17 August, 2007

Sketches during Journeys

For the past weeks I am really blessed and meeting quite interesting people during my journeys. One night I had a British couple sitting opposite to me. I never mind to start the conversation and opened up and found that they were returning after viewing a stage performance in London. They were from a country side and occasionally travel to London to see good stage performances. They were busy reading books and I started sketching. Unless you talk to someone you never know many things about them. It was interesting to know that the Gentleman had been to India through job, and had stayed in places like Bangalore, Cochin for few months. Our journey was quite interesting and we never realised the length of the journey.
Last month few people at my work had given resignation and while going in detail about their new jobs, it was pleasant to know from my present boss, that his new company may send him frequently to Chennai for training. He was very happy about it. Though he had visited once Jaipur for holidays, he was excited to know about Chennai. The great joke of this is on talking detail, he was surprised when I said that ‘Chennai’ and ‘Madras’ are the same. He laughed and said that it was nice talking about it to me, since he had couple of friends in Madras, and was worrying that he has not heard about Chennai. To some extent, some of them are familiar with ‘Mumbai’ and ‘Bombay’. Even during one of our meetings yesterday, there was some reference about ‘Shennai’. I thought it was a different place, by the way pronounced by someone who addressed the meeting. Within few minutes I realised what she was talking about. Will our ‘Manbumigus’ assure us that they will not change the names anymore.
My son picked up the pictures of Marlon Brando and Rowan Atkinson and wanted me to try sketching both of them last week. I have always admired MB’s acting. I have seen most of Tamil Actors imitating Marlon Brando’s favourite action of scratching the centre of head. I have seen Kamal, Radha Ravi, even Anandh Raj in some or other movie. I presume the sketch has come a bit closer. Prakash Raj is another good actor. He does not imitate anyone and has its own style. I think it was a bit tough to draw near his nose.
For long time I was a great fan of Kapil. It was nice to read an interview in one of the National Newspaper recently. I preserved the picture for my train journey and tried my hand with Kapil. He had been such a great all rounder. Kapil you rocked us those days! Somehow I became very nostalgic after having drawn Kapil. Once I reached my destination, the Taxi was waiting to pick me up. I started convesing with the driver and found that he was of Jamaican origin. On knowing that he had knowledge of cricket, we started conversing about famous Jamaican cricketers like Courtney Walsh, Joel Garner and I think of late it is Shivnarain Chanderpaul. We exchanged lots of past glory. I was surprised when he said that he always admired Farookh Engineer, and Bishen Bedi. There were talks about Vivian Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes. Believe me or not! We were so engrossed he did not bother to move after dropping me and was still talking about old cricket days at least for few minutes after I got down. The best of that night was when he mentioned about a six hit by Viv Richards off Bob Willis last ball of a match. Viv Richards pretended as if he was walking with the bat under his arms and suddenly hit the ball for a six. Oh..dear.. we both wondered about it, and he parted away after both of us complimenting each other on the past cricket remembrances.
The good and sad news is my family may be joining me for good next week and my weekend journeys may come to an end.

10 August, 2007

That is Life! Isn't it?

I have been going through plenty of hardships this week. It was always my habit to believe people. In 1987, when I went to buy a two wheeler for the first time, which was a ‘Yezdi Classic 2’, innocently asked the mechanic in the showroom to test it well? Many of my friends gave me many tips. One of my friend said that we need to talk as if we knew everything so that we are not fooled. I did not worry too much. I thought honesty will always play an important role. I asked the mechanic to do a good job for me, and told him that I was getting it only on loan, and I cannot afford for any major repair immediately. Until I bought my motorcycle, I did not realise there is a huge expense in the name of petrol. My first experience of giving a hundred rupee note for few litres of petrol is unexplainable. I think it was less than Rs.10/- then. It was hard to believe that the motor vehicle runs on petrol and we need to pay every time you want it. If I think about it today I could only laugh.

Later when I bought a Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle, I was more experienced and the financial status was better than before. But honestly believing quality had not faded.

The same did happen when I wanted to buy a piece of land, and I completed the transaction of deciding, buying a piece of land within 3 days and finished buying it. I have always believed what the seller said!

Now, I am in the process of relocating my family and undergoing a great amount of stress in buying a house. In UK, there is not much of a difference between the monthly rent and the monthly repayment towards mortgage. Probably if you could afford to pay another few hundred pounds depending on the value of your mortgage, it all works the same. I thought everyone would be gentle, and behaved according to my instinct. Only yesterday, I came to know 90 percent of them involved in the transaction are trying to play their little game on an innocent person like me. When I was born in this world, I started believing everyone. My parents taught me good, and I still follow it. But why do others keep fooling around. This is really disheartening.

I am not a guy who wants to complicate things. I want to be straightforward and have been glad to meet many straightforward persons in my life. I do not want to tell lies and hide things. I believe in calling a spade a spade and get away from such people. But why do all wrong things happen to only people of good thoughts!

I sought admission for my child in a normal good school and we have been denied. He is in an important year. But I know many people who have lied of their residence, and have given some false addresses and sought admission. They were all given admissions as they wanted. But when I want to give genuinely, my residential address is being doubted. There are inspections and enquiries. Though I have given my original address, the authorities believe it is not compelling for them to consider for some other vague reason. I have appealed against their decision. Why should this again happen for someone who is true?

Is being true something to be punished?

I am failing to understanding the reality. What do I need to teach my kids? Do I need to teach to be true or change according to the world? Can’t I teach the same what my parents taught me. Where is the world heading to? For being true, we are laughed at our back. Someone known to me commented at my back that I am not smart.

Again in my current rented house, we started losing many facilities but still paying the same rent. The electric shower is not working, there are innumerable other problems. The landlord is keeping on saying that she had not met a wonderful tenant like me. I am tolerant and want to adjust believing that she has financial problems. But she owns few more houses and this is her business. Why do people mistake our good thoughts and try to behave silly? Where am I heading to? I am losing strength to fight against such people.

I will be glad if you could share your experiences and thoughts through my comments section.
Am I not seeing the world properly or do I need to be ‘smart’ really?

That is life. Isn’t it?

06 August, 2007

Peyarai Kettaley Athiruthu Illai!!!

Few weekends before, on a Sunday evening, the local train was going very slow. I managed to reach London Liverpool street station and found that it was crowded than normal. I heard that few lines were closed. We had to wait on the Westbound platform for few minutes. I have never waited for a local train more than 2 or 3 minutes. But on that day, I waited for more than 15 minutes. Started getting worried that I may miss my train at London Euston. After getting down at Euston cross literally started running with my baggage, and rushed to my platform. This train again, was overcrowded. Somehow, I managed to get my favourite seat. Only one could sit opposite to me, and a young man with his Laptop arrived there. The train was getting crowded. I felt sorry for a lady who had to stand with her newly born baby in the pram. I offered her my next seat and she declined it. I knew that it could be difficult for her to be seated leaving the baby on the Pram. The train was overcrowded. I was wondering whether to open my sketch book or not. I opened my bag half heartedly. Then I found a Tamil Magazine and started turning the pages. My hands stopped on seeing our Super star photo of the famous Shivaji. Just thought of it and took my drawing kit. A fat old desi came and sat next to me. As I started to sketch the outline, an Old English man was enquiring whether anyone knew the latest score of the Test Match between India and England. When he passed me he stopped looking at the picture of Rajini. The young man opposite to me was often peeping into my sketch note.
Just when I was about to complete the picture I felt great. I found something unusual. I started observing it. The young man gave a last look. I could not hide anymore and openly showed him my drawing. He was stunned. He asked me who it was and said the drawing was fine. Why did everyone who were passing beside stop? Could it be the Charisma. My picture is not great. But the person whom I have drawn is a very interesting person.
If he had not tried, he would have been still employed with KSRTC and blowing his whistle. I appreciate his self confidence. He became the trend setter for many ordinary looking people to approach the Cineworld. I like his style and speed. I have enjoyed his old films. He is a down to earth personality. He has millions of fans and I am sure he will raise the South Indian Film Industry fame.
The heat here has started becoming unbearable and for so many other reasons, I wanted to shave my head. Just to give surprise to my kids, I shaved my head. Just to add humour to my post added the picture here.
Rajini fans, please pardon me if my drawing does not look like your thalaivar! Whatever it is
'Perai Kettaley Athiruthu Illai'.
I request the parents who read my blog not to use my picture to scare your kids for eating their food.

02 August, 2007

Finding Time for everything

As life progresses it is becoming tougher to find time for everything. My memory goes back to Chennai where I had lived my major part of my life. We lived in suburbs and travelling to the City from suburbs like Tambaram itself was very tedious. I have seen ladies combing their hair, arranging the flowers in sequence, and eating their breakfast in Kanchipuram and Chingleput trains. If it was a Friday, we can hear ladies chanting slogas in Ladies compartment. Now the flash back ends. Here in United Kingdom, when I travel, I find most of the ladies concentrating on their make ups and hair do while travelling. It is so nice to see them doing it with their foldable mirrors in their hand bags. Also, there are few who open their sandwich boxes and start having their breakfasts. I was wondering how life and people are all the same, wherever they live.
My wife reminded me of some technician who visited home and was stuck in the kitchen looking at our typical pickles bottle. He raised his eyebrows on seeing the name on the Gongura pickle bottle. I read it once more. It was written as ‘Hibiscus Cannabinus’. I suddenly remembered this during one of my journey and started smiling. I did not bother whether anyone noticed.
During one of the Tram journeys in Manchester, I had a peculiar experience. Trams here, run on rails and stop in the Railway platforms. Suddenly at some point, they get into the town and start running on the roads. It is a great experience. One of these days, I was travelling in Manchester and realised that Old Trafford was on the way. Many times I have seen the station empty or just with one or two passengers. This time, I ensured to have a look at the ground. The cricket ground can be viewed from the Tram for few seconds, when the tram passes the station. If you get down to the station you can see the ground clearly. It was really great to have a glimpse of West Indies – England Test match. Some English bowler was walking towards his bowling end and I could see from the Tram, the crowd roaring and the batsman taking his position.I felt excited. I remember seeing such scenes while passing RKM grounds in TNagar, Marina Grounds in Triplicane. This was totally different. At the Old Trafford station the Tram got filled up. There were few English men near me in traditional hat and formal dresses. I asked them the score and they were equally excited about Panesar’s bowling. I had the same experience when I found 3 old gentlemen in London tubes discussing about Cricket. On that day, there was a friendly match between England and Brazil in the newly built Wembley stadium. These old men were surprised when I enquired them about the match they had witnessed. They were talking about a county match whom they had witnessed between Somerset and someone. When I started talking about Somerset side in those days when Botham and Viv Richards were playing they got excited. They did not expect this from me. They expressed it saying that when people of my age are rushing to Wembley it was surprising that I was not talking about Football and talking about Cricket of their younger days.
Since I spend most of my travelling in drawing and reading newspapers as well, these days it is interesting to get some freaky news. The latest news which was on headlines in the local newspapers was about a Bull with sacred status of a Hindu temple which was slaughtered because it had Bovine TB. It is believed Bovine TB could spread to other cattle in this area. The Bull belonged to a Hindu temple in West Wales and this was the reason for the news to be in headlines. There was a big hue and cry. None of the protesters were of Indian origin and most of them assembled in the Temple were non-Asian ethnicity. My point here is not whether it was right or wrong. While I was studying in school, there was a beef stall which was called as A-1 beef stall. Every day while passing through the beef stall, we used to see hundreds of cattle being brought in Lorries for slaughter. As kids we used to be interested to know what will happen to them. Some of my inquisitive friends used to peep through the coconut leaves thatch to look at those cows. I used to feel pity for them. On reading about this Shambo, I felt for those thousands of cattles, which were slaughtered not because of Bovine TB, but just for the meat.
Could you imagine drinkable water being sold for exorbitant price in a flood area? There were few traders who plunged into timely business of selling drinkable water in a flooded area. This did not happen in Assam or Bangladesh. This happened in UK in certain parts of Gloucestershire county. It was funny to read such thing happening in the western world. One of my colleagues could not reach home because of the breach in the roads and had to stay in a hotel to reach his home on the next day. Certain parts have been very badly affected and water has entered most of the houses and business establishments. All this is happening in summer. It is getting warmer in the winter and floods in summer. Thinking about the disasters it is really scary.
Of all these, the interesting part of last few weeks was a training which I attended. I was sent for training on First Aids by my employer. It was a very useful training for 4 days. The training was conducted by St.John’s Ambulance. Oh... my... what a great training it was. I have gained great confidence now. I can rush towards victims if I am nearby, and do major first aids like resuscitation, and retrieve the heart functioning stuff. There was a test on the last day, and we had live examples (though rubber toys of man size) to be done emergency first aids. I had four victims, one victim was not breathing, one had head injury, one had cut his fingers, and one had broken limb. Now, I am a qualified first aider. If I had known these 15 years before, I would have saved those 5 or 6 lives, which died before my eyes on road accidents and trains.
If possible I shall detail those basic techniques in my future posts.
I shall publish my drawing which brought in surprise from my fellow passengers last week in my next post. It is really exciting! Just wait until then!