Sunday, July 25, 2010

Precious Rubbish

I was involved in this film by best friends Claire and Pete of Skimstone studio with young people of Newcastle since March’10. What makes me happy about this is film is the way I was adopted by everyone as a part their family here… Now I truly feel Newcastle another home. So much of love in life… Hugs to you all. U taught me what is precious and what is rubbish too… :P The film was a brilliant new learning experience. Lessons I learnt from this set of first time filmmakers are definitely something no film school in the entire world can offer me. I bet, no film professional can teach me the same too. This film is an example of what can happen if a set of people joins hands to create a film purely out of passion and nothing else.

Precious Rubbish tells stories of several journeys of self-discovery through experiences of pain, happiness, despair and hope and explores the universal themes of life such as loss, sorrow, love, confusion, bullying and friendship. This is about identifying the precious rubbish in us. Precious Rubbish consists of beautifully shot, photographed and performed artworks by young actors, photographers and film crew in a four centuries old house in Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne and other locations around the city. This project has enabled eighteen young people to work towards their national Arts Award.

Along with the film we had the photo exhibition of ‘Precious Rubbish’, and a special space for people to share their ‘precious rubbishes’ in life. Well, I too have one special 'precious rubbish' to put in – Cockroach in Cocktail and a favourite pic.

At a stage of life losing my trust in myself and world, this film and the crew came as a boon, supported me in a lot of ways in identifying the lost me. Ironically, I felt, the concept 'Precious Rubbish' created by the young people had so much to speak to me and my life too... In one of the hot seating sessions, when we asked the question to each other on what is that annoys us the most, I had this answer that I hate looking at the mirror coz my own eyes keeps haunting me as someone else and that I feel my face is not mine anymore...

After these many months, I have now identified 'the precious' in my life. I guess I love my life more sincerely, with a lot of romance and courage. The face that reflected the phase of pain, anger, frustration etc... was such a fake one that had no meanings to it. Two days back, in a funny mood, I changed the status message in Facebook to - I Scream, You Scream and We all Scream for Ice Cream... remembering the famous dialogue by Roberto Benigni in the film Down by Law. In seconds I got comments and messages form all my good friends - "Thank God, u r back. :)"

I now knows what my dear ones like me for and expect from me, and promise I am there screaming "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice scream." Cheers. Love you. Hugs. You made me realise that there is something 'Precious' in 'Rubbish' too...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Eric & Me

I met Eric yesterday again. He was always been there, silently standing at all complex-complicated-corners of life, in his branded way of weirdness and wisdom. He thus successfully surprised me again… driving me dive deep in between dilemma and divinity.

I was on my way to attend a meeting with a few artists from North East at the office of Northern Rock Foundation, situated at a place called Gosforth in Newcastle. Even though the exact address was safe in hand - written so neatly on a piece of paper - true to my cranky intelligence I took the exact opposite direction immediately after getting down from the Metro train at South Gosforth station. Again ‘true to my nature’ I was pretty sure inside that the direction could be wrong and I had to reach the meeting arena fast. I showed the address to a lot of people whom I met on the roadside but nobody seemed to have an idea about it. It was at this point I met Eric again.

I saw that middle-aged white man in his shabby overcoat and torn out shorts, knelt down at the footpath on roadside - busy picking up waste papers and plastic covers, filling the sack kept on his side. I didn’t see him carefully when I actually called him for his attention. As he turned back and looked at me with a blank face and an almost ‘cruel-drunken’ eye, an alarm rang on my head and I felt I was doing a mistake. May be, all those words Charles Dickens used to describe Fagin of ‘Oliver Twist’, could suit him well. Instead of walking back I looked deep into his eyes and repeated my question. He nodded his head as if he didn’t hear me and I repeated. He kept doing the same action for 3 more times freaking me out as if making a fool of me and all the 3 times I kept looking more seriously, repeating my question. The fifth time he just caught my hand so rudely and pulled me across the road. In a rough shivering voice he said, “I don’t know anything. But I will take you to someone who knows.”

As we were crossing the road, he did something yet more strange and mad. Right in the middle of road he stopped and bent down without even bothering the fast moving cars, just to pick up a chocolate cover and throw it in his sack. Four-five cars had to wait for us and the drivers kept looking out so rudely. Though I had no idea on things, I was clear something interesting going to happen. He dragged me towards the nearby street and straight to a place where I saw the notice board- ‘Meditation Centre’. The moment he pushed open the door, the guy who was in charge of the space came running shouting ‘Out, out…Go out please…” My friend very politely passed the sheet of paper to him and said, “Please help him. He is in a hurry.” That man invited me alone into the meditation centre, shutting the door in front of my friend and whispered with a 'polite' smile, “So sorry, Eric is a trouble.” He carefully looked into the address and explained me the direction as I walked around the meditation space.

When I came out Eric was there on the roadside, in the same posture busy in his own world. With some authority I patted on his shoulder, smiled and said load, “Thanks Eric, I got my direction right.” Eric turned his eyes up so seriously and replied in a rough tone, “Good…good…but, are you sure? Do u want me to come.” (As if he knows the way). As I nodded ‘no’ he blabbered something. I sat beside him and asked, “What did you say?” He said so seriously, “You are not smiling. This is not smile.” and bent down continuing what he was doing. I became more curious. Disturbing his job I asked again, “How do you know?”. He said, “coz… makes me sad.”. The way he said that like a little boy made me laugh again. I gave him a tight hug on his shoulder and shouted in his ears, “Thankkkkk uuuu soo much Mate… You are smart.”

For my surprise Eric was equally surprised and smiled at me opening his mouth wide open showing his teeth. He said, “People are idiots. They dirty this place. I need to clean it all alone. Okaay… You go… Now you knows right way.”

While walking away, I turned back to have a quick look at him. He was in his own world, blabbering something to himself… may be busy cleaning the world...

That was not the first time I met Eric. He was always been there through out my life, popping up at all confusing corners. He always puts me a state of dilemma - at the same time, sharing a sense of divinity. I don’t know whether any of you have ever met Eric. In my childhood Eric saved me from drowning in a pond. Eric invited me to Hyderabad and study there. Eric was an auto driver once, who picked me up in the middle of riots during the time of a festival in North India. He came as a wave, bounced over an unexpected sand barrier and touched my feet at Marina Beech giving me a new life. Here in Newcastle he hugged me as a young girl who calls me ‘Dad’ and a young boy becoming my brother, giving me new relatives. Eric was always been my alter ego at another corner of world.

Eric is someone who dares to hold my hand with an authority, like my parents, sister or that best friend from MCC. They never use to care what I think or the world think, but intrude into my life with a sense of authority. Not many people had shown such an authority on me. I remember liking my girl so much while we were video chatting, when she suddenly asked me whether the bag hanging behind me was a lady’s bag. That was her way of saying, “Hey, you are mine.” I care for that friend form MCC who disturbed me while I was doing an urgent graphic design. I then shouted at her. But immediately after getting out of the computer lab I held her hand in my hand, silently promising to be her best friend for lifetime. It is actually a secret pleasure when someone shows that authority; it means they do care for you a lot. Those people do leave a mark in life. You may even shout back at them, or hurt them… but cannot ignore them when they need you. Life is all about living it happily, knowing and forgetting some nightmares. Eric told me.

Eric is not that selfish someone who just walks with you like a tourist guide all the time showing you directions to all that is beautiful, but he is some one who appears only at crucial points and show you the real path forward, or at least take you to those safer hands who can show you the path forward. He never bothers to look at what you might think or what the world thinks when he grab your hand without your permission. He might rudely push you across many roads of life not even looking you or the fast moving cars… and the fake people inside and around. I felt bad for not taking a photograph of Eric with my mobile cam, but then I imagined him framed on the walls or hanging on the cross. It was annoying…

The last word Eric told me as I walked in my assured ‘right’ path was his 'silence'.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


During our childhood days my sister and I used to go for Hindi tuition class at an Ashram (monastery) situated right behind our house. I have already mentioned about Swamiji - Swami Prushothamanada - in most of my blogs. He still remains the most influential person in my life and the only one who is my 100% Guru. He was the most stubborn and strong person I have ever met in my life. Can call him a true Gandhi at thoughts and Hitler at action. He was my grandpa’s most intimate companion since his childhood days. He was an army man, a scholar and a dedicated teacher before joining Ramakrishna Mission as a saint. More than the Hindi lessons, what we enjoyed the most was his style of teaching, flavoured and garnished by his personal experiences - explaining even the most complicated topics with a sense of creative energy and enthusiasm. We liked to hear about his term as an Army man working at the most difficult highland border regions of India and China. This space won’t be any bit enough to fit in all that I need to talk about him. I truly wanted to be a saint like him exactly the way as he was – a rough and tuff Sanyasi. I may have such a future, I leave it for the time to decide. In this blog, I would like to share thoughts about a Parijatham tree. (I don’t know what is it called in English.)

A lot of memories just rushed into my mind and I cannot be but write about it before saying anything about Parijatham. I guess I need to shift my bit about of Parijatham to the end of this article. Let me just talk a little about those tuition classes. It is my ‘memories of’ and ‘testimonial for’ a few people whom I cannot forget here. The HIndi lesson used to happen in the afternoon around 3 pm. The first thing we both had to do was to wake up Swamiji from his mid-day nap. Most often we used to find him snoring to glory with his mouth mildly open. The very moment our voice reached him...‘Swamiii…’, he used to wake up... quickly hunting for his thick spectacles all around the bed with his hands. Only after they get neatly chaired on his nose, he could bring himself back to real senses.

It was Swamiji who forced my dad to make us appear for the Hindi exams by Dakshin Bharath Hindi Prachar Sabha. In order to make us attend the lessons he used to lure us with Pico classic comic books. Everyday he used to take us to the library and share his treasure of comic books right after the session. Most of them were pictorial books on international classics like Wuthering Heights, The Hunchback of Notre dame, Moby Dick', The Black Beauty, Time Machine etc. We had another reason to attend those sessions - a mulberry plant that grew at the compound of ashram. Through out the session I used to have my eyes stuck on the red-black mulberries. The days I was so desperate for them, I used to make reasons like ‘I am thirsty, I want to pee etc... etc...’ and go out quiet-quick to pluck a few mulberries. I used do a lot of harmless adventures those days. The best of it could be intruding into a local temple in the afternoon without anyone’s knowledge and lifting the sacred sword of ‘Velichappadu’ (the God Man), on my way back from the school after the mid-term exam. Interestingly the Lord Ayyappa blessed me with better marks for mathematics that time as if he knew I was just curious to lift that sword and play with it for a while. Anyway, Swami was not as kind as Lord Ayyappa. He caught me once red-handed. I do mean it. It was right in both literal sense and true sense - my hands were actually red coz of the juice that oozed out of blood-red mulberries.

On certain days the lessons used to be quite exhaustive. We had a few interesting people who saved us on many such occasions. They were Swamiji’s visitors who preferred to come exactly on the time of our session in spite his strict order of not coming at that time. They used to just pop in form nowhere and spend a lot of time talking mostly nonsense, they genuinely believed as total sense. But Swami used to respond to them the same manner yet holding up a serious face true to his brand image as of a Hitler. He used to shout at them, blame them... order them...!!! Still they kept coming on almost every alternative day from nowhere. Now you must be curious to know who they were. As I said earlier, they were our saviours – A hunch back old woman who lived with the little wage she gained by making flower garlands for a local temple and a mentally retarded Christian boy named Jacob. In the entire world Swamiji might be the only one who could talk to them so well, and for that reason we too. Initially we were so scared of Jacob whom we met almost everywhere falling from 'just' nowhere, until we started interacting with him in those tuition classes. Afterwards Jacob started recognising us and sometimes walked with us on our way back from school.

I now realised that I have not many facts to say about our Parijatham. But I consider it as one of the most precious gift of God that I do cherish. It helps me recollect all those moments about Ashram, Swamiji, the Hunch Back woman, our friend Jacob etc. I don’t think there is anything as precious as memories in this world. Good or bad, they remains my treasure. You must be wondering 'from where' does a Parijatham come in to this story, that I titled as Parijatham itself and didn’t say a word yet...

There used to be a Parijatham tree that stood tall close to my favourite mulberry plant at the compound of Ashram. During the season the flowers bloomed, the fragrance filled the whole area around the Ashram. The tiny white parijatham flowers used to cover the soil underneath the tree and a lot of them used to travel with the wind to our table. On one such day my sister Athira and me took a stem of the tree with us while returning back home. Together we planted it carefully on the compound of our house near the kitchen. I remember a few people saying that Parijatham should not be planted on the premises of house as it is a sacred tree.

Today that little stem had grown even bigger than the two floored structure of our house. Last time when Athira and me were there 'together' at home, 'TOGETHER' we touched the branches of Parijatham that covered a small portion of our terrace. Through her kitchen window, my mother had seen that tiny plant growing up to such a height since the time we planted it. Mother had seen us growing up… and the tree too... growing much taller than us. Parijatham still do shower her tiny little flowers into Mum’s kitchen with the help of wind every year. It thus do fill our compound with a lot of memories, as Dad says. I was never been at home continuously for more than two months after my Pre-Degree (12th). My sister too keeps shuttling between places. But our Parijatham was always been there beside my mum on every single day of her life with so many precious memories about us. I guess those tiny white flowers and the fragrance are the most precious gift Athira and I could give to our parents. As dad says, they are tiny sweet memories… of our childhood.