Monday, December 28, 2009

Nostalgic trip down memory lane

This Christmas I visited my mom’s home in the Thrissur – Palakkadu border after a gap of several years. The trip awakened so many memories and not in a way I expected too.

I had anticipated a barrage of sweet memories, which may or may not have been true, the moment I stepped foot on the ground after the long journey. However it was not to be so. First of all, I was exhausted after the long 10 hour-drive, which should have been shorter except for the mad traffic on the day before Christmas. It used to be fun when as children (me and my sister) our dad used to do the driving or when we simply had to hop off the train. The long drive made me exhausted and all I wanted to do when we reached was sleep. The food didn’t seem as good as I had remembered. And grandmother, who had made all the fuss which made me come, looked exactly the same as I had last seen her. Of course the old house with tons of wood and tiled roof had been demolished and a modern concrete terraced house had come up in its place which I whole heartedly welcomed. Instead of having to sleep in the red-oxide floor there were new beds. I happily fell into a deep slumber.

I woke up early next morning wondering what I was doing in a strange surrounding before I regained my senses. An occasional thumping sound awakened my curiosity and I went to the back door to check it out. I opened the door and stepped out into the backyard and for a moment was stunned by something that hit my face with such force. I almost lost balance before steadying myself and looked straight ahead and in that instant I knew that all the sweet memories and dreams I had in my mind were not imagined ones. For blowing through the mighty trees in front of me, shaking huge mango and tall palm trees with such arrogance, awakening the smell, music and memories of a forgotten childhood, I could feel the Palakkadan Kattu, the strong wind that blows through the Palakkadu-Thrissur borders in the mornings with such gusto you could feel the whole earth shake around you. The thumping of branches against windows and roof tops - the sound that had awakened me this morning – had been my morning alarm for all holidays when I was a regular visitor there. As children our favorite pastime in the morning was to stand against the wind to see how long we could withhold its strength.

And suddenly it felt like all my imaginations had come true at that instant. It was Christmas and its spirit had awoken inside me. The morning food with my favorite ‘Kallappam’ felt delicious. My brothers and sisters weren’t the tiresome brats they used to be but, just like me, they had grown too. The sound of cows and hens reminded me what we lost in the city. I suddenly found myself wistfully longing for the old house – with the thatinpurram and pathayam. And I felt sorry for my grandmother. She had indeed grown old and frail.

It felt so good to be back. Reminiscing now I could find no reason why I had deferred this visit for so long. Everything had changed and yet nothing had changed.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ruchika Girhotra – shameful blot on indian police

A former DGP of Chandigarh, SPS Rathore, has been punished for the molestation of 11-year old Ruchika Girhotra. What is so special about this news? Hundreds of our sisters get molested in this country. And in very rare cases the offenders get punished. But the case of Ruchika Girhotra stand out in many ways.

First of all the offender here, SPS Rathore, was a high ranking police official. The victim Ruchika committed suicide after three years. Her brother was slapped many cases and beaten up by the police officials to intimidate her family. Her family was forced to shift out of town. The case dragged on for 19 years ( the incident took place in August 1990). And finally the punishment handed out was a mere fine of Rs. 1000 and 6 months imprisonment.

Ruchika Girhotra was a budding tennis player and she was molested when she went for practice by SPS Rathore who at that time was the president of the Haryana Lawn tennis association.

This incident shall remain a black spot on the Indian judiciary and law enforcement establishment forever.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Avatar - truly epic experience

Finally…Avatar was released on December 18th all over the world. I had to wait for two days to get the ticket. But in the end I believe the wait was worthwhile after all. Mesmerising 3-D effects, breath-taking special effects, wonderful characterisation and most important of all (surprisingly) great story.

Was all the hype justified? Almost you could say. However I felt that that the 3-d effect only managed to take away the spotlight from the story. I was truly surprised by the anti-imperialistic message of the movie. Not something you expect from a Hollywood movie – certainly not a big budget one like this.

The story wasn’t one that was unique – but had an epic quality to it. It has parallels in many classic movies, especially one of my all-time favourites “Dancing with the Wolves”. But James Cameron has certainly managed to infuse new life and dimensions to a story that is so much relevant in today’s world – that of an indigenous population being forced to relocate or become refugees under the threat of force in the name of development.

The action scenes were superb. And the audience were so sympathetic to the Na'vi, the sentient humanoid indigenous inhabitants of Pandora (a fictional planet) in their fight against the (naturally) American armed forces who use lethal weapons to safeguard the interests of the Military Industry Complex trying to exploit Pandora’s reserves of a fictional mineral called ‘unobtainium’.

All in all I would give 9 out of 10 for Avatar more for the message and the story telling rather than the 3-D gizmo because this is one movie that has an epic quality about it even without the (truly superb) special effects.