Monday, May 30, 2011

How to get the point across

5-yr-old: "Dad, I want that... mmm... long thing... what is it called?"
Dad (distracted): "Which? What?"

"Tell me the names of some fruits."
"A 'long' fruit? Let me see... "

"No, not long. Just name some fruits."
"Well... apple, orange, banana,..."

"Okay. It's not a fruit. Tell me the names of vegetables."
"Long ones?"

"No. All vegetables."
"Tomato. Brinjal. Onion. What else is there? Potato?"

"Ah! Yes! Potato. What is that long thing made from potatoes?"
"French fries?"

"YES! French fries. I want French fries."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summer Diary: The Woman in White

The old woman, draped in a crumpled white cotton saree, sat absolutely still. The pallu carelessly pulled around her and dug into her waist showed no sign of ever having encountered pressing irons. Her glasses rested on the edge of her nose. A woman older than she was sprawled on the sofa, fanning herself. A young man sat watching cricket on television. His sister was turning the pages of a magazine without seeing anything.

Dusk had fallen. There was nothing to do but wait for dinner. The old woman in white hugged her arms, eyebrows raised in concentration, her eyes surreptitiously drifting here and there, all around her. She would look up when spoken to and sometimes grunt a reply, clearly not approving of the disturbance. She would wave her hands at times, like a traffic policeman flagging vehicles.

About half an hour passed thus. The youngster shifted in his seat as the match progressed, deep intakes of breath giving away the fate of the team he supported. The flip-flap of the newspaper fanning the older woman, the lazy rustle of the magazine in the young woman's hands and the groans of the ancient fan provided the background to the television commentary.

A subtle change came over the woman in white. She remained immobile but her eyes narrowed and began darting with rapt attention. Her fingers rubbed against each other, to warm up for the final act. Slowly, she drew her feet closer to her.


The older woman stopped fanning and stared. The youngster muted the TV and turned around. The young woman gaped.

Her eyes betraying a suggestion of glee, the White Woman opened her closed palms and slowly pulled out something small and black between her thumb and index finger. With a triumphant face, she held it out to the others for a second before flicking it away.
"Darn mosquito!" she said.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wisdom of Our Mothers: Stories from India

I suppose it is but natural that after months of waiting, dreaming and hoping, when it is time, I should sit here and struggle to find the right words. The disbelief makes me go take a peep at my Inbox every now and then, to make sure it wasn't a dream, that the mails really exist.

There was this announcement in The Hindu in October of last year: "Familia Books is buying stories from writers in India for an Indian edition of the anthology, Wisdom of Our Mothers."

I sent my entry, a story from real life, in November and began the long wait.

This week, my wait was rewarded: My story is one among the six that will be part of the "Stories from India" section of the anthology, "Wisdom of Our Mothers". What's more, it will also feature in another anthology comprised of stories from India.

For once, I am at a loss for words.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Simply complicated

"Amme, my friend is calling. Can I go to she's house?"

Why on Earth is English such a complicated language?!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Kerala Diary: Crossing the tracks

The 'foot overbridge' is half a kilometre down the platform and dragging luggage all the way to it and over it is next to impossible. 

As I stood there, about ten or twenty people (maybe more) crossed the tracks, with a policeman looking on.

Can we blame anyone?

Monday, May 9, 2011

To say I am disappointed...

...would be an understatement.

Maybe it was the hype.
Maybe it was the 20-crore(?) budget.
Maybe it was the expectation generated by numerous favourable reviews by blogger friends. (I am yet to read an unfavourable one.)
Maybe it was the trailers that crossed my social networking paths months prior to release.
Maybe it was the fact that as we entered the theatre, KPAC Lalitha's voice over was already explaining the arrival of the Portuguese to the shores of Kerala and other incidents relevant to the movie. After all, first impressions should not be formed while bending double on full stomach and rushing to seats, for a 9PM show.

The beginning of Urumi was too quick for my likes. Within minutes of my sitting down, Prithviraj and Prabhu Deva were hurled into the sixteenth century. The story slipped down the stairs and splashed into the ancient ambala kulam. Given that the past itself takes about two hours (plus), I presume it would not have been possible to provide more fluff on the 'current' events.

Vidya Balan is a brilliant (though under-rated) actress (actor?), very capable of not over-doing her role. But the Devi appearance (and dance!) did not seem to add anything to the story. I looked around for Tabu in every frame after her cameo - I could not believe her performance was restricted to half a scene. The high-profile cast, no doubt, explains a large part of the 20-crore.

Were not some of the dresses, dances and dialogs borrowed from this century?

Most of the actors did justice to their characters and did what was expected of them. Prithviraj should (in the best interests of the audience) shed a few kilos especially in such (shirtless) roles. His body language reeked of arrogance instead of the tough, proud, dignified look that we are familiar with in other historical movies based on vengeance, patriotism and so forth. Someone could have advised him to tone down his attitude a bit - at least to endear him to the viewers. His talent is undisputed - no one else in the industry today can portray the 'angry young man' better than him. Wonder if it was his recent superstardom or the movie's budget that ruined it.

An acquaintance summed the movie up before I went to watch: "16th century story and all that, with sufficient skin show for the 21st century audience."

What the movie did, however, was to add faces, colours and events to the sentence we learned by rote in childhood:  
Vasco da Gama landed at Kappad beach near Calicut in 1498.

I don't think the movie was worth losing my sleep on.

But then, it may have also been the small, old theatre, quite unequipped to handle modern-day big-budget movies of cinematographic excellence.

Or it may have been plain, old-fashioned, intolerant me.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


"Amme, you hitted my leg."

"Sorry. By the way, 'hitted' is not a word."

"Okay. You hat me."