Thursday, March 30, 2006

Loyola! Loyola! Loyola!

Loyola School, somewhere in South India, India.
My alma-mater. UKG to Class XII.
Made me what I am.
(PS: But please don't hold the school entirely responsible for any of my..... ummmmm "anomalies", like being two chappatis short of a full Thaali as one of my friends described it so succinctly. Wokay?)

Run by the Jesuit Order as you might be aware.... perhaps the best organisation that can handle a difficult task like teaching little devils. Centuries as the Catholic Church's vanguard in exorcisms and demon-busting and paranormal phenomena have made the Jesuit Order the best educationists in the whole universe...... Yeah, they'll really need all that experience. :)

Now, this place is boys only.
Pros: Male Bonding. Lifelong friendships..... nee, brotherhood! Industrial strength "skin" and Untamed tounges. First names basis with the local cops and crooks alike.
Cons: Ask the girls of St. Thomas, Sarvodaya, KV and Holy Angels.

That would do for a short intro..... for now. I guess I'll be telling you a lot more on life in Loyola soon. But first, I need you to familiarise yourself with the terrain.
How about a photo tour into the greatest school in the world? Hold on Totos, we're leaving Kansas now..........

Enter, stranger!
These gates you see below were made with the very bones of the hills...... Vulcan himself spent eons fashioning the irons that hold the demons within, sparing the world of the horrors that lie beyond the runes. MUHUHUHAHAHAHAHAHAHA....

Errrrrr.........on second thoughts, no! I'll save the Bela Lugosi voiceover and the Gothic horror ishtyle for something else. ;)

OK, let's start again.
Here's the main gate to our little heaven.... If I remember correctly, the gate has been around for a long time. But that globe's new.... a bit corny, eh? Now the grills you see in the centre of the pic enclose the tennis court. Nobody played tennis in my time..... but since the advent of Ms. Mirza, I hear a lot of besotted, hopefull "suitors" are now really sweating it out there. Good luck to you, boys! Beyond the tennis court lies our dear football ground. They call it the football ground..... but you can see people playing cricket, track and field, no rules combat and dodgeball, simultaneously. Yeah, you have guessed right, we have therefore deviced strict (and violent) policies against run-out batsmen and clumsy fielders who claim they were distracted by the football (or the flying shoe, glasses, lunchboxes and undies from the friendly Muay-Thai melee nearby) out of the blue. There's a better view of this ground down the post....

Moving on, this pic right below shows the main block. The offices, computer labs, Audio-Video rooms, the SBT branch, most of the senior school classes, the library, are located in this block. The pic following this one shows the view from the second entrance, i.e via the Jesuit residence, chapel-auditorium and College road. In my case Classes IX to XII were held here. The well stocked library at the top floor provides a Zen like experience. There's the cool breeze from the hills, the view, the very gentle and pleasant Susheela Ma'am who runs the library and her assistant, the one and only Lazar Uncle. (The non-teaching staff were really kind Uncles to us...... we didn't address them so for nothing. All of them were good men... the Jesuit management really knows how to pick their staff. I can't even imagine a life in Loyola without colorful characters like Joseph Uncle, Lazar Uncle and D'Cruz Uncle, the speed demon bus-driver. Here's looking at you, folks!) The Library was personally my favorite place in the whole school.... gave me this love for libraries I carried over into college and life after college.

See the building partially hidden by the tree and with the words Loyola School in the pic above? Well, that is the annexure to the main block and holds the enoromous exam halls, arts practice rooms at lower levels, some senior school classes etc. Classes V to VIII was held here in those days..... and there was always the cool wind from the hills and the lake of the resort nearby. Lovely view too.

The main block, the annexure and a third, older building (not shown in this post) forms the quadrangle. Here's the quadrangle, as seen from the old building. The stairs lead to the main block...... we hold our weekly assemblies here. A sea of boys in black and white (no ties or tuck-in shirts or polished shoes or walking in files-holding hands or such stupid rules here, BTW) throng the stairs, the Principal sits alone on a chair at the edge of the main basketball court and there's that 7 foot adjustable mic connected to the Public Address System. Every assembly, one kid (out of 45 per division, two divisions per class = 1170 boys totally in my time) per division from the senior school HAS to give a speech/song/poetry recitation. Like the Fight Club, everyone HAS to make a go. Let me tell you this thingie cured me of my stage fright..... and helped me face the world. And thousands of other kids like me.
No public caning, report-card reading or apology in the assembly or any of that shit...... and we never had corporal punishment here! Except for late Fr. Mathew Pulickal descending on the rioting masses of naughty kids, waving his cane and hectoring them to behave like gentlemen should. I bet my immortal soul he's up there at the right side of God's throne, winking at us and promising us another thrashing with that bamboo cane when he sees us up there. (See, that ad with Big B as a priest, tagging school kids who don't have clean uniforms? That's a much watered-down version of the loving, incorrigible and impossible Fr Pulickal...... I owe him a whole post. Soon!)

Coming back to the school terrain, the pic below shows the view from the main block. What you see is the football court I told you about. That red brick structure is the so-called "Pavillion", another multipurpose edifice. Sports day fest organising, PT for kids, close-quarters football with stones, review of the latest D.B.Nair(Debonair) magazine..... this is the place. That door you see leads to the sports locker..... ahhhhh, a kids dream! We luvved to raid the place for that sweet, musty smell of old football and basketball bladders, willows, nets, tug-of-war ropes and that abdomen-groin pad. This object has never been touched since a wonderous humanoid lifeform named Bijoy (one yr senior to me) used it the very day they purchased it. AFAIK, it is an object of shamanistic awe now and legends have grown around it's etheral photoluminscense and aroma. It now occupies a place of honor at a corner of the sports room, respected, worshipped and undisturbed by all.
Right next to this room, hidden by the portico is our snack canteen. Gawwwwd...... the moments of absolute Nirvana and KaivalyaJnana I have attained here munching those snacks. Especially if I convinced someone else to pay for it! They don't make that kind of "butter-buns", "jam-cakes" and "sip-ups" anymore, sighhhhh.....What? Why are you cackling? They ARE suggestive names, but I assure you they are nothing more than snacks. Ohhh grow up, for fcuk's sake! :)

Hmmm..... now we have a view of the Junior school playplace(see that big boat thingie and the building to the left of the pic, behind the grill?) and a portion of the renovated Junior School. As you probably realise, this flatland is the football ground, as seen from the Pavillion.

The Chapel and Auditorium complex is the coolest structure in the campus. Designed by Laurie Baker, this exhibits his style of affordable and enviornment friendly architecture. The auditorium is huuuuge, accoustics are excellent and there's a large balcony section for the "criminally" inclined. Visit the backenches of the balcony during festival time to know what a Pepsi, spittle and popcorn shower is like! Been in sooo many auditoriums, but nothing ever measures upto this one. The cheers, catcalls, whistles and the curses still ring in my mind..... so clearly. After class hours, Karate classes were held in the auditorium. I used to be a little Bruce Lee for a couple of years you know, though you wouldn't tell if you saw my "chiselled" body now. ;) We had to clear the chairs off first to make the Dojo.... and arrange them back after the 90 minute class. Our sinews, fists, knuckles, shins and knees hurt like a million hells, but still we had to do it in 5 minutes sharp...... lest Sensei's thick Black Belt descended on our butts or thighs to "encourage" us.
The chapel is quite an experience, even for an "idolatorous heathen" like me. ;) The design is such that the light enters through some strategically placed windows and converges at the altar.... giving it an out-of-world glow. Trust me, it's some light-show! Add to it the rich, booming voice of Fr Thayyil or the so-sensible and paternal voice of Fr Thomas or the earnest and pointed voice of Fr Pulickal or even the metallic, no-nonsense voice of Fr Manimala, this chapel provides a very mystical experience. I have spent so many hours sitting here, praying to every God that came to my mind, before exams or for my house to win the cup (while the festival was going in the auditorium, seperated from the chapel by a wall).... or simply to be at peace. Life was so simple then, we were rather innocent, the Gods were simpler, theology more black and white and we weren't yet exposed to the shenanigans and spin-off effects of religion-politics or caste-politics. Anyway......
The grottos and the 12 passions, staple features of every catholic church, are quite unique. The passions are represented by simple outlines wrought in iron. No grand mosaic glass panel, icons and Biblical verses in huge Gothic scripts..... simple outlines. My favorite one is the passion showing Jesus carrying the cross, it's a simple metal outline..... says so much, with so little. Just like that famous three swoosh pencil-sketch representing Gandhiji.
Here's Apu (Peri) and Mathew(Ichaayan) at the spiral stairs leading to the balcony of the auditorium. We were just finished with a game of basketball..... One door to the auditorium can be seen at extreme left of the pic. That was my least favorite door, you land right into the midst of the teachers and judges who occupy the front rows. Definitely no place for exhibiting your true self!

Wowww! The "Hockey Ground"! But Hockey was last played here during the time of Dhyan Chand..... this has long been taken over by the warlords of cricket. See the trees lining up on the side, they were the "wickets". The first gang to reach the ground possessed the middle tree, the prized location for obvious reasons. We made bats out of coconut leaf stems (till we were "old enough" to ask for proper bats from the sports-room) and played with tennis balls.... took turns in buying the ball you know. Sometimes, we pooled resources from "sip-up" money for buying a ball. God help the wretch who loses it before it wears away into an amorphous piece of pulp! Even worse fate awaits those who hit the ball into the thick bushes beyond the ground.
BTW, the number of times I've scraped my knees and elbows in the hard, unforgiving ground! Something abou the place..... the ground is so unnaturally hard.

Here's another view from the main block..... this one shows the second basketball court. Can you make it out from this pic? Whenever they had exams for other classes in the quad buildings, or during free periods or when the school team was practicing, this is where we little scamps headed off to. I've been to the Thar and Mojhave deserts..... but I've never seen so much fr1ggin dust as this piece of Mother Earth. It was lovely though..... all that dust just adds to the feel and the thrill of the battle. Until Apu charges from the Khamsin and rams his knee into your family jewels before proceeding to score while you writhe on the ground and eat the dust. Ouch!

Another view of the Junior school down here.... the buses were just filing in as I took the pics. They tore down my old junior school... the brick-red, single story, horse-shoe shaped Laurie Baker style structure and built this green monstrosity in its place. Damn! And I have no pics of that beautiful old place...... the central quad, the "port-holes" we shot passers-by with paper pellets, Rajappan uncle's lair, Fr Thomas's room, the comfy infirmary.
Sighhhh. Nothing lasts forever......

Ok..... some of my greatest memories in school was the jolly little forest and that deep "trench" which once existed right where they are building the new stadium. See that in the background of the pic below? We were so pissed when they erased those woods ...... we had so much fun there. The terrain was so much like the alpine and semi-forest terrain of Fauji serial. Had loads of fun playing commandos and Pakistanis out there, imaginations fired to max till that shrill bell at 12:40 sharp. The parents were glad though.... they always thought the "enchanted woods" were dangerous. After all, our school "muscot" and showpiece Python (passed away a few years ago) was captured there. I used to spend hours staring at the Python, waiting for it to sit up and hiss and scare me like those nasty Nagas in those Prem Nazir movies. No dice...... it rarely moved. I guess he was too lonely, bored and sad. He spent almost his entire life in that little improvised cage beneath the stairs you see. NOW I feel so ashamed for not letting him out back then.

All thats left of our original terrain are the slides you see in the following pic. They seemed so menacing and steep back then. The ultimate test of "manhood" was sliding down these wearing those nylon socks for added mobility and danger..... or better, during the rains when it gets slippery! There used to be a shicking red merry-go-round, two see-saws and two pairs of swings in the empty space you see. I wasn't scared of the merry-g-round and the swings..... used to cling on even when the merry-go-round was spun at maximum speeds and my friends had jumped out screaming. I just loved that feeling in my stomach and the wind in my hair. I could swing to the maximum heights and jump off too...... somehow managed to land on my feet all the time. The see-saw was another matter though. I was scared to death of Vinay or Kiran jumping off the other end at my maximum ascent, sending my ass crashing into the ground at terminal speeds........ along with my end of the see-saw. How my spine and rib-cage jangled after impact! These two used to do that all the time....... the thrill was in the mind-game and guessing when he's going to jump off. However, I could never muster up enough courage to return the favor...... jumping off a see-saw when I was on maximum ascent seemed so suicidal. The fulcrum thingie messed up my calculations in statics, projecticle theory, aerodynamics, wind velocity and thrust to weight rations..... for all I know, I could end up with my chin mashed into my mouth . So I sat there and took it like the pu$$y I was. :P

I guess that will do for today.............. already this is a loooooong-ass post. I doubt if the page would ever load for all ye mere mortals with slow connections. All the pics are approx 150KB each! Resized from their original 1 MB High-Quality versions onlee. I only hope the blog software doesn't distort the pics too much.

Lots of things I haven't included..... partly its b'coz of space considerations, partly because I don't have the pics. Perhaps I SHOULD make more posts on my school, the people and all the anecdotes..... I feel I haven't done enoigh justice to Loyola. Lots of things still clanging inside my head, waiting to be put down on black and white before time erases them. Thank God I have a rather good memory..... and I am a compulsive record-keeper (personal diaries, mementos, catalogues, pics etc). Ever fear about a time when you start forgetting things you never should? Ooops, here I go on tangent again..... (Note to self: never read short stories like Orma or see movies like Thanmatra or even Bubba-Ho-Tep!)

Better get outta here. Till next time, Bye!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Phunctional Phiction: The CET Chronicles, Folio - I


"cold be heart and hand and bone,
cold be travellers far from home. "
(Inscription on the granite sacrophagus where we interred our last Principal... alive)

Two hundred plus acres packed with rolling hills, deep gorges, barren spaces, thick bushes and dark Acacia forests, the College of Engineering Trivandrum or CET is an apt candidate for a national biodiversity park. This land of ceaseless wonders is ringed by a three metre high wall topped with barb-wire and jagged glass pieces for assisting students attempting to sneak in/out of the campus. Those walls were painted bleak stone-grey till someone mistook the institute for a maximum security prison and dumped a busload of hardcore female crooks into the Ladies Jail...oops Hostel, about 7 years ago. This mistake was never rectified and sadly, 17 of these anti-social elements formed the core of women's wing of EEE 2003 batch. The British Empire which created this institute in 1939 (in their continuing quest for world domination) had fled India in horror when they realised the true nature of their creation.... Since then they have been pleading in vain with the Govt of India to let them nuke the damned place off the map as a redemption for their cardinal sin. The reasons for the Govt's refusal remain explained.

The archviles who grace this noble institute are supported from outside by the Sreekaryam-Ulloor-Karyavattom hinterland which boasts of notable humanitarians like Mahesh Karuna and Malayan Dillepan not to mention generations of RSS acolytes.... the latter tradition is so strong that male babies in this area are born fully attired in Khaki shorts, white shirts and black caps and refuse to let go of the umbilical cord till someone gives them a 9" wooden staff. The Govt has bestowed due recognition to the influence of this landmark by permanently stationing a battalion of battle-hardened Paracommandos and Military Police units in the Southern AirCommand HQ built right next to the college. The Kerala Police was found seriously lacking after an incident in 1992 where a band of armed personnel and concerned citizens were chased off with high casualities by mutated lifeforms from the depths of D-block, Men's Hostel. The 24/7 Close Air Support missions by IAF jets were somewhat effective till someone put up a Hi-Fi stereo system up the water-tower and played Balashankar's Judas Priest/Rage Against the Machine/Black Sabbath CDs at full blast. This brilliant act of asymmetrical warfare scrambled aircraft comms and navigation, effectively putting the mighty air-force out off the grid. A hapless pilot who bailed out in dazed confusion instead of dashing blindly back to Madurai Airbase on full afterburner was last seen descending into the bushes behind the Power Lab. It is believed that the abovesaid wretch fell into the hands of the 8th year "veteran" undergrads who stalk the badlands beyond the Labs.

The main building and the Electronics block are built in a Crucifix-Spanner layout as this design was found very effective in the St. Petersburg Crucifix Prison. The main block is a dismal 4 storey edifice who commands a view over the entire perimeter.... The sniper nests in the corners cover the roads radiating from the building and the potholes in these roads act as murder holes in case they try an armored assault. Never the ones to hedge bets, promising young CETians have fashioned an RPG launcher from the exhaust pipe of Nitin George's bike . Jacob's Engineering works furnish the armor penetrating casings and the Ladies Hostel Kitchen provides a steady supply of high-explosive material. Human bombs are in plentifull supply given the number of zombies who populate the SFI and ABVP ranks. In short, we are Qazba-i-Zameen, Secure Ground!

Chapter 1: The Electrical Department

The Electrical Dept , my old Ilaka, is embedded within the main block since the funds extorted from the harassed Govt for building a new block were diverted to our Cold fusion project..... an endeavour which took the lives of half the research students and two professors in a freak accident. (Oh, almost forgot.... it created a 700 metre wide crater and obliterated Chaavadimukku junction along with 143 of it's residents). Stragglers runts from the Civil Engineering and Computer Engg Dept hold court in this building otherwise monopolised by pillaging hordes of EEE jocks and the odd salivating tourist from the Mexxx dept. The classrooms themselves ain't very remarkable, except for what happens inside them..... dark stories I can't disclose for reasons of personal and national security. Maybe I'll tell you another day. What takes the cakes are the organs attached to the Dept, the labs. Ohhh, the laaaaaaaabbbbbbsssssssss........the laaabbbbbbs! Yes, I will tell you about the labs today.

The ones that came before wisely built the EEE labs far away from human habitation.... The Basic Electrical Lab is run by Bela Lugosi characters right off Marvel Comics and Pokemon manga, and the lab itself was the inspiration behind Buffalo Bill's lair from Silence of the Lambs. Unearthly sounds of metal spikes driven into wooden boards (via God knows what), electric arcs and discharges and occasional bloodcurdling shrieks fills the air..... quite a foreboding place.
Instrumentation Lab can be accessed only by humanoids of high pain and electric-shock tolerance and ability to wade through seas of metallic junk and coils of high-tension wires . Experience in wood-chopping, knife-fighting and training in Samurai sword arts is a must..... the wire insulations are very thick you see. Dozens of signboards shrieking "440 Volts: Certain Painful Death" with grinning skull-n-bones embossed above only increase your sense of security and pride in this pleasant ambience. The safety record is however exemplary.... past sixty years have seen only 7 fried balls, 11 mangled knockers, 16 amputated fingers, 23 instant hair-loss incidents, 14 third degree burns...... and just one tragic death, from an Eveready pentorch battery. (Shit happens, right?)
The High tech Robotics Lab was shut down by the Govt somtime the 80s when a final year project termed T-800 went renegade, brutally terminated its creators and the Head of the Dept, escaped to the United States posing as a Phelwan and became the Governor of California. Every Feb 27 around noon time, one can still hear muffled sobs, welding and cutting sounds, gunshots, screams and a chilling German accented voice saying "I'll Be Back" from inside the barricaded doors.
Electronics Lab is a rather euphemistic term for the national Cathode Ray Oscilloscope graveyard. It is perhaps the only realm where Kirchoff's Laws (and thus the Law of Conservation of Energy) and Laws of Thermodynamics do not hold..... It has therefore been postulated that there is a flaw in The Matrix program at this location. How else can one explain CROs showing sinusoidal , wait triangular..... no square.... no Kaledoscopic waveforms, even before we connect the goddamn circuit leads to it's steel titties (i.e terminals)?
The Microprocessor Lab is one of the two saving graces in our Freakshow. Four/five person teams per experiment and only three wooden stools per station. WTF, three stools for five asses?! Jolly Good, 'coz I was the only guy in my team....... and let me confess that I recieved my first (unintentional) lapdances in this holy place (long before I came to sincity LA). Oh my sweet, virtuous, unsuspecting, focused-on-experiment teammates who might be reading this.... now you realise what a pig I was? Now please don't send your husbands or parents or brothers or boyfriends after my scalp, for I am phully reformed now. Honest! :P
Software Lab, ummmm.... that was evil! Perhaps the only air-conditioned location in CET, carpeted floors, cushy chairs, that sweet musty smell and the pyshedelic atmosphere of those seedy Mumai pubs. Windows (Linux is for useless geeks), ACDSee 4.0, fully catalogued Desibaba galleries, Pam Anderson screensavers and Mysore Mallige installed on every system... this was our temple. Sighhhh, I miss you, ol' girl.
Electrical Machines Lab is perhaps the most hated place in the good college.... well, right after the Pricipal's office atleast. Its not just for us EEE freaks, but hapless Injineers from Tele, Applied Electronics and Mech dept also were cursed with this lab. Run by a person of notorious repute as a taskmaster and an unforgiving martinet, aided by a pack of freshly minted demons, this hellhole still scares the living daylights out of generations of CETians. The perennial smell of grease, oil, short circuited boards, rusted wires and the blood and sweat of countless students before permeates every pore in your body, rapes your nostrils and assaults your higher brain functions. The only respite for us EEE folks is watching clueless Tele or Applied students blow up one machine after another.... these pitiful mortals being used only to microvoltages and ICs, they run into hysterics when someone tells them there really something called 220V. I fondly remember one of them pouring a bucket of water INTO the fr1ggin machine innards and blowing half the lab to kingdom come when the Prof told her to cool the machine drum...... You know, there's a slot for pouring in water to cool the belt and the drum, which our poor protagonist was unaware of. The student (who survived miraculously) is still serving her 7th year in Coimbatore Jail for multiple charges of destruction of government property, arson and manslaughter.
Now we come to the Power Electronics Lab which is the least fun. Yuck! All you have to do is run the slider up and down the Rheostat like a DJ and occasionally check if the circuit devices are glowing, smoking and pulsating. If so, the best course of action is pile your partners around you as a human shield and hope that God loves you despite all the terrible sins you have committed..... Or, you can flick a last birdie at the hated lab instructor and run like hell before the God of electric fire comes visiting in a thunderous flourish.
Power Lab was out of bounds for mere undergrads like me...... rumors are afloat on the Chinese opium den operating inside and the heady cocktails brewed inside the deep bowels of this Barad-dûr. Yessss, concotions rumored to be made from innocuous ingredients like transformer oil, brake fluid and Neelabhringadi Hair Oil..... Ambrosias which give you intense Xanaduesque hallucinations. The carcass of one cocky undergrad who attempted to recce the lab and raid the barrels was found floating in Vembanad Lake with rolls of midterm answer-sheets stuffed into his orifices. There have been no further attempts.

To be continued......


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Those tunes that ring in your mind...

I just saw this little known but quite charming movie called The River King..... It's a mystery/crime movie based on Alice Hoffman's bestselling novel by the same name, starring Ed Burns (remember the assault-rifle wielding, handsome Ranger in Saving Private Ryan?) and Jennifer Ehle (who bears a good resemblance to the the exquisite, great Meryl Streep) plus an excellent supporting cast. What struck me most while I was watching this movie was Simon Boswell's refreshing mandolin score in the background.
There are some sounds, smells and sights that hit a spot somewhere deep inside you, awaken memories or strong feelings..... things you had buried so deep in your psyche. The mandolin score in this movie (plus the whole setting and theme of the movie) reminded me of someone who failed to "see" me a long time ago. The music somehow strikes resonance with the vibrations of your heart (corny, huh! ). I get a somewhat stronger reaction when I listen to "Never Tear Us Apart" from Inxs (see my previous post for more on this)..... especially the poignant flourish which accompanies the lines
"I was standing..... you were there,
Two Worlds collided"

Today I would like to share with you some tunes that have stayed with me for a long time.... have almost become a part of me.
I bet every Malayalee has seen Padmarajan's immortal movie Thoovanathumpikal .... a love triangle movie way ahead of it's time, which sports some of the most multidimensional characters in film history. There's this central theme which we fans call "When It Rained" or "Clara's Theme"..... a most soothing and melodious violin and piano piece lasting about 90 seconds. This music evokes bittersweet feelings and subtley warns that the love is doomed even before it began... even before Jayakrishnan meets the enigmatic Clara. Whenever it rains and the smell of fresh, moist earth (what we call Puthu Mannu or 'New Earth') hits me..... this song rings inside my head. Love it.....

Dil Chahta Hai...... remember that scene where a smitten Sidd is talking to Tara? He suddenly blurts out "I want to paint you" to which a pleasantly surprised Tara doubles up in laughter and agrees. There is this music piece termed "Sidd's theme" which plays as he first walks , then jogs and finally sprints to his home to collect the canvas and brushes.... stuffs them in his jhola and races back to Tara's house. Notice that adoring expression turning to moonstruck impatience and desperation as he picks up his speed? The music piece is so haunting..... It is the bedrock to the "Kaise He ye" song by Srinivas, but this short piece is sheer poetry. It's something that grows on you as you analyse the most cerebral story of that 3 segment movie again and again....

Remember the whistling 'hook' in "Always look on the bright side of life" in Monty Python's The Life of Brian. (Spoilers Follow........)
The classic satire on bigotry, organised religion and the stream of Bible thumping movies from Hollywood is a real piece of art. Period. The highlight is the finale, the mass crucifiction scene parody with a hapless Brian(Graham Chapman) being let down by his lover, his compatriots, his very Jewish mom and the dumbest suicide squad ever. The movie ends with a fellow condemned (played by Eric Idle) cheering up Brian with his astute poetical observations on some Nihilist truths of life, spiced up with that oh so catchy whistling 'hook'. Black humor at it's best! The movie ends with most of the ensemble cast plus Brian singing the song cheerily while they wait a slow death on the cross. This song captured public imagination as a testament to human fortitude in the 80s and has been called the second national anthem of Britian.... even the drowning sailors of HMS Sheffield, sunk by Argentine exocet missiles, were heard singing this song in the icy South Atlantic waters. I first listened to this song way back in IIT-Mumbai festival Mood Indigo, 2000.... ever since it has been a sort of anthem during my dark hours.

There's this short and sweet "Wind of My Soul" by Cat Stevens, now Yusuf-ul-Islam, now a fundamentalist Muslim convert, recently imprisoned for funding the Al Qaeda. The soothing guitar and Steven's soulful voice mouthing some simple yet deeply philosophical and autobiographical lines is some experience. The guitar strikes that resonance I told you about...... I dunno, there's something with stringed instruments that takes me places. Wish I could get some time to learn to play them.

Every English speaking music lover has listened to Elvis Presley's stirring "I can't help falling in love with you"..... probably you have heard every other artist make a personal version of this song. From Britney Spears to U2, many have tried a hand with this cult song (the remake craze is second only to "Leaving on a jetplane" from John Denver). However, nobody has been able to measure up to the UB40 version set to the Sharon Stone's thriller flick Sliver. Remember that slick black and white video, brilliantly edited to scenes from the movie....with the entire UB40 troupe doing their thing in a brightly lit, narrow hallway with all those closed-circuit cameras swinging ominously? ( I bet you pervs were more interested in that peek-a-boo shot of a nude Sharon Stone strategically covered by an errant bedsheet edge! Well, it was kinda tastefull though...). UB40 pulls it off through the judicious mix of the reggae beat they are famous for and trumpets and saxophones. The streched vocals and the deliberate (with almost Shakespearean sighs) phrasing of
"Taaayke myyyyy haaaaaand,
Taaayke myy whhhholle life tooooo...
Eyeee caaaaan't help..... faaalling in laavv weeeth you"
gives you the picture of a man well aware of the forbidden, illict love....but can't just fr1ggin help falling for her magic. The whole effect is mindblowing; the soothing Elvis paean is transformed into a classic confessional anthem..... an anthem of "dangerous love". This song stayed in the charts for a looong time and was played over and over again in channels and radios.... something like that "My Heart will go on" craze.

Speaking of Titanic anthem "My heart will go on"..... strangely, that piece doesn't affect someone so "sensitive" like me. But there's this flute and bagpipes theme, an instrumental version of the same song, titled 'Hymn to the Ocean". It's the piece they play in the last scene..... when Rose finally rejoins Jack to the applause of all those who died with the ship. It's beautiful.

Coming to my favourite genre.... Celtic and New Age. I could write pages on my favourites, there are a lot of them.... but I guess I should stop with one or two best of tha best.
Guys and gals, I am making a confession. Enya was my teenage crush.... and I still am pretty struck by her looks and talent. I was 13 when I first heard "Anywhere it is" and "Orinoco Flow" you know..... her exquisite pure Irish features and silken voice bowled me over big time.
Anyway, there's this rather recent song from Enya called "Only Time"..... it's set to that bittersweet movie Sweet November starring Keanu Reeves smitten by a gorgeous and tantalizing Charlize Theron. The original video featuring dreamlike settings remniscent of Heaven in Robin William's "What dreams may come"and the best portrayals of passage of time, was an instant hit. The condolence ceremony to the fallen in 9/11 featured this song set to scenes of worldwide support for the victims and America. Again, this is one track that struck a deep chord in me.... for the same reasons as Thoovanathumpikal and The River King.

Whew, got it off my chest! Wanted to put it into black and white so many times...... you know, I talked about these fundaes, like which pieces stay with me and why to somepeople closest to me. But I guess I failed to convey it through just words.... maybe its because I went on tangent everytime and they couldn't catch up with my feverish brain. Perhaps I have done a better job now...... I hope.

Chhhalll...... Bye for now. Thank you for listening to me.

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