Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 - Prayer & Wishes!!

(pix courtesy Google images)
Oh God! As another new year dawns i have a prayer in front of you...

Let there be no 26/11 this year, Let there be no Arushis or Ruchikas or Rajus this year, Let there be no Nitharis, Let there be no opportunistic politics this year, Let there be no corruption this year, Let there be no deaths due to Nature's fury this year, Let there be no sick reality shows this year, Let there be no ice melting on the glaciers this year, Let there be no pollution this year, Let there be education for all kids on earth this year, Let there be more respect for feminity and old age this year.

If not all, atleast the below ones...PLEASE!!!
Bring Love and Peace for humanity. Make people more humane. Give everyone their share of Food, Shelter, Education and Clothes.
As it's said "PRAYERS GO UP, BLESSINGS COMES DOWN", Kindly join me in praying for a better future.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Road to the Valparai-A December road trip-II

As we travelled towards Pollachi all but me and driver were sleeping and I was saying to myself - "Valparai, here we come......."

Travelling through the winding roads of kerala heading towards into tamilnadu, the views were stunning. Series of mountains, coconut palms, flowing rivers, paddy fields all were blowing my mind. we could see so many Kerala buses coming in from Tamilnadu to provide transportation for people from Pollachi to Trissur. On the way we bought some fresh Nendrampazham (a cousin of banana with which chips are made) and sevvazhai (red banana). All along, i was never a fan of these fruits because of a different kind of smell n taste they have. But, to my own surprise this time they were tasting awesome and sweet. I was thinkin probably since we bought in kerala its tasting fresh n natural.
We proceeded towards Tamilnadu and as we entered the state, we could see all the paddy fields dwindling in numbers and the lands were filled with more of coconut palms. Lack of profits or lack of water not sure of the reason. We got down near a roadside tea shop and had a hot cuppa of chai. Nothing tastes like a road side tea during such trips. Everyone woke up and as usual my niece started off her next round of question sessions. Kids, i have to mention have such curiosity to know about almost everything and anything. I was wondering how she observes things and follows it up with so many questions until she gets convinced about the whole topic of discussion. Even sometime i ran out of patience and say "pesamaa vaa, driver uncle-ku otradhu kashtam" (come silently! driver uncle wud find it difficult to drive (if u keep talkin)). Immediately questions would follow, "Why driver uncle would find it difficult? Will he not be able to drive the car? will the car wont work?" I would feel better were the previous set of questions. But all in all it was real fun talking to these kids. After we finished our tea break, we headed towards pollachi, which was never near. As i had mentioned in my prev post the plan was to visit Azhiyar dam and then head towards monkey falls before starting the ghat section to goto valparai. But, our plans went little haywire, thanks to the delay @ Guruvayur and the subsequent waterfall effect we reached Pollachi by around 5pm in the evening. The stretch of road from entering Pollachi and to head to theValparai road was heavily filled with traffic and at one particular spot a bridge was relaid. This meant we have to take a U turna and go in a different direction pretty much retracing our route for over 2-3 kms. Driver was irritated and was cursing himself "If i had known would have turned there it self". After few enquiries along the way to get to the Valparai road we managed to hit the right road and started towards it. As we crossed the Azhiyal dam, the time was already around 6:15pm and the sun had already gone down hence we decided to give it a skip and see it on our way back. As we started the Valparai ghat section we had a superb view of Azhiyar dam from the back side and we didn't wanna miss it and hence got down and took few snaps around that spot.
As we headed further on the Ghat roads, the roads started to wind like a pit viper slithering across a smooth surface. we were all completely silent with everyone busy looking outside the beauty of nature. Then we saw a board "Monkey Falls", the driver stopped there and we got down and went up the rocks for a few feet and then we saw a beautiful small falls falling from a height of 50-60ft from top. In this trip i realized that in Valparai one can see many many such jungle streams falling off the cliffs and present itself as a stunning waterfalls. As we reached the monkey falls we went up and took some snaps and the late evening stopped us from venturing into the falls which was pretty much deserted barring few energetic youg fellaws who were in a state of bliss under the cool waters that gush down from the rocks. With all these happenign around a huge number of monkeys were sitting along as mute spectators. No wonder this falls is named after them as you can see so many of them sitting , jumping and going around with their usual pranks.
After spending some time there we headed further towards the hills. It was already getting darker and darker. All we could see was hazy view of forest on one side and valley on the other side. We started to climb the bends. Valparai is on the top of these Parambikulam Sanctuary and one has to travel over 40 hairpin bends before you can reach this very small mountain hamlet. Our driver seemed very experienced in ghat section, effortlessly he maneuvered the bends one by one as we were fixed with the view of valley and Azhiyar dam below. As we reached the 9th hairpin bend, i was literally shouting at the driver to stop. I have always read that this 9th hairpin bend offers you a fabulous view and as heard we saw the board sign "Loam's view point". I went down with my canon thinking would the light be enough to click some pictures. As i went to the view point i was totally speechless looking at the valeey below. I could think of anything but to keep looking down at Azhiyar dam covered by high mountains and Pollachi town slowly getting lighted up with so many coconut palms. Awesome sight it was. Then all the others joined and i managed a clicks with less lighting.
After 10 minutes of viewing, we started again to venture onto the remaining bends. We were totally awed by the sheer beauty of the route and the forests around. With the skinny crest of the moon on top we were driving around the hairpin bends. the only light was that of the car head lights and the only sound was that of the various insects in the forests making those eerie noise. Nothin can make your mind so blank like a soul stirring Illayaraja's music or Nature's beauty. Finally we managed to get over all of the 40 hairpin bends and reach the top. We stopped at a place called "Rottikadai"(Breadshop) and made a local call to our guide who'd done all arrangement for our stay and sight seeing. In Valparai only BSNL has their lines and no our service provider is available. This meant we had no means of comunication to outside world other than those yellow one-Rs coin telephone boxes which're fixed in almost every roadside shop in Valparai. Our guide "Mr.Jebaraj" asked us to come on the same road towards the town for another 2 km where we'd cross a bridge and then he would meet us there. I started telling the car number but he said "not required will get you folks". We trusted him and went ahead. It was pitch dark barring the head lights, not a life on the road, sounds of various insects or animals i wasnt sure offall over outside. Gave a eerie feeling. Finally we crossed the bridge and then saw a flash light pointing at our vehicle. We got down and there he was our organizer who shook hands and said lets see the accomodation and come. We both went down few steps and entered a house and one more fellow came out of the house. Jebaraj introduced him as the owner of the house which he rents out for home stays. We three went to the first floor and then what i saw was a proper 2 bedroom house with all furnishings. I was told these are their part time income by renting out houses for tourists. Trust me, with the rates that's something for part time business. But, with no proper hotel or accomodation in this reserved forests, national sanctuary hill side it's worth a bargain.
Then we walked back all the way where my parents and sister were waiting with the luggages. As we all moved towards the place with the luggages i coudn't miss that my dad n mom were struggling to get down and up the steps. So i decided to ask Jebaraj if he can arrange something else. As i went to him, he said "tomorrow you all can change to another 2BR portion on the top just near the road it self, this would avoid them walking this long". Probably he had noticed what i noticed too. I asked "Is it available today?" He answered "it's already night and you're not gonna go anywhere now. Moreover again making them walk all over is not a good idea". It made sense to me as well and we all agreed to change the next day. This place was very nice and cozy with all facilities. The organizer then ntroduced our cook for the 2 days and then he said he would send someone as guide to accompany us the next day for sight seeing. I was already getting excited.

When i visited Valparai the previous time almost 7-8 yrs back, it was freezing cold out there. But this time all to my embarrassment it was not so cold at all.My family members were making fun of me as i had urged them to bring all winter clothing stuff with so much of build up. I was trying say to them that probably in the morning we'd feel the cold. As i was trying to convince them with my logic, the cook brought freshly made chappathis with aalu curry and some rice and rasam. We all started to eat like crazy as we were really hungry. Everyone relished the chappathis, the rice and rasam had me and mom only as the takers. Finally once we were done, we all decided to retire. But my niece had other ideas. She came to me and started asking me if we both can play. I was like "no ways" then tried to convince her to goto bed by saying tomorrow have to get up early and goto see places and probably wild animals. Listening to me she got excited and was getting to her questioning best. "What animals?", Where they would be now?, when they'll come? what they would do if they come. Will they come here? and a series of such questions meant i had to literally carry her to my sister and asked her to make her sleep. Probably due to travel and tiredness she obliged too. She went silently to her mom and slept off. We all slept off as well.
Morning was relatively cold. Got up at around 6:30am and woke others up too and once everyone got themselves ready our guide "Shijul" had come along with our cook who had brought us fresh morning coffee. He was suggesting a morning walk along the woods as there is some possibility of spotting wild animals (if lucky even panther). I was little sckeptical and asked him "you mean panther?". "Yeah, yesterday saw a panther cub very nearby" came the reply in a flash. I was thinking its the typical strategy any guide would use to woo the tourists. Nevertheless we all got ready and started the morning walk. There was a small mountain stream nearby the cottage where we stayed and there were a few geese happily fighting and washing themselves in the stream. My niece was so excited and started some rhymes about duck n duckling. For her this was the best wild animal she can imagine. She was pretty much satified about the trip for having seen the geese which she had no chance of seeing in Chennai.
Sun was coming out just then, with cold breeze, other than the sounds emanating from the forest and no other sound whatsoever greeted us. As we walked along the road, Shijul was telling stories about wild sightings and about the unpredictable weather of Valparai, how the forests are conserved here. He was mentioning if someone even kills a snake which enter their house, the forest gaurds are entitled to book a case and send them to jail. One thing about shijul was that he would not end any topic without touching panthers. The reson being the panther sightings have become so so common among the locals of valparai because of the sudden explosion of their population in and around there. He was also mentioning that the steps we took to go to our room was a regular panther trail and after dark people won't come out or venture on the roads. The kids and small domestic animals are strictly house arrested after dark it seems.

One thing that have to be appreciated here is that the locals have pretty much understood that they're the ones who have taken the wild and not the animals when they pay a visit to their homes. The walk was so pleasant in the fresh air, no human noises around just the nature at its bounty. After lived in the pollution when you breathe such fresh air, your lungs find it little difficult to adjust, that's what i felt when i had a funny feeling as i walked and started panting. All of us were enjoying the walk and the wild stories Shijul was elaborating. It was about how the wild elephants can chase people no matter how fast they run, about how the elephants smell rice and dhal's smell being cooked or being stored in the ration shops and come towards it and damage the buildings and enter to eat them. How panthers chase wild dogs to kill them were some of the interesting stories.
We reached a bridge and decided to sit there for a while and turn back towards our cottage. As we sat we could hear the sound of a jungle stream nearby very clearly and Shijul told it was the same stream that flows near the cottage. He said if one wants to take bath there is a slope nearby where some might take bath. I was tempted but didn't press further ahead. On the way back we were able to spot a Malabar giant squirrel. Oh boy! was it cute and furry. These shy animals run away as they hear the faintest of noise. We saw quite few awesome flowers in the wild blossomed with so much different colors. As we neared our cottage, we heard a strange whistling noise, it was a perfect tune. Our guide informed us that it's the Malabar Whistling thrush which stays on top of the high trees and whistle like that. Really i was stunned if a bird can whistle in such a wonderful tune. It was not one of those vague sounds but a perfect rhythmic tunes. We tried hard to find them perched on top of these high trees but couldn't.
After taking bath, we had nice breakfast, idly and pongal. Then by 9:45 we had started off for our sight seeing. Our first spot was Balaji temple which was a privately run temple on one of the numerous estates that make Valparai. As we entered the estates the view was breathtaking. It was like a big green velvette carpet across thousands of acres. There was only 2 colors that were prominent, the green from the land and the blue from the skies. We went through the "Nadumalai" and "Akkamalai" tea estates. Couldn't take our eyes off the windows. At the distance we could see the peaks covered with lush green lawns of the Grass Hills. After 30 odd minutes we reached the Balaji temple. There was a security checkpost and cameras are not allowed and if someone wants to take snaps it needs to be smuggled inside. I failed miserably in this and had to keep the camera inside the vehicle itself. From the security checkpost one has to walk(climb) for close to 1 km on a steep path to reach this magnificient temple. My parents had to struggle but managed confidently. As we reached the temple entrance the sight was stupendous. Temple facing us, tea estates on the left and awesome mountains with variety of colors on the right. The cool winds were pushing us and the sounds of leaves from the trees and a distant waterfall gave a magical experience to all of us.
We stayed there facing the wind for 10 minutes before our guide urged us to move on. So we decided to enter the temple. Outside the entrance of the temple, there was a big lawn with various colored rose plants and other flowering plants gave a colorful welcome to the visitors. The temple was more like a one big hall with granite flooring. In the centre the sanctum of Lord Balaji (ala Lord venkateswara of Tirupathi). To the right of the God, the sanctum of Goddess padmavathi and a passage to go around the sanctums. The walls were fitted with plain glasses so one can have a fantastic view of mountains from inside as well. Outside the main hall, there was a separate shrine for Lord hanuman and then there was a small children's park fitted with various play equipments. All in all the temple was maintained so well. Once finished with the darshan, we came out and wanted to stand for another few minutes on the entrance where the breeze was blowing our minds.
Finally we decided to move on to the next spot. We were able to easily climb down and reached the spot where vehicles were parked.
--To be continued--

Friday, December 25, 2009

"Thulabaram" - A December road trip - I

After a brief hiatus back to posting :-)
(photo courtesy Google images)
A long pending offering "Thulabaram" for my niece at Guruvayur temple paved way for a 3-day trip with my family. The plan was to goto Guruvayur, near Trissur(Kerala) and have darshan of lord Guruvayurappan (Krishna) and also offer the "thulabharam" for my niece and then venture to Valparai and Top Slip near Pollachi. Well, the stage was set to travel for 3 days and after lots of planning and analysis in the internet decided the route plan, booked tickets in tatkal and blocked rooms for stay.

On friday night we took the Nilgiri express from Chennai Central. The train started in time but then was delayed by around 45 minutes to reach North Coimbatore. Upon reaching the station we headed towards the taxi stand and our driver was waiting for us with the Toyota Innova which we had pre-booked. We all got in and started towards Guruvayur (139kms). We started by around 5am in the morning and headed straight towards Palghat(40kms). Upon reaching the border checkpost we paid the permit (300Rs) and entered into the God's own country. Early morning fresh breeze hitting your face and speeding through countryside has always fascinated me, it was no different this time either. After an hour we reached which is famous for the shops that sell fresh n hot banana chips. We had idly n coffee for breakfast and then proceeded further towards Trissur(60kms).
All these days i was thinking that Trissur is in the plains but to my surprise the route had so many small n medium sized mountains filled with greenery everywhere and lots and lots of paddy fields. Also, there were so many coconut groves as far as the eyes can see. Oh boy! Watta sight it was. The route to Trissur was filled with greenery whichever side you see. two things i have to mention here - one, the people in Kerala have adapted themselves to live amidst the nature without harming it too much. Most of the houses you see would be in the middle of so many trees and bushes. They have not destroyed the greenery to develop the structures. Second, the architecture of houses. Though these are small towns, the houses they have built are all aesthetic, architectural beauties. You can see sequence on awesomely designed houses both contemporary and typical keralite style elevations all along the route.
We reached Trissur and headed towards Guruvayur (39kms) and finally reached there by around 8:30am. We had already booked couple of rooms at Gokulam Resorts on the west mada. Guruvayur town is planned in such a way that the temple is at the centre and surrounded by four madas (North, East, South & West) around it and all the other roads start from these four madas. We were literally going in rounds around the temple in search of our hotel. When we reach East nada someone will guide us to South nada and when we are in south nada another person would drive us to north. for almost 30 minutes we were trying in vain to get to west nada. Our driver was getting restless and finally we managed to call the hotel folks and get a landmark (Chavakadu road junction) and got to our hotel.
The hotel Gokulam Resorts, was clean and cozy. We got ourselves refreshed and then started towards the temple. In guruvayur, only hindus are allowed inside the temple premises. Gents have to wear only Dhothi and only towel (or angavasthiram) to cover the body. Ladies are allowed only with Sarees. This means a strict no no to even salwar suits & Chudis, leave alone the jeans, long skirts and other modern trendy fashion stuffs. In a way it looks so fresh and divine when you see everyone in dhothis and sarees. Since, it was sabari mala season we had expected some crowd in the temple, but what we saw there was beyond our imagination. As we entered the temple there was a ladies queue which serpented for a long distance. With the typical middle class mentality, we thought it was the common darshan and of course we'd be going in special darshan. We went to offer thulabaram for my niece and stood in the line. For people who don't know about thulabaram, it's a practice to offer God various items varying from rice to bananas to ghee to even money or gold on one plate of the balance equivalent to the weight of the person who is offering. While my sister, mom and niece stood in the line, me, my father and my brother in law waited near the window and were looking at other people offering various items equivalent to their weight sitting on one side of the huge balance. When my niece's turn came, she sat in one side happily and on the other side we had offered bananas. Here, we do not have to carry any item, they have everything there and all they do is calculate the weight and keep the items accordingly on the other plate and they collect the money for that. Finally after spending 30 odd minutes we were done with the offering.
By this time we had enquired a bit about special darshans and to our horror we were said there are no special darshan concept its all common. One side we were little disappointed but on second thoughts i felt its justified to have darshan of the lord this way by going one among the thousands without any differentiation. Then, we suggested my sister and mom to stand in the ladies queue and we all went to the other common queue. At around 10:30 am we stood in the line which was running to almost a kilometre outside the temple. We were told that between 11:30 and 12:30 there was some puja and hence the darshan would be stopped during this time. Hence, we were little worried that we should be able to finish the darshan before 11:30. Initially it moved real fast and we thought we'd finish the darshan in an hour. But then by around 11, we were stuck couple of rows before entering the temple premises and the clock started ticking and touched 11:30am. There we were stuck for the next 1 hour outside the temple.
During this wait, i was admiring the temple itself, built with lots of first class burma teak wood in the typical and exemplory kera architectural style. The roof was made of pure copper designed like terracota tiles. The wooden balconies and mural paintings on the walls all gave a real magical touch to the temple. Unfortunately no electronic gadgets, cameras, mobiles allowed and hence couldn't capture it all.
(photo courtesy google images)
Finally by around 12:15 the queue started moving again and we managed to entr the temple premises and made to wait there again for another 15min. By around 12:35 the sanctum santorum opened for public and we started to move in the queue and managed to have a wonderful darshan of Lord Guruvayurappa(Krishna) by around 12:40pm. The God was small(as he shoud be 'coz Krishna here is supposed to be a baby) and was covered with sandalwood paste. When we came out it was 12:45pm. I was thinking for this 10 min darshan we had to stand for almost 3hrs but all worthy enough.
We stright went to Ramakrishna lunch home, just outside the temple finished our lunch and then bought fresh banana chips and few other items and got back to hotel. Originally our plan was to head straight from Guruvayur to Valparai(200kms) en route the Chalakudi-Athirapally falls through one of the dense rain forests in India. Trust me, if there are any top 5 must travel routes in India, this would find place in that list anyday anytime. But, since the darshan at guruvayur was delayed we would not be able to take the route and see Athirapally waterfalls on the way and then reach valparai all before dark. This particular road has this dense rain forest(reserved forest) and hence not safe after dark with all wild animals prowling so casually. The forest rangers close the checkpost after 6pm. Finally, we decided to goto pollachi (121kms) and then visit Aliyar dam and monkey falls on the way to Valparai. Our next pit stop was Pollachi, and the route was realtively on the plains with lots of mountains, couconut groves and paddy fields on both sides. The paddy fields all along the route with the tall mountains covered by clouds in the background was an awesome treat for eyes. No wonder they call this region as the "rice bowl" of kerala.
As we travelled towards Pollachi all but me and driver were sleeping and I was saying to myself - "Valparai, here we come......."
--To be continued--

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Here i rise again....

Horrible weekend. sometimes you end up thinking how's it possible? The more you try, the more it goes awry and you can't stop trying now after all this struggle as well. Not sure, where the problem lies. Every time we go to what's seemingly the last hurdle but ending up falling down to see a huge set of hurdles lined up in front of you. And, there you go crossing one by one all over again. I am kind of tired, wanting all this to end, end for good, good for everyone around.

Mom was sick, TV went kaput, was raining non stop, expected things didn't progress an inch all these meant another weekend to be killed just like that and managed to do the same. I am not the kind who feels low for long, sends negative vibes around and crib with a dull frame of mind, but here i am doing all of these. This makes me even more angry on myself and trust me i am trying my best to be the way i used to be. Probably getting older ;-) getting towards the middle age crisis not sure.

As a silver lining to the dark gloomy skies, there were few good things, spent time with my niece, chatted with my very good friend after a long time and bought a new TV (Panasonic Tau) for my mom to watch those serials. And, morning mom got up feeling much better, more to my relief. the best thing about life is every morning you wake up with a fresh start, fresh belief , a fresh resolve to face the challenges, to rise above it all and make the day, month, year, life count. And, that's exactly what i am trying too.

So Life, here i am rising one more time, to face all the challenges you throw at me. This time as well will do everything to win over you and get what i deserve from you. You can't hold me down for long, for i keep rising like the phoenix from the ashes. In fact i am no Phoenix but rather i am ME! so better get yourself prepared more or ready to give me my dues.
(image courtesy: google images)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Something and anything to write...

Ahoy there! It's been sometime since I posted something worthwhile. So, am back from a relatively lengthy hiatus. Over the last few days, I got an opportunity to read a recent novel by a renowned author. So far the story is relatively entertaining as it's about the love and subsequent marriage of a couple well to be more specific a Tamilian girl and a Punjabi boy. Well, the book says it's his story (not sure of the authenticity though). No! No! I am not going to give a review or tell the story in a nut shell, but instead wanted to write down about certain things which didn't go well with me.

The story starts with the couple's meeting in the most prestigious B-School and slowly depicts the sequence of events that bring them closer to each other. Within the first few pages itself the main protagonists fall for each other and they make out in hostel rooms, start living together and passing notes about yearning for physical proximity etc. I never had problems of reading such stuff, mostly thanks to our Indian movies which has progressed by leaps and bounds as far as such intimate scenes are concerned. But, the thing that stood out odd for me was the fact that the writer proclaims that he wants to become a famous writer, even though he is from 2 prestigious institution (one the #1 in technical stream and the other the #1 in business stream) and the reason he quotes for that is to become famous and also to do "something good".
I haven't read this novel completely, but have read his previous novel which also had decent share of making out with his girl friend in the professor's place. Whilst I understand that these things do happen with nowadays youth and he has not exaggerated but then he could have avoided mentioning so blatantly as if he justifies it's all correct and the society has to come to terms with it. I feel this definitely depicts the youth in a bad taste and in some sense even misguides the readers that you can do anything as long as you're serious about the relationship. One good thing is that he never describes these in detail. That's something for "doing something good as a writer". I felt the author could have just avoided mentioning about the intimate part but also understand the book has to sell...

To me it was so odd more for the fact that all through his books I find a subtle superiority complex from the male protagonist that he is from prestigious institution and he always has a opinion on everything which pretty much he thinks is the right thought. Also, in this particular story he writes about his girl (later his wife) as the very outward, modern girl yet sensitive and emotional about her needs and comforts. She doesn't think twice before asking for Non veg food (though she is from so called purest of purest veg caste as claimed by her) and asks for beer, smoke and of course pre marital sex. While the guy, though has all flaws like any average guy is portrayed as sensible, understanding, very frank yet dignified types. One classic example is about him telling the female protagonist about his craving to kiss her when they study in her room, and then the girl also develops a liking and kisses him.
Definitely my intention is not about saying the author has no taste or quality in his writing, in fact I am enjoying this novel for the humour in it and the way he has narrated nice and smooth. Even his previous works are really good ones. And, yes I like all his works. This is just a blister on an otherwise impeccable face. Probably it's just me thinking this way, whatever I thought... I would speak my mind here...
And, on a totally different note the fact that prestigious institution allowing guys in girl's hostel or girl's into guy's hostel is something which I would definitely not agree as a normal thing. I wish the management takes a re-look into such rules. This is not after reading the story but certain personal experiences and worries I have come across from my friends circle.

Well, blame it on my age or south Indian conservatism or even so called tamilian thanmanam (my version of Marathi Manoos). Honestly, none of these are the reason, just wanted to bring something that came to my mind. Your thoughts are welcome and this is just my opinion may not be the popular one :-)

(image courtesy: Google images)

Updated on 14 Nov
I completed the story and i liked it so much. I am more convinced on my statement that it would have been a sure shot bestseller even without those masala stuff as well. Nevertheless, good one. Kudos to the Author. :-)

Friday, November 06, 2009

We salute thee - SACHIN

It's been some time since i updated the blog, blame it on the deluge of happenings. Positive developments, travel, tensions, troubles, fun both in personal and professional front keepin me real busy to post anything.

(image courtesy -

But, that didn't stop me from putting this small post(tribute) to this GODs of GODs!!


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Festival of Lights..


Sunday, September 06, 2009

Bessi beach 'n Broken bridge...

For a long time i wanted to get up early (means real early) and venture out to beach and breathe some fresh air and watch the sun rise in Chennai. Also, have heard so much about the broken bridge in Besant Nagar and wanted to hit it. After couple of false starts over the last 1 month, today me and my cousin(yeah! yeah! the same newly married cousin. His wife has gone to her home for a week.So, he obliged to join) decided to hit the road. I had kept alarm sharp @ 4:30am and never had a clue if it rung.
My cousin being a sincere guy (thanks to his wedding, he has been well domesticated) woke me up around 5. We both got ready and started in his bike by around 5:30am. The almost full moon was still wandering on the west, slowly trying to hide itself giving way to the more majestic partner - the Sun. We had a tea in a roadside tea shop near besant nagar on the MG road. Once we hit the beach, i was surprised to see the sheer number of people sleeping in the open beach under the roof of sky. Do cops allow this?? not sure...

As we walked to the waters, i was shocked to see the "Schmidt memorial" a.k.a Karate statue (raised in the memory of dutch sailor Karl Schmidt) in such a dilapidated condition. More so one citizen was in fact attending his nature's call right on it. Being a chennaiite i was so pained to see this but couldn't do anything. Then clicked few snaps and walked to the waters.It's always a pleasure to see the sea and waves with the blue sky as background. The sky was pink as in a artist's canvas and the waves were hitting the shores as if it's filtering the white foam from the bluish green water. Fishermen started off on their catamarans for the first catch of the day(tough work they have). Started clicking few snaps of the sun rise, though i was totally disappointed not to see the big red ball of fire floating in the horizon.

Early morning in the beach is always a fresh feeling, with joggers, kids in their roller skates, guys playin cricket, frisbee, kabbadi, young fellas working out in the bars, old folks sitting and exercising...oh boy...whatta feeling...

Then my cousin started getting little restless and hence we started towards the broken bridge. Broken bridge was a small stretch of bridge built long back connect the fishing hamlet of Adayar and Foreshore Estate. A part of which was supposed to have washed away by monsoon and the tidal waves couple of decades back. Now the bridge stands as-is as a mute spectator of the passed by time. It's definitely a photographer's paradise. But the low point being the "kuppam"(slum settlement) that comes between the Besant Nagar beach and this particular spot. Also, little lonely and not so safe place for anyone after dark or before dawn. Once, there is light it's a pretty safe place with people movement around.

The high rise buildings on the MRC nagar, Theosophical society, Aamir Mahal (palace of the Nawab of Arcot) and the slum tenements in the background with the Adyar river merging with bay of bengal gives an ample clicking opportunity. The place was so nice far from the mad city noise, all you hear is the sound of waves hitting the beach and few birds(crows inclusive)...

I was happy that i finally saw this place in Chennai, worth visiting.

Find some of the pics clicked today...

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Life imprisonment...

Kumar was angry, his eyes were red, couldn't control his anger. Tears were falling instantaneously, he was biting his lips so hard that a streak of blood started coming...He could not believe what he was seeing right in front of his eyes. how could she, was all the love fake, why me. He was feeling so ashamed of himself....his mind was lingering with the sequence of events in the last few years..

Few years back....
Kumar was working in the factory that had recently come up in his village. The factory was a boon for many youngsters like him that it gave the much needed employment opportunity, with the rains failed and agriculture stopped. He was a nice young fellow with lot of dreams in his mind. Everyday when he goes to the factory he used to see Ranjini working in the village medical centre. Ranjani, having studied till 10th standard was working as a helper to the village doctor in the medical centre. She used to come out to the verandah everyday when Kumar crosses. Kumar and Ranjani used to exchange few glances on each other with a shy smile. This went on for quite sometime until one day Kumar mustered all his guts and followed her in his cycle while she was going home. In a turn, he saw no one around and it was dark as well, he went near her and told "Ranjani..Do you like me..I like you very much." She didn't answer but gave a smile and ran away. From that day their love grew slowly but steadily. They used to meet near the sugarcane fields and the old well and talk to each other.

Kumar was not angry, a sense of calm prevailed in him. His eyes were dry, he was very composed but once a while he wetted his lips that was dry. He was sittin inside and looking at the doorstep.His mind was filled with all the thoughts of the years so far...

When his friend Suresh hinted him this, he got angry with him and slapped him. He thought Suresh was jealous of him. But, deep inside he was slightly shaken, but still he could not take it as truth since he loved Ranjani so much...But, today when he is seeing it right in front of his eyes...He hurriedly kept his hands on his waist checking something...

Few years back...
After few months of this hide and seek romance, Kumar and Ranjani decided to marry and their parents agreed too and they both got married. Kumar was a happy man, his dreams of having a small family with a cute little daughter whom he would educate well to make a doctor was goin in the right track. Their simple life was going on like a dream itself. When Ranjani was crying in labour and everyone were saying it'd be a boy. Kumar was restless that the baby should be a girl child, and when the baby's cry was heard someone was talking far away that it's a girl. Kumar held Ranjini's hands and told "i know..that you know me so well and give me a daughter"

Kumar got up and started walking across the room slowly, his age was catching up with him. He gave a look around, the room was shabby, things scattered everywhere, cow webs and dust covered all the corners. He saw the almirah and went closer to it and opened and saw the bundle of money one more time. He slowly touched his waist to check something...

He jumped right on front of them with Ranjani and Dharma shocked totally. Kumar was crying, looked at Ranjani he was feeling totally let down. Dharma was casual, Ranjani started "Forgive us. you know that off late our relationship has have no time for me always playing with our kid or do overtime in factory to earn more and more. You do not take care of me like before, i feel i was used only to give a daughter as it was your dream and nothing else. You never cared for me. But, Dharma takes care of me understand my problems..that's why..leave us we'd go somewhere and live a new life..." Hearing this Kumar felt so embarrased and had an aversion on himself as if he was nothing but shit covered by flies...His tears were getting more and more and anger got into head took the wrinch from his waist and went towards Ranjani.

Few months back...
Kumar started to live for his daughter, he used to take up part time work, work overtime in factory, do everything to get money and save for her daughter. Meanwhile Ranjani started to feel neglected, she used to cry to her neighbor Rani telling he saves money for kids studies, doesn't seems to understand her or even spend time with her. She understans his emotions but she wants him to understand that she needs support too...They used to have petty fights which would end up big. But then Kumar deep inside loved her so much that he would pacify her and continue with work...

As the door opened and he saw Ranjani and her daughter enter. Ranjani was startled to se Kumar but managed to gain compsure and aksed "did you eat something". Kumar walked near Ranjani and her daughter took the screwdriver from his waist and....

Looking at Ranjani's face he simply could not hurt her, he immediately jumped on Dharma and hit his head with the wrinch and amidst the shouting of Ranjani, the crying of baby, Dharma was kicking his legs while taking his last breath. blodd was all over the floor..Ranjani fainted...Kumar walked slowly towards police station....

Few hours back...
Kumar had his own doubts off late about what Suresh said about his wife Ranjani and the guy working with her in themedical centre. He was in love with ranjani somuch that he could not imagine her with someone else. Bt then decided to check himself and went to the medical centre. He was told that Ranjani and Dharma went in cycle towards the old well near sugarcane field. Kumar followed them their and saw the most aweful sight he had ever seen.

Kumar saw Ranjani and her daughter with the screw driver in his hands, he thought is this the lady i loved so much till yesterday. He had no emotions this time around..Stabbed hard on her neck, then the daughter's stomach...saw them both falling in the floor with a pool of blood and slowly started walking towards the police station.

The court convicted him of murder and sentenced him with a life term. Kumar closed his face with hands and sobbed...with everyone around him talking "His wife slept with someone and he killed tht guy". Hearing these words, his aversion on himsef started to grow without bounds". He felt more like a garbage and started to have nausea.

Few years later...
After spending almost a decade and half in the jail, Kumar was released on the grounds of good character. Over the years he became a very silent man, talking to no one except Ramu who he befriended in the jail during his tenure. Kumar would do his work, eat his food, talk only to Ramu and go to his cell and sleep. This was the routine he followed for all these years.
When Kumar came out and went straight to his village, he saw the village had changed a lot. Ponds had become even drier and small huts in them. He manged to find some old folks and enquired about Ranjani and his daughter. He was told Ranjani was thrown out of the village and his daughter had been sent with his old parents who moved out of the village as well. Kumar roamed aorund the nearby villages for sometime and somehow managed to find Ranjani's whereabouts. He went to meet her in her. Ranjani was in a different town and she had a small lone hut for her just outside the village near the forest. Kumar walked across and knocked the door, that was opened by a young girl in her teens. "Who is it.." Ranjani came asking and was stunned to see Kumar. they both were fixed on each other for sometime as they could see both had grey hairs, wrinkles on both their faces and time had completely taken their youth. After, sometime they both started to discuss about the life and their daughter. Ranjani cried and said she delivered another girl child and that's when the village threw her out of the village and took their daughter and handed over to his parents. She continued that she went around nearby villages and the next few years she had become a easy prey for local bigwigs in the pretext that she had cheated her husband. They use to throw money with which she could feed herself and her kid. She could not end her life as she did not want to see her daughter die left alone and she could not kill her too. She accepted this life as her fate and continued to live on and now that she have become old no one is behind her and she is struggling to make ends meet. Kumar asked about his daughter, all he got as reply was "She must be happy somewhere and i never searched for her". Kumar felt shattered for a moment, Ranjani said "What else i can expect from life for my injustice to you..Hope you have forgiven me even though my sins are unpardonable". He held her hands assuringly and gave her some money that he had earned in the jail. The next few weeks he used to frequent her and talk with her make her feel better, get dresses for her daughter while continued to search for his own daughter.

The court convicted him of preplanned murder and gave him death penalty. He went back to the same prison from where he was released couple of months ago. Ramu was still there and was in tears to see Kumar back. Ramu asked Kumar, "So you kept all the vengence in your mind went searching her after all these years just to kill her and her poor daughter." Kumar was silent. He drank a glass of water and went to his cell and lied down. Few days went by like this and Ramu could not bear this silence, he pulled Kumar one day and slapped him on the face and was asking "tell me could have killed her then itself atleast you could have been spared with one life sentence". Kumar slowly started..."because i still loved her then....". "Now..what happened???" Ramu asked in a stunned tone..."Nothing, i killed them because of the same love...". Ramu could not comprehend what kumar was talking...

Kumar continued and started narrating - after i found them and met them, i was searching for my own daughter. At the same time i could understand what Ranjani had gone through in her life for one mistake of hers, along with her the girl whose father was killed by her mom's husband. He felt very sorry and guilty on seeing her daughter. Couple of days back he went to her place near the forest, he heard Ranjani talking with some landlord about her daughter. The landlord was bargaining with Ranjani for her daughter. He was shocked. Landlord promised her that he would take care of them and write 5 acres of land on their name. Ranjani agreed and promised to bring her daughter to him the next day. Kumar felt thatthe ground was shaking below his legs..he walked to her and asked her what was it all about. Ranjani answered "What else i could money to eat one meal..everywhere i carry a label of a whore..every man wants a piece of my daughter for no mistake of hers". Before Kumar could say anything, Her daughter intervened, "Who are you to ask these..she is no more your wife..I only asked her to do this.It's better to do this and live peacefully in one corner instead of rotting with such names and tortures by everyone.

Kumar silently got up and walked out...he could not digest whatever be the resoning behind it. Next morning, he decided to put an end to everyone's suffering in the world like this. He did not want Ranjani's dughter to suffer the same fate as Ranjani after few years. He took a small screw driver hid in his waist and walked towards their house...

After few weeks...
The date of hanging Kumar finally came. Kumar was not scare or worried. He knew in his mind that this was the best end possible for all the years of suffering. His only regret in life was his dream of making his daughter a doctor. He could not even see her once after that fateful night. Whenever he thinks of this his eyes would be in spate..tears would never stop. But he would remain composed, just the tears would not stop. Today, Ramu was the only soul who waas felling for him ans crying. He smiled at his own fate....That's when the jail warden opened the cell and took him for medical check up. Kumar entered the room of the warden where the doctor was waiting to do medical checkup for Kumar. Kumar came forward and sat down on the chair.

"Renuka, please go and check the pulse and temperature on the patient", Doctor instructed to the young girl who was with her. The Doctor continued, "Sorry Inspector", forgot to tell you...she is Renuka, medical student. We sometimes bring our students like this for practical demonstration.

While Doctor was speaking, Renuka went and held Kumar's hands to check the pulse...Kumar started to feel uneasy for the first time about his end. He looked at Renuka and wanted to tell something but kept quiet silently watching her..

"Ok Kumar, what's your last wish..." Inspector asked him...

"Can you call me appa once? My daughter would be like you only..." - Kumar requested to Renuka without looking at anyone....tears running down his cheeks...Renuka was indeed Kumar's daughter

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Madurai, Marriage and Meenakshi...

Last weekend had to travel to Madurai for attending cousin's wedding. Started by Pandian Express on friday night. The coach was filled with quite a few relatives of mine, two thirds of whom were senior citizens. That meant lot of musical chair for the lower berth and being the youth (appa youth nu prove pannitom) had to take upper berth. Since the coupe was full of senior citizens had to retire early. Morning got off at madurai by around 8:15am, thanks to the train for running late by over 2 hrs. Had to make sure everyone alighted with all their luggages, especially my perimma who has a problem with her foot that she doesnt have the strength in it to rest it on floor and walk on her own. She has a splint attached to one of her foot and walks with the help of the walker.

Cousin came with the car and van to pick us all up. Went straight to the wedding hall where rooms were arranged for all of us. We straight hit the dining hall and had a wonderful breakfast and then set out to the room settled and got ourselves ready. We wanted to venture out to Pillayarpatti and Thirukoshtiyur but then the train delay spoilt it, so we had to stay put. All we could do was chat, eat, chat, eat...till the evening when the nichyadhartham and jaanavasam started. For the first time for a tamil brahmin wedding i saw band and elephant arranged for the jaanavasam. While returning from the temple on the road we all performed a proper kuthu dance for the band tunes. That night i was made watchman for all the patti's (what a luck) in the wedding hall and hence had to sleep in a room on the jamakaalam(carpet) and a fan @ 25RPH(rotation per hour). To add to the woes, had severe headache as well due to indigestion (pinna ippadi kaanadhadha kanda maadhiri thinna).

At 4am the samayal fellows(cooks) came knocking the doors "Maama coffee ready...Maaami coffee ready". Seriously a special note on these samayal fellows is a must. First thing i noticed, was that they were going around serving the breakfast without shirts asking "innoru vada podata? Dosai podata??". I was like "Modhala poi oru sattaya podu". When we went for lunch "Presto..." everyone were in uniforms. I was thinking probably they heard me. Then all of the 2 days they kept coming around asking "Tiffin saptaacha??", "Coffee ready", "Lunch sapada vanga" reminding me of some Vijay movie where a couple of guys keep coming and asking "Tiffin saaptacha na??" "Coffee saaptachanaa??"

Then finally was forced to get up @ around 5:15am with severe headache and had to take a tablet with the first coffee. Then got ready for the muhurtham. In tamil brahmin wedding's we have so many rituals, and once upon the thali(mangalsutra) was and my cousin with his wife set out to Pazhamudirsolai and Azagar Koil. We had booked for a cab and we started off discussing about Annan Anja nenjan and his latest stint as cabinet minister and the effects(ill-effects) on the temple town of Madurai and nearby. Cab driver (guess he follows a different party ;-)) had lotsa stories to share. My cousin being newly married was goin gaga on everything to his newly wedded wife...I was little scared to look at him thinkin will i become like this after marriage..but then consoled myself saying.."no ways, you're practical man"(seri seri vera enna panradhu...). When we reached azagar koil, we decided to head straight uphill to pazamudirsolai (sixth abode of Lord Muruga). Had a very good dharshan(Rs.100 special darshan) and was watching all the monkey's doing their pranks. Trust me the monkeys here have the adocity to come to people and snatch everything they had in their hands..more like highway robbers.It kinda reminded me about politician from that area. From there we came down to see Kallazagar on the foot hills and had a good darshan there as well. Coming out of the temple had the famous "Mapilai vinayagar soda" (panneer soda). Then came back to Wedding hall. Had sumptuous lunch and slept for sometime before heading to Meenakshi temple.

Trip to Madurai without a visit to Meenakshi temple is unimaginable. My perimma wanted to visit too and she was requesting us to take her. So, me and my cousin took the responsibility of taking her safely to the temple and back. We set out in a car to meenakshi temple,got down near mela maasi veedhi where they have the battery operated carts for elders and physically challenged folks. But the cars, autos were stopped at the end of a street meaning we have to walk almost 400 metres with my perimma(she cannot walk without walker). Then i asked my cousin to stay with her walked and explained the battery cart operator paid the ticket amount(yes they charge Rs5 for 60+ and Rs10 for others) and got the vehicle to the place where she was standing. We reached the entrance that takes us straight to portamarai tank(tank with golden lotus) by around 3:15pm. There was a large queue waiting for the temple door to open @ 4pm. We explained a security cop and made her sit in the front and went and picked up a wheel chair. Once the temple opened we took her in the wheel chair and got special dharshan tickets(100Rs) and had a wonderful close darshan of Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareshwar. The walk along the corridors to get to the sanctum sanctorum had so many humps (on the entrances) which meant perimma had to get down everytime there is a hump and walk with her walker and then again sit on the wheel chair. Thankfully the temple staff helped us to go straight to Sanctum sanctorum.We were able to save atleast couple of hours since there was huge crowd waiting in the queue. Here, i really have to appreciate the efforts temple authorities have put up. Be it the battery operated car, the facilities, or the way they help physically challenged. It would be even more great if the temple has ramps for physically challenged that way they dont have to get down from the wheel chairs everytime a hump comes. Overall the service was awesome.

Meenakshi temple always has the aura surrounding it with all those special feeling and energy you get when you see those 4 temple towers and the tank and the goddess in particular with her Green stone nose ring. Thanks to her she obliged to give us a darshan (coz my mom couldn't as the temple wa closed for some mishap the next day when she went. Poor her, she is still cribbing). She was wearing a awesome pink saree with her nose ring glittering and the hazy picture of her holding a parrot in the dark sanctum lit only with oil lamps. Felt so so humble at that moment.

We returned back to attend reception and catch the return train to chennai that night. The return journey was irritating. First i was given a side lower berth right at the entrace of the coach, so i got excellent ammonia fragrance for free and to add to my woes, a security policeman coolly sat near my legs on my berth and started serious chatting with couple of cops. I kicked him 3-4 times (of course with a sorry, ellam oru bayam dhan) thinkin he would get up and move, but he was upto the challenge, accepting my apology with a graceful smile everytime. I had to resign to my fate and manage to catch some half sleep and came back home.

So my weekend trip ended with paprika colored eyes and full tiredness out of the sleepless travel.

Some pics from my trip...
The train i traveled....
Sun rise...

Mundhi mundhi vinayaganae...
Entrance to meenakshi temple...
Azhagar koil....

I am a proud


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