Thursday, September 29, 2022

Ponniyin Selvan (It's not about the Film) !

Know what's the trend in South Indian social media right now? It's Ponniyin Selvan. In short, PS-1. 

When I first saw the PS-1 commercial on social media, I immediately thought of anything similar to India's PSLV (The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle). 

Ponniyin Selvan is a well-known classic historical novel in Tamil authored by Kalki that requires no introduction if you are from Tamil Nadu, India's southernmost state. It is a timeless novel that was serialized for three and a half years before being published in five volumes in 1955; now, after many attempts, the book has been adapted into a film by acclaimed filmmaker Manirathnam! 

It is impossible to shrink a five-series novel (a storyline that lasts 8 months) into a three-hour film, so the production team opted to divide the movie into two parts, with PS-1 being the first.   

I have never read such an inspiring and suspenseful historical novel. As captivating fiction, the book tells the story of the greatest king of Tamil Nadu, Raja Raja Chozan, also known as Ponniyin Selvan, and Aruilmozi Varman. I loved reading this book, or more precisely, I enjoyed traveling through it, and it takes us to numerous locations within the Chola kingdom a thousand years ago. 

I had wanted to read this book for a long time. However, I made it in 2022, and I picked the English translation of this mammoth work over the original in Tamil, which I am convinced is more emotional. I  like to read Ponniyin Selvan in Tamil to get that experience again. I've been fascinated by this story for a few months and have become familiar with the characters and wish it could go on forever since I was eager to know what happened next; the novel never lags because the scene varies. 

Even though the book is about Ponniyin Selvan (whose regime the Chozha Empire reached lands beyond the high seas), my favorite character is Vandhiya Devan, the true protagonist who carries the story on his shoulders. Mostly, it was through him we glimpse the beauty of the great Chozha country, and his role in missions was adventurous and exhilarating, adding to the fantastic visions I had throughout the subject. The narration and facts of the Chozha Empire and its clan are fascinating to read and convey the magnificence of the Chozha dynasty. However, pride comes from knocking down a country for revenge, and fighting against other kingdoms only highlights an empire's valor unless the country is in the hold of grief or oppressive rule. 

I am more engaged in this book than in any other book I have read so far, and I was obliged to reread a lot of phrases, paragraphs,  chapters, or scenarios to experience the feel or feel of the content. When I was in the latter half of the series, news about PS 1 started circulating in the media; I strictly avoided everything relevant to the film from entering my consciousness (at least until I finished reading the book) to avoid distractions from the air-drawn imagination I drew. 

Some of the places I visited in Chozha country, such as Thanjavur (the capital of Chozhas at the time of the story), Kumbakonam, Nagapattinam, and Kodikkarai, influenced my imagination. I fantasize about erasing all forms of development and replacing them with wilderness and greenery dotted with small towns and villages and contrasting them with palaces. Every time the story centers on Thanjavur, the fortification and the gateways to the Big Temple and the moat and the river that runs beside it make a magnificent mixture of fort and palaces.

The version (of Ponniyin Selvan) I read was rendered in English by Varalotti Rengasamy; I chose him because when I looked for the book, only he had the entire series of five, so I could read the novel without stopping. I truly enjoy the author Kalki's simple and direct narrative and approach to constructing a plot about the bravest and most powerful kingdom ever known in Tamil Nadu. And crowning it all is the sacrifices of Ponniyin Selvan, according to the author, are the essential component of the story that inspired him to write this magnum work. 

I'm so invested in the book that I believe I could visualize and recall every aspect of it if I decided to sit back and draw scenes without reading it, which is the novel's strength. Please read the book if you haven't already. If you don't want to read, you can watch the upcoming film (releases on Sep 30) instead. But, whether you watch the movie or not, I wish everyone read Ponniyin Selvan. 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Cloudy Eyes

My sky

I look into his eyes 

The cloudy eyes say something 

A query that emits fire in words

Yet an intensity hides behind those eyes.

It's a question of concern or contempt 

I tempt, but I keep my emotions in check.

In a pacified tone, I explained 

What he expects is impossible  

But time will implement everything.

Linking this post with Skywatch Friday

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Signs2: Nurse

The sign of a nurse was captured in front of a medical shop (in a village called Markayankottai in the Theni district of Tamil Nadu) and the sign also indicates the same in a metal cut out in the shape of a standing nurse. 

When I was watching the Tamil film Viruman on Prime Video recently, I saw the same nurse sign in one of the scenes when the villain rests his arm on the metal sign while observing the area. I was so excited to see the sign I paused it and scrolled through the photos on my phone to make sure I wasn't mistaken. Yes, it was the same, and I almost forgot it until I saw the movie.

Monday, September 19, 2022

RGB Monday

Kavin, my nephew, is having fun with his colorful toys!

I purchased this beach toy set since he is fascinated by the winnow, mug, and other home-cleaning items. Kavin is already 11 months old and will celebrate his first birthday on October 26th. We are excited to hold the event in some venue close to home that is also handy for me to attend. 

I bought a xylophone for my other nephew, Jeswanth, a year ago. But it serves the purpose only now; Kavin understands how the instrument works and knocks the metal bars with the sticks, but he still puts the wood stick (shaped like a Lolipop) in his mouth (as shown in the image) and hits the note with another. He occasionally knocks with both sticks. He's intelligent and patiently listens and watches things before going ahead. I'm also working on a birthday video for him, using photos I've shot so far and doing my best to make it look good. 

Friday, September 16, 2022

Skywatch from the Balcony

Here are some sky-watching shots on September 5th and 7th from outside the balcony. The sky resembled children's artwork, with puffy clouds patching the sky and woven together in blue lace. At the same time, the sun was sinking, illuminating the cotton clouds, causing them to gleam white, while the western part of the sky resembled a soiled shirt washed in an unknown detergent rather than the one represented by the advertisement. 

The contrail above is from an aircraft that should have just passed, but it appears I was a little late to come out to look at the sky. Consequently, the contrail began to wear out.

Linking this post with Skywatch Friday

Friday, September 09, 2022

Stormwater Drain Reconstruction and Mosquito Menace!

Stormwater drain reconstruction was the worst project the Greater Chennai Corporation had ever carried on. The idiots who accepted contracts are inexperienced, and the people they hired are from north India. They were nothing more than random laborers; they had no concept of their worth, and executing others was also a flaw. Their labor has degraded the charm of our street, and the stormwater drain does not form a clean line, instead winding up and down like ghats. 

They started on June 3rd and have completed 80% of the project, which isn't very pleasant because it opens the door to mosquitoes. The most significant impact of this initiative was that it transformed the city into a mosquito breeding ground! We never had a mosquito problem in the summer. The time we slept with open windows for fresh air at night was quite spoiled, and every day has become a nightmare, as we only get to sleep late at night after killing countless mosquitoes. 

The breaking down of sewage pipes that cross stormwater drains to reach the main line that runs under the middle of the road was the cause of the mosquito problem. Unless we insist, when they excavate or build the concrete walls, they break the pipe and go, leaving the sewage water to do their job, and the sewage water fills the stormwater drain and breeds mosquitoes. It is not sure that they will repair the sewage line, and it may continue to flow into the stormwater drain that may not get into their concern, and there won't be an end to mosquitoes. 

Thinking along these lines, I purchased a mosquito-killing machine or lamp, as described, but the mosquitoes didn't seem to care and appeared to want just flesh and blood! The device emits ultraviolet light, which seems to lure mosquitos, and when they get close to the light, the powerful fan within sucks the mosquitos to kill with its blades or at the least traps them till they die. I wasn't impressed with the machine, but I kept it running at night to see how much it could hold to keep us asleep. 

I really wish the stormwater drain contractors would work with sense and responsibility because it is a public service, and they paid with people's tax money. Local authorities must thoroughly inspect them and severely punish them for their mistakes. I feel sorry for the Corporation commissioner, G Singh,  an honest man, to be caught between these corrupted things—a political affair—of selecting contractors who do not deserve professionalism. The local administration's chief is someone the city has never seen before, and she has no idea what she's doing rather than being a show doll!  

Tuesday, September 06, 2022

துடிக்கும் இதயம் / A beating heart

துடிக்கும் நெஞ்சு,  துயர் துடைக்க யாரும் இன்றி;

சில சமயம், இறுக்கத்தில், இலகுவாக அணைக்க யாரும் இன்றி; 

இரவெல்லாம் வெறுமையை நோக்கி, விழிபிதிங்கி நிற்க 

நம்பிக்கை எனும் கயிறு தளந்துகொண்டே செல்ல 

எவற்றை சாட, எவற்றை நாட என மனம் தடுமாற  

விதியே என மௌனமாய் செல்கிறேன் . 

கண்ணீர் விட்டு அழ கூட த்ராணியாற்று 

என் துயர் துடைக்க மற்றவர் துயர் அடைய விருப்பம்மின்றி

சிதைந்து கொண்டிக்குகிறது மனது, தசைசிதைவோடு! 

A throbbing chest, with no one to wipe away the sorrow;

Sometimes tightens, with no one to embrace lightheartedly;

To stay awake all night  in search of emptiness

The rope of faith gets unfasten; 

The mind is confused as to what to curse and what to seek

I go silently as it is my destiny.

Don't even dare to cry; 

I don't want others to suffer to wipe away my pain

Mind degenerates along with muscular dystrophy!

Thursday, September 01, 2022

Ganesh Chaturthi 2022

Ganesh Chaturthi, a renowned Indian festival, was celebrated yesterday by Hindus all around the world. The festival is celebrated based on Lord Ganesha's birth anniversary. Similar to that of Lord Krishna's that fell two weeks ago, parents conducted the event at home. 

Two days before the festival, our street had tube lights on one side, and a colorful sequence of Ganesha portraits was installed opposite our home, facing the backstreet, and a large one on the street corner, which I couldn't see from the balcony. So I have the one above, opposite us, and it was all arranged by the backstreet men. 

The Ganesh temple is on the backstreet, and every year the guys over there collect money from the residents to run the festival, which they have been doing for the past two weeks; the decorations, special prayer arrangements, and night procession were all done with that money. What they have spent is a partial amount, with the remainder going into their pockets, as I am sure this happens with most of the temples where the local boys administer the festival. 

My father bought a medium-sized clay idol of Ganesha, from temporary roadside stalls, for worship, and I find the clay idol to be beautiful in shape with drawn eyes (and other elements) rather than a standard red-black pod jutting out of the face and festooned with crown flowers adorning Ganesh's neck. Mom then embellished the idol with jewels and other flowers and performed puja while preparing meals and other ingredients. 

After the worship, the clay idol was immersed in a pail of water to dissolve in the water later that evening. Typically, clay idols will be dissolved in adjacent water bodies; we used to do the same around 13 years ago, or until we adapted the idea of dissolving the clay idol in a bucket of water and using the muddy water for gardening. Some have recently proposed the novel notion of creating idols with a seed inside and then burying the idol to help grow trees. 

After a long wait, the Ganesh procession from the backstreet temple arrived at our house at 11 p.m., after going around all the streets in our neighborhood. Because we are at one end of the road, the procession too terminates there and returns to the temple. I was in bed by the time the promenade arrived at our house, so dad took a few photos from the balcony while mum went down to worship the Ganesha in the procession. And the day ends.