Something Amiss..

13 07 2008

As a sheer wave of nostalgia hits me in this sunny Sunday afternoon, I couldn’t help but muse on all those lovely moments of my life.. Yes, Indeed I miss

  • Those Hasty Bicycle rides to School
  • Climbing Guava and Mango trees in search of sweet temptations
  • Those Hide and Seek Games that filled lazy afternoons
  • Summer Time.. Umm.. Mango eating competitions in the village backyards.. Yummy!
  • Hosting Bicycle Championships around the village roads
  • Inventing creative reasons for missing classes
  • Those innocent dreams of Ramayan, Snakes and Shaktiman
  • Those days of ‘Chitrahaar’ and ”Doordarshan’ sans remote control
  • Bending rules with childhood pals, my partners in crime
  • Those summer rains and the lighthearted frolic on the terrace
  • The sheer joy of growing up, and the academic rigmarole

Umm.. How I long for a little drizzle of joy or a time machine… Suddenly this whole business of playing the adult isn’t that appealing any more.

Blind Men And The Elephant..

9 02 2008

This is a story from my Granny’s collections. One of those fond memories of childhood and yet such a lifetime lesson to practice. A little googling helped me locate this story and saved me from recreating its fondness from memory. For the trading with memories involves dealing with interpretations and perceptions which may not let you remain true to the original. 🙂


Once upon a time there were six blind men. They lived in a town in India. They thought they were very clever. One day an elephant came into the town. The blind men did not know what an elephant looked like but they could smell it and they could hear it. ‘What is this animal like?’ they said. Each man touched a different part of the elephant.

The first man touched the elephant’s body. It felt hard, big and wide. ‘An elephant is like a wall’ he said. The second man touched one of the elephant’s tusks. It felt smooth and hard and sharp. ‘An elephant is like a spear’ he said.

The third man touched the elephant’s trunk. It felt long and thin and wiggly. ‘An elephant is like a snake’ he said. The fourth man touched on of the legs. It felt thick and rough and hard and round. ‘An elephant is like a tree’ he said.

The fifth man touched one of the elephant’s ears. It felt thin and it moved. ‘An elephant is like a fan’ he said.

The sixth man touched the elephant’s tail. It felt long and thin and strong. ‘An elephant is like a rope’ he said.

The men argued. It’s like a wall! No, it isn’t! It’s like a spear! No it isn’t! It’s like a snake! They did not agree. The king had been watching and listening to the men. ‘You are not very clever. You only touched part of the elephant. You did not feel the whole animal. An elephant is not like a wall or a spear or a snake, or a tree or a fan of a rope’.

The men left the town still arguing. A little girl heard them and said ‘Each of you is right but you are all wrong … but I know what you are talking about.’

A nice illustration of this story in poem is available here. This story leaves me with a lingering echo that sounds like this.
“O how they cling and wrangle, some who claim
For preacher and monk the honored name!
For, quarreling, each to his view they cling.
Such folk see only one side of a thing”

Well, thats the thought that stayed with me since carefree days.

Taare Zameen Par…

26 12 2007

If you are pulled between a go-no go for this movie, just go ahead and watch it. It deserves nothing but the best of the ratings and awards for its sensitive portrayal of the wonderland of a child while taking a dig at the current day competitive schooling environment that stifles creativity. ‘Taare Zameen Par’, which when translated means ‘Stars On Ground’ sensitively handles childhood and a child’s life in such a sweet and sensible way that makes heart go yummm.

This movie paints the imaginative, and creative world of a child and his struggle with parental and societal expectations in amazing splendor on the canvas of Bollywood. And yes, this story needs to be told, for some soul searching in a world where we burden our young ones with kilos of notebooks, tons of homework, inhuman study times, all work no play kind of competitive attitude, and harsh discipline to win the race of life.

The bright and differently gifted, dyslexic Ishaan Awashthi could be any kid next door whom we find in every day life. And may be that’s why there is such an instant connect. On a lighter note, this is a must watch for those who missed the sheer joy and fun of doing things that they loved in childhood in competitive rigmarole, for those teachers and parents who forgot that there is life outside the school windows for kids, and for all those crazy rebel backbenchers who managed to work around the rules to play with fish ponds, kites, street dogs and colors. And for those modern day parents or parents to be, this movie can play the Bible. (literally!)

Amole Gupta’s sensible script which delivers a strong message, Darsheel Safary’s splendid performance and Aamir Khan’s supporting and inspiring direction and presence makes this movie what it is. A magnificent masterpiece.

A word for the situationally relevant music here. The title song does manages to tug your heart and the lyrics are simply beautiful.

“Dekho Inhein Yeh Hain Aas Ki Boondein
Patton Ki God Mein Aasmaan Se Koodein….

Khilney Ki Zid Par Khaliyan Hain Jaise
Muthi Mein Mausam Ki Jaise Hawayein
Yeh Hain Buzurgon Ke Dil Ki Duwayein
Kho Na Jaaye Ye Taare Zameen Par”

Or the desperate defiance of Ishaan in

“A Little Sweet, A Little Sour
A Little Close Not Too Far
All I Need, All I Need
All I Need Is To Be Free

Chhoo Loon Main Itna Kareeb
Chal Padun To Kitne Door”

The song Maa lyrics were so touching and apt in the background, when the stereotypical parents of Ishaan decide to join him in a boarding school away from the caring comfort of home due to the abysmal academic performance. I couldn’t help but relate to the depth of feeling portrayed there.

“Main Kabhi Batlata Nahin
Par Andhere Se Darta Hoon Main Maa
Yun To Main,Dikhlata Nahin
Teri Parwaah Karta Hoon Main Maa
Tujhe Sab Hain Pata, Hain Na Maa
Tujhe Sab Hain Pata, Meri Maa

Bheed Mein Yun Na Chodo Mujhe
Ghar Laut Ke Bhi Aa Naa Paoon Maa
Bhej Na Itna Door Mujkko Tu
Yaad Bhi Tujhko Aa Naa Paoon Maa
Kya Itna Bura Hoon Main Maa
Kya Itna Bura Meri Maa”

This movie has a touch of beauty and a ring of reality to it. Its rare that we get to see a beautifully made movie that entertains us while depicting realistic picture. Films like these revive my hope and add a sparkle to the time spent. 🙂

The Diary Of A Young Girl By Anne Frank

16 07 2007

I picked this up as I fell in love with the innocent smile that graced the cover. As I leafed through those pages, I could feel the musings of a little girl tucked in a small attic, struggling her best to be an adult in those nerve wracking times of holocaust. This book is a touching commentary on eight lives entangled in enforced intimacy apart from being a sensitive documentary of a young woman on her struggles of growing up.

In her own words: “Who would ever think that so much can go on in the soul of a young girl?”. I am amazed by the amazing clarity and the brutal frankness with which Anne brings out her personal feelings, misunderstandings and frustrations, her longing for love, tensions of girlhood, complexities of relationships, battle with loneliness and her need for companionship. As Anne shares her little wishes and zest for life while living in confined quarters for about two years, her unusal insight into human nature at the young age of fourteen made me spellbound.

As she embarks on building her relationship with Kitty (the name she has given to her diary), you could feel her emotions pulsating through those pages as she chooses to discuss anything under the sun. Be it about her hatred towards Adolf Hitler or descriptions of Mouschie, her love for dad or her longing for mumsie, her frustrations with Mrs Van Daan or her generosity with Peter, her uncharacteristic optimism for freedom and her fear for fellow Jews going through concentration camps. As you live though her diary, what shines bright is her genuine belief in human goodness, and her yearning for love, unconditional acceptance and freedom.

I marveled the wisdom behind these verses of hers. Enjoy them as I did!

“Would anyone, either Jew or non-Jew, understand this about me, that I am simply a young girl badly in need of some rollicking fun?”

“Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!”

“We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.”

“Anyhow, I’ve learned one thing now. You only really get to know people when you’ve had a jolly good row with them. Then and only then can you judge their true characters!”

“I want to go on living even after my death! And therefore I am grateful to God for giving me this gift, this possibility of developing myself and of writing, of expressing all that is in me. I can shake off everything if I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”

“When I looked outside right into the depth of Nature and God, then I was happy, really happy. And Peter, so long as I have that happiness here, the joy in nature, health and a lot more besides, all the while one has that, one can always recapture happiness.”

“The war goes on just the same, whether or not we choose to quarrel, or long for freedom and fresh air, and so we should try to make the best of our stay here. Now I’m preaching, but I also believe that if I stay here for very long I shall grow into a dried-up old beanstalk. And I did so want to grow into a real young woman!”

“If I just think of how we live here, I usually come to the conclusion that it is a paradise compared with how other Jews who are not in hiding must be living”

“This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Being Nostalgic Over A Small Town..

6 06 2007

Rajahmundry is often called as the cultural capital of Andhra Pradesh.. Well, that’s what my papa loves to boast! It’s located on the banks of the river Godavari, which has a lot of religious and cultural significance as the River Godavari splits into 7 streams which were named after the seven Saptarshyas of the Hindu mythology. I always love the sight of Rajamundry, those riverbanks, temples when the train is gushing over the huge arched bridge thats built over Godavari. Since childhood, Mamma used to hand me a coin to throw in the river and pray for the river goddess whenever the train is taking us over it. A small confession is that I still do it. 🙂

Oh, How did I forget to mention? The Asia’s largest rail-cum-road bridge on the river Godavari linking Kovvur and Rajamundry is considered a real miracle. Me and my dad used to hop on a bike for a long drive on that bridge in my school days. Guess that bridge is almost 4 kilometers long and a long ride along its side sure breathes fresh life into any mood with picturesque surroundings..

There are a number of temples here and the Kotilingala temple, Uma Ramalingeswara temple on the banks of the Godavari are some of the most important temples. The Godavari Pushkaram, celebrated once in twelve years, attracts a huge number of pilgrims from all over the country. It’s the period where every Hindu is urged to take the ceremonious bath in the river Godavari. It’s a big event for which preparations go on for two years during which our quaint little town dresses up for the travelers and visitors in the most grandiose fashion. For the last Pushkaram, they have renovated the entire godavari and gautami ghat and have constructed a huge shiva linga near the Godavari railway station which marks the entrance of town.. I still get that childish glee of coming home whenever I see that well lit huge temple.

Rajahmundry is famous for Cloth market/Textile and it is said that the cloth business of Rajahmundry stands second, after Mumbai in India. The drought in Vizag made the weavers shift to Jampet in Rajahmundry and lead to the establishment of the Textile industry. Rajahmundry has the Mahatma Gandhi Cloth Complex which is one of the biggest shopping complex in AP. It is the base for most of the big cloth merchants in India like Bommana Brothers, Chandana Brothers, Sumangali, Puja Silks, Tummidi Brothers etc. Having sampled various showrooms in various cities, I would say that whatever you get in entire A.P. (and even more varitety at times) is available in Rajamundry, albeit at reasonable prices.

Be it that special Palakova from Kumari Talkies, Rose Milk from Kotagummam, Tapeswaram Kaja, Artos Cool Drinks or Putarekulu (Paper Sweet), our Rajamundry has its share of unique mouth watering delicacies. When a topic of sweets come, I cant resist quoting Anand Sweets. I can blindly vouch for any item under their name, be it their dry fruit chikki, badam burfi, kaja, kachori or namkeens!

Rajahmundry has the base offices for the Krishna-Godavari Project of The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation at Rajahmundry. This brought in various cultures of people and the establishment of the ONGC colonies. Dad used to take us to the ONGC colony park and the township whenever it fell on the way of our drive. Also Rajahmundry houses industries like The Southeren Drugs and Pharmaceuiticals Limited, Smithkline Beecham Consumer Healthcare limited, GVK Industries/The Jegurupadu Power Project at the outskirts. Its also home for a lot of paper mills like The Andhra Pradesh Paper Mills, The Coastal Paper Mills (P) limited, The Kadiyam Paper Mills. Anyone can locate loads of nurseries and flower gardens near Kadiyam, which have almost any variety of samplings that you would love to have in your little garden.

I cant write about Rajahmundry without giving due credit for to these two people, Sir Arthur Cotton for making the city arable and Sri Kandukuri Veeresalingam Pantulu for his contribution for the city. These people’s memories are etched strongly in the minds of the people.

Sir Arthur Cotton dammed the great Godavari River below Rajamundry at a point where the river is over three miles wide, and although he utilised two islands he still had to construct two miles of masonry to build his own dam. This took him five years to complete, but was an immense gain to a teeming population. The 2 1/4 – mile long Dowleswaram Barrage across the Godavari turned a flood-and-drought prone area into million acres of flourishing paddy and sugarcane. He made Rajamundry a rice bowl for A.P and people still remember and honour his contributions. A Sir Arthur Cotton Museum is set up at the dam site and a Sir Arthur Cotton Memorial Agricultural Service Centre is set up at Bobbarlanka, 20 km from Rajahmundry and near Dowleswaram to commemorate the contributions of Sir Arthur Cotton. Thank you Sir!

Sri Kandukuri Veeresalingam Pantulu is known as “The father of reformations” in A.P. He is a champion of widow remarriages, girl education and social reforms. There are many firsts to his credit. He started a monthly magazine “Vivekavardhini”, a school for girls at Dowlaiswaram in 1874. He established a weekly “Satyavadini” which was published both in English and Telugu. He established “Hitakarini Samaj” in 1906. He was the first novelist in Telugu ;”Rajasekhara Charitra” was the first novel. He bought a revolution in Telugu Literature by simplifying Telugu without using the flowery embellishments that graced the language through Sanskrit influence. He is a great man who has dedicated his pen, intellect, money, work and worth for social service.

Many schools and colleges were started by the Hitakarini Samaj. Well, the expansion of ‘SKVT High School’, the school that I studied in stands for ‘Sri Kandukuri Veeresalingam Theistic English Medium High Schoool’. If you stop wondering about whats me with long names, I had a great time at that school with some fabulous schoolmates and teachers! I can’t think of any college that wasn’t supported by his ideals or deeds in some way. Well, if you ask me the current scenario, the educational climate is slowly getting commercialized now, with the advent of Srichaitanya, Nalanda, Narayana, Bhasyam schools and colleges.

Being at the banks of the Godavari River, which has a lot of religious significance and the Sir Cotton Bridge, which gave a boost to the agriculture made Rajahmundry the way it is. Since history, a lot of Brahmins settled in Rajahmundry making it the centre for Arts and Culture. Even today there are separate areas designated for Brahmins in the City, though the City is an amalgamation of various sects, castes and beliefs. The City hence is a cradle for education, textiles and agriculture. The attitude of people is slow paced and life rolls on simply. I love the simplicity and the down to earth nature of the people here. I feel home!

All this and more is what makes my little town special to me. Guess all this is summed up in this lovely song from Andhra Kesari. I get a reverent feeling whenever I hear it..

“Vedam la ghoshinche godavari
Amaradhamam la sobhille rajamahendri
Satabdala charita gala sundara nagaram
Gataveibhava deeptulato kammani kaavyam

Raja raja narendrudu kakatiyulu
Tejamunna meti doralu reddi rajulu
Gajapatulu narapatulu elina ooru
Akadhalanni ninadinche Gauthami Horu

Adi kavita Nannaya rasenicchata
Srinadha kavi nivasam pedda mucchata
Kavisarvabhoumalakidi alavalamu
Nava kavitalu vikasinche nandanavanamu

Dittamaina silpala devalalu
Kattukadhala chitrangi kanakamedalu
Kottukoni poye konni kotilingalu
Viresalingamokadu migilenu chalu”

Didn’t realize that this would end up as such a huge post when I am not even half done! Let me wrap up here as my love this little place can make me fill this space with ease.