Sunday, November 26, 2006

Embarrassment Forever

I was studying 8th standard at JSS Balajagath. Ms. Nalini was the school head mistress and also taught us English. She was known to be strict and was feared by all students.

Our class consisted of nineteen; I was one among the brightest in that small group, good in languages, including English. During one of the monthly tests, the English question paper required us to build one sentence each to ten given words.

I did well in the test and when it came to the sentence building task, I was excited. I wanted to flaunt my language skills and wrote sentences incorporating names of two of my classmates - Aruna and Chandrika - in all ten sentences. I was confident that the teacher will appreciate my creativity.

On the day of results I was beaming with confidence. The teacher walked into the class room with answer sheets. She announced each student's result by turn and when she came to me, blurted out...
'Dharmendra is so much attached to Aruna and Chandrika that he has referred them in all ten sentences.'
Suddenly, I felt as if I am nude in front of everyone, but the ordeal was not over yet. Aloud and sarcastic, she read each of the ten sentences with pauses and commas.

A sharp flame of shame seared through my being. I was red in face and squirming in my seat. Inspite of forming flawless sentences, I was humiliated in front of the whole class. I was confused and angry. I sat there embarrassed, helpless and perplexed, licking the wounds.

Whenever I remember the incident, I feel embarrassed all over again.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Eye sore of Mysore

Whenever I drive through Devaraja Urs Road, Jhansi Lakshmi Bai (JLB) Road, Metropole Circle, etc., a look at the boards and hoardings there and my blood boils. Many of them have been defaced with black tar mercilessly.

Some Kannada fanatics with twisted minds have formed a group, they come out in the black of the night wielding brushes tied to a pole and carrying a bucket of black tar. They stalk the main roads of Mysore looking for English name boards of the shops. Within minutes neat, beautiful and colourful boards are smeared with black tar ruining it once and for all.

These hooligans neither have regard for other person's property nor towards the aesthetics of this heritage city and by doing such heinous act they bring shame to the city. This vandalism is not unique to Mysore but it is widespread in Bangalore too.

I suppose persons carrying out this criminal act think that they themselves are courts and justice systems on the move. Any board written in English is a criminal for them; they give instant justice and the punishment is a smear of tar on that culprit board or hoarding. When sun shines on these boards next day, it is nothing short of a shock to the proprietor of the shop.

God save the shop keepers when these self proclaimed mobile justice groups take to streets in broad daylight. They act like cheap goondas and literally force shopkeepers to change the boards. If the shop keeper is adamant enough, then the group's justice is swift and harsh, they pelt stones, pebbles and shatter glass panes causing damages amounting to thousands of rupees. Who will pay for all the damage done?

Destroying other's property is a crime. But the people who are committing these crimes are law unto themselves. Looking at the inaction of police one is forced to believe that they have deliberately turned a blind eye to this criminal act. Hello! Mysore police... rise and shine, smell the filter coffee.

The board-vandals are not doing a great service to Kannada as they proclaim, but instead they are insulting Kannada and Kannadigas. I am a Kanandiga. I love Kannada. But I am ashamed of the acts of these lunatics who claim to be saviours of Kannada. I am afraid if they are not stopped well in time, then they will perpetrate crime in the name of Kannada, like what Taliban did in Afghanistan in the name of Islam.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Infosys Mysore - An Inspiration

Winding through the Hebbal industrial area, a peach coloured edifice with shimmering steel-gray glasses and contemporary architecture became visible, as our car rolled into the sprawling 230-acre campus, involuntarily I exclaimed 'Wow'! Perfectly laid and asphalted roads flanked by beautifully manicured lawns, tall, dark and handsome lampposts; my sister's Barbie doll’s flawless garden invariably came to my mind. For a moment I thought I have been transported from a world of chaos to an island of bewildering order.

Welcome to the truly world-class facility of Infosys Technologies Limited's Mysore Development Centre, 'My DC' as the Infosians here like to call it.

'Transforming business through integrated technology solutions' - this mantra aptly describes the goal of this software conglomerate, which has about nine Development Centres in India and approximately 70-80 offices across the globe with a work force of more than 13,000 employees of all nationalities.

The tea was served at the Infosys Leadership Institute, which has been built conforming to international standards. Soft sounds of water playing on granite fountains welcomed we visitors. 'Ranganathittu', 'Bandipur' etc are some of the names that are given to conference rooms here.

Promptly at 5.30 p.m. we were taken around the entire premises starting from the food-court. A lush green cricket ground sits snugly beside the food court from where almost a 1000 and odd crowd can watch the game and enjoy the food at the restaurant. A recreational wing, inside, houses a state of the art gymnasium, Table Tennis room, a Billiards & Snooker room and a rest room catering to the employees with a motto to keep them physically fit and thereby assuring their mental alertness. An ATM is also installed for convenience.

The skyline in this mini-city campus is dominated by a giant shimmering glass bubble and beside it is a moroccan style building in mellow yellow. This is a huge resort-like place which has swimming pools, restaurants, souvenir shops, gift shops, department store and also houses a Strand book stall.

Next stop was SDB1, Software Development Block One, a sleek and modern edifice facing the road; 650 Software Engineers carry on the development work for clients from across the globe.

Stepping out of the SDB1, the crimson and red hues of Sunset splattered in the sky was reflecting off the glass topped building and it seemed the building was surrounded by a golden red halo. Far across within the campus, a Tennis court, Helipad, the residential blocks and a floating restaurant stand among beautifully landscaped gardens. Grass, granite and glass seem to be the three main elements around which the entire architecture revolves. Not a speck of dirt could be seen anywhere; the roads were so clean that, a fellow visitor remarked, one could even sleep on it.

The entire campus is self-contained with a 2000 KVA generator, a water tank of 7 lakhs litre capacity, an affluent treatment & water recycling plant and an artificial lake with rain water harvesting incorporated.

World is once again at the door steps of Mysore after nearly half a century, and it is undoubtedly because of Infosys. I am a Mysorean, I feel proud. Thank you, Infosys.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Visit to AT&S at Nanjangud

Driving from Mysore towards Nanjangud, a little further from the bridge across river Kapila, a road to the right leads into the industrial area of Nanjangud which sits on the southern bank. This is where the 20 acre plot of the environment-friendly Austrian Technologies and Systems (AT&S) is situated amidst the verdant greenery.

This Printed Circuit Board (PCB) manufacturing unit was started as INDAL by Indian authorities in 1989. It was bought over by AT&S in 1999.

As soon as we enter the main gate, we are welcomed by three fluttering flags - the Indian tri-colour, the Austrian national flag and the AT&S flag. A faint chemical odour hanging in the air transports me back in time to my chemistry lab classes in college. Sniff, sniff, I strain to identify the chemicals and hurrah! One among them is Ammonia. But I fail to identify other chemical aromas romancing the air.

Friendly employees attired in navy blue and sky blue uniforms ushered us into the spacious canteen which had doubled up as nice meeting hall for the day. A quick sip of tea pepped us up and our small group of Rotarians, Rotaryannes, Rotaractors and Annets were given a guided tour around the campus by an employee. Two more groups had started early before us.

We first visited the environment section of the factory which houses the effluent treatment plant. Ninety percent of process during the manufacturing of PCBs involve water along with various chemicals and metals, some of which are hazardous. Thus polluted water is treated in this plant to remove all the impurities and render the water clean which is used to quench a thousand and odd trees and a nice garden in the campus.

The next stop was at the unit where the raw water drawn from the river is purified to be used in various processes. A generator room beside this unit houses three massive diesel generators which churn out enough electricity to feed the entire power requirement of the factory. Hence the campus is self sustained in electricity.

We then move indoors where the PCB is manufactured. We were allowed to peep into the designing section where multitudes of computer terminals were occupied by their human conterparts. In this section, the designs of PCBs , as given by the clients, are checked, corrected and converted into a language that is understood by machines doing the tasks. As we were curiously peeping into the glass windows, the human subjects on the other side looked amused and perhaps felt like fishes in an aquarium.

Next we were taken inside a long airconditioned hall which had complex machines each the size of a small car (sorry you can't drive them but rather they can drive a hole into you). They were drilling various sized holes into glass fiber epoxy laminate material (board) and creating a racket. Cacophony of the machines was because they were drilling at an incredible speed of 120,000 rpm (revolutions per minute), my gosh! Listening to it my head spun for a second at 120,000 rpm.

In the next section we saw the drilled boards being sandwiched between two thin copper foils between hot rollers (anyone for a hot sandwich or two?). Next the circuit diagram is printed on these boards with an acid resistant ink. Boards were rolled into a series of narrow acid baths of about 30-40 feet long bubbling with blue, green and clear liquids. Some of these machines were sporting cool red bulbs which were going off and on at random intervals. Liquids in these baths etch out excess copper except at the places protected by the resistant ink.

The boards go through many more such massive machinery and finally are subjected to gold electroplating where a very fine film of gold deposits on copper to prevent oxidation and thus providing a long life to the PCB. We were told that (hold your breath ladies!) a whopping 80 kilos of gold is consumed every month in this plant alone (ladies, dont you think that it is a sheer waste of yellow metal? I see many beautiful heads nodding in agreement).

The boards are taken onto cutting machines (if the PCB being manufactured is small in size, then usually five to six of them are produced on a single sheet of board) and cut to the required size and shape. Thus finished PCBs undergo complete tests, first electronic testing and later manual testing for scratches or abrasions. This manual testing was being done in a controlled environment under lens and microscopes by ladies. Dr. Maya Sitaram asked our guide why only ladies were employed to do the manual testing while ladies were present in none of the other departments. Mr. Keshav gave a tongue-in-cheek answer saying that ladies are good at finding faults (well, does that mean, men are good at making faults? hmm, I guess I am no Shobha De to answer that).

Finally we were at the packing section where each PCBs are bundled in tens, vacuum sealed and packed. Back at the meeting hall, in a formal meeting Rtn. Pradeep Mehta, MD and CFO, AT&S gave a few glimpses about the vision and organisation of AT&S which was followed by a multimedia presentation by Mr. Brown. Mr. Hegde, MD and COO, AT&S was present.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Kaveri Teerthodbhava

Painting: Sri Mata Kaveri
Medium: Gouache on board
Size: 20" X 24"
Artist: Sri G.L.N. Simha
Collection: Ramsons Kala Pratishtana

River Kaveri is the life line of millions in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamilnadu. She takes birth in the sylvan settings of Western Ghats amidst the picturesque hills Brahmagiri in the land of valiant Kodavas. Each year on the auspicious day of Tulasankramana (around 17th October) she spouts out of her tiny birthplace, at Talacauvery, as if reinvigorated and re-energised.

In the rich tapestry of Hindu mythology, each river has a legend about its birth and is depicted by a certain colour. Ganga is of the colour of sphatika, Godavari is shown in light brown colour while Kaveri is green in colour. Also Ganga is often shown descending from heavens and all other rivers are shown flowing, but it is only Kaveri who gushes out of earth in the form of a spring.

The artist has depicted goddess Kaveri as green in colour. She has draped a rich green saree in the typical Kodava fashion. She is adorned with a high crown, matsya-kundalas, necklaces made of gold, pearls, cowries and lotuses. She wears a waist girdle depicting the avian creatures found all along her course and the vaijayanthi is shown with golden paddy, succulent oranges, vegetation and landscapes which are nourished by her life giving waters.

Two of her hands are shown in abhaya and varada mudras, in the third she holds a kamandalu while in the fourth she holds a beautiful lotus. The goddess is depicted as springing up on vigorous waves surging from beneath. The faint smile on her green visage is reassuring and beautiful.

Among the creative and talented artists of Mysore, Sri G.L.N. Simha occupies a special place as he has pioneered painting based on dhyana shlokas, veda mantras and suktas. This painting has been commissioned by Ramsons Kala Pratishtana as a part of the series of paintings on myths, legends, fairs and festivals of Karnataka by several artists.

Friday, October 13, 2006

A Trek to Himavad Gopala Swamy Betta

Frantic activities at the premises of Rotary Centre on Saturday morning was as unique as the crowd gathered there. 73 Rotaractors from various clubs of the Rotary International District 3180 assembled early at 7.00 a.m. ready to be part of a trekking expedition to the Himavad Gopala Swamy Betta.

Three vans with Rotaractors left Mysore towards Gundulpet; further 12 kilometers drive led to Hangala, and turning right through a huge welcome arch we drove 8 kilometers to a picturesque hamlet, Gopalpura, at the foot of Himavad Gopala Swamy Hills.

First two kilometers stretch of kaccha road flanked by the fields of sunflower, castor and jowar was like the calm before a storm. Most of us were under the impression that the entire trek uphill will be a piece of cake, but once we entered the Project Tiger area, there was no room for expecting a smooth ride. All the amateur hearts sunk encountering the gargantuan hill with a steep gradient, the road now wide and comfortable became just a wild narrow path winding like a snake around littered rocks and turning abruptly out of sight into alien woods.

I started chanting Hanuman Chalisa invoking the monkey god and appraising him of the situation at hand. I suppose, most of the 330 million gods and goddesses of Hindu pantheon were readily appealed to by many a fellow trekkers. Dragonflies, butterflies, dung beetles, parakeets, chirping birds, nothing could disturb my concentration on my feet; every step has to be measured, balanced and perfect, one slip and I am in deep trouble.

Fighting the heat from the Sun, off the rocks and that of body, everyone carried rucksacks on their back, drenched in sweat and listening hard to trace any unfamiliar sounds from a possible wild beast.

Halfway uphill, we came across a slopy clearing. The view across was breathtaking. The blunt peaks, continuous contours of the hills, greens, yellows and ochres of the dense valleys, silhouettes of farther hill ranges... It seemed like these giants of hills were lying exhausted trying to reach for the heavens. Rectangular mosaic of various hues of brown at the other end of the scenery marked a sharp contrast, I wish I had a camera that could capture my feelings.

Huffing and puffing we reached a site of medieval fortification at around 1 pm; huge stone blocks of perfect masonry made up this structure, which is now in ruins. It is approximately 700 years old. By now, I had naturalised to climbing and next ascent was comparatively comfortable. As I was nearing the summit, a cluster of tall trees intrigued me which was crowning the hill. Approaching it I was enamoured by them which seemed to belong to the family of Eucalyptus growing to a height of 40-50 feet.

Couple of paces more and we were at the guesthouse, our destination. It was 1.45 pm, after almost 3 hours of climbing the jungle path we had covered a distance of 5 kilometers. The feverish Sun, during ascent, disappeared at the summit, there was a sudden drop in temperature.

The guesthouse was at an altitude of 1477 feet above sea level. It sat snugly on a flat surface overlooking a shallow valley. Its immediate neighbours were weird trees with a heavy coat of moss and mini vegetation clinging on to their myriad branches which looked quite creepy.

Half a kilometer across, the ancient temple of Lord Gopala Swamy stood majestically on a high plinth. A flight of stairs leads onto a big quadrangle with a recently renovated central stone edifice built by Marasinga Dananayaka in early 14th century. The main entrance topped by a gopura leads to an inner courtyard which houses a tall flag mast and an ancient Bela tree whose branches were festooned with bits of clothing left behind as wish fulfilling offerings by the pilgrims. Jaya and Vijaya, the celestial guardians stood on guard flanking the door leading into the navaranga. The sanctum sanctorum enshrines the idol of lord Krishna, the divine cowherd, along with consorts Rukmini and Satyabhama.

In front of the temple there stands an equally ancient stone structure which must have stationed soldiers and guards during its heydays. Coincidentally, today it shelters 12 jawans of Special Task Force (this was before the death of dreaded Veerappan).

It started raining after lunch. Trekkers idled away the afternoon either in sleep or in a game of cards. Evening tea pepped up everyone and we set off for a short walk behind the temple.
We hardly covered a kilometer, there standing on the sloping gorge, the group marvelled at the creation of nature. Miles and miles across wherever I cast my gaze, hills, valleys and virgin forests beckoned my hungry eyes. A string of clouds were floating mid-air as if fluffy, snow-white cotton balls, fastened to an invisible thread, were dangling from the high heavens. To the right, a couple of clouds were nestled in the bosom of a tree-lined valley; far beyond, gray silhouettes of hillocks seem smudged-one with the distant horizon.

The word 'picturesque' sounds utterly pale to describe the drama that was being played before my eyes. Standing there, I was like a hungry person consuming the scenic ambrosia served on the golden platter of nature. The Sun was setting, changing hue of the sky by the minute. During the climax of sunset it seemed like vermillion and gold colours were splashed across the heavens, finally a flaming red Sun dipped away and took refuge behind a weird hillock.

Back at the guesthouse, with no electricity it was the blackest of nights. We had to find our way in the bobbing lights of numerous torches; everyone hopped into bed early, I snuggled cosily into my sleeping bag. We were told that elephants and bisons pay surprise visits to the place during nights, how comforting to sleep with the thought that these wild animals are roaming free in close quarters. The day's activities were so exhausting that even the scare of these beasts did anything but disturb the sleep; everyone hit the sack instantly.

Sunday started early. After morning ablutions we went on a jungle walk being towed by two forest guards. We entered core forest, it was a grassland on hill slopes, the private domain of elephants and bisons, their fresh dung littered around reminding us that we are trespassing in their domain. I saw two elephant bulls gorging on the grass, farther across the ridge two more elephants were seen with four bisons. When I snatched a glimpse at a bison through the binoculars, my heart stopped for a second… Its gaze was piercing mine, but we were very far apart, the thought of which brought blood back to my lungs.

Later, we ventured into the shola forest in one of the valleys searching for natural springs; it is said that there are 77 natural springs in this forest alone.

Returning back to the guesthouse, we packed to descend the hill. The raw heat made a hasty comeback tripling the weight of my backpack. We started down the asphalted road at first and traveled upto 3 kilometers. At the neck of a sharp curve in the road we changed our course for the scariest walk of my life. If I were to have been given a chance, I would have chosen to climb down the same path we ascended the previous day. There was no path here, absolutely nothing to guide us, only trees, shrubs, steep drops and rocks jutting out from everywhere.

Everyone was so anxious, I suppose they even forgot their prayers. The life and limbs depended on feet, balance, calculated steps and hell a lot of good deeds one had done previously. An elephant had trampled a local woman a month back in the same area. Even this wild threat was forgotten while climbing down.

After a grueling 2 hours of descent the landscape abruptly turned arid, thorny and desert like. Next 3 kilometers of walk was through this prickly stretch where the only vegetation was that of thorny shrubs and bushes packed ever so tightly together.

Fighting the darn bushes I was wondering about the abrupt change in landscape every couple of miles. Within 2 days I had encountered hilly terrain, lush green forests, grasslands, moist tropical vegetation of shola forests, rocky slopes and finally here I was, in a desert. I still wonder.

At last we came to Hangala where we had lunch, exhaustion didn't stop some of the Rotaractors from dancing, singing and having fun. The same three vehicles drove us back to Mysore.

I am scared of heights, I was scared when I had to walk on a path where on one side there was an abrupt drop, but when I saw fellow trekkers braving it, I overcame my anxiety and conquered it. The fellowship was evident throughout the programme. A small gesture of help, sharing a laughter, sharing water, sharing risk, extending a hand in support, helping a friend in distraught - it was an experience that I shall cherish for years to come.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Rotaract Bhajan

The following Rotaract bhajan (anglo-hindi) was written by me for a function to commemmorate World Rotaract week at our club in 2003. I wrote it on 14th March 2003. It is to be sung similar to the tune of the popular bhajan - Om Jai Jagadeesh Hare.

Rotaract Bhajan

Om jai Rotaract hare
Swami, jai Rotaract hare...
President, members and saare (2)
Tohare charan dhare
Om jai Rotaract hare...

Secretary, directors, editor
Sergeant-at-arms and treasurer
Swami, sergeant-at-arms and treasurer...
Committee members and chairman (2)
Haath phehalaaye khade
Om jai Rotaract hare...

International, vocation
Club, community and youth
Swami, club, community and youth...
Paanch shastr ek me abhay (2)
Stage-fear nivaare
Om jai Rotaract hare

Banake nidarr bhaye leader
ZRR, President, DRR
Swami, ZRR, President, DRR...
Saathme haath badhaaye (2)
Har yuvaa kaam kare
Om jai Rotaract hare (Om jai )

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Six Weird Things About Me

Well pardon me if I get it wrong because I've been tagged for the first time and its by Vikas. Accordingly I am supposed to list out six weird things about myself. So here I go.

Six weird things about me.

  1. I love Uppittu (Upma) which all my friends and most people I know detest. In fact they call it 'concrete' because it becomes compact in your stomach and you have to drink water quite often after you've eat it.
  2. As a kid, I never watched fight scenes in the movie and also dodged out during the climax of the movie if there were fights or someone was about to die. Well, I don't do that anymore.
  3. I cry during emotional scenes in a movie.
  4. I still can't ride a geared two-wheeler. I wonder how did I ever pass out of the driving test to secure the Driver's Licence.
  5. I sleep hugging a pillow.
  6. If someone criticises me during a thing/work which I am doing for the first time, I abandon it then and there, and never do it again.

Well, those are the weird aspects of me.

Visual Clutter of Mysore

Last week I had been to Bangalore with two friends and both of them were complaining of eye irritation while commuting through the traffic. As for me, I didn't experience it since I wear spectacles (as opined by one of them). Bangalore's traffic is choking the city, no doubt about it, absolutely.

Relatively, Mysore is blessed as there are no highrises and smoke, but as an amateur photographer I get irritated with all kinds of cables (electric, telephone, cable TV, etc) crisscrossing and marring the beauties of many heritage structures in Mysore. In older extensions of the city one can find that, like warp and weft, various cables have knit among themselves posing extreme risks to the neighbourhood. Add to it the modern aesthetic blunders called hoardings.

The emergence of large format digital printing at very low costs has triggered an explosion of mediocre and hideously designed posters and hoardings. Every nook and corner one can find a big hoarding carrying what seems like severed heads of local boys in bottom rows; above these a bigger row of severed heads of politicians and other prominent personalities are depicted. It looks as offerings of severed heads of buffalo and sheep to the Goddess Mariamma.

Town hall is surrounded by heritage structures like Amba Vilas Palace, Chamarajendra Circle (golden canopy circle), Krishnaraja Circle and Clock Tower. For any political rally Town-hall is the most preferred venue and eventually the two circles have to bear the brunt of these rallies in the form of buntings. Inspite of the Mysore City Corporation's rules that these two circles' beauty should not be desecrated by any person or organisation, every now and then one can see that the statues of Chamarajendra Wodeyar and Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar braving the sea of buntings that surround them.

Such things generously add to the visual clutter which is eating away at the rich and majestic beauty of Mysore.

Snore Galore

I remember, as kids we siblings were going to Gaavaacha-Amma's house at Nanjangud for a long break during both summer and Dasara-Deepavali vacations. We called our mother as 'Mommy' and paternal grandma as 'Amma.' There was Mommy's mother too and we had to call her with a different name to distinguish from the one Amma at home, so we called her Gaavaacha-Amma (G-Amma) meaning Amma from village (Gaav is village).

Well, at Nanjangud, the days were full of fun because there were tens of cousins and innumerable second cousins; we kids could wander from 7th cross to 14th cross wihtout the elders getting on our throes because many houses on those streets were those of our relatives and everyone knew all the kids. Whether catching flies with your palm or playing hide-n-seek, or carrom, or going to the water channel, or the tonga ride, everything was pure fun during the day. But the nights used to be a real torture.

G-Amma's was a big family of legendary snorers. Starting right from G-Amma, to her six sons and four daughters (including my Mom), every one snored like there's no tomorrow. Until sleep completely took me over I used to feel like I was thrown onto a platform of the busiest railway junction in the world. Like the tani-aavartana in a Carnatic music concert where the Mridanga, Ghata and Morching compete with each other, my Mom, G-Amma, and uncles roaringly competed to clinch the 'Best-Lung-Powered-Person-of-the-Night-Award'.

Every inhale of theirs was like an ascending thunder ending in a gradual exhale with a swishhh... Like London's Royal Philharmonic Society, the snorers snored in sync - if one inhaled, the other exhaled and so on. No sooner it hit sack, this well orchestrated snoring ensemble snored in all octaves. Add to this hullabaloo, the grandfather's clock ticked away as if mockingly counting each second of this audio torment. Sometimes the intensity of the snore would induce fright in me, suddenly the irritability gave way to scare and the sleep would slip away as my ear drums were bombarded relentlessly. The juggernaut of the night would eventually stop and before I knew I would be in the warm embrace of sleep.

Inspite of creating a racquet and disturbing others' sleep, the snorer himself is sound asleep. One feels like banging a snorer, I am no different and I used to resent snorers and cursed them. Also felt like pouring a pitcher of cold water on the snoring-beauty. But fate had some nasty things up its sleeve and nights took an ugly turn in my life. Few years back when I had to stay overnight at a friend's place I was in for a rude surprise. The next day as I was about to leave, my friend's Mom told me that my snoring at night was disturbing everyone. She was visibly very much irritated and it seemed like I was not welcome there anymore. I felt ashamed, angry and was in a shock.

I always thought ill of snorers and here I was, being told that I was not welcome because I snore. Well, that was not the only time I have been chastised for my ear-splitting night-calls, even others have shied away from sharing my room. Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde I transform into a roaring noice-monster in my sleep and hardly speak when awake.

So, beware! I snore.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Dark Symphony

Music of brittle sobs
Song of cold sighs
Jingle of broken prayers
Melody of silent cries

This is the symphony of pain
Without which a man is vain

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Vincent Van Gogh who lusted for life

Title: Lust For Life
Author: Irving Stone
Pages: 423
Publishers: Arrow Books
1st edition: 1935
17th edition: 2001

Lust For Life is a biographical novel which deals with the life of the famous artist Vincent Van Gogh, his trials, tribulations and paintings. Author Irving Stone has written this after extensive research and has referred innumberable letters of Vincent Van Gogh. I knew that Van Gogh was a great artist but never knew anything else about him. I felt wretched throughout the book and never wanted to continue further, but I kept myself pushing till the end.

Van Gogh sold only one painting during his brief lifetime and all along he battled violently with the thought that he is a wastrel, being an artist, whose paintings are crude, ugly and unsaleable. No matter how he screwed up his own life, his younger brother Theo, stood by him as a rock, supporting him throughout his barbarious stint with painting.

My rational mind kept on cursing Vincent Van Gogh for all the blunders he was creating for himself which were completely unnecessary and stupid. Only when Vincent saw his brother crumble did he lose hope and end his life. I still can't stomach the fact that a person can go through such disasters and personal upheavals in life which are self-made.

Vincent's stay in Paris with his brother was the only time I enjoyed the read. He was very mercurial in nature when it came to sticking to one particular place. He would long to go to some place after hearing good things about it; he enjoyed the stay there for a brief while and after sometime would screw up things and make them so ugly that he was forced to get out of there. He had a knack to f*** up things. The cruel irony about him is that he was a failed man who was self-destructive and became a great artist only after his death.

Well, here are some of the quotes which I liked in the book.

You can never be sure about anything for all time. You can only have the courage and strength to do what you think is right. It may turn out to be wrong, but you will atleast have done it, and that is important thing - page 42

Many a times in your life you may think you are failing, but ultimately you will express yourself and that expression will justify your life - page 43

Perhaps God knows, and then again he doesn't - page 83

He who loves lives, he who lives works, and he who works has bread - page 137

Human conduct is a great deal like drawing. The whole perspective changes with the shifted position of the eye, and depends not on the subject, but on the man who is looking - page 197

It is the plight of most people that by a kind of fatality they have to seek a long time for light - page 234

Religion will never get people anywhere. Only the base in spirit will accept misery in this world for the promise of bliss in the next - page 297

The public cannot understand that there is no room for moral judgements in art. Art is amoral; so is life - page 299

The ordinary human brain thinks in terms of duality; light and shade, sweet and sour, good and evil. That duality does not exist in nature. There is neither good nor evil in the world, but only being and doing - page 299

There is pleasure, sure, in being mad, which none but madman knows - page 392

Aristotle said, 'no excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of madness! - page 412

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Holy Man on Chamundi Hill

I had been to Chamundi hill recently to click some snaps. While I went around the temple I saw this old man with saffron robes, red uttareeya, matted braid fastened with rubber-bands, and a Santa-esque white beard. He had this biggest and roundest red bindi on his broad forehead which gave him a very attractive look. He was sitting in front of Sri Narayana Swamy temple and was having his brunch out of a stainless steel dabari.

I couldn't resist the temptation and requested him to pose for me. Without the slightest hint of annoyance, for being disturbed, he obliged and posed for me. I took a few snaps, one of which is displayed here. I call him, the 'Holy man of Chamundi'.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Mysore to Srirangapatna in style

Since a couple of years I used to dread going to Srirangapatna. Invariably the travel was by road and the mere thought of it sent shivers down my spine. The widening and four-laning of the Mysore - Bangalore road was progressing at a snail's pace and all the ancient trees that flanked the picturesque road were sacrificed at the altar of progress. The road was dug up everywhere.

The Mysore - Bangalore Highway cuts through vast tracts of farm lands and lot of natural and manmade water bodies flow across it, at regular intervals, to quench these fields. So numerous small bridges have been built including a couple of huge bridges across river Cauvery. Redoing the entire road meant re-building these bridges too. So there were lot of traffic bottle necks at the bridges that were under construction.

Inspite of the dug up road, torned down bridges, the bottle necks, uprooted trees, huge potholes, littered boulders, maddening traffic, choking fuel fumes, etc., many a daredevils zipped through the pathetic thing that once used to be a shady, cool road, with least concern to themselves and their fellow road users.

But yesterday noon when I drove from Mysore to Srirangapatna, I felt like whistling all the way.

Yes, there are no more trees that once flanked a narrow road, but there is this beautiful four-lane road which has a central divider planted with bougainvillae, hibiscus, and other flowering plants. One need not stress himself thinking about the trucks and KSRTC buses hurtling towards from the opposite direction. The road is smooth and stylish (except at the couple of places where the major bridges across Cauvery are under construction). Feels good to drive. I agree that it is no match to the Delhi-Noida expressway that I got a chance to blaze through sitting at the back of the car a couple of years ago, but the new road certainly provides a faster connectivity to road users between Mysore and Bangalore.

Watch out Bangalore! Mysore has come closer to you...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Review of the Book - Artists in Mysore

Artists in Mysore is a book authored by Naramani Somanath. As the title suggests the author has written on twenty-three artists of Mysore. The Majority of the artists featured are painters in various styles while a few marquetry artists, an avantgarde non-narrative film maker, two poets, a photographer and an architect are also featured. The author explores the respective art practised by each artist and also touches upon the various social and cultural aspects in relation to the artist, there by giving a commentary on their artistic lives without being categorical.

The selection of the artists is not deliberate but rather a random choice, says the author in his introduction. The book begins with K.S. Shreehari. Even though there are many artists painting in Mysore style, the author refers to Shreehari as being the last of our traditional Mysore school painters because he has learned the art in the same old traditional way from his father and grand-father as they did from their’s. The author disapproves other ways of learning this art which is mere copying.

Mysore is quite well-known for its marquetry tradition which is derived from the Italian renaissance. So the author has deemed it fit to include three artists who pratice this art. V.M. Sholapurkar, the former Dean of CAVA deals with marquetry in the sense of ‘modern art’. K. Mohan of Mandi Mohalla has been trained under the traditional masters of inlay and his pictorial marquetry is quite appealing to the author. Eric Sakellaropoulos, a greek, hails from Canada. He has set up a workshop in Mysore and producing marquetry pieces. He is almost renewing the aesthetic of pattern marquetry with his designs.

Vishnudas Ramdas and Raghuttama Putty, both senior artists are the pride of Mysore. Ramdas is an acclaimed portrait artist who has designed more than 35 gardens across India. His contribution to the horticultural architecture remains unknown for us Mysoreans. And as for Putty, he is the oldest living artist of Mysore who still paints at the ripe age of 92. He recently exhibited his landscapes on his 91st birthday.

Girija Madhavan brings a remarkable Japanese sensitivity to her work. She learned under many people around the world and each of her paintings is a masterpiece of vision, skill and sensitivity. Her mother, Mukta Venkatesh, wiled away her hundred years on the flowers of Mysore. Our city still has what must surely be the most beautiful flowering trees in the world. Mukta used to draw and paint flowers as a detailed study.

Two artists of Srilanka who have now adopted Mysore as their home are also featured in this book. Druvinka attended Shantiniketan and fell for the charms of Mysore which rarely stirs up any emotion in we Mysoreans. She paints in several layers of different colours, one upon the other, until the painting looks greyish with hints of colours, underneath, peeping through here and there. Her brother, Shehan Madawela who is residing here since 11 years, is inspired by the local women, the flowers, the food and the light. The faces in his paintings are stark and haunting.

G.L.N. Simha is an artist on his terms. He should be happy with his painting first before anyone else sees it or else the painting never sees the daylight again. The author understands the training tradition Simha has gone through and has made a brief study of this in the article.

M. Nagaraja Sharma is an archaeologist and a photographer. Along with him, the Venezuelan poet Rowena Hill and the wellknown poet Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy are featured in the book.

N. Sjoman, is an artist with a sense of humour and a Sanskrit scholar. A Canadian national, he is in love with Mysore for the past three decades. His works are personal statements and take a dig at the existing double standards in the society. He is a writer himself and has co-authored the book ‘Yoga Touchstone’ along with H.V. Dattatreya.

The only architect to be featured in the book, Shashi Bhooshan brought a new aesthetic to the otherwise languishing building architecture of Mysore which once boasted of lovingly built beautiful houses, buildings and palaces.

Though trained in a traditional idiom, Raghupati Bhatta has explored outside the tradition and has been successful in creating tiny worlds within the stifling spaces of narrow cards. Deft strokes of colours transform magically into forms and figures. One of his Visvarupa paintings grace the cover of the book.

N.S. Harsha is a rising star on the horizon of ‘modern art’ and Mysoreans hardly take stock of his creativity. He derives his aesthetics from Mysore, its creatures and contents. A student of CAVA, his paintings and installations are sought after around the globe.

Sami Vaningen is a contemporary art film maker who keeps returning to Mysore, the city where he grew up. Among his 15 films few were shot in Mysore. Another former Dean of CAVA to be featured in this book is Ramdas Adyanthaya. He paints from his experiences in life rather than from academic training.

Babu Eshwar Prasad is articulate about his art. You can read about him in his own words in the book. The article on Penpa Yaasel opens a whole new canvas of Tibetan thangkas. It also juxtaposes the two worlds of Tibetans - their life within Tibet and the other, without.

Pinki hails from the land of Madhubani and Mithila paintings. Her paintings are a mirror to her ecstasy during her creative trance. She is an artist for art’s sake and her art spills out of the canvas into her immediate physical world.

This book is a very informative one on artists in Mysore and a pleasure to read. It opens up a whole new perspective on an undisclosed world in Mysore. Every now and then Mysore, sort of, peeps out from the book and shows a stark fact about itself which the reader cannot ignore. It is as if a single thread of Mysore’s contemporary story is told through the lives of twenty-three artists. It’s like watching a TV with Picture-in-Picture facility - you are watching a channel, you switch on a small window in a corner of the monitor and take a peek at another channel as well. And when the reader finally turns the last page he yearns for more of Mysore and more artists.

One thing that the book really awakens, a regular Mysorean, to is the fact that there are so many artists enchanted with the city’s charm. They are unseen and unheard of. They remain in the background and work like shadows lurking in the dark deep recesses of the city.

In the beginning the reader may feel a little uncomfortable with the style of Naramani. He at times seems to wander off somewhere which is unconnected with the immediate context but when he returns to the original narrative the reader is surprised when that ‘stray-off’ blends so perfectly with the original context giving it a whole new meaning.

The book contains a picture of the work of each artist and at the back, there is a CD with additional pictures on it. Like this the reader can have a broad view of the work at a relatively low cost. This book, published by the Black Lotus Books Inc., Calgary, Canada, is a snapshot of arts of Mysore in the year 2006.