Fan


A fan, or fanatic, sometimes also called aficionado or supporter, is a person who is enthusiastically devoted to something or somebody, such as a band, a sports team, a genre, a book, a movie or an entertainer. Collectively, the fans of a particular object or person constitute its fan-base or fandom

Something about them attracted me. I had watched enough on television to consume the content. I wondered why this game did not exist this way in India. I loved the attitude, the crowds, the songs, the passion, and the smell of a revolution. There was an established order and it felt like a change was overdue. The order smelt of a moisture stained wooden wall. Maybe, a creaking staircase and a cobweb filled attic as well.The order needed a major revamping and a jolt to shake up those lying in slumber.

It is easy to become a fan of a challenger. I think it is natural to support anyone or anything challenging the establishment. There is this tag of an ‘underdog’ attached to a team that basically has enough firepower to beat anyone but does not have the necessary history or culture to be considered as rightfully belonging to the top. That is why, it is easy to side with the challenger. Imagine trying to love someone, who mercilessly swats those lesser beings who are not as powerful while smirking at the low quality of opposition. I wanted to kill off the established order; the supposed culture and history. A clean new slate on which the entire present landscape was waiting to be established and idiots were talking about things that happened twenty years ago.

The more, you are at the top, the more disillusioned one gets with the idea of carrying on the challenger tag. It is like a thirty-year old who gets way drunk every time and ends up embarrassing his mates. So you move on from the first ‘under-dog’ syndrome to identifying someone whose performance or character resonates with what you believe in. We identify with them and we think their success is our success. Their pain is our anguish. If our ‘hero’ fails, so does our life temporarily. We are so self-less in this hand over of our lives to this idea; character; person or team.

noun: morality
  1. principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour

When I replay my conversations with countless people and the supposed importance of moral code in our lives, and then replay my decision of handing over of myself to support a football club run by a oligarch, a club whose biggest success in history was created by a man, who basically showed my club’s doctor, her place in the dressing room and led by our charismatic captain who never fails to disappoint me in his endeavours.

If only losing my self and my moral code was compensated by some willingness to put an effort on the pitch. If I could watch one game, where I do not have to hide my face, wondering how this bunch of players won something last year and not feel relieved at somehow drawing level with an opponent, I would feel that the exchange was fair.If I could watch my team challenge the elite, without calling themselves under-dogs, without whining about everything, without acting like primary school-kids watching their first horror movie when they face Barcelona, I would feel, I have sacrificed well.

Till then, I am ashamed to call myself a fan. I refuse to buy into this mediocrity. I refuse to be proud of you unless you make me proud of myself for supporting you. And Chelsea, my beautiful blue football club, you are so far away from all of it right now.


One day, in a far off mystical land of Kambhar, a hippopotamus was staring at his own reflection. Now Mr.Hippo had spent a large part of his life convincing himself that he looked just fine and that his high Body Mass Index (BMI) did not mean anything. On this particular morning, he felt fat. One thought led to another and soon he was pondering on the purpose of his existence. If only he had read the simple book with a neat blue cover which said ‘Do Not Panic’ in bold letters, he would have known that the answer to his question was 42. He had not read the ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy’ and so did not know what was missing in his life.

He had a fairly regular routine, which was fairly dull but nevertheless consumed his time. The daily trips to the pond, the time in the pond and the walk back took large chunk of his day. But he realized, this pond was not the one for him. He wanted a larger pond or even a smaller pond but with more life and more excitement. For he felt alone, though surrounded by his family. So he decided to move north in the direction of the long-lost mythical land of Pandavas where the grass was green on either side.

Thus, after a short but thrilling ride atop an eagle that was as long as a giant on two feet, Mr.Hippo arrived in the realm of the Pandavas. He hoped that he would find some pond, where he could enjoy his day; a pond which made the walk to and from worth the effort; a pond where he would not feel alone. He had heard stories of the mythical kingdom. After sunset, great dark creatures prowled the land in their lust. Tribes, were supposed to be closed to new-comers. Mr. Father Pig served as the army chief of the kingdome and his huge family of pigs had taken over most of the kingdom devouring every piece of vegetation they found. Mr.Hippo, being a strict vegetarian (not even eggs), was stuck trying to find some plants to solve his hunger games.

But that is where he met Mr.Kangaroo. Mr. Kangaroo, was fit from all the hopping and running around he had done for years. He could chase the pigs away and get food for Mr.Hippo. He knew that Mr.Hippo had come from a distant culture and would have trouble adjusting unless he stepped in to help. And thus Mr.Kangaroo, made space in his mind and in his humble abode for Mr.Hippo to reside temporarily till they found a better place. Mr. Kangaroo, took around Mr.Hippo, multiple times around the kingdom till Mr.Hippo started recognising the landmarks. He taught Mr.Hippo, the laws of the land and gave him survival tips. Mr.Hippo, being a care-free, simple-minded would not have been able to survive if he had to fend off the dark mysterious creatures of the kingdom all by himself. He felt at ease with his new-found companion who made him feel like he was back home. Mr Kangaroo introduced Mr.Hippo to other like minded brothers which made Mr.Hippo feel loved.

Mr.Hippo, finally picked up the courage to walk to the pond and decide if it was better than the previous one. His pace was measured, taking in the new topography and watching out for any signs of danger. The pond was just beyond the clearing. Step-by-step, Mr.Hippo inched closer to the pond. He stopped near the boundary of land and water and surveyed the area in all directions. It seemed remarkably similar to the pond he had left behind at home. Mr.Hippo started doubting about his journey as he slowly licked the water from the pond. It did seem a bit different. As the minutes passed by, he found himself looking into the pond and he found he was not alone. There was Mr.Kangaroo visible from inside the water. There was Mr.Girafee, who was lean and tall but looked positively sick, Mr.Rabbit, who was available after the sun had set but was never free during the weekends, Ms.Leopard, who liked Mr Giraffe and whom Mr.Hippo felt were an interesting match. And suddenly, just like that he was not alone. And just like that the pond became a magical place called ‘Dhaula Kaun’.

Of Nothing


This is a quintessential post pondering the existence of everything and nothing. I seemed to have overcome my ‘writer’s block’ by publishing two posts on consecutive days only to have realized that there was absolutely nothing more that I could talk about. A couple of things did happen in the last couple of weeks that I could write about. For example, my Hyderabad trip, Mad Max and the night after that and the evening before etc. I could write about that or I could choose to push them into the dark, wooden shelves of my ‘Draft’ section and never to be discovered until I am desperate for my next post.

I acted in an adaptation of Vijay Tendulkar’s ‘Cyclist’ (fortunate to be selected) where my character proclaims the virtues of ‘Nothingness’. I advice my son to not act;to do nothing when the situation screams for him to do something. Little did I realize that those lines of advice, would be essential to surviving life. I have to admit now that I did think Vijay Tendulkar had no idea of what he was writing when I read the script of the Cyclist. But, now I get it. It is an adult-ish play because the theme of nothingness is lost on a young, restless soul.

There exists, in life, this thread of events set in motion; events beyond a singular control, snaring us in a complex web of threats and opportunities forcing us to act and react. These are your every-day office politics, your team’s internal re-organization, the surge-pricing on your Uber, the people who hate you though you want them to like you and people who love you when you have taken no special effort for them. We are at best,a bystander to most of these events evaluating the causal relationship of our own actions and deeds done in our past that have helped us take control of such events. What I find, I usually do, during my ‘present’ phase of tackling events is by doing nothing. I find the causal relationship analylsis funny because what you are evaluating has Nothing on your LHS.

Oh and my subscriber base will increase by nothing after publishing this post on nothing. So will my reader base. But hey ! I have got to do something. Shouldn’t I?

Adios

Leone e l’amore


‘O Lord of the Jungle. When will thou delight us?’, exclaimed the excited Monkey, awaiting the moment when her lordship would walk into the forest with his lovely companion.  The royal family was tense with anticipation of a gloomy future, predicting the doom of the jungle if the Lion did not find a companion soon. The Lion had been their pride. The Queen-Mother handled the disappearance of the senior male leader and had taken care of the family gently prodding the ever reluctant Lion to take up the mantle of being the guiding light to all.

‘But Lion was never an aspirant to be the leader’, exclaimed the Monkey. The Monkey knew him too well. They dreamt of a world where forests would extend forever, where everyone could hunt and live with pride,  of streams that soak their souls till they have to exhaust themselves to stay afloat, of no need for rituals and age-old traditions. The Monkey and the Lion took long-walks together across the length and breadth of their land, sometimes close to the spiritual Mother-Tree, sometimes around the plains with lush grass, sometimes just sitting in the middle of nowhere. Queen-Mother had a  valid worry about the Monkey being the next companion.

‘We are great together. I understand Lion and the Lion reminds me of me sometimes’, exclaimed the Monkey. The Lion was destined to be married to this beast of a Lioness until a couple of months back, when they fought, much to the agony of the jungle. The Lioness was from an ancient family, located in the north-west of the jungle. The Queen-Mother had instructed the Lion never to venture beyond a certain point which could only be termed as the south of the jungle and the Lion had disobeyed. The Lion wandered across the jungle and there the Lioness was. She was fierce yet beautiful, short-tempered yet magnificent and one hell of a beast fit to be the queen. The Lion knew that the Lioness was the leader that the Queen-Mother was looking for.

‘The whole jungle loved how the two of them roamed together paw-in-paw across the streams, thickets of bamboo, entertained all animals with their antics’, exclaimed the Monkey.

The Lioness always felt that the Lion’s family would never accept her having been brought up far away in the north. The Lion spent a lot of time trying to get all his subjects to understand the Lioness and her views since they seemed too radical to his friends. But there came a time when the Lioness and the Lion could not make truce on the kingdom to settle down. The Lioness wanted not to be tied down to a particular place in the jungle; spawning new Lions and spending the entire life not doing what she wanted. She wanted a new era to dawn upon Lions; a completely liberated pride which did not have to deal with antiquated ideals; a new life. The Lion would have done anything for that but he also had to take care of his ageing Queen-Mother and his tribe. The Lioness and her ideals would have made him give up on his family.

‘Sometimes I think the Lioness should have been born a bird. Actually, even I would love to be one.’ , exclaimed the Monkey.

‘He would never have been happy if he sacrificed his family for the hope of a better future with me’, said the Lioness.

Meanwhile, the Lion was walking along the river-bank, unable to grasp the turbulent emotions and blinding him to everything around him. The Lion knew that the Lioness and him shared a great equation and that their marriage could have played a small part in uniting a deeply divided jungle. But more importantly, the Lioness loved the Lion for who he was. He was untidy, slow in movement, reluctant in social interactions and sometimes timid of the world. The Lion missed having a soul-mate if ever that was applicable to Lions. The Lion wondered how he could find a new partner now that he is growing old when he spends all his time either with his family or the Monkey.

‘Why not the Monkey?’ , queried the Lion’s brain. And thus the carnival of life continues.

Amen.

<The title when translated in English means ‘Lion and Love’>

Fountainhead – A reflection


< This section of the blog was written two years ago >

This book, recommended by the avid reader of books; the one who almost runs an unofficial library from her apartment ; the one who can eat philosophy like it is a slice of your favourite cake – comes as a breath of fresh air across the mundane ones I went through lately. Rather this book has indicated how mundane most books are. Rarely have I ever felt the need to take a break- to take in the significance of words before moving on. The amount of philosophy and knowledge that can be extracted from each page is so humungous that it almost feels like I am sitting for my semester exams and all my exams have to be done at one go and I am sitting reading everything at the same instant. Except i never liked cramming my head with needless issues. In this case there seems an excess of needed issues.

To cut to the chase, whether I like it or not, I see myself more as a Keating than as a Howard Roark. The selfishness that Keating displays is in me. The same hunger for moving up the ladder, the ambition and the same view of working in a field that he does not know whether he loves it or hates it. Keating’s worries and views are reflected in my own view of the world. He is in essence my projection. In all sense, to himself and his band he is a winner . He has moved up the ladder , enjoys great social status, tries romancing with the most beautiful yet he is just a mediocre individual. An average man . Not in terms of accomplishment or status. But in terms of character and integrity. Rarely has there been a protagonist who gets almost everything yet still is not the ideal hero.

Who the hell is Howard? What is with his name? Roark? The man’s name mixes with the earth as his character does. The approval Keating seeks in Roark is similar to what I seek when I write these blogs and wait for your comments. So many times, I have withheld from publishing a post on the account of it not being received well. More troubling is the character Ellsworth Toohey because I realize that most of my Nadal / Frank Lampard appreciation derives its source from the same reason that Toohey used to impart fame into lives of normal people who were appreciated as geniuses.

< This section of the blog is written with my current mind-set – current as in today -today as in the day of publishing this >

This post has been two years in the making to the exact day. I do not remember why the post was shelved; cast-aside in the gloomy dark regions of my blog account. I could have felt that a post where I openly cited myself as a Keating than Howard could have damaged my digital identity. I was moving to a new boarding school and probably that could have prevented my ‘opening-up’ in this way. I hope I am wiser now and that this post gets published.

Have I changed? Have I become Howard or have I remained Keating? Or have I metamorphized into this glory-bestowing-on-mediocre-individuals Toohey ? I find that I am a healthy mixture of all three. Alas, I do not have any qualities of Dominique; a woman I deeply admire. I have my own sense of insecurities about work, relationships like Keating; the pure unblemished will of fire which wanted to change earth into a shape desired for progress like Mr. Roark and there are periods of behaviour where I try to play Toohey’s role to perfection ‘choking’ certain gifted people through arguments and words and praising those that deserve nothing. I however do this not to kill all those who are creators (term grabbed from Atlas Shrugged which I managed to complete before this blog post) but to create hope among those who do not do anything but leech that it is possible for them to become creators.

I have stopped cowering before all that is gigantic and powerful and unknown. I now know that man (all genders included) is probably the finest piece of evolution in this world until such time when AI decides to rule us all. I now do not cringe at enjoyment of life. I have stopped defining life through the pain. All our actions, small or large, be it a post on Facebook or a blog-post read only by few of your ardent believers better be honest than coercion. I am flawed as an individual but I now know what a man should be and what the journey to being that man should be.

Completed a very honest write-up.

Feels good regardless of your response 🙂

Adios

 

Madras appeals Chennai functions


I remember those evenings, when as small kids, we had to make that long walk from one end of Urur Olcott Kuppam Road to the sand dunes next to the Cozzie Parlour and wonder why Erode, the district famous for hosting Veerapan for many years, did not have places like these. The winds lashing out in your face, restaurants that seemed to be designed only to enable people to relax and slowdown in their lives, did not exist in Erode. Of course, the city was still Madras, and Mani Ratnam along with Rajnikanth ruled the theatres with their films essentially showcasing a story of a protagonist based out of Madras. This was the city touted as the city of dreams in Tamil Nadu where everyone from down south (Oh yes, even we have a down south reference to people from Nagapatinam, Kanyakumari) could ply their trade and earn their livelihood.

This was Madras, the land of Kollywood, the place where businessmen and politicians met, the place where heroes and villains thrived in equal measure and the substance of dreams and ambitions for people from smaller towns trying to come up in life. This was the place where the Secretariat is still literally at a Fort and where a stop called Lighthouse still exists. We have the Napiers Bridge and the Gandhi-Irvin Road, the Spencers Plaza (even if by notion since the original one got burnt) and Halls road. We have the St.Paul’s church at Santhome which would woo any architecture/religion/history lover to walk in to its hallowed halls. Do we then even need to talk about the Burma Bazaar, the Ritchie Street or the Anna Nagar Tower Park? This is a place steeped in years of culture and tradition.

When we visit homes, there are some that appear or feel hollow and some which have that sense of having lived in. Chennai is of the latter kind of home which gives you a feel of everyone properly settled in and the home being used as much as viable. Note how the place has moved from Madras to Chennai even in the emotional sense something that Bombay (read as Mumbai) still has not been able to do. So, when we moved to Chennai, there was this unknown fear of how things would work out, what kind of people live there, how would work be, how safe would we be since in smaller towns you kind of know everyone around you and they watch out for you. We were worried how the folks of Chennai would treat an outsider.

So, then how would an outsider understand Chennai? I was an outsider having come from Erode, more than a decade back. Who should I go for an answer? I realized then that the city and its spirit owed a lot to the people who lived and plied their trade in Parrys and Mint (Sowcarpet). A walk down the Beach Station road, will transport you back to the 1800’s and the 1900’s and make you marvel at the prosperity and trade that flourished back then. The place that used to be the real Madras now is seemingly far away from the I.T corridor or the industrial riches of Ambattur but still dictates the development of the city. The port and a flourishing wholesale market, along with common folks still landing up on Broadway bus-stand looking for a livelihood, tells you the tale of how the whole city was made. When you want to define what kind of city does Madras or Chennai stand for, what kind of people live there, you need to take that local train or the bus that drops you off at Broadway bus stand and walk around to understand why the city is what it is and what it needs to take it to the next level.

Keeping aside these already mentioned factors, there is however one very important reason why I am eager to get back to Chennai. The food; be it the ‘Paniyaram’ or the ‘Kuttu Parotha’ or the smacking Dosas along with our Sambhars; not the species of deer and definitely not the one they sell at various places outside Tamil Nadu claiming it as authentic south-Indian dish but our own authentic sambhar along with the varieties of Chutney served in ‘Vazhai-Elai’ and together they definitely are a sure-shot recipe to attain Moksham instantaneously. It is not just the Dosas but the food joints of Chennai, be it the Rayar’s Mess or the Amma Mess; be it that melting ice-cream outside Naidu Hall in Pondy Bazaar or in the air-conditioned Creamy Inn at Anna Nagar, Chennai has got it all. The best of the lot has to be those ground nuts that you eat while walking in the beach, the saltiness in the air affecting the groundnuts that you eat and the ‘Milagai Bajji’ along with it in case you have the heart and stomach for it.

Sorgame Endralum Athu Namma Ooru Pola Varuma

(Even if it is heaven, it cannot match up to our place (in this context Chennai))

Zero Suspension, Lighthouse stop and bonding


For the better part of the last three months, my sole means of transportation across the city has been via the public buses. The preferred one is the A.C bus that takes me from the large bus-stand near my place to quite close to my office. The A.C bus is the preferred one as you can imagine during the summer of Chennai, which lasts usually for seven months of the year in general. The folks at an A.C bus would in general be the managers and programmers at the I.T corridor offices. The administrative staff and the helpers would generally use the non-A.C buses since they are at least five times cheaper.

So this day, on a very tiring and boring Thursday, I found myself at the bus-stop exhausted but with no space in any of the preferred buses of mine. Most of them were full and couple of the buses, I let go off because they stopped a bit further from the stop which needed me to run and catch the bus, Somehow I caught myself a non A.C bus that went to the oldest  part of Madras, the Parrys Corner which had the old main bus stand titled Broadway. So I decided to go to Broadway and catch a bus to my place.

The bus was an old rickety one with barely any suspension. Being a tall, fat kid I usually found it very difficult to sit in public buses where the space between the seats is minimal. To my surprise, the penultimate seats of the bus were pushed beyond extension and so they remained stuck in an inclined position. So I ran to those seats which would enable me to stretch my legs when I noticed one thing. Normally in an A.C bus, there was a mad dash whenever a seat became free. Sometimes the people standing at bus stops would comment that you pay fifty rupees and still travel standing. Here, when I rushed in to catch the place, no one batted an eyelid. It was like people loved to stand and travel. There were two places in the bus to be – either the window – the ever perennial cool place or as close to the door as possible so that you could feel the sea wind hitting your face.

Well, I got an aisle seat which soon got converted into the window seat and then I noticed something. As soon as the bus left the new, up-coming localities the population of the bus became roughly equal to the number of seats available. The traffic in the old parts of the city seem to have reached a level and have remained constant for years now. It is the new areas that have traffic swings ranging from a journey of one hour for me to four hours when its mood is bad. I had wanted to rest my head on the bar and sleep off as soon as I got a comfortable seat. However, the constant gust of sea winds made me feel sleeping to be a bad choice. I took out my I-Pod instead and all it took was a couple of Yanni tracks to get me on the mood. Soon, I was lost and merged with the bus and my travel mates.

The bus wanted to remind me of its existence and decided that the best way to show itself would be by throwing us off our seats. I hope I mentioned earlier about the suspension and it did seem like we were on a ride in an amusement park. Normally I would have frowned   and shouted at the driver to drive carefully. I took it upon as a ride and started jumping with the bus every time it encountered bumps. My seat-mate was annoyed at the first bump, turned around towards me expecting me to empathize and sympathize but when he saw me laughing and concentrating on jumping at the next bump he got bewildered. He was watching me when the next bump came and he almost fell off his seat. I laughed at the whole thing and he started laughing with me. When the next set of bumps were encountered, we spread our laughter to couple of more seats and the conductor joined the game when he decided that him from his vantage point could predict when the bus would jump next. So every time the road got bumpy, the conductor got up to signal us and we would follow suit by jumping up and laughing.

Alas, the roads stopped being bad and our fun was stopped abruptly. However, the mood did lighten up when the conductor announced the stop ‘Lighthouse’. I do not know why but having a stop titled ‘Lighthouse’ is funny to me. This bus went via some of the oldest roads and bridges in Chennai and suddenly out of the blue a bump was encountered. Almost spontaneous was the laughter from our seats. This was a ride that went from tiring on a rickety seat to completely charging my batteries. When the bus stopped near the Secretariat, my seat-mate looked at me as if he wanted to say something but with me listening to songs and smiling at him, smiled and got down. I was wondering if he were some night security at the Secretariat. Did you guys notice that the word starts with Secret? I wonder why?

Sometimes all it takes is good music, a few laughs to change a really dreary day into something that can be handled. I love the non A.C folks and their atmosphere. May I get window seats with leg space all the time.

Adios