Wednesday, October 08, 2008

And what prize does naiveté get?

A newspaper office usually means the journalists get a lot of letters and emails from readers, which can be either adulatory or downright derogatory too. But once in a while, you have naïve, honest readers writing in, who can just brighten a bad day, with their unintentional humour.

Last week, the features team in our paper had a good laugh too. I take care of a couple of columns in the tabloid Bengaluru Chronicle and one of these columns, ‘ISITE’ had this snail mail from a lady, sent by courier. I like opening mails, be it electronic or snail, for this column as they come out with great surprises.

When I tore open the envelope, I was quite baffled to see a cut out of one of the previous columns. My initial reaction was, “Oh God! Did I make any error that a reader has marked it out and sent it to me.” But later, as I peered into the paper cutting, I see that it was this picture sent by one of readers in Nanjangud, where there was one small infant amidst many toys. A really cute picture that it made, I gave it a caption that read Spot the real one?

What was I to infer that some innocent readers would actually take time off their busy day to circle the real baby and send it to us? Needless to say, the entire team shared a light moment where we lauded the effort of our reader, and even said, “Maybe, we should send her the Rs 300 that is kept for the photograph contributors. After all, she has spend some money, time and effort in couriering this photograph to us.”

Well, these moments are priceless, and the reactions precious, I really hope we get many more such, which can make mundane Mondays fun and cheerful. Keep the letters coming readers, we read all of them and savour them for every bit of their worth!

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Golden moments, priceless memories

One of the biggest boons in a nation as big as India is that every state has many stories to tell. And it is based on the same concept that the Department of Tourism, Karnataka, started their own Palace on Wheels, the Golden Chariot. Ruins, greenery, heritage sites and forgotten tales, these are just some of the things that lure one to embark on this special train that pampers one beyond imagination.

The Golden Chariot is a dream train, with interiors based on the Mysore and Hampi style architecture. The rooms are simple yet luxurious, leaving no room for complaints. And the two separate kitchens for vegetarian and non-vegetarian food is quite a thoughtful concept. And for those that want to just stay back and rejoice the luxury in the train, a spa, DVD parlour and Internet facilities.

But the itinerary sounds so vast and exhaustive that not many will opt out of it. The first day starts off with an optional Bengaluru trip. A scrumptious fare at Jamavar, Leela Palace, followed by a trip around Bengaluru, catching a glimpse of Tipu's Summer Palace, the Bull Temple and the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens.

The day ends with all the guests boarding the train from the special platform on Yeshwanthapur Railway Station. This is where the journey begins, as the first glimpse of the train leaves everyone no less than awestruck. Following a welcome drink, the real journey begins.

The second day is a trip to Kabini forest. A boat ride, a wildlife documentary and a jungle safari, with chances of seeing leopards, gaurs, deer and tigers, if lucky – these are the things one does, and leaving the bumpy ride on the jeep through the safari, this makes quite a nice day.

Day three starts off early, with a trip to Srirangapattanam, which hosts Tipu Sultan's fort, Daria Daulat. Following this, it's more royalty in store, with a tour of the world famous Mysore Palace. The best part of the day is the fact that some rooms locked for the usual visitors, like the ammunition room or the room housing the stuffed animals which were killed by the Maharajas are open to the Golden Chariot visitor. And the day is rounded off with a beautiful set of performances ranging from Bharatanatyam to Dollu Kunita in Mysore.

If day three is characterized by fort and palace visits, the next day is filled with temple visits. The beautifully sculpted Belur and Halebid temples make the first half of this day, where guides enlighten the tourists (mostly NRIs and foreign nationals) about Indian myths like Ramayan and Mahabharat. The afternoon is spent trekking up to see the giant monolith of Lord Gomateshwara at Shravanabelagola.

Day five is a fun-filled day, with trekking through the ruins of the Vijayanagar Empire at Hampi. Visiting temples, forts and other significant landmarks coupled up with trinket shopping at the Hampi Bazaar, where the nomads (lambanis) sell their exotic ware that include clothing, jewellery and accessories.

My favourite day of the trip has to be the pen-ultimate day, which is visiting the temples at Badami, Aihole and Pattadakallu. These 4th to 7th century temple architecture is probably some of the best you will find in the world. The pleasant orange coloured rocks that go into these rocks make these temples a wondrous sight. And the rock temples at Badami can well take an entire day, as you can trek into the dozens of cave temples across the hills.

From Badami, the final lap of the journey, to Goa, is the most picturesque one. The best sight through this leg is going past the Dudhsagar Falls, just at the border of Goa and Karnataka, where the water fall cascades even over the railway track.

In Goa, you get to visit a typical Portuguese home in Panjim, where cocktails made from fenny and the warm Goan pleasantries make you feel at home, and yes, I even wondered settling down in that same house. A little fenny, some cashewnuts and bottle or two of port wine and tons of memories, this is how this memorable trip ends.

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rock showz

Well, it is the biggest festival time for Vaishnavites right now... With the Brahmotsavam happening at Tirupati. To certain extent, this could be like the Woodstock of these people. While I was watching the live telecast of the pujas on television, I just couldn't help notice how similar these big celebrations are to the biggest rock gigs. This was a discussion I was having with mum, as we sat together watching this while eating breakfast.
To begin with, both of these are rock shows. While at a concert, the auditory senses get to a heightened high, with visuals to match it, while in these Godly events, the visual senses are the main 'high'light and you have prayers, bells and chants to back it.
Secondly, at both these events, you have people who attain a certain high thanks to what they see/hear. This leads them to jump, dance and let loose as they achieve a sense of being unparalleled. If you don't believe so, try and see a repeat telecast of the Brahmotsavam and you will see a 60 year old priest jump and bang his head, with his long hair untied, just like Slash or James Hetfield at a concert.
Analogies are many more, the drum beats used in these big functions, are 8-beat and sometimes 16-beat, good enough to back up vocals of even System of a Down or even Cannibal Corpse.
Reading too much into too little? Well, maybe yes... But rock reminds me, anyone knows where to get tickets for the Def Lep gig?

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Waking up

At the same time
Insanely insecure
I wonder why life can thus be
Where in between I forget 'me'
Have I moved on?
Am I stuck in a cycle?
I understand not,
Nor do I want to ask
I just look back
And carry on...
A few emotions lighter,
But definitely a heart heavier

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Feel good cinema: get real!

Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: Lewis Alsamari, Christian Clemenson, Trish Gates
Rating: ****

If Crash was the one movie that celebrated the triumph of the human spirit in every person, be it good or bad, last year, Paul Greengrass does the opposite and with conviction in his United 93. This is the first Hollywood film to dwell upon the 9/11 blasts releasing just ahead of Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center.

Why Greengrass excels is because nor has he chosen the high profile case of the WTC crash, nor does he have a set of high profile actors. The story of United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in a Pennsylvania field, is told five years after the incident based on facts from the 9/11 Commission Report.

The ensemble cast does a good job playing their characters to the t. The story begins with the four terrorists’ incantations to Allah and ends with one of them again praying to Allah before they crash land. In between lies the crux of the story, where it takes us into air-traffic control centers in New York, Boston and Cleveland, and into the confused hullabaloo of the Northeast Air Defense, as military commanders struggle with late information. We see in almost real time the sluggish communications and impeccable inefficacy of a system that failed to prevent one of the biggest tragedies. The film ends with the text messages remind the already-disturbed audience of what happened that day.

The film in itself is very symbolic of the action it wishes to convey. The script has very few dialogues initially, but as the difference hijackings and crashes take place, it gains momentum and the dialogues increase. The climax is a brilliant mix of sound effects as well as verbal diarhhoea. This is one must-keep screenplay for any young writer. What could have been avoided? The excessive stress on the Islamic incantations by the terrorists, which gets dramatically over-played at places. The violence: which at times gets a little disturbing.

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Sunday, June 11, 2006


Aphorisms and
Defense mechanisms
Used to survive the daylight
As we strive
To get past the crowd
In the hope of being camouflaged
By the shadow that accompanies us
Signifying the night – the darkness;
The path from which we’ve arrived.
Passing through the eternal stream
With the clicking mortal minutes
Providing the ironic reality
The day seems close to an end
The stream still looks long...

Saturday, June 03, 2006


I stand
With nothing to offer
Nothing to do
But just carry on
In this vicious circle of nothingness.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


jaded i stood
faded in the darkness
waded then did i
serenaded by emotions
traded with an antidepressant
.... and then i saw light