Unishe April and more

All my interest in Bengali comes from my love for my sweet friend Oditi, I mean Aditi Ghatak.

While I had been reading a lot of Tagore and a few other writers its not until recently that I felt drawn to Bengali music and cinema.

Unishe April was an experience. A beautiful narrative scripted around a simple story of love, angst and the complexities in the relationship of a mother and daughter who discover each other.

Then I watched Punashca 2014. An elderly writer develops a relationship with his college mate, an old flame and the unexpected and complicated events this leads to is what the film is all about . With some great acting by the beautiful Rupa Ganguly, Soumitra Chatterjee and Sayani Ghosh, the film is a treat to watch.

Regional literature, music, films in India are a hidden wealth, unexplored by most Indians due to the language barrier, which I believe only adds to their beauty.

While there is the constant agony of being subsumed by the more powerful, techno-savvy and rich Hindi Cinema, regional cinema hold on its own self and is constantly improving in terms of regular and loyal followers.

But I am afraid we can’t say the same for music because as we were working with students for the Independence day celebrations, we realized that singers are unable to sing in their own mother tongue with confidence.

Hindi songs, we know a plenty, they said. So any Marathi, patriotic song.. ‘no mam’, ‘Bengali, can’t remember mam’.. so on and so forth came the excuses.

It is important that every educational institution, works with the youngsters instilling a pride in them for the place of their origin.

Watching films from across the country could be a good way to learn other Indian languages!

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CTR for Benne Dose

If you are in Bangalore and if you do not visit CTR and have their classic ‘Benne Dose’ well, you have missed an experience of a life time.

Tucked in the busy corners of Malleshwaram, a corner of old Bangalore that is always abuzz, like my friend Suma would travel to Malleshwaram in search of stuff like the bindis, the bangles, saris, ready made blouses and what not. It was Suma who over repeated narrations instilled into me a certain respect and awe for ‘Malleshwaram’.

So me and my daughter visit the very famous CTR after a stroll at the Sankey Tank presumably to regain whatever calories we lost in the ‘good for health morning walk’!

The space is crammed and has an old world feel about it. People are jostling in and out busily in search of the best dose in the world. There is a rush!

The rush is an everyday event though, what with the popularity and awards that this place has been winning over the years with the ‘apps’ furthering the appetite of the city.

We tuck into our own Benne dose with glee and seal the deal with a cup of filter coffee.

We go back again greedy for another round many days later and guess what after a belly full of benne dose, I go tumbling down the narrow, buttery staircase and end up looking like a fool with blood gushing down my chin and bruised lips, pain in unspeakable places and what not.

A few stitches later, the doctor making small talk, so you are from, but you speak good Hindi and stuff and a very frightened look on my daughter’s face, I try to bring about a broken smile through it all, no choice right!

But yes, benne dose wins the day, and I get stitched all over, nevertheless, I might just go again, stitches or no stitches, the dose calls can’t be resisted.

Benne Dose

But if you are planning a visit, be there like real early, grab your chair and hold on to it, because a few others are eyeing your chair and waiting for you to get up for their share of Benne Doses.

So good luck for your visit to CTR!

Kannada Baruthe

Been in Bangalore, Karnataka for almost a decade, yet all I know is rudimentary Kannada. Why did it never occur to me to put myself to the task of learning a new language, when supposedly I love languages?

It must be sheer laziness and the fact that in Bangalore, you can speak any language you know and still get the work done. Bangaloreans in general are conversant with Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam and more and that is a deterrent.

The desire to interact more with youngsters at college, talk to colleagues and feel more at home here in Bangalore, I am trying my best to get a hold over Kannada.

Well, reading and writing can wait, speaking Kannada decently enough would do for now.

I used to speak Telugu fluently way back in my primary school when I studied in Vijayawada but soon forgot all of it after moving back to Kerala.

If I manage to convince myself of having learnt to speak good Kannada, I definitely want to brush up my Telugu.

Then comes, Tamil, which I being a Malayali, tend to think that I know already. In reality, it is definitely not so. It is only my good friend, Sudha who taught me a smattering of Tamil heavily laced with Malayalam.

When this much is done, well, it already looks like a 10 year plan, I am keen to pick up some Sanskrit and then maybe a foreign language.

If all this happens before I kick the bucket, I would be somewhat proud of myself.

Looks like a lot of work.

I did read somewhere that learning a new language is the best way to keep one smart… so that be the goal… a smart polyglot! Sounds good!

I

I know. I know. I know.

I really do.

I care. I care. I care.

I do honestly.

I want to. I just want to. I do.

I mean every word I say. I do. I did. I always did.

I mean. I actually mean. I mean it, really.

I love. I love. I love.

I just do. I really do. I sincerely do.

But

You see

Oh! you don’t see

I can’t even if I want. I really can’t.

You can’t get it. You really can’t. You could never get it.

I knew you would never see. You couldn’t see. You never did.

So, I never said. I never did. I never ……

You see

oh! you don’t see.

You can never see…

Ah! whatever!!!

His story

I was a weak student, mam. In school I was made to sit in the first bench. I was sitting next to a bright student and the teacher always discriminated against me.

I felt bad. I felt discriminated against. I grew up feeling inadequate and not smart.

Today when I stand here and I am able to speak. I feel good.

He spoke in a soft searching tone and when he stopped speaking, the class applauded his honesty in sharing.

  • Sorrows diminish in sharing. Share, speak up, spread the word. You will meet a kindred soul somewhere.

********************************************************************

Jithu had lost all his confidence.

He is a special child, you see, he needs a little more love and affection than others and a lot of patience.

When the teacher constantly filled his sheets with red corrections and wrote big zeroes on his answer script, the brightness in his eyes dimmed, he looked tormented as if he had failed somehow.

I was afraid of antagonizing the teacher and the management who always welcomed me with open arms, so I kept quiet initially. But soon, I broached up some courage and approached them with my problem.

The management came up with a solution, they said,’Why don’t you prepare a question paper based on what you teach your son? Give it to us and we will print it out without letting him know. He will be tested on this.’ I was thrilled. I knew Jithu will now turn around. So we both worked really hard.

So this exam was different. I had set the paper and we had done a lot of practice. Infact, Jithu rocked it. He is slowly regaining his confidence. I am glad I spoke to the teachers. Soon I will join his school and I will be able to support him and others like him.

These are the words of a cancer survivor, a young mother of a special child, most importantly a feisty woman who has faced the challenges of life boldly. We laughed over a few jokes and she said, ‘when can we meet?’ ‘Soon,’ said I. Friendships like these need to be nurtured. We both have agreed to do just that.

  • Express. Express. Express. Articulate your problem, more often than not the other person is willing to help.

*********************************************************************

Where is the facility for sports? Who cares for young people like me who love to play? Why are we always asked to study?

Who do I talk to? No body understands me. The young man vent out his frustration.

Life is tough, he said sagely. However, I have learned to provide for myself and my cricket coaching, isn’t that amazing?

I hope my father feels proud of my achievements and witnesses my success. I am working towards it.

  • Keep up the hope and keep up the efforts. The road to success is carved by steady and consistent hard work.

***********************************************************************

I am not able to go out with them. Nor can I spend money that easily. I have a lot of limitations. Sometimes my academics also suffers, but when they stopped talking to me, it hurt me a lot, the young boy spoke softly. Friendships matter a lot to me.

I guess it is time to look for new friends. I hope there are others who I can get along with.

He kept on talking and then he said, I have started writing these days and it is helping me.

It is ok. I can live with it. I am strong.

  • Move away from negativity. Choose people and places which are positive. Give and get courage.

***********************************************************************

Different people, different settings, yet similar stories of disillusion, disenchantment and the effort to live on boldly.

A little love, care and understanding towards fellow human beings will make this world a better place for all of us.

Towards a better tomorrow!

Towards more pleasant stories, his and hers!

Towards more sharing and more listening!

Cheers!!!

It’s time to go A to Z!

Goodness! it’s going to be April. A chill ran down my spine.

It takes a lot of discipline to be able to write every day on a topic starting with a letter from A to Z.

Every year I try, sometimes I give up towards the fag end. Some times I plod to reach the very end and feel elated for having completed a difficult feat.

It’s time for the annual Blogging challenge and I have been asking around for ideas.

Some suggestions have come my way.

Some have been challenging, some have been so daunting that I doubt my ability to live up to it.

Yet, try I will and if I fail at least it is not because I didn’t try!

Cheriya Lokam

ചെറിയ ലോകമാണ് എന്റേത് അവൾ പറഞ്ഞു. അങ്ങനെ ആരെയും ഇതിലേക്ക് ഞാൻ ക്ഷണിക്കാറില്ല .

വന്നാലോ പോവാൻ പറയാറുമില്ല പിന്നെ പുതിയ കണക്ഷൻസ് അല്ലെങ്കിൽ പുതിയ ചങ്ങാതിമാർ എനിക്കില്ല .

ആകെ ഉണ്ടായിരുന്നത് ചെറിയ ഒരു കുടുംബം . വളരെ സ്നേഹത്തോടെയും അഭിമാനത്തോടെയും ആണ് ഞാൻ അത് പരിപാലിച്ചതു.
എന്നിട്ടോ
ആ പറഞ്ഞിട്ടെന്തു കാര്യം
സഖി ഒരു നീണ്ട നെടുവീർപ്പിട്ടു
ഒരു പക്ഷെ അത് കൊണ്ടായിരിക്കും
എത്ര മേൽ ചിന്തിച്ചാലും
ആരൊക്കെ പറഞ്ഞാലും
വീണ്ടും മനസ്സ് അലിയുന്നതു.

മെയ് ബി ഞാൻ ഒന്ന് തൊണ്ട അനക്കി
പിന്നെ എന്തിനാണ് നീ അവനോടു മാത്രം ഇത്ര മമത കാണിക്കുന്നത്
ഞാൻ ചോദിച്ചു
എന്ത് പറയാനാണ് ചേച്ചി
അവൾ തുടങ്ങി
കുട്ടി പ്രായത്തിൽ തുടങ്ങിയ ഒരു മോഹമാണ്
ഇപ്പൊ മാറും
ഇപ്പൊ തീരും
എന്ന് വിചാരിച്ചു
പക്ഷെ പ്രായം കൂടുംതോറും
ഒട്ടും പ്രോത്സാഹനമില്ലാതിരുന്നിട്ടും
എനിക്ക് അവനോടുള്ള ഇഷ്ടം എന്നും കൂടിയിട്ടേ ഉള്ളു

നല്ല ഭ്രാന്തു തന്നെ
ഞാൻ ചിരിച്ചു
ഒന്നിന്നും കൊള്ളാത്ത രണ്ടു മനുഷ്യരെ ഓർത്തു നീ ഇങ്ങനെ… ഞാൻ മുഴുമിച്ചില്ല

കാര്യം സഖി എന്റെ പ്രിയ മിത്രമാണ്
കൊച്ചു നാളിൽ നിന്നുള്ള സൗഹൃദം
കൊച്ചു കൊച്ചു സ്വകാര്യങ്ങൾ
മനസഃശുദ്ധിയും കാര്യാ ഗൗരവവുമുള്ള കുട്ടി
എന്റെ പ്രിയ തോഴി

കഷ്ടമായി
നല്ലതെന്നു വിചാരിച്ചതെല്ലാം അവൾക്കെതിരെയായി
എങ്കിലും മിടുക്കി
പിടിച്ചു നിന്ന്
മക്കൾ രണ്ടാളും പഠിച്ചു മിടുക്കരായി
മൂത്ത കുട്ടി ജോലിക്കു പോകുന്നുണ്ട്‌
ഇളയ ആൾ പഠിക്കുന്നു
മൂന്നു പേരും സുഹൃത്തുക്കളെ പോലെ കഴിയുന്നു
പ്രായം ഒരു പരിമിതിയല്ലാ
വാക്കില്ല വക്കാണമില്ല

അപ്പോൾ അയാൾ
എവിടെ യാണ് അയാൾ
ഓ അത് പറയാതിരിക്കുകയാണ് ഭേദം
സന്യാസത്തിലാണ്
ഇന്നാ പിന്നെ നിനക്ക് വിവാഹ മോചനം ചെയ്തുടെ
എന്തിനാ ഒരു വിലങ്ങു
ആർക്കു വേണ്ടിട്ടാ ചേച്ചി, സഖി മെല്ലെ പറഞ്ഞു
നോക്കണം
ചെയ്യണം
ചെയ്യും
പിന്നെ
എഴുത്തും വായനയും ഇത്തിരി സോഷ്യൽ വർക്കും അതാണ് എന്റെ ലോകം

ഓരോ ജീവിതത്തിനും ഓരോ രീതിയുണ്ട്
ഓരോ കർമമുണ്ട്
ഇതാണ് എന്റേതെന്നു ഞാൻ വിശ്വസിക്കുന്നു
ഇതിങ്ങനെ ഒക്കെ പൊക്കോട്ടെ
എല്ലാറ്റിനും ഒരു നല്ല നാളെ ഉണ്ടല്ലോ
അത് എനിക്കും ഉണ്ട്
വരും വരാതിരിക്കില്ല
ഞങ്ങൾ മെല്ലെ പുറത്തേക്കു നടന്നു

ഏട്ടൻ വിളിക്കുണ്ട്, ഞാൻ പറഞ്ഞു
ഞാൻ ചെന്നാലേ മുഉപ്പര് എന്തെകിലും കഴിക്കു
പോട്ടെ സഖി
വരാം ട്ടോ ഇടക്ക്. ശരി.

Sorry doc,I gonna do the Google search!

A few months ago, my teenager had a sprain and some swelling on her feet. I went to the local trusted physician for a check up. The gentleman doctor advised rest but also raised a panic alarm when he pronounced the name of the said ailment that I almost fell off from my seat. With high anxiety and rising sense of helplessness, I reached the medical shop and asked for the tablets.

The girl at the counter informed that the prescribed medicine was not available. ‘Give me for today’, I insisted. ‘No, mam, it is steroids. So it is better that you take the entire course. I will get it for you by tomorrow’.

‘Steroid’!!!, I staggered and walked away in silence.

We went home. I called up my mother and reported the events of the day.

As usual my mother in her rather nonchalant manner advised, ‘ Heat up some water. Put some salt into it. Ask her to dip her feet in the salt water. After some time, tie that crepe bandage and keep the feet elevated. She will be fine in some time.’

I realized my tensions literally vanishing and I heaved a sigh of relief as the real doc has pronounced that ‘all iizz welllll’ 🙂

What would I do without this wonder woman?!!!! Seriously!!!

Next day, I went to another expert that my physician had recommended and sat waiting in trepidation for words of more wisdom. The smiling lady said, ‘it is nothing actually, ask her to rest completely. Send me pics of her feet and if things don’t improve, we will see.’

Surely enough, my teenager was back to her bubbly self and I regained my peace and calm.

Yes, I know that not all doctors are to be blamed and not every time. Yet when doctors prescribe steroids as easy to take medicines, you do wonder.

In another instance this week, I chatted up with a friend after a long time. She told me of her inability to join me as she was suffering from excessive bleeding during menstruation. As is the normal practice, she went for a checkup. The doctor told her that she has to get her uterus removed and advised her, almost insisted that she get herself admitted immediately for the operation.

In fact, one of the nurses callously commented, ‘Why do you need a uterus anymore?’

Agitated,appalled and terribly disillusioned the family decided to go for a second opinion and called back home in Kerala. The family physician in Kerala advised that she should at no cost remove the uterus. She was warned of further complications if it was done.

Said my friend, ‘I will take it slow. I know that my body will heal and with the right treatment, I will be back and bouncing’.

With good folks around, happy friends and a happier family, what can not be healed after all?

‘And a treat is in order’, I reminded her.

A doctor has put up a sign,’ Don’t confuse your google search with my research!’

Fair enough! but we can still use our brains, right!

Of disagreeing with Plato

In the Republic, the eminent Greek Scholar, Plato chooses to ban the poets from the society on the argument that they are far removed from reality and that they induce passions and corrupt feelings through the magic of sweet rhythm and music.

Really! not really, so I thought as I watched the enthusiastic participation of young people in the cultural fest at the college.

Yes, it was a cultural extravaganza with a well lit stage glittering like a queen, the vast spread of the campus all lit up and blushing, young men and women scouring the place, friends hanging out together shaking a leg, sharing food, jokes, laughter and more.

Across the sea of faces of young people was a sense of purpose and a sense of joy. They looked happy to be relieved of the burden of learning even if only for a day and took to the event with excitement.

In the event that I was organizing, which was sketching, many young boys and girls came on time, and mulled over the theme given to them and produced some very creative and engaging interpretations of ‘Reflection’.

I asked the student volunteers how was it to be a part of this event, they said, ‘it was great to see different perceptions of the same theme and how patiently and carefully each artist worked on their craft’. That observation was enough to tell me that perhaps this is the biggest take away for these youngsters today, to work at your craft with patience and be able to think originally!

After the Treasure Hunt, where the young lot was sent scurrying across the campus, chasing clues and deciphering them in groups of three, the students all blushing from the heat and the run panted as they spoke, ‘we had lot of fun and though we didn’t win, we made new friends!’ Apparently the last clue was of ‘the place they fear to enter’ and they rushed to the dean’s office whereas it was the main stage!, they laughed as they said that.

At the evening DJ night, the youngsters and the adults let their hair loose and danced to the tunes releasing many stressful hormones and replacing it with some happy feelings and experiences.

As the day drew to a close, I realized how important it is to have a stage, a place to discuss, deliberate and express oneself for the young and the old alike.

Now, come to think of it, what avenues of self expression do the poor have in this country, where do they go? why can’t there be more competitions or contest or just fun fest which are affordable to all?

Perhaps given a chance a child or an adult would not want to turn to violence! Maybe more avenues of self expression and self exploration is the way to curb violence!

Perhaps Plato was wrong after all to sagely advise that poetry and modes of self expression are corruptible in nature!

Of how your body speaks

The tall boy spoke well. He spoke with passion. His words precise, measured and his stance commendable. Yet, as his index finger moved furiously, the audience received him with mixed emotions, awe at his speech and an unease at how his body spoke.

One of the most prominent speakers on the national media tends to use his index finger a lot while speaking . Does it affect perceptions about him? Here is my two bits.

While the current prime minister is no doubt a go-getter and has a vision and a passion to bring betterment to the lives of his country men , I believe his using the index finger while speaking, moving it up and down as if brandishing a cane in the manner of a school headmaster does not sit well with the persona of a national leader.

For better success may be he could use more open hand gestures and totally avoid the use of the index finger while speaking.

This I say as a layman who has observed his rise and his frequent courting of hate and bad press.