The Great Indian Political Tamasha- WWF style !

As I watch in glee the political battles being enacted out on the National scene in lieu of the General Elections, I can’t help but see freakish parallels with the WWF(World Wrestling Federation now renamed WWE). For those who have followed that unique American contribution would know, the WWE attracts fan following not on account of the gladiatorial fights between 6 ft hunks, but due to the carefully built storyline where best pals of today become blood rivals tomorrow, the WWF babes(divas as they are called) ditch one wrestler for another,  a handsome nobody becomes a champion because of commercial considerations and his chocolate boy looks. A few parallels with the Indian political developments over the past weeks: 

  1. May 6th  2009: Nitish Kumar, the Bihar CM who has built an image of an efficient CM tells NDTV on the eve of the elections in Bihar that he would never share a stage with the Gujarat strongman- Narendra Modi. Nitish clearly states that  LK Advani has his support for the post for PM but Narendra Modi never. This was seen as a clear signal by Nitish Kumar to the Muslim minority vote-bank that he is with them.                                                     May  7th : Elections in Bihar over                                                                                                                                                         May 10: Not only Nitish attend the Massive NDA rally in Ludhiana graced by Narendra Modi as well, but the two hold each other’s hands and raise it signalling that ‘Only death will do us apart.’
Till death do us apart

Till death do us apart

 WWF parallel:   Anyone remember , the people’s champion ‘The Rock’ being crowned WWF champion by the villain ‘Vince McMahon’ in King of the Ring 2000 and basically making the audience look  hopelessly stupid. This is vintage WWF.

2. April-May: The CPM reaffirms that it is confident of forming the next Central Govt and that it will have no truck with the Congress.                                                                                                                                                                                                                

May 7:  The CPM General Secretary swears that the Congress is an untouchable as far as a post-poll alliance is concerned.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     May 9: Karat says that all options are open to the Left and that the Congress-Left partnership has always worked. Senor, remember the ruckus created by the Left led by Your Honorable self on the Indo-US nuclear deal. Flip-flopping within the space of – 2 days, even Deve Gowda is no match.

Talk about the famous Left pledge of, “Power never attracts us.” 

WWF parallel:  Hulk-Hogan rejoining the WWF after a stint in the rival WCW and telling, “Hulkamania and WWF are inseparable.” 

3. Mid April: The MahaKutami is formed in Andhra Pradesh comprising of the TDP, the Left and the TRS (Telengana Rashtra Samiti). Touted as an unbreakable alliance, the MahaKutami pledges support to the Third Front and exudes confidence that they will form the Central Government as well as the State Govt                                                                         May 7:  Elections in AP over                                                                                                                                                                                 May 10: The TRS chief K.Chandrasekhar Rao does an U-Turn as he attends the NDA rally in Ludhiana And effectively signals his shifting of loyalty from the Third Front to the NDA.

 WWF parallel:  Triple H backstabbing Shawn Micheals on the eve of the much touted reunion of the D-Generation X, anyone? 

4. April:  The Janata Dal(Secular) : JD(S) comprising of the flip-flopping father-son duo of Deve Gowda and H.D.Kumaraswamy announce their allegiance to the Third Front.                                                                                                       May 13: Mr Kumaraswamy is seen going to meet Sonia Gandhi in his Mercedes, and the former is desperately and comically trying to cover his face to avoid being tracked by the media.

Face Saving Act !

Face Saving Act !

Th e faux pas prone Kumaraswamy later explains that it was a courtesy call and that he was not trying to cover his face. I am reminded of my underage neighbor Satyananda who after being caught while watching an Adult movie flush-facedly explaining: “I thought, it was a documentary explaining the natural process  of reproduction.” Oh Yes, it would be on the day when Silvia Berlusconi becomes a celibate !

WWF parallel:  WWF maniacs, remember Stephanie McMahon catching Triple H with his pants down     with Trish Stratus.

 5. April End: Madurai is at the centre of another political storm with Azhagiri, the son of M. Karunanidhi, accused by the AIADMK of distributing cash to the voters. The ruling party DMK vehemently denies the charges and in true political style, lays the blame on the AIADMK and tarnishing the DMK’S name. Azhagiri known for his blatant use of resources- men, material and resources  is suspected to be culpable by the National news channels.

The Electoral Commission steps in and conducts an enquiry; the DMK is absolved of the charges. Over the years, the EC has been regarded as an impartial body. But there has been rumblings, of late, especially surrounding the Chief Electoral Commissioner- Mr Navin Chawla, who is known for his close links with the Congress, especially Sonia Gandhi.

 People, remember the numerous title matches in WWF, where the impartial referee suddenly turns a blind eye to the ‘Iron-Chair’ shot of one wrestler, who is favored by the boss- Vince McMahon

 6. Long time Congress loyalist and the Gandhi family sycophant Arjun Singh was in for a rude surprise when Madam refused Congress tickets to both his son and daughter for contesting in the General elections. The veteran leader known for controversies like reservation for the OBCs in the IITs and IIMs, made known his acute hurt at this blatant refusal by Sonia.

 Anyone reminded of the humiliating forced exit of the legendary Hulk-Hogan by Vince-McMahon.

 7. The constituency of Rampur in UP, is witnessing one of the most bitter electoral battles, where the sitting MP Ms.Jayaprada of the SP is fighting against the Congress candidate Noor Bannu. But Jayaprada’s main rival is not Bannu, but Azam Khan of her own party. Morphed nude pictures of the former actress MP as well as one CD showing Jayaprada is doing the rounds in Rampur. The dignified Jayaprada has alleged that Azam Khan, her former mentor is behind this most lowly of attacks.

 Haven’t we witnessed something similar when the veteran Ric Flair turned against his  former protégé Randy Orton, and wanted to end the talented Orton’s career through any means- fair and foul.  Randy had the last laugh. Let’s hope for something similar.

 8. ‘WE ARE GOING TO FORM THE NEXT GOVERNMENT’-  If there was one slogan uttered by all the 4 alliances- UPA, NDA, Third Front, 4th front, it was this. Same consistency cutting across party lines.

The similarity in WWF is the ubiquitous- ‘ I will be the next WWF Champion’ proclaimed by any wrestler worth his/her biceps. 

Come May 16, when the final Election results will be announced. Can’t wait for that tamasha and the corresponding paralles with theWWF. 

    Ladies and Gentlemen, this championship match is for the WWF Championship Belt, by free fall or    submission. Making his way to the ring, weighing 305 pounds,….

     The results of the General Elections 2009 are out. Leading with 195 seats, the ….



One team in the IPL which has got the maximum amount of coverage in prime time on TV, has had written the most amount of column inches written  in newspapers, generated the maximum traffic on the Internet would  the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) owned by  SRK. One of the very few teams to have broken even in the first year itself despite having finished a dismal 6th out of 8 teams. “This is cricketainment’ as Sandy Maddy Babe would exclaim and the publicity hungry Khan would concur.

In the IPL second edition too, the Knight Riders eclipsed the other teams in terms of TRPs even before the first ball was bowled- 4 captain theory proposed by John-“The Laptop’ Buchanan, the war of words between SRK and Gavaskar, removal of the enigmatic Ganguly as captain. But out of the blue came the biggest eyeball generator of them all-, allegedly written by a disgruntled player of the KKR, who is spilling the beans, left right and centre of the ego clashes, the power struggles, the discontent within the team etc. Refers to powers in that are in the IPL circuit by damningly funny names. The Punjab team owners and some select commentators are picked out for special treatment. In all, terrific entertainment for the public, more interesting than KKR’s performance on the field.

The KKR team management predictably has termed the juicy allegations fictions of imagination of a swine, out to make a quick buck. However off the record, no effort is spared to limit the damage. SRK starts his own blog, the news on fakeiplplayer in the eyeballs seeking trivia, sensationalism seeking news channels is conspicuously absent. The PR efforts notwithstanding, the viewers can judge for themselves from KKR’s dispirited display in the IPL where the ‘aami Kolkatar WE rule’ side has sunk to abysmal depths and languishing in the last place.  5 defeats in 7 matches, the remaining 2 probably averted by the rain, points out chinks gaping holes within the team. So much for Buchanan’s various pet theories. One is bound to agree with Shane Warne’s virulent attack on the former Aussie coach that the team won despite Buchanan. What is even more rankling is that even the ‘Jinxed Challengers Bevdaas’ have made a move on and returned to winning ways.

To be honest, except for the glamfactor in the form of SRK and Dada, KKR have not much in terms of cricket, in the first place. A heavy duty top-order in the form of the explosive Gayle, the marauding McCullum and the gutsy Ganguly looks great on paper; but a non-existent middle order and a spineless bowling attack except for Ishant-‘theLittleJohn’ Sharma means that KKR can look either spectacular on their day or sink without a trace. BUST is happening often than Boom. With Chris Gayle also returning for Caribbean duty, the batting is virtually non-existent.

Personally, I have a soft corner for the Knight Riders for 2 reasons- the inspirational ‘Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo Re’ theme song got me hooked onto their bandwagon; second is the presence of Sourav’DADA’Ganguly. Have splurged Rs 800 on their official merchandiseT-Shirt. The KKR  needs to salvage some pride and atleast not finish worse than last time(6th position), to enable me to wear the T-shirt in college J. But I have got a gut feeling that the end won’t quite be be  “Harchi, haarchi, Haarbo re”



At the start of IPL2, they looked like an inspired gang. ‘BANG’- they began the tournament regally beating the Rajasthan Royals, lead by the Sheikh of Tweak. It looked as though the team under the new Kapta(i)n Pietersen (KP) has become disciplined and focused with rumours doing the rounds that Mr VJ Batlivala has rationed the flow of Kingfisher to the team.

‘Things would be different this time’ promised the veteran Kumble after his 5/5 haul against the Royals.

‘Oh Yes! They are different from the rest.

– After 5 matches, we should admit that the Bevadaas are the only team to have the dubious distinction of the opening partnership not having crossed ZERO .. even once.

– The only team where the captain, Mr KP bough for a whopping $1.55 M has proved his worth by scoring 2 ducks in 5 matches and no innings of substance. KP will be done with IPL2 after their 6th match as he returns home for England duty.

– The only team in this IPL which could have lost from a seemingly impregnable position of 60 runs required in 30 balls by the King’s XI Punjab. The latter won the match with 6 balls to spare.

– The Mumbai import Mr Utappa seemed to justify his inclusion into the side as the replacement keeper for the accomplished Boucher who was relegated to the bench. Alas! Only a flash in the pan. His show behind the stumps looks acceptable only when compared to his batting at the pitch. Of course our man has got a roving great eye and is unbeatable at the other pitch, apparently. Missing sitter run-outs at crucial moments in the game for this brilliant fielder is new. But remember he is playing for the jinxed Bevdaas!

– The only saving grace has been Dravid’s rich vein of form. ‘Old is gold’ as they say. But as luck would have it, he has returned to India for the birth of his child. VJ will be hoping that his former captain joins the team soon. In times of need, you always go to the (Mr.)Dependable.

Kumble had written after their victory against the Royals, ‘Praveen’s ability to move the ball, Steyn’s pace make for an effective combination.” Praveen Kumar did swing the cricket ball prodigiously in the first match; after that it would be interesting to know as to which ball is Anil exactly referring to? Dale Steyn, the protean spearhead’s pace is evident only in the speed at which his deliveries are being dispatched to the boundary. “That went like a tracer bullet”- Ravi Shastri would exclaim.

The Bevdaas’ being the flamboyant playboy VJ Baltivaala’s team,one solution I see for them to come out of their dry run is make the players undergo the Gus Hiddinck way before a match, I guess ;).

Of glitz, glamour and lest I forget, a little Cricket !

It was day 2 of IPL2. The start of the match between the Delhi Dare-Devils and the Kings’ XI Punjab had been delayed due to rain. SetMax which had taken the Indian cricket fan by storm by its then pioneering ‘Extraaa Innings’ and the ‘noodle-strap’ Sandy Maddy Babe, continues with its 2 hour pre-match show for the 4 hour T20 game.

Give me a break! Agreed, we are Vellas sometimes, but to have the patience to watch a 2 hr talk show, where the so-called experts discuss things which are intellectually just a shade more stimulating than picking one’s nose, takes some digging taking.

Experienced commentator Arun Lal is seen chatting with yet another new cricketing host, whose name I don’t know and frankly don’t need to bother either; after all they change faster than Sandy Baddy Babe’s choice of sarees on the show. I quietly muted the TV, occasionally glancing to see whether the match has started. One couldn’t stop feeling sorry for Arun Lal, a former Indian team selector and a decent Ranji player, having to pointlessly chat with some novice show presenter- all for a few thousand bucks. Let him make his pie, after all, the poor guy was wearing his pygamas in an era, where even champion cricketers had to seek alternate employment after retirement, unlike the IPL era where rookies get signed up for mind-blowing figures of 100,000$.

Suddenly she appeared- SSBABE . Yes, I don’t deny that she came as a whiff of fresh breeze, though prone to faux-passes, when Miss  “India Tri-color” saree appeared first as cricket talk show presenter during ICC Cricket WC 2003. But 6 years later, “Madam, you have become a little too old for this”- I feel like yelling.

No longer, is the spark there. And as a cliché goes, “Excesses tolerated in youth are not taken kindly to later.” Quite apparently, the SmBabe is trying hard to reinvent herself and stay relevant. A low-plunging neckline black dress with a bit of cleavage shown for good measure won’t do any harm, she reckons as she drawls something in Hindi.

Yes, it will, if your co-host is a Korean[1] looking newbie, who barely opens his mouth and most definitely looks like one, who would respond to both Hindi or Tamil with the same, “Oung Yang, Ching Chang”. The man was looking in open mouthed wonder at Mandira as the latter was reeling off peels of her cricketing knowledge.

‘Poor Girl, it is not your gyaan he was dazzled by. It was darshan of something else, our co-host was silenced by.”

Later, our exotic looking host finally opens his mouth, when talking to a group of spectators. I lunge for the remote; turning off the ‘Mute’ button, as I wonder, whether, our ‘Ying Yang’ will talk Mandarin or Korean. Voila, our ChintuMintu talks in shudh Hindi. Now my doubts why ‘Ying Yang’ was silent in the presence of Mandira is confirmed. “Ward-robe Jadoo”. Hmmm…

To end it with a little cricket, the 3 hours talk-show culminated with a 16 over match played in just over an hour.

[1] The man didn’t look like one of our North-Eastern brethren


‘Sriram kanna, nillu da [1]. Patty is becoming old’, cried  Seetama, the septuagenarian erstwhile first lady of Lakshmipathy Madam. Four- year old Sriram, the uncrowned master of the house stopped briefly, gave his great grandmother a look of unrivalled pity and then resumed his ride on the tricycle, humming loudly, “Dirrrr…Pam-Pam…Dirrrr…” The 4-year old bus-conductor commanded with all the might, the squeaky voice could muster, ‘Nageswara Park, get down fast.’

Seetama wondered at the imagination of her great grandson, who had not left the house in anything less than the sturdy Ambassador. The old-lady said to herself, “Shambo Mahadeva! Sriram has acquired the intellect of his thatta[2] ”. She hoped that the little prodigy would surpass even her beloved- the late Chockalingam Iyer, whose status in the village was next only to the presiding deity- Lord Shiva. ‘Sriram kannan[3] will become a Periya[4] Collector, like his thatta’, she mumbled to herself. Meanwhile the aspiring bus-conductor zipped through in his Pushpaka-Vahanam from the verandah to the hall. Seetama, accustomed to the routine of the pocket-dynamo directly went to the dining hall, the final stop of ‘Shaktiman Bus’.
            With the food for Sriram in one hand and the other on her protruding chin, Seetama reminisced about the past, when her husband, Chockalingam Iyer IAS was always surrounded by a retinue of people, ranging from the humble petitioner to the ubiquitous policeman and the occasional politician. She vividly remembered the day when the newly-wed couple had gone to a concert of a prominent vocalist during the Madras Music Festival. The couple had been received so regally that humble Seetama had immediately shot a prayer above, ‘Mahadeva, let not this royal treatment go to my head and I forget you.’ Meanwhile, as the couple were seated in the first row, right infront of the performing artiste, the hesitant new wife could not resist asking Chockalingam, “Ean Na[5], why are we being accorded such a rousing reception? Have you helped the Sabha authorities monetarily before?” Chockalingam, a connoisseur of Karnatic music, was then dissecting the song into its barest atoms and was absorbed in analyzing it like an alchemist. No wonder the young Seetama received her first rebuke as the former muttered under his breath a clichéd Tamil proverb, “ Kaidei ki theriyama karpoora vasanai,’ which here roughly translates to-‘Can the donkey appreciate the arts?’ This unfair comparison awakened the musician in Seetama, a talented vocalist herself. Thereafter she also merged into the same wavelength as her husband’s, as the couple devoured the ambrosia flowing out of the renowned Bhagavathar.
            Later, as the couple were returning in their chauffeur driven Chevrolet car, Chockalingam seeing the gloomy face of his young wife softened and he himself revealed the truth, “Your husband is an IAS Collector. Hence.” It was then that Seetama truly understood the significance of the term “Collector”. The awe of the term ‘Collector’ was imprinted in her mind then. A kind of obsession took root in her mind that atleast one of their offspring should become a Collector. Since by nature, she was not of a stern disposition, she did not force her views on her six children, who were perfectly satisfied to excel in other fields such as the arts and economics and were not lured by the prestige of becoming That. Even though one of her grand-daughters was enterprising enough to try her hand at becoming That, the results did not match the efforts. Always a firm believer in destiny, Seetama consoled herself. It was of some consolation to her that the granddaughter eventually became a High-Court judge.poda
             Though she did not openly admit to others, the ‘Collector’ desire was still lurking in her heart, acting as a catalyst to her activities on the earth, but hindering her passage into the beyond. She was jolted out of this stupor by Sriram who commanded, ‘Patty, quickly give me the food.’ Seetama fondly queried, ‘Is my sweet-heart hungry?’ ‘NO!’  responded the thunderer immediately, “POGO”.

Old that she was, Seetama misheard POGO as PODA, a harmless profanity in Tamil if uttered in conversations between equals but serious enough to elicit attention if said otherwise, especially if by a four year old toddler. Seetama gently corrected,    ‘No Sriram! You should not say bad words like that.’

She cursed herself for allowing Sriram to mingle with the son of the gardener. The young fellow was understandably perplexed and quite unlike himself, quietly gulped down the food. Though somewhat concerned by the strange subdued obedience of her grandson, Seetama after the last helping patted the latter’s head and asked, “Kanna[6], will you become a Collector?” Pat came the reply, ‘Patty[7], I will become a conductor’. “Mahadeva! At this young age, the little fellow dreams of becoming an IAS Collector. It is the genes of his thata” exclaimed Seetama in unalloyed bliss.

Meanwhile a tricycle was heard running with the driver humming, “Dirrrr…Pam-Pam…Dirrrr.. We will watch POGO.  New stop POGO, POGO POGO”.  In the background trailed Seetama’s voice, ‘No, Sriram. Collectors don’t utter bad words!.”

[1] Nillu da-Stop dear

[2] Thatha– grandfather

[3] Kannan- beloved, dear

[4] Periya- Very Big/renowned

[5] Ean Na- Ji in Hindi

[6] Kanna- Laadla in Hindi

[7] Patty- Grandma



For more than 1.5 years now, my mother had been insisting that we gave that long overdue pilgrimage to  Kollur Mookambika Devi. Commitments related to job and other things not withstanding,  plain indolence prevented me from giving a go-ahead. But for the past  2 months, I myself have been feeling that it is high time, Mookambika was visited and so immediately consented  the next time amma suggested. Legend has it that, only when Mookambika Devi Herself wants you to visit Her, the trip will be materialised. Perhaps….clip_image001

So finally it was, the Friday-30th of Nov, I boarded a train from Chennai at 5pm, planning to reach my amma’s native place near Kannur, at around 8 am the next day. Being almost 3 years, since I visited amma’s place where many a  holiday had been spent in gay abandon with 8  cousins,  it was a nostalgic trip, as I made sure to soak in the scenic  scenes which only the Kerala countryside can offer. Had consciously booked the lower-berth in preference to my nowadays-favoured upper and was as adamant as DennisTheMenace when a fellow had seated himself in my window seat. Got up at 6 am, to be enchanted by the rising sun, beautiful backwaters with coconut-trees proliferating the banks, lush green fields and the cool wind blowing on your face. The beginning was good…. clip_image002

Reached my uncles’ place where the usual comments regarding kids having grownup and having no time to visit with a job in hand, were uttered in good humour.  None of my cousins were in town owing to education and jobs. Was informed/warned (rather) to get ready by 10:30, when a  Tata Indica of a friend of my Uncle, would come and 5 of us including me, my mother, 2 uncles and one of my aunts would have to be fitted in the Indica, along with the driver. As many of you would have guessed, the Indica can comfortably hold 5 people and maybe 6 if everyone were like those size-zero models, nowadays being aped. This was not the case and so doubts were expressed by amma and aunt regarding the feasibility of undertaking the 6 hours+  trip to Mookambika, in the Indica. These doubts were not without reason as 4 of us frequently shifted positions in the back, and my Uncle in the front having a good time neither, with the sun relentlessly beating down. The Tatas were unanimously derided as our good Ole Amby(which had now been sold), on which the 4 previous trips to Mookambika were undertaken, was celebrated as the ultimate Road-Machine. Who said Amby’ time has run out? Nostalgia does strange things, I tell you. Agreed, the Amby was   spacious and sturdy, but ask those (me that is) who had to sit infront besides the driver and some cousin ; not only was the heat of the engine unbearable, a semblance of a  conversation could be exchanged only if the other person is sitting on your lap, which he was ,almost.

Crossed one landmark, Mangalore at around 1:30pm, and reached Udupi, famed for its Krishna Temple, at 3: 15pm. Dined at the usual Woodlands Restaurant, where the service was rather poor. Forgot to mention that I was the sponsor for the entire trip, now that the kid-was- earning. Small change, I tell you when compared to the goodies and joys enjoyed over the years at Uncles’ homes.

In between, the much abused Indica   added further disrepute to her stock, as the cooling tank/radiator leaked some sort of green liquid. A mechanic from the highway was brought, and the car was taken to the shop, with my uncle and driver. Time passed slowly as the remaining 4 of us waited , with no update coming from the other end. My uncle having forgotten his mobile with aunt, the wait was getting increasingly exasperating as it crossed 6 pm. BTW  amma was engaged shooting her usual prayers to Pillayarappa and Guruvayoorappa, to bring the car ASAP. This being a pilgrimage to a temple, the perceived implications associated with a bungled trip are obvious.

At 6:15 pm, the newly christened “OTTAI CAR” finally arrived , and the trip was resumed with renewed haste, having to reach Kollur before 9:00 pm when the temple closed. Though we had booked rooms near the temple, and were planning to stay overnight to have Darshan of Devi the next morning too,  we were obviously anxious to finish one darshan that day. The remaining 75 km, in 2 hours, not a big deal , you might say, but factor in night driving, traffic, bad-roads(really bad,  trust me!) , and on top of everything else, an unreliable “Ottai Car”.



It was a close call. Reached Kollur at 8:15pm, and after a quick wash (no time for bath) in our room, were in the hallowed temple premises by 8 :30, fervently hoping that one will be experience real Bhakthi ,atleast for some fleeting  moments when infront of Mookambika Devi, forgetting mundane  banalities.



The prayers did not go unheeded and even the imitation of the real thing for some brief moments was overwhelming enough. The Devi in her full attire and splendour is really resplendent and dazzling to look at. The moderate crowd and the pleasant breeze, added to the aura and the elders felt the car-breakdown was not such a bad thing after all. Faith and religious fervour can sugarcoat anything!clip_image001[4] While the elders collected the “Kashaya Thirtham”, a special consecrated concoction of medicinal herbs distributed to the pilgrims only at the end of night session, I was insouciance personified, as I roamed around the vast and familiar corridor around the sanctum, housing the other deities/Parivaara Devatas: Sri Veerabhadra Swamy, Panchalingeswara, Shri Paarthesara (different manifestations of Lord Shiva), Lord Subramanya and Devi Saraswati. On the left of Shri Paartheswara shrine is the temple of Shri Panchamukha Ganapati — the five-faced Lord Ganesha. There is also an image of Anjaneya/Hanuman, said to have been installed by Madhwa Acharya, Sri Vadaraja Swami.

Soon after, everyone went to the Bhojana-Shala, where a very simple, though tasty meal comprising of rice with rasam,sambar and mooru/watered curd was partaken by the vast assembly of Bhaktas irrespective of caste, creed,status and other alleged differences. It was a day well spent as we retired to our comfortable room with me being the last one to leave the temple premises as the watchman gave a mild shouting.


Woke up a trifle late at 6am, and was most eagerly looking forward to the morning darshan.


The temple, situated as it is between scenic hills (please see link below), presented even more of an  spectacle, with the sun reluctantly peeking from the  hills. I have always preferred early morning darshan immediately after a bath as the perceived feeling of purity/cleanliness and calmness of mind is at stratospheric heights, I have observed. The feeling was not betrayed as the experience was nonpareil, I tell you. Our family was in a vantage position as we witnessed the morning deeparadhana, which goes by a name, Alankara Darshan. The Devi was attired as Saraswathi, I believe.

Witnessing the earnest faces of the devotees coming from various parts of India and abroad, one had a lump in the throat. A thing to be noted is that in Mookambika, there is no restriction that only Hindus can enter the sanctum. Infact I observed 2 foreign ladies meditating near the Shankara-Peeth, where Mookambika Devi is said to have given darshan to Adi Shankara. A most apt place to go inward, since the whole vicinity of the hills is said to be loaded with spiritual power due to the penance of many sages, in particular Kola Maharishi.

I circled around the sanctum inside the main temple, and was directly behind the main deity/idol of Mookambika Devi, with the Shankara-Peeth behind when I looked up the sky. The mild sun rays seemed like kissing the premises of the temple and blessing all. The gentle sun pooled with the discreet chillness of  the morning, and synchronizing  with the mild breeze brushed my bare-chest, as I instinctively realized that this was the moment, the defining moment, which gave meaning to the whole trip. A moment which nostalgia had not yet colored and magnified its significance. The moment, when one did not in the least doubt that, God did indeed exist.

Sorry about getting a little carried away, but  to quote Albert Einstein: “My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”


As we came out of the sanctum and were worshipping the Parivaara Devatas, a sanyassini in ochre orbs, a foreign lady, very graceful looking with velvet skin and hair knotted in the form of a jatai like a sage,captured the attention of all. All of us were infront of the Anjaneya image, when the sanyassini muttered to my mother,”That is Hanuuman, a Rama devotee. right?” My not so well-read mother was mystified as to how a foreigner could know these details. More was to follow.

Foreign Sanyassini : Hanumaan flew to Lanka and burnt the city.

Amma: Whoa !! Whoa !!! clip_image001[6]What the  VakrathundaMahakaya ??


At 10am, we were back on our way home  planning to stop at Udupi, visit the Krishna Temple and having lunch at the temple itself. Reached  the temple at 12, had darshan of the most beautiful idol of little Krishna.

udupi krishna udpi krishna 2

Actually, a separate post itself can be written about the history, legends and the sanctity of the Udupi temple, one among the ‘Seven Mukthistala’ sites in Karnataka, the others being Kollur,  Subrahmanya, Kumbasi, Kodeshwara, Sankaranarayana and Gokarna. Had to  wait a long time for the lunch to be served.

Finally at around 2:00, the Indica was on the way back home to Kerala.  Everything seemed OK, as  everyone fell  asleep. When I woke up, noted that the car was moving  slowly on the highway.“Car has a snag. Clutch is not working” explained the driver. Ahem.. Ahem.. with my limited knowledge of cars, I knew, the clutch was indispensable to change gears. We had not even left Karnataka with home atleast 3 hours away.That day being a Sunday, no mechanic shops were open either. To cut a very long story short, we went in 2nd gear for a long while, car was forced to stop at one point, passerbys had to push it to restart. Some adhoc work to the clutch was done by taxi drivers once we entered Kerala ,after which the driver rode like a man possessed. It was nothing short of a miracle that the 3 railway crossings spared us and the usual traffic at the sinuous steep slopes was absent. If the Indica had been stopped at those slopes, would have caused one hell of a traffic jam, I promise you. By now, the Indica was the butt of all jokes and everyone agreed that she epitomized everything wrong with automobiles.Finally reached home at 7:30. Inspite of the car,the overall experience was not  bad, rather an adventure after all clip_image001[8].

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1. The Tata Indica was not all being maintained by her owner, it seems. She could have been reliable otherwise.

2. Do not have a digi cam, the pics were got from the Net.


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“No evil-spirit ever came near a devotee of Karuppu[1] Sami”, was one of this oft-repeated dialogues to his wife. The veracity of this statement can be debated for another day. Today, he had first spotted a male…. And hoped that it was anyone but a young man. As it always happens on a bad-day, hope instead of propelling a soul drowns it.

Before the impulsive ones implicate Thangappan as an incorrigible pervert given to dealings only with lonely ladies, the morality of the old-veteran should be stressed upon and he was anything ( a newspaper included) but a womanizer. The reason for his withdrawal from a window of opportunity to mint the much needed black-paper is a strange one.

clip_image001 A couple of months ago, as Thangappan was wheeling through ‘Sarojini Nagar’, he was stopped by Asha Varma ‘madam’. His eyes gleamed at the sight of a substantial catch before him. As was the case in these parts, the super woman immediately inside to attend to more pressing needs. Since there was no soul to even remotely witness his ‘crime’ (Thangappan another favorite term courtesy villains), the old fox had already decided to evade more ‘blak-paper’ from the lady. As soon as the mere formality of the weighing operation was completed, out came the young son of Asha Madam. There was a deep regret inside Thangappan about his failure to establish personal bonds with the influential ‘Sarojini Nagar’ residents.

He decided to remedy the longing and enquired, “are you studying, son?”

‘Yes’ came the curt reply.

‘In Plus 2, I guess’, continued Selvi’s father.

Pat came the hurt response, “No..No… 3rd year in St.Stephens Engineering college.”

Here was the much needed link to establish a firm-bond, thought our man and with his toothy grin blurted out, “I go those parts once a month. There is always a substantial collection of used beer bottles, in your Men’s hostel.”

However contrary to Thangappan’s expectations, no immediate reply came forth and the boy barely muttered, “ oh, I see “ and thundered ‘HOW MUCH WEIGHT?’.

The veteran giggled and said, “30 kg beer-bottles, quite a collection, you know”.

The teetotaler boy who had not relished even the earlier association was now fuming with anger as he ordered, ‘hey Paper, I asked the weight of the collections from my home’

“8 kg newspaper and 3 kg magazines” replied a baffled Thangappan.

“What! clip_image002 Only 8 kg newspaper… hey Paper, just 3 months ago a similar collection had fetched me 25 kg at Kumarans’. Let me see you weigh again”.

“Master, I have been around for 20 years. You can ask your mother about my fairness” blabbered a terrified Thangappan.

“What have you then to fear? Just demonstrate” came the matter of the matter of fact reply .

At the first step, the boy tolerated the precarious balancing in favour of the 1 kg weight. But the moment, Thangappan pulled out the next step in the trick of his trade, the boy protested, “Hey’Paper’, this will not do. Either take a 2 kg or a 5 kg weight and weigh enmasse”.

‘I have only 1 kg weight” came the feeble reply.

The situation took a turn for the worse as the boy abruptly concluded, “you can go. I will myself sell the papers at Kumarans” and went inside dragging along the potential bumper catch of ‘black-paper’.

Barely had the wounds of his first ‘business failure’ healed when a second one followed soon after. About 4 days after the ‘Varma Boy’ incident, as Thangappan was ambling along in Tamil-Mozhi street, his services were called for by Chintaamani Ammal. Since his business had been below par that day, Thangappan was pleasantly surprised at being stopped by Chintaamani; a very rare customer. More exhilaration greeted him, when bundle after bundle of newspapers and magazines were stacked one over the other. The magazines were stacked one over the other.

The experienced eye could discern at first glance, a super bumper of 30-35 kg weight. The malefactor was giddy with delight having serendipitously nailed almost 11 kg of ‘black-paper’ when out rung a voice from inside- “Amma, today I will definitely go to Kumarans’ and sell the papers.

Chintaamani shot back, ‘Enough of hearing the same nonsense for over 2 weeks. Seeing newspapers everywhere is getting to my senses and also earning me a bad name from visitors. The ‘paper-man’ will save you the trouble and auto-expense.’

Out came the defeated boy with a purpose and demanded of Thangappan, “What is the rate per kg?”

‘Rs 4 for newspapers and Rs.3 a kg for books’ came the quick reply.

‘No. this will not do. I normally get Rs.5 for newspapers and 3.5 for books at Shanmugam Scrap & Co.” countered the experienced young man.

“Ok Master, I am prepared to give 4.5 for the newspapers”

The boy was not impressed.

Like a salesman, Thangappan raised the stakes, ‘Rs.5 for paper and 3.5 for books. Final’.

The unexpected and unaccustomed catch had lowered the guard of the veteran, who had decided that the margin of the substantial ‘black-paper’ will offset the losses from the higher cost price. The alarmed boy seized the moment, ‘Hey ‘Paper-man’, your pricing is amusing; fluctuating like the stock-market. You are raising the rate without me even bargaining for it. There is something fishy’.

The boy quickly leafed through the various bundles as if hoping to find some long-lost diamond necklace. The distraught Thangappan was dealt a killer blow when the boy pronounced, “You may go. I will myself sell the bundles at Shanmugams’.”

clip_image003As the despondent Thangappan got onto his bicycle, the final nail was driven when he overheard the boy pacifying Mama dearest, “Amma, crookedness was writ large on his face. Don’t you ever call that fellow, could be a member of those gangs inspecting houses for theft. Shanmugams’ will give us a better price.”

Ever the believer of omens and patterns, Thangappan decided that the whole tribe of male in the age group: 14-22 were fatal to his career and that he was better off dealing with the female of the species. A new theory was also formulated by our man, “the behavior of women change according to their economic conditions. But male teenagers are the same everywhere.”

Reverting back to the present, Thangappan wisely decided to follow the adage: “Prudence will be better served than aggressive soliciting.” The old-fox comforted himself, “Kanagamathi can be trapped when alone.” His resolve was steeled as he dwelt upon the truth, “ a bad-time will followed by a good time.” The ups and downs of his business over a long career, had developed within his mortal frame, a certain indifference which struggling spiritual aspirants would envy. It is another thing that he draped the cloak of indifference, only if pushed beyond a certain limit and was yet to develop the equanimity throughout.

The business pattern continued in Rama-Rao Street and Bhajana Kovil Lane and others. But as mentioned before, the anxiety of expectations was now subdued and he calmly continued his trade song- “Papeeeer…. Pazhayaaaa-Paper ”. The jinx was finally broken at his last stop-Justice Sundaram Iyer Street where he got to do 3 transactions. However, Thangappan reacted to this ironical change of fortunes only with a chuckle, in tune with the calmness prevalent inside. It was around 3:30 am as he reached the Corporation. As Kumaran was weighing the day’s collections, the serene Thangappan was smoking the leafy beedi reflecting upon the impermeance of luck, misfortune, business, life and beyond. The contemplative yogi was awakened out of this stupor, by Kumaran, “Enna Collector, dull business? You are not even glancing at the magazines.” The ‘fountain of peace’ replied, as he accepted the Rs.145, “This too will pass.”

A puzzled and worried Kumaran enquired as the latter kicked aside, the stand of the bicycle, “Thangappa, what next?”

“Kamadhenu Talkies. A film starring Rajini and M.N.Nambiar[2] has come” replied the enigma as he peddled his way towards his ultimate call of unalloyed bliss.

[1] A demi-god in rural TamilNadu, India.

[2] M.N.Nambiar- Top villain in old Tamil movies