When it rains in Madras

August 6, 2017 § 1 Comment

When it rains in Madras, it could very well be a place you have fantasised. Forget the potholes and the inevitable inundation for a moment, and just enjoy the magic of an afternoon transformed into an overcast evening, fit to go with the three o’clock steaming coffee and hot onion pakodas or molaga bajjis.

Growing up, I always found it hard to relate to the dullness and dreariness English writers associated with rain and overcast conditions. I remember a July a decade or decade and a half ago when it poured after a spell of drought. Schools postponed their sports days and daily march-past drills as heavy clouds finally stormed the city. I lay on the couch and watched English bowlers swing the ball under sunny conditions on the television while munching on hot pakodas.  The commentators were over-joyed at bright sunshine, which they seemed certain makes a good day- not to a Madras boy though, especially one who has run from third-man to third-man under a mid-May noon sun.

It doesn’t rain often in Madras. Every time the umbrella was brought out, my thatha would recount how everyone in Trivandum used to hang one on to the back of their shirts while walking. A much-green me would dream of distant places where the monsoon was a thundering beast at the sight of which the trees shuddered, and the rivers ran.

If you have lived in Madras, you will know of those evenings when a bunch of clouds threatened to wash away the city, but all they actually did was shed a half-reluctant tear at the sight of kodangal lining-up in front of hand-pumps, as if we deserved no sympathy.

It rains sometimes in May, a light evening reprieve during the scorching Agni-nakshatram days. It rains on a couple of June days, which year-by-year seem hotter than the one before, and then there are a few temperamental showers in July- South-West monsoon mostly avoids us, but every now and then a bit of her flaying skirt brushes the ever-growing fingertips of the city. The real rain comes after the second summer in October, as the winds change, and the North-East monsoon huffs and puffs, and roars into town.

The veppam reduces, and the air-conditioners can finally be switched off as T.Nagar lights up for the festival season- one traffic jam at a time. The season also brings cyclones and kinder versions of it. The ever-enterprising crows and the rowdy parrots shut up for a while and the nagaram stands eerily still as the storms march through and the winds trumpet as if royalties still ruled here.

A couple of Decembers ago, Madras faced the worst rains it had seen for a century or so. The city was turned into islands, as the three rivers which are usually dry or filled with sewage, roared with such might that a medieval saint-poet would have been inspired to praise them with a couplet or two. As the streets lay dark and torn with festering scars, an awe swept us all- we were grains of sand on the Marina, waiting for the day a big wave carried us away.

When it rains in Madras, it could very well be a place you have fantasised. The city’s strides slow down to a hesitant step-by-step prodding, lest you are sucked into an open manhole, the honking not so incessant and there’s an uncertain sigh- the steam out of a pot of perfect tea, whose leaves are from a distant estate with a silent mist hanging over a rippling stream with grassy shores.

My Madras is a bunch of names who criss-cross each other as streets. The city always has felt old to me, holding out with its own, all the while borrowing from those who came to call it their home. And on a day when the sun can’t be seen and a drizzle to fore, there’s a melancholy which lingers on- of grandfather’s tales and time forlorn.

Advertisements

Sometimes Witty, Sometimes Vetti

January 13, 2011 § 7 Comments

Life is moving so fast that I can walk faster than a car. A car stuck in a traffic jam in T Nagar. But every speeding human, has a ticket to somewhere and mine it seems is to Kerala. Finally a place where my name will be home! The chutzpah of it all. This will be the first time in my life, I will be away from home for 10 days. I am terribly excited and fired up to count the assets before I see them.

Fortunately this time, it is a job which is less tiring. I shall admire the sea,the  nari(wolf? or naari=women?) and the scenery and of course curse the coconut trees that block my view every now and then. That is gross stereotyping of course, but well, I am typing this right now.

I have in a way run out ideas for blog posts. Once upon a time, that would have been a whole post by itself, but that was once upon a time. This week has been pretty busy. Went to one of those big corporates with lots and lots of cubicles and people who kept saying “I don’t have access”. Well at least they all can excel. Word. Power to point out a bad font.

I want to write more stories. So planning to post a story a week. The first two were inspired by Chennai. Do read them, if you haven’t already. And if you have, hope you liked them.

Now that my vetti-time is over and I have run of anything witty. Tata!

The Artist

January 9, 2011 § 3 Comments

She sat on a wooden stool next to a stub. Her hand moved over the cavernous canvas, freely sketching a parapraxical tree.

A thick, short trunk which called upon an infinite foliage. The olive melt into the bright green- an iridescent plaque of herself to be hung on a sour cream wall of a monstrous mansion. Her passions tempered into a 30 inch hypotenuse, the diagonal to the quenching quadrilateral.

Behind her a seemingly infinite jungle made of imported trees, with eyes prying and mice hiding from venomous snake in rat holes – a montage to the erogeneity of the city. In front of her a perfect boulevard, leading to a monumental arch, commemorating the thesauri of a linguist state.

Yet, neither the painted jungle nor the built arches inspired her. The tree which once belonged there and had cast its shadow to the dusty traveller and the hopeless migrant, was now a marginal stub- cut and left to grow mushrooms, moved her enough to empathies and create.

She sat there, dreamily, unaware of the snide sarees and disgruntled dothis- the gossip mongers and jinn eyed obnoxious self-professed moralists, who knew none better than to judge. Her world moved faster than the time it took the sweat to trickle down from her forehead to her brows. She was in a canopy of dreams and azure blues, beyond the jaded varnish of a painted plants and polythene leaves.

On the stub, stood her paints, strew around and left a mark or two of colours on the once magnificent Banyan. The clock milled along second by second, exasperated, waiting for the artist to reach the poignant final stroke, so that it could stop itself and look at the world for a moment. The Janusian winds urged the dead leaves to rustle a bit more on the cobbled paths and moved the fountains to spray drops on to her enchanting face.

Her hands moved faster than the dissonant traffic, that screamed away past the red lights into junctions of copping helmets. Her face gleamed brighter than the setting sun, the awakening neon lights and the impending moonlight. As the day set into the inevitable night, a sudden chill thrust itself on the painted tree and the paint flowed no more.

In desperation, he searched for her and her work, but none was around. Neither a stub, nor a stool. All that remained were bright lights of the newly laid pathway and flowers with name boards. The trees swayed silently, absorbing the din, the jinn and malign.

As he came to his senses, he realized that it was a dream. A young girl with her mother walked by- there was a book in her hand whose cover he recognized.

Sometimes all it takes is a leap to create faith

January 2, 2011 § 4 Comments

He stood at the balcony- he was a score stories high.

He watched as the evening sun dealt its oblique rays on to the transgressed shore. The waves crashed in hope to win back the mile they had lost to the thick boulders of the city. Under the heavy cloud of the city’s spirit and pollution, the panorama was breath taking, literally.

He was long used to the choke and wicked whispers of this city built by Britannia and concrete. The bridges that seemed to connect, also cut through the arteries and brought to an end the tracks left by the last generation. Anachronistic cenotaphs to iconoclasts and sensationalists, served to remind anyone who would look- the origins of the parimutuel progress of the city’s neighbourhoods.

Today, he stood on the balcony with a railing painted black and potted plants hanging in proportional chains looking at the sunset, waiting for the right moment, to do what he wanted to do.

The sparrows, parrots and crows, flew in tight groups keeping shape, towards their distant homes, cemented into the souls of every growing area. The decadent heart, was slowly being to be troubled by the clandestine wheels, which clogged the cycles and caused the tired black cells to curse and honk their way to a place of hopeful quite and peace.

The city with its sundering cacophony was a furlong away from where he was- caught in the mesmerising magic of the sunset. The ravenous sun, which scorched hard on works and toils, was now bidding its adieu for a few hours. It first dipped behind the miranda glasses of an assurance company- he moved a couple steps and could see it again. It then hid behind the veils of a corporate- he again moved.

The sun now hung, on a few yards of open horizon, between the corporate and a newspaper company. It pressed on now, a few yards from the translucent waters of the sea. By now he was at the end of the balcony. To get a better view he climbed over the spiky railing and stood confident on the edge.

A crowd gathered below- reporters hoped to scavenge a scandal,  police to ponder a rescue and others out of abject curiosity. He saw the finally minuscule crimson dive- he jumped.

As the crowd rushed fast towards him, he heard them scream and could feel the din. He was a star- he was a son of the sun. When they noticed who he was, the crowd was stupefied and a wail hung over.

The implications- the heir to the horizon of bridges had leapt over a rail! The parks laden with waste newspapers, airport with incomplete hangers! The shock. Who would bear the riots and rage of the malevolent men?

But their worst fears failed to come alive. He hung on from a shock cord. The sun after all never dies- it sets, only to returns to arise and awake.

The crowd noticed he wasn’t who they supposed. Neither was he a bud with two leaves – he was a someone, who they never knew was there.

Sometimes all it takes is a leap to create faith.

All that bakes in not cake

December 25, 2010 § 4 Comments

Quite obvious, but that sounded like a good title.

Hope you all are jingling along, making merry and drinking wine. Chennai is way cooler than it is supposed to be. Pun intended. The city has over the years evolved, built bridges and even threaten have free wifi. Of course, the pot holes, remain firmly potted and the auto drivers still drive you mad in every possible way.

But not for a guy who has mastered the art of bargaining with the auto drivers and driving on Chennai roads. I have formulae for both. While I can’t give you the formula for haggling with the drivers(planning to a Ph.D on it, someday), the secret to driving is simple, if I hit you straight up/behind my mistake. If you hit me, your mistake. The exception of course are the two wheelers, who try to ride through the car. It is their mistake most of the time.

As I was saying, the city has become way cooler. From the times of Bhagyaraj dance it has come to women coming to sabhas in jeans. So cool ya! Amethyst is moving, KFI’s lease I heard has expired and they even built a very super-dooper park and called it semmozhi poonga.

They even replaced the street lights! That made feel really melancholic and I wrote this poem. You better say it is nice or I won’t talk to you 😛

But I have started to take things more lightly. After all why bother about anything? The world is as it is meant to be, let it be. Some people are born stupid while the rest become stupid.

That again sounds like a very deep and philosophical statement and let it remain like that. It probably could be true, but depends on your sample size.

There seem to be a lot of celebrities around me. Well, at least people who are either all busy-busy or act busy-busy. I too act busy-busy. I’m very busy dude!!!

One of friends has written a play. Coming out in Feb, do watch it. Everyone seems to be an author. And what’s more they are all either published or getting published. I too have started writing something. But as usual I’m lazy. Rather it is just that I don’t like what I’m writing after a while and chuck it. Monkey-Donkey only.

Had plans to go to Bangalore or Kodai. Nowhere. Everything seems pointless anyway. What is the big deal, anyway?

Watched The Tourist. Pointless movie. Easily predictable. But watch it anyway, you will like it.

Anyway once again, Merry Christmas and thanks for all the wine.

Inheriting the world- a candid view

February 18, 2010 § 15 Comments

Can we refuse to inherit? No we can’t. Unfortunately.

I am an 18 year, who probably is more sensitive to the world around me than others of my age. When I first heard someone tell me, that my gen. is the hope of the future, I felt happy. That was back then, when I was a 15 year(?) old, when the world seemed a novel place.

Reality(or whatever little of it, i have seen) has a pretty bad influence. Of late, I feel even more pessimistic than usual. Maybe I tend to romanticism too much, but having provided for that, still, the picture looks pretty pathetic.

You see, there are very few who are sensitive to the world in general. And it makes no sense for us(I think I am part of the few), to  just talk among ourselves and discuss. True our India has an “argumentative tradition” (as Sen puts it) but today we no more have rulers who are capable enough of understanding the arguments.

You see, democracy is supposed to empower us. It is supposed to give us voice and supposed to make us a part of the nation. But text books can be pretty misleading(of course if you notice the larger picture, it really isn’t- why are kids supposed to mug? Why are they not given reasons? Marks, teachers, parents, right to talk? hmpf.) and I am sure it has been a pretty sour welcome to reality for many.

Not that I expected anything great.  I set my expectations, as low as possible and yet, things keep hitting new lows. I am doing a professional course and yet I cannot expect professionalism in the institute(I shall keep away from that for now). I go to an esteemed college, where, contrary to the name, there is no Ananda(or a canteen at least to the level of Ananda Bhavan).

See I don’t even need to go to the good parts- politics, global warming, discrimination at various degrees etc. I can choose anything I want and well show you how screwed up it is.

I probably am too tired to write about those many many things which I care about. Now I actually  try to ignore stuff. But I am someone who has learnt to be sensitive to issues. But to what vain?

Inspite of all that, we need to enjoy life. You know what? After a certain while, you get used to these things. Screw expectations, if the system is sucky, you too can make it suck. After all it is just another drop of water. If you want to stand out try adding poison. No one is going to question it. Maybe I am being candid, but hell this is reality, right?

You and me blog and tweet and what not, yet do you think the poachers or the tigers are going to listen to you and me? I do. But I also know they don’t. Do you think the terrorists(of all kinds) give a damn? They have been brainwashed enough. A post, my friend is not going to teach them.

Reality is where you suck up to people and get things done. Hell ya. See thinking of others is a forbidden sin, after all no one gives a damn about you. This is a good old rant, I guess. But I think, I deserve a chance to say these things. And well, seeing the size of the post, I can guarantee myself that most people will see the cartoon and skim through the post and skip to comments, so I can be assured no one is going to give me any sympathy.

Sympathy does us no good. See a fellow sold a movie with sympathy. We are meant to build careers and go on. We enjoy it by having cars/cameras etc. It is better to live in your own shell and wade off invaders. Maybe I should withdraw into mine and not give a hoot, I would love to, but I know I cannot.

I probably care too much. I am trying to learn. But I cannot be a hypocrite. I thought my thoughts were on the right track and maybe they are. But then who cares for what I think? Today we have wonderful people ruling us. I am happy Chennai is a safe city. We hopefully won’t have communal violence here and since it is supposedly conservative, the Senas(or is it padais?) won’t find room here. Try chastising Mylapore and you will been smeared in vibuthi (ash), topped with a namam.

This is another bloody long post. I am happy, I can do this. This goes in line with those conditions apply sort of thing. No one has read it and yet it is out there for everyone to read. This is therapy as well. I feel sort of better. But am still uneasy. After all why do I care? I say I don’t care, yet somewhere in there I care.

I set out believing that the world is good. Now I know the world is good, but the people are too good. I am happy that I have a few friends who can put up with my abject thinking. Abject because, senses and brains are meant for rote learning and yes for feeling pathetic when a person whom you do not know has marked you low.

For those who have been reading my poetry, all this might seem expected. And you probably already know, that I will keep fighting, simply because I am me. Poetry is one of the few joys in this world. IF not for that, I doubt if sanity will ever embrace me.

I recluse to this world, where my thoughts are transformed into unseeable things and spread among humanity in signals. This place is sort of where I belong. But the way I belong to a place never changes- known to everyone, yet very few pay attention. No I am not complaining.

I love to be myself. I find happiness is being me. I know, I know, this has gone out of control. How I wish I had not inherited this world. But hey! at least I should try to make it better for the future right? Peace sounds cool. But you adults are never going to settle for it. After all Europe/Washington is cool enough right? Try Chennai it is hot, you will love it, complete with Molaga Bajji.

Let us face it, all this is too good to be true. We like entertainment. We are selfish. I am- I want to be known in this world. I like to be appreciated and yes I take criticism seriously, because I believe it to be constructive. I think I am a nice guy, especially when you are nice to me. I will do anything for you, as long as I can trust you.

So, whatever. This is a rant, so guess, it ends with a bunch of smileys, showing that all is well. And am not going to edit this. Spellings, grammar and whatever can go hang it self. Carpe diem!

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

A shot at the world record for the most number of participants in a live painting competition

January 29, 2010 § 18 Comments

The Rotary Club of Madras Central organized a drawing competition, “Chithiram Pesuthadi”. The competition aimed to break the existing world record for the most number of participants in a live painting competition(Guinness  record) .  About 16000-20000 students participated and I guess that should do it(the official numbers should be submitted to Guinness before conformation).

From rotarydrawing

Probably the only place in the city, which can hold so many people at the same time, is the Chepauk Stadium. The event co-sponsored by Abirami Mega mall was inaugurated by The Mayor of Chennai, M.Subramaniam and the governor of Rotary District 3230. The competition kicked off at about 11:30 and got over at about 1:00 pm.

It was well organized and thought out. Wooden stands and cardboards were placed in front of the seats, to make it easier for the children to paint. Paints, brushes, pencils , erasers, papers etc were provided by the organizers along with snacks and water.

From rotarydrawing
From rotarydrawing

It was a breath-taking site, to see so many young artists paint at the same time. The event saw both private schools as well as corporation schools taking part(the latter being more disciplined). It was a humongous event, especially considering the logistics involved.

Special buses were organised, organizers recruited and of course preparing the painting stands and making sure every child gets a proper chance at painting. And the children did justice to the opportunity provided. The differently abled children should get a special mention, especially this boy:-

From rotarydrawing

And this kid too:-

From rotarydrawing


Funny, none of the television channels seemed to have covered it(correct me if I am wrong). After all it is not every day such an event is going to take place. As mentioned the corporation school kids were way better- kids from private schools started flinging the cardboards provided on to the ground and the teachers and volunteers couldn’t do anything about it. Fortunately, nothing went out of control.

In all the event was a big success. The police and the corporation of Chennai should get a special mention. The results will be announced soon.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with chennai at the light shines the brightest.

%d bloggers like this: