Writer's Blog

Transient Thoughts

Saturday, January 31, 2009

This and That

A month ago, me and my wife went on a trip to Chennai. Why Chennai? Karthik had gotten married in Chennai, some fifteen days before, we had originally planned to attend his wedding and had then cancelled because of bad weather and office work - this was that trip, postponed; I really really wanted to make a train journey again after a long time; I wanted to show my wife my college; and I wanted to see Chola bronze work at the government museum, Chennai. We also made a one day trip to Mahabalipuram from Chennai.


The visit to the Museum was the highlight of the trip. Nerdy, no? No. The place has atleast some 100 bronze sculptures, of various sizes, from the Chola age. Well, if I have to go to a museum to see such artisitic wonders, I will. However, because of a kanjoos strain I inherit from my father, I did not opt to pay 200 extra bucks for photography, so I can't put pictures here. We have decided we will make a two day trip to Chennai sometime, just to take pictures in the Bronze gallery of the Government museum.

I will not attempt to describe the beauty, the grace, the inegenuity, the perfection of those figurines. It was a pleasant shock to learn that so much wealth from those 1000 year old times is still with us and in such a well preserved state - not counting the collections of other museums in the country.

The bronze gallery was like a jewellery shop of a kind.

This was the first collections of bronzes I have ever seen. The metallic medium has a definite advantage over stone, adding a 'steely' edge to the austere, holier-than-thou arrogance to the Godly sculptures.


Going by the Lonely Planet guide, we visited a section of Mahabalipuram I had never seen in my visits before - the Firang section. Restaurants, souvenier shops, massage centres, 'yoga' shops etc, mostly visited by firangs. We were the only Indian tourists on that street.

We ate at 'The Seaside Restaurant', where we were the only Indian customers. The fare was good - fresh snapper fish, curried and fried. Not expensive, compared to Bangalore prices, but then again the restaurant is right on the beach - so fish must be cheap there.

Don't know why Indian tourists don't go to this firang section - is it that they find it expensive, or is it that they are not welcomed, or is it that they don't know about it? We had, after all, come to know of the place only through the Lonely planet guide - written by (and for?) firangs. Still it was surprising to not find even 'anglecized' Indians there.

The beach too seemed to be segregated somewhat, with one side full of firangs, the other full of Indians. Strange.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

When I first heard this song, in a cassette of old kannada songs, I was quite pleasantly surprised by its quiet melody, its lyrical beauty. But when I stumbled upon this video on youtube, I was even more surprised. Where I expected a picturization quite content with letting the song take centrestage, so to speak, I found the video making its own poetry and telling its own story...

I have often been told, and I have in turn told sceptical friends, that Kannada movie industry was once the leading light of South Indian cinema (it is again making a modest recovery from the abyss of the last couple of decades, by the way). This song is an example of the glorious old days.

I was already impressed with old Kannada film music, and now I am impressed with old Kannada movie direction as well.


The 'hero', presumably after a stay abroad, has just awakened to the charms of a local Kannada belle - like I awaken atlast to the charms of Kannada film making after appreciating the movies of other languages.

The seemingly simple, fluid, choreography in this picturaization reminds of bees in a flower garden in spring... the chirps of birds... water bubbling through a stream...the seemingly mindless courtship chases of butterflies. The hero's other girl friends partner him in his wooing of the heroine, perhaps they have to be content with vicarious joy only...


Here's a (notsogood) translation of the song - do listen the song first:

Hoovondu bali bandu taakitu enn-edeya
enendu... kelalu... helitu...
helitu jenanta sihi nudiya...

A flower, came and brushed my heart,
When I asked: 'What?'
It spoke in honey-sweet tongue:

kaveri seemeye kanneyu naanu
beluru baaleya pratinidhi naanu
tungeya, bhadreya,
tungeya bhadreya tavrina hoo naanu

I come from the land of Kaveri,
I represent Belur's shapely figurines,
I am the flower from the home of the Tunga, the Bhadra...

sooryana kaanti ya sundari naanu
tingala belakina tangeyu naanu
premada kavyake poojeya hoo naanu

My beauty combines the sun's rays,
The moon's light,
I am the flower, with which to worship Love's Poem...

arashina kumkuma shobhite naanu
vadhuvina sringara bhooshite naanu
mangala sutrava beduva hoo naanu

I am adorned with Kumukum and Turmeric,
I am dressed in a Bride's finery,
I am the flower that invites a mangala sutra...