Monday, February 21, 2011

One cannot always tell what it is that keeps us shut in, confines us, seems to bury us, but still one feels certain barriers, certain gates, certain walls. Is all this imagination, fantasy? I do not think so. And then one asks: My God! Is it for long, is it for ever, is it for eternity? Do you know what frees one from this captivity? It is very deep serious affection. Being friends, being brothers, love, that is what opens the prison by supreme power, by some magic force.

- Vincent van Gogh

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The sweetest lullaby...

In my attempt to expose my little one to Indian music as early as possible, I started playing him some of my favorite songs recently. He really took to most of the songs I played for him, but nothing compares to this one classic piece that I play every single time to put him to bed. This song must definitely be the most popular Malayalam lullaby ever. Every Mallu person I know must've had this song sung to them by their mothers early on in life. And boy! Was I glad that I re-discovered this one for my little one.

And upon some further investigation about the history of this song, I was super surprised to find that this was not a regular 'movie song', but a poem written by Irayimman Thampi, a gifted composer for a very special baby - Rama Varma, also known as Maharaja Swathi Thirunal, one of the greatest rulers, and a patron of art and music in Kerala. And it comes as no surprise that Neel is fast asleep by the time the song ends, as it is supposedly sung in a raaga that induces sleep, with lyrics that rings true in every mothers heart...

Listen to a rendition of "Omanathinkal kidavo" here

Is he the darling baby of the moon?
Is he a very pretty lotus flower?
Is he the honey filled inside the flower?
Is he the soothing light of the full moon?
Is he the newly formed coral reef?
Is he prattling of the parrots?
Is he the slowly moving peacock?
Is he the sweet song by the Nightingale?
Is he a jumping baby of the deer?
Is he the swan which shines?
Is he the treasure given by God?
Is he the parrot held by Parvathy?


Thursday, July 30, 2009


I finally did it. I finished reading Shantaram. This was the first time I took months to complete a book. Considering that it's generally not in my nature to take too long to finish a book, I thought it needs a special mention.

In my view, Shantaram is a very unique book. If you've ever lived in Bombay, or even spent some time there you will absolutely love it. I think that's kind of why I really liked the book. I've always loved the maddening crowds, food joints, shopping, and most of all, the old world charm that the city has. The book really revolves around the lives of a variety of people from slum dwellers to the famous Bombay underworld. Absolutely love it. Of course, the main dude of the book - Linbaba. Heard Johnny Depp is playing him in the movie version. Major drool factor. Will watch it, first day, first show ;)

Friday, November 14, 2008

My tryst with a mountain of gold

[Had this in my this post back almost a year... Nov 2008]

Ok, I'm back after a long time! A lovely vacation done, back to office. But being back in office has just made me even more nostalgic about my trip to the Himalayas. Yes! Sikkim it is! Cannot begin to describe it. Have been gushing over it ever since I came back. Kalpana and Ruksha must be quite sick of it right now. But I just felt like describing the heaven that I've been to!

Our first day in Sikkim. Our arduous drive from Siliguri to Pelling, in West Sikkim. The place you go and end up belonging in the foot of the Himalayas. Yes, an arduous 6 hour drive through rough terrain, ghats, and numerous hair pin curves.

We covered a bend, and then it happened. Amongst a very many green mountains of the Himalayas, three magnificent peaks of snow soaring majestically above us. It seemed like she was saying, here look at me...I'm the Kanchanjunga! At sunset, the sky looked perfect, pink and orange. My heart skipped a beat. My stomach did a complete 360 degree somersault. I grabbed Kannan's hand and pointed. Unable to utter a word. It was perfect. He looked at me, smiled. We looked at the peaks. Hoped that we would be able to see it from our resort.

We didn't have to wish too hard. Remember, all this while, I have this first image of the Kanchanjunga frozen in my head. I'm worried that I might not be able to see it from my resort. We go into our room. I'm super happy. Our room has a french window that opens up to the ranges. Kannan says, hold on, and he opens the door. We step out. It's the most beautiful sight I've ever seen in my life! Beautiful mountains, but no, what stands out? Again, there she is. The majestic Kanchanjunga, the third highest peak in the world. Just a few centimeters short of the second. But who cares. All I knew was that I was there. Amidst pure beauty. I needed nothing more.

Sikkim was much more than that. But that sight is something I will never forget in my life. The sun rising over her. The four out of the five peaks turning into pure gold. We woke up at 4 in the morning just to see it. Was worth every moment of my life. Tears poured down my face, ended up 'singing' the Sound of Music, but those two days, I will never forget in my lifetime. I would recommend everyone to go see her. At least once.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Indian Witch-Hunt

I watched a show on Saturday on The National Geographic Channel called The Indian Witch-Hunt. It is a 3 year old film, won some awards in 2005.

The one-hour documentary is based on the state of Jharkand. To be precise, the largely prevalent witch-hunting rituals of the state. The film unravels how innocent women are accused of being witches and ill-treated beyond imagination. The story focuses on one such incident. A young man beheads his aunt because he believes she cast the 'evil eye' on his father and 2 older brothers which caused their deaths. After beheading her with a blade, he carries her head to the local police station where he tells the Inspector that his aunt was a witch. All of this is captured on tape by the local news channel, and included in this documentary. The young man's last surviving brother lauds him because he believes his life is now saved.

The journalist in this film, Sohaila Kapoor investigates further. She meets many such 'witches.' All of them have been ill-treated and have run away to other villages to save their own lives. Their children cry, because they can't lead normal lives.

The film also shows a forbidden world of Tantra. One such Tantric, and his three female disciples are showcased. The crew is allowed to film a secret ritual on a full-moon night inside a graveyard -a ritual believed to invoke in them the powers of the Demon-Goddess (also called Dayan). It begins with mantras being chanted. Then two of them get into a trance and believe that they have been possessed by the Goddess. The Goddess who is demanding blood. So, blood they give! The Tantric bites off the heads of a goat, a chicken, and a pig. And let them lie there, bleeding. Offerings to the Goddess. They reach the heights of their hypnotic state and end it with a final carnal act.

The film goes back to the investigation of why the young man believed that his aunt was possessed. How did his father and two brothers die? A little bit of research shows that all three of them suffered from severe tuberculosis. Instead of getting treated in a hospital, they went to witch-doctors.

Witch Doctors! Can you believe that this country still has witch doctors? For all the intellectual and technological advancements we've made, in some parts of India we still live in the Dark Ages. The film shows educated men and women consulting witch-doctors. Does that make any sense at all? I was horrified to see all this. Horrified to see how inhumanly the so-called 'witches' were treated. Have we lost our capability to be human? Are we so caught up in our closed, dark, narrow-minded lives that we don't see other human beings as human? It's no surprise that all these victims are Dalits or 'lower class' women. Also no surprise that in each of these cases someone has made a nice fat profit. Doesn't the law see this?

Talking about the law, did you know that Bihar was the first state to implement the Anti-Witch Hunting law in 1999? Then followed Jharkand, Chattisgarh, and Rajasthan. Over 500 people have been arrested so far for as much as branding someone a witch. I'm glad we have at least taken one small step against this practice, but I'm sure a lot more has to be done. Proper education could be one of the main ways to tackle this menace.

This practice has been prevalent in other parts of the world too. In medieval times. Not any more. Or at least that's what I've learned. Then what's wrong with our country? Is it excessive oppression? The great caste divide? Or just corruption and selfishness? Whatever it is, it is a shame for all of us who live in this country.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I absolutely cannot get over my latest trip. I visited a place called Kodachadri. It's about 500 kms from Bangalore. The place is 100% untouched by commercialism. An absolute pleasure to visit. They say the best time to go trekking is after the monsoons. But I disagree. I think the best time to go trekking is during the monsoons! The sudden showers, the slippery rocks, the very scary landslides, all of them just add to the adventure. And oh, not to mention the creepy, crawlies! Since I didn't do a complete trek as I didn't have enough time, I'm definitely going back. And if anyone wants to join, you're more than welcome. Just drop me a line!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Testing out mobile blogging. It's quite cool actually!
Sent from Gmail for mobile |