Monday, December 28, 2009

A Chip off the Old Block?!

Debuting Tejaswini Shrikanth à “No More TV”

‘No more TV, you have to study’ says Mom!!! Inside me, a voice asks ‘Huh, when did I watch TV?’

What could be the worst fight you could expect in a family? You think it is the fight between a husband & wife, brother & sister, mother-in-law & daughter-in-law….. Then you thought wrong. It is always for the fight for the Remote!

If X is watching channel A, then Y has to intervene and shift to channel B, while Z may want to just skim through the channels. This mathematical equation is a constant at home. And then come the men of the house, whose life is for cricket and kah-boom the remote is in their hands.

So now can someone tell me where have all those advices of ‘TV not being good for you’ gone? Adults can sometimes be so selfish.‘ Why don’t you watch TV?’ in a extra sweet tone is just an indication that they want us out of their way. But do you think you just need permission to watch TV? Sorry to say you thought wrong again!

Come to the picture of your grandma who is dying to know what happened to that girl in the serial. The fight is different now! Once you settle in the couch with the remote, it will be “Oh dear, don’t you have your exams coming up?” And those are the last words you want to hear when your favorite song is on. And then comes your sister from nowhere demanding the remote. Battle with her for an hour and come to an understanding of sharing the remote, your mom returns home!

Could life be worse? And you know what will be the next sentence without being told aloud.

‘Mo more TV, you have to study’

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


It is sometimes surprising to think what it takes to make me write after a big lull. This was a simple SMS. The one which Kamal Haasan receives in the movie ‘Azhiyatha Kolangal’ . The message in that movie is from one of his classmates announcing the death of their Indu teacher. And then starts the flashback. A story laden with incidents which are typical of adolescent boys!

Mine wasn’t any different either, only change being this was not a story that had discovery of condoms and stealthy reading of Tamizh porn replete with spelling mistakes and severe lack of imagination. This was announcing the death of KVS , a doyen of Madurai cricket, if one may use the term liberally.

Sundararaja Mama was a typical Iyengar. Big in size, so big that I used to look at the waist size of his pants with awe! And the mandatory hawkish nose of Iyengars making one wonder whether Iyengars alone descended from Garudalwar instead of monkeys and Darwin had it all wrong when it came to us. KVS was always flanked by two of his brothers, both a far cry from what a cricketer he was, but enjoying the patronage of the brother who just breathed cricket.

And KVS himself, didn’t know what kind of a cricketer he was. One day, he used to be a fiery pace bowler defying all the science about the craft and the next day, a beguiling leg spinner who never knew about how much the ball will turn. Or suddenly he will wake up to discover the hardest hitter of cricket ball in the world in him, hell bent on punishing the ball as if it they had an enmity running through generations. I don’t clearly remember any great exploits of him in the cricket field and I may daresay that there weren’t many. Occasions of him winning a match with his bat or ball are very rare, but the rest of the story would probably say why I and maybe a few like me would mourn his death 20 years after we last met him.

KVS had an oil trading business and it would be right to call that as his hobby. His office was MDCA and as a treasurer he would have sunk so much money in the association, so much that had he employed a Texas driller to excavate, atleast one of his vocations would have benefited. Either Oil or Money! He was a man in the middle in a figurative sense running his own set of clubs in between two sworn enemies of Majestic and the TVS group of clubs.

And unlike the other two clubs, his club was a ragtag bunch of cricket enthusiasists plus a few kids like us who had never seen a red color cricket ball. When we saw one it was already some 500 over’s old and blackish-brown in color. None of us had the money to pay for a club however meager it was. But KVS never bothered about money. If he could invest money for an association, sure he can for his own club. So, we all got a chance to practice and play in the late seventies & eighties when matted cricket was a luxury. He liked us all or so I used to think, but then he would have liked anybody who showed a liking to cricket. He was not a coach and if he attempted being one, he would have killed careers. He never believed in techniques and I suspect that he never knew there was one. But what he had was loads of passion to the game and that was infectious.

In a way he used to be a stepping stone for many cricketers, two of them going on to play for India in the senior and U-19 level, but then later shifted one of the two biggies. KVS won’t bother about it. He would either be providing an opportunity for another youngster or busy organizing a felicitation for the two boys who made it big.

I don’t know how old he was when I played with him and how old when he died, it never really mattered. But if someone told me that he died on the field hurling a cricket ball at 120 kph, I would not be surprised. Or handholding a young boy who can’t afford a kit!

May his soul rest in peace and I am sure it would if there was a Cricket Association in Paramapadam and there is a young God wanting to learn cricket.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Srilankan Tamizh Struggle

As they say, history is written by winners and so this will become too. A genuine and rational demand of the Tamizh people of Srilanka will go down in the history books as the story of a terrorist organization vanquished by the state army. Losers will also write history sometimes when they are left alive, but then when cultural death has already happened and Tamizh will cease to exist as a language because of the Srilankan Govt’s ‘Sinhala only’ policy , even if someone writes , there will be no one who would know how to read.

I don’t know whether it is still sedition in this country if I eulogize about the armed struggle of the Tamizhs and their leader Prabhakaran! But in the current mood I don’t think I would mind if I am charged so. It is a shameful thing to realize that how people are capable of seeing the same stuff in the way that suits their fancy. The Srilankan story is one such phenomenon.

Everyone in the past and present have just used the legitimate aspirations of the Tamizh people to their benefit and played politics. And the biggest complaint about the LTTE is that, it was an organization that did not mix militancy and politics. What a joke! The whole militancy situation rose because of the anger which the boys had on the politicians. I wonder whether even the seasoned politicians in this country would know about the genesis of the Srilankan issue. About how the British who put India in an eternal mess by dividing the country into two, created the same mess by uniting two different countries! The Tamizhs and Sinhalese were two distinct kingdoms and the Portuguese, Dutch before the British and also British for a while, administered them separately. And suddenly for the comfort of administration made it one and handed over the whole place to Sinhalese when they left.

It is a long story of systematic annihilation of Tamizhs, betrayals from within and outside and a violent end to the dreams. Just for the ignorants’ sake, a sample of two statements made by the President and Prime Minister of that country in 1983.‘We will break their (sic) heads. & We will teach them a lesson, are those statements. And the Tamizhs were supposed to have a peaceful dialogue with them!! Which also the Tamizh politicians did when they got elected with the mandate of getting a separate state! It is surprising that many people who complain about the LTTE’s policy of killing even the moderates, do not talk about how the very same moderates used these militants for their use and discarded them. A classic Frankenstein story! Haven’t we seen them once too often? Whether it is Bhindranwale or Osama Bin Laden or the local thugs who get killed in encounters every day??

How many are aware of the fact that India simply used the very same militants to trouble the Srilankan Govt because they were worried about Triconamalee becoming a US base! How the Indian Intelligence officials trained these boys at Indian camps? How Rajiv kept Prabhakaran under house arrest (in Hotel Ashoka, Delhi) while he flew to sign an accord for solving a country’s internal strife!!!

None of these arguments mean that I defend the killings of innocents & moderates by the LTTE, but it is also true that some deserved the killing. Atleast in Srilanka! Where there is a war going on, that too! People should realize that the Srilanka ‘Prevention of Terrorism’ act is one of the most authoritarian, vengeful act that even allowed detention without trial and cremation/burial in case of a suspect dying with no accountability whatsoever. So, people who pass such laws will die by a similar jungle law passed by another powerful animal. In modern history, this is the most blatant colonization that has ever happened! In modern history this is the most uncondemned pogrom that has ever happened!

And we live in a country that will peacefully conduct elections (albeit with money & muscle) and pride itself to be the largest democracy, but no one can do anything about these Tamizhs who were dying. And we have some assholes who neither know history, nor bother to grow brain will comment on all the articles that are published, condemning the Tamizhs for seeking a separate state. These good for nothing jingoists (the same guys would want us to draw blood in Pakistan, despite that being a sovereign state) would not even know the plight of the Plantation Tamizhs who were called ‘Tamils of Indian origin’.

India agreed to take back 5 Lac plus Tamizhs by the Srimavo-Sashtri pact (who the British took there for plantation work). And as of today the Tamizhs who repatriated after 100 years of living in the Srilanka have not been integrated yet in this country. They all are working as daily wages and still being treated as foreigners by the locals when their Govt has thought otherwise. And the politicians who observe fast between breakfast and lunch are not even concerned the status in the refugee camps.

And all the peace loving, straightforward souls in this country should stop to notice the celebrations in the streets of Colombo while remembering that India didn’t celebrate in the streets after Khalistan movement crashed or when Mizo Independence movement stopped in 1975. Is that what is happening there in Srilanka? If someone here can think that the Black Tigers sprung out of orphanages there and the children were put there on first place simply because the Govt killed their parents, then some part of the heart can beat for these souls.

The whole shortsightedness from many of the world countries including us because we thought that LTTE and the Tamizh issue were synonymous! And after 9/11 because a couple of planes crashed into high rises, terrorism was a bad word and they didn’t want hear of any more deaths. Definitely not when it was unleashed by the State! In the current world situation, even if you die you need to die as a white. The other colors are expendable.

There are a lot of arguments that one can place against the LTTE for which I may not have answers. Nor do I intend to find one. I for one do not want to confuse between the original cause and the means to achieve them. And if one sees this as a war between two states and not as a struggle between an Army and a terrorist organization as I see, many pieces of the jigsaw puzzle fall in place. When a moderate who wins on a mandate/plebiscite of getting a separate state accepts the Govt largesse as an opposition leader with all the perks, then he is definitely a traitor during a war. Would we accept any of our leaders doing a similar thing with Pakistan? Even a pro-Pakistan statement is considered as one against the state here.

Just for the heck, as an argument, had the Srilankan landmass been attached to the Indian mainland and the British partitioned us as Indian, Pakistan and Srilankan based on Hindu, Muslim & Buddhist divides, we would be still fighting for Northeast Srilanka like we do in Kashmir now. We would be the occupation army in that part of the world. But an indigenous army is a terrorist organization according to us. An outfit that had 50 cadres and 30 weapons in 1983 and grew into a well-oiled army is no joke and it doesn’t come because one jingoistic megalomaniac. It comes because of a genuine need. It comes because of aspirations and it comes when people get fed up on the peace process that was supposed to give its due. A country which secretly hero worships Netaji Subash Chandra Bose and Bagath Singh should have a different view about this struggle!

If a freedom struggle should die because one of the fighters/ leaders has his skull blown off, then there is no hope in this world. But then history suggests that it never works that way. After 21 full years, General Dyer was killed by Udham Singh for the Jallianwalabagh massacre.

The Sinhalese will pay and pay more. But then the blood of both the Sinhalese and the Tamizhs will be on our hands. We could have stopped this from happening!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Celebrating Women's Day

I have my own discontentment about such special days like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Women’s day etc. This is no different from the day when I decided to stop my monthly rituals for my late father. I was all keen and pious initially because I thought that those 30 minutes I spent on the rituals was the homage I pay to my dad and also stop to thank and glorify him for his achievements. And all of a sudden one day I realized that I never had to stop and think about him! He was always in me. In my thoughts and deeds and the unfailing genetic traits! In fact I was more working to lead my life the way he wanted which he would not have been successful had he been around instructing me what should I be doing.

In essence this one day dhamaka just doesn’t cut any ice with me. What’s the fun in wishing your mom on Mother’s day when you miss her all the time, but terribly impatient when she is around. What is the point of remembering and gifting the lady on a particular day when she gifted you with her blood, sweat, tears and not to mention her OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

So is this Women’s Day! As a self-confessed Masculinist (opposite of Feminist ???!!), I have my complaints about Father’s day not being celebrated with the same verve as Mother’s day! Maybe I don’t sweat too much about Mother’s day either, but hey there should be justice after all! And to think of it, was there a Men’s day ever? And don’t start on me about the clichéd refrain of ‘all days are men’s day’! Not if you know a man who can do everything a woman can do barring pregnancy.

But, does all this stop me from Celebrating Women? Hell no! My life has been surrounded by women, starting from 5 sisters to the extent of only rearing dogs of the feminine gender. So much so, that I doubt sometimes whether my thoughts were fashioned in the feminine way only. And each of these women who had been in my life is simply outstanding. These days when there is a measurable parameter in terms of salary, women are getting noticed and being appreciated as they prove that there no less than men, if not better.

But what about women like my mom? Someone who had changed cities every 3 years, reared boisterous children like us with my father being in the bank all the time, and ensured that each one of us had not only great education but also good manners. And to manage a house of 10 people with a paltry salary and get all the daughters married by saving within the monthly salary. And all the while, manage relationships with in-laws, getting herself updated all the time about what’s happening around the world and stay modern in her thoughts. Could there be any salary paid for all these? Well if so, then she could be one the highest paid in the world.

I had been watching one of my Harlequin Parrots laying eggs and hatching it. This is happening for the past 4 weeks. She simply didn’t even venture out of her little pot for food, as she had to keep the eggs under her feathers all the time. The tremendous resolve and strength that the tiny bird shows is an abject lesson on passion and strength due to that. Now when I see the little one getting the shape of a real bird flapping her oversized wings, do I also see a hint of pride and satisfaction in the mother’s face? I could not detect anything obviously. And that’s I think is what is womanhood.

The one difference that cannot be made up between men and women! I am not over glorifying the concept of child bearing and rearing here, maybe one day there will be a possibility of childbirth without the uterus. But the instinct of a mother can never be recreated. The fundamental sense of nurturing and natural leadership within the confines of a family has been there for a million years and nothing can change that.

There will be a day when the differences might vanish ( as it is almost now ) and we will stop celebrating such days, but the reason for why they should be celebrated would never get over.

There are many MCP jokes on women, but as a tribute to the women on this day and forever, I will give one here.

There is this couple and a visitor is asking the husband who takes decisions in their household.

The husband replies ‘Oh, we practice equality at our home and the decision making is shared between me and my wife’.

Visitor- ‘Oh this is very good to hear, can you tell how you freeze on who decides on what?’

Husband- ‘That’s very easy, all the big decisions are taken by me and the small ones are taken by my wife’

Visitor is taken aback a bit on this fake equality and asks whether he can have an example.

The husband says ‘I actually decide on who should be the prime minister of the country, what are the tax rebates the finance minister should give, the whether we should postpone IPL or not, and my wife decides on which school the children should go, what course they should take, what we should spend and save and where our investments should be and all such matters at the house. J

And here is tribute to all the women who take such small decisions….

And to my Harlequin Parrot called ‘Darling’ and the one woman I idolize the most for her strength of character, courage and immeasurable love.. My Mom..

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hope over Fear a.k.a Jai Ho

There are plenty of things that can inspire one to let their conscience wake up with probing questions. Life generally is a bitch as they say it just takes you where it wants to go and somehow you accept that it is where you wanted to go. But mind is an animal of its own cognizance. Here and then it questions the things which you choose to ignore because life’s path doesn’t tread into dangerous areas. You ignore the misery that unfolds in front of your eyes and as long as it is not personal you are OK. But it happens when your mind has traveled the distance and inspires you to dream that one day you will ‘Teach India’ or do a ‘Turtle Walk’ or sometimes more realistically, just cross an old man across the street. But then you don’t attempt any of that, because you are busy ‘rightsizing’ the organization putting a few more people to misery. Arre yaar, Life is a Bitch, didn’t I say that?

But certain stuff goes beyond that non-linear thinking that you have. It makes you real. And at these times, you just go one step further. Write your thoughts down. No, sorry you are still not going to do something drastic that will alter the course of events or improve the social fabric. You just record them for posteriority’s sake. So that you can feel good and hopeful that things will be better. This is just one such attempt.

I can’t call this as coincidence. The raves that Slumdog receive and Obama taking over as the most powerful man in the world! In a way, I think the reactions the world reserved for both of them are the ‘waking up syndrome’. Or the indefatigable hope that all of us carry. Someone once wrote that India’s malaise can be summed up in a single sentence, which will be ‘Can someone do something about this?’ No Sir, not me!!!! I am busy rightsizing, can some one do that. But I also hope that someone will do it. This is a standing example.

Someone has done it. Someone has conquered fear and chosen hope. Both the real life scene of Obama on top of the world and Jamaal winning 20 million bucks! They are hopes come true. But someone has done it for you. Never mind the charming smile in Obama’s face or the bubbly eyes you see in the diminutive actor who plays Jamaal junior.

Folks, actually some really did it. They said they can!

Like ‘Virgil’ said ‘They can because they think they can’!