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Tuesday, May 17

Nilgiris - The Magicians II

The story goes back around 10 years. Some bright young students were having a Botany class and the topic of discussion was flowers. Flowers of all colors, red, blue, orange, violet, yellow, green... "Green?? Who said that ?", demanded the teacher. The culprit was asked about which green colored flower he had seen and was ordered to bring one to the class next day which he couldn't. The reason for this was, as the teacher told them, that there are no green colored flowers, none in the whole world !! No green roses? How unromantic !!


Fast forward 10 years and we find ourselves in Ooty. Well not exactly in Ooty but on the Coonoor - Kotagiri road, in a organic farm called "Beulah Farm" which, in Hebrew means, Blessed by God. It is run by a person called K. Eapen Jacob, who is 70 years of age and who insists that he is only the in-charge of the farm, owner being the God.

In the farm, Jacob grows various varieties of herbs, fruits and rare plants, lots of these are used in continental food. For the first time in my life, I saw 3 varieties of peppermint. There was a plant whose leaves were 50 times sweeter than sugar. And there were strawberries, peaches, avocado and marmalade oranges. And this brings us to the things for which he is famous world over, his Jams and his wines, Elixirs as he likes to call them.

He makes around 10 different kinds of jam and lots of varieties of wines (> 30). The speciality of these wines, apart from the fact that he makes one from every thing he grows on his farm, roses, rhubarb and even basil leaves, is that no yeast is used in their preparation. I am no expert on wines but he said that everywhere in the world, wines are prepared using yeast. Interestingly he says that he has no secret formula. He made his first wine from rose leaves by accident when he left a pile of them with sugar and water and forgot about it. Later when he discovered it by the nice smell it was oozing out and offered it to some of his friends, it turned out that he had produced some really fine rose wine !! Since than he has been making these wines. The hilarious part was when one company offered him lots of money for the formula but won't believe him when he told them that he has no formula !!

Jacob says that these wines are grace of God and you immediately think that such a simple person is made for God's grace. He gets a lot of visitors everyday and despite being in his 70, he is always so enthusiastic and open to show you around that it touches you. He will proudly show you all the various species of plants that he has around and some of the cute birds that he has on the farm. You always get to taste all the wines and jams whether you are buying or not. Even the prices are fixed at 100 /- per bottle which were fixed in early 90s and he has refused to increase it. He says what he is selling is the cheapest thing in the world, water and sugar. What should he charge for? Somebody should go and tell this to Pepsi and Coke please !!

And when you will come to know that out of all the various varieties of wines that he makes, he has tasted only one, you will also start calling him a magician. So much love and so much affection and you start wondering if he is for real? Where do you find a person in this camera crazy world who says that he doesn't like to be photographed? In his guest book, there are entries of people who are who is who of India and still he treated us, 5 unknown youngsters from Bangalore, with all the attention and love.

And as if all this was not enough, after 10 long years and thousands of kilometers away, it was in his garden that I found the proverbial green rose ! Yes, it exists !! The world is not that unromantic after all !!

For a second, I just turned to check if he had not just disappeared like those genies from the fairy tales. But he was right there, busy showing some other plants to the junta.

Some of the days, you just want to believe in all those fairy tales !!

Saturday, May 14

Nilgiris : The Magicians I

I got a little distracted from the Nilgiri posts for a while but no more. So here it goes.

The trip to Ooty was memorable not only for the nice sceneries, beautiful places, and lovely climate but also because we met some of the most unforgettable people. Having come back to the daily routine and struggles of life, they even seem like a little unreal. But they are very much the people of this world who have learned to keep the balance between the ambition and satisfaction. This post talks about one such person named Antony Joseph, creator of thread garden.

Are they real?

Thread Garden is situated in an exhibition form right in front of the Ooty lake. It consists of over 300 varieties of plants in it, plants with lovely flowers, of all shapes and sizes. Not impressive you say? Well consider that none of those plants are real (you wouldn't guess yourself) but have been manually created by 50 crafts men over 12 years using threads !! Over 60 million meters length of threads have been used in this creation and you have to see it to believe it. You can read more about it at the above site.

The Artist

We met the man behind this effort, Antony Joseph and his passion for his creation is obvious. He happily explained us the details and answered all our questions and doubts. He calls his technique "Four Dimensional Handwound Embroidery" and on hearing that, the first thing that popped up in the top minds for Silicone Valley of India was ," Haven't you patented it?". To which he replied in a confident voice that there was no need for it since nobody now a days had enough patience to do such a thing. Some might call it an artist's arrogance which is no doubt present in everyone of them and without which probably they won't be such good artists anyway, but what I saw in that statement was the confidence that comes when you do something not for any other purpose but for the love of it. And you know that nobody without a love would be able to make that kind of sacrifice.

Out of the world !!  Posted by Hello

And the garden is not only just a artistic expression, it is also scientifically accurate. Every plant species that you see there, has been modelled after carefully study of a original sample and every little detail has been faithfully reproduced. He rightly said that it is the work of both an artist and a scientist. The two of them are never really far apart. Are they?

The whole effort is supported by Madurai Coats which provides all the threads for the garden. It was a nice experience watching the garden and talking to Antony. It is such people who inspire you to keep that dream of yours intact and keep working towards it relentlessly.

Friday, May 13

थके थके से कदम !!

थके थके से कदम दिल का बोझ सहते हैं ,
ज्यों लद के फूल से दरख्त झुके रहते हैं ।

कभी उदास हो कर दिल भी हमसे कहता है,
बातें वही जो सब दुनिया के लोग कहते हैं ।

दीवाने दिल के हाथों इस तरह मजबूर हैं कुछ,
गुनाह कर नही सकते, सज़ायें सहते हैं ।

कभी छलके थे मेरी आंख से जो दो आंसू,
अब हर एक शख्स की आंखों से देखो बहते हैं ।

Wednesday, May 11

On the shades on sadness !

I bought a combo cassette of Kajal and "Do Badan" this weekend. Both the films have excellent songs and I was thinking of getting "Do Badan" for quite sometime now. To make things better, I got it paired with Kajal.

I hardly remember the story of either of the movies but the basic undertone of the songs in both the movies remain sad. Of course, Kajal has this favorite Bhajan of Mine "Tora Man Darpan Kahlaaye" but most of the songs, even the romantic ones are not without a touch of melancholy in them. I remember the picturization of "Chhoo lene do naazok hothon ko" in bits and pieces and I can see a Meena Kumari trying to keep away a drunk Rajkumar. Similarly all the songs of "Do Badan" are sad songs.

Now from the musical point of view, two movies are very similar. Music director for both the movies is same, Ravi, and Rafi and Asha have sung most of the songs. The only difference is in the lyricists and what a study in contrast they present. Shakeel Badayuni has written songs for "Do Badan" while Sahir has penned down those beauties for Kajal. It is interesting to see how different they stand inspite of the fact that both are writing sad songs, songs that talk about lost love, broken heart, distraught life and so on.

Shkeel is not happy with his pain. He doesn't enjoy it. There is an anguish in him, an anxiety which forces him to complain, to try to over come it. You can really feel for him, you can identify with his struggle. He is broken, he is defeated and he is helpless. And he blames the world for all these things. And you feel sorry for him, for yourself because you know how unjust this world is.

Sahir, on the other hand is same but different. He is also in a lot of pain. He has also been served a hard deal by fate but he enjoys it. He relishes in his pain in his own way. We can sit and admire him but we cannot be sad with him. His sadness is his alone. He doesn't blame the world. He is not concerned with it. His emotions, his energies are all concentrated on his love and himself. At the most, he just wants the world to leave him alone. We get a feeling of something very deep, something that is quite alien to us. He will also make us cry but not because we sympathies with him but because we feel presence of a pain so deep that it haunts us. It is not connected to him or to anybody. It stands on its own.

To me, both of them give immense satisfaction of having listened to some wonderful poetry. And the lovely music and excellent gayaki just make it over the top. It is my belief that every good poetry deserves to be put to music. That is when it realizes its true potential and blossoms in all its colors. You have to listen to Neeraj reciting his geets once to realize what I am saying !!

Thursday, May 5

Do nightmares qualify for dreams?

[With due apologies to Philip K. Dick]

For some days now, every morning I find a bunch of emails in my inbox from some friends who are graduating from IIT this year and the mails bring back so many memories, happy and sad !!

It was around 2 years back when I was also busy writing such mails to all the people I knew. The world still seemed very small and every fellow IITian a close friend. It was beyond imagination that I wouldn't keep in touch with that guy living at the end of my wing whom I hardly had any interaction with. I wanted to get every address, every phone number, every email id. Yahoo groups were formed, mailing lists were created and with all the fan fare we marched out to the real world. And yes ! I also got all those "Friends' " episodes, all those songs, all those movies. How could I ever live without them?

Today after 2 years, I have never talked to or mailed to R, my roommate for 3 years. I have little idea how M is doing,my next door neighbour for 2 years and the mails to our dept yahoo group draw a blank. Keeping in touch with guys has reduced to occasional calls in 1 or 2 months and did I mention that I never got a chance to see all those movies I brought along?

No! the life has not been bad. I have moved on, have met new people, people who can speak a full sentence without bringing in your blood relatives in between, have been living in the lovely city of gardens and have been working in a job that gives me satisfaction. It's just that at times when I look back at myself collecting all those addresses and writing all those CDs, I laugh at my naivete. So many of the guys left and I couldn't even say a good bye because I was busy, taking away with them so many memories that have even slipped my mind now. Perhaps in trying to get more, I missed out on whatever was on offer. Wouldn't that one parting hug have been better than all the useless information I was busy collecting? Only if I would have known at that time !!

And today when the details have begin to smoother out, the faces have started to blur and names a little forgotten, those 4 years seem like a dream. Yes ! it was a dream and it still is. A dream that constantly reminds us that it is possible to do better, that dreamlands do exist !!

I can say this today looking back at all those years. And I can see how all those coming out in to the real world will soon realize that what they left behind was a dreamland. I don't know how it must feel like to suddenly walk out of a dream. It was a little different for me. I stayed back at IIT for one more year after graduating. Things happened, lots of them, some good, some bad and when I left IIT, I really wanted to go from that place. Somewhere in that one year, the dream had turned into a nightmare.

I can't tell you why I feel this way now. I probably don't have any coherent answer. But that one year made me understand why no dreams are ever dreamed in full and why we always wake up at the most interesting moments. Dreams are not meant to have logical endings, they are not supposed to end because what ends, no longer remains a dream.

But still, even nightmares qualify for dreams. Don't they?

Naach : The Cosmic Angle

For long I have had this peculiar relationship with dance. Peculiar? Well, Let me explain.

I like to read and I also like to write. I like to listen to music and so I also want to learn how to play an instrument. I enjoy good meaningful Cinema and so I have a strong desire to pick up a camera someday. With dance this is different. I love to dance but I hardly feel enthusiastic about watching a dance performance. I never went to any live dance performances even in IIT whereas I always went to all the musical (vocal or instrumental) once. I wonder why?

May be the reason can be as banal as having not been exposed much to this particular art form. But I think there is more to it. The fact of the matter is that whenever I look at somebody dancing, I want to go up and join and dance my heart out. It is not so when reading a book. Though I may get inspired but I do not want to go and start writing. I also do not feel that instant need to go grab a camera while watching a movie. They are all different. There is nothing like dance which invites you to come and join right in without any wait or delay. Singing can come close where often one feels inclined to start humming and singing with the singer (much to the chagrin of fellow humans).

I have had some vague thoughts like this for sometime but it was some days back that they got the nucleus to crystallize on. 29th of last month was World Dance Day. It was started by UNESCO in 198 . The aim was to expose more and more people to this wonderful form of expression. I cannot say that they have been very successful because a generally well aware and interested middle class young boy, that would be me, lived 23 years of his life without coming to know of it. Anyway, they do get credit for initiative at least.

So I was talking about the nucleus. On 29th of April, I read this wonderful article in TOI's (Yes, TOI i.e. Times of India. They still manage to get in some articles worth reading in that tabloid. ) The Speaking Tree. Here is the first paragraph from that article:

Why God Chose to be A Cosmic Dancer
[ FRIDAY, APRIL 29, 2005 12:59:20 AM ]

When I gave up a promising career as a painter for pursuing classical dance, I was often asked which of the two was more satisfying - painting or dancing. My views on this are best expressed in Osho's words. Osho reflected on why Shiva as Nataraj was the Cosmic Dancer. Why wasn't he a painter, poet or sculptor? When a painter finishes his painting, the painting assumes its own existence. The painter becomes separate from his painting; it has a life of its own. Similarly, the poet is separate from his poetry, the potter from his pottery, the writer from his novel and so on. But with dance, the dancer and the dance are one; they can never be separated. That's why God is a dancer. He dances in his own creation. He is present in the leaves, flowers, rivers, animals and every human being. His dance is all over. He has not created the world, he is the world. The world is God's dance, just like a dancer's body is the canvas into which the dancer pours the colours of her feelings and impressions.

You can read the whole article here.

To me the article makes a lot of sense. And it's such a beautiful thought. Isn't this the reason why dancing is such an expressive way of feeling together? No other activity will makes you feel so close. It's like when your limbs move in unison, when the hands make those perfect sweeping gestures, when the legs decide to follow the beats together, that your hearts also beat in the same rhythm and your souls become one and it doesn't matter what the music is, what the style is.

And when we are really ready, we don't need any music, any beats. We just close our eyes and dance away, to beauty, to love and to life !!