Tuesday, April 26, 2011

For a few dollars more

It’s past nine o clock and you and your friends feel like watching a movie. You are on a nice high and you don’t want to drink more. Mainly because you are running out of cash not because of aversion to the booze. You have enough to watch a movie though as movie tickets are not that expensive. You wonder which one’s running and, after rejecting all the movies on various accounts, someone says For a Few dollars More is showing at a cinema close-by. You don’t need to ask around for confirmation for this is one movie you won’t stop watching just because you’ve seen it enough times already. You sit in the semi-dark hall waiting for the movie to start. And when it does, the familiar tune from the speakers is drowned in whistles and applause. You sit back whistling along, and notice how the tune raises the energy level in the hall. Everyone seems to be on horseback leaving a trail of dust.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Kuliradhunnu maanathu – Olangal

The day you went to see this seems a bit vague now, was it an early June morning that you cut class from college or a cold December morning? But you remember very clearly that you didn’t cut class as much as you acted on a tip from reliable sources that there was going to be a strike that day and you saw no point going all the way only to come back one hour later. So you decide to use the bus fare to see a movie. After making sure there are no known faces that might report you to your family, you quickly buy tickets with your friends and enter the welcoming darkness of the cinema hall, which isn’t all that crowded on this weekday morning. No popcorn, no money for that, but there’s enough for a cup of coffee during interval.
You like the movie, it’s like a vernacular poem. It’s shot well. But what you remember most are the 3 beautiful songs that will remain with you long after the movie has finished its short run. And when you come out in the noon sun after the movie, you see your classmate come back from college saying there was a strike. Money well spent.

Friday, April 8, 2011


It’ll always be a morning song. There’s an ‘everything-will-be-all right’ feel to it even though the lyrics suggest otherwise. A strange mix of cheerful tune and down-in-the-dumps lyrics. It’s probably the sax, you think, noticing how you’ve never heard the sax dominate a song as much as it does in this one. The morning traffic is busy. People from cars next to you are on the phone or talking to their kids in the backseat. The kids look out at the window, indifferent. A motorbike guy with his helmet-covered face slips in the gap between you and the car next, looking at you through his visor. You don’t know what he is looking at, or if it’s even a he, as you’ve seen women ride Harley’s in these parts. You look around and see cars with stuffed animals peeping out from the rear windshield. A taxi with a soccer club scarf logo you don’t like is on the left. Light changes to green and your contemplation stops, but the song continues.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Malai pozhudhin

The radio crackles to life around 4 pm. It’s a hot afternoon and the clouds are teasing you with a few drops of rain that unlock the humidity instead of cooling the city. At home, they’ve asked you to go and buy some tea sachets from a shop close-by. You can protest but you have to end up going anyway, besides you are not doing anything meaningful like work, so you leave reluctantly, because you want to listen to this song that has just come on. You manage to catch bits of the song along the way from different radio sets playing the same station. On the way, you see your friend coming from the ration shop, you say a quick hello and notice a bunch of oily-faced kids returning from school, with school bags on their back, swinging their lunch box. At the shop, the evening newspapers are already out, you can see the front page news on sheets clipped to a rope under the counter. Not much crowd at the shop, so you buy your sachets and walk back. The maid has come and she is washing the dishes. You will go out later to see your friends and watch some pretty girls go by from college. A brief respite from an otherwise dull evening. The song is over now.

Pazhaya sogangal

You never heard this song when it was released. An experimental movie that didn't do well perhaps. Thankfully, some songs outlive the movies they feature in, you think when you listen to it much later. There’s a college-day-afternoon angst quality to the song. Even now. It takes you back to your second or third year. To the days when you left after the last class afternoon around 3.45 and waited for the bus. There are puddles near the bus stand from the previous day’s rain. The locals in their dhoti and shirt wearing sandals and chewing pan. You see a man on a cycle carrying water in two bronze vessels tied together with a cycle tyre or tube and slung across the carrier in the back.He looks like a decent, honest man. A dog tries to run after him for a few metres and gives up sensing no imminent fight. The day has an unnatural combination of the apocalypse and optimistic cheer. Sweet melancholy.

Single handed sailor

A warm, lazy breeze comes caressing from the sea shimmering in the sharp mid-morning sun, its blazing rays bouncing off the powdery whiteness of the sand. The mug of beer you ordered from the thatched-roof bar at this island resort is getting warmer on the wooden table, next to the book you’ve brought for the trip but not read. You will finish it before you get back, you promise. You’re sitting under the roof near the edge of the bar area, where your toes accidentally touch the burning sand. You search for your slipper with your feet as you reach for the beer. It’s too hot to even think of a smoke. Sipping the lukewarm beer, you notice how the half empty mug has the residual smell of the potato chips you had a while ago. You take a deep breath, and inhale the salty breeze which carries the distinct smell of suntan lotion from beach where bathers and swimmers are splashing around in the sea. A lone kayak is bobbing up and down almost vulnerably in the vast blue sea. A sail boat struggles even further up. You look at the book for a while and pick up your iPod, and this song comes on, fittingly.