Finding me

May be its a lame effort to not wear my heart on my sleeve.

The knots bind her life,
Engulfing her caged ego,
The beauty of dreams shatters,
The urge to laugh desecrates,
She cries in the mesmerized solitude,
Lumbering the dark voids of her mind,
The ghosts of her past wriggle by,
Unfulfilled expectations haunt,
Unanswered questions sneer,
Words disappoint her tears,
Love culls her faith,
Unscathed is her forlorn heart,
Searching serenity in happiness bygone,
Such is the mystery of life, she breathes
Slowly the knots untie,
Painful truth spate her fantasy,
The woman rises, carnages the child in her,
Oh! She bleeds gathering pieces of her chimeras,
Surrounded with remorse,
Blinded with belief,
Alas! She surrenders letting the relentless, that is her life.

Cricket is our religion; Sachin is our God

Cricket is our religion; Sachin is our God

Ever since the summer of 1996 , my addiction to cricket and the world cup has remained; a lot less fanatic, but subtlety consistent zeal still drives me to unconsciously mutter a prayer or two for the players out at the field who are trying to keep up the expectations of a billion fans like me and make this game of cricket an engaging sport.

It comes as no surprise to me that a new comic is being published n India, which features Sachin Tendulkar as a super-hero, only next to superman and the like. I often wonder for those few hours we watch them on the screens smashing balls, grabbing wickets, diving for catches how is it that they feel being demi-gods to the public? I am reminded of the dialogue from the movie spider-man “With great power comes great responsibility”. It suits the responsibility we usher upon those eleven players, to win a match, that has now become more detrimental than life itself!

This fact has only been furthered by the incidents of last week, when hell had broken loose after India was defeated by Bangladesh and the Pakis didn’t make it to the super-8. I had sat saddling with disappointment at the edge of the couch watching one wicket after another fall, mouthing many grumps. End of the day only two questions remained in my mind – 1. Which player’s house will be vandalized in India? 2. Which player will be vandalized in Pakistan?

Has the Gentleman’s game gone out of hands, is a topic still in debate and will continue to be for decades to come. We often hear about the extremes of fad that drives fans to kill themselves after a defeat. Fans destroy homes of the cricketers. Fans burn effigies of their heroes. End of the immediate uproar and anxiety a defeat brings to the nation, rage dies out and the zealousness continues. Can anyone forget the unsettling era of Ganguly’s captaincy?? Amidst this clamor, the country and its media forgets those eleven players who are mere mortals like any of us with emotions and problems and not consistent machines that are being threatened and pushed to perform like gods.

It is often sad to see the extent to which a public reaction torments these players, which is evident from the recent developments of a series of resignations in the Pakistan team and board, not to forget Woolmer’s unfortunate demise. Nevertheless to say as an ardent fan of cricket itself, one will miss the Pakistan team with entertaining fast bowlers like shoiab and hitters like Afridi. May be I can never understand the extremist view of the cricketing world and the players who are the scapegoats of the unforgiving cricket-buffs.

At such moments I reluctantly recall G B Shaw for his definition of cricket as a fool’s game and soon decidedly ignore it when I look forward to the next match with absolute gung-ho. And this time it is the deciding match of tomorrow. Ho Hail The Indian Cricket Team!

God’s (dis)own Country

God’s (dis)own country??

It has been more than ten years since I stopped watching the news on Malayalam channels. Apart from the communist party’s hooliganism, never-ending strikes, a series of political leaders’ overviews and some unruliness of the unemployed male population the news had nothing worthwhile to tell you. I was tired of listening to my father rant watching the news “oh the state has gone to the dogs” and I stuck to asianet for the movies and songs which the conservative and decent part of the Kerala film industry still continues to produce!

I have spent a good many years of my life in Kerala and I am thankful my memories are of times spent as a child and everything innocent and happy. Other than these, I only feel remorseful contempt for ‘ende keralam’* which only seems to worsen by the day.

Whoever, still cares to call kerala “gods own country”, I wish to shake them up and let them know that the Gods decided to disown us a long-long time ago. It depresses me to see my land so blessed with rain, fertile harvests, rich culture and traditions; scenic beauty fails to make a mark in any way. If at all kerala is in the news it is for the 100% horny movies, high suicide rates, increasing rates of atrocities against women, child molestations, excessive poverty, thousands admitted for intoxication, leaders in liquor consumption, pathetically unemployed, towering labor costs.

I happened to read this article in ndtv today that talked about the ‘Alcohol consumers “welfare” association’ in kerala and how they are trying to get the government to sell liquor at subsidized rates. I must confess it scandalized me to say the least. When the nation was progressing to produce professionals, economy was soaring high elsewhere; men in kerala lie deliberately ignorant to the world to be satisfactorily inebriated.

There is a lot that goes untold and un-reported in the popularly read newspapers like ‘malayalam manorama’ and ‘mathrubhumi’ who claim that such news ‘cannot be mentioned in public’. It is a known fact to every kerelaite that a woman can’t walk the streets alone, leave alone going to movie theatres or travel alone. My hometown of Trivandrum is known for the job-less street mongers who can’t help but whistle a tune or two at every woman aging between five and fifty. I have avoided public transport because of the atrocities men aging from fifteen to eighty inflict on the female passengers. If this is not enough, this write-up of experiences of six women journalists describes the ‘way kerala treats women’. End of it I felt ashamed to be coming from such a cruel place which held no respect for the women folk.

I recall the incident; my aunt experienced walking down the busy street of MG road in Cochin. A teenager had the balls to blow kisses to her from the opposite end. Overcame with rage on this brat who had not even started to shave, she had crossed the road to slap the boy right across his face. It got me thinking if society in kerala had grown to accept imprudence of any kind?

It is high time kerala stopped hanging on the 1991 report of it being the highest literate state. If there is any land more illiterate on civilized rules of a land, it is kerala. What can you say about the state when people recall it for the porn stardom, voluptuousness and hypocritic sexism? I am sure I am not the only one who is pained watching my home-town wither away in the hands of indecent men who are turning the god’s land into a living hell!!

*My land kerala

An evening at the Charles

An evening at the Charles

It was a perfectly facetious evening I spent yesterday with my friends over a cup of tea. As I cautiously dipped the parle-G in the piping hot tea, tacitly removed the biscuit before it softens enough to sink, and let it smoothly crumble in my mouth; I couldn’t help but smile at the feeling of neutrality and peace the cold evening, blue skies, the shimmering yellow sun through the window, the lazy couch, the munch-able potato chips and the company of friends provided!

As a torpid hour or two of levity passed, we decided to take a stroll to the scenic Charles River. Thanks to the birth of spring, the sun continued to shine late upto 7 pm, prolonging the evening with ease. The promenade extended over the street laden with shops and restaurants that told anecdotes of my stay in Boston in the summer of 2006. It brought a freezing smile on my face, owing to the biting wind that had engulfed the city after the latest snow storm. We trudged our way through the icy footpath, enjoying the chillness a pile of white snow emanates, which to my experience offers softness, much unlike a cruelly cutting breeze.

I had never experienced Charles and the pathway for joggers next to the river, this white and beautiful before! My memories race back ten months ago, when my attempts to jog were accompanied by the greenery and gambit of joggers flooding the tracks. The ducks that waded smoothly on the little streams of the river that I loved watching from the bridges connecting pathways were now missing due to the frozen waters. The yellow sun was now scintillating the semi-frozen river with an orange-ish tint that reflected to envelope the sky crapes lining the river bed with atmost elegance. I stepped on to the wooden dock, now smothered with snow, fondly remembering the summery warm weather when I spent many hours waddling my feet in the waters below, seated on the wooden dock. I breathed in the nothingness, the crystal clear purity of the waters below, the line of dazzling tall buildings erected on the other side, the crimson sky succumbing to the fierce sun and the soothing chillness … I wondered only if life was just as perfect as an evening like this one!!

Dress Code

Dress Code

“A set of rules specifying exactitudes of etiquette on an Indian female student, such that the fellow male students are feeling satisfactorily unprovoked”.

This; is the very old unwritten rule of the education system in engineering colleges of Chennai. Colleges like Sa****ma have been pioneers in this regard who are even rumored to have spies watching their students to live upto these ‘standards’ even outside the college premises. I wonder if the education system needs to spend so much time over penalizing the girls, just because it doesn’t trust the men!?

I had read one of those articles a few months back, which make you feel so cheesy for having read it. This one talked about the need for lesser co-educational institutions in India reasons being – “pretty faces distract the youth, women are responsible for instilling men with dirty thoughts, it hampers the growth of young men who are the future generations”. Firstly the one who wrote this doesn’t seem to understand what education is. Secondly his lame reasons might be the outcome of his experiences as a student. Thirdly you can’t miss the tinge of uncalled for male chauvinism in between the lines.

End of the last paragraph I had this cartoon in mind with a girl strangling the guy with her ‘dupatta’, the intimidating picture the author gave about female students. At the same time the thought crossed my mind, if dupatta was all that was needed to cleanse the minds of Indian men, why wasn’t that happening?? I think of another cartoon with a girl wiping the dirt off the guy’s mind with her ‘dupatta’ and a heap of already used dupattas lying on the floor.

I still recall the day in my first year of college when the girls were asked to assemble in a separate classroom and lectured on how our outfits could “provoke” the guys in the class. What followed were the rules as stringent as length of the dupatta and the kurta which are “unprovoked-able”. It was ended with the threat of a hundred rupee fine if any girl was seen wearing jeans or violating the aforementioned rules. College life had seemed bleak and ugly all of a sudden. Was it all about saving your virginity from a bunch of incorrigible hooligans on campus??

Don’t get me wrong here. My idea is not to preach the necessity of giving women the right to wear anything they want in college. I understand and respect the needs of institutions to have dress codes. But enforcing standards to prevent certain men from howling, hooting or getting deviated or getting distracted doesn’t seem like the right thing to do. Those pervert minds cannot be changed with a circus tent like kurta and shawl like dupatta supposedly protecting your femininity!

It is every woman’s responsibility to not let her be a prey to the vulgarity of certain men; be it in the form of eve-teasing or actions of luring to be used. But it leaves me to wonder, if education can’t produce civilized citizens, then what can? I clearly remember the article in India today magazine, where the police commissioner of Delhi concluded that,” the average Indian male’s mentality has not grown with the rise of independence among women, which is the reason for the increased atrocities against women”. The statement was backed by a picture of two women wearing party clothes. It left me guessing the time it is going to take for the “average Indian male mentality” to outgrow the perverse shell and the time for women to put their safety ahead of glamorous independence. As long as this doesn’t reach a perfect balance, men will continue to target women and a thousand odd to-be-female-engineers in colleges of Chennai will continue to be punished for not following the un-provokable dress-code!!

Womanhood and the Like

Womanhood and the Like

It was a sundry experience; I had, watching the movie 300 last Saturday. Raving about its picturesque entertainment apart, I believe the film makers had gone a long way to appease the female audience. Here was the role of the queen of Leonidas who was an unmatched sensuous, audacious, sharp and patronizing partner to the King. Having watched a myriad of off late Kollywood and Bollywood dramas, where so-called commercial cinema meant a zillion shots of a woman’s Torso, a Casanova hero and grotesque skin show in the cheesy name of “item-number”, 300 seemed to respect the very existence of a woman in every man’s life and in the man’s world.

When someone said – “Behind every successful man lies a woman”, I believe it meant way beyond the carnal pleasures she offered, and much into the assurance and solace she provided. I am reminded of the story of Sudha Murthy, wife of Narayan Murthy, who found a place in workshops of Telco and in the heart of JRD Tata for her daring gesture to take up a male-preferred job. Later she gave up her career for Infosys, her husband’s venture. Women like her have proved that womanhood is all about being daring, composed, wise and elegant.

I am no feminist; neither am I a believer that every man on this earth is a MCP. For the very same reason, I think that reserving 35% seats for women in Engineering colleges is no less a discrimination on the basis of sex. Incidentally on Women’s day last week, I caught myself arguing with a colleague on women managers. He seemed to believe that being powerful and stringent to get work done was completely unfeminine. I countered the statement, insisting on the pressures of being a woman in a male dominated environment and yet succeeding because of their level-headed temperament and not because they seek equality and neither because they were born as women. I exemplified it with Indira Gandhi and the remark on her as “the only man in the cabinet”. End of it I wondered if this debate would ever have a true winner.

I recall the little incident as a six year old, which left a mark on me till this day. It was the evening of Krishna jayanthi and the house was laden with the aroma of ‘palaharams’ of sweets and everything mouth-watering. But the ambrosia was taboo until the pooja. I had overheard my aunt remark that if children ask for the sweets before it was offered to the Gods it was acceptable to give them. Overcome with childish greed I had dared to ask for a bite to which my mother not only vehemently opposed but left a comment that it would have been agreeable if I were a boy child, but being a girl I was not to ask. I had turned a helpless rebel after that, not understanding why the boy cousins enjoyed certain luxuries in the family that we girls didn’t. I later consoled myself that what my mother meant was girls were milder in disposition than the boys.

Seventeen years and later, the very scenario seems poignantly satiric to me. I wonder if I am caught in a sea of transitions; A world of independent single mothers, hardworking super-moms who manage Multi Nationals, women who are expressive about their sexuality as much as about their wit, women underrepresented and wanting equality in the man’s world. I am not blatantly independent to walk the ‘altar’ alone. Neither am I a coy undercover, who can’t handle life the way it comes. It leaves me guessing as to when will us humans, live as humans and not as man or woman.

As I find a few answers and feel strangely discomfited doing so, I simply boil it down to I as an individual with identity, passions, dreams and destinations. I am happy to see this world as a woman and enjoy the phases of femininity without complexes of a weaker or stronger sex. I am contented to be able to run the mile, chase away shadows, follow my dreams and wear a happy smile. May be that’s the true meaning of feeling like a woman!

Bed-Time

Bed-time

Its 11:30 on a cold Thursday night. I lay lazily wading through the pages of “Life of Pi”, the book I borrowed from Satish last evening. I dig the Haagen Dazs pineapple-coconut flavor, well aware of it nullifying my efforts to crunch in the mornings. Yet I gourmand the ice cream as I read on, pulling the blanket, cozily sinking into the couch, slowly tilting my head till its comfortable enough doze off. I slur over the voice inside my head coaxing me to “brush your teeth” before bed. I read on savoring and imagining the story through my remnants of Pondicherry. I faintly smile and go over the funny incident in my office cube, my thoughts candidly drifting away from the book. I am suddenly aware of my surroundings, the curry which needs to be in the fridge, the dry plates that have to be dropped into the sink, the very ambitious dosa dough that needs to be battered from wrong soaked proportions of my folly and ignorance – 1 cup rice and 3 cups of urud dal. I tell myself “tomorrow…. May be”. I slothfully crumble deeper into the couch and flip the pages, placing the light and empty ice cream cup on the table. I am no longer reading, but waddling over the lines, dissolving the milky tang tarrying my tongue, letting pangs of sleep crawl over me smoothly, steadily until it expedites as the declarative yawn. I cede to the angelic, leaden and natural hypnosis of slumber… until the next sunshine….