Sunday, May 24, 2015

In Seven Minutes

What with flights crashing and disappearing, the Germanwings flight that crashed into the mountains because of one man's mental sickness is quite difficult to fathom... 
The transcript of the final moments of the ill-fated Germanwings flight that crashed into the French Alps on March 24th, 2015, gives the chilling account of what occurred in the plane as it went down.

10 am The airplane takes off.

10:30  The captain has gone to the bathroom and the co-pilot Lubitz locks the armoured door with the “Lock” button:  it is no longer possible to open the door from the outside.

10:33 The plane drops 3000 feet per minute. Air traffic controllers detect this and try to contact the plane several times but Lubitz does not respond. The captain’s voice can be heard as he tries to open the door: “It’s me!” The captain grabs an oxygen tank or fire extinguisher in order to break down the door. No response from Lubitz.  The captain yells: “For the love of God, open this door!”

10:35 The captain asks for the crowbar hidden in the back of the plane. Louder bangs can be heard hitting the door, followed by metallic sounds. The captain tries to bend the door with the crowbar. The captain yells: “Open this f… door!”

10:38 Despite the deafening noises, Lubitz’s breathing can clearly be heard through an oxygen mask he put on.  He is breathing normally.

10:40 A violent sound can be heard outside.  At the same time, screaming is heard inside the aircraft. The Airbus hits the mountain with its right wing. No other sound, save for the alarms and the screaming passengers.

10:40 The airplane hits the mountain range at 5000 feet at 800 km/h.

We (me and a few cousins on a whatsapp group) were discussing how the passengers would have felt during their final seven minutes. One minute they are looking down marvelling at the majestic snow clad alps, the next they are hurtling towards it at a frightening velocity. The conversation steered towards how we would react in a similar situation. One of the cousins said she would have probably removed her rosary which she wears round her neck and clutching it tight, she would have thought, ‘help me come to You, Lord.’ I mean what else would you do in a similar situation, when your gut tells you that this is it, this is the end. The others in the group said they would have prayed to be saved. They would still hold on to hope, cause the most common human emotion is to hope for the best in the midst of the worst. What do you think… what would you do in a similar situation?

Like the thief on the cross who gained last minute access to His kingdom, I hope that the people on this flight and the flights that crashed/disappeared last year are all safe and happy in His eternal care.

P.S: In case you are wondering, the co-pilot apparently suffered from depression and he was known to have suicidal tendencies and it is believed that he deliberately crashed the plane into the mountains killing all the 150 people aboard.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Second edition of Whatsapp quotes...

Suddenly I seem to be a part of so many whatsapp groups, first the college group was formed and we're just getting to know each other after thirteen years. Then a school group was created and the faces of school friends with their double plaited folded up braids came rushing in (to my mind's eye), today I got added to my church group. Needless to say there's been an influx of information... Anyway, this is the second edition of whatsapp quotes, that I keep saving on my phone to note down here. Here's a link to first edition of whatsapp quotes ... in case you would like to read it.

  • Cousin P: It's the traditional disrespect and disdain shown for testers by developers. (Two nerd cousins who are into coding were discussing a product and one cousin didn't like what one of the testers in his company was doing.)
  • Cousin P: I'd rather be in 12 months of cold weather than slow roasting my ass in 120F heat. (While discussing the heat in India and the frigid winter in his place in US)
  • Cousin P: Girls who drive pickup trucks are cool. (Cousin P gives his opinion on girls in cars)
  • Cousin A: My Facebook stream is a cesspool of sappiness. (while discussing some of the stuff people post on facebook)
  • Cousin P: I generally do things that are spectacular. (Cousin P likes to polish his own halo regularly)
  • Cousin P: Speaking of hell, where is Karen?
    Cousin C:Trying to fend off Lucifer
    Cousin P: It should be other way around, Lucifer trying to fend her off
    (While trying to figure out why I wasn't replying)
  •  Cousin P: Red john was a better person.
    (another snide remark aimed at me)
  • Cousin A: But can they refund broken dreams.
    (Cousin A's flight was cancelled due to the weather and he received an email from the company, telling him that his ticket money would be refunded...)
  • Cousin P: Would you have liked Sherlock if it was played by vijaykanth.
    Cousin A: Molly would have jumped off the building if vijayakanth had kissed her.
    (Discussing why Sherlock the TV show is pretty awesome...)
  • Cousin A: But it's obviously lost on you digital heathens.
    (Cousin A was raving away about some gadget... but we were hardly bothered)
  • Shilpa: Anyway, am not gettin anything checked unless I pass out.
    (A crazy friend's. crazy policy about not going to the hospital...)
  • Karen: What if another PMS meltdown occurs by some innocuous stuff that is playfully uttered? (Addressing a disagreement in the group...)
  • Cousin P: Maybe the gentle caressing of his neck by her sylph-like fingers has put him into a state of pleasurable coma. (while discussing why Cousin A was not replying... probably because he was getting his sore neck massaged)
  • Jude: Where were you Megs
    Megs: I was out
    Jude: As in unconscious?
    Megs: I was out, Jude. Not out cold.
    (Questioning a cousin who likes to party...)
  • Cousin P: I like girls whose thighs don't touch each other on the inside. It's a sign of good fitness levels usually. (Cousin P who is into fitness, now expects the same from everybody else...)
  • Cousin P: Megha leaves home at 11 pm and comes back at 5 am. All the criminals go into hiding at that point.(while discussing the cousin who likes to party and the reputation of India as not being safe for women)
  • Cousin A: When they view their happiness and their partners happiness over the nebulous religious sanctity of marriage. (while discussing why people cheat...)
  • Cousin A: Sinning is not Transitive.
    (This was when Cousin P was texting while in church, and I told him to switch off his phone cause I felt that by chatting with him we both were probably sinning...)
  • Cousin A: Why is there quinoa on the display pic, Food fit for the khaleesi...
    (While discussing Cousin P's preference for quinoa and how he made it the group display picture. Khaleesi is a reference to Game of Thrones.)
  • Shil: I encourage wild nonsense.
  • Manoj: I'm bringing tequila.
    Me: How can you bring him in the train?
    (My dog is named Tequila, and for a minute I was wondering how he would bring Tequila in the train with him to Chennai. That's when I realised he was referring to the real drink, tequila.)
  • Cousin P and C: Money is trivial. When you have tonnes of it.
    (A cousin stating the obvious... and another cousin reminding him about it)
  • Karen: Your faith is what religion is all about... I am not talking about organised religion, cause we all know that sucks. (while discussing religion...)
  • Cousin P: I think India is the only place that has this craze for marble flooring inside the house. I think my foot will burn if it's anything other than hardwood or carpet. (Throwing some US attitude around...)
  • Cousin P: Sadly it's basic human nature. We all like to blame others and hold people against something.
    Me: Mass murderers don't have Human nature...
    Cousin C: They are politicians. Their past will always matter.
    (while discussing the mass murderers who go on to win elections)
  • Cousin C: The church of intoxication.
    (While asking Cousin C what her plans were for Sunday...)
  • Nameeta: These are my parents, my brothers and that is my parents mistake. (When I asked my sister how she would introduce us to some relatives... by 'that' she means me)
  • Cousin A, quoting Lord Alfred Tennyson: 
    Though much is taken, much abides; and though
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
    One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
  • Cousin A, quoting John Milton: How soon hath time, the subtle thief of youth stolen your year.
  • Cousin P: Cristiano is there, 15 mins from your house
    Cousin A: Yeah, NJ is glowing with the warmth of his presence
    (Cousin P, obsessed with Cristiano Ronaldo constantly gives us updates about him...)
  • Michelle: Na theriyama Hindu aiite. (My six year old niece, who thought that she became a Hindu because she put sandalwood paste on her forehead while she was hanging out with her friend)
  • Cousin C: Porn should be on your phone, not outside. (Cousin P wanted a ridiculous phone cover with a scantily clad woman on it...)
  • Cousin P: Paavakai sucks. No wonder God created it in the shape of Satan's dick. (Discussing bitter gourd...)
  • Karen: Everybody hopes for the same end okay... that's our religion.
    (You may or may not believe in God, but when the end is near everybody thinks/prays to Him. Another discussion on religion... )
  • Cousin A: A trip is measured by the quality and quantity of selfies taken.
    (Sarcastic observation while seeing pictures posted on facebook...)
  • Cousin P: Our family is like cauliflower curry.
    (Everybody clustered together.... floating in the curry of life)
  • Cousin P: The vagaries of time has taken its toll on her once irreproachable unimpeachable virtuous heart. (discussing why I wasn't getting offended by something...)
  • Cousin P: They feel it's sacred, so don't eat it. But then we drink and eat the blood and flesh of our own God. (Discussing the beef ban...)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How will it end?

Well, today marks one year since more than 200 girls in Nigeria were kidnapped in 2014 and so far, they haven't been rescued. I have thought about these girls quite often over the past year, wondering about their plight. I hoped that they would be rescued soon, the girls must have felt the same... that people would come for them. It's been a year now and I wonder what they are thinking... 

How will it end? 

This is something I jotted down after reading headline after headline of all the horrors perpetuated in the name of religion. I sometimes think this world is way too crazy to make any sense of it. When people take their religious beliefs too seriously, the very purpose of religion gets defeated. Isn't religion supposed to enlighten us and set us free, why do people then make the fatal mistake of letting it enslave them and turn them into raving fanatics? Religion is supposed to propagate hope, peace, forgiveness, brotherhood, love and joy. Any religion that does not strive to uphold these basic human qualities cannot be good. The power of our religion should reflect in our thoughts, words and deeds. Faith should be strong enough to move mountains, not dumb enough to erect barriers and dig graves. Loads of ideas and theories are bound to come tumbling out of the myriad races that populate this planet; one cannot go around waging wars and denouncing every single ideology. The spine chilling barbarity with which persecutions are carried out makes one wonder whether some portal to the depths of hell suddenly opened up. In April 2014, more than 200 school girls were kidnapped by the Boko Haram (an Islamist terrorist organisation which has recently pledged allegiance to the ISIS, another terrorist organization that is wreaking untold havoc in Iraq), and so far they haven’t been rescued. It’s going to be a year and they are still held captive, it’s a difficult fact to accept. It’s even more disturbing to know that the rest of the world looks on helplessly… 

I don’t know how this is going to end… but I’ll stop for now with this quote:
Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people. Before you tell me how much you love your God, show me how much you love all his children. Before you preach to me of your passion for your faith, teach me about it through compassion for your neighbours. In the end, I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as in how you choose to live and give. - Cory Booker

Note: Wrote this for my church magazine... 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

This is what happens when you send cards to poets...

If you've been following my blog, you probably know about Tyler Knott Gregson, a poet whose poems tend to draw you in. I've written about Knott a couple of times here, and my sister even met the guy.  
So it was quite a pleasant surprise when I came across this on Tyler's instagram feed... I was like, wow! I had sent him a card for Christmas, and this is how I know he received it. Even the envelope has been put to good use by this typewriter poet. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

PK review in the magazine...

Been a while since I visited this place, I keep making notes (on my phone) of all the things I have to write about here, but I never get around to it. Anyway, here's the PK review I wrote for the church magazine... 
Having recently seen this movie, I thought I’d write about it and let you know why it’s causing a furore among the religious fanatics. The movie tells the story of an alien, portrayed by Amir Khan, who lands on earth sans clothes (the prudes in society took offence to this and launched campaigns to clothe his cardboard cut-outs), but with a glowing pendant around his neck. Apparently this pendant functions as a remote control to his spaceship, and it gets stolen by the first human he comes across. The rest of movie depicts his search for this pendant which ultimately details his search for God, because the answer he often gets when he starts his search is; only God can help you, only God knows where it is. The alien has no idea who God is, so he starts asking around and going to all these places of worship and confusing one religion with another. This leads to many comedic situations like the alien breaking a coconut in the church and after realising that a priest in church was lifting the chalice containing wine, he thinks that God prefers wine over coconut water. So he buys bottles of wine and starts walking to a mosque, cause someone told him God resides there too. And that’s how the name PK comes into play; when he does all these funny things, people ask him whether he is drunk: Peekay ho, kya? (did you drink?). And the alien begins to think his name is PK. So anyway, there is a self-proclaimed swami in this movie who is more corrupt than holy, and he gets hold of this pendant and tells his ardent followers that he received it from God in the Himalayas and he asks them for funds to build a temple. This no doubt, must have stuck a nerve with the saffron brigade who wanted PK banned, but thank God sense prevailed when the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the movie, saying that people who don’t like it shouldn’t watch the movie. 

PK is a satirical take on godmen and the blind belief they instill in the people. It is also a satire on the state of this country, as the alien PK says in the concluding part: It is okay to defecate, urinate, spit, shout and fight in public… but kissing, hugging and other displays of affection are not allowed here. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it… where we went wrong. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Il Postino : The Postman

I saw this movie recently while travelling to Chennai in the train and before I knew it I was transported to a sleepy little Italian village on the coast where beauty abounds in every frame. Beauty herself forms a major character, she is everywhere you care to look and that's what the protagonist Mario (Massimo Troisi) discovers after he interacts with a well known poet in exile, Pablo Neruda. The Cuban poet, Pablo Neruda (portrayed by Phillippe Noiret), arrives in a small island in Italy after being exiled for his communist beliefs. And Mario, a reluctant fisherman, longs for another job and when the necessity of a postman to deliver mail to the most famous person on the island arises, Mario lands this job. He hesitantly starts befriending Pablo and reading his poems, this awakens his soul to the beauty of being, of observing, of existing. As I sat there on the upper berth watching this movie while everybody was fast asleep, I was moved by this fisherman who found magic in metaphors. The words he reads and the way he begins to grasp the nuances of poetry, in both the written word and the living poetry found in the sound of gently lapping waves, the breeze as it hits the cliffs and in everybody around him... it envelops you too. You are struck by the beauty of a chugging train sneaking away into the night with everybody fast asleep and you wide awake, marveling at the power of words and discovering new ways to love them. 

Most of the movies these days focus on love (even this movie starts out like this), most of the songs are about love... this is understandable; being in love is a really heady feeling, you tend to be consumed by it. But love like this, about the evocative power of words is more revolutionary. It seeps into your consciousness making you evolve as a person, and this is exactly what happens to Mario. Massimo Troisi was so involved with this movie that he postponed heart surgery to complete it and suffered a fatal heart attack a day after the movie was completed. But he has immortalized himself as the simple postman who shares a beautiful friendship with a famous poet who awakens in him a higher level of consciousness. 

So if you are in the mood for a heartwarming story about friendship, love of words, poetry and nature then be sure to check this 1994 Italian movie... 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Of Paddy fields and Daddy fields...

I've written lots about my hometown, Nagercoil, in this blog... about how every trip home is like being embraced in earth's bountiful bosom. So you can imagine my surprise when for the very first time in my life, I felt bereft and speechless at her decrepit state. The past few weeks were exactly like the earth in Interstellar, a dust bowl, that's the only way to describe Nagercoil now. All her roads and mudukku's have been dug up, vehicles ply over these pathetic roads leaving a trail of dust in the air. There is a fine coating of the characteristic red mud on every visible surface... and amidst all the dancing and swirling red dust, people go about their daily lives, unfazed and undeterred, patiently waiting for their little town to go back to it's former glory of quaint roads and angel rays that flit and float through tree branches, playing shadows with the ground below. I was pretty much covered up like a terrorist there, a duppata covering my entire face except my eyes... my family refused to walk with me sometimes. That was my dust bowl existence, it kinda made coming back to the city less painful... 

Despite all this, my time there was pretty exciting... Sajeeve, a cousin, gave me the idea of lighting candles arranged in the roman numeral way of depicting 2015. Nam and another cousin, helped me out with this...
How pretty they look flickering away, welcoming the new year. Those motifs are kolam patterns made using kolam stencils... dad bought these pretty cool stencils in the fish market, it was fun playing around with them.
Visited the farm too with the old gang, and hung out at the water tank munching on chocolates... 
Visited the special school too with the girls and it was nice seeing all my old friends and children... met Mother Magdalene after ages, she introduced me to A. J. Cronin and I fell completely in love with him.  
Hung out in these paddy fields...
And took lots of pictures. 
And a video of the swaying crops with the mountains in the background... I can never tire of this sight, they always seem to beckon...
Ate lunch on the riverbanks... it was a potluck, so I made masala coated eggs, and roast potato masala, the others brought mint rice, coconut rice, tomato rice, poppadams and kesari. 
Nam took this picture of me and the river..... 
And finally welcomed the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu, Pongal...