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Taxes and positive thinking

The Communist The Kerala state budget was passed yesterday adding a lot more burden to the people. The prices of most things went up. “Oh my God!” I said reading about the additional cess on petrol. The simple delight of driving will now become dearer. Maggie came rushing hearing my cry of shock. “What happened? Are you ok?” She thought I had developed a sudden heart problem because my palm was on my chest. She came and rubbed my chest frantically. I loved it. If a budget can bring so much love, let there be more budgets even if it means paying what I cannot really afford, I thought as I reclined on my sofa to enjoy Maggie’s caressing palm on my chest. Maggie is no fool, however. “You’re faking it?” She asked. “No, darling,” I said earnestly. “Look at this.” I showed her the newspaper. “So what?” She asked after absorbing the price rises. She has mastered the art of absorbing anything having lived with me for more than quarter of a century. “Even our simple drives will beco
Recent posts

Leila’s Death – A flashback

Book Review Title: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World Author: Elif Shafak Publisher: Penguin 2019 Pages: 310 This is a novel that starts with the death of its protagonist. Leila, a prostitute in Istanbul, is murdered in the night. Her body is found in the morning, dumped among garbage. The message by the killers is that she is garbage. The novel tells her story along with that of a few other people who are social outcasts. Nalan (transvestite), Zaynab (dwarf), Humeyra (unloved daughter-in-law), Jameelah (unloved daughter), and Sinan (helpless, spineless man) are the other major characters. They are all Muslims (that matters). Jameelah is from Somalia and Zaynab from Lebanon. The others are from Turkey itself. They are all driven to Istanbul – “city of the discontented and dreamers” & “city of scars” – by similar reasons except Sinan who came in search of his love, Leila. The plot unfolds mostly in the Street of Brothels and other such shady places. Leila did

Life in a Cemetery

One of the most vivid characters from the Bible for me is the guy who lives in a cemetery . This man hated himself so much that he went mad. Even metal chains failed to bind his madness. He yelled at everybody. He hated everybody. He hated himself so much that he wounded himself. What went wrong with him, we don’t know. Did he slip on a banana peel and was laughed at by people? Was he insulted by a donkey that kicked him in his backside? Did he fall in love with a girl who eventually ditched him and made him feel worthless? He probably envied those who slipped on banana peels but managed without a fall or, better, succeeded in converting their fall into a waltz or something. Maybe, he tried to waltz too and the steps never came right. The song he tried to sing may have jarred. It is even possible that people pulled out the strings of his guitar and made a handcuff for him. Life is like that. I know from experience. If you start falling, people will kick you down to accelerate the

The End of the World

Marine Drive in those good old days [ Times of India] I was sitting in the Subash Chandra Bose Park when someone announced the end of the world on a blaring loudspeaker. “Repent and make amends,” the speaker was admonishing. The world was going to end soon, according to him. He is one of the myriad religious preachers in Kerala who harp on the theme of apocalypse for various motives the dominant of which is money. Religion is one of the easiest means for making money and the end of the world is a powerful theme. No less a person than Jesus predicted the imminent end of the world 2000 years ago. Not only did the world not end, but the evils that Jesus was trying to bring to an end multiplied in geometric progression. Jesus became a god and the world went on with its usual business. I was thinking of the many apocalyptic predictions like the Mayan calendar and the Halley’s Comet panic when someone stood in front of me calling my name. It was Henry, my classmate at St Albert’s Colle

Write a page a day - Preface

Writing a page a day is not as tedious as watering the garden or assessing your students' assignments. There are some people who can talk and talk endlessly on any topic provided they get a microphone and an audience. Once a student told me that his father could talk endlessly without any topic. I found out that the man was a politician. Writing is for me what speaking is to the politician, I think. Give me a laptop and leave me alone and you can get an article in a few minutes. There's so much to write about in the world of humans. You can write about Eliot's Prufrock and the latter's women who came and went talking about Michelangelo. See, politicians can't do that. Because they don't measure out their life with coffee spoons. They do it with bulldozers and earth-movers. You can write about why the dictionary lacks rhyme and reason though it is the most precise book in the world. Or about how such boring things as carbon, hydrogen and oxygen come together to m

When Arif Mohammed Khan becomes a Hindu

Pic from Manorama Arif Mohammad Khan, the governor of Kerala, declared himself a Hindu yesterday while addressing the Hindu Conclave at Thiruvananthapuram. The term Hindu is not religious but geographical, he asserted with his characteristic disarming smile. ‘Hindu’ is a geographical term denoting the people of a region, the whole of India. I was excited. Patriotism surged in my veins. Goosebumps embraced my entire body. I am a Hindu, I said to myself. Now I can enter the temple which has been denying entry to famous people like K J Yesudas because of the temple authority’s ignorance about what ‘Hindu’ means. ‘No entry for non-Hindus,’ says a board outside that temple (and many other temples in Kerala). But my governor gave me hope. So I went to the temple. The board is still there. The temple looks slightly different from usual. The crowd is less and there are a lot of police around. Something is wrong, I can see. Maybe, Mr Khan has inspired a lot of other Indians like me and t

Valli – Review

Title: Valli Author: Sheela Tomy Translated from Malayalam by Jayasree Kalathil Publisher: Harper Perennial 2022 Pages: 407 “It is not the creatures in the forest that we have to fear, it is the creatures among us.” An Adivasi girl named Kali sings those lines in Sheela Tomy’s debut novel, Valli . That is the central message of the novel. Kali is a daughter of the forest. The novel is the story of the degeneration of Wayanad, erstwhile abode of many Adivasis in Kerala. The so-called civilised people from the plains invaded the land of mist and mystery, forests and folklore and brought into it what is known in the mainland as ‘development’. A whole mountain vanished and tourist resorts came up in its place. Forests gave way to townships. “Brokers bringing booze, sex and other amenities into ‘homestays’ sauntered between the township’s grey buildings…” A whole culture that sustained the forests and the hills and the rivers died. It was killed. “Young women transformed themsel