Thursday, February 11, 2021
Thursday, January 14, 2021
is cryptic. Each circumstance threads out into multiple situations. Some sense
it as opportunities for self-benefit for others it ends up in inaction. Human
relationships can be complex layers of emotions bundled into behavioral
patterns reflected from time to time. Moods, responses and reactions are prone
to changes, degrees of which differ from person to person. On one end of the spectrum
is hyper sensitivity and on the other end of it cold, frozen inertia.
God destines us to come in contact with souls who through their fortitude endure our actions that could be little known to us. It implies that people without their conscious knowledge can be a cause of hurt or harm to others or they can be an everlasting source of wisdom and happiness too.
Sentiments, ego and reactions interweave our thoughts, gestures and attitude. However the faith reposed on us by another person is required to take on the test of time and situations before being cut bare open to introspection. Each soul is a fresh whiff of breeze. There is always a greeting and welcome on their arrival or a sting of sadness in their goodbyes. Some leave our garden scented with their cheer yet some others leave a trail of agony and sorrow for us to endure.
Each slap of wind is a memory; each gap of silence is a cry, each moment of knowing a longing and in each moment of good bye you belong. You would turn a stranger today. While the gush of winds blow in more rains with ferocity. Somewhere distant, I hear a silent sob. I wonder if it is your silence that seethes in pain or my thoughts that reverberates it back.
Of course, I do care. I know the wind can never be unknown to me or the rain drops. Neither the Earth, that breaks away from under my feet today that would erase your memories.
It would only be the adios which shall remain an unsung song.
It is not just the
imposing red brick building but the sheer steel and unseen human soul hidden in
the insides of this reverent temple of learning that beckons me once again
towards it where I spent twelve precious years of questioning, introspection
Nearly three decades have passed since I used to sit perched on one of these benches trying to unravel a future for myself figuring out the intricacy of platonic integrations, geometric progressions of spiraling days, dissecting anatomies of life and mimicking the pure delight of angelic poems that were rendered with such urgency that I could never imagine in my wildest dreams that I would be scribbling some by myself one day!
Massive sprawl of green foliage hiding rows of non-descript yellow single storied structures with arched front in the Canning Lane of LB (Lutyens Bunglow) Zone were our primary class rooms. I would hear gallops of the marching regiment, a cavalry that was perhaps kept safely leashed in some the stables many years ago by the British.
Tiny little brown desks and benches; Damp moist odor of wood and a fresh smell of Earth. Exotic green nuts oozing milky syrup that would be crushed with stones its tender insides that tasted like almonds to be eaten bare. The swarming flocks of Eagles and vultures that would swoop down on our lunch boxes during noon. Melodious notes from the air filled bags of Scottish pipers that I later found were the armed bands practicing their regimental numbers are little specks of memories from the period that I still carry in my head.
With passing time the old structures started crumbling and we braved the rains, heat and the fury of winter in the make shift tents where we grew up learning logic of sane learning, joyous sharing and a sweet fanciful adolescent years of secondary school time.
Beads of sweat, austere leanings and sincere toils saw us shift into gleaming new class rooms. Islands of earthly natured pupils in silence had with time transformed into cities of fortified passions. Some harangued and debated most complex aspects of social and political anarchy prevalent in other parts of the globe while some others had astoundingly sharp scientific temper that would put seasoned scientists to test. There were yet others during our senior secondary school years who would take up challenges of an alien civil crowd on board Delhi Transport Corporation buses fiercely fighting for the safety of their school mates outside school hours.
Sweet and tangy taste
of our brush with destiny of a warm school time start and ends at its gates
that was what we thought when the farewell happened.
Today, I find the list of distinguished people who have passed out from the school is endless. After decades of separation, sincere warmth and a unique camaraderie still binds all of us. But for the memories, our school days are like shadows that grow longer with each passing day. Memories are all about that, aren’t they? And What are memories without schools?
http://www.jpkallikkal.com (Class of 84)
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
I wonder if you ever imagined sharing stories with strangers of destiny!
No? On ,A train Journey? It would have been an incredible stranger. No. Not a train Journey. I was talking of a Life Journey. A journey, when each individual, who matters to you, wishes to open up a path before you. A path you think never exists! A train journey is a moment; A life journey into eternity.
An eternity to dream your fantasies, feel your heart beats and breathe life. You may be living in a finite world yet your thoughts take you through a virtual journey. The words that the stranger whispers, just wafts over and takes flight. They sometimes crawl, sometimes run, sometimes stop but they do sail long distances.
You know what? I always wished, I could share stories with unknown people. How naïve I was. I thought no one would understand my story. So, I started listening to their stories. I heard them for years and found their stories were same as my story but the plot was different every time. So was theme, the actors, the settings but each stranger had a story to tell. Story of their journeys
What is life? An incredible mix of surreal happenings interspersed with the karma of the present and bhagya or destiny that your future holds? I would rather say life is like meeting that stranger on a highway, depends whether you give him a lift or just speed away your way.
Each moment can be turned into a profound experience or they can be suppressed to happen the way they are happening. Let them keep happening but you need to steer them to a certain extent onto a chosen direction. Each day can be a story of your struggle, achievement or failure but giving a personal fillip to your actions can make your story slightly different from what you perceive and realize.
What the stranger whispers could be what your heart echoes too!
But you need to travel. The incredibility of the stranger would dawn upon you once your heart gets the answers. Answers to the riddle called life. So let a new Journey begin. You will soon realize the stranger of destiny is your reflection in the mirror that knows your heart better than what your face sees on it.
Today, I looked up myself in the mirror but was surprised to see a stranger smiling at me.
Friday, December 11, 2020
Delhi used to be a shining hub of Music, Culture and Art Festivals till a few decades ago. Un-regulated growth, pollution and negativity is today gnawing up the very roots. Owing to altered security scenario and priorities, Delhi has transformed from being a cultural paradise in the past to a painful reminder of what decay would mean to a creative mind.
The name Delhi evokes different responses in the minds of people from all over the globe. For some it is today one of the most populous and polluted capitals in the world. Yet, Delhi used to be a clean and green city that was the hub of music, culture and art celebrations till a few decades ago. Its carefully manicured heart, sprawled with green vistas and fruit bearing trees, found mention amongst the best cities in the world.
Hailing from an agrarian backdrop in Palakkad, Kerala, destiny brought me to Delhi in my early years. Transgressing the borders of time and stuck deep in a quagmire of professional compulsions, I am today fondly reminded of a time when they city was relaxed, event filled and harmonious in existence.
Deep Purple, Sting, Bruce Spingsteen, Bryan Adams, Peter Gaberiel, Tracy Chapman, Boney M, Bangles could be sounding as some big and respected names in Rock music but all of them have performed in Delhi and I have been able to attend the concerts. While Beatles and Abba were taking the world by storm, Delhi silently decked up after ASIAD of 1982 to host some of the most memorable Rock Concerts which were mostly held in Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium that could hold capacity crowds (75000), Talkatora Stadium or Indraprastha Indoor Stadium in Delhi. Delhi used to have its own editions of Rock Festivals, Jazz events and Pop performances spread over several days.
Africa Live was one such concert that I vividly remember attending. The program started at about 5 in the evening and went on live for more than 12 hours showcasing some of the best in International Music.
Siri Fort Auditorium at Khel Gaon Marg has been another venue that hosted memorable events. Few of live events I could witness at this venue are: Bolshoi Ballet from Russia, French opera Carmen, Jagjit Singh Live and several other Ghazal, Thumri and sufi music performances. Siri Fort used to be a regular venue that hosted the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) with film shows spread across various film halls in Delhi. I invariably made it a point to attend these festivals year after year, till it IFFI was moved out to Goa.
Spirit of India concerts enabled me to witness and follow the most of the Indian Classical Masters Live in Delhi through 1980s. Memorable performances included ones from Pt. Jasraj (Vocal- Hindustani), Ustad Bismilla Khan (Shehnai), Pt. Bhimsen Joshi (Flute), Ustad Amjad Ali Khan (Sarod), Zakir Hussain (Tabla), Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma (Santoor), BalaMurali Krishna (Classical Carnatic) and several other stalwarts of those times.
Dance scene in Delhi was no different. Performances of dance maestros dotted the cultural calendar of the capital through the year. Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Kathakali and most regional dance forms from across India found their footprints in the Capital. Yamini Krishnamurty, Uma Sharma and several other distinguished dancers performed in Delhi. Folk, rural and ethnic dance forms too visited the capital to showcase their performances before the crowds.
International Dance troupes too made their presence felt in Delhi through programs arranged by ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations). Russia, France, Germany, Japan and host of other nations showcased their arts and culture in the Capital. I would invariably keep my diary filled by keeping track of the events and ensuring attendance.
New Delhi also had a rich cultural milieu. Year long celebrations of Art, Theatre, Films and Folk arts were primary to its vibrant existence. Each year the cultural calendar of Delhi was marked with numeral national and international events.
National and International Book fairs, Handicraft Fairs, Dance Festivals, painting exhibitions, Food, and a string of national and international events kept date with Delhi. Yearly International Trade Fairs at sprawling Trade Fair grounds, Food and craft fairs at Dilli Haat, Spiritual, Devotional and Sports events that included Marathons, International Sporting events like (Asiad, Commonwealth Games) kept Delhi a hot place to be living and enjoying one’s life.
However, changing security scenario and VIP culture has dampened cultural scene of Delhi. Heavy handed interference of civil and police administration into arrangement and conduct of such events made organizers wary of choosing Delhi a venue for big events. Many International Rock groups have moved away from Delhi to Bengaluru and Mumbai owing to negative crowd response and organizing woes. To top it, I notice that the general population of Delhi has tilted away from the dynamics of understanding the minute aspects of other cultures. They are either indifferent to the performances or fail to catch the true essence of such events.
Today crowds of Delhi have become too noisy and ill behaved, compared to earlier years and other venues. From being known as the Cultural Capital of India, Delhi is today having a dubious distinction of being called the Crime Capital of India. Forts, Mausoleums and Minarets stand mute to the change that has taken place here. Wide tree sprawled roads are today constricted with traffic. Air quality remains extremely poor throughout the year and seasons are playing truant making it difficult to organize or attend such events.
A tourist’s paradise and a shining example of being the National Capital, Delhi is today greying inside out. Rapid expansion of roads and buildings, Mindless growth of population, vehicular traffic has transformed this city into a big maze of confusion devoid of aesthetics and harmony. To add to its woes Covid 19 has battered the city like never before. I wonder, if we could ever have the days that have passed us by in the capital city of India. Delhi would be dug up even further through its heart with Central Vista being re-designed and constructed. It is perhaps too late for Delhi to return and reignite the spark of the past. History may be made and recast but as a sensitive admirer of culture, traditions and arts, my angst at witnessing a Delhi losing its soul is a painful experience.
I had wanted to stay on in Delhi forever to savor its multi-cultural diversity and ethos but greed, one one-upmanship and material compulsions has torn open the divide among its citizens. Un-regulated growth, pollution, politics and negativity is today gnawing up the very roots of this once proud city. Beyond being a power broker’s den, Delhi may never regain its cultural sanity or clean air. If Delhi is to be saved, it is time that the capital is shifted out from here, along with bag and baggage of those citizens, who continue to live and die here each day without feeling any remorse to the slow and painful death this city is going through each day.
I feel lost in the Capital today, do you, too?
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Covid 19 has shattered our beliefs and altered the way we view our life. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, ‘A vaccine on its own will not end the pandemic, it will compliment the other tools we have, not replace them’. Which means in the near future we are back to a state of uncertainty, in terms of complete immunity from the virus.
The year 2020 has already spelled doom to many individuals, businesses and economies. It has been a year of depression for stock market and people who reposed their faith in science. Never in the history of human evolution did such confusion arise out a strain of virus potent enough to spread so quickly and kill at will. Medical fraternity has been on its edge trying to cope with the pandemic that has spread all over globe at such a quick pace. While front line health workers have been stretched beyond limits, hospitals have certainly been overwhelmed with cases that have spilled out beyond earmarked capacities. Covid-19 as a pandemic has been a bane and boon for those in the medical field. While on one hand Medical fraternity has been pressed to the edge trying to cope up with pressure on systems and people for spreading out treatment and resolution, on the other a hope hinged on developing an effective vaccine is already underway. In fact a strategic approach for production and distributing the vaccine has already begun. While other business sectors have faced the brunt of lost businesses, medicine as business has already flourished due to the pandemic which can be termed as a boon.
We have already seen that different countries have coped up with the pandemic in its unique ways. While countries such as United States and Spain that bore the initial brunt of the pandemic saw huge number of deaths in the first wave, Asian, African and many other countries have handled the pandemic in their own unique ways. While the primary strategy has been to find, isolate and rehabilitate, more populous countries have found this route tedious, time consuming and resource exhausting. It is generally seen that majority of those infected have been able to come out of the infection without major complications with medications in hand. In fact traditional and local medicines have been able to help the patients overcome the initial discomfort and illness associated with the disease, however efficacy of the vaccine being developed in different countries would be marker to the future of this pandemic.
There are those who believe this pandemic is man-made, there are others who link it to greed of human civilization and the curse of nature on its exploitation. Still there are others who believe that this pandemic has been a ploy by certain powers to re-mark territories and to strategize global economic hotlines of future. On a closer introspection we can see that the pandemic has opened up a pandora’s box of questions for the future of each individual, nation and Earth as a sustainable eco system for survival of humans.
We also see that different countries have employed different standards of safety and strategies to deal with the pandemic. While many such methods touch upon policing, public health safety, resource mobilization and spread, impetus has been to keep the wheels of economies moving despite red flags on the health front. On a broad spectrum it is seen that while in many countries where parameters of health were of extremely high standards, pandemic overwhelmed their systems and they saw large number of deaths. Poorer countries with less well developed health systems and larger populations saw huge infections but lesser number of fatalities. This could be because the virus overwhelmed people who had high life standards but a lower immunity levels compared to individuals who were exposed to wider array of infections. However the scare owing to the pandemic is yet to see its true peak. While for richer nations, it has been diversion of resources and greater allocations to health sector to deal with the pandemic, for poorer nations it is doing their best by prioritizing budgets for allocations for providing food and medical support to the affected sections of population.
While researches are on to come out with an effective vaccine against this virus, studies are on to understand long term effects of the virus on human bodies. Science which had developed so much over the years and had become invincible is today faced with the dilemma of having to face the threat caused by a set of invisible viruses that are playing up on human bodies as a disease and on human minds as a grim reminder of us being mortal humans!
Perhaps it is the first time in human history when places of worship were closed down, people were prohibited from meeting their own and dead bodies cremated without the loved ones attending the services. Death literally came cheap and hospital treatment has eroded the finances of millions and a question mark has risen over future of human civilization in the in event of more such viruses surfacing in the air.
This Pandemic is proving that human beings have not forgotten to smile despite threat of death hovering over its heads. The will of human minds to overcome adversities and join hands to forge alliances is visible yet at the same time divisions ingrained in political and geographic boundaries have more than once exposed the chinks that can derail the progress on humankind as a society. Covid 19 may be in the air for a long time and take us along into 2021 but not before it alters psyches of individuals and societies towards each other, health and finances.
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Hybrid Film Festivals
Films convey stories from most diverse geographical regions. They become a fine tool that tide over geographical and language boundaries to portray events and voice out significant aspects of human endeavor and culture. Film Festivals thus turn into a vital link that bridges distances and touch core aspects of human mind processes and emotions. Each year a number of film festivals are held across the world. However this year, Covid 19 pandemic has drastically altered the way Film screenings and festivals are going to be conducted around the world this year and years to come till fears arising out of spread of novel covid 19 and other mutant viruses are put to rest.
Hybrid literally means a mix and in terms of Film Festival being termed Hybrid, it would in reality mean a mix of real theatre screening with an admixture of digital virtual screenings of movies and discussions thereof. Today technology has empowered us to virtually cross over physical boundaries and be connected to each other through digital platforms. Film Festivals are no exceptions. Those finding favor with digital platforms would root for seamlessly crossing over to digital formats even for organizing Film festivals that could bring in a larger audience and become more inclusive event than conventional festivals.
Perhaps the earliest festival to try out the Hybrid form was the Locarno Festival in Switzerland which adopted a semi-virtual format. Held in the town on the shores of Lake Maggiore, the Italian speaking region of Southern Switzerland the 73rd Festival held between 5th and 15th August 2020 was switched to a hybrid format with films and filmic content made available online. It is estimated that about 5950 people saw films in Locarno Indoor cinemas and about 320000 visits were made on festivals digital platform where full length films, short films, panel discussions and talks were made available online.
45th Edition of the Toronto Film Festival is implementing a hybrid film festival in the month of September, 2020. The edition will combine physical and online screenings with upto 50 features and five short programmes. Digital screenings, interactive talks and Q&A sessions have been planned besides a drive in format ensuring physical distancing.
Cinefest Sudbury in Ontario, Canada too is expected to be a Hybrid festival scheduled between 19th and 27th September, 2020. Ontario movie theaters are allowing 50 people per screening. The organizers are hoping that local film makers and producers would be appearing in person and the industry could take part in the event online.
64th Edition of BFI London scheduled through October 7th 18th, 2020 too has pivoted towards a Hybrid version with introduction of Audience Choice Awards this year owing to Covid 19. The festival is planning a 50 virtual festival premiers with upto 12 previews of upcoming films that will be screened across the UK. In a marked change from earlier versions, audiences are expected to replace the festival’s official jury and will vote on audience awards in four categories that will include fiction feature, documentary featue, short film and XR (extended reality). Awards will be announced in a live virtual ceremony on the final weekend of the festival . The full programme of the festival will be launched on 8th September, 2020. Sundance Film Festival, Raindance Festival and a number of other Festivals are expected to be on the Hybrid mode this year. In view of Covid 19 pandemic, India too is expected to host a 'Hybrid' International Film Festival in the month of November this year.
Friday, August 7, 2020
Today is National Handloom Day. Swadeshi Movement was launched on this very day i.e. 7th August, 1905. Handloom reflects the glorious traditions of Indian Textile Industry and an era of self reliance in the area of garment production and fashion. History is replete with instances of Indian textiles occupying high demand within Indian borders and far across the oceans. Handloom is also a significant source of livelihood which holds capacity to empower artisans associated with the profession. It is estimated that 70% of all handloom weavers and allied workers in India are women. However, being a household activity and entrenched in rural backgrounds, imperfect and often cheap imitations through power looms and illegal inroads through mills have brought this sector into a state of slow decay and death.
I belong to Kerala and hail from the district of Palakkad. For several centuries handloom weaves from the Villages of Kollengode, Chittoor, Devangapuram, Kallanchira, Neelikkad and Karimpuza in this district have been great demand. In the pre-Independent India dress material including sarees, dhoties, towels and cloth lengths were weaved and marketed to rest of Kerala and other princely states from this district. However, post independent India saw weavers joining hands and pooling resources into cooperatives to run these handloom centers. However, piling up losses and lack of income in the profession led youth from these villages to move away from this profession and its slow death.
Today we see that polyester, artificial yarn and multitude of textile materials have emerged across the world as viable medium of fabric. However the ‘comfort and breathe’ factor of handloom can never be equated with any alternate textile material. Use of hand looms in weaving spectacular patterns not just enable large sections of labour to be gainfully employed in this profession but also props up local creative talents in design setting, pattern development and manual colour coding. Use of local motifs, shades and designs sublimely carry the flavor of its local community into the hearts of textile users.
India sits on a treasure trove of indigenous cultural richness. Each state in this country has its unique tradition and contribution in handloom weaving. Ikat from Odhisha, Bandhani (tie and dye), Patan Patola from Gujarat, Kalamkari from Andhra Pradesh, Brocades of Uttar Pradesh, Zari works from Madhya Pradesh, Kancheevaram from Tamil Nadu, Kantha stitches from West Bengal, Kosa from Chattisgarh, Kunbi from Goa, Lepcha from Sikkim, Pachaculi from Uttarakhnd, Pachra from Tripura, North East Weaves prominent from Mizoram, Nagaland apart from multitudes of patterns, styles and textures like sambhalpuri, Muga, Maheshwari, chanderi and Khadi makes India a well defined centre from Handlooms.
Yet the real story of handlooms can be seen from the dwindling number of families engaged in this profession. Surveys show that while 124 lakh weaver families were engaged in this profession in 1970s their numbers reduced to 64 lakhs in 1995 and it dwindled further down to 44 lakhs in 2010. The narrative of Policy vs production techniques have seriously impacted handlooms in our country. While introduction of standard yarn into our country in the 1840s changed the course of handlooms, replacement of natural yarn with synthetic ones for use by power looms further played havoc with this segment. Global players and technology has further robbed local identities. Today artificial dyes coupled with computer controlled looms, churning out global designs and textures in a copy paste environment, has brought the entire economics of handlooms into a grinding halt. No amount of protection or unique identification is able to save the handlooms from extermination from one roof global operators.
Need of the hour is identity ability to distinguish ‘real from an imitation’. The responsibility of a buyer increases with the awareness of purchase of a real product not a cheap copy. Price alone should not be a consideration for purchase but a larger emotional attachment with the product being bought. Buying a Handloom product should be more than a symbolic gesture of helping a needy weaver but it should be a nationalist move to revive our rich culture and traditions of our nation by empowering our local talent and rural weavers.
Story of our Loom would be incomplete without a simple picture of Charkha. Time has come when we join hands to help the spirit of enterprise spread amongst the rural weaver folk and support weavers and handloom by buying truly hand woven fabrics made in our country.
Friday, June 19, 2020
% of Investment
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Thursday, April 30, 2020
മണ്ണിൽ കൃഷ്ണനെ അറിയുന്ന ഞാൻ എന്റെ ബാല്യകാല സ്മരണകളിൽ അവധിക്കെത്തുന്ന കൃഷ്ണേട്ടയാണ് ഇന്നും. പ്രൗഢഗംഭീരമായ നടത്തവും കൃശഗാത്രനാണെങ്കി...
മണ്ണിൽ കൃഷ്ണനെ അറിയുന്ന ഞാൻ എന്റെ ബാല്യകാല സ്മരണകളിൽ അവധിക്കെത്തുന്ന കൃഷ്ണേട്ടയാണ് ഇന്നും. പ്രൗഢഗംഭീരമായ നടത്തവും കൃശഗാത്രനാണെങ്കി...
Covid 19 has shattered our beliefs and altered the way we view our life. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, ‘A vaccin...