Monday, June 25, 2007

A mark of a true Genius – One of the most innovative and captivating compositions ever……….

I listen to songs daily but no other movie has made me think over it so much as to make me write about it.

I was not able to figure out how but still I had not listened to the songs from Lagaan on my Ipod in about a whole year since I bought this gadget. In the past week I somehow noticed it and started listening to them on Monday, I have been listening to them ever since ;)). Such is the technical finesse of each of the compositions that I am still left wondering as to how the whole musical concept of each of the songs would have been conceived.

AR sure has a flat voice with which he cannot play around with a lot of bandwidth, the most important strength of this man is that he knows this and the genius in him selects absolutely only those songs which if rendered by him will be so apt. One among such immaculate selections is Chale Chalo. This song, sung by the great man himself, is a great mix of percussions that flawlessly compliment his flat voice in the same bandwidth. When he goes, Dharthi hila denge……………….. I am short of words……..

My chitaapa was briefly in the US for about 3 yrs and he came back and said even his English friends listened to one hindi song in their cars time and again even though they have no idea what it meant. The song was “Mitwa”. I had read articles and heard news reviews before I heard this song that AR does not think twice before approaching any one with a new instrument if he felt that it produces lovely music, be it even a beggar just rattling about something for his daily bread and butter. But I got to believe it on listening to this master piece. It starts off with a string instrument that’s used in bhajans (I don’t even know what it is actually called, somebody please enlighten me….) and Sukhwinder Singh starts off “Har santh kahe…….”. Its got one of the most inspiring lyrics and AR has paced the song ultimately with one instrument joining at one time in the rhythm, the first time when Udit goes “Katinayee se takra jaa thu……” the drum beats start joining the rest of the instruments and to hear it in Sathyam was just bliss what with someone beating the Dhol from the back of your head.

What better example of love can there be in this world than the one between Radha and Krishna. Ashutosh Gowarikar knew it so clearly that it reflected so sweetly in Raadha Kaise Na Jale….In fact die hard music followers feel this is the best song of the film what with a lot of swaras mixed in appropriately. Namakku enga atthana gyanam…. The point where I feel this song scores over others in the movie is that it has been rendered by veterans Udit Narayan and Asha Bhonsle. The bhojpuri accent was just another day at home for Udit and Asha is a winner in versatility on any given day. Prem ki apni alag boli alag bhaasa hai, baat nainon se ho kanha ki yahi aasa hai….. and comes the reply “Kanha ki yeh jo naaaiiinnnaa hai, jinme gopiyon ke chaaaiiiinaaa hai…..” Wow………… The swaras at the end of the song along with the flute ending with a passionate helpless feel in the voice rendered by Asha (the feel of yekkam…….) Radha kaise na jaale… Raaadha kaiiise na jale…. Radha kaise na jaaale………………….

If Ashaji is around busy can Lataji be far behind. If Asha Bhonsle is the mark of versatility then Lata Mangeshkar is a standard by herself. If its melody then it has to be Lata. When everyone is down and out watching the film she makes everyone literally pray, even though we know it is just a movie, by pouring out loads of devotion in O Paalanhaare….The whole feel of the situation was also depicted ultimately by the team as well, with the visuals showing a big crowd seated in the whole open ground at night ruing the current mess of the cricket team. Dukhi jan ko dheeraj do…..Tumre bin humra kounu nahin……….

If the number of individual singers in a song were taken for a statistics then Ghanan Ghanan would probably top the list. AR disproved the proverb “Too many cooks spoil the broth” by his sheer command over these immensely talented people by his skills and merged all their voices aptly. Some claim that the success of this song needs to be attributed only to his excellent team of sound engineers, I can only ask them one thing. If the sound engineers are the one who have created magic with their skills without much involvement of AR, why are they not as big as the man himself or why are they still sticking to him? I am not trying the take away the credit from them for the exquisite work they have done but the contribution of AR cannot be belittled here.
Two parts of the same line are sung by two different artists whose skill lie in totally different bandwidths but are rendered in the same pitch, with the same feel of listening to the full line from a single person. Sukhwinder goes “Bijuri ki talwar nahin..” and finishes Shankar mahadevan… “Boondon ke baan chalaoooo….”
Tipu says “Ras agar barsega, kaun phir tarsega” and completes shankar mahadevan “koyali adayegi baiti munderon par…..”
The whole song is accompanied with an unfailing rhythm that gives the necessary tempo to it……

My best pick of the album is arguably one of the most romantic songs of all times……
O Re chori……The lyrics of this song are just amazing, not that the others are not, but still their contribution to the mesmerism of this song is more here what with the whole song being a little slow. Vasundara das is definitely one the best singers in the country when it comes to western and she is just unbeatable when she goes “My heart, it speaks a thousand words……..” the lyrics again here could not have been better. And it is AR all the way to have fused this western piece with the rhythmic hindi song in the background.
Tere bin mein jiya tho kya jiya…….Tune thama aaj yeh aanchal hai man mein ek halchal hai…… Sun sun re sajan rahe janam janam hum prem nagar ke wasi…… More ang ang mein hai sugandh jo tune hai chu liya……… Than mehka mehka rang dehka dehka mujhe tu gulab si laage……. Chance illa……….. The sweet voice of Alka Yagnik is full of feel in this song and coupled with Udit’s ever green voice of that of a small lad…… This is definitely the best pick of the lot for me………..

If any of u guys manage to read this fully then u must be wondering what this guy is upto writing a music review of a six year old film…… I too don’t know but couldn’t contain myself…. Was so happy after hearing this in the precision of an ipod…….MUDIYALA..........

A Soaking Wet Darshan

The place which boasts of the highest number of visitors in the world, with the administration trust there being the one to record the second highest figure in the whole year in terms of religious contributions, is definitely one of the places in the world that defies any logic that man can fathom. Yes, Tirupati is indeed a very simple example of the fact that there are things in this world that man cannot just reason with.

For people who are familiar with this place it wont come as a surprise that one has to wait for 7-8 hours on a slightly crowded day to get the darshan of Lord Balaji. HE is supposed to be the most non-violent god in Indian mythology. People from various parts of the country come on a pilgrimage in regular intervals without fail to get HIS darshan and provide their religious contributions to HIM.

Regulars from outside Andhra make it a point to visit the place once in every 3 or 6 months whereas people who are more nearer to HIS abode visit Tirumala even weekly. When me and chinni went there about a week back we reached tirupati at about 2.30 AM. We were planning to get the tickets and climb u to tirumala to be in time for the darshan. The irony of the ticket issue was that the 50 rupees spl darshan which was supposed to be less crowded than the free darshan was issuing tickets for darshan at 9pm where as the free darshan, which was supposed to be crowded was issuing tickets with the darshan time as 12 noon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nobody even stopped to look at the free darshan counter’s timings, they were just following the person in front.

Tamizhla sollanumna aattu mandhai……

We got our tickets for 2pm and we had ample time at hand to climb up the way to tirumala and take a room, get ourselves refreshed and visit Papanaasam, Akasha Ganga and another smaller Vishnu temple in the meantime. We went in at about 1.30pm and reached the queue near the temple’s entrance only to be greeted with a chill breeze followed by a steadily increasing drizzle. By the time we were inside the temple it was pouring down heavily and we got drenched even before we entered the final praharam. Inside the praharam we had to run through ankle deep water to reach the final garbha graham and I have never in 25 years ever crossed the queue inside the temple praharam in such a flash as we did that day.

To make it a perfect finish when we were coming around the golden gopuram in pradhakshinam the clouds on one side of the sky gave way to the sun god and he shone ever brightly on the golden gopuram. It was a great sight because the gopuram had been just washed off by the rain and the wet surface gave us a glistening look which otherwise would not be possible during any other normal day. We had no doubts whatsoever that we would surely have the lord’s blessings as all these were enough indications. A fairly quick darshan (we were out of the temple in 2.5 hrs total), a dash through the praharam, which is otherwise an ordeal what with the pushing and shoving of devotees with the never stopping cries of jarugandi, the sight of the glistening wet golden gopuram and finally the rain relenting to just a steady drizzle right at the time when we came out of the temple, was enough activity in one single trip to Tirumala.

Somehow these things, even though natural, make you associate them with the lord’s darshan when they happen on a pilgrimage trip. And why not, if it is not the lord who controls the nature then who else….. ????

It was a proper fulfilling darshan for me and more special one for chinni as it was her first time by foot from Tirupati to Tirumala.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The numbers……………

I came to my bus stop today fully dressed up in Monday dress code. I was a lil earlier than usual, there was a kid standing next to me waiting for his school bus. Honestly I could not find but a few differences between him and me. He was wearing his school tie and I was wearing mine, he was in his uniform, I was wearing something pertaining to our dress code, he was carrying his lunch and books bag, I was carrying mine, he was waiting for his bus early in the morning and so was I.

The only notable difference was that he was happy to go to school, he was enjoying his wait for his school bus with his dad whereas ……………………………..

A few meters this side and few meters that side two more such groups similar to mine were also eyeing the small kid with a lot of envy…...After all India has more than one software biggie….

If one can step out of the circle and start looking at the whole process of the s/w industry then it baffles one and all. The growth of the industry has been so alarming that one shudders to think on what would be the result if some thing like the US economic slump of 2001 repeats itself what with the US economy on a steady decline. The four biggies of the Indian market between themselves employ more than about 3 lakh personnel all aspiring to make it big, all aspiring to fly to onsite one day, get a full cycle of SDLC experience, come back to offshore to settle down with a flat inside the city and a lead position in the company.

Only thing is that all of us, me inclusive, think about it only in one perspective. Thinking about it from another angle, for every employee that the biggies had in 2001 there are more than 5 employees now. If 1000 people went onsite every year in 2001 is it possible to sustain the same growth and send 5000 people onsite every year now? If 1000 people were promoted per cycle in a business unit in 2001 is it possible to promote 5000 people now in 2007 for every cycle. And what would the people who are already at onsite do if one has to keep sending more and more, what would the current people as leads do if more and more people become leads just by the virtue of experience and there are no projects to work on? No wonder the US consulate received twice as many Visa applications as is the maximum cap set by the US govt.

And all this when the industry is in its fantastic best, what if the industry faces a slump? Companies were not able to manage the lesser number of people that they employed in 2001 and had to take refuge in layoffs, terminations etc. How can one expect these to manage 5 times the same number now? What are we staring at then? Mass terminations? One gets diplomatic answers in town hall meetings and NDTV profit interviews that “We don’t want to be left answerable to about 1 lakh families, so we know what we are doing”. At least I cant think of similar paying circumstances if market focus shifts to elsewhere.

I was standing at the Guindy bus stop waiting for my bus with a few others of my company when a big family with two moms dragging their kids getting lil help from their hubbies came along and asked us “Is this the MTC bus stand? Do Madipakkam busses stop here?” This may sound hilarious but there is more to it than just the lighter side.

If any of the new aspirants read this then "Set ur expectations accordingly guys, U don’t wanna end up depressed later, do ya ?"

God’s Own Country………………….

The smallest of the southern states of the Indian peninsula
has been aptly named God’s own country for more reasons than just a few. The splendour that this place presents in every way makes one go “No wonder GOD lived here….”

I have been traveling to this wonderful place as frequently in the past couple of years that my dad suspects if I have a girlfriend there and I make excuses to travel to this place. When one travels to this place (the entry is mostly near selam or coimbatore) the difference is very very evident. The train or the bus passes only thru country side on both borders but suddenly one finds all surroundings splashed with so much greenery and vegetation and very very very less polluted environment. One would suddenly go “Ohh boy wait a minute where is this place that we are passing through now……” and then realize “Ohh Ok we have entered Kerala…..”

The whole state of Kerala predominantly has only two geographical classifications, mountains 90% and beaches 10%. That I would say is the mark of a perfect tourist destination. There are no many industries but for a few like the ship building industry in Cochin. One would get a feel that the population there is totally oblivious of the outside world surrounding them, if one goes by their lazy mannerisms, but it is the only state in India that boats of 100% literacy. These people are well informed of the country’s politics and the US election mandate better than most people in the country.

Looking at their lifestyles and their living surroundings one wonders when the civic facilities would reach the levels found in other states. Probably one would get a feeling that they are about a decade backward but on close analysis we would realize that they are actually a decade ahead of us. Their way of life consists of coconut trees, boat rides, small houses with thatched roofs in big compounds, cattle in the house and a nair chaya shop in possibly every street corner and they definitely are an example for most of us who in search of greener pastures and more riches leave out on blissfully enjoying what nature has to offer to us.

Alleppey, one can easily say, is the Venice of India. One of the main modes of transport inside the mainland is water and the city has a canal flowing though it which is used for commuting purposes. The Kerala tourism board has created a garden like environment on the banks of this canal all though the town such that tourists can spend time apart from the boat houses. The main attraction of this place is the boathouse. They are definitely a bit costlier but again are worth the ride. The boathouses contain all required amenities and are a complete source of relaxation for anyone who wants to just laze around doing just about nothing.

This place actually consists of a mainland and a lot of small islands sprayed nearby. These islands are inhabited and all supplies including basic necessities like groceries and LPG commutes through water.
The whole set up is like a maze of streets, only that the streets here are streams of water. It is nature at her unpolluted best that you just hope for the boat ride to never end. One passes through a lot of people in those islands going about their daily chores during that boat ride and one can only envy them. Groups of kids somersaulting into the water from bridges and banks, the elder sons of each family fishing for the day’s menu, women folk washing clothes in the house’s backyard, children going to a school which will be submerged should there be a big downpour later in the day, salesmen and delivery men carrying on with their business like at most 10 LPG cylinders in one boat, groceries in the next shuttle, man life is just a completely different dimension, a different approach at an unimaginable pace out there.

The sunny day gives way to a cool afternoon as clouds start hovering over the horizon blocking the sun and cool breeze starts blowing from the Arabian sea. A slight drizzle to complete the perfect relaxing schedule for the day what with nice melodies resounding from the music system in the house boat and you just completely forget this dreadful world with busy schedules to keep, deadlines to meet and responsibilities to fulfill. A nice still camera with a nice zoom is perhaps the only thing you would want in your hands to go on clicking endlessly at long rows of ducks swimming in a perfect straight line, cute colourful birds that we people have probably even never come across in NGC or in any environmental magazine, swans and storks blissfully searching for their food in their eco habitat with no one to disturb them……..

One is forced to wonder “If this is life and if this is the way to live it then what is it that we are doing everyday………??????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

We actually went to attend the wedding of a friend who had met the girl on a trip to Tirupati when he walked the steps from Tirupathi to Tirumala. Now howz that a location and a start for a love story……..

So shortly am going to Tirupathi too……. :))

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Kodai mazhai……

It is really a wonderful feeling, more so for ppl living in Chennai, when it even drizzles in Chennai during peak summer. Rains are so unheard of in this part of the country during the hotter part of the year that even a small cloud covering brings out expectations(in Chennai’s context the hotter part lasts for 8 months in an year) . Last Saturday (Apr 14 2007) was one such day. It also turned out to be the Tamil New Year day, the beginning of a new year with a pleasant drizzle, a nice feel good feeling to start a new year in such a pleasurable environment.

Kaushik sent out a mail a few days back proposing a photo shoot at koyambedu market on the early morning of Apr 14. But he had called up on Friday evening to cancel the same as he would not be able to make it. I was not very disappointed until the next day morn when I woke up to the most enjoyable smell of wet earth breezing through the windows (saniyan, “manvaasanai” ku englishla word kedaikala, enna englisho ennamo po…). It was not any torrential downpour but just a little heavy drizzle though it gave us the happiness all the same.

Dad wanted to go out that day early morning to meet someone and asked me to drive him to Purasawalkam in my mayilvahanam. Not until that moment did I regret not having a photo shoot that morning. When I stepped out the setting was perfect for just about anything - jogging, walking, chatting and most of all… photography. Such beautiful and enchanting mornings with Venkatesa Suprabhatam resounding from Murugashramam was just enough that anyone could ask for.

Lots of mamas and mamis with their children, mostly in new colourful attire, all freshened up for special archanais at Satya Narayana Perumal koil were the inhabitants of Srinivasa Pillai Street, West Mambalam at that time. Sricharanams and Viboodhi pattais were in abundance all around us and added to the auspicous feel that is normally tagged with such festivities. Madisars and panchakachams formed the dress code of the day and believe me these are just uncomparable to any outfit that modern society or fashion can ever think of. One gets the feel of one's own culture in more than one way on seeing ppl clad in these attires and makes the heart swell in pride.

The road wore a look as though it had just been washed away of all dirt. The whole road was fully wet, the yellow flower tree had shed all its flowers in the morning that formed a kind of carpet adjacent to the compound walls to which these trees belonged. The contrasting yellow colour of the flowers against the dark, black background of the road was just perfect with the harsh white light from the sun being shielded by the clouds. Autumn had just passed and all the trees and plants had newly sprouted warm green leaves (tamizhla sollanumna thulutthundu irundhudhu… don’t know how better I can frame it in English) which provided the much needed tinge of nature to the whole scenery.

Moreover in arguably the most posh area of Chennai(Purasawalkam and chetpet) the whole place looked like some foreign location out of some bollywood starrer and was all the more captivating what with all the streets housing only picturesque bungalows, clean roads, fresh pollution free air etc.

This was more special as it happened between probably the two hottest days of the summer until then(Sunday was just as hot as Friday…!!!!!) and also because it was a nice way start to a new year. Pity that I had to take dad out and couldn’t get even one shot cause by the time I was back things were back to normal in Chennai - sunny, dry, sultry…

Monday, February 26, 2007

Shakthi foundation Part - II

The Turn Of The Ustad........ Unka Tho Sach Mein Jawaab Nahin

Every artist, in any form of art, is special in his/her own field and none can be compared to any other. The magic that each one produces with their skill is just unimaginable until one experiences that. Given a set of such breathtaking performances trying to rate them would be futile and senseless effort. But given a chance to choose the performance that left one most dumbfounded, most of the audience in that hall would have chosen THE USTAD for the day. He came in last after all the other three people had showcased their talents and produced MAGIC out of the two tabalas and his two bare hands that the hall resonated with just two sounds, one from his tabla that only he could produce and the other from the audience which was in raptures in response to his electrifying perfromance. At some point of time his fingers were moving so fast that they were barely visible. He produced all the sounds one could hear from similar instruments like the Mridangam etc in his inimitable style. Even the audience, who had started clapping in between the performances, unable to hold their ecstasy had turned totally numb on listening to the awesome magic woven by the Ustad. One could not even accept it as something that was possible by mortals and left us completely “BREATHLESS”. For a change it was someone else other than Shankar Mahadevan who had left us in that state.

Srinivas suddenly picked up a note when the ustad was just on the verge of finishing his performance and effortlessly slid into the flow of the beats contributing with his instrument and together, hoping to catch Shankar Mahadevan off guard, they stopped at a particular spot when the singer was not at the peak of his concentration. They were able to delay him only by a split second and he along with Sivamani slid back into the jugalbandhi even more smoothly. Beleive me it was just bliss.

They signed off in style after a few rounds of jugalbandhi and I was left with only one comment to Sowmya “Please shove me off some tlal building, I don’t want to continue to just exist”, to which I got the reply “I feel so small. Cha, Jumping down from the first floor one cannot even die (we were seated in the first floor of the hall).”

We couldn’t count reasons that evening to thank Shakthi Foundation. First for conducting such a wonderful event and next for the social cause they are fighting for. The performances were followed by presentation of mementos to the musicians by John Mclaughlin (the commander in Chief when it comes to guitar I was told) who had performed the year before with these musicians for Shakthi Foundation. He then went on to explain to the audience the motto behind the organization to help the physically challenged people of the society who are not exactly as fortunate as many others. They presented some prizes to some handicapped children. The first was a blind girl posing for photos of herself with the musicians, photos which she herself is not privileged to see, followed by a kid with his right hand missing. It was so encouraging to see such an organization which has dedicated and devoted itself to the cause of such people. The next one was the most moving incident. The next child was one with both his arms missing, he could even receive his certificate only by clutching it beneath his neck.

It gives a wonderful feeling even to know and see such incidents where human race tried to help itself. We returned home a happy lot that though we had not actively participated in any of the organizations activities we were at least able to contribute something to a good cause though the way of our tickets.

It baffles me as to how people who kill others for various reasons such as money, power, so called ideology etc miss this wonderful feeling of helping others, though that’s a totally different discussion altogether.

A Million Thanks To Shakthi Foundation.....

Senthil, even though he is MY friend somehow ends up with some good stuff, thanks to his contacts across the software industry. One such incident was the music show being conducted by Shakthi Foundation to raise funds for their organization. Software with all its banes, curses, medical problems etc does have some advantages though. The internet or the web architecture has nowadays become a kind of media of broadcasting things which may be of use to others.

One such mail contained information about the Music show being held at Music Academy where three musicians with THE command in their specializations were going to perform for a good cause. Having seen a video of such a programme earlier we found no better reason to say no to it and and to end up spending the time as one of our typical Saturday evenings.

We reached the place (it was the first time for me and Senthil to set foot into music academy hall, it had been nothing more than a landmark for us until that evening) in time and settled down in our seats just as the compere had started his welcome speech. The “Landmark” turned out to be a well made acoustic architecture from inside. The performers for the day were Shankar “The Breathless” Mahadevan, Mandolin “Maestro” Srinivas, “Ustad” Zakhir Hussain and “Ace Percussionist” L.Sivamani. None of us, useless non entities (Tamizhla sonna, Bhoomi Ki Bharam), had absolutely any idea of what we were going to witness.

These were, simply put, the best in their businesses and they started off with a song on Vinayagar. Then it was the turn of Srinivas to enthrall the audience with his strings. He just kept producing such vibrations from the steel wires in his instrument that kept the whole audience in pin drop silence due to rapt attention. Any bloke who had never had the slightest idea of what music is all about would have been dumb struck by the stuff that was rendered. A couple of days after the show I learnt more about this maestro from my cousin that he has customized and perfected the instrument so as to make it suitable for Karnatic music by introducing new strings in the conventional model.

Somehow I was not surprised or awed on hearing all this after hearing him play it in the function.

Then started the man who once made music out of a biriyani kadai. L.Sivamani started off with so many instruments around him (around 45-50) and started what he does best, produce Music out of those in certain combinations which were otherwise unfathomable to us. He used the conch, the bells, a few electric drums etc to produce all kinds of sounds one would even imagine out of any kind of drums. He went on to his trademark style of rotating the sticks while playing on the drums and ended with the “Kutthu” beat leaving all of us SPEECHLESS.

The software professional turned musician then stepped onto the stage along with the Ustad. He was described as Oracle’s Loss and Music’s gain. He came onto the stage and started off with his swaras and voice modulations with such music notes which only the ustad and the maestro could deal with. He varied his voice modulations with such ease and at one point even the maestro could produce his note only by taking refuge in the screws of his instrument to produce the same. All this while the ustad was just supporting Shankar Mahadevan keeping up the tempo of the performance and did not showcase any of his prowesses. But everyone was so engrossed in the mixture of swaras given by the singer. These three people went onto to a jugalbandhi with each bettering the other in their own style. Every time we heard any piece from any of these artists we were short of words to praise them, but the relish was just short lived because we could not just ignore the next legend in line.

The breathless man, along with his counterparts had rendered the audience literally “CLUELESS” as to what had hit them without even their knowledge.

To Be Continued..........

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

“Dakshina Chitra – What is that?

Some music store or some Rajasthani crafts showroom?” was what I wondered when Kaushik mentioned the place in Beasant Nagar beach.

Kaushik was suggesting a place for a photo shoot out. I joined them at Dakshina Chitra itself on the next Saturday morning at about 10 AM, just next to MGM theme park. When I went in I was not sure of what kind of place it was. There was an entry fee of Rs.50 (very cheap considering the other entertainment ventures of current day Chennai city). I paid it and went in to find a lot of boards pointing in all directions leading me to market places in Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra and Tamil Nadu. I was confused to find all these at a place which Kaushik had said was very ideal to learn about lighting and exposure.

I called him up and joined him in the Karnataka section in recreation of a weaver’s house. That was when I understood what this place had in store for us. It primarily consists of recreation of old house structures of ancient India’s common man of the four southern states. No palaces, no gardens, no exotic looking replicas of historically valued monuments. This place gives an idea to the present day man on the pattern of everyday life of a common citizen like the Weavers of Karnataka, The Artisans of Andhra, The Brahmins and the agriculturists of Tamil Nadu and fisher folk and tourism service providers (didn’t know what else to call them, like the auyurvedic massage centers etc) of Kerala.

First of all many of us don’t even know (at least I didn’t) of the existence of such a place. It’s a no smoking zone maintained nice and clean by the people there. There is an orientation program that is held as soon as you enter to give you an idea of what that place is all about. You are then allowed to go around and explore yourself without any one there disturbing your bliss. Artisans like the glass blower (makes models out of glass tubes), the potter, the weaver, the soap and stone carvers, the painter, the fortune teller, woman who do mehndi work on your palms etc, sit there and wait for you to get interested in their creations and skills.

The moment you sit down with any one of them they explain the whole process unlike just finishing off their stuff and asking you for money. The very atmosphere is very friendly and enjoyable that you lose track of time. Moreover it is a photographer’s delight. Kaushik told me that he learns something new every time he comes to Dakhshina Chitra. We learnt a lot about exposure, metering, using bounce flash etc.

We then went on to the last kerala house where there was an attic which was fully pitch dark but for some light streaks filtering in from between the roof plates. The house had a triangle shaped top and it was supported using some wooden blocks. This had to be reached from the ground floor through an opening in the middle of the attic through a ladder. This reminded me of the wooden house that one got to see in the film “Roja” where the hero is held hostage. It was an exact structure similar to that.

I wanted to somehow capture it as it is shown in the film and squeezed myself to an awkward position near the mouth of the entrance to the attic. As it was dark nothing much was immediately visible for anyone who came up the ladder as the eye pupils had to adjust to the darkness. One set of gals came up the ladder when I was preparing for the shot and they had not seen me come up ahead of them. When the first girl came up she found me there with my camera so near to her face near the entrance to the attic that she let out a loud scream as she did not expect anyone there obviously.

That was really hilarious and was the topic of discussion for the rest of the trip that day. Kaushik even teased me saying that Dakshina Chtira had transformed me into a terrorist.

This place is a nice outing destination if your interests lie in line with these. Don’t look any further while thinking of destinations for one day trips with your friends. And if you happen to be an amateur photographer then this place is something you just cannot afford to miss.

Definitely better than a stereo type day at mayajaal or spencers.

Some photos that I took....
Memorable moments in chepauk.........................

“Hindu Paathiya ? Least in tckt denomination is 400 for squatting” I exclaimed to Senthil in the 9:30 bus.
“Enna matchuka, adhukulla pottutaana ? Dei enna da solder, adukku vera ponum da” said Senthil as he made his statement in his trademark scene podara style.
Naan thittinen “Pesikiite irundha tckt ellam vittu podium, edavadhu pannu, yen ippadi irukke.”

Came Velachery it was the turn of one more of the cricket crazy fans, my cousin, to get into the bus and get excited to the level approving the idea immediately. He then called up another of his friend and promptly persuaded him too to join with us even after mentioning it to him that we were going for Rs.1000 tickets.

I didn’t know if it was my statement or if Senthil had become more responsible suddenly but he somehow made some arrangements for the tickets. Only later did I realize that it was the biggest unifying force in our country which binds one billion people together under one roof, the inexplicable madness for the game of cricket that had made him appear responsible suddenly.

The day before the match I was just devising indigenous ways to smuggle in the camera to the ground given my new found madness towards photography. Last time around I was stopped from taking in pencil batteries. Next day due to some confusion (first time I was thanking a gal for creating the confusion) some tickets exchanged hands and we were unexpectedly rewarded with seats in Royal Sundaram Stand right behind the sight screen. That was the best view of the ground by all standards and thanks to my prayers, cameras were allowed without any checking at all. But then we smuggled in extra batteries with the help of Ravi’s inhaler (Ravi told the security that it was the inhaler in his pocket and for the first time his wheezing also proved useful ;-) ).

We were seated away from Senthil and the other folks who had turned up for the match. We kept on clicking endlessly during the nets before the match and when the captains walked in for the toss the atmosphere was electrifying. Amidst all the posters, advertisement banners and others the ground by itself provided all the colors in the RGB palette across the most lively stands in the ground as against the most boring stands (near the pavilion).

Utthappa, sachin and dravid played some scintillating shots and it was so good to watch these shot executions in person rather than from a television feed which we all misinterpret to be a live feed from the ground. Many people argue that nothing much is visible from that distance in the cricket ground from the stands. What can I say to these people, they just got to grow up and learn more about the game. Too bad DADA and Dhoni were rested for that game. One rare occurrence of the match was that Sachin’s wicket was, for the first time in the history of the game, greeted with some applause, The local guy Dinesh Karthik was due next.

As is the middle name of our team “inconsistency” the Indians unfailingly wasted a nice start and were bundled out for 260+. Then came in the West Indians to bat and Agarkar plucked the first wicket off the first ball of the innings. A few more wickets and we were expecting an early finish when Samuels came back to form. Maybe a census would give us more encouraging facts about the not-so-great players to have become sensational match winners by either discovering the real talent in them or else coming back to form with a bang after a prolonged slump, just after one tour to India.

The money spent on the match was worth every penny of it to have seen both the greats of this generation play in the same match against each other and both performing so well. The shots looked more elegant in person than on TV. The lethal pace and swing of the ball were really breathtaking and was totally an out of the world experience to know what serious international cricket is all about.

Then walked in the other GOD of the game, undoubtedly the most stylish player of all times, the only other run machine or mortal who could ever be talked about in the same ranks of the little master. BRIAN CHARLES LARA must have felt he was playing in Trinidad (his home ground) given the loud cheers that he received.

The group of guys behind us kept nagging my cousin to go out to the snack stall cause every time coincidentally during the second innings wickets fell when he went out. Little did they know that such stupid superstitions were only for lesser mortals like us and that these were beyond the cricketing great who was at the crease. Ravi even tried it once only to understand the truth in the previous line even better.

Lara massacred the Indian bowling line up ruthlessly with his array of shots flowing from his willow. He showed why he was also a master of the game and still remained simply unstoppable on his day. He went on to elegantly win the match with such nonchalance and disrespect for the Indian bowlers that even the Indian crowd forgot all about the dismal performance of the home team and started cheering the West Indian Legend.

Once the match was over we took some snaps of the whole empty ground, picturing the devastation after the storm had calmed down. Broken chairs, half burnt posters, torn banners and scattered piece of the wood was the picture that the ground presented.

It would have been perfect had the Indian team won the match but then we would not have got to watch the Little Caribbean Master in action. All of us went home happy people, even though internally the dejection was there that India had lost a match,
Lara’s Knock was enough consolation for every true fan of the game of cricket.

Some photos that i took......