13 November, 2014

Birthday No.5

Alter Idem turns five today! It means, 'Story-time'....

You know, many a time, when you read a short story, you are not aware of the impact it would have made to the author's career.
 I had read the story Sooryana Kudure by Sri.U.R.Anantamurthy about 5-6 years ago. But, it was only when the author passed away three months ago that I came to know - it is rated as one of the best stories in Indian fiction.

Sooryana Kudure literally means 'The Sun's Mount'. In some dialects of Kannada, it means 'Grasshopper' (the insect). The story is so true- to-life that you can relate to the characters and the narrative if you have lived in the Malnad  for a considerable period! Here goes....

Anantu is on a visit to his hometown. At the market place, he runs into his school-mate and childhood friend, Venkata - the dunce of their class. Venkata is now an expert masseur - cum- astrologer and he convinces Anantu to be his client, and, thus, guest for the day. Though they shared a common childhood, they are now a study in contrast - the erudite professor, and the country bumpkin......

Recollecting their childhood pastimes, talking about their current lives, they walk along to Venkata's house - pausing to take a breath/ acknowledge passersby.... and, finally, to call on the lonely, elderly, bed-ridden neighbour (being looked after by Venkata).

By now, it is obvious to Anantu that behind Venkata's cheerful, easy-going facade lies a life of poverty and wretchedness. While his three daughters are undemanding, the son is a wastrel and a trouble-monger.

Well.... they reach home in good time for lunch. Towards evening, it is time for the oil massage and hot water bath. Meanwhile, Anantu is witness to the son's quarrelsome ways and is quite disturbed by Venkata's helplessness.

The women try to make things better for Anantu by cooking his favourite dishes for dinner. Venkata's wife decides to serve the sweet in a silver bowl for the special guest. Upon opening her safe, she realises that the son has stolen it - along with the other trinkets. Unable to relish the tasty food, Anantu spends a restless night - like the rest of the family. The events of the day keep playing on his mind. His emotions swing from affection to pity to anger towards Venkata - for not keeping his son in check, for breeding frustration by not providing enough......

The next morning, Anantu decides to leave and looks for Venkata. He finds him near the hedge - staring at a grasshopper. And, that is how the story leaves us .... wondering if there are parallels being drawn with the grasshopper from the famous fable........  

05 September, 2014

Teacher's Day

I have never been any teacher's pet. Nor, have I had a favourite teacher. But, I think of Mr.PSC on every 'Teachers' Day'. I'll tell you why......

It was a wintry morning in the Bangalore of the early nineties...... For an average Bangalorean like me, it was a Herculean task to get up from the cosy confines of my bed, get ready and travel 8-10 kms. for the Soil Mechanics class at 7.30 a.m.!

On that day, to my horror, none of my classmates had made it! The teacher was missing too. Because I had met students from other classes, I knew I hadn't turned up for class on a holiday!!

Just as I was thinking of ways to spend a lonely hour, old Mr.PSC walked in.

Mr.PSC : What?! Only one student?!

Me : (Foolish smiles)  

Mr.PSC : How can I take a class for just one student? You can go to the library.

And, he turned away.... The next minute, he turned back!

Mr.PSC : Wait! You have come for the class. I'll be doing you an injustice if I don't
                take the class. Get in....

The next hour was a pretty awkward one for me - a combination of trying to pay attention amidst prayers that no questions would be asked! Mr.PSC, however, didn't seem to mind teaching an almost empty class, because he carried on as usual.

Well, the hour ended and the years have rolled by.......

During a recent discussion on Facebook, I noticed that most of us on our high- school group page could recollect most of our teachers and some anecdotes - after more than 25 years! It reminded me of something I had read somewhere.... Everyone remembers teachers - not methods and techniques.

 As September 5th of every year is the chosen day for all of us to acknowledge their contribution to our lives.... Thanks, and best regards to all the teachers out there!  



  

29 June, 2014

An Unhappy God

God looks like how the artist wants him to look.......

 And, God knows when his sculptors decided to make him from bricks and cement ! Masonry, plastering, painting,...... lots of people and co-ordination involved in making these brick-and-cement sculptures, you know.

I won't call myself a fan - but, usually, I stop to stare at these sculptures. Don't ask me 'Why?', but, I like to check out their facial expressions!

 Almost always, the Gods are youthful, good-looking, and have serene/ smiling faces. Quite recently, I came across a sculpture where God looked quite unhappy and bad....... I'm sure, you'll agree with me!


Unfortunately, anything that can go wrong in a brick-and-cement sculpture seems to have gone wrong with this one!
First of all, it is quite disproportionate.  The half-moon, that one is so used to seeing on Shiva's tresses, is missing. Poor River Ganga looks more like an antler! And, look at that  anklet (on one foot only)! Way above the ankle!! The foot doesn't look okay either.....

This sculpture is one of the recent additions at the Sharada temple complex, Sringeri. How could anyone allow such horror to come up near the entrance to one of the most aesthetic places around??