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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Theaters Madras

The Madras of the sixties and seventies upto eighties before it became Chennai ( somehow for a Madras born bred me ,Chennai sounds funny i prefer Madras )was more elite regal and had many firsts .
I will just focus on cinema theaters .
Madras was hub of south Indian cinema .
All four south indian language films were made in Madras .
All film actors ,script writers ,music directors ,choreographers ,extra actors ,make up artistes ,stunt men lived in Madras .
Anyone trying to make it in the film world packed thier dreams in a suitcase and headed to Madras .
The area around Kodambakkam,vadapazhani ,Nungambakkam , T.Nagar were filled with lodges where the small time creative people stayed
Huge studios like AVM,Vijaya Vauhini ,studious were full of activity .
Naturally in such a filmi city there would be good theaters too .
Some of them I remember are

Kapali theater was in Mandaveli was close to where we lived .I remember my mother taking me and sister for matinees as dad was never keen on films.we always used to stand in long ques for a ticket as she would only buy a not very costly one but we enjoyed the trip.
It was only when my uncle and aunt from Dubai came and we all went for a tamil film Chithi that i sat in the costliest srction at that time Rs 2.50 please dont laugh as that amount those days could fetch a lot
Today a beggar wouldnt touch it .
Uncle clearly bored of the melodrama in the film was seen sneaking out to the lobby for a quick smoke which was met with angry grunts from aunty in the dark of the theater !
One rare occasion when my dad did come ( probably he was hen pecked into it )i remember he took me to a nearby small hotel and bought me a plate of mixture while he had a coffee
Nothing tasted as good as that ever because those days eating in hotels were very rare .

Kapali theater was also where me and my fruend cheenu used to go for seeing Deepavali day matinee !
The other theater nearby was in Luz corner named Kamadhenu
Dad never shirked taking us to the famous Childrens theater in Triplicane as it screened only childrens films.
I always remember seeing David Copperfield there .
During my high school days came the multiplex Safire Blue Diamond and Emerald in Mount Road in heart of city .
Blue Diamond screened films continiously ie if you get in with a ticket you can go on watching the same film any number of times till you walk out .
So this was ideal for many visiting city and had time to kill but did not want to pay to a hotel they watched a film slept ate jn the attached refreshment room in air conditioned ambience .
It was also good for lovebirds an ideal perch with no time limits .
Safire was huge 70 mm and always screened Hollywood hits till tamil chauvinism forced them to screen tamil films in nineties.
I remember seeing battle of the bulge
Ben hur ,mary poppins ,if its tuesday it must be belgium,its a mad mad world ,cleopatra etc here .
Emerald also was small theater
Anand theater in mount road again screened good hindi films like Aradhana ,Bawarchi ,Anand film etc
Anand will always be my favourite theater as i saw my first film with a girl ....who is my wife today too  in that theater or in other words it was my first date with her..manjil virinja pookal a malayalam film with a wiry Mohanlal as a grimacing villain.
Down into mount road was the famous Shanti theater said to be owned by veteran actor Sivaji Ganesan himself
The Devi complex was also very posh
The Anna theater nearby came later showed mainly hindi films .
In thousand lights there was the elite sangam complex where we saw lot of films post engagement and after marriage .
Odeon theater was in Royapettah
Casino theater again near Mount road screened mostly english films and Eliphinstone theater near subway of main center of mount road screened mostly malayalam films and was a sort of meeting place for the madras settled keralites.
Marriage matches were made there i heard .
On sundays there would be snaking ques to watch a pencil moustachiod gesticulating Prem nazir to a buxom sheela or a towrering hulk madhu .
Today most of these landmarks have changed some like eliphinstone became shopping complexes
Many are modern movie plazas
Childrens theater was turned into some govt theater with idiot politicians barking
Safire complex was rudely plucked from its owners by sasikala caucus in the nineties

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The bliss of the kumbh

Time is a dimension that disappears in the Maha Kumbh mela on the sands of a flowing Ganga as it gushes and frolicks to a meet up with Yamuna and subterranean Saraswati in the Triveni of Allahabad in 2012 .
The cold sands in the banks of the holy river on that winter evening is filled with throngs the multitudes of India on thier spiritual quest .

Those sands are softly treaded by the rishis and saints whose normal abode are the lonely icy peaks of the Himalayas where they lose themselves to infinity .

The sparkling lights of the row boats twinkle at us from  the bobbing river .

Man in his most humbling smallness in the front of an enigmatic all pervading power  that enlivens his soul .

we march on the banks with the trillions on it men women children .

 Souls from varied paths united in thier seek for the supreme .

We get into a boat sent to us by providence which takes us into the lonely middle away from the gushing crowds who appear now as disappearing dots .

The waters of the sacred river are deep and we peer into its blackness and fathom the myraids of lives that have done so earlier .

The boat rocks as it hits a sandbank on the spot where the three rivers unite and merge

Like the melding of the soul to man to create consiousness and life itself .

As we dip into the freezing waters a moment comes when the cold hits us like a sledgehammer but in time we flow into a green world of bliss and joy unparalleled .

Its nirvana itself and we as individuals momentarily stop to exist

We are part of those sparkling waves those spraying drops Maa Ganga has enmeshed our souls and we wished it would never stop but for that state we need aeons of lifes ahead .

We turn back and Mahadev our boatman with the name of the very lord Shiva himself rows us back sedately and leaves us at the banks like a mother placing her children on the floor

 And we walk amongst the Akaras or spiritual tents with thier long haired ash strewn sanyasis ,naga sadhus , in different forms of penance some conversing or debating animatedly some giving speeches to thier followers .

They are deceptive in appearance
 some are unkempt some nude some dressed to kill some elegant some are silent with a benign kind smile some are agitated almost angry some are laughing some are gesticulating.
 Many are highly learned some are IIT graduates phds some are drop outs , some are cheats and charltans making a living out of selling God ,some are selfless true and sincere
A mini cosmos of the matireal world .

We walked and walked far into the nights to preserve memories of the greatest gathering on the face of the earth on the shores of the elixir of life and death .

As the river flowed so would we the day and dusk being buried deep in the subterranean subconscious of our grey matter .

At times they rise uncalled and bob up as nostalgia and stimulate such pieces

Sashi tharoor poem

My ditty on Sashi Tharoor the Twitter Tittie

The Twitter Jitter

 The story of an Indian politician writer
From Kerala  a handsome blighter
  His comments on the twitter
 Mostly   puts him in a titter

He twitted on the cattle class
making himself a clever ass
 Got the fury of the Indian mass
who called his comments as real  crass

 kept his hand in the wrong place
as   national anthem was sung in countrys  praise
no no not where you guys think  or anything  base
 just kept it on his chest he always  says

Handsome sashi   married again and again  none of the times was it in vain
 His good looks could get him all but the  plain
While he jaunted in the first class plane

 Twitter caught him again in trouble
like a  Russian without a rouble
 he got some Meher from  over the border
When his searching  eyes looked for fodder

My advice is better stick to facebook
Even if you have all the good looks
 Twitter seems to be getting  some rooks
In trouble cornered  like crooks

Good looks  roving eyes aren't a good combination
Adding Twitter to this is an exclamation
Then one lands in real commotion
 Then no use  crying over the trepidation

Men by nature are known  to stray
while women want to  make them stay
Men are kids who want  sweets in a tray
And when in trouble they try to get away

So our good looking man in twitter
who  as a writer would always glitter
is now only having a temporary jitter
but for him  these  days surely looks better

His words are big and legendary
When he talks most pick up dictionary
His hobby is to put us in knots
Better than usual political rots

But words and flicked hair
May just cover up his bare
For now but maybe not forever
Sins may catch up wherever

Sashi tharoor the brilliant wizard
Changes colours like a lizard
And mesmerises with his speeches
His voters who cling like leeches .

Tweet and tumble and fumble
Your life is in a rumble
Talk orate speak and make lectures
Twitter is your true texture .

Monday, February 12, 2018

Indian diversity

When one mentions India it almost says read diversity .
India is one country in the whole world which is cauldron of variety
a kaleidoscope of collectibles
A treasure house of cultures ,art ,tastes, traditions ,languages ,history ,landscapes ,climates ,spirituality, music, philosophy .
In every single factor known to mankind and beyond this country in singular in having variety .

With 29 states and 7 union territories the more than 1.2 billion Indians speaking more than 800 languages and hundreds of dialects living in hardy deserts to snowy peaks or the humid plains are as different in their uniqueness as much as they one in their indianess    .
Though its a fashion these days for some to deny this one  cant evade from stark truths just because one doesn't like it .
Romain Rolland says I quote
"If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India ,"unquote

India has been the birthplace of mans quest to the supreme and its manifestations of important and ancient religions of Hinduism ,Buddhism ,Jainsim  ,and Sikhism and many other religions of the world like Christianity ,Islam ,Zoroastrianism  have all echoes of thoughts from Indian ancient ones

Though after freedom the scattered princely states came together they were linguistically divided into the present 29 states and 7 union territories ,
Each state in India stands out in its singular strengths and individuality be it in art forms culinary variety traditions language habits its dress behaviour of its people but there is always as string of undercurrent indianess holding it all together ,

Even in Europe we have several countries as big as states in India but we rarely find this unity in diversity though politically they have come together ,As Swiss culture is definitely different from a French one !

The best part of transition between states in India can never be experienced in a plane flying 30000 feet above land but only by travelling in a train or by road .

Gandhiji knew this and to get into the soul of India he travelled its length and breadth

The very interesting melding of cultures and food and peoples behaviours as one travels from one state to another the gradual change that takes place is palpable in such journeys .
its a discovery that keeps one stunned
its a need to rejoice in this unity in diversity of our country and try to strengthen its federal structure of sharing power in the centre and the state
lets strive to do that .

Friday, February 02, 2018


 multitasker par excellence
From being a mother ofr a special child for eleven years and learning how to care for her ,to running a centre of more than 140 special children in memory of her daughter and tending them like her own ,to looking after her family and to all aspects of her two children now ,being an excellent cook a travel organiser ,family medical practioner for more than two decades  trained counsellor ,project coordinator of destitute centre in cochin ,and early interventionist of mental disabilities winner of many awards ,trained from a child in Bharatanatyam and a mohiniattam exponent and at present working in Brunei Jerudong park medical centre this wife of mine is a multitasker indeed

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Brooklyn bridge New York

When I got down from the hop on hop off Bus in New York City at Brooklyn bridge stop I planned to spend an hour at the most and later on go to other places by the next bus.

But the cold hit me like a sledge hammer and I literally was thrown back by the chilly wind ,I wound my scarf tighter around my shoulders 
 my hands were getting number because I had removed my gloves in the heated bus .

With gloves monkey cap muffler multiple layers of dresses starting from inner thermals to a couple of shorts and padded windcheater I had bought from Taipei a couple of woollen socks and a high Clark boots but my face was still exposed to the elements and the wind took its revenge .
I would have preferred to be in the top storey of the bus and seen the sights from its heated insides but Brooklyn Bridge was too iconic for me to miss.
There was a small booth of hot dogs and the Indian vendor was enclosed in its cocoon of warmth, I bought one and bit it through standing on a sheltered doorway and later walked towards the bridge.
I tried to fix my mobile on my selfie stick for the photos but my hands were literally frozen and I heard a snap of the sticks hold breaking that's it ,no more selfie stick for now !There was a big crowd of tourists thronging the bridge.


the construction of the Brooklyn bridge was started in 1869 and completed in 1883 
 the bridge was started to connect Manhattan with Brooklyn across the East side river

A hybrid cable stayed suspension bridge it was 469.3 meters long
During construction the spaces under bridge was rented out for storing wine to make some income for the construction as the temperature below was steady it was called Blue Grotto as there was a shrine for Virgin Mary near the opening .
Bridge was designed by German immigrant Engineer John Augustus Roebling .
He had a unfortunate start as when on surveys his foot was pinned between the ferry to a piling and he  had his toes amputated  but later tetanus set in and he expired leaving the job to his son Washington Roebling !!

During the construction several workers suffered from Caissons disease or the Bends due to high pressure under the water,
Washington Roebelling  the son too was left with a paralysis due to Caissons disease and later had to work from his apartment overlooking the bridge, his wife Emily Roebeling for the next eleven years was his assistant not only for communication to the engineers on site, she learnt higher mathematics, calculation of catenary curves strength of materials, bridge specifications and the intricacies of cable constructions .

A book was written on this bridge construction called the Great Bridge by David Mc collough its shown in a couple of documentaries too

On its opening day with great fanfare Emily Roebling was the first to cross the bridge more than 1800 vehicles and more than 150000 people crossed the bridge on that day while Washington Roebling had to celebrate it from his apartment
It cost around US 15.5 million $ in 1883 and was the longest suspension bridge at that time
A 507 million US $ project for renovating the bridge and making it stronger and safer was done in 2010 and completed in 2015
All sort of weird happenings dot the bridge ,
a plane flew under it once by a dare devil pilot
several jumpers  jumped from it some were never heard of some died too .


I walked along the pedestrian and bicycle walkway in the centre of the bridge and on two sides at a lower level one could see the speeding traffic
if the weather was better I would most surely have spent more time here and walked right across to Brooklyn and back
maybe next time but Brooklyn Bridge wasn't to be missed
no way

Monday, January 29, 2018

Kalamandalam Geethanandan

True Artiste...kalamandalam Geethanandan 58 expired while performing his art like a true artiste he performed till his last breath .

Great exponent of kerala temple art Ottamthullal  .
Otamthulaal of kerala  is more of a mono act dance with dancer singing himself with chorus and mridangam and cymbals to accompany in genre of satire .
The otamthullaal dancer has the  right to make cynical caricatures of anyone in the  audience big or low  and is usually very adept and with great presence of mind
Once he wears his head gear for the dance he is supreme on stage if anyone in the  audience gets offended and gets aggresive he would remove headgear and walk off never to dance there again which is a great insult to that place .

It shows the tradition of tolerance and acceptance of satire and sense of humour that prevailed in ancient kerala .

The art is alive even today as it brings out the talent of one artiste who needs to be a good dancer conversationist debater thinker satirist singer  and creative person all together .

Some are laugh riots and make a wreck of local politics .

I always enjoy a good ottamthullal and since in malayalam its more understood by all unlike kathakali or krishnattamkali where the slogas are in sanskrit .

 This great dancer  has performed in thousands of temples and stages and has thousands of disciples .

Our condolences to his family

A real loss to the field of art .

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The spirit of travelling

The spirit of travelling 

"The world is a book and those who dont travel read only a page   said Agustine of Hippo .
To that extent i have read a small part of the book with much more to read 
Memories of travel to me are like those wisps of snow that fell on face like  feathers in cold Cleveland during Christmas ,the snow took me back to the huddled cottage of warmth in the icy stillness of Patnitop peak in a CRPF quarters in Kashmir  or the stillness of the Dal lake in Srinagar not to forget the the disappeared road in our ride to Madhuri lake off Tawang in Arunachal pradesh where a lovely Madhuri Dixit frolicked with a handsome Shah Rukh in koyla and hence its name ,
Snow reminds me of the Rohtang pass where i tried my skiing only to land up doubled in the jeep with a splitting headache and nausea due to altitude sickness or when we traversed in our hired four wheel drive on the highest motor able pass in Arunachal Pradesh where there was still reach of BSNL mobility and a tea shop with army officers huddled over a hot tea to warm  insides or the icy winds that blew over us in the 17000 feet Kedarnath temple ,the frigid  stream where we dipped into the downsteram yamuna and its hot springs at its mouth at Yamunotri
 cold and snow followed us into Bhadrinath temple where we saw the mystical Saraswati river giving a shiny glimmer before she disappeared deep into the bowels of my country to appear thousands of mile later at the Allahabad Triveni 
The very Triveni we went to have a dip amongst hundreds of lakhs of pilgrims in the maha kumbh mela itself or into the hallowed Ganga in Haridwar or the the oldest city in the world the Kasi or varanasi where burning embers of human flesh could waft its way to merge into the flowing river of life 

Cold and snow reminded me of a clean but empty Norway or a Stockholm and its metro not to forget the city that straddled two continents Istanbul of Turkey where the Asia melded into Europe over the Bosporus ,the cold of the Syrian mountain tops its qauint cave monasteries where men still talked ancient Aramic as Jesus christ did 2018 years back .

The cold of the Brooklyn Bridge in the big apple or the frigid Times square in December or that of a warm Manhattan cocktail to bring some warmth ,the  windy Chicago was more than the cool breeze of Bratislava or the cold that hit one as we walked in the cobbled streets of Prague to be cheated by a money changer and become more wise or the gondolas of Venice leaning on their poles with their stylish hats  into the cold waters that surrounded the media veal city  the cold that hit us as we walked around Romes majestic Colosseum or the Vatican itself the holy see with its vast array of ancient art deep in its bowels preserved for posterity along with its secrets unrevealed while the cold of the Grand canyons which had shaped its stones or the cold machinations of money in the glittering casinos of Vegas ,could never beat the chikll of junganfraus top of Europe experience 

The streets of pattayas humidity which espoused from its inherent sexuality akin to the hovels of kamathipoura in distant Mumbai or the yellow battered Ambassador taxis  of kolkata and its rasgullas 
The tropical greenery of Brunei Darussalam with its golden domes shimmering in the sun or the baking white sand dunes off 
Al ain on way to the jebel hafeet mountain .
the humidity of my Cochin and Chennai to beat the hot sands of Thanjavur near the big temple to rival the thousand temples beauty of a Bali or the pixie eyed Vietnamese serving the hot pho a delight and sipping their hot vodka on a cruise down the river The cold of a Taiwan and the heat of a Singapore was different variations that evoked nostalgia while the Victoria peak in Hong kong was shiveringly cold not at all like kota kinabalu in western Malaysia or the Batu caves where i regularly shimmered up behind the huge Muruga statue and wheezed my way to ecstasy reminding me of the five times trek up sabarimala in my state or Palani in tamilnadu 
,the cold of a munnar or kodaikanal or dharam sala or simla or ooty or coorg or the joy of seeing the distant trickle in jog falls or standing in the pouring gallons in kuttalam falls not to beat the sailing to the  Vivekanada rock away from the diamond studded idol of the goddess Kanyakumari  or the magnificence of a temple in Trivandrum or Guruvayoor or Thirupathi or in Puri the hundreds of qauint  temples in te Himalayan foothills or the long trek to  Nachiketa thal to reach an uninhibited pond after hours of trekking in a forest or the solitary climb up thriuvanamalai to experience a bliss which can never be explained and only equal to the walk over a rising tide in the Haji ali mosque of mumbai or the silvery sands of a Goa with its majestic Bom jesus cathedral or the jewish synagogue in the tiny lanes of mattancherry my home turf in cochin or teh hallowed precints of the altar in St Pauls of vatican where we lost ourselves to the sepulchral organ strains the sandy Cherai or a marina beach the casinos of Vegas or Macau or Singapore with their money making chips 
The chugging of a Darjeeling train as it went around the batata loop or the blue toy train up Nilgiris or that of sim la the green lawns of a Viennese palace where we stood to the tunes of the schonbruns palaces ensemble over a glass of the finest wine
 the wafting tune so of a street flutist in the heights of Athens bringing back the ghosts of history itself in the Aghora or the rhythmic cymbals and drums of my own state in theThripunithura temple with garrisoned elephants moving sedately with the God himself on them the dewed green floor of a Manandawadi estate or the shrill catcalls and dung of a lonely elephant up our paths in the Siruvani forests of patiyar gave us the same feel when we sidled up to thte rhinos in Assam's khaziranga reserves or to the simple out of this worldliness in a border town of Bhutan not to combat with the wetness of a chirapunjee or the golf club of Shillong or the Sikkimese Christmas dinner in cold Gangtok 

( Places i have left out please excuse me )

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