A good morning indeed


It was a pleasant sunny morning, just like Bangalore mornings are wont to be during the early days of summer in the first week of March. There I was, taking my usual brisk morning walk on the jogging track of the integrated township I stayed in absorbing the usual morning sights and sounds which comprised mostly of well-groomed canine friends being walked by their masters, the regular joggers with their iPod earplugs and workout music, the elderly couples (and a few solitary old men and women with lazy spouses who didn’t join them) and the overweight couples who lived an otherwise sedentary lifestyle due to their ‘desk jobs’.

And then, I noticed her, right near the entry gate of the township. A little girl, Tanya, not more than 8 yrs old, walking briskly towards the gate with what looked like a thermos flask and a few plastic cups. I remembered having seen this girl when her parents introduced themselves to me a few days ago, when they newly moved into the apartment opposite mine. If memory served me right, both her parents Raghav and Indira had recently moved to Bangalore, both of them having taken a transfer in their respective jobs, and accompanied by Raghav’s old father, Venu.

Tanya reached the gate accompanied by her grandfather Venu, and immediately set down at least three separate cups on the footpath just outside the entry gate. She then went on to carefully pour out milk from the thermos flask into the cups. And as if by magic, three cute little puppies appeared from behind the large plastic waste disposal container kept outside the gate. The puppies, hungry as they were, immediately started lapping up the milk that Tanya had poured out. She then went on to put her hand into the small jute bag that her grandfather had carried, took out one of the few biscuit packets in there, opened up one of them and started lining up the biscuits on the footpath for the puppies.

In this day and age, where most of us don’t even have time to even absorb, let alone enjoy the sights and sounds of nature around us, this small gesture of the little girl warmed my heart quite a bit. Venu, who noticed me taking in this entire scene soon greeted me and came up to me. ‘Good morning!’ he said cheerfully.

Wishing him back, I expressed my appreciation at what Tanya was doing. Proud of his grand-daughter, Venu said, ‘Oh, this is nothing. You should see the smiles on the faces of Tanya’s young students after their English classes.’

‘English classes!’ But then, she is hardly eight years old. Who does she take classes for?’ I asked.

Venu smiled ‘Oh, her mother Indira managed to convince the domestic help and the some of the housekeeping and security personnel to send their kids for basic English classes conducted by Tanya. She doesn’t teach them much, other than just the alphabets and basic spoken English.’

Impressed by the initiative, I asked him, ‘Wow, that is something! At her age, I was busy running around open grounds, playing with my friends and busy reading comics.’

‘She does all that and more. It’s just that she makes it a point to spend at least two hours of her free time every day to help out others in some small way or the other. In fact, this whole milk and biscuit routine for the puppies started only yesterday when she noticed the puppies squealing in hunger when her school bus stopped outside the gates to drop her off’ he said.

‘I guess all the values that my wife and me imbibed in Raghav when he was young, and all the good work that Indira’s parents put into her upbringing have been hard-wired into little Tanya. Genetics and DNA do have their benefits, as she is displaying right now’ he proudly said.

‘Come Tanya, we have to get back home. Your school bus will be here in 45 minutes and you still have to bathe and have your breakfast’ he called out to her.

‘Sure grandpa! Now that these puppies have had their breakfast and milk, I can have mine as well’ Tanya jumped up and came running to her grandpa.

Walking back, I was left thinking if only more grandparents and parents nowadays spent more time teaching their young ones to be as considerate of other humans and all living beings in general, the world and its future would be that much more happier and secure.

It truly was a good morning!

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This post has been written for the Housing.Com blog campaign conducted in association with IndiBlogger.

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A good bargain


While I had clearly been informed that under no circumstances would I be allowed to meet the person who received the kidney I had donated, curiosity got the better of me. I got in touch with Haneefa, the ‘agent’ who I had approached back in my village, Koprankudi in Idukki district, Kerala, and requested him to at least give me the name of the patient to whom my kidney would be donated to.

Haneefa, while fully aware of the rules regarding the donor-recipient confidentiality, empathized with my situation and shared the name and address of the recipient. It was time to see what Appan Menon’s problem was and why he needed my kidney.

My story was simple. Achan had left behind a plethora of gambling debts that needed to be cleared and the tharavadu was already mortgaged. Since I was the only survivor of Achan’s drinking habit and had only the house to fall back upon, I had no choice but to sell my kidney for the princely sum of 7 lakh rupees. The money would be just about right to save the house, and I had to rely on hard physical labor at the timber yard working alongside the other paapans and elephants to earn my living. A few well-meaning acquaintances had advised me against exerting myself physically immediately after my surgery, but I had no choice. At this point in time I had decided that I would cross that bridge when I come to it.

After the initial tissue sample test where my samples matched those of Appan’s, I was advised six weeks of complete bed-rest before the surgery while he would be readied for the kidney transplant. And although Haneefa had arranged for a lodge where I could stay for this duration, I simply had to hunt down Appan and find out his story. After all, a part of me, albeit a really small one; my kidney, was going to be part of his future, wasn’t it.

By sweet-talking a couple of the ward boys in the hospital, I managed to get Appan’s address and there I was, two days later, standing outside his flat, ringing the bell. The door was opened by somebody who looked 50-ish, and was visibly on medication, given the sluggish way he moved and talked.

To his queries as to who I was, I told him that I was a cook looking for a job and had heard from the watchman (with whom I had made discreet enquiries before I walked up two floors to the flat) that the owner of this flat needed one. After a few preliminary enquiries, I was ushered into the kitchen and asked to make some sugar-less tea, and serve the same with some Marie biscuits.

Pretty soon Appan warmed up to my company and started sharing some of his old stories with me. He had run away from home in Malappuram district in Kerala when he was 16 yrs old after his childhood love with his maternal cousin Malu was discovered at home. An orphan, he had lost all contact with his extended family and had since migrated to Dubai, courtesy a sympathetic pastor he had come in contact with in Kochi to where he had fled to as a teenager.

He had made more than his fair share of fortune the hard way working first as a server in a hotel and by sheer dint of his hard work, perseverance and ability to build good relationships with almost all those he came in contact with, he had managed to settle down well. However, he could never forget Malu, his love for her which prevented him from ever thinking of another girl again. Even as he was narrating some of these old stories to me, Appan’s eyes teared up and his voice choked. It was clear that he missed Malu, his extended family and his childhood support system that the extended family had provided to him as a young orphan.

One fine day, I decided to take charge of reclaiming some of Appan’s lost memories. Using my network of friends from among the lorry drivers of various transport companies, I managed to get the address of Appan’s tharavadu in Malappuram. Given that the family was a well-known one in the region, this was accomplished without too much difficulty. Without telling Appan anything, I packed his bags and asked him to accompany me to his car, whose chauffeur had already been given the address with instructions to keep the destination a secret.

Six hours later, when we finally turned into the driveway of a palatial bungalow was when Appan finally realized where he was. Although he recognized the general direction in which we were travelling earlier, not in his wildest dreams did he realize where the final destination was. And the look on his face when he was greeted by his elderly strong grandfather when the car stopped was nothing short of sheer, unadulterated joy. Pent up emotions from more than three decades of missing his family and their bonding broke open and he started sobbing like a small child amidst at least a dozen or so uncles and aunts who were still staying together as a joint family.

Pretty soon, Malu made her way through the commotion and managed to see Appan for the first time in three decades. And when Appan learnt that she hadn’t married all this time and continued to love him as much as she did when she was a teenager, he couldn’t control himself and started sobbing all over again. It was only when Malu , his uncle and aunt consoled him, saying that it was only today that their family was ‘whole’ again and that they had finally regained a long lost son that he accepted the reality as it was.

After a week or so of staying in the tharavadu, it was time for Appan to come back to Kochi as the surgery was scheduled four days later. By now I was convinced that my kidney was being donated to somebody who had seen his fair share of sorrow in life, and was somebody who deserved a second chance at happiness. With his homecoming, Appan had finally achieved ‘closure’ to what was a sad, lonely, depressing chapter in his life, and I was sure that this second innings of his life would be lived happily and contented.

The day before the surgery, I left behind a small note cooking up some arbitrary reason for having to go back to my home town and got admitted in the hospital. The surgery itself was quite uneventful and since the doctor informed that it was successful almost immediately after I regained consciousness, I felt happy for Appan. I also told the doctor not to let Appan pay any money whatsoever to Haneefa or anybody else for his new kidney and although the doctor knew the rules which forbade payment or any consideration in return for a kidney, he agreed to strictly go by the rule book in this case, based on my instructions.

I was discharged the next day and managed to peep into the private ward where Appan was recuperating. It warmed my heart to see that a couple of his cousins had come over from Malappuram to assist him with his recuperation and ensuring that I was not noticed by anybody in the ward, I made my way out of the hospital, back to Koprankudi.

So what if the moneylender would take over possession of my tharavadu, I was only losing a house, but helping somebody get back to a home. End of day, it was a good bargain after all.

Glossary:

Tharavadu – Ancestral home handed down over the generations

Achan – Father

Paapan – Mahout or elephant keeper

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This post has been written for Project 365: A post a day where the intention is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided. Today’s prompt was “Tell us about the time you performed a random act of kindness, where the recipient of your kindness never found out about your good deed. How did the deed go down?” and I took the liberty of writing down this fictional short story around the same.

CLAIR = Clean Air


Disclaimer: The following post is a work of fiction; science fiction even, given that neither am I technically qualified enough to be making these assumptions nor am I knowledgeable enough about the various types of air pollution to even dare attempting to resolve the issue. But, hey, as I mentioned before, this is a work of fiction and here goes.

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It has been only around two decades and a couple of years since that fateful day when field tests of “Clair” were declared successful and commercial production of the same was initiated by governments around the world. With the US and UK governments taking the initiative, showing belief in the invention and subsidizing the entire production costs of Clair for the first five years, it was just a matter of time before the rest of the world followed suit and began production. After all, the future of the entire world and the survival of the human race was at stake here.

Clair, I must admit that the name gives away the very purpose for which it was founded. CLean AIR – CLAIR. Not getting into the technical details of the product, the concept goes thus.

NaNoSpheresEssentially small hollow polycarbonate balls around 4 cm in diameter filled with nano particles capable of sucking up almost all types of Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) which mostly consisted of chemicals and other items which pollute the air, Clair would ensure that when the nano particles were filled to the brim, they would gently descend down to the ground. And even if by chance the larger sphere containing 24 of these balls landed in water bodies (such as seas, rivers, etc) the fact that the sphere was airtight with the polluted nano particles carefully sealed inside meant that they would not escape into the air again.

GammaRayCannonAs for disposal of the polluted nano particles, the various gamma ray facilities built specifically for this purpose across the globe would ensure that the spheres were disintegrated into thin air leaving behind no traces of their earlier composition.

With Clair, my team had essentially revolutionized the way air pollution would be tackled ensuring that over the course of time, we would clean up all existing air pollution while ensuring that alternative modes of preventing and reducing further air pollution continued to be pursued.

What seemed like a wild dream back in 2000 when I conceived the idea stands vindicated and is a true game-changer as far as reducing air pollution levels in our atmosphere goes.

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This post has been written for Project 365: A post a day where the intention is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided. Today’s prompt was to imagine, in great detail, an invention that could help reverse pollution and describe how it works and how it would help save the planet.

Oru Police Station kathai


Apologies in advance to regular readers, but only Tamil speakers will be able to read this post due to the extensive use of Tamil words in this story.

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One day early in the morning when I got up and was drinking the chuda chuda filter kaapi that Amma had made for me, there were these loud knocks on the door – dhud dhud dhud.

Idhu yaar pa, kaalan karthaleyai Amma grumbled as she hurried to open the door.

As soon as she opened the door, she took a quick couple of steps back saying shiva shiva!!!

When I went near the door to see what it was that made her react like this, even I was shocked.

There was a police constable outside the door. Saar, idhu number 67 thaaney, he asked

Aamam sir

Unga peyr Ramanathan aa

Aamam sir

Unga vayasu 19 aa

Aamam sir

Neenga koncham B-2 station varaikkum varanum saar. 9 mani kulla vaanga sir he said and walked off

Getting over her shock Amma asked me Dei yenna da panniney? Yedhavadhu vambuley maatindu irukeeya

Illa ma, naan onnumey panneley I insisted, all the while trying to recollect anything that I might have done to bring the cops to the agraharam, and right to my doorstep this early in the morning.

Ayyo, yellarum pathirupaaley, andha pakkathu veedu Maragatham maamikku idhu onnu podhumey unna pathi vadanthiyai kallapa Amma started grumbling.

Staying in a Brahmin agraharam in the 1960s meant that everybody knew everybody and everybody was interested in every small nitty-gritties of your life, at times more than their own lives. And a cop knocking on one of the doors was more scandalous than the Puratchi Thalaivar traipsing around with that young actress, his favorite heroine.

Rama, poi sollathey, edhavadhu vendathathu pannitu ippo police gittey maatindeya da, Amma asked again, jolting me out of my reverie.

Appadi ellam onnum illai Amma, I pacified her. After Appa had passed away two years ago, leaving Amma and me to look after each other, I had cut down on all those boisterous fun-loving friends I had at college who had a penchant for getting into trouble due to their stupid antics, more so with that monster of a Yezdi bike that Santhanam had.

But it had been more than a week since I had even seen these friends, let along hang out with them. So then, why were the cops after me, I wondered.

In any case, a couple of hours later, after I had bathed, done my Sandhyavandanam and had my regular breakfast of three crispy nei roasts made by Amma, I made my way to the B-2 station, a good twenty minute walk from my home.

Once I reached there, I walked up to the same constable who I had seen earlier – Sir, neenga enna station kku vara soneenglay, yenna vishayam sir?

Vaanga Ramanathan, vaanga, okkanthunga he said.

Surprised that I was offered a chair, I was still curious. Sir, enakku college kku neram aachu. Yedhukku vara sonnenga nnu sonna nalla irukkum, I said, trying to get to the crux of the matter soon.

Neenga moonu vaaram munnaley…..illa illa naalu vaaram munnaley….he began.

I started sweating profusely. Damn that Santhanam and his bike. I should have never taken it for a spin that day around a month ago.

How was I to know that ball rolling out of that gate would be followed by that stupid puppy? Try as much as I did, I know that I must have hit that puppy and maybe even killed it. Shit, this is what I get for being over smart and trying to ride bikes that I am not comfortable handling. Look where it landed me, at the police station!!!

As these thoughts and images of that small puppy were flashing in front of me, the constable continued neenga naalu vaaram munnaley passport kku apply panniruntheenga illaya, adhodu verification kaaga ungala station vara sonnom.

Aana naan passportkku apply pannaleye sir, I replied.

Unga peru Ramanathan thaaney?

Aamam

Unga address New No 67, Old No 59, Periyar Kurukku Santhu, Shastri Nagar, Kumbakonam thaaney?

Illa sir, yen address New No 76, Old No 67, I said

O, sorry sir, oru chinna thappu nadanthidichu, naan thappana aaley verification kaaga vara solliten, he apologized.

Smiling, I breathed a sigh of relief and said parava illai sir, appo naan poren.

As I walked out of the police station, I decided never to ride that monstrous Yezdi of Santhanam again. All the thrills the bike provided weren’t worth the heartburn and tension that it also brought along with it.

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This post has been written for Project 365 : A post a day where the intention is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided. Today’s prompt was to write about whatever I like, but using regional slang, dialect or accent. I chose to write a story mostly in Tamil for this prompt.

Villainy


Just imagine a world filled with heroes and no anti-heroes, filled with only the good guys with the bad guys nowhere in the picture, filled with angels and no demons at all.

Theoretically, would that even be possible.

No, the very premise of good relies on bad, and consequently you will not have heroes unless you have villains, the angels will not fly unless the demons wreak havoc upon us.

  • If Harry Potter were a normal teenage wizard without being The Chosen One, and Lord Voldemort didn’t exist, would the series be as interesting?
  • Would Batman be as interesting without the presence of The Joker, The Penguin, The Scarecrow, Poison Ivy?
  • Would Sherlock Holmes even have to exercise his brain cells if Prof Moriarty didn’t have his devious plans in place?
  • Closer home, would Vishnu have had to take his various avatars if demons like Hiranyakasipu, Kamsa, Ravana and all the other asuras weren’t around having their devilish fun on earth?
  • Even closer, would Padayappa be as heroic if Neelambari didn’t resort to her antics to trouble him every now and then?

To me, who has devoured more than his fair share of comics as a youngster, has enjoyed (and continues to enjoy) his cinema and still manages to retain a voracious appetite for novels, it goes without saying that any hero is defined by the villain that he faces and how much of a ‘fight’ is put up by the villain while confronting the hero.

The concept of the hero being defined by his arch-enemy was something that was ingrained in me after I saw Manoj Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable [Link to Wikipedia article]. The main premise of this movie was the fact that the villain of this movie goes to the extent of orchestrating fatal disasters just because his purpose in life was to find his arch-enemy, the hero. This movie in more than one way left a lasting impact on me, to the extent that I suddenly had a newfound respect for writers (of scripts, comics, books, etc) for having created such memorable villains over the course of all the books I had read and movies I had watched till then.

And what better way to celebrate villainy than to dedicate October 16th to them and christen it “The Fictional Villain” day.

So go ahead, sit back and try and see some of the above villainish clips from YouTube or elsewhere. And oh yes, don’t forget to tell me about your favorite villains over the years in the Comments section.

Villains

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This post has been written for Project 365: A post a day where the idea is to publish at least one post everyday based on the prompts provided. Today’s prompt was to declare a Person X day where I get to pick Person X and I picked “The Fictional Villain” to honor today.