Wednesday, June 29, 2005


a sharp wedge in
a child's scared memory-
a balding man
frothing at the corners of his mouth;
his seed
wasted on the
green seat of a
public bus.


Saturday, June 25, 2005

Transformation: the tall and short of it.

When she was 12, Akila developped a distaste for wedding halls. She hated it when silk-saree clad 'maamis' sitting in a rough circle in the 'mandabam' turned their attention to her. "O, is it Varadarajan's daughter? How you have grown!" one 'maami' would begin. "Yes... yes... You were like a doll when I saw you last, with two plaits and chubby, about this high (indicating a spot below her sitting knee). Look at you now! You are so tall, skinny and you even wear braces!" some others would hasten to say. She wanted to scream, "PEOPLE GROW, YOU KNOW!"

Years later, clad in a 'madisaar' saree, she sat joking with a crowd of old familiars at Rajan Anna's brother-in-law's second daughter's wedding. Radha's thirteen-year-old happened to pass by. Akila called out, " Look, look... is that Radha and Ambi's daughter? So like the father, eh? She was this high when I last saw her. How tall she has grown!? Ei, your name is Swetha, right?" Then she reached out and chucked the thirteen-year-old' s chin. Swetha wore braces and wanted to scream too.

* * *

Ammani fever is happening on the blog. Once bitten, the temptation to write quickies is not easy to resist! Even if they are not too short!


Friday, June 24, 2005

Book tagged!

Sriram, folks, is one helluva persistent guy! :)

Total number of books I own:

Jeez! I wouldn't know. Between 800 and 1000, perhaps. Maybe more!

Total number of books given to others and never came back :

Hmmm... It has been a long life. But I cannot remember any book that did not come back! I pursue them all with a dogg-ear-ed persistence! WOW!

Total number of books flicked from others:

Just one (in living memory) The Book of Rugby Jokes.

Last book I bought :

For myself: The collected works of O.V.Vijayan, Purple Sea by Ambai
For others: The Monk who Sold his Ferrari, The Alchemy of Desire and Bill Clinton's 'My Life'

I'm currently reading:

Prince of Ayodhya (Have been reading in fits and starts) by Ashok Banker
Behold: Here's Poison by Georgette Heyer
Encounter the Enlightened- Conversations with Jaggi Vasudev

Five books that mean a lot to me:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Sophie's Choice by William Styron
Swami and Friends by R.K.Narayan
Roots and Queen by Alex Haley
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer (O.K, that's six, but what the hell!)


Monday, June 20, 2005

Past Forward

It is strange how the best years of your life remain just that. How you, reminiscing on those rich moments, fail to remember the little things that annoyed you, bothered you and made you mad enough to cry.

Getting back to Bangalore for a couple of days, was something like that.
(It is not that I have not been to the Garden City since these er... halcyon days... I have, indeed, several times. Just that I've had pressing affairs to tend to, keeping my nose to the grindstone. This time, however, was two days of holiday, and nothing else. It makes you think, it does, having time on your hands...)

I have no memory of the city’s pollution, its one-ways, the traffic jams, the terrible sameness of people tramping up and down Brigade's, the coffee powder that sinks into the decoction at India Coffee House, its singed cutlets on heavy, dirty, cracked porcelain plates, the crowds, auto drivers who cheat.

In the pleasing sepia blur of yester year, I can only feel the sharp nip of the early morning air; Coconut oil granulating in its blue plastic casing, the warmth of my jungle- green sweater; I can hear the hiss of the dosa batter slipping onto the hot tawa; I can smell the red chutney on the dosa’s inside, the “thick” coconut chutney and piping hot sambar combo; I can still feel the fluffiness of the two-egg omelet in India Coffee House, the taste of piping hot “butta” (corn on the cob) smeared with a tangy lemon rich soaked in red and white chilli-salt powder; I can see only the purple jacarandas sitting cocky on wayside trees; I remember Church Street as a lazy length where a friend’s aunt lived in a grand house, the size of the lassi tumbler at Sivaji Market, and the police man who would dance at the traffic signal...



Sunday, June 19, 2005

Anniyan: No Stranger

If I were to write this review in one line, I'd say "Gentleman, Part 3, Indian, Part 2."

I must admit I was a little apprehensive about this when I saw the first preview of Anniyan, Shankar's latest Rs.28 crore block bluster. "Aww... I thought to myself, this is way too familiar." The patterns were so Shankar-like, it could hit you a mile away from the theatre. Good man, affected by society, rejected by the courts decides to take control, turns Robinhood, uses "unusual methods to bring justice."

"Ambi" a traditional Iyyengar boy is a lawyer Rules Ramanujam who is enraged by the casual indifference he sees on the streets everyday. He is frustrated by every situation he is unable to change : bad quality brakewire, men molesting women in MTC buses, people undervaluing property. He decides to send his complaints to Anniyan, a modern day, self-styled messiah who promises to deliver justice, through the latter's website. And what follows is not only unusual, but also stomach-churning in parts.

In Anniyan, Shankar has been bitten by the same bug that bit Chandramukhi. So, he throws in some psychiatric theory about Multiple Personality Disorder through a fat-ageing Nasser who annoys by saying "Personolty" repeatedly, hoping that that science will over ride the rest of the mumbo jumbo in the movie. Some hope THAT!

Clearly, Vikram wants to do a "Sethu" or "Pithamagan" with every movie he makes (barring thorough entertainers like Dhool, Gemini), and thinks he can show his acting prowess by rolling his eyes (in innocence or anger), indulging in melodrama or crying. What a build up Prakash Raj gives him in Anniyan. He says at one really "insane" part of an extended climax, "Naan Sivaji Paarthirukken, MGR Paarthirukken, Kamal, Rajini Ellam Paarthirukken. Aana unna mathiri oru nadiganai paarthathillai" (or something to that effect). Wonder why the audience, largely appreciative of even the lowest moments of the movie, howled at that particular dialogue?

Strangely, Anniyan runs on a U certificate, despite the violence and gore that permeate the movie, especially the second half. That's when Personna 3 Anniyan seems to take over, almost whole. The idea of a man being burned in a vat of oil or leeches sucking the blood out of another is not really ideal pre-dinner fare.

This said, I must also admit there are some parts of the movie that are thoroughly engaging, like the family's trip to Thiruvaiyaaru, "Ambi's" attempts at wooing Sada (and not Personna 2 Remo's. So wannabe, Vikram. Give it up, buddy!). Oh well, I might as well say all parts of the movie when Vivek appears. He's on a roll, this time, that man! His return to Tamil comedy is a big bang and some of the jokes in that movie will come to stay.

The point of the movie, though, is a strong statement against the indifference that has permeated our society and the corruption that it has allowed to creep in. Its validity is undeniable, but its delivery is crude.
Strangely for a Shankar movie (fresh from Boys), there is no vulgarity. And hey, no cigarretes either. All those who think banning cigarrette smoking on screen is a bad idea, watch this movie.

Watch it anyway, because of its racy dialogue, because of its message, because of the scary logic behind Anniyan, because of Vivek, because of the gorgeous locales, because of one song (Iyyangaar Veetu), because you don't mind having a mild headache from having to sit in the theatre from 6-30 p.m. till 10 p.m.

After all if you think Shankar has cheated you, you can shoot off a complaint to the hooded stranger at! And wait for justice to be done! :)


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Bloggers' Park

It probably is way too late to put this post up. Certainly, in journalistic parlance, it has lost its currency/shelf life.
Nevertheless, considering it is about bloggers and that so many people have put this up on their sites, here goes:
My story on blogger meets in the Sunday Magazine section of The Hindu.
It is available on the June 12 edition of the Magazine and in case you want to see the real thing, it did appear in all our editions, so you can see it in your own city..
It is probably my most-read story till date, which is flattering. Number of hits on that story has been in the range I'd want all my stories to have! So, thanks a ton for reading, responding, answering my blog-meet questionnaire and commenting on this blog!
Hmmmm... Maybe I should become a Blog Reporter! :) What say,eh?!


Friday, June 10, 2005

Active- Mera Honda!

Activa - Chandra Honda, originally uploaded by errum.

Mesdames et Messieurs,

This to inform all of you that I have finally wrested possession of my shiny Black Honda Activa from that unyeilding dealer!
I also think this will serve as the baptismal post for my Honda.
*Sprinkling water on the forehead of the bike*
"You shall henceforth be called Minnal"
'M i n n a l'

Wow! That sounds cool, just like the way it feels when I saddle Her!

And for all those safety-seekers, brothers and sisters, I have a brand new wine-red helmet to go with Her.

Just in case, * Touchwood!*


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Chennayil sila mazhaithuligal...

This is about the most cliched 'favourite smell' of the world: rain on dry earth.
A recent study conducted in equatorial and tropical nations estimated that 85 per cent swears by the smell of the rain hitting the dry earth. Another 15 per cent have put it on their list of "Top Five Favourite Smells."
Actually not. The study bit has been concocted, entirely by me. But it could be true.

Why not?

If you live in Chennai, like I do and see more of rain in your dreams than in downpours, then you can believe it is true.

Picture this, if you've never felt it before: The intense sun has heated up the earth so much it's cracking. The dust rising from it and choking you. Small rain drops are falling... you cannot see them, you cannot feel them, they are so insignificant, until they hit the hot mud.

And then, the smell. The characteristic smell of wet rain on dry earth, so freshly unique. The vapours of this pleasantness then curve up your nostrils, filling your senses and triggering the smile factor in the appropriate segment of your brain. Smile! Smell! It is tantalising, like the promise of summer, like the hint of jasmine blooms, like nothing else you've ever felt before.

In all your ecstasy, you dodge the overwhelming power of the sensile experience, to take a small peek at the sky above. Dark-grey, curly cumulo nimbus clouds have gathered over head. My hair rises in anticipation, my nostrils quiver...

It's going to rain! I can smell it!


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Polluted Blood

Where poison flows in the veins…

A Centre for Science and Environment Study finds residues of 6-13 pesticides in blood samples of villagers in Punjab.
There are no standards for ‘safe levels’ of pesticides in our blood. But the level of pesticide found in Punjab samples has no comparison. The pesticide cocktail includes old and persistent pesticides like DDT and lindane. But it also includes residues of highly toxic (considered not persistent by industry) pesticides like monocrotophos and chloropyrifos.
But nobody can tell you what these toxic substances will do to the human body. Are they responsible for increased cancer or other diseases? Nobody can say because nobody knows.
But we know enough to say that this cannot be ‘safe’. This cannot be ‘acceptable’. The study calls for urgent action to regulate use. It calls for action to monitor human bodies – a biomonitoring programme – to ensure that this chemical invasion is stopped.

Read further here.

Hmmm... Seems a bit alarmist to me. I'm not denying that any caution can ever be too much ; there can be no doubt we need to cut down on pesticides. However, a series of phrases like 'nobody can say' and 'nobody knows' takes away from the perceived credibility of the study. Don't you think so?
CSE, for those unfamiliar, is the organisation that took up the issue of pesticides in softdrinks, among other things.


Sunday, June 05, 2005

Illayaraja in Symphony and two other things...

a picture for you, originally uploaded by errum.

I have long believed in the Schopenhaurian theory (my paraphrase) that it is only in the contemplation of true art is the self able to rise above itself/its ego.
And today, it was so true.
A sneak preview into the Thiruvasagam in Symphony (Oratorio) by Maestro Illayaraja elevates another dull day spent clearing cobwebs and scrubbing the carpet. Some thirty people were invited by Father Jegath Gasper Raj to listen to two compositions from the Symphony.
One was a rather lengthy piece from the Oratorio, and the other, a composition that is less Classical Western, more to appeal to the common man.
As I listened to the rising and falling cadences of the Oratorio, my eyes closed, i could feel the skin of my hand, the back of my neck break out in goose pimples. Apart from that physical feeling of ecstacy, I hardly was conscious of my self. Schopenhauer?!
I don't know. Maybe it was Illayaraja.

* * *

I'm only doing this because no one is looking at my photoblog. I've got four pics up, representative of the fifteen I cannot possibly post online, from my last trip to Nagapattinam (yes, Bill Clinton) and Cuddalore. Do take a look when you can, unless you are allergic to fish - shoals of fish.

* * *

I now know that my piece on Bloggers Meets will be up in the Sunday Magazine issue dtd. June 12. And thought I should let you know. Thanks a ton for all your inputs, I've been able to quote some of you, but rest assured that I've put in as many thoughts and sentiments as possible into this 900-word piece.

May the Force be with all of us!


Saturday, June 04, 2005


When we are so sure that we live in sanity, wherefore creeps up that monster to grab our balanced, rational selves, tear them up into shreds and stomp over the remains? In the total belief of our dark sanity, the saphire-eyed monster levitates - ne'er too far, ne'er too near the ground.

I have always believed my several selves to be teetering on the brink of insanity. Or is it sanity?


Thursday, June 02, 2005

Just a thought

He was glad his new 20-year-old bride wrapped her arm round his chest as she slept at night; it really felt good. She was reassured as her arm felt his heart thudding in its cavity everynight. After all, you could never tell with someone who is 67.

* * *

Just a thought, converted into a quick tale, a la Ammani. And I'm not the first, she seems to run her swathe through crops of bloggers! :) If you haven't read her yet, follow this link and you will not be sorry.

Besides, its time to get succint. The last few posts have been longer than I would fancy.