Monday, July 26, 2010

The Affair Continues...

Looks like it will be a while before I am satiated of my indulgence /my affair/ my obsession with tamil. Watched Mani Ratnam's Raavanan yesterday and with no sub titles it was hard to understand most of the dialogues- an incomplete cinematic experience as far as I am concerned. I am not sure why the movie did not get great reviews. Is it because “Raavanan” and Ragini did not ride away into the sunset in the end? I loved the movie (inspite of the incomplete experience), loved the actors, the location!! ( thanks to someone's suggestion, I actually took a bus ride down that area once. I am referring to the parts shot in Kerala), the theme, the cinematography (Santosh Sivan is da man!) and of course the music. I mean - Naan Varuven?!? Usure Poguthe?!? Kaattu Sirukki?!? Come on!! Give me a break! Talk about getting emotionally drained out! (I know I am being dramatic here but bottom line, the music is fabulous).
Of course I have also shifted my subject of hero worship to Vikram. I am a little surprised for not finding him before. I have seen Pithamagan but it’s only after Raavanan promos started appearing that I really noticed Vikram. That man is good.

On a personal front-I am tired of my current department, my Prof does not motivate me anymore and I want to move away. I also don’t have any funds to do that. Basically, I am stuck and it ain’t a great feeling. Somebody wise said (don’t know who) that for every up there is a down, in which case for every down there should be an up. That helps a bit, except that I want my roller coaster ride to be a little faster. 
Bloody dissatisfied /impatient me!

(Embedded the song Kaattu Sirukki--the shorter and slower version..the version I like)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

"Udal Mannukku Uyir Thamizhuku"

Title roughly translated "body for the land , life for tamil". As dramatic as it sounds I almost feel that least for tamil. Watched Mani Ratnam's Iruvar (for the nth time-lord knows) for the sheer joy of listening to shudha thamizh (pure tamil). No, there is no excuse for such craziness except that I have some time in hand and one is allowed to do crazy things for love, especially when you have some time in hand. In this case its the love for the language.
Now, these lines might sound a bit over the top in english but in tamil they sound exquisite..
"unnoadu naan irundha ovvoru mani thuliyum
marana padukkaiyilum marakkaadhu kanmaniyae
thonnooru nimithangal thottanaitha kaalam dhaan
ennooru aandugalaai idhayathil kalangudhadi
paarvaiyilae sila nimidam
bayathoadu sila nimidam...."

(click here to watch the video although I dont think the sub titles are correct. also happened to be two of my fav. actors)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

News From/About "Home"

I think there is nothing more uplifting than getting a mail filled with news (well, good news i.e.)from "home" or rather news about "home". A friend of mine is in India and she has been sending emails with detailed accounts of her time there. She is getting a PhD in Kutiyattam and is in my home state Kerala, receiving advanced training in dance and also learning to speak the local language, Malayalam. She is originally from Canada and like anyone visiting a new place, is fascinated by every little thing the place has to offer. Eventhough it's a personal email, parts of it are pretty interesting, shedding light on the local way of life and her experiences, some of which are quite amusing. I must say she is very perceptive too. She also uses her emails as an excuse to show off all the Malayalam she has managed to learn. I am posting some excerpts from her mail and a couple of pictures as well. Hope this will make an interesting read.
So the letter begins.....
"Namaskaaram ende kutukarenmar (= greetings my dear friends),Sukhamanoo?(=Are you fne?) Enikku sukhamannu (=I am fine) . . .There is a cockroach in my room – staring at me. I can deal with geckos and ants and even little crawly things, but cockroach . . . why?
So, I am not sure where to begin because there is so much to tell! I think my favourite new word in Malayalam is abhipryamila (no opinion). So when I am asked what I think of a kutiyattam performance or other, I can remain neutral for the time being. Although this is now becoming rather difficult. Not for me to remain neutral, but for me to get away with having no opinion. Also, I have clearly forgotten how to use utensils, or even remember their correct names, as the other day I actually said “spork and foon” – no joke. I also once said “When we get to our place of resting” instead of when we get to the rest house (hotel). Ahhh, the many languages that are swimming in my head... Mahinglish is going to become a language soon enough.
And according to our school cook , my skin is a good colour and my friend who is an American-Andra Pradesh, is too dark and she needs to have kids with skin light like mine ---that will be good. She cracks us up. I was told I needed to walk with an umbrella so I would not get darker."

"Performance Front: This is simply AWESOME. Randomly I saw a kavadi ritual procession on the road. I am not sure which festival it was, but kavadi is usually carried by Lord Murugan worshippers for good health, prosperity, luck etc. Basically, the devotee goes into trance and is pierced in different places or carries the kavadi (heavy, wooden-like structure sometimes attached to the body through piercings or pulled behind through piercing in the back). Look up Thaipusam in Kuala Lumpur to see some images. It was a small procession, but I did see many boys, no more than 15, pierced in the back, and back of the legs and hanging vertically from a crane-like structure. It was rather cool --- especially after you have studied it in class, and know the neurophysiology behind the ritual trance and piercing.
I am seeing kutiyattam regularly and new and different stories which are great! I am seeing seasoned performers as well as some of the younger generation which is also great. I saw kathakali (traditional dance-drama from Kerala, which is younger than kutiyattam, but shares some of the same elements) last week. It was beautiful and gorgeous and I could understand a lot of the mudras (hand gestures) based on kutiyattam. The gestures were bigger, more dance-like and not-as-pretty sometimes, but still the same structure. The singing was just wonderful. Kathakali is grander and more dance-like. The women are played by men --- and are NOT very attractive to say the least. There are of course many other differences, but I cannot go into all the details right now.
Pic Src: Kathakali performance: Arjuna getting ready for battle, D.Wason
I went up to Kalamandalam, the famous college of arts for the study of kathakali, kutiyattam, mohiniyattam and now other dance forms as well. I had a meeting with a friend and got to walk around and watch classes. I saw: advanced kathakali, advanced mohiniyattam, kuchipudi, bharatanatyam, kutiyattam, beginner mohiniyattam and heard many of the different drums. I almost wanted to join in the bharatanatyam class because they were doing jathiswaram. While watching the advanced mohiniyattam, I realized they were performing a thillana with the same ragam and talam as I have done before in bharatanatyam. It was really interesting to see the differences in form and movement, but with the same “music” so to speak. My dance teacher told me all the talams are the same in mohiniyattam and even the major dances are pretty much the same---just of course a very different style of dance itself.
The next day was the best of all though! AMAZING! My friend and I got a private shadow puppet performance and got to see the workshop, behind-the-scenes and 1000 year old puppets! Tolpavakoothu (leather-puppet-dance-drama) is not “dying” but being re-birthed (hopefully) as I was told by Ramachandran, the guru and puppeteer. It is the Keralan traditional shadow puppet theatre and today there are only TWO families that still know the art. The traditional story is of the Ramayana, performed over 21 days at 10 hours a day (overnight) in the temple. Now they are experimenting with tourism stories and new creation stories like Mahatma Gandhi to try to revitalize the form. We got a private viewing of one of the most famous scenes in the Ramayana and even got a blessing at the end for good prosperity, health etc. After studying and seeing Balinese and Javanese wayang kulit, this was pretty amazing to see."

Pic Src: Shadow- leather -puppet-dance-theatre, D.Wason

"A Keralan bus ride: My friend and I took busses a couple of times from Cheruthuruthy to Thrissur. So, I shall tell you my experience. In Kerala, women sit in the front and then men in the back. So immediately we were separated. Getting on at a middle stop is not good as the bus is already full and you must stand. I am too short to hold on at the top. So I hold on to bars until it is too crowded for that. Then, the other ladies are my only barrier from getting thrown around or falling. Any time the speeding bus would lurch around a corner, as it often did --- no matter how slick the roads from pouring rain--- we would all lean. I usually found myself either in someone’s front or nestled in the long, coconut-oiled tresses of another. Finally, several get out and I am now able to hold on. But no, I am too small to hold on in front of the bus, as one hard break would have me flying out the windshield. So, I was made to sit in a small 2 inch space, almost falling over. In a way it is almost better not to see during the bus ride, because you see why they stop so suddenly (for people falling off of motorcycles, autos in the way, cows, people etc). Bus ride #2 and 3 were pretty much the same. Although I have to say, Malayali women protect each other. If one is sitting, they will make sure to hold on to the small small children that get on the bus in the crowd --- even if they have no relation. They always made sure I had a place to sit, or would catch me if I lost balance. So not ideal, but not exactly horrendous either.

Some of her descrptions are pretty accurate..the obsession with fair skin, the bus rides etc..I definitely look forward to more emails from her.

(In dedication to "mallu land", embedded a cool malayalam song, Pink Floyd inspired?, OST of a tamil movie, Vinnaythaandi Varuvaayaa (yes! it is obviously possible) composed by A.R Rahman, sung by Alphons Joseph :)).

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Where art thou sweet lord?
Give me a hint......please?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

An Excitng New Find

My exciting new find. Back home, close to where I live is a lovely park established in memory of the well known Malayalam poet Changampuzha Krishnapillai.The great thing about this park is that it also serves as a venue for numerous art and cultural performances- mostly performances by local theatre groups, classical dance & music performances and sometimes talks and discussions on socio-political issues. It used to be one of my favorite places to hang out after college. This s also the place where I frst came to know of Lokadharmi, a local theatre group. I had watched one of their productions in malayalam-an adaptation of Macbeth and remember enjoyng every 90mns of it. I was so much in awe of this group, its artists and its director Chandrahassan sir. As luck or fate would have it , I got a fantastic opportunity to get to know some of its lead artists (Selvaraj, Asanthan..a few I can remb) through a street theatre workshop I attended while in college. It was an extraordinary experience for me. Lokadharani also has a childrens' wing (Mazhavillu)and I remember spending a fabulous evening at the park listenng to "nadanpattugal" (folksongs) performed by the group. Stumbling across Chandrahassan sir's blog and Lokadharmi's website brought back many lovely memories. I feel nostalgic....I feel a bit homesick.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I feel very unlucky
The Dutch lost!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

This & That

Germany vs. Spain
Germany! :(
I know its old news but the pain persists.

Another incredible discovery! Photographer Art Wolfe's web site. I am so inspired!
Also check out this beeeaauuuutiful song ("Ek hi sang hote"-roughly translated -If only we were together) from the movie Drishti. Listening to it over and over and over again in my usual obsessive way.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


Your boss/Prof says you are a workaholic. Is that a compliment? Is somebody being foolish here? *scratching head*

Cant wait for the new documentary Babies.

Monday, July 05, 2010


Frustrated annoyed discouraged irritated crazy desperate overwhelmed
Love can be such a tough emotion