Saturday, December 30, 2006

SADDAM - Silence Speak Louder Than Words

Long Live the War for Freedom...

Long Live the War for Democracy...

Long Live the War on Terrorism...

...and Long Live the Search for WMDs!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Karutha Pakshikal..........birds without a sky!

...............what should I say!! Choking ...I feel some weight on my heart which I can't throw away, something pressing against my chest..that makes my lungs heavier!! Yesterday morning, one of my students told me about the movie..that its such a touching story.. and the camera is superb..and no words to talk about Mammootty's performance. He was in a festive mood after his project viva voce and I would have never expected him to talk about something so melancholic then. Thats what set me thinking.

I reached Kozhikode Kairali Theatre at 4.15 pm, the show was already on, but tickets were available. It hurt me actually, not that I was late..but it hurt me bad that the movie was not housefull! Then and there, I decided to give it a try at 7 pm. Even with all the negative effect of expectations, I should confess that the movie made me think and cry...really! More than the tears, it leaves a lingering feeling of uneasyness in your heart that refuses to go away, an uneasyness which you cannot cannot express in words.

A simple story told in a touching and beautiful way, thats it. Students...go and learn from a master of the art! And the same advice twice to students of acting too..I actually never felt that Mammootty was there in the movie. Oh, you won't have an iota of doubt that its the same Murukan who comes to your colony every week to collect the rubbish in return for which he gives you plastic vessels and such. The emotions, the dialogues....nobody can match the performance. Especially when he narrates the fate of his wife to Suvarna...what should I say! I felt the same helplessness myself when the politician asked him about his identity. Feeling miserable and helpless was never so elegantly portrayed. You really deserve something for this, Mr. Mammootty!

You might have watched all her movies, but never saw a Meena like this one before. There is something in the character which sets it apart from her other roles. A character you are seeing on screen for the zillionth time, but isn't it so different?!! As Velu Nair, a fellow blogger pointed out, I was never a great fan of Meena, but this film made me stop and think.

And about Padmapriya and Malavika...better watch it! The Padma Priya you saw earlier was an elegant beauty, did you ever expect her to BEG...and that too in style?!! The child Malli, though blind by birth, is full of optimism and it oozes out through her eternal smile and spreads everywhere like the fragrance of the red flowers that she so dearly loves. "Kelabham tharaam..." made me laugh my heart out.

The background music has been so effortlessly woven in to the movie which makes you feel that you are among them and one of them, those Annaachees you earlier despised. And the songs are very good too, though not exceptional.

The thing which was exceptional was the camera; Sukumar, I should confess that I have never thought such angles exist...the first song was the pinnacle of your photography.

How many characters can you count in the movie...ten..or twelve? But how many you forget after the movie..NONE! Even the patient who waits in vain in the queue at the hospital has done his part well! Kudos to Kamal for such a heartwarming movie and kudos to Mammootty, Padmapriya, Jagathy, Meena, TG Ravi, Malavika, Salim Kumar, VK Sreeraman, Suvarna's husband, the Police Man, the Finance Agent, Karikkada Ayyappan chettan, Saramma police, Aashan, Seema G Nair, and all those whose names I don't know...and to the other two kids, Suhaila (Mayil) and Thejus (Azhagu)! Your performances were just unforgettable.

After Kaazhcha, I haven't seen a movie so powerful, but Kaazhcha had a slightly greater impact as I didn't have any expectations about that movie. Hence I resist the temptation to compare the two. Mammootty's performance, but, is far better than in Kaazhcha. Thanks Mr. Kamaludheen, for ending the story so elegantly! And thank you very much again for making me write this much. I really want to tell people about the movie. I know its working..the balcony was full for the show. But...I expected better reviews for this one, not the usual whimperings of the reviewers about the movie being "depressing and slow"! Is it your fault, my know-all reviewer?! I really don't know.


Aen kannae?!

Those voices still ring in my ear.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Over a hundred years ago, the great Indian Chief, Seattle, was faced with the loss of his tribe’s land. He responded out of his love and respect for the land with utter honesty, and heart breaking eloquence:

“We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters, the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices of the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and man all belongs to the same family.

So when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us. If we decided to accept, I will make one condition: the white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers. I am a savage and do not understand any other way. I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train. I am a savage and I do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive.

Where is man without beasts? If the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts soon happens to the man. All things are connected, this we know. The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unite one family. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does it to himself.”

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Muthanga XP..!

Day before yesterday, at about 9.30 pm, my student Mr. Aarif called me up and said: "Sir, we are planning a trip to Muthanga tomorrow. We would like you to come with us. Dr. Hameed is also coming." Ok, I thought! Anyway, its vacations, and for some days I am free. Why not use it for such a journey which I always cherish?! Thus started the trip.

We started from Calicut in a transport bus at 7 in the morning. I was a bit apprehensive at the start. Its the height of summer and at a place like Muthanga in Wayanad the sun will be at its scorching high when we reach there. And you cannot be too sure of a trek! Better be optimistic, I thought. We reached at Muthanga (its a part of Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary) at about 12 noon. Now.. the entry to the Sanctuary is after 3 o' clock only. So we walked along the banks of the Noolpuzha river and got content with the sight of three Malabar giant squirrels (
Ratufa indica) and several Southern-plains grey langurs (Semnopithecus dussumieri). The langurs have a creamy tint to the grey coat compared to their counterparts in the Anamalais (Tufted grey langur S. priam, best seen at Chinnar wildlife sanctuary) which are more slaty grey. The hair tuft on the top of the head is also smaller and flatter. We walked for six-seven kilometres along the road and in the process crossed over to Bandipur National Park in Karnataka. But even people could never notice the change, let alone animals. How are they to know its Karnataka or Kerala?! After the exit of Veerappan from the scene, both parts are the same for the wild denizens.

We had to get a vehicle for Rs. 250 and had to dish out 250 more towards entry fee, etc, etc. There were five of us: Me, Dr. Hameed (my colleague, a PhD in Wildlife Biology), our students Aarif, Rajan and Sayid. A tribal guide, Mr. Mohanan accompanied us in the jeep. On the short trip of 75 minutes, we could not stop thanking god that we took the pain! We stopped counting spotted deer (
Axis axis) very soon and started neglecting the guys who grazed here and there, everywhere. But occassionally, by the sheer magnificence of its antlers, a stag or two invited our astonished gaze. They are a sight indeed, they are like some girls who know they are pretty and like to advertise it. Here and there a peafowl (Pavo cristatus) would trot away from the nearing vehicle or try to take to wings which it not so efficiently does. Soon after the start, we were welcomed to an elephant party by the continuous calls of a Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus). They were in a valley populated by marsh reeds and grasses called by the locals as vayal. There were eight of them, but no tusker. We could not venture nearer as the wind was blowing towards them from us and it will be suicidal to approach an elephant herd in such an open place such a way. Later, we came across a herd of 13 Gaur or Indian Bison (Bos gaurus) as they popularly called. Gaur is famous for its temper especially when calves are around. Hence we were content to watch from a distance as they moved slowly and deliberately away. At each turn in the dusty path in Muthanga, you will encounter scores of Cheetal with three or four majestic looking stags among them. More so, since the wildlife dept has dug up several ponds along the sides of the path where these animals congregate for an afternoon drink. The stags scout around here and there keeping the antler-clad head high as if they are task masters in a political procession.

The best moment of the trip was still waiting! I was hanging on the back of the jeep taking in the fresh air and scanning the forest for animals, when while going around a bend where two roads meet, I spotted some huge grey bodies to the right side of the diversion we were taking. We took the jeep in reverse towards them..and lo..there were some 14 elephants with very young calves grazing and mud bathing in a vast open area near a pond. A huge tusker was
also feeding nearby. The wind this time was on our side and we could approach fairly nearer. Some 30 metres away he stood, lazily ignorant of the happenings around him, just concentrating on what he was doing. According to our guide, he had not witnessed such a magnificent spectacle in the near past, as the animals were positioned in such a beautiful landscape ready for a photograph. He was cursing himself that he forgot to take his camera. Our jeep driver kept the vehicle ready for any eventuality and was glancing continuously with a nervous eye towards the tusker. We had two cameras, mine a Nikon Coolpix 4500 which is no good for such moments. But we took as many shots of the herd as we can. I had several prior experiences with wild tuskers during my stint at SACON, Coimbatore and Chinnar and knew very well the ways of the wild and that of elephants. But my younger companions were not that experienced. Aarif got a bit more enthusiastic and was nearing the bad guy when he suddenly turned and looked menacingly towards us. He then slowly and deliberately took a stride towards the side. The path was in a semicircle and the jeep was positioned at the other end of it. It was easier for him to reach the jeep taking a diagonal path than for us..and be sure, that was what he intended to do. You have not seen how fast an elephant can run in the wild. It seems improbable to most of us novices that an elephant could attain that speed -let alone run -with that huge bulk, but you have to run to believe (only if you remain to finish the race)! Aarif was still engrossed in shooting pics, and it took some specific words from me to deter him. He was still looking confused as we hurried towards the vehicle. Probably he had not heard such words before. After safely seated in the jeep, we were more relieved to be away from the bull hearing that the tusker was in musth and he just days back had attacked and destroyed a Mahindra Scorpio which carried some tourists from Calicut. He was smart enough that we could see, but he seemed uninterested and not to care. After some initial stride forward, as he saw us retreating he remained stable and resumed his feeding. Why waste your energy on such lowly beings, he might have thought! Indeed fitting for the Lord of the Jungle!

After the feasting on elephants, we could not have asked for more. So we started our journey back. But we were greeted again by a cow elephant and her calf in a partly burnt bush. Her kin were not in view. Again we came across some peafowls and several deer and at 5.45 we came back to the entrance of the park. Our day was made!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Futile Struggle for Fertile Lives


What else should I say about Indian polity or Indian society as a whole?! Our society unmasked its ugly face once more when a veteran actor died a most normal death last week. The Bangalore city is regarded as the best in India and the best face of India projected to the outside world. But what did happen there? The people who call themselves the fans of the revered actor erupted out in to the streets and burned and damaged whatever they can. They attacked every passing vehicle and life was disrupted in the state for more than 48 hours. It effectively isolated the city from the other India and thereby ensured that Rajkumar got the worsest funeral he could have hoped for. Instead of joining in the mourning, people might have actually cursed him and his fans. I am still unable to find an answer to the perturbing question: against what or whom were the so-called fans protesting?! Dr. Rajkumar lived 77 long years full of life and died the most peaceful death that one can hope for. Were they protesting the almighty who called him back?!

All through this was going on the high drama called 'Narmada Bachao or Doob Maro' in the Indian capital. The central characters were a large dam in central India and a frail, old lady called Medha. Guarding the villagers and tribals threatened by the dam, She tried vainly for several long years to stand up against the huge concrete monster. But she was against a stronger and crueller enemy than she had hoped for: the collective polity of four states who were to benefit from the scheme (the 'who' here is, as you correctly infer, not the states, but the politicians and bureaucrats). Finding it a hard to win battle, she backed off asking for just just compensation and rehabilitation for the oustees of the dam. It was not to be. She went to the supreme court which several consider as the champion of Individual freedom in India. What did the court say?! Increase the dam height how much you want and compensate the victims at your own pace. A famous writer actvist, Ms. Arundhati Roy had to bear the wrath of the court and had to suffer a symbolic one-day imprisonment in the infamous Tihar jail for her sarcastic comments against that verdict.

And after all these years of struggle, what did the oustees get? They rightfully deserved compensation running in to lakhs and atleast two hectares each of cultivable land for their cropfields swallowed by the rising waters of the Narmada. When they were denied all this and they saw no light at the end of the tunnel, what did they do? Did they burn down houses of the elite, or vehicles or damage public property. They turned to the most peaceful form of protest, that of Satyagraha or non-violent struggle propagated by that angel of peace known to the world as Mohandas Gandhi. Ms. Medha Patkar started fasting demanding the stoppage of construction at the Sardar Sarovar dam site until adequate compensation and rehabilitation was carried out by the authorities as required by the Supreme court verdict. She is in to the 19th day today taking in only liquids, that too forcefed by the hospital staff with instructions from the top. (You may contrast all this with the first mentioned incidents).

The Group of Ministers who visited the affected areas found the worst form of neglect of human dignity and widespread misappropriation of funds. Nobody was provided cultivable land, people were forced to accept cash as compensation and the check will be delivered only after you pay the bribe in full. And for each ten lakh you get as compensation, you should pay one lakh as tax. That's a nice idea, a new term for your vocabulary Mr. Chidambaram - "Compensation Tax or Rehabilitation Tax". You can also ask for an advance payment of this if one wants to be rehabilitated or compensated.

Then started a hue and cry over anti-development activism and emotional blackmail. Politicians from the four states (Gujarat, Maharashtra, MP and Rajasthan;the most vocal being those from Gujarat as always) claimed that Medha and party were anti-development and were using emotional blackmail to gain their selfish ends. And meantime they were denying the people of these states water which is their undeniable birth right and thereby upsetting development. Let's analyse: how did the people of Gujarat and Rajasthan live when there was no Narmada water available? Why are not they talking about the birth rights of the tribals and villagers ousted by the dam and who have now become refugees in their own country? Why are they trying to increase the dam height before resettling the oustees? Why do they want to add 35000 more to the list of neglected and doomed lives by increasing the dam height from 110 metres to 121 metres? Where is the fertile soil promised to the oustees? Where is the money? Who are we? Not people, but mere cow dung?

The chief minister of Gujarat is sitting on a counter fast of 51 hours for raising the dam height. Why not fast unto death? Then, may be, you will be forgiven for the darkest days the country ever saw! You have bathed Gujarat in blood, now for what you want the water? For washing the stains away?! Okay, we are not going to deny people water, but not by denying other people their lives. The congress in Gujarat wanted to protest by declaring bandh: they should actually be proud that the weapon their great neta used so successfully against the British is being used after so many years for a noble cause. They should strive that the weapon do not misfire and go waste. But meantime, they were up in arms against the only courageous soul among the page-three celebrities in Delhi who proclaimed so calmly and solidly that Gujarat should get water but oustees should get adequate compensation. Why cant the Gujarat CM build enough canals and waterways to effectively & efficiently use the last drop of water which is available from the Sardar Sarovar Dam at its present height?

And the court had ruled: "When there is doubt and un-equanimity, the prime minister should intervene. His should be the last word". Why is the last word not coming? Is it waiting for the ultimate moment when the struggle remains and the struggler is no more? Shame on you, Mr. Manmohan! Show your backbone now or never! People need life not Uranium, Dr. Prime Minister!

And how true when Ghandhi said that satyagraha is only successful when you are fighting an enemy who has something called CONSCIENCE.............!!!!!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Seeing Off

Today the students of my final degree batch got together for a long, last day on the deserted campus. They were all in a party mood, but below the veil of joy, I knew was a different face. They had to face it anyway, after three long years spent together they were each going on their separate paths. It reminded me of a day eight years back when I had to face the hard truth. But that time I was sure that we will meet again, some day or the other; for, as men, our paths would have to cross some where, some day, for sure! It was different, though, on a different day six years back, on the day of my M.Sc. sent-off. I was not too sure this time. The reason was the presence of girls who offer a far lesser chance of random meetings. Same as now.

Now onwards, each of them has to tread the road ahead alone. The future may have in store good or bad, but you have to bear it alone. The feeling takes time to sink in, but once it starts to grip you, it doesn't leave that easy. One will long for the moments foregone once they are past. Its universal. You may long for things to be re-done, re-told or so on but in the drama called life there is no re-enacting of scenes. It may be very late when we realise. Every body goes through such stages. When one starts taking such moments or periods as small slices of life which reflect the life as a whole, his whole outlook changes. He then finds how he can change his life, and thereby others'!! I HOPE MY CHILDREN LEARNED THEIR LESSONS WELL!

Friday, March 31, 2006


I have been to the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary at Thattekkad last week. The calm and serene waters enchant you to no end. The trek along the semi evergreen forest patches in the tiny islands scattered inside the park refreshes your mind and leaves you light hearted. Add to it the sight and songs of several rare and beautiful birds, you are really in god's own country!!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

My First Post

What should I write and what about?! Let me see...there are a lot of things I would like to talk or write about. Wildlife and nature are just two among them. The year is 2006, five years since 11th september 2001, but still those memories dictate how the world is going to be. And hence, I am sure I won't be having any scarcity of ideas as long as the Bugger Bush holds office in the Ugliest States of America. Or is it just the American mentality, poetically called the 'Great American Dream', not just Bush?! Any way, its nightmare for the rest of the world.

I will keep you blogged.


Related Posts with Thumbnails