Archive for November, 2009

"Tr 240"

“Have an eye on Tr 240. He is smart, no doubt. He is well-read and knows everything about our movement”, the Captain told his chosen disciples.

“Boss, I’ve been watching him from day one. He is so dedicated to the movement that everything else is secondary to him; even his food.” One of the disciples assured the boss. “That’s why I am a bit cautious. He should not commit any blunder in order to prove his commitment to our secret plans”, the boss cautioned the disciples.

“Ok boss, we will be watchful. How about entrusting him with some minor attacks to test his ability?” a disciple asked.

“Not necessary – let us wait”, the boss replied. Even as they were talking about him, Tr 240 himself came running, all smiles. Without waiting for any question from the boss, he sprang a surprise. “Boss, I’ve managed to obtain permission to put up a stall at the exhibition ground. The officer concerned did not budge when I produced a false application. In the identify card it was my photo but i changed my name and address. I gave him Rs. 500/- and he issued the permission letter”.

“What’s your plan?” the boss interrupted.

“I have brought some expensive toys from the city and am going to sell them at half the rate… No one had any suspicion about these items.” Then he whispered into the ears of the boss, “One of the boxes contains our stuff… I mean, the explosives… I can use them when the chief guest arrives… without any suspicion.”

The boss asked the others to leave the place immediately and took him to his chamber and told him in a hushed voice, “You have to be very, very careful… ok? In case you are caught what will you do?” “I have 3 or 4 capsules in my pocket I’ll swallow them…”

“OK”, the boss said. But Tr 240, instead of going out of the chamber, picked up a hammer which was lying on the floor and hit the boss on his knee and when the boss raised a pathetic cry, he said “Boss, how do you feel? This is what we call PAIN”. And, even as the boss was wincing with pain, he gave him several blows with the hammer and said, “The police, will take care of you… Yeah, they are already there. Bye then”.

LINGUISTIC FANATICISM IN INDIA

When the unity of a country is at stake, that country has to be alert and its national leaders and intellectuals, irrespective of their political background or social status should stand together and mobilize public opinion against those who sabotage the unity.

Of late, India has been witnessing several unpleasant incidents triggered by linguistic fanatics and parochial elements who are targeting those who don’t speak the local language or migrants from certain states. The other day, a bedlam was created by such ultra regionalists when an MLA took his oath in a language which was not the local tongue. The News Papers or TV News channels who criticize them are doing it at their own risk. Instances are not rare when these fanatics raid a Newspaper office or a TV Station to attack the staff or the materials used by them. The problem with these fanatics is that they foolishly believe that their language and culture are the best and naturally their loyalty does not go beyond their state.

Since this dangerous trend is seen in many states and it is one of the major causes for law and order problem, the Govt of India cannot afford to maintain a studied silence. It is high time the government acted quickly and decisively to put an end to such movements which undermine the unity of the county.

LOW BUDGET MOVIES AND NEW FACES

We have the Indian versions of Hollywood which we call Bollywood, Kollywood etc. The Stars acting in smaller “Woods” would migrate to Bolly wood or Kolly wood at the opportune moment but it is an uphill task since the producers and the Directors of Bollywood have their own reservations about new comers and the ones belonging to smaller “woods”!

Most of the Box-office hits of the Bollywood or other “woods’ are old wine in New bottles but the viewers wont compromise on stars and the typical roles exacted by them. The amount invested on such movies run into millions but the profit margins have been substantial till recently. Of late, the picture is not all that rosy as it used to be and one of the reasons for this is said to be the fantastic demands made by the top artistes. Most of them are 60+ who could be replaced by new faces and there is no dearth of new faces who are capable of acting better than so called evergreen stars. Bollywood and the likes should switch over to low-budget films which need not be the good old ‘Masala movies’ and it will soon become a habit with the viewers. Very soon, the people will forget old heroes and will accept new faces and new stories.

Nostalgia

First things first. After visiting all the temples as planned we had our breakfast and returned to our room for a catnap; but I was making a mental picture of that place where we lived long long ago. Without any rhyme or reason my mind fished out the slogan, “Mahatma Gandhi ki jai, Pandit Nehru ki jai…..India will be free……” Then that song, “lenthakkuru kondoru…..” and I remembered that intoxicated man who used to sing that song every evening as he moved along that narrow path with erratic steps…..everything was clearly visible to my mind’s eye. Soon I returned to the real world so that I won’t go to that place with any pre-conceived notion.

A couple of kilometers away from the city the place I was longing to see had changed a lot. All those coconut trees have disappeared and there were ultra modern houses and broad roads. My initial enthusiasm seemed to vanish because nothing resembling the picture I have in my mind of that place could be seen. But the auto driver assured that in a couple of minutes all my doubts will vanish. “Just look at that pool”, he said and there it was! The very same pool where we (my mom and siblings) used to have our bath every morning. The banyan tree at the corner of the pool was very much there.

Then I wasted no time, I stood under the banyan tree for a while, “dirty fellows, this big soap will last only for two or three days”, our mom used to tell us while removing the dirt from our feet. The home where we lived was only a few yards from that pool. My excitement knew no bounds when I located that compound. Of course, the old house has disappeared and there was a big one. But to my joy that well was very much there, though it appeared very small now. In those days, it looked so big and fearsome, may be because of the nightmarish experience I had had one evening when no elders were at home.

I moved slowly along the narrow path close to that house. It was familiar to us in those days, and believe me or not, though it is long ago since we left the place the narrow path has not changed a bit. “Mahatma Gandhi ki jai”….. or that familiar song, “lenthakkuru kondoru…..” kept ringing in my ear when I moved along that narrow path.

Suddenly I was reminded of the auto rickshaw driver who was waiting for me near the pool. And I returned to that place with a sense of fulfillment.

Nature in all her glory!

I felt as if we were being accorded a standing ovation by the trees on either side of the road as our car was speeding along the Ooty-Gudalur highway. Not to lag behind, the birds too did their best to make our journey pleasant and comfortable.

As you proceed, you get a glimpse of the distant hills but in a jiffy, it could be a quiet-flowing river or a tea garden as the road ahead is full of sharp curves or U turns. For an hour or so, there was practically none on the road except a few birds on their wings or some lazy, well-built cows but when it was 4.30 pm or so, we saw some school children, leisurely walking on the road. From the colour of their uniforms, it was evident that there were two or three schools in that area, hiding behind pine and Eucalyptus trees!

Habits die hard. Even as I was enjoying every bit of the long-winding journey, I was craving for a cup of coffee and luckily, there were a few coffee stalls here and there. The driver seemed to be smart enough to read my mind and stopped the car and said, “Sir there is a restaurant up there”. I got out and bought a cup of coffee and looked around. Wow, “Wherever my casual eyes are cast, it is trees and meadows”! In the excitement, I almost forgot the purpose of our journey.

Nature kept us company throughout our journey or rather, till we reached the city limits in the plains.

Autumn festival in Ooty

In Ooty, the pedestrians have to wait for a long time to cross the road; more so, during summer holidays when there would be an endless flow of vehicles. At times, you would be held up by long-winding processions of slogan-shouting politicians. Some pedestrians are smart enough to squeeze themselves through narrow gaps between vehicles or people. When  I find myself in such a position, I wait patiently till there is sufficient time and gap to cross the road or when I am in a hurry, I simply whisper “Shit” or “my goodness!”

 The other day, there was an endless procession when I came out of a shop and on seeing it my immediate reaction was more or less the same but my mood changed as soon as I saw some tribal youngsters in their traditional dress dancing their way forward. Most of them were slim figures but their energy and enthusiasm belied their physical appearance. The sound of their drums reverberated the atmosphere. They were followed by the white-clad tribal women dancing and moving in a circle. Then, there were school girls dressed like rural women and boys who looked as much rural as those girls. Then there was a train on the road! Closely following the train were several decorated vehicles.

 It was a wonderful show on the move, transcending all barriers of caste, colour or creed. Though the whole show was part of the on-going Autumn festival, we want more of it.