Thursday, June 19, 2008

Joie de Vivre

Perhaps the most suitable title to a post of mine yet and with good reason, I suppose. Today was the second time in two weeks. There "he" sat, at my doorstep. I choose to address "him" as "he" cause I don't have the heart to address "him" as "it" (although "it" would sound rather cute) and, I could not discern "he" from "she" in this case. Plato didn't bother to either, as far as Love and Beauty were concerned in his most celebrated symposium . So, there "he" was, at around 7pm, all of not even a handful but "his" mite mightier than many a might! Just as Cecil Alexander had sung his hymn- All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small,...

"He" was, going on and on. Violently flapping "his" wings, to get that elusive take off on "his first flight" although "he" seemed awkwardly far from it. Chirping away loudly, surprisingly for "his little stature"; I am not sure whether "his" cries were directed at "his mother" for "his" helplessness or that "he" wanted to tell me how unrelenting "he" is and that "he" would certainly make it. But "his" cries were pitiful. "He" had fallen off from "his" nest located atop the wall A/C unit in the apartment next door. Fortunately, "he" crashlanded rather safely; fortunately I spotted "him". For the next two hours, I tried all that I could to help "him" out. I held "him" on my fingers and could see that "his" perch was just about fine and "he" was raring to take off every other moment. Sensing that "his" mum was probably around looking for "him", I could from "her" cries, I left "him" just where "he" had fallen to see if "she" would pick "him up. And didn't "she" turn up within the wink of an eye?!

I have lost count of how many times I have watched documentaries on animal behaviour as if they were just another piece of information but when it happened live before my eyes - mom failing to get son going and hence abandoning "him" to the forces of nature, not very many things get as close to being that depressing. After it got dark and the silence out of the lack of "his" incessant chirping got me, I stepped out again to look for "him". The spotlight (from a torch) was there, and "he" promptly chirped everytime a flash dawned on "him". It seemed comical and cute, out of "he" being excited, I hope, rather than bewildered although I fear the latter was more plausible. Concerned that "he" might have exhausted himself, I brought "him" into the house. "He" felt so much at home. I fed "him" some water which "he" graciously gulped and when I let "him" free in the living room, "he" ran around until "he" found "his" bearings and headed straight for me! It was probably the chill and "he" wanted some warmth- what can better the assurance and warmth of a human palm?

Left with little choice, I decided to turn "him" in at the small animal care centre in the Vet Med School, just as I had done with another of "his" kind not so long ago. Fortunately, a couple of friends agreed to give company and to "his" luck, "he" hitched a brand new ride! Thanks to Arvind and Harini (and Bhu's entertainment), he is now in safe hands. Not to mention Harini's characteristic cuddling of the poor thing* at "his" plight, or beauty I gather :-) , and Anjan's jocular baritone rendition of "Olimayamaana edhirkaalam.." (read "bright future...", a tamil song) to the little fellah. Indeed, after Darwin. After handing him over, I just quipped- what a fortunate chap "he" is, to get a joyride to life!

Mention to be made of my friend Gowri, for her prompt and able assistance on a Saturday evening, in time of need. I remember vividly, and ironically, how we discussed of the disappearance of sparrows from around the Indian households in recent times. All thanks to the advent of the cellphone and illegitimately high signal strength as a consequence of which the radiation levels have driven the Indian urban sparrow to the point of extinction. But, I suppose I've done my bit, the little I could, in their interest.

Onto the higher plane... I don't quite understand the Chemistry I enjoy with small creatures and why this has been ordained. I have done this in the past- twice for sparrows and once for a little squirrel and not a thought crossed my mind. But after today, I'm thinking.... of-

A sparrow's joie de vivre.
"His" mom who abandoned "him" out of despair that I took "him" away from "her". "Her" futility!
And, the futility of humaneness!


* For once, I choose to call- "the poor thing"!

Friday, June 06, 2008

And finally, giving in to blogging on IPL related matter...

Dhoni in a recent interview, on Lalu's remarks about his hairstyle, endorsements and cricket, ...

"It is important that I have got the attention of the man. I don't have anything to give him back. He is a great guy."


As the curtains came down on a good tour for his Super Kings*, GREram and I did a fairly detailed analysis of the IPL and Dhoni, in particular. Both of us distinctly observed that he seems to have the knack of getting his dark horses to perform under crunch situations. His logic behind opting for a Piyush Chawla and entrusting the final over to a Joginder Sharma or a Praveen Kumar during big matches against the Pakis and Aussies is remarkable. It is as simple and skewed as the pressure being on a Hussey to smash a Joginder out of the park for the amateur he is and his credentials' claim to the stakes! And boy, haven't his trump cards fetched him the the jackpots?! Any surprise as to how his so-called "strange" team selections, field placements and bowling changes have played on the minds of his counterparts. Interestingly, despite all the praise people are for this cool head, he actually admits to being tense during those moments but doesn't show that on the field, lest his boys' spirits flag. Got us thinking about the qualities that set apart a good captain from the pyrotechnocrat^ he is.

Most noteworthy and commendable aspect - Sportsmanship. That the Chennai Super Kings walked away with fair-play honours and a graceful huddle in defeat, testify aptly. There surely is something in this cricketer and captain's ability to deliver the goods, beyond Dada's luck, Sachin's trepidation or the fatigued Dravid's astuteness.

To the hopeless romantic (pun intended), having had a joyride on the shoulders of Kumara Sangakkara and Shaun Marsh, and who is ever so hopeful of captaining the Indian cricket team after Dhoni one fine day- dream on, buddy!


* What a lousy name! Probably has its roots in the trademark of a 43-grade India Cements cement.
^ Ne'er heard such a word. Prosaic license, fair-play policy. Swalpa adjeshtu maadi (read kindly adjust)!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The reality id est Naattupura Paattu

I watched an interesting interview recently, on the popular Tamil show Koffee with Anu. The featured guests were Dr. Pushpavanam Kuppusamy and Mrs. Anita Kuppusamy. Both of them have cast indelible impressions in the field of Nattupura Paattu. For the uninitiated this is a form of Tamil folk music that is popular in the remote and largely unknown reaches of the countryside. Characteristic to this music are the precedence of the singers' voice over the accompaniments, they use very simple ones and minimally, and the social messages that the lyric conveys subtly but with strong reference to everyday life. Given the scatterbrain I am and my imaginative ways it is probably hard to believe that I was patient enough for an hour of "folk" and "country" stuff, but a handful of things the couple had to share during the show touched me deep down and gripped me.

Dr. Kuppusamy has established himself as a top drawer artist and a true representative of Nattupura paattu. He holds a doctorate in the genre and on the professional front, performs regularly to packed audiences besides singing in films. He also writes most of his songs and given his poetic skills, he seamlessly blends what his fans like with what he likes saying. It is not as easy as I just mentioned, to blend popular folk culture with "messsage" for that seldom goes down well with the folks, and it probably requires the talent of someone like Pushpavanam to do that so effortlessly. However, life wasn't as easy as how he scripts his verses. Kuppusamy, like many others, was born in a house filled with poverty in a small Hamlet called Pushpavanam. Consequently, responsibility came about at an early age. As he emotionally recollected on the show, he would walk 28 km everyday to his school (not the one across the street) just for the sake of selling his father's produce
in the market en route for a paltry sum, but that probably meant the world to them! He so humbly complained that it would tire him down and that he would be too fatigued to concentrate on his lessons; in all probability, I'd be dead within half that distance the first time I walked! But he did this day in and day out for most of his schooling. How's that for committment, perseverance, motivation..?! I strongly believe that such underlying qualities are the seeds to assured success in life.

Anita first met Pushpavanam in the university, when he was pursuing his PhD. So accomplished she is in Tamil lexicon and the Kovai dialect that it is practically impossible to identify her as a descendant of the Chambal Valley without her actually admitting. Believe it or not, her life is an absolute thriller, as she had to flee her homeland as a kid and settle down far south when her family was attacked and her grandfather murdered by Bandit Queen and her gang. How she met him is an interesting story and as they shared with Anu, it was all about he being amazed at her Tamil and the way he used to rag her with having to recite his poetry. A few unpleasant exchanges between them over her being a last choice for his co-vocalist, and whatever has followed in their remarkably different lives is a natural consequence of placing cotton and fire side-by-side, as goes the adage in Tamil. Anita's frank admission, of how a person should accept his/her surroundings as they are warmly welcomed by the very same, of how she's learnt every possible handicraft she could for her independence, her vision of liberating women with her own self help group, and a never-say-die attitude are commendable, to say the least.

The rest of the show was by and large about their success stories and milestones in their careers, with both of them singing some of their favourite folk numbers. Each of their numbers had very simple and conspicuous messages that form the pillars of our society's ethos- fighting alcoholism, dowry, female infanticide, child marriage, the promotion of intercaste weddings to mention a few. You may find this to be a rather mundane thing on blogspot (!!!) but I think what is to be appreciated is their approach to the act itself- working at the grass roots in a small way to bring about an enormous change. That calls for no ordinary commitment for it is basically a thankless job. Moreover, they do so without compromising on any element of their music- humour, passion, emotion, poetry... It is worth mentioning that they've played their roles in providing a global presence for their art, viz., through performances at The Vatican and "jamming" with Scandinavians, who they once hosted, and identifying glaring similarities that connect between both these native music forms that are otherwise poles apart!
At the end of the day their accomplishments outshine any award that can be bestowed, and probably are the best rewards one could hope for. Ironically though, Naattupura Paattu is an ailing art with few takers today, all thanks to urbanisation.

What if- ...if I could be so blessed with even just a whit of the Kuppusamys' qualities and humility, and seek bliss?!

[Aside: I regularly follow this show, almost every week, depending on the invitees and their relevance to my interests and curiosity. If you're surprised that I do, let me just clarify by admitting that as a grad student I need to set aside time for things that are extraneous to the scope of my research- such as KWA. Nothing extraordinary that meets the eye or beyond about that show, I'd say, but I like Anu's style of chatting with her guests and getting them to open up free-form and do the talking rather than interrogate them over the irrelevant issues in their lives. Some of the most accomplished from various walks of life (including Anu herself, her bio-d has many-a-thing in it to testify that) have featured till date and I've certainly learnt a thing or two everytime. All this thankfully to the point of nearly becoming a fan of Anu and her show but not quite. I'd safely justify my stand thanks to a good friend of mine who is even more closely related to my blog and has absolutely adored her since his days of middle school! ;-) ]

KWA episodes I recommend: SPB - Gangai Amaren, Mouli - Y. G. Mahendran, Dhanush - Nayanthara, Parthiban - Padmapriya, Dr. Kamala Selvaraj, Sachu - Manorama, Prakash Raj - Prithviraj , Kushboo, Vivek - Sangeetha, Jayaram, Unnikrishnan - Pop Shalini, U. Srinivas - Sivamani, Anita Ratnam - Jayanthi Natarajan...
PS: Techsatish archives

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Speaking my mind out...

"Nice post, keep up the good work!" - perhaps the most demoralising and nauseating comment from a so-called intermediate blogger to an amateur.

For your time, effort and pain and a whole lot of nothing you've had to contribute... thank you sir, but no, thank you!