“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Yellow Line

In 2002 I went to Germany; my maiden visit to the West. I had to go to Bonn to attend a Workshop on organic farming.

Frankfurt airport. I hadn’t imagined the scale to be so large. Alone and awed, I got unnerved when I missed my baggage, a humble backpack. I had to catch a train to Bonn with a pre-booked ticket. I went hither and thither and without much further ado, was directed to the official who handled lost luggage.

I could see her, a Frau if I ever saw one, grim and blonde behind the glass pane. She was talking to a couple in front of her. I made the classic Indian blunder of blundering right up to the counter, opened my mouth when they shut their and looked at me. I said, “Excuse me, ma’am, I have lost my luggage, could you pl-” - I paused, because I could see the Frau turning her gun turrets on to me like a Frigate – and she fired her warning shot – ‘Arr you with thisss pepl?” I glanced at the young couple and totally lost, replied, “No, Ma’am, I- “– Frau turned to the couple – “Iss he with you?” “Naw, Naw” they cawed, with the typical shoulder shrugs and down-turned mouths and mocking expression in their eyes. “Then” – there was this inexplicable glitter in her eyes (maybe I am exaggerating) - I could see it coming – “then, you STAND OUT!” Totally flabbergasted, I looked around – out? Where? I was in the sea!

“There, (you primitive, pagan non-Aryan, black, likely an emigrant-sneaking-in-to-clean-our-toilets, piece of shit) BEHIND THE YELLOW LINE!”

And I beheld the Yellow Line for the first time in my life.

I have always liked things German; of course, the Nazis are an exception. I admired their discipline, their diligence, intelligence. I love Beethoven (I love the dog too), Boris Becker, Stefi Graf, Heidi Klum, Baron von Münchhausen , Grundig, Telefunken, Lieca, Mercedes and BMW. My dream car is VW Beetle. I had great respect for the Green Party and Petra Kelly. Max Mueller’s version of the Upanishads is my treasure; I always backed Germany next to Brazil in the World Cup. I still remember the West German Gerd Mueller’s picture, playing the 1974 World Cup. I love the name Beckenbauer.

The yellow line. I was reminded of our queues (?) in India. The innumerable incidents when I had to fight and make a scene, the time when I was threatened by a rowdy in Siliguri for asking him to step aside. Respect for Germans doubled in my mind. I hadn’t been to any other ‘civilized’ country before, so the yellow line was a great discovery for me.

Therefore I replied to the Frau all mortified and politeness – “My apologies, Ma’am!” She has no reason to know that Indians know only Red and Green – that waiting for others, respecting their time, giving them their due rights and opportunities - is unheard of in this country. Of course, politeness to foreigners (read non-Aryans – I am having a dig at you, you old bugger, Adolf!) is unknown to the Europeans too. All they knew is to rob and maraud the uncouth Asian animals. They never had the yellow line in the old days.

Later, in the airports and railway stations, I see the yellow line and stand behind it happily as if I am Herr Balachandran. I smoke at the end of the platforms, at the special area for smokers; I sit it the smokers’ compartment and enjoy my ride beside the Rhine to Bonn.

Yellow lines are necessary for orderliness. Yellow line has great possibilities! Yellow lines can be drawn in one’s life –‘Hey, look out!’ ‘Think again, buster, before making a move!’ One can draw yellow lines visible only to oneself. To obey the Yellow line, is to watch your step, buddy!

*********** Balachandran V, Trivandrum, 30-11-2010


Among the spiritual philosophers whose thoughts I am familiar with, J Krishnamurti is the one with whom I identify most. Perhaps it is due to a long association with him, since 1977. By the word association, I imply only familiarity with his writings and talks. I have always resisted the temptation to meet or see such people in person, basically because I always see the person and his philosophy as separate. I do not want a further intimacy with them; I do not want to be a devotee or a follower. I do not want to possess them; nor would I let them possess me. They too are humans and sure to have their failings. But their thoughts, like ours, is what they aspire to be, like us. That is why I wrote to my son that he should not assess me by what I am, but what I wanted to be. That, I think, is the yardstick we should apply when we HAVE to judge people.

I have always liked to read Osho. Inside the colourful and controversial exterior, Rajneesh was a great scholar and a sensitive human being. Autobiography of a Spiritually Incorrect Mystic gives a candid portrait of the man behind all the sensations.

In my room, I have displayed two posters of Osho that I bought many years ago. They still adorn the wall; the words still inspire me. One poster is titled ‘Acceptance’ and the other, ‘Awareness’.


My whole message is: Accept the you that you are because God accepts it. God respects it, and you have not respected your being, yet. It is very rare to find a person who respects himself. Why is it so rare? Because you have been taught to imitate. From the very childhood you have always been taught to be somebody else. Nobody has told you: Be yourself and be respectful to your being. It is God’s gift. Never imitate. Be yourself; that much you owe to God.


I don’t teach you any morality. I don’t say: “This is good, this is moral, that is immoral”. That is all childish. I teach you a single criterion: Awareness. If in awareness you do something, it has to be right, because in awareness you cannot do something wrong. And without awareness you may be doing something very good, appreciated by everybody but still I say it is wrong, because you are not aware. You must be doing it for the wrong reasons.

Everyday, I see these words; everyday, every time I read Osho’s words, it is like wiping my mind clean and fresh. As a tip to living and surviving, there is nothing like Osho’s words.

Balachandran V, Trivandrum, 30-11-2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Seeds of Life

Hawkers in our trains are an interesting lot. There is such diversity among them; from lottery tickets to books to cashew nuts of dubious quality and indefinable age, the hawkers entertain me in my journeys. And it’s the booksellers I look forward to. Uniformly priced at Rs.10/-, the books are fascinating; they range from Astrology and Ayurveda to zoological primers for kids!

Yesterday I had to go to Kottayam. The father of a dear friend was ailing. I had met the old gentleman several times when he was hale and hearty. Catching 0500 hrs Venad Express, comfortable at a single window seat, armed with a book on solitude and warmed by a cup of coffee, I settled down, only to snooze till Kollam.

As the train left Kollam, it was the turn of hawkers. The first one was selling vegetable seeds. In a little cellophane envelope one could see a number of seeds; the pink piece of paper inside the envelope gave the list – Amaranths, Lady’s finger, Tomato, different beans, pumpkin, snake gourd, green chillies etc. All for Rs.10/-. There was note of instructions too, on how to the plant the seeds. It said –‘Tie up the seeds in a little piece of cloth and soak in water for 24 hours before planting’. The water did the trick of bringing the seeds to life.

I tried to identify the seeds; I could, all of them. Looking at the seeds, I couldn’t help wondering at the marvel called life. This tiny seed of Amaranths which once fell off a plant and then dried in the sun only to be sealed in cellophane is a life waiting to be born. Is it dead? Is it just dormant? Is it in some of kind of hibernation? I am awed and humbled as I look at the seeds. A seed is like the 8GB stick I carry around!

I gazed out through the window. It has been incessantly raining in Kerala. Every inch of earth is covered by a myriad of greenery. Paddy fields ( whatever remains of it) lie flooded and sullen. The backwaters have swollen and lap the shores almost submerging the land. Shrubs and bushes crowd against each other like school children. Trees look like self-satisfied adults with a patronizing expression.

Back home I tell P about the seeds. Whenever I evince any interest in Botany, she puts everything else down and happily gives me a talk. So, as rains lashed outside and Sancho curling to a tight ball of fur at my feet, I listened to the wonders of Seed Dormancy.

Life is a miracle. It is an unending, exciting and rewarding journey if you embark on a tour of nature.

*********** Balachandran V, Trivandrum, 29-11-2010

For those of you who might care to read about it, I quote from http://www.mishobonsai.com/seed_dormancy.html

The goal of this article is to present the different types of dormancy found in tree seeds. By tree seeds we also include shrub seeds.

Seed dormancy is a natural mechanism found in seeds to prevent early germination in non-ideal conditions for the emergence of the seedlings. It is a form of barrier till the ideal conditions are present to trigger the germination. Studies have shown that dormancy in a tree seeds show almost no sign of life. Biochemical test have shown that life symptoms are undetectable in the seed embryo.

Dormancy will differ for different types of plants. Vegetable have little to none dormancy in their seeds, while trees are amongst the most common type of seeds with dormancy. But again, dormancy varies between different species of tree seeds. Amongst tree seeds species, maple are some of the hardest while lotus and tropical plants are the easiest with very little dormancy.
Germination dormancy comes in many flavours and combinations. Some tree seeds have multiple dormancy stages that must be broken at same time or one after the other. Seed germination as often been simplified to three steps: Scarification, stratification and germination. But, it is more complex then this. Seed germination dormancy is mainly address by the stratification step of germination.

We will try to expose some dormancy definitions of the known type of seed dormancy. Seven different types of dormancy can be found in tree seeds. Here they are:

  • Physiological
  • Morphological
  • Morphophysiological
  • Physical
  • Physical & Physiological
  • Chemical
  • Mechanical

We will define characteristics of each dormancy type with a short descriptions.

Physiological dormancy

Physiological dormancy comes in three types with each of them having their own characteristics.

Nondeep Physiological dormancy

The first being the nondeep dormancy. This dormancy is an easy dormancy. It requires a very little period of prechilling to break the dormancy barrier. Germination will occur at temperature above 15 celscius degrees. Light can be a factor in germination. Some known chemical compounds, like ga3, can help and improve the germination of tree seeds with a nondeep physiological dormancy.

Intermediate Physiological dormancy

The second being the intermediate dormancy. The period of dormancy and prechilling required for this type of seeds is a bit longer then nondeep dormancy seeds. Anywhere from 1 to 6 months could be required the break dormancy. An excised embryo will still grow and germinate eventually. Chemicals will also help germination for this type of tree seeds.

Deep Physiological dormancy

The third and last of physiological dormancy seeds is the deep dormancy tree seeds. Contrary to the intermediate dormancy, an excised embryo will grow. But, one exception exist, the prunus seeds are still growing after being excised even if they are considered a deep dormancy tree seeds. Deep dormancy type of seeds are requiring the longest period of dormancy period which is usually anything from 3 months to even 2 years. Some studies have shown that these type of seeds could have 2 levels of dormancy barrier.


This type of dormancy is usually absent from shrubs and is mostly found in a few temperate and almost all tropical species of trees. This is a nonexistent barrier compared to other type of dormancy. The embryo is just undeveloped and under ideal conditions it will complete is development and germinates.


This third dormancy type is a combination of the first two ones. The name is self-explanatory. As morphological, the embryo is undeveloped. It needs to develop itself to germinate, but before or at the same time, a dormancy barrier must be broken. The type of climate needed to broke the germination barrier is either moist, cold or warm. Again, nondeep, intermediate and deep type of physiological dormancy can apply with this type of dormancy.


The physical dormancy type of seeds are seeds that contain an embryo that is usually large and already contains it's own food and energy to germinate. While it is consider a form of dormancy, the embryo is actually non dormant and no barrier whatsoever are present. Thus, germination can occur at any time given it is provided with moisture and warm temperature. It is most common in the flowering plant family, being the angiosperm species family.

Physical & Physiological

Once again, this one is a combination of two types of dormancy. It is the same as the Physical types of seeds but with an added germination dormancy barrier. The three types of the physiological dormancy do still apply with this type of dormancy. Dormancy must be first broken in order for the embryo to germinate. Prechilling is the best method to break the dormancy barrier. Hot water, acid or mechanical scarification are essential before prechilling for germination. Some excised embryo will still grow.


Chemical dormancy of tree seeds are characterised by the chemicals found in the seed coat, embryo and endosperm. A chemical reaction must be achieve, mostly between the embryo and the endosperm. At that time, germination is triggered once the endosperm releases food and energy to the embryo. Seed coat removal is essential to achieve germination. This type of dormancy is amongst the hardest to break as it is often combined with a physiological dormancy barrier. Germination could occur form anywhere to a few months to a few years. Abscisic acid will help germination if applied to seed coat and embryo.


The last of the dormancy type is the mechanical dormancy. These are usually seeds with a deep physiological dormancy. They will require a very long prechilling period to break the dormancy. These seeds exposed to a warmer temperature before prechilling can show improvement in germination.

Germination of tree seeds is not as easy as we can think. Natural forces can prevent a seed from germinating and ideal conditons are always the biggest factors to help your germination success.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Theory of Impermanence

(This post was written months ago- I let it lie on the Desktop till now…)

‘Death. My favourite topic. Been wondering about death ever since my hormones started jangling. Why? When? Where? There was a time when I used cower with fear thinking about my final moment. Now, after a few brushes with the event, I find myself pretty calm about it. Maybe that’s the only real progress I have made in life. I am beginning to grasp the theory of impermanence. The holy detachment to everything, including one’s life.’

P G Tenzing – Don’t Ask Any Old Bloke for Directions - Penguin Books, India 2009

I have never owned a car. My father had one long ago. It was a Studebaker Champion, circa early 1950s model. I was a little kid then, in my primary classes. I remember that huge black car; I had to walk, to reach from one end to the other of its rear seat! The longest trip we went in the Studebaker was to Mysore to watch the Dussera, in 1964 or 1965. As an adult, I could have bought one, but somehow I didn’t. One of the reasons was that my ancestral home in the heart of the city where I have lived on and off for the last thirty-three years didn’t have car access. And the boy in me always preferred a two-wheeler.

Ask any bike aficionado. The exhilaration that a bike ride offers is far more than a ride inside the cocoon of a car. Exposed to elements, the intimacy with the surroundings is something hard to get in a car. There is something raw about riding a bike. As Pirsig would have said, there is oneness with the rest of the world. So I have gone around in scooters and motorcycles. Given a choice between a Mercedes and a Harley-Davidson, I would opt for the Harley, any day.

I had never met Mr. Tenzing, though both of us have spent considerable number of years in the same place, Trivandrum. I, as its native and Mr. Tenzing, a native of Sikkim, as an IAS officer in Kerala cadre. I don’t particularly remember seeing his name for the nearly 20 years he was in Kerala; probably because there are so many IAS people around and that too from other states. The first time I noticed his name and read with interest about him was when he resigned from the coveted position of the head of a Government department in 2006, straddled a Royal Enfield Thunderbird motorcycle and rode all over India for a period of 9 months, clocking 25320 kilometers. Mr. Tenzing was a fellow biker. That is something I would do, if I had the guts and the money. He published a travelogue of his ride across the country.

Mr. Tenzing is no more. He passed away on 26th July 2010, at the young age of 46. He had terminal cancer of the blood. I read eulogies about him, how good an officer he was, how charming, friendly and absolutely in love with Kerala, about his long ride.

Reading the book is like riding the pillion behind Mr. Tenzing as he speeds his bike fast and furious across India. Everything passes in a blur, except the sketches of people whom he meets en route; former friends and new friends that he made on his whirlwind tour. If you are looking for detailed description of the places he went through or its history or for introspective reflection on the philosophical and spiritual aspects of traveling, you have come to the wrong book. The book accelerates at a high speed, with short breaks allowed for peeing. Mr. Tenzing took only 16 hours at a single stretch to go from Leh to Manali, which I did in three days. Not that I cannot, but my idea of biking is more of the cruising kind, relaxed, laidback riding. Perhaps Mr. Tenzing knew that he didn’t have much time left.

But there is a great pleasure in living life on an impulse, which is something that ordinary mortals can only fantasize; something only a few like Mr. Tenzing could do. You sigh, as you read the last line of the page because you realize that this is something you will never dare to do.

There are certain images that you retain in spite of the racy ride. Mr. Tenzing’s great love for Kerala where he spent most of his adult life, his amusing irreverence for politicians and officialdom, his courage in chucking the most prestigious job in India, his deep feeling for Sikkim, the caricatures of people whom he introduces to you and the darkness of India as he passes through Bihar, Jharkand and UP. His language is fluent and modern. There is rapidness in his words like the revving of a bike. Yet Mr. Tenzing exposes himself at an unaware moment or two; like when he mulls over the death of a cousin and his own death.

Mr.Tenzing - can I call you PG, like your friends did? – PG doesn’t mince words when it comes to criticizing the baboos and politicians and the Great North Indian Attitude. His verbal slaps are, for the reader, a cause for huge merriment. PG is sitting in a hotel somewhere in Himachal being served by a fellow from Andhra Pradesh in south India- waiting for a rainout. Listen to him: ‘The locals said that the rainfall was too heavy and the summer too hot. Same old climate-change gripe. We’ve fucked up nature big time and now we must pay the price. I cannot understand the reluctance of the big business lobby – especially in the United States – to acknowledge the problem and to take steps in concert with the rest of the world. Those guys are going to get rid of the human species one way or the other. By climate change or nuclear holocaust’.

It is good to learn that such a man lived among us. A man who dared; and cared.

I am leaving it here, PG. If people want to read you, let them. Who knows, some youngster might be inspired by you; and another, yet another…

Palden Gyatso Tenzing 1963-2010

Balachandran V, Trivandrum, 24-11-2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Venus in India

The post is not about the famous sculpture, Venus de Milo; nor is it about the book by Charles Devereaux. It is about Venus Pencils, which was suddenly brought back from the past while reading another blog.

This post is for 'NRI Girl'. I was inspired to do a ride back in time because of her post, ‘Pencil Memories’ - http://hephzibahisrael.blogspot.com/2010/11/pencil-memories.html

Two of my three sisters who were elder to me by 13 and 4 years, studied Zoology at their graduate level; one of them to the PG level. Now when I look back, I realize that they didn’t have any interest in the subject of Zoology per se. On the other hand, when I wanted to take up 2nd group for my Pre-degree (no ambition for ‘medicine’ – I was intrigued by Zoology), they vehemently opposed and derided me saying ‘you cannot draw a single record!’ They said it so triumphantly and finally that I wilted - so did my dreams of becoming a wildlife biologist. I felt they were saying the truth. Looking through their ‘Phylum – Chordata’ I would shiver- I could never draw like them. Though under strict orders NEVER TOUCH MY RECORD BOOK!, I used to peep into their record sheets, marveling at the intricate, delicate drawings of strange creatures and beautiful plants with romantic but unpronounceable names.

It is so easy to kill children, isn’t it? More so, in our younger days when the words of the elders were final. Like, when I wanted to study English Literature for my graduate class, they scoffed – ‘What? English? What you going to be? School teacher? Ha!’

The drawings, delicate. On their tables was this special box of pencils that they guarded fiercely. The metal box said, ‘Venus Pencils Made in England’. Young readers cannot imagine the kind of awe we had in the 1960s for things foreign. Though I used to pour for hours over ‘LIFE’ and ‘National Geographic’, I secretly believed that such places and people never existed – it was kind of a Maya, an illusion, I had thought.

But the Venus pencils. That green, crackled design on the skin! Some would come topped with erasers. Some had white plastic caps. As a small boy, I played with the empty metal pencil boxes – they were my buses. I was never ever to TOUCH the pencils, they are soooo expensive! When no one else was around, I used to gaze fixedly at the partly nude Venus de Milo. Probably I had a fixation on mammary glands…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

After leaving a comment at NRI Girl’s blog, I google Venus Pencils.

Those who would like read a brief history of Venus Pencils – go on.

The Company was founded in Hoboken, New Jersey in the United States in 1861 by Edward Weissenborn who had learned the art of pencil making in Switzerland and realised that t was a great future in the U.S.A. for quality pencils, many of which had hitherto been imported from Germany.
In 1865 the Company became the American Lead Pencil Co. and was the first firm in the U.S.A. to manufacture a complete range of graded lead pencils. Edward Weissenborn designed and built all of his own machinery and took out over 28 Patents for pencil making machinery.
The Reckford family acquired the Company in 1885, Reckford's previously having pioneered the importation of German pencils.
In 1905 the Venus de Milo statue in the Louvre was adopted as the Company's Trade mark. This required a certain amount of behind the scenes manoeuvring as the French Government had always forbidden the photographing and commercial use of Michelangelo's work of art. About this time the distinctive crackle finish was adopted. This unique design came about quite by accident but has remained a feature immediately recognised the world over and is undoubtedly the envy of other pencil makers who have searched incessantly for some similar distinctive feature.
By 1895 Venus Brand pencils were already being used in Great Britain and in 1906 a London Sales Office was opened in Farringdon Road, with a view to selling more Goods within the British Empire, direct sales from the U.S.A. being restricted due to Tariff Barriers.
Manufacture of Venus pencils in the U.K. started in 1910 at the newly acquired factory in Lower Clapton Road in East London, the London Sales Office also being relocated to that site. From 1915 to 1918 the plant and workforce were employed on the production of munitions and pencil production recommenced at the end of the First World War. In this same year the British Company was incorporated as Alpco Pencil Company and so remained until 1933, when the name was wisely changed to Venus Pencil Co. to ensure that Overseas buyers were aware that the goods being sold to them were entirely British made.
1946 saw Venus commence to produce the newly invented Ball Point Pens.
The British Company continued to expand and, up to 1958, it remained in the ownership of the Reckford family. However the male adult family members had all deceased in the late 1950's leaving their shares in trust to their widows and children and this led to the sale of the entire Company Worldwide to a cosmetic corporation - Charles of the Ritz. This was an unsuccessful ownership and in *9Venus was acquired by Laird & Co. of New York.
Negotiations with the Greater London Council and the King's Lynn Borough Council in 1966 led to the move from London in June 1967 to a greenfield site and a purpose built factory on the Hardwick Industrial estate.
Production of Fibre Tips and Markers were transferred from Birmingham in the Summer of 1971. The takeover by Eagle Pencils at that time saw the move of pencil production to Tottenham early in 1972 to free space for the move of the Injection Moulding equipment from Birmingham.
The move of the Margros Art and Craft materials production equipment from Woking to King's Lynn in 1973 meant that work space again became very limited and an extension to the original building was opened in early 1974 becoming the Finishe...

(source: http://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/venus-pencil-co-england-the-golfer-pencilholder )

In 1956, the American Lead Pencil Company officially changed their name to the Venus Pen and Pencil Corporation, thus turning their fifty-one-year-old product into the company name. After some acquirements the company name was changed to Venus-Esterbrook in 1967. In 1973, the company was bought out by Faber-Castell and their name was changed for the last time to the Faber-Castell Corporation. This ended use of the Venus name and trademark.

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_Pencils)

****************** Balachandran V, Trivandrum 21-11-2010

Walking with Parvati

As we grow older, we gradually move into the unfamiliar realm of aches and pains.

The two of us had been vigorous outdoor people when we were younger and thought nothing of trekking in the mountains or biking long distance. But now, we hear the creaks and groans from different parts of our body. Joint pain, arthritis, rheumatism, sciatica, sprains, palpitation, muscular aches, diminishing eye sight, forgetfulness – the list is gradually but steadily building up. We are getting old.

Last Wednesday was a holiday. The two of us biked into the hills. Our destination was about 50 kms from where we live – the tribal area which is like a second home to us. Years of study and interaction with the indigenous community there have made us part of their family – they accept us because of our respect and love to them. We have learned a lot from the Kani; more than we could ever give back.

I was slightly concerned whether Parvati could take the rough ride on my Bullet. She gets migraine now if exposed to direct sunlight for more than 10 minutes. Strapping on our helmets, we said goodbye to Sancho, who looked tense and about to have a nervous breakdown any moment. The road was not as bad as in the city; we had a good ride. And typical of Kerala, we had a good drench in an unexpected heavy shower. While riding, Parvati was quiet for some time. I asked her if she had fallen asleep. She touched my neck and said – ‘No, I was remembering our rides long ago, with K strapped on to my chest’. Been riding together for 20 years now. Back home, Parvati looked radiant. She agrees with me; nothing like bike ride; car is too tame.

Today we went for a morning walk. Reason? I read somewhere that regular walking helps improve one’s memory. I am not so bothered about my absent-mindedness or memory lapses; but P surely is. So, she woke me up at 0530 and we did our 40 minutes bit.

Walking with Parvati has its benefits. One can learn a lot of Botany. She would point to each tree or plant, reel off its botanical, common and Malayalam names, show how to identify each, its medicinal value etc etc. Like the one I learned today – Bauhinia purpurea – Purple Orchid tree – Mandaram in Malayalam. She showed me its leaf, shaped like a profile of buttock cheeks. She said she always gets a laugh from the students when she relates like that; and it would be retained in their memories better.

In the quiet lanes that we walk, wild plants and creepers abound. They climb over walls and hoardings, over lampposts and fallen logs. After the night showers, they look so fresh and beautiful in different shades of green. Among them tiny flowers peek out and look at us curiously, like children. I remember this one – Clitoria ternatea.

We need wilderness around us. Not much; just a little. Just a little unkempt, disorderly, untidy patch. To remind us of nature and its spontaneity. A little wilderness in our hearts too; to remind us - of our natural selves.

************ Balachandran V, Trivandrum, 21-11-2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Accolades for a Poet

Today evening as I opened my gmail box, I found this e mail:

I am Vighnesh , a student of model school, thycaud, tvm.I just read your poem named "GOOD EVENING"in Executive Knowledge Lines.It is a very nice poem.I selected it for my resiting competition.hope your blesses will be with me. faith fully, VIGHNESH

I am humbled and touched beyond words.

Good Evening’ is one of my favourites. Do read it, if you like. My travels, My life: Good Evening

************ Balachandran V, Trivandrum, 18-11-2010

A Lamp for Thee, My Love!

It is amusing to read the comments of the younger friends on my posts on decades-old music. Like, ‘It is something my mom loved’ or Dad still listens to it’, etc. Songs that my generation held close to our hearts are ‘ancient’ to the younger set.

Like the way I thought of K L Saigal, Pankaj Mullick, C H Atma, Noorjahan or Lataji singing in her young voice - songs like Hawaa mein udtha jayae mere lal dupatta malmal (Lata M), Aaawaz de kahan hein duniya meri jawaan hein( Noorjahan with Surendra), Yeh raatane yeh mausam ye hasna hasaana( Pankaj Mullick)

We had a special, tall table stand for the Radio, beneath which was the HMV Star Turntable. The lower racks stacked full of LP records. After his evening bath, my father would come, smelling pleasantly. He would stand in front of the BIG Phillips radio, and tune it to Binaca Geethmala or Radio Ceylon. A Panama curling smoke in his left hand, and occasionally a glass of Brandy resting near the Radio, he would listen intently to the radio, fine tuning the stations. He would be humming a Saigal or a Mukesh, songs from the 1940s. I am talking about 1965-70. I used to get impatient with my dad and would think, ooph, what a drag, when he would break out – Sojaaa rajkumareee…!

Only in my early adulthood and in solitude that I started listening to the Hindi film songs of 1940s. As I understood more and more Hindi/Urdu, I could appreciate the songs better.

One of the unforgettable songs from that period is – ‘Diya to jala sub raat re baalam, par tum laute na aaye’ by C H Atma. Atma hasn’t sung as many songs as he should have; he tried his hand at acting but that didn’t do well. I googled Atma, but there is scant information on his life. This song, hauntingly beautiful, may not be familiar to all. But – do listen to it. If you want a taste, go to www.hamaracd.com .

Diya to jala – A lamp burned for you all the night my love! But never did you come back. In his deep bass, C H Atma sings so soulfully.

All you need is a cool, dim-lit room and a cold drink in your hand. Stretch your legs, lean back and look at the ceiling. Let the old movie roll…

************ Balachandran V, Trivandrum 18-11-2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fire in the Heart, Tempest in the Eyes…

(Suresh Wadkar)

The Seventies was the decade when dinosaurs started falling dead. Like Romantisaurus rex, Environmentosaurus rex, Idealosaurus rex. As global markets opened up, the frenzy let out swarms of locusts that devoured traditions. They haven’t finished yet.

The Seventies was the decade I lived my adolescence and came of age, in mind and body. The Seventies was a beautiful bubble that burst – like a true bubble, it revealed Nothing, but the ‘pop!’ woke me into the harsh realities of the world.

Every time I listen to Seene’ mein jalan, aankhon mein toofan by Suresh Wadkar, I am transported 3 decades back. Gaman was released in 1978 or1979. Farookh Shaiekh and Jalal Aga were like us, youth who had dreams – dreams were all they had. Life and opportunities swished past them swiftly, leaving them by the dusty road under the scorching sun.

To me, the song evokes images of my innocent, dishevelled youth, driven aimlessly like a grain of sand in a storm and then in the end, tamely succumbing, submitting to the vagaries of life .

Yet – sometimes I sense this warmth in my heart, like glowing coals in a Kangir; sometimes when I look at myself in the mirror, I see the fleeting shadow of a tempest that died long ago…

*********** Balachandran V, Trivandrum 16-11-2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Moving on

It has been a long time

Since I wrote of you.

It could be that I think less of you.

It could be that I am now free –

Or freed you - from memories.

There was a time I breathed you

In every sigh.

In every blink of my eyes

Images of you lingered

Unwilling to fade.

It could be that I have accepted -

As all have to

The final d-e-l-i-n-k-i-n-g –

- - - - - - -

What lies next?

***** Balachandran V, Trivandrum 14-11-2010

photo courtesy: http://www.google.co.in/imgres?imgurl=http://wisewomencoffeechat.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/shattered-glass.jpg