hope

Chitirai Festival

The ‘Chitirai Thiruvizha’ ( The festival that happens in the Tamil month of Chitirai) is an annual feature in a Madurai calendar. There is splendour. Pomp. Simplicity. Devotion. Revelry And a letting down of hair by rural and urban folk. Every body lets their hair down.

Save perhaps the policemen on duty !

Here is a video that i chanced on YouTube !

Pretty much covers one part of the festival spread over many days. The festival itself is a ten day long affair. The pomp and show of a ‘celestial wedding’. The majesticity of a ‘God’ in motion. The piety of the simple. The preparedness of the city. The commerce that keeps knocking on traditions doors. Yet a culture that somehow survives, are all things to see.

Its a must watch.




The next year around, give me a shout if you’d want to visit ! 🙂 The festival involves a deity taken in procession from Alagarkoil into the heart of the city ( a distance of more than 20 odd KM). The young and old rejoice. As part of the festival there is this traditional ‘water spray’ by the young and the old. Specially adorned. Chanting the name of Govinda.

Spraying water to cool things down. Spraying everywhere. Often targeting the camera of a stray blogger !

Here are some images that survived such targeting !






The Same Wall in K World !

Post – 1 of a three post series on the K World !


Theres this wall. Everyday on the way to work. On the way to work. Currently it echoes a lonely halo in the mornings. For schools are closed and children are away on holiday.

In some time though, schools would reopen. Overflowing satchel and sprightly uniforms will dot the roads. As much as school buses and parents at a bus stop. Tiny hands scratching the air while in animated conversation about an ‘important’ topic is clear. Of a butterflies. Bees. Cricket. actors. Etc Etc. And of course, mothers there have their own.

It is indeed some sight. To watch the contrast. The children without a care and worry. The moving butterfly, the kite that broke free and the odd ‘secret’ visibly keeping them busy. Them mothers, i don’t know. Their subject of discussion remains distant to me.

Coming back to the wall.

The children, they sit on the wall. They are rather, propped on the wall. By ageing grandparents and caring mothers. An escape from having to stand and wait for the school bus. And sitting on the high perch, on the high wall, they converse.

The 10 seconds it takes for me to drive past them, are enough to spot the happiness in them. Animated. Energetic. And that 10 seconds is usually http://premier-pharmacy.com/product-category/blood-pressure enough for me figure the energy expended in keeping them up there. At one place that is.

And in the evening, when i drive back, by the same wall, exactly where the children sat, there are the others that sit on the same wall. Men. Propped by themselves.

Young men. Old men. Middle aged men. All sit and have conversation. Some read the newspapers. Others discuss. Perhaps they too are waiting for their bus to arrive..

For a while now, i haven’t been seeing the children. When the schools reopen, there is going to be chatter and banter. And it is such a sight to behold. Everyday morning.

And i wonder, how it would be to be that wall. To be privy to all what the children speak. Their dreams. Their worlds. I wonder. And then, i think of the company the wall keeps in the evening. I shake my head. And say, ‘time flies’.

The wall will come to bounce with morning energy again. Soon.

Here’s to a great school season. May it rekindle in children the joys of living, the spirit of curiosity, inclusive thinking and a mindset that will make our futures better.

And may they tear down all walls. Save this wall.

This is the first of a three part ‘Kids World’ series on the modern day world of a child

Transformation !

To the uninitiated, this photograph may pass to be a boy next door. Or perhaps a snap from some nondescript place. To me this seems like a boy pulled out from the the middle of mid summer day cricket match. Or out of a juvenile home. Or out of typical scenes from a movie. And so on. ! I mean, the ‘next-door’ ‘ next-door’ type.

Wouldn’t you agree ?

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And so, it must have taken a awesome effort, mindless grind, endless passion, untold determination and some sprinkling of luck to emerge as this man.


Personally, the music this man composes just blows a whole lot of people away. And if there are any left standing, the humility he exudes, takes care. Some people inspire by the way they are. He is one.

It must have taken all that awesome effort, mindless grind and endurance to get there ! And of that this man is testimony to. And sure he has found riches awaiting !

Whilst there are others who rake in the riches by making a story of the transformation ! Just putting photo one and two together, writing well, and putting it out as a magazine !!

And to see this wall poster advertisement for a Tamil magazine, right here in Mumbai made the missus nudge and my camera capture !

And her comment that about those that still believe that ‘hope is a method’ was of course not directed at me. Really.

She told me. Ok ?

Defining Images ’08 : Women of the year !

Clicked in Mumbai Sept ’08

There are iron rods that jut out in the incomplete apartment complex next door. Seeming to arch out and reach the sky. Getting closer to the blue beyond and cotton clouds, everyday, a new floor climbed. Hoisted with bricks, cement, mortar, steel.

All in exchange of perhaps three square meals, happiness on a toddlers face and for inflaming the hopes beyond. At lunch time, they take a break. All those who climb those incomplete stairs of the yet to be complete buildings, hauling over bricks and mortar.

There is one lady who i watch today. A lady who hurriedly canters to a small shed. From a distance, through all the din and dust, i hear a toddlers smirk of happiness and a mothers voice.

In a moment they emerge. An elder daughter swinging a discarded bottle follows. She has him on her hip. Sings a song in a language that is alien to me as they walk by. Mother. Daughter. Baby. Unaware of my or anybody elses presence, they seems present in her world. Fully present there.

The lady stops for what seems to be a fleeting second. With one swoop of her other hand and a slight bend, wipes clean construction equipment from the floor and ports it atop her head.

My camera goes click click obscuring the chord that tugs the heart. From somewhere, my own amma telling our childhood stories stream in. ‘kandhalile muthucharam kappathi kattivaithen..’ ( From tatters i saved this string of pearls just for you..), she used to say, repeating lines from a film song.

Today, with an elegance that could compare a Russian gymnast on a trapeze, this lady of this hot Mumbai afternoon sways along. Presumably for lunch. Lullaby on her lip, work load on her head and love on her hip.

Long after they are gone, the alien lullaby & toddlers response still rings my ear. And i do not wonder why.


Image II

Mahabaleshwar ’08

It is around 6.30 AM. Mahabaleshwar. I walk the road to breathe in the fresh air and soak myself in. In some distance, a bundle of quiver seems to canter in my direction, at a brisk pace.

As she comes closer, i see a frail old woman. A bundle on her head. Barefoot. Carrying her slippers along. One on each hand. She seems to canter on. Each step is a struggle, i can see. And it takes a while for her to cross me. Slippers. Bundle et al in hand.

I am curious. To say the least. I turn around. And walk. Following her. In an obscure distance.

From afar i see a young lady approaching us. We walk on. They cross each other, with a greeting and wave. A slippery wave that is ! And the young woman tells her aloud, just as they are passing each other, ‘you should be wearing those slippers and not carrying them’.

She replies, with a panting quiver, ‘Shiri gave this to me. I don’t want to damage this…these will look good on ..( i cant quite catch the name)..’. She walks on. A few seconds later, a louder quiver emerges from the same throat. ‘I can do without these..‘ and as the voice trails off, i realise that the trail leads somewhere where i have no access to.

I drop off the trail. Staring into the sun, and the mist soaked land. I don’t have to look very far for love & promise. I realise.

Pedantic incidents, these may seem to you. To me, these shaped my 2008. Perhaps re-shaped, my mental map about hope, possibilities and women! There are two other women that i wrote about earlier. Do check out Vanita and the other woman that i know for a while now.

PS: On a completely different note, the missus and the mother-in-law are not featured here. Given the fact that they have ‘controlling interests’ in my life and therefore on this blog, featuring them here may involve a certain degree of conflict of interests. So in the interest of probity in public life… !!!

My day today. When Mumbai was beseiged.

Late last night, oblivious to all that was happening in the same city that is home, under the same sky, i blogged, read, chatted and went to bed. Only to be woken up very shortly later, by a call from my boss. At midnight you don’t expect your boss to call. ‘All well ?’, he asked, and proceeded to check if i knew of people in our organisation who were traveling to Mumbai.

My sleep drenched hand searched for the TV remote. As i absorbed the images. numbed for sometime,i took in heavy heaps of air, as much as my lungs could fill. I distinctly recall the slight quiver in his voice. And the tremble in my heart.

‘Is there anything that i can do ?’ I asked. He replied in the negative and hung up. It was an uncomfortable call.

‘Is there anything that i can do?’ is the question that stayed with me through the night as i shifted and turned uncomfortably.

After a stern night, i wake up early, switch on the TV, only to realise that night might have been over. But ‘stern’ was far from. I decide to step outside home to gather some fresh air. Not great dare devilry but just a walk within the precincts of the apartment complex.

At the entrance, is the security guard. Actually, an ordinary middle aged man, wearing an uniform. Nothing more. A gent who chats up rarely, but watches carefully. I doubt if he is trained on combat or whatever. But he still is there.

On other days, i greet him. Today, i walk past. My mind absorbed with the images on TV. I stand there and look into the sky, to ask ‘why’.

Today, he tells me as i step out : ‘Take care. But do go out. I am here to protect. Nothing will happen.”

I look at him for a stupefied second. I think : Forget RDX. This gent wont last a ricocheted bullet from a pistol. But that didn’t stop him from saying what he did. And doing so, held my attention. It seems that i don’t have to look any further for answers to the question that kept me up for most parts of the night.

My eyes moisten, and i tell him, ‘You take care too’. He nods his head.

We stare at each other. We are just two plain men. With a shared skyline, a wounded psyche and a determined spirit. The silence lingers for a while. His presence comforts me. In the ordinariness of his form and but the power of those simple words that touch me. Just letting me know that grief was not mine alone. He was with me. And so were many others.

Many hours later, i am at home. Wielding the remote. Jumping from channel to channel. Rejoicing in small mercies and wallowing in a strange syncretic grief. Offices have been declared closed today.

My hair is disheveled with hands running through them as i answer calls and watch TV. My heart is at multiple places. South Mumbai. In the shoes of all those held hostage. In the pall of gloom that would pervade the homes of slain police officers. In the anxiety of friends and relatives of people close to action. And so on.

I write. And that appears to resonate with people like Sundar, sitting many miles away.
And then, the doorbell rings. Breaking the footage monotony of policemen, rabid media & gun shots. I wonder who it could be.

I open the door, to find the courier boy delivering mail. A trifle surprised that this mail delivering was happening as the city was held to ransom, i collect the mail. And just as i am set to close the door, i tell him, ‘ Take care’. I swallow hard.

And he stops. A trifle surprised. Lingers for a while and states with a nonchalance of a commando.

With a straight chin, a fulgent gleam and a young mind , he speaks. ‘Nothing will happens sir. We just need to be more careful. And besides i have mail to deliver & much work to complete. I cant be afraid of these people, sir’.

I keep staring at him. As he disappears into the lift.

I close the door with a strange resolve. I switch off the TV. And open the laptop. And begin work. I am a Mumbaikar. I am Indian. I am a citizen of the world. I am not going to be cowed down by terror.

I know we will get them. I know we will win. At the nucleus of that victory will be this spirit. This spirit of labouring on, spreading the message and just going forward immaterial of whatever happens.

And friends call. There seems to be a resolute need to do something. And their anguish spills out as war crys and oaths, strange resolutions and ideas emerge. ‘Form vigil squads’. ‘Learn martial arts’. ‘Basic weapon training.’ ‘Spreading the message of love’. ‘Lets galvanise action and people’. ‘Lets blog more’. Etc. Etc.

I realise, ‘ I want to do something’ seems to be a core message. There is an educated mass, able, willing and wanting to do something.

Somewhere between the resolute yet concerned quiver of the first call, and the spirit of the security guard and courier boy, and the anguish ridden restive energy expressed by fellow men and women : i realise, that we need to carry on with our work, yet seek out and do what we can, in our spaces.

We are hurt. And perhaps bleeding. But still not dead. Never will be. The soul is new. And tomorrow, when the same sun lights a new dawn, and when we get back to work, we will not be wallowing in questions of ‘why us’.

It rather will be ‘From here, where ? How ?

I seek your help. We seek your ideas.

Of Time & Hope !


This is a copy paste of a mail that was posted to the ISABS e-group, sent by a gentleman called Naveen Tater. I found this to be extremely profound.

It stands still; yet moves. Surges ahead; yet backtracks to reveal its trail. Flies at a crawling pace. Hurts and heals. Bears no history yet tells tales that no story writer has or will ever spin. Has no future of its own, but promises everyone the best. Such dichotomy!

2533 Springs blossomed after the Mahaveera and the Buddha saw the light that illuminates our lives. Vikramaditya’s wisdom is relevant even after 2062 Autumns. Two Thousand Winters have passed since Christ modestly kicked his baby feet. Mohammed’s teachings lead as they did 1427 Summers ago. Calendars with their myriad eras have commemorated them all. Much more light and wisdom flowed in the veins of the Earth before them and more is yet to stream. I will never stand testimony to all of them. Yet a companion of mine did and will witness, endorse and carry those prints for me …

TIME; my uninvited, unrelenting, uncomplaining unseen companion.

Calendars are ironic, attempting to show passing moments with images that stand still in time. Droplets of water freeze, leaves cease to flutter flaunting their youth, rays stretch from the horizons never intending to diminish their brilliance and butterflies and petals unfold their full glory despite their short span. The pages change replaced by more static images, meant to inspire, to move ahead.

Move faster, faster to stop time. Einstein, Eisenberg, Hawking attempted to show that. Yet to stop is no one’s longing. The celebration of life and its cyclic events never cease to bemuse. A droplet meeting the pool below is music; the breath of life hides in the fluttering leaves; rays retract with a promise to meet at the other horizon, the colors bring out a smile. The picture on the calendar fades but the vision renews itself; every season, every day, every moment.

Time brings with it Hope, another unseen companion. Both match every stride of mine, take my hands and spur me on.

While I adjust the nail on my wall to replace the calendar, I fervently wish you friendship of these two companions; Time and Hope. They will want to bring in Good Health, Mirth, Joy and Success with them. Trust you won’t mind the crowd J

Naveen Tater