Monday, July 24, 2006

My Family and Pampered Animals

A very bad picture, I am afraid. But I write here to tell you about the hundreds of animals that get royal treatment at my home. (Of course, hundreds is an exaggeration, but, ah well!)

My mother has made it a habit to feed sparrows on our terrace. The result, about 200 sparrows swoop in at all times of the day, eat the rice, dirty the place and create a ruckus whenever the food is all eaten up. And then there are the squirrels for whom dad has made many elaborate arrangements.

According to him, the younger ones find it difficult to get to the food. So he has put up many branches and pipes and boxes so that they can all come and perch comfortably on these to eat. The result, same as above, though the number of squirrels is lesser.

I have already written about the snakes. Thankfully, my parents have not started feeding them, though I would not be surprised if they did. All the left overs at home go to these creatures. (Ginger is too high-brow to eat left-overs. And no, I am not kidding about it. He really does not eat left overs!)

There are of course cows that would come in every day. But after ma's garden plans materialised, they stay out. Thus it was that often I would see more animals than people. It was like growing up in a farm in the middle of the town. Ah, those were the times, with My Family and Other Animals!

A Most Beautiful Woman

Just the other day, I was on the way back from office. On the seat opposite mine on the bus was a woman in a yellow skirt, a faded red blouse and a multi-coloured dupatta. She had on heavy silver jewellery. Her hair was graying along the edge of her forehead. She looked like a Rajasthani woman to me. She had dirt below her finger nails. Her face was dirty and so were her clothes. But she was one of the most beautiful women I have seen in recent times.

You know why? Because the many many wrinkles on her face showed the many many travails she had gone through in life. Because her dull grey eyes reflected the burden of having lived a life. Because she emanated the life of a human being who was like millions of others in the world, whose chief concern was not government policies, not the elections, not the bombs, but that of feeding herself and her family. She was beautiful because she survived this world for so long. Because sans lipstick, thick mascara and a touch of blush, this woman was real; for beauty is not what you can see in a person, but what you feel reflecting from someone.


Baanuli is Kannada for radio, more specifically the All India Radio or Akashvani. Did I write about my training in radio before? Anyways....

This was after my first year at uni. We had a very long break of over three months and I was all enthusiastic about the media. After a bad week trying to work in a newspaper, I went back home. A lot of the staff at AIR Madikeri were friends of mine and invited me to train there for a while. And boy was it fun!!!

The office was pretty close to my house. Let me be frank, I have never really listened to the radio much. So I went there not with much interest. It was more like something to do for me. That was the time, the Madikeri station got a new computer with software designed for radio. The staff there was as clueless as I was. Nevertheless, that one month was all of trial and error, lots of experimenting and teaching the rest of them.

More than all this, what impressed me the most was the reach of radio and the kind of impact it had on people. We would get hundreds of letters everyday asking for songs, appreciating the programmes. Amidst all this would be that one sole letter that made everyone think that they were doing something good. I remember there was this one person who for some reason was bed ridden. He wrote saying that the radio was his only companion now and that he passed time listening to radio all the time.

I remember the debates we had at uni about which media was the most effective in reaching out to the people. All of us would conclude that it was radio in most cases. Though I knew all this theoritically, it was only at AIR that I actually felt the impact radion was making. It was all overwhelming in a way.

I am not very comfortable talking on radio. You give me a piece of paper and a pen or give me a computer, I will go on writing for hours on end but I cannot talk. One person there forced me to go on air once and I narrated a story I had written. It was aired too, though most of those who listened said it did not sound like me at all. I think it was just two days after this that we got a letter. It was from someone in a small village in a remote corner of the district. He wrote saying that he liked the story very much. That compliment is one that is most special to me because it came from a village I had never even heard of.

Now that I work for a newspaper, I write a lot of stories. I am sure many people read them in all corners of the state. But it is not the same, somehow.

Akashvani was special to me because there I was very very close to the people, th farming community, the sons of the soil, literally speaking. Now I get to meet CEOs, corporate people, ministers and the like. A number of them are wonderful people. But it is not the same, just not the same.

Would I go back to radio? Not for a job. But to connect to real people... oh yes!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Pulling the Trigger (To My Memories)

Just a few weeks ago, I was contemplating the tremendous changes going on in my life with me moving to a city, starting work and living a new life. But now, a routine has set in. This life is no longer new. It is

A routine life brings with it mundane chores life shopping for groceries, cleaning and the like. Last evening, I remembered to go buy fruits on the way. To my utter surprise, I saw butter-fruit (Avocado to the rest of you) tucked into a wooden box. I just had to buy a few.

To me, the little green fruit will also be butter-fruit. Avocado is too alien for my memories. Back in Madikeri, we have a butter-fruit tree that is most unpredictable in fruit bearing. It bears fruit one year and does not for the next few years. Anyway, butter-fruit continues to be one of my most favourite fruits.

It had been years since I had it. Can't wait for them to ripen. The point here? Well, just that in my routine life to which I was getting accustomed to, I came across a reminder of my past, my home, my beloved Madikeri. Its funny how a little something can open up a can of memories for you, be it a fruit, a chocolate bar that you loved as a child, few lines of a song that you hummed, a long lost picture....

In the two years that I was at uni, I don't think I missed home even once but now I do. In the busy life that I live through, it is these little reminders that make me think of the open spaces, the air and the mountains.

Someone once asked me what I missed most about Madikeri. I would say the mountains. If you asked me now, I would add that I miss the open spaces, the sheer slowness in life where there are no buses to catch, no deadlines...the different pace of life.

But then, you cannot have it all. 'It is all in the mind', reminded someone to me. And in my mind, Madikeri is never far.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

While I Was Waiting....

I keep talking of how much I enjoy what I do. My only complaint is the about the time I waste waiting for the programme to start, for ministers to come, for something to happen. While waiting, I do get to talk to the other reporters, the organisers and make some useful acquaintances. But there are also times when that doesn't happen either.

At such times, strange lines, verses and one-liners make their way into my notebook. Here are a chosen few.

Cool room
Good people
Light heart
A smile
That reaches not the eyes. May 19

Eyes search
Mind questions
Heart seeks
But the answer evades
As always. May 18

I need
To write
But sleep
Just does not
Zzzz...... May 24

Bathi hoda baaviyinda Neereleva Prayatna Vyarthavallave?

(A sentence in Kannada roughly meaning isn't it futile to try to draw water from a well that has dried up)

There used to be a time when I wrote poetry. What you see above is the sad remnants of that!! ;-) Now that I spend so much time commuting and at work, maybe I should start again. Hmm...something to think about......

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Living a Dream

Ok, I am in front of the computer in my office, finished my work for the morning. I sit and ponder about what I want to write about. Somehow, my assignments seem ordinary now to write about. Earlier, when I was in school and later even during college, I would look up to the journalists who came to cover events. I always thought they were this privileged class who were known to everyone and everyone would go up and introduce themselves. Now that I am living that life, it really doesn't feel like a big deal, though I do see people look up to me in awe at places I go. I know its because I am a journalist and not because I am Deepa (I haven't reached there yet!) but its nice at times.

All of that is routine to me now. So I shall not write much. I have always loved travelling and writing about it. But it has been ages since I went anywhere. So no travelogues for now. The only thing left is my social life but that I must say is non-existent. I work everyday and over the weeks, my personal life has merged with my professional one. I do not complain though, for I knew what I was getting into. The only social contact I maintain on a personal level is to talk to my friends over the phone.

Come to think of it, it is sad that as we grow up, friends no longer are as important as they once used to be. Of course, you do need that core group or that one bestest friend to survive but the others no longer get priority, which is very unfortunate. Come to think of it, all my friends are scattered all over the place. Any contact between most has been reduced to sending and getting SMSes on that all important mobile phone.

Ok, I have typed so much but I still do not have a topic to write about. I need to travel or make new friends; I wouldn't have to deal with a blogging-block then. Let me close with what is in the offing for readers in Bangalore. I am working on a series of articles about places that are part of the history of the city. The first one was about Elgin Talkies, a theatre that has been in existence from the time the Lumiere brothers brought their cinema to the country. Next is about Dewar's Bar, an old watering hole in the city that had once attained elite status among the British. Let me try and put up those articles on the blog.

Now, back to living a a journalist.