Friday, April 27, 2012

The Fresh Brew: Chronicles Of Business And Freedom by Amit Haralalka

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Being an Alumnus of IIML it was heartening to see this attempt by Amit. But I was disappointed with the execution. The writing and editing is poor, and leaves enormous scope for improvement. Sincerely wish they iron out the issues in the next edition.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The redemption of Thomas, the coward

The sound of rubber sandals on cemented floor echoed off the red brick walls of the long college corridor. A pigeon craned its neck to the sound that broke the silent summer afternoon. A figure in white jumped down the stairs and stumbled past the locked doors of the department labs. Sweat streamed down his face and the back of his shirt. His left hand tightly clenched the loose folds of his ‘mundu’ at his midriff. His feet slipped on the grease of warm blood and dirt that had formed on his slippers.

As he jumped down the last flight and ran into the courtyard, he saw them, the faces that he knew all too well. Their backs to the main gate, their hands tied behind, and their weapons barely concealed they stood waiting for him. A faint curse escaped his lips as his eyes searched for the way out that he knew did not exist.

Thomas was relieving himself and getting ready for his afternoon meal when he heard the sounds. Exams had finished the day before and the few staff and students who had turned up at the college gates that morning had also left. He cursed the heat as he made his way to catch the miscreants who he thought they were. He despised the long summer breaks, the times when it was just him, the voices in head and the mute red walls.

As he reached the edge of the courtyard, a scream shot through the muggy afternoon air.

Thomas saw the three boys with clubs and chains in their hands towering over the sprawled figure on the ground. His clothes were dirty with blood and sweat, and his face filled with fear, the boy was trying to scamper away. Instantly Thomas knew what was happening. It was not uncommon for the student political factions to settle a score or two when they got the chance. They were either venting the frustration of some lost election, or giving back what had been meted to one of their kin, or just reacting to a passing comment. It always amused him how the young confident faces transformed themselves when faced with the imminent threat.

Experience had taught Thomas that the best way to deal with these situations was silence and inaction from his part. He would turn a blind eye, and the victim would leave with a few bruises, boasting rights and an updated score.

So, as was routine, he slipped into the shadows and watched the events of that afternoon unfold. In the days to come Thomas would blame a bad stomach for his absence from the corridors that afternoon.

As he watched, one of the attackers raised his club and swung it with all his might. It caught the head on the left temple, opening up a gash that covered the face with dark red blood. With a stifled cry the body slumped on the ground.

A chill ran down Thomas’ spine and he felt his fingers tighten around his ‘lathi’.

Without exchanging so much as a word, the boys lifted the moaning body. As they half carried and half dragged the boy up the stairs an unknown fear gripped Thomas. He was sick in his stomach and felt a tear run down his cheek.

His heart was thumping against his chest when he saw the boys appear on the open roof of the east block. For a second they seemed to hesitate, and then, as a wail got stuck in the parched throat of Thomas, they flung the bundle of white over the edge into the courtyard.


Years went by, but Thomas grumbled about the summer breaks no more. Those two months of sweltering heat and loneliness had become an essential part of his life.

On certain days, when the sun was particularly hot and the air filled with a peculiar chill, he would hear those footsteps in the corridors of the East block. He kept the main gates open, and his trembling self hidden in the shadows, hoping, he didn’t hear the scream that followed, ever again.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Songs of peace at a time of war

Over the last 2 weeks news channels have been playing 2 songs in particular during their 'Tribute to the fallen' shows (I refer to the Mumbai attacks here, of course).

The lyrics of the two, 'Ek lau' from the movie 'Aamir', a personal favourite, and 'Vaishnavo janato', are worth remembering.

Ek Lau

(Song is written by Amit Trivedi, from the soundtrack of Aamir, performed by Shilpa Rao)

Ek Lau Is Tarah Kyun Bhuji Mere Maula…

(Why was a flare extinguished like this, my Lord…)

Gardishon Mein Rehti, Behti Guzarthi,

Zindagi Aahein Kitni…

(Struggling through dark clouds, flowing, passing by,

There are so many lives [being lived]…)

In Mein Se Ek Hai, Teri Meri Agni,

Koi Ek Jaisi Apni…

(Your life and my life is just one flame amongst all of these)

Par Khuda Khair Kar, Aisa Anjaam Kisi Rooh Ko,

Na De Kabhi Yahaan…

Guncha Muskuratha Ek Waqt Se Pehle,

Kyun Chodd Chala Tera Yeh Jahaan…

(But God please, may no soul here receive, this kind of ending…

Before the arrival of a flower-like*, smiling [peaceful] time,

why did this life leave your world…)

{*writer refers to the gradual, sweet smelling natural death of a flower}

Ek Lau Is Tarah Kyun Bhuji Mere Maula,

Ek Lau Zindagi Ki Maula.

(Why was a flare extinguished like this, my Lord,

A flare of Life, my Lord)

Dhoop Ke Ujaale Se, Aus Ke Pyaale Se,

Khushiyan Mile Humko…

Zyada Manga Hai Kahaan, Sarhadein Na Ho Jahaan,

Duniya Mile Humko…

(The light of the sunshine, the beauty of the morning dew,

We recieve joy from all of this…

Is it too much that we ask for a world with no borders*)

{*As in, borders/divisions between people, ethnicities, religions…symbolizing all artificially created conflict amongst humanity}

Par Khuda Khair Kar, Uske Armaan Mein Kyun

Bewaja Ho Koi Qurbaan,

Guncha Muskuratha Ek Waqt Se Pehle,

Kyun Chodd Chala Tera Yeh Jahaan…

(But God please, why should anyone be sacrificed to fulfill this desire*…

Before the arrival of a flower-like, smiling [peaceful] time,

why did this life leave your world…)

{*Why should there be sacrifice for the sake of creating this division-less, conflict-free society?}

Ek Lau Is Tarah Kyun Bhuji Mere Maula,

Ek Lau Zindagi Ki Maula. (2)

(Why was a flare extinguished like this, my Lord,

A flare of Life, my Lord)

Thanks to Mitasha Muses

Vaishnava Janato

Vaishnav jan to tene kahiye je
PeeD paraayi jaaNe re
Par-dukhkhe upkaar kare toye
Man abhimaan na aaNe re

SakaL lok maan sahune vande
Nindaa na kare keni re
Vaach kaachh man nishchaL raakhe
Dhan-dhan janani teni re
Sam-drishti ne trishna tyaagi
Par-stree jene maat re
Jivha thaki asatya na bole
Par-dhan nav jhaalee haath re

Moh-maaya vyaape nahi jene
DriDh vairaagya jena man maan re
Ram naam shoon taaLi laagi
SakaL tirath tena tan maan re

VaN-lobhi ne kapaT-rahit chhe
Kaam-krodh nivaarya re
BhaNe Narsaiyyo tenun darshan karta
KuL ekoter taarya re

One who is a vaishnav
Knows the pain of others
Does good to others, esp. to those ones who are in misery
Does not let pride enter his mind

A Vaishnav, Tolerates and praises the the entire world
Does not say bad things about anyone
Keeps his/her words, actions and thoughts pure
O Vaishnav, your mother is blessed (dhanya-dhanya)

A Vaishnav sees everything equally, rejects greed and avarice
Considers some one else's wife/daughter as his mother
The toungue may get tired, but will never speak lies
Does not even touch someone else's property

A Vaishnav does not succumb to worldly attachments
Who has devoted himself to stauch detachment to worldly pleasures
Who has been edicted to the elixir coming by the name of Ram
For whom all the religious sites are in the mind

Who has no greed and deciet
Who has renounced lust of all types and anger
The poet Narsi will like to see such a person
By who's virtue, the entire family gets salvation

Thanks to

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Life in a small town - 2

The Dude

The scene is this - the private bus stand of my town; a fruit shop 10 ft from the road; a drunkard sparwled in a large puddle of murky water in front of the fruit shop (referred to as 'The Dude' from here on) , and two cops towering over him (both the cops are standing on some sort of a wooden plank connecting the fruit shop to the road).

Cop1: You!! .. get up!.. YOU!!..GET UP!! (all this in malayalam, of course)

The Dude: (the Dude hardly moved)

Cop2: You!!

The Dude: Huh.. (he slowly lifts his head to see what all the commotion is about)

Cop1: You!!.. Get up (The cops, I noticed at this point, were hardly angry at the Dude; they were more matter-of-fact about the whole situation)

The Dude: (by now had lifted his body a bit, from waist up, and was looking at the cops with a slight swagger) Salaam Saab.. (our man manages to cop out a smart salute to go with the call of 'Sir'>

Cop1&2: (Amused by the whole situation, and grinning by now).. Aah.. you can continue sleeping there (they dismiss the drunkard with a wave of the hand, and a chuckle, and take a few steps toward the road)

The Dude: Ok Sir! (He brings the episode to its rightful end and gets back to his sleep, back in the puddle ofcourse!)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Paandan Naaya

A malayalam poetry gem by the great poet Kunjan Nambiar,

Paandan naayude pallinu shauryam
Pandeppole phalikkunnilla
Pandivanoru kadiyaloru puliye
Kandichathu njaan kandariyunnen

Sing it out loud for maximum effect!