Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bon Voyage

No more dreams of flying in space with those oval windows that reflected the blue skies and passing grey clouds in the rarefied air where even eagles dare not zoom. No more sexy uber cool flight attendants who flash their cleavage to fuel your fantasies as they bend to carry your jackets into the galley.
It wasn’t such a long time ago when flying was restricted to the privileged few who used to make strategic trips all over the globe and country. There was an air of casual luxury that pervaded airports like Bombay, London, Paris, New York and Belgium, where businessmen, senior executives, sportsmen, bureaucrats and wealthy aristocrats used to coast around lazily before boarding the flights. Of course some of them from the elite class had an air of permanent disdain on their faces when rubbing shoulders with some non entities flying on company accounts. Self intoxicated with their own sense of self importance who looked down disdainfully on the passengers in economy class scrambling when no assigned seating was available. However this did not damp the spirits of the old economy aristocrats, businessmen or professionals who within their stratum managed to develop genuine relationships forged during a flight. As a new entrant to this elite club I used to be nervous in those early days and many a time misplaced my baggage tags in the process. The petite stewardesses would go through the rituals of pleasing all the passengers before offering them aperitifs. The big cheese balls would discuss stocks, vacations in exotic locales, golf handicaps and exchange visiting cards as part of the simulated cabin gossip during the flight.

With the advent of the new millennium and introduction of low cost no frills carriers, all this has become an emblem of the past the big fat boom and cattle class has relegated these to the recesses as a sad and shriveled memory. Now the airlines turns down the cabin lights to enhance the appearance of the air-hostesses, the Airport resembles a bus station and security has turned the flights of fantasy into a nightmare.

Passengers about to embark/disembark at the Airports have to go through various drills and checks; surrender of suitcases/valises, coats, wallets, credit cards, rings cell phones pens,: confiscation of scissors, knives nail cutters matchboxes, toothpicks pickles, gels/ shaving lotions, perfumes any sort of fluids (thank god they don’t strain your body fluids), milk, (lactating mammary glands) are permitted then comes the scans, body scans, retina scans, anal scans etc.Sometimes I wonder whether we are entering an aircraft or prison. Happy landings.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

HOLY SHIT

Now that the Commonwealth Games are over and the Euphoria about the medal tally and acclaim is waning, the investigations into the scam, snags and glitches have begun in real earnest. I think it’s high time for us to introspect about our hygiene standards which have been highlighted as appalling in the world press.

We have over the years assiduously built up an image of a modern India with a fa├žade or proscenium of glass and steel which we have copied from the west to hide the chaotic squalor of the slums and shanty towns that have sprung up in all our industrialized cities. No wonder the foreign tourists take back memories of a land that is synonymous with snake charmers, half naked people living in filth and squalor. The dapper Indian in spite of having arrived on the global stage still alights from his gleaming Mercedes to urinate on the sidewalk, while in the slums people cook, eat, sleep and defecate in the same areas. The roads are clogged with a sea of humanity, vehicles, handcarts, auto rickshaws, and motorcycles all jostling for space on this potholed excuse for the arterial road, while a cow sits placidly in the centre disrupting the flow, but is too sacred to be disturbed.

The rare public toilets called “Sulabh Sauchalya’s” that are provided are in a sordid state of decay and not for the faint hearted. As you enter you are overwhelmed by a powerful stench that will force you to retch; piss/urine, paan stains and faeces are strewn all over the floor like a modern artist’s abstract canvas. Before you can exclaim “holy shit” you will find it splattered all over the walls behind the commode and floor. One cannot even in their wildest nightmares imagine how anyone can manage to shoot shit/crap onto a wall 3 feet above the floor/ground. Even an accomplished acrobat/gymnast or Yoga exponent in the most convoluted position or bizarre asana would find it difficult to defecate and splatter the wall so graphically with shit. Even our sacred cow would need plenty of practice to achieve this target on the wall.
How hard is it to shit into the commode/toilet bowl, even a dog can be trained to aim properly during toilet training without messing the lavatory. Our honorable General Secretary of the organizing committee for the Commonwealth Games Mr. Lalit Bhanot put his foot in his mouth when he claimed that “we Indians have different standards of cleanliness when compared to westerners”. I can understand that most Indians are averse to relieving themselves and cleaning up with toilet paper, and their trained sanitation practices involve the use of water to clean themselves after defecation. Many a time while traveling I too felt that even after using toilet paper some flakes are still etched in the recesses of the rectum and I carefully choose hotels that provide Bidets or bum showers when checking in during my jaunts abroad. But this does not justify Bhanots statement that we should leave excreta, urine and paan stains all over the toilets.

Bhanot bless his soul must be made to visit some of the tourist spots in Europe where he can see for himself the elegant toilets with blue water in the commode, clean as a whistle, shelves stacked with eau-de-toilette, tissue, hand wipes, disinfectants, sanitizers and a vase with fresh flowers all adding to the ambience; now would he succumb to his Indian sensibility standards and squat on the cover to defecate and wash his bum with a bucket of water spilling all over the place? Sure the earlier farmers in villages used to defecate in the open fields for want of toilets, but this is what the Government has to wake up to, if it has to showcase to the world that it is a developed nation. When you spend 50,000 Crores on Commonwealth Games infrastructure you must at least spend 5000 crores on toilets and sanitation facilities to offer a more dignified life for the poor people who live in crowded urban communities. It is ironic that in a country where even a beggar carries a mobile phone showing how technically advanced the country is more than 600 million have no access to proper toilets.

Friday, May 14, 2010

PowerPoint

Power Point

There was a time when a CEO or G.M. production would walk in briskly into the conference room of an ornate building and address the gathering. Sometimes a microphone/whiteboard or slide would be used to build up the excitement. The senior executives would be suited while technical personnel would always be in shirtsleeves. They would then talk about producing a product or service that would transform the society and discuss pros and cons or the launch, publicity and pricing while the vanguard would nod or clap at appropriate pauses. Sometimes hand outs were distributed sometimes not, there would be a lot of introspection during lunch or dinner and everyone would be enthusiastic.
Well the actual business life for most people hasn’t changed much since then, yet there has been a violent change in the way presentations are made.
At the epicenter of this cataclysm is the ubiquitous laptop and projector which is the holy grail of modern MBA executives. The high drama type of conference replete with Kodak slides (moments) have been relegated to the dinosaur Jurassic park graveyard and now enters the new “PowerPoint” presentation which is statutory even for sales calls.
All those who work in factories,offices,banks, defence or sales no longer carry files or documents, shirt sleeves have given way to gray twill suits, ties, or slacks/T-shirts on weekends but everyone must carry laptops loaded with multimedia power point, excel spreadsheets for presentations. Anybody who cannot make a PowerPoint presentation will be punished and cannot remain employed after such a failure and ignominy, sometimes investments in a laptop and projector are more than the compensation meted out annually to the poor soul, terrific isn’t it? This is good for Companies who want to retrench /downsize people and cut the flab, spreadsheets and laptops is what keeps you tethered to your jobs. To hell with talent and creativity, or skilled electrical, mechanical engineers that’s a distorted idea of capability, in some small enterprises acquisition of these gadgets have wiped out every penny of profit, but the slide show must go on.

Now with a Powerpoint presentation you don’t require a great personality or persuasive powers and can climb the top slot in any Corporation. You are a digital executive with access to all the information in the world including porn sites. Finance professionals can now invent whole new creative ways to hide or express debt legally; boost Company’s and shareholders value and hope some big Corporation will eventually acquire the company.
All the old style executives who worked hard day and night to reach senior positions should be issued pink slips to improve the bottom line , and only adolescents who spend every waking hour on internet and face book should be hired. Only soft skilled/software skilled generation can save the Industry/Nation, no one needs any profound knowledge as the average interest span is only 2 minutes, so you need killer applications to shoehorn the old business into software models or modules. Content need not be king, if it’s a new online version everyone can co-generate it and stand on their own two feet and display genuine infantile ego when the laptop hangs “and therein hangs a tale” as all the memory and artificial intelligence is in the laptop memory and the presenter has no clue. After all this hard work he has earned a well deserved holiday in Bangkok as he believes that is where the “Big Bang” theory began.
I think my liver is finally packing up after years of entertaining clients and conducting business in the old way, as there is a temptation to hold onto the old business model where periods of low inflation and stable growth were the norms. It’s a shame I missed the internet wave and a whole new business opportunity, though I tried to study the reams of data spewing forth from the net to figure out how the software world works in market oriented economies like ours, but then the recession hit the ceiling.
I am 60 years old now and I don’t want to die surfing the internet with a host of new fangled toys like
I-Pod, Tablets, Droid or Kindle or take a last bite of the Apple as the killer application called browser weaves its web on my tomb site.
End of slide show

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Twitter

As I may have written ad-nauseum to you SMS, E-Mails and now Twitter are the disembodied forms of modern communication. Texting, Tweets and its ilk are reducing communications to zero, but at the same time increasing the speed of messaging and like nuclear energy may one day consume us homo-sapiens!! A small tweet created a din and consumed IPL Modi and now many of our garden variety of bureaucrats and actors who have ascended with a lot of luck and toxic narcissism have also joined the band wagon.

Is the Internet turning us into a nation of imbeciles? There is an elegant elusiveness to these inane messages strewn all over cyberspace like some pithy notes from outer space, floating like a cloud of volcanic ash from the Iceland’s erupting volcano. In the past our exchange of letters were vivid, lithely drawn narratives pulsating with insights and intuitive reasoning, that brought to our mind vivacious vignettes of images and glimpses reflected in the writings.

Today it seems we are all “denied old age” as our expiry dates are shortened and everything has shorter life cycles (except debt and EMI’s) jobs, love, family, belongings, loyalty and relationships. It reminds me of the days when miniskirts first appeared on the horizon like the blogs, then it gave way to micro minis and now microblogs or twitter, both hiding more than it revealed. The length of relationships or commitment to an organization or family has reduced along with other spans for everything. These new fangled tools like E-reader, Kindle etc are infantilizing the minds of generation next, who are finding it difficult to empathize and are facing an identity crisis half boy half man and each phase is a transaction including career, marriage, family,etc are treated like a cab ride, short is the key and in thing. Yeow the cat got their tongue and the twitter generation is not old enough to understand long stretches of prose; its speed dating and multitasking all the way to leave a carbon footprint on cyberspace. How can you expect this generation who have no time to sleep (24/7) to smell the flowers greet the zeitgeist? You need a minimal amount of time to be creative/productive and accumulate knowledge.

Internet tweets are not long enough to size up a woman let alone have a quickie at best it’s a brief boob gazing job before twittering away (adobe acrobat) and with the virtual reality situation even the Bangkok syndrome is disappearing. Great discussions cannot be held on Face book chat as they are seldom linear, they don’t progress logically like your embedded software, as they digress meander all over your mindscape. You cannot put complex thoughts into one-liners - good conversations are like having a drink with a cigar, it takes time to percolate and you have to relax savor the seconds like listening to music (Bach/Beethoven) only then can you come away rejuvenated. I used to be charming in my youth even the dogs would follow me around, and proximity without intimacy was like Dante’s inferno (hell) but now if I don’t acquire some internet skills neither the girls nor company wants me, and since my last published book is an endangered species on Amazon I will end up in “jobless anonymous” very soon. I have perfected the art of parental non-interference that my kids now treat me like a pet and have long divorced me from the list of parents. Oh! My Blackberry is vibrating welcome to the 21st century, let me log off now.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mayday

The Day after
MAYDAY
Dear Babu,

Yes I took off to the mountains to spend time with snoopy Colonel and his clan, incidentally it was his Birthday and he has also become a proud grandfather. All relatives and some friends congregated to celebrate. Non stop drinking from dawn to dusk, we had a ball. Relationships are the most important experience of our lives, without this life will have no meaning and watching the sunset will be just another farce. Relationships with friends, family, work, colleagues and our environment are the truly sacred salve for the soul. That is why we yearn for them and have trouble with them too; it is a double edged
edged scythe as you can cut off or reap and this indeed causes problems for the human species. Pain, tragedy, suffering, anger, jealousy and joy are all part of this kinship-it is a vessel that can override turbulent times if we learn to respect and love each other.
Sam has jettisoned all his friends and relatives to embrace the new “born again Christianity” he has become fanatical, views degenerating into dogmas creating a lot of suffering as collateral damage in the process. There aren’t many joys in life, but we must grab the simple pleasures of meeting old friends cogitate, ruminate, and be seduced by the powerful emotional resonance of the idyllic days of our youth. Life is fragile, fraught with problems yet to obstinately struggle against the odds is but natural to all of us. As my erotic nett worth is eroded by time I have to hurry before my expiry date sets in to complete the myriad dreams and fantasies that are circulating in my minds landscape.
As we all retire from this treadmill of work and our glory days some unable to face the nonstop InfoTech revolution we are all united by a shared sense of intellectual isolation.
We must search for a place somewhere between our heart and head far away from this 24/7 race for money to reboot ourselves and savour the greatest luxury of life that we have but don’t appreciate (time) and enjoy every second because that is one asset class the generation next will never have despite a plethora of time saving gizmos like mobile phones, I pads, laptops, email and internet. So let’s eat our mutton and drink our stout because we are from a fading era and our existence is in doubt.
Open Personal folder.
Natasha plans to pursue her masters in International Finance—so be it, every child has his/her race to run and they have to excel on their own. They have to be comfortable with their heritage and develop their own social conscience, values, and confidence in this connected world and yet have the freedom to be themselves. I’ve had to walk the razors edge between indulgence and denial in bringing them up and in my old age I do not want to be an Albatross round their neck. I’ve taught them the things that mattered instead of wasting time espoused and inculcated some of my values and habits like philanthropy, reading to give them a quantum leap of knowledge and humanity.

So what else is new in Cannanore except for the Hartal /Bandh and oppressive heat? Hang on in there and do communicate.

Let me sign off now.
As ever
Vinu.

Mayday

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wife is your Handicap

Dear AKR,

It is the time of the year when wedding bells are ringing incessantly and despite much planning one cannot attend all of them. Anyway attending Babu’s daughters wedding and meeting all those old pals of yore was fantastic. There is great joy in making personal contacts with old friends Vinoo & Ratna,Peethu, Khalid,Ravi,Babu Harris, Norry, Balabhaskar, Suren, Sidney Shoeb,Seyadu,Rahim,Nadar,Nandan, Shasi(tailor),etalii The wedding made it possible to meet the fraternity together; one cannot but sense a huge emotion collectively rising out. It was heartening to note that the old camaraderie still exists after all these years; it fills ones heart with cheer. There was a sense of belonging within the group as we rarely get an opportunity to be at the same time and place together since we split in the early seventies. Those days we had no resources or money but had plenty of fun and laughs. There were times when we really wondered how we will get through life. Each ones life is a saga of overcoming big challenges, low moments, worst mistakes and harboring hopes of a better future to unfold. Most of us have used our tenacity and creativity to turn defeat into victory, and known astonishing highs and lowest moments in our personal lives. The turning point was our attitude to conquer obstacles and succeed in the face of tough odds and deal with our own personal challenges, failures and weaknesses. In the process we were also drawn
to the fairer sex and dreamt of love, marriage and joyous living. However we were destined never to unite with our first loves, and the pain has left its traces on our hearts and brain. (The pain, behind the gain). Nevertheless for some time in our mundane lives, we continued to dream of each other, and thoughts of “It might have been” It took a lot of dynamism, resourcefulness and presence of mind to sail on in life, never troubled by the feeling of “ what could have been”
Change Clubs.
PAR for the (inter) course

As they say old Golfers don’t die they lose their balls, so too with Tiger Woods when he drove into a fire hydrant and tree, a case of missing the woods for the tree as he couldn’t decide between a Wood and an Iron I guess. Poor chap give him a break he was honing his skills by chasing off course birdies. Grubbs the cocktail waitress was up for grabs anyway. (Pun intended) I guess in your case your wife was your handicap for the last 25 years and you haven’t moved your club. As for me I am still swinging my club though the birds have flown.

Ringing in 2010 the Terrace Party

Enter the new millennium, 2009 is just a memory like the nineties, eighties, seventies time ceases to exist. The past seems like a kaleidoscopic blur, a page of landscape portraiture seen from a train’s window, a smudge of high mountains, lush paddy fields and greenery. The smoke from the steam locomotive paints an ethereal picture out of reach like a X’mas bauble.
The tingle of glasses brings me back to the party, the hot chicks in short dresses, Gucci knock off hand bags, imitation leather high heels and real breasts, one should notice and fondle details, no symptom of ‘lactose intolerance’ in me. Let me head for the bar and fortify myself with a stiff drink, part of addiction is that you need the substance so bad during parties that when they try to take it away from you , you want to die… People are already dancing on the floor, couples glance significantly into the eyes of each other, the ridiculous flirtation between men and women like ‘cognac’ after dinner. The invitees were an eclectic multiracial crowd, mostly airline cabin crew, BPO, and IT industry, a crop of young men and women who will inherit and save our dying planet in the near distant future. The Christian group, with a mild grudge against the Hindu majority were dressed for church (midnight mass) suit, tie, sweaters and booted, the women in sequined dresses, over scented with the glacial ‘come hither’ looks trying to propound the reverse “axe effect” I stood out like a sore thumb in my khakis and sandals. I slowly gravitated towards a noisy pseudo- intellectual Bengali group with the possibility of an emotional connect: leveraging the common passions of leftist leanings, feudal set up/ inheritance, river songs and mutual love of sea food, subjects which are very sentimental yet difficult to articulate. The common tapestry of aristocracy, blue blood, history, genetic superiority stretches this continuity. As an Aristocratic Nair with a matrilineal and cross cultural heritage I was fortunate to be assimilated yet felt strangely alienated. Due to my nomadic childhood and broad minded parents, all traditions, cultures as well as ‘belonging’ had become equally questionable to me. Unknowingly the group continued their shallow party conversation, analyzing the rising cost of apartments, difficulty in sourcing household help, the latest blackberry curve, I phones gaming gizmos, cricket, cars and associated traffic snarls; the conversation gets more profound when they try to establish distant family connections to Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray, though I cant fathom why Nobel laureate Amartya Sen is not included in this ‘relative profiling’. It’s time to relieve my weak bladder, I go hunting for the urinal (oops cloak room).
When I returned the music had reached the right crescendo and the gyrating crowd had spilled into the open, their bodies and faces buzzed with glee, exhilaration, a jubilant awareness of being alive. With the alcohol dissolving in their bloodstream the inhibitions suddenly crumble and the real personae rushes in to their frames to sway to the rhythm of the Samba.
The spread on the buffet table tingles your olfactory senses, Sushi, Chinese, Pasta, Pizza, succulent barbecued chicken legs, no sign of roast Turkey though I spotted pork chops at the far end. As a dyed in the wool Mallu, my roots are in the digestive tract; Kerala food like Appam with stew, puttu, mussel fried, neighmeen, are simple flavorsome, unfussy with spice and I yearn for this soul food. Yet most party animals have this obsessive eating disorder (OED) a tendency or craving to eat substances with exotic names like caviar, sushi, Manchurian other than normal food, a symptom which occurs during pregnancy or childhood.
The clock strikes twelve and the crowd cheers, hug and kiss each other, a self evident and pre-fabricated symbolism which attaches itself to this Zenith, as the thought occurs to all, that they have made it so far, to a point where they can see horizontal, amidst the explosion of crackers the old earth reveals itself newly. Everyone is staring at their teeny LCD screens with haute nerd intensity, keying in hot text messages in the flat spectral non hour time zone, awash in limbic tides. Satiated with food and wine my neurons stir fitfully to complement a tumescence that is emanating in my groins, flashing an inappropriate reptilian demand.
Unfortunately there comes with old age and wanton life style stiffness in the wrong veins, caused by hardened deposits causing an inelasticity of physical muscle, sinew and mental fiber. Despite the lack of serotonin a strong urge for a physical linkage to a fellow mammal of the opposite sex arises. Turgidity will take forever as my thinning blood is strained from the upper torso to the loins to make a rumble in the jocks. This is more crippling than the heart attack.
The revelers return to the lowly drawing room talk asserting themselves with an acquired knowledge from the flat televisual series repeated daily by the pedestrian soaps. The news and mimetic pictures on TV, divides them metaphysically and forever from the real external world. Today’s viewer ship is dumb, and the truth is apt to make them uncomfortable, the same way that in real life true pleasure is usually a by product of hard work and discomfort. Life is a mirror which goes ‘fast’ like a watch sometimes. I will have to reset my brain. Welcome to 2010.

FLIGHT PATH

I have been working for more than thirty years and now on the verge of retirement I realize that I will have to continue working for another 3 decades to get the type of salaries that are offered to new MBA aspirants fresh out of “B” schools.

I vaguely remember during my college days some bright students- escape by way of scholarships or some tough cramming into the IIT to get into a technical position or like some others who by some decisive self interested act pass the IAS as then their prospects in the marriage market soars and comments like’” he is getting a four figure salary” which meant Rs.1000/ a month. A cab from the airport to town would cost more than that, my salary in 1972 was a princely sum of Rs. 350/, a long way off from the magic four figure/digits, and many years later when it became 8 digits we were delighted. Now I wince on discovering the disconcerting pay packets that are bandied around. I can’t remember how many zeros constitute these new CTC (cost to company) emoluments that are handed out liberally to management graduates and software professionals these days. Even the petro dollar Gulf countries cannot match these astronomical salaries. What recession, what downturn are we talking about?

Two years in a “B” school and it’s a dream world out there big cars, concepts, merger and acquisition deals, dinners and a huge wad of money at the end of the month, not to mention the ESOP’s that are distributed like confetti. Were we all Saps in our mid thirties? Trying to survive as a whole and independent executive with dislocations and painful separations from family and friends.. I had to eat my guts out to meet the annual targets, no time for sabbaticals, or partying with my old gang, just business cocktails and dinners adding pounds in the middle and pre-mature ageing. No gym, no workouts, no juice or salad bars, just a woeful scowl that signifies serious business intent.

There are a lot of old timers like me, still hard at work trying to save enough moolah at the end of their tenure to buy a decent apartment in Bombay. Our blood, sweat and tears have slowly vaporized in many outfits as we now await the “axe effect” I wish we had venture capitalists in those days then we could have sold our start ups and surfed the net all day long. Now we have to think twice before even entering a Starbucks for a meal.

Sometimes I envy Shyam a bright and avid boy who grew up in rural town but found the globalization unsettling and was forced to live off paychecks from his parents. He lived a tremendous and tragic life, battling the curse of alcohol for most of his short life. His hauntingly wonderful and tragically limited life has spawned a generation of similar stereotypes from the baby boomers generation, who have become a template for many Keralites who do not believe in a white or blue collar jobs nor employment during their lifetime and neither migrated to the red brigade so prevalent in Gods own country. The landscapes of our youth, with its old fashioned manners and mores of lifetime employment are gone and we cannot sit in judgment of the new world order where everything is outsourced to a third party. So it is the journey that matters, not the rewards or destination. Life itself is the path and goal we must tread carefully lest our carbon footprints pollute this order.

MEETING OF MINDS

Frenetic as it was at 560032, fleetingly encountering you and Beena was like walking down better memory lanes “streets of early sorrows” sans the angst. The few hours I spent were a magical time albeit fleeting (in time) and I was sent hurtling back in time to the halcyon days of the 60’s. Meeting you perked me up as never before, it was like the wind in my sails, as we soul mates transcend space and time. It was a throwback to a different era, to the bleak dysfunctional large families from the perennially poor state of Kerala. North Malabar was a mythical place ruled by tyrannical uncles and strict parents/elders.: extended families with too many kids in the backyard. In those days there was a sense of wonder and adventure to all our activities. All of us had this primal fire in our bellies which has waned over the years. Post modern era’s trappings and ever moving clock, all conniving against us in this “urbane madness’. So this week my joys quadrupled, as I got a letter from another long lost kindred soul, Bunny AKA (Col AK Mohan) summoning memories of our old gang and how we rode roughshod over the Geeks and stern teachers, like R.H.(Robin Hood) and his merry men in days of yore. Downing the good stuff ‘’elixir of life” it was nice to reminisce about our school days. What better way to recreate the past then retrieve old memories and enter the world of nostalgia.

There are no more “merry men’’ left in Calicut and north Malabar is just a shadow of the “rain forest’’ it was before and the few brave men left are almost on the brink of serendipity albeit with a touch of winsome detachment. Now in Kerala it’s a strange juxtaposition of newly acquired gulf wealth and the affluence of the I.T /Software professional working class angst that we merge so dexterously from the memory of the 70’s to the new contemporary existence, hence this inter-play between two generations. The new 10 buck gizmos, trinkets of shining luster like cell phones, I-pods, blackberry’s and laptops which are the new gods of consumerism that give a soporific lull to our senses, in the global communications with their shallow information and ever expanding technology. Everyone is now trained to become a commodity, a Pilot, an M.B.A. I.T Pro with a saleable value before he can locate his path or life, the ends of these hopeless wanderings, in terms of purpose and place under the sun eludes us.

All of us forsook our sinecure living to fulfill our dreams, for us success was a by product of hard work and struggle. The new youth have been usurped by machines, computers, internet, mobile telephony, plastic money and automobiles seduced by the new economy and consumer culture on the superficial electronic highway.

Times whizzed past so quickly, and having consumed copious amounts of alcohol and eaten so much, I had to declare my belly as excess baggage on the flight back to Bombay and the only smoking seat left is in the cockpit, so imagine my plight.
Life is a funny tapestry! Let me sign off with a million thanks for the wonderful time and company. Be at peace for you are no longer in the race! Watch the sunset and recall all your signature moments.
THINGS BEYOND MONEY
For everything else there is MasterCard

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Beware of the Ides of March

Night Longer than the Day
Mumbai 5/3/2008 Shivarathri



Dear AKR,

Congratulation, you have really retired from life, (or tired of life). A stoic silence greets all those friends who knew you. Now you can relax, watch T.V (Asia net) read news papers from end to end, eat (can’t drink I guess) or can you??? Is it retirement or resignation from life itself, or are you trying to debate the meaning of life on this planet. Finding out the real purpose or ponder over all those questions of your (non) accomplishments & what you wanted from the core of your heart? Now that you have moved into a new box (oops Flat) devoid of sun & bereft of air, perhaps some plastic trees in the balcony, which you don’t have to water any more. No tap water but you are in the ground floor, watching all passerby (s) and reliving your chaotic life. Dude what’s up??? No more waking up smelling of alcohol (C2 H05), have you lost the plot??.

This is how Hollywood film stars feel when they come out of Rehab! Do you look like hell, do you need hell??? I guess you are severely happy to have lost all sense of reality, all sense of progress, all sense of man made responsibilities, all sense …………. period… so be it.

“The wise will not judge, the foolish will be judged” When I read about the evils of drinking and smoking, I gave up reading! More power to you, Anambu Mani Ramdoss, Surgeon General & their ilk carrying on the good work of converting everyone to old fruit bags SAM & his tribe on the increase

As ever

Kappana

P. S Smoking is a dying art.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

THE INHERITANCE OF LOSS

Date: 08.04.2010
Place: Mumbai



I was deeply moved by the support and sympathy that poured in after the demise of my mother. It is a moment that now seems frozen in time, reinforcing the eternity of time scales and the fleeting nature of human existence.

She was born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth yet what set her apart was her compassionate nature and heart of gold. Even in her school days, she would bring over her school friends, the underprivileged and impoverished for lunch at the sprawling ancestral “Rose Bungalow” in Payyanur. This was the richest period in her life; her happy and idyllic childhood was shattered by the death of her mother at the very tender age of nine; could fulfillment ever be felt as deeply as loss? Thereafter she traveled with her father Sanjeev Menon, a senior Police officer all over Kerala wherever he was posted. Later when her father re-married she was sent to a hostel and in later years stayed with her cousins to resonate with anyone who has felt compelled to compromise their heritage, family and her…loneliness. After college she got married and set sail with her husband to the emerald isle of Ceylon where she started a new chapter of her life bringing up her brood with love and longing amidst the migrant melancholy of the situation…the immigrant experience.
Ceylon was very dear to all of us; we were well cared for and lived a happy life till we returned to India when ethnic riots tore the island. Then the real misery began contradictory terrains of poverty and wealth. Dad’s penchant for horse racing increased when he worked in various parts of the country, mostly where race-courses were situated. He led a roving shiftless life, working but never too long... she could not fall back on her ancestral property and landholdings as it was scarred by an act of treachery and dishonour, thereby depriving mom of her rightful share in her time of need. We began to live the life of vagabonds in rented houses, despite the lineage of landlords, continuous poverty dogged our footsteps in those days. It was Mom’s steely sense of determination that helped all of us to survive the hardships. She educated all of us and gave us direction and a new impetus with affection and love. With her around we had no fear of the future I feel sad for her as in those years she did not ever spend money on herself. Snatched from a shuttered life of extravagance and privilege, she had to live life like a commoner in her adult years. She always had a wistful faraway look when she remembered her childhood and past blue blooded days of glory. The years went by the children were settled, but she continued her work of charity to uplift the underprivileged. With the onset of her twilight years she wanted to stay all alone, quietly in Calicut amidst the sounds of birds chirping in the garden, a happy but lonely house, a terminal one. Here she reached a state of perfect equilibrium, yet the parting of her soul sent me into a benumbed reverie, an indescribable sense of loss and sorrow. At Varrakal beach where her mortal remains were immersed, amongst the waves receding ever so mysteriously into the depths of the ocean, the past trembled like a huge body of water crashing into the beachhead. Suddenly out of nowhere, a rainbow appeared bursting with radiance and colour on that rainy day. A celestial homage as she made her peace with the Neptunian forces, eternally out of our reach. The earth seemed like a dead planet, as we broke the ancestral membrane which had kept us suspended above the void, the umbilical cord was severed in all its finality. Later in an obscure corner of a remote galaxy, drenched in the surreal light of dawn, in the age old temple of Tiruvanaaya, by the side of the eternal river, the priests chanted slokas carrying the legacy of tradition and belief: a quest to explore ourselves—our roots and connections with what lies beyond. Somewhere else in the far eastern hemisphere of our planet, the symphony between two celestial bodies had begun,* culminating in a total eclipse, as darkness enveloped all our lives. Nothing can arrest that pain, sorrow and loss which heralded the end of an era!