Posted in Miscellaneous

Wandering Spirit

Stilted buildings and unclenched vision. The cars are moving in both directions of the stationary roads. There is a solitary man ambling across a bridge that connects one monotonous commercial building with another. The trees are waving as much as they can, grateful to the gentle breeze that is caressing them. Some of them can’t wave at all – the bark heavy types. But those who can, seem gleeful. The birds that came out today are glad they did. Restful and larkingly vigilant, some of the birds are clearly aimless as they fly from one window to another – to vainly peck on glass panes. The air could have been cleaner and less smoggy. Else, I could see the mountain through the window. I see a couple floating in a swimming pool, far away, as it seems to me, having their share of fun in the sun. There are more cars now on one side of the road. Telephones ringing and people sneezing. There are people who laugh as if they have just learned how to laugh. I know, they can’t laugh and sneeze at the same time. Popcorn is in the microwave oven and the crusty odor that emanates from the kernels, slowly spreads through the flimsy cubicle walls and within seconds, it fills the entire air above me with the crispiness of its raw unruffled skin and its swollen puffiness.

Someone needs someone else’s help. And so we all do. There is always someone who needs someone else’s help at any given point of time. If you freeze the time, at that moment – at that frozen moment, I am positive there are thousands and thousands of us who are in the middle of helping others.

The chillness in the air can never be felt today. Not till it is late in the evening. For I am bound indoors till the warmth and nicety of the daylight is robbed for the serene splendor of what the moon and stars can bring at night. Hence, my rambunctious spirit wanders through the spectrum of this moment that passes in front of me and is trying to make some sense out of it. Or does it not?

Posted in Cricket

Marble Tops and Gully Cricket

This wistful post owes a lot to two recent Tamil movies I watched. One was “Chennai 600028” and the other one was “Veyil“.

Back in those days, when I grew up in a semi-urban part of a deep south Tamil Nadu town, Tirunelveli was famous for many things. For the drawling tamil, the purity of its water, for giving birth to many arts and masters, halwa, temples and in general, for deep-rooted casteism. The part of town where my grand parents settled down, the houses were built in late 19th century – so they were at least 90 years old when I was ready to go to school.
The frivolity, the cheekiness and the carefree life of a jolly good fellow like me when I was just old enough to step out of the house, after school, to play on my own without adult supervision, is simply unforgettable. I certainly do not have stories of tomfoolery to share but for my introverted childhood, there were a few good memories and few good lasting ones.

The parapet wall which served as the railing to the outer staircase as well as the dividing border wall between our house and the neighborhood compound of houses was where I spent most of my evenings. I probably would spend hours watching neighborhood kids play marble, top and gillidanda. My mom never allowed me to join those kids – not that they were bad kids but certainly didn’t come from acceptable families. Well, acceptable here depends on one’s moral distinction – but in hindsight, I am thankful to my mom for being harsh on me. Anyways, I watched the kids play, cuss and be the ‘rowdys’ in my own neighborhood – but for some reason, I was able to separate the games they played from the acts they indulged in.

I had my own collection of marbles – 100s of them. But I didn’t have anyone to play with – My brother was four years too young at that time, so I played on my own. Sometimes, marbles were used for wall-cricket, a form of cricket popularized by me. Every summer, I would go buy brand new tops – watch the kids spin them with such swiftness that I would practice on my own only to pat my own back.

Cricket was one game that those kids never played and I was into it from when I was six. There were variations of the typical gully cricket that we have played and I have prodigious memories of the kind of hustles and hassles we had to go through to play cricket. When I watched Chennai 600028, I was reminded of them for sure.

Venkat Prabhu deserves a big pat on his back for pulling out an ace from his sleeve with a simple trick. An ensemble cast, all new, is never easy to manage. “Pattaya kelappiteenga Venkat“!

Veyil – the parched land, the dry topography and the ‘veyil‘ were all well captured in the movie..even though the dramatics were a little too much at sometimes. More than anything else, I was impressed with the authenticity of the setting which was used as a backdrop – the accent, the town, the side cast, etc. Cannes worthy or not, it is for the jury to decide.

Things you grow up with – they do linger in your mind…forever.

Posted in On such things...

On Political Nepotism and such things…

One of the most scandalous pages of Indian political history has just been written, although the outcome of it hardly pierced the ears and hearts of the common man. The metamorphosis of a political party that has thrived on its core reformist ideals, much deviated from the mainstream political ideals in its formative years and much deplored then, now and forever, for inculcating hindi hatred and for infusing regional passion, into another hero worshipping party that no more stands for ideals & philosophies but rather for power and nepotism, is a shame.

There were not many choices when I grew up, to politically tune my ears to. The eloquence with which M Karunanidhi would carry home his propaganda was a very good recipe for an adolescent looking for diversions from his daily mundane stuff. All I was interested was Politics and the way people could get carried away in a hypnotic manner every time there was an election, was & is still fascinating to me. For me MGR was a magic politician who knew how to touch the right nerve of the utterly unexposed public. But Karunanidhi was a literary figure who got into politics for his own principles and eventually took over the leadership in a more traditional corporate hierarchical way. In the process he did learn a trick or two about touching the right nerve of the same utterly unexposed public but since he was not a natural, he just didn’t do it consistently. But the experience pushed him forward and so did his administrative skills.

Many political pundits, notwithstanding their tormented annoyance over the DMK party and the way Dravidian parties in general have unfavorably dominated the Tamil Nadu political scene, will vouch for MK’s senile acumen & his sheer willpower to withstand all kinds of ruffles and his ability to iron them out diplomatically. The party’s fulcrum in the post-Anna era is him and only him. It has been in the reckoning and presumably everyone is foreseeing the end of MK’s era soon. So what next for DMK? Personally, I think the party should just dissolve into fragments. There should be no more DMK and no future leader should campaign for votes with MK’s picture in the backdrop nor should they try to carry on a party with an outdated propaganda and ideology that do not fit the 21st century. But we all know that this is not going to happen.

Rewind to 1996: In one of the most dramatic elections since the advent of satellite television in India, DMK thumped Jayalalitha’s party to give MK a clear majority to rule the state for yet another term. But one of the main reasons for the election turning out to be so dramatic was the fact that it was a combination of many factors that excited the voter’s pulse at that time. DMK’s alliance with the breakaway Congress party TMC, the prevailing anti-incumbent sentiment, growing discernment towards the authoritarian style of governance by JJ, her megalomaniacal acquisitions of power, property and people, Rajnikanth’s tirade against JJ and most importantly SUN TV that made these factors all the more accessible to everyone’s living room and all the more affecting, to everyone’s soul, by lynching on to a powerful vehicle that only the Maran’s family at that time thought of investing in. Yes. A golden investment it was…Simply by being the first one to do it – (well, not exactly simply), Kalanidhi Maran became a pioneer, no matter what, for being the visionary of this kind.

The connection between the Marans and DMK go a long way back from what I know. Murasoli Maran was a permanent fixture in Delhi political scene, being the low and sole voice of his beloved leader and uncle. He carried the burden of being a true Dravidian politician locally, as well as being a suave union commerce (or Industries at times) minister, dealing with international dignitaries, both at the same time. I think he did his job fairly well earning reputation among his colleagues as a no-non-sense politician. He was not a great stage orator but was a good communicator. He was well read and that shows in the way his sons were brought up. So, when Kalanidhi Maran took on the role of being a media visionary & an entrepreneur, he too did fairly well and was quite successful in making SUN TV the biggest network in South India.

Contrary to the popular belief that SUN TV needed DMK when it was launched, I believe it has always been the other way – DMK needed a media mouthpiece and what better way to do it than to do it through SUN TV? After 1996, it got to a point, majority market share notwithstanding, the network became a direct hotline for anything and everything the DMK leadership wanted to convey to the Tamil Nadu people. So much so, that Jaya TV had to get really aggressive, albeit a little late, to do the same thing for ADMK. For me, that was end of truly enjoy watching SUN TV.

Fast Forward to 2007: What happens to DMK after MK? If there is one political blunder that MK can never be forgiven of, it is his hypocrisy on family politics. For those of you still wondering, well….I am really no longer the boring adolescent falling for eloquent charisma and political gains….I earnestly believe, that the Dravidian parties have had their share of fortune at least 15 years too long. We should have brought in a messiah from the political third world. But no one could. None did.

Azhagiri or Stalin? This is the question that has been looming large in the minds of many party cadets for almost a decade now. It would have been a lot easier if MK had been a true leader and not a hypocritical one – he would have simply pushed Azhagiri to the corner or away from the limelight or even to the prison, for the last thing the state wants is a publicly confessed “Thug” to be in power. At least, Stalin gets the benefit of closer scrutiny to take over the mantle, because of his gradual growth along the party rungs.

In the aftermath of Murasoli Maran’s death, the party needed someone to fill his shoes in the center. That’s how Dayanidhi Maran came into politics. The 2005 elections saw Dayanidhi being elevated to the podium along with Stalin in all major DMK shows. He was his grand uncle’s right hand, supporting hand, the party’s voice in Delhi and arguably the most powerful minister in the cabinet from south India. To many trade pundits’ pleasant surprise, he was simply doing a fantastic job as the new IT&Telecom minister. He was a little biased in some of the FDI he brought in, as some claim…because he brought more for TN. But then, which minister isn’t? Isn’t that how our whole cabinet is formed? At least a representative from each state that is ruled by a party that is either in alliance with the party in power at the center or supports is, to take care of the state? Everyone was bemused my Dayanidhi’s sometimes abrasive style, as he is not your typical Dravidian politician. He, to me was the DMK politician that the party needed for the twenty first century. He doesn’t so much represent the old ideology of DMK but is modern, young and aggressive. Yet, a member of the DMK clan.

It was in this background that Dinakaran, a powerful DMK print media ally, currently owned by the SUN Network group, decided to publish a survey (For crying out loud… it is any newspaper’s prerogative to publish what it wants – Freedom of speech is very much part of the Independent constitution of India). So what if 70% of the state public thinks that Stalin is the heir apparent to MK? What happened at the Dinakaran office in Madurai is unquestionably unpardonable and yet, the government decided to shift the focus on to someone and something else. The 3 individuals who were murdered on May 3 have become forgotten history already and the party switched to a blame-game mode.

I guess the general resentment over Dayanidhi Maran’s growth and the grudge the Azhagiris and the Stalins had on Dayanidhi came to the fore last week. It all ended when the handicapped prime minister, who is otherwise intelligent, acted upon MK’s wish to accept Dayanidhi’s resignation. So, a fairy tale story of Dayanidhi leading the country’s IT&Telecom sector quite successfully ended rather abruptly due to family politics.

And it is a shameful scandal that no politician should be proud to be part of.

As always, in politics, nothing else matters – other than the larger interests of the politicians.

As always, hypocrisy works even when it comes to making your family fight public.

Amidst all, Dayanidhi may never be able to take over DMK leadership. A scandalous loss to the party.

****You can read my other “such things” posts here****


Baby names



Posted in Humor - General

San this and San that…

“Take the San Bernardino highway and you drive about 10 miles…At Exit 67B, watch out for San Dominion Blvd and go south – don’t get on the San Domingo ramp!!…After about 0.7 miles, you should make a left at the Santa Clara Road intersection. And to your right, after about 2 miles you should see the majestic San Juan Motel…”

Fortunately I didn’t have to ask anyone to get the above directions. But had I for whatever ‘saintly’ reasons, then I am sure the probability of a conundrum such as the above being thrown at me is much more than being hit with a ham ball in a competitive religious prank sporting event.

As much fascinating it may sound and look to a California fresher, I think it is just too religious for a liberal state like California!