Dec 28, 2011

A Sherlock Fan’s Christmas

Before directly entering into the Christmas tale that I have in store for you, let me first inform you a story that my sincere bike also will be delighted to see it shared with all my friends . Following 20,000 kilometers, and 30,000 kilometers, my bike surpassed the boundary of 40,000 kilometers. Very proud moment, huh? Here is the photograph of the unique moment.

Now to the story. Please don’t expect anything thrilling in its content motivated by the title. This post is all about letter writing. This Christmas I received plenty of letters. Not emails, or SMS texts, but neatly handwritten ones; and they were love letters. 

Commemorating Christmas, at office, we had a funny event called, secret friend. You also can pick a friend from many lots, just the way you are picked up from the same lots. Then you can start writing letters to your friend keeping your identity concealed. Similarly, you also will be getting letters from the person who is supposed to be the one picked the lot on which your name was written.

I did not get any letter from my friend, since that person was away from the office, as I came to know later. But, lately someone assuming the name Jerry, began to write letters to me. Tom & Jerry together make a good familiar combo, don’t they? I wrote replies, and I was getting replies from Jerry promptly. While that cat and mouse game was on the go, another letter appeared in the letter box addressing me. This time it was from a person with a fake name Annamma.

Annamma is a traditional Syrian Christian name. It is originated from the common Christian name Anna. You will not find an Annamma anywhere in the world except in Kerala. Nowadays, this name is so rare in Kerala that you can find only elderly grandmas bearing the same name; because modern people name their children with more modernized versions like Anne or Annie. 

Annamma’s was a pure love letter. The letter expressed the writer’s wish to touch and caress my curly hair. I first suspected a boy who sits close to my seat behind the letter. However, I replied inviting her to come and caress my hair, and I had assured her in my letter that my hair was properly washed with shampoo, so that her finger would move through the curls with ease. I expressed my hairs’ intense wish to get caressed by her fingers. It seemed to me that Annamma was got scared reading my letter. Anyway, she didn’t write anything after that.

The letter from Annamma was made popular in my workplace by my colleagues. It seemed to me that the anonymous Jerry was got demotivated seeing the popularity of the letter from Annamma. But, suddenly one day, I got a letter written in Hindi, from a never-heard never-known girl called Meena Kumari

Meena Kumari was very flirty. She addressed me with such nice terms, like sugar candy, honey, and the names of some unknown eatables that taste sweet. Though not fluent in Hindi, I replied her with the help of my colleagues in the same punch and manner. When she asked me for a Taj Mahal, I offered her a full moon itself. When I asked her about her religion, since marriages between people of same religion are more likely to happen in the conservative Kerala society, she expressed her willingness to convert to Christianity. When she looked a little worried about my well known alliance with Annamma, I consoled her saying that Annamma was just my friend, but Meena Kumari was my everything.

Through the gap created by Meena Kumari, Jerry also popped up its head. Though was inactive for sometime, he (or she?) again continued writing letters. 

In the end, everything came into light. Meena Kumari, Jerry, and Annamma confessed to the crimes that they committed on the gift exchange day. Surprisingly, all were girls! Before the revelation day, Jerry was caught through my deduction method, which was partially influenced by the Sherlockian techniques. I identified her through her handwriting and the way she writes. Anyway I was very much thankful to them for the love letters they wrote, because I hadn't received anything of such nature previously.

Everything finished. No love letters now. But still you see a forsaken lover wandering through the corridor where letter boxes were placed earlier, hopefully searching for any new letter that came late, from any of those girls. 

Note: The title is inspired from Agatha Christie’s, ‘Hercule Poirot’s Christmas’

In Picture 2: Second portion of a love letter written by composer Ludwig van Beethoven on July 6, 1806. The letter was addressed to an unknown woman.

Dec 7, 2011

The Forgotten Playmate

Nineteen Nineties. The place, as I envisioned, is where one can be in the ambiance of the suburban pastoral beauty, while having the nearest town just a call away. There you see kids in uniforms walk in a sympathetic haste through muddy roads, and you hear the giant bell of the nearby church toll intermittently.

Our protagonist is a small girl of the house, who had been celebrating her tender age under the care of her parents and the love of grandparents. The elderly people at her neighborhood were also not stingy in showering unfathomable affection upon her. Though she never felt lonely in the nearness of her dear ones, what she loved most was the occasional visits by the little kids from a distant place at her favorite neighbor.

Those kids used to be there on visits at their grandma, especially during vacations. She made good friendship with them, and it became a habit for her to wait for their visit during the long holidays. Once they came home, they used to involve in several games, like, hide n’ seek. Imagining the shades of the big mango tree at her patio as the kitchen, and treating mud as rice and coconut shells as pots, they had mock cookery practices. When the grandma of that house went to the feast of the church with her visiting grandchildren, clinging on the wrinkled palms of that elderly woman, she also had accompanied them.

Years passed by. Our little girl grew up. The changes happened to her during the passage of time, made her aware of her womanhood. Just like any other girl from Kerala, she also had to censor her movements, behavior and interaction with the opposite sex. When finished her college, she went to India’s Garden city, Bangalore, for higher studies. 

Bangalore, as always, was a dream. There in that big city, she found the meaning of freedom. For the first time after those long forgotten magical childhood days, she felt that she was liberated. Finding herself walking even in the late hours through the pavements of the city, she enjoyed that kind of freedom, reserved till then to the male category only. But alas, soon maturity overtook her sense of freedom.

She returned to her native place after the studies, and later found a job in a company in Cochin. It was the same company, where this Blogger also joined later. One day, as part of new appointments, she happened to interview a young guy. Despite of his timid nature, she found him capable of doing the tasks; but his candidature was rejected by some other means. A few months later, he was interviewed for another profile by some different people of the same company, and he was selected.

Several days after his joining, one day, he showed up at her desk, and asked,

“Do you remember me?”

She said, “Well, you were there for the interview!”

He said, “Apart from that, don’t you think we had met before?”

Though she had found some familiarity in the hesitant nature of the boy, she couldn’t recollect in what way he was familiar to her. She admitted her failure.

He breathed slightly, and after a pause, said in melancholic tone, “We used to play, during vacations, when we were children, on my visit with my sisters at my grandma’s house. We used to play hide n seek, under that giant mango tree, beneath which, we had cooked rice of mud in coconut shells; we used to go to church festivals, with my grandma…”, he searched for words.

She stood still electrified, while taking time to identify the youngest one of the neighboring grandma’s grandchildren.

One day, desperately thinking about the topic for the next post of Vanity Moments, this Blogger met her. During the normal conversation, he asked her to contribute a topic. When she reminded him of the story of her Ouija board experiment, which she told him a few months before, he encouraged her to tell another story, since he had already written enough number of horror stories.

And, then she started to tell him the story of her forgotten playmate from the beginning.

Nov 24, 2011

In a Horror House

Though we were already informed that the place that we chose to explore that day was of somewhat haunted nature, we decided to move on. Standing at the door step of that house with palpitating hearts, we asked each other about reconsidering our decision of visiting it. Slowly the door opened towards somewhat emptiness, and what we could only notice with our failing senses was the growl of a predator from the thickened darkness in front of us. We were about to withdraw out of intuition and instinctive fear; but accidentally, someone joined us, and with a mysterious smile, he entered the house, darting a hilarious glance at us.

In a sudden flash of motivation, I jumped in to the darkness of the house, forcing my friend along with me. Suddenly I remembered, the one who preceded us in the process of exploring that inhuman house was a man with only one hand. His right hand was amputated at the joint. At the next moment, a wild feminine scream from some dark corners of that dirty house pierced our ear drums. That cry soon mixed with the terrifying howl of that fiendish animal, which was brooding in the dark somewhere close to us. We heard the sound of the door closing behind us. No turning back now!
While hesitantly staring with our empty eyes at the source of a bluish light creeping in to the room, a human voice from the left ordered us to turn to the right side, where there was a narrow corridor. While climbing the steps that led to the corridor in an act of imbalance, with my week aura, I sensed the presence of the man who went before us, who was also moving forward in an uncertain manner. I held his only hand out of desperation; though he initially disturbed by my embarrassing act, seeing the pathetic situation that we three were in, he was persuaded and permitted me to stick on to him. 

I screamed loudly, and shouted using curse words, seeing a headless human figure at the next juncture of that corridor. Hearing my loud cry, my friend, who was following me, closed eyes tight. That person, as I came to know later, opened the eyes only after we escaped from that haunted place. Everywhere, we heard devilish screams, terrifying echoes of the laughter from hell, and we saw only the moving shadows, hanging dead bodies on top of our heads, and cut opened throats, from where blood was gushing forth till it clotted, as it seemed, in an abrupt manner, simply some moments before. When that endless travel through the corridor finished, we entered into a room, which was dimly lit. Suddenly a beastly figure sitting on a wooden platform jumped at us, giving us another shock. Struggling to not attract the attention of that figure once again, we somehow managed to unlock the door in front of us, but at that moment, someone with a stick jumped at us in order to beat us. Our one-handed friend soon switched on his cell phone, and in that light, we saw the face of a young boy smiling at us out of embarrassment. 

Once we were out of that haunted place, which is operating at Cochin’s Oberon Mall, named ‘Scary House’, we all three broke into a joined laughter. While sharing our individual experience in the Scary House, where people pay to get scared, we heard from the house, the loud cries and screams of a pack of college girls who followed us into that place of entertainment of a different nature. People knew that they would get scared if they go inside it, though they are aware of the fake ghostliness and gimmicks on which that centre is based;  but still they find pleasure in that kind of scare. Human psychology is indeed queer!

Nov 17, 2011

Murder in the Dreams

The guy who stays at the closest door of mine, today morning woke up with a sprained neck. When asked about it, he said,

“Buddy, I dreamt something terrible last night. In the end of the dream, when I suddenly withdrew myself from an imminent shock, my head might have twisted in an awkward position, and as a result, I guess, I am woken up with such a painful sprained neck.”

That long speech was enough for such a dream loving guy like me to become curious; and with a slight embarrassment, I inquired more about his dreams. Hesitantly he replied,

“Brother, I don’t know its meaning. But I am terribly shaken. I don’t know to what extend it would be right confessing my last night’s dream”.

“Tell me please! I am a scholar in dreams,” impatiently I said.

After a pause, he said, “It is murder, friend; cold blooded murder!” Then he looked at my eyes sharply.

I was shocked. I had known the meaning of some of the most recurring dreams, thanks to Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, and some later papers appeared in the internet. That book and its subject were my favorites. But I couldn’t recollect that what a murder in dream signified.

The next door guy then said about his dream. In the dream, he beat someone to death. The victim’s face, it was that of a stranger, was so dreadful with blood stains, and wounds. Then he pulled his corpse to his homestead and put it in the backyard of his house. He suddenly noticed that in addition to the dead body of the one who killed, there were two more corpses lying in the same ground; all were killed after so many beatings and thrashes. 

Without a word, he retired to his room for a peaceful sleep. But the next day, his father woke up and scolded him for putting corpses in the backyard. He could have buried them, his father suggested. So, they both started to dig a big pit to bury the three people. The pit was a huge and horrifying one. And finally, they buried all three corpses in that huge pit successfully. 

“But, something happened then to make my head turn suddenly, which ended up in this sprain on my neck,” he said while putting an end to his dream narration. 

We both joked some more time about the dream. But I had all in my mind to check the internet to know more about the murder in dreams. According to a site I referred, murder in dream signifies, putting an end to an old habit or a former way of thinking. It could also refer to putting full stop to an addiction. It also signifies that the dreamer is angry at someone or at himself.

What do you think? Do you have similar dreams?

Nov 6, 2011

A Cathartic Puzzle

So, here I am, again as promised, in order to give your thoughts some tidbits, to provoke your brain function more dynamically. Yes, you guessed it right! Today, I am going to ask you a riddle. You might be wondering why I am today here with a puzzle when the internet offers so many googols of them for those who have that continuous itching of brain. There lies the matter. This is not a common riddle which depends on word play or mathematical calculations. This is also not one to trick you using the intermingling of facts and fiction. The apt adjective to denote this puzzle would be, ‘emotionally disturbing’, and that’s why I used the term ‘cathartic’ in the title to describe the nature of the puzzle. I do not know if anybody of you has already familiar with this one. However, before asking the riddle straightaway, I think I need to give you the background of how I came to face such a puzzle which had stopped my heartbeats for some seconds, talking without exaggeration.

Yes, the time was the beginning of my Trivandrum days. I was a little more grown-up one than a teenager, though the frailty, fragility and the juvenile characteristics have not completely departed from my mannerisms. I was in a hostel like place where I met with some new guys. Despite of my initial impression as a simpleton, people began to consider me for their discussions and chats a little later, when they slowly realized that I was like everyone there in terms of thoughts and behaviors.

After noon time, I usually was free, and so, that was the time we utilized to crack jokes, or to involve in heated arguments. Sometimes we used to ask puzzles to test the other one’s brain or to show off in front of the gang with our superior intellect. When a civil service aspirant joined our gang, he became the talking machine. During one of our puzzle session, when we were completely running out of puzzles, the civil service aspirant suddenly said,

“I have a different puzzle. This question was asked during a top interview for a heavily paid post. But if I ask you this question, you would either curse me or beat me up.” 

We became curious and demanded him to ask that one. He said,

“The question was asked to everyone who showed up for that interview. Of the whole lot, only one was able to give a reasonable answer, and he got the appointment. But pals, I won’t ask you this question. Because, it is an emotionally disturbing one. You might think of me as a pervert or you might stop talking to me if I ask you this question”.

That was enough to raise our degree of curiosity. We pleaded again. So he agreed to ask the question. He reminded us that the question had no definite answer. It was just to test the ability to give apt response in certain times.

He said giving sufficient pauses between words ensuring that the question was properly communicated, “So folks, here is the question; what will you do if you ever come to know that your mother is a prostitute?”
Pin drop silence. I felt as if someone hit me on my head using a hammer. My roommate, who was a very innocent one, was about to break into tears. 

We all replied that we didn’t have any answer to this question. But the civil service aspirant prompted us to come with an answer. Someone answered that he would cut the relationship with his mother. When asked, my roommate replied that he would go to that extend of suicide. The next turn was mine. Scratching my head, I replied,

“Err…well...I think I would quit my native place.” There were some more answers from others as well.

The civil service aspirant shook his head to every answer labeling each as, impractical, hilarious, pathetic, etc. We finally asked him to give us the answer suggested by the winner of that interview.

I hope that you all have formulated an answer to this question by this time. Your answer needs not be the exact one put forwarded by the winner. If you have a good reasonable answer, that is just because you are very much intelligent. If you don’t have a reasonable answer – then also you are highly intelligent, because that’s why you are here on my page to read Vanity Moments!

Exerting a dramatic pause, the civil service aspirant said, “the winner answered like this; if I ever come to know that my mother is a prostitute, first I will make sure that my father is her only customer!”

Whatever be the counter arguments against this answer, we all agreed that the winner rightly answered to the puzzle, and since he was quick in answering such tricky questions, he well deserved the position.

By the way, any of you had invented any better or similar answer to this puzzle?

Oct 31, 2011

Not So Innocent Children

One second please…Let me just introspect. I am in an attempt to recollect something. I can get easily disturbed from my thoughts if you people keep on talking and chattering like this. I am trying to write some of my past experiences in order to make my blog alive. Yes, I remember, it was in my childhood days, more exactly, during my school days, and to be precise, I was then a fourth standard kid wearing knickers and backpack, which was full of text books, and additional story books, usually borrowed from classmates, and with a water bottle in hand. 

Water bottle! Yes! Water bottle is my today’s subject. I hope you also are well familiar with water bottles. My water bottle was a light green coloured one with a dumbest shape. Dumbest is the word immediately came to my mind when I attempt to describe it, because I don’t exactly remember its shape. 

One usual day with repetitive lessons, teacher’s punishment stick, orations, writing exercises, and yawns. The time is some more minutes to 4 PM. We are all set to respond to the final bell, to pick up bags, umbrellas, and water bottles.  I have already done with packing my text books in my bag. And the water bottle? Yes, it is there next to my right hand, so that I can pick it up easily in the process of running outside with enthusiasm. 

Someone sitting in my row suddenly complained, “teacher, I am not seeing my water bottle. It was here till a few minutes ago.”

Everybody’s attention turned to our side.  Teacher came and asked him to search everywhere, “You might have misplaced it somewhere accidentally,” she said.

“No teacher, I just have put it here itself. I remember it very much”, with a pathetic expression, he said.

His friend, M, suddenly poked his nose into the water bottle affair. “Let’s have a search through everybody’s bags. What if someone has stolen it? Let us start it with my own bag,” saying so, he undid his neatly packed bag, and showed us all that there is nothing suspicious.

He then checked the bag of the one who lost his water bottle, “Perhaps, you might have put it in the bag and then forgot,” he said, “but here either is not your bottle”. He finished checking that bag also.

“A water bottle? Where could it have gone? It must be somewhere beneath the seats”, I thought. Suddenly, M turned to me and said smiling mysteriously, “Now, let us check your bag. Show it me!”

I objected. ‘Why? I haven’t taken anyone’s bottle. Why Should I? I have my own one”. As one of the academically highly performing ones in the class, I cannot even be suspected for such a theft case, or that is my ego. But, M compellingly grabbed my bag, undid its straps carefully, and dramatically pulled out a colourful water bottle, the same one which was reported to be missing a few minutes before. 

I opened my mouth while shockingly staring at the water bottle. “Strange!” I thought. “How could have that water bottle came into my bag?” It was true that I had noticed an unusual bulge in my bag while waiting for the final bell. 

“You have stolen it,” M blamed me. Scared, I looked at the teacher seeking help. Here goes the dignity of the teacher’s pet. “Teacher, it was not me who put it there in my bag,” I was about to break into tears.

The teacher, who was a catholic nun, said with a smile. “God will reveal the truth one day”. She then left our row.

Years after, I heard about my friend M, that he was arrested by police, for trying to harm a small kid. When that little boy, knocked his door step seeking some water, M served him with a glassful of kerosene. Hearing that news, I suddenly thought about the old water bottle affair, and though with no proof, made some speculations on how that bottle came into my bag without my knowledge.

Oct 21, 2011

Kothazham, a Village for Fools

If no interesting personal affairs happened during a particular course of time to narrate in your writing space with the adornment of fiction, the best thing you can do to save yourself from Blogger’s block will be thinking about a general idea. In this chapter, I am also going to do a somewhat similar thing.

Like some countries or cultures have certain places with phantasmagoric characteristics, for instance Thomas Moore’s Utopia (it is fiction by the way, not a part of culture), my state Kerala has also one such a legendary place in its vast repository of myths. Have you ever thought about a village for all idiots to dwell in? Or what it is like if all people coming from this village are morons? Well, you might have heard of the legend of two villages, located close to each other, of which one is for all hard working people, whereas the other for all the lazy ones.

But now we are talking about a village for all fools. It is a telltale idea – somewhat subtle and imaginary – about a fictitious village in Kerala, a South Indian state. The village name is very hilarious, it is called Kothazham, and now don’t ask me what did this word mean! Because it is as meaningless as it seems. In Kerala, if someone asks you, ‘which Kothazham you belong to?’, that means you have committed some huge blunder. 

It was during one of my studentship day camps, I came across an old, dust-ridden copy of a book titled, Kothazham Tales. Though I had heard about the word Kothazham many often, I never knew that this place was an imaginary one, associated with foolishness. I want to share you some of the tales which I learned from that book. Perhaps, you might have heard the stories in many other formats with citations referring to various other sources.

One day a Kothazham guy, on his return journey after a trip to a distant place, became very thirsty and came across a water-well located in a forest. Greedily, he drank water from the well, and found that the water in it was sweet. Since he was dying for a drop of water all the way, his senses had tricked him to believe that the water was sweet, despite of the fact that the water was of normal taste. Well, you may call it a kind of Rashomon Effect.

On coming back to Kothazham, he informed his friends about the existence of such a magical well, and they all set out a journey to the forest with a long and strong rope. In the next scene, they were all trying to bring the well to their village by tying the rope around it and pulling with maximum force. 

In another tale, a Kothazham guy had to entangle the edge of a rope on top of a nearby tree. As the agrarian people usually did, he tied a small stone at one edge of the rope, and threw it aiming the top of the tree. The stone, got entangled on the branch of the tree, and by misfortune it was a dry branch. Since the Kothazham guy knew that the rope with stone would fall down with the fall of the dry branch sooner or later, he climbed the tree, undid the knots of the rope, and put it down. He climbed down from the tree, and again began to throw it onto the tree expecting that the next time it would got hooked at the right branch that he was aiming at. 

Oct 6, 2011

Love that Never Sets: Story Told by an Atheist

The Unsure Atheist, who made a ‘virtual appearance’ in one of the previous chapters of Vanity Moments, offered me a great help some days before during his busy working schedule. Here I think I need to explain two phrases, which apparently look meaningless. Here you go; this atheist is called unsure, because, I hope he will one day be back to belief in God after shedding the intimacy with atheism, which he currently undergoes. The second phrase is virtual appearance – that is because when he appeared in Job Time Gabs last time, it was in the form of office messenger chat texts.

“Buddy, I have something to tell you as a theme for your next blog post,” during the breaks, he said.

“Well, that’s a good idea, now I am really running out of subjects with substance,” happily I replied.

He said, “Well, now what I am going to tell is about love, precisely it is about my friend’s love”

I thought a quick frown flashed on my forehead, “Love?? No! That’s not my subject. I am not the one to write about love. Don’t think I am a loveless one. But, what I am trying to do are mysteries, humor, and the famous ‘O Henry twists’”.

He said, “Buddy, this one is a different tale. He was one of my best friends. But now I have deep hatred for him. He is a stupid, ignorant, idiotic fool.”

“This could be a bloggable thing,” I murmured unknowingly. “Well, tell me more?” featuring an interested expression, I said.

He said, “This is about my friend and a girl to whom he had a deep crush. We all had our secondary school days together. At that time, when he revealed to us about the deep love that he carries in his heart, we all supported him. It was me who told him to go straightly to express his affection to her,” 

“Unsure Atheist knows how to write a blog. He tells his story exactly the way I write,” curiously thinking so, I implored him to proceed.

“My friend, this hero of my tale, I pity myself for calling him using the word hero, is a scatterbrained, and fainthearted guy. With fear and shiver, he approached her and somehow presented that he loved her,” the Unsure Atheist paused.

Obviously irritated by his lack of self-confidence, she said, “But, I’m already in love with some other one”

The story is becoming curious. The Atheist continued, 

“What she told was not false. She was actually in love with some other one. So, my friend withdrew himself from the race for love. But after some months the girl dumped the other one,” he said.

“Oh, then?” I used a motivating figure of speech to encourage the story teller.

“Then, my friend went to another state to study business management. She also joined the same school for the same course. But, this time she had another lover,” the Atheist went on.

I nodded.

“But after a few months long love, she ditched him also and started dating another one. This time it was a Tamil boy, who became the victim of the clutches of her love”, he said, gnashing his teeth.

Watching my face which lacked expressions, he proceeded.

“After the course, she got married to the Tamil boy.” 

“So, that’s how the story ended?” eagerly I asked.

“No! After two or three months long married life, she divorced him,” the Atheist said calmly. 

Britney Spears was quicker in identifying her wrong choice and quickest in decision. She took only one night to find that the one she married was not the right partner for her life.

Inquiringly I looked at him.

He said, “Buddy, after these all matters, my dim-wit, good-for-nothing, rattle-pated friend still followed her. He called her and said that he wanted to marry her. And this time she accepted his proposal.”

“So, what’s next?” I wanted to end the story somehow.

“We all called him and asked him to withdraw from his decision. But, he is all set to marry her. Buddy, this is the story. See, I have deep hatred for him. He is so foolish and dull,”

In the end of the conversation, I thanked him for giving me another thread.

Sep 29, 2011

Tracing the Roots of Malayalam Cinema

With the memories of my evening jaunts to a tiny wayside tea stall located in the fringes of the Trivandrum city and the light talks I used to make with my friend Kiran Ravindran there, while sipping warm coffee, still soaring in my mind; I had a similar experience of an evening road side light talk here in Cochin itself quite recently. It happened when Kiran visited Cochin for something professional. At around 10 pm in the night I went to his dwelling place, near the railway station, and while drinking a hot tea from a less hygienic tea stall, he revealed his purpose of his Cochin visit.

A director of documentaries and short films, and a writer of some critically acclaimed books, Kiran was in Cochin in connection with some research works of his new book, ‘Cinemayil Inganeyum Chilar’. Forgive me, I could not think about a proper literary translation of this Malayalam phrase now, but, ‘Cinema has Some People like This’. 

In this new work, which is currently under preparation, he deals with such persons of Malayalam Film Industry, who remain almost unknown to the glory of the Silver screen, even if had appended some contributions – nothing less than significant – to the growth of the industry. 

With a plan to write a book by dividing the Malayalam Film history into two segments, viz, from the beginning to the end of Black and White era, and the later era, Kiran sought the guidance of two veteran producers, Navodaya Appachan and T E Vasudevan. It was these two giants who directed Kiran to include the details of lesser known personalities of Malayalam cinema. 

So, the next was his search for unpopular stars. He delved deep into the history, till reached the initial days. Though none of the crew behind the first Malayalam film Vigatha Kumaran (The Lost Child – 1928) is alive today, including its director and lead actor J C Daniel (the Father of Malayalam Cinema) and the heroine P K Rosie, he succeeded in tracing some of the people of the later films.

The first talkie in Malayalam was Balan (1938). Kiran had earlier visited M K Kamalam, the heroine of Balan, who died in 2010 at 86. 

During his visit to Cochin, he met some of the people who associated with the film Nirmala (1948) and Thiramala (The Tide – 1953). I have some photos of the actresses of both of the films to share with you. The then and now comparison will be an interesting one. Apart from these actresses, the people Kiran met include actress Vasantha Kokila, playback singer T K Govinda Rao, sound recordist Krishna Elamon, Thomas Burley, lead actor of Thiramala, character actress Annamma, M K Nathan, the script writer of the first Malayalam colour film Kandam Becha Kottu (The patched-up Coat – 1961), etc.

If you are someone associated with the Malayalam film industry of yester years, or if you know someone of that kind, kindly send a note to If it will help Kiran in his new work, I can have the satisfaction of putting in my share. 

Sep 18, 2011

Legend of Hymavathy

Her name was Hymavathy. She was a beautiful girl, lean and tall, fair and graceful, born in the 1950s in Trivandrum, the capital of the South Indian state Kerala. The reason why you are not able to find the name Hymavathy in the contemporary naming culture of Kerala society may perhaps be that it has got weeded out from the vocabulary conscience of the people here.

Born and brought up in an orthodox Brahmin family, Hymavathy was privileged to attend the renowned University of Kerala campus for her higher studies. Motivated by teenage frailty, Hymavathy fell in deep love with a young handsome boy, and they became inseparable. During the free hours, they both spent some time together in the forest like areas within the campus itself. In the wilderness, there was a small pond. It was sitting on the banks of this pond (some call it a lake) that they both used to share their joys, personal worries, secrets, and perhaps more. The layout of the campus could most possibly be the same as today, since development in Kerala usually happens in a slow manner, thanks to the bureaucrats. 

As she was about to lose her butterfly days of teenage soon, her parents hurried to find a suitable boy for her. Since there was already a boy, who occupied her heart, she did not give consent to any of the proposals brought by her parents. Later, when her parents journeyed into the depths of her heart by asking questions, that secret surfaced. May be due to their conservatism, or because of the boy’s background, which was set in a separate caste, her parents never allowed that relationship. Heartbroken, and totally distressed, the beautiful Hymavathy, one unfortunate day of the 60’s went to the lakeside without anybody’s accompaniment. Bidding farewell to the surrounding solitude and to her beloved one silently, she jumped into the pond, and died. 

Since she left the world, without fulfilling her womanly passions and desires, her soul was in a distressed condition. Without being able to leave the earth and its environment, it appeared in the form of a white apparition to many people in the surrounding areas, and wept terribly. What gushed forth from its eyes were not tears, but red clotted blood.  

It was two decades later only, this Blogger was born in a different place far away from the precincts of the above mentioned incidents. By the passage of the half of a century, the neighboring rustic areas had given way to modernization. As a result, one of the largest technology hub of India, Technopark was set up in the neighbourhood, even when the government’s initiative University of Kerala remained the same with its haunted wilderness and forest like terrains, except some new buildings, departments, and hostels germinated somewhere within. 

The Blogger grew up and as part of education, he travelled to Trivandrum. During the end of his media related studies, he got placed in an online news portal, which was functioning in Technopark’s biggest building, Tejaswini. Since he dealt with news, he had to do night shifts. Many of his colleagues working in night shifts with him were living in the Trivandrum city located some 15 kilometers away. He was living in a rented place in the Trivandrum city, and the commutation was easy for him with the help of his sincere bike. 

Though their shift usually ended at 12 O’clock in the night, none of them had the habit of going home in the night, except him. What he did was actually saving time; work from 5 to 12 in the evening, go back to home traveling 15 kilometers to have a peaceful sleep till eight in the morning, and collect a handful of free hours of the day to get involved in some other activities which he was interested in. 

Either envied by his time saving trick, or in order to save him from the grudge of the supernatural beings, two female colleagues told him about the legend of Hymavathy pond, and about the spirit of the girl who roamed around with her unsatiated lust and unfulfilled desires. He was shocked, and his shock was doubled hearing the accounts from some other tongues. As per the legends, if someone goes to Hymavathy Lake alone, he would feel someone at his back who tried to push him to the water, though no one could have been found around. The Blogger checked the internet and found some narrations of the Hymavathy pond, in which a huge sized figure appeared to a night time traveler while traveling on a two wheeler through the route which lay straight in between Technopark and Kerala University. Another night time traveler had seen a woman at the back gate of the University accompanied by the scent of the Jasmine flowers, when there were no jasmine plants growing in those areas.

Even after hearing all these stories, the Blogger continued his mid night travel, with pulsating heart, and dried lips. During those hours, what illuminated the isolated tarred roads was only the headlight of his vehicle. He passed that route, fearfully expecting a scented apparition of a woman in white dress at each and every juncture and curve. Finding him harmless the next day, his female colleagues gossiped that he was escaped only because Hymavathy was in love with him.

Dear readers, sorry to disappoint you again without a twisted end; either impressed by the courage of the Blogger, or hindered by her natural affection towards him, Hymavathy never tried to harm him.

In Pictures:
Picture 1: Young woman (
Picture 2: Snap of the Hymavathy pond as seen today (Courtesy:
Picture 3: The night time snap of the road between Technopark and University of Kerala, through where I used to travel (Courtesy:

(In the following map, you can see the areas. The University of Kerala campus and Hymavathy Lake are marked clearly. The buildings you see on the left bottom corner are part of Technopark. In between, the one you see with the label, Karyavattom-Thrippadapuram road is the one which I used to travel during night time. Using the Zoom and direction controls, given at the top left portion, you can get to know the places more accurately)

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Sep 10, 2011

About Travel

This time, I have nothing special to write, but about travel. You people must be thinking that what I am going to write is about a travel which I made in recent times to some distant places. To free my post from such speculations, I may tell you that I haven’t made any such travel or pleasure trip to any such wonderful places in the closest past.

If you travel daily from one place to another in a regular manner, there will develop an affinity in your mind to certain objects or areas in the paths. If the travel is not so frequent, happening only in an intermittent manner also, that affinity would be there, but with a tinge of nostalgia. I am talking about the second case, the nostalgic affinity you have in your mind, towards the objects or areas in the path, if you have a regular route to travel from one place to another in a not-so-regular manner.

During my time in Trivandrum, I used to travel back to my home in Kottayam once in a while. Sometimes, I used to take the risk of riding on my sincere bike all the way, covering some 175 kilometers. In such cases, sometimes, I had my drive crazy-cousin also with me to get an emotional support for my feeble mind. With his frequent travel back and forth, my cousin was even sure of the exact places where you would find a gutter on the road.

Once we leave the Trivandrum city, the first stopover would be a small church, where we used to put a ten rupee note as the bribe to the Almighty to save us from any danger in the way. But, once upon a time, while I was driving his bike, at a dangerous curve, a middle aged man suddenly jumped in front, and with lost control we both fell down with the bike, with my laptop on my shoulder, and with a thumping sound. By God’s grace, no one was hurt, not even a single object was broken.

The second stopover used to be a road side tea shop, from where we get tea and some traditional snacks. My cousin would use this time for a wayside-free-stand smoke. There are some more tea stalls on our way to home as our subsequent stopovers. We used to choose a route where we can go through rustic country side paths dotted with tiny towns and hamlets in midway. One of the areas we need to pass is a dangerous forest. This is the route through which you can reach the famous South Indian pilgrim centre located at Sabarimala. It is heard that the forest area is where a lot of burglaries had been practiced by some antisocials. So, my cousin used to force me to pass the forest area before dusk.

I had my last such trip from Trivandrum to home the day before I shifted to Cochin. But, since it was a rainy season, I reached home wetting in the rain for kilometers. The next day I set out to Cochin in the evening when it was raining lightly. From home to Cochin, I was all the way wetting in the rain, which sometimes drizzled slightly and some other times fell heavily.

Aug 19, 2011

Mouse the Menace

The morning was very calm. Just as I entered the workplace, I was greeted by Creative Guy who was until that moment staring on his computer screen as if in a deep meditating mood. Though he was earlier than his usual time, I did not suspect anything fishy in his unusual behavior.

Minutes later, we were forced to respond to the Practicing Clairvoyant’s musical good morning note, turning our faces in order to flaunt a grin. But a few more minutes later, we both were shocked by a scream, a loud shrill cry, from the throats of the Clairvoyant, “the mouse…the wretched thing…it spoiled all my lip-balm, that too for the second time in the last two weeks.”

We both saw the Clairvoyant in a horrific expression with a tube of lip-balm in her right hand. Creative Guy sprang up from his seat like a spring and stared at the lip-balm tube with a seemingly questioning look. The tube had a creatively cut hole right at the bottom portion. 

“Yesterday I was sure that I had locked my entire cupboard before leaving the office, and today you see the mouse has disarrayed everything,” her voice was relatively higher, as I felt.

I doubted something fishy. The Clairvoyant’s posture with one damaged lip-balm tube in one hand, her scream, her unnecessary loud voice, even her actions, the Creative Guy’s jump and surprise, the entire morning’s incidents, and every associated act looked like a brilliantly woven drama to me. But, who acts, or who pretends, or for what purpose, were remained as some questions apparently answerless.

Just as I moved to her cupboard, for a close scrutinization, we were interrupted by another good morning wish, the Full Moon Girl. We saw her with a smiling face and gleaming eyes standing at the doorstep as if she was completely unaware of the morning’s business. But, with my inquisitive eyes alone, I noticed that her first glance was directed mysteriously to the cupboard of the Clairvoyant. I felt she was trying to hide something which she knew about the mouse menace, behind that interrupting good morning wish, secret smile and cryptic eyes.

Creative Guy and I began to inspect the entire crime scene. Looking at the way the cupboard was built, I thought, even if the cupboard is locked, a mouse can enter the bottom tray through a probable slit which could be present there in between the trays. Once the mouse gets inside the bottom tray, it can climb up through similar slits without much difficulty.

When I presented my theory, the Creative Guy put forward some objections against my finding. Instead of my ‘Slit-Climb’ theory, he brought up the ‘work methodology’ theory, that the mouse has a secret way of hiding within the tray even during the day time. According to his finding, the mouse must have been hiding within the first tray itself, where the balm was kept. But, Clairvoyant objected it, since the first tray was scarcely packed, even a smaller pin couldn’t have been left unnoticed. But, if the mouse could hide during the day time within the bottom tray, where lot of books and miscellaneous things were kept, it might be able to navigate at night from the bottom tray to the upper trays using the probable slits (which is a part of my theory). This slit is an imaginary one, as it is impossible to see the backside of the cupboard, since it has its backside fixed to the wall. If such a slit existed, my ‘Slit-Climb’ theory and Creative Guy’s ‘work methodology’ theory could have jointly proved the crime.

But, still I seriously suspected that someone among our team really knew at least something about the morning menace. I thought about the Workaholic, the fourth one in the gang, his absence from the scene, was that absence purposeful?

The same moment, the Workaholic, stepped into the scene humming a popular song modified in his own tune. He was really late, I thought. Without giving even a single nod towards us, or a glance at the Clairvoyant’s cupboard, he straightaway rushed to his seat. I noticed that he forgot to say his usual ‘good morning’; must be due to his attempt to hide something he knew about the mouse affair from the rest.

I looked everything one by one; the surprised posture of the Clairvoyant, the agitated motion of the Creative, the mysterious smile of the Full Moon Girl, the unshaken appearance of the Workaholic, and finally the disordered cupboard and the lip-balm tube with a large hole at the bottom.

PS: Later, the attendants put a mousetrap near the cupboard. The next day we found a cute mouse trapped in it. By the time we rushed to get a photograph of it, the trap was taken away by the attendants to administer the mouse its predetermined destiny.

PS 2: One of my several attempts to write detective fiction. 

Aug 11, 2011

The Art of Overhearing

“You always write your posts in the form of a conversation, right?”, once in the canteen, the Practicing Clairvoyant asked me, and she looked around to get some support for her finding about my blog.

“But, I read another blog, where the writer always writes about what he overhears,” glancing at me the Full Moon Girl said.

“Oh, then that blog must be more enjoyable than Vanity Moments,” the Clairvoyant agreed.

Before going on further, let me invite your attention to some of my previous posts, like Teased, and The Slow Learner to get an introduction about the two characters I mentioned.

Mildly hurt, I planned to look for opportunities in my neighborhood to overhear, so that I can write some interesting stories in the same way. So, after that, wherever I travelled, I always was careful in giving my ear to what others speak. In buses, bus stops, trains, cinema theatres, hotels, parks, and in every such public place, where I could have found myself in the middle of people, I was keen on using my ears. But, a good story never fell on my ears.

Later on an evening, when my pal X-EN-Tric was away, I thought about visiting the nearest bar to escape temporarily from loneliness. And if you don’t know what a bar is, I can tell you that it is a place where you will be served with alcoholic beverages :). Sitting on a sofa inside one of the scarcely crowded corners of the dim lit bar, I took the first sip of what I ordered. It was my first experience of drinking alone.

Suddenly, the conversation of my colleagues about my blog popped up in my mind. The immediate reason for this was two gentlemen who were opening up something sincerely sitting at the nearest table. Since they were talking some seemingly nonsensical things, under the influence of the drink they were having, in loud voices, which were quite audible to me, I thought about trying my luck in overhearing them.

“Client service is more important as far as I am concerned. If a client complains about a problem, and we have no one to scrutinize it, there goes our reputation,” I heard the first one saying so.

“I often try to give my maximum to my job. There is no chance for someone to complain about my service,” the second one said.

“See, if you have made some mistakes, you can open up it to me. There will not be any misunderstanding between us,” the first one said.

What misunderstanding? You misunderstood me? Or I misunderstood you? No way. See we are friends for a very long time, so no misunderstandings,” the second one replied.

Sipping slowly my second peg, I looked at both of them one by one in a begging manner, expecting a story, as if a stray dog looks at a piece of bone hopefully. The second one suddenly turned his face towards me and ignored my disturbing stare.

“Whatever be it, to me the most important are my clients,” the first one said like this.

“Your clients? Where do you have clients?” the second one suddenly asked.

Since it was my second peg, I was slowly losing my power to concentrate. When I regained my focus, and listened to them; they were talking about some bets.

“Let’s give the bet money to this gentleman,” pointing at me the second one said.

The first one glanced at me.

They argued more about some matters in the same nonsensical way, which is common to all those who drink. Meanwhile, I ordered my third peg, and while sipping it with peppered nuts and mango pickle, opening my sleepy eyes, I heard the second one threatening the first one in a funny manner saying this,

“I will break this glass and will thrust it in your stomach,”

If something like that happened, it would have given a great twist to my post, I thought. Now they both started arguing about who will pay the bill. When money comes, everyone is conscious, even if they are celebrating, I thought. Finally they both decided to pay the bill fifty-fifty.

Then the second one turned to me and asked if I had two ten rupees change for a single twenty rupee note. I had it. They paid their bill and tipped the waiter the ten rupee note they collected from me. After they left, I beckoned my waiter and asked for the bill.

Aug 2, 2011

Job Time Gabs

When the month July was in its final days, I struggled really hard to write one more post so that I could flaunt the number 4 in my blog for July alone. In fact, I sat some long hours in silence by staring at an open blank MS Word document trying to write something even during the last moments of 31st. But it did not happen. On August 1, with these things in mind, while I was working on some projects at my workplace, suddenly a colleague’s pop up appeared in my office chat messenger. It was a well-wisher of my blog, and this time, we chatted something based on my blogging habits and posts and especially about the post ‘One Day in Heaven’, in which I had a brief encounter with ‘God’. Since I feel that I could make our conversation into a post, I am writing the main contents here. Please note, despite of my usual claims that I write only facts and not fiction, in this post I wish to write something extra which we did not talk.

“Hey Tomz, I’m kind of resorting to the same path as yours,” that was his first message, to which I replied with a few question marks.

He explained his point of view in two words providing enough capitalization wherever it required, “Agnostic Approach!”

“Oh Really? What happened now to make you think like that?” I asked.

Ignoring my question even without the slightest pity, he explained,

“Well, I should say that I am an Atheist”.

“Why? What happened?” I uttered repeating my previous question.

“Nothing,” he said, “just a change of mind after reading a lot.”

“Hmm,” I keyed in.

“Reading many spiritual books and all,” he explained.

“What did you read that much to happen such a sudden changeover,” I inquired.

“Sudden Changeover? Hmm..I should say this was not sudden. I had this in mind since long time before. Now, it has got strengthened after reading your post,” he said.

After a few seconds’ pause, he asked, “Are you still in the Agnostic side?”

I replied, “No buddy! I’m totally confused. Confused means, just in the way an Agnostic is confused. Should I stick on to Agnosticism? Should I embrace Atheism? Or should I return to God himself – that means religion? In fact, I am totally suspicious. So, I thought the best resort would be Agnosticism”.

We both waited until the other one make a comment.

Suddenly I typed, “Hey buddy, what about making a new religion together?”

He exclaimed, “That’s great! We Atheists should have a certain code of conducts and way of life”

“No man, this is not Atheism, It should be a mixture of both Atheism and Agnosticism,” I said.

“Yeah, then it should be named something like Agno-Atheism,” he said.

“That’s ok, But I will be its Chief Spiritual Leader,” I said.

“Why? Why can’t it be me?”, he protested.

“No! Because, you are inspired from my blog post,” I gave him an explanation.

“Hmmm..Okey,” he agreed.

“Then we should have our own sacred text,” I said.

“What is that? He asked.

I replied, “Vanity Moments itself”

“In that case, I also need some key position in the religion. I will be the Chief Priest, someone who administers everything within the religion. Money related matters, institutions and everything will be under my control,” he said.

“But, everything should be divided equally. Fifty-fifty, agreed?” I said.

“That we will do,” he agreed.

“And we will later decide things like the colour of the robe that we should wear, and whether we need to grow our beard, or should it be clean shaven or not, etc,” I said.

“Sure, and we Agno-Atheists should have our own religious holidays,” he proposed.

“Yesss…Everyday is a holiday,” I replied.

“Ahahahaha…” I saw him typing like this. 

Jul 26, 2011

A Day in Water

Yesterday I had a sensible plan to update Vanity Moments, since it turned four yesterday, silently even without its own knowledge. You might be remembering a post which I dedicated to the third birthday of my blog exactly one year back. It had some reminiscences of my Alleppey backwaters trip which I made with a friend a few days prior to 24th July 2010. Since, the chance to bask in the glorious shades of luxuriously floating and oscillating houseboat, completely free of cost was brought to me by a short video which I made on Kerala’s tourism perspective, which eventually became the first post of my blog; I had dedicated the memories of that unforgettable houseboat trip to vanity Moments. And what is surprising now is that, when my blog became one more year older, I had been celebrating with my colleagues, an almost similar boat cruise through the heart of the same much-celebrated backwaters of Alleppey.

When my colleagues informed me about such a trip that they were planning to make on a Sunday, and they expressed their sincere pleasure to make me also a part of that journey, I delightfully towed down to their demand. So, we set forth our journey in the morning and reached the renowned backwaters of the Venice of the East by 10.30 in the morning. Without much later we began our day long cruise through the ripples and wavelets singing sometimes, and sometimes buying eatables from the coastline toddy shops. 

Since it was the tourism season, you would have been able to see a pack of houseboats anchored at somewhere, or sometimes you might see one of them darting towards you steering through the backwaters. Local country boats, which are used for transportation often were passing across the lake from one shore to the opposite and vice versa carrying the passengers. Seeing them at a distance, our driver blew the horn in order to warn them. 

Here, I am posting a picture of myself to give you the smallest hint of the pleasure of our trip. In this picture, I am sitting on the roof of the motor boat watching the ripples. Hope the trip would be enjoyable to you too if you were in my place.

Jul 19, 2011

Visiting Logos Hope Ship

Some Bloggers are very prolific. They update their blogs very often, perhaps in a daily manner. These people usually keep thinking about their next blog posts, while walking, or dining, or even when sleeping. I also do the same thing. All the time I involve in my daily affairs, I will be thinking about ways to develop a nice intriguing post out of my experiences. But still, some people are able to make it in a daily manner; some others like me have to really struggle to make it at least once in a month.

Some weeks before, a ship called the Logos Hope, popularly known as the biggest floating library in the world, anchored at Willingdon Island in Cochin. As per the announcement, the ship would be remaining there for some two weeks. You could go there, and purchase books from the vast collection sorted and arranged aesthetically in various shelves. People who know me personally are well aware about my craze for books, though in present times, I don’t read much.

That was a Sunday, when I set off to the Logos Hope. Since it was an off day, the vicinities of the ship were hugely crowded. You should get one ticket before entering the ship. I saw from a distance, the big tent-like shelter from where you could have got entry passes, was already fully occupied with overflowing crowd. A long queue of human beings was extended to outside, where I also found a place somewhere at the end for myself to stand expecting my turn.

Suddenly it started raining. I pulled the collar of my jacket and covered my head so that I could at least save my head from wetting. None of the bibliophiles in the queue was giving even a damn to the moderate downpour. And somehow, when we all entered inside the tent after nearly half an hour long wait in the rain, I saw a huge crowd rushing within the tent without even know where exactly they could have collected the entry tickets from. 

I actually thought about the 1997 classic movie, Titanic. It was in a similar occasion, when Jack Dawson found himself with his friend on the decks of the celebrated ship of the same name. Why should I explain that well known tragedy made based on the real incident took place in 1912? And hey, I don’t like lying; I sincerely expected at least one Rose Bukater somewhere in the vicinities with a beautiful smile.

Once entered the ship, I found not many books capable of being satiating my hunger for literature. The pricing of books was very interesting. Since the ship is travelling all around the world, for the easiness of currency conversion, the pricings were made in Units. In India, 100 units means 80 Rupees. If you find a book worth 300 units, you would have to pay Rs. 240 to get a copy. If the ship is anchored at some other part of the world, the value of the book will be the same 300 units. But, the prize will be different according to the currency of the region and currency conversion rates set by the ship authorities.

I bought two books, which I found interesting to a certain extent, thinking that if my Mastercard was compatible to their system, I could have bought more books. One is about the famous quotations and sayings and the other one is a compilation of biographies of some famous film personalities including Charles Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Akira Kurosowa, Bergman, Tarkovsky, Fellini, etc. While making my exit, the ship boys gifted me another book as a custom, which was dealing with the modern day crisis of broken families.

Though totally wet, I returned to my dwelling place with some nice memories to cherish and some good books to ponder upon.

In Pictures:
Picture 1: Logos Hope in Kochi
Picture 2: Scene from Titanic (1997)

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