The Green Coffin:Where are the trees  

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The year 2008 ends on a sad note for me. Last week, my grandmother passed away. The sad vacation came to an end yesterday. It couldn't have ended on a sadder note than with what I saw yesterday just before my trip back to Bangalore. I was travelling through the road around the University stadium in Trivandrum leading to the LMS junction. There, the avenue trees on both sides were being cut off. Those trees and the sudden coolness when we reach there been one of my long standing memories of travelling through roads in Trivandrum. All of a sudden, I could feel the hot sun beating down hard on my head. There was no coolness around. The cutting process was still going on. Its sad that in the name of road widening and development the little green pastures that are left in the city are also robbed from us. Please stop this. Development shouldn't make the God's own country end up looking like a desert.
The remaining part of the avenue trees after the merciless cutting down. Sadly, there's no before the cutting snap to show you how beautiful it was

**********The Green Coffin***********
Reminiscing about a day
when I strode along this stretch
when it was so unlike this wretch
when all around was the shade.

The green filled my eyes
Not with envy,but with pride
It was always fun to ride
On those silken boulevards.

The axes of modernity laugh hard
The tree lands with a thud
Unseen tears evaporate
Obscene wealth contaminate.

And what remains now?
Where are those green shades?
Where are those sturdy barks?
Where will you hide from the sun?

Oh!Who hears those voiceless cries?
Oh!Who will heal those unhealable wounds?

-Dedicated to the fallen trees in Trivandrum as well as all over the world. Please stop felling trees.

PS- Recently I read about a young Indian village guy who developed an idea to make paper from elephant dung. He has tried it successfully and been churning out reams and reams of writeable paper. Ideas like this can save a million trees if accepted worldwide.

PPS- Have a lot of catching up to do. Have to check mails from the past 10 days and also all your blogs.

your crusader Praveen

Goa-The land of beaches II  

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'Are you Mexicans?'
On Day 2, the alarms chimed and for the 1st time in my life, I rose up energetically at the 1st bell. Not surprisingly, the rest of them had also woken up. I guess everyone then had a silent wish for every morning to be like this. The sand from yesterday's beach sleep was still stuck in our trousers. After everyone finished their bath, the bathroom looked like a mini beach. Only the bikini gals were missing. After a quick breakfast and a hilly ride, we raced to Aguoda fort. The atmosphere was windy. The hard sun beating up on us forced us to buy those big country hats. It was a funny sight as the five of us walked along with similar hats. One guy who passed along asked us, "Can you pose for a photo?", as if we were representatives of some rare tribe. Still, we obliged him. We are not ones to miss a chance to pose. Donnow where that snap will end up. Another team of foreigners laughed at us seeing our looks. One of those guys asked, "Are you guys from Mexico?" We replied, "Yeah, yeah, we are Mexican tourists". I understood what he meant when I came back home and did a google image search for 'Mexicans'. Try it. You would understand. The Aguoda fort is a picturesque fort facing the sea, on top of a hill. Near to the fort there's Aguoda jail, where we cudn't enter because of the wrong timing of our arrival. After the fort, we spent a short time at St.Francis church. Its an imposing structure which tells stories of yesteryear grandeur.
a little gal and her father fetching water

Now it was time to eat and we had one of the heaviest lunch in recent times where the vareity of items was enough to rival the menu of a king. We proceeded to the interesting part after the lunch-the beaches. Day 2 of the beach trip started from Colva beach. But, sad to say it was a big disappointment, partly because of the time being just 3PM. After a short bath in the beach we got out bored. Yes, lack of babes and the real hot sun drove us out. Next stop was the nearby Benaulim beach. We were surprised to find one the calmest beach we ever encountered. There were only a few people there. But the serene atmosphere drove us in. A mother was making her cute kid play on the sand castle she made. The kid was kicking and rolling on it and the happy mother was busy taking snaps of those wonderful moments. Another small gal and her father were walking towards the beach. She had a small cup in which she collected water from the sea. Then they walked back. After sometime I saw this same scene again. I was left wondering where
this water was going. But it was a scene worth a million bucks.

Next stop was baga beach and I have to say it was the most lively beach we came across. The shacks near the beach were filled with music and the aroma of tasty food. After another sea bath, we got into one of the shacks and had a game of pool. The wild dancing at a nearby shack made us stop our game and go there. The singer was doing a good job with some old classics from eagles, beatles etc. He made the biggest mistake when he came to me after seeing my ACDC black T shirt. He asked me if I can sing a song. Knowing the repulsive power of my vocals and considering the fate of the audience, I politely refused. But he persisted and my friends were eager to throw me into the ring. Fed up, I decided to make them suffer. The singer promised to sing along with me. I started with the Beatles song 'she loves u'. When I saw the lyrics scrolling faster than my own singing and also the singer himself being ignorant of the song, I stopped the song. Then I switched to the crowd favorite 'summer of 69'. 'I raped the song', would be an understatement. The happless audience still gave me loud cheers and clappings. Thanks to their kindness in leaving me unhurt. After dinner, we went to the famous Anjuna beach. We planned to get into a nearby nightclub and then was disappointed to know that only couples were allowed. As we sat there dejectedly, we saw drunken gals and guys coming outside on 4 legs. We went back to baga beach and spent our time in the shakcs and beaches till about 4 AM.

During the last day, there was a small sadness hanging in the air. The thought of parting and going back to routine work were on our minds. Still we enjoyed whatever time was left in the day at the beaches. We parted with a decision to meet up the next time in our own Kerala at Wayanad and Alappuzha. Hope it happens soon.

You can view the complete collection of snaps here. Some more to be added soon-
Click On
Goa-The land of beaches

PS-Going home morrow for a long vacation of 10 days. Will miss many of your blogs.

your crusader Praveen

Goa-The land of beaches  

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Konkan rocks

Its been a trip which was on the planning phase for the last couple of months. More than 10 of our old collegemates were supposed to make it to Goa last Saturday. But in the end, the number reduced to just 5, with family and work commitments taking care of the rest of them. Later we were to realise that fate could only reduce the numbers not our collective energy or enjoyment. It all started for me and my friend Praveen(yeah, he shares my name) from KR Puram station on Friday evening. The Madras-Vasco express was anything but an express. It was so slow that while it is running at full speed, one could start running from behind it and overtake it in 10 minutes flat. Coupled with that it was stopping for long intervals at every other station. The journey started on an unpleasant note with a particularly violent Hijra attack. As you all know, Hijras are a common feature in trains here. The way they demand money is disgusting and I made sure that I wont pay this time. We had to dodge 3-4 slap attempts in true matrix style. The hijra began abusing us and began pushing. I was not in a mood to relent. So I opened my own abuse dictionary and hurled out something too. Atlast the unthinkable happened. I saw the Hijra pulling up his/her clothes. We turned away. Thank God, it was pulled down in a minute saving further embarrasment. Atlast I pushed her/him away. I really wonder why these people bring a bad name to themselves with such actions. Everyone says society is treating them badly. But, isn't there fault on their side too? At the same time, there was a guy who was cleaning the trains floors just with his own shirt and being content with whatever the passengers gave him. He really commanded some respect.
Getting ready for the blast

Jeetenge Hum

The trip through the Konkan was breathtaking. All around you could see lush green mountains. The sight of the train winding through the hills is one to behold. The dudhsagar waterfall is another breathtaking sighting in the way. Not to forget those innumerable tunnels. The tunnels sometimes scares me when I think about that comic scene in the movie 'Eurotrip'. And atlast after a long journey we reached Goa around noon on Saturday. The rest 3 had already reached our hotel in Mapusa-Ajith from Rajsathan, Muthu from Hyderabad and Cipi from Mumbai. We 5 stayed in a single room(never really stayed...hehhehe). Cipi had arranged for a car and so we had no problems in moving around. The first stop was at Calangute beach. It was way better than what I say 3 years back, during an off season. The christmas-new year cheer was evident all around Goa with foreigners being spotted at very corner of every street. The bikini quotient and glamour quotient had also gone up considerably. A speciality of Calangute beach is that its having a uniform depth for a pretty long distance from the shore. That makes swimming and wading through the water easier. For that matter, almost every beach in Goa is like that. After swimming, it was time for some serious binging. We got into a hotel and found to our surprise that we were the only Indians among those seated there. And in true Indian style, we came with a lotta noise, ate royally with our hands and laughed at those doing that circus with fork and spoon. In between I made an ass of myself by going into the ladies toilet. When I came out, one British lady asked me 'don't u have eyes?' I didn't understand it until I came back to wash my hands after eating, when I saw those signs on the toilet doors.

After dinner, we had a game of pool. I proved my lack of talent in yet another sport. Still it was pure fun. Then we strode on to the beach and lied down there. Its one of those small pleasures of life, lying on the sands and peering at a starry sky. We searched for constellations and came up with our own weird formations which would put any scientist to shame. We lied down there for a pretty long time. After some sneak peeks at some small dance parties, we reached our hotel in the wee hours of the morning. That was the end of Day one.

To be concluded in next post..

PS-Picasa page with the pics will be up soon

Bushoes & Should terrorists be defended?  

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Bushoes n - A pair of shoes used for throwing at a notorious personality
Bushoesed v- a situation were unknown people throw shoes at you. This applies only if you are a notorious/famous personality.
Bushoese v- the act of throwing shoes at a notorious/famous personality
- latest words added to Praveen's concise dictionary(source-yours truly himself)

Just got back from the short vacation in Goa. After 3 days of no news, no newspapers and missing that Sachin ton, I was happy to get my hands on the newspaper today. I was happy today because of the George Bush shoe throwing incident. The video made me laugh no end. The Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi is now a real hero. 3 salutes to his bravery. My only sadness is that both the shoes missed hitting his face. Credit should be given to Bush's quick reflexes. Maybe he been practising this move for a long time expecting such backlashes after what he has done to the world. There are questions being asked like 'would he have done the same to Saddam?' To those who ask that, I have only this to say, 'Enjoy the moment and don't think too much'. But, there are reports of this guy being given some serious torture by the authorities. Hope he comes out alive. At the same time, in a matter of one day a newly launched game based on this incident is becoming a rage on the net. You can aim and throw shoes at George Bush. Go to Make sure he doesn't get away this time.

Should terrorists be defended?
I also read a news about Shiv sena activists ransacking the house of Mahesh Deshmukh, a lawyer who agreed to defend Mumbai attack terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Amin Kasab. Its an attack which should be condemned with the highest words and also with some hard punishments. But, what made me think more regarding this is another matter. The matter of providing a defense lawyer to guys like Kasab who are proven terrorists with not even an inch of doubt. This question is perplexing me no end-why should we provide a chance for explaining themselves to terrorists like him? Its understandable if the Govt is providing a lawyer in cases which are doubtful. But here we have guy who was shot at and was caught while doing the act. Why should we give him a chance to defend himself. There maybe a law in the country that every person who's caught should be given a chance to defend himself. But should we always follow it diligently? Can't we make excpetions atleast in such serious cases? Laws are meant to protect innocents and punish criminals, not to protect criminals. Who wants this farce called a 'fair trial' to be given to such cruel monsters as Kasab? Another famous lawyer Harish Salve who had yesterday termed Kasab as a prisoner of war. I wonder how such eminent personalities can be so stupid at times. Its also a shame that there are lawyers like Desmukh who are ready to defend enemies of our country.

My humble suggestion is this(Warning:This may sound disgusting. But I can't help it because this is just the way I think)- Extract all possible information from Kasab by using all techniques ranging from hypnotizing to heavy torture. Once we are sure that there's nothing more to be got from him, lets start with the punishment. Cut off his hands, legs and ears. Pierce one of his eyes. Cut off his tongue. Then treat him well so as to keep him alive. Then put him in a solitary cell with a small light source to rot for the rest of his life. He should be kept alive gy all means. All terrorists should be given similar punishments. At the same time, shoot the video of the above activity and mail it to all the pseudo human rights activists with a title-'Eat this'. Yes, I can be too disgusting at times.

PS- Post on the Goa trip and pics will be up within some days. Will reply to your comments on my previous posts soon.

your crusader Praveen

The Shining  

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********the shining************
The veil is gone
the pain is down
sown are the seeds
of a new life.

black been the colour
of my world till now
white is the heart of the man
who gave this glow.

finding my way home
with sure steps
my eyes do roam
for some starry gaze.

the ways of the world
wicked at best
fed before my eyes
like a showreel burst.

the sounds felt better
in my bygone dark era.
the scenes too much to bear,
in this colourful cursed world.

filled with envy
for that blind old man.
feasting on life,
like what I did yesterday.

I got this yesterday when I wrote things in my old hard disk of my home computer into some dvds. First time I looked at this, I was wondering whether I wrote this because I was not even getting an idea of what the hell these lines are all about. Then I gave it another reading yesterday evening. That was when it struck me that afterall it was me only who wrote this. This is about a man who he's seeing the world for the first time after he got his eyesight, thanks to a man who had donated his eyes before his death. The sights that he get to see in this bad mad world makes him think that life was better without eyes.

I guess this went to the band's dustbin. Maybe, that's why even I forgot about this.

photo courtesy-

PS- Heading to Goa morrow. Old collegemates will touch down there from different parts of the country. Its gonna be a jolly good weekend. It already had a good start today with 'Dasvidaniya'. Had some tears on my eyes after watching that. Wish you all a happy weekend. See you on Tuesday.

No poverty, No opinion?  

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Its been an opinion which is gaining quite a few takers in recent times. The opinion in question is this-"If you have never known poverty and if you are one of those sitting in an AC room, you are not supposed to voice your opinion." Yes, its an opinion about opinion. I've received some mails and comments calling me an 'arm chair critic', 'moron voicing his opinion from a locked room', 'pseudo intellectual from an AC room' etc. (There are some more which are not appropriate to type out here) Sadly for them, am not any of these. Am just a common guy voicing my thoughts on what is going on around me. And these kind of words just don't have any effect on me. All I can say is 'Keep 'em coming, I don't care'.

The basis of this 'opinion of the non-poverty group doesn't matter' philosophy is a simple one- being born without poverty is a crime. If you have a job in a company, that makes matters worse. You are supposed to seal your lips with a cellophane tape. With the above credentials(a job and absence of poverty), try voicing your opinion on some matter related to India. Chances are high that you'll be dismissed as a'pseudo patriot'. 

May I ask these enlightened souls this- 'What has your social status or bank balance or the amount of food in your plate, got to do with your opinion? Don't people who are free from poverty have the freedom to voice their opinion? Is it someone's fault that they are not born poor?' Your opinion depends on the state of your mind only. A poor kid's opinion on some matter wont change much even if one day he reaches a position where he has a big belly. Please flush out that idea co-relating right to opinion with matters such as food and poverty.  Imagine a country where there are no poor people. Won't that end up as a country without any opinion at all?

PS- This is not directed at any particular individual. This is just what I been observing for a long time at several places.

Pick This Flick 10- Sadayam  

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Mohanlal, an actor of unparalleled brilliance in world cinema. We all have our own favourite roles of this man. And his roles in films like Kireedom, Bharatham, Chitram etc will be in most of those lists. But, there is one film which doesn't find mention as often as it deserves-Sadayam. After years of watching Mohanlal and most of his movies(don't count the trash he's acting in off-late), his performance in the movie Sadayam has remained a top favourite of mine.

Directed by Sibi Malayail, Sadayam is a deeply disturbing film. It starts off with the sounding of a verdict on a high profile case of a man killing 4 people including 2 minors. He's sentenced to be hanged till death. The convict, played by Mohanlal is taken to the central jail. For the first 20 minutes of the movie, he doesn't speak a word. But he conveys a hell lot with just his expressions alone. With just a tilt of his head or a deep look with his eyes, he speaks a thousand words. You will get confused on what he's really thinking inside, the brutal happiness of a seasoned killer or repentance of having committed a crime. And this is at the start of the movie, when you don't know the nature of the crime he did or the situation in which he committed it.

caution-small spoiler alert...but this wont spoil the movie experience..
Mohanlal plays Satyanath, an orphan who is a very good painter. Nedumudi Venu, his care taker lands him a job with a small advertising company. In his locality, 2 prostitutes are also staying. He's concerned about the 2 little girls and their elder sister staying along with their prostitute aunts. He helps the kids in their education and also helps the elder sister to land a job in the company in which he's working. But circumstances forces this girl to end up as a prostitute. Satyanath kills both the guys responsible for her state. Then he proceeds to kill the 2 little girls also, possibly to save them from prostitution.
spoiler over

The story by M.T.Vasudevan Nair is depressing, but its a refreshing change. Same goes with the eerie background score by Johnson. But what really catapults this movie to the league of a classic is Mohanlal's incomparable acting in the scene were he kills the girls. I still rememeber watching this scene some years back, when I was in school. The expressions that comes on his face and that controlled dialogue delivery team up to give you a scary experience. The way he moves that pointed blood stained knife over an unfinished canvas and the slightly smiling face that he puts up is enough to shock you. He just blazes through this role like an epitome of acting perfection. Am sure, no other actor would've done justice to this role, in the way Lal has done. Don't see this as the ramblings of a blind fan. You wont believe it until you see it.

Another actor who makes this film worthier is Thilakan, playing the role of a doctor who comes to check the health of Mohanlal in jail. He opts for the post to oversee the proceedings of Satyanath's death sentence. He finds this as a way to avenge his son's death(one of Satyanath's 4 victims and the reason for the girl becoming a prostitute). During the first half, he's picturised as a ruthless cruel man who is hell bent on seeing his enemy's blood. But during the second half, when he learns the actual truth of why Satyanath killed his son, a big transformation happens in him. He wants to save Satyanath somehow. Thilakan has portrayed these different shades brilliantly.

Altogether, this is one movie which should be on the 'must see' lists of any serious malayalam movie buff. If you want to see what acting perfection means, then you dare n't miss this.

your crusader Praveen

Jason Becker:Defeating paralysis  

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It was the world disability day yesterday. And there was this program in my company where we had people with various disabilities performing songs, dances and dramas. I was amazed at the spirit of this people who didn't even give a care to their disabilities. There was one hearing impaired dancer, who danced perfectly to the tunes of Rahman's "Dheem tara". He just had to get a signal from one of his friends to indicate the start of the music. Then, there was a group dance by a team comprising of normal as well as disabled people. And not once could we find out who was the disabled one among the lot.

a young Jason, before tragedy struck

This brings me to the case of one man who has inspired me like no other. His name is Jason Becker, a 39 year old American guitarist. You may ask, now whats the big deal! Brace yourself. This is real big deal. He became a guitarist par excellence at the tender age of 13. He started his rock guitaring career as a partner of the great old megadeth lead man Marty Friedman. They started a band called 'cacophony' with limited success. But, the world came to know of the untamed brilliance of young Jason. At this time, he also played with another band too. Coupled with that, his solo career was starting to bloom. Around that time, he began feeling a little powerless. He could feel his body giving in sometimes and he had to get a remodified guitar to adjust with this condition. Still, he completed his debut album. Then the unthinkable happened. He was diagonised with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the same motor neuron disease which affected the brilliant physicist Stephen Hawking. He was paralysed and his future dreams with his guitar were shattered. Soon he lost his ability to speak and doctors gave him 3 more years to live.
the smile that defeated paralysis

Till this the story is normal like many others. Its in how he dealt with this tragedy that makes Jason Becker stand out as one of the greatest examples of the triumph of human spirit. At the start he could slightly move his head. And his friend developed a technique by which the movement of his head could be translated as notes into a system controlled by a computer. Its amazing that he created big musical pieces note by note perfectly just from his memory. As the condition worsened he was left in a state where he could move just his eyes. Still he and his family was not ready to give up. His father came up with an idea to convert the movement of his eyes into each letter of the english alphabet. With this, Jason continues to communicate with others as well as compose music. Yes, composing music just with his eyes, the only part left in his body which he can move freely. In his documentary, you can always see a faint smile on his face. It takes courage and an undying spirit to smile like that in the face of adversity. And it is these very own qualities, which still keeps him alive, 15 long years after the death date set by his doctors.

Its when we see things like this that we realise how much we are under utilising our potential. I saw this documentary about 3 years back. Even now, when I get ill and think that I can't do anything, this man's story come to my mind. Don't we all have that feeling of 'Its not possible' whenever we are faced with a slight obstacle. In those moments think about this man. It can really make a difference.

The Jason Becker Documentary-Must see

PS- Jason Becker has said in an interview that the Indian yogi Paramahamsa Yogananda's 'Autobiography of a Yogi' has inspired him a lot during this tragedy. Thats how I read this amazing book. Though there are some incidents which are hard to believe in the book, its worth a read.

PPS-Leaving home for a short visit of 2 days to attend a marriage. Wish you all a happy weekend.

your crusader Praveen

The Value of money  

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It was the 20th of this month and I had just 600 rupees in my hand, to spend for the rest of the month. No, It was not a result of some hi-fi spending spree. I had some investment commintments for which I didn't plan out well last month. I was thinking of various possible ways in which I can survive the rest of the month. Thats when, someone send me one of the best forwards I got in recent times. Its a simple video titled "Value of 500 rupees". A select set of people from almost all strata of the soceity is asked one simple question "If I give you 500 bucks, how will you spend it?" You can see the common answers from the Gen-X crowd-Movies, booze, smoke, party. And then there are the downtrodden, the unprivileged class. A lady tells she'll spend it on education for her children and rest she'll save for future. In the next frame you see a man uttering "You can do nothing with 500 rupees". And then a poor kid says "I can take care of our home's expenses, clothes, food etc". See, how perceptions vary. And see, how we take things for granted. We have even someone saying he'll go for a branded underwear. The video ends with a masterclass statement "The price of someone's haircut=The price of someone else's school fees". It says poverty forces 70% of India's children to drop out of school before the secondary level. Aren't we lucky to be among that 30%. Still, why we crib? why we find fault in everything even after life being so kind to us?

This video inspired me no end and gave me the belief that I could safely survive the remaining 10 days of the month with 600 rupees. I realised how much money I wud've wasted if I had more on my hand. Now as I write this on the 27th of Nov, I have 180 rupees left with me, more than enough for me to survive this month. Who said forwards are a waste of time? I just learned a big lesson in life with the help of one.

PS-Wrote this just before the terrorists went on rampage in Mumbai. Was not in a mood to post this for the last 2 days. And yes, as I received my salary yesterday, I still had 40 rupees left with me.

Now tell me friends, what will you do if you get 500 rupees?

Mumbai Meri Jaan: Terrorism Unleashed  

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Lets play politics
Lets play the blame game
Lets spend time in classifying Hindu and Muslim terrorists
Lets fight our neighbouring states
Lets stand for our Manoos
Lets fight for the in'human' terrorist's 'human' rights
Lets cry foul against the army
Lets call the brave, dead policeman a 'fake encounter specialist'
Lets be hungry for more 'breaking' news
Lets cry and crib as they strike
Lets condemn and then give a damn
Lets be proud that we are 'soft' on our enemies
Lets forget it at all the next day hailing it as the 'spirit'
Lets be responsible journalists giving tips to terrorists
Lets play the politics foul
Lets let the terrorists rule
Lets keep the public fools
Lets close our eyes to the teary pools.

Another day. Another terrorist attack. They've now come in a new avatar. Showing their faces and telling us, "We are not afraid of you". To think that these guys just came coolly in a boat, alighted at the gateway of India and strode through the busy roads before the attack just shock me. Its an irony that the Gateway of India ended up as a gateway for these bloody terrorists. Tomorrow it can happen in my own backyard. The last few days the media as well as the government was focussing on the homegrown terrorists. Political parties were vying with each other to brand them as Hindu and muslim terrorists. Now, today, we saw the faces of terrorism. Who the hell cares if he's a Hindu or Muslim, who the hell cares if he targeted a hindu or muslim. We only know they are inhuman and those who are targeted are mere humans, not the face of any religion.
As I type this, the ordeal in Mumbai's Taj hotel, Nariman house and Oberoi hotel are not yet over. There are explosions being reported every other minute from one of these places. We already have lost some of our finest cops like ATS chief Hemant Karkare, encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar and additional commissioner Ashok Kamte. More than 100 other innocent lives were lost. The sight of the terrorists(am trying hard to keep out the obscene words that are coming to my mouth now) hijacking a police van and driving around terrorizing the maximum city was shocking to say the least. I wonder how these people could carry out this attack so precisely without the intelligence agencies ever getting a clue about this. The amount of the ammunition they possess is just unimaginable. They underlined their lack of humanity with that attack on the hospital.
My heart goes out to the brave men who laid down their lives in defending our nation. Now I really do hope our hallowed 'human rights' activists dont call them fake encounters like they did after the death of Inspector Sharma in the Batla house encounter. Please don't talk again on behalf of the men who took the life of our own brothers and sisters. And atleast give some respect to the men who defend us. My prayers goes out to the families of the 100 human lives which were taken out by these barbarians. Atleast now, yes, atleast now, the Government should show the balls to strike out hard and kill off the terrorists without the farce called a 'fair trail'. Only the fair deserve fairness. The cleaning up has to start now and if some special people taking the high moral ground tries to disrupt this cleansing, we have to wipe them off too. Lets stop being soft. Who cares for the useless "we are a peaceful nation" tag when we have our citizens dying everyday on the road? Burn the tag, stop condemning and do the damn thing.

PS- Where is the caretaker of Mumbai ,Raj thackerey today? Does he and his men act only when people speak hindi in Mumbai? Wont they raise their swords even if 100 Mumbaikars are killed? Where is the 'son of a regionalistic barbarian'? Hiding under his bed? Shivsainiks and MNS guys, if ever one of you happen to read this, this question is for you- why don't you guys just go and hang yourself? Now, you have no right to talk of Mumbai or Mumbaikars.


your crusader Praveen

Free Spirited and Independent blogger award  

Posted by Praveen in ,

Oh God! Another award. This time "Free Spirited and Independent" blogger award presented to me by the ever brilliant english teacher and plogger(poet blogger, a word I coined just now:D ), Usha Pisharody. Thanks a lot for considering me for this prestigious award.
And as with all other awards am supposed to give it to my own favourites. Am giving it to the same set of people to whom I gave the brilliant blogger award and butterfly award earlier. Congo Rats to the winners!

your crusader Praveen

Strawberry Fields-Fields of Sound  

Posted by Praveen in , ,

Sunday afternoon, I was in a dilemma. The cricket match was going on in TV and the finals of strawberry fields rock fest was to start in a couple of hours. Then, Sachin got out and my last reason to watch the match was also gone. And so I headed straight to National Law School(NLS), Nagarbhavi more than 25 km from my place. I reached there in a breeze, slightly drenched ofcourse. I was surprised to see a college amidst lush greenery. The venue of the fest was still down the road. Honestly it looked like a big clearance in the middle of a forest. It was completely different from the image of the famed strawberry fields that I had formed in my mind. I could hear Pentagram's songs from outside itself. I walked straight in. Thats when the security guys stopped me for some frisking. I emptied all my pockets. And lo! there is a suspicious item. A vicks inhaler key chain that I attached to my house key. They insisted that this cant be allowed inside. Yes, they suspected that I was a drug addict carrying 'the stuff' in an inhaler. I asked one of the guys to just smell and check it. I could see a frightened "No way" look. Then, another brave guy came in, smelled it at an arm's length and confirmed that am clean. The guy who checked me said "sorry mate" with a smile. Well, I did really enjoy that incident.

Once inside, I saw Vishal Dadlani & Co. from Pentagram doing the sound check. There were only a handful of guys at the grounds then. We were treated to 'its electric', 'rock n roll' etc. After that, it was a long excruciating wait for the real show as all the competing bands proceeded with their sound check. I was also waiting for my friends to arrive. This was the 3rd and final day of the 12th edition of 'Strawberry Fields'. The first 2 days had close to 50 bands from all over India playing all day long. 5 bands came out on top. The judging for the prelims was said to be a farce with deserving bands like 'Inner Sanctum' losing out. And this allegation did have some truth as evident from the quality of some of the qualified bands. The concert started 1 hour late at 6 'O' Clock. The first band up was 'Blood and Iron'. Only the drummer Manu was the saving grace of this band. He was at his beastly best behind the not so pretty kit. One song into their show, there was a heavy outpour and half the crowd ran for cover. The rest were seen dancing and headbanging in the rain. Next up was Mumbai band 'Rosemary'. Hearing the name being announced me and my friends looked each other wondering 'what the hell that was?'. But, names do deceive. This band did kick some serious ass with their Nirvana-esque originals. Their sound did really stand out in the evening. Besides their originals, there was a great cover of the Beatles's classic 'Come together'. The audience did come together in singing along the lyrics.
Greyshack-My fav band of the evening

After this fabulous show came in 'Metal Messiah', another bunch of rockers from Mumbai. The guitarists's hairdo was weirdo at best. Another band whose name deceived us. I was wondering how these guys made it to the finals. They had little or no lyrics from what I could make out. The vocals reminded me of a 'seldom biting barking dog'. We spent this unexpected spare time at the 'Rolling stone' magazine stall, where I bought an old issue that I had missed. By that time, the Bangalore band 'Chilli Potato' had taken centrestage. Another band which failed to impress. So we headed to the food stall searching for something to eat, something better than 'chilli potato'. They played a cover of Kannada superstar Rajkumar's classic english song 'If you come today'. The original one was atleast funny but surprisingly this one got some support from the crowd. So, it was time for the last band 'Greyshack'. A bunch of guys sans the metalhead look strode in. The vocalist had the crowd in his pockets from the word go. The guy's energy was infectious and soon the whole crowd joined in jumping and singing. Their original songs were a treat as was the medley of 'beatles' covers like 'Day tripper' and 'Hey Jude'.
Its electric-Pentagram

So, it was time for the big acts of the day to take stage. First up was 'extramentals' from Chennai. They took a long time to set things up. And when it started it was pure mental torture with a girl crooning like pop singers britney, aguilera etc. But the crowd was supporting her just because she made some sexy moves up front. I felt pity for those guitarists and the drummer for having teamed up with this girl. Later, I came to know that this girl was none other than Kamal Haasan's daughter Shruthi Haasan. I just thought of the rave reviews she got in 'rolling stone' mag and other newspapers. I wonder whats the special talent all of them saw in her. So, after being given that extra torture to our whole mental setup, we were craving for 'Pentagram'. But sadly due to some technical glitch, their electronica set couldn't be unleashed yesterday. So, it was Pentagram minus all the loops, stripped down to the basics. So, all of us waiting for the electronica laden 'Its electric' and 'Animal' were a little disappointed. But once the show started it was pure ecstasy. Vishal was attitude personified not letting the technical errors mar the show. There was this sing along thing he came up with "There's no party like the Bangalore party....". About 6 songs into their concert, the police came to play spoilsport. They asked to stop the show at the time was past 10 30. Still, Pentagram sang one more song, the classic anti-reservation anthem 'voice'. It turned out to be a song fitting the moment with lines like 'There are words that must be said, there are words that must be heard....I need a voice now' turning out to be a voice against the negative spirit of the policemen. Once the song was over, the crowd was crying for more but they had to bid goodbye because of the men in khaki. An image that came to my then was of a whole army of policemen watching last week's violence at Chennai law college with hands tied up. Its a pity that they raise their voice and lathis at the wrong place almost all the time.
I need a voice now...Pentagram

The winners pf the competition were announced in the end. Thankfully, the judges picked the best of the evening unlike the prelims. 'Rosemary' walked away with the prize for the best band although I think 'Greyshack' deserved it more. The individual awards were also shared by these 2 bands. Altogether, Strawberry Fields 2008 was a nice experience, though I really expected 'Motherjane' to make an appearance considering the fact that their new song 'Fields of sound' is a tribute to this very festival. This is the place from where India's biggest bands like Motherjane, Junkyard Groove etc began their quest for glory. This indeed is a special festival.

your crusader Praveen

Butterfly Award  

Posted by Praveen in ,

I've been conferred with an award- The Butterfly Award for the coolest blogger by Richa as well as Kartz. Thanks a lot to both of you. Its a pleasant surprise and also gave me something to fill up in the blog at this time of a bad writer's block.

I've to pass this award on to my favourite bloggers. Now the rules for passing on this award are:

1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3. Link the bloggers whom you wanted to share this award to.

I would like to give this award to all those whom I had previously given the Brilliant blog award.
To that list I would like to add some more names.

1. Usha Pisharody- The english teacher who's making waves in blogosphere with her amazing poetry. And recently she has started writing prose in a separate blog too. More than that she helps me a lot in proof reading my blog and pointing out the mistakes.

2. Chriz- The chronic writer as well as the chronic comedian. He enthralled us all with his awesome witticism. Be it his Marilyn Monroe act or his videos featuring those kids, he has never ceased to entertain.

3. Aayushi- Writings of real depth coming from a young heart.

4. The Army Guy- A really different blogger out there. A battle hardened army guy with his take on life in the battlefield. I wouldn't miss this for even a bullet.

5. Tara - A budding photographer and future film maker.

6. PJ - This is not your normal PJ. This is Priya Joyce, who always brings a smile to everyone's face with some cute real life experiences.

7. Sashu- A blog I started to read quite recently. Checkout some shockingly good poems as well as writeups on both her blogs.

8. Nivedita- Started reading this blog just 2 days back. And the first one I read 'Consistency, thy name is woman', had me hooked that I went on to read some of her old posts also. A really good one there.

Thats enough for now. Congrats to all winners

your crusader Praveen

Pick This Flick 9- Home Run  

Posted by Praveen in ,

Its not often that u get to see films as sweet and simple as the Singaporean film 'Homerun'. The film is in chinese language. Its an adaptation of Majid Majidi's Iranian classic 'Children of Heaven'. Am still in search of the Majidi original. Most of the critics have not given a favourable review for 'Homerun'. Its because of the simple fact that its compared to the original. The story revolves around a brother and sister, their shoes and their friends.

Chew Kiat Kun(Shawn Lee) takes his sister Seow Fang's(Megan Zheng) shoes to repair but he loses it. They keep it a secret as their family is suffering from poverty and there's no money to buy new shoes. She can't go to school without wearing shoes. To get around this problem, they devise a plan. She'll wear his shoes to school in the morning and then run back home in the afternoon, when he can wear it and go to school. Kun's shoes are too big for Seow. She has a hard time in school wearing it and then running back home. This also creates problems for Kun as he's late at school. At school, Kun and his friends get football shoes in exchange for doing homework to their wealthy mate Beng soon and his friends. But, because of some petty quarrels, they split and there are no more shoes to play football. Once Kun and Seow find out their shoes in the legs of one of her classmate. But when they find out that her father is a poor blind man, they decide not to ask for the shoes. Its at this bleak juncture that a Primary school cross country competition is announced. And the third prize is a pair of shoes. AM stopping the story here. See the little that is left for yourself.

'Homerun' is a touching account of sibling love, friendship and poverty. The scenes between the brother and sister are just too cute. Seeing it, I wished I had such a sweet adorable little sister. One funny thing I noticed was the headmaster who was played by a Keralite. I found this out from his looks and that unmistakable malayali accent. Am still wondering how this guy ended up in this film. His name is listed in IMDB as Sivaji Raja. Coming to the direction, though Jack Neo has overdid the emotion part in some of the scenes, you won't feel it that way most of the times mainly because of the kids. The scenes involving Kun and his friends are just fabulous and make you wanna go back to school. The last dialogue from Beng soon to Kun is my fav- "I never knew what it is like without a shoe." Guys, try to get the original 'Children of heaven'. If you are unsuccessful, go for this. And if anybody has the original, please do let me know.

PS- 'Children of Heaven' is being remade in Hindi with our own TZP wunderkid Darsheel Safary. The role of his sister is still not filled up. [Cute little girls out here can apply] Am waiting to watch this movie.

your crusader Praveen

The Elysian fields-IV  

Posted by Praveen in ,

Read Parts I, II, III, if you haven't already

Part IV-The end

After 7 months...

Am still looking at that portrait of Jay on the wall. A train of thoughts had taken me 20 years back in time. I realise it was a life in which the unpleasant things weighed a little bit more than the pleasant ones. And the final nail on that was hit today evening when I saw the news on the TV that Sammy had brought in last year. It showed images of the dead bodies of 3 young men covered with a white cloth. I went numb when a photo of the 3rd man was displayed. I was too shocked to scream out. I dont know how long I stood there staring at the screen. I heard the news anchor uttering words like 'educated','terrorist' etc and in between a name called 'Sam' too. Thats when I realised that the word 'service' meant something different to him. I began thinking on where it all went wrong. A little boy who was proud of his father and his country wouldn't get transformed into a cold-blooded criminal overnight. Its not possible to wipe away all that feeling of nationalism in one single moment. I somehow felt that I had failed as a mother and as a citizen of this country.

Having seen many such images in recent times, I was almost sure my son had ended up in a place where he was least expected. Then itself I made the decision to disown him. I didn't want a terrorist's body to be buried in the same land where Jay was laid to rest. I was more angry than sad. If I had one more chance to see Sam, I would've asked him the question, "Why?". At this moment, all my affection for my little Sammy vanished without a trace. I cursed myself for having borne him in my stomach for 9 months and for being his mother for 25 long years. I hanged my head in shame at having played a part in letting down my motherland, for which my beloved Jay had laid down his life. He might be watching from heavens and wondering if he's slipping into illusions even there. Still, even after all this, I would be lying if I said I didn't have even a bit of sadness. Which mother can hate her son with all her heart, whatever be the intensity of the crime he has done?

The next morning, I was startled by the sound of the gate opening. I saw a long line of school kids streaming in, all of them familiar to me from Sam's tuition class. They all had roses in hand. Two of them held a banner which read "We salute you, Sam". I was confused. Why would they hail a terrorist like that or are they just showing their love for their teacher? Thats when I saw the newspaper lying there at my doorstep. The headline read..

"Students storm terrorrist's lair"- '3 art students carried out an attack on a secret camp of terrorists near Anantnag in Kashmir. About 14 terrorists were killed in the attack carried out with grenades and country pistols. In the process, the 3 of them ended up losing their lives. The amateurishness of the attack signifies the fact that this is a sign of common men taking it upon themselves to do a clean up act rather than expect the Government to do something about the growing incidents of terrorism. This incident has struck a chord with lots of youngsters, raising a possibility of more such incidents....."

Before I knew how to react, I saw the kids placing the red rose flowers in front of the tuition room just to the left of our house. I saw tears in some of their eyes and a sense of respect in some others. I cursed myself again for all those thoughts of disowning Sam. How could I, in a fit of confusion and without knowing the facts, brand my Sammy a terrorist? How could I think that of my child who used to say proudly "My father is a soldier. He protects our nation." Why didn't I even give a second thought? As questions started piling up in my mind, a crowd was building up outside our home. As I sat there, I was reminded of that day 20 years back, when we waited for that ambulance. Then, I had little Sammy to fall back on. He was the hope which kept me alive all these years. Now, I have no one to wipe my tears. And I don't have to wipe anyone's tears too. I just have to wipe the dust from two portraits instead of one. They say, 'Every father is a hero to his son'. Jay was more than a hero to his son. When he died, a part of his soul stayed back inside Sam, without leaving earth. Through him, Jay fought on and also kept me company.

I was confused whether my life is a blessing or a curse. A blessing for having a husband and son who sacrificed their lives for the country. A curse for having to live a lonely life after the premature death of my husand and son. But, whatever be the case, I decided then and there to live on rather than to succumb to the lure of a suicide. Jay and Sam will never forgive me if I surrender my life so meekly. I will live on to see more Jays and Sams doing selfless service to their country. I will live on to keep their memories alive. I will live on to tell others "Never quit living". And I'll live on to tell the story of my husband and my son...A father and son who went on to stay alive even in death. As I walk inside, I hear one of those kids asking to his friend "How many enemies did he kill?". Yes, the same question that Sammy asked his Daddy, 20 years back...

PS- So, that was the end of my first story writing endeavour. A big thanks to all those who encouraged me with words of appreciation as well as to those who gave me some constructive criticism. I got the idea of this story after I read the news about a mother in Kerala who said "I don't want his dead body" after her terrorist son was shot dead in Kashmir. I was deeply touched by the courage of that mother who saw the country above her own son. But I didn't want this story to end in such a negative note of a patriotic child turning into a terrorist. So, I built up a fictional story of a father and a son with this plot weaved in between. I dedicate this story to that mother, her courage and her patriotism.


your crusader Praveen

The Elysian fields-III  

Posted by Praveen in ,

Read Parts I and II, if you haven't

Part III
Though its been many years since Jay's last journey, I can still hear the gunshots after the ceremonial guard of honour reverberating in my ears. Sometimes, I see him sitting beside me and playing with Sam, only to wake up from sleep with a start. Sammy has grown into a handsome young man. He joined college last year. He joined an arts college and is specialising in English literature. The reason for him choosing this course is still unknown to me. After that tragedy, he has always kept to himself. In school, he had very few friends and talked only when it was necessary. Things didn't change much even as he entered college. I never asked him any questions on his behaviour as I thought this will only add fuel to the fire. I decided to play the waiting game and let things happen when they have to. He always spent his time with his books. He talked more to those pages than to me, though I knew I still had a high place in his heart through some of his words. Its just that he chose not to express his affection externally. I am sure that he has some parts of that sweet little Sammy left in him somewhere. I hope one day he lets him out.

Sam funded his college education by taking tuitions at home. I loved it when all those chirpy school kids came to study at his class. I think he was reconnecting with his happy childhood through them. We lived a decent life with the pension amount of Jay's service. Though, I sometimes wonder whether we are receiving the price of his life every month. The nation and all those who came to the funeral that day may have forgotten him. But, for us, who lost something precious that day, there's still not a day which passes without his thoughts. During that time, Sam got some new friends. Some of them used to frequent our house. They kept on talking for hours over the coffee and snacks which I served them from time to time. Because of my not so great educational background, I never understood what they were talking about. All I could grasp was something about an organisation they all were working in, which aims to do some service to the public. A portable computer, which they called the 'laptop' was their constant companion. All day they were drawing plans, studying about certain localities and discussing on various issues related to it. I was happy that at last my son has got into something that seems to capture his whole interest. He has begun talking to me more these days.

Last Sunday, while I was cooking, he came into the kitchen and told me-
"Mamma, atlast I found my destiny. For the first time in my life, I've a feeling that am making good use of my life. Am a lot more happier now that I've found many friends who happens to have identical thoughts as mine. I guess am coming back to life."

Should I say, I was happy to hear this? With a heart filled with joy, after many years, I told him,
"Sammy, This was the moment I waited for all these years, to hear words like this from your side. Your daddy's blessings will be with you all the time. I want that Sammy of old back."

He just smiled and left without saying anything. Only later would I realise that it was the last time I would ever see of him.

Final part coming up morrow...

Read on here

your crusader Praveen

The Elysian fields-II  

Posted by Praveen in ,

1st Part here
Part 2
Its been a month since Jay left home after he got an urgent call as usual. Last week, we couldn' talk to him as he was out for some emergency work. Sam has grown increasingly grumpy this week. He always had that strange sulky look on his face these days. He was evidently sad at not having talked to his dad in more than 10 days. Many times, he refused to eat anything. Atlast to make him eat, I had to promise him that I'll let him talk to his daddy for a longer time this week. But, what to say, it didn't happen this week also. He was still held up with some emergency, according to the officer who attended the phone. I had this tinge of uneasiness somewhere inside me but had to project my cheerful self before Sam. But, as if reading my mind, he asked me one day.

'Mamma, Won't daddy ever talk to me again'?

The pain in his voice almost made me burst into tears then. But, I held on with all my strength and told him,

'No sammy, He has gone to the mountains to buy you a gift from a yogi'.

He gave me a deceptive smile, from which I was not sure what to make out.

One more week went by with no news from Jay. The next tuesday morning, a burly gentleman was seen opening our gate and walking in. He had a small cover in his hand with that unmistakable insignia of the Indian army on it. I think Jay has delivered a letter through a messenger as he was not able to contact us for long. My heart leapt with joy. Sam will be back to his happy self today, I hope. Then, for the first time, I looked at the man's face. I could read a sign of discomfort there. He came to the door, held out the letter and uttered those dreadful words-
"I am sorry".

The first thing I saw in my mind then was a disturbing image of those castles that Sammy used to build in sand, crashing down. I slowly opened the cover and straightened the white paper. The words didn't quiet register and I still don't know what I read that day. I only remember that man telling me after sometime-

"The ambulance will be here in half an hour".

Thats when I saw Sam walking in slowly. I guess he saw that teardrop falling from eyes. He suddenly ran to me and asked-

"Mamma, why are you crying? I've never sen you crying. Who is this uncle?"

I heard myself blurting out-
"Sammy, your Daddy won't talk to us again. And he would never come back again. He's gone with the yogi to the heavens."

I was shocked to hear such dispassionate words being spoken by myself. And I wondered why I talked so straight rather than sugar-coating the fact to make it digestable to a 5 year old. Maybe, I didn't want to give him a rude shock when the ambulance came. So, I wanted to steel his heart to take it. To my surprise and dismay, He didn't utter a word after that. He just stood there with tears streaming down endlessly. I pulled him close to me and he came to me as if he were a lifeless being. We stood like that waiting for our long waited guest to come one last time. The man just stood there watching a small bird making its nest in a nearby tree. I knew his eyes were not actually looking at it.

The wait didn't last long. The ambulance came and with it a stream of neighbourhood residents. As the tricolor cladded box was lowered to the ground, I felt sam pushing away from me. He ran along with it as it was carried into our drawing room. The men accompanying it kept it down and neatly folded the tricolour. As I ran towards the box, I could see his face through the glass that covered it. He still had that glow and a proud expression on his face. A part of the letter came to my mind now, "He fought on till his last breath and even carried his superior officer to safety before succumbing to his wounds". The nation must be proud of him. But, I just couldn't play the part of that brave wife whom we see often in stories as the one who never sheds a tear. I wailed uncontrollably. Thats when I thought of dear Sammy. I looked around. There was a huge crowd already, known as well as unknown people, gathered there to pay respect to the nation's latest hero. I saw him standing just behind me with a passive face. I couldn't read even a tinge of expression of any kind in his face. And, I couldn't find a single tear too..

To be Continued..
Read on here

your crusader Praveen

The Elysian fields-I  

Posted by Praveen in ,

This is my first attempt at story writing...Read on..

It is a particularly cold evening today. Being alone in a big house in such a weather would've been impossible for me some years back. My amma had a hard time consoling me in those thundery dark nights when I used to howl like a new born. Being alone also means I have nothing much to do. So most of my time is spend in conversing with nature. Looking at the white lillies swaying in the garden and gently reflecting the moonlight filled my heart with some unknown sense of happiness. But that is short lived as my gaze falls on those eyes looking at me from the worn out photograph on the wall. The flower garland on the photograph needs to be changed tomorrow.

My mind races back to the day on which that garland was put on that portrait for the first time, 20 years back. Sam was a cute boy of just 5 years then. Though he clung on to my fingertips all the time, he always used to cry wanting to see his daddy. He was very proud of his daddy. I once overheard him asking his classmate-

"What is your father doing?"
"He's an engineer. He builds our nation. And whats your father doing"

"My father is a soldier. He protects our nation"

I was struck by such high sounding words from my little son and his friend. But, the way he said that showed how much he respected his daddy and his profession. I don't know if am right to call that a profession. Its a life. Me and Sam used to walk 15 minutes to the nearby STD booth once in a week to hear Jay's voice. He used to prepare for this phone call from the morning itself. He could be seen sitting in that swing hanging from the Mahagony tree in the courtyard. But he would be motionless and staring at a distance, probably preparing questions to ask his dad in the
evening. He reserved his best dress for those days, as if his daddy could see it from miles away. It always filled my heart to see my boy smiling to himself all day. Even while walking to the STD booth, the usually chirpy Sam wouldn't utter a word. Once I dialled the number, he would get impatient tugging at my saree to give him the phone. I would barely get 5 minutes to talk to Jay. Then, it would start between father and son..

"Daddy, Is it cold there? Are you doing well"
"Yes. My dear. Your warm voice makes all the cold run away."
"Daddy, Daddy, How many enemies did you kill this week?"

Controlling his laughter, Jay would tell Sam- "10"
The more the number, the more happier Sam was.

Such questions went on for about 10 minutes until I snatched away the phone from him, which used to lead to a lengthy protest from Sam's side. Jay's holidays were a cause of celebration at home. On the morning of his arrival, Sam would get up early and would sit near the door with his eyes firmly set on the big gate. Even if there was some small sound near the gate, he would run towards it expecting his daddy. And, when the big moment arrives, its pure heaven. Sam would run and jump straight to his daddy's hands giving him the world's biggest hug. Jay's first day at home is spent in such expressions of love. The serious talking would start from second day only. The weeks he spent at home usually flew by in a matter of minutes. And most of the times, he would get the call to get back to duty urgently. Then, the blissful holiday has to be cut short. As cliched as it may sound, I have to say, "for a soldier, country comes first".

to be continued..
Read On here

Pic courtesy-

your crusader Praveen

Ganguly: Our own Dada  

Posted by Praveen in , ,

Dada's dressing down in the den of the well-dressed

After Kumble's retirement, I thought I'll bid goodbye to goodbye posts till Sachin hangs up his boots. But, yesterday after watching India's second innings, during which Ganguly got out for a golden duck, that thought changed completely. He slowly walked back, before which he was seen looking up to the heavens, which no one was sure whether it was a thank you gesture or asking God "why not one last chance?". Then for about 30 minutes, he sat there in the pavilion with a face that conveyed myriad emotions and with his pads still on. He has certainly mellowed with age. And certainly he has become more mature compared to his aggressive earlier days. Nobody knows what he was thinking then. He might've been reliving his glory days on the field, of which this was not one. Or he might've been thinking about the tomorrow when he won't wear the Indian cap any more. But whatever he was thinking then, the average Indian cricket fan had only one thought in mind, a thought of gratitude to a man who gave a new direction to the sport in India.
King of offside

Indian cricket been a bastion of well-behaved gentlemen for whom 'aggression' was a word related to the world war. We always took sledging in its stride and chose not to hit back except in a few rare cases like Sunil Gavaskar. Then came the arrogant brat, who as a captain of his school cricket team was complained against by his own teammates for his arrogance. Even in 1992, he was dropped for the same reasons. Then, came 1996 and that test debut at Lords, where he along with Dravid grinded the England attack to submission. The Sahara cup against Pakistan was an one man series where Sourav gave India victory after victory with both his bat and ball. I became a fan of him during that knock of 124 against Pakistan in the Independence cup finals. India-Pak matches in those days were a matter of life and death. A score above 300 was a rarity and a sure guarantee for a win. That was when Ganguly turned the tables with that sublime knock. Further down the road came a stunner in the world cup game against Sri Lanka when the ball spend more time out of the stadium than inside. That image of him dancing down the track and hitting the spinners to oblivion is an enduring memory. That was the time when I loved watching him as much as I loved to watch my idol Sachin.

After the era of Azhar and Sachin's not so great experience with captaincy, the mantle fell on Ganguly. He brought in several youngsters like Yuvraj, Harbhajan, Sehwag etc and started building a team for the future. He guided them in such a way that he instilled in them some of his own qualities. This change was evident in that epochal series against Australia when India, playing in Ganguly's home ground, made an improbable comeback and went on to win the series. That was when the legend of Dada was born. He really became the big brother to his team mates as well as to millions of young Indian cricket fans. He taught them to meet 'sword with sword' and not with your bare hands. He once famously made the great Steve Waugh wait for the toss, a kind of giving back in the same coin to the Aussies. The culmination of all his aggression was seen at the Lord's balcony, the sacred place where englishmen won't appear without his hat and coat. And thats exactly where he removed his shirt and swung it wildly, a fitting reply to Flintoff's antics some weeks before in India. More than that, it symbolised the new spirit of the team which was ready to hit back at any opponent. The dream run in the 2003 world cup re-affirmed Dada's status as India's best ever captain. The Australian series in the same year, when he set the tone for the series with a remarkable century on the first day saw him grow in stature. The win in Pakistan in 2004 was another high point.
Thats when the decline started. A batsman who was second only to the great Sachin in the number of one day centuries was soon found wanting for form. The 'old man who spoiled Indian cricket' Greg Chappel played a stellar role in spoiling his career too. The same man who was brought to coach the Indian team because of Dada's recommendation played the role of a man lacking gratitude to perfection. As a result, Dada lost his captaincy as well as a place in the team. Men like Kiran More, whose contribution to Indian cricket can be compared to a beggar's contribution to India's GDP, began toying with his career. They made comments such as "In my tenure as selector, he wont see the door of the national side". But no one could keep him and his bat silent for too long. He made his comeback in South Africa by playing a role in India's historic win at Johannesburg. For the next two years, till his retirement he batted like a dream. But, the selectors in India again proved their stupidity and biased attitude by throwing him out of the ODI team, in an year in which he scored in excess of 1000 runs. Immense pressure was put on him to retain his test spot even when he was performing really well. Atlast, he decided enough was enough before this series against Australia. He played his part well in almost all the innings except that last one where he did a Bradman with that first ball duck. A career had come full circle. Dhoni's gesture of letting him to captain the side during the later part of the Aussie innings is worth applauding.

Dada, on being asked what he likes to be remembered for, said "I would like to be remembered as one who gave Indian cricket a new direction. And thats exactly what he'll be remembered for. Behind that aggressive exterior, he was a soft spoken man who always remained loyal to his team. He had this deep belief in his abilities and his tactics that he was able to influence his team mates more than anyone else. His aggression was one of subtlety. Though removing your shirt on the field won't come anywhere near to being subtle, there was some method in his madness. All those instances of aggression were to convey a point. It was not the brand of blind aggression shown by some of the new Indian players of the ilk of Sreesanth. What he did was art, while what some of these guys are doing is pure sacrilege. He was the king of the offside. He had a particularly bad weakness to the short pitched balls which he worked on and solved somewhat towards the end of his career. In Bengal, he's a demigod who's worshipped by everyone. That was evident from the backlashes that were seen from the Bengali people each of the time injustice was meted out to him.
His legacy-that famous shirt. The symbol of aggression

More than any of this, what he'll be remembered for is his fighting spirit and his 'never say die' attitude. Each time he was out of the team, he clawed back with increased vigour, hell bent on proving his detractors wrong. The image that I'll forever remember of him is not one on the cricket field. But, its from that pepsi commercial when he was out of the team. He was shown sitting in an empty stadium. And this was what he said in that "Hi, mera naam sourav Ganguly hai. Bhoole tho Nahin? Jo hua, kyoon hua, kaise hua, yeh sab sochke dukh bhi hota tha aur gussa bhi aatha tha. Par ab nahin. Mein team mein vaapas aane keliye bohat bohat practise kar rahaan hoon. Kya maloom? Hawa mein shirt ghumaane ke mujhe aur ek moka mil jaaye. Jo bhi ho, team ke andhar yaa baahar, mein chup baitnewaala nahin. Hooha India, Aaya India. India ke har match ko mein aisi hi chillaaoonga. aap bhi chillaaye. Mere team ko achha lagega. Apni dada ke baat sunege na?". I would say no one, just no one would have the guts to do such a commercial when he's out of the team. But not dada. Those words pained a lot of us at that time. And seeing that again today on youtube, somewhere it pains a lot to think that this big brother wont be there anymore to thrill us and guide our youngsters on the cricket field. That smile, that dancing down the pitch for that sixer and that shirt swinging in the air will forever be missed. But his legacy will live on in those aggressive cricketers who don India's colours in the future. And that is Dada's lasting gift to Indian cricket.

PS- I dedicate this post to my friend Kartoos, the biggest Dada fan I've ever seen. Read this old post by her, U'll know why am telling that.

your crusader Praveen

The Evolution Tag  

Posted by Praveen in ,

Tagged by Mathew and Thomman. Here it goes

The Tag

Two questions from the past, present and future. Answer them and then tag your friends from the blog-o-sphere. Leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been tagged and you are all set.

-Your oldest memories
Me, The biker kid

The life in Kolkata as a kid. I was the terror of the neighbourhood Bengali uncles. Our owner,a Bengali himself, used to stay upstairs. Whenever he had to come down, he would do so with utmost care because he never knew when a big stone or plate would strike him from nowhere. I used to chase him with sticks all around the compound and he was seriously scared. I guess, he was the only owner in the world who was scared of his own tenant. The first thing he asked me was "Keekkochi", which in Bengali means "whats your name"(I think so. Atleast, thats what my dad told me). And I thought he was telling me his name. From that day, I called him "keekkochi maaman"(keekkochi uncle). Another memory of those days was when I buried my grandfather's watch hoping that a tree bearing 1000 watches will spring up.

-What were you doing ten years ago?
I was in 8th standard, going through the worst year in school ever. I found it hard to pass in maths, often bugging sir to give me some grace marks and some how make me pass. Sometimes, I thought this is the end of my education. But, all this didn't stop me from enjoying my life with music(those were the cheesy boy band days), hanging out with friends etc. And yeah, that was the year in which I wrote my first poem, a malayalam one. That was a mushy romantic 16 liner describing a girl's beauty and my love for her, obviously one of my classmates whom I wanted to impress. Needless to say, it didn't find a place even in her dustbin.

Stuck in a 5 day job, where blogs, friends, ipod and chat are the only solace. Though I do enjoy the work with my head banging slightly to the heavy metal from my ipod. The weekends are spend movie watching, hanging out or by playing the guitar. Am now known as the biggest fool in town, a name which I earned with years of hard work. My foolishness had crossed such a level that they had opened an orkut community just for chronicling it all. And, am happy that am blogging a lot more regularly than I used to do.

Oh no! Monday! Why did you put this question? I just hate Mondays as much as the majority of you. Gonna be a boring day except for the lunch breaks, tea breaks and after hours.

What do you see yourself doing 14 years from now?
Touring the world, with my old college band(then an internationally renowned metal band), a DSLR and a beautiful and loving wife for company. Hopefully some kids too. I would like to play at that small rock fest called 'Rock in Rio', nothing less.

If you build a time capsule what would it contain?
Myself with all the things I have at present, my family, my friends, my guitar, my music collection and a back up of this blog.

Am tagging

and whoever who is interested to take it

your crusader Praveen

The nadir of mind  

Posted by Praveen in , ,

There's a high tide of unrest
Sometimes I feel like a pest
Having lost all the bloody zest
For a life that was a fest

I flew where my heart took me
I lived by what it told me
Never thought it would fail me
And leave me like a film with no reel

Negativity pervades all my thoughts
rowing in my mind like a shadowy boat
Am in a prison of my own creation
where breaking free is out of question.

I know, only I can make it or break it.
Its time to stop my mind's spoilsport.
I can't go any deeper and drown
Its time to come into my own.

Depression is a state of mind where you see negativity all around. You will lose interest in everything and you try to keep to yourself. You will talk less and keeps on thinking. Mostly this thinking will be around the same things and you wont make any progress in that too. You will find it hard to sleep. You wont understand when others advice you to see the positive side. You will feel you are useless. You will think death is near. And, more than that you'll never know that you have such a problem.

Its not to make you sad that I told all this. I was just referring to a psychological disorder that can affect anybody. Am telling this because I've seen it happening real close to me. And, I tell you its one of the worst possible states that one can get into. Suddenly, you see one of the most positive persons ever talking negatively. It affects the person as well as those around him/her. The reason can be something as big as the death of someone close or it can be as trivial as work pressure. But, once it affects you, you are in for a really bad time. The only way you can help the patient is by constantly interacting with him. You should try to distract his mind by engaging him in other activities. Also, never stop talking. Proper care from those around the person can bring him back to normalcy. Its not the end of the world. There's always a better tomorrow.

Even if you are afflicted with a serious disease, you can remain cheerful if you have a positive mind. But this one first kills that positive mind itself. I pray with all my heart to God to never ever make anyone in this state. So, always stay positive. Never let a single negative thought into your mind. It can grow as big as to swallow you completely.

PS- I started to write this about an year back. Wrote the first 8 lines then. But wanted to end this positively. And I got those last 4 lines today.

Unrelated PS- Anyone going to the Fuel Great Indian Rock Fest morrow(Friday Nov 7) at Palace grounds, Bangalore? The Norwegian black metal bands Satyricon and Sahg are gonna rock the crowd along with prominent Indian bands like Slingshot, extinct refelections etc. Be there.


your crusader Praveen