Monday, December 26, 2005

Lord of the King!

Five good reasons why you should watch KING KONG
1. If you are a King Kong fan.
2. If you are a Peter Jackson fan.
3. If you like adventure.
4. If you like action.
5. If you like special effects.

This king size extravaganza is a perfect package for any movie aficionados. Peter is known for his 'Lord of the rings trilogy' that rendered him Oscars. This one is just another feather in his crown that truly makes him the real 'LORD OF THE KING'. The initial build up to the scene when the protagonist arrives to the silver screen is worth mentioning. He keeps the audiences glued to the screen right from the word 'LIGHTS-CAMERA-ACTION'.
Visual effects at its prime movie, this. We've seen many special effects spectacular movies but this is surely an edge ahead of any of its kind. The monster ape not only depicts ferociousness but also his gentle side. Peter has meticulously crafted the emotional scenes between Naomi and the ape. Naomi Watts delivers a very promising performance. A sure BOX OFFICE material.

All of the above is purely my personal opinion.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Santa a myth or.....!!!

HO HO HO Santa is here to fill you with joy and distribute lovely presents that you've been wishing for!!!! Now which kid wouldn't love to hear this?? The kids would love to hear & see Santa Claus visit their homes especially if they are Christians. All kids have their own beliefs about Santa and during that tiny age we dare to think otherwise. This is about a cousin of mine who thought Santa was for real until recently.

The story dates back when my cousin was about 8-12 years old. Cousin's neighbor was a Christian family and she(C-cousin) was very close with their D-daughter of the same age. D used to tell C stories about Santa coming home to give her gifts every year. Santa was hi-tech too coz he had his own email address where kids could write to about the gifts they wanted. Sometimes D used to show C the emails she wrote and the things she asked, to C's surprise D got the exact gifts D had ordered. Now C had no choice but to come to believe that Santa was no fairy tale. C comes home and talks to her dad.

"It is true that Santa lives, and according to my friend D anyone can write to him."

"Write what dear"

"About the things that you need for Christmas"

"And how are you going to do that"

"Write him an email"

"Do you know his address?"

"Yes D told me". (dad didn't want to disappoint her daughter so goes with C's story)

"Ok go ahead and write to him" We'll see if Santa will come home.

C is all smiles, finally she makes her mind and writes to Santa. Dad sees what she's asked for. On Dec 26, Voila!!! the gift is in the balcony. C just cannot control her excitement, if only I had not slept I could've seen Santa come by. This went on for 2 years. Later one day once C was home, her dad sits with her daughter and explains to her.

"Santa did not bring the gift but I put them there"

C looks at her dad, don't know what to say. She didn't want to believe him. How could that be true?

C refuses to come to terms with the truth. She gave in after a while, though back of her mind she still thought there was something about Santa. The jingle bells ringing while he rode down from the sky in his deer sledge. Once C was old enough to know right from wrong she knew her dad was absolutely spot on. But even now C tells me she still wonders if Santa is a myth or not???

All of us must have had such thoughts when we were young and still think if it was only true.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Double Standards--Why are we like that.....???

This is not any from my memories but an opinion I think should be on..

Have we ever thought about this seriously?

We blame the local authorities for not keeping public premises clean. How many among us have really thought what we can do as an individual...very few compared to the other part of the general public. We are right at the top when it comes to the blaming game but none of us think radically. The problem is not restricted to only the uneducated classes(which is understandable), it is widespread among the educated and so called elite class. They are perfect when it comes to keeping their private homes spic and span, but away from home, they have different rules in store. Why??? I've seen numerous occasions when people throw trash right out of their car windows or even spitting for that matter. Talking about spitting, its a kind of a birth right in India. But mind you...the same people, when they are in other countries obey the laws and respect their rules and regulations. We Indians only think about the RIGHTS we have and safely forget our DUTIES. I am not perfect when I write this but I can proudly say I've done my part in this regard. The other day my 4 year old son had a piece of chocolate wrapper in his pocket. When I asked him why it was there, he told me that he did not find a dust bin the school van and did not want to throw it outside, he bought it home to dispose it in our home trash can. Believe it or not. IT IS POSSIBLE.

I have always wondered why we exhibit this sort of double standards.

Is it because of the fear that we are in an alien nation we exhibit the change in character? OR
Does the vast freedom we enjoy in India serve as a prerequisite to be unethical? OR
Is it a purposeful ignorance?

I would say 'PURE IGNORANCE'. Why do we do that? Coz others are also doing it and why not I?-->mentality. We all know what is right but just being ignorant and 'everything goes here' sense of feeling is here to stay, until this is wiped out, we will not change. This holds good for other basic behaviors-
1. Obeying traffic rules which we don't.
2. Traveling without a valid ticket. If not many but there are people who do it for the kick of it. Will you do it anywhere else????

With this BLOG I am not going to change India overnight but atleast I can convey what I feel is right through this medium. I'm sure many who read this will agree with me. These are for sure trivial things but at the same time a serious topic each of us should think about.

Lets do something for a change!!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The longest wait.....

This would probably be one of the most bitter memories that will never cease to perish from my mind, though its not so bitter right now when I think of it. I had the same ambition like any graduate out of college, have a respectable job along with it the money to have a happy family. I was deprived of it for a few years too long, really tooooo long.... On the positive side I'm a happy man now. But when I look back in time it was indeed not a very pleasant thought, nevertheless considering the fact that how things have turned out to be now I really don't mind or care what happened then. Like the saying goes 'Everything happens for the good' but I was never in the state of mind to believe in it at that time.

My job hunt started right from 1994 through till 2000 when I finally got a good break in my career. So here goes the very long story....

My first stop - BANGALORE, the land where people breaths IT. Ironically for me there wasn't even a single breath that could sustain me. I was staying in CV Raman nagar back then with my cousin/brother and a few friends as a paying guest. I was the only one among them without a job but that did not discourage me in anyway. I kept my head high and kept trying. Days became months, months became years, yet no hope in the horizon. In these difficult moments, the time spent with my roommates did give me some solace. To make matters a little more serious, there was this special person in my life who was waiting something to happen as soon as possible so that we could tie the nuptial knot. The sense of urgency to have a job was too much, but call it luck or chance was not going to make it easy for me. I had the privilege to set foot to most of the companies without being one of them. I must've spent a fortune printing/redoing my resume. Every other interview I attended did not yeild any feedback. On 1996 finally I got a job as a hardware engineer. It was a contract and guess what!!! No pay, the company would only provide my travel expenses as it involved visiting various clients. I wasn't happy but something was better than nothing. Come Aug 1996 my engagement, it was enivitable due to various reasons. Nevertheless it happened and my hunt continues. By this time 2 years have passed and newer technologies were in the market that I did not know about. The only way to survive was to go for some technical course which I did. My whole family was waiting with bated breath to hear some miracle to happen to me. I should admit, had it not been for my wife and family, I wouldn't be what I am right now. They gave me the courage to face whatever came my way.

My second stop was Trivandrum where I did my mainframes course. It was the most happening technology at that time. After my course I was sick with viral infection for a week and could not attend any of the IN HOUSE recruitment program. Am I lucky or what??? I was not going to give up yet.

Next destination--->Land of Oppurtunities (Bombay, now Mumbai). Thanks to my cousin Shibu who was working there after his mainframes course. I spent about 8 months there hunting for jobs day and night. There were numerous occassions when I couldn't take it any longer and the only way to overcome was to just break down and vent all my emotions out of me. It did give me some relief. Was I inferior to others? Whats missing in me? God.....i've thought the unthinkable. I started compromising on the type of job I would take because time was running out. I must've attended more interviews than anyone at a given time. The year was now 1998, and still jobless. From Mumbai I moved to Pune. Thanks to my wife's relative where I spent about 3 months. The same routine daily, except for the place I was in. It was already more than 2 years after our engagement. My uncle (father's brother) decided to take me to Muscat. Hoping I would get a job there, my marriage was fixed on July 2, 1998. Within 2 months after my wedding I flew to Muscat. I spent about 3-4 months. I was happy in all respect all of my time spent in Muscat except for the very purpose of my visit. Things were getting worse than I thought. I had almost got through an interview but was denied by the head of the organisation. My last hope in Muscat was also thus shattered.

Dubai was my next stop. The place, even now if given a chance, I would love to work. That was not to be. After 3 whole months it was time to return. All my hopes and aspirations down the drain. The feeling of separation so vivid, the return journey added more fuel to my already disturbed mind. It was only fortunate that I did not go berserk. After I reached back to India I decided to do the Oracle course. Thought it would give some kind of leverage to my resume. I completed the course and also took my OCP in 2000. Finally in the month of February I got the job as a software engineer in a company in Bangalore. Of course it wasn't a dream job but better than anything I had hoped for. Life changed and all breathed a sigh of relief. The good times was short lived. There was a sudden change of events generally in the IT industry especially the dot com balloon burst during the year 2001. Lot of companies were shutting down and job cuts rampant. Well the obvious happened, I fell prey too among others. Guess lady luck has not yet finished with me. The news came as a shock to everyone but it was the plain truth. I was once again left jobless. We were expecting our new born in a few months time and now the future did not look so good. I continued doing some projects privately for the same company for whatever they could pay me. 8 months went by during which we were blessed by our son in the month of Nov 2001. My job hunt went on as usual. In the month of March 2002 I attended an interview in an MNC. It went well and for almost a month I never heard back from them. I kept calling and they informed me of an opening in UNIX. I did not want to lose the job for that reason, so I joined a crash course in UNIX. On June 2002 I got a call for another round interview. But I did not hope for it considering my past. On June 10 I received a mail that I had hoped for, my offer letter. I couldn't control my emotions, I did not know what to do. I called home to break the news, my mom was so happy that she cried over the phone. The news spread like wild fire, infact it was an occasion that no one could forget. For me personally it was a dream come true. I've been with the company till date and bestowed with all the luxuries of life. Our lives have changed for the good though it took a hell a lot of time to arrive, but when it did it came with a BIG BIG BANG.

These experiences taught me a lot of things. Perseverance is the key to success. In spite of all failures I never gave up. It was very very hard at times, sometimes even unbearable. But with my wife and family's support I was able to overcome all the difficult moments that came across. Well most of them and the proof is right here writing this blog.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Gods Own Country

Kerala, our home land. We’ve only spent 8-10% of our lives so far over here even though we’re a native of the same place. It wasn’t intentional but circumstances were such. We have no complains whatsoever because we were in close proximity of its culture and life style. Full credit goes to our parents and family who always valued their past more than what they are now. Achan always told ‘No matter what we become or where we go, we should NEVER forget our roots because it forms the foundation from where we build our life’. I have a point to make here with that statement. There are many malayalees who abhors the very mention of them being one, who takes it as a credit of not learning malayalam, who thinks every other language is superior to malayalam…..I could go on and on. But what they don’t understand is ‘we are what we are, ALWAYS!’. I wish at least one such fine person read these lines. I cannot change the world but can make a statement. :-)

Now back to the subject. My brother and I used to wait eagerly each time our vacation was about to begin. It was time to go to Kerala. The preparations would begin a month earlier and the excitement builds as it reaches the D day. Amma was very particular that both of us wear the same kind of clothes. When I say same its identical in every aspect. Usually it is very difficult for us to get up in the morning but the restlessness begins the day before we travel. For us the best mode of travel is of course by air. But mom was never in sync with us. She would stop talking the moment the plane takes off and would only budge once it touches down.:-) We loved the journey and remember the fights my brother and I had to get the window seat. Somehow we used to come to some kind of truce. All in all it’s a special moment for us and has been all our lives in Dubai, these 2 months of vacation spent in Kerala.

Journey through wonderland

The days spent in Kerala are extra special, double topping with double extra cheese. First of all there is no school, no homework, no waking up early. That in itself is a big relief. Now that we are in our wonderland there is no room for law and order, it’s our world, our playground. Our first stop is Trivandrum which is biologically where we belong though we tend to deny it :-). Amma’s motherland automatically becomes her sibling’s motherland. That’s the rule but how many of us follow them ;-). Achan, amma and we always have a debate on this topic and until this very moment we’ve never come to an agreement.

It is so different in Kerala, the very air we breath is so fresh, the sounds of birds and the reverberation of the leaves when a gentle breeze falls on them. Hmmmm truly heaven. There is a river that flows behind amma’s home. It is not hygienic but who cares, besides we were too young to think about the repercussions. We pester the elders so much that they finally give up. Our adventure goes on for at least an hour or two, jumping, somersaulting having the time of our life. Then the point to mention is the grand feast kunjamma(amma’s sister) had prepared for us. Amma is a very good cook but for some reason or the other kunjamma outruns her in typical kerala style dishes. There are 2 things that we do every vacation we make to kerala, 1 is to visit the local zoological part and the other visit Shankhumukam(beach). Saju was close to Shibu at the same time very apprehensive, owes to the fact how humble and quiet he was hehe.

Now comes the best part……..moving to Thodupuzha (achan’s place). I have to admit the degree of fun was always more here, not because we did not like Trivandrum but because achan’s family is much bigger and calls for more cousins. Oh it was like a carnival. I don’t know what you call it in English. It’s a game where all of us sit around a table with our palms facing down on the table, one would sing/count touching over each palm and where the song ends they had to face their palm up, next time it stop on the same hand, it is moved out and the person who ends up till the end wins the game. Then a unique mode of fun ‘Maadam Kettal’!!! No clue??? ;-) In pure English game to build a makeshift home, with leaves, branches, use coconut shells as vessels, clay as rice, leaves as curries. Once I remember it started raining and we took shelter in the makeshift home but it did not last too long. Another object of admiration was the cow and calf at Kamalalayam. Now we don’t get to see one in Dubai so why not spent some time with them, feeding them, touching them, loving them. Then the most adorable thing ‘DON’!!! No no it’s not Don Corleone ;-) but our german shepherd dog. I was fascinated by animals especially dogs right from my childhood. We used to play with him a lot. These are just a few of the lovely moments we cherish even now.

The bad part of all vacations is that it is over before we even realize it. 2 months goes in a flash. All of a sudden my brother and I are jolted out of the bed by mom because its time to go to school. A year of hardship until we can relive the action, the adventure, the thrill all over again.

Childhood is what anyone wants to remember. It leaves behind no footprints, except perhaps in imagination.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Short vacation

Achan, amma, Gopi kochachan and Sudha kochamma made a trip to the Far East back in the early 80’s. Saju and I were shifted to the Karamas alias Vishwan kochachan’s home. These were fun times different from home. Different because of the surroundings, school bus, bus stop, food etc.

I remember waiting in front of ‘Mustafa Mohammed Super Market’ for the school bus to arrive.
I remember the pink snack box I took to school.
I remember standing in front of Thomson Audio/Video shop watching celebrity posters.
I remember playing football with Mohammed.
I remember going to Video World with Kochachan. (Best library I’ve ever seen back then)
I remember sneaking into the living room after hours to see what kochachan was watching on TV. (We almost got caught once)
I remember making visits downstairs to Anju’s house.
I remember going for Arabic tuitions in the ground floor.
I remember munching on Frankies (Praveen’s influence ;-), it’s a chapathi role)
I remember STAR OF KARAMA restaurant. The most famous oil rich parathas. Yum yum
I remember these sweet memories forever etched in my mind.

The Great Indian Comedy Show

I guess I have to blame it on the extra laughing bone in me. My laughing style is well talked about in the family not because it is sweet :-) but the converse. People say laughter is good for health and it is even used as a therapy. Did you also know that it could bring some NOT SO GOOD moments? Why??? Read on…..

This dates back to our golden years in Dubai. Saju and I stayed back one Thursday at Praveen’s place. Prashanth was very small and not old enough to join in the fun, anyway 4 of us slept together. Vishwan kochachan and kochamma slept just in the adjacent room. It was pretty late I guess or at least they were fast asleep. It’s not an everyday affair that we are together, on that pretext we begin the SHOW. This time Praveen is the performer. It may not sound funny at all while reading it now but trust me it did back then. This is a line from a hindi movie. Praveen just narrates it in style.

'sadakku sadakku keilaa, sadakku sadakku keilaa…keilaaa’
‘mera biwi turr turr karta aur mera bacchaa purr purr kartaa’

This was enough for us to burst out laughing. I remember going breathless at times. When it was getting too loud Vishwan kochachan throws the first warning. All of us go quiet, but not for too long. The tempo slowly accelerates and reaches the peak when he throws us the second warning. This goes on for a few more warnings when he cannot take it any longer.

The Great Indian Tragedy

He storms into our bedroom with a long stick (better known as chooral) and treats all of us with its unique taste. Now things get very serious and we know it’s not that safe to go on. :-). The show was SHORT lived but WELL lived.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The early years

I would like to say this before I start my ‘so called BLOG’. Thanks to Arun who introduced me to this….what should I call it??? new concept!! vogue!! technology!!, well could say anything for that matter. This medium by which one can voice their experiences, wishes, memories into the cyber world and share the same with others in the same world. All in all I am amazed to see how we have evolved to this extent in such a short span and fortunate enough to see them happen in front of our eyes.

With that note here is my BLOG about ‘My Early Years’ Now where do I begin my story. Lets start when Biju was old enough to remember what was going around him. We were bestowed with the luxuries of modern times, unlike how it was in India at that period of time. I am talking about the 1970's. We were living in Dubai.

The oldest events that I recall dates back to when I was maybe 4 or 5 years old. Just flashes of them still clear in my mind. I used to be very dependent on my elders…..and why not??? I’m just a kid for crying out loud :-). Achan(dad) was very aggressive and wanted his son to be self reliant and bold even at that early age. But how am I supposed to know all this at that time of my life when all I knew was….amma was there to provide me with food when I needed them and achan…mmm was never home until afternoon. I used to be a very shy and scared. There has been instances where my heart used to skip a beat by the sheer stare of our dad. I was very happy to be among others until I first realized the truth being in their shoes, so to speak atleast. There was this supermarket below our building and one day achan asked me to get a kilo of onion. I had no clue why??? And to make things worse I just wouldn’t go…..and what do I do instead??? Cry!!!! Now there is no escape from achan….the only way out is to get what was asked for. I vaguely remember this shopkeeper. Somehow with great emotional difficulty I budge :-). Another person that comes to my mind is GanshamDas who owned a supermarket near our home where achan used to take me to buy provisions. My mouth still bears the taste of the cashew nuts he used to give me. These are the only flashes I have from my earliest years. I remember the first day at school. St Mary’s, Dubai. I was at kindergarten and all I remember about my teacher was a dark lady with clothes not seen very often worn by people around me at home. I don’t remember much more of my days in St Mary’s. My thought ends here.

The Wonder years....begin

We moved to a new location called Satwa, a large colony where my brother and I grew up until we left Dubai for good. Now growing up comes in all shapes and sizes not in its literal sense but how we are brought up. Achan always used to tell us that we were not born with a silver spoon but a golden one. How true!!!! Years passed by and all that remains are some sweet some not so sweet memories.

The best part of our lives was that we were never far away from our family. All our dear ones were just an arm distance away and this I’d say is a BIG plus in our upbringing. What is life anyway!!!! I do not believe a person can live a solitary life, if one claims so he is a liar. Our friends and families are like sculptures that meticulously mould us to become a human being. We are happy they were very good sculptures :-).

Our school days are unforgettable and who would not want to go back to those years once again. Given a chance I have no second thoughts about it. Lets get to the wonder years of my life.

Protagonists: My brother and I

Who is my brother?
Name: Prasad alias Saju

We were poles apart physically, emotionally, mentally and all that you can think of. But yet we were brothers. There was nothing in this world we had a common agreement on. If I say white be assured he would say black and vice versa. Amma had to live with our tantrums and she did very well, guess moms come all prepared. I give up easily though I start off with exactly the opposite of what I agree in the end….yeah yeah blame it on Biju. Being the eldest in the family it was tough for me to succumb to my brother’s ways, I protest and we end up pouncing on the bed fighting and screaming. Then comes amma fed up with already a busy day in the kitchen, now she has to deal with us too. I still remember her phrase she used when all is lost “Paranjal kekkatte jendukkal” :-). Poor amma, she was always manageable ;-). We had fights for the silliest of reasons, it was like we were the worst of enemies. Saju had the upper hand with dad, he knew the right chords for the music. I was timid and used to push the master to take center stage when I needed something to be done. I was sure I was no match for him. I played safe and was in the good books, but it was not intentional, it so happened that way. I would say that is called character and each one are governed by it. We can change them but the basic characteristics stay intact.

Talking about Saju's master talent here are some excerpts. All the family members/friends used to meet on Thursdays at one home for a get together party. As far as I can remember this was a regular event, the gents would be having their rounds of alcohol and the ladies would have their favorite pass time 'Paradushanam' and not to forget us, playing and having fun with cousins.

The Edibles

I have to mention about food here otherwise I wouldn't be doing justice to myself :-). You may think WHY? Doesn’t everybody need food? For sure I agree, we have food to live but in our family's case it’s we live to cherish the food we eat or in other words 'WE LIVE TO EAT'. That was the motto. We simply enjoy the food we eat and that’s the finale of any get together parties.

MAN Hmm BOY at work

We have a plan to stay back at Praveen's home. Ooops!!! this is a new character. Well for the time being he's our cousin. He holds a very important position in our family. I'm sure his name would be mentioned several times in this journey down memory lane. Lets get back to our MASTER. I just cannot look at achan and ask upfront if he would let us sleep over at Praveen's home for the night. I've thought about it a lot of times....what was bothering or stopping me to do that?? Was it the timidness within me or just the truth that I simply did not possess the courage. I would think if I can't do it why not someone who can??? and Saju is the MAN for it. He would creep up to achan's lap and the scene is set for the best performance of a life time. Saju will make sure dad agree's. 9 out of 10 times achan will succumb to his younger sons pressure. Guess some guys have it in them. :-)