Peerless Reads..Strangers on the roof.

December 15, 2014

I am always skeptical about the way arranged marriages work and when I came across a fiction about a husband and wife who havent spoke with each other for about an year after marriage,I didnt have a second thought of grabbing it.

“Strangers on the roof” is an english translation of Hindi novel written by Rajendra Yadev in early 1960s. The story opens with a wedding ceremony where a confused ambitious young man is wed-locked with an educated woman. Samar,the protagonist, was too concerned about his studies and wants to evade marriage,but his parents offer him no choice. Though we arent told about Prabha’s orientation towards marriage,one could glean that she is of the same kind too.

The family has handful of brothers and a sister who is living with them after an unsuccessful marriage. Samar has an elder brother who is married and hence we get another character Bhabi. The family is struggling to make their ends meet and marriages are indeed a source of income when they bring in the girl with handful of dowry. The story gives you an inkling of how a family maintains itself in a claim to be orthodox. We come across rituals which doesnt make sense and education rather than being looked as virtue is being treated as a vice when it comes to Prabha.

The novel sustains its interest,because you are told on the backcover that Prabha and Samar indeed spoke. But during first half of the novel we are presented with situations where they misunderstand each other without having a word spoken. Samar is scared of taking additional burdens and Praba appears to be too self-virtuous to plead him for a relationship. But at the same time Praba bends to all the tasks put forth her which keeps her busy from dawn to dusk. She has no-one to complain to and she never does. Prabha is being mocked everyday by her sister-in-law and mother-in-law , Samar stays indifferent towards it.

But internally Samar starts to long for her presence,he is obsessed about her whereabouts, and at many times when is about to confess it,she comes across as a threat to his ego,so he keeps going non-chalant. Samar is more concerned about his impending intermediate exams than her. But one fine day as promised in the back-cover they do get to speak after a heightened drama in the house.

Through Samar’s friend Diwakar we get to meet Diwakar’s cousin Shisesh who appears to be the voice of the author. He questions traditions and points out its better to live in nuclear families with love for each other,rather than living together with hatred. Those conversations were sufficient to rise an iota of doubt in the Samar’s traditional thoughts. We get to see the struggle the couple had to undergo to claim their dreams. Later when Praba starts to speak ,we hear about her dreams of being independent,and you get stumped on how this lady was able to wear the mistress hat in the house serving half-a-dozen people as their slaves.

The rest of the novel is all about their desires,dreams and despair. The narration reveals a change in mindset of rising middleclass during those times. Its a common place now that we have nuclear families,but during the times of these novel I guess,it wasnt so common.

Youth isnt all dazzling as one imagines and the novel rightly balances itself in framing both the bright and dark sides of it. If you are someone who is about to get married or just married,the novel would make lots of sense. Even otherwise,its a peek back in to our times.


Peerless reads: The dip

November 4, 2014

Quitters are generally looked down,but even a little introspection would remind you the many things you have tried but didn’t get far. I can blame myself for not trying to be the next Sachin Tendulkar when I had that ambition after watching him score back to back centuries in Sharjah. But its good that I quit that intention as early as possible,for I know that my abilities will never take that far. That’s an illustration of how quitting helps people. Successful people often quit early says Seth Godin in his book “The Dip”.

the dip

It’s a fast read  guiding you on making your own secret recipe of quitting. The theme of the book is well reflected in the below excerpt.

A wood-pecker can tap twenty times a thousand trees and get nowhere,but stay busy. Or he can tap twenty thousand times on a  tree and get dinner

But tapping on a wrong tree is also not going to help. All of us have ambitions and most of us pursue it,but only few make it to the end. Even internally you can have plenty of wishes,but only few make it to the end. Seth says that the ability to find whether the tree is worth tapping is what separates them.

dip_scale.the-cliff-cul-de-sac

The first of the two graphs symbolizes the dip , a period where frustrations galore since there are no results with increased efforts. But the people who ride through it make it to the peak where they are rewarded exponentially. These are the best in their chosen profession. They command premiums which are hundred times than the average,but to reach there,you will have to face the dip.

Not every dip ends rewarding,certain roads lead to dead ends and one has to have the ability to sense that early and quit as early as possible. The second graph depicts those trajectories which are doomed to fail. But Seth doesnt risk himself giving a recipe to identify which is what.

But he gives out recommendations on when to quit. He advises to devise quitting strategies,even before you start and not when the going gets. For business like venture capitalists quitting is where they earn,so plan for your exits. Our resources are minimal or atleast finite,hence we should be investing them in the best possible way. Abandon those activities which don’t have prospects and channel them towards something worthy.

With all these preaching, Seth never gives us a magic formula to differentiate between the dip and cul-de-sac.If there was one,winners wont be scarce. And its scarcity which makes them more valuable. But if you need a guide ,its summed up in these final words.

Quit the wrong stuff,

Stick with the right stuff,

Have guts to do one or the other.

At 90 pages it’s a short read,capable of influencing your mental muscles.


Drizzles in the summer

May 13, 2014

Seasons are amazing indicators of human wish-for-more syndrome. We wish for the rain when it shines and for the shine when its bitter cold for more than a  week. Its that little sun shine in the middle of bitter winter, or those sparing drizzles which beats the heat, brings a sea change in your senses. 

So here is me, trying to wire in more than three sentences after a big break.  


Illiteracy and Liberation.

December 19, 2013

I am Delhi for little over a year, yet I dont speak/understand Hindi with easy. I was able to manage with my limited vocabulary at the cost of few extra bucks in the bargains I had to make in these days.  But  it never hit me hard.

I met a tamilian who settled around Delhi in a conference. I was expecting that she will converse in Tamil or atleast in English with me. But she was going full in Hindi even after I told her that I dont understand Hindi. She remarked “Dont you feel like a illiterate for not knowing hindi and being around here.”

Thats true! Not being able to haggle, unable to read the destination points in bus..etc. Language has made me dependent . If I wasnt able to do it any language then I should have been dependent all my life. Though I have heard education is powerful, I felt its power in her words.

 

Needless to say, I am restarting my attempts to learn Hindi.


Thanga Meengal – Unheard voice!

September 7, 2013

Just like how the little girl in the movie yearns to see Gold Fishes, I was waiting to watch this movie. And it’s GOLD! It opens a window  to the colorful world of children which we have before us, but hardly look in to it.

Its about a child who has questions you cannot answer or handle and the very same child  has multiple answers for your simple questions. But she is studying second standard for the second time, since she is not up to their standards. But the director illustrates very well that there are no good students or bad students, its just capable teachers and otherwise.[I can vouch for it , since I am sitting through both kind of classes].Kudos to Ram for playing out the Dad, he has brought out the character in that character without any  loss. Chellama’s Dad knows the rules and the games of that wonderland – a childs view of the world. He had to suffer because he doesn’t know the rules and games of the real world. May be knowing one makes it difficult to know the other?

Even this Dad believes that good education is synonymous with private schools. I always wondered (even as a child) why government school teachers are paid more and work less and my teachers have to work hard for less salary. We lost many good teachers to government schools when they moved on for the secured jobs.And we do miss our Misses at times due to their marriage just like the Evita Miss! Evita miss is  a good hearted teacher who cares for children. And even she doesn’t know the impact she has over her students!  [None of us know how a child learns and perceives the world.] When she realizes the faith,hope and love of a student she was speechless. I bet we all would go speechless too if we can understand how a child understands us.

Okay I need a line from the story to talk more about it. Dad  is the soul and sole companion of the daughter.Circumstances separate the pair and when Ram comes back he complaints that “I left a child, and you killed the child in that child”! I was having the exact same thought ever since Chellama was tortured, by the teacher who was not willing to walk that extra step to understand a child, her little friends who treat her badly, her Mom who harms her without being able to restrain her emotion. Its not just in the story in the movie, I have seen it happening right before my eyes.

Right from capturing how TV influences kids, to their ability to understand the wicked intention of grandmas, the camera compels you to see the world from a child’s view!

And parents do it,just because they believe its good for their children. But sadly good education is not what they think. And good education need not necessarily bring comforts in life. The cost we pay for the education is just not the overpriced fees, but that innocence of a child hood! And as a child I do remember my happiness was quantized by marks.Already my Mom has asked sorry to me , but still believes that if she hadnt spared the rod I would have been a spoiled child.I bet she wouldn’t let me do that to my children, for she knows better now!

Every children is a good learner, just try competing with a child in learning a new language!This one size fits all and grading education is doing more harm than good.

This isnt a movie review, will do that when I watch this aesthetic movie in a good ambience, for now just jotted down some thoughts which ran through my mind. I used to think about it a lot, but when a movie captures it visually you are prone to remember and learn lots of lessons from it.

This movie is a compulsory lesson for all the parents. And teachers- you just have the best and most wonderful job of all. Especially the primary school teachers. Mostly I will never ever meet my primary school teachers. But the love and care they had showered is what made us! Not many teachers understand that.

Atleast Chellama had a Dad to save her from getting drowned in this pond. But a lot other kids get drowned in the sea in search of “Thanga Meengal” Save Children and Celebrate them!

If you have come here for movie review – Sorry! Keep waiting!


Usthaad Hotel – Face of Modern Cinema

August 24, 2013

I knew about Usthaad Hotel even before I watched it. When it was released it managed to get some attention in the media I read. People were rave about it and they wrote that it spoke about a grave issue. Lovers of good cinema in my circle loved it.

I thought it must be a good and serious movie and assumed that it must be of that category which only film enthusiasts appreciate.(art film). I was right and wrong. I was wrong because it was such a lively film, never boring or never pretending even for a  moment. I was right because here is some one who has served the  a food that is tasty as well as healthy which can be consumed by everyone!

Well begun is half done and they set the tone right at the start, when our man tries non-stop until he gets what he wants(a baby boy!). It might seem comical, but just under the hoods you see how women were used and thrown,that’s a punch on the face.

Finally he gets a boy , but loses the woman. The boy groups with his numerous sisters, and the camera proves that children grow up fast and girls leave their home when its time.Since its a tale of 3 generations, every second was used to take the story forward. The hero completes his studies by the time we read the titles. Narration at its best!

Faizal the hero returns with a degree in catering against the wish of his business man father. The way he makes his way out of the house, robbing his own father sans any drama. The movie and the hero is then moved by his grandfather, GRAND OLD man of mollywood Thilakan. Though he has love for his grand child, that doesnt deter him from making him start his training from the basics- right from washing tables to carrying rice on his back. We get to see the kitchen, the beach, the streets of Kozhikode enriched by technical aesthetics.

While we savour all the spices on screen , the story keeps leaping forward.The heroine and the romance are cute enough to inspire you to fall in love with love. Even when you laugh at the comic on how the man wears a parda and had to tackle a lorry driver, you hear the voice of a woman(Script writer) raising her concerns.

A little bit of normal romance and drama creeps in to the movie at this stage. I am not going to narrate you the tale from here. But the exchanges between the grand father and grand child makes you move out of your seat. That one scene where the drink black tea by the sea,will make you taste your tea different.

Humour is sprinkled all over this movie which makes you feel fresh. When Thilakan narrates the impossible tale of his love and later when some one utters a casual remark that poaching brides runs in the family,you get smiles for free.

All along the boy is headstrong on making a successful career and that means its going to be in London/France. Success means different things to different people like Thilakan, Faizal and Faizal’s Dad.

There must be a strong reason to move that ambitious guy and to make him change his meaning of success. Aptly the tale takes you to the real life inspiration in Madurai where a chef turned philanthropist cooks and serves the lesser privileged. I assume you will be watching this beautiful movie and hence I don’t intend to describe any more.

Well crafted script devoid of normal sterotypes creates a platform for everyone on and offscreen to deliver their best. Music makes you laugh, cry and at times drool for the food. Camera captures the beauty of the desert and the beach with the right angles and takes you places. Be it the frame in which the house wife shares the news of an arriving baby in a husky voice to her husband, or the numerous scenes in which Thilakan plays a Krishna to the hero(Arjuna..) , camera is at the right place to let you know the intensity in these relationships.

As they say in the movie “Anyone can fill your stomach, but it takes something special to fill the heart”, any movies can make you pass your time. But few movies like this one with the right condiments will remind you about the richness we possess in our culture, the responsibilities we have for your soceity and above all make you feel good about yourself.

Hats off – Anjali Menon – the writer!

PS: I dont speak/understand Malyalam, but do movies need languages?


Good Morning!

July 17, 2013

I love to be up at around 5:30 and have a stroll  with a cup of coffee to boot. That has been my favourite way of life, ever since my college days. I can remember some days where I was the first customer who forced the Sub-marine vendor Accet to boil is milk and seek comfort in the warmth of those fire in winter. Wherever I went I would find  a coffee shop(Tea Kadai!)  that I fall in love with.No matter what time of the day it is, if I need some inspiration, I would go far for a walk, and have a coffee with some wild thoughts.

Last August I moved to Delhi, strangely put up in a diplomatic area where even the birds would require permission to visit. Naturally the area had less human movement and just few shops. My mess which serves tasteless coffee starts only at 8. No coffee?- waking up early and staying fresh had been challenged by that fact. I love my mornings but also I love to be up late at night too. Naturally without coffee I became nocturnal. A lot gets done from 6 AM to 8 AM, than the hours of midnight say 12 AM to 3 AM which passes like a whisker unless you are breaking your head with some code. So I always preferred mornings. I had a 60 day vacation and whenever I got up atleast my 7 , my days were bright and long.  But I had difficulty in sustaining it, no coffee! I did bring milk powder, nescafe and brewed my drink. But nothing beats the taste of that milk!

Recently we went pass some residential quarters and and found a co-operative milk store. I knew its existence but its diagonally opposite to my walking trail and I considered going there for milk was waste of time. But I trailed! Initially I was  not careful,and let almost all the milk spill out, had only little left to make curd. But I made more curd out of Rs 5 milk than what I would get in a 20 Rs curd packet. That motivated me to try  inspite of failures. Today I got up early, strolled in the path, walked across to get that milk, and voila, had that coffee I had been longing for!!! Then strolled along the internet lane to just stumble on things which can excite me. “Inspiration is perishable” – read that somewhere, what better time of the day to get inspired.

Morning inspires you, during that transition from darkness to light, you get to see lot of inspiring incidents depending upon the time of the day. If its early at 4-5, you see those early worms amongst us <newspaper vendors,tea stall owners> getting ready and doing their work. 5-7 its the time to be in the park, you can see people doing lot of  crazy things. I just go there and observe it, occasionally I run/jog. But I get my kicks in watching people. 7-8 , I love this time atleast during my stay in Chennai when I have my walk in this stint, I get to see school buses and faces inside it. Variety of faces with myriad expressions. Compare those faces with those adults who are getting ready for offices, you would naturally feel something is wrong in our way of growing up. Give it a break 8-10, I hate to be on the road. When ever I get to start from home at 10 for office, I would see a relaxed atmosphere on the road after the morning rush. I even knew which buses to pick to increase my probability of getting a window seat for that 20 minute ride. The window through which I see the world around me.

I would feel like a man in the park for the whole day whenever I get up early. That’s because not only it inspires you, a lot gets done in the morning and you feel like the day is really long and you can afford to be slow. I post most of my blogs around this time when I have some time to kill and is also in the zone to think. Have been missing them for long. I am not the guy who forces my body to wake up, whenever I tried that it hurts. I want things to happen naturally and it did happen today!!! And I have a gut feeling that I would sustain it too.

The gut feeling was sponsored by Nescafe made from pure toned “Mothers diary milk”. Good Mornings always have caffeine attached to it.