Saturday, December 18, 2010
The most beautiful things in life are inexplicably simple. They remain the most basic to human existence, which is why even in today’s times of celestial changeovers, love stories still work. In a pounding tone of a testament, arrived early this year, one such movie that will stay for a very long time to come in the hearts of movie lovers. By the middle of a snowing December, as I watched ‘Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya’ again in remembrance of the best movie experiences of the year, I realized, I almost let the year pass by without making a memoir of the ones that were so heartily endearing this year.
2010, of course, saw some dynamic flashes of – as they say - contemporary cinema. From the gigantic Avatar to the simple and brave Udaan to the heart touchingly simple and real ‘Angaadi Theru’ to Toy Story to the most recent masterpiece, Social Network, 2010 undeniably did its share of filling our ever evolving quest to experience good cinema. I am sure there were other great ones that I missed. So I won’t rate them in any potential order, not even in order of my personal preference. They all belonged to different kinds. But I guess what I am trying to say here is that, of the entire lot, Vinnaithaandi varuvaaya, to me, seems the simplest, the oldest, the most impactful.
It’s amazing the kind of effect this outrageously clichéd subject of the Goddamned love can have, again and again and again and yet again on people. I mean, who else other than us, Indians would know better how many million times have they tried to show in million bizarre ways, what love was!? But, it still works. Amazingly. In a strange, illogical, beautiful way. I couldn’t help but smile in contented agreement, after watching this movie, that, even by the turn of the first decade of the 21st century, there’s nothing more that fills our heart than some good, old fashioned love. It’s probably corny but hell, it’s true.
This is in tribute to one such good work of cinema. In a way, it’s nice to wrap this year up on a note of love – it may not be the best movie of all time but it’s certainly going to be a beloved. The way the love happens in the movie, the way it does not after a point in time, the music and the perfect little ending where they let the love be what it was and move on to life is perhaps the story of every other someone you will find by the curb of the street.
Because we’ve all been in love or will be or are hoping to be and would still hate it and love it at the same time for a thousand beautiful reasons.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Today, while the evening is sinking under an outrageous temperature of -4 degree Celsius, and I have nothing but a dead old plate of lettuce to consider for dinner, I am dreaming about one of the most heartwarming feasts I have ever – I’m sure – had.
It was sometime by the wry end of an Indian summer when we were on a road trip by the lustrous looking, newly smartened up NH7. If you had been driving long over the same road during the pre-makeover days, you will know what I am talking about. The new NH7 is a driver’s perfect Indian dream. So, anyways, after what seemed like a glide of a ride from Nagercoil to Madurai, we hunted around – late in the night - utterly famished – but still unwaveringly unanimous (all of us and that was quite rare) - for this little, old place that – stories said – was a rare treasure to a food lover’s soul.
Hmm..so we did arrive at this dreadfully rusty looking, almost invisible (no boards, no flashing lights!) rugged building that stood on not more than 500 sq feet of ground in its entirety which included the family room, of course - the only one, about 5 * 5 (I’m serious), in size, which by a hair's breadth could seat about six hungry people.
We looked around and beamed in pride - We were at the unbelievably popular(for the what it looked like) ‘Konar Mess’.
With the infamous stories we had been religiously collecting about the restaurant, we were not surprised. Not even when we saw a string of dimly lit wagons along the whole street outside Konar Mess, in which, we later heard, the big wigs of the Madurai circle (dons/dhadhas included) dined. Uh –uh! I think we were far too starving for any surprises.
When the table was, at last filled with what we had been craving to see, in sheer glee, we let our tongues drop flat onto our plates. And then followed an evening of a south Indian delight of meat!
My favorite was the Kari dosai – a kind of ghee-roasted dosai with fried, spicy, minced mutton filling – the most popular pick of the menu. To soften the crispness, Kari dosais are traditionally accompanied by a small bowl of mutton gravy – simple and authentic. As we began nibbling those pieces of wonder down, we let a gush of pride roll over in honor of the experience.
So then I dived into what was considered yet another sin-not-to-have by the Konar-mess-lovers-club. So next appeared on the table, a plate of steamed idiyappam with the accompaniment of a bowl of Mutton Chukka (Mutton Chukka varuval to call it, in native fondness) that rather smelt like a tangible mesh of the best assortment of south Indian spices.
It looked dark, rough, kinda jagged but tender to touch. It was not the typical chukka I had believed I was a fan of. There was definitely a secret ingredient, I could just smell it.
I didn’t ask; didn’t feel up to it. But ever since, I almost gave up ordering chukka elsewhere.
Ohh! And - Of all the bites of intoxications we blissfully indulged in, that night, Mutton Kheema (I can’t precisely remember more details of what I ate this with) deserves a pat on the back too. It wasn’t my order and by the time I wanted to, they ran out of it.
That’s one grave misfortune Konar mess can mercilessly inflict upon you. You need to be quick enough to let the orders move in to your table. They vanish from the pantry at the blink of an eye and you do not want to go through the depression of watching the last plate land up on your neighbor’s table.
As a traveler that cannot just hop onto Madurai every other day, trust me, that, can be pretty heartbreaking!
Saturday, November 20, 2010
It’s a cold Saturday night in November, a little past one. Some weekends, I don’t really like to sleep. Not quite early. So in a pretty romantic spirit, I wandered around my living room and slowly into rugged thoughts and eventually, when I was badly in need of some source of sound, I ended up rummaging thru’ the collection of music I fondly made this year. Not many. Just about three to four, thru’ the entire (well, almost the entire) year. The most beautiful of it was the cover of ‘Vinnaithaandi varuvaaya’ – such a pretty poster, it brings a smile of love to even the most unromantic. I played the newest in the list – the unplugged version of ‘Aaromale’ in the mesmerizingly classic voice of Shreya, released in the collector’s edition of the album, last weekend.
I had listened to it, maybe three times since it came out. But tonight, alone in the living room, with just a faded incandescent bulb in stunning silence, I could literally feel the song simply fill – and I really mean it when I say ‘fill’ - every ounce of air in the room. It runs about four minutes and a half, with a subtle violin and a few underplayed strokes of guitar in the backdrop. The first time, it felt different. The second, it felt completely different. It’s amazing how Rahman’s music transforms into totally new sounds of art during nocturnal hours. I played it a third time. And a fourth and maybe about ten more times.
When it finishes and leaves you at the hem of the silence again, it kind of rings - maybe resonates from the inside and the only thing you feel up to is going back to it and experience the strange, unearthly feeling all over again. It's, in a way, bizzare. Such a simple piece of tune, taking your entire, musically challenged mind all the way to a cosmic, perhaps, godly place.
Many a time, especially during such hushed nights, when I listen to Rahman’s tunes, I feel a strange - I don’t know if it’s right to say, but – sort of a connection. In what way, I have no clue. But I just feel it. It’s like reading your favorite author and you kind of know the words that would follow in the next line.
Perhaps, one could never explain what magic Rahman's music unfailingly carries. As a raw soul that practically grew up listening to Rahman, I think this is what it means, in a personal sense, to me -
Without music, we would have but been a mere ensemble of flesh and other anatomical parts.
Without Rahman, we would have but been mere victims of rusting commercialism of music, Indian and western.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
My brain just retards and goes on maybe a long drive to live with the sea turtles where it doesn’t return from until probably Christmas, when there’s better scope for emotionally engaging activities like eating more slices of cake than any other time of the year. I run away from my cell phone. My reading interests practically die. I live on hot chocolates until they make me sick and watch more movies than ever, from under the blanket. I wear mournfully old, pathetic shoes that have dingy, dangling stuff (who even makes them anymore?!). My writing however bounces back in a renewed psychological spirit which utterly frightens me. (You see? Another exemplified instance of alarming personal example).
I think I should be more interested in deeper introspections under such times but what basically happens, I guess, is that I simply hibernate.
So, it’s that time of the year. Again. And no matter how much I listen to Greenday or Hoobastank, it’s still gonna be a lousy winter. At the end of the year though, I am gonna bounce back with a terrific contradiction of what a beauty it is to end the year with a snowy christmas.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
So, all you (which is - only very,very few as of this date) people that I know in this still alien but beautiful town of Richmond, please find your way to the store at five on Saturday.
So, I guess, see you there, right?
Book People, Richmond, VA
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Because, here’s what I am ready to binge in – our ego – in all logical sanity –does deserve a second chance after the Sivaji debacle(! - again) – Here’s my freakish why – And all this is besides another irresistible, self-invited attempt at pulling out that spare neuron out of Shankar’s brain (which we believe he’s born with). It’s a movie-lover thing that we simply cannot go blind over !
One-and the safest bet of all - Shankar’s sensibilities – we are hoping against hope that he did sit over his book of learning while the world was recessing, on what went wrong with his last experiment with, well, the almost same team . If he tragically didn’t, God save his divine status quo in the critics books.
Two-and this has to be the trump – the world class team involved – from the visual creators of Avatar (and terminator! and Jurassic park!) to our very own masters of the soil – Rahman and the late Sujatha .
Three – One of the best thinkers Tamil Cinema sadly had to let go of – the late Sujatha’s writing - So this movie ought to live around a story despite the gig and the unavoidable need to cater to the mass. It was born out of Sujatha’s head, something that has not often gone wrong.
Four – And Finally – the demigod himself ! This probably could make one of the last sparkling moments of the incredulous journey of RajniKanth, the phenomenon, no other star has experienced. I’m touting for Endhiran for a very good chance for the man to begin his humble sign off from limelight. So, give us a last Rajni- experience while you can and move around as you hear younger voices (but still the claps). Maybe you are done. Almost!
And lastly – here’s what we might be missing – Sujatha’s dialogues. A better cinematography (not that Rathnavelu could go bad under such expectation but where did Ravi K Chandran or P.C Sreeram have to go!?) and the classic Thotta Tharani !
I will keep away from commenting on the music. For those who had to hiss under the breath(like me) in devastated expectations, come on, it’s Rahman, after all and he does need to make compromises with a Rajni film. But who knows? It might just get grander on screen.
In utter and complete hope that my spirits hold up high, in the same (if not higher) ecstasy, after I come out of it all, I am going back to the syndrome now.
If it lets me down, I am gonna give up on nobody but you, Shankar – YOU !!!!
Saturday, September 18, 2010
- 'Really enjoyed reading 'Sugar Spring Tales'...very good introspective writer. I could feel the joy, anger, or pain of the characters through their thought processes. My favorites stories were Autumn Leaves and Train Tales.
Renu has a gift for writing and I look forward to reading more.'
A deeply felt word of 'Thanks' to you, Sarah !!!
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
This wonderful little movie ‘Pasanga’, with its small-home-big-heart theme, found its way straight into the favorites of 2009, after winning so many hearts and now the national award.
I'm feeling a heartfelt sense of joy – it’s a movie that gives you an earnest trip back to those simple roots of living!
Way to go, Kollywood !
Monday, September 13, 2010
I feel blank.
Yup. After about twenty minutes in plain, blank nothingness to drag to this line, I’m convinced I do. What am I waiting for? An angel to slide down the sky and hand me a magic wand and kiss me in the forehead !? Gosh. For God’s freaking sake.
But actually, as a matter of everyday thing, what sort of sign is it when you have checked sleep out that door on a cool, moonlit night, because you wanted to spend some time in the living room listening to Savage Garden with a bowl of hash browns, but the song that a decade earlier sent warm butter across your heart, does – nothing, now and you realize, to shitty misery, that you have been scraping that empty bowl too long.
Honestly, what are we supposed to do when the infamous inspiration is hiding under the dead? - Mine might have slipped right off my wrist.
Sorry, I’m running fatally low.
No. I just ran out, actually
Sunday, August 29, 2010
- just finished reading the book. Wow! It was delightful. At first I had a problem with the adult endings, but after awhile I enjoyed sitting back and letting my mind wonder about what would happen next in the lives of these characters.
After we left Richmond, we drove to Toledo and then to Charleston, West Virginia. I read to my husband while he was driving. He enjoyed the stories also. I can certainly see this book in a gift shop.
Linda – Here is a clichéd but genuinely heartfelt ‘Thanks’ for all the encouragement and most importantly the kind smile you carried when I first got to meet you.
Visit Linda Heinrich here.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
- quoted from the movie 'Serendipity'.
Sometimes, life takes you on a beautiful trip to places where you’ll find yourself. And you’ll discover a little something that nobody knows about you, but yourself. And when it happens, against all audacities you have ever clung on to, the best and the only thing you can do is throw your arms up in the sky and let everything that’s supposed to happen – happen, beautifully.
New York City is one such sign of a dream that merrily smiles back at you in all the right spirits of life, with such passion that a tear of hope will occur to even the most unbelieving of hearts. Amidst and under the overwhelming dreams of millions of souls that step into this city for making life bigger or to bask in the sheer joy of experiencing the seductive charm of the place, this glorious city is a woman who is artistically majestic, classic and tender – like she’s warmly taking you into her palm, giving you all that you had hoped for. And you feel alright about everything. Yet again.
It felt like some abstract beautiful life again to live thru’ this one week of some of the very best and the most exhilarating moments I’ve had in a long while. Falling in love, all over again, is probably what had happened.
Here’s to this little city of the world, that is romantic in the pure sense of what it means .
Here’s to life and all the little stops we make by those destinies that were waiting for us to arrive.
Here’s to love -
Video - Northern Sky - Beautiful Moment
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Spending more hours walking around the tables of authors like – gulp! – Joanne Liggan (who also organizes the event every year) than at my own, kind of unshackled the staggering tensions of a newborn. It’s a big, big world of millions of brilliant writers! Save my dreams, dear Lord !!
In other news, I’m psyched up (in an uncertain way) about what the world is raving about. ENDHIRAN. Sure, I can’t help jiggling over kilimanjaro. And Boom Boom fires up some wildly cosmic imaginations under my nose. Yet, here's the thing - While I’m bobbing my head in utter defiance to every Rahman-loving soul, I can’t help the shagged doubts underneath. Remember the gig around Sivaji? I’m hoping Sankar did attend his classes on learning from your own mistakes.
AND - My blog needs a visit to the spa. A tired looking daisy hanging around the Babylon of a mud-brown backdrop is just not happening!
Monday, July 26, 2010
So, I dug in deeper and picked a random plastic case which under the same dispersion of dust, read, ‘Khamoshi – The musical’. It had a poster of Salman Khan and Monisha Koirala, smooching. And despite the presence of Nana Patekar’s too-realistic-to-be-romantic face on the same frame, the poster somehow made up to appear romantic. There was a time when I loved this movie, so dearly. There was a time when I would come home from school and play its music, every evening for an entire month. And then one day, I couldn’t take ‘bahon ki’ or ‘Aaj me ooper’ anymore; so I moved onto other fascinations. Thirteen years later, simply glaring at that picture was still a warmth-inducing feeling. I did not end up watching ‘Khamoshi – The musical’ that evening. Over years, it has slowly glided out of my all time favorites though sometimes during conversations about good Bollywood, I still love to say ‘I love Khamoshi’.
Movies have been quite a staple of a food in my life. In everybody’s life, I suppose. There are some, I love, love and love. On this piece of random blog rambling today, I thought I’ll remember a few of those, in honor of my ‘love, love and love’ for ‘em.
The list is not complete; there's a few more I have adored, loved and love to love. I can't believe I haven't included 'Alaipayuthe', 'Anbe Sivam', 'Jurassic Park', or ' Christmas Carol', perhaps for the lack of words(and space) (and your time) to describe the beauty.
Not sorted in any particular order.
The first movie to ever leave me struck with wonder of what movies were all about. I came out of the theatre, in tears which warmly remained so for a long time afterward. As an eight year old kid, I didn’t quite understand or pay detailed attention to the beauty involved in this cult Maniratnam-craft. All I knew was that I wanted to go, watch this movie again, smile, rejoice and come out of the theatre yet again in tears which I did, after a week and some hardboiled cries of plea at dad’s knees. With abundance of great cinematography, music, dialogues and the essence of Maniratnam’s portrayal of human emotions, twenty years and probably about several hundreds of movies later, Anjali still stands rich and classic in my list of favorites.
For everything about it. And there is one thing I want to put outside and beyond the word ‘everything’ here– THE MUSIC. With Roja broke out a volcanic eruption of a new era of music. But I had no idea. It was simply customary in our family to watch a Maniratnam movie; so we went. You know, though some Maniratnam movies arguably do not stand completely honest for a ‘family’ watch (with the erotic pudhu vellai mazhai, Roja was strictly outside a PG-consideration), we nevertheless did go. Dad had said he read some rave reviews about the music. I was still humbly naïve then to have asked who the music was by. After the movie, we went straight to an audio shop and did ourselves a favor by investing in the audio cassette that went on to make history in world music. Every household in my neighborhood, Tamilian or not, music lover or not, dutifully added Roja to his/her treasury of music. And every time I watch this movie, there is one thing that slightly gets more handsome than Aravind Swamy and more attractive than Santosh Sivan’s gorgeous landscapes and better than Maniratnam himself – the music that I am still head over heels in love with.
But, of course!! If there are souls in this world who do not like Titanic, I respectfully think they could be probably psychopathic, blank, selfish or antisocial. Even if you were all that, you would still want to bow to the magnificence hiding behind Cameron’s multi million dollar head. I mean, it’s TITANIC.
4. Dil Chahta Hai
For the magic, movies can make us experience!!For the beauty of colors ! For the love of animations we all grew up on ! For the lusciousness of the sexy Italian food ! For the beauty of Remy !For the love of the genius called PIXAR ! For the love of cinema !
Monday, July 19, 2010
You know, just as you think you have eventually made it to slowly bounce out of the phase of your life that was smitten by doubts and fears and questions , there surely comes another point, virtually looking like a gasp of fresh breath but ruthlessly restoring the same doubts, fears and the same itchy questions, into your soul.
Great people leap through it, to greater heights, to better places in life where they would later preach about how determined they stuck through to win over the bloody hiccups (basically, I’m guessing , it’s the same cloud of fears and doubts and questions).
But what about the not-so-great people? What about people like me, who life likes to dabble with, quite generously? What happens in stories like mine?
I’m talking about this book I wrote which I went wandering in the streets of publishing world with, seeking people who might just want to take a look at what the shit I am gabbling away about. Who cares? The world is fast becoming faster and slow heads like me - I mean, how fast do I have to run?
Well, ‘The Reading’ at the writers club this weekend went okay, literally. Because all I could manage, within the realms of my limited capability was to READ and sell – here’s the freakiest part – ONE copy of ‘Sugar Spring Tales’. I mean, ONE !!?? Out of a whole bunch of people who nodded away ?? And I had these fantasies of….
….well, anyways, let me not get deeper. Life is bloody strange.
Later back home, as I couch-ed my aching soul under a blanket, with a huge red bowl of microwaved popcorn on a particularly somber Saturday evening, making up to watch ‘How to lose a guy in ten days’, one of my old-town buddies pops up on the phone, saying, as-a-matter-of-factly, ‘Look, I ordered your book and all that, but if it is gonna end up being anything like your soppy blog, I’m gonna have you refund.’
How soppier could life get?
“I’m just kidding. Let’s hope your book is unlike you.” She chuckles.
But, like Julie Powell, in her book says, ‘Can we NOT look at the brighter side, for once, please?’
Monday, July 12, 2010
If I pick myself up to the point of holding a sale record of five copies that day, I would come back home to a toast !!!
In other news, a few good souls did actually order my book online. How can I tell you that I'm trying my best to remain humble on my ass while the spirits are soaring up in the sky !!!
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you !!!
Monday, July 5, 2010
Also, on createspace -
Please, please, please - buy a copy - You won't be utterly dissapointed - I promise !!
Are you listening ?
Thursday, July 1, 2010
SO – that is that ! But after tones of hopelessly optimistic calls to various book stores, libraries and book fests around my new town, I came to terms with the fact that nobody damn wants to buy it. I will hang on though – her highness pride is something I have decided to let other times have of.
The book will be available on Amazon from next week for $5.99.
As for this moment, it is sitting for owners on
So buy it, if you feel like it. Please.
It only finds meaning at the reader's hands.
Would make a big deal of difference to my life - real big !
Meantime, I shall wander around the streets of hopeville, to find that gracious soul who would, for a change, smile, when I tell him, "I am a freaking new author. Could this lame soul please have a little room amidst these millions of books written by masters and geniuses ?"
If life is beautiful enough for that to happen, I will let you know.
At the very last, Thanks to you for reading this, for reading some of the most horrendous but true ramblings I made you read ! And Thanks if I have succesfully sowed in you, a feeling to just damn buy it.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
I am sucked in - straight to the bottom of some cosmic world (or whichever world people go into while like, in serious meditation or filling themselves with sinful alcohol or anything as indulging). This stunning song, from 'Vinnaithandi Varuvaya’ is to blame for!!!
Deeply a sad song and the instruments cry along. But unbelievably, as they say, soul stirring ! Alphonse has simply wrung his soul out to this song. It's a hushed cry of love - will only get into you with repeated listening - but that's typical of Rahman. The entire album is typically Rahman - experimental, over the coup, subtle (as it is becoming lately), slightly playful !
Go - sit in the middle of a silent night, with a pair of great speakers (you don't want to miss out the magic of the instruments) playing out Aaromale – it’s a freaking piece of seductive pleasure! Good Lord! This is pure experience of music!
Thank you, Rahman. Thank you for hanging in there for a staggering 18 years and still being - sweetly - The Best!
Friday, February 12, 2010
But if on a Friday night, after the neighborhood has cuddled into sleep, you are skimming through pages of an age old book that hasn’t made any sense to you, so far, but you hang on to it anyway, with some Ilayaraja songs playing from youtube and the endorphins haven’t quite come to work yet, strange for a Friday, then something just doesn’t feel right. I have never been an Ilayaraja-person. And if a book doesn’t engage me after 20 pages, to heck with it, I am done. For over a couple of seasons, I have been arguing with my own abilities to think right, find what I want. If it’s change that’s at the door, buzz off, I am not ready yet. And if it’s age, excuse me, can you not see that I am trying to make something out of my twenties before they become just rustic pieces of a photo album?
I guess some things don’t really care for your opinion. Age, for instance. But maybe, you can play around with the choices, like deciding to embark on a scavenger hunt, looking for your dreams. Some things utterly confuse me. For example, me. Why would I still want to run away from the idea of becoming a mother, after almost four freaking years of dwelling in holy matrimony? That’s weird, if you are brought up in a society that equates being thin to underprivileged financial standing. My friend's mother stared at me in disgust, followed by faint pity, like she just discovered that I had been undergoing treatment for mental impairment, when I told her I hadn’t thought about babies, yet. Is it entirely my fault that all my cousins and friends (well, almost) just came back pregnant after about two months of being married? I mean, that’s just not fair on me!
But under such scenarios, what I think works, is just sigh your agreement. Sometimes, in utter honesty. Like the song ‘ tendril vanthu ennai thodu’ that is making some kind of magic out of my speakers, right now. It belonged to the eighties, probably seventies. It’s Ilayaraja. It’s from a movie I haven’t seen. But what the hell? It’s just a brilliant piece of art. And it makes perfect sense during these random after-dark hours on a Friday. There’s no arguing with that!
Monday, January 18, 2010
And this time, I am shredding the horizons. This blog has been a starter, most wonderfully! And I hope I don’t let it die. Blank spaces, make better alternatives for a canvas done not so well, so I shouldn’t be bothered about having let this blog stay blank while I was undergoing creative impairments.
Okay – First things first. 2010 has been officially marked as the ‘dream year’ in my diary. For one reason, I have picked up the guts, shedding all my fears and diffidence and questions and some more of them to become an AUTHOR !!!!!
I am just hoping it’s not too early to put this out here. But those of you who do check this blog out (I know that’s not gonna be more than five or six or seven or may be eight, but sadly not more), please wish me luck. I need oodles of them!!! I am gonna try and fill in my progress up here.
So if things go blessedly well, by spring, I will have in my hands, a little something that I will keep near my pillow for the rest of my life – MY BOOK !!!!
Happy New year, guys !