Saturday 29 August 2009

The Kerala I Know

In a country full of squat happy people, kerala is a welcome change. The scenic view that one gets while travelling in train or bus is quite pleasant. Greenery all around and water bodies keep passing you, as u look out. One never comes across squatters in this part of our country. In Kerala, toilet is as essential for a home as is the roof.

Earlier in the day, i was reading a book by an English traveller who travelled from Kashmir to Kanyakumari by Bicycle. The author was quite apalled with the absence of privacy in the sub-continent. It essentially boils down to one single factor, which is poverty. When every second Indian is wondering where to get his next meal from, the Englishman's concern is never going to bother him. In Kerala, the Gulf countries' oil wells have managed to keep the people well fed and sufficiently well off.

Communism has a good number of followers here. But it is totally forgotten when a malayalee lands in another state. He is ready to work till he drops dead. And back home, the same guy won't allow an industry to set shop, without meeting his demands. Till this day i havent been able to digest this double standards.

May be except for Kochi, there arent many places where lovers can walk together in gay abandon. Prying eyes are all over, the moment a couple is seen being cosy. In buses ladies generally face unwelcome touches and bodily grazing. This scenario is not so much found in the metros. People are getting exposed to the outside world, and now they know its not proper to treat women as materials.

The single most obsession in kerala that cant be beaten is their appetite for gold. People keep amassing the yellow metal, never ever feeling satisfied. I get a sickening nausea seeing brides covered all over in gold. Instead of accentuating the bride's beauty, the heavy ornamentation un-does it, on the most important day in her life.

Keralaites like to be updated on news and politically are more abreast compared to people in most other states. Hygeine is one other thing they simply dont take lightly. Even daily wagers dont leave for home without changing into their regular clothes, which are so much good that one never can guess their profession correctly.

There is so much more to write, but i shall leave with only so much for now. Do comment and share your thoughts.

Sunday 23 August 2009

You are more equal if u have a car

I dont know if this story is the same all over. I will talk about my observation in Bangalore about the aspect of one owning a car.

We owned a small 2 bedroom house earlier, which was sold some years back. There we had some neighbours, who could be categorized into 2 groups. One who owned a car and the other who didnt. We belonged to the second group.

The conversations always were within the same group, and minimally across the two segments, and that too only on need basis. It was a disturbing trend prevalent in society, and we used to discuss on the subject in our family, but never getting affected by the aparthied meted out. Ours heads were always held as high as possible.

Four years back, my long term wish of owning a car materialized. This was while i was in Gujarat. Being a recluse, as i always was, most of my neighbours never knew about my existence. Suddenly persons whose faces were known to me, but myself unknown to them, started striking up conversations. I realised in a day or two the reason for the change in approach. I felt so horrible and pitied their standards.

A person should never be weighed materialistically. I still have my very poor friends, and meet them regularly while in bangalore. Having said that, i dont wish to say that i am rich in any way. I have a regular job and thats it. People forget their humble beginnings once they are well off.

In Kollywood, the undisputed king Rajnikant is known to have had a humble beginning. In Bangalore he has a very close friend from his younger days from modest background. Rajni once went to his house and asked his friend to lend his TVS-50, so that he can roam around the city and see places without any fuss, like during his younger days. His friend warned that he would be recognised and mobbed the moment he stepped out.

Rajni heeding to his friend's worry, stepped out in disguise and roamed the city in his friend's teeny-weeny moped, incognito. Its then, no surprise that respect and adulation flows unabated to people like him.

(My foster sister Preethi a.k.a. Chotu , wanted me to write this blog, when i shared this story with her.)

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Beena's Whirlwind Visit

Past friday (14th August) my wife Beena came on a whirlwind visit to Trivandrum for spending a little time with me. We have been taking pains to meet each other at regular intervals. This time around she didnt want to see places because she would be in Trivandrum for only 48 hrs. She just wanted to rest fully. But that was not to be.

Since the next day being Independence day, i thought she should witness unfurling of our national flag by the Chief Minister here and also watch the Parade. On 15th morning we got up early and made it to Central Stadium behind the Secretariat building, well in time. My colleagues were on duty in the same premises to co-ordinate the timing of dropping of flower petals from the air by IAF Helicopter. This was to happen while the National Anthem was sung, after the flag was hoisted.

As we all stood up when the music of our National Anthem was played, we could hear the helicopter coming from afar. Within few seconds the chopper was overhead us with flower petals being dropped from above, which made a good impression on the crowd gathered there. We stayed long enough to see the inspection of Parade formation by the Chief Minister, then the parade by the state police, home guards, NCC, etc.

I should say i had expected some more fanfare, but it was all so quiet in the stadium. Indepence day is celebrated by Indians outside with more energy. A case in point is the Independence day celebrations in Edison, New Jersey, U.S.A. The politicians there make it a point to be the chief guest when invited because of the huge Indian population in that region. There is a saying in Hindi which sums up our casual attitude... "Ghar ki murgi dal barabar".

Monday 17 August 2009

Out of Place in Thiruvalla

The past week i was in Thiruvalla, Kerala, for the recruitment rally of Indian Air Force. We were roughly around 50 Air Warriors and there werent enough rooms in any hotels to fulfil our requirement. Atlast the authorities arranged our accommodation in a Guest House run by the Syrian Catholic Diocese.

Rules there couldnt be bent, mended or broken. But all these 3 things did happen in the 6 days that we stayed there. Rule No. 1:- Consumption of Liquor in the premises is prohibited. Liquor did flow in plenty, but only the father there didnt come to know of it. Rule No. 2:- Dinner should be taken within 8pm. Generally our evening starts at 8pm and it was a tough call to follow. After much badgering they allowed us to dine upto 8.30pm. Most of the days we finished our dinner only by 9pm. Rule No.3:- Gates of the premises will close at 10.30pm sharp and no let up in this regard. There was an aberration and the gates were made to open after the scheduled time.

All these non-sense got the father there, quite worked up. He was very unhappy with us, but we were also feeling the same for his institution, because it tried to tie us down like this. We were doing a service to the youth in thiruvalla by conducting this rally, and a large number of youngsters turned up. Around 250 to 300 youngsters got selected too. We conducted examinations for roughly 5000 candidates from morning 7am to 9pm without a break. All these 14 hours were spent standing, except for half an hour break for lunch, when we would rush to the restaurant nearby, have food and rush back in record time.

None of us werent used to standing for such long hours, but we did comply as a true soldier should. And thats the reason we just couldnt follow the rules imposed at the Guest House after the hardship we faced during the day. One thing is for sure, none of us would like to return to thiruvalla, more specifically i mean, to the precints of a religious institution. Better say no thanks, than say sorry.

Saturday 1 August 2009

Moment of Truth

The hit show doing the rounds presently in indian telly "Sach ka Saamna" is a take out from the english show "Moment of Truth". I have watched few episodes of this show. The deepest secrets of one's life can come out in the open and wreak havoc and possibly break relationships. Nothing to be surprised about the fact that discussions have cropped up in the parliament to ban this show.

There is every possibility of the participant having to face the wrath of his/her loved ones, the moment the participant finishes the show. Most of us are hypocrites from the core. It needs great amount of courage to bare your life completely to the world. No one has won the top prize till now. If someone happens to reach that far, i am sure he/she would stand the chance of severing all ties from his/her loved ones.

Everybody has unpleasant things to hide from the society. The great Mahatma Gandhi too had so many unpleasant things, but he had the courage to bare it in public. Can anyone believe he had even been to the brothel. But he had the guts to open up and tell it to the world, through his book. Same goes with Kushwant Singh, the writer. His autobiography is a veritable account of how nasty things could be in everyone's life. Quite effortlessly he could write about the big and mighty, and also about his dear ones and their omissions and commissions. These kind of strong people are rare and in short supply.

Human beings have the ability to draw pleasure from seeing other's private lives bared. Seeing skeletons tumble from other's cupboard is not a very good thing, never the less there is enough market for these kind of shows. Sensationalism at the cost of other's life is unwarranted, but when provided in a platter, there are many grabbers including me. I only pray indian telly producers find a better way to keep the viewers amused, without prying into other's private lives. We would be a sick lot if we were to continue deriving gratifiction from such loathsome shows.