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Showing posts from October, 2017

Mona Lisa

What is it that you’re hiding Sweet Mona Lisa Behind the pale sadness Of your veiled naughtiness? Did the one whom you loved Eject you conveniently? With an excuse like: “Oh, I didn’t mean that at all! Never meant that!” Do you still carry love in your heart For that silly, shallow flirt? Do memories refuse to wean themselves And feed your heart with sweetness Whose delusion garbles The contours of your lips? And the glitter of your eyes? Is it pain deep within That makes you smile Pregnant with meanings?

വില്ലന്റെ സുവിശേഷം - movie review

"There is a hero in every villain and there is a villain in every hero."  വില്ലൻ എന്ന പുതിയ സിനിമയുടെ സാരോപദേശം അതാണ്.  സിനിമയുടെ ഒടുവിൽ ആവർത്തിച്ചാവർത്തിച്ചു നമ്മെ പഠിപ്പിക്കാൻ വേണ്ടി മാത്രം ഉണ്ടാക്കിയ ഒരു ഡയലോഗ് ആണത്.  കാണികളെ എന്തൊക്കെയോ പഠിപ്പിക്കാൻ വേണ്ടി മാത്രം ഉണ്ടാക്കിയ ഒരു സിനിമയാണ് മോഹൻ ലാലിന്റെ വില്ലൻ എന്ന് തോന്നിപ്പോയി അത് കണ്ടുകൊണ്ടിരുന്നപ്പോൾ. New Gen movieയും ക്‌ളാസിക്കൽ സിനിമയും ഇണ ചേരുന്ന ഒരു പ്രതീതിയാണ് ഈ സിനിമ കണ്ടപ്പോൾ എനിക്കുണ്ടായത്. തമിഴും ഹിന്ദിയും ഇന്ഗ്ലീഷും ഒക്കെ മലയാളവുമായി ഇണ ചേർന്ന്, വില്ലനും ഹീറോയും ഇണ ചേർന്ന്, New Genഉം ക്ലസ്സിസിസവും ഇണ ചേർന്ന്, ഒരുപാട് പഴകിയ പ്രതികാര ഇതിവൃത്തം പുനരാവിഷ്‌ക്കരിക്കുകയാണ് മോഹൻ ലാലിന്റെ വില്ലൻ. കാണികളുടെ ഭാവനയെ ഈ സിനിമ ഒരിടത്തും തൊടുന്നില്ല എന്നതാണ് പ്രശനം. ആരോ കൊണ്ടുവന്നേൽപിച്ച ഒരു boring jigsaw puzzle കൂട്ടിവയ്ക്കാൻ ശ്രമിക്കുന്ന ആളിന്റെ വികാരമാണ് കാണിക്ക് ഈ സിനിമ കണ്ടുകൊണ്ടിരിക്കുമ്പോൾ ഉണ്ടാകുക. ഇത്രയൂം cliched ഡയലോഗ് ഞാൻ അടുത്ത കാലത്ത് ഒരു സിനിമയിലോ പുസ്‌തകത്തിലോ സഹിക്കേണ്ടി വന്നിട്ടില്ല എന്നത് എന്റെ സ്വക

My Vegetarianism

I can relish a chicken biryani or a KFC salver when I am hungry enough.  But nothing entices me as much as a good vegetarian spread.  Vegetarian food is like a gentle breeze that tickles your entrails as it moves on to enliven your soul while its meaty counterparts are like a whirlwind that shakes up your neurons into a wild frenzy.  Frenzy is a welcome relief once in a while. Given a choice, I would opt for the leaves, roots and grains rather than the flesh and tissues.  But I am not at all fussy when it comes to food which I require in a small quantity.  Moreover, some of the finest human beings I have come across are omnivorous people.  The so-called “pure vegetarians” were sheer boors in my personal experience.  They have unwarranted feelings of superiority and tend to impose their views on others.  Most of the compassionate people I have come across in my personal life are all omnivorous.  All the people with whom I enjoyed convivial moments over a drink, while in Delhi, w


St Rita of Casia: Patron of abused wives and widows I grew up hearing stories about Jesus and his saints.  They were usually fantastic exaggerations like Saint Francis talking to birds or Saint George saving an innocent girl from a monstrous dragon.  So when I read about Saint Rita of Casia in Marquez’s autobiography, Living to Tell the Tale , I burst into laughter.  Marquez says that his mother used to narrate the story to the children. Rita of Casia had an alcoholic husband.  He returned home one night maddened by alcohol.  Rita’s hen had just left her droppings on the dining table.  Rita didn’t get the time to clean the immaculate tablecloth as the husband staggered in.  She managed to place an inverted plate over the hen’s droppings before asking her drunk husband, “What would you like to eat?” The man growled, “Shit.” Rita just lifted the plate and said with her saintly sweetness, “Here you are.” The husband was amazed by the miracle.  He was convinced by his

The Scent of Incense

I love the scent of smouldering incense sticks.  At some indeterminate point of time, quite many years back, I started keeping incense sticks in my living room.  I cannot recall what prompted me to do it.  But it became a habit, almost a ritual.  I fell in love with the scent.  The habit continues to this day when I’m living in Kerala where windows are normally kept open and fresh, uncontaminated, arboreal air circulates in the rooms. The habit was born while I lived in Delhi where windows were practically useless except for sticking up water-based coolers in scorching summer.  Windows remain closed in Delhi irrespective of the season.  Delhi air is dense with exhaust fumes and suffocating dust.  Delhiites breathe the same air that they exhale when they are inside their house unless it is air-conditioned.  Air-conditioners are for the bosses and the affluent.  Some of the others like me purified the air in their rooms with smouldering incense sticks.  A friend from Kerala who

I have no nostalgias

Nostalgia wipes away bad memories and magnifies good ones , says Gabriel Garcia Marquez in his autobiography, Living to Tell the Tale .  [I have modified his words a little and hence no quotation marks.]  Now I know why I have no nostalgias.  It’s very amusing when I come to think about it.  I lived in quite a few places in South India, and then in Shillong and Delhi.  I lived with all sorts of people in these places, people belonging to different religions, castes, tribes, and cultures.  These places and people have given me a lot of memories but no nostalgia whatever.   There were so many funny people who provided a whole lot of entertainment to me all along the way.  However, those experiences become entertainment only when I look back from the distance of today.  Standing on “a heap of broken images” of an Eliotean Waste Land, I have little to long for from those days which are lost permanently (and mercifully?) anyway.    My fears and desires, joys and sorrows were

The Taj Mahal and Sir Isaac Newton

My wife and the Taj - Romance in 2011 “The Taj Mahal rises above the banks of the river like a solitary tear suspended on the cheek of time,” wrote Rabindranath Tagore.  The amazing monument has stirred the imagination of many poets, novelists as well as simple travellers like me.  The very image of the Taj conjures up a melange of feelings and fantasies in me.  I have visited it twice and would love to visit many more times if people like Sangeet Som don’t bring it down before I go down.  I have no great regard for Shahjahan.  He appears as a villain in one of my stories .  His wife, Mumtaz Mahal, for whom the white marble monument was constructed, was not monumentally great either.  But the Taj Mahal – that’s a marvel, a poem, a romance, a dream, a fantasy.  No, Sangeet Som, I can’t agree an iota with you.  You are a rioter and hence cannot appreciate poetry and romance.  Your heart is filled with black hatred. I feel sorry for you. Around the time the Taj was constru

The Insanity of the Artist

“All artists are crazy.  That’s the best thing about them…. ‘ No excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of madness!’  Do you know who said that?  Aristotle, that’s who .”  One of the characters in Irving Stone’s novel, Lust for Life , makes that observation. Lust for Life is a fictionalised version of Vincent van Gogh’s life.  Van Gogh was as insane as – if not more so than – his contemporary artists like Paul Gaugin.  Van Gogh was so abnormal that women thought him despicable.  None of his family members, except his brother Theo, could bring themselves to like him. All genuine artists including creative writers possess a degree of insanity.  Normal people follow the norms made by the society.  Normal people believe that life is all about eating, copulating, and conquering.  The horrendous ugliness of that normal existence is what triggers the artist.  The artist is in search of something beyond food, sex and wealth.  That is his insanity. The normal person knows that t

Seller of Dreams

Fiction “You sell dreams, don’t you?” I asked.  The lottery man looked at me rather bewildered. I knew him for many years.  He used to sell Kerala government’s lottery tickets in the small town a few kilometres from my village.  Whenever he met me in the town he would come to me with a lottery ticket which I normally purchased in order not to disappoint him.  I never won any prize. The lottery man smiled at me having overcome his bewilderment.  “What will life be without dreams?” he asked. “Has anyone who bought tickets from you ever won a prize?” I was curious. He hesitated a moment.  “Yes, up to ₹5000.”  The chance of winning a bigger prize would be something like 0.000001.  I looked at the ticket he had handed me.  Its number was a six digit figure.  There would be 5 or 6 series of such 6-digit numbers.  No wonder the lottery man could not produce even a single winner of a sizeable prize though he was in the profession for over many years. “Even winning

So easy to hurt you

It’s so easy to hurt you Words are knives Sometimes silence cuts deeper I wonder whether my gaze hurts too That’s why I suggest the safety of distance in spite of its terror whether we’ll miss each other or forget each other The consolation shall be mine that I’m not the one who extracts bleeding lines from your heart

God's Love Song

I willed my being into an extension And the cosmos was born in a Bang: Every birth is a terror and a joy, Every creation an extension of a core. I live, move, and have my being In all that is, and that shall be, Much as in the core that sits here. Hypothesis is what the creation was When I let myself go in a bang: An overflow of love infinite. Experiment is what the creation is When I add patterns in the mosaic: A sporting game of love unremitting. Abel was I, much as Cain was. I am the turbulence of the rolling waters, The rage of blasting bombs and fleeting bullets, The hunger in the eyes of widows and babies, The roar of the clouds, and the grace of the rainbow. And the nailed wail on the crucifix. Evolution is what the creation is, of The hell and the heaven that I am. PS. I wrote this poem about 20 years ago. Bringing it back for Indispire Edition 191 :  #Poem

India’s Hunger

When the BJP government took over governance in 2014, India stood at rank 55 in the Global Hunger Index.  The country slipped down to rank 80 the very next year, to 97 last year, and stands at disgraceful 100 this year.   Times Now says that “India ranks lower than all its neighbouring countries – Nepal (72), Myanmar (77), Bangladesh (88), Sri Lanka (84) and China (29) - except Pakistan, which has been placed at 106th in the global hunger list.” The gap between BJP’s promises in its election manifesto as well as the Prime Minister’s endless rhetoric and the actual reality is starkly glaring.  It’s no wonder the Prime Minister is being elevated to the stature of a god.  Temples are being constructed with Mr Narendra Modi as the presiding deity.  Only a god can be as heartless as Mr Modi. Mr Modi has successfully manipulated religious and nationalist sentiments in order to achieve the divine stature that is being attributed to him in the cow belt of the country.  Both rel

Pride and Love

They can destroy me, my boy, but not defeat me. The surge of pride in my veins is what keeps me alive. They mocked me when I returned from the sea day after day without fish. Unlucky fisherman. Santiago the doomed. Santiago the accursed. Santiago the beaten. No, Manolin, no, I could embrace bad luck I could swallow damnation. But defeat? No, Manolin, no. I am Santiago, masterful fisherman. I am Santiago, more man than I am. Old man who wakes up early in order to have one longer day. Beaten I cannot be; destroyed yes if need be. Mine is the turtle’s heart, boy, It beats for hours after it has been cut up. The marlin I hooked had such a heart too. We were brothers, the marlin and I, each one with a heart whose beats matched each other’s. The marlin was my friend and foe at once, my strength and my weakness, my pride and my humility, my master and my victim. I love you, Marlin, That’s why I have to kill you. Else

You are you and I am I

The only quote that graced my study table for years was from Fritz Perls: “I do my thing and you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, And you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful. If not, it can't be helped.” I picked up those lines in my early twenties when I was no more social or sociable than I am today.  I typed it out neatly on a piece of paper which remained on my study table for years.  One guy who befriended me for years and tried his best to make me both social and sociable was quite upset when I refused to dump that inscription.  Not that I didn’t oblige him by making sincere efforts to become more human by joining certain social circles.  But I was a failure.  Rather I made a fool of myself in any group I chose to join.  The realisation that I couldn’t be part of a social group without making a fool of myself prompted me to embrace

Throw me out, man

A Song [I don't know the tune] A thousand times did my mind scream Throw me out Throw me out, man Throw me out I don’t belong to you Where do I belong? Who do I belong to? Not to you, never to you. Never to your lies. Dinna I try to belong? Dinna I try my best? And what you did? You screwed me Screwed me all over. Where do I belong? Who do I belong to? Not to you, never to you. Never to your lies. Bloodsucking vampire is what you are Preaching sucking politics religion Sucked ma trust Ma trust Ma trust Where do I belong? Who do I belong to? Not to you, never to you. Never to your lies.

Chicanery – Learn English: Lesson 1

  Example 1 Addressing a rally in Kerala yesterday, BJP’s high priest Amit Shah accused Kerala of being a killing field.  “More than 120 BJP workers have been martyred,” he declared.  The fact: “Police records with details of every political murder between 2000 and 2017 accessed exclusively by NDTV impugn both the political fronts in Kerala. In the last 17 years, 85 CPM workers, 65 RSS or BJP workers, 11 workers of Congress and IUML each have been killed - mostly by their political rivals including CPM and RSS or BJP.”  [Source: NDTV ] Example 2 Today the assistant high priest Yogi Adityanath addressed the same yatra flagged off yesterday by the Supreme High Priest and said that Kerala should learn how to run hospitals from UP. The fact: Kerala has the best medical care system in the country.  It has efficiently run hospitals in every town and health centres in most villages.  Almost all the villages except in some tribal areas have primary health centres with a var

Life as an expression of oneself

In one of the scenes in Irving Stone’s novel, Lust for Life , Vincent van Gogh walks past the synagogue which excommunicated Baruch Spinoza.  A few blocks away was Rembrandt’s old home.  “He died in poverty and disgrace,” said Van Gogh’s fellow walker, Mendez, about Rembrandt.    Rembrandt died in poverty and disgrace.  Today his paintings are worth millions of dollars.  His masterpiece is valued by art dealers “in excess of $150 million.”  “He didn’t die unhappy, though,” said Van Gogh in response to Mendez. “No,” replied Mendez, “he had expressed himself fully and he knew the worth of what he had done.  He was the only one in his time who did.” Van Gogh – self portrait Source: Wikipedia Some people are like that.  They don’t care what the world thinks of them and of the worth of their work.  Painting is what held Rembrandt together as a man.  It mattered little to him what others thought about his work.  He had to be himself.  There was no other way.  He c

ക്രിസ്ത്യാനികൾ - book review

മാനവ ചരിത്രത്തിന്റെ അവിഭാജ്യമായ ഒരു ഘടകമാണ് മതങ്ങൾ.  ചരിത്രത്തെ രൂപീകരിക്കുന്നതിലും, അതിന്റെ ദിശ മാറ്റുന്നതിലും മതങ്ങൾ വഹിച്ചിട്ടുള്ള പങ്കു വളരെ വലുതാണ്. ഇന്നിനെ മനസിലാക്കാൻ ഇന്നലെകളുടെ ചരിത്രം നാം അറിഞ്ഞേ പറ്റൂ. ഭാവിയിലേക്കുള്ള യാത്രയിൽ ഈ അറിവ് ഏറെ സഹായിക്കുകയും ചെയ്യും. ബോബി തോമസിന്റെ 'ക്രിസ്ത്യാനികൾ - ക്രിസ്തുമതത്തിനൊരു കൈപ്പുസ്‌തകം' എന്ന ഗ്രൻഥം ലോകമെമ്പാടും പടർന്നു വികസിച്ചു കിടക്കുന്ന ക്രിസ്തുമതത്തിന്റെ ഒരു ലഘു ചരിത്രമാണ്. സാധാരണ വിശ്വാസികൾ അവരുടെ മതത്തെ അടുത്തറിയാൻ ആഗ്രഹിക്കുന്നു എങ്കിൽ ഈ പുസ്‌തകം വളരെ സഹായകമാകും. പുസ്‌തകം 4 ഭാഗങ്ങളായി തിരിച്ചിരിക്കുന്നു. 'മരുഭൂമിയിൽ വഴി കാട്ടിയവൻ' എന്ന ഒന്നാം ഭാഗം പഴയ നിയമ ചരിത്രത്തിലൂടെ നമ്മെ കൊണ്ടുപോകുന്നു. മൂന്നു സെമിറ്റിക് മതങ്ങളുടെ പിതാവായ എബ്രഹാം "ചരിത്രപുരുഷനായിരുന്നു എന്ന് വിശ്വസിക്കാൻ കാര്യമായ ന്യായങ്ങളൊന്നുമില്ല" എന്ന് ഗ്രന്‌ഥകർത്താവ് പറയുമ്പോൾ കരളുറപ്പില്ലാത്ത വിശ്വാസിയുടെ സിരകളിൽ ഭക്തിയുടെ നുര പതയാൻ തുടങ്ങിയേക്കാം. പക്ഷെ വായിക്കുന്നതു ചരിത്രം ആണ്, മത ഗ്രൻഥം അല്ല എന്നോർക്കണം. അടിമത്തവും മൃഗബലിയും നില

Why Gandhi is relevant today

When asked whether he was a Hindu, Mahatma Gandhi’s answer was, “I am a Hindu, a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew.”  Gandhi’s vision transcended the narrow boundaries defined by religions though he was deeply religious.  One of the primary functions of religion is to make one a better human being.  A genuinely religious person cannot see other human beings as enemies whatever religion they may belong to, whatever language they may speak, and whatever ideology they may believe in.  Religion is pointless if it does not make the believer compassionate towards his fellow beings. The greatness of Gandhi lies in the inclusiveness of his vision.  He could not hate anyone, not even the British whom he fought until his country won independence from them.  “It is my constant prayer,” Gandhi said, “that I may never have a feeling of anger against my traducers…”  His religion enabled him to overcome such vices as anger and hatred. Religion has a very pragmatic duty to fulfil in Gandhi’s vi