he is simply awesome. Madhushree is at ease as she doesn’t have to bother with pronunciation unlike her Tamil renditions. And Rahman once again scores with the chorus chant…”dha ah teena teen teen teena…” which is sure to make you nod your head for it like a duck.

CHIGGY WIGGY (Kylie Minogue, Sonu Nigam): We have heard many Westernized Indian songs, but what about an Indianized Western song?? As the sensuous voice of Kylie Minogue goes “I wanna Chiggy Wiggy with you…Boy!!” you obviously sit back expecting a course of proper English meal. But believe me, all you get is the appetizer. When Sonu Nigam’s Full-throated voice takes over with “Kar Chiggy wiggy mere sang soniyae”, you know that you are in for a treat of Asli Punjabi Khaana!! Even Minogue is made to “Chiggy Wiggy” with some Earthy Bhangra Beats in the background…Jai Ho Rahman!!! The song personifies the freedom and spirit with which Rahman has composed this album.

Verdict: Rahman’s long standing belief that Music has no geographical boundaries is exemplified in this album. The album is Pure, Unrestricted Fun to listen to. Rahman has let himself loose transcending boundaries. The Album may not impress critics; it may even come in for their wrath. But one thing is sure from it, Rahman no longer cares about Critics. He now has only one Critic- Himself.

Friday, September 4, 2009

AOKIGAHARA- GATEWAY TO AFTERLIFE

We've got everything here that point to us being a death spot. Perhaps we should just promote ourselves as 'Suicide City' and encourage people to come here.

- Mayor, Aokigahara

Must have been young age…must have been a rush of blood. He couldn’t attribute any other reason for espousing her. Now he had started despising her. She irritated him with her dumbness. There were no common planes where their interests coincided. Besides all that, he was head over heels in love with another woman. Priyanka...thoughts simply froze when her name sprung up in his mind. She had come five years late in his life. But he had no doubt that she will be sharing the rest of it with him. Before that, one important question remained; what about his marriage? He had built up a charade of perfect nuptial life for five years now. How should he break it? He didn’t even entertain thoughts about divorce…family…friends…raised eyebrows…smirked faces…NO!!! It was out of question. He had to think of something else. How much ever he racked his brains he could come up with only one solution. He had to become a widower.

The destination was a stroke of luck. He heard about it on his business visit to Japan, the country with highest suicide rates. It was called Aokigahara Forests. The place was notorious for mysterious deaths which happened to its visitors, most of it being categorized as suicides. He remembered watching a special series about the place on CNN a few months back. It was believed by the locals that the forests were teeming with Yurei, known to be spirits in the Japanese folklore. As the myth goes, if a person commits suicide, then his reikon or soul does not rest in peace and transforms into a Yurei which truncates the physical gap between earth and nether world. Though the locals ascribed the deaths in Aokigahara to Yurei, Scientists still believed that the thick, dense and vast expanse of forestry made people lose their way and eventually die of fear or hunger. Whatever the cause was, he was itching to have a look at the place. The moment he set foot into the woods he could sense the appropriateness of the place with regard to his mission. Even a peaking sun could only make gentle peeks into the almost impenetrable cover of trees. He visualized forests to be reverberant with chirps, peeps, tweets and other animalistic noises. But the eerie silence of Aokigahara gave him Goosebumps. The occasional rustle of leaves in the wind echoed across the woods like a ripple traveling on the surface of a still lake. Exploring the forest for a perfect spot to carry out his act led him to a moderately steep trekking path. He made his way up. He could hear the whooshing sound of water flowing, or rather, falling. The final stretch gave way to a mild clearing, a few yards in front of which, he could see a waterfall. He made his way across the slippery terrain to the unprotected falls…there were no railings, no security and literally no holds barred. The view below was breathtaking, so would be an accidental fall onto the rocky bed about 200 feet below. He had found his spot…perfect!!!

He couldn’t wait to talk to Priyanka. Entering his house with unusual cheerfulness, he found his wife also in a good mood. Apparently her sister had conceived. As she bored him with details of it, his irritation returned…another trip to the land of the rising sun beckoned him…and her. He excused himself from the nonsense and made his way to his room. Immediately he phoned Priyanka…how he missed her!! She was like a magnet, attracting his senses and repelling his irritation. Without going over any details, he told her that their dreams were soon going to materialize and that he loved her with all his heart. As he replaced the receiver he heard a parallel click. It could mean only one thing. He peeked into the living room and could see his wife crying silently into her hands. Good, he thought, now even the feeling of guilt will reduce. The next few days were pleasant for him as she had cocooned into a resigned state which he thought was due to her anticipation of the divorce. He decided to break the news to her. “You seem to have gathered that there is another girl I my life. I assure you that it is only because of my blind love for her that we are going to separate, not because of my lack of it for you. I could never love anyone like the way I loved you. I would like you to make one last trip with me to Japan, where I will be going for another meeting this week, before we separate, as a token of our love.” He could see more tears welling up in her eyes, as she nodded silently…at least old fashioned dumbness had its few advantages.

Very few tourists, be it even Japanese, made a return trip to Aokigahara. Even fewer people seemed to know the whereabouts inside the woods like the back of their hands. He was one of the few. He sensed an instant familiarity with the place as he plodded into it for the second time inside two weeks. Only, this time he had company. She was clearly awed, and to a certain extent frightened by the vastness and eeriness around her. He could comprehend this by the way she tightly held on to his hands. “Allow me to show you one amazing view I came across on my last visit here. It is simply out of this world”, he said, smiling inwardly at the unintended pun. With clasped hands they made their way along the trekking path…he with a rush of adrenaline…she with pangs of happy sadness.

“This is indeed a mind blowing view”, she exclaimed, clearly awestruck. She was standing just near the edge of the falls and he was a few paces behind her. A gentle push should do it, he thought.

It happened in the same fraction of a second. His gentle push coincided with her grasp of his arm. The slippery ground beneath them did the rest. The last thing he could hear as they fell was the blend of their shrill voices…It caused a temporary undulation to the spirited wander of the Yurei in the eerie tranquility of AOKIGAHARA.

Footnote: Aokigahara forests, located at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan, is the second most infamous suicide hotspot in the world after The Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco. Bizarre rumours about GPS systems and compasses going irrepressible due to the Yurei influence have made rounds though scientists ridicule such beliefs, attributing the non- functioning of the systems due to magnetic and volcanic deposits in the forests. With more than 75 dead bodies found in 2002 alone and the year 2008-09 being predicted to go some numbers better due to the economic crisis related depressions in people, this is one spot to watch out for.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

SELF-PITY...SELF-HATRED

I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.

- D.H. Lawrence

What is self-pity? Dictionary defines it as a feeling of sorrow over one’s own suffering. Each and everyone at some point of their life are bound to get such a feeling. Why is it that human beings, who are among the most evolved life forms, are the only species that practice self-pity? As the thought provoking poem mentioned above suggests, the concept of self-pity is not within the range of thoughts of smaller and lesser evolved creatures. Human beings live life partly in their minds itself. They form problems, reasonings, faults and remedies in their thoughts which occupy them while other lesser evolved forms live their life via each passing moment. Thus, there exists self pity when the mind is unable to find a remedy for a continuing personal sorrow. There also exists self pity when a person dwells on his past life…his mistakes and missed chances…’If only I had grabbed that opportunity, I would have been far away from this mess’. It is also a practice to blame fate or luck for a person’s sorrow, thus deepening his feeling of self-pity. ‘luck was never the dame I shared court with’. Another line of thought deals with mortality. It is believed that human mind is the only one among its contemporaries to know about its mortality. Another feeling peculiar to the human mind is regret. Regret about past actions or inactions form a deep rooted seed for self-pity.

Having formed a general idea about self-pity, I want to delve into the aftermath of a long bout of self-pity. Though self-pity is something on every person’s thoughts at some point of their life, it affects idle minds the most. Within boredom lurks self-pity and this self-pity will be the longest in terms of duration. The simple reason being that there is no other source of distraction. It will also be the most dangerous feeling. For, self-pity during prolonged boredom will eventually lead to self-hatred, which is the cornerstone for suicide attempts. The 2 most important factors contributing to self-hatred might be Blame and Shame. Blame being an external factor…making its presence more so due to other peoples inputs, while Shame is the internal feeling of abdication. There is self-hatred in every person…mostly dormant and in many cases absolutely inactive. When a person is involved in some activity which gives work for his mind, this dormant or inactive feeling is well and truly buried. It is when the mind is filled with boredom that the sprouts of self-pity raise the abeyant plant of self-hatred.

So, it is better to train our thoughts to look forward in life, rather than revisiting the parts of it already done and dusted. By doing so, the feelings of Self-pity and eventually Self-hatred can be kept under control if not completely blanked out.