Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cake Shops

I always have this feeling when I walk into a cake shop. Guess it’s the happiest place on earth. There could be a lot of places where people go. Restaurants, Movies, Office, Functions and so on. But no one can guarantee that everyone who is around in those places at that time is there for a happy cause. There will be someone definitely who would be smarting under sadness in those places too. But in a cake shop, whoever is there is there only for a happy cause. Could be a birthday, anniversary, wedding or stuff like that. But the common denominator is the happiness. The only exception to it is the cake that they order for farewells. How come farewells can be a cake-cutting occasion? Left to me I won’t eat any farewell cakes. If you really want them there, you don’t cut cakes and deliver eulogies. Bloody hell, tell them how much it means to you to have them around and make them be around.

My Mother

My mother left for hometown after a 3-month trip to Chennai, albeit in the most bearable of the times in the hot city. Not that she goes to cooler climes. This piece is not about that. It’s about the time she was here.

I keep asking myself this question every time, whether I do justice whenever she is here. There are obvious discomforts while she is around. She is very orthodox and that means what you think is normal behaviour is absolutely a crime. Starting from wiping the floor you sat and ate; well that’s not wrong, till the point cow-dung is insisted to be used. The only cows I know of this metro is of a different kind. Well that’s for starters, there are many such violations of her rules and I feel I am atleast a few hundred generations away. The rituals that I used to perform every month to remember my father’s death, does not hold any particular reverence to me now and I can see her disappointment at the seemingly flagrant affront to her husband, not withstanding the fact that I am just like her husband in every bit of me, starting from dead finger nails. The fact that I swear by him to run my life after his and there is not a day I have ate a morsel alone, just like him does not matter as much as the wonderful Sanskrit words I need to utter every month.

Ok that explains the difficulty I have while she is around. But these are minor ones because I don’t give up on what I believe as much as her and despite disappointing her I never give into what she wants. I can tell one thing for sure though. She is extremely proud of me and what I am and what I stand for. That she is of course about all the 8 of us. But, me, a special guy, after all I am the last and was made when she was forty. And like her husband, a totally unflustered character who never worried about the future. An innocuous explanation of my dad for having so many kids was a Tamil adage. ‘Maram Vachavan Thanni Oothayama Povan?’. It means that ‘Would a guy who planted a tree, wont water them?’ He was referring to God though and to his credit he himself watered enough and more.

Whenever she is there with me, I keep thinking about why this lady can’t enjoy all the great stuff in life rather than worrying about the silly stuff that does not happen. For example, an adhoc purchase of 2 sari’s costing 4K is not an everyday thing for her, but she was more worried about not getting the matching blouse. She has gone through pain, had 10 children in all, from a rich family, became middle class and now she is come a full circle with all her kids freaking out. But there is something she misses, and I don’t know what it is. If I did, I would get her that.

I never know whether I have told her that I love her, shown in actions many times, never told her once though. We all make the mistake, don’t we??

I was never the one who made the love so very obvious. In fact I used to ask her, how come you could love me the same when I am the 10th, would you not get tired? And for a major part of my life I believed that it was my eldest sister who was my mother and that suited me too. It was only when she got married and left home when I was 5, I started looking at my mother and am sure I was a pain all through. It was my sister who was a pet, the one who would look at mom’s face all through when we sit in a movie. But no one knows that all of us do that. We all always watch our parents. There is more in their face than any movie or life story can ever say. I don’t know whether my kids do that now.

I grew up with the belief that she won’t live long; they didn’t those days. So, in the middle of the night sometimes I used to wake up and see whether she is still breathing and if she did, slept peacefully then onwards.

And now, when every time she leaves, I keep thinking, is this is the last I see of her alive. But these days, its just not about her, I get an odd feeling that it could be either her or me.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Kapunka Thailand

It was a wonderful four-day trip to Thailand. Sometimes, I feel like it was not just 4 days but more. Primarily because each day was a 20 Hour day and so that much longer than normal one’s.

I should say I enjoyed Pattaya more than Bangkok itself. Quite possibly the right thought also, as Pattaya happens to have all the strapping of a tourist & holiday destination than Bangkok, which is nothing but a Metropolis waiting to burst in its seams, with all the traffic jams and mechanized people.

People had been going gaga over Thailand, mainly as a destination for sex. I was thoroughly disappointed in that front. Thai girls suck (no pun intended). They look awful and flat and do not for once make you turn around and look again. And if at all, someone does, you can be sure that it is a eunuch. They look much better, prompting a rethink about sexual preferences. When they talk about the great progress that has been made in Silicon Technology, I never knew that it meant this. I even told one that she looks beautiful.

But what was gratifying is that these eunuches are treated with a lot of respect and not like what happens to them in India. My guide was explaining that, how difficult it has become to have a sex change operation these days unlike the past. She apparently has a friend of that kind. The fact that someone can acknowledge the fact that her friend is a lady-boy (they are called so) is heart warming. The openness of the society to accept someone’s individual preferences and treat them with respect is commendable. Anyway, I was excited more about the rare animals that I saw than anything else there. I got a feeling though, that the country was not too excited about having tourists. One of the worst places I had been to, when it comes to reception. People just don’t answer you properly and they are very curt, including police officials. Maybe because they are uncomfortable with English as a language and cannot communicate properly (they are vely vely solly most of the times about that). But more than that, I thought that they think the tourists are primarily there for sex and not to appreciate the beauty, tradition and culture of the land.

Beer and other drinks are sold in carts by the roadside, along with the entire insect kingdom being fried and sold. Walking Street in Pattaya, giving another dimension to its name just doesn’t sleep. We were up till 5 am one morning and the place was still rocking. I don’t know what does the collapse of Soviet Union means to them, but the greatest benefit out of that are the Russian girls who have migrated for the cabaret joints here. They are simply awesome. Tall & strapping, but with an innocent face, pandering to the age old dreams of men: body of a woman with a face of a child.

Going from a city of beaches and a house that practically sits on the beach, I am not supposed to be excited about the beaches. But Coral Island was different. The sand is so pure, white & soft. It’s so nice to feel them on your foot. I missed the ‘molaga bajji’ though.

Thai music was another revelation. Almost all songs have a melancholic strain in them, but every now and then moves into an area that denotes a big expanse and hope. Maybe that’s what is the story of Thailand. Not very happy inside but hopeful of something better to come.

But for me, I would say ‘Kapunka Thailand’ meaning Thank You in Thai.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Five Point Someone

Stage adaptation of books is a tricky business. That too, when it happens to be a popular book. Mainly because, when you read a book and like it, you create your own images for the characters and that can differ from person to person. So, when a Play comes across as good as the book, one should doff his hat.

Five Point Someone belongs to this genre. The book was immensely popular and well liked. And because of the story line, it was more a book about your own college days and not just the story of three IIT’ians. I am certain that everyone could empathize with those boys in the book and so would have had huge expectations from the Play.

Boy, was it Good!!! It was fantastic. The director should have had some solid faith in her script, that there was just narration and dialogues. No sweat about the props, nothing. And it was extremely novel to see an author narrating the story; while as a character someone else plays him.

No point in dwelling about the superlative performances of the actors, veterans and the youngsters alike. The adaptation was so very good. In a way I felt like I was reading the book again.

Surprising was the liberal use of the ‘F’ word in the dialogues. Theatre has come a long way in Chennai. To think of it, 50 years back , it was males who donned the ‘Sthree Part’. Many famous actors of the tinsel town graduated that way. Later, though it improved a bit, still there were no amateur female artists. Even in today’s Tamil plays, you have all the males as amateur artist, while the females are professionals. So, to see physical closeness and hugging in the stage was strange. Maybe, the doyens like Pammal Sambantham Mudaliar , TK Shanmugam & the likes would be turning up in their graves.

But, all in all the Play was good that you even didn’t feel that there was no break in between. Touched a chord with the audience. One scene stands out in my mind. With absolutely no dialogues, and only a spotlight on, the author’s post-coital expression was awesome.

I missed out Magic Lantern’s ‘Ponniyin Selvan’, which happens to be my all time favorite novel turned play. Glad that I did not miss this one though.

Who is 'They?

I am mighty pissed about this whole ‘they’ business. I really have never comprehended who is this ‘they’. It seems everyone everywhere seemed to be worried about ‘they’. What will ‘they’ think? What will ‘they’ say?

Appears to me that no one in this earth lives for himself or herself. It is for ‘they’. I am not using ‘them’, if you see. Them could be a bit specific. This ‘they’ is not. It is like God. Omnipresent but can’t be seen for hell. No one knows who ‘they’ are, but always seem to know what ‘they’ will say or think. Funny, absolutely funny.

If this ‘they’ are your neighbors, why the hell we need to be worried about what ‘they’ think, I could never understand. How do ‘they’ matter to us? If it is friends or folks, how come ‘they’ cant understand why do we what? Or atleast why not come up and tell what ‘they’ think? And if 'they' are in general, the society, how the f*** I care?

Many of us don’t realize that we form a part of someone else’s ‘they’ too. And just by being a different ‘they’ , the whole crazy stuff can be changed. I think to do that , you cant have the clich├ęd ‘they’ thoughts. You need to have something on your own. Then you are not amongst the group.

And for all you know, you might even have a name then. Your own… Shrikanth said this, Shrikanth will think so. But then atleast you are not in that ‘they’ group.