July 20, 2009

Dearest friend of mine...(Ennamma thozhi)

Oh! What shall I do, dearest friend of mine?
I am missing my little doll...

Sweet memories
of braiding her hair,
of adorning it with flowers,
of dressing her in satin frocks...

I found you, my dear doll,
the month of Ippasi, fresh from a dip in the Cauvery...

Won't you close your eyes, my dear doll,
when I sing sweet lullabies?
Forever in mind, even when you are gone...
I hear gentle music when you talk to your precious flowers...

Oh! How I wish for a life with no end;
If I had another life to live, how different it would be!
Her face, the enchanting moon; her body, a shimmering river;
Little fingers like soft blades of grass...

Waiting till the day fades,
along with the charm on her face
as her yearning eyes keep searching for those of her beloved's...

This song was hard to translate. L~ sent this song and I liked it the first time I heard it -- simple and melodious. I struggled to understand what the original lyrics meant though (even with mom's help) -- especially the part about another lifetime and a wish to never face death (Why the sudden wish? So she won't lose her doll the next lifetime? But, won't she have to die to face another life?). I sort of left the similes and metaphors intentionally vague so it might refer to the doll or to the little girl herself...

Here is the original (Song - Ennamma Thozhi, Singer - RJ Sulabha, Movie - Kalaipani):

Ennamma thozhi bommaya kaanom
Naa enna seiya poren

Thala vari pinni, pookkal vaithu
Pudhu chattai pottu vittu..

Ippasi masam kaveri snanam…
Bommaya vaangi vandhen

Thaalattu naan pada kanmooda mattayo
Maraindha podhum… manadhil ennum …
Malarodu pesum mazhalai geetham ..

Maranam ella varam kettu…
Maru jenman ondrirundhal maari vidum…
Mugam madhiyo udal nadhiyo…
Melliya kai viralgal pulveliyo….

Kaalai pozhudhellam kaathirukkum
Ival vizhi kaanamal kalai izhakkum…
Ennamma thozhi…

July 15, 2009

IT, mystique and relationships.

I took this really interesting class, Advanced Operating Systems under Dr.Griff @ UK and in one of the classes he talked about pervasive computing. Quite fascinating -- images of intelligent lighting systems, homes, even clothes that warm up or cool down according to a person's body temperature by using nanocomputers! What I want to write today is not exactly pervasive computing as the definition goes but in a way, this seems like pervasive computing to me. Think of the number of social networking technologies there are -- facebook, myspace, twitter, blogs and information engines -- google, yahoo search, wikis. It seems to me that people are finally finding outlets to express themselves; outlets they could not even have dreamed to adopt a decade back. That's great, mostly. From the disgruntled house wife (Home maker? -- Think "Mitr") to the adolescent gamer, everyone is online and "connected" all the time!

I wonder if this whole wave of constant-connectedness will change the dynamics of human relationships. Let's take blogs for instance. I hear SRK and Amir Khan blog too. It was big news when the big B started blogging. Now, my very first serious crush, SRK, blogs too. I assumed I would be thrilled but when I googled for his blog, I almost wished I wouldn't find it. Somehow the charm and mystique he (and bollywood) stands for would be lost if I read it and realized that he is just like you and me. But then, he is human too, just elevated to dizzying heights, I guess. So, why wouldn't he want to blog and express what goes through his head? Thoughts and observations too trivial or too complex to express face-to-face but perfectly safe as bits on a screen?

The same goes for facebook. Almost everyone at work is on facebook -- we know each other's trivial and not-so-trivial thoughts that we feel we need to type as status messages on facebook, we know our big days and celebrations, our not-so-great moments and setbacks. Everything bare for everyone (or perhaps a smaller network of people) to digest.

I sometimes think if I were a teenager in this current era, I would find it very hard to fall in love! The mystery or hidden faces of people no longer have a chance of existing in the shadows. So, I don't really get a chance to wonder if he is thinking of me, if he secretly reads classic romances or if he actually cries at sad movies, if his friends are wild and unpredictable or if he has a hidden talent. Thanks to social networking sites, they are all out there for me to see. I know most of what there is to know about him. Hmm...interesting. Wonder what li'l r~ would think of this comment when she becomes a teenager :)

On the other hand, I have reconnected with faces from my past. We are sort of in-touch. We thumbs-up each other when we see photos we like, we comment on random posts now and then. Not what you can call a heart-to-heart talk, laughing and giggling over college days, but still not strangers who need to be reintroduced after several decades either.

So, what does this all come down to? Absence no longer makes the heart grow fonder because there is no real absence in the real sense of the word, unless of course you are like my brother and are phone/internet-free because you are in some quaint little town somewhere in Kashmir hiking towards the Himalayas? But then you are back to being connected and the magic is there for everyone to see -- which sorts of disperses it and makes it not so magical...right?

I mean, my brother texts me, my gynecologist texts me about appointment details and my boss does when he is in meetings and cannot actually call. Seems like we are all there for each other. No mystery, no wonders.

"Hmm, the last I saw her was when I graduated...she always wanted to settle down in America...wonder if she is still with so-and-so..."


"Hmm, the last I saw her was when I graduated. She is now in Africa, a travel guide who has written several books on the topic. Nope, she is still single."

There is a difference...isn't there? It all seems fabulous if you think about it -- I can see my blog comments on my iphone when am waiting at the dentist's office. Don't have to worry about delayed gratification. It's all instant. But then, the kindle can never replace the authenticity of a worn-out novel in a library. I guess, that makes me old-fashioned. But, you already know that -- you saw my facebook update.

July 02, 2009

Conversation with thatha.

Of late, I have been thinking about my grandfather and grandmother -- how my life perhaps would have been different, richer if I had had the opportunity to interact with them. Whenever mom tells me a story about thatha, my mind conjures up images of a well-built, handsome, somewhat daunting man with a volatile temper and a demure, intelligent (not the bookish sense which I fear is the only kind that I possess) wife.

Colorful scenes from his past flow like cool satin (don't ask me why I thought of satin, that's just what came to my mind -- satin and silk waving kisses in a cool breeze) when I think of my thatha -- his life as a teacher in Colombo, his love for his mother, yet another colorful character...a rather portly lady who had great sense of humor, tremendous spiritual powers and a unique (in that time) fondness for her daughter-in-law, his photographic memory for books and details, his powerful, cursive all a lofty image of a lofty man (in the good sense) that I unfortunately never met.

I have this secret (hah!) wish to write a book about my maternal grandparents. Nope, it will never be a best seller but it will possibly be the most satisfying piece of writing that my pen has ever produced. Because it will let me put myself in their lives and be a part of it...

Most of the stories I found interesting occurred in a place I have never seen -- Colombo. They were stories of a life I have never been exposed to...when you lived under a hostile government that had declared that "Non-nationalists must quit!". My thatha earned well as a professor but only a part of the money reached his large family of a wife and 8 children. Mom says he was a master of the English language. Poems, quotations, words were a part of his regular conversations...I have never met a person in my life who could do that -- recall an appropriate text from a classic literary piece or a poem to quote at the right time! Mom says thatha did not leave behind money for his children but something a lot more precious -- the blessings and power of his prayers.

My paatti was as different from him as could be. She was an intelligent student who stopped studying past the fifth grade to get married. Thatha decided to marry her soon as he met! A lively, handsome young man who died young :( This brings to my mind the image of the first child that my grandparents lost -- Samanthaka mani. She was to be their most intelligent child if she hadn't passed away at the age of three. How weird that I feel sad for an aunt that I never aunt I wish I had met, will maybe meet if not in this lifetime, in some other one?

So many stories, so many memories I try to make my own...where are you now, thatha? Are you reading this now? My silly little words struggling to convey what they set out to convey?

I set out to write down a make-believe conversation between you and me but it turned out to be something else. The make-believe world is powerful, isn't it? No wonder children amuse themselves endlessly in their make-believe worlds -- where dreams come true, where it's possible to experience what real-life fails to deliver...and this is my make-believe world, thatha. Not entirely. But, at times like this, when real life fades, this world is what keeps me going.

Here is what I read last from your letters to my mom,

"...In other words, I am preparing for my "Last journey",

"Our little systems have their day
They have their day and cease to be
They are but broken lights of thee
But thou my lord, are more than they"

In memoriam (Tennyson)

Reply soon..."

Yes...reply soon, thatha...
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