What I meant literally was that I was just now listening to some Beethoven from Classical Music Archives. I am not disturbing anyone because I am listening through my earphone, and I am drowning, a pleasant kind of drowning where you don’t die but go into a trance, an ecstasy.
Music has moved me always. I have always preferred music to any other fine arts because you do not need an expertise to appreciate good music. you need only instinct and a good ear for music.
Long ago, when I used to go to only English movies, whether I understood the story or dialogs fully or not, in Casino, Elphinston or Odeon Theatre, I used to particularly like the music they played before the movie started or during the intermission. Those days music from movies like A Few Dollars More, Sugar Colt, Baby Elephant Walks, A Patch of Blue, Bridge on the River Kwai, Satan Never Sleeps, Dr. Zhivago, used to draw discerning viewers, and I was one among them, discerning or not.
I remember sitting at Carnatic Music Concerts, without the basic knowledge of Ragas or Talas, never having been trained in music formally, and my gullet will constrict with emotion and fulfilment when the music is too much and engulfs me and envelopes me. At such moments if someone were to talk to me, I might not be able to utter a word because my heart is filled to the brim with music and its fulness. This might sound foolish or exaggerated but every word I utter here is gospel truth. There is no rhyme or reason in what I am saying but that is how I feel at such moments.
I am an incomplete mortal in the sense I am wanting in all the departments of character, integrity and whatnot, but somehow these shortcomings don’t matter if there is some goodness in you. I believe there is some goodness in me which far overweighs all my follies and foibles. And that is why I feel very fortunate in life, though I have suffered the ultimate loss when Kala left us.
Wednesday, March 21,2007.8.30 p.m.
Clean Slate. That’s what we have on our hands now. A new place of our own, with a new cooking gas connection, a new Telephone number, Internet connection, new environment, new neighbors, though sparse as of now, a new milkman bringing freshly milked buffalo milk. Oh, it is all so different from anything and anywhere we knew ever earlier. A house wholly owned by Raju, the apple of his eye, though arranged with full bank loan with a fraction financed by him out of his own resources, igniting the dreams of Rupa planning for ever bigger and bigger houses in future. Though our enthusiasm is a bit watered down by the temporary lack of internet connection and telephoneline, the moment Raju and Rupa entered the house, I could discern the gleam of pride and glee in their eyes at the sight of the warmly lit home and the ready meal awaiting to be consumed by them ravenously. The only way now for me to talk to Chitra now is to ask Raju to send her an SMS so that she can call back from there and talk to us.
Everything is in suspended animation. All my mails must have piled up in my Inbox, All the obituaries will be waiting to be read from The Hindu since I last used the Internet, all the regular visitors to my blog posts will have been disappointed at finding no new posts. The transition will take sometime. Hope that the net connection will be established in a day or two. The gas connection transfer has been effected by the new dealer here and we will get the new refill cylinder in a short time, hopefully.
The house really lookks good, like all the other bungalows in our Silver Oak Bungalows Complex. Almost all the lights and fans are in place. We have stacked away all the household articles, furniture, furnishings, and the paraphernalia to their appointed nooks and niches, cupboards and lofts, we have centered the cots and mattresses in the respective bedrooms, the PC and Refrigerator conveniently placed near each other, the venetian blinds fixed at the windows, cozy lights brightening up the place and lifting our spirits. Kala looks at me benignly from her photo frame, just where I could look at her from my bed. The Builders have still to fix a few loose ends. For all external appearances, the new house is a work well done.
Rupa’s mother is making her presence felt with her tasty recipes. How she helped to put the house in order doing the lions share of putting the things in order, with an expert touch and an eye for neatness and elegance. Her long years of experience are in good stead for us. Our new domestic help seems to be working well, starting her work and at a stretch completing all her chores and only goes home when she has completed day’s work. She is also breaking the new housemaid to her daily chores.
Raju and Rupa have started their office routine, driving to office together for around 45 minutes in the morning and returning home together in the evening. Chitra calls me daily on the ISD, and I will resume my messenger talk with her once the internet connection is established.
I still have to find my marbles. Only with the resumption of the telephone and Internet connection, I will be back in my elements. At present there is power shutdown from 6 to 8 a.m. The milkman comes at around 6.15. I have my bath before the power shuts down. I go for a small walk in our housing complex. It is a walled community and walking from our end to the West Gate and back takes around 15 to 20 minutes. At around 5 in the morning, I open the valve to fill our overhead tank, switch on the geyser, take my bath, have my morning coffee, complete my walking, and wait for Raju and Rupa to wake up, complete their toilets and be ready dressed for office by around 8.30. For another ten days I will have Rupa’s mother for company, and after she leaves for Pondicherry (now renamed as Puducheri), I will have the house for myself the whole day. Drinking water connection is not yet commissioned and hence we get two drums full of Manjira water every day, which is enough for cooking and imbibing purposes every day. The newspaper man has not yet started delivering my morning newspapers yet. I have lost a little interest in Television because my main interest is in computer and internet and blogging. Sometimes I listen to some music in my 3 in 1. I continue my morning puja routine, praying with Kala’s spirit for the wellbeing of our household and Chitra’s welfare.
It is hotter here than it was when we stayed in Balkampet. May be it is just a feeling, but it upsets me a little. I sweat a little more. Mosquitoes are a little overpopulated here, and the mosquitoes take undue interest in me. But it is silent and serene here. Our home faces the East Gate and the security guard at the gate is visible if we look out of the window, as we will be visible to him and all others who enter through the gate. The swimming pool next door is taking shape as also the Club House in the adjacent plot to ours. Just a handful of owners have moved in in our complex, and most of the time we see only the Security Guards or the workmen and the electricians and plumbers and Supervisors carrying on with their busyness everywhere around us. There is street lighting in front of our house.
Life is going to be different here. We have moved in here on an experimental basis, and if the going is good, we shall continue living here. I don’t think we will lack for anything here. On the other hand it will be a more healthy and happy life here than ever before.
I wait for the telephone connection to tell all everything. While we were in the process of shifting, there was a sudden hitch and an hour’s suspense and helpless feeling due to a temporary problem, which cropped up suddenly out of the blue, and which was also resolved within an hour’s time. But the process has set us back by a hefty amount which we felt was unfair on us. Anyway,we are all happy now and that is what counts most.
P.S: This is Monday, the 25th March, and I could post my blog only now, at 10.30 p.m., because the Internet connection was given only this evening. This day is also our wedding anniversary. Rupa presented to me a DVD which I watched immediately.
I missed Chitra’s phone call today though she had tried to contact us. I sent her an offline message. I will write more about our new home in my next post.
I spent the whole of Friday trying to pack the whole household, of course with the help and expert guidance from Rupa’s mother who has come down from Pondicherry specially to help us organise our new home. Raju and Rupa had been running around at Charlapally, coordinating all the cleaning and final touch-ups.
Today it is going to be more hectic. The electrician will be here at 7 a.m. as also our domestic help Pushpa. Raju and I have to go to the cooking gas agency to obtain transfer voucher for the cooking at Charlapally. Then Raju will proceed to Modi Properties Main office to obtain the official transfer papers and the formal handing over of the premises to us. In the meantime, our breakfast will be ready at home and our lunch packed. The packers and movers Rep. will bring the vehicles a while later because goods transports can ply on city roads only between 12 Noon to 5 P.M.
Once the household is moved to Charlapally we will be immersed in relocating all the articles to their respective nooks and places. Atleast we will have to get our bedding arranged before nightfall so that we can sleep in comfort for the first time in our new home.
It will be Raju-Rupa’s wedding day on the 18th March, Raju’s birthday on the 20th, and our own wedding anniversary on the 25th. So long as Kala was alive, we used to receive Mr. Jayaraman’s (R.G. Ramadas) punctual and unfailing greeting to Kala and me on our wedding day every year. All that is past now and nevermore to be. Let me not relapse into reveries and sadness on this busy happy day.
I am constantly updating Paplu about the progress. We have arranged to shift our landline phone connection and it will be wireless telephone connection for the time being. Because of this shift from landline to wireless connection, our present broadband connection cannot be enabled there in Charlapally. Hence we have to seek the internet connection from some private agency. Because Charlapally is on the very city limits, we lack certain city facilities. But no sweat. There is always an alternative solution available for any problem.
We are all very happy with the way our new homes looks. Though Raju and Rupa have to drive about 45 minutes to office, they will return to a cozy home, a place of their own, in the evening. They will be able to purchase all the home needs on their way to office and back any day, and the most important of all is that they will ride to office and back together.
Well, it is just a few more hours when things start rolling and we all get busy each in his own way for the exodus. Kala’s spirit will be looking down on us benevolently and blessing Raju-Rupa on this joyous occasion.
I chafe my hands togetherin anticipation, and we will all wait a few months for Paplu to make her annual visit to the new home, sometime in July or August. I am sure her eyes will enlarge in surprise and glee to see such a good home. She will have her own room but will spend most of her time with me.
Give me just this one week at the end of which I will start getting nostalgic for the house I vacated to move into our own made to order duplex bungalow. Don’t be mislead by big words like Bungalow and all, because it is just a 1,450 Sq. Ft. house built on a plot measuring just 266 Sq. Yards.
I have always been given to nostalgia all my life. Believe me, I used to dream that I was a rich Russian in some previous incarnation. That was when I was in my teens. I belonged to a family with modest income and very simple lifestyles. I never even got any pocket money until my college days. I used to think about ballets, swan songs and fancy dresses befitting Russian nobility. I don’t know what prompted me to presume to be Russian wheras there were the English, Americans, Europeans, Arabs or the yellow races as they used to call the Chinese and Japanese types of people I might have been in my earlier incarnations.
Places, faces or objects switch on sudden nostalgic memories. Long after I left Madurai to live in Madras, I used to long for the days when I climbed a small wall to enter our school grounds and join boys in playing football. My elementary school days bring me memories of the prayer song and other songs we learned in the classes which I remember verbatim even now. After we added the first floor structure to our Madras house, I used to have nostalgic memories of the open terrace of the previous ground floor structure, from where I used to gawk at and listen to the political meetings held on the street corners whenever elections approached. I remember sleeping on the open terrace at night, and used to stare up at the sky for a long time, observing the bright stars and constellations and the occasional meteorites.
When I left Poona for good and returned to Madras, I carried a load of nostalgic memories. For quite a few years after that I missed the choir, the nearness to Christianity and Jesus Christ, and the many members of the choir I used to meet every Sunday, though just one out of all them was my good friend. Also I used to long for such musical life because I had my good friend sharing our room and he was a good Bass voiced fellow, and we had musical sessions when I will sing in my First Tenor voice and he will accompany me with chords on his guitar. I learned many small music book songs and some movie songs too through him.
Wherever I lived I carried forward nostalgic memories. Even a tobacconist shop is a nostalgic memory. Fortunately for me, I have not indulged much in liquor much and never been to a bar. That would have left awful memories too. Nor was I very romantic, being a very untalented and unaccomplished fellow that I was then and even now. Otherwise I would have been having fantasies about women too.
Now is the time when my nostalgia machinery will start ticking soon. We will be leaving the house where my Kala had lived her last years with us. Though I must confess that I will miss her only physically, because I remember her all the time, and I pray with her spirit every day for the safety and wellbeing of our children.
Yesterday, we formally endered our new home, warmed milk, evoked God’s blessings and remembered Kala who was instrumental in Raju’s making this investment. It will be a few days more before the house is finally ready for occupation and hopefully by next Saturday, the 17th March, we should be moving in with bag and baggage.
This set me thinking about all the houses I have lived in, as a young boy, bachelor and as married man and now a widower. I have mentioned about most of them earlier but now I am bringing all to a head. All these houses have different connotations and evoke different memories.
I have a vague memory of having been told that as a baby in arms and as a very small child I was in a house in Palani, in South Tamil Nadu, famous for its Murugan Temple. The only reference I remember hearing about Palani was that when my grandmother was pregnant with her youngest son, the family saw a cobra on the wooden beam under the ceiling and prayed to God that if the snake didn’t harm anyone, they will name the child in the memory of that Cobra. Of course it did not harm anyone and the child was named Nagasubramanian.
I had lived in Madurai for eight years and had my elementary and middle schooling there. Madurai is where I had one of my very few friends, and he was Sankaranarayanan. He belonged to Naidu caste and I think their mother tongue was Telugu. His was the only family all of whom as a unit used to sit and do Yogasanas every morning. If I remember right, his uncle, Periyappa in Tamil, was a Deputy Collector or something, and his father was in Customs and Excise Department. I used to visit him at home often and we went wandering to the Railway overbridge and beyond. I renewed his friendship later when we met in Madras. I lost a baby brother who succombed to some fatal fever.
I and my next sister Soundaram studied in Madurai because my parents were away in Chittaranjan, where my father was working in the Locomotive Works. My sister Annapoorni spent perhaps a couple of years there.
My college years were spent in Madras, with just a year’s stint in Kanchipuram where I went to College for my Pre-University Class. I remember a house in Villiwakkam where we lived. I cannot exactly remember which year. But I know that I lost a baby sister named Bhanu while we lived in Villiwakkam. As a matter of fact, though I am the eldest living child of my parents, I am not the first child because my mother had an abortion earlier. I was equally at home in our smaller house as well as in my Periyappa’s larger house.
When I completed my Master’s course in History and was awaiting my results, I registered in the Employment Exchange and immediately asked to take up an entrance exam to enter Defence Account Services. Having cleared the exam, I got my first appointment as Temporary Upper Division Clerk, in the Defence Accounts Department, Poona. In Poona, I lived first in Jew Street and later at a nearby street, both in Rasthapet.
My life having taken a sudden flip, I returned to Madras and lived with my parents and sisters until around a year after my marriage. Then Kala and I set up separate house and lived at four different addresses in Tondiarpet, returning to my father’s house for a period just before my mother died. We sent our son Raju to live in his maternal grandparents house in Delhi when he was around 2 years of age. We recalled him home within a year. He started going to school. We had to sell our house because there was a legal attachment on the property and we had no other financial source to pay off debts. Back to Tondiarpet.
We had slowly managed to invest in a house of our own in Maraimalai Nagar, where we lived for about eight years, and returned to live in the city only when Raju was nearing the end of his school life.
We stayed in Babu Rajendra Prasad Street in West Mambalam, Madras for a few years, during which time Raju joined IIT and Chitra attained puberty. When our landlord wanted to sell his house to someone, we shifted residence to Chromepet. In this house we never had shortage of water. But this is where Kala’s life took a worse turn, with her knee problem getting more and more painful, finally resulting in her undergoing surgery to fix metal knee joint on her right leg. She had a near fatal accident which worsened her travails, and she had to eventually resign her job.
By then Raju found his job placement and been in Hyderabad. I was trying to get relieved from my job, and sent Kala and Chitra off to Hyderabad to live with Raju. I could get relieved only after six months, and joined my family.
We were living in our first rented house in Hyderabad for a year after which we shifted to our present premises. In the meanwhile Kala had been consulting the Ortho Specialists and had her knee transplant removed, her kneecap removed and her leg fused into a straight stump with no joint action in the middle.
Though our stay in Hyderabad started on a happy note, because of Kala’s on and off hospitalisation, surgeries, corrective surgeries, incessant consultations, the deterioration of her health and her ultimate passing away, all this took the pleasure out of our shifting to Hyderabad. Kala looked forward to a happy time relived in Hyderabad but fate or God or the times, willed it otherwise for her.
But the happy ending is that as per Kala’s wish Raju had invested in a house of his own and in a few days’ time, we will be at the end of our quest for a Zion of our own.
I always miss someone whom I needed most. I missed Kala when her dream house nearly was ready. I miss Chitra’s presence when we are going to shift to our own place because she is living so far away and can visit us only once a year.
I am happy for Raju, because like a true man, he is married to a good woman, and to make her happy he has built her a house she likes very much. Ultimately it is their happiness that counts most.
It is going to happen. This will be a big occasion for us. We have made a 20 year loan contract with the bank, and the house has been taking shape, at a snail’s pace, as compared to the other bungalows in our complex. We wait for the finishing touches to be over and the formal handing over of keys. And with that Raju will be a Deedholder, though pledged, of a home of his own, and Rupa the houselady, with me tagging on. Chitra however will not be here in Hyderabad at least perhaps until July. We will simply light a Deepam, boil milk, seek blessings of the Gods and elders, evoke Kala’s and my parents’ spiritual presence. Rupa’s parents are coming from Pondicherry, and Rupa’s mother will stay on for some days with us to guide us to settle down in our own premises.
We will have to get used to the new atmosphere. Now on, after settling there, Raju and Rupa have to synchronise their office timings so that they can leave for office together in the morning and arrive home together in the late evening. They have to drive at least 45 minutes each way. Though it is a blessing that Saturdays and Sundays are holidays, if we have to go to the city centre , we will be spending at least three hours driving. I have a feeling that our monthly quota of movies may come down to just one or even no movie some months. We may perhaps eat out sometime.
The amenities available at present there are sketchy and it is also total Telugu speaking people we have to meet there. If you are living in Secunderabad or Hyderabad proper, you can get along with smatterings of Hindi or Urdu, but you will have to improve your Telugu vocabulary in Charlapally. We will have Tata Wireless phone connection. As yet we dont know if the promoters have made any arrangements for Internet Connectivity. We haven’t yet come up with a solution in this matter. We will have to shift our cooking gas connection. Inform the post office about the change of address for redirecting any snail mails. We have to transfer our bank accounts and find the nearest ATMs and Post Office. We must also scout around to find bus stops, autorickshaw stands.
Our builders and promoters, Modi Properties, also have two more phases of Silver Oak Bungalows coming up. They have also built a block of flats / apartments near our place. At some distance the Singapore Housing Project is already coming up. Charlapally Industrial Estate abuts our complexes, and so the day time traffic of people and vehicles will be busy and the night time traffic will be very thin. But if the factories and works in the Industrial Estate work in shifts, then even the evening and night traffic of people and vehicles will be there all the time.
We will be experiencing all these too soon now. We have never yet visited Charlapally either in the early morning or the late evening, nor have we stayed overnight. The first few days and weeks will be different for all of us.
We can go for long morning walks, play in the game courts, go to the Club House or swim in the Pool next door. Our balcony looks into the Swimming Pool and the Club House, and the plot behind ours is as yet unallotted. Its total area is very big compard to all the other plots, measuring about 450 Sq. Yds. Our plot measures 266 Sq. Yards, and the building area is around 1,450 Sq.Ft. As Rupa is learing car driving now, she can also practise driving near our place. Raju drives quite well, though he is short on patience while driving.
I am dreading the days Chitra will be with us, because she will compel me to take long walks with her. She will also be watching my bulging midriff with a frown and an accusing finger. Nowadays everyone is unkind on me, imposing restrictions on my intake of fatty substances and oils. Lots of dictators around one poor soul. When I say everyone, I mean Rupa. I must say I don’t mind these controls, because on my own I can never make such decisions and stick to them. I have almost stopped having meals in between meals.
Now when we live in Charlapally, whenever we have to go to the Railway Station or occasionally to Airport, we must start more than an hour earlier and reach home equally late when we return. These occasions will be few and far between.
All said and done life will be pleasanter, calmer, and we will breath cleaner air. Noise pollution will be less. I will have more time for introspection when I am in an exalted mood and we will all be healthier and purposeful.
My uncle, i.e., Chithappa as we say in Tamil, passed away this morning in Madras. According to our customs, Sanatana Dharma, there are sixteen important ceremonies and rites in a Brahmin’s life. You cannot pinpoint which is the starting point for these sixteen rites, because they cover a continuous cycle of birth and death and life in between. I am not too much into rights and rituals, and in the olden days I would have been cast out of the community, excommunicated and alienated. So I will leave it to you to lealrn about the Sanatana Dharma from books and the internet.
Death is so very familiar to us that it doesn’t shock or affect us as long as it doesn’t happen to our own near and dear. When you open the day’s newspaper, news of death occurring through various reasons can be read. When you switch on the TV or Radio, at least one death news will be aired in every news. We are so inured to death that it is not something to be dreaded. That is until death stares you in the face.
When people marry good consorts, rear a family, live a full life, give a lot of charities, save enough for posterity, undertake and honor religious vows, live a long and generally healthy life, and when they finally die without suffering prolonged illness or pain, or worldly worries like unfulfilled responsibilities, outstanding debts, and when all the near and dear are gathered around their deathbed to offer them silent solace and togetherness and contentment, then they have achieved the purpose of life.
Why people dread death? You an come up with any number of reasons. All people are created equal but they are not endowed equal. Some are more wealthy, more educated, more intelligent, more well mannered, more cultured, more good-natured than the others. Some are more contented even when less endowed. Some are never happy. Some are more carnal, and some are more ascetic; some are more philosophical and some are more materialistic; some are more greedy and avaricious and some are always satisfied and happy with what they have and actually bless themselves even for small favors from God . Some live a long life, some live a healthy life, some live a tumultous life, some have a lust for life; some always suffer and toil in life, while some have n easy and comfortable and pleasant life; Some are busy and some are lazy; Some just sit and watch and some always go and fetch.
For all these types, two things are common, life and death. Life is just momentary. Life, though momentary, is long because it is subjective because it is lived from moment to moment. We live every moment, breathe every moment, our brain and body sustain our senses and emotions, while the other faculties carry on their functions every moment. When people come into this world they cry, and when they die the bereaved ones cry for the departed.
But what makes us fear death. My birdbrain is not responding readily to this poser. or, if you rephrase the question can you find an answer. Let’s ask like this: WHY DO PEOPLE CLING TO DEAR LIFE AND WHY DO THEY WANT TO PROLONG THEIR LIFESPAN? For either question I feel the answer is the same. Birth is something which we can explain spiritually and scientifically; whereas death is an enigma, an indeterminate number. Death is an imposing door, a gaping chasm and abyss. Birth is always construed as a gala affair whereas death is solemn and stern and abrupt. Birth is youth, growth, fruition, achievement, laurels, accolades, adorations, warmth and joy. Death is inscrutable, dismal, a shutting off. Death offers no more chances, death doesn’t pardon, death punishes and it is irreversible.
Death means that there is no more worldly or corporal indulgences, no more whims and fancies. Men who have not done their worldly duties fear death because their near and dear will suffer as a result. Those who are over indulgent and lusty or avaricious or vengeful, fear death. People who are over affectionate to people and objects, fear death. People who are too young, energetic and virile, fear death. People who have lived in sin and repented it late in life when they are reaping the consequences of their misdeeds, fear death. People who imagine a fate in hell after death, also fear death.
Think for an instant. We know we are organic and and like any other living matter, our bodies also will disintegrate into various elements of nature. The moment you die, you are not you. There is no you, I or anything after death Death is final and it is a great blessing. Imagine living on and on for a couple of hundred years, and that will be the living dead.
Death is a solemn affair. If you are a religious person, all the last rites send you straight to heaven. If you are an agnostic, or a naturalist, then you enrich mother nature.
Live well, and die laughing. Keep a healthy regimen, and keep your fingers crossed against diseases and epidemics. Like the story books say, let there be a lingering smile on your face when you die.