Category: Experiences of a Lifetime

A Rude Wake-up Call

It has been six full months after the city of Chennai was ravaged by floods. Extensive loss of men and material resulted in rebirth of what people would call “humanity” and “brotherhood” and what-not. Media had a field day in replaying their stock shots repetitively that it seemed they were making up for their conspicious absence for a long time after Chennai choked. Of course, neither did we have a RaGa here nor did we have a glitzy high profile” Mother murders Daughter” saga going on.We did resist and did what we could to the best of our efforts.

We learnt how to join hands. We learnt to appreciate the bus driver annas and the traffic cops who were doing a fabulous job. I am sure many others would vouch for my words when I say that Chennai was reborn. With pride and compassion in equal amounts. However, I would like to bring in some 3-4 shades of grey into the picture. Pardon me if I hurt your sentiments, for it is always bitter to listen to truth.

While Chennai, the jewel of Tamilnadu was being the attention seeking brat that most stinking-rich uber cool dudes would be, there was a place called Cuddalore which was equally affected. It was that poor lil step-sister of our brat and conveniently forgotten when compared to the attention that Chennai got.

While we spoke like a million loud words about how Chennai people were unfortunate, we missed the point of greed. There is something called City Limits, City planning, water bodies specific areas etc. Nobody cared. All wanted a house even in the shabbiest and ridiculous-est ( that is how furious I am) areas, naming it as Lake-view, marsh-view and many other such preposterous views. People were dumb and greedy. Dumb such that they couldn’t really identify the land on which the brick was laid, in the name of construction, and greedy for all that people cared about was that fistful of sand. Serves them right, I would say.

While one portion of the city was recovering slowly, there was another portion that got to breathe freely, without suffocation. That was the Cooum river. Legends have been written about this waterway that I, as a person in mid-twenties, think of the possibility of such legendary history with a tinge of doubt. I saw the river clean, without a floating trace of filth to constrict its wind pipe. I felt happy. Crores lay written in papers, claiming to have been spent on de-silting and stuff like that. It was time that Nature took things in her/his own hands and did the needful.

While many, many people were out on the streets helping the needy and preparing food for them, fresh and hygenic, there were groups of people who had the audacity to throw the packets onto the streets, for want of variety. If this is not vanity, then what is? When people don’t realise their fortune and good luck, any number of samaritans won’t be enough to save them. I would rather see them starve to death instead of wasting food on them. I would rather feed a child who understands the value of food and who is able to count his blessings than to attempt to feed those brainless retards who wanted variety in food.

Chennai floods brought out the best in people. It also brought to light certain blunt truths, which were apparently dancing butt-naked in front of our eyes. We were just too deluded to even try and see the truth in them.

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Beyond words

Being left to live alone creates a big impact on one’s own thoughts and values. The alone time gives the ambiance to revisit all those wonderful times one would have spent with her family. It teaches the value of a person in one’s life and also brings our attention to all those small gestures that go a long way in making or breaking a relationship.

I grew up in a very loving and close knit nuclear family. I have been staying outside home for about 8 years now and I remember myself going through a plethora of emotions all these years. Happy, sad, restless, confused, annoyed, jubilant etc, you name it I swear I have had it. The new-found freedom from parents’ watch and the new people around made me go crazy. I am not ashamed to say that I have had my own pitfalls and may-be a lot more “close-shaves” . I have learnt to take care of myself quite well.

It was during one of my Coffee-influenced-evening-musings that I started reminiscing about all those beautiful days. I still remember many of my fights and disagreements with both my parents- individually and also together. I remember many small loving gestures that were generously sprinkled all along my days with them. Those lovely signs continue till day.

It has been our family tradition to have dinner together. All four of us, no compromises there unless Appa is travelling somewhere. Otherwise, be it my exams, my brother’s tantrums, my Amma’s fatigue, dinnertime was always family time. Some how that has become a habit for us. We wait till all of us arrive from wherever they are held up. We don’t really care about how hot the food is or if the food is leftovers from the afternoon’s lunch. All that we care about is that together we eat. Period.

Similarly, Appa and Amma make it a point to have their morning coffee together. It has been 25 years that they are married now and not once in my memory have I seen them have their coffees alone. Amma loves Jasmine flowers and Appa still buys a Mozham of Malli poo everyday for her. This also has been happening since I can remember. I mean, these are all small things, to be honest. But these go a long way in conveying messages than words will ever do.

From the time I was a baby, I always gave the first bite of any delicacy or eatable/beverage that I laid my hands on, to Appa. This came out from the fact that I had no sibling then to share anything and Amma and Appa were particular that I be inculcated with the habit of sharing things with others first. This habit continues till date. If I am home and I get something to eat/drink, I give the first bite to Appa ( not Amma, which I still don’t know why).I am 24, for God’s sake, but I adore that look in his face when I do this. Appas are the real babies in this world, you know. They are just too cute.

When I visit home, I used to take the Vaigai Express from Chennai which reaches Madurai at around 9 PM. We then have dinner together and Amma and I would sit for our chit-chat which goes on until 1 AM. She is a working woman and she has had a long day by then, but still she sits with to talk about the most boring stuff ever or some random jibber-jabber that I am well-known for.

Sitting alone in a huge flat, with nobody to care about you makes a person realize the importance of all these small things. It makes me realize how blessed I am and sets a higher benchmark for me to make up to when I get my own family and all.

Many a times we think materials bring happiness. Nope. We could not be more wrong or more shallow. A word of appreciation, a token of love and mere presence is what gives true happiness.

Where the heart is content, nothing seems impossible.

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Happy 25!!!!!

Love is not about meeting the right person. It is about being with that person till the very end.

Have I been in love? May be. Have I seen people who are in love? A much more sure type of “May be”. Have I seen people who stay with that person because of love? Yes. A resounding yes. Those “people” would be my parents. To think and realise that they celebrate their silver jubilee anniversary this year is amazing.

I have seen them both at their best and also at their worst. I have seen them squabble and make me hate the entire universe, and I have also had my own share of “Awwww” moments seeing them together. It is that love and commitment that makes up for all those slight imperfections. I learn from them every day. Every moment with them is a life lesson for me.

Marriage is not about the glitz and glamour that comes with it. It is about the life after that as a couple. It is not easy to keep holding hands even when one’s world is falling apart. Marriage makes us do that, precisely.

To quote one of my favourite character from a TV show,

“In my life, if I am half happy as you guys are in your marriage, I will consider myself lucky”.

Yes, Appa and Amma, you may not be the perfect couple for the world, but then you are perfect for each other and that’s what matters more.

Happy Happy Wedding anniversary to you both and We all wish you guys hit a half century soon 😉

I feel so overwhelmed that it is hard to get words out of me right now. So you know what I did? I tried taking some of your pictures and also get a few people to talk of you both. I hope you are surprised enough!

 

 

 

Arjun Comment

 

A few pictures for you to reminisce about the years you both have held each other 🙂

 

 

Love you loads 🙂

 

The Musical Enlightenment with Mr.Sanjay Subramaniam

The Hindu LitFest 2016 gave me an unforgettable opportunity to listen to literary geniuses talk and discuss about things that had had a huge impact on them, the issues that, in their view would go on to bring in a magnificent shift in the general structure of acceptance and non-acceptance etc.

The first session that I attended was titled “Sing My Song” which had the renowned Carnatic Music exponent, Mr.Sanjay Subramaniam in conversation with Ms. Nirmala Lakshmanan.

I have always had great regard on Mr.Sanjay Subramaniam and Ms. Vishaka Hari because I know them to be Chartered Accountants who had the drive to pursue what they loved and to break the stereotypes of being auditors and the hype surrounding it. (I know the hype and also the respect it commands in the society because I am one of them)

Starting off with talking about being awarded the “Sangeetha Kalanidhi” award, he spoke about the massive personal responsibility that has been served upon him. Of course that did not mean that he had altered his journey or destination based on the award. He was careful about not letting the influence of the award and the recognition that it brought to interfere in his already pursuing path of music.

     “Restriction breeds Creativity”

That was one of the prime take-aways that I had got from this session apart from the humour and cricket that was generously sprinkled. I found this statement from him to be very true and honest. In most of the cases, where there is restriction there will be rebellion. Most of the times such rebellion creates history. May be it is something to do with the human mind which is known to be complex and intricate. The mind is thirsty when it is deprived of something. The “yekkam” they say, is boundless during such situations. I have felt that personally and could relate to that statement in a more intimate fashion.

On the way the traditional carnatic music format is evolving, he says,” Art is never static” and that all art forms go through a phase of turbulence. Art is supposed to give rise to different feelings and opinions to different people. It is not science to be perceived in the same manner by everyone. True words, Sir!

An artist derives energy from his audience. That is a hundred percent true. An artist must be true to himself. He must be daring enough to take risks in his performance and to attempt improvisation.  He must be ready to accept and must be open minded enough to experiment and explore the hidden realms of the art that he fervently and reverently practices.

Also apart from the little thoughts on the Vivaadhi Concept, the prominence of Tamil Keerthanams in his concerts, the impiortance of the rapport with the accompanists and also about the general dilemma of the superiority of the Guru-Shishya mode of imparting musical education over the now-prevalent trend of Skype Classes, the one thing that made me admire him was his acceptance.

When one member from the audience asked if he has done anything at all to spread and increase the reach of carnatic music on a grassroot level (What the question-asker intended to know was if SS was going to schools and doing anything tangible to increase the awareness of carnatic music), SS was gracious and grounded enough to accept that he hasn’t done anything of that sort. I admired that quality in him. Instead of beating around the bush saying superficial things or adopting to shame the person who had asked such a question to him on a public platform, SS accepted it. It kind of felt that it all boiled down to one’s own choices and one need not try so hard to fit in to another’s definition of something. It implied, albeit silently, that one can be original and be unapologetic about it. In my words, to one his own.

I enjoyed the session mainly because of the energy that it gave me and also for the core ideas that I had in me when I walked out of the auditorium. A very good start to an awesome feast, I would say.

Rocking at the Rock cut temples- Mahabalipuram

Five years in Namma Madras and Me not having visited Mahabalipuram was a shame not just for me, but for my entire extended clan. I know that it was unjustified but then better late than never, right? So yes, my friends and I set out on a trip to Mahabs on a chilly Sunday morning.

Mahabalipuram is a coastal town near Chennai which is known for its Rock cut temples and sea shore. It was an ancient port town which was the port of contact for trade connections with South East Asia. It has exemplary historical identities that were carved during the Pallava Rule.

I have been to Mahabs before but that was a trip to a resort there and not to any of the tourist spots that were famous. So this time around I was determined to visit the maximum places and have my own kinda fun.

So we guys had breakfast in a restaurant in Uthandi and sped away to Mahabs. About 30 minutes of drive later there we were!! A bustling town that rakes in revenue in the form of tourism. I had always thought that this place was overrated by people, but then how would I know that I would be proved wrong like this?

Our first stop was the Shore Temple. It was a lovely place and my favourite of all the places that we had visited in the town. It was a temple on the sea shore and was picturesque. The area around the temple was neatly laid out and designed and was a very pleasing sight for the eyes that were sore of the city way of life.

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Our next stop was the Five Rathas. These are structures that resembled Chariots and were actually carved out of a single stone. These are named after the Pancha Pandavas ( Dharma, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva ) and Draupadi of the Mahabharatha. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and rightly so. The way these structures stand today is a testimony to architectural marvel of those days.

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There was also a Sea shell museum and an Aquarium there. Man! I totally loved the sea shell museum. It is said to be the personal collection of one person and it was damn lovely. The guide who was in charge of the sea shells was amazing and patient enough in explaining the speciality of few of the collections kept there. ( Watch out for Breath Mary while you are at it, peepals) .

We then broke for lunch and loitered around for a while there in the lawns adjacent to the Varaha Cave and Arjuna’s penance.

Arjuna’s penance was our next destination. This place is said to be the place where Arjuna receives the Pasupatastra from Lord Shiva and also where Ganga falls on to Lord Shiva’s head and flows. This place has very intricate carvings and are very much descriptive of the mythological event.

 

We then proceeded to the Maritime museum and another archaeological artefact museum which were very much interesting to check out. People who dig maritime stuff and related old time tech will absolutely adore the place.

Light house was the penultimate stop for us and that was so crowded for we had reached there at the perfect time. The view from atop the huge structure was breathtaking and we could catch a glimpse of the IGCAR also.

 

Will a trip to Mahabalipuram be complete without a beach visit? Never! So off we went to the Beach and had the customary Feet-wetting ceremony in the cold waters of the Bay of Bengal. That was it. That did tire me out after about 6 odd hours of total enthusiasm. All that I remember now after that point was that somehow I managed to get back to my place and am typing this post about the memories that I had managed to make during the day.

Mahabalipuram is well connected and pretty famous in the Coromandel coast guys. Worth a visit if you dig historical places. (Oops! Pun)

Will I dare another visit? Ohhhhhh Yesssssss!!!!! 🙂 🙂