Monday, December 17, 2012

The Global Financial Meltdown and shit like that.

To be very honest, I've never really understood what financial meltdown is or how it would affect the price of onions( yes, out of all things on Earth or the Universe for that matter, the regional news channel folks always worry about onions when there's a price change). I've been reading and listening to numerous stuff and Finally ( yes, I had to use a capital) I've found the perfect video.


Enjoy by clicking HERE :

You might also run into some weird terms, especially "subprime crisis". Here's something that should give you a brief idea of US and its underdog's policies watch this :

Friday, November 23, 2012

Phobia Blues


To Jose Xavier,
Who thought Mr. Bond had no right to wake up from the dead..


FEAR

There was a lot of panic. Pandemonium, as I struggled with my limbs in an asymmetric pattern. Desperate attempts to escape. Frantic cries to wake oneself up from a very bad dream. Everything shambolic… Noise amplified by the denser medium. I could hear my legs glide, my torso displacing the water beneath…
I was scared. Beyond everything I had experienced in my life so far...


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I am scared of water. And it doesn’t have anything to do with kidney stones or sun strokes. I’ve always been that way. I guess a lot of it has to do with my upbringing.  Having an orthodox Hindu grandmother and mother resulted in a lot of fascinating myth during the early days of my life. Revenge seeking Yakshis(evil fairies) that haunts the lakes, who lure a young man into the water and then strangle them. The octopus of Elanjikkal Kshetram (temple) which could swallow the temple cow if it wanted to…
On certain nights, we would go to the ‘Manalppuram’ and light ‘Aartis’… ‘May the soul be at peace’ we would pray, as the candles floated across the river to the next world...
I remember making promises to myself that I would never tell my kids those stories that made my early life very stressful. A lizard was always acknowledging the truth… A gandharva could in all possibility deflower our only sister while we were sleeping… Once you start believing, there was no escaping. 




Father, unlike mother or grandmother, was a realist. But the honest, hard working clerk in a chemical factory nearby, with an undying passion for books, only played along the script. He would sit on our paaya (mattress’ woven out of dried coconut leaves) and tell us stories he had read at the Sahitya academy. A particular favourite of his was Moby Dick. And on some days he would teach us history. How great civilizations were wiped away by floods...The Indus Valley, Muziris…
My brothers loved me... I would guard their clothes from pranksters while they played in the lake. And in return, they would bring me little fish. Usually the little loaches that cleaned your toes or the ‘poonjati’ (something similar to an over grown female guppy)… I would put them in a large chembu (tumbler) that I carried around and play with them until my brothers get out of the water. There was also the “Thuppal Kothi” which would come to us if we spat on the water. Unlike my brothers, Father was genuinely concerned. So with great difficulties, he convinced a ‘saar’ to grant me access to the officer club’s pool.
Apart from the weird part that the pool looked shallower than it actually was, the swimming lessons had begun well. Until I drowned one fine day… The tutor had left the rope I was clinging on to. I drowned but not in the way people expect you to. Ever so slowly… As if it was my destiny to sink. To sit there are the bottom of the tank...
Nandu, who had jumped inside to save me, thought it was a stunt from my part to get the lady instructor wet. But I was just numb. Of fear, curiosity, anger? I don’t really know. I sat there, at the bottom of the tank and opened my eyes…

CALM

I opened my eyes. Everything needed time to settle down.  But when it finally did, a sense of calmness started creeping in.  Not out of hope. It was realization, of the inevitable… I looked around. Suzanne and Raghu had probably escaped.  I knew I was going to die...I was sinking to the bottom of this cold, dark mystery...
Of course it had to end like this. I had to be devoured by my biggest fear. All had been perfectly scripted... I think I managed a smile. How insignificant are we in the big of scheme of things!  There weren't abominal octopuses around me. I would've been happy to see a yakshi.
There, in that lake, with few seconds to live, I had overcome my phobia. It was always the ‘mystery’ of the water that scared me. Not the actual running out of air…
I felt weightless. Was I dead already? I felt I was going upwards…
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 Once I had drowned in the sea. College days, when impressing girls meant taking unnecessary risks...There, beneath the waves I had tried to get up. But my legs found no place to rest my weight upon. It was probably after another wave that my hands hit the bottom of the sea. 
Water can do that to you. The upthrust and the gravity… They play with you until you lose your sense of balance. You are no longer sure where ‘up’ and ‘down’ is. And in your desperate attempt to save the life, might end up moving further away from air.

I closed my eyes again. My wife, Lathika… She was pulling my sleeve towards Leopold. Where we had met years ago on a rough Monsoon day... She kissed me and then stopped abruptly... A big tubby cat had caught her attention. “Look at the size of it”, she says...

BREATH

I was out of breath. I needed air. My lungs were crying out for help. I knew I’d die the moment I released the little air I had in me… But I was going to die anyway. ‘Why not do it peacefully’, I thought. ..
I was cold and scared in the middle of this huge man-made lake…
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My wife was at the hospital… A baby boy the smiling nurse had said… “Show me my wife”, I demand…
”Lets name him Varun”. I nod in agreement. The God of sky, sea and the ocean…
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No. I did not want to die.

GOD

I think it was Sigmund Freud who said it. “The more you try to forget something, the more you end up thinking about it.” I had to breathe. My lungs couldn't hold on much longer…
What was that sound? An extremely shrill noise… My ear drums, they hurt. My ankles… What was that unbearable pain? I was sinking now. And fast. I tried opening my eyes…What was that light in front of me? God…

MIRACLE
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Father walked away shaking his head in despair. Mother looked at me… I think she was sobbing. They had covered me in a thick blanket… Siblings had queued up to see their brother… Rakesh whispered in my ear – “Next time you are sitting on the bottom of the tank, try catching your ankles….”
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Life guards say I came to them. All they did was pull me out of the water. Everyone else survived…
 

                                           * -------------------------- * --------------------------*

Note: The story was made in a night. But it was something I had wanted to do for quite a long time. That’s 2-3 minutes in 1000+ words(My initial story had 3000+, a lot of clarity has been sacrificed while compressing). I’d like to thank Manoj Kumar (director: Orkut Oru Ormakoot ) to whom I first expressed my desire. It was he who suggested the idea of flash backs. A lot of that phobia came from within. Some of it was created through various things learned from the National Geographic magazine. Thank you UDL school for exposing me to that magazine. Interested readers are urged to read more about the “Belize blue hole” where expert divers get confused between the stalactites and stalagmites.
Three writers had a significant impact on my writing style. Arundhati Roy’s description of the Meenachillar. M.T’s love for Bharatapuzha. And T.Padmanaban’s excessive use of dots(….) to keep the reader guessing. I've got some facts wrong. Just adding to the drama..


Next time you are in a pool imagine that you are sitting on a chair and reach for you ankles....


It’s just a humble attempt and I’m looking forward to your feedback.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

At The Plaza

 Yet another story with a female lead role. Just learning the trade. Do be honest with your comments.

It was unlike him to reserve a table at an expensive restaurant like ‘The Plaza’. Infact he had been acting strange for the past few weeks. Something was troubling him but he refused to say anything. Was this it? The end of the road. Was my panicking uncalled for? Something Shruti said last week kept ringing in my ears – “It’s only fun for them when we are elusive. The moment you give in, their interest ends. After a while we are nothing but a head ache.”
I got inside and caught him looking around uneasily. He was definitely troubled by something. I waved at him and conveyed the need to use the washroom, to which he nodded. The uber rich group that had seemed to be in a deep debate of things of national importance (like the colour of cousin’s wedding gown) did not appreciate my idiosyncrasy but thankfully did nothing more than put up a frown on their faces that needed another shot of Botox.
“What were you thinking?” I asked my reflection on the mirror at the washroom.
“Look at yourself.  Dark skinned, thin. 30 sized breasts. Of course he has lost all his interest in you! I would’ve done the same.”
“ Oh come on. You are one of India’s most popular TV journalists. Stop being a baby.”
“Unfortunately, size of breast and colour of skin matters more to people in our country.”
“It’s their loss then. Go and face him.”
“You are probably right. And maybe I’m just imagining things. Like my reflection talking to me.”
I removed the ‘eye shadow’ not wanting the trails of tears to leave a mark on my face.


“Hei big man! You got a promotion or something? The plaza?”
A half hearted smile accompanied by a faint moan which I believe meant NO. I wasn't in my senses anyway.
“So how are you Jen?”
Why did the ‘Jen’ sound so cold? Sidharth and mom were the only two persons in this planet who could call me Jen and keep me happy. It did not work today though.
“Sid what’s happening? What’s wrong with Raju’s Dhaba? I feel so alien inside this place!”
“Just wanted to make you feel comfortable”, he said as the waiter came in with the bowls of soup.
He had a habit of blinking a lot when he had something to say..
“What is it?”
“You stick to your promise first.  Eat and drink whatever I buy you when I take out.”
“I’m not feeling all that well.”
“Something bothering you?”
“Yes. You!”
He seemed bemused by my answer and turned his head away from me as if he was keener on conversing with the waiter who (strangely) had taken a particular interest in us.
“I want to end this”, he finally murmured.
I took a long breath. The whole room was going topsy turvy around me. Don’t faint Jennifer. Don’t give up. Be strong..
“Baby are you ok? Did I rush things?”
No  you sonnofabitch. I’m not ok. To expect something is totally different from actually experiencing it. A meager “why” was all I could come up with.
“It’s been three years now. I thought it was the right time. I’ve been harbouring this thought for some months now. I had to do it. And I assumed you would want it as well.”
“But I..” I was interrupted when “the waiter” placed a slice of good looking dish (Lord knows what it’s name was) on our table.
“It’s a decision I made after a lot of serious thinking honey.”
In my anger I dug the fork deep into the slice. Initially I thought it was the sound of fork hitting the ceramic but then I saw something glowing inside.
“Honey. I want you to help me end this bachelorhood. Think you can tolerate me for the rest of your life?”

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Love In The Time Of Facebook

It was Facebook that prompted the first move by suggesting her profile. It had been nearly six weeks since he moved from Chennai to St. Joseph’s (Kochi) and he had managed to talk to almost everyone in the class except Norah - A tall, dark girl with distinct green eyes and a voice that had sounded all too familiar (and soothing) to Joshua.


Though he spent his entire free hours shamelessly staring at Norah, unaware of the umpteen jealous eyes watching him, he couldn’t muster up enough courage to go talk to her.
He was pretty confident that Norah knew him well enough to ‘add’ him to her network in Facebook. Deep down he liked to believe that she was eyeing him whenever has wasn't staring. Couple of days after he had sent, she accepted the request. And his major pastime since the ‘acceptance’, became a quest for the perfect one liner to kick off the conversation.
“Dear Norah, you’ve stolen my heart.”
“Hello, I’m in your class too.”
Soaked with expectation, he would sit there in front of the ‘blue and white’ screen typing and then deleting his ‘openers’ much to the dismay of his aunt and uncle who found his new addiction to be a little distressing.
Yesterday while he was conversing with a friend in Chennai, he noticed something ‘grey’ beneath his favourite chat window. It took an eternity for his brains to translate the light rays striking his retina. Beneath the ever-open chat window was a small message. It read, “Norah is typing…” It was there for some ten seconds and then it vanished. But those ten seconds meant more than a life to Joshua. He did not have to soak in heap of uncertainty now. For he knew!
For the first time since that ‘dark day’ of his life, he looked at his parents, whose photo clung on to the wall like moths in Kerala during the Monsoon season, and smiled. His mind was suddenly filled with the deafening sound of a car crash.
Finally he typed, “Hi!”

PS: This story was written as a part of Indiblogger's new contest in association with Surf Excel Matic. ( Know more)
I wanted to tell a humble tale of love in less than 350 words. I look forward to some healthy criticism, so don't shy away.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Average Indian Woman

She wakes up with the sun,
And ties her hair like a bun.
Makes tea for everyone,
And coffee for her son.
Water her green plants,
while making the daily plans.
Does the dishes, maybe,
Regardless of her wishes.
Wraps a long piece of cloth around her,
In a way that only she knows how.
Clings on to the back seat of a scooter,
That would take years to master.
At office, its work,work and work.
Back home, its work again.
"It's midnight, let me sleep", she says.
And.............
She wakes up with the sun,
And ties her hair like a bun...

Yet they call her the 'average' Indian woman.


Monday, August 27, 2012

The Indian Male Syndrome

Wants to screw everything that moves,
Rapes everything that refuses.
Dreams of sex all night and day, and then,
Calls 'her' a whore who thinks like 'him'.
And then on the wedding day he asks,
Are you a virgin my dear woman?
Fascinating really, how absurd he is,
Considering the number of 'sluts' he kills at birth.
Image courtesy : old-photos.blogspot.in

Friday, August 24, 2012

AD-ventures

Movies are a great way to connect with people. 'Ad-ventures' is a campaign looking to integrate that factor into making Ads. I've used screenshots of major movies and tried to associate a brand. Originally inspired by the Tom Hanks starer 'Castaway'. The movie was a great advertisement for FedEx.

Little Rascals, 1994


Psycho, 1960

Shawshank Redemption, 1994

Truman Show,  1998

Schindler's List,  1993

UP, 2009

The Matrix, 1999

Inception, 2010

Movie shots used as advertisements.  I seriously hope nobody will sue me for doing this.

Where Love had to Be Arranged


“You had to put it in Facebook?”
“Sorry honey. I was just letting the world know they still had a chance with you.”
“Thank you so much SISTER. But why didn’t you do the same? Didn’t see anything like that a coupla years back.”
“I had a guy back then Bozo. The one I didn’t marry.”
“David?”
“No. Not him. Zack, the guy from Forward Magazine. Couldn’t let the world know about mom and dad’s plan to marry me off.”
“Nita, you are married to someone now!”
“And I thought you were my brother. Like they say hon, marriage’s just a license to have something ‘extra’.”
“Nita! Are you out of your freaking mind?”
“I was just playing you with playboy. So any luck with the girls?”
“Yes. But they are all a bit shy. Wolf’s facing some difficulty. Have to work with those super-zooms that completely ruin the beauty of the portraits. Anyway, please be a sweetheart and take it off facebook. You have had your fair share of likes and comments.”
“Yes Bechu. By the way, a certain ‘Shruti’ liked that on my profile. Maybe you should give her a call lover boy.”
“She has already ‘broken free’ Nita. It’s still good to know that she’s alive. Anyway I have to go now.”
“Stay safe.  They aren’t always nice to normal people.”
“Nita. Don’t stereotype!”
“Have it your way gay boy. Love you.”
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Don’t be deceived by those ‘Complan’ ads about height being everything. Six feet 3 inches, a column in one of India’s most unconventional magazine and 33 summers have not fetched me a girl friend yet. Quite ironic really, considering the fact that I was preparing a documentary on “female communities” at Gully No. 1 of Shuklaji Street, inside what has always been called the ‘Eunuch territory’.  I could track women in one of India’s scariest environment but could not get one for myself.
It’s not as if I haven’t had girls in my life. Back in school there were three girls. The first one had large breasts and therefore she had no trouble getting guys. The second girl was probably school’s best singer and chose to be with her accompanist, Bobby. The girl I really loved, Sruthi, eloped with a senior of mine while she was in class 12. And I’m not exaggerating here.  They had wanted to ‘break free’ from their ‘materialistic lives’ as per her note. And ‘so’ she stole her mom’s gold. Atleast her parents must have had a far lesser ‘materialistic life’ afterwards
Merin was never my girlfriend. She was my muse during the college days. And I, her slave (according to Imran). She’d constantly keep changing boyfriends and I’d faithfully follow her like a Poodle , expecting her to ‘open the eye’ someday and ‘see’ the true love.
One day I got a text on my mobile which read, “My eyes have been opened.” ‘I still remember rushing to the terrace with a bulging pants and a pair of shivering hands to call her.  There was to be a twist in the tale though. It was God who had ‘opened’ her eyes. She had joined St. Jude’s seminary.
For everyone else I was either ‘too tall’ or ‘too good’. Later on I started suggesting to these women that maybe letting go of ‘too good’ would be a mistake. But they always smiled and moved on.  ‘Too good’ and ‘too tall’ didn’t make you feel as bad as ‘you are like my brother’ though. That was always the worst.
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2 weeks prior to the conversation- In the kitchen helping mom with ‘palada’ payasam
“Mom, I’ll be 33 in a week. Don’t you …err…think it’s time?”
“Huh? Time for what beta?”
“To get me married.  I know you and dad have been secretly making plans. You can really try harder now.”
“Your dad and I never make plans! Go marry your girlfriend. People like you won’t get any girls from our place. Photographing ‘Eunuchs’ for a living. Try saying that to the family of a girl. You are 33 and we believe you are very capable of finding a good wife. So spare us.”
“Mom! I’ve been brought up by you two. I can’t possibly fall in love with a girl. Arranged marriage madhi(is enough)!”
Dad walks into the kitchen.
“So your son can’t get a wife. Why don’t you ask him to find one from Mumbai? He was hired by the BBC to do the same. Do one thing. You make him a profile in those wicked matrimony sites. And say that your son is an incapable being who expects his parents to get him a ‘suitable’ bride. Ask them to contact us, if their daughter is good looking. I suppose that’s all that matter these days. ”

“Dad, firstly I’m ‘your’ son too. Secondly, I hope you add ‘son of Jacob Fernandez, columnist The Hindu’ in the profile ‘mom’ makes. And yes, it would help if you add ‘intelligent’ among the ‘prerequisites’. “
“No intelligent female would have to search a matrimony site for a man.”
Surprisingly, they did make a profile for me in ABCmatrimony site.  With a photoshopped picture I had taken during my time at college for the placements. Nita obviously got to know about it (sadly) and publicized through facebook. 
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On weekends photographers and other likeminded souls would meet at the BARC canteen for our weekly round ups. Last Sunday, Sreenivasan presented a topic that stirred my mind up a little bit.
He believed ‘arranged marriage’ was a sin because man is simply a tool of his own ‘libido’ – that psychic sexual drive. And it cannot be controlled nor can it be tamed. ‘It’ was the master, not you and I. Marriage was an ‘act’, where you tried to suppress those inner desires. Marriage might help keep ‘it’ dormant but it’s never dead.
“Why do you think these fuck’d up religions are worried about this? They try to cover it all up by blaming poor ‘Eve’ for loving the apple? Libido is all powerful and it is present in our genes. Every animal in this world wants to mate and we Homo sapiens are no different. What if we were taught not to hate this desire but love it? Even the Adam-Eve story is flawed. Why did the Almighty plant an apple tree there? Because even He couldn’t neglect the need for ‘libido’. He planted a lovely apple tree in the middle of the garden because He was sure Eve would see it. How very sensible!” 
You Nanthaniel, you are a Christian right? Just enlighten us with Isaiah 45:7. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things. So God created ‘evil’. And what according to you Christians is ‘evil’? The Libido? Anyway the point I’m trying to convey is that for marriage to be successful there should be a degree of ‘openness’; a mutual understanding regarding the ways of the Nature. And when you arrange such an ‘understanding’ it’s always like the coalition governments in our country – bound to go wrong. And that is where I leave it folks. So if you are interested in working with me, meet me at Leopold.”
There was an instant urge to raise the hand and join the league. But I decided to call Cosmo’s expert on the topic – Natasha Fernandez (a.k.a my sister) before I volunteered.

http://www.facebook.com/LoveYaArrange
“Your friend is doing exactly what the religions did - Misconstruing facts to suit him. What he told you is an old theory, true perhaps, but one often regarded as puerile due to the lack of proper research and the effect it might have on an already wicked society. I’m glad he didn’t talk about the ‘Gandhian Principles’ which is favourite these days. The asshole’s probably sleeping with someone and wants an escape route prepared. Look Nithin, you are too good. Shouldn’t waste your time on subjects like these.”
“Love you Nita. And I suppose I’m better off skipping Sreeni’s offer.”
“You should say a ‘No’. But I can’t love you back Nithin. You are ‘like a brother to me’.”

I got a call from mom an hour later. A 27 year old fashion photographer liked my college photo (or atleast her family had) and had insisted on ‘seeing’ me. I submitted my assignment at the BBC office and boarded the next flight to Nedumbasserry, Kochi.

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 A couple of days back, I had gone with a lazy mother (Dad : “The girl must be emotionally unstable. What on Earth did she find attractive in your son!” ) to the Vogue photographer’s home. I suppose you never quite believe in ‘love at first sight’ until you experience it firsthand. With a stuttering tray stuffed with tea cups she walked into my life. Awestruck (or cupid struck), I had smiled sheepishly and thankfully she acknowledged it with one from her side. Her eyes enticed me. So many stories encrypted masterfully in those powerful eyes. I was sure she could see right through me. Fascinatingly her parents, like my mom, seemed very happy by the fact that we were smiling. And that was that. Call it arranged or love but our marriage had been fixed by that humble smile.

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Deby and I got into the habit of meeting up for lunch on weekends when we were both free. I took her out to places in Kochi that were less crowded and we would spend afternoons talking about ourselves, our passions (which were almost always the same), family, childhood and future plans. She was the first person on Earth who thought the ‘Eunuch’ story made sense. One of those afternoons she sang Ramanujan’s ‘Love poem for a wife’-

In the transverse midnight gossip
of cousin's reunion among
brandy fumes, Cashews and the Absences
of Grandparents, you suddenly grow
nostalgic for my past and I
envy you your village dog-ride
and the mythology.
 
Pretty much summed up what we had been doing.

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Nita had called me an hour ago. It seems Deby never knew that my name was Nanthaniel . I had somehow taken for the granted. I felt bad and called her up immediately but she seemed (much to my relief) quite cool about the whole thing. She had found the ‘name’ on the engagement card. The event was a shock reminder about how little we knew each other. Was I ready for such a challenge? Would I be able to sustain this feeling I have for her? I am so confused now but I don’t want to confide the secret to anyone. Should I call off this marriage? What in the world is happening to me?
And then mom casually walked into my room as if she could read my mind, ran her hands through my hair (or whatever was remaining of it) and said, “You’ll be a good honest husband one day. Just follow your heart, ‘always’ speak the truth and everything will be fine. That’s one thing 55 years of marriage has taught me and something your sister’s articles might not.”
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I got married today. In a little church, with very few relatives to bother, just the way I had always wanted. (It had been Deby’s decision but I wanted that as well). The evening party was not miserable as we had convinced some our friends to take photographs with higher ISO, thereby saving me from the unbearable ‘light’ that followed the bridegroom on his wedding day.

And contrary to local beliefs we made love in our first night. It all began with a small nibble on Deby’s neck. There was an eerie silence about the whole thing though as if someone had turned off the background score. And one other small thing troubled me. Deby wouldn’t look at me. She kept her eyes closed every time we came face to face.
As I lie here mocking sleep, hugging the love of my life, memories from the life so far keep barging into my head. There was so much to say, so much to do. I conjured up some courage, kissed her cheeks slowly and said,” You know, I never imagined my first time to be this way.”

PS:
This article was written as a part of Indiblogger's Love Marriage ya Arranged marriage ( click here )competition in association with Sony Entertainment Television.
PPS: If you want to read the story from Deborah's perspective click here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Killed in the name of God

On 4th August the life of Satnam Singh Mann, a law under graduate from National Law university, Lucknow, came to an abrupt end due to unnatural causes in judicial custody of the Karunagappally Police Station in Kollam District of Kerala. Satnam who was arrested on 1st August on charges of trespassing the sabha of Maa Amritanandamayi, was also a former student of Bishop cotton Shimla and belonged to a respected family Gaya District, Bihar. He had simply gone there to seek Maa's blessings and he was overtaken by anxiety when he tried to barge on Maa's podium and speak to her and he has been suffering from mental illness for a while.
On 3rd August Satnam's brother Vimal Singh had met him and found him in good health and spirits. Next day when his body was produced before him there were thirty injury marks and some seemed to have been caused by hot burning rods." Vimal was informed that Satnam was found unconscious in the Mental Asylum where they had shifted him. Soon after when he was taken to the Government medical college at Thiruvananthapuram where he was declared dead just before midnight.
Read more and sign the petition by clicking here

Wisconsin, Banglore, Kashmir, Pune, Hyderabad. Times are scary and while leaders of 'the religion'( to me every religion is the same - bodies meant to destroy man's ability to rationalize ) it's high time we thought about fellow human beings. There is no North East . We are all one!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

When Love Was Arranged


“Life isn't weird: it's just the people in it.”
I distinctly remember that day when I travelled alone in a private bus for the first time. I was the first fourth grade girl to do that. My dad was away on his usual business trips and mom couldn’t get out of the bank due to ‘closing related activities’ if I remember right. And I had always wanted to travel alone. Dad had agreed but only after being promised that I would stay away from strangers.
Somehow ever since that school annual day I’ve lived my life with an aversion for strangers, which is remarkably ‘strange’ for a fashion photographer, who has to deal with weird people all day long. But that’s how I’ve been all my life. Some guys even used to think I’m a lesbian because I kept turning their offers down.
So it came as a big surprise when my good old daddy, came barging into my room on a Sunday morning an year back and said, ‘Honey. You should get married.’ 
“Dad but I don’t even have a boy friend.”
“Perfect. You were always a good a girl. I’ll find you the perfect guy.”
Not knowing how to react, I had simply given him the Indian nod – Diplomacy at its very best! I don’t know how many of you have noticed this but we Indians have this uncanny habit of nodding in the same manner, whether it’s a yes or a no, thereby giving the recipient the freedom to choose what’s best for him.
Dad’s words did haunt me for a couple of days.  What had he meant by ‘you were’? Did that mean I’m no longer a good girl? Or did he want me to stop being a good girl?
And why did ‘he’ have to find the ‘perfect guy’? Did he think I’m incapable of finding one myself?
After a while the apprehensions faded away, as I came to understand my inability to socialize. I had a talent for making the model pose the way I wanted her to, but beyond that I was a mannequin. Devoid of such activities that’s considered human. Such was my fame at the workplace that I still remember that morning when I had found a picture collage with myself, Kristen Stewart and Arjun Rampal on my desk. Initially I had assumed it to be a complement from someone in the office until Sudha pointed out clearly, what the creator had implied - Lack of expression.
A month after ‘Dad day’, men in white started bringing their families along to feed on my mom’s home-made biscuits and tea. I actually found it quite an enjoyable experience as I watched the marvel of photoshop first hand! From skin tones to height, everything was different from their clichĂ© profiles ABCmatrimony site. When inquired one guy had casually replied that his friend was a ‘professional photographer.’
So these ‘professional photographers’ working for the National Geographic must be taking pictures of rats and then ‘professionally’ converting them to lions and leopards. How dare they walk into my home and insult my profession.
One particularly rainy day though, a shy guy walked in with his mother. The cute smile he bore was accompanied by a voice which introduced himself as Nithin - A travel writer by profession, a photographer by passion. I did not feel the world going bonkers around me but I must admit, the prospect of spending an entire life with this sweet smiling travel lover had seemed very attractive.
We slowly developed a habit of meeting up for lunch on weekends, whenever possible, and then travelling to quiet places in the city that I had no clue about. He was good and remarkably very quiet. Always doing the right things and it sometimes caused me some pain. The guy seemed so genuine and I knew all too well that I was just acting. I am not a good person. I enjoy the solitude, especially the peace associated with it. Given a choice I’d always read a novel and eating mom’s food on weekends. 
The acting continued and to the onlookers we had become the perfect couple. Kristen Stewart had found her Arjun Rampal.  Except for one minor glitch, it was a textbook relationship. The glitch, courtesy the engagement card which had Nanathaniel printed on it instead of Nithin, had given me a scare. The strange fact that I didn’t know the actual name of my fiancĂ©! Nithin was his ‘pet’ name, as his sister Nita had described to me later that day. And Nita, not so remarkably, was actually Natasha.
http://www.facebook.com/LoveYaArrange
*---*---*
Sera, another photographer at Vogue, had raised a very interesting topic during the lunch break after the cover-shoot for December’s edition.  According to her, I was living the perfect Indian woman’s dream - To have a ‘love cum arranged’ marriage.  Remarkably, very few in our country gets to marry the person he/she likes with the ‘blessings’ (that’s the word they use) of their parents. The phrase seemed pretty stupid to me. It is either love marriage or arranged marriage. Love, when you marry the person you like. Arranged, when you marry the person your parents like. If your parents allow you to marry the person you like, it’s simply love marriage. And if you love the guy your parent’s found, it’s still an arranged marriage. And Sera had completely neglected the fact that I wasn’t even sure if I was in love with Mr. Pet Name.
*---*---*
I got married today. In a little church with very few relatives to bother, just the way I had always wanted. (It had been my decision but I bet Nithin wanted that as well). The evening party was enjoyable as we had convinced some our friends to take photographs with higher ISO, thereby saving me from the unbearable ‘light’ that followed the bride on her wedding day.
Making love wasn’t all that scary either. Nithin had walked into his room, or rather our room, kissed me on the forehead and everything that followed was remarkably simple. All those Sunday afternoon novels had given me some apprehensions that weren’t necessarily justified, as I learned.
But somehow, as I lie on the bed staring at the blurry shadow the ceiling fan made while Nithin’s warm breath caressed my cheeks, doubts begin to rise in my heart. Was this love? Isn’t all this a little ‘too’ perfect? Would I be able to sustain this? Will Nithin EVER be angry? Has he had a lover before? Was I good?
“Rummaging in our souls, we often dig up something that ought to have lain there unnoticed.”
Wasn’t it Tolstoy who said that? Anna Karenina if I remember right.  Only time will reveal the truth in that statement.
And suddenly Nithin kissed my cheeks and said, “You know, I never imagined my first time to be this way.” For the first time that night I looked at him, straight in the eye, smiled and thought to myself , ‘One night and the poor thing has already started being honest.’ 

PS: I wanted to write about love and relationship from a girl's perspective. Hope I've done justice. Your comments on how to improve would be very helpful. This article was written as a part of Indiblogger's Love Marriage ya Arranged marriage competition in association with Sony Entertainment Television.
PPS: If you want to read the story from Deborah's perspective click here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

And Life Doesn’t Move On


 All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
 
Death amazes me. It is technically so simple. The end of life.  But a life is a mystery. An existence like none another. That ‘life’ might have known things that nobody else on Earth did. That life might have changed the world someday. Nobody would know though. Cause the ‘life’ no longer exists.  So complex when you think of it that way. But that’s something science will discover I suppose. Blah, I can go on and on. But hei, do you remember the story  I once told you? About Nazriya chechi?
The moment people heard about the unfortunate incident they started queuing up in front of the house to get a glimpse.  It was shocking how people actually wanted to ‘see’ the dead. To see the non-existent. There was the initial panic. People were all talking about it. Then the sadness gradually creeped in.  The burial. And that was that. The end. A life had been effectively removed from the earth.  Nobody thinks of her now. Her son lives with his step mother too young to understand what had happened.  Another life had come, gone and made no significant difference to the Earth.
Come to think of it, wasn’t it yesterday that you told me about the admission for MBA? You did seem pretty happy then. Or was it the day before? Damn all those social networking sites. Working on it has given me a memory loss. But it was yesterday right? Oh yeah, it was the day before. You had dropped mom at home after going to the temple. You usually go on Wednesdays right?
So you lost in a subject.  I suppose it must’ve been tough. That’s what these self financing colleges do mate! They buy an advance from you and make you sign a piece of paper saying that you won’t get it back if you don’t join. So? Just go crack the supplementary exam and get it done with! Or we can still screw these colleges. We could’ve convinced some hot shot lawyer to get your money back. 
Remember me telling you about my miserable semester 6 results? The one that ruined my CAT plans. It was very tough to handle initially. There I was “arrear-less” and getting ready to face my first interview. I distinctly remember that day. Onam celebrations were going on in my college. We had gone to the hostel to take some rest when somebody rushed in and told us about the results. Ajmal’s face when he saw my results. Those moments are still etched in my memory like it was yesterday. I had dragged the laptop from the bed. And from the opposite I heard 5 gunshots. Probably from the gun the ‘vettakaran’ uses in Pulikali. But exactly 5. Not 4, not 6, not 10. Exactly 5. And yeah, I had failed for 5 exams out of the 6 I had written.
You believe in God mate? Of course you do. Well He is Bollywood at heart. Likes a few twists and turns in between. But ultimately it’s always a fairy tale. All you have to do is play along and do your bit properly.
Jacob was right when he said every shit has a golden lining. Back then I had wanted to quit college and just get lost. Add to that the break up problems. Life was pretty much a big mess.  But sometimes you need such incidents to wake you up. Like the break up. I lost one person from my life and re discovered a 100 who have always been there. I was simply being blind. Mom for example.
So what if I had joined a company after being placed? I wouldn’t have been able to be there with mom when she fell sick. Remember mate, life is pretty darn easy if you’d let things be simple.
During my internship I met some extremely talented folks. People who’d make you and I feel worthless. Artists. Designers. Writers. All working for Rs 5000/- a month. Yes that low. That’s the world man.  And I came from a college where a job offer of 3.5L an year would be considered trash. There is more to life than what we know.
While at hospital I talked to this lady who used to clean our room. What was her name? Hmm yeah Jaya. She was telling me about her 3 kids. You know what her payment is? 3000. Husband passed away an year back. 3000 divided by 4. Do your math. You haven’t heard the strange part yet. She moved from some another hospital to this place last month due to the “far far superior” payment (as she put it ). And I can go on and on about stories Rajiv. About Mr. Chinnaswamy at Nooradi in Nelliampathy who between his heavy coughs managed to tell his story. His days at Tamil Nadu. Why he had to leave his family and come to Nelliampathy. Stories like these changes your perspective. This is a big world. And every living thing on this planet has his/her story.
And look at you. You choose to lie there facing the ceiling instead. You don’t want to know these stories, do you? Look at your mom. Look at her eyes. That’s life Rajiv. That’s worth living for. But you wanted to be different.
You were always the brave one. And yet these people coming in are calling you the ‘coward’.  A coward for ending your dreams and another hundred’s surrounding you, on a piece of rope. You my friend, I had great hope in you. I thought you’ll teach me how significant life really is. Yet you chose to disappear. Be like everyone else – dust.  You were optimism personified and now it is dead.
Go away. You think everything will be all right now? Do you even think those people at the MBA institute will return the advance you paid? So what was the point? Are these people right? Were you a coward? Or was there something else? Something none of us know about? But why? 

“Son….Son, I’m afraid you’ll have to move.”
“Oh I’m sorry. It’s time to leave?”
“Please don’t take him. Please don’t. He is not dead. He can’t be dead”, cried his mom as they shifted the body to the ambulance. 
The ambulance left. And so did everyone else…

But Rajiv, tell me something? What is it like? To be free?


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