Sep 23, 2013

Movie Review: North 24 Kaatham

After a hectic Onam riddled with hearty sadyas, a lot of payasam and running around to meet family and friends, we settled down to the first post-holiday peaceful, normal weekend. Which in our case means again more traveling around in the name of errands! And we had to watch a new movie for evening entertainment.

So there we were, settled down in our cushy seats, about to watch the laser show when a sudden panic seized me and I turned to DH and asked, "Oh God! This is a Fahad movie, was it safe to have brought the kids???" For a moment I saw my panic reflected in DH's eyes, but then he calmly replied, "I didn't see anything like that in the reviews..." So we decided to make the best of it and hoped that even if the kids asked us any awkward questions, they would do it pianissimo.

Thankfully, our fears were groundless for once. There was only one instance of a word that should have been bleeped IMHO. Otherwise, North 24 Kaatham is an eminently watchable movie. Harikrishnan (Fahad) is a brilliant software engineer who is the mainstay of his fledgling company. But the only one who likes and values him is his boss Sam, because Hari has OCD and is extremely anti-social. His family itself is barely tolerant of him. Hari's coworkers conspire to make him appear an utter failure in front of the company's clients and they make his boss send him on his own (Hari hates to travel and is scared of flying) from Kochi to Thiruvananthapuram. 

On the train to Thiruvananthapuram, two strangers almost fall upon him. Gopalettan (Nedumudi Venu), an octogenarian comrade from Kozhikode and Nani (Swati Reddy), a social welfare trainee from Shornur. Bizarre circumstances tie them together and they undertake a journey to Kozhikode before next dawn - which happens to be a hartal day in Kerala. The movie is then a series of adventures that befall the trio as they make their way back north.

Yes, there are some elements of improbability. Yes, the end is highly predictable. Even then, we were riveted to the screen wondering what adventures were in store for the three at the next turn of the road. As all kinds of vehicles and the brisk use of their lower limbs bring Hari, Nani and Gopalettan to their destination, we too sigh with a sense of relief and homecoming tinged with the expected sadness. 

The movie thereafter becomes much more lighthearted, if in fact a little anticlimactic. But of course, it could not have ended with the hartal day's end. I think Malayalam should have a new movie genre from now on - it will certainly be unique - Hartal Movies. Yep, and North 24 Kaatham will be one of the better ones in it.

Verdict: Watchable.

Sep 13, 2013

Wish You All a Happy (Soggy) Onam!

All my flower-gardening efforts were mainly geared towards one purpose: starting an Onam pookkalam tradition at Karthi. For that sole reason I gathered and planted my old, native favorites,  Chemparathi, Chethi, Nanthyarvattam, Banthi, Vaadamulla, Kolambi etc. For two years the soil and weeds resisted my efforts strenuosly, but I prevailed with the help of heaps of cow manure and biogas waste water. This year, all my efforts literally bore flowers. I happily looked forward to the dawn of Atham....

And it rained... on Atham, Chithira, Chothi and has gone on raining since then!!! Here was our puny, soggy attempt for Atham in defiance to the climate...


It's no fun pulling soggy flowers off the plants, so I went for minimal damage. Well, we'll do it next year for sure!!! Meanwhile I'll find more old favorites and concentrate on growing them in this exceptionally rainy year! 

And this grainy old picture took me on a nostalgic trip down memory lane...


That's me in the middle with my cousins on either side. Now do you wonder why I want to revive this tradition? 

Meanwhile someone has come visiting at Karthi. The first thing she did was to scare me out of my wits when I opened our back door at dusk two days ago. The next morning she turned up again at my back doorstep and continually complained while I hung up the day's washing (a very optimistic endeavor in this climate - hanging up washing, that is!). I had to take pity and offer something. 


She was wary and waited till I was quite out of the way before touching the bowl of milk that I put out. Looking closely, I could see why. Her right eye and surrounding area was swollen as though she had been beaten and her long fur concealed a bag of bones. 

Well, I think she has adopted us. She came to the front porch yesterday afternoon and shamelessly asked for more food. She lapped it all up and then professed her thanks by rubbing herself against my legs. I forbade further intimacies although the kids were ready to tango with her. I wanted to make sure that she had no infectious diseases and was scared that we may further hurt her bad eye.

Anyway, the cat is a fixture on our front porch now. I give her food in our back shed, but she comes back to the front porch, sits cozily on the front mat and even knocked twice on the door in an attempt to get in. Clearly she is accustomed to domestic comforts. Since I had warned the kiddos of fleas etc., the first time she tried to leap on to Anikkuttan's lap, Ani ran away screaming. I laughed my head off. When I invited her into my lap, she willingly came in and cuddled up, purring and butting her head against me. I checked her fur and skin for fleas or bites and found that she is nothing but a half-grown kitten. When I let her out, she made friends with Ani...


He chatted with her, asked whether she would prefer to be named after any of the girls in his class and generally took good care not to hurt her eye (which looks much better today). May be it's time we have a pet? 


It's considered good luck here when a cat chooses one's house as its home. Well then, we are blessed this Onam, even if we couldn't make pookkalams.

So here's a bunch of wishes for a Happy Onam and hoping you all had better luck with your pookkalams!!!

Sep 4, 2013

Anything to tilt the balance?

My day started off with gratitude meditation (on day 247 currently), a cold bath and some confusion regarding there being classes or not for the kids due to the statewide protest against fuel-price hikes. Having fed everyone and sent off DH to work, I sat down to breakfast and the newspaper. Nowadays, I usually skip the disaster news to avoid useless worrying. But I couldn't help noticing two items of news almost side by side in the inner pages: 


The one on the right side is about a murder. A visiting aunt strangled her  10-year-old nephew who had been asleep with his grandmother. She says it was so that her brother could finally divorce his estranged wife and start a new life since he was averse to losing his son through divorce. The murderer is said to be on some medication according to her family and is suspected of being unbalanced to have committed such a crime.

Please wait before feeling horrible and start cursing the whole of  the human race for depravity and self-seeking. Take a look at the news item on the left. The girl Anjali, who is being lifted was a brilliant student, dancer and singer who fell prey to muscular dystrophy while in the sixth grade. With advancing years, her dancing feet were stilled, but she still sang and earned good marks. Her father who should have been her mainstay was struck down by paralysis. Although Anjali got admission for a BBA course, she couldn't attend for one whole year because there was no one to take her to college.

Here is where her friend Linimol comes in. She had gained admission for a fashion designing course which would have secured her future careerwise. But when she saw her brilliant friend sitting at home helplessly, she quit her course, joined Anjali's college for BA and is now transporting her to college and back. Since Lini's parents are working in the Gulf, she will be staying with Anjali too. 

This is why I still have faith in humanity. This is why no one's predictions of  mankind going astray do not touch me. This is why I remain buoyantly optimistic - to some it may seem that I am excessively so. It is also because I know that while Lini's sacrifice has made the news because of its unique nature, there are millions more like her whose good acts do not make the news.

So, make no mistake, mankind IS moving forward to being better. There are still some souls who are in not-so-evolved states, but even they are moving forward. Swami Vivekananda said this ages ago, it didn't make much sense to me when I read him at the age of 17, but now I understand.

Isn't it good to know and believe this?

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...