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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

the exorcist


Exorcists are rare birds, extortionists are an easier find, so I was amused when the genial baby face seated next to me on the speeding Volvo from cochin to Bangalore turned out to be an Exorcist !
As the bus flitted past the colored neon’s of downtown Koch with the video belting out Mammoty in an air force uniform I turned to look at my companion for the journey who was constantly tittering into his latest model of Nokia mobile which looked more like a palmtop.
He too turned at the same time and gave me a warm smile, after the formalities of introduction was over I came to know that my friendly neighborhood chubby was a practicing priest and an official exorcist, one among the twelve in the country.
“I drive evil by prayer he said e ,I am a trained exorcist and our center is at Milan in Spain.
I travel all the time summoned by anxious parishioners afflicted by the devil .”.
He made it all sound so ordinary ,laughing at me for asking whether ghosts existed these days .
“Of course they do, they are clever things and know when to hide but all their tricks melt before our prayers, they pack their bags and designs and run away, yes those rascals do, but often lurk around and pop up somewhere else leaving us with little rest.”
“Throwing stones pouring filth and mud into houses, naughty they are.,” said he literally chiding them for their supposedly impetuous nature! He talked of devils like we do of mischievous children.
“You know, it doesn’t come easy,” he said “we sacrifice a lot, we have to go on fast for days,” he stared hard at my disbelieving look at him and his rolls of fat,”
“We are like the Romans fast and later feast to make it up and then the travelling we plan it all up every month like for this time I start at Cochin, go to Ban galore,Mysore later Calicut ,Coimbatore ,Ooty, Kodaikanal, Hyderabad,Calcutta Darjeeling and so on and on .
we send our progamme to Jerusalem which decides on our dates and schedule our travel .
Geography is hardly important for them , at that distant control room for we may be asked to go to Coimbatore after Darjeeling and then flip back to Calcutta .No questions asked ,ghost busters cannot afford to have doubts .”
“We sleep on rocks with a thin sheet covering it ,yes like Bhisma pitamaji in his arrow bed we prefer hard rocks to soft beds, we have to steel ourselves to face the horrors well .
Our voices are trained to modulate on the type of ghosts we face ,soft and succulent to seduce the sensuous lady ghosts ,we would croon to them in silky husky undertones that they leave the place coyly ,the guttural roar is used to frighten the huge ruffians who are like caged lions ,like ring masters in a circus we use the whipping voice to snarling devils ,and shout in baritone shaking the very earth and sending our parishioners to quick hideouts to put the fright of the lord into those hardy ones which stay put ,
We wear protection you know which may not be a bullet proof jacket but a similar one to withstand the missiles thrown by unseen hands ,we often gaze at rotating heads and bizarre necks with unstinting gaze ,our ears are are hardened by the filth and abuse that spews out of those wretched beings ,we would continue unperturbed at sights that could revolt anyone with reason ,for we are trained to do so ,but it is an exhausting job indeed they take all your strength away yes they do saying this he opened his mouth wide to let a gigantic yawn which lasted for some time ,precisely at this moment Mamooty decided to call it a day and lights were put off by a conscientious driver who wanted his passengers to go to sleep while he carried on the serious job of making them reach Bangalore in one piece ,.
Silence refused to fill the space emptied by the garrulous exorcist who was in the early stages of developing a snore which was a cross between a swine’s whine and a donkeys bray, what with all his ghastly reminiscences and the musical accompaniments of his slumber while the dark bus hurtling in the highway everything looked positively horrendous ,sleep avoided me and counting sheeps didnt do the trick, they never do but this time the sheep seemed like devils to my imagination, slowly but suddenly I felt a weight descending on my now sleepy shoulders ,I looked at my side alarmed ,the lolling head of the exorcist father was resting on poor me ,he sunk more and encased himself comfortably into my folds digging his head like into a pillow ,having slept on stone this would be heaven to the father indeed ,but I had different ideas of sleep instead of being a pillow to a ghost buster so by using time honoured techniques in such situations to dislodge such infestations I tried coughing violently ,but in vain I remembered the father being pitted against violent beings regularly would hardly find my efforts worthy of his attention ,I tried moving away from him as I moved to front but he descended more now literally sleeping halfway in my seat ,matters were grave indeed .serious measures had to be taken to save skin and soul so this time I gave a fairly violent shake I woke up the father who mumbled some inanity and promptly hung his head the other side into space ,I congratulated myself for exorcising him successfully .so the night passed .
The morning sunlight streamed into the bus as a welcoming Bangalore approached, the father was quietly reading a paper, he looked positively harmless as he gave me a sly grin while I alighted, incredulous, I wondered whether I had been on a ride or been taken for a ride by an exorcist !


Ps : truly happened

Thursday, August 16, 2007

shirtless jerkoffs/shakeoffs

Shirtless Shakeoffs:

I should confess this title for the anecdote I plan to relate isn’t very tasteful and gives lurid suggestions, the first part of it harmless but the second a trifle lewd indeed.
It all happened once when I held the pompous post of a president of a fledgling social organization.
As part of the effort to boost its sagging spirits I decided to hold a state seminar (as done usually) gathering all my organization capabilities meager though they were.
Important functionaries were invited, bouquets bought, smiling children made available for bouquet presentations, all the finest of details gone into with microscopic precision and perfection.
Event management was certainly looking a distant career option if my present profession ever failed me ,I imagined myself holding conventions and star nites ,TV channels focusing their harsh lights on me while I conducted the proceedings with a cool smile and Teutonic efficiency .
The D day morning came and I hopped into the car with my second in command to personally escort the chief guest, a famous politician, known for his connections in the right and mostly the wrong places to the venue.
The huge gates of his house opened and barking dogs were kept in bay by resident domestics.
we were asked to wait in the sitting room ,by a man Friday more immaculately dressed than me and we sunk into the deep cushions , the clock ticked away and my mind raced to the auditorium where the millions ( actually a few hundreds ) waiting would be in a fury at the absence of expected activity .
Time for the politician who was the chosen chief guest wasn’t a very dear commodity specially that day as the rating he had given me and my meeting would have been pretty low.
Suddenly a charming well dressed lady looking like a movie star came and welcomed us pleasantly, she said her husband was having his bath and we would have to wait for some time more. Meanwhile we could have tea.
I mumbled about how grateful our organization was to her husband being the great man he is had agreed to come to our meeting and be its chief guest, what a honor! blah blah
As I sipped the tea I suddenly remembered the plastic bag I was carrying, in it was the new shirt I bought for the momentous occasion of my welcome speech and I planned to don it at the last moment possible, as I would like to present an unwrinkled countenance in the rare occurrence of total attention focused on me by all
Well why not I thought, this would be the best time, so I murmured “madam I just want to change my shirt, can I do it somewhere.”
The lady was very hospitable and didn’t bat an eye at my request (probably all organizers who came to invite her hubby changed shirts here routinely) she just pointed me to the bedroom nearby
“You can change in there “
I went in and locked the door, luxurious indeed these netas lived in style I thought,
I quickly removed my shirt and the cool gust of the AC caught my naked chest ,I felt fresh like a flower ,looking into the big mirror I couldn’t resist giving a WWF pose bunching my muscles and giving a menacing grin ,
what looked back at me from the mirror was not only a funny me but also a hairy pot bellied spectacle with a dripping scalp in the background and this thing had just come out of the bathroom .
I let out a shriek at the apparition !
on closer scrutiny of its face it took a striking resemblance to my politician guest of the day,
My God it was indeed him stepping out of his bath ,a short towel riding over his bulbous paunch,
The expressions that flitted through his surprised mind at seeing a shirtless spectacled idiot in his bedroom making monkey signs to his mirror were myriad and his face suffused with anger and confusion crimson in color merging slowly into red and he burst into an apoplexy of anger
he boomed shaking my soul to smithereens.
I gathered whatever little of my lost dignity and gave him a winning smile
We organization presidents had always the presence of mind and custom made smiles
Ever ready was our universal mottos
“ Sir , I had come to invite you for the seminar .you know the seminar .”
He looked hard finding it difficult to comprehend and digest the message and he asked
“What what ? ? .”
“So, what are you doing in my bedroom bare chested ?.”
He had a point there, Hamletian indeed difficult to answer that question ,and no clues too
But I wasn’t put off
You want to debate count me in dear chap ,nothing puts us off
My dear man thought I ,
I can talk to you for hours on any topic even if it is on my shirtless status
TRUTH boomed my conscience that is what is needed now, made to order for the sticky situation
“ Well Sir ‘ I began “ your wife asked me to go in and do so .”

Like a burnt Ravan in a Ramlila I saw him falling down with a thud.
And thus that day to me ended outside an Intensive Care Unit of the local hospital ,instead of a seminar hall,
It ended with me praying for a politician who suffered a heart attack ,to recover and have eternal amnesia.


p.s: folks this is a real story slightly dressed up for brevities sake

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

India has made a paradigm shift from just a decade ago; it now has the confidence along with the world of its sure progress in the days ahead.
Its vast economic potential has always been hampered by the slow pace of governance and administrative hiccoughs .These are bound to change in the future with acts like the right to information and similar policies of transparencies
History has shown that India went through golden ages when the rest of the world lived in prehistoric savagery .The Indus valley civilization five millenniums ago ,Maurya ,Chola and Gupta dynasties two millenniums before ,Our rich heritage in science ,art ,literature ,religion ,was beyond compare .With China India could take pride of place as one of the worlds greatest and oldest civilization .we missed the bus in the past few centuries when foreign invasions and internecine warfare between our rulers made us weak. Democracy heralded our country to great expectations only to be belied by weak political leaderships with myopic vision who split the country by caste, and religion and weakened it, this continues today.
What is it that makes us think the wheel is turning and India will attain its glory in the coming decade?
The demographic ratio of a country is a surefire index of its future; it depicts the independent population of a country that is the percentage of its subjects who is its workforce, the age group between 25 to 60.
In India in 2004 out of a population of a 1080 million this was about 672 million with the balance being dependent .In developing countries the ratio is in favor of the dependents .The average age of the population of our country being a young twenty nine with countries like Japan having this number as forty eight.
Foreign investments are rising at phenomenal rates in spite of poor infrastructure and stagnancy in political decisions.
Companies like IBM.Motorola, Microsoft, and Hewlett Packard have not hesitated to be part of the Indian basket.
India could do well in pharmaceuticals, education, medicine, Information technology, and service industry to name a few.
Its vast resources could be a potential for great development by agriculture
As Bimal Jalan the former governor of the Reserve Bank of India in his book “The Future of India .’,feels it is the politics ,economics ,and governance of our country, their interface and combined effects on the functioning of our democracy that will determine its future .
He feels the present euphoria will last only if there is political will to seize the new opportunities that arise.
A future close enough to be seen can be in our grasp when there is more accountability with a strengthened judiciary, effective ways to curb corruption and enhance fiscal viability
Labor laws are overtly protective today unlike in countries like China this should be shifted to a more collaborative and participatory module
Sashi Tharoor the former U.N. official ,author and India watcher feels India needs seven attributes for its progress into the decade ahead ,they are to maintain its pluralism ,its richness of variety and equal opportunities to its integrated mosaic subjects, its democracy which has to be strengthened ,it has to tackle its poverty ,control its population and change its demographic profile ,strengthen federalism and its economic reforms and employment .
Its expatriate force could contribute to a great extent as the present overseas remittances amount to more than 21 billion dollars.
Pankaj dubey a media and development consultant based in Delhi feels that the best things going for a bright future for India today is its youth,its latent entrepreneurship, which had always been watered down by restrictive policies is now opening up to a newer and more freer ambience ,the world today values intellectual capital more than any other physical resource which is an advantage for India ,rapidly rising literacy rate specially among the youth and finally the explosion of information technology capabilities where the country is emerging as a world leader
The future ahead for our country is bright but behind the rosy facade we should realize that for every skyscraper a slum hides behind it ,for every booming Indian city a naxalite village explodes in anger ,for every child who goes abroad to study there will be ten who cannot even study an alphabet.
Ballooning population ,crippling poverty, failing agriculture, growing militancy have to negotiated within the norms of free state .India has never taken recourse to tinpot solutions but stood steadfast in its democratic principles against all these odds .
Tarun tejpal of Tehelka .com feels that in India a country, as complex and desperate, as old and modern riven by many contestations the only dogma for its future lies in that of Mohandas Gandhi and its unrelenting belief in humanism...
Lasting change does not come overnight it is a process staying afloat on dialogue and empathy.
India in the coming decade will soar ahead ,of this there is no doubt but to what height and how it would land on its progress would depend on the combination of all these factors listed and to make the dreams become true there is need to work for it and believe in it .

Monday, August 13, 2007

Seven Years in Tibet review

Seven years in Tibet is an excellent adaptation of a book of the same name written by the author as a true story .
It is about Herr Heinrich Harrer an Austrian mountain climber known for his flamboyance and skills .
Played to the hilt by a handsome Bradd Pitt the 70 million $ movie is directed by Jean Jaques Anoud .
In 1939 Harrer and his friend are part of an expedition to conquer Nanga Parbat and are the darling of the media as thier challenge is for German pride .
Harrer is not much bothered about his pregnant wife as he is focussed on his conquests .
War is declared when the mountain is being climbed and the Germans are captured as Prisoners of war by the British who rule India then .
Transferred to the Dehra dun prison ,Harrer comes to know that a son was born to him and his wife had left him for another .
He tries to escape several times in vain but finally suceeds teaming up though reluctantly with climbing guide peter Aufschnaiter ( played by David Thewlis pretty well ) .
After several hardy days when they are buffeted away from Tibet which is forbidden to foriegners they suceed in landing up in Lhasa ,the abode of the Dalai lama who is a child at that time .
with time they are accepted by the establishment and Harrer becomes close to theDalai lama himself and becomes his teacher in so many ways .
He develops a fatherly instinct to the child lama as he yearns for his never seen son .
The Harrer who was a self centred person turns into a thoughtful and loving person with thoughts centred on his faraway son .
Slowly time passes seven years roll by ,by then China had decided to stamp Tibet under its boots and Harrer is made to leave for his country by ,a now thoughtful adolescent Dalai lama who would shortly go to India in exile .
Harrer goes back to Germany and meets his son ,gets him back ,and trains him to be a mountaineer.
in real life Harrer continues to be a close friend of the Dalai lama even today !

A wondeful true story pictured with poetry and imagination .
It is a treat to watch .I would advise none to miss this movie .


Thursday, August 09, 2007

dr speedo

I had to interview Dr .Speedo today to meet the deadline given to me by the editor and it wasn’t easy as he literally has wheels on his feet
one had to be on the go to catch up with him .
Dr .Speedo was my friend ,but behind wheels he became a changed person
My phone calls to his mobile were always answered from different locations .
Here goes …….

Me : hey where are you ?.
Him : I have left Nagercoil and on way to Trivandrum ,yes I just reached it now ,am going through it and now left it ,phew ……
Today morning he said he was in kundanoor bridge and could meet me in three minutes in his hospital which was ten km away !
I took those three minutes to meet him there just a few metres from my house
He sailed in as promised smoke spewing from the rear of his jet.
I told him of the interview needed for the article on him

Me : Hi Returning from another drive ?
Him : Ya ,Dr speedo grinned wickedly , nice fun it was , I slithered in between a bus and a container and they made way for me !ha ha ,he grinned sardonically
Me : Hardly fun , quite risky
Him : It is all in the attitude greater the speed ,more fun
Me : O.k lets start the interview ,look when did this craze for speed begin ?
Him : In childhood ,I was fast in everything from drinking milk to to letting it out you know what I mean ! and in school I used to race in my cycle, later my scooter and finally my car in college .real fast life indeed .
Me : like P.T.Usha ?
Him : I used to run well too ,
when in trouble run madly that was my motto ,and I had plenty of chances to be in running mode ,training all the time so I became an expert
Me : of getting into trouble and running ?
Him : true all events in life have a purpose and meaning says Paulo Coelho in his The Alchemist .( speedo as philospher )
Me:Any astrologer read your horoscope ?
Him : He delivered a fast report and declared my stars as racing
Me : You were a fast one I suppose with the gals too
Him : not as fast I wish I was ,but I did pull a couple of fast ones on some ,and had faster reactions , in fact those reactions precisely was what made me learn to get away fast ,I mean exit fast from the place before damage occurred
Me : so you perfected the art of scooting
Him : Necessity is the best teacher .
Me : and then
Him : Then came family life ,here too I fastly had three kids .
Me : then did you slow down ?
Him ; no way you had to be fast all the time for a triple tier job
I became faster ,
speeding in crowded roads became my speciality
Me : oh and how would you do that ?
Him : easy all one had to do was just close the eyes and step on the pedal and you zipped away
Me :close your eyes ! you would hit on something
Him : no generally people and things move away seeing my coming and then I close eyes only for a fraction of a second ,then I swerve ,careen ,crawl and jump
Me : what ?
Him : Atheletic driving is tough to learn
Me : where did you learn that ?
Hi ,I had intensive training from Cochin city buses by long hours of observation of their great drivers , my revered Gurus ,praise be to them ,I learnt to bend my vehicle through obstacles .or jump over them ,my cars were like rubber to me ,I perform what they call my feats as vehicle circus .It is great sport .
Me You still take classes ?
Him : After my formal deeksha ,I still meet my masters and go for a driving discussion on and off
Me : You mean you drive and discuss
Him : No we drive others from the road as we discuss
Me : Why ?
Him : it gives drive to the discussion !
Me ::I think your concentration is total while driving otherwise ?
Hi : No no I give it only a small part of my mind ,I make my phone calls, click my fingers to music ,tap my feet as if Iam dancing with khusboo , pull up my pant zip without catching anything on the way .
Me : you mean ,something could be caught on the way
Him : no no not that ,it is safely hidden .I mean what I meant was ,on the road ,not catching anything on the road
Me : oh !
Me: I usually have my breakfast while driving
Him but , you need 2 hands for that
Me; I have that
Me : but you need at least one for driving
Him so what are legs for ?
Me Arent they are needed for the clutch and accelarator ?
Hi :My co driver helps me in such situations ,
Me:dual driving?
Him : it is a bit difficult but we manage
Me : made for each other
Him : ya ,one drives me for life and I drive for her for life
Me : are you the driver or the driven ?
Him : Iam driven to be a driver !
Me : Tell me what do you feel when you are speeding at 140 kmph
Him : on top of the world ,I get my ultimate high
Me : Do you ever slow down ?
Him: That is a word you wont find in my dictionary , slowing for me is shame ,I do that only when I get down from the car .
Me : what is your advice to others ?
Him : Speed is sexy ,fast is fabulous ,racing is randy ,
Me : When are you ever slow ?
Him :when I am not driven to driving .
With those final words he slammed the door of his car and disappeared into thin air
I plodded home like a snail .

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

ayyala arab dance

From the balcony in my Hilton room ,I face the towering Jebel hebit 13 km away but lit like a christmas tree in the night ,with roads winding up its 4000feet ,and with this in the horizon my gaze lands on the green vast lawns of the hotel besides the modern road with fast cars zipping by .the lawn becomes colourful at least weekly once as traditonal arab dancers of Ayyala descend on it and it is fun to watch them though the repetition gets monotonous after a few hours .they arrive in many cars by 5pm and arrange themselves in two rows facing each other ,music is by one person with a huge keyboard and electronic drums which probabably makes up for all the traditional instruments .there are lulls when it all stops and shulaimaniya is served in Arab jugs ( straight from arabian nights indeed ),then they go around greting each other touching thier foreheads and noses as a sign of welcome andd greeting .adults bend down to children and do the same all with equal effortsthen they start again ,but the music and rhythm doesnt change at all .this is what I found out about it in the webArabic music is traditionally accompanied by percussion instruments like drums and tambourines, wind instruments such as the soft Arabian flute called Nai, and string instruments such as the Rababa, violin and tanboura. Town songs, sea chantys and desert songs are popular, while ancient beats and songs have deeply influenced modern singing styles.The Ayyala, an ancient dance form that emulates battle, is one of the more fascinating forms of Arabic dance practiced in the UAE.The Ayyala, an ancient dance form that emulates battle, is one of the more fascinating forms of Arabic dance practiced in the UAE. The Ayyalah is accompanied solely by drums. The leader of the ensemble is the big drum, known as Al-Ras. Its solid, deep voice sets the beat for the three smaller Takhamir drums.Tambourines are sometimes used, too; these are known as Duffuf or Tiran.The ensemble is sometimes completed by the use of copper cymbals. The dance is performed by at least 25 men, and sometimes by as many as 200. They stand in two rows, facing each other, arms linked. As they wave camel sticks in front of them, they sway back and forth to the beat and each row sings, in a declaration of challenges and boasts to the opposite side

Saturday, August 04, 2007

arabikatha a review

strange that i should write a review of a movie i saw just before i left to arabia !

a good movie taken by lal jose on communism ,its philosphy and its slide to the present state.

i too believe communism is an excellent philosophy but has never been practical for humans going by thier nature .

Inequalities exist however we wish them away or deny them ,

thus communist countries always had an elite party group which became the big brother and dictated to others ,ultimately leading to the mighty fall of the doctrine ,

a few places like china ,cuba and of course our very own kerala,bengal ,tripura breathe by thier beaten slogans and are boosted by coalition defences .

The kerala brand of marx and engels has specially been different and it is this that is exposed in this movie .

Cuba mukundan the protaganist briliantly portrayed by srinivasan is a born communist with a veteran partyman for his father ,conned by his colleague who wished him away from the country so that he can get the mla candidature of debts to be cleared mukundan flies to the bouergaise dubai to work and redeem his father ,the only solace for him is his parties command to him to take a note of workers problems in the gulf which sadly crashes into cowardice at the sight of a burly pakistani supervisor .

the life of a kerala worker is depicted nicely and thier hardship and comradery goes beyond parties ,conned again by a thiruvananthapuram slicker who takes his job and by jayasurya who cheats him his chitty gains ,he falls for a chinese pirate cd seller in the streets of dubai ( china is the sole attraction here remember our comrades demanding chinese quotations inspite of security denials for vizhinjam harbour)

one has to appreciate the acting prowess of abdullah a real life businessman in this movie

i also think our atlas jewelery ceo janakodikallude fame acted but was a dud

finally mukundan retires to a distant farm and works hard dressing in the local dress and makes a lot of money ,his friends come to dubai ,expose the villain who is now a minister and takes him back to kerala to work sincerely for the people which lal says is the definiton of a true communist ,very true comrades

i found here in gulf the government quite concerned of workers rights and insist that all construction workers should be given rest facilites between 12.30 and 3pm in summer and any company not doing so are taken to tasks ,

but our chaps would plan strikes ,hartals and see theat companies are closed or threaten the public with attimari

lal salaam

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