Friday, March 23, 2007

The great office robbery

All was not well in the great Deutschland. The country of Porsches, BMW’s and beer do have the species called burglars.

Friday 15th..Morning 8.00 am.

The hard working guy was still in his dreams and enjoying the sleep cuddled in thick blankets to escape the arctic cold..

Tring Tring…..Tring Tring…

aargh...Guten Morgen. (Oh …who the #%*! ??)

Other side:”Hey Mathew, This is Olaf, Some bad news for you..Our office has been broken in by burglars..and we have a few laptops missing”

Me: “*"&/&!"§*#$#"

Olaf:”well bad luck..don’t touch anything in office until the police arrives

Wow..a nice way to start a day..they could have said the sun rose from the west and I would have lest shuddered..But here it was my Laptop!!! data!!! beloved Calvin mails!!!!..

Morning 9.30 am Office.

I expected a few helicopters .some blasting sirens..atleast a dozen police cars..Men in uniform..Special squads…bomb specialist..

uh..there weren’t anyone..Just Olaf standing outside the office..

Well was this all the years of watching Hollywood movies teach me.. Were was the big precise arrival of commando's and specialist's at the crime scene..I looked up at the sky for any signs of helicopters ..ah that seagulls would have dropped straight on my face If I weren’t careful enough..

Myself and Olaf arrived at the crime scene..Our door was wide open..bloody thieves they dint even bother to close the doors while going back..
Like CSI agents we were on our own quest for finding clues..Consciously we tried to look like agents..Those serious suspecting looks..lowered the glasses to mid nose level to lend a air of stylishness..I kneeled down on one leg..Think I felt like Michael Douglas in "Basic Instinct" trying to look lethal and investigative...

hey but what should I look for..where do I get a clue from..Well Sherlock Holmes and Byomkesh Bakshi solved cases because they had lot of clues..But here I couldn’t find any..

Mid afternoon the Police came in..I was consoled by colleagues after I was bereaved of my laptop..They paid homage for the years of faithful service and unflinching love the laptop had for me..
I loved the sympathy..Suddenly I realised I should look really sad..and not the funny grin I always put up..

Wow..the effect was good..Some said..I ll get a new one..
And in melodramatic touch I told them..”I cant think of a life ahead without my beloved laptop

The outpouring sympathy made me really sad..Many offered a drink to sooth the spirits..And I graciously accepted the free drinks offer..

But crap .I could bear the lose of laptop..but the utter disrespect shown by the police..Just two grumpy old men who had a look at the room and dint bother to do any high funda search with magnifying glasses and fingerprint checks..They just came and asked me something in german for which I told them that I speak only Malayalam..

They dint even bring a dog…!!!C'mon my laptop deserved atleast that!!

Dear friends I don’t ask for sympathy..somebody please pay me up for the laptop!!! ;-P

Saturday, March 17, 2007

those summers of 89'!!

I have already written before of the good old times. But I still love writing this because it helps me go back to childhood….To enjoy the innocence I once had...An era when we survived without computers..i-pods...Mp3 players…video games…mobile phones..cable television. An era which was woefully short of choices but fulsome in satisfaction...

A chat with a friend of mine inspired me to write this post.. Both of us were sitting idle in office and we had nothing much else to do... So we just thought we will mail each other some good old memories.. And Anjali has tagged me summer memories which I thought was quite integral to my childhood memories..

When I look back at those school days I first think of those first years in school.

How I used to keep my notebooks in the bag...Appa used to cover the books with that brown paper...And I had the privilege of sticking the name stickers on top of it...Then with my Natraj Pencil I wrote my name, class and Subject… I loved smelling new books. The fresh smell of paper was a huge kick for me... And after arranging books in the bag I then open my pencil box to elaborately arrange the scale...the pencil ...the rubber (hehehe..i dint know that eraser is more civilized)..And then that short walk to the school. I don’t remember much of what I did during the walk. But then I remember running back home if I had forgotten to comb my hair.. And then that lunch breaks when we tried fast to finish the lunch to save time for the precious 20 min of afternoon football or cricket.

We shared food with friends. I remember that Shaji Ram’s lemon rice..I used to love it... Asish used to bring chocolate coated sandwiches. Soon we run to the ground and split into teams...Cricket was played with paper balls. We bought rubber bands from home to make the perfect round cricket balls...And when that odd gulf returnees kid joined school..He used to bring football. I mean the real one! The gulf kid obviously was the captain and we all vouched to be in his team so that he would allow us to play with his football. I was damn envious of gulf kid’s back then coz they had shoes with twinkling lights and unlike my Natraj pencils they had those colorful glassy ones. After that quick game we ran back to class just in time before the teacher started the attendance call My goodness we might have been smelling really bad with the sweat and mud ,but there was amazing energy in us even after the zapping mid afternoon game.. Talking about those summer beverages, when we used to get thirsty after all the struggles we ran to the tap… a huge line of 30 taps... and drank the chilly water from aruvikkara …I remember drinking gallons of water.. the best and cheapest beverage those summers.. Now when u think of having water we find it awkward to drink the tap water..for many of us we have become slaves of Bisleri and their ilk .

I can relate those days to this video which essentially summed up innocence of childhood..I love youtube for this..

And in between those periods we had the chalk throwing sessions.. …I remember my friends calling me ‘kutchu’ because there was the story we had to learn about someone who wore glasses and was still searching for it while wearing it. And unfortunately I was the only one wearing glasses in my class back then…

In the mornings we had those pledges.. ”though for the day”..and birthday announcements during school assemblies. I don’t how many of you took that enormous pride in wearing color dress on your birthday..You were allowed to choose one best friend of yours and distribute sweets in other classes..I remember we all secretly aspired to be the best friend of the birthday guy those days…it was like a recognition bestowed on you...Amazing feeling of pride..

And imagine the countless times you scratched yourself...after a game...After a gusti…and that damn painful pinch on the ears after being caught by that strict teacher.. There was this trend during those days... we guys used to be noisier in the class and most often the teacher punished all the boys by making us stand on the benches.. We used to gossip among ourselves about the teacher.. c’mon don’t think too much..!!!;-P
We just used to say that the miss indulged in “girls’ partiality”... My favourite period those days was art class. I loved drawing. The best gift I wished those days were just a box of crayons or sketch pens.. After school we just ran home and finish the homework’s as soon as possible to catch the favourite cartoons on television.. Thank god I dint have tuitions those days.. Summer vacation those days were in kottayam and changancherry and I still remember the heavenly Mango juice one of my favourite aunts made for me those times..I relished it more coz back home Appa insisted on eating papayas and watermelons which I dint particularly love... so those home made mango juice carried the extra tinge and aura of scarcity
When we reached middle school... we lost a bit of our innocence. I remember then if we guys were touched by a girl...i mean even a slight accidental brush, he would be vetoed by the guys.. He is a victim of “skin touch” and hence so he has lost his male virility...He is classified as a lesser being amongst rest of the guys who have carefully cultivated a skin touch free life..Now don’t make logic out of it...

DD in spite of being a horrible broadcaster those days bought out some simple yet meaningful messages. I loved this video which they used to telecast almost everyday..

Mid –School

Those times it was a big change…from the chunky “nikker” to trouser...from pencils to ink pens...from plastic pencil box to geometry box…from nothingness to a was acknowledgment of growing up. We began seeing for the first time the big chettans and chechis in school from close quarters... I had immense respect for the chettans and chechis…They were really tall, many of them taller than the teachers and the chettans and chechis talked to each other and didn’t care about the holy male virility values which we considered precious. .Some of them had badges and titles like school pupil leader... During those days we noticed that we guys were getting shorter and girls taller…all those hormones were working ...But then we never talked about why the change is happening…those were “chichi” talks…

Most of us went for our first school tour during 6th standard…Not to Ooty nor Kodai but museum grounds 3 km away from school...but that was enough reason to celebrate. We were allocated a princely 5 Rs to buy anything of our choice and that was dedicatedly given to the ice cream boy for the "Joy" ice creams.. Those ice creams were very much part of my summer memoirs..But i ll still vouch for the ice cream grandma used to make!!

Folks who have traveled by school bus must know how prestigious was catching the side seat in the bus.. The best seat was one closest to the driver. .Some times we booked seats in the bus by placing hankies ..

I had my first bubble gum and first sip up around that time with my own money.. I mean my own money stolen from home... One of us will collect all the money and in spite of our limited math we counted till 3 rupees 65 paisa... We would run to nearby “shanti” bakery and buy the sip ups, run back to school .hide behind the bushes to avoid the teachers or prying parents. Once all security checks are cleared we will enjoy the Sip-up and later with immense sense of guilt we go to our own little worlds…

I must admit that I saw porn quite early in life... Shankar bought the book to school.. That was a huge taboo broken... Many of us were shocked beyond words after seeing the first porn in our life... Madhuri Dixit’s photo in filmfare…That might have been beginning of the end of innocence…Looking back .those days were one helluva good time... times we aspired to behave like the older… times we were never bothered about taxes or stock prices.. times when a chocolate could sooth broken hearts..

Growing up is good.. But childhood was even better!!!

Thanks silverine for the tag and the memories retrieved from my nostalgia hard disk..

I would like to pass it on to Priya,Umesh,Cuckoo(sure i ll take ur tag soon.. ;-P),Alakananda and bvn...

1. Write 8 things you enjoyed doing during summer/summer holidays.

2. Tag some people with the happy memories!

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Dream the story and the climax..

This post is a mile long...

‘I stepped outside my car and my goodness the portico was swarming with goddamn beautiful girls. They were screaming and yelling out my name. Some had placards in their hands. My security had a tough time controlling the crowd. But that’s why they are paid for. I thought the Versace matched with my looks and stood out in the brilliant French sun. Although I expected the press to come, today it seemed that all the media had come down to report the premiere of my new movie. As usual kept posing for snaps with my buds from Los Angeles to satisfy the creeps. Hanks is a good friend of mine. He never winked when I told him to attend the premiere. The girls were shouting and getting louder. I just ignored them and kept them waiting.

These days am tired of posing for the papers. Last time for the Globes, Bellucci was complaining the same. She kept nagging me for a trip to a secret resort in the Caribbean to escape the paparazzi. But sadly it happens that I have to take care of the millions they have invested in my movies and my secretary says am packed up for the next three years. Sometimes I feel like Tony Montana and then maybe just start shooting em all…

Back outside after the dinner at Hilton I expected the crowd to go home. But they were still there. I just waved them goodbye and blew a few flying kisses to beauties out there.. ‘

I was waving them when suddenly I got a kick from Vishnu and he woke me up from my deep slumber on the bus ride back home..We had reached trivandrum.

Reality…humid summer of kerala..Three of us were driving back from Kollam to Trivandrum..Just four hours ago we were enthralling the crowds. We were the stage. We were the actors who gave life to characters. And now it was all over. I was catching sleep in the journey back home .

11th May 2003..11.00am..Sallap tea stall Near CET Trivandrum…..the dots are the blinking ones okay!! ;-P

Four buddies who had all the time in the world wanted to do something different. Each one was afraid what the other guy would think about his own urge to doing something out of the box. But then finally we decided to do something that was as outrageous as asking Bush to tap dance in front of that Iranian Prez..In a gang of friends where it is a taboo to indulge in artistic endeavors or where you can earn more respect if you can come drunk to college, we decided to represent the college for the University skit competiton..The very mention about such an idea or the audacity to nurture such a ambition was in itself a bombshell. And now you must be thinking ,whether the college was that pathetically deprived of talent that it give nobodies like us to spoil the reputation built over years..

Circumstances proved helpful for us..

Being final year students meant that any junior aspirers were clinically discouraged. It was like –‘Hey C’mon give the elders one last shot at fame.’ And then a few exams around the corner meant that the more studiously inclined waved goodbye ..And finally a skit is a team event and involves quite a lot of money…When like minded jobless duds meet together , ideas are born and we grouped ourselves into a team. I guess our team leader gave false names while nominating the team fearing that we might be rejected outright for the clean slate reputation we had in dramas..skits..etc..

But we were a confident lot. With years of experience behind us we knew we could pull off. The most experienced among us had once been to stage once when he was in kindergarten ..that too for a fancy dress competition. The crowd wasn’t huge either ..a few dozen bored kids who were forced to come that day. But neways that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t count. when you consider the experience others possessed were Zilch..

Our skit training had to be a closely kept secret.. Influential people in Arts club could jeopardize our chances of representing the college if they came to know our true identity. Although confidence was in the air we heard tales about numerous incidents were artists were thrown eggs ,chairs and expletives generously on stage or even manhandled stripped and paraded. Those eerie thoughts were quickly brushed aside…or was it..

20th May 2003 Kannakakunnu Palace .Trivandrum

We had arranged for a wannabe dramatist who would provide all training and impart acting skills to us. After bargaining with him for the fees of the entire training cum costumes to the last paisa we decided to launch the training on that particular day. We were initially taken aback by the absence of media to cover us.. Nevertheless we were in a place were lot of public janata came by… lot of tourist dropped by to see the palace..

Now a little bit about the drama. It was a folklore drama called ‘Uchadanam’(translated as ‘to drive away evil spirits’)..More or less looking like a kathakali performance than a real drama. Characters in the play were a King..3 soldiers… one starving beggar.. and the queen( was me ;-P)..The story is of no importance because here I am talking about the actors in it..

After narrating the script our guru asked us to sing aloud the songs which were in the skit and few of us had to do some kind of folk dance in rhythm with the songs.. We were all sitting in a circular courtyard in the palace grounds where many tourists drop by and relax.. The courtyard was some place were musicians..dancers ..enthralled the royalty in the old times. And now imagine 3 –4 guys who had no past experience in singing or dancing, guys whose voice are more trained to musical expletives..guys whose voice are as a good as scratching a coconut shell on a rock.. guys who doesn’t know the nuances of a graceful dance.. guys who believed that Rajanikant is the dancer of the goodness…it send a chill down our spines…That very moment we might have said quits..

But then years of studying in CET gives people amazing tholli(translated to skin)..In more civilized language guts… We sang..

‘theyyakkam theyyakkam thaaro..
theyekkam theyyakkam thaaro..’

we danced..

not salsa ..not cha cha… but really hardcore folkdance

and then there was silence. The silence of the eerie kind..

I saw that the weekend crowd had withered away quite fast. Few American tourists were watching us in amusement thinking that we were some exponents of ancient Kerala mythical music and fine arts.. Our teacher was both stirred and shaken that too without the good old martini.. We expected a roaring applause.. But then our teacher told us that we will have our further training in some remote uninhabited place henceforth to escape the wrath of the public.. So we decided to shift our training to a place in the outskirts of the city..

Then it was rigorous training for 3 weeks..1 hour of acting with 15 minutes break after every five minutes and 3 hours of bathing in the nearby puzha(river)..2 hours of drinking chayya(tea) and nibbling banana fries at nearby tea stall. .emotionally draining it was..
I watched lot of female centric movies to understand the nuances of feminine mannerism coz I was playing the queen in the drama. .lot of dancing and squirming was involved..

By the time we finished our training we were already running short of funds.. We had already sacrificed our monthly quota of movies. heavy dinners. and bird watching.

3rd June 2003

Finally the D day arrived…We did one final rehearsal at the same palace stage. On of our batch mates dropped in to watch our performance. His comments were least encouraging as he kept advising us not to take the trip to Kollam ..He told us that it was a far off place and our friends may not be able to come there in time in case we are subject to physical torture after the show. .He also collected our home numbers in case of any unfortunate eventualities. That was graceful of him. The confidence he had in our performance was amazing..

On the bus drive to Kollam we saw posters of Mohanlal(If you don’t know him I have least respect for you.. ;-P) and Mammootty on the walls along the road…..the movies…that slogans..’Superstar Lalettan veendum verunnu’(Superstar Mohanlal coming near you once more)..For a few fleeting moments we saw our faces in the posters instead of Mohanlal’s..

*Ninagalude priyaaputhran ‘Bharatchandran’(screen name you know) in and as IPS/IAS/Collector/Anti-hero/(character name) !!!!!!!!!!!!’*

3rd June 2003 Kollam SN college

We had a look at our costumes bought by our guru(we decided to call him like that till the drama was over) for the first time on reaching the location. I was decorated in assorted varieties of skirts..jewellery..lipsticks..and god knows what..Neways when it was over I looked like a yesteryear queen from ‘Alif Laila’…The three soldiers were given costumes which looked like Kathakali outfits.. the skirt kinda thing is fitted in such a way that it looked like a umbrella from waist down.. In a few hours all of us except for my bud who was to act as the beggar were dressed up. …So he asked Guru the costumes for his role.. But the ultimate shocker for all came when we were told that there wasn’t any costume for him. Moments later we saw Vinod wearing just a boxer..decorated with some leaves around his waist ..and his entire torso coated with charcoal. He was so real. I mean he looked a real beggar in that..

We were ROTFL looking at his appearance .I couldn’t imagine myself coming to stage wearing that.. Amazing tholli(if you still haven’t got means guts) he had!!!

There were around 20 colleges participating in the skit event. Most of them were private colleges , the teams heavily funded by the college management and cash rich kids. And the skits were mostly satire or humor based which means it could easily attract applause from the crowds.. Whereas ours were a folklore drama..more driven by costumes and over-acting..Seeing that most skits were cheap humor and slapstick based itself gave a relief for us.. After all we were different.. We were going to show the world what real acting is.. what real skill is.. the judges would definitely give points to the real talent..

Our skit was a brilliant display of Methodist acting ..The music captured the crowd.. The final shriek from Vinod as the pichakaran(beggar) was enthralling…When the skit was over it was pin drop silence..We thought the crowd was so much relating with the characters and they were unable to come out of the groove.. Stunned beyond expression!!!!.
On the way began to changing room we looked up at faces in the audience so that we could acknowledge them when they congratulated us.. But we never saw any expressions in the faces.

I understood why it was…I felt like saying..

‘Hey C’mon guys it was only a skit.. See touch me.. am still alive…’

After changing our dress to more civilized ones we waited for the result announcements..

Third place goes to All Saints….

*Applause from the crowd…and we too joined the applause..*

Thoughts:-‘Uh !! how such a third rate satire could win a prize’

Second place goes to..Mar Ivanios..

Hurrah…….Woooow.. that means we are the first….Finally we bring glory to our college..

My mind was preparing words to acknowledge when the first prize would be announced. We moved little closer to the crowd for the benefit of fans.. for the benefit of the media who might be covering the event..

First place goes to.. Sree..§$!*$@§

It all came shattering down very fast…err. was it a mistake by the announcer..Whom should we ask.. Till then we had decided for ourselves that the first prize was ours.. There wasn’t even anyone to comfort us.. Most of us hadn’t done anything this passionately in our life…We hadn’t even given this kind of attention for our university exams..
Broken and Penniless we pondered on our travel back home.. The final nail in the coffin was when we came to know that we didn’t have enough bucks for the travel back. .And after requesting guys from another college who were gracious enough to send their college bus for the event we piggy rode back home…The exhilaration we felt about the whole thing was too high…You could see how much sad Vinu was after the whole thing. The last time I have seen him this sorry was when Schumacher crashed out in a race.

And I then fell the dream…

‘I stepped outside the car……………’

The best part is when we went to college next day. There wasn’t any shock that we couldn’t manage a place in the awards. Who will in their normal sense expect us...!!!!Ah that was so relieving. When there aren’t any great expectations it is so easy to fall..

18th June Sallap tea stall Near CET

We sat again analyzing where we went wrong..Hey are you kidding that we gonna accept that we went wrong. We just say the world missed the brilliance we displayed that day. The world will miss the terrific actors in us. Only a few fortunate souls in SN college on that fateful err blessed day saw the masters at work. We didn’t have any photographs taken that day. Not because we couldn’t afford the photographer who came there. Because we didn’t want the moment to be frozen in a silly paper. It was a experience to live through..

It will be part of the famed Kerala folklore.. Poets will sing hymns about those brilliant young actors who set the stage on fire.. Kids will learns about them in schools …Many will feel guilty of not being able to watch their performance…

Overheard ‘another CETian who witnessed the play talking to a fellow CETian..’

“Hey ..You saw the “§$%&%& skit shown by our guys.. The audience were confused in the end whether to butcher our guys or send the chaps to rehab…The judges suffered trauma after the skit and had to give a ORS:.. The Kollam guys were irate and threatened to beat the guys to pulp…But I think finally they felt pity for those guys and left them unharmed..”

P.S. The actors have gone different places..

Vinu the soldier is thinking MBA will give him the launch pad to start milk export
Vishnu the soldier is still battling the extreme heat of Hyderabad savoring on good old past.
Moiself still believes that world has lost 4 great actors who would have given All those Jack’s and Nicholson’s a run for their money.
Vinod the beggar(sorry it is unintentional bud) got married and is imparting acting skills to his wife.