The First Time

The trip went well ,maybe too well...Old as I am, this was my first trip absolutely alone and that too for a long period in a "strange" land.There is something in our culture that rebels against the lone man..I guess it's there in every society of the world.The man who is alone thinks and acts differently and so even the mere sight of someone alone ,independent strikes fear in our hearts.The most often questions I were asked were of course "Where are you from?" and "Who is with you?" followed by looks ranging from amazement to contempt to loathing .I don't really feel like blogging today so I will just put in some excerpts from a diary I maintained on my trip....

The bus journey was tolerable considering the standard of K.S.R.T.C.Reached Munnar at around six in the morning.Took an auto to Devikulam where my accommodation was arranged.Despite wearing a sweater the cold wind chilled me to the bone and my mandibles worked over time through out the journey.The mountains and the tea plantations were covered by a thin mist and the clouds seemed to be all around me.The drive was breath taking.

After breakfast, walked the way back to Munnar and also went exploring some side roads leading to the Tata Tea Managers Bungalow ,build by the Britishers around 80 -100 years back.The cook cum helper in the I.B was surprised I walked all the way to Munnar.He could recollect only once when he had done so and that was in school when there was a torrential downpour and no buses plied.He he ,he hasn't seen anything of me yet...

The silent presence of nature is profound in and around the IB. A narrow recently tarred road,hugged by the forest on both sides, leads away from the main road to the IB.Even along the main road that silent presence of the forest is there, broken once in a while by a bus or jeep.It's such a pleasure to walk aimlessly like this.To look at the trees ,the enormous bee hives hanging down,and all those sparrows,doves...I had forgotten what it was to be with myself...
When it rains,it pours.That's what's happening in Trivandrum and strangely enough in my life...a temp job,friends materialising out of the blue..H came down from Manipal and straightaway a get together of all the chaps were arranged.So S, P,H and yours truly went to the only decent place in Trivandrum and that is the kadalpallam in Valiyathura.Its a bridge which extends a good 150 metres into the sea.Not many people around and families are averse to coming here ,mainly coz the place is frequented by fishing folk.The breeze and the view are terrific..At the farthest end ,this bridge ,a good 50 years old, is around 20 feet deep.It's undobtedly one of the best kept secrets in Trivandrum and I sincerely hope it stays that way...There were lots of clouds and the sunset was breathtaking .The sky was awash with colourful splendour.

Looks like my prayers have been answered at last...Its vacation time for me folks ,albeit a tiny one...mostly just for the weekend,but if I like the place I just might stay for a week. Will tell u about this place when and if i return in one piece ;-)

Bus Jumping more fun than bungee...

I did something today after nearly a decade,purely out of necessity.It happened in this fashion.I was walking briskly towards the bus stop when I heard the dreaded "ting ting" and saw my regular bus starting to pull away.As luck would have it, I was at the other side of the road.The heat had become intolerable again and I was in no mood to wait for the next bus.I quickly crossed the road ,started running along with the bus and in quick time was in, safe and sound.This however does not give a true description of what actually happened.

Bus jumping is an art form practiced by the youth here since the eighties.The first step in this is of course that you have to be eighteen or at least look that age.Nowadays I see even school kids practicing this art with much fervour so I take it that the age limit has been relaxed.The second step is to travel on the steps.Ahh,this is a very delicate matter and calls for astute observation and impeccable timing.One should get in the bus so that one cannot move farther in because of the crowd but at the same time one should not hang out on the first step.A couple of rides in this fashion and then one can practice getting down before the bus completely stops.At first of course ,one jumps down just a second before the bus stops.Again one has to take into account the speed of the bus,vehicles,pedestrians,cows,etc before the jump.The next step is the real hanging where four ,five even eight men will be hanging out with just some part of their body in the bus.The highest level of this is the "kunjuviral adavu",roughly translated as "small finger move" where believe it or not,the commuter travels with just the small finger of one of his legs inside the bus.

Now to bus jumping proper.I will take today's case as an example.I ran full speed alongside the bus .Once the door was reached(well lets call it an opening ,there's no door as such) the right hand has to get hold one of the iron rods on either side for climbing in.Simultaneously, I had to judge the height of the bus steps from the ground and the speed of the bus.Yes the height is important coz some buses may be missing a few steps.Today I couldn't get hold of the rod in time(the position was different) and so got on board the bus a couple of seconds late...nothing wrong with that except you land in the bus panting and people tend to gawk at you as if you were a madman.(which they do anyways)

Of course its been quite a while and my fitness is not that great these days.I've had only one scary experience ,and that was when, years ago, I tried to board a bus which didn't stop at the bus stop.I ran furiously with it ,got hold of the horizontal railings at the window and...vacuum...I couldn't find the damned foot board to place my legs.So there I was suspended in mid air clinging to the rusty bars of a bus gaining speed all the time, a la Indiana Jones.After an eternity my leaden feet found ground and I stumbled abroad.I tell you each and every face in that bus(except the driver) was looking at me as if i was....yes, a madman.Luckily the conductor didn't say anything .Just ticked and handed me my ticket..Well that sums up one of my innumerable wild rides...
There was a sudden downpour yesterday evening for close to an hour.Phew!! The heat was getting way too much.As always when it rains ,I felt less restless and more peaceful.Yep, Im on my best behaviour during the monsoons.Maybe there's some truth to the saying that the weather has a large part in making us whiny,callous and indifferent.Yeah, next time you blow your top blame it on the heat!! I am all for a study to determine whether the levels of corruption,frustration and indifference in this country goes down during the monsoons.

Yesudas was in town for a carnatic recital and you bet I went.Earlier there was this attitude of "next time" whenever a show like this came but somehow these days I'm grabbing things like these at the first opportunity.It was in the very spacious and antique University Senate Hall. Its a funny thing about Trivandrum that whatever little good is there in this city is courtsey of the erstwhile royal family and that period.The show was superb but the heat was a dampener for everyone including the musicians.

In domestic matters, the kittens are all over the place.They have two cats feeding them and they never seem to get enough.They run around the place(super fast!) ,climb on sofas, shred plants, catch and tear apart coackroaches and in general make a pretty fine mess.But all three chaps are very lovable and supremly innocent.You look into their eyes and you melt.They have a couple of strange of them is the "reverse gear" ,as I call it.When you approach them they walk back rapidly in a straight line!! Then there is the "crouching tiger", where in they hide in a corner and once you reach that spot they jump out scaring themselves more than us!! Well I guess its not much fun when you describe it, but they are really adorable to watch.
Went to an astounding blog from Manoj's home page...I mean his was impressive enough but then he has the computer as a way of his life and the poor bloke studied in an IIT.So we'll forgive him . But this is a Dream. . . I always knew it and I have said this much before but the true "significance" of my HTML et al illeteracy hit me like a tornado after visiting this site.enough...let the site speak for itself..
P.S: I was tempted to take my blog down immediately after the visit, so beware all ya bloggers ...but not to worry ,the shock will wear off after sometime!!
I was going to write one huge essay but luckily I came across what I wanted to express here

My first memory of her is that of a girl with pigtails and running nose.A distant relative of mine , she is eight years younger than me.She had come to my house last year .She had grown into a pretty young girl.How time flies!!

Now she has been engaged to some Dubai chap.I learned about this a month back.How time flies!!

Yesterday she has run away from her house with one of her classmates(err male ofcourse) indeed time flies!!

Hartal and Bandhs

India can proudly claim to be one of the most environment friendly countries on the planet.We have this habit of emptying roads of all the vehicles once in a while.Today it was the turn of Kerala.The political parties are ofcourse behind such a noble venture.It's obvious you just can't ask people not to ply the roads and not to go for work.There has to be a reason.So the opposition communists here have declared a "hartal" because police clashed with tribals in the jungles of Kerala err..about a month or so ago.Well actually ,that is not the real reason of course.These dear lovable politician folks care so much about the polluted environment.The air definitely needed some cleaning up and "hartal" it had to be.Now you folks in the west can learn something from us regarding this "hartal" business.

First a little history.These hartals were called "bandhs" first and were effectively used as a weapon against the British by Gandhiji.Basically shops,offices,schools etc are closed. Lately the ever busy body courts here banned "bandhs" because of some cock and bull story of infringement of fundamental rights.Lately ,due to the moral degradation of the people, they have to be forced to close shops.They have the impunity especially , folks with two wheelers, to go about as if nothing's happened.I ventured out today coz I had to go for work.Saw a couple of cars with "examination" posted on the glass.As if the blokes who will do the stone throwing are going to pause and read.Oh I forgot,there was this little uncomfortable business of an examination (nationwide boards C.B.S.E,I.C.S.E).The Govt made a big issue out of it asking the opposition to withdraw the hartal.What nonsense!!

Now all you westerners, you have no idea how the youth of this country look upto the politicians here.One of my friends said the other day :"All politicians are bastards,but the Indian ones are shameless bastards"...tch tch ..he's an exception folks.I mean just imagining what all personal sacrifices they undertake for the country,I'm....sorry, I'm too emotional to continue on this subject..*wipes tears and blows nose into hanky*

Oh yesterday some student activists torched two government cars after they were "lathicharged"..Lathi means cane ,and a very thick stout one too..These poor fellas went for a march to the Govt Secretariat ..They were prevented mid way through by the police.Some stones were pelted on the police,naturally.Just for that they beat the students black and blue..Ouch that hurts..I should know Ive got one when I was a student of The Govt Arts College here.The SFI(student organisation of the communist party) used to round up us students and force us to march shouting slogans against the Govt.In one of these excursions,I got in an intimate relation with the lathi...Lathi in malayalam also means one who talks too much about nothing.At the risk of being called that ,I am stopping for the time being.
"The Prince shall have one foot tied. Fearsome to his enemies, He shall make his soil rebound. Having joined battle with the people of Africa. Moon shining, the little great one lead off. The stone in the tree, the proud nation restored."
- Nostradamus

Meaning :
"The Prince (Prince of Kolkata) will be out of form before the World Cup. But he will come back to form. He will play among the people of the African continent and the little one (Sachin) will lead India to victory under the shining of the Moon (Day and Night where India will chase to win).And then proud India will rejoice in winning the World Cup(stone in the tree).."

Courtsey: Saravana Sundar
Let me indulge myself. This post will not be of any interest to the majority but since there's nothing else of interest to write , I might as well do it.This is about my relationship with music which started a looong time back.The first image is me perched on top of the washing stone(a cement square structure with a stone embedded in the center used for washing clothes) and "singing" at the top of my voice at the impressionable age of four or five.We were at that time living in a colony where the houses were virtually jammed together in a row,seven or eight of them. Day after day, at around seven I used to get up and start hollering the same songs till eight.Yep ,there was no stopping me.My parents and the meighbours tried all forms of "therapy" but I was pretty stubborn even then.Till the age of nine I was just into mallu songs.I am still a hard core fan of old malayalam film songs.

The year was 1988 and "BAD" was making waves.I had a chance to surf the Michael Jackson mania and this was my first true introduction to pop music.As the years rolled by The Bee Gees, Queen,Madonna,Richard Marx,MLTR,Belinda Carlisle,Jim Reeves,Cliff Richard and innumerable others filled my heart.Big fan of HIndi songs mostly old and upto DTPH.I very rarely listen to the new ones.

I have had the "goosebump effect " twice.It's when you listen to a song for the first time and suddenly you know that youve heard this one before, that you are going to hear it again and it reminds of you time beyond here.And needless to say ,you get goosebumps.Only two songs in this category so is "manasu pole paayum nadi" from "Mazhayettum mumbe" and "Nee kaatru njan Maram" a Tamil song.The feling is instantaneous , as soon as you hear the first line , you know that this is "it".The first song I heard in a movie theater and the second on the know it doesnt make much sense and i wonder whether this gels with the rest of the post but since what i write hardly ever makes much sense ,lets leave it at that.

The mp3 fixation started with the need to hear a few good songs.I still used to buy cassetes at that time but found that they were mysteriously inflicted with fungus soon after.I mean ,My dad's Jim Reeves casette ,while 30 years old, has no probs.So either the new technology is not up to the mark or these companies are doing it on purpose.Yeah ,in business,no conspiracy theory is as far fetched as it sounds.So starting off as an innocent 128 kbps downloader ,I became a 192 kbps fan and now a 320 kbps fanatic.There sure is a huge difference in clarity .A week back with the help of a good friend, I burned all those Gigabytes for posterity.Believe it or not, I recently came across a blog whose author claimed the existence of an aluminium eating godawful fungus.He had photos to prove the same, showing effects of the fungus on his cd. :-(

"All good things start free and then.." This is my quote for the www.You must have heard that Google bought blogspot.There was this big fuss about increased server speed ,efficiency blah ,blah. But this looks good , a double barelled ad the top of blogspot devouring "The Mallu Devil".At first I thought my eyes had finally crashed, making me see double on the screen .Nice work chaps, when do i get to see the pop up windows?

Those who are still awake and reading , let me .share with you something I enjoyed.Its about Mandira Bedi's performance In Sony Max during this world cup.I haven't seen this "performance" yet so I really don't know if it's biased, but some of her supposed comments had me in splits.If the link is not on, lemme know.

This post dedicated to the ever "young and gorgeous" G.Lets hope she stays around blogging for ever !!
Kerala's Day of shame

There is a picture in the paper featuring the two kids in relation to the above story but its not there in the website..Its gut wrenching not because they are hideous or different but because they are like any other kids.Unfortunately I don't have a scanner,but I think it should be there in all the Kerala editions of The Hindu.This story proves the point that there is only so much you can do with education and awareness.AIDS related ads are screaming day in day out of the tv and radios here,what is the use? But in one way its hardly surprising .In southern Kerala you'll find the most selfish stubborn ,rude conservative people on the planet.Nothing will go into their thick skulls.Heres the press report of the story.

Sorry about the pic quality, this was all I could manage.This is NOT the photo I had in mind but guess it will do.

Image courtsey:Mathrubhumi

On the war front, Australian high school students made a strong "Books not Bombs "statement . In USA actors who have dared to go public against the war are feeling the heat
Met a nice bloke yesterday online at WinMX..yes he's Australian..I don't know about you, but Australia to me always conjured up images of fierce ,no bullshit taking ,abusive six feet plus homo sapiens..blame it on the beer ads.I was unsuccessfully(anything new?) trying to download a couple of mp3s from him.Considering the fact that I belong to the T.B.C( Technologically Backward Class), he was extremely polite and patient with me.We discussed a bit of cricket and the weather too.These mp3 sites are where I have met a majority of my online friends.

It all started with Audiogalaxy(R.I.P) over a year ago.One had to download an Audiogalaxy satellite,go to the home page and then search and queue up the songs that one wanted.As simple as that.There were groups for every artist and music subdivision you could think of. Once you are in a group you could send a song to all the members of the group or any particular person. Met a hell lot of different personalities there and my music education had well and truly begun.Every member had his own home page where he could list whatever he felt like listing.People were listed by countries and you could contact peeps online at the same time by IM.

"If something is too good to be true ,it usually is"...sob...Ag followed the way of napster leaving me with a broken heart and 12 GB of mp3s.But Ag was certainly not an angel.Recently after installing and running Ad-Aware I found my computer to be a spy mine with the evil Gator having a free run.Despite that, Ag was the best .Winmx is spyware free ,that way its good.But for a truly unique music learning experience Ag was the king.
One of the benefits of the unemployed status is the huge amount of time on my hands.So I started what any self respecting purposeful individual would do in my circumstances.Go back to the classics !! Just bought The Complete Illustraated Sherlock Holmes brought out by Roopa with all the original drawings that appeared when Conan Doyle's works were published serially in The Strand.I am half way through "Sign of four" ...The sleuth injecting cocaine (the first scene) and having a blast amused was expunged from all the versions I had read when I was younger..What's the big deal I wonder?All geniuses have their eccentricities and viles,for what is a genius without them ?

The talk of war is all over the place.For Christ's sake I saw a demonstartion even in Trivandrum the other day.Left me secretly pleased .John Brady Kiesling, a member of Bush's Foreign Service Corps and Political Counselor to the American embassy in Greece stepped down earlier this week in protest against the US policy on Iraq.Didn't see this bit of news in any of the papers here.Here's his letter to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.This clearly shows people are protesting and acting too at that, but the media is preferring to ignore them.All war is bad and I don't think the protest is just about Iraq.Hopefully its a message against war everywhere.The protests have been massive and universal across the world.The Pictures tell the stories themselves.It might take acouple of minutes to load the page so pls be patient folks.If all the pictures don't show up on the first try, refreshing the page will do the trick.

Letter link courtesy:Meenuji

Let today be a links day...On the day of the biggest match in the world cup what better way to start off than with 2 articles on cricket:
1.The Global Reality Show.
2.Riding the Brandwagon.

Chanced upon the website of author Anita Nair by chance.I have been a fan of her ever since I read her humor pieces in Man's World ,a "male" magazine which had more women contributors than male.Never got around to reading any of her novels though.Her site is tastefully done and pretty easy to navigate though I doubt if its been updated lately..The Man's World articles are all there as far as I can make out, under the Humor section.Lots of things to read here and you won't be dissapointed.