Monday, October 31, 2011

This movie kept me hypnotised with awe...........

 I'Ezham arivu' (7th sense) is a tamil movie which released this diwali. This movie  is a pot- pourri of  historical reality, fantasy, thrills, romance, comedy, good music,  sci-fi, special fx all  put together. This movie had an extensive and expensive promotion and so easily  such movies leave public with great expectations.  

 A.R. Murugadoss (ghajini fame) has directed Surya sivakumar,  Shruti haasan( kamal hassan’s daughter)  and Vietnamese American actor  Johnny tri nguyen and the movie, despite mixed reviews did impress me a lot.

The movie begins with the 6th century tamil  prince of pallava lineage, who is a master in the art of ' nokku varmam' ( like hypnotism, it is a peculiar martial art through which a particular part in the opponent’s body could be attacked by mere sight itself.),master in the use of  herbal medicine and martial art (kalari). He travels to china to cure the  people  suffering there from a dreadful disease. The Chinese  don’t accept the intruder initially until he has cured one of their fellow men.  He cures the  contagious disease and saves the people from an epidemic.  Finally people accept him as their master when he also fights their territorial enemies single handedly with the help of kalari and nokku varmam.  They compile all his wisdom into a book. After fulfilling his  mission of curing and saving  the Chinese, He decides to leave china but  they poison him to death with the belief that when he is buried in their village they will remain disease free. 

Cut to the present 2011 chennai, where   doctoral student in genetics,  Shruti does research  on the genes of the pallava heirs and finds the pallava king's genetical traits dormant in the hero Surya.

 Meanwhile China over the centuries  has utilized the prince’s healing powers of  medicine, martial arts ( according to historians Kung Fu is  Kalari , originated in India) and hypnotism and trained many youngsters. One of them Dong lee( Johnny Tri Nguyen) who is a hypnotic expert and martial art expert travels to India to wage a bio-war by injecting the deadly 6th century disease into the general public.( So that china can release the antidote and make money)

How the heroine activates the dormant genes in the hero and together how they thwart the plans  of Dong Lee and the Chinese government is what the movie is all about.

The movie’ s screenplay is woven around  a  historical fact  with lots of thrilling fights and car crashes( hypnotism has been overtly used).

But all the above was not the reason I was hooked to the movie.

The movie had me awestruck because   Bodhidharman is a fact and his healing powers, hypnotic powers and martial art powers are practiced  by Chinese. On death this prince is worshipped even today in china as Tao and as Zen’ in Japan. His martial art is renamed as ‘Kung Fu’ and his philosophy as Zen philosophy. This  Pallava prince  is  revered all around china, Vietnam, japan and is considered as the 28th partriarch of Lord Buddha. The public of all these Asian countries are aware of him, while we in India, atleast me are not aware of him.

 In his closing shots, the hero Surya says  " We indians  are rich in knowledge and wisdom, some of us dismiss traditions and customs as regressive or irrelevant and attribute it to religion, while all our customs, rituals and practices are science based. For eg, the use of turmeric  in rituals and cooking  is mostly because it is an antiseptic or the use of tulsi, cowdung and so on..... Unfortunately what has been advised by our elders is copied by the westerners and today they have patented turmeric. Teach your children the  rich history of India  and reason the rituals and religious beliefs scientifically.  Like export quality products  Intelligent Indians export themselves and work on foreign shores and contribute their knowledge and intelligence  there". and he said much more which i am unable to recollect. 

That dialogue touched  me  and yes those words are truly said.....

Time to unearth more such facts about india. We seem to be the pioneers in many fields , many  of them are buried under the earth. Bodhi dharman was one such revelation. Check him here.

P.S: I had written about the  Indian exercise of thorpukarnam which has been renamed as Brain yoga and is now practised in Yale university of medicine. If interested read about it here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fall in line, Please

or  Queue please....... that's what I was yelling  when I went  around the labyrinth to see the world's most visited and second richest god in the world......... but........ who's to listen?......... It fell on deaf ears.

With a free ticket, i thought i had direct darshan to see the god and so after refreshing ourselves we went in search of the Vaikuntam -2 gate through which we 'Divya darshan' ticket holders had to get into the labyrinth.
We went around the temple in search of the gate and easily passed a few metres after depositing our cell phones and chappals and finally reached the queue  only to be seated in an enclosure. We were allowed to rest in this place till the previous entrants  had their darshan.

 Suddenly when the enclosure was opened, like a broken dam  the fitter and impatient devotees started rushing out of the door like  water gushing out of a broken dam using all the heptathlon events. From then on it was a nightmare, they  were crushing or elbowing elders/children  whoever came in their path, while some were jostling for space. It was a tough time for senior citizens and devotees with children. Some had placed their kids  over their shoulders and some on their waist, while some children were sandwiched between elders and gasping for breath.

All cries for help and some patience only fell on deaf ears. The irony was when the security guards and policemen stood like statues or 'Golu bommais'.  When I told one of the security guards to control the crowd, he was totally expressionless and standing  motionless. It was disastrous. Thankfully there was no stampede since there was no space for anybody to fall.

This continued inside the temple until the sanctum and finally we had a peek of the god, again a huge rush to come out of the temple.

After the darshan it was another ordeal to find your cellphone counter and  your chappal counter and  the laddu counter. All these places, you are to stand in a queue where some smart people think it is their privilege to jump the queue and those who are standing in the q are jobless.

It is painful to recollect these things when you go to have a peaceful darshan of god.

On the flipside the same fortnight I had a chance to stand in the US consulate queue,where the queue was streaming out like a well oiled machine.

The elders and those with children had a separate  queue and great care was taken by the security guards to screen the people.  With a smile on their face, they were so helpful and courteous. After the whole exercise, when we were on our way back home , we suddenly received a call from the consulate telling that my daughter had not given her thumb expression( she was 14  going to be 15, hence the confusion). When she and my husband went back her name was called from one entry point  to the other entry point  till she reached inside without any difficulty.

Both the places were manned by Indians and the crowd in both the places were Indians, then where was the difference?

I wish they used the riches to educate( with flyers on behaviour and conduct code) and organise the crowd, then it would be a pleasure for all senior citizens, kids and their parents to visit Tirumala.

Friday, October 21, 2011

My step(s) up to Tirumala via Srivari Mettu

When I decided to join my husband for the trek to  Tirumala, our friends discouraged me by telling that I would’nt keep pace with my husband ( he is a jogger and walks upto 6kms /day)and it would’nt be possible for me to finish, but I was keen on going with him rather than stay alone in the guest house, after all the Kapoors too were going for the ‘Mundan’( tonsuring). I told them I regularly walk for an hour and so I would join him.
We off-loaded our back packs into their cab which they had hired to tirumala and with just a waterbottle and handbag we took an auto to Srivari mettu.
There are two trekking paths to tirumala – the regular one is the alipiri route( 4kms and 3000+ steps)  which is in use for a long time and the other is the Srivari mettu which was renovated and thrown open to the public some two years back due to the  increase in the number of pilgrims trekking to Tirumala. This is supposed to be the shorter  and arduous of the two.
Srivari mettu is said to be older than the Alipiri route and is believed to have been used by legendery emperor SriKrishnadevaraya and even by the saint composer and singer Annamacharya.
I was too eager to trek up the hill, after all we had done it before too at the rugged mountains of Abbey falls in coorg, Bhramagiri hills(coorg), in Kodaikanal but all these were long back, I did’nt realize that I was 10 years older now to those times.
       All along the autodriver was telling us it would take just two hours and it was just 2 to 2.5kms, but when I reached the base of Srivari mettu and enquired at the base camp office  the real length of the route. He told me 2300 steps.

Now  that was a dampener for me, walking on plain surface is easier but to ascend the steps......

Putting all my doubts aside, I ascended the first few steps motivating myself that with each step, I was closer to the target, I easily ascended 200 steps, there on it became slightly difficult, I started panting and had to take rest at the landing of every 50 steps.

Slowly but steadily I Scaled  700 steps.

After ascending 700 steps, there were boards which read there was a biometric ticket counter  offering a quick and free darshan at the 1200th step. After reading this, I told my husband I would push myself till that counter and then if there were any vans/cabs at the landing I would take that while he could finish his trek.

To my luck, there were no such facility it was just a counter to issue a photo ticket called ‘Divya Darshan’.

 Motivated by my husband, I was slightly charging myself up slowly with a sip of water and now I rested after every  20-25 steps, the steps were steeper from  now on…..

Slowly  I inched and pushed myself and many a times I  doubted if I ever would reach the top, I rested now at every 10th step and washed my sweaty face to perk up myself.

 Finally at the end of 2000th step got our ticket validated at the second counter.

Now  I was slightly happy and rested at a landing for sometime  and it was only now that I realized I was walking up the forest of Red Sandal wood(Rakth chandan from which the famous  marapacchi dolls were made) and missed out the beauty  of the birds like blue jay  around me.

The plains of Tirupati below looked like a white town with lots of buildings and I was uphill. Slowly and steadily like a ‘cool down’ the steps lost its steepness and  Lo!  There I was….. I finally ascended the 2300 steps and heaved a sigh of relief when I  reached Tirumala clocking  1 hour and 55 minutes.

While I was climbing, I thought I did a mistake of taking the steps, but the pain and trouble I went through was totally washed off when I reached the top and it was so satisfying and all those troubles translated to joy.

Having reached Tirumala with a Divya Darshan ticket, I thought the pain was through,  I would’nt be standing in the queue and it entailed me to have a direct access to the sanctum. But no …., I got  it wrong. The trouble was ahead.

The queue ordeal deserves a separate post.

P.S: Don't be discouraged by this post,  If you are physically and clinically fit ,  it is not difficult to climb up. There were many senior citizens and young children who climbed up effortlessly only in my case I had a  knee twist due to Vit B12 deficiency, just a few weeks back and so found it slightly difficult.   

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The call of the Divine

Many a times we plan and work for certain things and  things don’t fall in our way and at times things work for us just as easily as we snap our finger. 

         My tirupati trip was one such. I certainly feel it  was the call of the divine.

We were always orally planning a trip to Tirupati in the past few years, to be precise 7 years. Everytime the name of the place came up, we would say we would make a day’s trip from Chennai, but when in Chennai we would have no time to make a trip. Though Tirupati is in Andhrapradesh, it is closer to Chennai and we  manage to visit Chennai annually but our tirupati trip never happened.

But recently on a weekend last month, I and my husband decided to travel to Tirupati since both our children would be away on excursion.  We went to the local TTD to book our ticket, we were told by the authorities that due to Brahmotsavam there were no cottages or darshan tickets during end sept. Finally we booked our tickets for mid oct with our thumb impression.

Two days later, my son’s friend called up to talk to my son, before I could put him to my son, I was asking him if he had packed his things and was all set for the excursion. The conversation  between him and me went like this

He said ‘Haan aunty,   V and S( my daughter and his sis are class mates) are leaving in the morning, I and S( my son) are leaving in the afternoon and mama and papa are leaving by the evening train.

Me: Kahan jaa rahen hai mama and papa?.

He: Tirupati,

I immediately asked his mom whom we knew very well for the past 10 years,  how they could manage to visit Tirupati during Brahmotsavam and she said her husband regularly travels to Tirupati as he has  his business links there,so it should’nt be a problem. They told us also to book our train tickets and the rest could be managed there.

        And that’s  how  our sudden trip to Tirupati came up during Brahmotsavam, with a  planned mid- oct  darshan ticket it happened  in end-sept.

 Though I was apprehensive about the  Brahmotsavam crowd, We thought since the children were not with us we could even stand for as many hours in the queue and have our darshan. Our  waitlisted tickets got confirmed in  time and after my daughter and son left by the morning and afternoon train, we too  left to  Tirupati along with the Kapoors.

        I generally hate crowded temples/places and  Tirupati  on any day, is not just crowded but always over-crowded , then Imagine  how the crowd would be around  Brahmotsavam.

        But to our surprise, the crowd was very less in Tirupati, not even the regular crowd, Thanks to the T-Bandh, It was cut off from 14 districts and the people of neighbouring states were perhaps apprehensive and so the service providers like Cab guys, hoteliers told us they  were  making less business.

    On reaching Tirupati, My husband decided to trek up to Tirumala from Tirupati. I decided to join him. Will share about this in my next post.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

So much to share and write..................

..................about my tiring but fulfilling dussehra fortnight break

  •  a sudden trip to tirupati during brahmotsavam,
  •  the trek up to tirumala via srivari mettu, 
  • the contrast in  queue at US consulate and Tirupati temple
  • an exciting road trip to Bangalore in 6.30 hours ( inclusive of the tea and breakfast breaks),
  •  my children's irregular examination and school  schedules, due to T-factor ( my daughter's board exam(SA1) went on albeit discreetly)
  •  Some Hyderabad Schools functioning on sundays  and with ungodly timings. 
  •   the empty nest syndrome, when my children were away  on their school excursion (daughter to kulu-manali-rohtang pass and son to Ooty-mudumalai), 
  • About the politicians who are ruining the students  and public life here ( Sadly, these people  voted by us to power amass lakhs in few months of power, while we slog to make  a few  in our life time and they don't even allow the general public  to have an easy life)
  • The special red-wood dolls of Tirupati ( marapacchi bommai)
  • Chennapatna toys
  • koil prasadam,
  • The passing  away of Jagjit singh whose ghazals were a part of my  life  and Steve jobs, whose story I read at times to motivate myself.
  • About RmKV - the silk shop, which regularly greets my family on all occasions.
  • About my  childrens's   seniors and our colony girls crowned as Ms. Hyderabad 2011 and the other seniors being the first runner up and in the top5.
  • About  the native wisdom and tips doled out by revathi shankar the singer, dancer, actor and  the lady who is a treasure of native wisdom  whom most of them know as Rajnikant's mother in the film Robot.

Want to write about all the above let me see how I prioritise blogging along  with my regular routine, diwali work and cleaning work  looming ahead..