August 6, 2017 § 3 Comments
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.
October 23, 2008 § 9 Comments
At the top stood peace,
between vapours and trees.
The watery spirits moved about
and were ready for a fresh bout.
And those of man’s creation,
waited to see nature’s manifestation.
The winds blew back to the equator
and with it brought clouds filled with vapour.
The North-East monsoon was at play,
and nothing can keep them at bay.
A grandeur ,a synthesis of forces,
balanced and in perfect poses,
came down to earth,
back towards the hearth,
back to the eternal solution,
the mighty ocean.
Yet above remains a sense of peace,
one which nothing can teach,
for abstract it is,
just like the vapours.Yet it takes
a form,like the clouds,
free and flowing,
with the winds of creation’s being.
The harsh tunes of man’s action,
of wasteful chatter and bicker,
can only be minor disturbance,
that can never take away the tune
of the ever green crashing
of droplets upon the ground
and solid homes and the swaying of
trees,whose inertial test it is.
The sun a lonely stranger-
behind masses he stands,
by lazies faire,he is now free,
from verbal vows against his
incessant heat.Yet it is by his decree,
that that the winds do blow
and by his will that trees grow.
And by all the wills of nature sundry,
man steps foot,on the planet,
where once ferocious creatures roamed.
And there in the midst of such,
a few nitwits in gray thoughts move,
And trying to docile everything that is true-
by nothing but their targets mind,
which produced everything so refined.
And yet the system of water is such,
that whatever maybe the ruthless
notion of stray physical might of man,
it shall flow on,for the ocean,
is shore less,what we see being
a part of the mighty universe.
And such and such a virtue,
it has,that,the tune shall flow
from every pore and it shall pour,
forever,on the shores where sediments
of countless waves crash,
since the beginning of time.
And the soul of the drops
shall give life to the seed,
like a fire,giving life to a twig.
And from that life,
many more shall spark,
which oh!will lead to more sounds
and enrich the symphony,
where every note,shall cause,
the other and every sound
shall complete the other.
And then life shall out wit
those scared creatures
and in such a world shall
there be more rains,
which will fill the purse
of life,with the fusion
of sounds,from which shall
emerge more lovelier a song,
that at last we know,there we belong.
And at there is the peace,
which no one can preach
nor can anyone breach.
And the artists shall paint
the perfect picture,where
the tree sways and the water
moves,as true as life can be.
The soul dance,shall be expressed
and no more will life be repressed
for such is the joy of music
and such is the power of rain
that descends from the heaven
which is in truth-nature driven.
And so,and so,the chords are struck
and quirk of each and each drop show.
And in the order of divine connotation,
there we see the nature’s manifestation.
And as the clouds go by,
and in months time they shall come again,
filled with treasures of oceans
far and lands unknown and unseen.
And back and forth the bow shall
move and the fingers shall grip,
those which need to be fulfilled.
And want is such that,the heat
it endures shall always be rewarded
and depression shall end in elevation
welcoming the rich clouds of gifts.
And with them our endured wisdom
shall guide us,where our prayer
of thoughts shall materialize
and grow into trees on which
shall grow not just fruits but
jewels to placed on our crown.
Forever it shall rain,
forever the song shall rein.
Forever water shall remove the stain
and forever the sun shall rise
and we shall forget vice.
Forever the bow will move,
and music it is through and through.
At the top shall stand peace,
waiting for you to breach
the bubble and see the eternal.
the light shines the brightest