Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Puzzle

It's what Life is. A puzzle. A puzzle that is constantly rearranging.
Every single being who touches your life in some way makes up their own individual little piece. Every single look, every single touch, every single word, everything that matters - every little thing becomes a tiny piece of the puzzle. And that piece is constant. It is always what it is. No other piece can come and take its place. There may be other similar pieces. There may be complimentary pieces. And new pieces are added, when new people are met, new relations are forged, new paths are taken and new lives are created, each piece finds its own niche. It will disturb the other pieces, they will be disturbed, rearranged. This puzzle is not a constant, only the pieces are. And even when millions of new pieces get added, every little one always holds its own. And if it is lost, a part goes out of your puzzle forever. A puzzle shaped blank is created in your universe. Where that piece was, now you stare at nothingness.

Is your puzzle complete? Where have your missing pieces gone?

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Sleeping with soap

You wake up in bed and find a piece of dried-up soap under your sheets.
You open the kitchen cabinet and find a toy sheep staring right back at you.
You sweep under the sofa and find four tiny cars.
You go out to the balcony and find a CD case lying for who-knows-how-long in the rain and shine.
You sit on the sofa to be poked by a ball on the cushion or by a spoon wedged between the cushions.
Your bathtub is filled with crayon drawings.
Your patience is tried to the utmost with blatant disobedience.
Your knowledge is put to the test with never ending questions of "what is this?".
You find yourself laughing silly at the crazy songs and dialogs that will be made up.
And if you have a blog, you almost never finish up a post, because you're constantly being interrupted with shrill summons.
Yes. That's what life is, with a two-year-old.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tripping up the Hills

A few years ago, I had been to the Kallakkad - Mundanthurai tiger reserve and spent a very enjoyable time there.An interest on my part to share the beauties of the place with Hubs and a shortage of time (isn't that always the case?) led us to plan to spend a couple of days at the reserve - more specifically, at this place called Kudhiraivetti.
With directions from Google Maps and numerous people on the road, we reached the foot of the Manjolai Hills, atop which Kudhiraivetti is nestled. The Reserve sprawls over these hills and can be reached two ways - from Papanaasam and from Kallidaikurichi and onto Manjolai. The Papanaasam route is much more eventful, with many falls on the way. But we picked the latter, since we wanted to see Manjolai.
Early morning start

The Reserve is a protected area (read: Red tape) and requires prior permission to visit or stay. We had obtained the permission from Forest dept. We now reached the check post near the Manimutharu Dam where they check if you have really obtained the permission (word of caution: be sure to pay any fees in exact change here. Any change remaining may be kept back as 'tips' ).
Manimuthaaru Dam

Since we had picked July to visit the place, we had to brave the elements to sightsee. First stop was Manimutharu Falls. Here a chain is tied across the bridge over the river, barring your path. A shameless beggar in a forest ranger uniform demands bribe from you here to open the chain. Whatever the season be, apparently we have to brave the pitiful humans too. Passing him with disgust, we also passed by the chance to bathe in the falls since it was raining and also windy, and went on driving up.
Manimuthaaru Falls

A word of caution here. If you are planning to make a trip to the same place, before you start check your car. If it's a compact car like our Chevy Spark, stop right there. Because a few kilometers after the Falls, the roads become extremely pothole-y. We had a tough time with the little Spark! You need a rugged beast of a four wheeler to navigate those roads.
The Bison that posed for us

Another thing to remember is to never ask the locals on those mountain roads the distance to a certain place unless you wish to have hopelessly inaccurate data. Rule of thumb is multiply the number by three to get the approximate distance.
Beautiful Hills and Beastly roads

There is a place called Naalu mukku after the main Manjolai town(?) which literally feeds the guests at Kudhiraivetti. We had to buy supplies for dinner here and carry it up with us.
Nallumukku Postoffice

Village of Naalumukku. Notice the loaded sacks atop each roof - to prevent it flying away!

A branch from Naalu mukku took us to the Kodhaiyar Dam. This place was mist-ifyin to us. No really. It was so completely covered with mists that we might as well have tried to see through clouds. And to think that we had actually spun stories to the forest ranger at the gate to the Dam about a fictional uncle in the Department to make him let us through, to be completely fogged up in the end! But then, for about 10 seconds there was a break in the mist which enabled us to see the beautiful Upper and the Lower Kodhaiyar Dams.
At Kodhaiyar Dam

To strike a balance, the roads were trying hard to cancel out the feelings of joy at the wonderful scenery surrounding us. Imagine our feelings when we heard from a local that the approach to Kudhiraivetti was much worse than this road!
With sinking hearts, we took the road up and found that he had not erred. After a shaky journey, we reached the destination. The place was as beautiful as I remembered and winds were as strong too!
The Kudhiraivetti Watchtower
View from the tower

Finding our compact room ready we thankfully stretched our limbs for a while before heading out to sight-see. Happy we were, for immediately we saw a lone tusker ambling along the hill-face some distance from us.
The pachyderm's picture

After he disappeared down, we found that there wasn't much else to see because again the mist had beat us there first! Next best thing to do was to go to bed.
Next day, all refreshed and ready to tackle the road we went straight down to the Falls for the morning bath. But sadly (for us) it was crowded with tourists so we went elsewhere in search of a peaceful place. Since we were familiar with the area, we went straight down and out of the Reserve and reached a village called Munnirpallam which lies on the banks of Tamirabarani where we could take a dip in the river in peace. After a leisurely and fun-filled wallowing, we started homeward taking with us bittersweet memories.
On the way back, I was wondering what could've made this trip less enjoyable than my first one. Then I hit on it - the first time we took the trip, my dad had taken care of the reservations, the driving and the general planning. My mom had taken care of the food side and the looking-after-the-family side. All I had to do was take/pose for pictures and revel in the wonderful scenery. Now I wonder how my mom enjoyed it then...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

What's up Chennai?

Seriously. What is up with you, Chennai? You have changed. Changed much.

Your streets are choked up with an astounding number of vehicles. Your products and services are sending their prices skyward at a speed comparable with our GSLVs. Your residents are multiplying at an alarming rate. And your people...Oh, your people. What happened to them? Where are the friendly ones I used to know? Why is everybody in a foul mood?

The people of Chennai were never a laidback group. In a fast growing metropolis which is competing for attention and businesses at a national level, the people cannot be laid back. They have to be driven. They have to be smartworking. But they were never rude as a matter of fact. Some chivalry was always alive among the Chennaiites. Road rage was never this widespread. The societal values never hit such a low.

I was never hit intentionally by a motorist simply because I had no place to move and he thought I was blocking him, until now. I was never serviced by rude salespeople who couldn't care less if you did not buy a product, until now. I was never shocked with Chennai's notorious autodrivers' haphazard driving and shameless haggling, until now.

What caused this? Is this the payoff for 'Development'? Is this because there are too many people? A few months' stay in the US has taught me to 'blame it all on the immigrants'. Do I do that? Is it because of the immigrants - people who have moved to Chennai from elsewhere in the state and the nation? But, hasn't Chennai always been a potpourri of diverse cultures?

I'm still waiting for answers from you, Chennai. I'm bewildered and saddened at your change. I wish that all these were only a product of my feverish imagination.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

A walk through yesterdays

They were swirling around her, blinding her. Memories built over the passage of years, shadows of days past. Torturing her, delighting her, paining her. She feels the familiar yearning - for the things that have flitted past, things that were never tangible, things that were never discerned when present but missed sorely once gone.
She walks slowly, unsteadily, makes baby steps. Faint shapes take life around her. The tree under which coffees were shared and drunk, the stairs echoing with the youthful laughter, every shape tugs at the heartstrings, every object makes the mind travel to the past with a speed unimaginable. Past - it was a time for the young. A time of joy hitherto unknown. A time of incredible power, a time of independence, a time when they thought they could change the world. A time when tender hearts were carelessly and cruelly treated.
And then comes the anger. At the unrelenting time. At the helplessness. The agony of change takes over. She feels like the dog straining against the leash. The leash of reality. But the leash holds on. And brings her back slowly. The swirling mist settles about. Now she sees the path ahead. She turns back to see that the memories have subsided - from huge misty monsters they have become bittersweet elvish creatures.
Tiny hands grab hold of hers and lead her forward. And she walks the uncertain path, where more memories await to be made.