Friday, December 22, 2006

The Winter Of ’06

The Games Of Your Life is over, leaving in its wake a big void, which many may find difficult to bridge.

The Games, was for me, an opportunity, which I think, I used wisely.
The Games, was for me, a threat, which looked like it would destroy me.
The Games, was for me, time spent (or not) with the family.

15 days since the start of the Games, I became a battle hardened veteran.

I saw bloodless war, healthy rivalry, passion, sadness, tears – of both sadness and joy, sports fanaticism, empty stadiums, extra-full roads, never before seen rains and cold, the church and many things else.

I saw and learned, from what they call and I follow, The Games Of your Life.

(That momentous night was captured by Shahjahan - a colleague, dear friend, and ace lensman. Thanks for letting me use the pic, Bro!) Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I Christen You… “Don Whito Corleone!”

The apple of my eye, accumulated realization of a thousand dreams. What I would take my life forward in, what god gave me after putting me through the learning ropes, what I christened…

Don Whito Corleone!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Old Christmas Tree…

Its 50 days to Christmas. For the first time in half that number of years, I will celebrate it away from home.

Christmas, 53 years ago, was the time when a second reason to celebrate the day was introduced to this world. Though my father says that he lacks a day to call his own, we say that no one but the whole world celebrates with him.

Christmas, 23 years ago, is the first memory I have of the rickety train journey, from a then small town of Cochin, to an even smaller town called Thiruvalla. Grandparents keeping their eyes peeled to see their second generation always counted as a blessing for me.

Christmas, seven years ago, was the time I fell in love with music, and the church choir. It was the time I knew, that my deep bass voice could be used in singing notes.

Christmas, a year ago, was ten days before I knew about my dad’s heart surgery. For the second time in three weeks, I boarded the plane for just the third time in my life. Frozen with fear, I landed at Chennai. But thank god, the New Year was born a happy child.

Christmas, now and for ever, will be a major reason I would continue to miss home, and my parents, and all that I hold near and dear. It would be the season that gave me the most to remember.

Present day, 3000 miles away from home, Christmas will be my private pain, as much as it is my public joy.
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Monday, September 25, 2006

My Gentle Breeze...

I have no qualms in admitting that often, I am a scared child.

But what a scared child also knows, is how to become not a scared child anymore. Whenever I am, I close my eyes, letting my mind wander to a red house set amidst the greenest green. My mind rocks to the gentle wind that makes the littlest noise passing through the yellow leaves that pave the path. My eyes will search for the ancient gramophone, with enough youth still in it to turn me one more soulful ballad.

Then with the light breeze drying the tears on my cheeks, I think about the ‘Gentle Breeze’ in my life, my local guardian angel, my Nazeem uncle.

Much before I saw him, I had his picture in my minds eye, painted on by stories my father told me about. When we met, not surprisingly, the picture was more accurate than not. He smiled. He was thin. His eyes shined. He spoke with a rhythm to his voice, waving his fingers, conducting the phantom opera.

When I went away from home for my first long spell of solitude in a military hostel, I was not alone. I had him a loud call away. He was my local guardian angel. What he was, was also my school’s favourite neighborhood singer. I still remember me, sitting enthralled in the auditorium, listening to life, in beautiful musical notes.

Misfortune never bothered him. He faced them with a song on his lips. When it took away his music from his lips, he fought back by gently tapping his left fingers, in tune with the music in his heart. He never gave up, and he taught me his life.

Two thousand miles away from me, I can feel his heart beat, in tune to the musical notes inside. Two thousand miles away from me, I can feel his gentle defiance, at fate which played a game of dice. Two thousand miles away from me, I can feel the strength of determination emanating from the body, made frail by the forces bigger than man.

If he is half the person I know he is, he will be home to greet me with a song in his heart and a smile on his lips. After all, he was the person who taught me that a ‘Gentle Breeze’ can also mean M.S Nazeem…
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Friday, September 15, 2006

A Haka Birthday To Me!

Haka birthday to youuu…

Haka birthday to youuu…

Haka birthday, dear Ajoooo…

Haka birthday to youuuu…

Quarter century done and over with.

A small step for me, a giant step for me too!!!
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Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Short Goodbye...

I am leaving my life in a blog behind for a little little while,

To not run away from real world realities, I need to rest, and rally around meself.

Recuperation might be just a day away, again, it may be a year…

Leaving behind a lot unsaid, I go,

to return, on another day…

peace be with you, people,

Shalom…go in peace and Godspeed!
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Saturday, August 12, 2006

And He Taught Me To Drive…

Learning to drive all over again, feels so much like going back home in time…

to when I was much younger, to the time when my father gave me the handle of the Royal Enfield Bullet, on a straight road sans disturbances, with darkness upon us and the constant whimpering of my mother with my still young sister in her arms, terrified and saying in a little voice that I was too young to do what I was doing…

And I remember my father say through the corner of his mouth, without looking back, checking the road ahead for his young driver son, “I wouldn’t give him control if I didn’t trust him. If there is trouble, I will take over…” and my mother calmed down. I knew that day that even at seven, one could feel ten feet tall.

Eons later, when the Enfield disappeared and four wheels made their appearance for the first time in our lives, it was my father again who made me take the wheel. (Though I fell in love with our bright red Maruti Van at first sight, I had to wait till my eighteenth birthday to graduate from the left side of the Van to the right). Endless slaps on the wrist in a quest to gain steering balance later, my father felt confident enough to agree that the Van had become an extension of my mind and body. And he left me loose, to live life with the car, my own way.

Again, he trusted me enough to permit me to use the car as I wanted to. The trust was always there that I wouldn’t do anything that he wouldn’t with his car.

Years later, when I am on the fringes of getting my own car, trying for a drivers license whose primary concern is that I graduate from the RIGHT back to the LEFT, I miss my father. I miss the days when he sat by my side, never showing the fear he felt, slapping away at each tiny mistake and praising each moment of wise driving.

I started Qatar’s driving classes on the 10th of this month. I believe there is no better time to acknowledge the best driving teacher in the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the award goes to my dad, patience personified, for being the best in the trade when it comes to training his first born, in that delightful indulgence known simply as driving…
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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

You Made Me A believer, Thank You...

When I started my blog, I didn’t think much about it.
It died a natural death.

Then Indian Express happened to me and someone there helped me turn a believer.
2000 hits later, I know.

I was meant to be here, in this little space on the web that I call, my own.
Thank you, for being here and coming back, and in the process,
making me a believer, in my own god-given talents.

Thank you!
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Sunday, August 06, 2006

About A Thief, Me...

Forgive me father, for I have thieved.

Eons ago, when I was still a crazy coin collector, I did what is unthinkable for me today, I thieved.

I still remember the incident as clear as yesterday. We were in a moving school bus and there were a lot of kids around, in blue. I was all of nine while he, seven. We talked about everything under the earth and soon enough, talk turned to coins. That was when temptation struck.

It was he who threw me the bait and unashamedly I took it. He looked me in the eye and asked if I knew about the East India Company. I said I did and dramatically slowly, he took out his little black Kodak film roll case. He jingled it near my ear and sure enough, there was the rattle of coins.

I was dying with curiosity and the devil took his time to open the box. Slowly, very slowly, as if the djinn resided inside, he opened the box. There were seven copper coins in all, one huge while others varied from small to smallest. I remember the words I spoke, "May I look at them?"

He wouldn’t let me, at first. But soon he gave in to the look in his friends eyes and gave the box to me.

I took out the coins one by one and deliberately took my time in looking at each one of them carefully. I wasn’t interested in the beauty of the coins, far from it. I was deliberately timing my movements so that the stop where he had to get down was approaching fast. My friend sat lost looking at the glee on my face. I am sure he must have felt contended, at having made me happy.

Then in one sudden flash of realization, he understood that his stop was on him. He tried to snatch the coins from my hand. I deliberately stumbled and barring the view of the smallest coin behind the largest one, I slipped the little one quietly into my pocket. He just ran with the box.

I was truly unhappy that I could not steal the biggest coin. I never felt guilty; it took me many more years before that. But when it did, he was completely lost to me.

To this day, that little coin resides in a corner of my room. It is safely packed inside a little black Kodak film roll case. If I ever meet my friend again from so long ago, I shall take that box out and beg him for forgiveness.

Forgive me father, for I have thieved.
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Saturday, July 29, 2006

At Odds With The World...

but never will I lie on the ground, defeated...
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Sunday, July 23, 2006

...And Thus I Left My Heart Behind!

When memories come back unexpectedly, sometimes, I miss my school.

Would you study at a place where the ratio was 21 girls for over 600 boys? I studied there and if there ever was another chance, I gladly would do it all over again. I would study at my school, the Sainik School.

First memories first and those were the crew cuts. Hand held machines bit into half bent heads and at ten minutes end, the head felt a cleaner and better place to hold up. Pushing down the maroon beret around the fringes of a freshly partially shorn head, those were the times when I felt heaven came down to Trivandrum.

Wednesday was the day of the heavenly feast. We used to run to the mess-hall to be the first to grab the softest poori's with the biggest chunks of half cooked beef. Whoever said school was never fun?

Board exams came and seriousness left through the back door. The mango trees were our play grounds. Two stood on the ground while the third said hello to the tree tops. Ripe, heavy green mangoes fell down and were lovingly caught on towels. Sneaking it into the dormitory, it was covered with cloth and beaten against the wall.

The soft sound of the fleshy fruit breaking was music for our ears. Salt and chilly powder would have already appeared magically. The tip of the juicy green fruit would turn into white first and then into blood red. And then, it would drown in a sea of saliva. If that wasn’t innocent heaven, I shall never discover what it is.

That world ended for me doing my tenth. A part of me died and another was born. I never went back to school. It remains to this day my own sweet pain.

The day I go back, I will stand on stage, the way I wanted to for so many years. Looking once at the empty rows of seats, I would close my eyes and visualize it being filled with people. Closing my eyes and saying a silent prayer, I would explain to myself and the hollow world I see in front of me, why I left my life in school behind, why I used to wake up thinking I was late for P.T, why I thought the best years of my life would never come back…

…why I miss school so much, years after I finally tore myself away from it.
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Thursday, July 20, 2006

And God Painted The World!

What colors would god give the world if he was to do it all over again?

Thanks to the National Geographic, for showing the world for a century, the beauty of sight!
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Sunday, July 16, 2006

And Then The Land Took Me In…

Nostalgia for me is also when I look back at my Goa phase of life, a phase which lasted the longest two weeks of my life.

I landed up at beach country to make a movie in a day. I had a single piece of paper with a single name on it for company. And then there was the huge backpack which my mother hated and two days worth of train lag (I did not get a reserved ticket and general people kept me company. Sleeping and then not, I was afraid for everything except the sheer joy of uncertainty)

Four thirty was an obscene hour to make my landing. I took the night flight on two wheels. Delicious night air sliced through my hair. I made planes with my hands. They lifted by themselves as cool air struck their base. I was flying, latching on for dear life to the person in charge of my life, but barely his.

I put a face to the man who existed on my dirty piece of paper the next day. What would a stranger do for another? Anything under the sun, provided the stranger is a Goan.

Coming to a land for the first time in your life (not counting the family trip you had eons ago) to make a movie is not what any sane men would do. Insanity showed me my way. Happiness that my father had allowed me to be in Goa led me on. Ticking away one obstacle after the other, the stranger showed my way.

I location hunted. The places found me. As to the actors, the stranger was always there. I wanted transport, he found me his Vespa scooter. I wanted a four wheeler for shoot day, he gave me the key to his black Gypsy without a second thought, with petrol filled to the brim.

I did not burst the time frame given to me and I fathered the movie on time. I gave birth to my imagination. My baby never won an ward, but it did win minds. It was never the best of the lot of 40, but it gifted me a few of my bosom pals.

In fourteen days, a land transformed me. Goa was the place of wine and sun and sand to me, but then it became the land that bore my baby.

It became to me, simply, the holy ground.
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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Swami Greekerananda!

And then I thought, why not?

Courtesy – My beast (A.K.A Nokia 3230),
Silvester and…
One moment of madness or absurd creativity,
whichever way you see it…
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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I Walked, The Lady Of Sand Followed...

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I always loved the prospect of getting lost. If it was in an alien territory where I knew not their language, it was all the more better. To me, it was a true test of my gesticulating skills. The sign language expert that I was, I always passed with flying colors. I never once lost my way, until the day France cried and Italy sighed in deliverance.

Where there is a will, there is a way, they say. I insist that it is not so. It should be ''Where there is a will and a human to ask the way, there is a way.'' Else, you are doomed, like I was that fateful day.

I was on an assignment to the other end of the world. Just as I finished, the Lady of Sand started her hunt. She hunted with fury, howling in glee, making sand her weapon. It blinded and it stung. It took away everything in its path.

And then, I lost my way, courtesy, The Lady of Sand. She passed the dunes and they never were the same again. Walking in the storm, I felt the pathos of the doomed nomad. I tasted bitter fear, and I shook.

Heat, Wind, Sand – The deadly trilogy that made many a man lie down and die. I lived fear, and then redemption came.

I reached a tarred road during a moment of respite for The Lady of Sand and I hailed the pleasing green on four wheels. Leaning back on the plush seat in controlled cool temperature was not an act of luxury. It was the joy of realization that after the Lady of Sand, there inevitably came the grace of god.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

I, Dream Of Chocolat...

Chocolates overpowered me very early on.
Around me, they seemed to take a life of their own. They smiled at me from shop windows, begging to be taken away.
More often than not, I obliged, taking them delicately off the shelf and depositing them lightly in my shirt pocket, afraid to hurt my babies.
I preferred the deep fried brown hue to the whiteness of milk.
I loved the sensation of thick chocolate sticking to the roof of my mouth and my tongue’s toil to yank it free. When my battle was being won, I adored the heady feeling of diluted chocolate swirling around in my mouth.
I don’t remember the person who bought me my first chocolate- it should have been my mother. Another vivid image remains, though.
It was she who fed me the first chocolate of my life. I can still picture my mother breaking little pieces off the bigger chunk, mashing it with her fingers for my little mouth where teeth were just putting in its maiden appearance.
And I fell in love with the 12 brown pieces which came wrapped in golden foil paper and then in violet. They called it the ‘Dairy Milk.’
The love of my life remains so to this day. Twenty five years has done nothing to take away the charm of a piece of cocoa melted in sugar. They are the closest heaven can come down to earth.
I know it for sure, for when it comes to chocolates, I have been there and I have definitely done that.
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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Every Creative Writer's Nightmare...

This post is an ode to the words which never took shape, however hard I tried.

This post is for those times, when you desperately wanted to write, but could not.

This post is for those long hours spent on rumination, on the next topic for the post.

This post is for the seven complete deletions that happened before this was accepted by the editor in me.

Writers block, damn him to hell!
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Saturday, July 01, 2006

After My Beast, There Came Silvester...

Why do I give names to all my possessions?

Why do I call my Nokia 3230 'The Beast'?

Born out of sheer habit, my new laptop, a day old, has been named 'Silvester'.

He is my Noble Fair unicorn.

It wouldn't change the world, nor save it, but for me, the world has just changed.

Holding on to his white mane, I watch the world go by.

Dream two down, many more to go! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Coffee, Tea Or My Me?

Disclaimer – Though a lot of passing years has jaded my memory, I have tried to be as accurate as accurate can be.

I have always had a soft corner for village tea shops. We were truly spoilt for choices at the place where I grew up. We had three shops to choose from and I was a spoilt brat, thanks to my grand dad, who was quite a prominent figure.

Those ancestral-home visits were reserved for the long holidays. Many times have I gone to bed praying for it to start the very next day. But when I woke up, it was still those four white walls, looking and being looked upon.

The tea shops were always the same, the ambience never changed. If in one, the goddess smiled down on you with a shower of gold coins, at the next, it was Jesus Christ with an open wound to his heart, oozing blood and love. It smelled my favourite smell at the third tea-shop – that of freshly squeezed coconut oil.

It was in these shops that the world came together. It was in these shops that the news of the world was gathered and dispelled. It was here that a million 'matches-made-in-heaven' was finalized and it was here that rebellion first came to my little village. It was the place where my father got his strong circle of friends and it was here that I wished I could emulate my father and his close circle.

It was a million things in one, and then some more. It was a million things that many thought would not change, but did. It was a million things that described me, and then became strangers.

I walked those roads recently when I was home. Later, I wished I hadn’t.

The dried palm-leaf roof was gone, hard concrete boiled down on me. The little card-board sign which proclaimed the hotels name was long dead and gone. Plastic coated vinyl sheets glared down at me. The little wooden shelf which displayed the little round snacks were little no more. Nor were they wooden.

It was an 'Impersonal' steel hue everywhere, as long as my tear stained eye went. My old land was gone, to never ever come back. As I walked home, it began to rain, first as a drizzle and then as a torrent. For a fleeting moment, I felt god sharing my pain, for things that had gone horribly wrong.

Maybe one day, I will tell my grand children…'' Before Pepsi and Coke overtook my country, there were these three little tea shops…''
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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Its NOT About Money, Honey!

I swear, its not about money.

For 23 years, I never provided, I did not have the means.

If my thinking confirms with what god has planned for me, then I believe I will provide for the next 23 years or even much more.

It’s a nice glowing feeling of warmth inside at the start of every month. Sending money home gives you the feeling of doing your Penny's worth - for the trust, the time, the money, and the pains – your parents invested in you.

It may be the 'Mallu-syndrome' at work and if so, I am the happiest man on earth.

I gotta go, I think I can already hear the sweet sound of my next pay cheque arriving.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Tagged A Strange Stranger!

I was tagged for the very first time by a very dear friend. It's eons since I promised to give the tag a thought, and now, eons later, I do. The next few lines could bore you to death or bring a curving smile as your face blossoms in recognition. My duty is to recognise six weird facts about me (easier than I thought it would be) and tag another six of my friends who Blog.
First tings first. Ladies and gentlemen, the Strange Facts Files:

Strange Fact 1 – I can never ever find a topic to write on, it finds me every time. I love to paint pictures with words and the pictures would never be earth shattering. It'd mean a lot to me, but never to the world. I feel weird in deriving pleasure out of describing the tiniest details in my posts, but that’s me, for you!

Strange Fact 2 – I relate incidents in my life to smell and music. It stays with me for ever, coming back to me in flashes and flashbacks. Endless rumination follows and the end result would always be deep sadness or wild exhilaration of joy.

Strange Fact 3 – I still cry when I read the articles on Reader's Digest. I cry for happy endings in movies and wail when it ends the way it should nowadays. I take crying to an entirely different level and everything would have been fine had I not been a guy of 24, with 84 kilos on his more than chubby 170 cm framed body. If that’s not strange, tell me, what is?

Strange Fact 4 – Has a fascination for all eye-balls other than my colour, Black. Green mesmerises me, Blue dumbfounds. While Grey never ceases to amaze, Brown roots me to the spot. Fiery Orange is what I have looked out for and Black is what has looked back at me most. Stranger than fiction, yet truer than the truth!

Strange Fact 5 – In a web-site named Orkut lives my dear pals of time and beyond. I know of their existence, but never have added them. They took pains to add me and I have always welcomed them. It's strange to know that I am acting pricey (although it's not in my character), but its stranger to know that I continue doing so despite risking a snub.

Strange Fact 6 – Its feels so strange to know that I sat with this post for the past three hours, assessing my strangeness quotient. So much for the thought of me being the strangest human to have walked the earth.

Friends I feel are strange enough to have a tag on them…

Ajoy Philip Babu
Sharan Sharma
Rajasree Ray

(Please do what I have done and tag six of your friends, for more info, just send a screamer my way.)

Friday, May 26, 2006

It Rained!

Patience is a very good ally. It might rain down peacefully in here in a day or two. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Jade Eyes!

This picture of the Afghan girl, whose rags were her only riches, is almost as old as me. I was two when this photo which mesmerised the world was taken. She stared right into the world's conscience and became its silent ache. 14 years ago, a girl from Kuwait, looked at me like this, and she became to me, what this snapshot became to the world.

I can never forget my sixth grade in 1991. Iraq invaded oil rich Kuwait and my many relatives headed back home, as paupers. In the middle of that turbulent term, to my class came a malayalee girl, scarred by war, terrified of the world. She was alien to us, for we never knew what war meant, though we played it every other day.

She sat in a corner, green eyes peering cautiously over glasses with a thick transparent frame, aware of every movement in the classroom. My female classmates tried to make her feel at home. For us boys, wrongly, she was the perfect alien, different from us and the way we grew up.

Our school was a strict vegetarian institution. It was sacrilege to even mention meat. On her second day at school, she brought an egg roll to class, neatly packed in her little pink Tiffin box, and all hell broke loose. Boys surrounded her and started chanting that she had committed a grave sin. The little face, with fear already writ large on it, swelled up with tears, but bravely, held.

All the while, I sat there, little and stunned and stupid, unable to move. Her eyes looked for an escape from within the growing, chanting circle. She looked at me for help with eyes I will never ever forget - It truly held the pathos of a hunted animal. I changed school soon after, completely losing track of her. Her eyes kept returning to me, on and off, for the next 14 years, reminding me of what I should have done, but never did.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 was like any other day, except that I met her on the net unexpectedly. The sad, unsure young girl had grown into a confident young woman. It gives me strength to apologise, for being the scared young boy that I was, who could not help her when she really needed help. That said and done, god knows - tonight, I will sleep the most peaceful man on earth.

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Moment Of Truth!

8.03 P.M,
Qatar Sports Club,

He ran with his heart and his legs carried him like the wind on the trees.

9.76 seconds later, he ran into my arms and he ran into history.

Justin was the subject of my first World Scoop and hence is the closest to my heart. I ran to him and jumped up to hug him. He looked at me, smiled and hugged me right back.

Justin Gatlin, fastest man on the planet, biggest gentleman i have ever come across! Posted by Picasa