30 June, 2010

Forgotten Bangalore?

'What?! Have you forgotten Bangalore?!' - this was my dad's neighbour, Mr.Sheshadri, greeting me one evening, with that familiar, teasing tone! Laughing 'No, uncle', I spent some time talking to the Sheshadris by their gate. Some time later, it rained heavily. To top it, we had a power cut at 10 in the night. The weather hadn't cooled down and I found it difficult to go to sleep. After some tossing and turning, I went through my day and remembered Shesh uncle's words. Suddenly, it struck me that, actually, I hadn't forgotten Bangalore at all!
For starters, I remembered the Bangalore, where, the fan was not used at all. Even during the peaks of summer, the nights would be so airy and cool.
Then, I remembered,
- the Bangalore, where travelling around was not a nightmarish experience.
- the Bangalore, where walking, be it on Commercial Street or our own I Block, was such a pleasure. One didn't have to watch one's step, or, purse.
- the Bangalore, where one could sleep uninterrupted from 10 pm to 10 am! Not any more, thanks to noisy vehicles dropping & picking up people through the night :(
- the Bangalore, when, one evening, a visiting uncle decided to accompany me on an errand. After coming back, I overheard him telling my dad, 'It is so tedious to go with your daughter. Every other step, she meets someone she knows, they talk the same things over & again. With the result, she has spent 1 hour on what ought to have taken her 10 minutes - no time sense, blah, blah...' The uncle would have found my company pleasant now - I hardly see any familiar face! All my friends live in other cities and their folks have moved to quieter, unheard of places in the suburbs.
At this moment, the fan began to whirr. Ah! power supply at last! Otherwise, I would have gone on and on!
Well, from a city that had a homely, down-to-earth ambience to a city that is conscious about/ trying to keep up with its global identity. And, now, I realise that, I should have said 'Bengaluru'. No! At least for me, that will be the day when I truly forget the place I grew up in!

02 June, 2010

Dogged by Shadows

'Naayi - Neralu' - the first time I came across this term, about 3-4 years ago, I was in Puttur, a town near Mangalore. Everyone I met was talking about this film unit that was shooting for a Kannada movie of the same name in a heritage house nearby.The movie went on to win awards for the director, Girish Kasaravalli. I don't know if the movie did well at the box office, but, it was shown on TV, more than a year ago. My dad, who seldom watches movies, had just finished watching it when I had called him. Dad had liked the movie and even recommended it to me - unlike my husband's friends. They had watched it in the theatre with their kid when it was released. Turned out to be an embarassing experience for them - the kid insisted on yelling 'What a boring movie!' every now and then :D
Sri.S.L.Bhairappa, now in his seventies, is a Kannada novelist who enjoys enormous readership. All his books, including 'Naayi- Neralu', have seen several re-prints and translations.
'Naayi- Neralu', literally means 'Dog - Shadow'. In regional Indian writing, 'dog' is a reference to one's past deeds/ actions - whether in this life or a previous one is left to the reader, I guess. You know, if the author hadn't said this in the preface, I would have missed out on the meaning of the title/ story!!
The story, set in the early 1900s, revolves around the life of Achchappa - a rich Brahmin landlord in a village in the erstwhile Mysore. His son, Vishweshwara, dies in the Kumbh Mela at Prayag, leaving behind a young wife and an infant son, Achuta. Several years later, Achchappa comes across a young man, Kshetrapala, who looks and behaves like Vish. What's more, Kshet also narrates everything that has happened in Vish's life - including the private conversations with best pal, wife, mother,etc. Mr. & Mrs. Achchappa, convinced that this is their son, Vish, reborn, bring him home. Some religious intervention, and, society is convinced that this is Vish. One fine day, even Vish's wife Venkamma, putting aside her apprehensions about the difference in their ages (@ 35, she is 17 years older), accepts him. The only person who refuses to acknowledge Vish as his dad/ mother's lover, is Achuta, now, a student of science in Bangalore(He keeps referring to the man as an impostor).
The story takes quite a few twists and turns- Venka discovers that she is pregnant & the new Vish has an affair with the farm hand's daughter - she gets pregnant too. Achuta, feeling vindicated, solicits the farm hand's help, takes Vish to court and Vish is imprisoned for 7 years. This news kills Mrs. Achchappa, sends Mr. Achchappa into depression & Venka decides to run away. These events force Achuta to discontinue his studies and come back to an unfriendly village. He gets married and true to a curse, is childless.
One day, Achchappa goes into 'flashback mode' and tells Achuta about the misdeed in his life - committed during a moment of greed - the probable reason for all their miseries. Achchappa takes up sanyaas and joins a group of wandering sadhus. Vish, who is released early for good behaviour takes up sanyaas too!! Though Achuta succeeds in locating his mother and her second child, she refuses to come back - and that's how the story ends - leaving each person to face his/ her own destiny.
Well, a dramatic story written in the 60s for a different generation, about a different era. For me, the easy language and the racy narration made two rainy evenings pleasurable :)

Century on the Bronze Anniversary!

This is my100th post, and today is the eighth birthday of Alter Idem !! That's an average of a post per month......1.04 to be precise!!...