Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The F-word.


Define feminist.

Are you comfortable being called one? Do you wear the label on your sleeve? Is it something you shy away from, or is it something you proclaim you are because it sounds like a nice classification to fall into?

Does being a feminist mean being self-sufficient to a flaw, anti-male and anti-prettythingslikeLVandjimmychoo?

Does being outspoken automatically 'make' you a feminist, or does being a homemaker take away from you being one?

Do you hasten to clarify to people that you're more 'individualist' than feminist, whether/not they ask? Is the term too stifling a cubbyhole for your gender, or do you not want to think of yourself in terms of one at all?


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ten heads are better than one.

What if Tataki had proved to be too strong for Rama?

What if somebody had broken the Shiva Dhanush before Rama?

What if Kaushalya had been the one to ride Dasharatha to safety in the battle against Samhasura?

What if Shoorpanakha had chosen not to see Rama at Panchavati?

What if Ravana had failed to convince Maricha to do his golden deer gig?

What if, WHAT if Sita hadn’t strayed from the Lakshman Rekha?

Ravana would have been known to us only as the multifaceted, Veena-playing Shiva Bhakta that he was, albeit with a roving eye, and not the unfortunate archetype of all things evil.

And we would be able to see Raavanan [(2010), Vikram, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Prithviraj] for the great movie it is.

Why are epics untouchable? Why are we so willing to typecast emotions and qualities when it comes to mythology when we're only too ready to discuss divergence in a person's nature when we're reading Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance?

Okay, Raavanan was NOT perfect, (spoiler alert) a) its silly that Ragini can find Veera's lair with her kajal looking perfect, when it takes Dev 14 days and a literal pull from Veera himself to. b) Dev might be a great cop, but smelt the rat in his department and busted him way too soon than would be superhumanly possible. But it had some solid acting, out-of-the-world visuals, and a pretty impressive story outline. It took me two watches to get to this conclusion, but anyone who isn't expecting to see the Ramayana TV serial etched out on screen would arrive at the same. (Ok, I generalize to make a point, sue me.)

Watch. Enjoy :).

Saturday, June 5, 2010

His Dark Materials.

Am I mad? Em ay dee? Am I dreaming?
Is this for real?
What is real?
Even dreams are convincing enough when they play out. Marvel at dreams, at the brain taking it upon itself to fill in all those details you would never put in if you were awake and making up a story.
Is there just one world, that spends its time dreaming of other other worlds?
What would you give to know your innermost nature, to know why all those atoms in you chose to align themselves the way they did? What would you give to know see yourself, know yourself for what and why you ARE, the way you know fire burns and compassion is good?
Thinking is hard, but I cling on steadfastly.

I have
been a
in a strange


PS- People import their blogs TO facebook, with me its the other way around. I have been doing a fair bit of writing, just not on the blog. Which shouldn't be the case. Samples of '09 below.


She went about in her own silent way, touching all of our lives, skimming in and out of the big picture. She hated to be called for or recognized in public, even if it was to tell her the kolam looked incredible that day, or that the puli saadham she'd made for the temple was out-of-the-world delicious.

Losing your mother that early in life has an effect on you, she'd said, in one of her rare talkative moods. Its hard to impose yourself on people when you don't know what it feels like to be truly wanted by somebody. And then she'd clammed up, flustered at her implication that her early life was anything but perfect. Of course, she wouldn't hear anything against her father, him with the wide brow and the big turban. Him with the unfair eye, who regarded her as a devil-child, who would let her use only the brass vessels at home. Who got her married off as soon as people spoke of her monstrous musical talent.

Even years later, one would catch her humming to herself in the old kitchen, and then stopping abruptly, casting furtive glances at the yard, wondering if her father's spirit had heard and disapproved. But past her fluidity and evident concern for 'periyavaaloda' opinion lay a great diffidence for criticism, one that helped her raise a child found abandoned outside her doorstep, that helped her stand her ground and refuse when her 'well-wishers' spoke of getting her husband remarried to supposedly dispel his Irish curse.

Self-sufficient was she, so much that she insisted on rubbing turmeric on her own feet on the day of her wedding, squirming as her arthritic mother-in-law did it as keeping with tradition, wheezing and coughing. She'd squirmed in a different way altogether when her husband touched her toe, as he slipped her metti and looked up at her, like she actually mattered. Which was why, to her, regardless of her ignorance of the ideal of love and eternal bonds, he was the only one, impotence and the drinking habit and all.

The day she found Aarabi, or rather, the day Aarabi found her was something she'd never tire of talking about, except when her mother-in-law was around. Her love for music had finally found an outlet in her daughter, whom she said was born 'of her heart'. Aarabi started singing at the age of 4, in such adherence to Carnatic style that it was enough to stop anyone in their tracks.

I remember the day I saw her first, sitting backstage at one of Aarabi's concerts. Firstly, my eyes were riveted on Aarabi, and thank the good lord, her soaring, divine voice gave me ample, legitimate reason to stare at her so. As (underpaid, overworked) Cultural Correspondent of a prominent newspaper, it was none of my cheek to wonder angrily at how the mother of such a lovely catch had allowed her to be paraded in full view of public view like this, how she had allowed all and sundry to be witness to such purity, but I did so all the same.

And then I saw her. Eyes closed, fingers tapping against the impeccable folds of her brown nine-yard, drowning in the music like nothing else mattered. Until that moment, I knew nothing but Aarabi's main piece of the evening, in Hamsanandhi. The raw power of the composition, her versatile voice thriving on the Kakali Nishada, effortlessly jumping down to the Prati Madhyama. Hitting the higher swaras with ease and having her way with the lower ones too. Above all, the presence of her voice and sheer command over everyone present. The way she'd almost tease the accompanists with her intricate neravals, daring them to toy with the raaga as she did. The way she possessively caressed every note, with a kind of flamboyant arrogance, the kind that came only with true, unquestionable love.

But the minute I saw her mother, I felt as though every musical vibe in the hall emanated from her, as though she was why the song existed, as though she was one with the song. Hamsanandi, with its ups-and-downs and resplendence cloaked behind simplicity, was her. She was Hamsanandi.

One very happy married life with Aarabi behind me (a complicated story, I shall leave it for another day, but it has a most satisfactory ending), I knew my initial gut feeling about my wife's mother(/best friend/mentor) was true. She was a star in every way, braving the colds that came with her every rain-dance, the scratches that came with her every game of hopscotch. She would flit in and out of our lives, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, but she would always remain.

This piece comes right after Aarabi's first concert post her mother's demise. I have never discussed with her how Hamsanandi was synonymous with her mother to me, but if Aarabi's (coincidental?) main piece today was any indication, I have proof that my wife and me share more than just a bedroom. Today, Aarabi's Hamsanandi was repressed, dignified, melancholic, strong. Very much like her mother herself.
Sundar, good job as usual, but I don't think a write-up about your mother-in-law will help us much. A dispassionate review of your wife's concert, if you will. Also, everyone at the paper knows you were paid an obscenely low salary 20 years ago, stop mentioning it in every article. - Ed.

-April 9, 2010.

Old 55s.

He passed the Gateway of India, distracted, repenting all those years of pain he’d inflicted on his wife. Repenting his drunken violence towards his kids.

He entered the Taj Mahal hotel, set for a meeting, and vowed to reform himself.

He glanced at the calender. As of 26th November ’08, he thought, he would be a changed man.

He coughed uncontrollably, and looked at the note his daughter left him the previous month.

“Daddy, plese stop smoking if you lov me. Promis?”

His eyes welled up as he reread it, after his wife left him, daughter in tow.

Seeking solace, he fished out a cigarette from his pocket and took a long drag.
They couldn’t stop staring. She had always been the cynosure of all eyes. She had everything, they said.

At the party, everyone complimented her on her diamonds, her lovely sari. Gifts from her husband, she said.

Later that night, she looked at her watch. And wondered if her husband’s boyfriend had left their house yet.

-November 8, 2009.

Because I should stop posting stuff I write as Facbook notes..

Littul Joybundle.

Funny. Smart. Unfairly adorable. HOT. Mine.

Wakes up early to talk to me. Recharges phone (sometimes, after a lot of grumbling). Promises to eat my cooking. Adorably whiny when I'm not sufficiently talkative. Intuitive enough to make up for a million clueless guys. Splits the bill. Listens. Loves. Is honest. Is verbal about feelings. Thinks about future, a lot. Freaks out for the smallest of things. Takes offence for the smallest of things. Melts at the smallest of things. Thinks this is it. Is feel-good, in every possible way. Supportive. Confused. Seeks my opinion. Claims to feel better on talking to me. Reads and recommends books. Is aware of good cinema. Says cheesy things randomly, and means them. Makes effort to learn my mother tongue. Braves public transport for my company. Loves long goodbyes, and won't have it any other way. Secure. Makes everything seem funny. Cheers up. Isn't afraid of showing feelings. Gets irked with unnecessary bursts of temper. Keeps me grounded. Loves. Is loved. :-*

Has my heart. Can either break it/keep it safe.

Risky, but its a risk I'm willing to take.

Its worth it. :)



-December 6, 2009.