Wednesday, 26 December, 2012

Ramblings by the Beach

The waves continue to lash the shores
The full moon lights up the beauty of the night sky
And clouds play collage with the breeze
The rustling of the wind drowned by the cacophony of the beach-goers
Any soul would buzz with joy
Lapping up this serene atmosphere

But Today
It wasn't to be
It's been 8 years
But the scars remain etched in memory

How could I forget that day...
The day when the sea wasn't blue
The day when the waves waved good bye to many a soul
The day when the air was full of loathful stench
The day when the roars of the waves drowned the prayers of thousands
How could I forget that day...

Why did it happen?
What was God trying to say?
That Nature could be harsh on us?
That Life is unpredictable no matter how much we de-risk ourselves?
That Man should finally comprehend the pettiness of his means?
That we are at the receiving end of our Karma?
What's the rationale for who gets to live and who dies?
What's the yardstick for this causality?

To me, this whole world seems to be a musical chair
We never know when the music will turn off on us
All that we can do is keep running
So run we shall
With Love and Hope as lynchpins
For without Love, there is no motive
And without Hope, is there any prospect!

In memory of Tsunami (Dec 26, 2004)

Monday, 24 December, 2012

An Obituary

The old man breathed his last this morning. The end took a while to come. But, Time catches up with everyone. Years of toil and age have taken a toll on his health; his frail body looking a distant shadow of his former self. The ‘who’s who’ of the city gathered outside his mansion to pay their last respects. In the queue are business magnates who transacted with him, big shots from politics, celebrities, IIM understudies he mentored, his detractors who for all their professional rivalry still revere him, friends of his older days, and the general public who venerate him to heavenly proportions.

What has this man did that deserves this level of adulation! It’s no simple accomplishment for one who came into the city with nothing more than a ruck-sack. I look back at the times when the old man was still The Man. Looks like distant memories, the days when he, as a kid moved into the settlement with his brothers, and begun their family trade in a small hut. Gradually, his youthful blood and natural instincts developed the business into one of the best in the city. Growth brings wealth; and wealth tends to extinguish the inner fire for excellence. His brothers un-winded gradually; but he went on, chugging like a steamer on full fire. He single-handedly built the family trade into one of the best business empire of the city. What was their hut has now metamorphosed into one of the grandest mansions in the city.

History was in the making. His success story kindled the aspirations of the city’s youth. A new generation grew inspired by his success story; he shone brightly as a guiding light in their lives. His fame attained legendary status; people revered him as their god father to say the least.

But, Time is a great equalizer. Came Fame, Then Came Fall. Age brought with it ailments. Health failed and so did his reputation. His children bickered over his business empire; once the jewel, he was now seen as a liability. The very mouths that praised him, the very hands that waited to shake hands with him, began ignoring and foul-mouthing. The saying one is only as good as his last achievement bore true yet again.

He could sense the end was nearing; but his obsessive passion for his business blurred his vision and masked the reality. His very children showed signs of dissent and sidelined him. Off late, he would withdraw into a shell and dwell over his predicament in silent contemplation. Rational reasoning would advise him to step down, but his passion would inevitably pull him back; bursts of energy would propel him for a few days only to dump him back in sickness and desolation sooner.

Finally, the day has come. Today, the city mourns his passing away; they recollect the hay days of his life, the ordeals that this man went through, the one-man army that bore the burdens of the business and hopes of millions. Superlatives fail to describe his success. To dream is one thing, to achieve it is another! But to have passion in the blood, and not letting the blinding adulation and glory diminish the heart’s burning desire to excel is no mean achievement. This old man deserves a salute just for that!

PS: A scruffy attempt on an obituary. How I wish I could name the old man!

Monday, 26 November, 2012

Altercations with Anonymous

He: "How did the festival go?"
Me: "It was ok"
He: "Just ok?"
Me: "Well, I didn't celebrate it"
He: "Why?"
Me: "Just like that... for no reason"
He: "Don't tell me you converted?"
Me: "No... there is no need to!"
He: "Oh.. then, you don't believe in God anymore?"
Me: "I do"
He: "Then, why didn't you celebrate?"
Me: "Well, i just don't feel like celebrating these..."
He: "But you said you believe in God?"
Me: "Yes, I do"
He: "If you believe in God, then why didn't you celebrate?"
Me: "Because I am not religious"
He: "How can one believe in God but not be religious?"
Me: (smiles)
He: "You are crazy"
Me: "I know"

A few moments of silence later....

He: "Well you could at least celebrate for your family"
Me: "Yes, I did"
He: "Did what?"
Me: "Celebrated with family"
He: "As in?"
Me: "Didn't mind them celebrating"
He: "Hmmm.. at least you are tolerant"
Me: "No, I just believe in God"
He: "What does that mean?"
Me: "What is a religious person called?"
He: "Believer"
Me: "What is a spiritual person called?"
He: "Seeker"
Me: "There you go.. a believer tends to remain fixated on his beliefs; while a seeker attempts to seek the truth in every form and belief system"
He: "So, you say, Spirituality is better than Religiousness?"
Me: "Nothing is better than another.. one is the path to another; and the guiding light for this path is Compassion"
He: "So, what is the path leading to?"
Me: "Of course, Godliness"
He: "How far have you travelled?"
Me: "Almost there"
He: (shocked) "Who are you?”
Me: (smiles)

He opened his eyes; it all seemed to be a dream, yet so real. He got up and took a walk around the park. He could still hear the voices in his mind. Who was he talking to? Was he doing a monologue? Or was it someone in his dream? Who was questioning whom? Was it the person in the dream? Was it his conscience? Or was it God? He walked back and sat on the park bench he was napping on.

The sun was slowly setting behind the trees. He realized the persons didn't matter as much as the questions; the rituals didn't matter as much as the ideals; the beliefs didn't matter as much as God himself. He leaned back on the bench and started pondering over them. The day was ending, but his journey has just begun. A cool breeze swept through the park; as he sat alone on the bench introspecting, the energy-saving incandescent street lamp over his head was glowing brightly!

Wednesday, 19 September, 2012

Why do Hindus put up Ganesha statues at street corners during Chaturti?

It's that time of the year when clay and pottery are back in vogue in India. If you are wondering whether our middle class Indians have stopped splurging on posh chinaware and Tupperware and gone back to traditional cookery, let me douse your fears right away. We are talking about Ganesha Chaturti - the season when Ganesha comes visiting our homes and puts camp at street corners blessing paupers and posh alike. But why, of all, should we put up Ganesha statues in street corners, when we have temples in his name in every village and town. Let's dig a bit into our history a little bit and understand why.

Friday, 6 July, 2012

The Chennai Columns : Ashargana

In the second post of the series, we look at Ashargana, a locality in Chennai, now famous for Kathipara Flyover, the largest cloverleaf flyover in South Asia. The locality was famously called Asharagana; buses plying the route still refer the bus stop by that name. But why the name 'Ashargana'?

Thursday, 28 June, 2012

The Chennai Columns: Mount Road to Anna Salai

If the name 'Anna Salai' doesn't ring you a bell, you are not a Chennaite; unless, you are accustomed to the old-fashioned Mount road! I've always wondered why this flat placid track would be called Mount Road for no reason. Interestingly none of the Chennaivasis I know - be of any age - gave me a convincing reason. After a bit of online research and visits to couple of book stores, here is why. 

Tuesday, 12 June, 2012

Lost Love

Pai and Mai macaws were desperate. They hopped around the branches of the fallen tree searching frantically. They usually don't leave the nest unguarded; but today, Mai was poisoned by some toxic seeds she ate, and they had to scurry to the river bank for clay. It had happened when they were away. The tree they had nested in was cut down, and its trunk gone.

Monday, 9 April, 2012

The Lovers

The sun is yet to rise on the horizon; most of the city is still asleep. Sherin stands by the balcony enjoying her early morning coffee. She takes a sip and relishes the moment as birds chirp in the background, when she notices some rumbling by the balcony. She spots a couple making out in the enclosure by the parking area; the solitude safe enough to steal some moments of privacy. Sherin - though a bit embarrassed - couldn’t help but sneak a peek. The couple was more than just making out – they seem to be very passionate about each other, their romantic act seemingly more than just lust. True to the appellation, they veritably are the symbol of love. After moments of unbridled passion, they coo away flying into the canvas of the rising sun.

Sunday, 1 April, 2012

Chaos is Beautiful

For once, I chose to follow Robert Frost - I took the road not taken - well, the road I hadn’t taken before. It turned out I was not the only one. The street was swarmed - never before had I seen such a motley of a crowd plying on the narrowest of streets I’ve ever been - pedestrians, bikes, rickshaws, taxis, trolleys - all crawling about on all directions. Ruing my decision, I resolved to stick it out. Inching slowly, I’d to be at my lapidary best to avoid a nasty dent or a scratched up side on my moto. The intensity of the ordeal got to my nerves and I almost hooted at a teen trying to hop across squeezing into the space in front - but my coy nature reined me and let myself seethe within. That’s when I noticed something - a  behavior not seen even on the better avenues of the city - there was no honking; and there were no tempers flying. These humble commuters on the sidelined by-lanes of the city’ periphery have made peace with their predicament. They smile at the crossing commuter, pass a light-veined comment on the odd pedestrian attempting a Jesse Owens across the street, and move along. There was harmony amidst all the chaos. When, we appreciate the limitations of the circumstances, and accept it with all our heart, we realize that chaos is sweeter than the dreariness of monotony - Chaos is Beautiful.

Wednesday, 14 March, 2012

Do you believe in Fate?

I googled the letter 'F', the top result was Facebook.
I googled the letter 'G', the top result was GMail.
I googled the letter 'I', the top result was iGoogle.
I googled the letter 'T', the top result was a Twitter account.

In the near future, I'll google 'Me', and find myself stacked up on a white wall with Hex flowing all over.

Sunday, 11 March, 2012


You slide down the visor; rev up the engine; up-shift the gear. You've your eyes on the crevice - the narrow creek that's the only hope of freedom - freedom to you and your bike - freedom from bondage - bondage of having to piggyback a bus that's been dawdling before you for god-knows-how-long on the desolated road. You go for the kill - you release the clutch; and accelerate your speedster towards the narrowest of a slit between the bus and median. Now, you're sandwiched between them - a thin waft of ethereal space is all that separates you from tapping either. A couple more seconds, and you'll be out ahead - out into the freedom of the barren tarmac ahead. That's when your nose conspires against you, and - you sneeze!