Jul 27, 2010

Country neighbors

I was comparing neighbors (in the loosest sense of the word) as I was walking back from the school bus stop this morning. In the US, where I might have been more conspicuous than a bulbous zit at the end of the nose, the natives just passed me by with a direct gaze and bright "Hi". In Pune, I was just part of the scenery.

Here in our little Malayali village, I am a curiosity. It doesn't help that I deliberately converse in both Hindi and English with my elder son and croon English rhymes with my younger one and that I wear sneakers with my chudidhars. I just love to see people watching me covertly with puzzled faces... . Please don't take it that I do it to get a rise out of them, but I just want to see how many of them will satisfy their curiosity, directly or otherwise. And I've been very happy with the results.

There have been people who have come out with direct questions as to where I live after having ascertained that I understand Malayalam. These are in the majority and I am now sure that it would be very difficult for strangers with ulterior motives to find a foothold in our community where everyone knows who their neighbors are and makes sure that they know each one's business too.

Some people make friends with our toddler as we walk together and satisfy their curiosity that way. Others make inquiries to our nearest neigbors and I have heard them discuss us within earshot just after I passed them on the wayside! But no one is intrusive to the point of rudeness. For instance, no one has commented on my choice of footwear although I have caught several open/covert stares from the ladies. I have been perfectly ready with the explanation about my knee surgery, but it has never been required.

There have been funny situations - for instance two teenage boys at the temple asking my husband "Malayalam?" with wags of their heads to ask whether we understood Malayalam. And the stare of a boy at a store when we conducted a conversation in Hindi and a boy nearby watched with open mouth. Ahhhh, we all have our own forms of entertainment! What are yours?

Jul 21, 2010

Movie Review - Ravanan

Last weekend we went to see the much-hyped Ravanan - much-hyped is used perfectly deliberately. Sorry Mr. Maniratnam, but I enjoyed "Roja" much better than this. It is a hash of all the most cliched themes in movie/fiction history including Stockholm syndrome, golden-hearted bandit, sister-raped-by-police sob story and the usual Ramayana stuff. I saw the trap laid for Ravan miles ahead. I just can't see where the "new take" on Ramayana is unless it's in the location. And a fickle and masochistic Sita who falls for a mass-murderer/terrorist just because he happens to fancy her. Seriously, I think the actors are touting the movie only because they had to put in a lot of physical hard work and endure mosquito and leech bites (or did they?) of the forest in order to make the movie. I saw Prithviraj enthuse in one of his publicity interviews that this was the first movie of his that he would show to his grandchildren - one word of advice Prithvi, with all due respect, I am a big fan of your work, please show them "Vellithira" or "Swapnakkoodu" or even "Vaasthavam" - please don't show them this!

The music is just an afterthought and there are no tunes that remain in your mind once you are out of the cinema hall.

The good things - glorious views of the forests, the Athirappally waterfalls, insanely good camera work, beautiful locales and so much water that, ahem, you might wanna visit the loo before you watch the movie. Look out for the eagle's eye view of Ash, and a few such moments.

Jul 20, 2010

Just peeking in for a while

It's been raining here - continuously - for more than a week now. I have 3-day old washing on the line that is yet to dry well. The sun is trying to peek out this afternoon, but the best he can do is a watery smile that threatens to turn into a shower at any time. Last Saturday when I took my green denim bag to go shopping, it had a white bloom all over it! Something that would never have happened in Pune! That was Pune's great advantage - I never had to worry whether my laundry would dry soon - even in the rainiest season, the maximum it took for my clothes to dry was never more than 6 hours. But hey, I am not complaining or thirsting to go back. I don't miss Pune at all, except for a couple of friends that I made there.

My mother-in-law has left after a fortnight's visit. She was a great help when it came to setting the house to order. I tend to be overwhelmed when I see a lot of work piled up before me. But each morning after breakfast she asked me "What is our project for the day?" and we steadily emptied and dismantled the umpteen boxes, organized the rooms and did some gardening. She also took care of my younger son while I walked to pick/drop the elder one at the school bus stop. Now he again goes with me and I have to carry him most of the time...

In a way I am glad for the exercise the walk gives me. I have to go downhill and climb again to reach the bus stop. My bad   recovering knee gets a lot of work and I have found that in the last 3 weeks, my heart has begun to tolerate the slopes well. I am not so tired. In fact I timed myself and found that I could go the distance in 12 minutes flat alone. Yesterday, carrying my son, I did it in 14 minutes - not bad. Only thing is I sweat loads for 5 minutes after each walk - a small price to pay for daily aerobic conditioning. One of my neighbors - a policeman in his late forties - has had a bypass surgery last week. Needless to say, it's been an inspiration!

How to bring back the green...

Back in 2007, when we bought the land for Karthi, it looked like this... There were coconut trees that looked tired, a few jack fr...