Blood on our dance floor

Remember how Rajiv Goswami, the student who lit himself in protest of Mandal report, had moved India across the nation? There was no social media. We weren’t living in an informed age like this. But still it moved the country. A young man burning himself was more than enough to move our senses back then even if some people didn’t know what Mandal meant.

Rohit Vemula was a passionate young man too. He didn’t kill himself on the road, but silently in a hostel room. His last words were that of a man who has seen it through, that he went about writing ‘do not trouble my friends or enemies on this’.

It is unlikely that Vemula will move India like Goswami did. Because beyond the protests and our keyboard activism, many of us who stand at the top of the caste ladder, still are not sure of the larger topic – caste and the reservation – though Vemulas of our time validates it.

We are all Dathathreyas. We are all manu vaadis in that regard. And no Facebook/blog posts can take that guilt back, including this one.

Ee Mizhikalil from Lukka Chuppi (cover)

Here is a song after ages. It has been a few years now since I have recorded anything and then I heard this song from the Malayalam movie “Lukka Chuppi” and it blew me away. This one was recorded the old way, using the headset and Reaper – a software that I had purchased but never put to good use. Do let me know what you think. Thanks.


Song: Ee Mizhikalil
Lyrics: Rafeeq Ahamed
Music: Bijibal Maniyil
Original singer: Vivekanandan
Cover by myself

Malayalam Film Songs 2015

Advise to Vidyasagar – stop imitating Ilaiyaraja even if it is on Sathyan Anthikkad’s request (reference to movie “Ennum Eppozhum”). We look forward to your signature music. Not just some skeleton of another music director.

2015 has seen many ‘casual’ songs being hit – like ‘Enne thallendammaava”, or “Kaikottum kandittilla” (both from Oru Vadakkan Selfie), and “Kaalam kettu poy”, or “Scene Contra” or many other such songs from the film “Premam”. For one thing, Rajesh Murugesan and Shaan Rahmaan – these won’t go past another set of such casual songs from yet another movie. You got to remember that. “Malare” however stayed and you got to thank Sai Pallavi for the song to have stayed, not so much for the quality of musical chords (why did you have to put that heavy set of strings to overshadow the vocals?!). If that is how you want to be remembered, okay, fine. “ithu puthen lokam” from ‘Premam’ however was nice, both lyrically and music wise.

“I Remember You”, the English number from the movie “Nee-Na” was a class apart. Good job on the male version, Nikhil Menon. Also on the track “Where Gravity Fails”. You have brought back the good old soft rock back to filmy music. Also your song “Then Nila” sung by Sachin Warrier was so nice to hear. Good job on the track of “Nee-Na”. Bijibal has kept it nicely with the tracks “Ee Mizikalil” from Lukka Chuppi (love those guitar riffs) and “Ente Janalarikil” from Sudhi Vaathmeekam. And Gopi Sunder has put the curtain to 2015 with the song “Puthu mazhayaay” from Charlie.

That sums up the otherwise mediocre musical year of 2015.

A lesson on empathy

“I need a table lamp”, said Ryan. I asked him why he would need a table lamp. “To study better”, he said. That must have come from some scene in a movie or an advertisement, I suppose. You know, the kids with a study table filled with books, a table lamp, a coffee mug and all that. I told him that he didn’t need one now and the light present was enough.

So he put his cuteness mode on with a begging face and I was beginning to go defenseless. Then I decided to put my good-father hat on: “You know, in my childhood, there was no electricity in the house till the quarterly exams of 10th standard. I studied under the light of a kerosene lamp at night”. As I spoke, I realized that I haven’t showed him a kerosene lamp yet. “In this house?”, he asked, glancing at the switch boards. “No, in the house that was in place. Where I and your uncles and aunties grew up”. “Where was grandpa then? Was he at work?”, he asked. I didn’t quite get that part. What did that have to do with electricity? “Yes, he was”, I said. Ryan went silent for a moment and then asked me with an empathizing face: “so you couldn’t fix the electricity because grandpa was at work?”.

So basically, he thought that it was a temporary electricity outage that couldn’t be fixed because my father was at work. This short conversation with my son made me realize that people can empathize with stories, but they would never completely understand how it is like, unless they experience it themselves. And that is not a ‘problem’ but a fact. And that is not just about one generation. Every generation that is gone, present and to come would be the same in this case. But the least we could do is to empathize.

A dog here, a dog there

No, I don’t think that the weight of caste is on BJP alone. It is on every one of us here in India – regardless of parties, religions, gender or region. It is on us who secretly take pride when we have to mention our caste, while we try our best to make it sound like it doesn’t matter to us. It is on us, when we laugh at those ‘harmless caste jokes’ when we have our fellow upper-caste friends around, yet so proud how modern and caste-less we are. So, no, the news of those two little ones being burnt in a casteist attack doesn’t surprise me. That is everyday India for you. Though it breaks my heart to see those two small bundles of white cloth; ironically, we call children the bundle of joy, don’t we?

But what makes me so helplessly angry is the faux pas (that’s how Firstpost calls it so casually) made by V K Singh, country’s minister of state, about the killing that compares the incident to stoning a dog. To think that this man was once the army chief of the country makes me shudder. And as usual, the prime minister who used to accuse his predecessor for being silent on issues is still busy shuttling between international terminals without a word.

Hindutva and Jains

No, it’s not going to stop with beef or meat in general. Eggs are next. Madhya Pradesh has already begun the silent ‘revolution’ when it’s chief minister turned down the proposal to include eggs in the midday meals at the anganwadis for malnourished children in the tribal areas.

Another thing that makes the news interesting is the mention of Jain community in this news. The NPR article states that the community is powerful in the state and has ‘previously thwarted efforts to introduce eggs in daycare centres and schools’.

That is even more interesting when you read with it the four-day meat ban (not to confuse with the ‘beef’ ban) in Mumbai for a Jain festival.

So why is it that we do not have much observations about the Jain community’s influence in sustaining and contributing to the Hindutva ideology?

Read: Egg War: Why India’s Vegetarian Elite Are Accused Of Keeping Kids Hungry

Facebook’s Live Video

The only thing that excites me about Mark Zuckerberg’s live video is the anticipation that Facebook’s live video steaming feature would soon be available to all of us (Tech Crunch says that it is available now, but only to celebrities).

And to those who go gaga about the open floor plan that Zuckerberg is boasting about, with his big talk about collaboration and innovation, (apparently Rakuten CEO also boasts the same just about the same day, about his new HQ called Crimson House in Tokyo), you just need to google ‘open office spaces’ and read an article that appears on Fortune by a clinical psychologist. As for me, even an image of it just freaks me out.

That Zuckerberg has his own desk among the rest doesn’t make me go ‘wow’. He is the boss, and it doesn’t really matter if he works from a walled office or on the hallway when everything is to his/company’s advantage.

So please, spare the rest of us your fanfare.

Marayoor Jaggery

Marayoor is a town in the Idukki district of Kerala. The place is famous for it’s jaggery production, known as Marayoor Jaggery and also it’s natural sandalwood forest. On our way to Kanthalloor, we stopped by to check out one of the jaggery factories in Marayoor.

Men and women collect sugarcane from the fields and bring it to the factory. A ‘factory’ is generally a thatched hut set up in the sugarcane fields temporarily and is staffed with not more than 20 people in the process.

 photo 17_zpsuokj8fwr.jpg

Then they use this machine to extract the juice.

 photo 13_zpswmfwzjpk.jpg

Which is then poured into a large vessel and heated till it’s dry.

 photo 14_zpsh9ncoq1a.jpg

Then they roll it to make these jaggery balls while it is still hot.

 photo 16_zpsaivuzzul.jpg

 photo 15_zpsesdm2zyh.jpg

And here is the ‘factory’

 photo 17_zpsuokj8fwr.jpg

The state of compassion

Islamic State. European state. Indian state.

One denies human existence on the basis of religion, and the other does the same using their borders while the third does so because their race/caste/tribe is different. And it is always the little ones who fall victims.

Aylan Kurdi, the little boy who washed ashore on the Turkey coast. Then the three infants of twenty seven years old tribal woman Anitha in Kerala. Her three infants died at birth because she was denied admission in the district hospital. Her baby boy died in the hospital bathroom where she delivered, then a baby girl, while she was moving from one hospital to another, and again a baby boy as she reached another hospital.

As we tuck our babies to sleep tonight, how can we not see that little boy in his bright red T, lying face down on the beach as if he was sleeping peacefully? How can we not imagine how Anitha who is fighting for her life now at the hospital would feel now, after her three babies gone even before she could see their faces right? Their crime being refugees and tribals?


Kanthalloor is a village in Idukky district in the south Indian state of Kerala. It is close to Munnar, the most popular hill station in Kerala, and is filled with picturesque landscapes all around and also famous for it’s vegetable and fruit farms. Our trip to Kanthalloor was through Pollachi and the Chinnar wildlife sanctuary. Kanthalloor is yet to become a busy tourist place so it has it’s pristine nature much unexplored.

The windmills of Pollachi on the way

 photo 1_zpsl9nebduu.jpg

As we reached Marayoor, the sky had this for us.

 photo 2_zpscmovsk3x.jpg

It was almost 7:30 PM when we reached the place we stayed.

 photo 3_zpsgplylmiu.jpg

And then we had bonfire, some barbecue, a lot of singing aloud to keep the night young.

 photo 11a_zpswzldjdz8.jpg

And in the morning, we woke up to this! The house was called “Madamma’s Mud House”. It was supposedly built by a British lady using clay, mud and wood.

 photo 4_zpstwu3jqef.jpg

The view from the house was spectacular as there was nothing to obstruct the beautiful view of the valley and hills. It was breathtaking.

 photo 6_zps6uk7vobe.jpg

Bring a cup of coffee, pull a chair and enjoy the serene view!

 photo 5_zpsm3fdubbd.jpg

Another view from the house we stayed.

 photo 7_zpscujcqjoh.jpg

The majestic Madamma’s Mud House.

 photo 11_zpsrgsw2it9.jpg

And then we took a hike through the dense forest nearby.

 photo 8_zps9l9ontpd.jpg

After a long and tiring hike on a chilly morning which made us sweat, we reached a farm land maintained by the tribals (do you see the dragon flies?). The hut on the right is for the watch dogs who didn’t stop barking until we left. There were many sorts of crops around.

 photo 9_zpswufrdtc3.jpg

Ever seen apple on the apple tree?

 photo 10_zpsovleqgyc.jpg