Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Back to Work

Second post after coming home. Lots of things had to be done. First, was to mentally win my room back from my Mom. She had kept it clean (in her perspective) and ready for me except that I could not find anything I wanted without searching for it for at least half an hour. She had messed up my order in a really deep way that I have no idea how the room looked like when I was a living member in it. I have a doubt that my Mom even shifted a wall poster.

Any way, Lots of things that I used to use regularly had stopped working; my lap top, my scooter etc. I had ordered a hell lot of books when I was not at home, thinking that I'd read all of'em when I get home. But, my easy chair was out in the balcony all these 7 months and the cloth became too damp and rough which made the chair unusable till yesterday.

I repaired my scooter (even changed the battery) and laptop (which was hanging every other second) and I can say 'good-bye' to Mom's desktop.

My office-going days are gonna start from Monday onwards and I am gonna blend into the Bangalore crowd soon.
So, I hope for something to post when I finally get some time to use the balcony. After all, it's called Balcony Viewpoints!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I haven't been blogging for a while and I had almost forgotten that I had a blog. I stayed away from all these things for almost half an year or more and when I get back home, I find myself too tired to be part of anything. I don't keep track of my friends because of my nearly zero Facebook time and I have no idea what's even happening in the country because I don't get to read newspapers. Someone would now think that the Cellular Jail has been reopened and I have been thrown inside one of those cells! To confess, my situation is not so different.

Since I work in the film industry, I get to go to places and meet people a lot and be creative and all... but every other little thing has to be forgotten most of the times, to do this properly. The only person I have a regular contact is my mom and she understands my time schedule and probably just for that she learned the most difficult art of texting!

When I go home for short intervals, I make plans to sit in front of Facebook and check on everybody, write long mails to Mr. M, Ms. S, Mr. S, Ms. J, watch a full ODI by munching chips and eating Ice Cream, going for a walk... etc. Life was much better when I was in the less creative job and I could remember things like my best friend's birthday. This year I missed a friend's birthday.... I mean I forgot to wish him. But, the guy is probably the most understanding person on earth and didn't make a fuzz!

So, I am home after 7 months of work. I got to direct the climax of a film, fell from the top of a car, broke a friend's nose (accidentally), got almost run over by a trolley, got laughed at for being stupid...! I am back... found out that my scooter doesn't start anymore, my laptop has ants in it, my balcony has leaves all over and the roof has a bird's nest.

More things will follow.... stay tuned.

- Sneha

Monday, April 18, 2011

Chachaji - The Omen (?)

This is a post about Chachaji. We were taught the word 'Chachaji' by our teachers or Children's Magazines and the figure associated with it was always Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru. Down South, especially in Kerala, we do not use that word, except for talking about Nehru, in an affectionate way. Born in the Post-Nehruvian (even Post-Indira Gandhi) and brought up and schooled in the Post-Rajiv Gandhi and Narasimha Rao era, I and most of my friends could never really relate to Mr. Nehru and the name 'Chachaji'. The only time I came close to do something for 'Chachaji' was to attend a painting competition on Children's Day, if my memory is not shaken, most of us were pushed over there by Rajiv, Archana and Manu, a few of the budding artists in our age group in that village. We were a group of 10-15 and the painting competition was conducted in a long hall of the newly inaugurated YMCA building. Parents had a good time talking and munching, waiting outside the hall in a long corridor, were tea and snacks were sold. For some of us, who went and bought paints, water color and brushes only in the previous evening, it was really a PAINT(h)ING. In one single evening, all the paint/water color stock in that small town was over and I remember going to a neighboring town, with my dad, to buy stuff for me. In the end, the 'torture hour' was over and some one came and took my painting. The humiliating incident was that the woman who came and took my painting looked at it and gave a lovely smile and said, "Nice Hippopotamus." But I intended to paint an Elephant!! Rajiv, who felt a moral responsibility in giving tips for the painting, tortured me for 10 years regularly and still doing it occasionally by imitating that woman's comment. He came out First in that competition and Manu was in the Third position. And there were hundreds of us clapping for them and our parents thinking about a day gone waste.

Years passed and I entered college. Rajiv joined Raja Ravi Varma College of Fine Arts and started climbing the big steps of becoming an artist. Manu forgot all about painting and started thinking about films and photography and world cinema and very often, 'World' as 'Cinema'. Boys tend to get intolerable when they are in that age, I guess. Archana, who used to paint well, was in my College and was planning to join somewhere for an interior designing course. During that time 'Chachaji' came back to me again. This time as a play organized by some of my classmates and the script looked very much like 'Waiting for Godot'. I was offered a role and was forced to do it as the strength of our class was low and we were advised to draw students from our junior batch too. From the beginning itself, the play looked bad. Most of the participants were not serious about it and rehearsals looked like 'girls fun parties.' When it came on stage, we all looked thoroughly unprepared and most of us missed dialogues, which made the play all the more incomprehensible. 'Chachaji', once more became a symbol of humiliating experience!!

Years passed again. We changed cities and got scattered all across the country. Rajiv is now working as an independent artist and has done some exhibitions and workshops. Academics absorbed Manu and he does photography for a living and Archana is an interior designer in a famous company in Kochi. 'Chachaji' never showed up in their lives after the first incident (which they might have forgotten, by now). I moved to Bangalore and last month, in the beginning of Summer, I had just returned from Chennai, after a week's stay for the talks of a film and was lazying around. Somebody knocked on the door and I opened with that safety hatch on. It was an elderly man with a long white beard, wearing a turban and he looked like a Sufi saint. He asked for money, in Kannada, and considering the blank look on my face, he switched to Hindi, and I understood his need. The entire corridor was filled with some sort of smell. I gave him 50 Rs as that was the minimum givable amount in my wallet. The man gave me a small bottle of 'unbranded' (most probably, his own make) perfume and smiled. I asked him what it is and he turned back and said with a smile, "It doesn't have a name. If you want, call it Chachaji's perfume." He disappeared through the stairs, slowly.

Seriously?? Chachaji's Perfume??

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Seller - A Thriller.

They are everywhere. They were in Chennai and they are here too, selling different sorts of things ranging from paper clips to Silk saris. I am not saying that I hate'em. Its just that I don't understand them. They aren't too ignorant to realize that the huge shopping malls do provide these small things too and people tend to buy these from there. There was this guy who used to deliver stationary items in our apartment in Chennai, when I was living with my friends. His delivery items include paper clips, pens, catridges for printers, A4 size papers and all from a nearby shop. Over the time, we got into talking terms and I should say that it helped to improve my Brahmin Tamil (which nobody apparently understands there) to local Tamil. Even though we used to meet only once in a month (maximum twice), he became a good local aquaintance to all of us.

One night he came and knocked on our door. My friend, Shweta opened the door and saw him looking quite upset. We asked him the matter and he asked if he could borrow a 1000 Rupee and he would give it back next week. We gave him the money and he folded his hands and said thank you and left running. Next day morning, we were shocked to hear about the murder of a woman not very far from our apartment building. In that whole week we tried to gather as much as details we could. We naturally doubted this guy and conceded to each other that it could very well have been one of us. The sheer terror in the thought made us shiver in the middle of the night when the surroundings were drenched in darkness and silence. We were eager to gather even the tiniest detail about the murder and after the dinner we tried to put together these horrifying and intriguing facts (as well fiction) to make up a story. Shweta and Tessa even boasted that they have been reading Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes to get the punch on the story. One of the facts we collected was that this guy was seen around the victim's house the day before the incident. My argument was that the house was situated near a public road so it was easy to spot anyone living around there. Anila was on my side and backed me up on this by saying that if we had gone to the shop around the corner, we also could have been spotted there. This stirred up an agitated argument for two hours and all of us got late for work the next day. These brain-storming sessions including making up and considering possible scenarios of the murder. Some of us (including us) even started watching investigative thrillers suddenly. We went out that weekend, a combined effort to divert our poor, overworked brains from the setting of crime investigators to common, weekend-humans.

Monday woke up with the shocking news that the special investigation team has caught a man from the neighbourhood in connection with the murder of the woman. We waited till the murderer appeared in the local TV network's mid-day news. To our surprise, it wasn't our seller. It was somebody else and the more shocking news was that he confessed committing the crime by saying that he did it for the gold ornament she was wearing. The police closed the file but we didn't. The seller became a mystery story among us. I once gathered courage to ask in the stationary shop about their delivery man and to my horror the manager said they never had a delivery man in that shop. I ran to my place to break the story to my friends. They were equally horrified and nobody talked until the dinner time. That night, after dinner, Anila proclaimed that she won't allow anymore talk on the topic since it has become an obsession for some of us. We welcomed the decision and applauded. Things became normal gradually and two of us, Anila and Tessa, shifted to Pune. Shweta and me started enjoying the newly allowed freedom and extra space and started advertising in our offices for possible roommates. Nobody was interested, to our secret happiness.

Then, August came. I resigned and went home for a family emergency and later got a job in Bangalore. In December, I shifted to Bangalore with my mother. In Januray, I again went to Chennai for getting some of my stuff and meeting some old friends. I was in my old apartment and Shweta had gone out with her new room mate for shopping. The door was open and I was sitting far away but still facing it. Suddenly, the lift opened and the seller stepped out. I stood up immediately, horrified but pretending to be deadly, as if I was facing Dr. Hanniball Lecter. The seller smiled and apologized for startling me. His hand went to his left pocket. I suddenly remembered reading in some book that the most deadly criminals keep their weapon in their left pocket. I looked around for possible weapons for hitting and set my eyes upon the bright yellow flower vase on the table. His hands came out from the pocket with two weirdly folded 500 Rs currency notes. He kept it on the table and apologized for the delay in paying. He said he never thought it would take him 7 months to return instead of the 7 days he promised. When I felt a little better, I asked him where he was all this time and where did he go that night. He sat near the doorstep and started his story. He had lost his son a few years (9, to be correct) back and has been searching for him since then. He had registered his son's name in a special police group investigating such missing cases. That evening, he got a call from Rameshwaram, informing him that his son's name has been identified in a group of young men captured by Indian Navy off the coast of Tamil Nadu. He rushed (after borrowing money from us that night without knowing that a murder has happened in the neighbourhood) to Rameshwaram and located his son in a camp by the police for refugees from Sri Lanka. He identified his son but it took the police two months to clear his papers to enter the mainland. The boy was captured in when he was 14 years old and now spoke only a few words. He was kidnapped by the L.T.T.E agents for developing their army against the Lankan government. The man sat on my door step and cried and said that if it wasn't for the money we gave he would not have got his son back. I could not say anything. I could not tell him that we made stories and spend countless number of nights speculating his involvement in the murder. He stood up and thanked me again and left. I couldn't wait for Shweta to come back. I called her up and narrated the entire incident. Unfortunately, I was leaving for Bangalore that evening so we could not have a talk for the completion of the story.

These days when I see sellers on the road or the narrow corridors of our building, I think about the stationary seller in Chennai. And the stories we made.

- Sneha

Wednesday, February 9, 2011



That’s what I thought. Nothing else but my age is the problem. I was born in 1986. When I was in school, I never had a problem with that because all my friends where from either the same year or the previous one. When I went to college, the story changed a little bit by having classmates from 1983/82 or even 1981 (rare! there was only one). When I was working in Chennai, my boss was the eldest among us all. She was born in 1977. Sometimes I imagined her in Eastman Colour. :) Don’t worry guys; my parents are also from the Eastman colour age even though grandparents come from the Technicolor or Black and White period. There I was... thinking of myself in a modern Panavision or Kodak colour or even in a Film Noir style (just for style) walking around these people in B&W, Technicolor and Eastman and suddenly I was sent to work with a crew for the post production and pre-release advertisement of a film. I reached this studio and was introduced to a group of young boys and girls (8 of them). I was told to lead the team to design and create five high definition posters of the film. As part of the ice-breaking, I found out that I am the only one born in the 80s. Half of them were born in 1990 and the other half 1991/92. They looked at me like I belong to a different species, or that’s what I thought.

Anyways, the age difference was useful because they felt obliged to listen to me when I spoke or gave instructions or suggestions. But, throughout the week I worked with them I had this feeling that I am too old compared to them and some of them even strengthened that fear of mine by started calling me 'chechi' (affectionately, elder sister). By the time we had a party as part of winding up the work, some of them made it a point to make a joke out of it.

But, that’s not the end of it. I came back home. Mom was very happy because I was home after two and a half months of work and I am not inclined to go anywhere for at least a month. She had made plans for this month on what to do and where to go stuff. She had also made a pile of wedding invitations on the table from my friends inviting for their wedding or her friends inviting for their children's wedding. That’s one thing I don’t like along with so many other things these days. So I threw it to the top of a cupboard and made my mornings pleasant by looking at the table without programme charts. The horrible thing happened. There are some neighbours who were checking on mom when I wasn't here. One of them was my mother’s classmate when she was in college. (They had a very emotional re-union after what they call 27 long years in our box-like apartment lift after we moved in here). She is planning her daughter's (less than my age as that is the fashion these days) wedding. She was also born in the traumatic times of post-Cold-War period!!

Now I am forced to think that I am the only one born in the 1980s in this locale. As I can't find any......


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Balcony Viewpoints

The idea of blogging has been around for some long time. As far as I can remember, I even started one once. But now I can't even recall when or how. And I dont know if I could go back and make it alive. Somehow I am too ignorant to do that. May be my idea took so long to become practical because of my lack of stuff to write. But, when I get postings of my friends on my FB and mail I start thinking again... where are all those things I imagine when I am alone? Why don't I put it down to a blog page and keep it as a record? In fact several of my friends have often reminded that I should start one.

The name Balcony Viewpoints had been finalised on a fine January morning when I sat in my balcony, looking down at a nosiy Bangaluru street, with a hot tea in my hand. The road was partly covered in fog and there were milkmen and newspaper boys, ringing their cycle bells (which actually disturbs me on a regular basis). Suddenly my Mom walked in to the frame and asked me how my contact with human society is progressing from the unreachable balcony. The next minute I was thinking about this sentence and thought that if I ever write a blog I will name it something related to my favorite balcony.

Now, I know that I dont really know about blogging or how to keep track of these things. But I guess I will learn if I am seriously into it. I should find what is writable and what is not from my experiences. Above all, I should seriously look for some of those docx files I saved randomly in my laptop and I might have to do a clean sweep to find'em. The only blog I have regularly followed is my friend Manu's and now I am following Swati's as well. In fact I have bookmarked her blog so that my cook-freak mom also will find some to read them. I hope this post will serve the purose of an introduction to my entry to the blogworld and also hope that my friends will spare some time to take a look at it.


Sneha Ramanath