Fun-filled, traumatic, joyous, troublesome, boring, cruel, pleasing, satisfying, challenging, tempting, misleading - yes Life is full of 'em - that is why life is so very SPECIAL - and yet the thrill is in "living" life! And all the accompanying ordeals are the frills attached with the thrills.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

'Showy' Schools

There are loads of writeups already floating around about the huge short-comings of educational institutions especially with respect to schools. I have also made a post touching upon teachers' attitude in handling students here. Though capitation fee may be on top of the misfortunes, what I would like to highlight upon here is the filtering of students based on their learning prowess.

Schools, as far as I know, are institutions to impart knowledge and discipline. Period! But the situation today shatters the very basic morale of running a school. Capitation fee, in a way, maybe justified quoting reason that a school needs money to run. Thats fine if the school is able to balance students who can afford to pay capitation fees and students who cannot. But what is worse is - in a pursuit to keep up its name and fame - most schools resort to handpicking the so called 'bright' students and mercilessly rejecting or dropping out those who do not fall into their desired category.

The ads race which follow soon after the 10th/12th public exam results are also means to attract the new batch of students. "100% pass results" was the norm initially, now adding to these phrases are more glamourous captions like "100% pass for 10 successive years", "100% pass with all first class", "100% with all distinction".

Its a common theory that people's IQ levels are not the same. Infact some grasp things much faster than others. But given the right guidance even the not-so-quick graspers can catch up with the rest - ofcourse with some extra time and effort. Infact, in order not to discourage the so called not-so-quick-learners, the phrase "dull students" has been replaced with "slow learners".
The amount of discouragement such students are subject to is a known story but how worse can it get when that happens in a school! - the very institution where s/he can hope to see some light.

Students who have been associated with a school right from Kinder Garten are dropped post 10th standard or 9th standard owing to their poor performance or just because the school authorities feel they might not fit into their "desired category" and their continuance could jeopardise their so called "remarkable" results.

So what if a school does not achieve 100% results? So what if a school has more slow learners? Wouldn't the worthiness of a school be evident when they are able to pull through such students? Imagine the mental turmoil of the parents who can't even imagine getting admission for the wards just because schools shy away from such students just to safeguard their pride.
Even worse is interviewing a probable L.K.G candidate? How funnier can it get?

A few years back, I remember an interview on TV with the principal of a leading State Board school in Chennai when the school bagged quite a few top ranks in the state. She said "Right from the beginning of 11th standard, we identify the bright students and give them special coaching". I was taken aback. Shouldn't this be done more importantly for the slow learners? Or perhaps were all the so called slow learners dropped post 10th exams?

No point in blaming the schools entirely. What is that the parents look for? If the schools are able to achieve results at any cost - even if it means pressurising their own wards - its fine. What we look for is only the end result!

Time and again, people have been voicing concerns over the educational system especially its grading methodology which negatively segregates students. I am sure there is a way out. Lets hope it happens soon.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Home is where the heart is!

Hurray!!! After being away from India for a little over a year on a work assignment, I am returning back to India next weekend. This has been my longest stint away from home ever since we came back for good from a foreign country about 24 years ago!!

The feeling is obviously BLISS but ofcourse the added frills would be drawing comparisons between the facilities here and the lack of them in India. But hey what the heck? there are many many things that India offers which you cant find them anywhere else!!

East or West, atleast to me - India is the Best!!

Friday, August 10, 2007

It's an ad ad world!

I remember when my friend who was pursuing his MBA talked about advertising. He gave an intersting point about the ads which seem quite lousy. His theory, or probably the general advertising theory was that, for ads to click they have to be extremely impressive or extremely lousy. As I was thinking about this yesterday, I traversed back in time to the days of black and white ads. Advertisements ever remain a child's first favourite on TV. And most of the old day ads, by today's standards, would have been dissmissed as being too lousy but still they did strike a chord with the viewers/listeners.

One of the early ads making a good reach to the viewers was the old Horlicks ad. It was a bit long but a very normal one and that too in B&W with different people in all age groups, from all walks of life, talking a line about Horlicks. There was a sports person, a person dressed as Ravana, a granny saying "Enga ammavum adhe koduppa" and the last line where a kid with a spoon in hand remarks "Kudikka vendam, appadiye saapiduven". This punch line, even to this day, remains a widely remembered ad line. I think much later came the Ujaala ad. There were even jokes and "just a minute" series with the Ujaala slogan : "Neeyum Ujaalavukku maaritiyaa?".

The Nirma song was like the ads' anthem. Everyone could sing it and everyone had their own parodies - one of the most popular one being "Washing Powder Nirma, Adupula vegudhu kurma!". Needless to say that even then there were countless rumours about the ad models then - though they did not get much attention at the models of today. It is often said that the girl in a frock swirling to the tune of the Nirma ad song was actually the daughter of the person who owned Nirma and that it was in her name that he started the company and that she died soon after she featured in the ad. The same is attributed to "Liril" soap ad models. The ad, inspite of its popularity, was supposedly a jinx for the models. Whoever would figure on it would since be deceased. Well it was obviously untrue!

Of the local ads, Idhayam nallennai's gained much popularity because of its ad line "Idhellam pombalainga samachaaram, poi idhayam nallenai vaangittu vaanga-na vaangittu vaangalen" and it also helped actress Chithra (often dubbed as "Nallennai" Chithra) gain some level of prominence. "Excuse me, neenga endha college?"... "College-a? naan-a?" as the model finishes this line, a kid comes running towards her shouting "Mummy....". This ad (was it Santoor or Rexona?) was also a fodder for many many parodies and "Excuse me, neenga endha college" almost became an expression for people looking younger beyond their age!!

One of my favourites then was the "Gold Spot" ad, more so because Gold Spot was my only choice for cool drink during those days. For a while Gold Spot also had Archie Comic characters behind the bottle crowns. The ad song went something like this "She is crazy about hitting an ace as crazy as he is about........... as crazy as crazy as we are about Gold Spot, the Zing thing, Gold Spot". And then Rasna! All the little girls who featured in the ads were so cute (infact one of them was the heroine opposite Prashanth in the Tamil movie 'London'). Though Rasna had just Orange flavour initially, it introduced "Mango Ripe" and the new ad became my instant favourite ("Endha samayam endha naalum Rasna Mango Ripe naaley").

The "Sunrise" coffee ad with its elegant signature tune and the cute picturisation with Suchitra Krishnamurthy in it was an instant hit. I think the soft music and a simple video did the trick. The Amrutanjan ad's slogan which goes like "Gaayab, hoy to, Poye poche, poyindhe, Chalegoche, It's gone... menmaiyaana suhamaana vegamaana nivarani, Amrutanjan Pain Balm meedum thandhidumae... ungalin punnagaiyai!" is something people recon with even today. The AVT premium Tea with its "Kaeteengala, kaeteengala..." had the interesting "Aaapapapapapa..." from Gautami (rather the voice that dubbed for her). We as kids then tried imitating that "aaapapappapa..." but with little success. None realised the male model in Leo Coffee would go on to become a popular hero - Arvind Swamy! Infact another ad of his - no, not the Cinthol ad - in which he goes to buy a Solidaire TV along with his on-screen wife Geetha. That was also a short and nice one. Speaking of Solidaire TV, I remember the old ad where a baby cries on watching a lion growling on TV, then the channel switches to cartoon and the baby is in all smiles. Finally the song end with a dance troupe dancing to the song "We want, we want true colours, we want we want clear sound, we know what we want, we want Solidaire... SO LI DA IRE...". Dynanora was another TV which also got lost down the line. Arun icecream also improved immensely on its video ads. They had a series of clippings showcasing all their flavours with the background song "I can see you... Arun icecream, I think I will lose my self-control... you make me lose, lose my self-control". It ends with a kid holding an ice candy stick and shivering with smiles - really cute!! In terms of visuals, "Regaul sottu neelam" made a similar mark; "Sottu neelam thoi, Regaul sottu neelam thoi... enna venmaiyo... aahaaa enna venmaiyo...". I think the ad received more popularity ever since it came to be known that the video was shot by ace cameraman P.C.Sreeram. This was followed later by another similar ad featuring Kushboo, who runs with a torch in hand and with the song "Endrum maara venmai idhu, Regaul venmai maaraadhu...".

"Thalai vali? jaladosham? mukkadaippu? aama pa aama..." was another famous ad line. Infact during late 80's there was a group which released a cassette called "Sirippo sirippu" where they mocked almost everything which was popular then - DD, popular ads, Kripanandha Variyar, Senthil-Goundamani-Janakaraj combo and this ad also had featured in that.

I used to love the voices behind the radio ads, Radio being "Chennai Vaanoli Nilayam - Vividh Bharathiyin Varthaga Oliparappu"! and had wildly imagined how the faces behind the voices would be. In all these years I could come across only one such person and that too on the Tuesday 7.30 pm DD drama. When he spoke his dialogue it immediately struck me that he was the voice behind the many ads on radio but no, it did not match the face which I had imagined ;-) I used to wonder then and even now if the time for ads overly surpassed the time alloted for songs on AIR! and I used to love the signature bell sound (ting tong) preceeding each ad. The typical radio ads with the bell sound would also remind me of my daily hussle-bussle mornings when I start to school. The "All India Radio" was always the morning background score at home - day after day! And who can forget the evergreen "Gopal palpodi"? ("Vennira parkalukku Gopal palpodi, thaechu paarunga Gopal palpodi, kaettu vaangunga Go paal pal podi!!") Surprisingly they did not change the song even when it was shown on TV for a short while (ofcourse, I dont see it anymore on TV these days). Then came the Archana Sweets ad "Inime late-a vandha Archana Sweets oda dhaan varanum". That ad line was later changed when Archana opened a couple of branches in Madras. And another good old ad was the "Roja paakku" ad. I could just go on and on, then ofcourse the "stores" ads like Saravana Stores, "Rathna Stores, Siva Complex, Pondy Bazaar", Vasanth and Co., Maniyammaal Texties, Sharada Stores (ending with "Chennai-2, Trichy-2"). The other typical radio ads being "Zandu Balm, Zandu Balm valigalai neekum balm...", Kalyanai covering, Nizam pakku.

In between, there also used to relay audio trailers for movies. Infact during nights, about one hour was allotted for such ads (under "Vilambaradharar vazhangum nigazchi"). That was a time when we could listen to new songs or atleast get a sample of it only thru' such forums. Doordarshan would not screen new songs. And we would eagerly have our ears glued to get jig-saw bits of the story, dialogues and songs. It would be interesting the way the "build-up" is generated in the ads with echoing effects, glaring sounds et al. And if one would stay awake (which generally doesnt happen because of restrictions at home owing to school the next day) so late to know about a film, it would his turn to brag about it the next day in the classroom.

I know many ads then did not have a catchy ad line, nor famous models or actors featuring in them, nor trendy sets or graphics but still they made an impact - for whatever reasons - and they still remain fresh - possibly because they did not have all those features which ads of today have and just humming old tunes of the ads or reciting ad lines would unfurl loads of memories - wouldn't they?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Wonder why?

Recently I chanced upon one of the "Coffee with Anu" series on Youtube and one of the guests on the show was Prakash Raj. In many forums he has expressed how his mother braved against many tribulations in life when his father had abandoned them. He said one of his biggest motivational figures was his mother. And in this programme he said something like: "I like her (mother) a lot, I admire all her qualities - her strength, her courage, her loving nature. Maybe in my next birth, I would like to have her as my wife".

I can sense that many of you who saw that or read the statement above would've gasped in shock but I was in complete awe of his statement. Infact it goes on to show how - when we talk of certain relationships - we often lose focus of all the goodness which the relationship holds and dwell on aspects which would possibly cause a frown.

Its considered healthy to compares one's relation with another in the likes of a brother, sister, mother, father, uncle, aunt or a friend. Imagine this : "He is like my father figure", "She is another mom to me", "I don't have a sister, but I found a sister in you". But there is only one relationship we can't attribute it to someone else - spouse. Why? Its only because when someone says that someone else is like his wife or her husband, the first thing that comes to everyone's mind is... obvious, you know where I am getting at!

Is it that we push all the real, worthy attributes of a spouse to the rear and just focus on that one aspect when someone mentions as her/his spouse?

We all talk about beauty being just skin deep, the physical attraction not mattering at all, that the love between a couple trascends all wordly things and a husband-wife relationship is steafast and life long and yet... if someone were to equate a true, loving, caring relationship to a spouse, we just cannot think it to be "pure". Why?

A spouse is an amalgamation of all relationships one can think of - a dad/mom, a bro/sis, a lover, a friend and yet its always inappropriate to draw comparison to this relationship if he/she is not one. Maybe we *are* hypocrites, its not the love, care, understanding, counting on each other, sacrificing for each other, sharing - not just happiness but troubles as well, the little fights, the little frowns, the many tears that come to the fore front as we talk about husband and wife but only the physical bonding which strikes an instant chord?

Monday, June 11, 2007

My Favourite Fountain Pen

Hmmm... the title sounds like one of those essay writing exercise topics in school isn't it - in the lines of "My pet", "My Self"? Well probably the post is too like one of them ;-)

From time I can remember, I have always fancied stationery items and pens top the list! Even today, more than the trendy ball point pen, I adore the ever elegant fountain pen - more commonly called 'ink pen' during school days.

The first time we ever had to write using pens in school was in the fourth standard and we were strictly forbidden to use ball point or micro tip pens. I think Pilot was the only or rather the most famous micro tip pen then.

And being the first exposure to ink and ink pens, there was always the usual "supplements" attached - staining a white shirt, ink on white walls, ink on the floor, ink on desks and leaking pens blotting the school bags, notebooks, pencilboxes. Almost every pencil box had a chalk piece or a blotting paper or a peice of cloth to counter a leaky pen. Ofcourse many relied on their hair too - which I totally despised. Most pens would have teeth marks around the nib area. A few extreme cases had even a bit of blue stain on their teeth.

The classy Hero pen was ever a luxury. I remember the few different models - one with round smooth ends, the other with a metal ring and the other just plain flat ends. There were just three distinct colours - black, green and maroon. Buying a Hero pen would cost a fortune. My first Hero pen was priced at Rs.25! Though I loved the Hero pen, my only fear was going dry on ink during exams. I always felt the inner rubber sac in the Hero pen could not hold enough ink for an exam though time and again I was proved wrong. No matter how much ever I was convinced by my friends and parents, I would never take a Hero pen to an exam. But the best feature of Hero pen - apart from its elegance and flawless nib - is the ease of refilling and the no-mess mechanism. Besides, it was a matter of pride to have a Hero pen showcased in the pencilbox.

My long time patronage was for Camlin. I liked the model which had a little transparent space in the body to see how much ink was left out. And they were not that leaky as well. And I always knew they could literally fill a truck load of ink! Later, during my 10th, I liked this special suction model of Camlin where the tail end of the pen had to be unscrewed to release the ink and screwed again - with the nib dipped in ink - to refill.

There were hundred other local brands - very fancy and cheap but the biggest risk of buying them was the leaking factor. So I always relied on Camlin or Hero.

And when it came to feeding the pen - my choice was obviously Bril ink. There was another brand in use called Chelpark, a bit expensive than Bril; but I always felt Chelpark never had the right viscosity as Bril. Chelpark ink was generally too watery and too light. There was also the Camlin brand ink but still Bril stood a class apart or atleast I felt so! But one advantage of the Camil ink bottles was that they came in plastic containers with a squeeze cap. So it was rather easy filling a non-suction pen. But we had ink fillers and re-used syringes which came in handy for the Brill-like open bottles. And almost each household had this one big bottle of ink to refill the small bottle from time to time.

I don't know why but more than the colours which I was supposed to use, which were blue and black, I've always had a liking for the other exotic colours - red, pink, green and later turquoise blue! I would get them - nevertheless - just out of interest and have separate fountain pens filled with red, pink or green ink and use them for 'other' purposes like scribbling, writing letters or signing greeting cards and ofcourse putting tick marks on old notebooks (as mentioned in this post);-)

I still relish the habit of writing with an ink pen and I still do buy ink pens. I know fountain pens are hardly in use these days other than in schools. But even there, the students prefer other pens while writing board exams. But as the tradition goes - its good to start with an ink pen, which definitely gives a better handwriting than the ball point pen. Long Live the fountain pen!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Summer Special

I am ever a foodie as a previous post of mine would suggest and summer is one of my most favourite seasons as this post would prove. With summer already here, what is it that is running on my mind? Wish if I could gobble these now!!

Thanni saadham : Rice cooked the previous day, soaked in water, curd, salt, shallots, curry leaves and finely sliced maavadu. The best combo for this would be... NOTHING. The thanni saadham itself is a delicacy and the magic it creates on your body especially during summer is

Vanilla milkshake : A thick, cold, frothy, vanilla milkshake in a tall glass and slurping it till the last drop is total bliss.

Icecream : I am 'all ready' for an icream - anytime, anyday!! And no discrimination here on the flavours - I just love 'em all! I love it best when the whole package is a jugalbandhi of different flavours, nuts, jellies and sauces!

Nongu :Is it called palm fruit in English? I love it when chucks of Nongu are immersed in sweetened milk, flavoured with cardamom and chilled.

Elaneer :Tender coconut wins hands down when it comes to thirst quenchers and I love the taste of water when the coconut is in its vazhukkai stage.

Mangoes :Mango might not be a good choice in summer because of the heat it generates but who cares? I could have mangoes all day long - with breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks!! And mango with a dollop of fresh cream or vanilla icecream is.... need I say more?

Jackfruit : Another speciality during summer. I love the extreme ripe ones especially their aroma. But I would love to have the luxury of someone separating the palacholais from the whole fruit. More than cutting, I dread the feeling of the fruit sap sticking onto my hands and deciding not to leave for a while. By the way, I read recently that the origin for the word Jackfruit is from the Portugese word "Jakka" which inturn is from the Malayalam word "Chakka" for Jackfruit.

Water Melon : There was a juice parlour in Bangalore where we used to frequent and there, when ordered for water melon juice, we would get a glass filled with water melon juice, along with a long stainless steel spoon and small chunks of water melon and a dash of chat masala. And when you take the first gulp of the juice and nibble the water melon chunks on a hot summer day, you would literally see heaven!!

Lemon/Lime Juice : Whatever said and done, the simple lemon juice never loses its charm not just for the taste but for the affordability as well. Many a time I used to opt for lemon juice so that I could gulp down a few glasses of the juice for the same money I end up spending for a 'higher-end' juice.

Water : Coming to the basics, eveything boils down to the tasteless, flavourless, plain "Adam's ale". And just like anything else in this world, its value is seldom known unless we are deprieved of it. So in summer time, drink lots of water and also make sure you don't waste it!

Have a hot, happy Summer!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mythical Cynicism

I have great respect for our mythological works. More than being stories, they impart valuable insight into theories of life, how to be and how not to be. But I am quite cynical about certain aspects in the mythological works. Ofcourse, please view them as my take on stories only, not as my take on God or any exihibition of atheism. I am very much a theist ;-)

Rama's treatment of Sita :
Rama is always potrayed as an "eka pathini virathan". But I still cannot relate to the ending chapters of Ramayanam where he abandons his wife on hearing a washerman's rant against his wife. So how does Rama deserve the reverence when after having fought a war, after taking the hard way in the forests and having putting so many other people to hardships/sacrifices, got carried away by a single statement? So is it that he had the poison tree sowed already and the statment of the washerman was like the 'last straw'? How does it matter if he was an "eka pathini virathan" when he had subject his wife to the biggest toture - of doubting her celibacy?

Slaying of Vaali :
The reason, as quoted by Rama, for slaying Vaali is that he (Vaali) had wished for another man's wife, which is immoral. But... Vali and Sugriva are not human beings but Vaanar kings. Animals do not have such rules. It is survival of the fittest. Infact in most animal races, the males fight it over for the female.

Draupadi :
Instead of taking her wrath on her husbands who pledged her during the dice game, she takes a vow against the Kauravas. There is an interesting anecdote in the movie "Bharathi". When Bharathiyar is a kid, he watches a streetplay of "Paanchaali Sabadham" (he later went on to create a work on the same title). In the play when Draupadi vows to take revenge against the Kauravas, the little boy Bharathi interrupts and says "Why do you get angry over Kauravas when its your husbands who pledged you. Women should also pledge their husbands. If all women were to pledge their husbands in a game, will one husband be spared?" and the whole audience bursts into laughter applauds his rational thoughts.

Karna :
My most favourite character in Mahabaratha is Karna. But more than anyone else in the epic, it is Karna who was subject to atmost discrimination - right from the time when he was rejected by Dronacharya (owing to his caste), the curse by Parasuram, the way he was (tried to) deceived by Indra in taking his kavasa-kundalam, the promise taken by Kunti asking him to spare Arjuna, his charioteer abandoning him in the last minute owing to his caste, till the end when Krishna takes all his good deeds (punyam) so he could die. Though he was wary of Duryodhana's acts, he stood by him only as a token of gratitude. And Karna ever remains an epitome for friendship, gratitude and generosity.

Ekalavya :
Though he was turned down by Dronacharya because he belonged to a tribal clan, Ekalavya still considered Dronacharya as his guru, made a statue of him and practised before it every day. And he proved to be better than Arjuna. Since Dronacharya had promised Arjuna that Arjuna would be the best archer ever, shamelessly, he asked for Ekalavya's thumb as gurudakshinai so that he would never be able to use the bow and arrow in his life and Ekalavya complies without hesitation.

The Kauravas' wrongful act is well known but Krishna/Pandavas were not far behind. Krishna's advise to Duryodhana to cover his private parts when seeking Gandhari's blessings (which would give him immsense power), weakening of Dronacharya's morale by falsely declaring his sons Ashwathama's death (by blowing victory trumpets when Yudhishtra says "Ashwathama, the elephant, is dead") are all not honest acts, which were done aimed at getting victory at any cause.

Maybe there is a reason for everything. Though Krishna played a very cunning role in Mahabharata to ensure Pandavas' triumph, when being questioned by Arjuna about their act, he says "Everyone's fate is based on karma and destiny". And his words proved true in his case too as a dejected Gandhari seeing all her sons dead and the kingdom devastated curses Krishna that he would never have a heir and Krishna gracefully accepts it.

I am sure I might have missed a point somewhere and that's for you, my blogger friends, to fill up in the comments section :) Thanks!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Summer vacations

Sree, had some time back posted about summer vacations and asked me to do so too. And being the kind of prompt blogger I am, its taken not so much a while to post this ;) [Well, seriously, the blogspot site was acting up and so it delayed my posting further though I had the draft ready]. Now here's my post :

The very thought of no school, no studies, brings an unsaid joy onto any kid's mind and in my school days I was no different. The last day of final exams was like the ultimate D-day. The first thing I remember doing was to get back home and put tick marks with a red pen on all my notebooks with "Good", "Neat", "V.Good" remarks.

During my primary schooling, I was out of India along with my parents and during then, we had 3 long months of summer vacation and this time was when we made our annual trips to India and these trips meant fun, fun and only fun. We would be pampered to the core. And going back we had the loads of goodies to take.During one such trip, we made a big tour of Tamilnadu. It was more like a truck van with the tarpolein cover. My uncle made seats at the back and other than that, it was mostly mats and beds. We went till Kanyakumari starting from Madras and covering a whole lot of places inbetween.

Another place which we used to often take retreat was Chidambaram. I know summer in Chidambaram is not a good idea but the load of fun that was in store did not deter us even a bit. The excitement started the moment you got down at the kanji thotti bus stop. What else? A horse cart ride!

The house we headed to was the the ever charming - tiled roof (oattu veedu) type with a centre courtyard. Cooking was done by sitting on the floor. The toilets were outside the house. You had to draw water from well, no pumps or taps (again, an indication how exercise inter-twines with daily chores in villages). But the best of all was the huge swing in the neighbour's house and we were a big cousins' lot and the neighbours were kind enough to let us in all the time. This was the typical traditional oonjal with a wide and long teak plank hung with metal chains. We would look foward to touch the ceiling everytime and few years down the line, we realised there was another version which is the kappal raatinam. In this the chain are criss-crossed and the oonjal swings sideways as against the normal front and back motion. This was just too thrilling and ultimate. The plank would literally touch the ceiling with a jerk leading to shreiks and screams.

Another best thing here was the kuchchi icecream. The little ice factory was not far off from the house and fresh ice was made at around 3 pm and so we would all gather at 3 and our aunt would lead us all with a big ever-silver bowl. Grape ice, orange ice, semiya ice, rose milk ice, paal ice... yummy. The rose milk flavour sticks came in trainglular shapes, the orange ones the normal shape. I liked the kuchi paal ice the best, which came in a thin cylindrical shape. All the big ones used to be wrapped in short butter papers. Probably the manufucturing methodology was hygienic, thats why we had no problem even after eating them day after day. Costing just about 25 or 50 p, each would grab atleast 2 and slurping, licking all the way back home :)

Is a trip to Chidambaram complete without visiting the Natarajar temple? We would head to the temple just an running errands especially during night times. We felt the temple was our second home and not to miss the puliyodharai and sakkarai pongal served hot on lotus leaves at the Lakshmi sannidhi. The sound of the huge bells during the kala poojais cause goose pimples and transforms you to another divine eternal world.

The best of all during summer vacations would be the regular days at Madras. Being in Besant Nagar, it meant a daily evening trip to the Elliot's beach and getting drenched and coming back with loads of sands in pockets. And in the day time, all the indoor games would come out - trade, monopoly, scrabble, carrom and cards. Almost the whole street would ensemble in our house. We had to use 3 card packs to play Rummy.

I could just go on and on with summer vacation but I have listed just the instant few which flashed right away on reading Sree's posts. Thanks Sree for helping me take a ride down memory lane (yet again!).

Thinking of all those now, I can only envy the school kids. I wish if offices also follow suit and declare a month long, okay-let me not be too greedy, maybe atleast a week!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Beginning of the end

Inspite of climax being an important aspect of any movie, many movies have failed miserably on the climax part. And the oft heard comments from people walking out of movie halls would be "The last 30 mins was pathetic, the director did not know how to end the movie". Generally climaxes which have deviated from the norm impresses the audience but that again only if its impressive. Many directors, with an eye of ending their movies differently, have only invited criticism from audience. So I thought I would dedicate a post on climaxes which impressed me. Ofcourse the opinions could be very subjective. They just reflect my taste. [In the interest of fellow bloggers, I've tried my best not to quote the actual climax in most cases so that it does not turn out to be a spoiler in case you have not watched any of the movies before]

Kaadhalukku Mariyadhai :
A very novel theme where lovers part ways for the sake of parents (did any movie prior to this have a similar theme?). I especially love the scene when Srividhya watches Shalini and breaks down in the end. Its amazing how Srividhya's eyes literally "speak" in those scenes. I saw the original Malayalam version climax as well (Aniyathipraavu) and its equally good.

Love Today :
The story would not have made a mark had Vijay accepted Suvalakshmi's love. A fitting end indeed.

KB's movies :
Almost all of KB's movies have interesting climaxes including Sindhu Bhairavi, Iru Kodugal, Avargal, Kalyana Agadhigal. K.Balachander is a director who's movies were mostly ahead of his time. People often ridiculed the logic in Aboorva Ragangal about father in love with daughter and son in love with mom. But again, the end was amicable and there is even a dialogue by Sundarajan who advises against such "rational" actions.

Vaaname Ellai :
For all those dejected souls, Mr.Ramakrishnan comes as a tonic. Infact the scene in which he gets off his car and the reaction on the faces of the actors - I literally get goose pimples every time I watch it.

Bharathi Kannamma / Porkaalam :
Cheran's first movie definitely made a mark. A very decent movie and this is one of the best movies of Meena (who is mostly projected only as a wax doll - another movie which harnessed her acting skills is Rhythm). And also the climax in Porkaalam is worth mentioning and especially the dialogue of Vadivelu when he makes a poser to Murali as to why he did not think about him (Vadivelu) as his sister's groom.

Kaadhal :
When I knew this was a true story, the "effect" was multi-fold. I was curious to know the actual person who narrated the story to the director. What a character he should have been!! Hats off to him.

Kolangal :
Its not the climax exactly but I like the scene when Jayaram tenders apology to the media. The dialogues are very sharp and fitting.

Kai Kodutha Deivam :
Clearly, Savithiri takes the cake here. A slight over acting would have made Savithiri seem like an eccentric.

Ei Nee Romba Azhaga Irukka :
"How can you hate somebody whom you loved so dearly?" is the theme. Definitely a good advice to people who have gone thru' love breaks and rejections and turn hostile towards their ex-lovers. It was a very nice movie but I guess the title played spoil sport ;-)

Five Star :
I always used to feel Prasanna was a highly talent actor but did not get his dues. And this movie was one of those nice movies which did not fare well in theatres. Again, a movie with a nice ending.

Mugavari :
The movie was kind of okay but the end was definitely not on expected lines. Sacrificing ambitions for family was another novel theme and quite touching too.

Karpoora Mullai :
Fazil is one of my favourite directors but sadly many of his initial movies did not become hits and this movie is one such movie and tremendous acting by Amala and Srividhya. This climax is one the most straight forward and "un-cinematic" endings I have ever seen. Among Fazil's movies Bommukutti Ammavukku also had a very different ending.

Thulli Thirindha kaalam :
An off-beat movie - which maybe many would've not even heard of. The advice bit of Kushboo in the end to the youngsters is very apt.

Mahaanadi :
The climax was kind of in expected lines but what was soul stirring in the movie was the one in which Kamal sees his daughter in a brothel and when he hears his daughter talk in her sleep. Infact this movie earned the highest score till date in Ananda Vikatan's film review (I think it was 70%). The movie lingered on to my mind for a week - the scene of Kamal seeing his daughter in the brothel kept flashing repeatedly in my mind as if it had happened to me.

Azhagi :
More than being a love story, I felt this movie reflected about life. Nandita Das, who was from a well to do family ends up spending her life on the road whereas its the other way round for Parthiban and yet life has to go on and both of them take it in their strides. Nandita Das's acting was just mind blowing in this movie.

Kannathil Muthamittal :
The one which I would call "The scene" is in which Keerthana stops with her list of pre-written questions when she hears from Nandita that she (Nandita) had not lifted her in her arms even once. The reaction of Keerthana was enough to make her win the best child actor National award that year. And needless to say about Nandita Das - when she hugs Keertana finally (after Simran's insistence) and how the sky opens up. Simran too had a very different role and did full justice to it.

Thulaa Bhaaram :
I would never want to watch this movie again for the kind of emotions it generates. I read that the movie "Pasi" also has a similar ending. Very very moving.

Sirai Chaalai (Kaala paani) :
Many Indian freedom struggle movies have fascinated me like Kappal ottiya Thamizhan, Veera Pandiya Kattabomman. In Sirai chaalai, the ending makes your heart go out for Tabu and Mohanlal. For Mohanlal because he is executed during the tail end of his term in jail and Tabu because she keeps hoping that her husband would return one day.

Mudhalvan :
Shankar movies' screenplays are very narrative and the flow is pretty interesting. In this movie, when everyone would expect Arjun to shoot Raghuvaran, the story takes a different twist - totally unexpected but interesting.

Gokulathil Seethai :
I was amazed by the way Karthik handled his role (or maybe even director Agathiyan deserves credit here). His role was literally a walk on the edge of a knife. The role could have made him a total negative character had it not been potrayed the way it was done.

Dil To Pagal Hai :
Movie wise, I would not regard this as a very logical or very impressive movie but somehow the movie created a good feeling when watching. I like Akshay Kumar's signalling and the dialogue of Madhuri in the end.

The Associate :
I don't know if this movie was even a hit but I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and more so because Whoopie Goldberg is one of my favourite Hollywood actresses. The ending dialogue is a fitting reply to a casteist and male dominant society.

Cast Away :
To know what perseverance, will power, grit, determination is, one has to see this movie. The climax is heart rendering in that the reason for Tom Hanks' motivation to endure his life on the lonely island gets defeated when he gets to know that his lover has since married and has a little daughter. The scene when Helen Hunt comes running in the rain hugging Tom Hanks and the dialogue of Tom Hanks after that to his friend is something which would defintely make your eyes moist.

So what are your favourite climaxes? Would love to read your list too. So do post them in the comments section or in your blog and post the link here ;) I am sure there are many more which I probably missed and maybe you have them in you 'list'.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Fashion, accessories, beauty parlours et al

I recently read a comment in Aval Vikatan from a student of NIFT, Chennai. She said that "Fashion is wearing what suits you best". How true! I have always been quite simple at dressing (ahem.. ahem...) - never the fashion freak - but also made sure I did not wear something which I felt I would not look good in. Somehow I hate the boot cut jeans. I tend to choose almost anything in black. I prefer T-shirts without collars to the ones with collars. I detest all garish colours (we used to call this "Govinda" colours) like red, mittai pink, orange and for the complexion that I have, these colours would only make me look very "fair". I don't use coolers or powder for face. No perfumes. No hair gels.

Nevertheless, I had always envied the choice which women get to wear - both in terms of colours, designs and types. We men are left with just pant, shirt and at the most - veshti, kurta-pyjamas. And adding to the huge list of garment types for women, are the accessories - right from the "pottu", ear rings, rings, necklaces to the many many fancy things which keep cropping up in T.Nagar every other day.

At times when men fancy such accessories, they are often ridiculed as being effeminate :( But I guess going by the current trend, the men folk are also catching up with the women.

I was surprised when I read in "The Week" a few years ago that men also resort to eyebrow threading, waxing and stuff. To me that just seemed "yuck". As I expressed my astoundment to my friends, it looked like I was the only one who was part of the "ignorant lot". I even had a classmate (guy) who would go for hair straightening once a while. And friends who often do bleaching and facials.

I am really apprehensive of trying anything un-natural. I am okay with home made treatments which do not cause harm and also produce good results though not instantly but to all those chemical applications - its a strict "NO NO". [As it is, I have a very "attractive" face, won't it be sensible if I don't make it worse lest make it better??!!]

Once, when I was in my regular salon, my inquisitiveness made me ask the barber about face bleaching techniques. Thinking I would be his prospective customer, he explained at length the process and even asked to book a time! but ofcourse, I had no such intentions. That day, jokingly, I told this to my friends and said I would probably try it over the weekend and the comment which my friend gave as a reaction discouraged me for such things for life!! He said or rather sang : "தங்கம் வச்சு தேச்சா கூட எருமை நிறம் வெளுக்காது" (in the "தில்லிக்கு ராஜானாலும்..." tune).
[Bad translation : "Even if you were to scrub a buffalo with gold, its colour wouldnt change"]

Sunday, March 04, 2007

தில்லு முல்லு

வெகு நாட்கலாக தமிழில் பதிவு போட வேண்டும் என்று ஆசை. ஆனால் எப்படி என்று தெரியவில்லை. திரு சியாம் அவர்களின் ஒரு பதிவால் அது நிறைவேரியது. நன்றி சியாம்.

அப்போ அப்போ சில பட காட்சிகள் நினைவுக்கு வரும். அப்படி தான் இந்த பட்த்தின் நினைவும் வந்தது. எனக்கு மிகவும் பிடித்த நகைசுவை படங்கலில் "தில்லு முல்லு"வும் ஒன்று. அதில் வரும் ஒரு காட்சி.

ரஜினி (சந்திரனாக) தேங்காய் ஸ்ரீநிவாசன் (தே.ஸ்ரீ) வீடிற்க்கு செல்வார். [தே.ஸ்ரீ ஒரு நிறுவனத்தின் Managing Director]. அப்பொழுது தே.ஸ்ரீ வேட்டி, பனியன் அணிந்தபடி தோட்டத்தில் செடிகளுக்கு நீர் ஊற்றி கொண்டிருப்பார்.

அவரை ரஜினி பார்த்து :
"ஏய் தோட்டகாரா...", என்று கூப்பிடுவார்.

தே.ஸ்ரீ அக்கம் பக்கம் பார்த்து திரும்ப ரஜினியை பார்ப்பார்.
ரஜினி திரும்பவும் : "உன்னைதாய்யா தொட்டகாரா... உன் முதலாளி இருகாரா?"

தே.ஸ்ரீ : "செடிக்கு தண்ணி ஊத்திரவன் எல்லாம் தோட்டகாரனா? ஒரு நிமிஷம் இரு.."
என்று சொல்லி விட்டு உள்ளே சென்று டிப்-டாப்பாக dress செய்து கொண்டு வருவார்.

ரஜினி முகத்தில் ஆச்சரியம். தே.ஸ்ரீ-னை சுற்றி வந்து அவரையே உற்று மேலும் கீழும் பார்பார்.

தே.ஸ்ரீ : "என்ன? ஆச்சரியமா இருக்கு இல்ல?"

ரஜினி : "ரொம்ப ஆச்சரியமா இருக்கு சார், நீங்களும் அந்த தோட்டகாரனும் ஒரே மாதிரி இருக்கீங்களே..."

தே.ஸ்ரீ : !!!!

இந்த comedy/படம் எவ்வளவு முறை பார்த்தாலும் சிரிப்பு மூட்டும்.

Monday, February 19, 2007

DD News then

Remember the old days when Doordarshan News was the only TV news available?No breaking news flashes, no news tickers, no "paraparappu" seidhi, no over made up news readers. But thinking back about them now, the news then, with much less antics and hype, was lot better than what we see on hundreds of channels today.

In the local channel, that is DD-1 then, we had the "Seidhi Surukkam" (news in brief) at 7 and then the detail news at 8.40. Infact the first versions had this typical blarring music and a hand written, no-graphics note (at home, we used to envy the lovely caligraphy and wondered who was the man behind it). Then the graphics version underwent lots of changes before finally settling on the current one (quite impressive at that).

The first time when DD-1 became colour, it was the Seidhi surukkam which got the honours. H.Ramakrishnan (who also featured in "Vaanamae Ellai" and later became News correspondent in DD) was in all smiles when he was shown in colour.

Among the news readers, Shobana Ravi was the darling of the viewers. Those days, the talk doing the rounds was that she never featured in the same saree more than once on TV. And ofcourse, our women folk wondered the number of sarees she would have amassed (a worthy doubt indeed!!). Then came Fathima (I used to read her name as "Ahh.. Fathima" - the way its written in Tamil starting with the Ayudha ezhuthu "Ahh"). She became an instant hit with her diction, style and that soft smile while reading. She was even considered a rival to Shobana Ravi. Infact she was one of the first Muslim readers (women from Muslim community still hadn't ventured so publicly). I used to feel, a pottu was all that was missing on her cheerful face and used to place a sticker pottu on the TV to see how Fathima looked with the pottu.

Sandhya Rajagopal, Koperundhevi and a few others who also donned the show. The now popular Nirmala Periyasamy (her characterisitc "Vanakkkkkam" was not known then) was a TV announcer in DD then.

Among the men it was Arasu, Tamilzhanban (more known for his pencil meesai (he also used to figure in pattimandrams, also read recently that hewas a Sahita Academy award winner) and a few others. One thing common amongst all of them was their flawless diction.

The ones at the National level (English news) were popular at "All-India" level. My personal favourite was the soft spoken Nithi Ravindran who had this stylish grey hair and simple dressing. Among the men it was Tejeshwar Singh who had this deep manly voice. I also liked Rini Khanna, Sukanya Balakrishnan, Mini, Sunit Tandon (the frail looking bearded guy), Bhaskar Bhattacharji (with his thick brush musch and military haircut), Sangita (who was one of the youngest then and very cute looking) and the manly Shivendra Kundra. The names of Geetanjali Ayyar and Sukanya Balakrishnan suggested that they were from the south but the way they pronounced the names of places in Tamilnadu... urrgh... definitely puts a Tamilian to shame. We used to wonder, initially how to pronounce the last name of Usha Albuquerque. Komal G B singh, another famous reader, who always read with a smile, went on to become an official announcer in government functions like the National Awards.

Even in those days (late 80s), the readers were paid about Rs.2500 per sitting, which even today, is quite impressive.

Without much media attention in those days, its amazing to note the kind of adolation and fans the news readers gained in those days.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Birthday bashes in hostel

I always felt that atleast one year, everyone in his/her college days should be away from home - preferably in a hostel.

Being in a hostel makes you learn so many things. The foremost thing is to be indepent and next is you learn being accomodative. You might have room mates who have dress sense, hygiene level, etiquettes exactly in contrast to yours. There might be people who would use your combs, your shirts, your bathroom slippers - but the real challenge is to live cordially with them all.

I had great time when I spent 3 years in hostel during my post graduation days. We definitely had lows too but they were all part of hostel life. The worst ordeal, according to me, was when we run out of water in the toilets. Not taking bath is no big deal, but imagine not having water to... (hope you get the picture?).

The most exciting times were the birthday bashes. Actually we had improvised on the strategy each time. The speciality was the "solution". We used to make this solution with... hold your breath - ink, shoe polish, blue, soap, shaving creams, perfume, powdered incense sticks (this is to counter the awful odour), shampoo and any other harmless elements which is available. We even once used cowdung powder (which is readily available in stores there).

We would separate the solutions into three. First stage is dragging out the birthday boy and smashing with eggs. This, at times, is very painful especially when the egg hits with full force on your bare skin. And then we would cover our hands with plastic covers and smear the "solution". Then drag him to the bathroom and lift him aloft and drop him into the water tank (which is in every bathroom and is know for its "cleanliness").

Then we allow him to take bath and as he walks back on the corridor to the room, the second round awaits him. And then the third...

The first time we tried this "strategy" on our friend, his face and whole body was covered with bluish black stains (because of the solution). The next day he had to face our class girls to get their wishes and so it was important (to him ofcourse, why would we bother!) that he looked good and so as he was busy scrubbing his face (he thought he could cover his body with clothes anyway and so was just concerned about his face). He even had to use a scrubber to get the stains off. After rigorous scrubbing, he opened the bathroom door and showed me his face "Has it gone Ravi?". Before I could even reply, I burst laughing because inspite of all his efforts, I could only see his white teeth when he peeked out!

And all this would be followed with inquiries from our warden the next day for all the mess created in the corridor. The eggs give a very awful stench. Though we haven't tried this, we were told (by the other "experts" that eggs buried in sand for a day, turns rotten and would give a even worse smell which is supposed to stick on to the birthday boy for days!!!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Of the Karupayees and Muniyandis

Parents these days are very choosy about their kids' names. Nothing wrong there. But most feel the old names are not "fashionable" or they rather feel would impact the child's psyche when they grow up. What? I agree, to some extent that some names these days, do make an impression, like say "Karupayee" or "Muniyandi". Maybe on the first day roll call in college, all eyes would start looking for owner of the name, and also produce naughtly smiles but eventually Karupayee or Muniyandi could turn out to be a very lovable person.

So aren't people, seeding wrong prejudices, dislikes onto their kids' minds? What is in a name? Its just because people have started giving importance to trivial things, that we are losing out some good names. I am sure Krishnamurthys, Ramasamys are on the decline.
But its good to see that some people still choose very native and traditional names. But again, this constitutes a very low number.

I dont say its wrong to choose very trendy names (which again is very subjective) but if we don't show advocacy to our lineage, who else will?

And if one thinks trendy names are in and old names are out, I can only retaliate with this : "A Rose by any other name will smell as sweet... ".