Monday, December 15, 2014

Memories Intact in the Innards of Time

When boys pass thoroughfares for playgrounds, balls pass unsuspecting heads for wickets. It was one such ball that hit my head, triggering a volley of vignettes. Vignettes of memories lying intact in the innards of time.

Memories of a childhood that ran riot over a vast landscape dotted with areca nut trees, jackfruit trees, few mango trees, guava trees including several nameless ones…names we never bothered to check, that is. For me, that was the place where Pandavas were trained in archery…or Rama and Sita endured their Vanavasa.  I mean that’s how I visualized every scene in Mahabharata, Ramayana, other epics, stories and fairy tales.
It was an assortment gifted by Mother Nature, wrapped in greenery that would turn the kids of this concrete jungle green with envy!
 We were privileged to live in one of the handful of independent houses ( to draw a parlance from the realty trade in Bengaluru!) in a vast compound in Kasaragod, a town then. Nevertheless we were more footloose than whatever the word ‘independent’ connotes, in the most happening city that is.
 Every season was a sort of festival for us! Following the pre-monsoon showers, fireflies would mercifully descend on a few huge trees facing our house to turn the night view into starlit like in a planetarium. With the unrelenting drizzle as the background score amply supported by the orchestra rendered by a team of frogs, crickets, owls and a chorus of some nocturnal birds, or the ones awaken and wowing at nature’s amazing opera. Like a file made PDF, the memory refuses fade.
Not for us the conventional games in spite of the ground each house was gifted with fit to play squash or kabaddi or even cricket. Our national game was hide & seek. Like golf, it stretched all over the green field and hence would go for hours on end. Like the police or sleuths during the dark days of emergency in India, we had an unconditional right to enter any house with no search warrant. Unmindful of our nuisance value, we would make the game as tedious for the opponents, as irritating it was for all.
A week hardly passed by without our spotting a snake here and there. Or the rodents, except rabbits, vanishing into a classic of a wonderland we never found, but just dreamed about. Our owner’s cowshed was like a zoo we would visit as our favourite pastime, his push cart our favourite amusement vehicle. Each tree was a challenge and so were the tiled roofs their braches stretched out to. No words can describe the taste of a guava you get by climbing its tree and plucking it from there. What beats that taste is its memory. As we climbed the trees, the ants and other insects would follow suit. We were for the ants what the trees were for us. So the adventure sports had all the oops, wails, squeals, fretting, and finally the wow of a triumph!
‘Beware of these boys!’ The stray dogs around would warn one another thus since we spared none. They were the not- so-easy targets of our shooting skills, armed as we were all the time with pocketful of stones. Once or twice in a year we used to erect a makeshift house using palm leaves and scrap, so small in size that we had to enter it stooping like into a dog-house. Our occupation movement would last only for a few hours since it was bereft of any lofty goals except for the joy of pitching a tent. Today whenever I see ramshackle hutments in poor localities, I am reminded of the times we the kids endured inside those improvised dog-houses of ours. For us it was fun. For them it is life! And my heart goes out to all those homeless in the US.

Answering nature’s call literally meant so since both the bathroom and the latrine as well were at such distances that if in Bengaluru the denizens would have taken to their two-wheelers! When it comes inventing excuses for polluting environment, no one can beat a Bengalurean.

Since my dad never insisted and the owner never bothered, the bathroom and the toilet didn’t have power supply. Unfortunately nature never checks these things and keeps calling at odd hours. So if anyone had to go after sunset, my mom would first light up a kerosene lamp. My brother or I would go along as a company! One of us holding a cell-torch and mom carrying the lantern, we would march ahead, to help the one in trouble accomplish his mission. The dangers that lurked among the woods and the grass, made the escapade as thrilling.     

Every torrential rain would submerge the entire surroundings in knee-seep water. When the exhausted clouds would sweat it out as a drizzle, my brother and I would step out holding one single umbrella, as if duty bound to assess the havoc nature’s fury wrought in. During one such outing, a snake morphed as a big question mark sprang from the water, bewildered as it was to find those two strange creatures! It vanished as fast as it had appeared! Instead of sending shivers down our spines, it drew hearty laughs from us!

Those days, transistor was like a semi-luxury.  Cinemas, dramas, Navaratri Veshas and annual fairs were the only entertainment. Time ‘snailed’ along so that we could savour every moment of it, so as to help us cherish it for life.

How truly it is said that all good things come to an end and how soundly it holds good for childhood!

Our owner was such a gem of a man that we simply felt he was one among our neighbors! Now I can fathom the pain he felt when his financial obligations compelled him to sell a portion of his property and hence he could not help requesting our dad to vacate the house. Thank God, the summer vacation we were enjoying in our granny’s home spared us from the heart rending sight of curtains coming down on a dream world around which our childhood revolved. I wonder how our dad managed it all alone. I mean the task of vacating the house! Anyways, summer vacations over, we returned to an entirely new place where all our efforts to have an encore of the previous paradise, fell flat, with a ring of last rites to what was lying buried down in the past!

So, mine was a childhood that was like a joy ride stopped abruptly on the tracks. What would be its psychological consequences? Who cares, every loss is like fertilizer to the field upon which creativity blooms!     

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


( my poem published in 'The Asian Age', over a decade ago)

Facing the Music System

I too possess I hate to alas!
Those crafted to the last detail
Coffins of music
Gram phone records, cassettes
And now Compact Discs
Lies within which nailed
The joy of missing those songs
Missed, miffed forever and ever
At your fingertips
Are your favourite numbers
Like the love of your beloved wife
You get them any time
Any number of times
Wondering into where, how
And why did the joy of
Rarity fly?
And unwittingly inventing a system
To crush them
Or facing the music system

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Shame on the people who are celebrating the demise of UR Ananthamurthy! This is why I never identify myself with the saffron brigade. Even our PM has condoled his death.
Shocked to hear about the sad demise of Dr UR Anantha Murthy.
ಅವರು ನಮ್ಮ ನಿಮ್ಮ ಹಾಗೆ, ಕಿಡ್ನಿ, ಶ್ವಾಸಕೋಶ, ಅದು ಇದು ಎಂಬ ಸಣ್ಣ ಸಂಗತಿಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಬದುಕುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು ಎಂದು ನಂಬುವುದು ನನಗೇಕೊ ಕಷ್ಟವಾಗುತ್ತಿದೆ. ಅವರೆಂದರೆ ನನ್ನ ಪಾಲಿಗೆ 'ಸಂಸ್ಕಾರ'. ನಾನು ಐದನೆಯ ತರಗತಿಯಲ್ಲಿದ್ದಾಗ, ಓದಿದ ಮೊತ್ತಮೊದಲ ಕಾದಂಬರಿ. ವಿಸ್ಮಯ, ಬೆರಗು ಗಳೊಂದಿಗೆ ಅವರು ಅನಾವರಣ ಗೊಳಿಸಿದ ಅಗ್ರಹಾರದ ಪ್ರಪಂಚಕ್ಕೆ ನನ್ನ ಅಂಬೆಗಾಲು. ಇನ್ನೊಮ್ಮೆ, ಪದವಿ ಮುಗಿಸಿದ ಬಳಿಕ ಮತ್ತೊಮ್ಮೆ ಓದಿದ ನೆನಪು. ಓದಿದ ಹಾಗೆ, ಅರಿವಿನಾಳಗಳಿಗೆ ಇಳಿದ ಹಾಗೆ ನನ್ನಲ್ಲೇ ಮರು ಹುಟ್ಟು ಪಡೆದ ಪ್ರಾಣೇಶಾಚಾರ್ಯರ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿತ್ವ, ಪರೋಕ್ಷ ಮನದಲ್ಲೆಲ್ಲೋ 'ವಂಶ ವೃಕ್ಷ' ದ ಶ್ರೀನಿವಾಸ ಶ್ರೋತ್ರಿ ಯವರೊಂದಿಗೆ ತುಲನೆ. ಭೈರಪ್ಪ, ಶಿವರಾಮ ಕಾರಂತ, ಚಿತ್ತಾಲ, ಪೂಚಂತೇ ಯವರ ಹಾಗೆ ಮನದೊಳಗಿನ ಶಾಲೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಕನ್ನಡ ಕಲಿಸಿದ ಇಂಗ್ಲಿಷ್ ಮಾಷ್ಟ್ರು!
ಈಗಷ್ಟೇ 'ಸೂರ್ಯ' ಇನ್ನೇನು ಮುಳುಗಿ ಮರೆಯಾದ ಅನ್ನುವಷ್ಟರಲ್ಲಿ, ಸಿಡಿಲೇ ಇಲ್ಲದೆ ಸುರಿದ ಮಳೆಯ ನು ಹಿಂಬಾಲಿಸಿ ಬಂದೆರಗಿದ್ದು ಅವರು 'ಮೌನಿ' ಆದರು ಎಂಬ ಸುದ್ದಿ ಸಿಡಿಲು. ಅವರ ಆತ್ಮಕ್ಕೆ ಶಾಂತಿ ಸಿಗಲಿ ಎಂದೆಲ್ಲಾ ಹೇಳಿದರೆ ಅವರ ಆತ್ಮಕ್ಕೆ ನಿಜವಾಗಿ ಶಾಂತಿ ಸಿಗುವುದೇ , ಅದು ಅವರು ನಂಬಿದ ವಿಚಾರಗಳಿಗೆ ಅವಮಾನ ಮಾಡಿದಂತಲ್ಲವೇ ಎಂಬಸಂದಿಗ್ಧ!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

They say pen is mightier than the sword. Today, Indians woke up to a refreshing reality that words delivered extempore from the bottom of the heart of a true statesman, could be the mightier than the one penned by an IAS cadre secretary! Narendra Modi threw all those rhetorics into the recycle bin and made a speech where he did not speak about a foreign hand, communal forces, integrity, unity, blah blah! He did not beat about the bush or made the people doze off in the morning! He presented some concrete action plans and put across some genuine observations which struck a chord with the patriots who think of the nation everyday and not only on the independence day! For the first time in my life I was glued to the entire speech delivered by the Pradhan 'Sevak' of our nation- next to Atal Bihari Vajpayee! Oh my countrymen, now the onus is on us! If we belie the hopes he has whipped up, we would be negating our own progress and nothing could be as treacherous as that!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

                                         Day in And Day out 
(This is actually a tweaked, refined version of an article I wrote way back on 21st November 2013)
Now-a-days not a single day passes without it being a day. The other day I came to know that the previous day had been a World Food Day. That day, thanks to the unpredictability of my stomach’s acidity, I had a bad day and settled for liquid food only. Had it not been for my ignorance about it being World Food Day, I would have binged that day as if there’s no tomorrow! Is there any other way a wise man can live up to whatever world food day stands for?
It’s time someone told, whoever is behind these ‘days’, these days, that there are only 365 days in a year and hence one year can hardly accommodate all the things we fancy, fear, love, hate or care for. Which in turn means for some ‘days’, we may have to wait for 4 years for the leap year   to turn.
 Recently World Disaster Prevention Day came and went with a whimper-fortunately there were neither any major disasters, and hence, nor preventions! If I had any say in deciding on which date what day shall fall, I would have suggested the day tsunami hit us as the World Disaster Prevention Day as that remains etched in our memory when all our preventive measures fell flat. (Of course it was a calamity and not a disaster yet failure of an early warning system could make it an also-ran to the slot of a disaster of sort).
Tsu means harbour and nami means wave in Japanese hence ‘harbour wave’ or tsunami. In one calamitous sweep the tsunami that hit on the 26th of December 2004, snuffed out AT LEAST 2,90,000 lives in 14 countries bordering on the Indian Ocean. Actually it was targeting some other country, it seems, in retrospect. It was trying to wake up the mankind about the consequences of being too power hungry. It got it right the second time. No, I am not commending the forces behind tsunami for the havoc it wreaked in. I am stressing the point that, it may also be viewed as a wake-up call against our depending so heavily on nuclear energy. Well, when you come know the difference between a nuclear bomb and a nuclear reactor, you will understand the perils of having a ‘peaceful’ nuclear reactor in your backyard!
Both have enriched uranium (or maybe plutonium) at the core. It’s fission that generates immense energy in a reactor or a catastrophic explosion in a bomb as the case may be. So what’s the difference? In a nuclear reactor the fission is controlled whereas in a bomb it is not!         
Now you know when a country like Iran starts enriching uranium for ‘peaceful purposes’, the US feels like robbed off its peace of mind and develops cold feet!
The tsunami that followed on the 11th of March 2011, dealt Japan with such a monumental blow that, it made the Land of Rising Sun really wake up from its deep slumber of complacency about its self sufficiency in power, courtesy the nuclear-curse! There were 54 nuclear reactors in Japan. That’s fifty four Chernobyls waiting to happen, mind you. According to TWN all the 54 were shutdown post tsunami and the nuclear corporate power has been stifling the media under its siege, to keep the bad news under the wraps. So nobody is sure how much is contaminated and how long it would remain!
 Believe it or not Fukushima is creating history once again, for wrong reasons…you guessed it right! They are planning to erect a huge wall of ice encircling the reactor. To keep it cool you need power and it is a vicious circle!
America is waking up slowly since everything is coming home to roost. It is said, the waves of contaminated sea water are lapping up at its shores! Now what? Will it take the call?
Will it do what it did in the aftermath of its dropping atom bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima? That’s aiding Japan in its fight against the consequences of a nuclear mishap? So life comes to a full circle for these two superpowers, thanks to their misadventures with something so miniscule as to be invisible to our eyes.
Post tsunami, the Prime Minister of Japan dreaded the mere thought of evacuating the entire populace of Tokyo city! What about the livestock? What about the vegetation, flowers? Flora and fauna? Those who contribute least to the devastations, suffer the most! More about it when I write mainly on nuclear reactors in my future posting. So every day is a disaster prevention day as long as we depend on nuclear reactors.
  Economics has a way explaining inflation as too much of cash chasing few goods. Similar analogy could be found in Karnataka wherein one finds too many awards announced for outstanding contributions made in a few walks of life. Things have reached such a pass that the common man is simply scoffing at these awards and those who presume they are really being honoured by such titles. And they have a competition in cine awards sponsored by too many a brand. At the end of the day, the so called days may also go the same way. Perfunctory exercises. Futile charades.
Like a paragraph wherein barring one or two, rest of the lines are highlighted and the reader’s attention is drawn to the ‘unhighlightd ones’! Like   black holes in the deep space which refuse to emit their own light thanks to their gravitational pull which is stronger than that of the most dazzling ones! 
Economics again? How boring! Consider this-it is called theory (or law) of diminishing marginal utility. If you consume the same amount of goods with the same period of intervals, the utility you derive from the successive unit goes on diminishing over a period of time. To put it another way, an apple a day keeps the doctor away but not very far away with   steady increase in the number of apples! One apple in the basket makes the additional one look very worthy whereas with the third one added your perceived utility diminishes and you almost feel the doctor knocking at the door with the tenth one!
 I wonder why this theory is confined to the hard covers of economics books whereas it needs psychologists to ponder over things like why we don’t listen to our favourite songs as often as we do in the beginning …that’s, when does novelty give way to staleness? Is it diminishing marginal utility? Is it in our mind or is it in the matter we seek?
Well, that brings us to the fundamental- how much is too much? How much of dancing does music need? How much of lunging out can a musician’s body tolerate? How many channels do we need? How many TVCs could one put up with during a TV programme ? Why is it that the corporate world is so obsessed with our well-being? Did we ask the corporate houses to provide us with new, improved, updated versions every now and then? How many times could one afford to buy TV sets? Any society that regales on excesses as virtue is doomed. The glow cosmetics lend our skin indicates the robust health of the marketing men and not that of our skin. If skin    has lost its natural sheen what is the use in making it glow? Sorry, I am afraid I am drifting into a philosophical mode (yes mode, not mood) and today the 21st of Nov 2013 being what it is, World Philosophy Day, as announced by the UNESCO ( third Thursday of November). But I remember reading somewhere that the birthday of Socrates is actually celebrated as World Philosophy Day-alas I did not find anything to substantiate this claim, not in the UNESCO’s site at least.
What a coincidence –since it falls on the World Television Day-I feel justified in philosophizing trivial issues such as these!
 Ever wonder how much of TV Socrates watched or for that matter what philosophy has to do with TV viewing…or is it a case of mistaken identity, say someone passing off an armchair philosopher for a couch-potato… any way who is bothered? Coming to World Philosophy Day coinciding with World TV Day, split the day into two halves- watch TV first- you can’t help philosophizing for the rest of the day!
At the end of the day, I hope, of all the days, one day will be set aside every year for not being any day, anyway. 


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Who am I?   
 “Don’t ask me who I am and don’t ask me to remain the same”- Michael Foucault (miʃɛl fuko)
I am a copywriter by design and a writer by default. My poems, short stories, and articles all in Kannada have been published in some leading dailies and magazines. Once ‘The Times of India’ published my contribution in the slot below the editorial (titled Brief-case those days).Again, the website carried my article “Chocolate Diaries’ in its “Planning Room” page. Apart from these, there is nothing on record to claim that I am a writer! And the copy I write for a living, does not meet the standards of scholastic or prosaic writing and I am fully aware of that.
Before I dissect myself...
"One doesn't have to be one thing or the other. One can be many things at the same time."- VS Naipaul   (as stated in Vijay Times-now defunct newspaper- on 09-11-2006)

Very true! I am my heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, blood, bones and bone marrow…and the millions of cells constituting me… dying and regenerating now and then. The DNA I am made of. The instruction manual I followed in my mother’s womb to shape myself, my body, my skin colour, hair follicles, IQ, EQ all without my knowledge…simply because I was not even born when I was shaping myself… or He was doing all this…(then why blame me, for ‘me’ being what I am!)  And the neurons! The synapses ( the connecting point between two neurons, where memory is stored)! That part of my brain which controls my breathing, heart, and balancing, all without my knowledge. And that part which I suppose is in my control ( sorry folks, for the time being please set aside the debate whether we have a free-will or not) which we call the consciousness, always at the mercy of my subconscious mind, which mysteriously and mercilessly acts weird and bizarre and influences the later without my knowledge. And the food, water and the air that formed me. Ultimately the quality of the soil that had a bearing on the quality of the food that formed me is what I am and that soil is nothing but the Earth and Earth is a part and parcel of the mystery called universe…and hence I am the universe! ‘Aham Brahmaasmi!’ I was born eons ago since I am nothing but a continuation of the BIG BANG. I am not an observer of this universe. Myself, my senses, my body everything is a part of this universe. I am the universe. I am a mystery. We are all players and spectators at the same time in this colossus of a doomed drama. What are we? Where are we? Who told us that we are human beings? Who? Is it not the human beings who told human beings that they are human beings?
That’s me! Yet that’s not all! There is more to myself than what meets the eyes, ears, nose and skin. I am a porcupine that got evolved into a human being! I had quills in place of hair when I was a child.  Hence only a few could resist the temptation of bullying me with titles they thought most appropriate. Some even exposed their ignorance by calling me mongoose! That one made me go even wilder. I used to bear it with a grin! That grin, like a scar, is etched there in my visage. Like Woody Allen said somewhere, the more stoically you endure your childhood, the more brownie points you score in your literal front or something to that effect. But then, it is a different matter that I failed to score the brownie points you need to bring your melancholy to the brim and look great like a sage. The art of brooding and fallibility remained as my strong companions.  When I die please do what they did in Egypt thousands of years ago, burying the dead along with their inseparable belongings… myself, my melancholy and my corpse! That’s me and yet that’s not all. (to be continued)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Food for Teeth

             If you thought millions of people in mera Bharat( that’s mahan) grapple with the problem of not knowing from where their next meal would come, you are all wrong-or else you are not watching much of the idiot box as much as the people calculating  the TRP suppose you do!
Now what is TRP? It is Television Rating Points. That’s someone  somewhere is glad to know how much you weigh as a couch-potato. So when you are watching TV someone is ‘watching’ you like the BB (Big Brother).  A cute device called ‘People’s Meter’ might have been attached to your TV. Or to the one in one of your neighbors’ house. Or in the next one. This device keeps track of what you watch and how often, how long etc. And that info is accessed by the geniuses who are after your hair, teeth, smell etc. Whatever, it is a statistical sample they look for, and finally they include you in it, no matter whether you really do watch TV so much or any less. Now back to the board room.   
We, the people of India, have teeth as our obsession instead of meals. That’s what I have concluded having been idiotised  by the precious box! Health of our teeth, their lustre, the way we smile… not leaving behind the gums, the sensitive teeth etc etc ! Everything counts. Did you say food…tell me whose life is it anyway? If growth rate means growing number of Swiss bank accounts and the amount deposited therein, in tandem, we are a very rich country and only a rich country can afford to be so callous and display monumental negligence when it comes to storing food grains! Believe it or not, we, the people of India allow food grains to rot!
It is just a tip of the iceberg. Deep down what has been rotting is our sensitivity. Rotting food grains is just a pointer to our moral decay. This is in spite of the Supreme Court of India passing strictures on such callousness. Parliamentary elections are underway in India and it is not an election issue. It is not that we cannot. It is just that we don’t want it. We allow jewelry worth  up to Rs 11 lakh crores (1,10,000 billion)  remain idle just in one temple only, that is Sri Anantha Padmanabha temple in Kerala, leave alone other temples across India. We build metro trains, temples, send satellites, hold Kumbh melas, IPL ( read as betting),  Commonwealth Games spend Rs 50,000 crores (Rs 500 billion) on AADHAAR ( a twelve digit unique identity to every Indian) …can’t we build warehouses for food grains? It’s apathy at its worst with a halo of brazenness around it.
Kalahandi in Orissa. Not a tourist spot .Not very well known. But it made headlines once upon a time for all wrong reasons. Tribal people therein died of starvation and provided enough fodder for the media and ammunition to the opposition. The story paled into the oblivion, blinded as we were by the some other burning issues (like our teeth, for example). I for one, can never forget how I felt like my food-pipe wrenching or the revulsion I felt for the civilized world when I read about the people in Klahandi having rodents as their staple diet.       

I apologize for digressing into such non-issues when the subject matter of the discussion is dental care! Remember the news of some astronomical sums agreed to be paid at entry level itself to some biz school products? It is this type of whiz kids who lose sleep over things like strength of your teeth, their radiance (so flashy that it acts as a deterrent like lightning, at least in commercials sometimes) They rack their brains on matters as vital as these. Hatching marketing strategies matching the income groups, that is! 

Paste over, comes the burning issue of brushing!  What type of toothbrush   do you use? Have you ever bothered to check the tips of those bristles? No you haven’t. No problem. Somebody is doing that for you. Like you see in some TVCs, the difference between the ordinary tooth   brushes and the ones designed for the discerning buyer that you are! Now, if you have a lens, time and a little patience coupled with   an incisive   mind, just have a closer look at your tooth brush-you will be horrified to find how ineffectual it has been in discharging its duty. So switch over to the latest one! And never forget to put as much amount of tooth paste as you often find in the ads! (Or else a part of the work force in the dental industry may be out of business leading to some serious economic consequences, forcing them to go to the basics such as where-from-the-next-meal-would-come!) And never hurl uncomfortable questions such as ‘if the best tooth paste and the best tooth brush is all that’s to dental care, who will take care of dentists and their dependents, who eventually will find it hard to make both ends meet?’ Or ‘in the final analysis, do we need to have such stronger teeth, stronger than the food we intake’or ‘Are we supposed to bite one another in defense or offence having teeth stronger than necessary for the mankind?’ Better still ‘what about our forefathers who brushed their teeth only with neem leaves or even charcoal and yet survived’ or  ‘name the brand of tooth paste and tooth brush that’s the favourite of lions, tigers and for that matter sharks’ and so on. Unsettling! Irksome!

Come on, the people behind these TV commercials, print ads and all other intrusions into your lives you can think of, are no dimwits. It is not for nothing that they get paid every month what you could dream of saving in your lifetime. Go ahead. Let your thoughts starve with no food in sight. But keep brushing your teeth applying the best paste using the best toothbrush. Let’s build a nation strong enough to bite, chew and digest whatever comes our way…who knows what is in store for us on a rainy day? Some foodologists (Yes! Foodologists! Why not?) have already warned that shortage of food world over would force mankind to replace the bread and butter from our plates with insects some shoo away from the very plates.  Calories, proteins, carbohydrates, iron you get them all in crickets, caterpillars, termites, snails and what not! Now you know what Darwin meant by survival of the fittest! That’s if you are fit enough to shut your eyes and nose and swallow the so called carriers of proteins etc. well you would survive! That day we would realize why teeth come first and not food! Happy dining, till that time!