What it takes to be… a dog!?

It’s known that mankind hasn’t domesticated any new animal in the past 20000 years! This means, following normal psychology, that mankind chose animals that would surely be their best friends (not pets!). And if the most domesticated animal is the dog, there’s something absolutely special about it.

I am proud to be a dog-lover, and I’m happy to have known quite some people who share the same feelings towards those barkin’ buddies. Perhaps, (I might be a bit dramatic here) it’s no coincidence that ‘dog’ and ‘god’ are anagrams, and in Tamil, ‘thaai’ (mother) rhymes with ‘naai’ (dog). Somewhere in the days when humans were just beginning to adapt to civilization, deep within, they developed an innate respect for these canines for their unconditional love, deep faithfulness, and for many other virtues rarely seen in humans.

If you wanna know what a burst of love can be, you should have experienced your dog hugging you after you return from a long trip. If you need to understand what faithfulness is all about, look into a dog’s eyes after you’ve fed him. Probably one of the most impossible phrases is ‘an ugly puppy’; you can never find a puppy that’s short-cute of evoking an ‘Aaawwwww!’ from the girls of today!

I am no active activist for stray dogs and animal rights; I’ve never stood up on the streets, and I’ve not even used Twitter to retweet. However, I can proudly state that I’ve been human enough to not hurt them, and to give a couple of biscuits to them a few times. And if everyone was at least like this (or I don’t even see a need to give biscuits), there would be no need for activists!

The measure of character is how to treat the things that you could do anything to. Dogs are loving creatures that don’t have the capacity to communicate in black and white. If you are receptive enough to their non-verbal expressions of all the feeling said above, you’d not harm them!


The Disease Called “Entitlement”

My Royal Enfield was melodiously thumping at that just-below-1000 RPM at the Kaliappa Signal near Billroth Hospital. It was at about 10: 15 in the night when I was on my way to pick my wife up. The roads were relatively free – maybe I could have slipped between the vrooming cars on Chamiers Road, that were trying to beat the red for them. I was well ahead of my schedule (let’s not even talk about the repercussions of being late to pick her up). I love to be a little conscious and sensible on the road (I have my share of being indisciplined, but roads were an exception) – my front tyre was caressing the stop-line, and with enough of space on the left for vehicles to pass.

Suddenly, the peace of the moment was interrupted by a flurry of horns. I take a look at the counter, and it’s about 28 seconds before it was gonna turn green, and then at the rear-view mirror, and I saw the Tata Sumo that was honking. I did something that was against my liking – I moved forward, turned a bit towards the right, giving some way for the Sumo, thinking they might have had to turn left.

To my surprise, the Sumo went straight into CP Ramasamy road, not even waiting to see if there were any vehicles that were taking their rightful paths. What caught my eye with a greater impact and intensity were the two words that were written on Sumo – One in English that said “POLICE” and no points for guessing the Tamil Word.

This is surely not an isolated instance. We’ve seen it time and again: Politicians not paying the toll, and the flag waving proudly in defiance of the law, police-vehicles skip signals or dart in their full speed on the wrong sides, Government officials acting as if the tilt of the Earth’s axis depended on their signature.

The other side of it is that people belonging to one department don’t care about damaging the assets of another department – they think it’s their right to damage it and it’s not their duty to restore them to normalcy. When the Electricity Department digs a road, or when the sewerage department opens a manhole, they do not consider it their responsibility to seal it or close it.

This, I think, is one disease that plagues the nation… not just in a public-level but even in the private level! Remember the Uncle next door who thought it’s their right to know your total in your Class 10? Remember that neighbor who thought it was fine to ask your salary? Remember that aunty next door who thought it was fine to know about your marriage? And about when you were planning on your child?

Serioously? What makes them think it’s their right? – this needs to be asked to the policemen, politicians, pothole-diggers, and the nosey neighbors. As long as we continue to be that kind of people who take our rights and don’t respect our liabilities (not even duties… let’s not even talk about it), it’s gonna be difficult for anyone to make our citizens follow the rules!

Sadly, our country is made of people who may not cross a red signal even if it’s a free road, but will still move away from the way of the SUV that incessantly honks behind them… me included!!

Deep Inside The Thorns

Before the haze of my thoughts cloud your minds, let me take a moment to wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day! My blog has been forced into an arranged marriage, and has later found some amazing love with Kavya Menon’s blog in the beautiful differences and the complementing characteristics that our blogs cherish… for this V-Day’s D-Day, and for the many to come!

Valentine’s Day – the very utterance of this word evokes a rosy picture in everyone’e head! Thanks to Director Kathir’s films and a host of songs, Valentine’s day has been reduced (or rather, blown up) to giving roses and teddy bears, fancy candle-lit dinners, essentially taking out someone on a date, and a ton of memes, sometimes with rated content, that speaks about the blisses and woes of being single and being committed… and not to mention the so-called ‘culture-guardians’ who… well, I’ll leave that to your knowledge!

If the greatest and the most global celebration of love has such a commercial connotation, it can’t be helped that the commercial elements have trickled down a bit to the very emotion of ‘love’ itself! Love’s intensity, I think, should be measured (if at all it needs to be, which, I think, is unnecessary!) as what you do for your loved one in comparison to what you would do you for yourself. However, it’s been defined to be compared to how well you fare against others in a materialistic race!

This brings us to two diverging-and-disturbing truths: Self-love has found its territorial borders being violated by self-centeredness and narcissism. Sustainability has met with its flurry of criticisms, and so has the idea of sustainability being a threat to commercialism. Well… if the recent Tamil Cinema, and marginally, the latest protests have enlightened us that there might be a commercial angle to every emotional move, then it calls for some introspection.. maybe not!!

Everybody is either Martin Luther King or Dom Cobb when it comes to dreams – we dream with an aspiration to make it real. It doesn’t matter if it comes within the scope of today’s reality, and we still dream, just like a child!

There is a point when the fears of the dark present, and the aspirations for a bright future begin their unfulfilled-yet-undying romance – the dream of hope! And as my blog-mate concluded, it might be a child’s dream… but a few dreams do happen, however far-fetched they may be! And are we all not children somewhere… to dream without limits!? To Dream of an ideal love!?

This post is written for the ‘love theme’ contest by The Chennai Bloggers Club (www.chennaibloggers.in) in association with woodooz (http://www.woodooz.com/) and Indian Superheroes (http://indiansuperheroes.com/)


The Phenomenon called KV Anand

Though I’m not much of a movie-buff, I watch the very few movies I watch with an intensity that I might end up marrying the movie. I love giving attention to tiny details, the subtle elements of screenplay, the significance of placements of certain dialogues, and every element in the frame that will make it more meaningful!

(And this has made me a very very bad person for movie-dates – 86% because of the movie and the rest 14% because of the butter popcorn)

In all these days of watching many movies, I’ve seen things that stand out in terms of screenplay, inclusion of the subtle elements that make the movie more meaningful and give some informed viewers an inexplicable sense of satisfaction.

One such film-maker who stands out when it comes to this particular aspect is KV Anand. I do not know what to attribute his penchant for detail to – his science-background, or his stint as a photographer-cinematographer, or his plain genius.

Maybe my thing for photography, physics and world-history has caught my eye:

  1. In the song ‘Rettai Kadhire’ of Maatraan, there is a family photo that’s clicked. For any director who wants to show a photo clicked in the late ’80s, Kodak or Konica would have been the obvious choice. But KV Anand chose to show Zenit, which is a proper Russki brand.
  2. In Ko, when Jiiva adjust the camera’s settings, he bumps up the ISO to 6400, which enables the photographer shoot in low light, albeit with grains. It gives a more believable reason for the pics to have been shot in the dark.
  3. In Kanaa Kanden, Srikanth covers his paper in white phosphorous and soaks it in water, and when Prithviraj takes it out, it starts to light up. It’s surely a nice way to deceive someone, as white phosphorous catches fire if it contacts oxygen.

I can go on and on about the importance that KV Anand gives to accuracy (though there are some insane slip-offs like Jiiva riding his FZ-S on the front wheels to get the elevation for photographing the Naxals!). I hope his film-making with his thing for accuracy, and reintroducing old heroes as suave villains, and considers ditching Harris Jeyaraj who makes just one song memorable per movie!!

Beyond The Upkeeping of Jallikattu

I see a lot of protests for Jallikkattu all around the state… which makes me sad that we have to fight for our own traditions to be continued, and also makes me happy that we have recognized our identity… not as a state, not as a language-speaking group, but more as a mass of people that is unified by our affinity and devotion to the aspects that are deeply ingrained in our cultures.

In between all the bright fringes of happiness and the darkness of the organizations that are backing the ban, I see a haze… a haze that I’d trace the origin to the the early 1900s…maybe even the late 1800s. My constant fear is that the ‘haze’ would take over the darkness and make us believe that what we see in the ‘haze’ is real, and there’s nothing beyond it – well… that’s been the strategy for all these years they have been operating.

I would love to look back at the time of Henry Ford – the time when there was a possibility of electric cars, but just because his research and the ‘Assembly Line’ model shouldn’t fail, he pressed the importance of cars that run on fossil-fuels. What we have today is a world full of fossil-fuel-exhaust, a rediscovered need for not polluting the environment, odd-even rules… and electric cars in the making!! And I’m sure the electric cars are gonna cost a fortune! Wouldn’t they have been cheaper if they were developed a century ago?

Let’s think about toothpastes!! Fluoride was a revolution. It was the greatest thing that ever happened to teeth since the teeth themselves – they said. All of our traditional practices like salt, charcoal, neem and cloves were laughed at! A person who brushed their teeth with the neem stick or charcoal was looked at with a sense of disgust and gleeful pity. And now, there are questions asked by toothpaste companies: “Does your toothpaste have salt? Neem? Charcoal? Clove?” What makes this disgustingly better is that these toothpastes cost more than the regular fluoride pastes!!

I’d say the same with the food-grains! We were healthy when we harvested Samba, Kuruvai and Thaladi. Horse-gram, millets and jowar were traditional foods of our land. Brown Rice was everywhere. I’d say the same for traditional grains like Quinoa. Then came the time when Maida was glorified and wheat was pushed to the same status as charcoal and salt – eating a naan was considered more prestigious than eating a roti. IR-8 has replaced our traditional rices – all good right? And now…we have Brown Rice advertised as ‘Rich in Fiber’ and whole wheat advertised as ‘low glycemic index’ and quinoa advertised as ‘super food’! Don’t even get me started on the prices!!

Last, but not the least – the cola and the bottled beverages industry. Weren’t we all happy drinking some of the best beverages – shikhanji, jaljeera, kokum, aamras, jigarthanda (And for those who need the ‘high’) sunda kanji, bhaang, toddy and feni? Somehow, they brought in a craze about these ‘sweetened carbonated water’ drinks, attaching various emotions that were vulnerable to – courage, happiness, pride and appeal to the opposite sex. The brands had become an inevitable part of our lives, and slowly, they stepped into bottling water – it was their master-stroke!! They have polluted our water sources, and they are selling our own waters to us… with their labels on it – nothing more! And what are we left with? A bunch of diabetics, a stomach full of gas.. and loads of plastic!! It’s not just profits for them, but even for Pharma companies.

Apply the same logic to jallikattu and you’ll be able to see the picture! Dairy is one of the industries untouched by the multinational filth… or at least, a good portion remains so. I won’t be detailing on what will happen to our native cattle breeds if bulls are lost. This is just to open the third eye of the people who are still lost in the dirty-yet-appealing surreality of the ‘haze’! It will be too late to recover.. and don’t be surprised one day, if a big global brand trumpets loud to the world talking about the goodness of the milk from Indian Native breeds… and you buy for a huge price, what was rightfully yours a few years ago!!

Maybe tomorrow, there will be a PETP for plants (because plants also have life, y’know?), not letting you eat your own produce, and genetically modified fruits will be your food. It will spoil your health, and you’ll be sold natural foods at a higher price. Maybe tomorrow, there will be a PETBAVI for Bacteria and Viruses in the air (Life there again!!) and you won’t be able to breathe the air, because it kills some organisms… and for all you know, you might be even buying bottled air!!

Yes… there is culture, there is tradition, there is identity, and there is pride (though I am not really ‘proud’ of something I didn’t choose!), and there is happiness in knowing how deep our practices go… but more than anything, just remember that there is something called livelyhood! We let them take a lot of our livelihood… and quite some of our lives!! Let me conclude with the words of John Kennedy when he addressed the UN after Dag Hammarskjold died “SAVE IT WE CAN.. AND SAVE IT WE MUST! THEN ALONE SHALL WE EARN THE ETERNAL BLESSINGS OF MANKIND!”

And for a change “JAI WORLD” (It’s not about a state, or a country – it’s about a planet and a species called Homo sapiens, which somehow legalized a stealthy cannibalism)

PS: I think we should really start an organization called PRTTCH (People for Rational Treatment of Traditions, Culture & Humanity)

Demonetization – A Vardah’f Frustration

Dear Prime Minister,
We surely need to go Cashless… yes we do! We need a lot of transparency, accountability and a lot of other things that you AND YOU ALONE (Maybe a few more jaalraas) would deem as the essentials to curb black money!!
Yes, I partly agree! I have made every recharge of mine since November 8th on PayTM… and none of my local recharge shops have benefitted, but who cares right? My recharge is now accountable, and I’d pay the essential tax for probably the INR 8000 I’d recharge for in the entire Financial Year, and even if it’s small compared to the lakhs of crores that have been hoarded, it helps keep up India’s GDP, right?
Yes, I even more partly agree! I’ve bought all my grocery in Super Markets! The fresh vegetable vendor in Besant Nagar who always has fresh broccoli and capsicum has no business, and I have to buy whatever’s there in that damn place! I’m accountable <I’m too lazy to write the same thing again>, but just because one low-rung family’s livelihood is affected, and just because their child can’t afford education, just because they have to compromise on the next meal, we can’t afford lose out on making India the next superpower, and the biggest cashless economy right?
Believe me, even I was among the many that believed in the promise… the far-sighted promise that’s light years away, but still believable enough to take it as visible – that India would be a cashless economy!
But on 12th December 2016, my belief was uprooted in the most chaotic manner, like the many thousands of trees in Chennai! I lost connect with the hope it offered, like the millions who weren’t able to get in touch with their near ones, leave alone making payments!! I felt powerless, and the analogy, by now, doesn’t need a repeat. Thank you Vardah for enlightening me!
The small-yet-dubious ray of hope is that none of us could bribe the electricity or the cable guys – if we had money, we’d buy bread and milk, right? This is what Tamil Cinema has beautifully encapsulated in a timeless expression: “Operesan Suxes but Pashend Diedu!”
By now, I strongly feel you’re exploiting our inaction to not do anything about the doom we’ve faced, our patience to stand in the endless queues to get our own hard-earned money, our gullibility to believe in utopic promises, and our hope that our Motherland will be a superpower, and our belief in you that you might make it possible!
Now we stand caught between two realms, like a soul that committed suicide before its time. We can’t go back to transacting in cash, and we’re not in a position to go completely cashless either!
Yeah yeah! We understand that being a Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world, the second most populous country on the planet, the most culturally diverse nation in this galaxy, and having the majority in the biggest parliament in the Universe is no mean feat… you have our respects…
I’d love to re-quote an Indian (No mitron… not desi.. but the Native Amreekan Indian) saying: “Only When The Last Power Lines Have Been Cut Off, Only When Even 2G and Cable/Fiber Internet Connectivity Has Been Destroyed, Only When All The Online Delivery Services Are Disrupted, You Will Realize That You Cannot Afford To Go Cashless!!
Let me conclude with a derivative of one of my most favorite dialogues:
மொதல்ல எந்திரிச்சி நிக்க வைய்யும் யா!! அப்புறம் பாக்கலாம் ஒம்போது பொண்டாட்டிய கட்டுறியா இல்ல தொண்ணூத்தொம்போது பொண்டாட்டிய கட்டுறியானு !!

The Youth & Their Blind Conformity

It’s been a couple of months since we celebrated the Teachers’ Day and the Vinayak Chathurthi on the same day. A rather laid-back week after that and then comes comes the unceremonious ceremony of the Ganesh Immersion. I can never interpolate my memories to the time when this immersion started to become a big deal, but that’s not what I’m concerned about – it’s the way the immersion is carried out, and the intensity with which the youth are involved in the activities surrounding the immersion.

Like in all my blogs, the disclaimer is that I never intend to hurt anyone sentiments – these are my observations and inferences.

It seems that fate had chosen me to experience the awfulness too many times:

The first instance was when I was driving to Tiruvallur from Chengalpattu to meet my niece. On the way, I was blocked by a gang of boys who looked like 9th-to-11th Standard kids. They knocked at the windows and started asking for money for the Ganesh Chathurthi Ceremony. I just nodded my head in negative, and I headed towards Thiruvallur.

The second incident was on the Sunday following the Ganesh Chathurthi – that is the day the actual immersion takes place. Young men and boys hire trucks to immerse huge idols of Ganesha into the sea or a lake. That was, unfortunately, the day I had chosen to do my post-wedding photoshoot, and it was on the way from Chengalpattu to Mahabalipuram. Me and my wife were victims of harassment – the constant booing of the boys in such vehicles, and some of them even passing comments that were borderline vulgar. It pushed us so much that we had to cut off the shoot midway and head to a better location.

Verbal vulgarity is a dubious taken-for-granted in here. However, what intrigued me was the kind of influence that these young minds are driven into!

What might have been going through the minds of that boy who stopped my car? A sense of an entitlement… an entitlement that they don’t deserve, and haven’t earned! They think that it’s right to stop a random car and ask for money, and they get appreciated for collecting money from a total stranger!!

What were the boys who were yelling at the top of their voices thinking? And that too, when accompanying a holy entity on an auspicious occasion? Are they claiming their superiority by spotting and yelling, or passing comments? They think it’s cool to yell… and cool to pass vulgar comments!!

I would not entirely blame them – it’s all about the people who have messed up with their ideals, the elders who succeeded incredibly in inculcating the wrong values in and for the society. And all this blind following, I think, is a result of the pseudo-virtue called conformity that’s pressed on them right from their formative years.

If they are not taught to question things, and come to a conclusion as to what’s right and what’s wrong, it’s going to be a future that thinks that the past has always been right!!

Well.. who cares right? History repeats…and so do its mistakes!!