Sunday, July 30, 2006

Muted Racquets

Sometime back, when I was in highschool(8th stnd, i think), I used to go to this ghastly little place to play tennis. Where a psychopath joined as our new tennis coach. Like a zillion other things I did every year,which never really took off after awhile, tennis was the flavor of that year. And since I already started playing with the likes of Agassi and Pete(and even won a few .In tie breakers.Five setters.Nail biters), I really didn't mind that maniac.Cos i was in a different zone altogether.

I used to practise in court no.2 along with three other boys. A plump n chubby guy who used to huff and puff- who couldn't play for nuts, but could effortlessly recall the winners of all the grandslams since 1970, a skinny guy from Canada with his bastardised accent and a sleepy little third standard kid.

That third standard kid was studying in third standard(!) in one of the *hep* schools of the city.One of those schools where they go on a excursion to Andaman(for us, it's always Vandaloor Zoo.), where they have miniskirts as uniforms for gurls. And where moi and mera pals used to go once in a while disguised as representatives and flagbearers of our prestigious skools for elocution or some inter skool culturals etc, but never participate in any of the events and go loafing around the place. Around the cafeteria. Or the gurls dorm. And droooool .

Everyday that third standard kid used to come in a C-class Mercedes Benz. Fast asleep. Spittling in his shirt. His chauffeur used to wake him up by grabbing him and pulling his collar .He used to blink like a goat and then carry his racquet,water bottle, bag and reluctantly walk towards the tennis court. He looked like a meek military wala carrying his field gun, riffles and other armaments.

It would take another eternity for him to unzip the racquet and get into the court.By that time, mr.psycho will get real angry and starts throwing tennis balls aiming at his butt or head. The kiddo never used to react to those. He would just walk in at his own leisurely pace.

Usually, he used to stand in front of me. Residues of sleep left in his eyes. half closed. blinking. sadness written all over it. he couldn't stand erect. Couldn't grip his racquet properly. The racquet on his hands looked like one huge Gathayudha. His hands used to shiver. and when he played, it reminded of clog dance. Not even clog dance. Looked like some drunkard dancing on the street. Mr.psycho loves to punish him. jolly good time those, for him. 20 laps. Or 150 situps. Or 15 rounds of pushups.

The coach might shout at him, whack him, call him names or hit him with his racquet - No reaction. Numb. He never talked with us either. We used to bitch about the coach during our breaks but he never joined us. He kept sipping from his water bottle. drop by drop by drop.

That kid was our amusement.
Our temporary sanity.
Our saviour.
Heck,we got to save our asses too from the coach and that is possible only if there is someone who is a bigger goof-up than us.

Once I stood near the side court and watched him practising his forehand.Coach was at this cruel best, volleying him around 6 balls at the same time. the kiddo too was at his sleepy best, hitting the ball all over the every single corner of the other court. And then, suddenly his racquet slipped out of his hand,flew away and swerved at an almost impossible angle and the butt of the racquet hit my scrotum. I fell down holding onto it(not the racquet) and sorta blanked out.Not eggsackly blanked out, but just that i felt as if my balls were coming outta my mouth. I recovered after some time and needless to say that i was embarrassed and all that.

Coach was screaming at that kid. Whacking him off with that racquet. Little gratification for me, watching him getting whac whack whakced. But then, I wanted to play this grown-up, tough dude and so thought of asking the coach to leave that kiddo. I went near him and at the same time he called out my name. I thought he would ask me to take some rest or better, even ask me to leave for the day. But anticlimax, asusual. He started shouting at me too. 'Why the hell were you standing near the side court?Don't you know that you were supposed to stand near the baseline when someone else is playing. GO. 10 laps, both of you'.

10 laps, my foot. I was already limping and was afraid that one of my balls could have been broken into god-knows-how-many. But then, he is the coach and you cannot speak up against him.

I was hitchin and hobbin until I saw that kiddo in front of me. I furiously ran towards himI kicked his butt and expected him to bounce back. but as usual, no reaction. i was real irritated.and then, i saw the way he ran - eyes half closed, hands on his hips,gimping, as if someone is pushing him from behind and forcing him to run. that stupid anger and everything faded away. heck. poor kid. forced into all these stupid grown-ups mess. Sprinted near him and asked him to stop. Told him, since we are at the other end of the ground, far away from where the coach is, we could walk for a while and once we get to the other side, we will start running and by this way, we could easily finish the remaining laps. Thought of teaching him a grown-ups trick or two.

we started walking. 'does it pain still?', he asked. 'Oh.nope. never.not at all. am alright'. oh ,i was still playing that tough guy , but actually i was feeling my scrotum every 30 seconds to spot if there is any wreckage.

he stopped, bent down, and was looking at somehting lying on the ground. and then, picked that from the ground. Some little packet. Looked like one of those Oregano or Chilli Flakes packets they give as freebies along with pizzas.

'hey, put them down', i said, modulating my voice into base. my chance to play big brether.

'you know what is this?', he asked me.

'some packet man. it's dirty. u better put that down.'

'It is not some packet.It's grass'

'What? what grass? idiot. this ground is so full of grass everywhere and you are calling this little filthy piece of plastic packet as grass. U must be crazy man.'

He looked straight into my eyes .Smiled at me with all the tenderness in his heart.. He looked Hermit-like. God-like. laughing at his cosmic joke. he smiled again, turned back and ran away.

Almost 10 years now and I still couldn't forget that smile. And those half closed, muted eyes.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


Dawn.half opened eyes refusing to open up further. why should i trouble them when i could see. yes.i could see. seee.eeeeeeeeeee.

inhale.i inhale as much as i can. never knew the whole world could go in. In,into the nostrils,first. Then, into the crinion. into the forehead.and then,into every where. into every single hair and whisker and tissue.

half-floating half-flying like a soap bubble.

fragrances which images can evoke.images which fragrance can evoke.

the color of smell.

surf bar.petrol.Tangri Kebab. Reshmi Kebab.Eau de cologne.bus stand Rest rooms.Disposed syringe.Blood soaked cotton.LPG gas.Solder.Kerosene. Paneer Butter masala.Mysore Sandal Soap.Holy Ash.Shit.Cow shit.Bull shit.Elephant neighbor's dog shit.unwashed underwears.Barbie dolls.Teddy bears.GI Joe.Zafrani tikka.Chill breeze.Fur.Cricket balls.Wooden Racks in University Libraries. Neem oil.paperwallah's sweat fused with the newspaper's ink. Lentils.Cardamom. Cinnamon. Jasmine. Wax.Government office cupboards. Armpits.Lead. Soil.Soil before rain.Soil stenched with Urine. tissues soaked in semen.Sea breeze with Pattani Sundal. Cubicles.Fart.Kappa meen curry. Satin.Vodka.Nailpolish.Drainage coalesced with Sunsilk shampoo.Chai.Neck.Women.Liquidators. Cardboards. Varnish. Saw dust.

I could see. Strokes of umixed colors. Like pangs of subdued pain.Like bursts of unforeseen joy. Like music.Like love.

Monday, July 24, 2006

When sight seeked the orb,
eyes felt the grave
and brows danced to its drums.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


I believed I opened the window
and liberated it
from the confines of its hinges,
but little did I know
of the windows
it opened within me.
a window within a window.

On the road

I sqeeze into the bus and was relieved to find out one window seat unoccupied. I spot a familiar face sitting nearby. Some small talk. Bitching about work,boss etc. We both cribbed for a while. VISA processing got stalled. No hike.No promotion. No scope for growth. Worries.Grief.Distress.Desires.

I turn back and open the window.

Men in bicycles. Men in bikes. And their tiffin boxes.

Kids in uniforms.Lunch bags.School bags.

Working women. With their files, hugged to their chests.Their hand bags. Faces blotched with talcum powder.

Engineering College kids with their drafters.And lab coats. With that uncertain look on their face. Standing in a queque and boarding their bus. An year back, I was standing there awing at those huge cushioned IT company buses and hoping to find a seat in there.

Sales reps. With their leather bags. And tie.

Beggars.And their crotch.

Clumps and clumps of people waiting in the bus stand.

Fellow comrades. With their ID cards and T1 mobiles and laptops and iPODS. With that unwarranted chesty look.

I sink back. Close my eyes. I feel the movement. Of the bus. Of everything. Of its rhythm. that symphony. the giant orchestration.

I open my eyes. I see Bright bright blue sky. And its reflection on the puddle.
I see Sunlight hugging the streets.Sunlight dancing in the lake.
Red red soil.Blood red. Footprints. Tyre marks.

It Drizzled. A tiny droplet of rain dribbled on the lens of my spectacles. I took my hanky and cleaned it. Another drop fell right onto the center of the lens. I smile and I give up.
And then,watch the sky.And wait for the rainbow to happen.

Soil smell.Rain smell.It skreiked into my nostrils and bumped with my brain.Like Cocaine.
I fade out.

Urchins screaming in joy and jumping into the pond. One even tried jumping over the buffalo.And their chasing mother's. That bare chested guy ,brushing his teeth, laughing at all this, with foam dripping down the corner of his mouth reflecting the intensity of happiness.

Life booming on the streets.

In another 5 minutes, I will be getting down from the bus and stepping into the litters of my everyday corporate life.

I wish the bus moves on. on and on and on.
Eternizing this very moment.

Waiting for the messiah

I am standing at the bus stop, waiting for my everyday bus to arrive. Neck twisted slightly to the right,eyes staring at the direction from where my bus arrives.I turn left and see my colleagues, five of them, doing the same.The bus might arrive anytime. I have been boarding at this bus stop for the past 6 months and still i don't know any of their names. I got to ask them.Maybe,tommorrow.

I turn back again and keep staring in that direction. The bus might arrive anytime. My neck pains a little and so I look straight at the other corner of the road. I see sunlight dispersing under the clouds and the beams passing through the branches of a tree, dissecting like an arrow, coating the leaves with Gold.

The bus might arrive anytime and I might miss it, if I let my mind wander like this. Standing on my toes, I stretch out my neck, this time a bit longer, and stare again in that direction of the bus.

The light has gone. And I keep staring. Into eternity.Into nothingness.I wait and wait for that bus to arrive.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A tale of two survivors

When you ask some film theorist to sum up the plots of all the mainstream Tamil movies released so far into three words,then I am pretty sure the answer will be this - "Good vs Evil". And lol, you need not even be a film theorist to arrive at this .Right from Ramayana & Mahabharatha to the latest Rajinikanth movie, the connecting thread remains the same.(Though i agree there is more to Mahabharatha than just a good vs evil story). The good one will live and the bad will perish.

Courage,Honesty,Love,Honor,Patriotism,Chastity,Sacrifice etc. are the recurrent shapes that constitute this motif.And it finds its aesthetics in subtly portraying these.Over and Over again.Of course, there is nothing wrong in this method of telling a story. A few filmmakers do them sucessfully. Like the one's by Balu Mahendra or Mahendran or Rudraiya in the 80s. And some of the movies written by Kamal Haasan in the 90s. And oflate, a movie named Kadhal by Balaji Sakthivel. Such movies were made with a lot of conviction,passion and sincerity. And of course, there is Maniratnam and his clones with their half baked,unconvinced,pretentious movies. subtlety just for the sake of it.

But there exists an aesthetic form of another kind. A form which moves out of that circle wherein the evil wrestles with the good.And for first time,a tamil movie manages to move out of that virtuous circle.Welcome aboard, to Pudupettai.

Pudupettai begins in a prison . One half of the screen in scorching red and another half in bright phosphorescent green, with Kokki Kumar, with beginning sympoms of schizophrenia, retelling his past.A story of a vulnerable young boy, as vulnerable as you and me are, and his journey into the hoodlumhood.

"I wouldn't have come here if my mother is alive" , says Kokki kumar to his other gang members.

"You are speaking as if we were all born with ganja in our hands.Even I had a mother. Asked her this question - when dad goes to work, why are you sleeping with the tailor? . She poured hot water on my stomach. Look look.. the scars are still there..look.. for two months i was in the hospital.and then i came out and joined here.and then, one day my mother came and asked me for some money. i asked that whore to fuk off.ha haa. everybody here has a story here.listen to his story is full of thamash..."

"my dad was a lorry driver. and he got AIDS and gave it to my mother.then, he died. and I got to take care of my mother and my sister.and then..................................."

Fade out.


Why do we expect goodness from anybody? Does anybody owe anything to anybody? To you and me and to the soceity ?Especially, when all they got from you and me and from their family and from the rest of the soceity is nothing but hatred,hostility ,delibrate betrayal,venom and sometimes even hot water. Horror.Aversion. In their dreams, will birds fly? Do they kiss their loved one in their dreams? Do they dream? Will dewdrops on a little budding flower make any difference? Or Will those hues of pink and gold in the skyline during sunrise, will it provide comfort to their soul? Does cellos reverberate in their head?

Am not trying to dumb them down as heartless lurid creatures. Am just questioning myself. That when subjected to same situations, what would I do? where would I be? That *inherent goodness* we talk about which is present in every person,is that all one big damm lie,one big farce? I don't know. I just don't know. I don't know, because I am on the other side.

There is this brilliant sequence on selling dope, where they sell marijuana on the busy streets of Chennai and give all the money they collected on that day to their boss(who gives part of the amount to the the BIgBoss- leader of a political party). Boss gives them back some money. They all run to a brothel and burn all the money they just got from their boss - the same guy who also runs the brothel.

One scene blew me away. Which made me realize the enormous power of cinema.of visuals. It comes just for a split second. A young girl, around 18-20, collects her dope and smiles back and says 'Thank you'. For the first time when I watched the film, I couldn't understand the significance. Afterall, what is the need to break the background score just to insert this and then continue the score all over again. Afterall,it is just a thank you and one can very well do without it. And for this, why break the flow? Hmm.During the initial stages of the movie, just after Kumar ran away from his house and just before he joined the gang, he was pushed into begging. Pushed into? Can't he find some work? Earn his living.. Than losing his self respect and go beggin arnd the streets. Good question! He did tried to find some work. He did. Got chased away from every place.from every shop. And then, he also tried cleaning cars in traffic signals and getting some money for the work. He even tried that, believe me. He cleaned the glass so clean and asked the girl driving the car for some money. All he got was scorn.scorn.scorn. and Green light. And now, he is this kool peddler.We Smile back. And say thank you. Everything
exposed. In a split second.

Many such moments of brilliance run throughout the film. A near classic.It did had its flip sides (violincellos and symphony orchestra just didn't sync with the mood of the film).But then,'The Hindu' trashed this movie . Many other reviews were also in the negative. People I know - moviebuffs who swear by the name of Kurosawa or Ingmar Bergman or Antonini or Adoor - say the movie is Crass.Well. I don't know what do they mean? What is crassness? how can one judge something as crass and something as not? how do we know? . Is there only a single way ? a single form of aesthetics? Who are we to confine it to match our fuked up elitist tastes? are we correct? does that matter? Do we all matter?The subjectivity of truth. subjectivity in truth. its different versions. its different forms.

Crassness adds color. And some soul into the movie. Precisely those that are missing in Maniratnam's movies. Like the character of Abishek Bachan in Yuva.
For me, this is a high class movie .Period. Subjectivity is truth. My little personal truth.
"Madame Sata' - Another movie I saw recently. A tale of another survivor.In Rio of a bygone era. True life story of João Francisco dos Santos,a transvestite.he is cruel.he is hostile.he is passionate.he is ruthless.lives with a prostitue and her child(not by him). And with a servant named Taboo. eunuch.

"There's something eating me up inside", he says to his friend.
His struggle for self expression.
Then he became this drag queen in the night clubs of Brazil. He found himself in those cathartic moments of performing in the night club.That is his art.That is his life. He survived everyday to become this.A performer.An artist. Like Paul Gauguin. Or like,John Nash. We have this reverence for the passion a stock broker turned painter had or to the inner journey of a mad mathematician, but we just don't have that portion of sensuoussomething to acknowledge a brilliant night club performer and the enormous enormous amount of passion and perseverance they have.He is not a hero.He is a survivor. whose passion for life made him come out of the traumatic experience and the pain of being alive everyday, of being a nigger in the slums of Rio. Of getting humilated everyday.

At the end of the day, it is all about being alive to see the day end

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Sleepless nights,everyday.
For answers.
For inner purity.
Every little action of his, he subjected it to severe scrutiny.
Guilt.and the pain that followed.
He didn't wipe out his guilt like sweat.
Allowed it to scorch his skin.
Masochism? hmm.naa.
Self enquiry.
Enquiry that destroys the illusion of inner peace.
Enquiry about the obvious.and beyond the obvious
Enquiry into madness.
Into that dark little zone coated with silver.
Enquiry of a spiritual kind.
All this. for 40 years.
Everyday. Everynight. Every single fuckin moment.

Then, one fine day, he seduces his wife's sister.And heck,he loved his loved and yet! Whatever he got from spirituality, he lost it to flesh . Irony.And then, Redemption.Resurrection.

Tolstoy lives everywhere. That good ol' man.

Lights Off

Atlast,when i turn off the light
even my shadow disappears.

The Quarter that was..

Infosys announced its Q1 results today.
Q1 net profit is up at Rs 794 crore from Rs 673 crore QoQ.
Revenue is up at Rs 3,015 crore from Rs 2,624 crore QoQ.
Added 38 new clients, 8097 employees.

Sensex higher by 93.36 points
Nifty index wass up by 26.20 points at 3142.35 .
Dalal street is happy.

Plus there is a talk of a hike in salary.
Me too happy happy!

There is a sense of optimism & RDX in air.

The truth of the matter is...

When a person says he is in search of truth,what is he really searching for?

The Monkey is weary..

and it slowly opens its closed eyes. and meditates.