Friday, October 30, 2009

Wordsworth - His words are worth it

There are some poems which bring a visualization of their content right before you. William Wordsworth's 'The Solitary Reaper' is one and takes you far, far away. I have always wondered and imagined what may be there when I see wisps of smoke from a house, sheep grazing in some pasture, a farmer tilling his field with oxen, a solitary tree in a vast meadow or a lake / temple far away. The feeling is more intense especially when they are far, far away.

The Solitary Reaper

Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.

Will no one tell me what she sings?--
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?

Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o'er the sickle bending;--
I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

தேடிச் சோறுநிதந் தின்று

Another Bharathiar classic poem. This is a part of a poem collection "Yoga Shakthi" in which he commands God (himself?) to give him a few boons.

தேடிச் சோறுநிதந் தின்று
பல சின்னஞ் சிறுகதைகள் பேசி
மனம் வாடித் துன்பமிக உழன்று
பிறர் வாடப் பல செயல்கள் செய்து
நரை கூடிப் கிழப்பருவம் எய்தி
கொடுங் கூற்றுக் கிரையெனப்பின் மாயும்
பல வேடிக்கை மனிதரைப் போலே
நான் வீழ்வே னென்று நினைத்தாயோ?
நின்னைச் சில வரங்கள் கேட்பேன்
அவைநேரே இன்றெனக்குத் தருவாய்
என்றன் முன்னைத் தீயவினைப் பயன்கள்
இன்னும்மூளாதழிந்திடுதல் வேண்டும்
இனி என்னைப் புதிய உயிராக்கி
எனக்கேதுங் கவலையறச் செய்து
மதிதன்னை மிகத் தெளிவு செய்து
என்றும்சந்தோஷங் கொண்டிருக்கச் செய்வாய்!

And here is the attempt at translation.

Searching for and having food daily,
And chattering with lots of small talk,
With the mind suffering in pain,
And your deeds making others suffer as well,
Then you age and become old ,
And face the grim reaper in death.
Like lots of other people,
Do you think I'll fall down?
I shall ask you a few boons ,
You shall directly grant me those.
Any evil deeds in my past and their effects,
Shall not come back to life again.
Hereby shall I be given a new life
With no worries for me.
Give me a clarity of thought ,
And making me happy forever.

This poem (in part) also comes in the movie Mahanadhi, which is a powerful movie that parallels life and the course of a river. Not sure if the movie was a commercial hit. Sad, if it wasn't.

What a poet!!! Bharathi's poems swing across all kinds of emotions from ecstasy to despair, commanding to weak, happy to sad.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


I notice her at least 3 times daily at different places daily on my drive to/from work. Very difficult to ignore and stands out (literally) from the crowd.

The woman is, needless to say, very pretty, with lovely eyes and a mild smile (Mona Lisa-esque?), gazing somewhere, casual (dress, hair) and looking mildly amused (or is it interested). The lighting is natural. Looks zero percent garish (unlike the other jewellery ads where the woman is bedecked with jewellery at every possible place in the face and torso and dancing around with all that for God's sake, Grrr.. when I see Tamanna esp. with a silly expression and not to mention the nasal twang of a song.). The only jewellery visible on her is the necklace and it isn't prominent and she actually overshadows it with her presence.

Very apt tag line "VERY RARE. VERY YOU". Hats off the ad agency that commissioned this and to the beautiful lady gracing it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Shutter Chatter

Petal special

A glorious morning shot of one of the flowering plants under my care. :-)

Click on the photos to view in a larger size 

Color riot

The colors look at bit stained due to the lighting pattern in my balcony in the mornings, but that doesn't take anything off the beauty of the flowers.

A fresh lease of life

Just when we thought that the transplanted rose plant needs some time to acclimatize in a big pot, it responded back with a beautiful new clutch of leaves. Welcome home.

In a way, gardening is like parenting. Needs a lot of work, care, patience, time and money. When the results are there, there is no end to the joy that it brings you. (It also brings you hardship as well. :-))

All these photos have been taken with my Nokia N73's built-in camera. Never thought that the N73 could take such good close-ups. Landscapes look great with the N73 and its' 3 mega-pixel camera is more than sufficient for most of random shots that I take.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Are you a the owner (driver) of a car/two-wheeler? Have you ever been chased or harassed by another vehicle? Have you been tail-gated by trucks/buses and had to swear at them?

Happened to watch "Duel", a movie made for TV in 1971 and the first movie of Steven Spielberg. Dug it out again from the Net sometime back and watched it (Search for Duel on The movie is a more or less a precursor of our Kamalhassan's பேசும் படம் in that there is practically very little dialogue (maybe uses 3 sheets of paper) and the movie moves on the strength of its protagonist, a truck and its unseen driver. This movie is an example of a taut thriller which depends heavily on only 2 actors and uses the fear of the unknown to create a roaring suspense.

David (Dennis Weaver) is on his way to another town on a country road when he passes a slow 18 wheeler. He pisses off the truck driver by honking to pass and doing some maneuvering in his car to get ahead. Something snaps in the truck driver and he scares the hell out of David by almost mowing the car down in a series of incidents that leaves him rattled. A cat and mouse game begins with each of them trying to outwit each other, with a "cliff-hanger" climax.

Spielberg leaves a lot to the viewer's imagination. There is no rationale in why the truck driver does so. The truck driver is even shown to help out a stranded vehicle. He leaves a few hints here and there, but it is up to us to join the dots. The truck driver's face is never shown in the movie.

The movie slowly unfolds and it is after the second incident with the truck that you feel something is going to happen. Once David figures out that the truck driver is out to get him, he tries to shake it off his trail by accelerating, stopping at a roadside hotel, getting out of the road and hiding in a side road but to no avail. He even tries to call the highway police to a disastrous effect.

The fear within David slowly gets into you as you the movie progresses. It is after the movie ends that you relax. Spielberg slowly builds the tension before he concludes.

It is not a flawless movie (ஆனாலும் நிறைய பேர், hotelல room போட்டு, கண்ணுல விளக்கெண்ணய ஊத்தி, படம் பாத்து, தப்பு கண்டு பிடிக்கறாங்கபா. Look at IMDB's entry for this movie, Goofs section), but Duel is worth watching to see how Spielberg keeps you hooked for the better part of 1.5 hours.

Coming back to our roads, I have noticed that our truck drivers on highways are more fair-mannered than the other car or bus drivers. All the zig-zagging and monkey tricks are done by the cars and to an extent buses.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Musings - Traffic aware signal lights

Why don't we have signal lights that are traffic aware? In a 4 way junction, if traffic is heavy on one or two legs why not adjust the timers based on traffic? Or use synchronized signals to control the flow better? (Technology exists, but நம்ம socialismக்கு ஒரு அளவே இல்லை. Equal time rights for all roads in a junction!!!) Bangalore seems to have a control center which uses video cameras and remote controlled signals for a few major junctions. Way to go, but not scalable. (என்னத்தன்னு சொல்லறது. It takes me 1 hour each to do 15 kms in the mornings and evenings)


அக்கினிக் குஞ்சு (The fireball)

This poem was my introduction to Mahakavi Subramaniya Bharathi (மகாகவி சுப்பிரமணிய பாரதி). Some things in life are never forgotten, for me, this is one. This is a fiery poem for a call to Indian freedom wrapped in an idiom. This is the man who can be termed as the one who brought about a renaissance for modern Tamil poetry and literature.

அக்கினிக் குஞ்சொன்று கண்டேன் - அதை
அங்கொரு காட்டிலோர் பொந்திடை வைத்தேன்;
வெந்து தணிந்தது காடு; - தழல்
வீரத்திற் குஞ்சென்று மூப்பென்று முண்டோ?
தத்தரிகிட தத்தரிகிட தித்தோம்...

A loose translation of the poem follows, but some aspects do get lost during the process.

I found a small fireball
And placed it in a forest burrow
The forest burned and smouldered
     The daring fire in its wake, knows not the old or the young
     Thath-tharikita thath-tharikita thath-thOm
     (The sound of a Shiva Thandavam)

There was a Tamil movie on the life of Bharathi (2000) where Bharathi was enacted by Sayaji Shinde, a Maharashtrian actor. I am not sure if anybody else could have been a better fit. Sayaji lived and breathed Bharathi as we know him, throughout the film - the gait, the energy, the turban, the eyes, the attitude, the desperation. Some of Bharathi's beautiful lesser known poems brought to life by the brilliant musical score of Ilaiyaraaja. A movie worth watching as it is shorn of all jingoism with brilliant acting and effervescent music.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gone are the days

Suddenly I am having a wave of nostalgia hitting me. School / college days, cities I grew up in (Coimbatore, Madurai, Bangalore), people that I worked with.

Here is a song from Hannah Montana that seemed to be apt.

Gone Are The Days

Gone are the days of my past,
Gone are the days of my childhood innocence,
Gone are the days of my first and last.
Gone are the days of being carefree,
Gone are the days of my elation,
Gone are the days of my glee.
Gone are the days of my fear.
Gone are the days of savor.

Gone are the days I spent here.

Gone, Gone, Gone are the days
And I fear
It's becoming more clear!

Gone, Gone, Gone are the days I spent hear (sic).

Monday, October 19, 2009

Epilogue - Deepavali gone by

As one more Deepavali goes by,

  • Safety still is safely tucked away in lots of places.
  • Noise has become noisier.
  • The air quality reaches a quality vacuum.
  • Rain did not rain even once this time and the sun has tanned itself to tan.
  • And last, one of the last long weekends of this year lasted itself and it is time to be back to work. :-)
Adieu Deepavali 2009.

And thanks to all the folks for whom Deepavali was just yet another day in which their jobs still had to be done, the milk-vendor, the public transit-driver, the shop-keeper, the maid, the garbage collector, the fuel outlet, those who guard our borders and many more. Thanks a ton for having our holidays with family smoothly oiled and moving.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A laugh riot

Watched the The Gods Must Be Crazy I & II  movies over the course of the week. The films were hilarious. Had a story track, action, fun and loads of laughter. Never mind that some aspects of the movie were condemned for racism, but I did not feel so.

The Gods Must Be Crazy - I 
The movie starts with a Coca-Cola bottle (glass, and not plastic, mind it) being thrown off an airplane flying somewhere over the Kalahari desert. It is picked up by a group of bushmen as a gift from God and they find some use for it in their day to day life. The interesting thing about the bushmen is that their way of living does not have the concept of ownership / property. There is only a single bottle, and everyone wants to use it leading to a rift in the community. Our hero (Xi, a bushman) wants to throw the alien object at the end of the earth so that it doesn't come back. He makes his trip across the vast and amazing expanse of the Kalahari and his adventure and what he sees on his way are the object of this movie.

Some of the rib-ticklers in this movie.
  • The broken down Land Rover which is used by Dr. Steyn, who is a biologist working in the game reserves to pick-up Kate, who is coming is as a teacher.
  • The Land Rover landing up on top of the tree.
  • Bumbling Dr.Steyn at the village school.
  • How Xi, Dr.Steyn and M'pudi (Steyn's assistant) outwit Sam Boga and his group in rescuing the children held as hostage.
The Gods Must Be Crazy - II
The sequel has more fun than the first one and the slapstick comedy never fails to deliver. This time however, Xi's kids, out of curiosity, track a truck wheels' impression on the ground, sight a poacher's truck, get on to the truck and being driven off. The movie moves forward in Xi trying to rescue his children.

The side track in this movie is that of Ann, a lawyer who is in the game reserve for a lecture, Dr. Stephen who is a game tracker and two soldiers, one a Cuban and the other, from Angolan border patrol who try to take each other hostage to go to their destination.

The laugh and fall off the chair scenes here are
  • The hyena laughing at Ann when she first sees it and her mis-understanding(s) with Dr.Stephen on animal behavior.
  • Dr.Stephen and Ann steal an ostrich egg.
  • Ann at the windmill water spout with the monkey.
  • The Cuban and the Angolan trying to outwit each other in taking each other hostage.
  • Dr. Stephen and the persistent skunk.
  • The two poachers (bumbling) driving around losing direction in the Kalahari.
There is a lot of drama here in that the bi-plane in which Dr.Stephen and Ann return back to the reserve hotel gets caught in a thunderstorm and are left stranded in the middle of the desert. Xi's younger son gets separated from his brother and having a hyena to defend off. There is a lot of cris-crossing of the different themes.

In my opinion, watching movies like this should be shorn of seeing the movie as a critic. Kids who where watching the movie were rolling in laughter, no-hinds barred crackles, leaving them teary-eyed at the theatrics that was being enacted. Enjoyed this movie along with them and it is worth seeing again and again for the sheer joy of unadulterated fun for around 3+ hours for the two movies. Definite watch for kids and the grown-up kids too.

Mmm... Nice to be a kid again.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The wall spaketh thus

When did our honorable BBMP get into all this? This is in the heart of Jayanagar.

Are there any other things for Rs.100? :-)

The weekend rush ...

The weekend that started Oct 2 had me and family going southbound into Tamil Nadu. After having a smooth drive all the way up to Krishnagiri, there was something unusual as we approached the toll plaza. A huge backlog of cars, trucks and buses!!!

I pass by the toll plaza at least twice or thrice a year, but never had I seen such a rush at around 8:45 AM in the morning. Scores of vehicles fleeing Bangalore possibly for a quick weekend getaway. It is a fact that the highway to Chennai going east and all the way up to Namakkal in the south is as smooth as Hema Malini's cheeks (reusing a Lalu comment on state of the roads) leading people to waltz on the roads. Beyond Krishnagiri, the road towards Dharmapuri was deserted. The puzzling aspect is that where could they be headed to? Chennai simmers all the time (definitely not a tourist destination, but maybe a homecoming for the Tamilians @ Bangalore), Pondicherry is no better, Tiruvannamalai (nay, not many religious minded folks here). Vellore (the hinterland of the Golden Temple) may be a reason.

Took more than 45 minutes to cross the toll plaza with almost all the paths to each toll booth being dual laned leading to a merge confusion. When do we ever learn to queue in a single line and not honk incessantly? Mmm...