Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Guests from the Emperor’s Court


 Update for week Ended 18 November 2011

Chinxua’s father was an honourable businessman. He was respected in the village and his expertise in putting together gunpowder, oxides of copper and mercury was unrivalled. He had learnt this from his father. He had also travelled to the court of the Emperor to present some of his masterpieces which were used in the Moon Boat Festival as well as the New Moon Year of the Rabbit. The foreigners had already started making inroads into the Emperor’s Court, by then, as advisors and tutors to the young Emperor. The Spanish also brought along a lady teacher to keep the Dowager’s palace members engaged in a new dance technique, which was so different from what the concubines danced to, tuned to the lilting shamisen. An Italian who traced his origins to a certain Signor Polo also tried to re-introduce the complicated wheat pasta into the royal kitchen. Chinxua’s father saw this as a negative influence on his people, as he had a hunch that trouble would not be far behind. He had grown up on the Confucian style of living, where foreigners were to be treated as guests, but if they made your home theirs and their food yours, it would be with no so good consequences. And he wanted to tell the court minister who had brought him to meet the Emperor and his Prime Minister. But little did he know that a traitor lurked behind the curtains. His horse was killed in what looked like an accidental explosion of fireworks, and his battered body could not even be transported back to his village. Di Hong had accompanied to Chinxua to Beijing for the funeral. And after they had returned to their village, just as Chinxua’s life had turned turtle, the Little Emperor’s life turned turtle, too. The turncoats had done him in. The Dowager’s drinks were poisoned and she was leading a life of a vegetable, with little ability to control and protect the Little Boy Emperor. The Europeans had started battling amongst themselves for the Golden Throne. The Prime Minister was murdered on his way to the Temple inside the Forbidden City. The countryside had started turning red, as the Red Uniformed army of the English started sailing upstream the Pearl River and pillaging villages, destroying crops and houses, leaving bloodshed in their trail. Chinxua had another battle to handle – that of Ni Bao vs Di Hong; but that could wait for now. And as Di Hong got to hear of the neighboring village being attacked, he rushed to the house on the Southern Bank of the Pearl River. He gathered some valuables, tied them up into a bundle, slung it over his back, and quickly asked the women of the household to follow him into the mountains nearby. They would have to leave the sheep and horses behind. Chinxua said a prayer, lit some joss sticks, and stuck them in the sandbowl in courtyard in front of the house. She bolted the red door of the house (not knowing why, as she was sure that the marauders would break every lock and every door). She took a pearl from her precious belongings and prayed facing the gushing river opposite her house, and after the whispering prayer, turned around and threw the pearl over her right shoulder (for good luck) into the river. The pearl went back to the same river from where it had been fished. It was a sort of gratitude she gave back to nature. And that night they disappeared into the mountains with Di Hong as the protector.

The Italians and Spanish have been playing a different game on D Street this week. Apart from dancing their flamenco and cooking some spaghetti, they had also been plotting to turn the D Street Red (behind the curtains). So this week saw a series of reds for the D Boyz as they tried very hard to protect their SENSEX, which was stained red all week long. The D Boyz tried to run for cover and hid as they saw the pillaging and marauding on their Street helplessly. They could not even take flight as the kingfishers on the trees had fallen off due to clipped wings. The D Boyz just hid behind the SENSEX and hoped that they would not be harmed. The hammering on the street saw the SENSEX fall 800 points to 16371. Last seen, a few of the Boyz had managed to rush into the makeshift shrine of their beloved Elephant God to seek solace and protection. Will the Elephant God protect them? Will He rid them of their troubles?

Chinxua had so longed to meet Ni Bao before she fled her village, but without saying any words, Di Hong had conveyed his objection through his dark eyes. Chinxua had collected an old silk painting of her grandmother, one where she was a young woman with a young child on her knees. Her father swore that it was not him, but Chinxua knew. She had never met her grandmother, but knew that she was still around protecting her family, like all dead souls. She would light an oil lamp for her once they were deep in the mountain forests, but did she carry any oil with her? She had no time to worry about this, as she had larger worries that bothered her. Like the sound of the hooves she could hear in the distance, and a shriek or scream that interrupted the otherwise silent night. She had to flee from the village, at least for the night. Di Hong wanted to stay back with the women in the mountains to protect them from the wild animals (in the mountains as well those that were in the village now). But he had to protect the factory and the village folk as well…

Although the shenanigans of the Europeans and stock markets were not so good this week, life is not so bad. So take this weekend break and enjoy yourselves with your families and friends. Indulge in your interests especially those that make you happy. All tense phases in work or financial markets will pass….. like an Old Chinese Proverb – After every night comes a dawn…..

Have a nice weekend…. Cheers….

 

To know more about Chinxua and Di Hong and the Pearl River – kindly refer to Red Firecracker Green Firecracker

Some Random Movements


Update for week ended 11 November 2011

 Driving along the 6 laned highway, which had clear lane indicators and signages was quite a refreshing change for me in Mumbai which is otherwise known to have roads that are wide and narrow at the same time and with no specific lane indicators. Traffic Signs, if any, are obscured behind large illegal hoardings greeting some fat, burly politician for a birthday, or just for a visit. If not that, the traffic signs are hidden behind lamp posts that almost suddenly erupted from no-where to block its view; almost as though it was intentionally put there, so that an errant driver or rider could be caught just after it “breaking the law”, by an ever ready cop. But let me not digress. Let me get back to this almost surreal stretch of road, which made me take notice of the smooth road, white lane markings, the visible traffic sign that warned me not to overspeed. And I am not trying to be pompous here, but over 2 decades of driving in Indian metropolises has taught me to be a cautious and safe driver, especially when I know that there are road devils lurking all around. Like on this road. The road that would otherwise at least gain some respect from drivers (like me) was being given the exactly opposite treatment by the road monsters and devils that I encountered. The famous and now infamous autorickshaw drivers of Mumbai. Till not long ago, this breed of public transport-men, were considered the most honest as far as the fare collection was concerned. But ever since their profusion in the suburbs (what a redundant statement, don’t you think? Given that they only ply in the suburbs), they have been overcharging, getting choosy about their passengers and travel destination and even being offensive with commuters.. This breed behaved like the little black smoke box that I once used in my physics class to study the Brownian Movement – the absolute random movement of particles.. These vehicles that resembled black mini elephants from the backside were zigzagging across the road like the Smoke Particles in the Smoke Box of a Physics Laboratory. They also virtually collided with each other as I almost saw feet jutting out and kicking the other vehicle away – or was one foot power being used to push forward the other one who was saving on his fuel, I could not fathom. But they were in front, by the side, behind me, threatening my white German car, which just cowered under the attack from the three-legged demons (or three wheeled), almost like a scene out of a Hindu Epic where the Devas (Gods) are attacked by the Asuras (demons) and they pray to the Omnipresent Lord (incidentally I share a name with him), or the Destroyer or the Creator to get them out of these attacks. Maybe my current choice of books is making me see these day dreams or rather day mares (since these were daytime “nightmares”), and I should quickly wrap up the story about a Young Prince from a state by the Sarayu ….. (must remember to quickly read it up this weekend).

On Days like those that passed by (and quite a few have since I last wrote on this blog), what would have seemed like a well laid road, with good signages and all; was there for the D Street Boyz to travel on. And Travel they did, but with no warning or even an inkling, they were attacked by demons of various forms and sizes from multiple directions. And don’t get me wrong, by attack, it was not as though the demons were after the poor D Boyz. It was just that the demons chose to use the time tested Brownian Movement principle to zip along D Street. So some demons sounded as tragic as what a certain William wrote (Greek Tragedy), while others could not be banked upon (Indian Banks being downgraded), or some demons who terrorized the Monkey God and his car factory; there were enough demons to choose from who just randomly got into the D Boyz ways and hurtled them from one side of the Street to the other. So although the SENSEX is currently at 17192 – which looks better than where we left it last (October 14), it did swing quite a bit….. during the month that passed.

Talking of feet that jut out of the auto rickshaws, what sometimes gets me off guard is that, these are not mere stretching of legs of a tired auto rickshaw driver after a long day, but may actually be a signal to the vehicles behind that the rickshaw is turning in the direction that the foot is out – so left out means a left turn and right foot out is a right turn. But this is not as confusing as the trip I once took on an auto rickshaw in a southern city where the notorious drivers are known to fleece people who don’t speak the local language. The driver pretended to not know the directions to my destination and kept asking me whether I had to turn right or left a junction or crossing, but the most hilarious part was when at one such crossing, I told him to turn right. He turned back and pointed both his hands in the opposite directions and asked “This right or that right, saar?”  

Wishing you all a very happy weekend and if you encounter the black mini elephants on the roads, do share any small vignettes about them with me.  I would love to hear your stories too..

Cheers…………

On a Chrysanthemum Carpet – Conclusion Version 3


The story thus far was set in Dhapewada by the Chandrabhaga River – where 2 star crossed lovers? were to meet – Kanta and Chandrakanta.  To read the story – click here ….. On a Chrysanthemum Carpet

And this how the story wound forward…..

In Bangalore

She was known as Ujwala and Prakash’s daughter.

He was known by the road named after his grandfather.

Her legacy was a tennis.    …. His legacy was an empire.

At 17 she started her career as an unknown face in a notorious industry.  ….   At 17 he was appearing for his O levels.

She introduced him to a fab and fitter lifestyle.  …… She upped his glam quotient. ….. He gave her the tag of a GF.

He is rumored to have picked the tab on her plush house.

She was devoted to him. He made no attempts to curb his flamboyant lifestyle.

She was born abroad and lived in India all her life. …….. He was born in India and lived abroad all his life.

She was demure grounded and simple. ….. About him everything was larger than life and opulent.

Yet they stuck together much to the wonder and  amazement of their detractors.

It had to be a past life connect they said. …… They both scoffed at such silly comments.

Until that noon at the Ouija Board by the infinity pool. …….. What was supposed to be a fun game took a turn for the serious

She was a head turner in a stunning  white Cavalli tankini. …….. The wine and breeze had made him heady.

He had to make her his ………………….today …………now  ……………….right here at this very moment.

As if on cue she turned her head towards him acknowledging his urgency. …… And then the crowd went quiet……………..

As the board spun the compelling tale of the couple by the chrysanthemum patch near the Chandrabhaga river.

Of unfulfilled desires………..and a crushed youth…………of dreams and passion and desires………

Being the largest orange farmer in Vidarbha………….there was no way Patangarao bhau would have agreed to Chandrakant’s wish.

It was just a whim………….a flight of fancy……………. he would soon get over her.

But he took his very life at the spot Kanta was buried alive, hanging himself  along with the oranges ripe for picking.

A farmer’s suicide…………is all that the papers reported.

On a Chrysanthemum Carpet – conclusion version 2


The story is about Kanta who goes to meet Chandrakant ….. to read more click here…. On a Chrysanthemum Carpet

And this is how the story moved forward…..

They were like chalk and cheese. She of the “prim and propah” British upbringing ……….., he the quintessence Bandra brat.

She, demure and poised …………………and he practically wore his heart on his sleeves.

She the queen bee of modeling……….. he the big bad boy of Bollywood Everyone smirked at their pairing – it was just a matter of time before they announced their breakup. But they proved their detractors wrong, who knew naught of their past life connect (well not even they themselves) – until that noon.

……. Beside the Chandrabhanga River ……… When her hear melted and tugged and swelled at his outpouring of love and longing and passion……. She gently tried to dissuade him…….. the futility of it all………… she would be a fling for him after all……….. And after all ………….. she was betrothed to…………….. Atmaram from the neighbouring Ralegaon Siddhi village. He was the brave sipahi posted atop the Arunachal border. She had to wait.  She was his hope and joy and happiness………….. and reason to return from the Indo China war.

……………And then it was too late; the die was cast – the decision made……for both of them…………… As anger began to flow through his veins and flood his brain, his heart and his very being.

“Then so shall it be…………….if you are not mine “……………………

“you will be nobody else’s…………….”  and held her in the final embrace.

They searched high and low for days, and I guess the spate had flown away the bodies;  their fate was sealed.

When at the premiere, he gave her a single long stemmed blood red chrysanthemum; She smiled ……. he knew after all………………

On a Chrysanthemum carpet – conclusion version 1


The story begins at Dhapewada in Vidarbha ……….. to read it click here… On a Chrysanthemum Carpet

and this is how it concludes ….

Kat gingerly sipped her chrysanthemum infused tea as her hand caressed the National Award Trophy……………..

She had finally got her revenge and it smelled sweet…………..vindicating her victory over her detractors………………and left her mark on time.

 

Tall lissome  with a killer smile, who would have thought of her as the same demure and innocent Kanta.

How could she ever forget that noon, heady with confidence of first love and the full burst of orange blossoms. It was almost magical!

As if Kamdev and Rati had descended onto their fields …. and the sight of the handsome Chandra, Oh! the one who filled her heart day and night.

She would have done anything for him. He only had to tell, such was his sway and the appeal of youth.

Draped in her best outfit she waited with bated breath all day for a word from him. “Come after 4”, said his note, signed Chand. He was her sun, her moon, her stars, even her planets. And now also her galaxy………..She was the Fiza (the ambience / atmosphere) to his Chand (moon) ……….. Veena (string instrument associated with Indian Goddess of learning) to his Murali (flute)………….Chammak challo to his Jhamure (dashing /dynamic to his street smartness)………….. kaneez to his aaka (slave to the master – like a genie to his master)……….oh what a delight!

But as usual, fate had a cruel smile on her lips as Kanta’s feet practically flew to the fields, a full 3 hrs earlier. Oh! who cares? I will wait for my beloved, she thought.

 Only to find

 Shanta! Oh! her darling sister! One who followed her all over as a child; she was the tai (elder sister in Marathi) to her natu, as shanta was fondly called.

When did this child woman grow up? Kanta was flummoxed. …… Numbed by the scene…………

Agreed! Shanta was the prettier of the two, golden skin with that thick black swinging plait, naughty cognac eyes, pillow lips, cleft chin and an innocence to die for. Infact she was the darling of the village, the apple of everyone’s eye. Clearly! There was a mistake!!

Unexplainable, but the scene unfurled as in super slow motion. ……………The two of them ………………

 

Kat’s reverie was rudely broken by the noises on the door of her trailer. Her body guards were trying to shoo away a persistent fan.

Clearly the Sheila number had swelled her fan base totally. Broken her free from ignominy.

“Aane do (let them in)” she said in her accented Hindi………………………