A year and still going…

Posted in Uncategorized on December 18, 2010 by unrelentingdreamer

Exactly a year ago I started my blog, after too much deliberation. Despite being a journalist, somehow, having a blog was a disconcerting idea.
What if I end up getting overboard with my deepest thoughts?However, with great courage I brushed aside that lurking fear to start working on a site.

First, I wrote a poem, an absurd train of thoughts rather, to set the blog rolling. I quickly followed it with a couple of posts on topics related to movies, books and music.

It is easy to write a blog; the tough part is getting people to take notice and react to it. Somewhere after a few posts I realised that blogging is a must for anyone who wants to shape their writing skills. Having a blog gives you a voice and an identity. In contrary to my fear of revealing too much to known and unknown people, my blog has given me the access to the darkest recesses of my mind.

But, I must admit that I haven’t made much of a mark in blogosphere. My biggest motivation has been a friend who writes some of the most compelling posts. He has 77 followers, while I have hardly half a dozen readers. Yet, having a blog, or two, has made me tap the writer in me. Maybe some day, I would reach the 70 followers mark, but till then I will continue. Thanks to all those who read my random musings and a few verses that I manage to come up with. And, double thanks to those who like, or leave comments for those posts. You inspire me to write more.

Salaam, Bombay

Posted in Uncategorized on November 16, 2010 by unrelentingdreamer

I finally realised my dream of visiting Bombay. I would still call it Bombay; screw Shiv Sena and its likes. The city is still Bombay to me. For one, I like the name Bombay more than Mumbai. Secondly, Bombay brings back the first images of the city that are deeply embedded in my memory.
I am not mortified to say my fascination for visiting the city stems from my love for Hindi films. And, last week when I made a hurried visit to the city, I was in awe. For, the city was exactly as I imagined it to be. A confluence of dreams and setbacks, hopes and despair, and a connect between the past and future.
As the plane touched down on Bombay, on a foggy and pleasant morning, I bravely (I suffer from severe air sickness) peered through the window to catch a glimpse of the city. Towering buildings that dotted the huge landscape seemed huge even from a higher altitude, I was surprised to see lanes of hutments just adjacent to those magnificent structures. That was Dharavi, the grandest example of Indian disparity, where palatial bungalows rubbed shoulders with one of the biggest slums in the world. Ah, this is the Bombay I have heard of, I told myself.
Since it was a day after Diwali, the city was still in a festive mood; the noise of crackers everywhere, house brightly lit with serial bulbs and a huge crowd at the markets.
In the evening, I took a stroll down Juhu beach. It was a Saturday, a holiday, a day for family outings. I am a bit disdainful when it comes to appreciating beaches, for I come from the city that boasts of the second longest beach in the world (that is debateable though). I sat on the wet sands, silently watching the most transient images, wondering if these were the sands Anand played by Rajesh Khanna walked on humming Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli haaye while Amitabh Bachchan watched him despondently.
An urban Indian would know at least ten places in Bombay, thanks to DD and other satellite channels that have their head offices in the city. I remember, as a child, I often wondered why all DD programmes had Worli postal addresses.
Each place conjured a flurry of celluloid images and I was fervently trying to place each image with the names of the places, much to the amusement of my friend, who volunteered to show me around.
Bombay is much more than just a large, thriving metro. The city attracts chagrin and admiration at the same time. Perhaps, this paradox is its greatest asset, giving each person a fair chance to survive. How else can you justify the city attracting both a labourer from Bihar and a working class Madrasi? For both, Bombay is an ideal destination and surviving in the city a litmus test, determined by one factor, perseverance. Here bombings and resilience are brothers in arms; stardom and religious fanaticism find the most random link; and struggle and success aren’t poles apart.
Even to those who reproach the city for its ruthlessness in filtering incompetence and complacency, it is a metaphor that stands tall among all odds. It is baffling how so many paradoxes can co-exist and amalgamate to become the epitome of agglomeration.
My stay in Bombay came to an end in a jiffy. And as I stood exploring the labyrinth of human existence, I heard a group of urchins fussing over a heap of crackers. Diwali celebrations were still on and in full swing. This is the city that doesn’t want to forego the excitement of bursting crackers, despite surviving deadly bomb attacks that has left a mark on every inch of its space.
Maybe that is what prompted Majrooh Sultanpuri to pen the famous lines: ‘Aye Dil Hai Mushkil Hai Jeena Yahaan. Zara Hatke, Zaara Bachke yeh hai Bombay, meri jaan’. Is there a more befitting tribute to the spirit of Bombay?

Otherwise Nondescript- Part II

Posted in Uncategorized on July 16, 2010 by unrelentingdreamer

This is perhaps a sequel to the story of Amma, a maid in my neighbourhood. However, I believe, every life tells us a different story, though on the surface they may sound similar to somebody’s saga.

Living in India, it is not very difficult to spot a life lead on the edge. Us city dwellers have perhaps grown so immune to them that it seems futile to stop and give such lives a look, or get into any introspection. They are nondescript lives; so easy to ignore and move on. “Yes he / she is suffering, but that is fate.” Rarely, do you come across anyone lauding the spirit that propels fighting adversity.

Last Sunday, I had an interesting encounter; an encounter that has refused to be out of my mind since then. There is a small beauty parlour that I visit frequently. It is just another parlour that one might mistake for a shop selling trinkets, or cheap accessories.

Enter the place any time you will find an awkward silence welcoming you, indicating that there is no hot business happening there. I reckon the parlour is run by a lady from Assam who has found a good location for it in the bustling Eldams Road.

Such beauty parlours are always run by women from the north-eastern parts of the country, Darjeeling and Assam. They have a knack for running such set-ups. What I like most about them is their cheerfulness, their readiness to toil hard, even if it means working in a place that is so far from home. Some might reason that it is natural, for these women have little choice with vocations. But, there is little to feel cheerful about a job that involves threading uneven eyebrows, and waxing hairy arms and legs.

This time I managed to strike a long conversation with a couple of girls in the parlour. “I am Victoria, one of them said, grinning from ear to ear. And, she is Enrita. We both are from Assam; I am from Guwahati and she is from Tezpur.”

How long has it been since you visited home? I go home once in three years and she is planning to go next month. But I don’t know when my next trip will be.

While Victoria was talking, I made a mental calculation. She has been working here for the last nine years and visits home once in three years, meaning she has been home just thrice. Don’t you miss home, I asked, quite hesitantly. I was scared that it might be too personal a question to ask. I shouldn’t sound too inquisitive. It was not my business at all. However, I wanted to know what makes someone come to an alien land and spend ten years of their life, doing the same monotonous stuff.

I could easily visualise the scene at her home in Guwahati: A family of almost a dozen children; each in a remote place, trying to make ends meet at home. All of them are likely meet each other at least after three years.

I opened my eyes to see the cheerful Victoria again. ‘Is the wax too hot ?’ I smiled and nodded; she continued her banter about the weather and latest films, while I took a mental trip to her home in Assam

Language jingoism

Posted in Uncategorized on June 28, 2010 by unrelentingdreamer

The World Classical Tamil Conference that is being held in the city of Coimbatore has made me wonder many things. I am sure this is a political gimmick, for there is no logic in holding the conference in Coimbatore. For one, that place is too close to Kerala, hence not the center for Tamil language. And, DMK has long been trying to gain some foothold there.

I won’t get more into politics because like any layperson, I am more concerned about other things; politics is the last thing on my mind.

What made me ponder over this was a casual conversation with one of my uncles. He, a learned man, one with immense knowledge about politics and related topics, was fuming that the state government could cough up close to 400 crores for the meet. We were watching a band perform old hindi songs in Music Academy, Chennai, when this discussion was happening. What an irony, I thought; largely because for many Chennai is the last place where any such performances will find audience. Yet, the hall had a good crowd, a little lesser than the usual, thanks to the sudden downpour.

The point is: from my knowledge of Tamil language, which is my mother tongue, I can easily say it is one of the toughest languages. But, it hasn’t evolved much in recent years. Now, one many ask so which language has?  Still no other language beats tom-toms the way Tamil does. Be it cinema, politics or in literature, there has been a mania about the status of the language. And what have those literary figures addressing the conference done for the language? We are yet to discover missing consonants (there are no Ks, Ts and Shs in Tamil).

What makes the conference even more redundant is the fact that Tamil is not a dying language. It is still very much predominant in the state and has not been overshadowed by Hindi, unlike Kannada in Karnataka. Kannada had to give way for Hindi in Bangalore city, in the advent of the IT revolution. Ask any North-Indian who stays in Chennai; they would tell you how the overbearing presence of Tamil in everyday life has made it difficult for them.

It is one thing to be proud of your language and totally another to place it on a pedestal. No language gives you the right to scoff at other languages, in a bid to prove yours is superior. No one can foist their language on anyone.

I am a Tamilian raised in Tamil Nadu and I am proud of it. Yet, I do not shut myself from Hindi or Urdu. I listen to bothTamil and Hindi songs. I have grown up watching Kamal Hassan and Amitabh Bachchan films at the same time. My parents did not think twice before opting for Hindi as my second language in school. Does this mean I am not a Tamilian?

Respect your language and be proud of it, but there is no need to wear it on your sleeve 24*7. Language is a part of culture, but it serves no purpose if you promote it with such belligerence.

That reminds me: isn’t it time for an Urdu conference? This is one language that has been away from the center stage for a long time now. How did we allow a language as rich as Urdu to fade away?

Poetry and prose

Posted in Uncategorized on June 21, 2010 by unrelentingdreamer

Going by the topic, one would assume I am attempting a comparison between two literary genres. On the surface, actually it is a comparison, but let me warn you – don’t except any depth. It is just my analysis of what each means to me.

When I started blogging, I was someone who had dabbled with a nondescript blog and out of mortification deactivated it because it totally lacked substance. It could hardly engage, or attract even half a dozen readers. Since the blog was a private one, I was spared from more cyber humiliation.

As anyone would guess, starting a second blog was a mammoth task. Leave alone getting readers, getting myself to write seemed impossible too. But, it was necessary to break the shackles of self-imposed boundaries. When you are a journalist, how do you justify your inhibitions about writing?

Strangely, though prose was a more comfortable zone, my first post was a poem. Okay, now going by the dictionary’s definition of a poem, it was one. I am sure literary critics would have panned it totally. However, what matters on a blog is what you want to write. It is you big brother watching yourself. Who else can be more honest with you than yourself?

Followed by many prose endeavours, I shifted to poems with a lot of doubts. Honestly, I have never been a poetry person. My knowledge of poems is restricted to school lessons and a whole volume of Ruskin Bond poem collections, thanks to a friend who gifted me with that lovely anthology on nature and romance.

Of late, my blog has more poetry than prose, which is really surprising to me. Dark poems on life, failure, love and misery, phew! Not the sorts that ever enchanted me, nonetheless they come automatically to me. I wonder why?.

Unlike many popular bloggers, who blog for sharing views, I blog just to improve my writing, following a good friend’s advice. Now, six months since starting it, I realise how correct he was. Not hat I would claim that I write engaging stuff, but at least I am no longer embarrassed about my posts. I think, that is an improvement. An improvement that happened late, but at least happened.

Now, I doubt my writing skills when it comes to short stories. I guess, soon I will muster enough courage to write that, too.

Time

Posted in Uncategorized on June 13, 2010 by unrelentingdreamer

I wish sometimes time flew by fast as I realise.
Just like it did when I didn’t notice it was fleeting.

I wish sometimes time left imprints of its presence as I watch.
Just like it did when I didn’t know it left behind a deluge of memories

I wish sometimes time could stop for a while as I rest.
Just like it did when I was bogged down by despair.

I wish sometimes time could get hold of me as I wander.
Just like it did when I sat there listening to you.

I wish sometimes time waits for me as I would believe.
Just like I still cling on to life as though it is for eternity.

The Pain

Posted in Uncategorized on June 9, 2010 by unrelentingdreamer

I run away from you, I say I hate you.

I curse you, yell abuses at you.

When I see a ray of light, you are nowhere in sight.

But when there is a pall of gloom and despair, you are back with might.

How I hate to have you so close to me.

Yet there is nothing I can do so just let me be.

Sometimes like a voice within that reasons out with the hapless heart.

At times, the devil’s advocate that ceases to budge, or move apart.

Yet I wonder how much I owe you, perhaps my whole life.

For all that shunning and abandonment you took in your stride.

You stood by me with a towering resolution.

The pain of my heart that I thought was delusion