Friday, February 18, 2011

Of Books and bookshelves

For the want of better things to do when a 3 month old is asleep, I thought of arranging our book shelf. Since the time it had to be moved out of the room that has now become the nursery, it has been in a painful state. Science and fiction sat side by side like einstein and paris hilton! Anyway, i started arranging them, trying to fit them back into the order they were in initially and found out that
1. We have way too many unread books.
2. Even though we've promised ourselves not to buy till we have finished reading what we have, that is never going to happen. I dont think we will ever finish reading all these books in this lifetime(which is quite sad)
3. I divided the books into science, fiction-translations,fiction in english by indian authors(which also includes a couple of german and nigerian authors), english fiction-others, language and literature, travel and history, political science and related topics and finally a miscellaneous section which has weird topics from the rise of the indian rope trick to paulo coehlo stuck in front of an ugly silver tray which I have been trying to hide.
4. Our literature and language section has surprisingly quite a number of books esp on language. Owing to the hubbys passion on the origin of the languages a few yrs back.
5. My favourite is the science and fiction translations closely followed by pol science though I doubt if i am ever going to finish reading a kazantzakis or a chomsky. Maybe we could sell them for their vintage value a few years down the line.
6. Once again, we have way too many books!
But atleast its arranged... Till the next set of books come in!

Monday, July 27, 2009

On Exams.

Two teeny exams and I realized its no joke to start studying after a gap of 7 yrs. But deep down, I loved it, I loved going back to reading books for examinations' sake, even though there was no "going to college" attached to it. Though it took a while, my mind slowly went back to the pace of dividing lessons, focusing on what I had to finish that day. Maybe I should take off and do a full-fledged course. Maybe I will.. someday.

Friday, April 24, 2009

My current read..


When my cousin texted me in the morning saying that Avial was performing at PES, Hosur Road, it did not really register in my mind. While driving back from work, it all but struck me at once. I called up Arun and a couple of others who I knew would just want to be there and we rushed in praying we get tickets. It turned out to be a huge college ground with students loitering around.. There dint seem to be anything much happening. Apparently water had seeped into the mixer when it rained for an hr and they were trying to fix things up. It was a bit later that we realized the band members were actually walking among the crowd. The students were more or less letting them do their stuff and get the console all setup.. half an hour later they went on. By that time, the crowd size was just about 10% of the ground capacity. All of us huddled near the stage yelling and screaming along with the music. It was just about perfect, the only glitch being sound system. But the adrenalin managed to overshadow all that. It felt a bit strange to jump around with kids, but who cared! About 10 minutes back stage with the band after the show and our day was made. Smiling to ourselves and feeling 10 yrs younger, we all trooped back home. As Ruben the youngest amongst us and among the whole crowd said, Avial did manage to create a niche for malayalam in the the world of rock.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I happened to get a peek into my distant future last week. Nope, it wasnt the astrologer who read my cards, it was just a 15-minute conversation with my 16 year old cousin. She had just entered Standard XII. Her mom was worried, and not completely without reason, of her incessant companion- the mobile phone. Being just one generation away and the sister she was in awe of, the task of advising her fell upon me.

I kept a reminder on my phone and called her up. Spent a couple of minutes in useless banter and then slowly approached the topic. That it would be better if she left the phone with her mom everyday day during her study time(Did I ever study everyday?!). My words sounded disappointingly hollow to my own ears. I knew from the beginning that there wasnt much I could do to hold my stand but now that I had started it, I had to end it. I heard the usual ifs and buts and whys, but when she retorted that she's heard stories about how I used to talk endlessly on the phone and shoot up the bills, I was on the brink of breakdown. More senseless, trying-to-hold-ground answers and further admonishments later I hung up the phone. I thank my stars that I have years ahead of me to prepare myself for a full-fledged session like this. Or maybe I should start taking up courses on teen psychology as soon as I can.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My religion

My grandparents were agnostics or were they atheists, am not sure. At that time they were called communists and that was that. They believed in people and in science. Most of my primary school education and adolescence were spent with them. But they never tried to change my faith(if a 10 year old could have one) in any direction. All they repeatedly dwelt on was that people are far more important than any caste or religion.

My mother, inspite of being raised up without being herded to temples in her childhood, turned out to become a staunch believer, not in religion, but in God. During those years of my schooling when I got to be around her and when the subject of faith was brought up, she repeatedly stressed on the oneness of God. And even at that time, I knew those were not empty words. She believed in them. Just as she believed in going to the temple on tuesdays and thursdays and to Mahim church on Wednesdays. As she grew old, her devotion narrowed down, but even today she is a very tolerant lady.

In the midst of all this, I grew up believing in God in all forms - the numerous Hindu ones, in Allah and Jesus alike. I did this with ease, never for a moment doubting that I was wronging my religion. All those years of chinmaya schooling made me think that Hinduism was a way of life. Idols and temples are only a part of the something much deeper inside. There is absolutely nothing or noone called a true Hindu.

But now, cometh the twenty-first century, when man has probed into the smallest division of life possible and the deepest realms of space, apparently, my views are A-Hindu as per the new sect of people who preach a new form of Hinduism called Hindutva. They preach that Hindu's need not respect other religions or beliefs, that anything which is related to the 'West' is against India so that celebrating Valentines' day is immoral and more recently, any woman wearing a non-Indian dress is wronging her culture. That very culture which was so open that from within arose two very prominent religions today - Buddhism and Jainish. That India whose stories are rich with romance and pure love and children born out of wedlock, the very same culture in which not many generations ago, women in certain "higher" communities considered it beneath them to cover their torso. The world has moved on and all this needs to be forgotten. Yes, but in that case, stop preaching about Indianness. All we need in this world where nature itself is one of the biggest threats is compassion towards people. Are religions so important that they are above people? Is God so important that people are pawns who can be murdered? As my twenty seven years of faith start crumbling, I keep asking myself the same question again - Is it more important being true to our religion than being a good human being? Is there anything in the world more important than being a good person and not doing anyone any harm.

Monday, September 01, 2008


Its all in the genes.. And it hasnt been more evident in anyone else recently. Whatever be the multi-faceted review that Rock-On has received, one thing is blatantly evident. It has given us a new actor in the league of Naseeruddin Shah and Aamir Khan. I might be talking too soon if I were to say that Farhan Akhtar can well become the next Aamir, the coin can turn either way, but he indeed has the potential that can take him further.

Rock-On isnt another Jhankaar Beats. Though there is a tendency to compare, I would anyday rate Rock-On higher. The movie,to begin with, is edited pretty well. It starts off on a slightly dull, low-budget movie note, with an okay song, definitely not the best in the movie. A typical rock-band, funky clothes, long hair. The next few scenes jump 10 years in time, and then, slowly the story unfolds, going back and forth between the years. The transition in the different characters is very much rooter in reality and this is where the movie scores over Jhankar Beats. It does not restrict itself to a few friends passionate about music. Its about how life in all its practicality leads them elsewhere.. and for the audience thats a world outside the movie screen, right into their next door neighbourhood. As in Farhan's debut DCH, the character portrayal is also pretty good. As a friend of mine said, you can almost relate with Debbie's frustration and grumpiness. Another scene, that struck me as taken well, was where Adi meets his ex-love. The scene dint thankfully,lead to an emotional wife/ex-lover crying over the past and declaring their true love and sacrifice. It was a pretty quick shot, a couple of words, to show how, as it happens in reality, the characters have moved on.

Admitted, the movie has a slightly slow pace but I think that is quite over-shadowed by the brilliant performances. Farhan is really impressive. Not once did he give away the fact that this was his debut film. He was also backed by pretty strong performances, Especially from Shahana Goswami as Debbie Masceranhas. The songs might not be to everyone's taste, but they are catchy and nice in an off-beat way. The lyrics might be a little revolting to a few, unable to fathom the idea that Javed Akhtar can actually write this way. But I believe,the songs should blend in the movie. You cannot definitely have a ballad or a bhangra in a movie about Rock music. If they think the lyrics are funny, then some of the best English songs have equally funny lyrics, Norwegian Wood, Smoke on Water to mention a few..and these are classics in their own way. There is definitely no comparison here, but it is indeed a welcome relief over another soulful Udit Narayan number or a nasal Himesh Reshammiya howling away! Farhan's voice suits the songs very well (yes, he has sung most of the songs in the movie as well). Here's hoping, we see more of Rock Ons, more so because it just proves that there is a crowd out here that expects more out of movies than family weddings and bhangras and swiss-alps-shot-movie songs.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

In Cambridgeshire

"There was a time in England when taxes were charged on the number of windows in a house" said Rob, our guide on the punt, explaining why a few windows on the cam-side houses were bricked-up. The people in those days were literally robbed of the daylight entering their houses. This is eventually how the term 'daylight robbery' came to be used. Rob is a student from one of the many colleges that form a part of the Cambridge University. He is also a punting guide who takes tourists along the cam river, to earn those always welcome extra pounds.

Every friday evening until that Sunday, I was propped up on my bed, with the Lonely planet - Britain open, wondering how on earth am I going to visit all those wonderful places in the UK in a span of 4 months. I would then remind myself of mainland Europe - Prague, Budapest, Stockholm, Salzburg, Spain... and my head would just spin dizzily. Three - four weekends of turning pages and sighing away went by and then one weekend, i realized the infamous british winter was just round the corner and I better get up and get going. A couple of calls and it was decided that Saju, Joseph and I will meet up in Cambridge and that they'd take me around the place. A wodehouse in hand, mp3 player plugged safely, I was on board the train to Stevenage. The first 15 minutes went by with me smiling and chuckling on Bertie Woosters one-liners and then I happened to look out of the window. The flats and crowded roads gave way suddenly to open meadows stretching across miles, with little woods in between. and soon the wodehouse was back in my bag.

The train reached the tiny station that is Stevenage and after breakfast Saju took me into Cambridge after another 30 min drive through peaceful meadow-country. Cathedrals, students, paved streets, the image in my head was rig
ht in front of me. It does have its own usual BHSes and M&Ses, but the first impression a visitor gets is definitely far from mod. The first place we went to was the St. Mary's chapel, quiet and awe-inspiring, a characteristic, which I soon came to realize is inherent in most of the cathedrals and chapels in England. There is a tiny circular stairway, a seemingly never-ending journey up to the top, but once you get there, the view is amazing, you can see the whole town/city that is cambridge, the mazes of streets. Once we got back down the tiny stairs, we decided to go punting. A friendly malay teenager sold us 3 tickets at student prices, mentioning on the receipt 'student pass checked'. (Wonder if he did that to every other person on the street..) and then, cider in hand, we were handed over to Rob, who took us on board his punt.

What followed was forty minutes of pure bliss, floating down the cam river listening to yarns about the colleges, about how some of them did not allow women even in the late the 20th century, how an out-of-place modern building was constructed out of the imagination of a student possibly high on weed,
marvelling at the thought that Newton was longer just a part of your science books, but you have actually visited the place that he studied in. And ofcourse, not to forget the laughs we had at the groups who bravely decide to row by themselves and were trying their best to make their punt realize that forward, and not concentric circles, was the way they wanted to go. The ride got over like all good things.. Getting out of the punt, we walked aimlessly along the little streets for a while, then got into the nearest Nandos, where I had the most amazing chicken roast, before we all made our way back home. The person who got out of the train back at King's cross was a happy me, and my mind had written one more line into that big book of travel which is what my life would hopefully be.

Note: A punt is a narrow flat ended boat which is propelled forward by pushing against the river bed with a long pole( very similar to the traditional common vanchi in kerala). Punts are a major tourist attraction in the university towns of Cambridge and Oxford and a major source of pocket money for the students of the various colleges that form a part of these Universities.