Monday, December 31, 2012

As the wheels of time rolls on...

It is again that time of the year - the time to bid bye to the current year and welcome the new. As always, one cannot help feel how inconsequential one is in front of time!!! As this giant wheel turns in its own rhythm, we try to run fast and match steps with it; only to find that no matter how fast we run, drive or even jet-set, we cannot catch up with the time. It waits for none and continues its cruise, no matter what!!!

As I look back on 2012, I can conclude that personally, it has been a fruitful year. Though it started in a laid back manner, once I got into the groove, there was no moment to pause. 2012 would remain a special year as it witnessed few special moments in my life - likhitam, our content solutions firm took off formally... It was a long cherished dream that became a reality... I am happy that my family and friends were equally thrilled with the birth of this new entity. And the fact that likhitam is a joint venture with Malini, who is not only a blogger (at Travellenz) and a full-time dreamer (in her own words), but also close family, makes it extra special. And another person who rendered unconditional support and guidance in this venture was Jaji, as we all lovingly call him. My thanks to them for making me believe that we can do it!!! I know we have a long way to go, but the solid first step that we took towards this journey has filled new hopes and dreams in me....

2012 also gave me my few seconds on the silver screen - something that was never there even in my wildest dreams!!! When CHAPTERS happened, I was more than happy to be able to visit the set and meet the crew. Never did I imagine that I will be a part of the movie in this unforgettable manner. The thrill and joy of being a part of such a wonderful unit is something that I would cherish for ever. The conversations with Sreeniyettan, as he is fondly called by all in the industry, is something that one can never forget - it all seems surreal sometimes. But, I know it really happened and I am thankful to the entire team of CHAPTERS for the wonderful experience.

2012 also gave me the chance to meet some wonderful people - of them, Krish Kymal, the DOP of CHAPTERS is one person whom I feel very lucky to have got an opportunity to be acquainted with. He stands out in the crowd with his humility and dedication. Watching him at work was a humbling experience and I would cherish those moments for long...

Other memorable moments include making new friends - the blogging groups on Facebook gave me the opportunity to interact and learn from my fellow bloggers. A few good words and a few criticisms helped me to evolve into a better blogger - a big step into the journey towards good blogging! So, here is my big thanks to all the friends in the blogosphere for providing me the necessary motivation to continue blogging - albeit in fits and starts.

On the other hand, the demise of certain loved ones reminded me once again that people can touch your lives even through their deaths. While I mourn the loss, I also realize that my life was enriched by them in ways that I never knew before!!! I bow my head in their memories...



On the social front, this year certainly looked like the end of the world - or as I knew it. Day by day, my nation seems to be drowning into depths of inhumanity and intolerance. The recent brutal incident that took place in Delhi was beyond anything that one ever heard of!!! It showed that while man prides himself as the master of all, the truth is that he is not even the master of his own emotions and actions. In fact man has proved himself to be lower than animals...

As the girl suffered and after a valiant fight, breathed her last, the nation's soul was stirred to an unprecedented extent. It was heartening to see people across the spectrum speaking in one voice - for once, caste, religion and politics did not seem to divide us!!! As I watched the thousands protesting against the atrocities, I couldn't help feeling a little optimistic about the nation. The youth of the country seems to have their hearts at the right place and I do hope that they will propel the nation towards a better tomorrow.

So, 2012 being a mixed bag of eventualities, I do hope that we will learn from our mistakes and avoid them. Lets all resolve to make that little change in us and be more considerate towards the feelings of others... After all, when one thinks of it, one realizes that one is not even a small cog in the wheel of time!!!

I think it befitting to end this post and year with the lines of Rabindranath Tagore:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high 

Where knowledge is free 
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments 
By narrow domestic walls 
Where words come out from the depth of truth 
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection 
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way 
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit 
Where the mind is led forward by thee 
Into ever-widening thought and action 
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake 

Best Wishes!!! Have a fruitful 2013!!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Engineering Entertainment - There is a story in everyone

This time I am going to tell you a story - of a friendship that has dared to go through hitherto untrodden paths.

Most of us carry wonderful memories of our campus lives and a few fortunate among us retain those friendships even after we leave the campus. But, our circle of friends form the college days may be around four or five, or maximum of ten people. And they tend to dwindle as time pass by...

This story of friendship is unique because it is the friendship of people from the college days. What is so unique about it? You may think - wait a sec! What if I say that these friends passed out of college in the mid 1990s - 1995, to be exact??? Interesting, isn't it? What if I say that these friends are around 50 in number and are currently living in different parts of the world like India, USA, UAE, Singapore and Canada among others??? Not quite what you expected, right? What if I tell you that these friends have now come together to co-produce a movie - yes, you heard it right - a full-fledged feature film!!! Now that sounds interesting, doesn't it?

That is Campus Oaks for you - an entertainment company floated by a group of friends belonging to different batches of an Engineering College in a sleepy village of Palakkad, in Kerala. They were a lively lot who played an active role in the campus activities like campus theatre and other cultural events. They not only learned the nuances of Engineering in those days, but also the basics of theatre and other cultural & literary activities. After leaving the campus to make a living in their chosen arena of work, these friends met with each other regularly and strengthened the ties of friendship. That they succeeded in it is a given fact because most of their life partners are also now friends. Many of us would know how difficult is it to preserve friendship and good relations in these modern times. But these friends proved the age old adage -Where there is a will, there is a way - right!

In spite of the distance that separated them, they managed to keep in touch and keep the flames of friendship alive. No matter what, they met at regular intervals at a place convenient for most - sometimes in India, sometimes abroad. Soon, they realized that they are not happy with just meeting and catching up with each other's lives. The urge to do something creative was too much to ignore and before long, the seeds of Campus Oaks was sown. 

Campus Oaks took a definitive step into reality when it was formally inaugurated in 2010, at the very town where these friends had started their journey together. It was but natural that Palakkad witnessed history being made when this group of engineers proudly presented Campus Oaks to the world. Their passion to do something creative soon led Campus Oaks into the most unpredictable, albeit public face, of entertainment - cinema! 

Two years of trials and tribulations followed when the friends met personalities after personalities to enter into the magic land of cinema. Finally, it was in 2012 that they met up with like minded people and the two groups decided to work towards realizing their long cherished dream of making a feature film. As I write these words, the movie is ready to hit the silver screen - when that magical day would eventually dawn on 21 Dec 2012, it would mark the beginning of new CHAPTERS in the film industry. A unique history would be written in golden letters.  


Befittingly, the movie CHAPTERS, being co-produced by Campus Oaks tells the story of friendships, of life's trials and triumphs; which take place in the everyday lives of people like you and me.  A sincere effort by a bunch of movie lovers, CHAPTERS is one of the most awaited Malayalam movies of the year and the cast and crew of the movie are proud to be a part of it. 

As these friends wait with anticipation, they have already decided to take Campus Oaks to next level by venturing into socially responsible arenas and other cultural events. They have also made a short film called Back of the Beyond which was screened in the Middle East a couple of months ago. 

Campus Oaks stands out as an example to emulate - of friendships that know no boundaries and limitations, of the determination and collective effort and of the inherent goodness in people. 

I hope that many such friendships take birth and prosper and continue to strengthen our beliefs in the beauty of friendship. Here is wishing Campus Oaks and CHAPTERS a wonderful opening in the magic land of Cinema!!! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Diwali Memories



दीपावली दीपों का त्यौहार हैं। दीपावली बुराई पर अच्छाई  की जीत का सन्देश देती हैं। This (essay of 6 to 10 sentences during the school days) was my only connection with Diwali till I ended up in North India post marriage. As such, the memories of Diwali brightens up my life the same way the diyas would be lighting up the homes of people in the north.

Diwali brings to me the memories of the wonderful times I spent in Lucknow, the land of the Nawabs. Known for its Tehzeeb, or good culture and manners, Lucknow was an alien land when I first landed there. Soon, the city charmed its way into my hearts. I met many people there, learned new lessons in culture and living, celebrated many a wonderful moments of my life. Diwali was also special because in the later years, we used it as an excuse to visit relations in Delhi and celebrate the festival together. 

During Diwali, we lighted the diyas at our home, burst few crackers, ate stomach-full of mithaais, supplied and received basket-full of sweets and dry fruits and celebrated with one and all. It had much more fun than what I wrote in my school essays. 

At office, we got Diwali bonuses and special gifts from the HO. We also took the opportunity to get a special Diwali treat from our Manager. The days were full of celebration, fun and festivity. 

In fact, the celebrations start even before Diwali. The whole city seems to come to the market on the day of Dhantheras - which is celebrated two days before Diwali. It is considered auspicious to buy something valuable on this day. So, the shopkeepers - especially the jewelers and the automobile showrooms, have a great time on this day. While the affluent class shops for Gold and diamond or cars, the poor ones settle for lesser metals like steel and bronze. But buying something new for Dhanteras is a must. 

O! How I miss the festive mood of Lucknow - wish I could visit the Bhootnath Market again, buy some beautiful diyas as well as idols of Ganesh Lakshmi... Or just walk through the busy roads among the masses, enjoy the aroma of mouth watering tikkis, gol gappas and other such delicacies. Though allergic to the smoke and dust, I had watched the colourful display of crackers and fireworks during diwali... As the night refused to die, one went to bed exhausted and tried getting used to the sound of the odd crackers breaking the silence of the night...

The next morning would be invariably foggy - not the aftermath of fireworks, but the visible sign of winter setting in. Out comes the sweaters in various forms and colours - half, self-knit, factory made and what not!!! Ladies sitting in the sun and knitting sweaters for the near and dear ones was the most common scene in those times. Another favourite activity was eating the groundnuts after struggling to crack open them. 

An important day for all, Diwali holds a great charm. Perhaps that is why I am missing it today. Sitting at my own little corner in God's Own Country, Diwali reminds me of my second home, Lucknow, and all the good things associated with it. And like a diya spreading light to dispel the darkness, the mere thought of this festival spreads in me a unique warmth and love...

Let me wish Happy Diwali to one and all!!! Hope the diyas will dispel the darkness from your lives as well. And may be we can say no to crackers as well :-) Have Fun and Stay safe!!! Miss you Lucknow and Delhi!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lost...


As the day withered and the night bloomed
I got caught in feelings unexplained
Life churned like a whirlwind of emotions
Then I lost my hold to its deep craters...

A picture painted in lovely colours
Faded into grey in front of my eyes
A face that was etched in the memory
Was drained in the whirlpool of activity

As images fell and shattered into pieces,
The mind struggled to be whole and alive;
As the feet crushed my aspirations and dreams
The heart yearned to be up and beating...

As the silent cries it uttered went unheeded
The poor heart bled and drained out...
And the crimson droplets that fell upon the Earth
Sung a thousand hymns beautiful out loud.

Those who cared to listen could know the pain;
A shattered soul, a wounded heart, a fragile body -
All cried out loud - but the world seemed not to care
For it was lost in the din that crushed many more!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Perceptions ...

It was during a train journey that I met that family. I was travelling back from Delhi to my native and the only thought when I boarded the train early in the morning, with my kids in tow, was to settle into the berths and catch up on the sleep. So, it was with a certain degree of irritation that I looked at the girl and her mother who had already taken up the seat near the window, which was 'ours'. The mother asked if my son could sleep in the middle berth as they would like to have the lower berth. I agreed, as it was early in the morning, and as I was a person who loved quiet mornings, I decided to let it be. Soon, I arranged the berths and put the kids to sleep and happily got lost in the rhythm of the train and slept fitfully, never giving second thoughts to the family again...

Some time later, as I woke up into the bright sunshine, my perspective also brightened - so I believe on hindsight. First thing I noticed was the same family of three - a daughter and her parents. It is my experience that co-travellers usually tend to be more friendly and accommodating during train journeys, especially during long journeys. So, I forgot all about my irritation of the morning (which I blamed on the lack of proper sleep and rest during the past few days of travelling) and smiled at them. I got a rather reserved smile back- perhaps I put them on guard by being grumpy in the morning!!!

Anyways, I had a few urgent mails to cater to and a couple of other pending works to do. I finished them off and as the time for breakfast approached, we warmed up to each other a little bit more. Not a person who like to intrude in others' life I inquired only about some basic details of them. I learned that they are travelling up to Thiruvananthapuram and that the man is working in Delhi Police. The lady was a house wife and they were travelling with their daughter. It was only then that I gave the girl a detailed look.

At the first glance itself, I felt something is wrong. Unlike the girls of her age, she sat quiet, head down and unenthusiastic. Saliva was drooping out from her mouth and she seemed to be oblivious of it... As I observed her closely, I found that something is wrong. I wanted to know what is wrong with her, but I respected the family's privacy and didn't ask anything more.

Over the breakfast, the mother told me that the child suffers from epileptic attacks. Seems that she was fit and fine till she was five. After that she had a fall and the fits had started subsequently. Now the girl is thirteen and though her body has acquired the growth of a thirteen year old, sadly, her brain has not! Her IQ level is low and she is attending a special school these days. I tried to be as sensitive as I can and didn't want to look over-sympathetic or intruding. (Now I realized why the mother asked for the lower berth)

The girl could not speak properly - her words came out in slur and only her people could understand what she was telling; at times, even they couldn't! She loved music and her mother had got her a music player to play her favourite songs. For once, I didn't feel offended that someone is playing loud (though not too loud) music. During the day, she found me harmless and started smiling at me. I also tried to include her in our conversations and offered a share of sweets when my kids had them. I was happy when she started to accept every food items that I offered her without any inhibitions...

Though they had three tickets, one was in another bogey. They were hopeful that someone will exchange the places, so that the father can get a berth in the same coupe. But, that didn't happen as the others who travelled in the same coupe were a part of group and refused to exchange places. So, at night, the mother had to spread the mattress on the floor and sleep there as the child needed the care of both parents. All night, I was aware that she could barely sleep as the girl kept on poking her for something or the other and even without any reason. The father had sat at the feet of the girl and gave her company till she slept...

The entire journey was passed like this - the parents caring for their girl, even when she was unreasonable... I was moved by the way they cared for the girl, especially the delicate way by which the father handled her. The mother had lost her patience a couple of times, but never the father. He sat near his daughter almost through the night and made sure she was comfortable. He was gentle, loving and caring, which I have not seen in many people. Moreover, I was surprised to see that he even arranged the blanket of my son when it slipped away from him at night!!! I have not seen many such caring individuals in my life...

It got me thinking - I realized that even in the face of adversity we can be good individuals. Now, I will think twice before I get impatient with my kids... When I get angry at their small mistakes, I will try to remember the loving parents from the journey and their everyday trials and tribulations. Then, perhaps, I will realize that love is the most powerful of the emotions and that what the children need from parents is unconditional love... I also realize that there are people who are less privileged than me, but more happier than their situation could demand!!!!

It surely was a special journey - as I reached home, I think I turned a bit more wiser and a bit more understanding than ever. My efforts to perfect the art of unconditional love and patience would also continue... And if I falter in that, all I have to do is bring to my memory the picture of that loving family and then, I am sure, my perception will take a change for the better!!! 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Wait

Ever since I started a new exclusive blog for Malayalam, 'Random Thoughts' have been behaving like an elder child, who just got a sibling in the family. It is feeling that I am pouring all my attention on the new baby and ignoring it in the process. It is getting jealous by the attention that is received by the new baby. But what do babies know about moms??? For a mother, all her children are equal. So, for all who think that I have deserted my first baby, here is the newest Random Thought:


Alone I sat, unaware of the sounds outside
Aware of the tickling moments of Solitude;
The breezy night at the other side of the window
Failed to bring the solitude and calmness to low!

The curtain flied to  me and hugged me
Along with it a cool breeze too came,
It kissed my cheeks, ruffled my hair - 
The soft kisses took me up in the air...

The fall has come and the withered leaves
Whispered  many a stories in my ears,
The dark sky promised a rain;
I waited for my beloved in vain!

I kept my door open for my beloved
I glanced to see him come homeward
But I didn't see him come -
Only a gentle breeze did come!

What if he is not with me today?
We would be together someday;
As those magic days dawn for us,
I will be happy that I am his!!!

image  courtesy: Google images

Monday, August 13, 2012

Another Beginning - or is it Continuation?

This time, I am here to inform you that I have started an exclusive blog for my Malayalam Writings called Hrudayathaalangal (Rhythms of Heart). I wish that all my well wishers and especially Malayali readers (obviously) will extend me the same support and love that they have extended to me through 'Random Thoughts'.

I take this opportunity to once again "Thank You" all for the unrelenting support you have given me in the world of Blogging... I am what I am due to the love and motivation that you all have given me in these years... and hope it will continue to pour in the future as well!! A BIG Thanks to one and all!!!

You can get a glimpse of the new baby here

Image Courtesy: Google Images

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

മഴയമൃത്


മഴയൊരു നനുത്ത സ്പര്‍ശനമായ് പെയ്തിറങ്ങി-
വനി തന്‍ മേനി നനയ്ക്കവേ;
കുളിര്‍ കൊരുമാ മഴയെന്‍ മനതാരിന്‍ തീക്കനല്‍ 
പതിയെപ്പതിയെയണച്ചിടുന്നു...
മുകില്‍ മാലകളാകാശപ്പരപ്പില്‍ നൃത്തം വെച്ചോടി-
മറയവേ, മാമരങ്ങള്‍ തലയാട്ടി ചിരിപ്പൂ!
ദാഹിച്ചു വലഞ്ഞ പക്ഷിലതാദികള്‍ മഴത്തുള്ളികള്‍ 
തന്‍ ലാളനമേറ്റു കുളിരണിഞ്ഞു നിന്നു...
വരണ്ട ഭൂമിതന്‍ മാറിലൂടെയൊരു നീര്‍ച്ചാലൊഴുകി
നീങ്ങവേ; പ്രകൃതിയാമമ്മ ചുരത്തുമമൃത-
മഴയാം പാല്‍ കുടിച്ചു കരുത്താര്‍ജ്ജിയ്ക്കുന്നു
അമ്മതന്‍ പ്രിയരാം മക്കളൊന്നൊഴിയാതെ...
ഏറെ നാള്‍ കഴിഞ്ഞിട്ടിന്നു പെയ്തൊരീ മഴ-
യെന്‍ മാനസപൊയ്കയില്‍ നിറപ്പൂ
ആഹ്ലാദത്തിന്‍ വര്‍ണ്ണ ശബളങ്ങളാം പുതു 
താമരമൊട്ടുകള്‍ അനേകങ്ങള്‍ !!!





Monday, July 23, 2012

Captain Lakshmi Sahgal - a tribute!

Today, when I learned about the demise of Captain Lakshmi Sahgal, a strange feeling engulfed me. Even though I have never met her personally, I have heard many anecdotes about her that I feel a certain closeness to her. Her death today has truly brought an end to an eventful era of the Indian political history.

Though I have heard her name in school (while learning about the Indian Independence struggle and the role of INA), it is not until I got married into a family which knew her personally that I began to take interest in her. Subsequently, I learned about her activities and had come to regard her as an important player in the Indian Independence movement.

I confess that I am unaware of her history in detail. But what little I had learned about her has only fortified my respect for her. She has been an iconic figure, who, I am sure, was an inspiration to a multitude of people. A doctor by profession (she had an MBBS degree from Madras Medical College as well as a diploma in gynecology and obstetrics), she had joined the INA of Subhash Chandra Bose as the leader of 'Rani of Jhansi Regiment', the women's army unit of INA. It was the first of its kind in Asia.

Captain Lakshmi got married to P K Sahgal, who was an officer at the INA, and they settled Kanpur. She continued to live in the 'Manchester of the East' and continued her social service activities. She was also a Rajya Sabha MP (represented the Communist Party of India - Marxist)  and was even nominated for the post of President in 2002. Her social activities included organizing various relief camps (in Calcutta) and providing medical aid for the Bangladeshi refugees. Moreover, her clinic in Kanpur was a refuge to the poor and downtrodden people of  this erstwhile industrial city. Befittingly, it was in Kanpur that she breathed her last.

One of the most memorable stories about Captain Lakshmi Sahgal was the one I heard from a family friend of mine. Once, she (my family friend- lets call her chechi) and her husband was travelling to Kerala from Kanpur by train. In those days, there were no direct trains from (or to) Kanpur and so, one had to get down at Jhansi and catch another train to Kerala. To chechi's irritation, an elderly lady in the same bogie was giving her instructions like aisa karo, aisa na karo (do this, don't do that) continuously. Our Chechi, who was  pregnant at that time, was very much irritated with this lady's unsolicited advice. She expressed her displeasure in her mother tongue (Malayalam, which a Hindi speaking lady wont understand) to her husband. In spite of this, the elderly lady continued to give them her advice.

Soon the train halted at Jhansi and Chechi went to the washroom to freshen up before the change of trains. As she entered the dirty washroom with wet floor, guess who she sees? Yes, the same elderly lady. As chechi ignored her and proceeded towards the toilet the lady says -  സൂക്ഷിക്കണം,  വഴുക്കലുണ്ട് (take care, the floor is slippery)!!! Chechi got the shock of her life and didn't know what to say!!!

It later turned out that the elderly lady was none other than Captain Lakshmi Sahagal. When she had advised the young couple, it was not because she liked to interfere in other people's lives, but because she was qualified to do so as a gynecologist and because she was genuinely interested in the welfare of others.

This incident taught me two lessons - lesson no. 1 is that just because one think that the other person cannot understand what one says, one is not at a liberty to say anything about another person. Lesson no. 2 is that people may not be what they seem. A person whom we think a nuisance might be a blessing and vice-versa.  So, it would do us good to remember that appearances can be deceptive.

This incident also show us how caring and thoughtful Captain Lakshmi was. It is no wonder then that even at the ripe old age of 97, she used to go to her clinic in Kanpur where she provided medical aid to the poor and needy.

She was the messiah of the poor and I do hope that her life story will inspire the generations to come, to work for the upliftment of  poor and needy...



I salute the social spirit in her and her service mentality. And I bow my head in respect to this unsung daughter of India... May her soul rest in Peace!!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

ചങ്ങാതിപ്രാവ് ...

കുട്ടിക്കാലത്ത് യഥേഷ്‌ടം കണ്ടിരുന്ന കാഴ്ചയായിരുന്നു ഇല്ലത്തെ മേല്‍ക്കൂരയുടെ തണലില്‍ കൂടുകൂട്ടിയിരുന്ന പ്രാവിന്‍ കൂട്ടങ്ങള്‍ ... കുറുകുറു കുറുകിക്കൊണ്ടവ മേല്‍പ്പുരയില്‍ കുന്നുങ്ങിയിരിക്കുന്ന കാഴ്ച എന്നാണ് കണ്‍ മുന്‍പില്‍ നിന്ന്  മറഞ്ഞു പോയതെന്നറിയില്ല... ബാല്യത്തിലെ പല മധുര നിമിഷങ്ങളെ പോലെ ഇതും മനസ്സിന്റെ ഏതോ ഒരു കോണില്‍ മറഞ്ഞിരുന്നു എന്ന്  ഞാന്‍ കരുതിയതേയില്ല! ഇപ്പോള്‍ തോന്നുന്നു വലുതാവനുള്ള വെമ്പലില്‍ മന:പ്പൂര്‍വ്വം മറന്നിട്ട ചാരുതകളില്‍ വെച്ച് ഏറെ സുന്ദരമായ ഓര്‍മ്മകളാണീ പ്രാവിന്‍ കൂട്ടങ്ങളെന്ന് ...

വെളുത്തു സുന്ദരമായ മേനി പ്രദര്‍ശിപ്പിച്ചു പറക്കുന്ന വെണ്‍പ്രാവുകള്‍ അന്നും വിരളമായിരുന്നു... വല്ലപ്പോഴും പ്രത്യക്ഷമാവാറുള്ള അവ ശരിക്കും മനസ്സിന്റെ അകത്തട്ടിലിലാണ് കൂട് കൂട്ടിയതെന്നു തോന്നുന്നു... വെണ്‍ മേഘശകലം പോലെ അവ അങ്ങിങ്ങ് പറന്നു നടന്നപ്പോള്‍ കൂടെ പറക്കാന്‍ എനിയ്ക്കും വെമ്പലായിരുന്നു... ദിവാസ്വപ്നങ്ങളുടെ ചിറകേറി എത്രയോ വട്ടം ഞാനും അവയോടൊപ്പം ആകാശത്തേയ്ക്ക് പറന്നുയര്‍ന്നിരിയ്ക്കുന്നു !!!

ചാരനിറത്തിലുള്ള അമ്പലപ്രവുകള്‍ക്ക് ആ പേര് വന്നത് അവ അമ്പലങ്ങളില്‍ താമസമാക്കിയിരുന്നത് കൊണ്ടാണെന്ന് ഞാന്‍ വിശ്വസിച്ചിരുന്നു... ഈ വിശ്വാസത്തെ ഉറപ്പിയ്ക്കാനെന്ന വണ്ണം അവ കൂട്ടംകൂട്ടമായി അമ്പലങ്ങളില്‍ ചേക്കേറിയിരുന്നു. ദീപാരാധന സമയത്തും അഷ്ടപദിയുടെ സംഗീതം ആസ്വദിച്ച് കുറുകുവാന്‍ മറന്ന് ഭക്തി സാന്ദ്രമായ അന്തരീക്ഷത്തില്‍ ലയിച്ച്‌ അവയും നിര്‍വൃതി പുല്‍കുകയായിരുന്നുവോ ???

കുളക്കരയില്‍ മനോരാജ്യം കണ്ടിരിക്കുന്ന വേളയിലാണ് അരിപ്രാവുകളെ അധികവും കാണാറ്. പൊതുവേ നാണക്കാരായ അവര്‍ക്ക് കേമ ത്തം കുറച്ചു കൂടുതലാണെന്ന്  തോന്നിയിട്ടുണ്ട്  ... ചില കാലങ്ങളില്‍ പ്രത്യക്ഷമാവുന്ന അവര്‍ വേറേതോ നാട്ടുകാരാണെന്നു തോന്നുന്നു... ദേഹത്ത് അരിമണികള്‍ പോലെയുള്ള അലങ്കാരങ്ങള്‍ ഉള്ളതിനാലാണ് അവയെ അരിപ്രാവുകള്‍ എന്ന് വിളിക്കുന്നതത്രെ! ഇപ്പോള്‍ അവയെ കാണാന്‍ തന്നെയില്ല ...

എന്താണിപ്പോള്‍ വിശേഷിച്ച്‌ ഈ പ്രാവിന്‍ കഥകള്‍ നിരത്തുന്നതെന്ന് എന്റെ പ്രിയ വായനക്കാര്‍ക്ക് തോന്നിയെങ്കില്‍ അത് തികച്ചും സ്വാഭാവികം തന്നെ! കൂട് വിട്ടു കൂട് മാറുന്ന പോലെ കഴിഞ്ഞ ഒരു ദശകത്തില്‍ കുറെയേറെ സ്ഥലങ്ങളില്‍ താമസിച്ച എനിയ്ക്ക് 'അറബിക്കടലിന്റെ റാണി' എന്നറിയുന്ന ഈ മഹാ നഗരം  വീണ്ടും സമ്മാനിച്ച ഒരു കാഴ്ചയാണ് പ്രാവിന്‍ കൂട്ടങ്ങള്‍ ...

ഓരോ പ്രഭാതത്തിലും പുലരിയുടെ നൈര്‍മല്യത്തോടൊപ്പം എന്റെ സുന്ദര ബാല്യത്തിന്റെ ഒരേടും ഈ വന്‍ നഗരം എന്നും തുറന്നു തരുന്നു.... എന്റെ ജനാലപ്പുറത്ത്‌ വന്നു കുണുങ്ങി നോക്കുന്ന പ്രാവുകള്‍ എന്റെ ഹൃദയത്തില്‍ ഒരല്‍പം സ്നിഗ്ധത പകരുന്നു... അവയുടെ കുറുകല്‍ ഒരമൂല്യ സംഗീതമായെന്നെ തഴുകിയുണര്‍ത്തുന്നു... പ്രകൃതിയിലെ ഓരോ കൊച്ചു കൊച്ചു ജീവജാലങ്ങള്‍ക്കും എത്രയധികം സന്തോഷം പ്രദാനം ചെയ്യാനാവുമെന്നും ഇതിലൂടെ ഞാന്‍ അറിയുന്നു!!!


Friday, June 22, 2012

മഴയും ജീവിതവും

പലപ്പോഴും എനിക്ക്  തോന്നിയിട്ടുണ്ട്, മഴക്കാലം ജീവിതം പോലെത്തന്നെയാണെന്ന്... ചില നേരങ്ങളില്‍ തെളിഞ്ഞും, മറ്റ്  ചിലപ്പോള്‍ ഇരുണ്ടും മഴക്കാലത്തിന്റെ ഏറ്റക്കുറച്ചിലുകള്‍ പോലെ ജീവിതവും തെളിഞ്ഞും ഇരുണ്ടും കളിയ്ക്കുന്നു. ജീവിത ദു:ഖങ്ങള്‍ കണ്ണീരില്‍ ഒഴുക്കി കളയുന്നതു പോലെ മഴത്തുള്ളികള്‍ വരണ്ട മനസ്സിനെയും മണ്ണിനേയും നനച്ചു നിര്‍മ്മലമാക്കുന്നു. 

മഴക്കാലത്തെ മാനം പോലെ ഇടയ്ക്ക് കറുത്തിരുണ്ട്‌ , ഘോരം ഘോരമായ് ഗര്ജ്ജിയ്ക്കുന്ന ഇടി മുഴക്കവും പേറി ജീവിതവും ചിലപ്പോഴെങ്കിലും കറുത്തു പോകാറുണ്ട്... തെളിഞ്ഞ മനസ്സില്‍ കരിനിഴല്‍ വീഴ്ത്തി ഘനഗംഭീരമായ് കദനങ്ങള്‍ ജീവിതത്തെ ആടിയുലയ്ക്കാറുണ്ട് ... പേമാരിയും കൊടുങ്കാറ്റും കൂടി പെയ്തിറങ്ങുന്ന മഴമേഘങ്ങള്‍ ജീവിതത്തെയും ഇളക്കി മറയ്ക്കുന്നു.

അതേ  സമയം, തെളിഞ്ഞ ആകാശത്തിനു കീഴില്‍ നനുത്ത് പെയ്യുന്ന ചാറ്റല്‍ മഴ ഒരനുഭൂതി തന്നെയാണ്! സങ്കീര്‍ണ്ണമായ ജീവിത വ്യഥകളെ തരണം ചെയ്തതിനു ശേഷം വരുന്ന പുലരിയും അത് പോലെ തന്നെ സുന്ദരവും അനുഭൂതിപ്രദവുമാണ്. വര്‍ഷക്കാലത്ത് പെയ്യുന്ന മഴ ഒരിയ്ക്കലും നിലയ്ക്കില്ലെന്ന് തോന്നാറുള്ളത് പോലെ, ജീവിത ദു:ഖങ്ങളും ഒരിയ്ക്കലും അവസാനിയ്ക്കില്ലെന്നു തോന്നിപ്പോകും... പക്ഷെ, ഏതൊരു മഴക്കാലവും ഒരിയ്ക്കല്‍ കഴിയുമെന്നത് പോലെ ജീവിത ദു:ഖങ്ങളും ഒരിയ്ക്കല്‍ അവസാനിച്ചേ മതിയാകൂ...

സമൃദ്ധമായ് പെയ്തൊഴിഞ്ഞ മഴക്കാലത്തിനു ശേഷം വരുന്ന വസന്തമെന്ന പോലെ ദുഷ്കരമായ കാലങ്ങള്‍ തരണം ചെയ്ത് ജീവിതവും പച്ച പിടിയ്ക്കും... പ്രകൃതിയുടെ അഭേദ്യമായ നിയമമാണിത്... ഒരു രാത്രിക്ക് പകലെന്ന പോലെ, ഒരു വേനലിന്  ഒരു മഴയെന്ന പോലെ, ഒരിറക്കത്തിനു ഒരു കേറ്റമെന്ന പോലെ, ജീവിതം ഒരു ദു:ഖത്തിന് ഒരു സുഖവും കരുതിയിരിയ്ക്കുന്നു...

ഒന്ന് കരഞ്ഞാല്‍ ഒരു കനത്ത മഴ പെയ്തു തോര്‍ന്ന ആശ്വാസമാണ്... ഒരു ചിരി വിരിയുന്നത് മഴയ്ക്ക്‌ ശേഷം വിടരുന്ന തെളിഞ്ഞ ആകാശം പോലെ സുന്ദരമാണ്... മഴയും  ജീവിതവും തെളിഞ്ഞും ഇരുണ്ടും പെയ്തും മൂടിക്കെട്ടിയും ഇടയ്ക്ക് കൊതിപ്പിക്കുകയും ഇടയ്ക്ക് ദു:ഖിപ്പിക്കുകയും ഇടയ്ക്ക് സന്തോഷിപ്പിക്കുകയും ചെയ്തു കൊണ്ടേയിരിക്കുന്നു...






ചിത്രങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് കടപ്പാട് : ഗൂഗിള്‍ ഇമേജ്   

Friday, June 15, 2012

മഴക്കാലസ്മരണകള്‍ ....


ഇല്ലത്തെ പൂമുഖ പടിയിലിരുന്നാല്‍ കാണാമായിരുന്നു കനത്ത മഴയില്‍ പെയ്തിറങ്ങിയ വെള്ളപ്പാച്ചിലിന്റെ അത്ഭുത ദൃശ്യം! ഒരു കൊച്ചു നദിയായ് പടിയ്ക്കല്‍ നിന്നും കുത്തിയൊലിച്ചു മഴവെള്ളമൊഴുകി വരുന്നത് എത്ര നേരം വേണമെങ്കിലും ഞാന്‍ നോക്കിയിരിക്കുമായിരുന്നു... ഒടുവില്‍ ആ വെള്ളം മുറ്റത്ത് നിറഞ്ഞൊരു കൊച്ചു തടാകമായി മാറുന്ന വേളയില്‍ എന്നിലെ കുട്ടി എത്രയോ വട്ടം ആ വെള്ളത്തില്‍ ചാടിക്കളിച്ചിരിയ്‌ക്കുന്നു! വെള്ളത്തുള്ളികള്‍ തട്ടിത്തെറിപ്പിച്ചു, തണുത്ത വെള്ളത്തില്‍ കാലുകള്‍ പൂഴ്ത്തി, മണ്ണിന്റെ സ്പര്‍ശനമേറ്റ് നിര്‍വൃതി കൊണ്ട നിമിഷങ്ങള്‍ അനേകങ്ങളും അഭൂത പൂര്‍വ്വവുമായിരിന്നു. 


നാലുകെട്ടിന്‍ അകത്തളങ്ങളില്‍ നടുമുറ്റത്തു വീഴുന്ന മഴത്തുള്ളികളുടെ കിലുക്കം സംഗീത സാന്ദ്രമായിരുന്നു... ഓടില്‍ നിന്നും ഒലിച്ചിറങ്ങുന്ന മഴത്തുള്ളികളെ സ്പര്‍ശിച്ചു കുളിരണിഞ്ഞത്  എന്റെ ശരീരം മാത്രമായിരുന്നില്ല  , മനസ്സുമായിരുന്നു... 

രാവിന്റെ മടിത്തട്ടില്‍ ഒന്നുമറിയാതെ നിദ്രയിലമര്‍ന്നപ്പോഴും  മഴയുടെ നിസ്വനങ്ങള്‍ എന്നില്‍ നിന്നും അകലെയായിരുന്നില്ല... ഉറക്കമുണര്‍ന്നു ഞാന്‍ ജാലകത്തിന്നരികെയിരുന്നു മഴയുടെ സംഗീതം ഏറെ ആസ്വദിയ്ക്കുമായിരുന്നു... ഇടിയും മിന്നലും മഴയും നിറഞ്ഞ  രാത്രിയുടെ ഭംഗി അനിര്‍വചനീയമാണ് ... നനുത്ത  കരങ്ങളാല്‍ മഴയെന്നെ കൈനീട്ടി തൊടുമ്പോള്‍ ഞാനും മഴയും ഒന്നായി മാറും...എന്റെ കണ്ണീരില്‍ കുതിര്‍ന്ന  കവിളുകള്‍ നനഞ്ഞ  കൈകളാല്‍ തുടച്ചു തരുമ്പോള്‍ മഴയ്ക്ക്‌ നേര്‍ത്ത  ചൂടായിരുന്നു...എന്‍റെ കൂടെ കരയാനും എന്റെയൊപ്പം ചിരിയ്ക്കാനും മഴ  എന്നും എത്തിയിരുന്നു... ചാറ്റല്‍ മഴയായും, പേമാരിയായും വേനല്‍ മഴയായും അവളെന്നരുകിലെത്തി, എന്റെ പ്രിയ  തോഴിയായ്  അവള്‍ മാറിയതെന്നാണെന്ന്  ഞാന്‍ പോലും അറിഞ്ഞില്ല!!!


രാത്രി പെയ്ത  മഴയുടെ ബാക്കിപത്രമായ്‌ ഒഴുകി വരുന്ന വെള്ളം എന്റെ മുറ്റത്തൂടെ ഒരു നീര്‍ ചാലായ് ഒഴുകിയണയുന്ന നേരത്തും കേള്‍ക്കാറുണ്ട് ഹൃദയഹാരിയായ ഒരു സംഗീതം! പുതു മഴ പെയ്യുന്ന വേളകളില്‍ മണ്ണില്‍ നിന്നുയരുന്ന ഗന്ധത്തോളം മാസ്മരികത യതൊന്നിനുമില്ലെന്നും എനിക്ക്  തോന്നിയിട്ടുണ്ട്... 

വല്ലപ്പോഴും വന്നെത്തുന്ന അതിഥിയായി മഴ; എങ്കിലും  ദൂര ദേശത്തും അവള്‍ എന്നെ കൈവിട്ടില്ല... ഏകാന്തതയുടെ മടിത്തട്ടില്‍ ഞാനുറങ്ങിയപ്പോള്‍  മഴയൊരു കൂട്ടായി അവിടെയും എന്നെ തേടി വന്നിരുന്നു... വരണ്ട മണ്ണിനെ എന്ന പോലെ എന്റെ മനസ്സിനെയും മഴ കുളിരണിയിച്ചു, പുതുജീവനേകി !


ഇന്നും ഒരു കൊച്ചു കുഞ്ഞിനെ പോലെ ഞാന്‍ മഴയും കാത്തിരിപ്പൂ ... എന്റെ ബാല്യത്തിലെ നാലുകെട്ടിനുള്ളില്‍ വിരുന്നു വന്ന മഴക്കുളിര്‍ എന്നില്ലെങ്കിലും ഇന്നും മഴയെന്റെ പ്രിയ തോഴി തന്നെ... പരിഭവം പറയാനും, കരയാനും, കണ്ണീരൊപ്പാനും, ചിരിയ്ക്കാനും, ചിന്തിയ്ക്കാനും, എല്ലാമെല്ലാം ഇന്നും അവള്‍ എന്റെയരികെ വന്നണയുന്നു... ഒരു നനുത്ത മഴത്തുള്ളിയെന്റെ മേല്‍ പതിയ്ക്കുമ്പോള്‍ ആ സ്നേഹം ഞാന്‍ തൊട്ടറിയുന്നു. ഒരിക്കലും അകലാത്ത സുഹൃത്തേ മഴയെന്നും എന്റെ അരികിലുണ്ട്... അമൃതമായവള്‍   എന്നില്‍ നിറയുന്നു, എന്നെ ജീവിയ്ക്കാന്‍ പ്രേരിപ്പിയ്ക്കുന്നു!




Thursday, May 24, 2012

Time for Introspection




While growing up, I used to read in the newspapers about the extremist / terrorist activities in Punjab that left many people dead on a daily basis. As a child, I was relieved that nothing of that sort has happened in my state. I held the firm belief that the people of my state were far more educated and tolerant with each other. Now, as I look back, I understand how naive I was. Further more, I am saddened that my children will never feel even that (false) security...

For a state that boasts of high literacy and full of sensible, knowledgeable people, the incidents of the past few years, especially in the political arena, should put us all to shame, to say the least. Years ago, Swami Vivekananda is said to have called Kerala a 'lunatic asylum'. I wonder what he would have called the state now. From a state that believed in brotherhood and freedom of speech, we have turned into lunatics who are ready to kill each other mercilessly for nothing and everything. 

It is often said that the people of Kerala are politically more aware and educated. But, if the past incidents are any indication, it shows that we lack a lot, when it comes to politics. The need for power and control has so blinded us that we go to any extent to eliminate anyone who stands in our way. 

Who is to blame? Our politicians, who are no longer interested in the welfare of the society, but their own personal agendas? Our judicial system, which offers enough loop holes that even the repeated offenders are let free? Or the media, who is the rat race of TRPs resort to sensationalism and blow everything out of proportion? Or ourselves, who, in a mad rush to attain everything in life forgot to keep up the simple values that matter much in life??? 

Perhaps it is my upbringing, but I have never understood why would anyone want to harm another person in any manner??? Having imbibed the spirit of 'Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu' (may the whole world live in peace), I am at loss as to why people are being so cruel to each other...

I feel that we are growing more and more intolerant towards each others feelings and views. If someone differs with us, he/she should be our enemy. That is a highly terrifying thought... Equally terrifying is the silence from people who matters - the think tanks and other iconic figures. It shows that we are growing indifferent and insensitive to each others feelings. 

As a lay man, I feel that it is mainly lack of will from the part of the administrators and law enforcers that has resulted in such atrocities being repeated. If exemplary actions are taken against offenders, at least a few of the potential offenders would be discouraged from following the path of violence. In the mean time, as responsible citizen, we should all introspect and do our bit to ensure that at least the future generation are shown the right path. For that, may be it is a good idea to turn back to our values, principles and ethics. And the best way to teach the children is by example. 

My heart goes out to all the families who have been devastated by these violent activities undertaken in the name of politics or ideological differences. All I hope is that from the bitter experiences that they had to undergo, we would learn our lessons and would deter from resorting to violence as a solution for everything. 

PS: Normally, I don't speak or write about politics (for  obvious reasons), even though I have a political view of my own . But the incidents that shook the soul of Kerala over the past few weeks (if not years) involving the murder of a political leader have forced me to write this.
PPS: Image Courtesy- Google Images

Sunday, May 13, 2012

അമ്മ!


അമ്മ!
ഇരുട്ടില്‍  മിന്നിത്തിളങ്ങുന്ന താരകമേ 
നീ കാണുന്നുവോ എന്‍ പ്രിയ ജനനിയെ ?
 നിന്നെ നോക്കി ഞാന്‍  പുഞ്ചിരിച്ചീടില്‍
ആ പുഞ്ചിരി അമ്മയ്ക്ക് സമ്മാനിച്ചീടുമോ?

നിന്‍ ചെവിയിലോതി തരാം ഞാന്‍ പലതും 
എന്നില്ലത്തു ചെന്നമ്മയെ ചൊല്ലി കേള്‍പ്പിക്കുമോ?
ഒത്തിരി നാളുകളായി എന്നേയ്ക്കു, എന്നമ്മയെ 
ഞാന്‍ കണ്ടത് ദിനങ്ങള്‍ക്കും മുന്‍പ്!

സൌഖ്യമോടെയിരിക്കുന്നുവോ എന്‍ മാതാ,
സ്നേഹത്തിന്നവതാരമാണെന്നമ്മയെന്നും;
നീ കണ്ടിരിപ്പൂ ആ നിര്‍മ്മല സ്നേഹമയിയെ
എന്നുടെ സ്നേഹമതേകൂ നീയമ്മയ്ക്ക്...

അമ്മയാണെന്നുടെ ആദ്യ ഗുരു; അമ്മ-
യാണെന്നുമെന്നുടെ ജീവന്നു തണല്‍ !
അമ്മ ചൂണ്ടിക്കാണിച്ച വഴികളെന്‍ ശരി, 
അമ്മയോതി തന്ന നേരുകള്‍ വിലപ്പെട്ടവ...

അറിവില്ലായ്മ തന്‍ പടുകുഴിയില്‍ വീണിടാതെ 
കൈ പിടിച്ചു കേറ്റാന്‍ അമ്മ തന്‍ കരങ്ങള്‍ 
എന്നുമേ എന്നോടൊപ്പം ഇല്ലായിരുന്നെങ്കില്‍ 
ചെളിക്കുഴിയിലാണ്ട് പോയേനെ എന്നോ ഞാന്‍...

എന്നുമെന്നെ നയിച്ചിടുന്നതമ്മ തന്‍ സ്നേഹം 
അമ്മയാം വിശ്വാസവും ആത്മ ധൈര്യവുമാം  
തണല്‍ മരമില്ലായിരുന്നെങ്കില്‍ ഞാന്‍
 ആണ്ടു പോയേനെ അന്ധകാര ചുഴിയില്‍ ...

താരമേ ഓതീടുകയെന്നമ്മയോട് ; നിന്‍ 
സ്നേഹമെന്നെ നയിച്ചീടുന്നിവിടെ സദാ 
എന്‍ പ്രിയ മാതാവിനെ ഞാന്‍ നിങ്ങളെ 
എല്പിച്ചീടുന്നിതാ; എന്നമ്മയെ കാക്കുക നിങ്ങള്‍ !

ഒരു പോറലേല്ക്കാതെ കാക്കുക,യെന്നമ്മയെ 
സ്നേഹമത് വാരിക്കോരി തരുമമ്മ നിനക്കും !
എന്നുടെ പോലവേ നിങ്ങളമ്മയെ നോക്കൂ 
എന്നമ്മ നിങ്ങള്‍ക്കുമമ്മയായീടട്ടെ...  

 This was written by me way back in 1994. I was in the hostel and was missing my mom very badly...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Two Weddings and a Funeral

Sometimes life is so perplexing that it takes only a moment to alter its entire course... I found out that again the other day as it unfolded dramatic scenes...

Scene 1: The first wedding - a traditional Namboothiri Wedding: There I was yesterday morning all decked up to attend a wedding of a relative. All were in a festive mood... The atmosphere was full of happiness and all around me people were exchanging pleasantries and were catching up with each other lives. I also got to meet a lot of long lost / forgotten acquaintances and made new friends as well. There is nothing more entertaining than chit chatting with near and dear ones on anything under the sun... Most of the time, the wedding ceremonies go on in their own pace, while all the invited guests are seen talking with each other. Numerous groups and sub-groups are formed (unintentionally, of course) and people enjoy the gossip session... Everywhere they are seen exchanging news with each other - some sitting in a circle, some in different rows of chairs, some standing by the door / windows, corridor, entrance and all the imaginable places...Nevertheless, we had a lot of fun and the only tension was to get into the dining hall among the first few... Mission accomplished and a well prepared lunch enjoyed, the time was to move on to the next itinerary in our agenda.

Scene 2: The Second Wedding - A Christian Wedding: This was a courtesy call on a colleague as we knew we could not attend his wedding scheduled for the next day. Though he was disappointed that we won’t be there for the 'D-Day', he was too happy that we went there (at least) on the day before. The hospitality accorded was beyond words and here too we were not spared from tasting some traditional (albeit, tasty) dishes...few pleasantries were exchanged and soon it was time to bid bye and come back to our humble nest... One of the kids who came to attended the function was so amused with us that she couldn't help asking me if 'we were temple people' - meaning 'are you Hindus?' Everyone was puzzled at the question, but I found that the girl had good observation skills. I presumed that it was from the fact that I sported the traditional sandalwood paste on my forehead (usually worn by Hindus) that she concluded that we were 'temple people'. Anyhow, we soon started the journey (of almost 200kms) back home  after wishing the Groom a blissful married life.

Scene 3: The house of a relative - We were on our way back home, having covered almost half the way, when the news of the demise of a relative shocked us... Though it was late in the evening, we decided that we couldn't just go off without paying our last respects to the departed soul... Hence the night saw us reaching the house (wherein we had spent many a happy moments in the company of the man who is no more) with a sense of disbelief. And it was as if he was just sleeping - I felt that he would get up and say hi to us any moment... It was hard to believe he has really passed on... But, as soon as I met the bereaved family, reality struck like a thunderbolt! After having lost a few close family members a year or two ago, I could very well empathize with them and their loss... One feels so helpless in face of death!

As I was coming back from there, I couldn't help reflecting on the day... It had dawned with great promise and joy, and ended on the bleakest possible note! One moment, we were rejoicing the union of two people in holy matrimony, and the next moment, the grief of the sudden demise of a dear one left us all really shaken... I realized once again that it takes only a split second to change one's life upside down, while the rest of the world goes on with its business unaffected!!!

Monday, April 30, 2012

An Unnatural Death


Ever since I could remember he was there - strong, well built, arms open in welcome - and now, he is no more there... it pained me to no extend that the huge tree that provided shelter from rain and shine, which stood majestically along the roadside, with its branches stretched over to the other side of the road has now been cut and removed... The spot which was full of life suddenly has turned into a barren land!!!

Thanneer Panthal - meaning refreshment booth (or shade of tree in this case) - was a bus stop (named after the huge tree providing shade) en-route to my home from the humble town of Perinthalmanna. Placed somewhat in the middle of the distance from Perinthalmanna town and my own bus stop, the characteristic mark of Thanneer Panthal was the grandfather tree which formed a canopy on the road. It was a pleasing sight to behold the majestic splendour with which the tree stood, holding its head high. 

I must have passed by the tree at least a thousand times, if not more… I’ve always felt the cool shades of him on me, even if I was in the bus on my way to and from home. Many a times, I’ve paused under the massive branches of the tree to enjoy the cool shade and enjoyed waiting under its protective shades. Moreover, the pupils from the nearby college and school also used to find comfort and comradeship under its cover. 

It was as if the tree was there forever! I could never imagine the place without the tree. And now as the land lie naked and scarred with the stump of tree bleeding out its life, I feel as if a part of me has also dead… What used to be a lively spot is now bleak and dead – forever!

I know now that the tree was cut to accommodate the widening of the road and that it is only one among the hundreds that are mercilessly cut each day so as to felicitate development. Sadly, to a certain extent, it cannot be avoided as well. It is often told that if we cut one tree we should plant ten instead. But, it is alarming to note that there is hardly any land left to plant more trees. Presently, even if one wants to plant a tree for the one that was cut, there is no land available to do so. And soon a time will come when the barren land and arid days will force us to regret our thoughtless deeds; but by then, it would be too late!!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Temples of Today

Temples provide with the easiest way to connect with God, especially to a person who has embarked on the journey to self realization and spirituality. They provide the much needed imagery to visualize God in a definite form, as well as the perfect ambiance to calm the mind and to connect with one's own self. I've often experienced tranquility and peace of mind by just being in the temple premises. And my favourite time of the day for a Darshan is the evening - the evening Arati and chanting of Mantras never fails to uplift my spirits. The walk back to home after the evening Darshan, as the day slowly turns into night, is one of the most relaxing and fulfilling experiences of my life.

I have had the good fortune of offering my oblations at many sacred altars - right from the humble village temple at my birth place to such holy places like Guruvayoor, Ayodhya, Kashi, Gokarna, Mookambika and Palani among others. Curiously, I found that the temples of Kerala were exuding more spiritual vibrations than any other... I have often found that it is easier to connect to the sense of devotion (Bhakti) and oneness with the Supreme Power here than in any other place.  Or should I say that it is easier to channelize the devotion that naturally overflows in one's being in the temples of Kerala?

All said and done, I am not a regular visitor of temple. It is mostly on special occasions - a temple festival, Bhagavata Sapthaham (spiritual discourse) and sometimes on the birthdays of some near and dear one - that I visit the temple. Of course, certain exceptions are always there. Sometimes, the urge for a Darshan is so powerful that one finds oneself drawn to the temple. That happens rarely...

Of late, as the politics of religion has changed, much has changed about temples too. What earlier was a medium of communication with one's own self and the Supreme Self, has - sadly - been transformed into money collection centres. The commercialization of temples is a painful reality of today.

A few days ago, I had an opportunity to visit the Golden Temple of Sripuram in Vellore. I had heard so much about the temple in the past few years that when I got a chance to visit the temple, I went happily. I went there with an open mind, with no presumptions at all. What I saw there was a grand display of wealth and self promotion of the founder of the temple. At every nook and corner, the pictures of the Godman (he is called Sri Sakti Amma - as he is believed to be a personification of Goddess Narayani) in Abhaya Mudra (gesture of blessing) could be found. It was shocking (at least for me) to see his photo in the Sanctum Sanctorum too.

Picture Courtesy: Google Images
Of course, Gurus are an essential part of spiritual growth. But they act as the lighthouse leading one onto the right path. What I saw in this particular case (in a short time period of a couple of hours) was unabashed promotion of the swami. It was also the costliest Darshan I ever had in my life in terms of money. Each ticket cost Rs. 250/- for a Darshan with out too much of queue and which allows one darshan from a point closer to the Sanctum Sanctorum. (I later learned that in temples like Tirupati the rates are much higher for a similar darshan) An added bonus is that a prasada kit - a colourful bag depicting the photo of swami - is given 'free' to such ticket holders. The kit contains some vibhuti, a sweet, a thread to be tied on the wrist, a photo of the presiding deity (invariably, the swami is standing right next to her) and a booklet on the history of swami and the temple.

Picture Courtesy: Google Images
The temple could be described at best as a beautiful building adorned in gold and decorated with numerous glittering crystal chandeliers - not the abode of God. Yes, the premises were neat and clean, there were some resting spots and toilet facilities (which was, to my surprise, free of cost) along the star shaped path leading to the temple. The temple itself was surrounded by a small pond on three sides and people threw coins and currency notes (ridiculous!) in the water. I could see some coins scattered down on the floor in the water and some ten/twenty rupee notes floating on the water...

Some VIPs were given preferential treatment and special Arati was performed for them. We reached near the Sanctum Sanctorum and sat down for a couple of minutes in a group of twenty or so while some rituals were performed. Then, the volunteer asked the Rs. 250/- ticket holders to go out as the value for their money had been realized. A few remained for further  poojas. I presumed that they had paid more and were eligible to attend more rituals.

On the way back to the exit, we had to pass through several counters that sold merchandise like CDs, Books, Photos, sarees and what not. I could see they were not leaving any stone unturned when it comes to marketing their products... Moreover, even in the base of the fountains, one could find heaps of coins lying in water. At last at the very end of the star shaped path I found out one good aspect of the whole system. Free Prasada for all - in a dried leaf bowl. It was something akin to upma (tasted real good too). Apart from that I could not see even a drop of water being offered free of cost there (of course, I might have missed noticing it).

All in all, it left a bad taste in my mind...Many questions came to my mind... Most are still unanswered. Money seems to be the only factor that counts everywhere. Sadly, even God is being dragged into this vicious circle. What once used to be holy and uplifting experience, now seems to be sacrilegious!!!

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to discredit or hurt anyone. I have not done a study of the social works (if any) carried out by the temple trust or the swami.This has been written as an observation as to how things have changed and not to malign anyone or any religious sentiments.