Remembering Maami


(Photo courtesy: The Hindu)

Lakshmi Ammaal, who was fondly called Maami by Thrissurians, was a known figure in Thrissur city. You would see her walk behind her mentally ill son while he wandered around the city occasionally shouting. Laskhmi Ammal hails from a Tamil Brahmin family settled in Thrissur. After marriage she moved to Calcutta and was leading a happy life. Then Raju, her son, fell mentally sick at the age of 17. Then after her husband’s death and her daughter’s marriage, she moved back to Thrissur with her son.

But they did not have a house in Thrissur and thus began their tramp life in the bylanes of Thrissur city. The people of Thrissur became familiar with Raju and his mother. Raju wandered around shouting and blabbering something but he never hurt anyone. His mother followed him all around, to make sure that he would not hurt himself. It was a painful sight to see the old lady trying to follow up the pace of her son without any complaints. It was a wonderful example of the love of a mother. Raju passed away in 2004 at the age of 62. And After about an year, Laskhmy Ammal followed her son. She was found lying unconscious on the veranda of a shop by the police. Even though they soon shifted her to the district hospital, her life could not be saved. She was 80.

On this Mother’s Day, Lakshmi Ammal stands for the selfless love of a mother.

Other Mother’s Day posts:

The Old Woman in Chatta and Mundu

And here is a pencil sketch that I did last year.


The Dignity of Labor

It was many years ago. I had just upgraded myself from a goldsmith to web designer in my professional life. Once I met this old man, who is an elder cousin of my friend and part of a royal family in Kerala. He is a well read man and we had a lunch time conversation at my friend’s place. “What do you do?” he asked me. I told him that I was a goldsmith but now work in the IT sector. “Youngsters these days prefer only white collar jobs“, he told my friend. “They think lowly of the ordinary jobs. How is this world going to function if people do only white collar jobs?“. I wasn’t surprised but was angry on his statement. I told him that the only reason that I got out of my previous job myself was the lack of respect that people had towards the blue collar workers.

We say that every job has it’s dignity. We talk about it a lot. Yet we seldom practice it. I know how people treated me when I was just a goldsmith. People didn’t even recognize my presence let alone respect. You would feel the difference of attitude everywhere. Among your friends, cousins and in the neighborhood. I am not neglecting that there were some rare good souls who valued me for who I was, but mostly I was treated with low priority in these circles. I understood it only when I changed my job, got a good salary and spoke English (yes, that’s still believed to be part of the elitism in our society).

Coming back to the royal old man and the people he represent, I think there is a class of people who don’t want the working class to upgrade themselves to a better living condition. Take the old man for example. He used to air travel when even public road transport was a rare thing in India. He was part of the Royalty, so money and respect came easily. But he shrugged off the people who fought with their life and won themselves a good living without a glorified lineage or any Godfather to back them up. And people like him cleverly use the statements like “people don’t respect ordinary jobs” while they themselves wouldn’t do any of those jobs.

We complain too. That these days masons or carpenters have become very rare to find. “How are things going to work if everybody’s looking for white collar employment?“. But would we go ahead and do the work ourselves? No. Would we take it as our profession? Absolutely not. Because we know the wages it is going to bring and how the society would treat us with that. We complain about the wages too. “The mason charges Rs. 350 a day. If the charges are skyrocketing like this, how are we going to survive?“. 350 bucks a day brings a mason less than Rs. 15,000 a month. And in the monsoon season, many of them are left jobless for days. Plus he has his own family to take care of, perhaps a daughter to marry off with dowry, the price hike affects him, and he faces every single crisis that we face every day. Yet those of us who draw more than 30K, 50K or Lakhs of rupees every month complain about his charges, but we don’t forget to ask for our annual salary hikes, bonuses and other benefits.

On this May Day, I would like all of us to think about the dignity of labor. And the need to respect people for who they are, not based on what they do. We all preach loads. When do we start practising it?

Thoughts on The Pianist

I watched the movie “The Pianist” today for the 3rd or 4th time. I love war movies and when I say that people think it is because I like violence. But I like war movies because they show the the effect of violence in the human life. It teaches me to cherish the life that I have as it is and reminds me how important it is to support the causes of oppressed and downtrodden people and voice for them.

A couple of thoughts passed my mind when I watched The Pianist again today. There are many scenes (and remember the movie is based on a true-life account) in this movie where individuals are left with no choice but to save/help themselves and ignore the others in the process. That makes me think, can we really help anyone but ourselves in the extreme situations? I mean, the really extreme situations. If not, then what is this so called thing “morale” mean to us? What is our morality based on?

(Image source: Wikipedia)

Changing Priorities

I think the time has come to assess and re-arrange my priorities in life. As a result, I’m going to stop some of my online initiatives. The first to go would be my podcasts (both my Malayalam and English podcasts). I don’t get much time to prepare quality content for both and I don’t intend to post crappy episodes as space-fillers. The existing episodes will stay, but there will be no new episodes except for some occasional audio posts whenever I feel it is needed.

I have no intention to stop this blog, my music blogs or Blogswara. As of now, at least. Those things lie close to my heart and I can’t give it up. But I am planning to invest my free time in getting and managing more freelance projects. I realized that I don’t have a backup plan for the worst times in my professional life and need to make some extra bucks to prepare for that.

I also realize that I need a change so badly, even though I can’t figure out what kind of change it is. Perhaps time will figure it out for me and I hope it does so soon because I am getting bored of whatever I have in life now.

Weekend notes

Ever since Slumdog Millionaire bagged 8 Oscars, I have been getting at least 50 spam comments everyday to my SM review blog post. And it doesn’t seem to stop.


I spent an entire evening yesterday to record some songs for the blog. As much as I enjoyed singing, I think it is not affordable for a part time musician to spent a weekend’s (or weekday’s) evening like this – the time which he/she should have given to his/her family. And it’s fine for me by the way, as long as I stay single 🙂 And there is no question about going full time into music as well. Like a colleague said, “in a crowded place like India, going full time for art and music is a luxury”. The fun part of yesterday was in adding some Raga touch to a track of a world music band, who specialize on afro-american-Jazz music. Gotta send the mixed track to that band and see what they think.


Yesterday, I showed my mother an Indian Express article where they have written about me and Blogswara. My mom can’t read English, so she asked me what it is about. I explained to her in simple language that Blogswara is a website where little known musicians can showcase their best work before the world. Her immediate (and innocent) reaction was, “Did you have to spend money for this?” I got angry. Because I was expecting her to be happy that her son got featured in a newspaper for something he did with his friends. Instead she was concerned about the money.

But after the initial moment of anger, I realized that her question shows how much she cares for me. She is worried about the debts I have. About the housing loan and related personal debts. She reminds me about that on every weekend when I come home. I would tell her, “Amma, I’m not that little kid anymore. I know what I have to do“. But she would repeat it on every weekend and I would let her be. Through out her life, she never had any debt. She lived tight and taught us to live with what we have. So I can understand what she was thinking.

I don’t know if she cares about my musical passion. She never told me much about it. Or perhaps she is afraid to show it. She might be worried that I would go full time with music. Because she never heard of anybody from the neighborhood making it big in the music industry and rather heard stories of drunk and poor musicians living their life being the laughingstock of society. She wouldn’t want such a thing happen to her son.

At the end of the day, I see this fragile but beautiful old lady looking at me with so much affection and worrying so much about me all the time. And I thank God for giving me such a caring mother.

29 in 2009

I just turned 29 today. Thanks to everyone who wished through phone, Orkut, Facebook and SMS. All those wishes made up my day. Apart from that, today was just another day. Wait a minute! Actually it was different than normal. I had to wake up early in the morning only to find out that there is something wrong with the door lock from the dining room to kitchen. Amma couldn’t open it up, neither could I. Then I had to fix it with another door’s lock. Amma was happy and I was happy because I could go back to bed again at 7 in the morning.

Then there was a close friend’s wedding to attend, so I teamed up with friends and went there. The best part of the wedding was that I could spend an entire day with friends and the worst part was people from the neighborhood asking, “when are you getting married?“, “have you started looking?“, “you’re next!” etc. And then they would share their stories of bride-seeing followed by a lot of advise on how life is. Thanks, but no thanks. 😐

Came back home in the afternoon and then went to watch a Malayalam movie “Makante Achan” which doesn’t deserve a review here. I had high hopes, because there was Sreenivasan and Suhasini, but it was such a waste of time and money. The TV soap serials would give you better entertainment. After the movie, we went to see a food fest in the town. Went around the whole place for a bit and ate nothing. 🙂

When I came back home after all, another friend came by and invited for his wedding next week. What I hate about friends getting married is not that I won’t get them to keep me company for sometime, but the fact that they act like some super seniors. And when they give me a look as if am a boy studying in kindergarten when they just finished graduation… Sigh… 🙁

When I sit alone now and thinking of what these 29 years meant for me – I do see some changes personally, about which I’m not sure if it’s leading me in good direction or not. As the poem goes, there is still miles to go before I sleep and am still traveling. Only that I hope that I hurt fewer people during this journey.

Goodnight and God bless.

Bye bye 2008

First of all, wishing you all a joyful, peaceful and prosperous New Year of 2009!

So one more year is passing by. 2008 will be gone in a flash and 2009 is going to be here soon. So much has happened in the world around us in the past one year – terrorist attacks, natural disasters, global economic slowdown etc – and am not going to talk about all that right now. As for me, the past year was not bad personally. I’ve moved onto the new house in the last week of December 2007 and now it’s past one year. I had my first Onam and Christmas in our new house. Bought a new mic, my new Shure SM 58, in June and I must say it’s a very good mic. Got a new cell phone too. I also had a legal battle with Pranatha Books over copyright infringement, or should I say with Shanavas M A, and I won. Then came Malayala Manorama with their false claim which they have not corrected yet. I also moved my blog to my own domain and to a WordPress platform.

The most notable event was when Indian Express featured me in their article about podcasting, in both Kochi and Trivandrum editions. Earlier this year, they had also featured my blog in their front page. It is a commendable work from a newspaper like Indian Express to recognize the new media and the new media enthusiasts. Also interviewed me about Blogswara.

I am glad that in the last year, this blog could be intstrumetal in bringing help to some people in need with the help of the readers. There was Gayathri, Ajith, Sudheesh and Anju Mohan. For the case of Sudheesh onwards, we could set up a ChipIn widget to make it easy for people to contribute (with the help of Liji from And with the help of the readers of this blog (and Mutiny blog), we could collect $465 for Sudheesh and $100 for Anju. This made me believe that we can be the change that we want to see.

Music wise, my song (composed and sung by myself) for the upcoming Malayalam telefilm “Manju Pole Oru Swapnam” was released through the Internet. And I got my first solo song released in the market through a devotional album. Blogswara released it’s 5th album too. I could introduce two talented singers – Radhika Sethumadhavan and Jessica Varma.

As usual, I am not going to take any new year resolution. I take life as it happens to me. No regrets or new promises whatsoever. However, there are a few things that I’m planning to do:

1) Release my personal music album (offline or online)
2) Buy a keyboard and learn to play
3) Compose more original music, possibly come up with a song with my own orchestration
4) Write, shoot and direct a short film
) Do more reading, at least 30 minutes of book reading everyday

Let’s see how many of these are actually going to happen! 🙂 Meanwhile, check out the year 2008 in pictures by (one, two, three). You guys have a great time in this new year! See you in the next year!

Christmas notes

(That’s Minna Rose and Anthony, my sister’s kids with the Christmas tree)

So the Christmas is over. And like any other after-festival days, I feel gloomy and sad for some reason. It was so enthusiastic and pleasant yesterday. One of my sisters came over with her children. I arranged the Christmas tree with the kids and put all decorations. Made the crib, hung a star and lit up everything. By the time I finished, it was already the evening. I called up my second sister, wished her Christmas greetings and in between came my third sister with her husband. Just as we spoke, I had the best Christmas gift which was a phone call from an old teacher of mine.

I had mentioned the name of Renuka teacher here in my blog before. She used to teach Physics in my highschool. She took special care of my singing and had even spent money for my music coaching while I was preparing for the sub-district youth festival competitions. Without a proper training in music, without a Godfather or a person to support my music, I stood no chance of winning in the light music competition, because even the “light” music had to sound “karnatik” in order to secure a prize (I don’t know how much that situation has changed these days in the school youth festivals). So Renuka teacher sent me to a music teacher to teach me a light song and I won the second prize with an A grade and 5 marks (meaning I and the person who got the first prize had the same marks).

After a long time, I met her again in the school and she had become the school’s principal by that time. We talked and she told me that she remembered a few lines of a poem that I wrote for a school competition, which was years back. She even recited a couple of lines and asked me, “so did you find out that girl yet?”. I laughed and was surprised, because I was beginning to forget that I used to write poetry. And that particular poem, I never remembered that at all. And it taught me one thing – the moment you get past your seemingly stupid romantic notions of life and try to measure it with logic, intellect and all that, you turn out to be a robotic material and life in that way sucks, really. So never ever kill that child in you who dreams about talking to a fairy who stands at the tip of a flower bud.

So this teacher called yesterday and it made me so happy to talk to her after so many years. She said she wanted to call ever since an article about me appeared in Mathrubhumi newspaper back in 2005, but couldn’t get the phone number. Then she got my mobile number from another friend of mine, but I had changed it before she called in that number. Finally yesterday, she got the number from the same friend and she made my Christmas eve full of joy…

I went to the midnight mass, perhaps after a long interval of 6 – 7 years. There was nothing to gain spiritually from a crowded church. The church was all packed and people were partly sleeping or staring at others or at their own finger tips, scratching their backs etc to keep themselves awake, except for the other part of people holding their hands together and chanting the prayers. But the church was good, socially. I could meet some of my old acquaintances here and there and pass on a couple of words with them.

On the way back home, I had to piss off my friend, whom I accompanied to the church, over some silly arguments. And that got me thinking, what is the use of building up all that politically-correct, logically-perfect arguments when you cannot really manage the connection between a friend and yourself? Sometimes, it would be good just to give up your thoughts and listen to what your friends have to say, even if that is plain baseless accusation on your character, if that would make them happy.

This thing called emotion is really very strange. What hurts me more is not when somebody hurt me by hurting me, but when I hurt mysef by hurting someone else.