Short Story: Yours Lovingly (Madras Day)

I was alone in an isolated, dark and dim lit room.

I opened my laptop and placed my finger in the fingerprint sensor of my Sony VAIO, to login to Windows. My eyes were drooping and were heavily loaded with tiredness. I opened GMail and started typing …

Dear Mom,

How are you? I know it’s been long time since I wrote to you. I hardly get any time to sit and write and today I’m writing to you to show that I miss you all & Chennai a lot. I would like to tell you something which will soothe your mind. We are coming back to India this month end with Akash. He is turning 5 this month.

I still remember how you used to teach me Thiruppavai in the terrace early morning. The image of the flock of pigeons, dispersing from the Gopuram (Tower) of Kabaleeswarar Temple, when the Bell tolls ting tong is still fresh in my memories. I’m finding it a herculean task to teach him a line of Thirukkural now-a-days. Akshara is taking care of imparting spirituality to Akash. I’m happy that he is learning it fast.

He eats only French toasts. Yesterday, I suddenly remembered how thatha used to get Idli-Sambar from the Saravana Bhavan nearby when you get up late and pack my lunch bag for school. I started hating pizzas and burgers. I wish to taste the Pongal, hot with dripping ghee, the day we reach there. The Narasus Coffee shop which will be opened near our house with those conical containers grinding the Coffee Beans always excites my olfactory senses. Filter Coffee was nectar than the Cappuccino and Latte.

We have GYM at home and I used to walk for an hour in the treadmill, but the joy of breathing fresh air early in the morning, strolling in the pathway of Marina beach was an eternal bliss. I can enjoy those from next month onwards.

How’s our rickshaw mama, who used to ask me, “Naastha Thunniaa” (Had Breakfast?), in his Madras Slang whenever I leave for school in his Rickshaw. I still wonder his flamboyant vocabulary of Tamil words which he uses eloquently. I’ll get him a pair of shoes which he wanted from me when I go to US.

I rem’ it’s the Music season & I promise we’ll go for the Kutchery (Concert) in Music Academy this time.

Yours Lovingly,

Vijayaraghavan

***

Tears rolled down when Kumararaghavan read this mail in his Computer. He is receiving this email for the 30th time in this month from his son, who has been admitted in the National Centre for Mental Health Rejuvenation. He was the only one who survived the plane crash which happened last month. His cranium has been ruthlessly damaged and he has recovered with only memory of returning back to Chennai with temporary conscious!

***

I could feel my head spinning, heavy with pain. I lay back on the bed in the hospital room slowly losing my consciousness….


P:S –There was a Madras Day Celebration @ Office. As a part of the events, there was a Short Story writing contest and this story won the First Place !! 🙂 The Theme given for the story writing is “Madras to me”

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Movie Review: Kandasamy (2009)

Artificial Intelligence, Super Computing, Cryptography, Hacking, Super Hero Concepts etc are the areas of interests of Hollywood directors that make the movie a Hi-fi entertainer. First time in the history of Tamil film industry, the audiences have been given an opportunity to witness a Super hero movie with Zero Logic with the perfect blend of Entertainment and a strong message which will undoubtedly ignite a spark towards a renaissance in the economic situation of our Country.

To put it in few simple words, the movie is all about helping those poor and needy people who still crave for a square meal, by flicking enormous amount of illegal money from Rich and whooping wealthy people who store wealth legally, converting them to documents or foreign currency and amass it in foreign banks.

The story kicks off in a Murugan Temple where a lady ties a piece of paper in a tree writing their grief and wishes in a few lines. The custom of tying these papers in the bark of a tree is the tradition followed in the southern parts of India where God listen to your prayers and makes the wishes comes through. Of course the lady’s wish of a few amount of money comes true with a sack of money lying at the backyard of her house. Soon the news of wishes coming true that are tied in the tree spread like a forest fire and flocks of people visit the temple tying the paper. In case, the money doesn’t reach the concerned person, our Super Hero Kandasamy clad in the black cloak with red wings like cloth strip attached to it, comes in the air and flying and sweeping across walls (like a spiderman) and teaches them appropriate lessons without letting them know that, it is happening in real (though the sequence happens in real) leaving a mark of the “Vel” in the cheeks. Next morning when the attacked victim gets up, only to remember the incident as a Nightmare and with dizzy mind, the mark remains in the face! Each of the people’s wish list is satisfied by clearly categorizing their needs and delivering the money (which is captured during raids) to the appropriate people by appropriate means. The people in the village assume this to be the work of the Lord Kandasamy. But it is all the work of the alter ego Kandasamy who has a well planned operation for each delivery. He even satisfies the wish of a common man of wanting Aishwarya Rai in the terrace, by his Woman form and with due frightening.

The sturdy, manly, fit and strong IPS Officer Kandasamy belonging to the Economic Offense Wing of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) spontaneously gives command to the officers for the raid into the house of multi billionaires and millionaires who are the big shots in the country. It all starts with the raiding operation that was set to happen at PPP’s (Ashish Vidhyarthi) House. His body language is well tuned, and maneuvered. His mature looks and fit body adds to his performance. Not to mention the costumes of Vikram. They are awesome, grand and royal. It stands out separately and portrays Vikram in high profiles. It seems they have spent a lot of amount on the costumes itself.

Within the first song, the secret is exposed that the Super Hero is none other than the CBI Officer himself with the gang of around 11 friends making this Super Hero a happening image. The technology they use, the synchronization in the actions solely controls our super hero’s stunts. May it be the smoke effect or the sound effect, the flying thing or the clutching thing; everything is in the hands of the other 11 fellow mates who control the Super hero.  Each one of them is technically sound in their own areas of computer control, motion control, sound engineering and more makes Kandasamy a successful Operation. Both the “Super Hero” and its alter ego “Kandasamy IPS” have played their roles flamboyantly well.

“Kandasamy’ – The Super Hero depicts a rooster. The costume and the mask that conceals his upper part of the face, denotes the same. The body language and the neck movement exactly coincides with that of the rooster. The “Kok Kok” sound that is produced by the hero shows the mannerism of the super hero which creates havoc in the stomachs of the so called Bad-Guys in the movie. The movie depicts the hero who is skilled in the Martial arts including Karate and the Tai Chi. The moves that Vikram delivers on the opponents body were simply superb and each blows are stunningly devastating.

The cinematography is one thing which should be greatly appreciated and the only thing which drives the movie till the end without any glitches in the scenes. The camera sees things as how it should be seen by the audience. The movie sequence takes us to the lands of Mexico with the rich cinematography feeding us with the tangy deserts and the landscapes which are feasts to our eyes and hearts. Camera has captured Shriya Saran a lot. Her minimal attire and her costumes well expose her contours of the body. She fits the role of the bond girl perfect. Her expressions and the bodily subtle movements squeeze our hearts to the core. In simple terms, she is sexy, sleek and carries her part well throughout the movie. “Allegra” proves to be a good add on to the Music.

The Mexico travel that the hero undergoes with Shreya under the garb of transferring an enormous amount of dollars to her father’s account, seems to be national level operation to investigate the Indian money that were dumped in the foreign countries making India in debt to many of the nations of the world. This is revealed only towards the end of the movie

The movie is seems to be a blend of “Anniyan” and the “Sivaji” which conceptualizes helping the poor and needy and removing the “incorrectness” from the society. The wealthy ones who accumulate money illegally have an account in the foreign banks and deposit the money safe and secure thus making our country economically and financially challenged. Kandasamy, the CBI officer unearths money and assets from various people who conceals them in the walls of their compound walls, Under the Tiles of Flooring and in the body of the VOLVO AC Buses. The last one in the sequence, which comes as a surprise when the Hero unveils whooping documents, foreign currencies and other belongings in front of the whole crowd in the climax.

Prabhu as usual played his part simply well, without making a fool out of himself (“Yenna Kodumai Saravanan” Kinda). His role as a DIG investigating the Kandasamy case is well written. He was trying to prove that the wishes coming true, is not the work of the divine intervention but it’s just the operation carried out by a common man who is either so rich or a fool. His appearance was full of dignity and resembles the prabhu of the Movie “Billa”. Vadivelu’s comedy track doesn’t seem to tickle the laughing senses towards the end.

The message that the movie is trying to convey is well written and delivered. This movie throws insights on the financial frauds that people carry out by accumulation of excess money in different forms. This is not a first time movie for Vikram to play the role of a cop. But the Hollywood feeling that the movie offers by the hero belonging to the Economic Offence Wing of CBI makes it commercial and rich. The Toyota, Nissan and other heavy vehicles that ply on the roads shows the richness of the movie and the status of the officers. The director himself plays a role towards the end of the movie.

When there are positives, there will be some negatives too. If people are going to turn up with some expectations in the logic, then there will be disappointments. This is a full entertainer with Zero Logic. You cannot simply put question on how is Vikram able to answer the 3 level password questions posed by the Mexico Banking Website, sitting in the pool in Mexico, with his laptop and the girl by the side with smart and clever interrogation to Shriya, related to the password. You cannot ask, will a Tai Chi trained martial art fighter with his eyes covered, will be able to fight with five or six opponents surrounded in a isolated landscape by just hearing the sound of the footsteps and the persons’ breathing.

The reason that Vikram delivers to the Villain with a Video clip in the luxurious Bus of the latter, for demanding the other part of the lump some money that the former was promised to offer, was really touching and there was no “Bakwas”. The demand was genuine but it was void of logic. The justification that Vikram gives is acceptable.

Hope the message reached the mass. This good try by Susi Ganesan and the output has come out well. One thing worth mentioning in the movie is, this is not just another super hero movie where the identity and the techniques of carrying out super hero task would be explained and exposed in the climax (like that of the “Anniyan”). Everything is exposed in the first song itself. How the operation is carried out, how the super hero flies in the air, how the other 11 folks controls the super hero flight and actions. Everything is clearly explained. But the story still moves with full interest and vigor. I should say, the director has come out with such a story with guts of exposing the crux behind a super hero movie in the start and still keeping audiences occupied in the story.

The movie ends with the Vikram giving an interview to the press reporters after returning back to India, collecting all the details about the Indian money dumped illegally in the lands of Mexico and further plans to unveil all the money that are secured illegally in other countries as well.

To conclude, Kandasamy is worth watching and a full time entertainer with rich visuals. You may not have a second thought in the money spent for ticket.

Watch it in theatres!!

Kandasamy – Bond with the Best!

My Rating: – █ █ █ █ (4/5)

Rendezvous With Wayanad

It was Friday 11.30 AM, I was still busy with the documentation which has to be sent to my Onsite coordinator before EOD. But I know well that my EOD is going to kiss me in another 2 hours. So, I was doing things in fast-forward style in an excitement of travelling. After having a light lunch in FC2 around 12.35, I stepped into the MORE shop to purchase toothpaste and a brush. After 20 minutes of window shopping, I signed the Debit Card Swipe slip and came out of the store and rushed towards FC to get back to my cubicle.

When the clock struck 2.10 PM, all of us left the SDB and walked towards the main gate.  There was a 12 seater waiting for us outside the gate. Few of our folks told us that they will join us in the Central Station directly, so the remaining people started around 2.30 from MCity towards Central. There started the joy filled moments.

August 07, 2009 Friday 4:30 PM

All of us were sound asleep after making all types of sounds that can be created out of our vocal chords. The Tempo traveler entered the station swiftly and gave a soft jerk and the engine ceased. We had reached the station. We entered the station and tilted our vision at an angle of 45 degrees upwards to the LED Display. The train hasn’t come yet. The LED Displays overhead was showing the list trains which are categorized into arrivals and departures.

We waited for the other folks to arrive near the platform. The Mangalore Express hasn’t arrived yet. After 15 minutes of waiting and all of them have arrived, we started walking towards our coach, as the train had also arrived. It took quite some time to get settled. We didn’t notice when the train started, but we all know that, it’s gonna be an uber cool, fun filled outing with the team. The journey was full of chatting, pulling each other’s legs, dancing, singing and making sounds of all frequencies. Around 10.30 PM I got into the upper berth and was slowly getting into sleep. The train’s movement was felt all over my body.

A Quick glance on Wayanad:

District Head Quarters: Kalpetta
Area: 2132 Sq. Kms
Main language: Malayalam
Religions: Christians, Hindu, Muslims
Weather: Tropical
Climate: Max –: 35 Deg Celcius, Min –: 15 Deg Celcius
Best Season: Oct to May
Mani Food: Rice
Nature of Landscape: Hills and Valleys
Main Crops: Paddy, Tea, Pepper, Coffee, Cardamom
Nearest Airport: Karipur (Calicut)
Nearest Railway Station: Calicut

August 08, 2009 Friday 4:30 AM

Someone was waking me up. It was just 4.10 AM. All of them were rushing up and packing their bags, hair uncombed, teeth unbrushed, and still pulled by the gravity of sleep, I got down the upper berth, and looked into my mobile. It was 4.10 AM. I put on my shoes and packed my bags. The train slowed down in a station around 4.30 AM. It was Kozhikode. Later I came to know that it is also called Calicut. All of us hurriedly got down the train and came out of the station. A 21 seater mini bus was waiting for us in its flashing mix of yellow and orange color.

The day was yet to unveil its brightness. The sky was still covered with the darkness patched with grey clouds. I hazily looked into the display that was kept in the station. Nothing was decipherable from that, coz it was written in Malayalam. We all moved towards the Mini-Bus and found a place for each one of us.

The Bus had a sticker stuck to its front. LCD DVD Coach – Digital Sound Systems! I was wondering about this. The bus appeared very simple and it was a normal mini bus with the basic amenities like cushion seats, Mini Fan above your head, Side loft on both sides for keeping your bags and all that stuff. But LCD Digital thing appeared to be out of place or odd-man-out whatever you call it. I stepped into the bus and found a seat and settled myself in the aisle. I looked straight into the small box that was fitted in the front, facing us. It was the DVD which I was telling about. It was not more than a simple 15” CRT Television. I was thinking about the LCD and digital sound. The CD which we gave to the driver to be played in that DVD player was displaying “Data Out Of Sync” Error messages. We just came for the outing to keep ourselves away from the abends and error messages atleast for some time. I was not bothered about resolving the issue. I was already asleep.  After fidgeting with the Remote control which was found with the cleaner, our folks were able to play some songs in that. Every time the DVD player was switched on, it will start with the first track in that in that CD. That became the subject matter of fun in the whole journey.

The breeze was chill. The weather outside was not so hauntingly cold. But since the bus was picking up speed, the gush of chill air raised few of the hair strands in my body and was enabling the Goosebumps utility of the human being in me. The window glass was adjusted accordingly to let only the required amount of air that my body can with stand. My friend sitting beside me was fast asleep. I could feel the Malabar magic in me. I could see only coconut trees, thick landscapes full of trees and bushes. The sunlight was slowly trying to touch the earth. The light orange shade was gradually being applied to the sky. I didn’t know when I fell asleep. With the music being played and the bus motion in the uneven roads appeared to rock my cradle and the gushing cool breeze swiping my face, took me to the subconscious world. It was 7.30 when we reached Wayanad. The place was called Kalpetta. The board Prince Inn notified that, we had reached the Hotel.

We all waited in the reception. All of them settled in the couch which was available infront of the reception desk. I looked around the place to admire the interior decoration. The first thing I noticed was the well decorated wooden elephant placed in the entrance. Its dark brown color wooden finish was awesome. The glossy look and craftsmanship of the sculpture made it look real. The ceiling lights were dim and it was spreading a yellowish ambience all over the place. Some Malayalam newspapers were lying on the couch-level glass table which was placed in between the three Sofas. I took some courage to lift the papers and scan through the pages just for the images and advertisements. I was fully aware that I may be subjected to sure humiliation by the folks around me. But to my amusement, I saw quite a few of them who don’t know the language, taking pains to turn pages of the newspaper. I didn’t feel different.

Totally five rooms were allotted to us, with a count of 4 in each room. Since we were only 19, one of the rooms may be filled with four minus one person. I and my friend got ourselves comfortable in to one of the rooms. The room boy accompanied us till our room and left. I switched on the TV and lay flat of bed. The weather was awesome, still chill and fresh. The complex into which our hotel was situated was yet to wake up. Shops were still closed. Later one of my colleague accompanied in our room. After getting ourselves ready and some breakfast, we left the place around 9.30 and started for Edakkal Caves.

A quick glance on Edakkal Caves

An interesting trek up the Ambukuthi Hill near Ambalavayal town takes you to the world famous Neolithic Edakkal Caves which tells the pre historic heritage of Wayanad. The cave was formed in the crevice of a broken rock, thatched by another massive rock. Etchings seen in the walls of these caves have drawn the serious attention of archaeologists and the historians all over the world. It is about 10,000 years old!

August 08, 2009 Saturday 10:00 AM

The roads in between the hills were really awesome. The steep plantations were green and fresh. It really captivates your heart and it will welcome all shutter bugs to disturb their SLR Camera. The slight drizzle adds beauty to the environment. You may stop by the plantation side to click few snaps. By the time we reached the place, it was 11.00. It seemed that we had to walk a kilometer to reach the foothill of the caves. Jeep services were available for that too. But few of them were ready to walk and few of them wanted a jeep to get to the foothill. Few of them and I decided to walk and admire the nature on the way. We started walking and were busy shooting snaps of each of us. Climbing the 1KM seemed to be easy. But after a few meters I was breathing heavily and was tired. My thighs were aching. Being a software engineer, we hardly to anything physically straining. We used to warm our chairs all day and leave our cube except for coffee breaks and lunch. But this ordeal of climbing seemed to be somewhat helpful to burn our calories.

We reached an intermediate place; where we took some time to bring our heart beats to normal rate. Some of them were still climbing and some had already reached in jeep. So we waited for all of them to assemble. After that we started our journey into the caves and rocks. After some 2 hours of climbing up and climbing down, we came back to the bus around 2.00 and left for lunch. At around 5.15 PM we again started towards Jungle Safari.

A quick glance on Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary

Muthanga is a rain forest connected to two other major sanctuaries – Bandhipur National Park in Karnataka and Mudhumala Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamilnadu. Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary claims the largest number of elephants in Asia. The vegetation of the region is a hot spot of rare herbs and medicinal plants. The reserve is home to many other species like leopard, sambar, cheetal, langur etc.

Muthanga wildlife Sanctuary 5:15 PM

Jungle safari was exciting. The authorities of Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary told us that there will be tigers inside the jungle so we need to be safe. We waited near the entrance of the jungle. Four jeeps have been arranged and we got into it one by one. There started our journey towards the thick jungle.  When safari-ing into the jungle, we saw deers, peacocks and monkeys. But never saw a tiger. With all hopes of spotting one, we went deep into jungle. It was a muddy single pathway into which the jeep traversed into the jungle.  It was dense on both sides. The flora and fauna was quite catching and environment was cool. There was a slight drizzle at times. High trees which appeared to touch the skies populated the jungle. After covering a distance, we all got down; the stench of the elephant dropping was highly unbearable. Someone was explaining that the dropping is still green and fresh, so elephants could have passed by this way. I was inspired so much on his wisdom and wanted to thank him for enlightening us with such thought.

Sitting in the back of the jeep and the jeep riding through the tough and muddy road was exciting. The jeep was sturdy and was able to pass through any kind of road. After an hour of Safari inside the jungle, the driver told us that we are going to follow a different route to go out of the jungle. I was wondering how he remembers the entire route, which direction he was travelling atc. After an hour of jungle exploration, at around 6.20 we again started towards the hotel. We did not see the Tiger till the end ! We ordered our dinner from our room and after sometime of chitchatting and sharing our experiences and looking at the photos clicked by all the shutterbugs, we returned back to our bed and started fidgeting with the TV remote and channels. I remember it was 12.30 AM when I slept.

August 09, 2009 Sunday 7:30 AM

Someone was waking me up, it was my friend who had already got ready, and I took my toothbrush, towel and entered the bathroom to get ready quickly. The water was pricking cold. The hot water tap wasn’t helping anymore. It seems hot water will not be provided after 8.00 AM. So I took some courage to pour the chilllllllllllll water over my body. I could feel the low temperature struggling to get stabilized over my body temperature. I poured another mug of water which was made to flow from my shoulders to my toes. I was freezing and was uneasy bearing the cold water in my body. After three mugs of water, I was feeling bit comfortable and the soap foam somehow kept me warm. I came out of the bathroom and got ready in 10 minutes. After a hot breakfast and Chaya (Tea), we set out another journey to Suchipara falls.

A quick glance on Soochipara Waterfalls

The Soochipara Falls is a three-tiered waterfall located 20 km from Kalpetta in Wayanad district in Kerala. 2 Kms away from Chooralmala (near Meppady). The water flows in a narrow line through the rocks and gorge joins river Chaliyar which ends in the Arabian Sea. Tea Plantations on the hill slopes will definitely fascinate you.

The paths which lead us to the falls were steep and long, we had to walk a few distance to reach the falls. There was no jeep service available and only after walking through the way we found that the service cannot be availed. It is only walkable. After reaching the exact location, we found ourselves climbing down a mountain to reach the falls. We had to climb down huge rocks which had small way for getting down. It was fun in the water. Again the water was chill and we had a great time in the waters. Many of them were clicking themselves having the waterfall at the back drop. I’m not an exception, I too asked my fellow mate to click me with the falls at the backdrop. There was a Smile and a Click. Mission Accomplished!!!

After having a sumptuous lunch at a hotel, we started towards the Quilandi Station to catch our Mangalore Express at around 1.30 PM to return back to Chennai.  It was 4.30 by the time we reached the station. Quickly reached our platform and got settled into the seats which were put up for passengers to rest. All of us were tired out of 2 day outing. The bus journey had made all of us so tire that we couldn’t bring back the same environment that was there when we were starting from the Chennai Central Station.

August 10, 2009 Monday 5:30 AM

It was 5.30 by the time we reached Chennai. Welcome to Chennai Central. The LED Display welcomed us. After deciding who is going by train and bus, we dispersed.

I got a 32B. Reached Home at 6.30 AM Kept the bags aside and quickly changed to my shorts and Tees and hit the bed. Ii was 11.00 when I woke up! It was really an awesome team outing to Wayand!