Archive | January, 2014

Incandescence

21 Jan

Today, as I boarded the bus which would take me to my university, I didn’t think anything would be different. It was a normal day. I had just managed to catch the bus and had sat down on one of the many vacant seats.

I was staring out the window, wondering how boring today was going to be, when I saw a man walking past my seat on the bus. He looked to be in his mid fifties. He wasn’t by any means unusual. He looked like someone you would meet on the road. His clothes were well-worn. His footwear had seen better days. He had a small scarf around his neck and a small white cap over his head. The lungi was checked. It had blue, green and something like grey.

He was what you would call normal.

The first time he went past me to sit in the men’s section, he was carrying a blue tricycle with him. It wasn’t a fancy model, by any stretch of imagination. It was blue and was shiny. It had two buttons on the dashboard. The seat had the characters from Mickey Mouse printed all over. It looked soft and spongy. The kind that makes you want to sit over it, despite being wrapped in transparent plastic. There were two small headlights, red in colour and the handlebars had tassels hanging from them.

It was a pretty sight. But then again, it was normal.

The man pressed one of the buttons on the dashboard..

“Johnny, Johnny,
Yes, Papa?
Eating sugar?
No, Papa.
Telling lies?
No, Papa.
Open your mouth
O Ha! Ha! Ha!”

That blared out.. about three times. He didn’t know how to stop it and so he pressed the other button.

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky
Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are”

He got more flustered and kept pressing the other button. This probably over-rode the previous signal from the other button and another nursery rhyme started playing. He looked back furtively and tried stopping it, again.

This other man went up to him and tried stopping it, by pressing the buttons some more, but to no avail. Finally, the conductor came up to him and told him to let it be and that it would stop playing on its own.

No, I wasn’t going to say that listening to nursery rhymes on a metropolitan bus at ten in the morning was normal. It was.. different. And it made me smile and remember times when things were simpler.

But what made my day was the way he caressed that small tricycle as he made sure it stayed next to his seat. He wiped off non-existent specks of dust and made sure it was proper. He was looking at that bike made of plastic and metal with so much open love and affection that I couldn’t help, but be jealous of that little boy/girl. They might not know how he looks at them now. They might not be able to see themselves the way he does, as perfect the way they are.

No, the imperfections strike us when we grow older, but I doubt even age will diminish the pride, love and all that I saw in his eyes for the child who would ride that tricycle.

That light was incandescent.

As I got down, I heard the faint strains of..

“Johnny, Johnny,
Yes, Papa?
Eating sugar?”

and I smiled, because I remembered a man with silver hair in a white jubba looking at me with more love than I could ask for in several lifetimes. And at that moment, as I walked into my university, with a smile, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

© My Rickety Typewriter, 2014; Vintage Ink.
No part of the text – partial or complete – may be copied/ reproduced or transmitted without prior permission from the author. The content is the intellectual property of the author. The above applies no matter what way the access to the blog was granted.

Forever and a Day

10 Jan

Hampshire, England
April 10th, 2012

Dear diary,

I am here at Ivory house for the holidays. I have met all the gardeners and have run all over the grounds at least twice. Mom has given up hope on me ever behaving with grace and poise. Hannah has promised me chocolate cake and pot roast. I can’t wait!

I also gave mom a heart attack when I decided to clean the attic. (Needless to say I didn’t get beyond the first trunk). I found this old, musty book in the attic, in one of the many trunks there and it turned out to be my great-great-great-great-grandfather’s diary. (That was five great’s. Mom says it could even be six. People don’t recall where Grandpa Anthony was on the family tree. Sorry, Gramps!) I also found a key tucked away within the cover, when it fell on my foot, no doubt dislodged by my fall down the step-ladder. Wonder what it opens.. I am once again, irreversibly glad, I wasn’t born at the time when women were made to waltz.

The initial pages were pretty boring. There were day-to-day accounts, of what was bought and sold, information about the estates.. Occasionally, there were little tidbits about hunting episodes and nights at taverns and fight clubs. It felt like I was caught in a time warp. I had almost given up hope, when I saw a poem somewhere in the middle. The book fell open at that page, when I tried to lay it on the table. The pages were yellowing at the sides and starting to curl up. The words were almost faded. There was a lingering smell of lavender and as I touched the book, I found a small bulge on the surface and turned the page to find a small sprig of lavender and a lock of black hair, both enclosed in small papers, folded carefully. The well-worn creases showing that they had been opened several times.

I found an old, empty sketch book. Have started sketching just about anything and everything. I’m loving it, here.

Food calls! Ciao.

Hampshire, England
April 8th, 1814

Drawn like a moth to the flame
There I was
Some said it was real
Others said it was fantasy
But, I couldn’t think

My hand was cold
A perfect foil to her fever
Her every curve and crevice
Have been imprinted indelibly
On the bristles that brushed past

The flame enticed me to
Take what was on offer
But the woman in white
Was but a mirage
Yet I thirsted for her

Knowing that my fingers
Will clutch at air
When I think I am
Close enough to be set ablaze

The fire burns
Its flames reaching out
Engulfing her until
She is the flame

She tried to move away
Becoming an apparition
One that dreams are made of

Her perfection was the very thing
That made her unattainable
A beauty, so beyond belief
That her very presence
Made men go mad with want

Yet, I dared
Closer and closer I went
In response to
Her exquisite beauty

Closer and closer I went
Enough to be singed by her
And yet, wanting more

As I reached out
In the trance I was
I saw her as
A vision in white

In that moment she appeared
Almost human
Her frailty reflected
In her bottomless eyes

“Don’t”, she whispered
“Once you touch me
You will not be able to forget.”
“What makes you think I want to?”

She wanted to succumb
Longed to be real and grow old
And so she gave in
The flame becoming white-hot
One night to last for eternity

Drawn like moth to the flame
There I was
Some said it was real
Others said it was fantasy
She smiled and said
As she vanished into the night

“Neither, it was just me.”

Hampshire, England
May 14th, 2013

Dear diary,

I have been searching around the house for a lock that could be opened with the key I found for over a year now. So far, I have been unsuccessful. I noticed that the gardens are still beautifully maintained. Colin has turned as weathered and wrinkled as the portraits hanging on the walls of the house.

He shaded his eyes from the sun, squinted at me, smiled and said, “Ah! You have come.” He has the greenest thumb, I have ever seen on anybody. He is the sweetest man I have ever seen.. Although to get to that sweet side you need to dig about 800 miles deep!

I sat down on the stone bench in the garden and was about to ask him to tell me the story of Grandpa Anthony, when he told me to come with him. He had been born to the previous head-gardener of Ivory House and his children would continue to be here.

He took me around the sprawling gardens and told me that Grandpa Anthony had left explicit instructions in his will about maintaining the gardens well and that it had continued several generations after his passing. He also told me several anecdotes about my ancestors, including my favourite ones, right at the end.

He pointed out several new flowers that I had seen, but never knew the names of. He showed different varieties of lavender that had been planted and grown with utmost care.

I remembered the sprig in the diary and looked around for a similar tree, but found none. I asked him about it and he said that these were the only lavender trees in the garden and that he knew of no more.

I figured that there were simply too many trees and maybe people had just lost count. I then went about gardening and setting up a small garden that I could take care of, by myself.

I am also reading the diary I found and it is something right out of a story book. It feels surreal to be reading about what happened two centuries back.

Mother is on a Hebrew learning spree, similar to when she was pregnant with me. (Don’t ask!) Apparently, my name means sublime. Hannah’s pot roast is sublime. Oooh. I can smell something so beautiful, it is making my eyes water.

Red peppers. I should have known.

Going to go sample some of that chocolate cake.

Toodles!

Hampshire, England
May 12th, 1814

Unbeknownst to her
I had cut a lock of her hair
Hair that was as black as a raven’s wing
And hid it in my diary

She had a fragrance
Of lavender lingering
About her person

One that I wanted to
Bury myself in
But none of the sprigs I found
Smelled like her
And so I set about planting a garden
Full of flowers
And a hint of citrus

Hampshire, England
May 16th, 2013

Dear diary,

Mother seems extraordinarily suspicious that I am not throwing tantrums about wanting to watch the telly and keep going out. I have kept Grandpa Anthony’s diary a secret for a year now. Mother would disapprove and dismiss it, but there is something so full of longing and spun dreams emanating from his diary that I just can’t give up till I find what the key opens.

Maybe I should let her know, I have discovered that gardening is my calling? Worth a shot, don’t you think?

I also found the huge full length mirror I used to sit in front of and play. I remember trying to get my eyes to change colour, when I was particularly bored.

The diary seems to be getting more and more interesting. I wonder who the woman in white was.. Most probably a figment of Grandpa Anthony’s imagination was what my mother would say, but how I wish she had been real.

Hannah was a worried at my bluuuuuuue mood. She baked gingerbread men. I love Hannah.

It rained a little today. The earth smelled divine, the combined scent of lavender and lemon. Loving the colours in the garden.

Hampshire, England
April 18th, 1814

I did not know
How she died a little
Wondering if it would last
She waited with bated breath

For me to wake up
Rub my eyes and
See right through her
Like she never was

I did not know
That she was no match
For my brand of ammunition
Had I known
I would have brought out
All the weapons in my armory
Able to touch and feel
Yet, ephemeral was her fate

She knew, instinctively
That I would wipe out the traces
Of all those heart-breaks and
Make her mine, only mine

Even if I remembered her for a day
She would be mine for a day…
And forever.

Hampshire, England
May 18th, 2014

Dear diary,

I’m nearing the end of my stay here. Holidays are almost done for this year. I am contemplating getting Daddy to shift base here. Whimsical, I know, but I can’t help it. In any case, Daddy was telling me that we might have to move soon. So, why not back here?

It feels like I belong here and I am always happier here than I have ever been in London. I think I am one of those people who was born into the wrong century.

The gardens are looking beautiful. I think I can go around the house, blindfolded.

I can imagine Ivory House back in the 1800s. The ballrooms, the dancing. Riding across the fields. It would have been a nice life.

I have read the diary more times than I can count. Anthony seems a tad obsessed. The entries towards the end of the book seem almost.. wistful. I keep re-reading the diary in hope of finding her name.

I just sketched mother while she was sleeping. Maybe I should make her drool?

Just a little.

Hampshire, England
March 12th, 1815

I have started overseeing the renovation of the manor. Father is pleased with my efforts. According to him, I have started to behave in a way appropriate for the next Viscount.

I have ordered the construction of a small outhouse at the far East end of the grounds. This was a matter, just between Gilbert and me and he obliged.

The days tire me out and I welcome the  weariness. The nights are torturous. They seem to be filled with her and her alone. I must give up searching for her. But I find that I don’t posses the will.

Father is looking for suitable wives, ably assisted by mother. I find that I cannot muster any cheer and that unfortunately, I cannot put it off, any longer.

Hampshire, England
May 20th, 2014

Dear diary,

YOU are not going to believe what just happened today. Obviously, from my excitement, I have found what the key opens. The small outhouse a little away from the main house, where I sit and read and paint has a lot of locked rooms.

There was a small locked room there, towards the back, facing east. The lock was a little rusty and it took a while to get it open. Colin was with me and we managed it, together.

Inside the room we found several rectangular shapes, all covered in sheets that had a layer of dust over it. I pulled a sheet off one and started sneezing when I noticed that Uncle Colin was quiet. I turned around to look at him and he seemed to be staring at me and at the something behind me.

I turned around, a small fluttering of something in my chest and ..

There was a portrait. Several, in fact. All of a woman in white, who looked remarkably like me. Which would have been impossible because I hadn’t even born, back then.

She was beautiful. She had long black hair, reaching to her waist. Her eyes were.. the same as mine. A startling green in some and dark green, inky black in others. Her clothes.. Well, let us just say not all the portraits would have been allowed in the house if mother had been around.

I also knew that she wasn’t Grandma Belinda. She had blonde hair and blue eyes and was quite petite.This woman was.. enchanting. Grandpa Anthony was extraordinarily gifted.

I reached out to touch her face and I swear I am not kidding, but it felt like she smiled just then.

The paintings were beautiful. There was also this page tucked into the portrait, which rendered me speechless. Which by itself is an accomplishment for me. I never run out of words. EVER.

Hampshire, England
April, 1814

I’ll come back, my love
For you, I will
If not in this lifetime
Then in the ones that follow
Not as me, but as part of you
Two halves making a whole

Same as me
Same as you
Different than both
Yet, similar in our differences

I shall look at your world through my eyes
And love through your heart
Together we shall be, one soul

Give me time
To permeate into you
To become you
Just as you become me

~ Aaliyah

Hampshire, England
July 27th, 1816

The outhouse is nearly complete. I have also asked for a small garden to be planted here. Full of lavender, of course and some lemon trees. I’m still in search of that elusive scent. The lavender here has not been planted anywhere else in the garden. This is my sanctuary. Hers and mine.

By laying the strokes over her form, I manage to convince myself she was real. I know she was. Yet, nobody I know seems to remember her. How could anybody forget her?

Upon gazing at her countenance, one could tell, she was not from England. She seemed magical.

Father has never approved of my love for painting and I have tried to give it up. However, she keeps haunting me, and the only relief I find is in recreating her magic.

Father has decided on Belinda Smith. She seems pretty enough and we shall get along. But I know in my heart I will not be able to love her like I had once thought I could love my wife. 

Her third portrait is almost complete. The strokes making her come alive. She will live on, in my dreams, in every leaf on my grounds, in every brick of my house.

I do hereby promise, that though I might not be able to love my wife, I will be kind and faithful to her. She will not want for anything.

Hampshire, England
May 20th, 2014

Two centuries.
I can’t even.

Hampshire, England
November 12th, 1864

Now all I remember of that night is the way my blood raced through my veins. How everything seemed to stand still in the face of her beauty. Now, years later, I wish, I had asked for her name. Venus incarnate was she. Or was she Aphrodite? I forget the details.

But what I’ll never forget is her. The way her eyes caressed my soul and how they held more secrets within them than I could count. Was I one of them? How she put to shame all those sculptures of Goddesses and how she left taking a heart unaware of anything, but her and now it continues to wait for her, despite being taught otherwise.

***

A/N- This is the first time, I’m trying something like this. By this, I mean, I wanted to try to tell a story in a single post. And I wanted it to be from the perspective of different people, united by the same emotional chord. I don’t know how far I have succeeded or failed. I also believe that if something is truly yours, even if you can’t have it or get in the current circumstances, it will somehow make its way back to you, if not as part of you.

In case, it got too long winding, my apologies. I would love to know what you thought and where I can improve. Thank you for sticking by me and reading!

Cheers!

***

© My Rickety Typewriter, 2014; Vintage Ink.
No part of the text – partial or complete – may be copied/ reproduced or transmitted without prior permission from the author. The content is the intellectual property of the author. The above applies no matter what way the access to the blog was granted.

Kalyana Samayal Saadham- Good, bold and cheeky!

6 Jan

This is a movie that is unapologetic and bold. It comes as a surprise that there are directors coming up in the industry who make such films.

This movie made me nostalgic. It took me back to my childhood, to all those Bharatnatyam* classes I attended. All those music classes I went to. All those fights between me and my brother.

The movie deals with a personal problem between an engaged couple and how they go about it. It is a breezy ride and there is lots of laughter and quiet chuckles.

What I loved about it was how the director, RS Prassana, went about the movie.The focus is on a pretty common issue among today’s youth and yet, he has dealt with it all the sensitivity he can muster.

Meera (Lekha Washington) is your next door neighbour. She has done her fair share of learning Bharatnatyam and Carnatic* music. She is in her early twenties and has a Facebook account, loves reading and also has a blog. She is strong, harbors fantasies about her wedding and her dream guy. She has studied Mechanical Engineering and works as a Software engineer. Her parents are looking for a suitable groom for her and fix on Raghu (Prassana)- based on his qualification, profession, pay package and other check boxes.

So, Meera and Raghu get engaged and the wedding is in another eight months. During this time, they get to know each other and somewhere along the way, they start to fall for the other person.

One night after a party organized by Raghu’s friends, a month before the wedding, the duo head to Meera’s place to get some action (Of the horizontal kind!) when they realize that Raghu can’t quite make it to the finish line because he has erectile dysfunction! (Temporary, of course!)

What follows.. Do they manage to do the deed? Or do they call off the wedding? Is Raghu able to man up?

The director is also extremely cheeky about it, without being vulgar.

The movie also focuses on youngsters today. How they have dreams and needs and how they sometimes have to balance what their parents expect from them and what they want.**

The actors have played their roles well. The comedy is good and makes you laugh. The characters you see are real and are on some level people in your own family. They are just as flawed as you and me.

Several scenes make you smile because you can remember it happening in your house.

The first half is good. It keeps you engrossed as you follow the lives of Meera and Raghu. Prassana has done a good job. Kudos to him for taking up this role. Not many would have. 

Delhi Ganesh and Uma Padmanabhan as Meera’s parents do a really nice job. I loved the scene where she asks him, “How? How do you decide in an instant if this right? Will we be like you and amma* or will we get divorced in two years?” That moment and the one that followed, filled my heart.

The second half drags quite a bit, relative to the first half and resembles one of the many Tamil serials and is rather dramatic

Raghu’s grandfather (Kathadi Ramamurthy) gave that added nostalgic touch to how children bond better with their grandparents than their parents.

The background scores are good. The songs act as a medium to allow the emotions portrayed to reach the audience, without being intrusive. They are part of the story telling process and there is no dancing on streets or running around trees (Thank God for that!).

P.S. I loved the opening credits. The whole thing of a little girl growing up. The Filter Kaapi*, the Hindu newspaper, the obsession with getting a daughter married. LOVED the cricket references and the bloopers. Hilarious!

P.P.S Try and watch it with your friends. (Keep family as last option! 😉 )

~~~

**Because I love this poem-

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

– Khalil Gibran

~~~

*Bharatanatyam– A traditional/classical dance with its roots in Tamil Nadu.

*Amma– Mother

*Carnatic Music–  A traditional/classical form of music practiced in and associated with South India.

*Filter Kaapi– Filter Coffee- Coffee made from a mixture of ground coffee beans and chicory. To this powdered mix boiling water is added and the concentrate that is filtered from it is known as the decoction. Milk and water are added to it, as per need and served.

***

© My Rickety Typewriter, 2014; Vintage Ink.
No part of the text – partial or complete – may be copied/ reproduced or transmitted without prior permission from the author. The content is the intellectual property of the author. The above applies no matter what way the access to the blog was granted.

Biriyani- A raw, insipid meal

1 Jan

Happy new year 🙂

I hope all your dreams come true. Have an amazing year ahead.

So, I saw Biriyani (evidently!) If you are thinking of watching it, please read on.

Venkat Prabhu has tried something like a mix of comedy, murder mystery, family bonding and other stuff, all in a single movie. Somebody please tell the man to stick to one genre.

The characters are-

Venkat Prabhu: Hero. Somebody who can act. Haha!! Did you see what I did there?

Enter Karthi.

So, in the first half you understand that Sugan (Karthi) is a player and women fall at his feet like flies over a rotting banana.

Venkat Prabhu: We need comedy. It has to be awesome. Everybody should laugh and laugh and then die.

Enter Premgi.

Parasuram (Premgi) is Karthi’s side-kick, who has zero luck with girls.

The comedy is awful. Premgi is boring. His jokes are repetitive and he sounds like a broken tape-recorder. The comedy appears contrived. It makes you yawn and look at your watch.

Venkat Prabhu: We need glamour. And we need to sell the role to someone who thinks there is immense scope for acting. 

Enter Hansika.

Priyanka (Hansika) is Karthi’s girlfriend and doesn’t have any active brain cells. She is unaware that her boyfriend cheats on her, rather actively and is quite infatuated with him. She is also an air headed bimbo who is a journalist. I would like to think that a profession like that required some basic logic but in Biriyani, it is all about …

Venkat Prabhu: Eeeeyyy!! It is a family entertainer.

Me:  Sethuten.

Venkat Prabhu: Okay. You wait, I’ll give you an awesome villain.

Enter Nasser.

Mr. Varadharajan (Nasser) is a businessman with lots of power, money and influence. He is also, obviously, involved in illegal activities.

Venkat Prabhu: Oh. I need pseudo-villain. *whispers* Unfortunately, we hear him.

Enter Ramki. Thambi, if you are going to come out of vanvas to act in a movie like this with 4-5 scenes to your name, you can stay in hiatus.

Vijaykrishna (Ramki) is Vardharajan’s son-in-law and is jealous of him and wants his position in society. *yawn*

Me: So, the story..

Venkat Prabhu: NOOOO. We need to titillate the audience. We need to have an item number. It is the way of the world. *Pushes through the crowd of producers, stands over a chair and announces with pride*

Enter Maya (Mandy Takhar).

She gyrates on poles and eats biriyani while sitting in a white Jaguar. It was a nice car.

Me: The story is…

Venkat Prabhu: Eyyy!! What nonsense is this? We haven’t covered family roles, yet. Have some patience.

Enter Sugan’s father and sister.

Wait. Let us add a prospective groom as well. Enter fiance of above mentioned sister.

Me: So, the story is  basically a ..

Venkat Prabhu: Shooo. *swats* Now we need the police. *Rubs hands in glee*

Enter Sampath Raj as Riyaz Khan, a CBI officer; Jayaprakash as AC Sampath; Vikram as Hari.

Me: *yawn*

Venkat Prabhu: We need an external, unpredictable element that will have no point at all. We should introduce someone, just for the heck of it.

Enter Uma Riyaz Khan.

Me: She was completely wasted in the movie. I still don’t get the point.

Venkat Prabhu: That is only the point.

Roll camera, action!

The story is  basically a murder mystery. The victim being Nasser. Who killed him and why forms the story-line.

What I mean to say is that the first half is a waste of time. Of money. Of people. Of all things good and nice.

The only good thing about the first half was that.. Nope, I can’t think of anything.

The second half picks up pace and has a decent screenplay.

The songs make zero sense in context and have been included to extend the length of the movie. Yuvan’s 100th movie, though. So, great job in .. yeah.. All that.

An item number is introduced towards the end of the first half and the story actually starts at the end of the song.

Most of Venkat Prabhu’s films have a twist in the end and this is no exception. However, he has tried too hard with Biriyani & there are several loop holes. For instance, there was no tangible reaction upon learning that his father-in-law is missing, but upon seeing him get shot, twice, Vijaykrishna is in tears? Please.

Two scenes back he was dancing (trying would be the operative word) in a club with girls old enough to be his daughters and then he is all glycerine-d up?

The killer shoots at Nasser from close range. So, how would the question of whether he survived or not come up? You shoot a guy from 3 feet away and you think there is a fair chance he survived?

Karthi can act, but here he has to work on it. It gets monotonous after a while. Hansika is.. a waste of screen space. There is no role, at all, for her, except to act like an extremely stupid girlfriend. And she does it with aplomb. Her acting can only be described as natural.

The movie is rather predictable. So, go in with zero expectations and leave logic behind. Because it gives you a headache to try to understand how the writer’s mind works. And aspirins are NOT handy.

Maybe we should start a mass movement to make sure awful movies give you aspirins along with the tickets. That would be nice.

P.S. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Go in after the first half to see a movie with a story. Or better, don’t go at all.

***

© My Rickety Typewriter, 2014; Vintage Ink.
No part of the text – partial or complete – may be copied/ reproduced or transmitted without prior permission from the author. The content is the intellectual property of the author. The above applies no matter what way the access to the blog was granted.

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