Mar 21, 2008

A pocket full of rye

I have been intrigued by mystery stories for a long time. Though I haven't read much in this genre so far, I have watched quite a few movies and was thrilled. When I heard about Agatha Christie in a movie (Taare Zameen Par, to be precise), I decided to borrow one of her mystery novels from the library. "A pocket full of rye" is a page turner and keeps you guessing until the story ends in a twist.

The head of the family Mr.Rex Fortesque is poisoned by one among the members of his family. The inspector Mr.Neele who handles the investigation unravels the motive and identifies the killer using a nursery rhyme. As I turned the pages, I was guessing who could be the killer and my guesses kept changing. In the end, all my guesses were wrong. A short and crisp storyline and a well connected plot has made this novel a pretty interesting read. I hope to read more of her novels in the coming months.

Mar 20, 2008

Not a final frontier

My contribution to 3WW

A chase of a lifetime
peeking away from daily treasures
one step at a time, you walk
the giant hops twice as fast

with great effort, you catch some
only to find bigger monsters
staring right at you from a distance
tangled by the ever alluring race

taking bigger and wider strides
you reach to master those creatures,
unrealized that you've transformed
to a tamed, timid slave at the end

conquer or to be conquered
money not the final frontier
understand the loss before gain
life meant to be superior

Mar 13, 2008

A scary adventure

My contribution to 3WW

Dark and eerie,
60 minutes to midnight
elders snoozing
after a long tiring day

remote buttons stressed
quick hops through TV channels
wide awake siblings
the apartment's active souls

a sudden pause of the thumb
the title of the movie allures
so begins a scary horror flick
the background score threatens

hands go numb,
heart pounds maximum,
midnight draws close,
characters come alive

fearful to watch anymore
breathing tends to shallow
switching off the TV
scarier nightmares to follow

My brother and I used to watch horror movies in the night when the rest of the family sleeps. I rarely watched the whole movie. Somewhere in the middle, I used to get so scary that I couldn't watch it anymore!

Mar 11, 2008

A goner

My contribution to 3 word Wednesday - rest, sidewalk, twice

A long, clean sidewalk
tall trees on one side
rushing traffic on the other

concrete benches at few steps
providing the needed rest
for tired, worn out legs

An ideal seat for a chit-chat
munching peanuts, sipping tea
cool wind, taking away my hat

outcome of Diwali shopping
heavy bags on either side,
strolled along the stretch twice

here comes Metro rail
with its fiery speed
this experience goes peril

My favorite hang-out stretch in MG Road, Bangalore has been demolished due to the construction of Metro rail tracks. The shopping experience is no longer the same!

Mar 10, 2008

Unveiling India : A woman's journey

Anees Jung, the author has traveled across India, visited different cities and villages to analyze the lives and struggles of women from different backgrounds and the issues that loom large in front of them. Right from birth till the last breath, a woman faces problems and turmoils from her own family and the society. The author narrates her experiences in meeting women from Hyderabad, Varanasi, Kanyakumari, Mumbai and also many villages.

Irrespective of caste or religion, there have been barriers put forth in front of women from centuries which many are trying to break free from today. Be it the act of female foeticide, gender discrimination when it comes to education or work by their own parents, childhood marriage and a veiled day-to-day routine, these issues are rooted in many remote parts of the country. With no education or financial support and their struggles to lead a normal life, women feel stuck with these issues and couldn't find a way out of them. The one shocking verse of an ancient poem I came across in this book made me feel so angry - "Feed a woman less, for she is not going to fetch you anything. She is a burden for whom you need to spend on her marriage and dowry". From an outsider perspective, people might say that such days are long gone and women are treated better in the current Indian society. But there is a bigger entity called rural India where such practices still prevail but is not addressed or discussed, something which is taken as given. Some of the experiences mentioned in the book portray a clear picture of exploitation, prejudices and discrimination, escapism by blaming on the culture and traditions, rules set forth by some unknown saints which people blindly follow and restrict the women of this nation.

When every woman of this country lives her dream, only then we could claim we are independent.

Mar 4, 2008

A special Sunday

I did something last Sunday which I haven't done for a long time. It all started with hubby's plan of attending an Indica car users meet in Cubbon Park. The last time I visited Cubbon Park was way back in 1990. Sunday was meant to be the day to break the jinx, I suppose. We reached around 10 AM and greeted the fellow Indica users. The casual talk gave way to more technical details of cars and SUVs and I started losing interest. Discussing about specifications of cars is not my ideal way to spend a leisurely Sunday morning. I started walking and admiring the tall trees, the yellow flowers on the grass bed, the clear blue sky, the dry leaves and the water droplets on top of hibiscus petals. It's interesting to see different people, taking a nap on the benches, having a picnic with family, jogging hard to stay fit, the visitors and the regulars.

After taking a stroll around the park, I went to Bal Bhavan (children's park) and was thrilled to see the amusement rides. How much I enjoy these rides! This time, I was all alone by myself. I was watching the families that have come together that reminded me of my childhood days when we used to visit Kishkinta and MGM Dizzee world in Chennai. I wanted to go in all the rides but was reluctant to take the plunge alone, not because I get scared because it felt weird to go on a ride alone. One part of my mind suggested that I should go back to the car users meet while the other pushed me towards those exciting rides. What if all these rides are meant only for kids? That would be a huge disappointment. It felt awkward when I asked the lady in the counter whether these rides are only for kids. When she said no, I felt ecstatic. I bought the ticket and the ride on the Columbus (a boat swinging like a pendulum) was so thrilling. The irony was the song being played in the background - "Akele Hai to kya gum hai" from Qayamat se Qayamat tak. The kids who were my fellow companions gave a broad smile and I had so much fun, shouting at the top of my voice.

I returned back in the sunny afternoon, terribly hungry with lunch parcel in the hand. After a quick lunch, I took a nice afternoon siesta. I love these short naps in the weekend afternoons. But in the past six months, this has become a rare event (thanks to PGSEM!). Anyway, when I woke up and switched on the TV, it was a perfect chase by Indian cricket team and a sparkling century by Sachin. After a long time, I spent a couple of hours watching cricket. Such occasional laid back Sundays are really amazing and much neeeded if we have to face busy weekdays ahead.

Time machine

My contribution to Sunday Scribblings #100 - Time machine

Eyes red and brimmed with tears
Rice balls difficult to swallow
Future appeared desolate and grim
Near and dear consoled to support
efforts to alleviate the grief and pain

gripped with deep sorrow
devastated with the death of my mom,
in the painful moment, I receive
a special gift from God
soothing and comforting

the lyrics and the beats
a melody fresh and new
to the eardrums of a 11 year old
playing from the radio
in the rusty old tea shop

life moved on fine
a 15 year long journey
pampered by the love
and care of my dad
and now my hubby

yet the time machine
brings back the sadness,
reminds me of the trembling pain
and the caressing comfort
my precious song of a lifetime

This precious time machine is a Tamil song "Kaadhal Rojaave" from the movie Roja.

Fire on the mountain

One of my favorite genres of reading is Indian Writings in English. I picked up this novel written by Anitha Desai from a local library. The crisp summary at the back of the novel intrigued me and it was worth a read and a good change amidst the heavy management books.

The protogonist, Nanda Kaul having lived a life of obligations and responsibilities decides to spend the rest of her life alone in the quiet, untouched hilly region of Kasauli. Her only companion is the caretaker Ram Lal who clearly understands Nanda and lives in his own way with no disturbance to her solitude. The garden being left as it was, her past time was to observe the huge pine trees and the views of the plains from the hills. The rare hour of afternoon nap has now become a daily routine to her. Time moves slowly at her own pace, reading books and contemplating about her days. She no longer needs a family or obligations. One line summarizes her rationale behind her decision - "Life would swirl on again, in an eddy, a whirlpool of which she was the still fixed eye in the centre". At her senile age, she is happy being left alone until one day the postman knocks at her door and brings the news of her great grand daughter Raka's arrival. Her little abode and her privacy will be intruded by a child. She has to look after a child yet again after years and years of bringing up daughters and grand daughters.

Raka arrives and to Nanda's surprise, Raka is just a younger Nanda. She also prefers to be left alone, exploring the jungles and hills, strolling alone in the dark and not interested in talking or being taken care by her great grandmother. They lead their lives on their own terms, spending quiet moments together during lunch and tea. The occasional story telling about the hills and ghosts by Ram Lal keeps Raka engrossed and interested. Nanda feels left out with her great grand daughter's total ignorance. On a casual evening, the silence breaks loose when Nanda starts to reminesce about her childhood house, the garden and the animals that she was brought up with. Although she tries to create fantasies in the young mind of Raka, she couldn't hold onto her interest as Ram Lal. Ila Das, Nanda's childhood pal enters the scene and the lives of the three ladies are no longer the same, leading to an unexpected twist towards the end.

"Fire on the mountain" is a slow paced, deep narration of the lives of three women, four generations apart. The village is portrayed vividly to the reader's mind with interesting anecdotes and details. The characterization of Nanda is so well written that you instantly start to appreciate her decision. When I started reading it, it reminded me of the old Tamil movie "Poove poochudavaa" because of the similarity in story - an old woman deciding to live alone and her grand daughter comes to visit her. But the similarity ends right there. The novel is not a gripping or unputdownable tale. But it dwelves more on its ability to make readers imagine and transport to the hills of Kasauli, nature, forests and sudden forest fires. The emotions of different characters stand out clearly due to the descriptive nature of their thought processes and their lives in general.

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