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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

இந்த மழைக்காலம்.

என் முதல் கவிதை முயற்சி...குழந்தைகள் கூட மழையை முறைத்துக்கொண்டிருந்த-உயிர்ப்பில்லாத ஒரு மாலைப்பொழுதில் எழுதியது ..


இந்த மழைக்காலம்.

இந்த மழைகாலத்தின் கடைசி நாள்.
இருள் கவிந்திருந்த இந்த மாலையில் 
தூறலுடன் பெய்கிறது இறுதி மழை 

காமத்தில் வடிந்த எச்சில் போல் 
காயத்தில் கசிந்த உதிரம்போல் 
கிழவியின் அழுகை போல் 
துர்கனவின் சிறுநீர் போல்  

ரசிக்க ஆளின்றி என்  வீட்டு 
சாக்கடையில் விருப்பமில்லாமல் 
பெய்கிறது - யாவரும் பழகி சலித்த மழை 

வானம் பார்த்துவிட்டு 
வீட்டுக்குள் நான் வந்த நொடியில் 
ஏனோ இறந்தேபோய்விட்டது
இந்த மழைக்காலம்.

 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Still Life

A few nights back I was there in this crowded restaurant near my place, burning with hunger, I ordered my food and waited. Time passed and i got nothing. Restless,I looked around for my waiter. It was a chaotic sight all around, people moving in and out, noise of the speaking voices, waiters rushing with the servings.And finally i found him, the middle aged man who took my orders, he was standing by the other side, he stood there motionless like a saint, i looked him in his eyes , his eyelids made no movement; they were wide open, he was staring at something across the road. It was a little bird standing in the middle of the busy road. It was idle too.My waiter's eyes were fixed on the bird, he seemed to have forgotten himself, it was just the bird and him and nothing else. Not his job, not the chaos, not his family, not his life- nothing. Time stood still for him. I have no words to bring out the essence of the moment. I left him to enjoy the moment, and closed my eyes to interpret its meanings. When i opened my eyes, both the bird and the waiter had left the place. A special moment had ended for the three of us. And chaos was back on track. In a way it is these moments that remind us the real pace of life, however maddening we make it, life moves in its own pace. One tear at a time, one little grin at a time.Incidentally i watched this movie sometime back and all through it kept on reminding me about the real pace of life. "Sanxia Haoren" (2006 Eng- Still life) a Chinese film by the acclaimed director Jia ZhangKe is the story of two people who come in search of their spouses to a city which will soon be disappearing under water.

The movie opens with a ferry travelling across the breathtaking waterways in the city of Fengjie; The place which is soon to be submerged to construct China's largest dam. Inside the crowded ferry in a lonely corner sits Han Sanming a poor coal miner who has come to the place in search of his wife who ran away from him 16 years ago with his infant daughter.He enters the city just to find that his wife is dislocated elsewhere and he has to stay there and wait till her return.He joins the local groups of workmen- slowly demolishing the remaining buildings with hand tools. He roams around in the to-be-empty streets of Fengjie smoking cigarettes and giving himself to the calmness and depression of the town.The movie then cuts to the story of a pretty young nurse Shen Hong who has come to Fengjie in search of her husband who left her two years earlier and never returned. She searches for her husband in the abandoned factories and excavated lands. She finds a friend of her husband and together they try to reconnect with her missing husband. Finally after a long search Shen finds out that her husband has become a successful businessman and also he has found a new woman. Shen who came to reunite with him finally confronts and informs him that there is another man in her life and decides to divorce her wandering husband.Again the film travels with Han Sanming who finally finds his ex-wife to be a bonded laborer and he has to pay 30,000 Yuan to cover the debt and release her.The film ends with a determined Han Sanming leaving Fengjie and walking back to his hometown to work hard and earn enough to save and reunite with his ex-wife.

The movie travels with the two souls who come in search of their loved ones, along with it the movie conveys the story of Fengjie province which has relocated more than a million people to build the massive Three Gorges dam. All the supporting characters who accompany Han and Shen in their journey convey the pain of dislocation from home.And the film is suitably divided into four section namely "Cigarettes","Liquor","Tea", and "Toffee" which accordingly classify the mood of the lead characters.Also there is the presence of some surreal elements such as a UFO and a flying buildings that add to the addiction that the movie creates in us. “Still Life” is a film which wanders throughout, and is narrated by visuals and anecdotes rather than a traditional story line. Cinematography by Yu Lik-wai is the strongest point of the movie. Right from the very first shot the viewer is captivated to the screen, the majestic river covered by dense green mountains and gray clouds which give an artistic touch to every shot conveys the rest which the characters forget to convey in their silence. The film as such is poetically beautiful and presented in a dreamlike narration.It went on to get wide critical acclaim and top honors for best movie at Venice International film festival and many others.

The film as such conveys nothing, with visuals of strange blank spaces and stories of lonely hearts it requires a certain amount of patience to watch. Throughout the film the protagonists keep staring at the life around. They look at the flight of UFO's, demolition of skyscrapers, death of a loved ones, dilapidated town with calmness and with absolute indolence. They are not excited, they take life-one moment at a time, they stare at the stillness of every event happening around them. The stillness of commotion, the stillness of chaos, the stillness of despair, the stillness of life, the stillness of death.The ending sequence shows Han Sanming walking away from the town, just to stop by the sight of a tightrope walker who tries to to travel the distance between two buildings over a rope with just a long stick for balance and the grey clouds forming a mystic background. Han Sanming keeps staring at the view above him and the movie closes with a black screen and a magical score filling in the thoughts and ears.When it ended I was reminded of the sight of the waiter and the little bird. I closed my eyes to interpret the thousand meanings that are always left untold.

To visit my World Cinema series click here..

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Scientist from Madurai

It was a lazy Friday afternoon.Tired and drowsy i just hit the bed for a short nap. Eyes were closing by little, i was about to forget my senses and all of a sudden i heard Appa coming in. "Ahhhhhhhh not again!! lemme sleep" i cried within. Appa came in, and he was not alone. He had a visitor, i acted to be asleep and glanced him in the corners of my eye. He was a middle aged man, not dressed like the many other friends that my dad had, he looked very much a common man with simple looks, cheap clothes, uncombed hair and a very native face. I was judging him, and i had no urge in getting up and welcoming him. It was rude of me behaving that way, if it was some other friend of dad coming in well dressed, with a huge smile, and a laptop pouch i would have got up to wish him even if i was not aware of who he really was. But i have to blame myself for being rude to him.It was cheap.I acted to be asleep lying in an awkward position. He came in looked at me and sat in the corner of the chair by the PC, he was having some Cd's which he handed over to dad. I cried again in me "NO god not a movie in this time of the day, Dad you know what - u r killing me!". I turned my face to the other side, and tried hard to sleep. Dad called me -"Vicky......V-i-c-k-y". My options were thin, still at bed i looked at him sporting a drowsy face. He said "Meet Mr.Jeyapandi". I and smiled at him. Appa said "This was the person i was speaking about the other day, Pandi the Madurai Vignani(The scientist from Madurai)". He looked at me with a warm smile and lifted his hands and said "Vannakam" .I lost my sleep, i got up, i looked at him and gave a very genuine smile.

I had heard a lot about him from my dad, the man who has more than 100 inventions to his credit. Which range from simple personalized room alarm which automatically wakes you up by splashing water on the face to the complex Satellite shooter(for military purpose) which can be operated to hit enemies remotely from across the globe. He is a well known name in the media who celebrate him in this part of the world. His inventions have made people drop jaws and wide open the eyebrows but there is something about him which makes him special(?!) - he is an illiterate. He cant read letters or write his name on paper. There is more to him than that, he works as a load man in Madurai vegetable market who lifts gunny bags for a few rupees or two. His income is below par than the national average, his family lives in squalid neighborhood, his wife works as a daily wager in a cottage industry, he has three little children to bring up.He lives a life which always tries to corner him, which tries to beat him by his bones. But that has not stopped him from dreaming, a dream that started in his childhood while learning the mechanism of a old transistor, a dream built on junk, a dream that has made him the person he is, and the dream that has caught the fancy of people who look at him as an inspiration.

I was looking at the computer screen which was playing a video demonstration of his inventions. A little car which was remotely operated by a cellphone, a military tanker which shoots to the point, unmanned tourist boats and lots. Dad got a call and he left the room, now it was me and the scientist visitor. I took the chair nearby him and the monitor was showing something interesting "Automatic Un-manned level crossing manager". Pandi broke his silence and spoke to me, "this is the most ambitious of all my inventions, every year hundreds die of accidents at unmanned train crossings, i cant bear when i see a picture of a dis tangled body lying near the rail tracks, i wanted to do something and i invented this". It was a stunning invention. He had attached sensors in both the trains engine and the level crossing, whenever the train nears the crossing(say 1km away) the sensors get activated and a wireless signals are sent from the train to the crossing and vice-versa. The gates in the crossing automatically gets closed and the huge danger lights placed in the crossing glows with full intensity.The reverse signal sent to the train blows the train horn automatically and alerts the driver about the crossing. So people who try to cross the tracks are alerted by the red lights about the arriving train much earlier, preventing them from crossing the tracks. It may not stop deaths altogether but for sure this will reduce the fatality count. I was amazed, a simple and cheap mechanism that could save precious lives and the man who made it was sitting across me humble than ever. I asked "Did you show it people in the railways?". He grinned and said "I gave a demo to all the regional managers, they were impressed they shook hands, praised me and left. All they say was - decisions can't be made by us, you have to meet people in the very top of the ladder to get it approved, they totally ignored the responsibility of taking it to concerned people, and they ask me to meet the Minister of railways in person, now how do i do it?".I had no answers, the failure of the Government engine once again was evident from his words. He said " there is a new plan by the railways to put up dramas and plays in remote villages to create awareness about the dangers of crossing an unmanned gate and the allotted budget for conducting plays is Rs.20 crores, when i can give a solution for this problem by spending 10,000/crossing for 18,000 level crossings the total expense for finding a solution is 2 croses less than the amount spent on awareness". What an irony?, an irony that made me feel ashamed for so many reasons. I was silent, i had no words for him.

We spoke for long, he said about his childhood struggles, the economic constraints he faced, the way the educated treat him, the way people steal his work, the way he was let down by the people around, and his dreams for better future. He had no house to live, no vehicle to drive, no money to spend on luxury but he dreams. He has already started a lab in the neighbourhood in which he trains student from the nearby schools, he wants to catch them young, he teaches them practical lessons every day, he has dreams for them, he wants them to make India a superpower by 2020, he looked proud when he said a few of his students have won prizes in many science exhibitions. He still doesn't get any financial support to pursue his dreams, all he gets is just kind words. But he doesn't care, he works overtime, he lifts more vegetable bags, saves every penny of it and fuels his dream. He said "the old goods market (santhai) is my library and the old junk out there are my books, i learn from them".I did nothing but looked at him with awe and inspiration. His inventions may look like childish prototypes but his intentions aren't. His robos may be made from junk and waste and lack the looks of an azimo but-
if the robo is what it does and not what it  looks, then Pandi's  robos  behave like one. Sitting across me was a man who would have done his Masters in the US if he was born to rich parents, Sitting across me was a man who would have been one of the jubilant scientists clapping hands at Sri harikota if he was provided proper education. But he doesn't complain. He just dreams. When time ran, he left us for his work at the market, he would just become another faceless nobody whom you never notice in the streets. He would loose himself into the social anonymity which we created for him.Even then the dream in his eyes will never fade, his vision will never die, and his greatness will always remain an unsung truth. 

(Note: Guys, as Anu has said in the comments, if you think you(or we) can be of any help like arranging events at schools, mobilizing funds, or doing other promotions in your blogs that could help him fuel his dreams, you could mail me mail4vignesh@gmail.com or Appa at srengasamy@gmail.com.)
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