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-
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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.
Twilight

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 www.kroma.no/2008/bushgame/. 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-http://www.caseresources.org/evangelisation/images/eyes.jpg

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.
photo courtesy-urbandecals.com

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