Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Having taken a day off work for reasons unknown to me even, i sit and struggle to kill time. opening every folder in my comp i come across a whole lot of photos all taking me down wonderful times...but then one picture, a series rather caught my attention among the rest..
It had been there all long, but seeing it now, gave it a whole new meaning..
It was taken during Vishu...
We were enjoying it with crackers - me, my family, my cousins includin my lil cousin sister - all of five years old..The initial snaps had her clapping in glee to all the sparklers, the flower pots et all...and then i offered her a lit sparkler..
and the transformation was instant. The next snap showed her covering behind her mom, screaming away at the nearest sight of me
This lasted for a couple of snaps...a few more later and seeing her brother do the crackers with ease, she now wanted to try some, albeit from a small corner of her mind . Jealousy a.k.a sibling rivalry can sometimes be such a motivating thing :-)
The next few shots had her still covering behind her mom, but looking at me thru the corner of her eye, with longing, with anticipation...expecting maybe that i will offer it to her again...but then, i was too immersed in the sound and light around me, to notice all this. Unbeknown to me, unbeknown to her ...every lil iota of emotion floating around was getting stored in a bit somewhere in the depths of the digital camera.
the show was almost nearing its end. I was lighting the final set of cracklers and then she did it, she came rushing at me and took hold my hand, the hand that was hodling the sparkler. Surprised by the suddenness of the move i drop the unlit crackler on the floor.
And now it all comes flooding back to me. I still remember turning swiftly with the sole purpose of admonishing her..and there she stood, head bowed, hand stretched out and uttered 2 words "anna, enakku"..having seen her for 5 years, i do know fully well, how much of a drama queen she can be, but then i am too surprised by the sudden turn of events that i barely squeal.
Picking up the sparkler i proceed to light it, all the while making sure that my pose was just right for the camera. In all the earlier snaps, the subject of this blog was never in the frame. It was always someone else lighting a flower pot, or setting of a cracker. But this time around, i made sure that was not the case, and the difference was there to see. Me lighting a candle. me turning sround in style. Me handing it over to my cousin. All the while grinning like a page 3 glitterati high on something.
But there she was, totally cut off from it all. Concentrating only on the sparkler in my hand. Slowly stretching her right hand out, with the left hand on her ear and head tilted to the left. i let go of the sprakler and the next few seconds/snaps made me realise why pictures do speak a thousand words.
The sparkler was long and was chattering away gloriously and her face showed fear. Fear of the unknown. Trepidation even.
And as the sparks inched closer it grew more visible with the deepening furrows on her face. Halfway through, she realised that she might win the battle after all, and relaxed her face a bit. We are providing running commentary in the background, but are pretty much sure that she heard none of it.
The sparklers are into the home stretch now and the hints of a killer smile appear. The smile grows wilder and wider every nano second. The final embers in the sparkler see her looking around at all of us with that triumphant look in her face and as the sparkler dies she throws it in one casual fling, right back over her shoulder. Signalling victory in battle. She turns around and then rushes back into the house feet thumping on the ground, imitating a horse all the way. Running to tell her mom.
I wondered why this was such a big thing to the kid. Why the entire gamut of emotions had rushed through her in that brief period. She was doing something for the first time in her life. She was conquering her fear of long..fear that she has carried for the brief period she has been on this earth. And then proving to herself and all others that she was no less than her brother.....

P.S:- Stopping here as i dont want this to be a lesson with a moral at the end of the story, another to be added to that irritating chicken book series

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The experience!!

The morning dawned and in true Indian spirit the people assembled by the poolside for the trek at 8.00. a good hour and a half late...the next 2 hours was to some the best experiences in their life (atleast that is what they told me). For me it was a rekindling of the spirit that my forester grandpa had instilled in me.
The forest and the orange county estate were not that different in the morning dew, only the fencing demarcating the boundary of the dubare forest. We made our way to the forest and was the estate slowly stirring into life, with ladies under plastic sheets picking their way thru the coffee plants.
The trek threw up something new at every turn, a gnarled tree that resembled a python wapped around a man, a spooky bamboo grove, a steep ravine thru which we were to climb down and then climb up on the other side, leeches that sucked the blood of a few lucky people. and then the most majestic of all..the kaveri
This is what surrealism is all about, u walk down a jungle not knowing what lay ahead, and then out of nowhere u see the mighty kaveri in spate, roaring thru the jungle, the morning sun shining on it. It does make one philosophical. and u realise the insignificance of human existence, your troubles, egos, ur they all pale when compared with the underlying rhythm that nature seems to have, u r but a mere spec on this earth, millions of which have come and gone before..
Everybody was silent on the walk back, maybe too overawed by nature or then by the hunger pangs in their stomachs. The rain was giving us company all along, as was our guide ganesan's singing. Rajkumar numbers and kodagan tribal songs...never made head or tail of it, but nonetheless they fitted the mood to a T.
The sigh of breakfast laid out by the poolside, all 8 different varities of it meant that people set aside their civility, and attacked the food with the dirt from the jungle all over them. As for me, the thayir saatham guy that i was, it was idli and sambhar for me.. Soft idlies, vada and hot onion sambhar...never realised that these could ever be so tasty..
A little rest and then it was lunch, Leeches still popping up from people after they had had their fill.
The journey back began and with the rain splashin on the windows, everyone gently drifted into sleep, the rocking bus more like a cradle this time around. The return journey was more sedate, people receding into the comfort of their friends circles. But then chatting away still like there was no tomorrow. made me realise how u could be sitting next to someone for a whole year and still manage to share in a day what you couldnt in a year. and as the chatter in the train continues, i managed to hit the bed to get some shut eye. Too tired to think of the drudgery ahead
Awawken next day, groggy headed and my face sticking to the rexin of the railway birth, hitting home the fact that chennai was here.. "Chennai central...parrrr...aaapka swagat hain :-(( "

The journey!!

The train left Chennai and everyone seemed to be a different person on it...sans their emotional baggages, gleeful and without a care in the world. and for a change i myself felt a lot lighter in a long time (not physically i mean).
There seemed to be unbounded energy and no one was in any hurry to hit the bed, though authorities wanted them to.. Railway police can be bought off with a bribe, but then what do u do well let me stop at that..people slept for hardly a couple of hours, and yet were fresh as daisies in the morning, the morning chill doing a refreshing job. a quick breakfast and a brief interlude in mysore as we switched modes of transport..we were off again. ...Not a sign of the rain that was promised.
The vehicles tottered over the roads and were making slow progress when the rain suddenly came down in a delightful roar setting the mood for the day ahead. Winding through a big carpet of greenery we managed to reach the resort a good hour late. The journey had not taken its toll on anyone. The sight of a small cottage which was the reception was definitely not what we expected for a resort that had 5 stars going for it. all we could see from there being a small forest that was oozing the scent of the monsoon all over.
The small buggies which were there to cart the guests to their lodgings, gave a small hint of the vastness of the place. stepping out of the reception we walked down to the "cottage". And the only thought that was going thru me was "if this is the cottage then what would the presidential villa be like..."open mouthed anticipation".."
a quick, hot spicy lunch and we were off on a tour of the resorts coffee plantations...basically just a walk everybody huddling under umbrellas or their windcheaters and chatting away to glory with their friends and then somebody said it.."already i think this is worth the 2000 rs that i gave, and gave me a pat on the back"... too much on a high to think straight, the weight of the expectation when u do something to please 60 people was now gone.
the rain was now pouring in the forest and yet no one was complaining and something told me no one will. eveyone was drenched from head to toe, but were eagerly looking for more, as we had a hot cuppa of coorgi coffee by the pool side restaurant.
The beauty of the trip lay in the lack of itinerary, which actually was a gaffe on my part. People were free to do what they wanted for the evening.. cycling, games, or just plain old loitering. a cricket bat and ball materialised out of nowhere and we were off to the banks of the kaveri as the guide led us to a meadow where we could play.
I was a bit behind and was forutnate enough to see that sight. as we turned a corner there it lay, spread out in all its lushness and greenery the meadow that i am sure everyone dreams of just lying on with their loved ones by their side, gazing at the stars with a gentle gurgling of water by the side. As i stood there dazed, the guys in front of me broke ranks and just children rush out of their classed to the play ground during recess , some just running with no real purpose, someone thjrowing the ball high in the air and running behind another waving the bat around his headand prancing like a horse..that image for me was the defining moment of the trip by far..a thrilling cricket match in the meadow till it grew real dark, a few of the ladies strolling by with the odd comments and the day was done. Darkness and the stage was set for a different kind of fun..Everyone strolled in to the poolside for the 7.30 bonfire by 8.30, the usual intros and the light hearted ragging later, people tucked in to their dinners and were off, into their rooms for the long night ahead. Though everybody was tired, from what i gathered, nobody really slept that night too. Every room had its share of stories to tell. Sadly not mine cause all i remember was dozing within seconds of switching on the TV to watch formula 1. and then shouting at someone in my sleep over the phone, this particular person wanting me to arrange shoes at 12.00 in the night for the trekking that was scheduled the next day...DUH!!!

Orange county!!!

P.S:- This is intended as an update on the past few months in life...with too much of the focus being on work (cause that is all that has been happening)...also for the benefit of the wonderful friends that i have made in the small period that i have been here.. Names have been dropped to prevent future blood-letting..
This was a trip that was to have happened a good month ago, when the summer was at its peak in chennai....all the browsing and the online reviews had created visions in my mind of that perfect happy place of my dreams....I was to have organised it too, as it was my suggestion in the first place, but then my disappointments at work meant that i was to spend a good amount of time sulking and eventually backing May came and went and then june seemed set to do the same.
Chennai was reeling under the sun and "PF-ians" under work. The signs of a burnout where everywhere..people who took some responsibility to their work were all stressed out and no respite was in sight...and the people who were supposed to take note were tucked away in their cabins and their dawn to dusk routine.."SULK"...
And then it happened ..the rain in chennai which rekindled that spirit in me..the travel junkie that i was..initially thinking of making a private trip with a few friends, only to be stopped by the prohibitive cost of the resort..for the uninitiated a cottage costs RS.9000 for a day and night...this was were the economies of scale reared its head...I had promised myself that i will never organise a massive trip again, least of it for this project...but then again, Orange county was too good a place to let my cut-out sized ego come in the way...and so here i was trying to get the thing started again...After some heavy selling of the idea, a decent number managed to turn up a good 57 out of 120. Very poor compared to the previous trip to Munnar....the team wanted to send a message and in the few conversations that i had can assure that it did find the person and touch a real raw nerve (a sadistic grin on the face)...the days moved quickly and there we were a motley bunch at Chennai central on the night of the 1st of July

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Red earth and pouring rain!!!

Life has been meandering along for the past month and a half.desperately trying to bring a semblance of routine into my life, circumstances not letting me succeed (a.k.a worldcup football) ...June thus aptly summed up as one long sleepless month.
Nothing much happening at work either...moved to a god forsaken location within chennai,with a totally indifferent "You know who" to report to, it was beginning to look like i was staring at a deep dark bottomless pit.
My body and soul were crying out for a break..and as i sat in the balcony of my house counting recent dissapointments and hammering away for a way happened....a cold little drop on my i dare hope ...Rain???...Nah!!!!
In chennai ..Nahh!!! a cool breeze then brought with it first the scent of the cooum and then that magical scent of pouring rain on red hot earth....reigniting a passion that i thought was long gone...buried deep under the baggage from the past two years..a job, disciplined
It has never ceased to amaze me despite being from kerala i manage to get so worked up about the rains. I don't remember being like this when i was in school..rather i was more like johny in that stupid old rhyme..hating every bit of it..
Peer pressure, the expectations that i had created for myself and my pursuit of what i thought would be best for me took me out of palakkad and onto one of the blue blooded schools in chennai. Dust, grime and the heat had become second nature. The only good that ever came out of it being my partially neutralised mallu accent and outlook..
Luckily for me i never did make it in the big city, dejected and sitting at only company being the monsoon raging away in all its glory...that was to be the defining period in my life..if there ever has been one.
There is the kiran before and after...a snobby,serious, back stabbing go-getter to a self deprecating, friendly, thinks otherwise though. and still has very high plans for me...if only they realise what i planned to do with my life (smirk on the face)
These and a flood of other thoughts came and then blurred away as i drifted into sleep...beautiful images of coorg that was going to clear the clutter in my brain