Crops to corpse: the farmer’s plight

No farmers, No food, No future’

enfoco-8-copy1PHOTO CREDIT: SHOUN HILL PHOTOGRAPHY

Most of us have read this catchphrase and have nodded an aye.

India was one nation whose economic backbone rested primarily on agriculture and till date remains the 2nd largest global agricultural output and food needs.

Unfortunately the theme of modern humanity is to always let something integral and vital have a painfully slow death, and wake up to fight the cause when our present day and future turn grimly bleak. And each of us have an equal hand in such.

Over the past couple of months, the Tamil Nadu farmers have been staging protests in the country’s capital, against the over 150 farmer suicides across the state and the tens and thousands of such sad ends across the country, spread over the years.

Their demands are for farmer pensions, farm loan waivers, drought relief packages, crop insurance and fair, remunerative prices for their produce. In an earnest attempt to get the government and the public’s attention to this issue, they have laid out their plight by re-staging the suicides, mock funerals and protesting half-clad with skulls around their necks.

Here is a promo for a compelling and moving documentary aiming to bring their cause and protest to greater light. Hopefully this weaves into our consciences, conversations and catapults a change in the sluggishly slow governance policies.

This issue strikes close to home for me, not just because the story unfolds close to home. My grandparents though adapted well into their city lives and adopted city jobs, proudly wore it on their sleeves and never quit on agriculture. I’ve seen this passion alive and bright in my parents and they made sure their children inherited this love for farming along with their chromosomes. Memories and mental images resurface to haunt me here miles away, leaving me helpless and with guilt for being just a silent spectator.

Sharing this documentary is my mere weak bit yet the first bit to do my small part. Let’s not dismiss their pain and story as mere theatrics/dramatized protests but stop, listen and acknowledge their suffering. This least minimal effort from each of us could add on to butterfly effect much needed in their redressal and rebuilding.
#SaveFarmers, #KolaiVilayumNilam #farmerstate # foodmatters #farming #agriculture #farms #heritage

 

I wouldn’t complain if this was my ear-worm!

Imagine a slow dance….a slow poised dance between two equally expressive and mesmerizing dancers. Both equally powerful; where one reveals suave, the other grace. They pace and own the floor as they lead and follow, swirl and sway, be led and lead. Not stealing the thunder from each other, rather hypnotically guiding our attention to the other than to themselves.

This ensemble is precisely what I think AR Rahman’s music and the legendary poet Bharathidasan’s lyrics have done together in the song “Avalum Nanum”.

It’s been quite a long while since I lost touch with Indian mainstream music, but mighty glad this one somehow made it to my ear. I’m one of those people, who peer down the Spotify playlist and think: ‘I know I handpicked you to be on my favourite list, but nah..not you right now’..and butterfly hop across the shuffled tracks until something seems right for the now. this song is an exception. I can pretend to be neurotic and listen to it overandoverandover anytime.

If any English speaking friends read along my banter : I’m raving about a recent contemporary composition to the borrowed lyrics of a 1950 classical ‘two-words’ Tamil poetry. The poet describes how his love and him belong together, comparing to vivid metaphors in everyday life (simple ‘non-cheesy’ elegance).
I wouldn’t do justice even if I could translate. However, there’s a flute piece in the song, give it a hear. It’s delightful and will make up for lost time reading this 🙂

#thavamum_arulum
#aniyum_panivum #avaiyum_thunivum #uzhaipum_thazhaipum #avalumnaanum #chanceailla    p.s: I’m assuming the original video will be a let-down..deciding not to watch when it comes out..never ever.

The reluctant growing-up

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 What’s there not to like about a relaxing Sunday afternoon at the park? but what makes it even more awesome is if you have a book to read and an ice-cold milkshake to sip. I did my usual hunt for the most generous tree and claimed its cool shade, ceremoniously laid out the music player & kindle on the wooden bench and snuggled in to read. There was not a human in near sight or sound, just birds and rustling leaves to keep me company. I flipped to my last-read page and in an instant was merrily lost in the sorcery of words.

Don’t know how long it must have been, but looked up and spotted a kid and her mom walk my way. But by now, the author of the book had me at his next word, so I involuntarily snuck back to my last sentence, abandoning people-watching. However, I had to stop reading when my peripheral vision caught the little girl sit down at the other end of the bench, and seconds later she was intently staring at me. To put her at ease, I let out one of my ‘friendly smiles’ and a hello, instead it clearly made her nervous and in a knee-jerk response turned her head the other way. A few more curious glances from her, in a few more seconds. I could tell her attention was on some specific thing on my face, just wasn’t sure what it was.

Her mother reached closer to the bench with a toddler in the pram. The li’l girl got up, walked up to her mom and said something softly in a low voice. The mom straightened up, looked my way and gave out a faint smile and nodded. Well, what was it? did I grow a milkshake moustache! or perhaps I got lipstick on my teeth again?

‘Hey’, I said robotically intending to go back to my book right after. ‘Hey there’ the mom replied and walked towards the bench continuing ‘my daughter said that you have curly hair like hers’. ‘Oh yes that’s right, we both have curly hair! I chimed in with the suspense resolved. ‘I love your curls’ I added. The little girl still shied away looking down. ‘I really think they are pretty’ I wasn’t giving up. The mom nudged her daughter and said: ‘See, she thinks your hair looks pretty’ and turning to me added, ‘She’s been recently complaining how she hates her curly hair. She wants “something neat”. Not sure if her friends gave her that idea’. My heart sank; here was a barely 7 or 8 year old, believing that her gorgeous curls were messy and something to be gotten-rid of.

I got up, walked closer, ‘you know what, my hair gets messy too at times.. just like yours.. but I don’t ever want to change my curly hair. It’s mine’. ‘So, you’re saying you like your curly hair? the mom tried to drive home the point to her daughter. ‘Not just like, I LOVE my curly hair’ I said with a straight look at the girl, playing my part. Breaking her long silence the li’l girl said ‘My Dad has curly hair’. ‘Mine too, I got it from my Dad’ I echoed grinning and reached out for a high-five. After an exchange of cordialities with the mother, it was time for them to leave. The mother wanted a picture of the two of us, the “girls with curls”. I was camera-shy, the kid was still awkward.. but we both rhymed ‘go curly hair’ as we posed to the mother’s click.

I couldn’t stop pondering what could have made a 7 year old feel bad about her own hair. I reassured myself that she would grow out of it in a few years’ time, that’s part of growing-up, isn’t it. Pretty soon, she’ll realize that her curls are both the best and the worst thing that happened to her and she’ll love every bit of it! When I was thinking of going back to my reading, my train of thought landed me right on a moment when I was posing for the picture, few minutes earlier. There I was trying to tell a kid she ought to love everything about her and yet I hadn’t gotten over my ‘I hate me in photos, I’m not photogenic’ crap. I had never stopped cribbing and accusing the camera of stealing my usual earthy sexiness 😉

I had some serious growing-up to do as well. It was high time I loved my forced, terse smiles in photos…they were after all mine. So now here’s a grown-up me ready to say a big yes to pictures! But, no no..this yes is not for selfies..not there yet! That ‘growing-up’ can wait for another decade.

To like or not to like! Marketing and women empowerment

But, though a compelling point it’s all but a marketing gimmick; zero dent in the real world, plus doesn’t it endorse a bigger stereotype that women need bling n jewelry. For crying out loud, my jewellery does not ever feature among the best of me I bring to work…

Though all valid, well..it’s the last thing on my mind right now 😉 My thought-floaters and this cynic in me could go for a short hike..  I’m simply loving the spoken word and Nandita Das’ voice over!

On Losing a Loved One

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The thing in life I fear the most and never entertain a thought is about losing a loved one, family/friend to death. I may have imagined how my own funeral service should be.. and even have a few ideas on who could be threatened to be the eulogy readers if there be none. But for all of us it is one thing to talk about death in an abstract sense and entirely another to personally experience the loss of our loved ones. Losing a chip from the centre of your world isn’t something we generally are prepared for. Your whole world crumbles.

They say, if you are fortunate you are given a warning, you get to say your good-byes, if not all that is left is excruciating shock and horror of losing one of those who matter most, too early and too sudden.

You wish you could scream your heart out and stop the whole world right there that very moment. Life without them doesn’t make any sense. You long to see them one more time, see them smile, hear them call your name, hold their hand, take them places you wanted them to see, lean on their shoulders, finish those half left conversations, be your silly self with them. You long and despair but there seems no answer. It hurts your bones to see all their near and dear be broken down. Disoriented you drudge along with broken dreams and plans, both yours and theirs. You choose to stay in this pit of despair with your unanswered questions and brokenness. Life seems cruel and unfair, and if you are someone who believes in God or any supreme power, you have your own doubts now. And in your doubt, with no reservations you vent your anger and frustration in all simple honesty.

Slowly, you stand up feeling numb in your heart but still pick yourself up. To live on without them seems more hurtful and a worse punishment than the day you had to say your final good-bye. Memories of them storm you by the second. You remember and recall their gentleness, the way they laugh at any lame joke, the many things they taught you, their wink, the way they spoke stressing syllables, they way they usually hold your face between their cupped hands and call you their blessing, their timely words of direction advice and ofcourse nagging!, the weird things they did for your good and kept it secret from you, those moments when their shameless bragging about you left you squirming in the seat, you remember their strong will, their faith, their generosity, stubbornness and every little quirk and eccentricity of their own. Strangely these memories don’t disarm you or leave you weaker, instead thinking back on the good days is the only way you get strength to move forward.

At such times, the love and warmth of people they knew touches you and your family. The incidents they recall, the stories they share or even their simple acts of being there make you feel even more connected to your lost one. Well…there are other moments when some meaningless, hollow consoling clichés like: ‘remember there are others who go through worse suffering.. or, they’ve gone to a better place so be happy… or, get back to normal soon’ and the likes of such, surprisingly doesn’t ruffle you up…your grief has taught you to sense their good intentions and helplessness. The fragility leaves you with an even more increased appreciation for life and relationships.

As life goes on, you don’t always get all your answers and by now it hits you pretty well that God doesn’t report to you. But you don’t regret asking Him questions. For you, to ask was a sacred thing, a sacred thing born out of the genuinity of your relationship with the higher power. Like any besties you’re hands are held even after an argument.

There comes days you catch yourself talking to them as you would, if they were alive here on earth, only sans phone or meeting up. There will be days when you are out shopping and a smile creeps in as you remember what they would say exactly on your choice of colour. You sometimes become the braggart they once were who can’t stop talking about them.

You slowly fill your pit with hope instead of despair. Yes, you don’t see them anymore and you haven’t stopped yearning for that familiar ‘hello’ or ‘sollu kannu’ at the other end. Nothing changes..you still hurt, yet something changes. A blaring truth stares at you amidst this harsh reality..that they still are your aunt/uncle/grandparent/friend/cousin/sibling/parent. They are who they are to us, and even if they passed on this hasn’t changed and never will. What they gave and made of us remains with us, we carry a piece of them in the corner of our lives. They still remain in our everyday conversations and we speak their name as always, with joy and if we tear-up there is no ghost of a shadow in it. they are very much alive, just not around anymore.

You know you have to not just survive but live double for them as well.

”Lost love is still love, Eddie. It takes a different form, that’s all. You can’t see their smile or bring them food or tousle their hair or move them around a dance floor. But when those sense weaken, another heightens. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. You nurture it. You hold it. You dance with it. Life has to end’ she said, ‘ Love doesn’t” – (Five people you meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom)

Father’s Day

To all the Dads, who in excited impatience paced the hospital floors to welcome their kid.
To all the Dads, who freaked out when they knew they were going to have one, but couldn’t wait to give the best of this world to his li’l one.
To all the Dads, who taught us all they knew: to change bulbs,fix that creaking door, throw a frisbee, make the perfect garden bund, solve that trigonometry mess.
To all the Dads, who swelled up with pride watching us, mostly flattered yet built and boosted our self esteem. More so to all the Dads who didn’t know how to say it in words, but could only muster a faint smile n nod.
Who always knew how to make our rebellious spirit retreat with a quiet stare or their stern one-liners :

  • ‘don’t slouch, Keep your shoulders straight’, 
  • ‘put them back right where you took it from’, 
  • make your life worthwhile for you and others’ , 
  • ‘Don’t you dare take that tone with your mother’.


To all the Dads, who though fiercely overprotective, slowly learnt to step back and let you make your own adventures.
To all those Dads, who were just naturally knew how to be the best fathers, equally for those who only learnt it on the job making mistakes.
To those Dads, who just couldn’t be or had no time to be a good father but try now, to those who turned out to be the world’s amazing grandfathers.

To all those Dads,Brothers,Uncles,Teachers, or any of the other blessed father-figures
Here’s, a thank you on this Father’s Day for your life and ours!

And now to close off, here’s a beautiful ode to fatherhood… And that’s a favourite of both Appa and me.