Posted in Poem, Thamizh (தமிழ்)

காற்றும் கவியும்

இனியும் ஏது தோல்வியே
கவியும் தூது போவதேன்

காற்றே 
சொல்லும்
வெறுமைகளா
பொறுமைகளா
நினைவே 
வெல்லும்
வறுமைகளா
வறுமைகளா

இதையத்தைத் தொட்டுத் தொட்டு நீங்கும்
மரணத்தை விட்டு விட்டுச் செல்லும்
கனிமொழியாய் என்னை நினைப்பாய்
தனிமையிலே என்னை சேர்ப்பாய் 

ஒரு கணமோ இங்கு மவுனம்
மறு கணமோ நீ மறைந்தாய் 
பேசும் ஊமை ஆனேன்
சோகம் தேடிப் போனேன்

மலையின் மீதுள்ள சிகரம்
கலையரசி தந்த பெருவரம்
நிகழ்வு மறக்கவே 
பகடம் பலிக்கவே 

முழு நிலவு மெல்லத் தூங்க
மேகங்களோ அதை மூட 
நட்சத்திரங்கள் கூடி
தாலாட்டு ஒன்று சொல்ல

காலைக் கதிரவன் அகல
காக்கை குருவியும் பறக்க
மகிழ்வு மிகையவே
மனமும் களிக்கவே 
Posted in Poem, Politics - General, Uncategorized

The Next Step

A Poem for Donald Trump’s Presidential Inauguration

the-next-step
Each day as we go about our business,
tweeting past our older tweets, 
RTing some or not,
about to tweet or tweeting.

Each day we encounter each other in twitter,
words incoherent or ungrammatical,
incomplete or insulted,
words to consider, reconsider.

We know there’s something better down the road.
We gather our equality, pride, liberty and justice.
To walk into that which we cannot yet see.
To find a place which is safe for
Our intelligence, our rationality and sanity.

On the brink of twitter horizon, on the cusp of fake news explosion,
May we take that next step.

[Inspired by Elizabeth Alexander’s Praise Song for the Day]

Posted in Poem, Thamizh (தமிழ்)

ஜல்லிக்கட்டு உரையாடல்

வீர விளையாட்டு எனநீர் கூவினால்
வீம்புக்காக வீரம் ஏனய்யா என்பம் நாம்

துள்ளி வரும் நீண்ட கால்களை இடை மறித்து
சுழன்று வரும் வாலை அடக்கிப் பிடித்து
திரண்ட திமிரை அணைத்து, கொம்பிலுள்ள பரிசினைப் பறித்து
காளையை அடகித்தான், உம் ஆண்மையை காட்டுவோம் என்கிறீரே

விழுப்புண்களுக்காக வீரியமாக உடல் வருத்தி
ஏழேழு தலைமுறை கலாச்சாரத்தைக் காக்க
நீர் படும்பாடு புரிகிறதய்யா
எம்பாட்டையும் தான் கொஞ்சம் கேள்வீரோ?

மிருகவதையை தடுக்கவும் மிருக மேம்பாட்டிற்காகவும் உழைப்பவர் யாம்
கலாச்சார சம்பிரதாய சிறப்பறிவோம் யாம்
இவையனைத்தும் பரிணாம வளர்ச்சிக்குட்பட்ட தென்பதையுமறிவோம்
அதை நீறறிவீரோ என்றறியோம்

உங்கள் மாடுகளையும் காளைகளையும் தெய்வமாக மதிப்பீராமே
பின் ஏன் அதைச்சீண்டி கோபமேற்றுகிறீர்கள் உங்கள் வீம்பு வீரத்திற்காக?
அதைச் சீண்டுவதற்காக சிலபலர் செய்யும் சேட்டைகள்
மிருக வதையில்லை என்றும்மால் கூற முடியுமா?

இங்கங்கு சிலபலர் செய்யும் சேட்டைகள் மிருகவதையே
அதை மறுக்கவில்லை மறைக்கவுமில்லை அன்பரே
எங்கள் வீரத்தை எம்மவரிடம் காட்ட உங்கள் அனுமதி தேவையில்லை
என்பதையாமறிவோம் அதை நீறறிவீரோ என்றறியோம்

தேசமெங்கும் வெவ்வேறிடத்தில் பற்பல பரிமாணங்களில்
நடக்கும் மிருகவதைகளைக் காட்டிலுமா இது மிகையென வினவுகிறம் யாம்
காளைகளைச் சீண்டுகிறோம் என்றெங்களடையாளத்தில்
ஒரு பகுதியைச் சீண்டுவது நியாயமா?

மிருகவதையைக் குறைக்க உம்மிடம் பேசத்தயாரய்யா யாம்
எல்லா மிருகவதைகளயும் சமசீர் தராசில் வைத்துப் பின்னர் எம்மிடம் பேசத்தயாரா நீர்?

[இவ்வுரையாடல் தொடரின் பலரும் மகிழ்ச்சி அடைவர்…]


பொங்கல் நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள்!

–English Translation–

A Jallikkattu Conversation
—————————

If you argue that it’s a display of bravery,
Then we would question the need for such false bravado..

You say that you would announce your masculinity to the world..
By tripping his long legs, By catching his swinging tail,
By embracing his dark hump,
By snatching the prize that’s tied to his horns,
And by bringing the raging bull under your control.

We understand that
All the rigor that your bodies go through for these war wounds
Are to preserve those century old traditions.
Now, will you step into my shoes and see it from my end?

I work hard for animal welfare and to prevent cruelty towards animals.
I understand culture, heritage and traditions,
I also understand that these things have always evolved and changed with times,
I hope you understand that.

We hear that you worship these bulls and cows,
Then why do you provoke them and flare up their anger?
Just so that you could exhibit your false bravado?
Do you agree what a few people do in order to
Instigate these bulls and cows amount to animal cruelty?

Yes. What a few do here and there certainly amount to animal cruelty.
We don’t deny it nor do we want to hide it, my friend.
At the same time, we know we don’t need your permission
To display our bravado amongst ourselves. I hope you understand that.

There are various animal cruelties of different magnitudes taking place
Around the country, every day.
We wonder why ours is being targeted when there are worse cruelties around.
In the name of preventing animal cruelty by pointing out these bull provocations,
Is it fair on your part to provoke us by banishing an important symbol of our culture?

We are ready to discuss and negotiate the animal cruelties that happen in our sport.
Are you ready to place all animal cruelties that happen in the country on the same weighing scale? If yes, then please come to the negotiation table.

Posted in Donald Trump, Politics - General

In Defense of Free Press

I am not a journalist. I am not affiliated to any press or any media outlet.  I am just a normal citizen of this great country of United States of America.

What America witnessed yesterday (Jan 11, 2017) during President Elect Donald Trump’s press conference (the first one he had after getting elected and the first one he had in last 5-6 months) is the beginning of the slow dismantling of Free Press.

I don’t care if you agree with a particular media outlet or a particular journalist’s opinion or not. You have every right to live in your own bubble and voice your opinion wherever.
But take a step back.
Kick that apathy out of the door for a second.
Keep your politics aside for a moment and ask yourself this simple question.

Why should any responsible citizen of this democratic country normalize this? If you say we should normalize this behavior and continue to give chances to this kind of behavior, do you even for a second realize what that kind of thought process leads to and more importantly do you realize by doing so, what values you as an individual will be passing on to your future generations?

Think about it. Read the history books to understand how every authoritarian regime around the world had come about.

Authoritarians don’t have any special power to create their regimes overnight. They feel the weakness of their citizens. They exploit them to their advantage. They understand the psyche of their subjects. They play to their vulnerable sides and take advantage of them .

And in the end, it is the citizens who succumb to the appeal and in the process pave way for an authoritarian to take over their lives.  It’s us who voluntarily let an authoritarian take over our lives and let them build a regime.

It’s time now. To Fight. To Speak up.

For the next few years, or months or days, however long it takes to stand up against this man and his administration, which will do anything to crush the values of democracy that this country built 240 years ago and the ones that we continue to make better every single day.  Because these values matter.

Let’s not forget that.

Fight for your right as a citizen and Fight for your fellow citizen’s right, equally.

And stand up for FREE PRESS.

Down with Authoritarianism and Down with Trumptarianism. 

Posted in Uncategorized

HBDARR50

I will confess first. I am a huge fanboy of AR. But I have also evolved as a fan over the years. From just being a blind fan of his music to a much more nuanced fan of the technicalities in his music (as much as I could grasp), his thought process behind his compositions, his philosophy in life and in general, AR, the human being.

To wish any icon on social media or on the internet seems like a vanity seeking attempt, especially if I don’t know him personally. But this being AR Rahman’s milestone birthday, I decided to do just that. The irony!

My interest in music, my half-baked (or quarter or 1/8 or..) knowledge notwithstanding, can be divided into 5 phases..

1) Pre-1990

I grew up getting soaked in Ilayaraja’s music (and MSV’s of course). And lots of carnatic music because of family surroundings and my own learning opportunities. The truth though was that most of my listening can be summed up as ‘casual exposure’.

2) Between 1988-1994

Serious listening. May be I was beginning to grasp the nuances better. And also because I was being exposed to a new world of music called classic rock. Thanks to the time I spent in Rajasthan during this time, I was exposed to more Hindi music than ever before (which doesn’t mean much if you spent all your time in deep south Tamil Nadu like I did.. till 1990). My half-baked music learning came very handy and I start analyzing. Even dabbled with making my own music. Just dabbled.

3) 1994-1998

Completely absorbed by this storm called AR Rahman. Roja brought out the curiosity but Pudhiya Mugam sealed it. I became a fanboy. I must have listened to every song from every album of AR Rahman during this time for about million times. Life changing in many ways. Suddenly, I felt like I am hearing my own inner voice in music. Even though it was only for fun, I started making my own music in a much more “complete” way. They sounded terrible. Especially the ones I created during this time. But I got a kick out of making my own music.

4) 1998 to 2008

Digital music still new. My CD collection filled my basement and my fascination for AR’s music/experimentation continued to grow multiple times during this time. Being away from the country just made the bond even stronger.  Also started listening to more contemporary western music, which internally made me appreciate AR’s music even more. And my own music creations got slightly better (even if I may say so myself).

5) 2006-Now

Music streaming has completely changed the way I listen to music these days. Good or bad I don’t know. But I can listen to any music I want at any time without much effort. Thus resulting in me listening to lots of world music. The honest confession is that my comfort music is still AR’s. I am sure it will always be his music.

Just as a reflection of my own AR Rahman musical journey, I put together this Youtube playlist with 50 songs. These are songs that aren’t necessarily chartbusters. Less obscure in some ways.

Happy Birthday AR Rahman!

Thank you for shaping my musical appreciation of not just your music, but of any music.

Posted in Pictures, Poem

The Perfect Moonshot

The Moon Shot-1.jpg

At the edge of the winter sky,
A quiet light, broken by the north winds.
I breathe a longing haze,
Through the shimmering icicles.
The shadows stand tall;
Am lost in a gleaming thought,
A shortcut between the sharpened edges.
To get that perfect moon shot
Posted in Donald Trump, Humor - General, Politics - General, Satire

The Facebook Cabinet

A sneak peek into the first 7 days of President Donald Trump’s administration

If what we have seen of Mr. Trump till now is anything to go by, then we can expect the 45th President Elect of our country to disrupt how day to day activities of his White House administration are going to be performed. We have already gotten a hint, that he is going to do away with day to day press briefings. This means the entire White House press corps will be out of job. This also means there won’t be any WHCD, or will there be one without the President?

Also, my bet is on Trump to influence everyone in his cabinet to use social media for day to day administrative activities.

Here is a sneak peek into the first week of what the cabinet meetings/decisions/interactions would look like after Mr. Trump takes oath.

Jan 20, 2017

Mr. Trump, sends out a tweet in the morning, about how excited he is, how much he is looking forward to making America great again and why moving into the White House from Trump Tower is such a depressing thing to do for him. Then, he and his entourage, including his wife, children and grand children, make a grand entry into the National Mall area, either on a helicopter or on a horse drawn carriage with confetti. His hand picked cabinet is already there and they all are getting introduced to each other.

Then the oath ceremonies take place, including Kanye West singing the National Anthem. Ted Nugent follows it up with a two song performance where he uses an AK-47 as his percussion instrument. Then Andrea Bocelli brings the house down with 5 songs, that only about a dozen people seem to enjoy.

In the evening, Mr. Trump attends two presidential balls, both of which are telecast on facebook live. Kellyanne Conway is responsible for using Mr. Trump’s phone to do facebook live at both the balls. The evening ends on a happy note for team Trump.

Jan 21, 2017

The 45th President starts his presidential duties..

By 7 AM, he is getting on the nerves of Elaine Cho, the Transportation Secretary.

Jan 22, 2017

Rick Perry, the Energy Secretary, is itching to get some action.

Jan 23, 2017

Betsy DeVos, the Education Secretary has some big plans and she has been waiting for this day to make this announcement. As someone who has “devoted her life” for education and children, this is something she has really thought through.

Meanwhile, Scott Pruitt, the EPA Chief, much like Betsy DeVos, has spent most of his life working on Environmental policies, especially developing policies to bring catastrophes of the highest magnitude to this planet in the shortest possible time.

Jan 24, 2017

Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, someone who is not new to oil, is already working hard and has embarked upon his first official foreign travel.

The Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin is ready to make a big policy announcement as well. He has been working behind the scenes on this for almost two months and it’s time now to make it officiail.

Jan 25, 2017

Must be a slow day by Mr. Trump’s cabinet standards.

Jan 26, 2017

This is the day, all of America would be shocked and surprised. VP Pence, decides to share the big news. One that fulfils a campaign promise. Yes, that’s right. Mr. Trump actually fulfils a campaign promise in 6 days. Just 6 days.

Jan 27, 2017

The first week is almost over and who better to round it off than Tom Price, the Secretary of HHS? Another campaign promise fulfilled. Whoa!

Jan 27, 2017

James N. Mattis, the Defense Secretary, has been asked to deal with some “domestic” issues. But no one really notices the massive national security risk this may have imposed.

Towards the end of the day, the White House counsel steps in to declare the results of the first week.

What a week!

Note: If you are wondering how those ridculously high numbers of likes for certain posts or comments came about, here’s the secret…
Shhhh!!
It’s the Russians. They hack into everything.

Disclaimer: This is satirical work. All images were created using a photoshop like tool and the views expressed in the images are fictional.

Posted in Politics - General

The Woman, The Mark, The Legacy

And in the end, she couldn’t write a colorful ending to her own story, in her own terms, just how she would have liked.

J Jayalalitha (1948-2016)
                                                J Jayalalithaa (1948-2016)

Was 1981.

We were attending a cousin’s wedding in Madurai if I remember correctly and I was 8 years old. The wedding entourage from the bride’s side, including my family, were all put up in a series of tiled roof cottages, not too far off from the Madurai Meenakshi Temple.

The Fifth World Tamil Conference was happening in Madurai. A quick google search tells me that it was between Jan 4 and Jan 10. Our stay in Madurai had to be in that date range, because, more than the huge hoardings bearing the sign “உலகத் தமிழ் மாநாடு” along with the larger than life size images of MG Ramachandran (MGR) the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, what I remember distinctly more, was the generous placements of larger than life images of this one popular movie star, who was officially not a politician back then. She was a star, someone who had built a great on-screen chemistry with MGR as a co-star, playing mostly as his love interest, thus earning the goodwill of thousands of fans of MGR, the politician’s, but then, she was not even a registered member of AIADMK. Her role in the conference was that of an entertainer. Jayalaithaa and her troupe performed a stage musical drama called “Mathura Nayaki” on Jan 9.

And I was in awe of the swarms of people stretching kilometers, making a beeline to enter the open air stadium, where the conference was being held and I have strong memories of those tall floodlight arena under the dark sky. Amidst all that, somehow those huge billboards, with her images splashed all over, almost on par with MGR’s images, made a huge impact on me as an eight year old. Because, till then politics in Tamil Nadu to me, meant only MGR and M.K. Karunanidhi.

Was 1987.

Dec 24. I was in Nagercoil spending my Christmas break with my cousins when we heard the news. MGR, the man of the poor, the leader of the masses, the single most charismatic leader that Tamil Nadu had ever seen and the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu had died. We had known this day was coming for a long time. Almost for 3 years.

By then, Jayalalithaa had already announced her arrival into politics in style. MGR appointed her as the Propaganda Secretary of AIADMK in 1983 (கொ. ப. செ.), a title not so familiar in the political circles back then. Soon, she contested in a by-election in the Tiruchendur constituency (an hour from Tirunelveli, where I was then) and became a member of the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly. She became a Rajya Sabha member in 1984.

She either must have exhibited an extreme sense of acumen for the world of politics that was there for everyone to notice and MGR was the first one to tap into it or MGR must have really had the vision of making her a successor in line, because he saw the potential of grooming someone like her in the political world. Don’t know which was closer to being true, perhaps both.

Now, let’s take a step back and remember, that the Tamil movie industry was not the friendliest places for a female actor back then, that too for someone like Jayalalithaa, who didn’t have a ‘male’ personal guardian or someone as a pillar of support from her family, as long as she was acting. So, to make a mark as a lead actor, without compromising on your values and to have your personality stand out as a female actor, must have taken some fortitude on Jayalalitha’s part. Of course, her fluency in English and fair knowledge of a couple of other languages must have given her an edge to stay clear of the competition, but at the end of the day, it took her strong personality to swim through the male dominated world.

Politics in the 1980s, in the post Annadurai era, when the Dravidian movement was at its peak, was a very interesting place to be in. For the uninitiated, let me say this..Unlike politics in the western hemisphere, politics in India cannot be placed on a linear spectrum ranging from “Liberal” to “Conservative” in traditional Left to Right terms. Not now. And definitely not in the 1980s. And especially, politics in Tamil Nadu, since Indian Independence, has always been very different. So, in that context, Jayalalithaa’s entry into politics was phenomenal. Just as it should have been. Just because she was a woman.

But…
Call it the innate nature of Tamilians to accept a popular movie star as a capable politician without any questions.
Call it the love and adulation for MGR that the people had which translated into love and adulation for his lady love on screen.
Call it the simple admiration for someone MGR picked as his protege in politics.
Call it whatever you want.
The fact remains that Tamilians had the maturity, knowingly or unknowingly, to break the glass ceiling — just…like…that. And she did it with their help. And how!!

Barring the drama that ensued between Dec 24, 1987 and the time in 1989 when she was elected as the opposition party leader, she had complete control of her party and the party cadres throughout her career till Sep 22, 2016 when she was admitted to the hospital.

The reason why the politician in her shone was because she shaped her career herself after 1989. She was on a mission. She had a target and she worked towards it ruthlessly. Yes, she trampled on many people and sentiments in the process. But that was her. Comparisons ranged from Imelda Marcos (for her obsession with materials and for her authoritarian leadership style) to Margaret Thatcher (for being a strong willed woman like an Iron lady). But the truth is that she was not like any of them. She was one of a kind. She was a charismatic, intelligent and a focused leader with tons of fortitude. Fans and Detractors would agree that the most extraordinary thing about her was that she was a very refined and a sophisticated absolutist who managed to do all that she did in a democracy. As she famously said once, Indian states are nothing but glorified municipalities, she stood up for Tamil Nadu’s state rights at every moment she could. She was one of those few Chief Ministers in the country who stood up to the centre irrespective of the ruling party in the centre.

Unlike the Dravidian politicians of that era and specifically the Dravidian leaders such as EV Ramasamy (Periyar), Annadurai, MGR and Karunanidhi, to name a few, who went onto either become Chief Ministers of the state or ended up having an influential role in the state, Jayalalithaa didn’t have a similar background. She was born in an “upper caste” family and she was brought up in an upper middle class background. She didn’t experience the struggles that the other Dravidian leaders experienced in their early lives and she didn’t even grow up in Tamil Nadu for that matter, where the Dravidian ideologies were flourishing. So, there is a lot that can be pondered about the “Dravidianism” in her.

But she understood the essence of the Dravidian movement — which was to stand up for the poor and the “lower caste” people of the society. Keep fighting for them. Keep fighting for their welfare. If Tamil Nadu’s healthcare is a pride of the state, If Tamil Nadu’s educational record is still considered high when compared to other states in India, if Tamil Nadu is still on top of child immunization rates in the country and if Tamil Nadu still figures in the top 5 states when it comes to social welfare spending percentage (mainly education and healthcare), then you can pretty much attribute it all to the Dravidian parties’ policies, in particular Jayalalithaa’s. Now add to that, the innumerable welfare programs that were introduced for poor and women in particular, including the “Amma Unavagam” (a chain of restaurants run by the government with an aim to serve healthy, clean food for a nominal price for all customers), you know why she was revered the way she was.

To paraphrase something she said in an interview, her life could be divided into three phases. The first phase, influenced and shaped by her mother, the second, influenced and shaped by MGR and the final phase, one that was completely self made. It was during this phase, she, as an active learner and observer, took it upon herself to stand up to her critics quite comfortably, while she methodically executed what she wanted to do quite mercilessly.

Notwithstanding all the corruption charges, the disproportionate wealth assets lawsuites, etc., it is irrefutable that the legacy she has left behind simply through her achievements is huge. A legacy far larger than anything that movie star image which helped her take that first step into politics could have helped her. Step by step, she created a brand new path for herself, which many women can follow now.

Thousands and Millions will ride on her legacy for years to come. I guess very few in politics can stake that claim anywhere in the world.

And for someone like me, who grew up in the shadow of Jayalalithaa’s rise in politics and managed to see her till the end, there is no better way to say what her passing away means to me, than to simply refer to it as a void that will never get filled.

Never.