Saturday, December 25, 2010

THE PERFECT RESULT - Chapter 4


Read Chapter 1 Here

Read Chapters 2 and 3 Here


THE START

The youth’s prediction, as was expected, turned out to be prophetic. The challenge was gleefully accepted and preparations were on full swing for the momentous occasion.

The big day finally arrived.

The cricket match, being an annual affair, was something on the lines of a festival for the two villages. There were stalls all around the playing arena, serving up anything from bottled drinks to ‘potted’ drinks. Women excused themselves from mundane household chores in order to cheer their village team with their knowledgeable presence at the venue.

A big stage was erected with a huge banner bearing the words –“WELCOME, MR. RAHUL DRAVID!” spread across it. The ground was surrounded by colourful cardboard posters of the great cricketers of the 2 villages. There was one of Shetty, with his spotless Lungi tied perfectly above his knees, his unbreakable sun glasses with bright red frames perched on top of his head and a long orange teeka placed carefully on his forehead. It was a resplendent sight, except for the fact that it failed to portray him as a cricketer. Instead, he looked like a candidate for the now vacant post of Village Headman.

And the decorations were not limited to the surroundings alone. The centre pitch (under which Old Man Hegde had been peacefully sleeping for the past 45 years) bore the look similar to that of a beautiful bed adorned, as often seen in Indian films, for the purpose of a first nuptial night. There were rose petals, sunflower blossoms and jasmine garlands strewn all over the strip and 3 huge coconuts occupied the place where the stumps should have been. The local priest was busily chanting hymn after hymn sitting at the centre of the strip, while rotating a stand, which held numerous fired camphor pellets, with his hand in the direction of the pitch. All in all the stage was set in festive readiness for Mr. Dravid to appear.

The whir of a car was followed by the squeal of brakes as a metal blue Honda city screeched to a halt near the stage. Every person waited with bated breath for that pristine door to open.

It opened after an agonizing 14 second wait and out came the man of the hour. The roar that followed was absolutely tumultuous and quite a huge surprise for the gentleman who got out of the car. He even wondered if he had got such a reception during his cricketing career. He looked around the ground and made an attempt to start off a friendly sort of wave directed at his newly acquired fans when his eyes rested upon the huge welcome banner. He let out a surprised yelp.

“What? Dravid is going to be here?” he asked to the general surprise of the surrounding crowd.

“What? Then who are you?” asked a youth from the crowd.

“I am David.”

“Oh. Rahul David! So sorry for the spelling mistake.”

“No no. I am Noel David.

“What? Noel David?”

“Yes”

“Who is Noel David?”

“Me only”

“Who are you?”  
                    
“Noel David”

This was too much for the elderly people in the crowd. “Enough of this nonsense”, interjected the Chokkabettu Schoolmaster.

“It’s after all a matter of one alphabet missing. Let’s not waste time on it. The match has to start before Raaghukaal”, so saying, he hastened to blow the traditional conch to signal the start of the annual war. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

THE PERFECT RESULT - Chapters 2 & 3

Read Chapter 1 Here


Chapter 2 - THE ANNOUNCEMENT

Since that fateful week the 2 villages were waiting at any slight opportunity to put down the other. That moment arrived one fine morning. On the aforementioned fine morning, the drummer of Hosabettu stood at the Bettu Border and beat his instrument loudly while announcing “This is to inform the people of the village which shamelessly shares one half of our village’s name that, after extensive research which was in no way connected to the imminent finding, it has been found out that Rahul Dravid, Karnataka’s proud cricketing son, is a friend of our very own Village opening batsman, Shetty. It is also proudly announced that Dravid Saab will be present during an exhibition match in the Hosabettu graveyard which also doubles up as a cricket ground. All are invited, but of course only Hosabettu residents will be allowed entry.”

Now, there were many issues which brought about hatred between the Bettu villages. But the chief-in-wreck was the game of cricket. Every year Chokkabettu and Hosabettu squared off in a fiercely contested match. In fact, the matches would get so fiercely contested that after the initial formalities of using the primary instruments of cricket-the Bat and the Ball-the team members switched to a more comfortable mode-brawl. The only saving grace during these matches was the fact that the cricket ground would, on this occasion, double up as a graveyard. So, it was fair enough to say that cricket coursed through the blood of each and every village inmate; and very often, that coursing had a spill out effect.

 Thus the recently concluded announcement was met with agitated murmurs in ‘that shameless half-name sharing village’. These murmurs eventually transformed into a babbling chaos. In other words, a Village Panchayat.



Chapter 3 - THE PANCHAYAT


The gathering was set under the Peepul tree (the village lacked the traditional Banyan tree in spite of unofficial warnings from the government asking the village in a strict, albeit, offhand manner to always have Panchayat meets under a Banyan tree). As per practice, every Chokkabettu inmate was there rubbing his hands with, among other things such as pan gutkha and grease, glee. As everyone waited for the Village headman to begin proceedings, the headmaster of the village school, with his experience and intelligence, realized that the village headman would not be able to begin proceedings as he was far away nursing his hopes of a government job. He decided to begin proceedings himself.

“This recent news from the other side is indeed a grim one for us. We need to take immediate action that will effect a perfect retaliation”, he stated with an important air. “Any suggestions?”

For a few minutes no one spoke. Then out of nowhere, but from somewhere in the crowd, there came a shout
“What about this?”

All the inmates trained their eyes towards the source of these optimistic words, which turned out to be a youth.

“What?” a chorus rang out towards him.

“No. that won’t do”, came the reply after a moment of pondering. This was met with a collective sigh and more silence before once again

“What about this?”

“What?”

“No. that won’t do”

Sigh-silence.

Now, this youth began to seriously take matters into his mind. He realized that he had been the only person so far to provide valuable ideas in the face of such impending crisis. So he began to rack his brain even more in order to eke out a few more of his brainwaves to the patient gathering. At last he struck gold.

“What about this?” he exclaimed with feverish excitement.

“No. that won’t do”, came back the chorus reply registering a look of shock on his face.

“No, no. Hear me out”, he pleaded, realizing that the people were indeed catching up quickly.

“Why don’t we challenge them for a match on that very day? We shall show Dravid saab as to what sort of cricketing skills run through the veins of every Chokkabettu player”, he finished with a gleam in his eyes.

The stunned silence that greeted this suggestion bore testimony to the fact that it was a stroke of genius rare among Chokkabettu residents. The idea’s brilliance lay in the surety of its success. The chance of Hosabettu shirking a cricket match challenge was as bleak as that of the match eventually producing a result. In short, the match was on…at least its start, if not its finish…

Sunday, December 19, 2010

PATNI PANDAARAM

-Pondatti Edhukku? Bonda Tea Irukku!!


REVIEW 1


Restaurant: Geetha Cafe

Location: Coimbatore

Ambiance: Old-world


As you walk through the congested Geetha Hall Road in Coimbatore at around 7: 30 am, the spicy aroma of Arachu vitta Sambar wafts through the air and fills your otherwise stink infested nostrils. It is not long before you find out that it is coming from the building proclaiming itself as ‘Geetha Hall’. Though it looks like, and is in fact, a marriage hall, there is a portion inside which serves as a no-frills tiffin centre. There are absolutely no signboards of this place, Geetha Café, outside the hall. A small doorway leads to quite a spacious joint which resembles a marriage hall dining area. There are rows and rows of straight-backed wooden chairs behind marble-topped tables. The place, like its people, is spic and span.

A waiter takes your order and if you have a whim for hearing a racy recital of the menu items he is very obliging. Hardly a minute would have passed when your plantain leaf (Vaazha Ilai – South Indian Style) gets filled with Idlys which justify the heroine associated with them to the core. A generous helping of their special Arachu Vitta Sambar makes sure that the fluffy Idlys vanish in a matter of minutes. Next in line is their uniformly sieved and delicious Sevai (Vermicelli). Along with the carefully ground and seasoned Coconut chutney it forms a scrumptious salsa on your taste buds. In the meantime their Medu Vadai serves as a worthy side snack and is the perfect option if you are someone who likes the outer layer crispy and the inner portion mushy. Their pepper sprinkled Venn Pongal is another item to be savoured and the amount of ghee added is just about enough to give you the flavour and at the same time not form a sticky film on your fingers.
If you are a Dosa aficionado then the best option here would be their Ghee Roast. The Ghee blends with the Sambar to give a relishing flavour to the whole fare which lingers in your mouth long after you are done. The Sada Dosai is a routine addendum to the menu and does not offer much to write about nor does the Poori Kizhangu.

Though Geetha café has a limited menu, the importance given to taste and quality makes it a must-eat place for any visitor to Coimbatore. The clincher is that though your stomach feels heavy and content, your purse, surprisingly, doesn’t feel any lighter at all.

Recommendations: Idly, Sevai

PRICING per person

·        Normal: Rs. 30 to Rs. 40
·        Pant loosening: Rs. 70 to Rs. 80
·        Shirt Button Ripping: Rs. 120 to Rs. 150





Thursday, December 16, 2010

PATNI PANDAARAM

-Pondatti Edhukku? Bonda Tea Irukku!!!


When you land a job in the marketing profile there are a lot of disadvantages like no chance of career shifts to research or production, continuous target pressure from management and the predicament of having to live out of a suitcase. But there are other advantages and the prominent one is the chance to eat at different hotels in different places. Hence, I have decided to utilize this advantage to spread some knowledge about the eateries that I chance upon. Patni Pandaaram is a going to be a varying, unscheduled series about different dining places in south India, ranging from plush restaurants to local Aaya Kadais.

The first article of the series will follow very soon...

There is no harm in saying you live to eat, as long as you LOVE TO EAT!!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

INDIA VS. SOUTH AFRICA - A STATISTICAL PRELUDE

If the two-test curtain raiser held in February 2010 in India was any indicator, then we are in for some pulsating action, come 16th December. India and South Africa locked horns in that mini series and neither of the teams managed to unlock them. So the 3 test series beginning in two days will be one last chance for the two teams to establish supremacy in the world test arena before the ODI fever catches on from February 2011.

On comparing the two teams it is evident that India holds the edge in Batting while South Africa is easily the better bowling outfit. So, many ‘experts’ have already dubbed the series as ‘Indian batting Supremacy vs. S. African Bowling Fury’ which, according to me, is not entirely convincing.

When two teams with exceptionally strong line ups with respect to batting or bowling face each other, it’s not the stronger departments that should be compared but the weaker ones. We all know that South African Bowling attack has the capability of taking twenty wickets on any sort of pitch against any batting line up. Similarly the Indian batting line up, on its day, can put any bowling attack in the world to sword irrespective of rumoured weaknesses and pitch warnings. So the two strengths cancel each other out. What about the South African batting line up and the Indian Bowling line up? In my view, these two departments will decide the whole series. So let us make an independent comparison of the two departments. Fixing the maximum rating points as 60, we shall compare the four Indian bowlers (leave out the bench for now) against the six protean batsmen. Each Batsman will have maximum rating points of 10 while each bowler will have 15. I have tabulated the results after taking into account the performances of the players in the calendar year of 2010.

India

South Africa

Player

PP

Pts (/15)

Player

PP

Pts (/10)

Zaheer

50%

7.5

Smith

78%

7.8

Ishant

33%

4.95

Peterson

50%

5

Sreesanth

20%

3

Amla

78%

7.8

Harbhajan

50%

7.5

Prince

33%

3.3

Kallis

78%

7.8

De Villiers

67%

6.7

Total

23

38

*PP is Performance percentage which is calculated with respect to the number of matches that the player has made an impact for his team as a percentage of number of matches played in the year 2010. For example, Zaheer Khan has played 8 tests in 2010 and has made an impact in 4 of them, making his PP 50%.

It is clear from the above table that South Africa is stronger than India when it comes to its weaker department.

Thus, statistics say that South Africa, in accordance to the favourites tag, should win the series.

But Statistics tell only half the story right? Well, let’s wait and watch…

Sunday, December 12, 2010

THE PERFECT RESULT

Starting with this post I will be updating this page with a Short Story I wrote some time back. I took up the theme of Village Cricket and spun a web around it. There are no central characters or plot. It is just pure madness which does happen to an extent during village cricket matches. Before proceeding with the first chapter I would like to express my sincere thanks to the game of cricket which has inspired me from the age of five and keeps inspiring me even now. I would also like to state that, as always, this story is purely fictional and any resemblances to real life events are coincidental.

CHAPTER 1 - THE RIVALRY

If the word ‘rivalry’ ever needed an example there would be none more suitable than the long-existing one between 2 nondescript Indian villages along the shores of Mangalore. The loathing that existed between the people of Chokkabettu and Hosabettu was mutual and extremely passionate. It existed between all sects of people, right from the smallest of children up to the very cornerstone of unquestionable authority-The Village Headmen. In fact the story of how both the villages lost their respective headmen within a period of one week had become a sort of legend. It happened like this:

The Village headman of Chokkabettu had happened to hear a lot about the job security, perks and lack of work in a government job from many of his acquaintances in the nearby towns. Thus, one day he decided to run away towards greener pastures (though technically he had to just step out of his house to land on one) and secure a government job at all costs. When the Headman of Hosabettu learnt about this from his trusted spy in the rival village, he wasted no time in lifting the image of his village and himself. He too ran away, vowing to procure a Government job at the earliest. It was sometime before the school going children in both villages realized that the post of Village Headman was, after all, a government job. But by then their craving to get a potshot at the other village’s Headman was curbed due to obvious fears of retaliation in the same vein.



Thursday, December 9, 2010

THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED

I would like to start this post by declaring that I am ashamed of the Tamil film Distributors Association and Tamil film distributors as such. Most of the biggies in this industry have raked astronomical sums of money from commercial pot boilers which follow the ‘Song-fight-comedy-sentiment’ formula. But sadly, not one of them had an eye or, for that matter, a heart to accept Nandalala’s brilliance and release it through their banner. It had to be done by Ayngaran International – a relative toddler in the Kollywood distribution arena – while the Marans who seem to be releasing every other crap in Kollywood chose to overlook this gem.

Let’s move to Nandalala. Nandalala is a story about two people – an eight year old boy and a forty year old man – journeying with each other in search of their respective mothers. While the eight year old Akilesh is your average kid next door, forty year old Baskar Mani is a mentally retarded man with the thought process similar to that of an eight year old. On their way they meet a host of characters who end up helping them or harming them in some way. Finally when they do reach their destination, do they get to meet their mothers? Well, Yes and No. Confused? Well, watch the movie…

Nandalala is a movie straight from the heart. It is also directed straight at the heart. Mysskin is clear about his characters (Nasser appears for 3 seconds in the film, so better ‘watch out’ for him!) and his portrayal of the script. There are no scenes which go overboard with emotion. There are no scenes which exploit the sensitivity of the ‘mother-son’ relationship. Still, Nandalala manages to reach that particular place in your heart which has a direct link to your mind. Every frame of the movie talks to you. When the characters don’t talk the visuals do. Be it the scene where a surly lorry driver manages to discover the child in him as he prods at ‘touch me not’ plants along with two ‘8 year olds’ for company or the scene where a poor slum girl who sells herself to earn a living drenches the sorrows, filth and dirt in her life by standing in the rain, the visuals more than make up for the lack of dialogues. Coming to performances, it would be an understatement to say that Mysskin has lived the role of Baskar Mani. He has given us an unforgettable, indelible portrayal which could have been pulled off by very few in the industry. Ashwath Ram has essayed the role of Akilesh quite brilliantly and has emoted exceptionally well for an eight year old. Snigdha reveals that she is not a ‘yellow sareed’ item girl after all. With a single scene where she describes her stained life, Snigdha proves that she is an actress par excellence. Rohini comes in a cameo and literally disarms you with her looks and her performance.

There is one other person who, according to me, is the actual protagonist of the movie – Ilayaraja. There are certain sequences in the movie which could have come off as bland or even incomprehensible if it hadn’t been for the background score. The music hits your senses where it should. Ilayaraja proves that he is a master when it comes to the art of plucking strings in instruments which will have the direct effect of tugging at the strings of your heart. His orchestration speaks to the viewer on an emotional, primal and psychological level. There is very little need for dialogues when such magical music keeps you spell bound and satiated. After experiencing Ilayaraja in Nandalala I am convinced that all other music directors in India are light years behind him when it comes to background score. Not one of them can compose music that can speak to us. The maestro does it, and does it effortlessly.

Nandalala is an enriching musical experience. It’s an honest attempt at meaningful cinema by a gutsy director. It’s an emotional travelogue for all sons and mothers of this world. It’s a journey which happens almost exclusively on the road. On the road less travelled.