Saturday, September 27, 2008

Music in my soul

When songs define our moments, they become a piece of our life. I love music and I listen without reservation to everything -most time anyways :) You hear something and it clicks your head..recalls that perfect moment when that boy kissed you..when you were young and headbanged at the Malhar social to Bryyan :D

There are no disc(h)ords here for sure. Lyrics can be maddening, el stupido or profound as you want to make it. The moment sometimes chooses the song for you ...everything else in the universe also falls into shape.

I have been tired and exhausted for a week since my event happened on 22nd and 23rd. I have been listening to music non-stop for the past 2-3 hours and everything feels right with my world. :)

"And I'll do anything you ever
Dreamed to be complete
Little pieces of the nothing that fall"
- Goo Goo Dolls - Slide

I wrote this piece and it was really strange. Someone sent me Metallica's latest song, Unforgiven III and I swear I heard this line (how can i be lost if i got nowhere to go)-and it made me feel what I had written was being mirrored across the universe.

'Across The Universe' btw has a brilliant soundtrack. I am planning to gift Jerry at work this album. He likes the Beatles a lot and I think he will like this different yet similar version of them for sure.

Have you see this? The song redefines so many things....makes me want to watch the movie...which I am told by this flo is a chapter by chapter rendition of the book. Would be interesting to see for sure.

Beck plays right now with such wonderful sister's studying behind me..she says my typing makes noise - whose to define noise or music? Hard metal fans will attest to this - one man's poison, another's food?

If you don't listen to music you are a fool or worse. It makes me dance, weep and allows me to forget the world outside. Emotions are as real as the music I listen to listen to the beat, let the rhythm take you and drown yourself in it. I know I do.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Day 10 - The small stop at Bangalore

Another day’s journey. Early morning start. Was at Coimbatore Junction an hour before the train was due to start. Was supposed to reach Bangalore at 3.00 pm but got delayed and reached only around 4.00-4.30 pm. More conversations – this time with a flo called Varun. He was 2nd generation Kutchchi based in Coimbatore, speaks Tamil fluently and was in the textile bizness. We talked generally and I did English conversation one on one after a long time.

Got down at Bangalore and went to Garuda Mall. Huge ass mall near M G Road, Bangalore. Had to buy Jockeys here. Went to the Swarovski outlet in search of my elusive starfish earrings and ended up buying a book at the Corner Book Shop – which I am told is a franchise all across Bangalore.

Met L here – first time I did face to face meeting with her. She is a dear friend’s friend and we got introduced when we spammed the dear friend over email at some point. We did kapi at Brio which was good fun. She was regaling me with her travel stories in Rajasthan – good fun eet was.

Met Best Phraind after this. We went to this nice steak joint called ‘The Only Place’ on Museum Road. Did nice conversation, ate khana and drank diabetically sweet mint tea. He dropped me off at the station and we bid goodbye as the train left the platform.

Sitting in the uppermost berth and writing. The new dawn brings in Hampi and company from Bumbai.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Journeys into the unknown

Road to Nowhere, originally uploaded by Sir Simon Milligan.

The bridge of life- ups n downs.
We still journey wanting to get on the train
To reach our destination.
The train seems to be rushing to the end of the journey.
Sights n smells r heightened.
Onrush of adrenaline.
The next stop -nowhere.
The road to nowhere leads me to become a mistress of a nothing place.

I enter a realm of beauty
Undiscovered, pristine
Wondrous my eyes look around
Until chastened I look away

I am not meant to see
Not meant to hear
Not meant to know
My memories- they are not mine

I leave without looking behind
Risking it all
The exit never seemed so far away...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Day 9 - Travel to Bangalore

Started my journey at 7.00 am from Ayikudy. Got the bus for Madurai and continued journey. Oh one conversation with a nice kid called Malini. I was very short with her because of yesterday’s incidents still playing in my mind but when she got off the bus, she waved bye etal. Told me her parents would not let her travel to Madurai without an escort and here I was travelling alone. Was I scared she asked. I said why should be one scared but I consider myself lucky and blessed touch wood that no untoward incidents have happened.

Went to Thirumangalam and got a change to Aryapalayam. From there got another bus to Coimbatore. Uneventful journey except for that dirty, ghastly, horrendous loo at the halt!! In Coimbatore with relatives who ask a zillion questions including the proverbial one about shaadi. I should remember to warn my mother about what I said re that :)

My cousins have grown up – they are between the ages of 10-16 and I think the next time I see them they will probably be in college or something. But still loverly to see them and am also secretly glad it is only a night’s stay.

Harish, the lil one is Malavika, Adi & Gayatri

Snoozums now. Bangalore awaits. I am going to cross the border and travel to a state I have never been before. Yaaay!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Day 8 - Still at Ayikudy

Have had a very strange angst filled day. Started at 7.00 am with someone banging on the door and informing me that one the founders of the organization wanted to meet me. Got ready and did meeting. My father has been interacting with this gentleman since 1985 which is hell of a long way back and it was good to meet him.

Meeting finished, I went to his house in Ayikudy. Met some kids who get tuition from a Trust his wife runs. One of the kids, Vignesh spoke in his best English. He told me he intends to become the President of India someday. He reminded me of the original V so much :D

We then left for an ‘Anjaneya’ temple nearby. It was in a beautiful setting – surrounded by green fields. The priest said that the temple was from the time of the Ramayana. Now I don’t know about that but it certainly looked old. The gentleman I was with had some work at a local wedding. Outside of the wedding I saw this signboard

Too much I thought it was. The father of the groom/bride insisted on buying us some local Coca-Cola – Aishwarya it was called and it tasted like crap. I did give up after a few sips.

We then came back for lunch. At around 4 pm we were supposed to go see some local scenery. The gentleman (blech, what an overstatement!) whose car it was and who was taking us got us late – I don’t know deliberately or what but it happened. Everyone who knows me knows how much I lurrrveee waiting!

I ended up waiting for an hour because he had ‘work’ at precisely the same time we were supposed to leave. Anyways, we left after waiting for what seemed an inordinate amount of time. I saw some magnificent scenery – the Courtallam Mountains are not to be messed with. We went to this area- Five Falls – people were literally taking a bath in their normal clothes. Totally Indian thing to do but still weird to look at :)

We then went to the Aum Pranava Ashram located at the Five Falls Bypass Road in Ilanji. This is a lovely place owned by a Mr Vishwanathan and his Austrian wife Traude. Both devotees of Sai Baba, they have established an orphanage and an old age home here. The backdrop for this place is the Courtallam Mountains and the kids are cuteness incarnated.

Kaushalya papa

Unfortunately the founders were away in Austria and so I didn’t get a chance to talk to them. I am going to be contributing here – sponsor a child scheme exists and I think the kids are so well mannered and cuteness that one should do one’s bit.

We then went to the Kumaraswamy Temple nearby. Lovely old temple and the elephant at the gate blessed me. I giggled when this happened like a school kid (something that I realised RG did too at Hampi) It’s a funee feeling when the elephant’s trunk touches your head :)

We then went to the Tenkasi Kasivishwanathan kovil. Lovely complex and I barely got 10-15 minutes in here. Here my irritation and annoyance sort of boiled over except I had no one to yell at regarding this! First the gentleman who kept me waiting and waiting said something to the effect that typically I would need 45 minutes to a hour at the temple but unfortunately I would get 15 minutes only. I got so pissed off at this and was dying to say, ‘Whose fault is that????’ Then the blooming lady guard at the temple conducted like a thorough search of my bag like I was a freaking terrorist whilst at the same time interrogating my antecedents. I am soooo fed up of reciting my life story and if I have to say amma is from Salem and appa is from Palaghat one more effing time, I am going to throw a goddamn fit!

As you can see, I am thoroughly annoyed by the evening’s happenings. Anyways saw the temple as thoroughly as I could in the time given to me and made my way back to the car. There was also incessant chatter throughout the evening in the backseat. People were incapable of shutting up for 5 minutes! I mean there wasn’t one moment’s silence…bloody blech it was. I felt totally sick at the end of the day and I mean that literally!

Had dinner and then headed off to the main quarters to do some much needed ironing. Did strange conversation with a girl there- wanted to know if she looked good in her sari, if I was lying to her when I said she looked good, if I wore a sari – explained why it was impractical for me to do so in Bumbai and she called me ‘jolly’. I reckon that ‘jolly’ is the wonly propah English word that has somehow survived in Tam usage. ‘Jolly aa irkai’ – have heard tht refrain so much! :D

I am done here – I think love affair is over, not with the place but the strangeness of the people and am about ready to move on. Coimbatore and relatives await…

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Day 7 - Madurai - Ayikudy

The windmill she blows

Purple haze

Peach coloured clouds

The silhouettes of trees

Ayikudy 19:06 pm

I started my day very differently in a noisy metro called Madurai. Woke up by 5ish and by 6 am had reached the gates of the Madurai Meenakshi kovil. A few people about on the streets and of course due to the nature of my outfit – tee and jeans – conversations.

Today’s conversation was with a bloke guarding the Western entrance of the kovil. He was with the Madurai Police Bomb Detection Squad deputed at the temple and very zealously doing his job. We did at least a five minute conversation with me of course talking about my whole life right from my antecedents to my current job profile. He called himself my brother. This was with context that I have a sister. I was thoda astounded at this but said theek. I mean if a bloke wants to call himself my brother, by all means do. So having finished conversation with my ‘brother’ I proceeded to the kovil.

Meenakshi ammal glowed like a beacon in her inner sanctum. I perambulated twice – once for myself and another time for family and friends. I loved the peaceful atmosphere in the temple at that time. Niceness that was. Got a bit lost – the temple complex being so huge.

Sat for a bit at the Lake of the Golden Lotus. Took some fotus of the temple stealthily on account of the fact that I didn’t particularly feel like paying 50 bucks to the temple authorities to take snaps. Walked around the outer temple complex. Met another policeman type who took me through the hall where Meenakshi ammal normally gets married. Saw a wooden ceiling which according the cop, was about 3000-4000 thousand years old.

Left the temple complex, grabbed some brekkie and left Madurai for Tenkasi. Took 4 and half hours to get there. More conversations about me travelling alone followed.

One of the amazing places I saw today was Srivilliputtur. First I saw this

then I saw a

followed by

I am in the hinterlands of Tamil Nadu and have realised most towns have a sizable Muslim and Christian population to warrant a church and a mosque and the standard cemetery that I kept seeing outside of towns by the wayside.

Reached Amar Seva Sangam at around 1.30 pm in the afty. It’s a sprawling campus on 13 acres. Run by two wonderful gentlemen who are doing a lot for the cause of the disabled child.

My father has been contributing to this organization for the past two decades now and everyone is thrilled to bits that I have come here. I have been told that I should get my father here and that is certainly something that I am going to strive to achieve.

As I was writing I was overhearing this conversation between two other gentlemen who were staying with me. One says, ‘We should get rid of our ego to work in a place like this.’ The other says, ‘Play the politics game to work in a place like this.’ I am unsure of how things work here but I feel that this place exists is enough for me. They are doing commendable work here which needs to be continued with help and support.

I got taken for a walk around the campus by the PRO chappie. I had tears in my eyes because there is stuff going on here that I am not going to do anything about except make a standard contribution (I decided against doing this as I found something else to make a contribution which I have outlined here) Its difficult being here. I am an able bodied person and I think I am an ultra sensitive that people are different and not able to cope as I can in my own world.

But there is work being done and one must do one’s bit to help out as much as possible.

I am listening to the strains of Tamil Christian(s) singing at the church nearby. The voices carry across the distances and there is complete darkness all around me. A strong breeze has been blowing since afternoon and it will carry on through the night. The two gentlemen are reading their newspapers and there is a quiet only broken by the breeze and the chatter of the insects.

Day 6 - Salem

I landed in Salem today, the land of my mother's ancestors...

Have had a supra long day today. In Tam land, they use the word supra a lot. Like in Ayikudy, I got told, ‘Your Tamil is supra’. I highly doubt that and I told the kind gurl who told me so :)

I got up at 4ish in the morning. My cab arrived at 4.30 and I was out of Auroville headed towards Pondi bus station. I got the Salem bus and had to change once again to get another bus to Salem. Something to do apparently with 30 minute stopovers.

My journey to Salem took me about 6 hours. Salem – the reasons for going there are very simple. My mom stayed there in an area called Swarnapuri about 40-50 years back. She had told me the address of the place and a school next to it as a landmark. So I went without the name of the building or the street – just my mom’s memories to hold me by. People were extremely kind and helpful. They asked me if I was a Brahmin. Total henh from my point of view but presumably logical from theirs!

We i.e. rick man (who later fleeced me) and I went up and down this particular street. I spoke and gave old history to a couple of people living there. Finally we went to the house designated C-55. The people there run a granite business and they really tried to help me.

Finally after much ado and probably causing some amount of neighbourhood gossip, I left the area. In the meantime my sister messaged me to let me know that the street name is Kalaimagal. The rick man informed me that we had been on the same street. So this story had a happy ending where I actually ended up going to the right house by pure chance. Unfortunately I didn’t take a photograph of my house but it felt darn good :)

Post book shopping where I bought a humungous fat-ass chutya book called the ‘The Plot’ (which I left behind in Hampi btw coz it was so boooooring) by Irving Wallace for 135 bucks, I went towards Laxmi – the eating joint that the bookshop owner recommended. I had nice khana there around 12 pm – my first meal of the day.

The best part here is that I am 5 minutes into eating my food when the waiter returns:

Waiter: ‘Which country you from?’

Me: Hhahahahaahahhahahhahahahahaha (in my head)

Then in my best Tamil that I could potentially manage I said

Me: ‘Naan Bumbai lende vandirken’ (Me’s from Bumbai).

Him: ‘Teri toh!’ (sort of anyways) :D

Got the bus for Madurai post this. Madurai, well I think the Goddess had a plan for me :) I wasn’t supposed to be in Madurai at all, supposed to take a bus to Tenkasi from here directly. I however ended up seeing a Tam movie, spectacular skies and rains.

Yep, I have already been witness to the first unseasonal rains of the season. Also did two conversations – one with a paati (old lady) from Mulund (Bumbai never seems to have left me) who at the end said, ‘Kalyanam aa galaya?’ which is supposedly the be all of our lives! I replied in the negative to my married status.

Another convo with this chick in her twenties who at the end of her convo said, ‘Palakkam irkai?’ referring to the fact that I was planning to stay alone in a hotel in an obviously unknown city.

So yeah basically, my plan to go Tenkasi got busted by the rains today. I am doing an impromptu night stay at Madurai. This means I get to the see the goddess tomorrow as I wanted to earlier. Have done dinner and will do snoozums in a bit. Early rise and shine again tomorrow.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Nature v/s development

Panchgani was a 3 day getaway from civilization in Bumbai and forget the routine of our humdrum lives. It was all that and fact it shocked me.

It has been 2 years since I went back there. It has become more commercialized in that time. But the saddest case was this photograph. You see the top half - that is the plateau. The red bits are school grounds. The school has gradually taken over a public space eroding it. We have actually been rock climbing along the side there.

A close up
This is a close up of the area. Right below the tree where the rocks are is where we did random rubbish the first time I had come to Panchgani...I think, rather I fear that in the next two years, this will slowly disappear too and when I return to Panchgani the next time around, there will be no lone tree waiting for me at the end of the plateau.

I had the opportunity to visit Van Vadi, 2 hours away from Mumbai near Neral sometime back. Van Vadi is absolutely gorgeous, green as anything I have seen. It is owned by Bharat along with a group of other people and bought almost 30 odd years back. We played in the stream alongside, listened to Bharat playing the flute and ate organic food. One of the most lovely experiences I have had. We stayed for a whole day there catching the bus back to Neral in the evening and then a train back towards Mumbai.

But that ugly word 'development' of the developers, part of a Delhi consortium who have bought pieces of land around Van Vadi came to chat with Bharat that evening. He said to him, 'If I can and if you allow me to, I will make a Navi Mumbai here'. He wanted to construct 6 lane highways in this place which is served by dirt tracks internally.

I ads for these holiday homes at Karjat in the newspapers daily where they show posh Mediterranena type bungalows with swimming pools. I am thinking to myself, its in the bloddy middle of the hills, why the heck do we need swimming pools? This developer bloke he wants to put a swimming pool in the middle of Van Vadi as well. There is no blooming water in the land for him to get the water for this pool. The stream and the wells they have dug provide the water for people living on Van Vadi and our chap want to build a blooming swimming pool.

As we left, Bharat and the developer were still arguing about the development planned for Van Vadi...
Van Vadi