27 March 2006

Bollywood = culture = India?

That's the impression I got from watching the finale of the Commonwealth games in Melbourne.

Sure, I know we can deliver the goods any time, as we have the capacity, and that we'll put a good show in Delhi in 2010. (By the way, the appetiser we got in Melbourne was pretty good too.) But it's the way the delivery gets done that sometimes irks.

I don't know if I was the only one who felt this way, but increasingly, I have seen that of late, the term Bollywood (embracing all India-made films) is the only cultural face of India that is presented to the world (with NZ being no exception).

Nothing wrong with it being presented to the world, but my question is: Is it the only one that is worth being presented? Are we taking the easy way out?

To be sure, last night's extravaganza did have some real slickly made docos on other things Indian. But Bollywood overshadowed everything.

Unlike a new country like the US, we do have a long and awesome cultural background. When you have it, why not flaunt it as well, along with Bollywood?

In case I sound like one of those hide-bound traditionalists, let me tell you that I am not. Far from it. I enjoy movies and have a pretty tolerant outlook. But this thing really gets to me.

I am hoping that maybe I am wrong. And maybe that 2010 will have the best of Indian culture and not just only Bollywood. Or will it all be just a Bollywoodised version?

Questions, questions, no answers! Not yet, at least!

23 March 2006

I am trying

to do many things, with varying degrees of urgency. Some of them.....

I am trying....

to stay cheerful in this time of grey skies, constant rain and end of daylight saving and summer.

to be energetic enough to some reading for my course every night(and failing mostly)

to find some home-work balance (what balance?)

to try and blog meaningfully (rarely succeeding)

to lose weight (a lost cause for the past how-many-ever years now)

to spend more time with kids & family (trying, trying, always trying)

to think of new dishes to cook or experiment with, but after a full day at work, that never happens

to walk & exercise more (now that summer is over, probably not at all a practical thing to try for!!!!)

to stop using swear words (which are the new words that my 3-year-old seems to pick up quickest)

to read (blogs, fiction and site on the net)

to donate money generously to charity

to be nice and kind to everyone

and lastly, for sainthood.....

Wish me luck!

17 March 2006


Although the latest title of my blog (as frequent visitors here know, I keep changing it ever so often) sounds good to me, I do realise that not everyone may know much about Mylapore. So, a post dedicated exclusively to that.


Mylai or Mylapore was a thriving port during the mighty Pallava dynasty. It is older than the city of Chennai itself by many thousands of years. Steeped in history, it is also steeped nowadays in dirt, crime and all the ills of modern society. At a cross-roads, just like the rest of India.

Mylapore was first built on the Coromandel shore. The arrival of the Portuguese in the mid-sixteenth century changed the town's history. They built Fort San Thome (now known as Santhome) by pushing Mylapore inward, where it has stood since. And they also gave the town some of its unique place names like Luz (meaning 'light' in Portuguese).

The famous Kapaleeshwarar temple that stands at Mylapore (all said and done, Mylapore is a temple town) is only about 300-400 years old, although the temple contains parts of inscriptions dating back to 1250 AD. These inscriptions are traces of the earlier shore temple that once existed in Mylapore. This temple, dedicated to Shiva stood for many centuries in the ancient coastal township of Mylapore, until the Portuguese pushed Mylapore inward to make way for Santhome and demolished the original temple.

It is this ancient temple that the relatively newer Kapaleeshwarar temple replaced. Mylapore, literally translated from Tamil, means ‘A Town of Peacocks’, 'mayil' being the Tamil word for peacock.

At the eastern entrance is the temple chariot, drawn by devotees during the annual Ther Thiruvizha or the ‘car’ festival as well as the parading of 63 idols around the temple square, known as 'Arubathumoovar' festival. This is when the whole world and its cousin land up in Mylapore, when buses are stopped a mile away from the city and the town chokes on its own popularity. A high point in the annual calender.

Although for me, the crowd is a big no-no (the deeds of the crowd could contribute thousands of blog posts worth to the Blanknoise project), the actual festival itself is really beautiful.

The temple tank is now again full of water (at least it was, when I saw it last year), thanks to unseasonal and generous rains in Chennai. The theppam or float festival happens in the tank every January (when there is enough water to so).

Today, Mylapore is full of shops of every variety and hotels, all sorts of offices, hospitals etc. And as it has always been, it is full of places of worship - there are temples, churches and mosques galore.

It is old-fashioned and represents the (supposedly conservative) city of Chennai. But in it, old values and traditions are still alive.

I've lived there for most of my life - about 25 years and that's a long long time. And it is still home.

As befitting a Mylaporean, I am off to a Carnatic music concert of Unnikrishan this weekend.And just to tie this whole thing up with my previous post: I have done articles in the newspaper on both Unnikrishnan and the Arubathumoovar festival during my 'glory days' (not).

6 March 2006

How much do I miss

being a journo?

A couple of months ago, I would have said, 'Not at all'

But now I say, 'A teeny bit'.

Maybe, just maybe, one of these days, I will put up a post on 'Glory Days' and enumerate my (many?) journalistic achievements.....Whatever - I am sure that I will do something better (and more useful) with my time!

1 March 2006


Les wanted to be thin. All her life. Although she was only rounded in all the right places, the fashion diktat of her time said thin was terrific. Plump was out. Bony was beautiful. And while the fashion Nazis had been more tolerant when she was growing up, by the time she hit her thirties, they had become dictators. Be thin or be damned they said.
Inspired by the super models on the catwalk, she tried for a similar body. Diets, exercise. But they didn't appeal to her, it was just hard work. And she loved her food too much. She lived to eat.
Then, a chance encounter with an old friend opened new doors. Doors she had successfully avoided till then. It was like magic. It made you feel less hungry and actually made you lose weight. She was delighted. And took to smoking with a vengeance.
In a year's time, she was hooked. Totally and absolutely.
And by the time she hit her forties, she was chain-smoking. And she couldn't even remember why she had started smoking in the first place.

When the doctor told her, she was devastated. And once again, she tried. De-addiction, rehab. But they didn't appeal to her, it was just hard work. And she loved her cigarettes too much. She lived to smoke.

When they buried her, the cancer had eaten away so much of her, they had to get a child-sized coffin. And all the mourners remarked on how thin she was....

(I am writing semi-fiction after a long time, but this is something I've wanted to write on ever since I saw a news item. From time to time, whenever the Muse inspires me, I am going to do these small and maybe semi-autobigraphical pieces. This is the first one....and feedback is very valuable to me. And with all due thanks and acknowledgements to my various inspirations, which are too many to list here)