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!

Of Little Trips and Great Learnings

The other day, we (some staff, volunteers and service users of Mary Seacole House, Liverpool) went on a day trip to Llangollen. This wasn&#...