Saturday, December 24, 2005

And a year shall pass...

Her eyes hid behind a wall of tears when he said what he did, and he saw her heart beat with every shimmer of that film. And with each quiver of the watery veil, he felt a harpoon cleave his heart over and over... but each smidgen of his palpitating heart was either coloured red with his love for her or white with his earnest will to know the depth of their love; and the slivers of white were speckled with human sanguineness and the reds with divine brushes of pure white.
"Does it have to be this way?"
He looked away and spoke to the setting sun, for no human face could help him hold what his being wished to outpour.
"This is how it is meant to be."
"One year? One whole year?"
"If our love is true, it can bear any temporal shudder."
"But what will come of this?"
"I do not know."
"Will you miss me? Will you think of me?"
"I can't do otherwise."
She drew in a deep breath with the hope of taking all of his scent, all of him into her palpitating being and holding it within; a breath that should hold her up for a year.
"Then a year shall pass, dearest."
And she walked away, and it seemed that he followed her too, while standing on the cliff watching the sun set. Neither sun nor she turned back to look at him...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A year rolled by...

I was a very reluctant writer then. I never understood why I should publish my writings in a public forum, or anywhere. Like most of my indulgence in most art forms, I considered writing to be an expression which I would like to share only with people I knew. And then, where is the ink and paper? I had created and destroyed about 5 blogs/online-journals and then on the 25th of Dec. 2004 I created another one. I chose the URL Under the reins of an unknown conspiracy, the URL turned out to be available. There has never been a site where my first choice of username (while signing on) was accepted. I raised an eyebrow at the screen and wondered why was I being invited so eagerly. Why were the doors of blogging being thrown open so widely? I still do not know the entire purport of that day's sequence of events and screens...

I wrote my first post with nearly no hope of ever finding a reader for this blog. Come on, think about it. Several thousands of blogs with wonderful content and then mine, with its own genre... what were my chances? I figured none. And I didn't believe in asking people to come over to read my blog. My first post actually reflected that mindset; I even disabled comments on it!! :-D
My first commenter and friend on this blog is Meera. An amazing writer and a very good friend! :-) Thereafter, I assumed it would only be her comments that I would receive. Time proved me wrong again.

My take on writing is similar to my take on any expressed form of art: It is not done by the person. I do not believe that art can belong to a person. A writer but holds the pen and lets it move of its own will. A song is best when it leaves the sweet tip of a singer's tongue. Dance is best when the person is forgotten. A painting is beautiful when the image picks her own palette. This blog, as I have often held, is not mine. It contains several pieces of written work but that is it...

What I never expected to happen (due to this blog) were the wonderful relationships that I have made/found. I wouldn't like to name them as I value their privacy. This blog has given me some of the finest, deepest, truest relationships that I could have ever imagined. Thank you!

In short, in one year (which is really not that short) this blog has given me a lot more than I could have ever asked for. I would like to celebrate this day on the 24th of Dec. 2005 (16:00 hrs on till it still appears sensible to be there!). I would be more than happy to have you around, so feel free to drop by and we could get to chat and talk about all the fantastic things in this world (beverages and "solids" on me). I thought that the Cafe Coffee Day in Ispahani Centre (Nungambakkam, opposite Landmark) would be just right. 25th also happens to be the day when one of my schools (Vidya Mandir, Mylapore) celebrate their Golden Jubilee. A weekend of celebrating, indeed. :-)

I take this opportunity to thank all of you who have shared this one year (to varying extents and varying impacts) with me. It wouldn't have been so enjoyable without you. I mean it.

I would like to share with you a few of my posts which interested many people and/or interested me and/or are special to me for a personal reason. Each link opens in a new page.

First Post

I learnt how to insert an image

The first full-fledged poem on this blog

First post after my dear friend changed the look of this blog to what it is now...

New blog created

What is poetry?... To me!

At a bus-stop in Bombay

Something I strongly believe in...

My first post with double digit comments! :-)

A post which a lot of people said they liked...

A thought provoking one

Stream of consciousness

Something I still dream of...

This post got a mention on some site...

Eternal experience and 2 dear new friends found

ha ha ha ha ha I enjoyed writing this one!

The time I was on steroids!

An only-pictures post

What I truly felt about the blogging experience

A different kind of post

An interesting poem

The seed for a big step called Alvibest

A crazy post

A special one...

Another thought provoking one

An interesting post and a dear friend found...

A post just one sentence long

Alvibest created!!

Dedicated to the efforts of my mother and the grace of god...

My take on painting and the coloured art

A ghazal translated

A post I liked

Alvibest's first release

A miracle I cherish

For the child in my life...

Another one for the same child

Oh! How I whined!?

Close to my heart

Another post which people said they liked

A post which changed a few people's way of looking at life.

A truly Eroteme post ;-)

A time to celebrate

An interesting tale

A post which took a life of its own...

A Prayer

Friday, December 16, 2005


And today my most favourite month is born. Amongst Tamilians, Marghazi is the month of auspicious activities. It is supposed to be the favourite month of Lord Krishna and his famous devotee Andal. This month bears a lot of beauty and it is the singular set of human activities (driven by the divine will of bliss) that makes this month very special to me. For a billion dollar prize I couldn't get to recite the thiruppaavai and the like.
The beauty of this month (which straddles the Gregorian months of December and January) is best felt in the southern parts of India, more so in Tamil Nadu. To me it was always the crispness of winter that made it a tingling month, but Madras made me see more. I was exposed to the sheer ringing bliss of this month when I was 12 yearsold. We had moved to Madras then and were living in the "old" part of Madras which contains Mylapore, Alwarpet, Abhiramapuram and other localities. From the terrace of our house we could see the Santhome Church to the east, the Kabaleeshwarar temple to the west and the Kutcheri road mosque to the north. My best friend lived to the south of my house! The setting is vital to realise how well trapped I was. There was no escaping this onslaught of tremendous overwhelming other-worldliness.
A typical marghazi day starts at 4:00 hrs. Mom would wake up as stealthily as she could and shake her head when she would see me lift my head from my pillow as soon as her feet touched the floor beside her bed.
"Poi thoongu paa!" (Go sleep, dear)
But I wasn't interested in sleeping. I had 11 months to do that! I would rush to brush my teeth. The world that blanketed my home was still dark, but that was well planned too. Mom would complete her preparations for the day and draw the kolam (and example of that can be found here). I would watch from the stairs. Dad and my sis loved sleeping any time of the year and more so through the chilly mornings of winter! Mom would hum one of the typical songs that are sung during these months. I know the tunes by heart, but can never get the words in my mouth. It was sheer pleasure to watch the white rice-flour design glistening in the light of some distant street-light with all those dots and curves dancing to the humming tunes which filled the darkness... borne by the darkness. I would hug my knees tightly and hope that the beauty was caught as completely as my shin and thigh.
Then mom would return to the prayer room and go about preparing pongal (a rice, legume, pepper, ginger, cashewnut preparation. Not sweet.) and singing the paasuram of the day. She would often sing offbeat (as I later got to know) but it was better than all the correctly sung songs by others. Her hair would still be drying in those thin towels which we called Malayala Thundu (for reasons unknown) and then the incense would be lit. Lamps, music, fresh flowers, incense, birds, slowly increasing glow of the morning... what more could I ask for?
I would then take a walk down the streets which lead to the Kabaleeshwarar temple. All the houses dotting the lane were prepared with rice-flour designs and a quaint decoration of a yellow flower in a small mound of cow-dung (which served as a holder for the flower). A yellow flower rising out of the brownish-olive green mound was very beautiful especially when surrounded by the rice-flour designs. All the houses smelled of warm hearths. Married women with a bright red pottu (mark on the forehead) were so beautiful. I would smile at all of them as I continued my morning trip down an otherwise plain lane.
The music in the temple (Srinivasa Perumaal temple) mingled with the beautifully metered hymns and periodical ringing of brass bells rang sharp in my chest and softened my nerves. There is very little that compares to that feeling. Then I would walk back to my home. What follows is what I loved the most.
The streets bloomed with chirpy young girls fresh out of their blessed ritual of decorating themselves with the bright colours of their paavaadai-dhaavani (also called a half-saree: basically a long flowing skirt, a short blouse and a long stole) and their tresses rising from between long strands of jasmines and roses -- a black that held many braids, flowers and my heart. I walked through the lane which jingled with fresh giggles like the dew that trembles at the tip of a leaf. The rice-flour designs giggled and the rapid run of anklets and fragrance left me walking in an intoxicated dizzy.
I would reach home to find pongal ready. I liked it without any salt in it, the way mom used to make it for Uppiliappan Perumal. The ghee (clarified butter) would glide down the scoop and quench the sizzling thirst of the hot fried cashews. This usually was breakfast too.
What everyone gets to see of Marghazi are the numerous concerts and temple festivals. What endeared me was more than that. This month is for the gods and everything is offered to the gods. People do not buy anything special for themselves nor do they occupy new houses or conduct weddings. This month is dedicated to the sheer bliss of remembering the gods and in the many man-made wonders of realising the beauty that we all think resides only in the Heavens... please do walk into Madras at this time of the year -- it is not often that the heavens descend beneath our feet and fill our being.

Friday, December 09, 2005

It's the memories that keep one alive...

What else do we have? A soft brush of her opisthenar against yours... The shop where you bought your first lunch... The mud path which has now been replaced with a wide two-way road... The priests at the temple nodding their acknowledgement and putting aside a coconut half for you... New employees who stop to say hi... Old peons who give you a quick bow... The stray dog which stops barking and wags his tail hoping you would relive his memories of a morsel that you fed him... memories.... memories... memories! Is that all a soul can have after a three and a half year relationship? Painful memories! Pleasurable memories that hurt by virtue of being mere memories. And they say I have a hard heart not to have cried!

She is one of the softest women I have known. She is soft in so many ways. In what she says, in how she laughs, in how she relates, in how she says so many things without saying a word. I knew her for 2 years and I really enjoyed her company every minute. We were a default pair. People would ask me her whereabouts and conversely. People would assume that I know why she wasn't in that day. Her husband would call me to tell me if she wasn't coming to work. People would wonder if they saw me having my lunch alone some day. She was a significant reason for my staying on with my job. She was a significant reason for cracking silly jokes. How she would laugh? So softly... so sweetly... and I would want more of it. She never refused me her laughter except when she had an operation in her mouth. I didn't joke that week. I still recall the look on her face when I told her that I had decided to leave... She was aghast and said, "Not fair." We couldn't really get to say bye to each other. Lovers of a different kind... and I am told that such friends do not say bye, not when you know that you aren't going away. On our last lunch together, she laughed a lot and towards the end she looked at me and said, "E, I am laughing on the outside." And they say I have a hard heart not to have cried!

We built our house with a lot of ideas and plans. Mom wanted her garden where she would plant all kinds of vegetables. I wanted a nice old fashioned Rajasthani interior for the main hall and a large space for a room to create sufficient clutter! We got them all. A house that was always cool even in the height of Hyderabad's heat. A nice sunrise greeted us every morning. Winter mornings greeted us with shlokas from the temple around 5:00 hrs. Our house is a long one with rooms placed along their sides rather than in a square enclosure with corners rubbing shoulders. I realised how big my bath was when it was emptied by the packers. The hall had these corner showcases with large Kerala lamps which were never lit. Glass shelves which let light pass through and flowers and vines which seemed to outgrow their synthetic origins and take a life of their own... much like the house did. Before I left the place, I walked down the length of the house and shrugged my shoulders as I entered every room. I didn't know what to say to the wardrobe doors which stayed ajar. I didn't know what to say to the space which once held my computer. I didn't know what to say to the corner which fought with all my books. I just waved out to them and quickly turned around to check that no one saw me do that. I walked past the main wash-basin and ran my hand under the tap which refused to stop dripping that day. A brief pause to the note of water falling in a ceramic basin... a sniff... and the dripping continued. I stepped out of the house and walked on, not wanting to look back lest I have to answer my door's: When will you return? I didn't know what to say. And they say I have a hard heart not to have cried!

There was so much created. It was in its startup mode and I had had a free hand. People had come down from all over the world to create the office. I was one of the first employees here in India. I was allowed to do anything I felt right for the company. People trusted me. People encouraged me. People joined in. People were hired. People connected. People resonated with the spirit. People laughed together. People frowned at the new joinees who brought in a different flavour. People soon let them in and created a new flavour. The recognition was intoxicating. The accolades mounted. Even the dull greys and yellows seemed good enough. And then things changed... I couldn't stop it. As I descended 5 floors I saw what had happened in 2 years and how much I had lost myself in it. When I got into my car to go back home on the last day, few friends waved out; the building seemed to sway or was it something in my eyes? And they say I have a hard heart not to have cried!

"E, I feel like Chinese today. Where do you recommend I go? I want something tangy out there."
"E, I really have to impress her. I have no clue what she likes. Yeah she likes that... hmmm that too. Kinda... how do you know? Ok. So where should I take her? What should I order?"
"Parents are coming down today. Pure veg place. Any good ideas?"
Fusion 9, Koyla, Eat Street, Urban Tadka, Utsav, Tex-Mex, Ohris, Mainland China, Golden Dragon, Taj Krishna, Touch, Gokul, ... name it.
I drove past all the hotels and restaurants that I had frequented. Few days before I visited some of them for the last time and the waiters came over to say bye and the manager of one even gave me contacts in restaurants in Madras. I seem to have lost my appetite of late... And they say I have a hard heart not to have cried!

Hyderabad gave me a lot, like a true lover. I never asked her for anything. I never expected that she would give me something different, something new, something that I would love. And she gave me all. Great friends. Great experiences. Warmth. Love. Laughter. And I still couldn't ask her for anything. But I left her. Walked away without turning back even once. Walked away when she promised me a cool winter where she would let me cuddle under a thick quilt. She raised a lot of traffic hoping to buy time. She was warm that night and then cold. Understandably. And they say I have a hard heart not to have cried!

Its not that the heart is hard, my friends. The heart is soft, my dear, fairly soft. It is only a softened heart that can contain the tears -- tears that threaten to betray the truth.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

And I roam thus...

It's been a hard couple of weeks that separate my posts. Lots of work and lots of planning and lots of time spent realising that no amount of planning will help you remember to pack your toothbrush... you just have to remember it. In order to re-establish the validity of my earlier post, Providence has moved me out of my current place of physical residence into a city I never thought I liked. It was a tough time packing and planning and moving. Mom did a lot of the work (more about her later) while I managed the high-level details (yeah right!). I have been traveling like a mad man in a period of 5-7 days!!

I am undecided about whether I should be happy or sad or indifferent about what has happened. I am not too attached with Hyderabad, so I am not sure whether I miss her. I am not too fond of Madras so I am not sure whether I should jump in joy. I didn't like the fat man on the train, so I am not sure whether I can still hold traveling by train as a nice experience!

I am glad that I get to be with my best pal but I miss the people of Hydi. I am glad that I am far away from the hard-water of Hydi but I miss the winters there. I am glad to be here before Marghayyi/~zhi starts, but I also get the rest of the year to live here and that appears scary!!

So many pairs of yanking opposites and contrary impulses... That's life here, folks!
Will be back with more later...