In God’s Country

The wife and I recently went on a whirlwind (nope, that doesn’t explain the squally weather there) trip to Kerala. There was a time when I used to go often to “God’s Own Country” but it’s been a while since that happened last. It definitely has been a couple of decades since I last caught sight of Thrissur, my mother’s hometown. And given the very wet reception that we received, it was only to be presumed the town was none too pleased to see me back. If we were not doused in rain, we were drenched in sweat. Like I said, wet, wet, wet.

I’m not much of a temple visitor but given the proximity to Guruvayur which houses one of the most important Hindu Vaishnavite temples in the country and since we don’t visit this part of the country very often, we thought we’d say hello. The temples in Kerala have some fun rules of entry. One of them is a dress code. Women in saris (these days they allow for the northern ‘salwar kameez’) and men in dhotis or veshtis (no lungis please) and bare upper bodies. Quite an eyeful for the women, you think? Nah. The quite-a-noseful puts paid to any such impure, lascivious thought. After standing in line for one and a half hours, we edged closer to the inner sanctum. Actually not much hard work – the throng carries you along. I would’ve put my hands up and let the aforementioned quite-a-noseful blast the hordes down if only I wasn’t hemmed in hands down. A clever gent ahead of me had drawn from his apparently vast reserve of experience to hold his arms well above his head supposedly in supplication to the lord. Supposedly. Hah, I knew what that was all about. Like I said, clever man. After snaking around more corners than the wonderful chaps in our corporate houses cut, we had to climb up a slippery stair installation and slither down the same before we got a nano-second view of the lord. Or so we happily thought. See faith is all about belief. The good folk in the managing committee of the temple would have us believe that the path to a holy peek is evidently a long one and sees its share of twists and turns, ups and downs. Seriously though, we had not a moment of a sense of piety, a realization of spirituality in the whole experience. But holy cow! we came away with an understanding of the horror that cattle encounter when they’re herded into the narrow confines of rickety transport trucks. The temple management here has much to learn from the Tirupati temple.

In sharp contrast to this rush-job in painful slow motion was our visit to Thrissur’s Vadakkunnathan temple. Even at the peak of my atheistic days, this was a temple I used to love visiting for the sense of peace and tranquility that I found in abundance there. Thankfully that hasn’t changed. Housed in a beautiful and huge complex, this dedication to Shiva is a wonderful example of a style of architecture unique to Kerala. Legend has it that this was the first of the temples constructed by Parasurama in expiation of the greatest bloodbath let loose by one man in all mythology. Here I found a calm and a sanctity that should be the realm of a place of worship but which rarely is.

Everywhere we went in “God’s own country”, we found the hand of God. Here too came once the man who briefly wielded that very same hand.

Look, look no hands this time
Look, look no hands this time

Every village had posters put up by fans of national football teams. The dominant ones were Argentina, Brazil, Germany and Spain (just about). And clearly the English team that ‘God’ infamously struck down in 1986 finds sympathy and quite a few fans. If this truly is God’s country, then his game surely must be football. Yeah, it fits – he must be getting his kicks from it.

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Whither Wit?

At the end of an English Premier League football match, the manager of a beleaguered team that has just secured a rare win to postpone what appears to be inevitable relegation is asked: “How does it feel to finally get one under the belt?” The victim of this moronic verbal assault relies placidly “It feels nice” but not before placing an eloquent silence of a few seconds which might well have said “How would you like one below the belt?”.

At the post-match presentation of a cricket match, the presenter asks the Man of the Match “Does the captain support you on the field? How much support do you get from him?”. The bemused player rambles “Yes, yes he encourages me and tells me to ask him if I need any support. I stick to line and length and try to get the batsman out and keep the runs down and I try to save the world in my spare time and when I was a kid, I lost my pet goat to a chappie who later became a TV cricket commentator and presenter…”. I suspect the heartfelt answer would’ve been “Support from the captain? Hell, yeah! Which is why I haven’t played an international game for the last 2 years. Well, here I am – I’m self-made, bitch!”.

The world’s greatest mass event approaches (not the Fukushima nuclear disaster – that’s more related to critical mass). I’m talking the Indian Parliamentary Elections, duh. As the fantasy fiction of political debate gets played out, a question is posed to a motley crew of Prime Ministerial asspirants: “What is your stance on nuclear power? Should we be developing infrastructure for alternative energy sources that are cleaner?” (see, I’m sticking to the theme).

A1: “Rahul is a puppy/pappu (take your pick)”
A2: “Kejriwal is dangerously disruptive and should be put in, erm, a cage”
A3: “Modi is communal”
(At which point, the moderator spontaneously combusts).

Our social and media interactions seem to march to the beat of “DUMB DUMB DUMB DUMB dumb dumb dumb dumb DUMB DUMB”. If the question doesn’t fit the bill, the answer surely will. Twits rule and wit has withered. In the meantime who the hell will answer critical posers like “Who let the dogs out?”. If A2 has his way, surely not Kejriwal.

P.S.: So you think you spotted a spelling mistake in there, huh? Just ass you like it.

Resolutions of the irresolute

I have never, irresolute fellow that I am, done this before. But I’m all fired up…by dragonfire, no less. And so I’ve made my to-do list for the year.

– I shall do something that I have never done before. Easy-peasy, I’m doing just that.
– I shall indiscriminately use words like indubitably and its cousins. Like dubious, redoubtable and double.
– I shall find new ways of getting a hangover. I made a great start watching The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug a couple of nights back.
– I just might make it a double on resolution #1 above by roasting someone – the director of aforementioned chiefest and foremost calamity that assaulted movie-goers in the recent past. Preferably over dragonfire. Very slowly. At least for 161 minutes.
– I shall acquire class. Everything I do shall be curated. Of course, this is a curated to-do list. Yes, very classy.
– I shall make things simple for myself. I shall, quite simply, procure the smartest phone EVVVVER and download all complexity into that. Hopefully it’ll serve me for 7 and a half weeks after which I shall procure the smartest phone EVVVVER and download all complexity into that… Or, I shall get myself a Raspberry Pi. If you think that is dessert, you’re a has-been, an ignoramus, you’ve fallen through the technology cracks. Indubitably.
– I shall be echo-friendly and repeat myself ad nauseum (refer relevant parts of above resolution).
– I shall travel places in this Year of the Horse. No, not China. Colorado where the grass is now so green and fragrant.
– I shall be eco-friendly and produce plant growth enhancers in abundance. Bullshit, you say. Close enough (refer reference to animal in resolution above). Also, recycle more – refer resolution to be echo-friendly.
– I shall give due credit and constantly urge you to refer. Not reefer, you pothead (refer Colorado above).
– I shall acquire a sense of humour. You’re already cracking up I see.
– I shall be nice. Did you choke mid-laughter? I’ll be nice and send you a flower. A rafflesia arnoldii if I can arrange it. Nice and with a sense of humour, see?

Give Me Some Grief

Give me some grief

I’ve been laughing on the floor, rolling

Give me the edge of the cliff

Off and down, rolling

Give me some grief

I’ll likely only get some leaf, rolling

To tickle me, laughing

When you should be giving

Giving me some grief

abNormality Restored

I’ve been called a schizophrenic. Again. If one believes in the relativity of truth, then perhaps if enough people say it, it must be true. And if it is – my being schizophrenic, that is – then at least I can take comfort in knowing that I’ll never be alone. And I can never be accused of being just another me-too. Hey, it could be any number (I read of someone whose greater whole was more than the sum of eighty parts). A tower of contradictions. Tower of Babel? Nah, that would have nothing on me. I’d be housing a parliament raging in full session. A man of many parts, that’s what I’d be. Maybe even a new kind of super-hero with limitless powers of confounding his enemies (I almost wrote ‘critics’ – that came naturally). Come to think of it, Ravana may not have been a creature of myth after all. Ok, I could be a not-so-new kind of super-villain then.

Now, if only I had the limbs to go with all those parts of an entire soap op inside me. Kartaviryarjuna (another multi-pronged villain who’d top Doc Ock hands down) cracked that one, I wonder how.

P.S.: This post does not intend to be insensitive to a serious ailment or to cause hurt. Please laugh it off or ignore it. This post or the goat who wrote it do not merit any other reaction.

Whither Intent?

What really is ‘good’ about intent in the context of a tragedy that is triggered by that intent? My involvement – increasingly these days – with NGOs sometimes makes me wonder about the rightness of my own focus and direction. There’s a lot of enthusiasm and yes, good intent that people like me emanate, outsiders to the people and processes that are involved in the minutiae of much-needed social development activity. Our ideas are met usually with warm welcome and energy. But at times I question whether the greeting smile is really a cover for gritted teeth. These people know far more about the needs of the community that they work with than I do. Some of our ideas perhaps are not a real need and I can’t help but think they are taken up because these come from people who bring in much needed support by way of generating funds and awareness.

An NGO that I’m getting more and more involved with that’s working with villages up in the mountains organizes an annual sport event for youth in that area to try and channelize all that high energy into something positive and to foster a greater sense of community. Since this is in association with a cycling advocacy group, the cycling event is the centerpiece. I was there at this year’s edition of the event. A lot of enthusiasm and energy. Very heartening to see. A few weeks later, an 18 year-old went off the cliff riding a bicycle, crushed his neck and is now a quadriplegic. Yes, he was probably going too fast and yes, his bicycle’s brakes were not working properly, but we sowed the seed of cycling in his fertile mind and it grew wild.

I’m sure there’s a lot of good that comes out of intent but sometimes the price is just too high. Am I going to stop? No, but I have definitely paused – I need to take a different direction. I’m shaken but hopefully I’ll soon be stirred to action (sorry, couldn’t help that in keeping with the general tone of the rest of this blog).

P.S.: There’s a lot more going on here than I’m able to or willing to articulate.