Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Thinnai- a sit out in front of the house in Tamil

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Weavers home - Tamil Nadu style at DakshinChitra or DakshinaChitra ChennaiKerala style house at DakshinaChitra or DakshinChitra Chennai
Our ancestral homes were built to look something like the above with a narrow entrance to the house with door heights that made you bend a little to get in.  The doors were made of solid Burma Teak wood that were heavy and had metallic studs depicting various gods who not only welcomed the guests but also made him humble, naturally before entering the house as he bent forward a little to get inside!
The house also had a seating place right before the entrance where people could sit comfortably and spend some time talking or resting.  The idea behind this "Thinnai" as known in Tamil is to provide shelter to passersby in those days who travelled by foot to various places as there were no faster means of transport except bullock carts!  The person after walking for sometime used to rest in one of such houses that had this facility, take rest and proceed in his journey.  The people living in that house would usually engage in a conversation with the traveller and get to know from where he belongs to and the destination he is headed to besides his other voluntary family details.  In the process, the humane nature would offer some water to overcome thirst, some butter milk or sometimes even food for the traveller!  Thus,  was the South Indian culture that prevailed since centuries and can be seen even today in some of the deep rooted villages in TamilNadu and Kerala.
The house was built to care for the inmates and the travellers who walked on bare foot braving the hot sunny weather for their work.

Now, the architect designed homes in the city and elsewhere have no such open space in front of the house.  Such spaces have been eaten up to provide a bigger bed room or a kitchen that can be termed as selfish in the modern era!  There is no scope for anyone to sit and relax anywhere on the street as most of the houses have secured boundaries, not to speak of offering water to the thirsty!

I wish the historic era of yesteryear come back and help us  make one lovely "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam" meaning the world is one family- a Sanskrit phrase.

Deira City Centre, Dubai

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Deira City Centre, a well known and popular shopping Mall has all the materials that can entertain a person for hours together and even for a full day outing.  Anyone who visits Dubai does not miss a chance to visit this popular address that fulfills your shopping needs, household matters and belly needs!
Each and every shop out there glitters with lighting that attracts any customer into its fold. The only negative that I have to write is that it does not offer any seating arrangements for seniors or elderly persons who accompany their family out of curiosity and interest to go around the shopping Mall to spend time.  The Mall is unfriendly for all those who have knee problems, over weight and other physical challenges that makes it difficult to walk for a prolonged time.  I along with my family members embarked on this adventure and after a flat 3-4 hours of spending time, only standing and walking, I developed a sudden heel spur that made me immobile for the rest of my holidays in Dubai.

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The only place where you can sit is the food court where you end up eating a bit of unwarranted food and some hot or cold beverage that gives you little more time to sit on the chair and spend some more time relaxing. The other place where one can sit in comfort is the theater  where movies are screened so that some 3 hours are spent in peace while your family shops!  I tried yet another method to sit in a shoe shop trying shoes in the pretext of buying it.  In the process, I also quenched my thirst with some drinking water provided by the courteous shop keeper.  In the bargain, I ended up buying the shoes spending my money!!  This kind of rest made a drain on my purse, I realized.

If only the City centre management willingly accepts the fact that seniors are also equally important for the success of a Shopping Mall and provide some kind of seating arrangements within the Mall, the Mall will find more business forthcoming and prosper.  After all, the senior citizens are the real money givers or spenders for the younger generation or the family to shop in the Mall.  Let the senior and elderly people enjoy coming back again and again to the City Centre to push volumes of sales and income for the shops within!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Kaka Muttai (Crow's Egg)-Tamil Movie

This off beat film is about 2 Under privileged brothers who are known as Periya Kaka MUttai and Chinna Kaka Muttai because of their habit of stealing Crow's eggs from the Nest and gulping them raw that sends  shock waves in one's body as this is something which is not very common and seen!
The slum where these boys live with their mother and grand mother depicts extreme poverty with unclean surroundings and free flowing sewerage that is unique to that world!  Their father is in Jail for some unknown reasons and the mother struggles to get him released from the prison for which she has to pay the lawyer his fees, that is hard to generate. The boys are left free to play and collect char-coal from the railway tracks from the goods train that spills blocks and pieces of charcoal on the tracks while passing and this gives the boys some small cash that helps them for the day's expenses.
The projection of poor and the less privileged class living in unhygienic conditions and struggling to lead a normal life makes you sad and think.

The story starts when a Pizza hut springs up at the spot where these boys used to steal Crow's eggs and play. The Pizza shop is inaugurated by film actor Simbu who sits inside and eats a portion of Pizza served to him, happily waving to those children standing outside the shop, who look at him with awe and water in their mouth yearning for a piece of Pizza!    The subsequent accumulation of Rs 300 required for buying a Pizza by selling charcoal and doing all errands evokes good sense of humour, laughter, thought provoking and touches the soul. The Manager of the Pizza shop slapping the elder brother and pushing him out of the compound, the boys trying to buy a new set of clothes from the city centre, Mylapore is enjoyable and speaks about the capabilities of the director in his job. The grandmother making dosa with dressings of vegetables used in Pizza show cases the affection and love between them and the efforts made by the grand mother to go to any extent to please her grand children!  When the boys point out the difference that there were no  noodles(melting Cheese), the grand mother tells them that that happens only when the food goes stale!

The introduction of local goons protected by a politician and how each one tries to en cash a situation to make money without letting it known to the other is hilarious.  The greed to make money by hook or crook and the story wound neatly around it adds to the fragrance of the story and the capability of the Director who is updated with the current affairs.

Finally, the boys are able to realise their dream of entering the Pizza shop and eat their share of Pizza like the actor Simbu.  The innocence of the boys unable to sit in the A/c comfort and not able to relish the Western delicacy in comparison to the Dosa that their grand mother gave touches your chord somewhere and places affection above all feelings!

The film starts a bit slow but towards the interval picks up and keeps you entertained throughout.
The camera man takes you right inside the area and makes you a part of the dwelling community, making you feel the life of a slum dweller!  The Railway yard and the picking up charcoal that have fallen on the railway tracks brings in an aroma of charcoal mixed air that is experienced when you cross a railway yard!  The subsequent  death of the grand mother is elaborately shown a bit loud, a tragedy that could have been little subdued.

The under privileged boys' dream of having a Pizza sitting in the air conditioned shop and subsequent realization of the same at the end sends a meaningful message to the young children watching the film! Yes, You can do it if you have the will and determination!

A good film, well taken and directed, as good as the film Slum Dog Millionaire!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Beliefs, myths, Religion and its impact on the society

I fondly recall the early 80s of Chennai Cinema when Stalwart directors like K Balachander made movies that often stirred some controversies and made people debate over it.  Door Darshan was the only channel that encashed this time slot and consumed most of the Sunday afternoons that forced people to sit in front of the idiot box and hear people debating if what Sujatha did in "Aval Oru Thodarkadhai" was just or against the culture and traditions?

Last week, I attended a wedding of my classmate's son in Chennai.  This youngster, educated in the
U S , picked his own partner, an American, went through the day long rituals that was totally mixed with tradition, loud chanting of Vedas and Mantras by learned Priests from the Brahmin community, who struggled to pronounce the name of the bride but were seen happy to solemnize the marriage that cemented the bond in the marriage from India to the U S A.  The girl's parents were too eager to perform the rituals though they did not have any clue of Kulam or Gothram that is repeatedly chanted during the rituals.  Bare bodied, the Americans presented a look that was pleasing to the eyes and the on lookers like us immediately accepted their presence and  embraced them  to our fold.  The Americans did not have Poonal (sacred thread) that is considered as a basic step in the conduct of marriage amongst Hindu Brahmins!  They, however, wore Pancha gachham veshtis and the women in traditional silk Sarees that added color and sheen to the function.  The marriage of hearts concluded and everyone present there were happy to taste the delicacies of South Indian cuisine and left happily.

On the flip side, I am puzzled over a subject of controversy triggered by one of the 5 gurus of Hindu cult that follows Shankaracharya, subscribe to their Peetams or abodes and views.  My friend's daughter who is a Tamil Brahmin, deeply in love with a Classmate of hers from the school and vice versa are now settled in the U S since the past several years continuing to foster their love and affection ever since.

Now that they are nearing the end of their 20s they approached their respective parents and expressed their interests of getting married as they knew each other for more than 12-15 years, pleading and swearing  that their love is genuine!  The boy's father decided to meet the Guru and seek his approval as both the boy and the girl belonged to the same Gothram! The Guru trashed the idea of getting married into the same Gothra!  The  Guru replied that he will not support marriage in same Gothra when the father asked the Guru if there was any way out to make this marriage happen? Now that the Guru was in no mood to approve the match, the Boy's parents are up with a dagger against the girl and her parents and give emotional  threats if they proceeded with the wed lock!  They boy is in a huge dilemma as to whom to support  if he had to choose between his lady love and his parents.  The boy who had come up with a mind of getting engaged left without even proposing!  The girl is shattered and trying to reconcile hard to the new equation of life  missing someone with whom she has been in touch and love since the past 12-15 years!

The parents of the girl are so upset with the boy that he was unable to take a decision and pondered if he would bring this topic over and over again with their daughter accusing her of splitting the family, if at all they get married? The boy's parents are happy that their son left without getting engaged or married against their wishes and that they could get him married to a girl of their choice.  Both the houses represent a scene of repentance and the family shattered.

A small stand taken by the Religious Guru resulted in complications and tensions in the hearts of so many in the families.  The friends of the family are in state of disbelief that something like this could happen during this modern era where people are educated and moving forward both economically and socially!   Hearts that yearn and love  each other is the real marriage and not the one where the hearts don't match but the parents force it on to the children making an unpleasant happening.  I have known several people getting married outside the cast and living happy, outside the boundaries of community and religion but married happily!  The priests performed the Indo-American Marriage last week happily and what does the Guru has to say about this happening? will he ostracize the priests for having indulged in Anti-religious activities and shun them from the title of Priests to perform rituals connected with Hinduism in the future? Our religious heads must evolve and accept such marriage of hearts and bless them instead of creating disturbances in the families that will lead the younger generation to unsubscribe to believing such religious Gurus  and their abodes that exists only on the foundation of trust by people. The recent arrest of self styled god man Asa ram Bapu has raised many eyebrows and question the basics of our trust in Religious cult. Time is not far off when these Mutts and religious heads will have to bow to the ever changing wants and living of the society and find some means to evolve whereby both the belief and trust in Religion are  maintained and fostered well to peculate the benefits to the future generations.

Marriage as an institution is in grave danger these days looking at the level of independence that is enjoyed by both the boy and the girl.  Many arranged marriages have failed and many love marriages have also failed.  True love is the one that sustains the weather of times and stands by each other!  In order to protect the institution of marriage, the Gurus will have to adapt to the new circumstances and not get frozen away in time.  When Love emerges supreme, the Gurus must bless them and encourage them to forge into an alliance of marriage as that is the only way legacy can be nourished and protected.

This Thodarkadhai has to find solutions soon and there is need for society to discuss and debate about it.  Every story has to end and it will be extra ordinary to see the same end well!  Will our religious leaders and society change for good, better and the best?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Hindu Dharma Paripalana Trust, Besant Nagar

                                      Hindu Dharma Paripalana Trust, Besant Nagar, Chennai

This trust was formed mainly to help Brahmin's in performing the religious rites of departed souls, situated next to the Besant Nagar crematorium in Chennai.  The Charity trust has rooms where one can perform according to Vedic rites for which they charge a fee of Rs 1000/- per day(3-4 hours).

Today, There was a death in my friend's family. A friend who lost his dear sister battling the dreaded Cancer.  After the cremation, the Pandit/ Shastrigal suggested that we book the accommodation for the 10th, 11th and 12th day rituals connected by paying the necessary advance amount of RS 4000/- to the Hindu Dharma Paripalana Trust.  I sent my assistant to do the necessary booking.  He came back with a form asking details about the person dead, the name, address and tel no of the performer of rites and other details and demanded Rs 12000/- for confirming booking.  The mental condition and stability of a person standing on the Cremation ground, emotions pouring out and looking lost is not in a position to think of anything else other than paying whatever is demanded by the Trust administrators.  Accordingly, an amount of RS 12000/- was sent through the assistant who came back with an official receipt for RS 4000/- and a scribble at the back stating Rs8000/- without any details or signature of any one who have accepted the money.

I decided to confront the Trust that boasts of Hindu Paripalanam which can be understood as protection to Hinduism or propagating Hinduism as to how and why they have issued money receipt for only Rs 4000/- instead of RS 12000/- that they collected?

I got the shock of my life when I saw for the first time dozens of Iyers and Iyengars standing and working together with full co-operation when in reality it is otherwise?  When I asked the Iyengar Priest- looking fellow about the anomaly I found in the receipt, he snapped at me saying its how this functions!  When I introduced myself  belonging to Aam Aadmi Party,  he summoned another guy who had horizontal stripes of ashes on his forehead who intercepted me asking if I could  ask the same question to the priest who conducts the last rituals and whether I demand receipt from him?  I was baffled with the way they argued with me adamantly saying that receipt for the balance amount of RS 8000/- charged for paying to their workers can not be given.  In the meantime, 3-4 more horizontals and verticals joined them and started arguing with me at the top of their voice defending the extra amount taken by them for which receipt was not issued.  I simply said I don't mind paying the amount but all that I need is a receipt. I asked for the Trustee's name and telephone number and very promptly came the reply that he was in the U S.  I told them that a trust will have more than a trustee and asked for other names and telephone numbers.  Fearing a lost battle, they asked me if I would like to cancel the booking and take refund of the entire amount paid?  I replied in negative and warned them that this kind of attitude will not find favours with the on coming generations and ultimately, they will stand as a cause for the downfall of Hindutva and Dharma!  The cumulative sin of destroying Dharma and Satya will rest upon them portraying as Priests but doing activities that belittle them.

Becoming nervous, he opened the drawer and returned the extra amount of RS 8000/- charged saying that he will collect the same from our priest when he comes there for the rituals!

What surprises me is the co-operative  joint operation of this racket by both Iyengars and Iyers alike who have formed their own club to fleece people who come there bundled in emotional reservoirs and whose thinking capacity is reduced to minimal due to circumstances.  These crooks know that people charged with emotions will not think or hesitate to spend and strike at this opportunity to rob them!
There is absolutely no difference between a road side chain snatcher and the Brahman administrators of Hindu Dharma Paripalana Trust at Besant Nagar.  Hope wisdom dawns on them with god's grace?
May these people turn into human friendly and act as messenger of gods specially considering the noble service attached with the rituals for the departed souls!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sensational Sunidhi Chauhan @ I I T Sarang festival 11/01/2015

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My wife was absolutely excited right from Morning and was eager to go with me Sunidhi Chauhan at the I I T Saarang festival.  Honestly, I was not at all excited about the show as I had heard legends like Kishore Kumar/Rafi/Manna Dey/Mahendra Kapoor/ Shreya Goshal/Sonu/ Rehman/Hariharan Shankar Mahadevan and several stalwarts from the Tamil film Industry.  I had rated Sonu Nigam as NO 1 entertainer so far and kept thinking that Sunidhi will be yet another female singer from the Bollywood who will be good to listen to!  The show started a bit late and the hype was constantly being created about Sunidhi's arrival and start of the program.  Sunidhi arrived to a thunderous applause and whistle of more than 5000 pair of hands absolutely ecstatic!  The smartly dressed, gorgeous looking Sunidhi was right in front of us showered by glittering lights and focus lights from the top and sides adding to her charm and beauty that escalated the interests of the crowd more and more.

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There was a Boom and Dhoom when she entered the stage with her peppy, energising song" Dhoom Machale" which she sang with such ease and perfection to make the audience go wild, clapping, whistling and dancing!  The interaction with the audience was just amazing when she made the audience sing portions of her song and promptly gave a good chit to Chennai audience for their taste and calibre to sing!  At one stage, she asked the girls present to whistle and showed them how to whistle that was quite a mind blowing whistling act!!  The bonding with the audience grew further with every song that she rendered.
It was an awesome sight seeing a young lady controlling the entire crowd of 5000plus and make them go bonkers!!  Usually, when a singer exhausts his/her singing quota, he/she  resorts to jig saw puzzle of swaras or notes to twine around a song just to establish his grammar of music and to tell the world that he is a trained singer just to be one up on someone who is also a good singer, not trained in grammar!  Sunidhi never utilised this build up and concentrated only on her powerful, cultured voice and her physical attractive body to captivate the audience with her Tumkas and shakes that complimented her singing style!!
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I could compare this beautiful singer with the Hollywood singing sensation Beyonce in her way of rendering, dressing up and presentation!  Each time she shook her head to support a vigorous note, the hair would fly and bounce back adding glitter to the singing style.

She sang many of her hits like Kamli, aaja Nachle, crazy kiya re,desi girl, dance pe chance that made the crowd absolutely stunned and crazy.  She kept on interacting with the audience and involved them in singing with her that was a key to success of the program.  The crowd kept on yelling Shiela and she yielded adding lots of spice to the song and ending the song giving credit to her own self instead of Shiela and she truely deserved every bit of it.  she sang uninterupted for nearly 2 hours both with singing and dancing and talking to the crowd and left us wondering the quantum of energy that was in store of this young, petite lady who stole the hearts of everyone present at the venue. She was assisted by Rakesh who sang a couple of duets(Dilliwali girl friend/neem ke pakode, main tho evain evain lut gaya) with her and was equally versatile in his rendering and dancing with Sunidhi.  The duet was enacted well adding variety to  singing that amused the audience more!  The more than 50,000 watts of amplified sound stirred the hearts whenever a base chord was struck during the show creating an awesome sensation!

At the end of the show, I thought this young lady is the best and surpassed all my expectations ! yes, she is a singing sensation much ahead of any singer that I have heard so far!
Sunidhi is the best Judgement delivered so far in the world of Music!  My wife is  always  right!!!