Hrithik bitten by a southern bug?

My group of super awesome friends and the very funny husband man wrote a set of articles for a personalized newspaper for our friend and I, as both of us celebrate birthdays around the same time. The below article is one from the said newspaper. To say it is rib tickling is an understatement. Thanks to everyone involved in doing this and making my birthday super special.Needless to say , this is a work of fiction and only meant to evoke laughter.

Famous mythology writer, Nivi Kumar, is ready with her next masterpiece “Palace in Flames”. Nivi, an avid blogger by hobby and technologist by profession, rose to fame with her blog featured in the book “The Eleven”. “Palace in Flames” is a thrilling script bringing a whole new perspective on Ramayan.

For this magnum opus it is rumoured that Nivi first approached Ulaganayagan, Kamal Haasan, to act in the lead role as King Rama. Kamal, who originally loved the script, backed out later citing personal reasons. Rumours are that his obsession to to act with two heroines even in the lead role as Rama caused a fallout between him and Nivi.Friends of chitti times applauded the writer’s choice to preserve authenticity over glamour, her trademark in capturing knowledgeable chennai crowd. Kamal currently honouring his #Haun contract with Pooja Kumar was unavailable for comments.

Rumours are that his obsession to to act with two heroines even in the lead role as Rama caused a fallout between him and Nivi.

As news about this row travelled far and wide (specifically to the northwest), Bollywood hunk, Hrithik Roshan, was intrigued and arranged a meeting with Nivi.“When I first saw her narrating the story, I fell head over heals for her and immediately went home and divorced my wife Susan. Ever since I have been waiting for someone to write rumors linking me and her.”, sighs Hrithik.

He supposedly convinced Nivi with his suave looks and rock chiseled body that she would be ideal for the part of heroine. “She is the best actress i have ever seen, I even referred her to Uday Baba for coaching classes” commented Hrithik. He has supposedly roped in Epics Specialist, Ashutosh Gowariker, to direct this movie. However, Ashutosh is still busy editing his previous film Jodha Akbar (which Hrithik is confident will be released before shahid afridi turns 17).

Rumored cast members for Palace in Flames include Vikram for Ravana (He has prior experience’amam) and Rakhi Sawant for sidekick demon. Rakhi claims this is a totally different role from what she has done before and Chitti Times had no counter for it since she hadn’t done any character role before.

He has supposedly roped in Epics Specialist, Ashutosh Gowariker, to direct this movie. However, Ashutosh is still busy editing his previous film Jodha Akbar (which Hrithik is confident will be released before shahid afridi turns 17).

Finally when behindthewoods caught up with “Ezuthu Arasi” Nivi she simply dismissed these rumors “What Rubbish, I wrote this story only for Superstar, and Thalaivar has finished this movie in jujubi* amount of time. The post processing and graphics work are now going on full swing and is being done by multimedia king from Tollywood, Sunil Seepuri”.However she declined to comment on rumors of a possible breakup with her “true lover” a distinguished Hindi “Madhyama pass” pundit as he was upset that he wasn’t offered the lead role

~ By GossipGirl & Srihari Sridharan for BehindTheWoods

*Jujubi ‐ Unit of time in Thalaivar land ~ 1ps in human land

Palace in Flames

“A Palace? Did I hear you right?”

“Yes, a palace. That is what I want”

The three eyed God looked at the beautiful black eyes of his consort. The sharp outlines of Kohl covered the eyes which at the moment had forgotten to blink. She knew what she wanted and he knew that she would’nt rest until she got it.

“What would you get in a palace that you wont get here, Shakti?”

“While this might be abode of Gods, I do wish to venture out once in a while and see the world. Run thorugh the meadows, feel the warmth of the sun, bathe in the pristine blue waters, get lost in the green forests. I want to experience all of that from time to time. I need a palace to stay so that I can enjoy the smaller pleasures that the mortals are bestowed with”.

Shiva looked at her with his third eye closed. She was beautiful when she was passionate.

“Oh and you shall have it. Did you have a place in mind?”

“Lankai*”

“There is no place more beautiful than that. It shall be arranged” said the Lord and summoned Vishvakarma , the chief architect of the Gods.

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Shakti could not have imagined a more beautiful palace. It was a huge. There were fountains everywhere. The walls moved as she wanted them to. She could summon windows if she felt like. The walls would change colors as she liked. The furniture covers were made of the softest silk. It would match the color of her attire if she wished. The huge enormous pillars were sculptured with her favorite art and figurines. She had a sprwaling bath and the quarters for her help alone could seat the entire island country. There were mirrors everywhere. The rooms would light up on her instructions. She fell in love with the palace’s fluid design. It was everything she wanted. It was magical.

“We need someone learned to do the poojas before I move in, my Lord”

“When you are in Lankai, can there be anyone else but my beloved Ravanan?” beamed Shiva. Ravanan was his favorite devotee. Apart from being learned on all the vedas, he was an exquisite artist. It was said that he had mastered all the 64 varities of art forms. Shakti was delighted.

“Wonderful! I cannot wait” She excalimed like a little girl wanting to play with her new toy.

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The millions of devas and all the gods assembled prompty for the grand ceremony that Ravana was performing for Shakthi’s palace. The ten headed king of Lanka dutifully performed all the rites and rituals and made all the gods happy. Shiva was pleased and Shakthi, thrilled. So thrilled that she decided to follow Shiva’s footsteps and grant Ravanan a wish.

“Ask for anything Ravana. You were great today. My palace could not have had better festivities to please all the gods”

Ravanan looked up and bowed to the God and the Goddress. Strong lines of kohl protected a stronger set of eyes behind them. He bowed his head again and he spoke as the forehead decorated with white lines of ash broke in to wrinkles,and his lips parted on one side

“You are very kind, O! Goddess. All I want are your blessings now and forever”

“Ofcourse you have our blessings Ravana, but you can have something more. Comeon now. There must be something your heart desires at this point. Go on. Ask.”

The king replied without a moment’s hesitation.

‘This palace, Goddess shakthi. Thats what my heart desires now. This beautiful palace that is so unique and unparalled in its beauty.”

Shakthi felt a jolt. She saw where Ravana was heading and she did not like it. As she looked at the still bowing down Ravana, she wasnt sure if his reverence was sincere or just an act. She knew how Shiva adored him. So he must be nice, a genuine person, she thought. Maybe he was just being honest. After all , it was a gorgeous palace. It is only expected that people will fall in love with it. She realized kings were always used to the best of comfort and luxury and Ravana probably could not help himself when he saw something as lovely as this palace. He did not mean it, she told herself. He just likes it, yes , ofcourse, that is what it should be. As Shakthi cajoled herself, she let out a mild stifled laugh and asked

“It is a beautiful palace isnt it? Thats exactly what I wanted and I am ecstatic that I got it. Now going back to the boon, Ravana. Do you want to tell me what you want?”

Ravana moved back a little , raised his head , looked the goddess in the eye and said

“This maginificent palace,goddess Shakthi. That is what I want as the boon”.

Shakthi was speechless. She felt like the jolt that hit her previously was a slight tremor compared to the one that she felt now. She felt cheated. How could he do that? He was just exploiting her good nature. All her dreams of staying in the palace while enjoying the pleasures of the mortal world now seemed shattered. She had imagined herself in the palace for days now , She had planned her routine in the palace. She had a plan for every room and now it was just being taken away from her. She was hurt. At the betrayal more than anything.

She looked at Shiva for some support knowing fully well what he would say. Shiva frightened to look her in the eye, looked towards Ravanan and said

“You know what to do Shakthi” Shiva said, scared to look at his wife’s eyes. He knew her anger and he did not want to there at that moment. But then Ravanan had her in a fix. There was no way she could say no. He recalled how excited she was about the palace. All he could do was sigh.

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“O! King of Lanka, You will regret this. Your downfall begins now”

Ravanan looked at the monkey with a mixture of awe and hatred. He was hoping for condescneding but something about him demanded respect. He looked as the commander of the monkey army of the kingdom of kishkinta escaped the control of his forces as they tried to light his tail on fire.

He jumped from one pillar to another until he reached the rear end of Ravana’s court. He turned around as he said

” I will burn it all down Ravana. You just dont take something that is someone else’s beloved”.

————————————————————————————

“You can have it. The palace is yours”

Ravanan looked up and smiled at goddess Shakthi. Her face was flushed with anger . She had decided against controlling her emotions. She wanted him to see her in her full wrath.

“Ravana, you wilfully, knowing fully well how much I loved this palace, took it away from me. And you used such a vile underhand tactic to do so. My heart burns with anger and rage. Then again Ravana, you havent yet realized that one always gets what he deserves. You do not deserve the palace and so you will never truly have it. “

Shiva turned to look at Shakthi and tell her something. But he stopped short. She had a point.

“Your palace Ravana will suffer the same fate as my heart today. Remember this day”. She turned and walked away.

—————————————————————————————

“O! King of Kings . The monkey warrior has destroyed Lanka. Every place has been burnt down to ashes. People are running helter skeltor, the entire capital city is in chaos. There is nothing to revive. It is as though the Gods have unleashed thier anger on us.” said Ravanan’s prime minister appraising him of the situation.

Ravanan looked up and remembered the other day .

He then looked towards Ashokavanam where Sita was.

“And she?”

“That is the only place that did not burn down my lord”

And he knew why.

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Hindu Mythology will never cease to amaze me. One of many many thousands of stories buried in Ramayana.
Thanks to Sridharini for telling me this story.

Devil’s In The Shruthi

This story was originally published in TheBanyanTrees in their issue themed Music May 2011.

My parents always favored my sister more. There, I said it and I have no issues saying it. She was the more prettier one, she was better with studies, she was the obedient one, she was their perfect little daughter who would do everything they wanted of her. Ask them about world peace, they would not put it past her. And on top of it she sang, and she sang like a nightingale. Like every other dutiful tambrahm* household, our parents too sent us off to learn carnatic* music at the age of 5. When I showed more interest in playing with dolls or kids my age my mother was heartbroken.

“Why cant you be like your sister,” she would say. When I responded to that by trying to give my barbie a bath, she would take the doll away from me and ask me to follow my sister’s footsteps, who for some reason took to singing like oil to fire. After a few weeks in to music class, the teacher and I came to the same conclusion. I sucked and had no sense of shruthi* whatsoever. We had both made our peace. It was my parents who were beyond consolation.

“But how?” they kept asking me and the instructor. In an attempt to save the poor instructor from more torment, I immediately started in to the latest taatu varisai* that we had learnt. The abaswaram* finally got to my parents and they took pity on the instructor and the rest of the class. Taking me out of the class would be a great favor to bestow upon them. My parents did that much to the relief of everyone in the class. Alas for me, if I had any hopes of going back to what normal kids my age tend to do, play, I did not know my parents fully well. There can be no tambrahm* household without music and dance. When my parents realized I had no talent for music, they took me straight to a dance school. So all my weekends and a good portion of my weekdays were now spent in dance practice.

I don’t know if it was the intention to please my parents or to not feel absolutely lacking in the arts department, I somehow started faring better in dance than in music. Now my parents were relieved because they had been dreading another call from the dance teacher. But they were nowhere close to being as elated as they were for my sister. It was more of a saving grace. When we had relatives or guests over and they asked pointing to us,

“So, what do these kids do?”

“Med school!” or so, I would have loved to say. Really what sort of a question was that, kids aged 5-6 dont do anything, they wake up, eat, talk, play, sleep, eat, play more and sleep. That is all that is really required from them. But no, not us, the super babies that we were. My parents would very proudly showcase my sister first and ask her to sing a song.

Her songs became better and better with age. She sang geethams* with ease, varnams* with grace and kirthis* with aplomb. She was very good . So once she gave this magnificent performance, all eyes would turn to me and they would have this “How are you going to top that, you poor poor thing?” look in them. As luck would have it, I had really thick skin. However my parents, in order to not lose face and follow up a super talented daughter with an also ran, would talk proudly albeit a little fake about my dancing prowess.

Now see, I really was good at dancing. But there is a very practical problem when it comes to dancing in our Indian MIG households. We all had small living rooms made smaller by the scores of absolutely unwanted furniture. Now by the time I could do the namaskaram* in my dance I would have potentially hit the table fan in the corner, the coffee mug in the uncle’s hand and probably stomped on the aunty’s feet. So me displaying my dancing prowess did not often happen and our guests had to take my parents word that I was good. Most of them eyed me very suspiciously.

Anyways years quickly passed us by with each of us excelling in our chosen field of art, making our parents head’s bloat up in pride. I was really worried for them. They took the whole thing so seriously that it was actually scary looking at their furious enthusiasm during my sister’s mini concerts and at my dances in school. So the biggest day arrived, my sister was going to sing solo at the local temple. She had a whole hour to herself and was going to do a mini concert . She had it all prepared. Her music instructor had already drawn out all the songs. The varnam* to begin with, two small songs to follow that, a big kirthi* with kalpana swaram* and all. It was like a super big deal at my house.

The days leading up to it was chaotic to say the least. I am not sure if my parents would have even noticed if I had gone missing those few days.The eternal optimist that I am, I tried to look at the bright side of everything. I used this time to get my report card signed by my dad, escape house duties and play with friends as much as I could.

Now I am not a mean person by any stretch, you got to take my word for it. However all this attention bestowed on my sister ever since she was born was getting to me. Really. So I thought – why not play a silly little prank to sort of dampen the spirits a little bit. I mean, after all, some good fun never hurt anyone, right? Especially if its a lot of fun for you and not much for others. So I did the thing that every less talented little sister tired of seeing her elder sister get all the attention would do. I turned up the “shruthi” a notch on the shruthi box and tiptoed out of the room with no one noticing. With satisfaction painted all over my face, I walked out, with a sense of accomplishment.

What happened afterwards, I did not expect. I really thought that once she heard the shruthi, she would realize it was higher than her usual range and turn it down. But she did not. I blame the situation. She was probably nervous. It was her first time in the stage after all. The result was sort of a disaster. I mean, when your voice breaks at the higher Ri and Ga notes, you know you have lost the battle. I know very well, that being a battle I have lost many times. Luckily for her, my mom ran over and turned down the shruthi to her level and all was fine.

The rest of the concert was a huge hit. Everyone loved it and you could hear everyone say “She sang so well, except the first song. Wonder what happened, poor thing.” Unfortunately my sister, unlike me saw only the negative in these comments and refused to speak to me for days. I kept telling her that she should really focus on looking at the brighter side of things. She eyed me differently. Something told me, she knew.

Well, as months went by, I was preparing for the most important day of my life. No, not my exams, this was my first dance recital on stage. My parents had invited a bunch of people and I had to prove myself. All those uncles and aunties whose hands and feet I had stomped claiming to showcase my dance were going to be there to see my dance without any fear of physical pain. I had practiced my routine over and over and was fairly confident of doing a good job.

My sister was going to sing for my dance. Now when my parents told me this, I was shocked. I mean she was the last person I wanted to sing for me. The reasons were manifold and fairly complicated. But they were mostly because I did not want to share my thunder and I pretty much sabotaged her first music recital. So this would be the proverbial sweet revenge for her. I tried reasoning with my parents and then after realizing that they paid less attention to me than squashing the mosquito that was hovering around them, I gave up.

This was it. The moment of truth. It all came down to this. After years of being the underdog, this was my time to prove my detractors wrong. I was going to dance like a peacock and nothing could stop me. AFter all this and more pep talk from myself, I walked straight to my sister who was preparing for the songs herself and told her

“About you first concert…”

“I know”

“I know you know. You always do. Now listen, about today….”

“Dont Worry. We are not the same….”

A huge relief came over my face. She was after all my elder sister, how much love and affection I had for her. She was adorable. Wait, the muscles around her lips were changing shape, those eyes resembled mine more than hers. Before I could say anything she said.

“I could be worse. You will never know what will happen today.” She said.

And then she smiled.

What a diabolical smile that was.​

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TamBrahm : A popular short form for Tamil Brahmins. A sect of people in Tamil Nadu.
Carnatic Music : Classical south indian music
Shruthi : Pitch
Geethams/Varnams/Kirthis : Different types of songs in carnatic music. Each one generally reperesents a certain level. You move up from geethams to varnams to kirthi’s
Taathu Varisai: One of the many initial parts to cover before graduating to the higher levels.
Kalpana Swaram: Composing ones own swarams based on the raaga
Namaskaram: Traditional Indian way of saying hello by scooping the two hands together.

Yours,Mine and Ours

Walking along the beach has been my favorite past time turned routine for the last many years. Time went blazing past my young adolescent fantasies and replaced them with responsibilities and wisdom,or so I would like to think. However my walking along the beach ritual continued.

I spent a large part of the walk people-watching and trying to imagine their personalities,conjuring their life experiences,building their life stories in the few minutes that I see them and walk past them.Today, I was taking my kids out for a stroll. I wanted them to experience what I did during my walks, hoping it would enrich their creativity, that the televisions and video games were hell bent on destroying. The ice cream shops along the way caught their attention and we took a brief recess from walking to get some ice cream.

As I came out of the ice cream shop, I could not help but notice a string of beggars sitting along the sidewalk. There was perfect symmetry in the way they were sitting. It was very territorial too. They all had a mat strewn on which they sat and a small hollow cylinder which had once housed items from instant noodles to baby food to collect other people’s hard earned money.

I walked towards them trying to make up their stories in my short movie, when I found myself stuck in a writer’s block. I could not make up their characters in my mind. It was as though my elite mind refused to let a dirty beggar inside my script. My thoughts were interrupted as I heard my daughters fighting for each other’s ice creams. Kids! how they always fight for the things they don’t have. As I thought that, I was not sure if it was just the kids who did that.

We crossed the beggars and I saw the person ahead of me drop two pennies in one of the hollow cylinders. The clunking sound was too clear since they were so few and far in between. I was now conscious of the many pairs of eyes looking at me wondering if I was going to follow suit . I shied away from looking at their eyes. As I was about to cross them by and look for new characters to fill my creative canvas, I saw one of the beggars taking a coin from his booty and giving it to the one sitting next to him. He found that he had no need for two coins when his friend had none.

I looked at my little girls fighting over a piece of orange ice cream and could not help feeling small. All of us , wallet hugging folks walking across the beggars refusing to acknowledge their presence seemed tiny in contrast to the perfectly aligned line of beggars . I was not so sure if they deserved to be called that as my writer’s block faded away.

Choice

She stared in to the darkness. A darkness that had taken control of her. It began engulfing her , a little at first, and soon completely. She found herself going deeper and deeper in to the darkness. The anticipation and hope to get out of the blackness wore out in time. She had become accustomed to it. The darkness was now home, it was now her life.Just when she had accepted things for what they were, she found someone pulling her out. Pulling her out of misery. That is what they said, yes. They called it misery,they called it rock bottom, they abused her tiny little white pellet friends. They called them the reason for her spiral down. They took those away from her.

She was thrust out of the darkness in one sudden push. The brightness was almost too obscene to withstand.She stared in to the light. She stared in to it wondering why the light took so much time to take her in. To engulf her just like the darkness did. She then thought maybe, just maybe the light wanted her to choose to be taken in.

Of If’s and But’s – All Parts

The entire short novel is here. Click on the link below to read it.

P.S: It feels so good to have finished it :)

Of If’s and But’s – Concluded

Episode 1, Epsiode2,Episode 3,Episode 4, Episode 5,Episode 6,Epsiode 7,Episode 8,Episode 9,Episode 10,Episode 11

I drove home amidst the crowded roads of TNager. I thought about what Anand had said the whole time. It was his audacity that bugged me. He assumed that I was unhappy; he assumed that my life would not be complete without him. He assumed that he was such an integral part of my life. He was right. He had been.

I thought about Brindha and Disha too. How did Brindha agree to bring Anand to meet me? If there was anyone who had always questioned Anand and me being together it was her. Every time we broke up, she told me it was a good things and every time we patched up, she was not happy about it. Why would she ever do that? Especially now, when I have done what she has been asking me to do for ages. Make a choice and give it all you have.

Then it struck me.

Brindha called me as soon as I reached home.

“Hey! I did not mean to upset you”

“I know.”

“I just thought it would be better if we…” she stopped as though scourging for words.

“I know Brindha”

“So what did he say?”

“He told me I should go away with him”

“Hmmm. I expected that.”

“And that what am I am doing is a mistake”

“SO?” asked Brindha. I could see her waiting for my reply with anticipation.

“I am meeting him tomorrow at 4 in the same place”

“What? Are you sure you want to do that?” I could sense disappointment in her voice.

“Yes, I am”

“After everything Asha? After all those years and everything you have been through. You are going to meet him again?” She did not say more, I sensed that she had once in for all given up on me. Her voice of reason she figured had no effect on me after all these years too.

“I have to say goodbye Brindha, Can you guys be there too?” I said as though she never made that last plea.

“All right” she replied with the phone slamming down faster than she finished her sentence.

I slept peacefully that night. Though the day gave me enough fodder for getting confused and muddled up all over, I slept peacefully. I was learning. Anand did make some sense. He did have a point. Tomorrow was going to be a new day. A new day with newer beginnings. And end to all prior mistakes. I slept like a baby.

It was 4PM and I was already at the coffee shop waiting for him. The past few days have been a revelation. It has shown me a glimpse of a life where one’s mind is clear and content. Something that I had forgotten. It is amazing what a decision can do to you. While you have no idea whether the decision is going to pan out in the long run, it somehow felt right. I had always let Anand question me and my thoughts, and in turn question myself. Too much introspection often leads to insecurity, as I found out for myself.

As I immersed myself amidst all these nice and not so nice thoughts, I saw Anand walk in to the coffee shop. His smile reached his eyes. He always had a good smile. The kind that was infectious, the kind that could make you swoon.
Out of the corner of my eye, I also got a glimpse of Brindha and Disha. Now them, I did not expect to see so soon.

“I can’t think of them now” I told myself and focused on Anand. I have to do what I came here to do. I can’t let them distract or change my mind.

Half hour and detailed discussions later, we went out to our bikes. Brindha’s face was rife with disappointment.

“You are wrong this time Brindha” I thought to myself. For once I knew I was right, contrary to everything Brindha might say, I did the right thing this time.

As the sound of the bike starting faded away, I saw the surprise in Brindha’s expression turn in to a brilliant smile.

“By Jove! I for a moment thought…”

“That I would go with him again.”

“I did. I am sorry but you know how you guys were. I really thought you would” she said, her relief being more obvious than before.

“What happened?” Disha asked me earnestly

“You know how I hate getting the check right?” I asked her back with as much fake earnestness as I could muster.

‘Oh, come on Asha” Disha replied with her customary giggle.

“Well, you can do some mistakes only so many times. Anand always asked me to come with him because he believed we would be right together. Because he said he loved me. It would have been enough, had I felt the same way too. I did not. When I met him that day at my wedding, for the first time I felt scared. Scared of what life would be if I had to be with him. For some reason, which I can only thank, all the things that had gone wrong flashed in front of my eyes and I did not feel the love that could make me overlook those wrongs. I know I wasn’t in love with Rakesh as yet however I saw hope there. You know something is not bright when you are scared of a future with someone. So…” I raised my eyebrows as I looked at Disha and Brindha ” .. That is why I did not agree to go with him”

“But why all this then… Why dint you tell him that yesterday? I really thought you would, which is why I brought him along. Really!” asked Brindha

“Well, you know Anand. If I reject anything outright, he tends to think, I haven’t thought it through. He takes it upon himself to convince me more. That was the last thing I wanted. I wanted to put an end to this. I have no intention of being dragged to a coffee place after another discussing a “what could have been” situation with him. So I told him I’ll think about it. There was nothing to think about it really. I am happy where I am. It’s a life that I am beginning to really enjoy, and I see myself being happy. So all I had to do was tell him, I thought long and hard and that I made my peace with where I am and so should he. And that’s that.”

“Well, you could have told me you know!”

“Ahhh! Where would the fun in that be Brindha” I said as I smiled and hugged them both.

“If…” I stopped and continued “If not for you two.. I do not know how things would have turned out” I said while still in the embrace.

“Aah. If…How happy we are that it isn’t so!” said Disha giggling away.