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How long will they be there for us.

Two weeks back I flew to Chennai as my uncle took gravely ill (literally). I landed by 1.45 am. The flight was abnormally full, with European and American passengers getting connected in gulf. Baggage collection, I knew, was going to be a nightmare, especially in Chennai where we had hardly 5 to 6 conveyor belts for incoming luggage. No wonder, it took me nearly 2 hours to collect my single suitcase that I could have done without (belated realization). My cab had been waiting for me for a while. I rang up my MIL immediately on landing. She is 81. I have had many differences of opinion with her. She was aware of my landing time. I was not happy to disturb her in unearthly hours either. But I had no other go. My MIL lives in my apartment and she has to open the door to me always. Whatever the time. She has to take the elevator to the ground floor (just one floor below) and open the inner grill gate. For additional security, we also lock our external grill gates for the night after all the cars come in. So my MIL also has to walk within the compound and open the car park gate exclusively assigned to us. At 81, I always think it is too much for her. But she does it anyway.

So at 2 am., I called my MIL on reaching Chennai. She answered me in a groggy voice. Inspite of expecting a call, the shock of the ringing phone in the middle of the night can still be disturbing to aged people. I know this, but I can’t help it everytime I commit this mistake. I pictured my MIL grabbing her cell phone, jolted by its ringing. I felt sorry for her. I alerted her I would be on my way from airport in 1-2 hours depending on how long it took to retrieve my baggage. She asked me about my cab even in that hour. I said, things were fine. My pre-booked (dial a)driver was waiting for me with my car just outside.

At 3.45 am finally I was in my car heading home. I called my MIL on the way. I asked her to step out only in the nth moment when I neared the street. I kept engaging her in conversation.

Finally I was home by 4.30 am or so. She was downstairs at the gate, waiting for me. We went up together.

After I paid off the driver and locked the gates and our door, I settled down in the sofa. My MIL had boiled the milk by this time . She thrust a steaming mug of coffee at me even as I chided her for lighting up the stove given her age. Nothing would deter her I know. She said, I must be happy because she was still active.

After discussing my uncle’s health, I retired to bed. My uncle and my MIL both were born in the year 1937. My uncle was December born and my MIL May born. I mentally compared notes between them.

My uncle, on whom I have hardly blogged, could have been my biological father. Nothing more to say. He had been a real father to me all life, unlike my own biological father.  My mind was dwelling on the 1000 times my uncle came rushing and gushing helping me, showering his love and affection, feeding me, loving my family and showing respect and concern to all that that touched my life. I felt sad because by no means I would see another human being on earth like him, never. No expectations. No negativity, no drama. Spiritual to the core. Helpful to all, to the community at large, kind and generous. Built many lives. Stabilized many lives. Role model citizen when it came to paying taxes and bills and obeying and respecting the law to the T. Diplomatic whether he was dealing with the local plumber or with someone with a high social status. Neutral. More than all, affectionate with everyone. That’s what we all will remember him for. There won’t be another janam for him that much I can vouch for. His Karma is all spent with his suffering physically, mentally in this birth for no fault of his. May be that is God’s idea. To eliminate him from the cycle of rebirth with his Jyothi joining the celestial feet of Lord Vishnu, his Ishta Deivam in Sri Vaikunta.

I will miss my uncle more in coming days, months and years. My parents found replacement for me, in my uncle and my aunty. But my aunt and uncle will have no replacement in my life ever. For the first time in my life I realize, I am grieving, mourning for my adopted (not legally) parents. I was too young to mourn properly for my mother and with my father, I was indifferent with resentment. I have grieved modestly for my parents, but it is now that I realize what it is to grieve for your actual parents. I am eating well, dressing up, going out, enjoying life this time, not putting on a show. But deep down my heart, something hurts profoundly. I don’t think I will ever get over the loss of my uncle. May be with time, my heart will heal but the ache will always be there i know, as long as I live.

Over years, I have become extraordinarly sensitive to the needs and worries and care and welfare of/for the aged/old people. I regret my misunderstandings with my MIL immensely. I wish I could erase those blotches from the past. Still overall, I can say, I have never neglected or hurt the elderly like many do and justify their deeds for various reasons. I put up with my MIL initially because I wanted a motherly figure in my life. It has not always been smooth between us. Many say a MIL can never become your mother, true. But we have still managed to  come closest on many occasions on being mother and daughter. It is not a perfect relationship as I said and it has its ups and downs, but I am grateful I have my MIL in my life. For opening my door, waiting for me. For asking me if I have eaten. For criticizing my clothes, neck plunge. For commenting on my cooking. For forcing her opinions on me. The same things I have hated about her for years, I am now looking forward to and seem to love. Is this called maturity. I love to flaunt my MIL nowadays to my friends and family. I wish my MIL lives a 100 years even if I have to daily argue with her on one thing or another. I know these are precious people who we will never get back in life.

May be because I lost my parents early in life, I cannot bear to see grown up kids neglecting or torturing their aged parents. Either this extreme, or the elderly get to be taken for granted by their adult children. Baby sitters for long hours without a break, cooks and servants for the family and sometimes even taken advantage of their pension and other funds. As real estate holders, they can exercise some free will over their legal heirs, yet their age makes them vulnerable, at the mercy of their wards. Old age homes and nursing homes are not yet big concepts in India, picking up only in recent years. There is a big void in the palliative care sector. I think after 70 years or so, the senior citizens start returning to childhood – both physically and mentally. They need our help, understanding and support. My cousin’s mother died of Alzheimer’s – she was hardly controllable. She was tended to like a baby towards the end… I remember the lady from her golden years. The transformation seemed unimaginable. Very traumatic to the family.

What we are today in life, is because of who made us into that. I deeply appreciate my aunt and MIL in my life, now that my uncle is gone. My uncle led a fruitful, productive life, matchless. He was never a rich man, but was always a very satisfied man. His family was not just us, but the entire social circle. My uncle enveloped us all with his warm, loving, protective arms. With him, I never lacked for anything. The sense of security he gave me with my parents’ passing… I have to take umpteen janams to repay him what he did for me lifelong.

Three years back, my suitcase was ruptured on arrival in Chennai. I arrived in daytime so went straight to my uncle’s place. He saw my suitcase and immediately asked me to unpack. He took it off to a local bag repair guy and fixed it fine for me for a paltry sum. That baggage worked for me for last 3 years postponing my new purchase. How he followed up with the work still stays fresh in my memory. It was not something to bother about. But to my uncle., every penny saved for me was worth it. Such a trivial matter. But that was how my uncle functioned. All problems were one and the same for him, requiring equal attention and importance.

With my uncle and aunt, I have performed the Anga Pradakshan at Tirupathi temple, climbed up the 7 hills of Tirumala on foot… My uncle showed me the God and Goddess … and in the pantheon of my Gods, he will always hold a special place.

What is the use of regretting over spilled milk. Let us appreciate and celebrate our parents and the elderly when they are still around. Grieving after they are gone is useless.

Old people do not expect much from us. Even their metabolism limits their appetite. Most of them are pensioners and are financially independent. What they expect from is only love and time. Parents are the only people who can shower unconditional love on us, accepting us for what we are, aren’t they. Which is why even serial killers are defended by their mothers. Mothers never disown gays. Mothers love us even if we are utter failure cases.

No substitute for parents. A world without the elderly is frightening.


The Responsibility Factor.

Survival Of The Fittest

A social media post recently showed how miscreants who call themselves secular socialists in my home town Chennai thrashed an exhibition that displayed historic facts on Aurangzeb – which naturally included pictorial depiction of destruction and devastation in the Hindu society in the most barbaric Mogul’s reign of terror in India. It was argued, the present generation (of Indian muslims) cannot be held responsible for the past atrocities the Hindus had to suffer at the hands of our invaders. The ruling state govt of DMK thought it fit to cancel the exhibition citing that it could endanger the communal peace and harmony of the local society by opening up the healed wounds. It was not necessary, felt the administrtation. Let the past stay in the past where it belonged.

(So in a democratic, secular Hindu majority India (as of date) where I am a native Hindu, I cannot speak a word against the minorities or about my torrid past history because it will hurt the sentiments of the erstwhile invaders/present day converted minorities).

But is it not contradictory for the same DMK to invoke the past to suit their political agenda by way of seeking more and more reservation for the scheduled castes/tribes irrespective of their current improved status. DMK is responsible for including even the muslims in the backward communities list (OBC) reserving seats for the minorities in the highest academic institutions of the state even if the islamic reign in India lasted for over eight long centuries with the muslim converts being the highest benefactors reaping sops by way of tax exemptions, employment in the court/govt etc. The Hindus through centuries languished without opportunities with every avenue of livelihood closed down.

The converted Christians in India too seem to invoke their SC/ST status after embracing the so-called forward ‘christianity.’ They are shameless when it comes to milking the Indian government for concessions, referring to historic injustices the dalits were subjected to.

But we the majority Hindus are supposed not to talk about the past. We have to forgive and forget and move on.

A  similar converse is true of the west today.

If you take the case of America, it is wholly an immigrant nation. Not a single white American is a native. But look at the immigration laws there. It is only the case of, who reached America first. Or when you reached America first.

Germany to France decry migrants, but the terror these and in general the European nations unleashed on Asian/African countries! French atrocities in Angola could chill you to bones. The British separated the aboriginal families in Australia and entirely wiped out many a native indigenous tribe (Maoris) in New Zealand – ethnic cleansing complete aboriginal family trees/races without a trace.

Today the gall they even have to talk about immigrants.

Karma is a bitch. What we see in the world in modern times is reverse migration. For centuries the Europeans colonized Asian/African/South American continents plundering the resources of the hapless natives. The wheel has simply turned, that is all.

A good point of argument by America and west is that, we have to leave past in the past, how convenient! They have drawn the line somewhere with the Second world war by which they seem to define the measuring yardstick for nations across the world.

What these people miss to see is that, evolution varies by various degrees through centuries giving everyone equal footing over time. There is a fine act of balancing which you may or may not recognize or foresee.

For instance, when Egyptians were at the peak of their civilization building pyramids, the Europeans were still swinging from tree to tree totally uncivilized. It is not upto anybody to so-called ‘civilize’ the uncivilized. What you call culture is merely your own personal perspective. Your culture can never be mine in a million years!

I was thinking of Thiruvalluvar, the Tamil poet who lived in Mylapore, my birth place, exactly 2000 years back. In very structured and advanced Tamil grammar, he composed the couplets ‘Thirukkural’ – some 1330 of which have since been discovered. Thirukkural has been translated into over 120 world languages. Just imagine the level of literacy and culture and civilization before the birth of Christ in India – especially deep down south. By the time of Christ’s birth, the world’s first major stone dam had been built by Tamil Chozha king Karikala across the river Kaveri which stands tall even today. Sangam Thamizh council was in full force with learned men discussing literature and holding court debates. Greek and Roman ships sailed upto Poompuhar, the southern port town that flourished with maritime trade for centuries. Around the same time in northern India, surgeries including plastic surgery were being performed and finest literature got penned with universities drawing scholars from around the world. Science and Mathematics were advanced. India lost it because, India was civilized a bit too early – before the christians and muslims.

The wisdom and peace of the Hindu-Buddhists did not stand a chance before our ruthless foreign invaders.

But what is the condition of Mylapore today. Very congested, most lived in part of Chennai, Mylapore of today is a far cry from the Mylapore of the past where the magneficient Shiva temple of Kabaleeshwara was also built centuries back – a total lofty granite structure. The past glory is all gone. What remains today is only heat and dust. Crowded market places, cramped homes, narrow streets… it is not easy to redraw the city map of a downtown Chennai locality just like that. Things have been happening for centuries here. Things have been in place for centuries.

And what is the condition of our invaders like Afghanistan today! The Hindu temple wealth will not leave any of the plunderers live. We are supposed to not even pluck a ‘vilvam’ leaf from Shiva temple trees. ‘Siva sothu, kula naasham’ goes an adage. If you touch Shiva’s, your clan/race will be destroyed from bare roots.

It is a sad state of affairs in India since independence from the British, that the once glorious nation of ours is jostling with unemployment and poverty. But India has had a glorious past up until 7th century CE in the north and around 14th-15th century in the south.

Most Americans or Europeans may not believe, what we are presently is, is the making in last 100-200 years only (in south). The decline of India started with the invasion of the nation from middle east.

If the past has to be left in the past as per some secularists, then we have to close our eyes to the present as well. That is why I will not let myself be moved by the pictures of bombings in Libya or Syria or anywhere. We Hindus have gone through the worst. If our butchers like Moguls could become angels to some of our own (converted) folks, then I have to turn my heart to stone and get on with life. I do not have an iota of sympathy for the wrong people. Misplaced kindness can do us in as has the bloody Indian history shown.

If Moguls are part of our cherished history, if the sun never set in the British empire, then by the same means, let us rewrite history raising Ram mandir in Sri Ram janam bhoomi. Let the immigrants settle down comfortably all across Europe and America. When the Portuguese and the Spaniards could make Latin America their home, then it is only rightful that foreign immigrants settle down in European countries. It all adds up to Karma’s way of balancing.

Life comes a full circle. For over 1000 years, India was vandalized, destructed, plundered. Today we Indians migrate but unlike our invaders we are not on a killing or pillaging and pilfering spree. As followers of Hindu-Buddhist dharma, we contribute to the society we become part of – intellectually, physically, economically, spiritually. Hindus are a constructive community everywhere in the world – be it in America or UK or Australia. Unlike the colonizing Europeans and sword wielding Turks, we are not conquering anyone by sheer terror, wiping out races in our trail. A Hindu will never kill, unless pushed to his/her limit. For, we are basically and originally a vegetarian community though we have changed a lot since. When we will not kill for food, what else should we kill for.

There is something called self-defence. When India is in good hands like our current PM, we can relax. But we shall not let our guards down.

As for migrants from Syria, I am neutral. Germany is paying back its Karma – it is not that Angela Merkel is an angel. It takes that much and lot more for the world to forget the holocaust. It is Germany’s act of balancing, nothing more.

Migration is merely history happening. History is still unfolding. Who says the demarcation line is the World WarII. Most Asian/African nations had no role to play in the world wars. The world wars were merely power struggle between two aggressive group of nations that were terrorizing and plundering the entire world for centuries.

What is Titanic. Is it not migration en masse in an age when conveniently there was no ‘visa.’

What is Babri all about. Even when Babri Masjid was raised over a desecrated Hindu temple – the birth place of Lord Ram, the Hindu God, an overwhelming 90% of India and even Pakistan must have been totally Hindu. Now we have our secularists up in arms when we speak a word against our invaders/marauders. This is how the wheel of justice and time will turn. Hindus are paying back their Karma for the centuries of atrocities by way of social discrimination against dalits. We needed outsiders to reform from within. If anything, this is how I see the positive side of invasions. A Hindu may not kill readily but a Hindu can be cruel in a thousand ways – just like a Jew.

By the same law, yes I am a mute spectator to history unraveling in the middle east, legal and illegal immigration in Europe and America. This too shall pass. We are just a dot in the time line of history of the present age. For 10000 years the native Indians lived in Americas which were their home. Where are the Indians now. By the same Karma, it is only natural that some other alien groups will outpace even the present day Americans. When we talk about Aryans, we can talk about immigrants with the same breath.

Current day ethics and morality and political views are the result of DISOWNING HISTORY AND RESPONSIBILITY. Whatever we are, wherever we are, we happen to assume it is our permanent global status. Well, it is not so.  We are merely at a transient point – crossroads of sorts – where from we have eons to travel. In whichever direction as dictated by geo-political global matters. There is nothing called final destination. When we do not want to share responsibility as aggressors for/on behalf of our ancestors and when we can disown our forefathers’ sins enjoying the fruits of their ill will and misdeeds without any qualms whatsoever, then we will have to deal with the laws of Karma which will always be at work – to our advantage and disadvantage alternately. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. This is Karma in short. Immigration will be challenged by immigration!

Yesterdays victories and wars and losses are today’s history. Today’s happenings will be history tomorrow as well.

Who knows, may be 100-150 years from now on, Germany and UK and France could be total Islamic nations, way removed from current scene when inhabitants are chiefly sons of the soil: the Europeans.  Very much like today’s Americas and Australia and New Zealand, where natives were overwhelmed and done away with to be replaced 100% with conquering immigrants, Europe may cease to be what it is right now transforming into something else entirely different.

Do not tell your children: That takes care of everything. UK school children will only learn of brave and heroic battles and conquests and proud history. Never the story of the vanquished. No wonder, today’s First World kids feel entitled to ill gotten wealth. Why not, when slave trade to extermination of aboriginal tribes have been brushed under the carpet, glorifying aggression.

Wars never cease. They are merely fought on different planes of time, in different terrains.

As a Hindu, my heart will never beat for the Abrahamic followers who have been bleeding Planet Earth from the times of war of crusades. As a native, my  heart goes out to the aboriginal tribes of the world who have paid heavily and dearly with their lives/races for satiating the greed of the Europeans and Turks/Arabs.

Through all this nightmare, Hindus will continue contributing to the world via spirituality, medicine, science and technology. We refuse to kill or thieve. Oil corporations of the world can have their heyday without a guilt in conflict zones and children may die – as a coward Hindu I shall close my eyes to injustice but I refuse to take up the sword. I think of my Hindu ancestors who refused to fight back or convert for last 2000 years owing to which I am a Hindu. Until very recently, you could only be born a Hindu. No conversion was allowed. Now it is heartening to see that we have American/European/Australian/African Hindus – not forced/bribed into conversion. In India, some predictions say Hinduism will survive in America, that America will be the Hindus’ last refuge, where peace loving westerners will shun Abrahamic faiths and join the Hindu-Buddhist fold at a later date. It is a long shot – but I only wish and pray, Hindu Dharma, the Sanathana Dharma always thrives as the identity of India to eternity.

Looking 25 years back ….

Looking 25 years back, I can’t believe I stood with my hubby who I was to wed next day (wednesday 23rd of June 1993) in an early morning muhurat – in the reception hosted by my in-laws. The venue was Hotel Kanchi. Its 5.20 in the evening now in middle east. 7.50 in India. By this time, our wedding reception had just begun. It was a tuesday, a working day. I had attended office until the saturday before. Officially my leave started only on June 21st, monday.

Tuesday noon we reached the marriage hall/hotel in our neighbour’s car. Murthy Mama, as we called him, has now moved to ECR. But he could have been my maternal uncle. He said he owed that to my mother who used to treat him like a younger brother. The night my mother died was Mama’s first night. He postponed the most important event of his life by 15 days for my mother’s Karyam to get completed. Neighbours were like blood relatives in those days. Mama therefore dropped us in the hall in his big old Ambassador car which was still the star of Indian roads in 1993.

I had an appointment with the beauty parlour Kanya, in Luz, Mylapore, that afternoon – for my reception make-up. I took an auto alone (yes, a bride on her own with none to give company as everyone in my tiny circle of friends and relatives worked) to the salon where the girls were disappointed that I had never had a previous beauty treatment in my life. It was too late they said, but did what they could. Kanya was No.1 in those days. Even in 1993 they could not believe that they had a bride who was stepping into a beauty parlour for the very first time of her life. They finally draped my sari and were in a fix when I told them they had to book an auto for me again! A bride entering alone the marriage hall was another new for them. With total shocked expressions, they did what I said.

I made a quiet entry by 4.30 pm or so to the wedding hall – i crossed the entire place and went to my room without being noticed. Knowing Indian guests who are notorious arriving late, I had no issues about getting spotted walkign alone in bridal wear before reception – with none by my side.

That June 22nd, I hardly realized how lonely I was in life really … it was only when my friends started getting married one by one and when I attended weddings by hoards did it dawn on me how brides are surrounded by gangs. However, my school friends all were either working or studying or married by then. No telephone in any of our homes. No e-mail. I could only invite a few who were totally busy with their own lives already.

By 6 pm, things got rolling finally. The bridgegroom party had arrived. My fiancee came surrounded by a huge gang of brothers, cousins, nephews/nieces, uncles, aunts – opposite of me, the lone girl who had arrived the forenoon with 7 people: my sis, my aunt and uncle, my neighbours Mama, Mami, my 2 cousins. We were 8 and Mama’s car could hold only 5 – so my cousins and sis came by bus (!) That was our simple family. At that point of time, it never struck me that we were a rare entity.

Around the same time,  a ceremony for me had to get completed. In our families, when girls come of age and get their first periods (at 12 or 13 years), we have to do some special dishes for the girl (puttu) and perform ‘nalangu’ (haldi – kumkum) ceremony. Either we can do this on the 5th day of the girl’s first periods or before the wedding. It is a must. My mother did not do it for me (she was around then) as she was a working woman.  I remember her telling relatives that she reserved the rituals as pre-nuptial ceremony for me. So the ‘nalangu’ originally to have been performed in my 13th year was finally done with before reception. All the Kanya girls’ attempts to give me a decent Reception look fell flat with the kumkum and chandan pastes anointed in my face and neck and hands by women guests.

My father-in-law and my uncle next performed the Nischayathartham (formal betrothal). I was asked to stand in the sides for this. I saw my bank staff – all of them file in and take seat. My school friends and college friends and my other friends started arriving – but not much of relatives. I had very few relatives anyway. Finally I felt better and almost equal that I too had people – who were there for me. Otherwise, my hubby side relatives and family friends and colleagues flooded the venue.

The long reception began. My DGM and AGM were present and to my surprise stayed on until 10 pm. They were aware I had no parents. My colleagues had dinner. Every single one of the all men department of mine attended my reception and stayed for hours – it was their quiet way of showing me respect; normally they were a raucous bunch and I hardly spoke to them at work. I worked in their midst but never socialized with them. My few school/neighbourhood friends stayed over for the night. I was dazed.

Unlike normal brides, I only had 5 sov of gold on me – everything was gilt. Even those sparse original gold jewelry was gift from my MIL who did not want their relatives to discover how I was literally a pauper. My mind was working on the cost of the reception dinner. My FIL had agreed to split the bill – which was a big relief for us.

By the time the last guest left, it was already 12 midnight.

Hardly caught a few hours nap before I was woken up again for an early morning ‘nalangu’ – haldi kumkum ceremony with oil etc along with groom – that is the last shower as virgin for brides. And grooms too in our culture.

My morning Muhurat was 6.00-7.30 am – by 7.30 that morning I was Mrs. Ravindran.

My husband was/is someone who never judged me from my clothes or dirty house or my orphaned status. I am the only girl he ever saw/visited by way of bride-seeing. None of my flaws that others noticed – my husband noticed. The rush with which he married me still amazes me. I know, not even my son will measure up to him. The 3 month engagement period (we never had a formal engagement at all really) galloped in a jiffy.

Back when our marriage was arranged, I later learned, my hubby was discouraged by his family/brothers from marrying me – a simpleton, with no background, no parents, no home of her own, no bank balance nothing. My husband stood his stead. All these things – he says he never even noticed. His eyes and mind were full of only me.

The day my mother died, I recall changing my prayers to God. Everyday I went to Kapali temple and Valleeshwar temple in Mylapore. My only prayer was to get a good husband, good son. This is all I asked for – not a good university or employment though they came to me.

Against all odds and strong advice, my hubby married me. Finally after 25 years, I can see his folks approve of me. But this approval or acceptance did not come easily. For years, I have remained an outsider in their family, never an equal, suffering disrespect and neglect and blatant partiality.

Through all this my husband never supported me openly still – because he will never speak a word against his mother … but it is okay. We cannot have 100% of everything. I put myself in my MILs position these days and think whether I would have approved of the choice my hubby made. Of course ours was an arranged union, still many families wait till they can get better matches. My hubby was advised caution not to rush into marriage with the first girl he ‘saw.’

The past still hurts … I can never think of my past without tears in my eyes. Years of humiliation before my marriage – and even after my marriage in a different form…

25 years after, I feel, it is all worth it. The bad experiences have molded me – given me more patience and tolerance that are tough to cultivate. I never thought of this day back in 1993. I did not know what I was getting into. I was marrying a total stranger. I was moving into a new, hostile and very unfriendly home. My in-laws family remained indifferent to me for years … even after my son came along.  It took a minimum 15 years for me to finally sync with them and become one of ‘them.’ It took that long for them to accept me in their fold. I agree, this is the condition of every girl who marries in India. Gaining acceptance in your in laws’ family. My son who came into our lives the very next year 1994 whereas, got ready acceptance. He was already one of ‘them.’

I can write books on my personal experiences, the legal battles, the tragedy of my parents lives, my grandparents, the joint family dilemmas etc. But whatever God denied me, I can say, She gave me recompense in equal measure in a different way. She made good all my losses in Her own time. Time is the best healer they say, but time can never heal completely I can say.

A few days back I read my sister’s whatsapp message in a friend’s group: “i never ate my mother’s food even once in my life.’ That immediately shook me and opened up old wounds. My granny cooked in those days, my mother never went into kitchen. But in 1980 summer, my grandparents went on North India tour of Himalayas, Kashmir etc. My sis tagged alone. That May month was the only time my mother cooked for me and my dad. Not much. She was a lousy cook but I was already cooking as a pre-teen. We both cooked up a decent fare. I wasn’t to know then it was our last cooking experience together. My mother passed away in 1982.

I also remember the last glass of ‘Complan’ my father gave me and my sis. It was our nightly ritual. Before going to bed, our father used to fix us hot tumblers of Mango flavoured complan. We had our glassfuls. I went to sleep happily. Next morning, my father wasn’t there.

I am happiest today because I am here with my husband – for our son. Just being there is important. I have lost 2 of my school friends to cancer already. I am 49, about to turn 50 this september. My friends were unlucky.

25 years on – my husband has gotten me a diamond necklace, my second, for our silver wedding anniversary. I think of my wedding reception when I barely had a chain and a bangle to wear for the D day of my life. I was conscious of paying Kanya – who charged me a whopping 700 bucks. I swore never to visit a beauty parlour again in my life. I was furiously calculating the auto fares in my mind as I stood in my reception.

Our bills were somehow paid off comfortably the next day. They were a big worry for me on June 22, 1993 – something brides never worry about normally.

I kept calling back my family at Murthi Mama’s phone to check if everything was okay with hotel bills – even from Kodai/Ooty where we went for honeymoon for a week. I started writing down our family expenses right in the train that we boarded at Madras Central – much to the shock of my newly wed hubby.

Life has given me so much in these 25 years. My friends – i have found them all back thanks to social media. I now have my own circle of friends and relatives who I can call ‘my people.’ I have more than enough clothes now – not just 5 suits and 1 sari. I own beautiful jewelry. I am comfortable, stable – and more than all I am blessed with a loving family. I learned not to judge guys by flowers/cards/chocolates. My husband or son never get these for me. But their love and respect for me is constant. The respect they have for me reflects on the love and honour they shower on my family (my aunt’s, my sister’s).

In the year 1991, I had even contemplated suicide. Sat for hours many days alone by beach side. I just didn’t have the courage. Also my aunt would say, never to be discouraged in life. She would ask me to keep up my hopes and pray. And do good. And do no harm to others. ‘Automatically good things will happen, good days will come your way.’ My aunt had slight suspicion that I could take the extreme step – normally i was bold and strong, but then sometimes when life overwhelms you… and you think you have none to go to…

25 years not easy. In fact 50 years of my life have never been easy. Sometimes I am tired of arguing my own case. But then I think of the sacrifices of my husband, the man who married me expecting nothing from me in anticipation … and who took on the world in my defence… of my son who can have it easy yet wants to tough it out on his own… I am proud of these 2 men who have made my life worthwhile .  Life is worth living for another quarter century. God willing.


Reality Show :Undressed on TLC

For the first time late last evening watched the reality show ‘Undressed’  in TLC. How long its been on air, no idea. Obviously it is relayed around midnight India time because of its adult (!) content.

Different couples come together in the show. Must have been paired off by the director or whoever is behind the show.

The couples get into a big dim lit room with a single mega screen (for instructions) and a large white double bed. Apparently there are no onlookers in the studio. The cameras must be placed subtly recording everything. No audio disturbance, only commands or suggestions from the screen.

Some 5 couples went on air last evening. I ofcourse missed the climax (!) of 2 couples (with hubby at home asking for mundane things like ice water from fridge at crucial moments; indian husbands … sigh!!)

Each couple when they get into the room have to undress their partner. Down to their undies, they have to lie in the bed, hold each other and act as instructed (from monitor). Like kissing, playing with pillows etc. They are asked to do some small talk to know each other better. This is supposedly testing ground to check if they are compatible to each other.

One black couple could not handle it, they were hot already! Perfectly matched I must say! Both in intensity and good looks! Professionwise too. He was a physical trainer, she a special school teacher. They hit it off right away. Couldn’t keep hands off each other! Rare to see this kind of chemistry on first meeting. Hopefully they take it further down the lane to a meaningful relationship.

Its awkward just watching this show even with your husband! One white woman was 49 (!) and her partner was 59. How lying just in undies in the bed they discussed casually their lives was unbelievable. Mercifully at least 2 girls refused lip kiss and opted for a peck on their cheeks.

The show is to try match making and this is their idea of so-called dating (!) Okay, since I had an arranged marriage I have no idea what it is to go out with a guy I admit but I did have a small yet decent window of 3 month engagement period during which time we freaked out without the knowledge of our family people. In early 1990s, it was still something bold. Taking permission in office and going to beach with your fiancee was a very brave thing to do.

With time of course, even my conservative Chennai has changed. Over 50% marriages are love marriages inter community. We have christians, muslims and sikhs in every extended family these days and all state people gujarati, punjabi, bengali, maharashtrian, goan, keralite etc., etc. Pan India. Not merely my extended family but it is the all-India scene.

Still, the kind of dating they conceptualized in TLC and made a show out of it is unbelievable. I mean, what kind of couple would like to undress each other in front of (hidden) camera. I could digest at least the younger ones in their 20s; the mature 49 year old woman trying it out with a 59 year old man who could have been a grandfather was unacceptable. How much ever liberal their society must be, I guess there must be some ‘Lakshman rekha’ – the line of demarcation (in this case decency) that must not be violated. I am generally liberal in many matters but as a mother with a grown up young man, being of same 49 years (soon to be 50), i could not come to terms with the woman in red lingerie of my age lying close to a total stranger baring everything except for a brief clothing and summarizing to him her life story in a few lines.

The participants were decent. But I wonder, how many episodes went without being aired with limits overstepped. The black couple, classic case. Extremely sexy both, their mutual attraction was palpable to even us audience. When asked to kiss, they went straight to lip locking as expected ! Could not help fondling each other through out. I am sure, they made it out the next moment they walked out of the studios!

After a 10 minute on-camera intimacy like this, the couples have to decide whether they would like to go on a second date with the same partner.

3 couples said mutual yes to each other.

I did not see what the 49 year old woman said to her 59 year old partner and vice versa. I did see another black couple sorely disappointed with each other.

Never in my wildest dreams have I thought of such a reality show. I won’t be surprised if our desi TV channels soon copycat it with slight revisions. Undressing part will have to go for at least now to be swapped with some other bright and equally interesting idea. Some producers must already be wracking their brains !!

Weirdest show I have watched in my life. Watchable only with our spouse. As the couples have to stand exposed for the entire 10 minute length in their undies that would be telecast worldwide, everyone of them was in designer underwear!

Sad, if someone is this desperate to find a partner – whether for just blind date or for a serious love life/marriage at a later stage. New low even for reality shows.

Reminds me of the bride seeing formality in our own families/society in front of the elderly/relative circle in case of arranged marriages. How sacrosanct. My husband begged for a 10 min private talk with me. He was allowed that but my first BIL’s wife stood guard at the open door (that was not allowed to be shut) and heard every single word that we exchanged! Every single outing before wedding was without the knowledge of our both families but I would be back home by 5.30 pm still. Girls of our generation were like that. I do not expect this of my local girls today … world has traveled far in this 25 year gap.

TV shows are trying to kill the little dignity and shame left in present day man and woman. I wonder how the participant couples would be facing their friends, neighbours, family and colleagues at work. The 10 minute on screen chemistry is also a dead give away to what kind of man/woman you are basically. Hot or easily excitable or cold or shy or bold or whatever. For a tv show to pry and exploit this most intimate and innermost soul of ours is horrible and unacceptable. If I have something to say positive about the show, it is about the fitness of the participating couples who oozed super confidence that came with their healthy bodies. Some had pleasing attitudes.

Leaves us even long married couples shell shocked. Normally I am considered bold by some of my friends. Given the kind of society I come from. But this is too much for me. Wonder what my girls will have to say!

Still, i wondered how it will be with an Indian couple undressing each other in the dark room with hidden cameras: ROFL laughing thinking of this:

  • Not so easy to undress our ladies; loads of jewelry to take off first; from gold chains to bangles everything ; sometimes flowers on hair too! every Indian husband will have volumes to say on this 😀 Even clothing/way of dressing makes it not easy for us to strip (without some clumsiness)!
  • The couple may question each other on whether they are vegetarian/non vegetarian; joint of nuclear family;
  • Rare ones may ask for complete Kula/Gothra details. No dating without knowing who you are by gene/bloood. How pedigree you are.
  • The couple will definitely want to know about the exact academic qualification of their partner with monthly take home pay after taxes paid
  • The girl will want to know if the boy’s family own their house, whether he has car.
  • Won’t be surprised if the boy asks the girl how many tolas of gold their family will be giving her in marriage.
  • The girl stands rejection owing to just her skin colour. South Indian girls with North Indian boys chanceless and vice versa. Walk out right in the studio. But I guess the producers will take care of that, matching partners within their comfort zones.
  • Whether north or south, Indian boys will press the ‘yes’ buzzer only after their ma(s) (mothers) give consent! There is no helpline in this show like in ‘Crorepathi’ by way of phone call, but there is no way an Indian boy will marry a girl who his mother will not approve of!
  • No smooth waxed bodies please, we are Indians! Except for a very miniscule percentage from very elite Indian circle, most Indians do not believe in body shaving/waxing 😀 Project to abort right at the stage of take-off for a second time! However I am sure some (not all definitely no Arab/south east Asian) Asian audience will love such a show of body hair !!!
  • Also doubt if we Indians have such fabulous bodies. Or most probably the producers are showing only good looking couples. Where to hide the middle age flab ? The love handles, the bums, the stretch marks from pregnancy, the sags, droops !!! The 49 year old white in the show intelligently held on to a fluffy pillow against her abdomen.  Younger couples mostly had well toned bodies, especially the men. I wonder how many Indian couples whether young or middle age will be presentable semi-nude or will be fit enough to even pose in semi nude in public. Swim wear preposterous to most Indians.
  • Its true most Indian men do not wear shirt at home. Go bare chested. For Hindu traditional ceremonies, men have to stay bare chested in front of guests and it is so for temple darshans as well in ancient mandirs until today (rule relaxed in most temples in India presently) So it might be easy for Indian men than for ladies I guess.
  • After all these hick-ups and hurdles, do you think we can still host this show successfully???

Shedding our inhibitions, shedding our clothes so easy … in-camera … or shedding one’s dignity and self-respect? It is another thing if a woman sunbathes in swimwear in the beach in public; but being undressed by a total stranger however ravishing handsome he might be, seems out of realm of normality (at least to me).  I don’t think these relationships will work out. They may fizzle out and fade away before the show draws to end. Total fake.


Grass always looks greener on the other side.

Just learned that Anthony Bourdain is no more. Suspected suicide. Comes close on the heels of Kate Spade. The chef’s name was familiar but I could not place him until l googled. Oh yeah, he traveled the length and breadth of India i remember, even to Chennai. Cooking the local dish with the local ingredients. Regular in Natgeo. Heard of Kate Spade only during my US visit this year. Seemed to be a big label. In fact I got 3 of her purses. Two lovely ones I gifted my sis and a friend. Now I wish I could get them back! The brand was everywhere. The ones I got – at least seemed to me – were very user friendly. I did wonder who designed it because it was so full of utility compartments. I did not know about the woman behind the creation then. ‘Very thoughtful’ this is the exact way I felt. In fact i gave away the purses half heartedly only! I gave away the wallets because in spite of their creativity and functionality, they were not still as good as those I had from India (unbranded stuff).

Goes on to show how depression can be a silent killer lurking behind unsuspecting people and how money and success are not everything.

In fact I was thinking about this right from my US visit.

I don’t know whether I blogged it.

First of all, contrary to my imagination, not all people in the US were happy or rich as we Indians tend to assume automatically. Meals meant mostly burgers or fast food. Sugared soft drinks if not beers. Cars everywhere but India too has too many cars even if smaller by size. Frozen food. People chasing money. Overworked, tired. Limited vacation. One earned only 2 to 3 weeks annual vacation there compared to one whole month of paid leave in India. Base knowledge level was good and techwise people were smart.

Other than that, I thought people in third world countries like India led a far better life, quality wise.

You take a typical Mylaporean even by today’s standards. (Mylapore is the most ancient part of Chennai my home town. It has a recorded history of over 2000 years. World’s first known oldest literature ‘Tirukkural’ (1330 couplets discovered in Tamil with the rest lost) – was penned from my birth place over 2300 years back). Fresh foods only – 90% cooked at home with freshest vegetables and LOTS OF GREENS. Loads of fruits. Milk in India cannot be stored/refrigerated for more than 1 day – it spoils. Only then can we call it fresh milk – something you just CANNOT get anywhere in America or Europe. Fresh milk there is loaded with chemicals and preservatives that it ceases to be fresh milk. Keep it one year in fridge, still will stay fine. Vegetables especially tomatoes are GM food (even if i am a vegetarian). In India, if you toast tomatoes, in matter of minutes it will reduces to skin with juice extract out totally. Will shrink to one hundredth of its size. Such a thing will never happen to American tomato. It is very stubborn, so big and beefy OMG !

I thought how lucky my own folks back in India were: they ate the best and freshest food, not packed or packaged. For most Americans, anything not packaged was NOT hygienic! For a meal like we have at home in India on a regular day, you will have to pay 300 to 500 $ in America in a restaurant! Just for the spices and ingredients and freshness. Leave alone the gourmet/cuisine tag. May be not many can believe, but Indian cuisine is richest and yummiest and most nutritious. Very very expensive. Hit in UK and in entire Europe. Even if you may try to cook Indian food at home in America, you will have to spend a grand sum. Cheapest and easiest is to shop for frozen groceries with shelf life of one year pumped with synthetic flavours and preservatives. In India, its rare to come across such frozen groceries because: we simply cannot afford such huge deep freezers in small towns and villages or even in our homes!!! Poverty can be a blessing!

Same thing applies to meat. We use the freshest meat/fish/prawns – frozen only for a few hours from the time of catch in the sea to time of sale the same morning or evening, that’s all. Never more than that. This long lasting chicken/mutton they have there in America with expiry date running to months or even years is shocking.

I can’t believe these Americans think they are eating the best food. Junk, total junk. Flabbergasted that they think worst of OUR food habits !!!

Alright, leaving food if we come to lifestyle in India: average Mylaporeans have the habit of walking by foot to local temple, market everyday. For the library. For the gym. Carrying groceries by hand – several kgs. This by itself is a cardio.

Then the evenings atleast once or twice a week, there are classical music instrumental/vocal concerts to attend plus classical dance recitations.

Average Indians also read a lot of local literature apart from English language news and literature.

The overall personality of average India is far, far better over an average American who can think only one dimensional,

An average Indian however has knowledge of classical Hindustani/Carnatic, classical western music for instance – besides filmy music.

Dance is more part of Indian’s life than an average American’s life.

Again we watch foreign films and tv along with local.

Cinema the mass entertainer, is the succour of rural India. Its a much better alternative to drugs and crimes.

The average Indian life is now so much more improved that we have better quality holidays both locally and internationally. Even the poorest Indians travel within the country constantly. Indians are biggest and topmost spenders/tourists in both America and Europe along with Chinese. Red carpet welcome to Indian tourists around the globe.

Travel wise too, we need not have to tour Africa to spot the elephant or lion. They are in their natural settings in India along with tiger, rhino and other wild life. Quality holidays within India at almost zilch cost compared to what you may have to shell out to travel companies registered in Europe/America.

Health care facilities are best in India, speediest and cheapest compared to the US. Even without health insurance you can survive in India and can have the cardiac bypass and hip replacement from your bank account savings. Something unthinkable in America.

I was for 50 days in India after a long time, 24 hours a day were not enough for me.

With activities like Zumba and Yoga and local plays in theaters and concerts and visits to historic temples, my days seemed much shorter. I rounded it off with a stay over in a seaside resort with my friends. It had a private beach – and the spread for breakfast/lunch/dinner I did not find in the 4 star hotels of Europe or America. From desi to continental to exotic fruits to cheeses … if we were poor in anything it may be with cheese department. Again, ice creams are made in India from fresh milk never from milk powder as they are made in America or Europe.

The American children can never take pride in their history. Can they?

The kind of exhilaration I feel every time I step into 1000 year old Hindu temple in my country – I don’t think any american can feel over anything.

We don’t know what destiny has in store for us.

But my visit to America made me realize that the intrinsic wealth and value of India is much much more than American or European.  From the kind of food we ate to even the clothes we wore…

We in India wear purest cottons and sheer silks – whereas the western attire is all man made fibre like polyester and nylon. We Indians wear clothes that breathe that are natural yarn. Indian silks may be termed designer’s designer stuff in American terms. And the ethnic prints in vegetable dyes mostly… over the chemical dyes… Indigo is the rage now in India. Fashion India. I got my quota 😀

The shoes we wear are leather, the purses/wallets/belts and bags we carry are leather. We don’t know their value. In India they are priced at 300 rupees hardly 40 $ but in US they may fetch us 4000 $ – and this is the solid truth about India and Indians. About our every walk of life.

Average Indians own lots of gold and diamonds – something unthinkable to most Americans. Average Hindu temples are richest and treasuries and repositories for tonnes of gold that will put American treasury department to shame. However none of our wealth is officially accounted for.

It is not without reason that India draws thousands from west who come here searching for inner peace. Initially they may be put off, but those who have patience, go on to discover the true wealth and happiness that is in store in this country of ours.

I do not regret our much publicized poverty at all. Yes, true, 30% of India’s population is dirt poor but that’s changing very rapidly.

But a good percentage of Americans are totally addicted to drugs and other self abusive habits. Irredeemable. Crime rates again when compared to 1.3 billion population of ours, is steeper.

Lessons I learned from Europe and America are: no way is India inferior to any of these nations. We still produce the best human brains.

Someone asked, how India being so poor can produce such fine academicians and scientists and medicos.

Reason is the rich resources that we still have in this country. Human resources, natural resources, living a life closure to nature in many ways.

Our air and water may be polluted day by day, but with what little we have, we strive to produce the best.

Sadly, my own countrymen do not realize how gifted they are.

Money and success do not automatically imply a good life. Without that, we Indians are already rich without us knowing it.

Actress Sri Devi’s life, another reminder. The way it (was) ended so brutally. Abruptly.

India’s biggest minus point is : LACK OF INFRASTRUCTURE but even here we are catching up

India’s next minus point is: lagging in industrializtion. Rather than thinking that it is a curse, these days I happen to think it’s a blessing.

Indian education system may be found wanting but still is by far most comparable to the best in the world because, we are able to manage in America after graduating from India. It means we are passable. May be not the best. Definitely in the education department, especially when it comes to science/engg/tech universities, syllabus needs drastic revision and improvement. Our greatest minus point is: our education system is NOT inspirational or research oriented. We learn, we master that’s all. We do not think, we do not invent.

Having lived in Malaysia (south east Asia), Middle East and having toured America and Europe (which I hope to tour again in future God willing), I know what a blessing it is to be born in India, have a good and loving and secure family of husband-wife-kids-grandparents besides nephews and nieces and uncles and aunts. It can be a thatched hut, still you can be happy – the way my maid’s family is. Complete family bliss. If they cannot have 5 star biryani, they can still have yummy road side biryani. And send their kids to corporation school. With our pluses and minuses, India is still a great place to be born and live.

Much cherished native culture and heritage spanning centuries that we have in India: this makes India stand apart from other nations.The Sanskrit slokas and mantras we recite have been chanted for thousands of years. The comfort from familiarity and pedigree and base and root does a lot of good to our persona. Children ought to grow up this way. Or at least that’s the view I subscribe to.

Being born a Hindu in my native home country India, i don’t have to invent lies to make up my history or faith/religion. I don’t have to hide my identity and fake allegiance with foreign cultures. I don’t have to be like anyone. I can be just me.  My conscience is clear like my ancestors.

I am sorry, I like multi-culture but I do not know whether it is good in the long run.

In the long run, i guess, self-respect and pride in one’s own culture may get diminished in multi-cultural setting. I positively feel, there is more to lose than gain.

The festivals and fun in India merit a separate write-up. Our weddings. Literally mini gala celebrations.

The real quality of life in India is far, far superior to what you may find in America or elsewhere.

It is not fair that Kate Spade’s alone is a success story but not the humble leather purse designer from my hometown (with due respect to Kate Spade). I once pulled out my multi compartment purse from my leather handbag – a european lady shopping next to me in middle east inquired me where I got them from. I said, they were from India. She couldn’t believe. I told her I got the purse now well worn for 30$ and my bag for about 80$ – she said that could fetch at least 5000 $ in America. And my stuff wasn’t even branded.

As the Chinese products sweep the markets, the glorious handmade Indian products hardly have buyers. Originals never shine the way fakes do. I couldn’t buy for myself a Kate Spade or Michael Korrs because for that rate in India I could get a dozen original leather products crafted and sewn by hand so beautifully. I got myself a few tops. I couldn’t afford Indian imports in America – they were expensive and sheer cottony cotton. I know I can never afford India outside India.

The beautiful fulfilling rich and meaningful life we have in India… where the elderly are still taken care of by their sons and daughters who may be in their 60s and 70s themselves… and not banished to nursing homes to live and die alone….

I respect America that celebrates individuality but God made me a social creature. My oxygen is classical music and spirituality and ancient temples and cotton clothes and antique diamond jewelry … something I can not and will never find in America.

There is a lot in my country that can be effectively channelized… so much of resources wasted… we are so, so rich… only we don’t know.

We are rich the way we must be….

America in the meanwhile is progressive only because they uphold individual freedom and spirit over anything in their society. This is what makes them innovate. India/Hindu philosophy on the other hand focuses on family bliss and sacrifice and spirituality never on personal gratification. This explains the gulf between our two huge economies.

In spite of herself, India is still doing well.

I remember reading an article in a western magazine in my school days ridiculing eating on banana leaf with our bare hands, not using spoon or fork. ‘Uncultured, barbaric’ were the comments. Today a German company is patenting our leaf plates already. We never take these things seriously in India. Whereas in the west, every facet of life is business. May be that’s why we are poor in their eyes. We are poor living well our lives, that’s the point.

If we Indians can do more for our environment, can take better care of our rivers and water bodies, can build better infra structure, then we can become a top country in the world. By numbers we already the global big 5 economy wise – after only America, China and combined Europe. We are still in the elite space club. We have the potential like none have.  If only we have able politicians to guide us better…

In all my future births, I want to be born only a Hindu in my Hindu majority nation India. God bless India with Hindu majority to eternity for the sake of this entire world.  My beautiful ancient India. Life is beautiful if we live it at our own pace. Waking up to Suprabath, listening to musical Veena, smelling the national jasmine fragrance of India fused with the aroma of sandal wood; eating up a good nutritious filling meal with most freshest hand picked veggies…. walking to the beach, climbing up a mountain… walking to classical concerts not junk noisy metal sounds, indulging in the bliss of spirituality in the temple that your grandfather and great grandfather and great great grandfather had also walked to … this is life.


In my India ironically, like the rich Kate Spade, many commit suicide because they don’t have enough money to spend like in the west to buy all the plastics! A suicide in my home state Tamil Nadu last week because a school girl who was a medical college aspirant did not get the required score in NEET – national medical entrance. So she ended her life with a meter of rope. Think of her poor farming parents. Girl was school topper. She would have made good in any field – but she wanted only medical school.

Today in life, having crossed hurdles that only a parentless girl under 25 can understand, I know all the material comforts we have in our life are nothing. The real treasure is our family. The real happiness is our own soil and the breath of freedom that comes with it. I know where my happiness lies. Where my peace lies.

Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade – I am not surprised by their emptiness. I hope they find what they were looking for in their next births.


India has Her own lovers

Just read a story that in spite of the missionaries and vicious media propaganda, none can have hatred for India in the world.

Very true. India (read Hindus) have given the world as much. The numerous boards for Yoga and Meditation and Ayurveda everywhere I saw in Europe and even in America are a silent testimony. When I saw that the Americans had named the peaks in the Grand Canyon after Hindu and Greek Gods (Vishnu temple and Shiva temple being chief among them), I could imagine the world respect for Hindu culture, the longest surviving indigenous way of life in world history. I bow down in front of such a respect and honour.

Recently on an unscheduled trip to the temple town of Tiruvannamalai  with school friends, I happened to encounter a couple of foreign guys – a French and an American. Tiruvannamalai lies 200 km south of Chennai. It has a historic Siddha Shiva temple over 1000 years old spread over 100 acres, a typical Dravidian Hindu architecture. Siddhas in Tamil mythology are immortal – they never die. They perform penance for 1000s of years. Many Hindu temples down south are Siddha Peetams. We Tamils believe, many Siddhas are roaming around in India even today. Siddhas are to the south, the way Aghoris are to northern India. Siddhas attain their kind of eternal salvation after hundreds of years of ‘tapas’ (penance) under trying conditions: like standing for years, going without food or water, sitting in a same spot for hundreds of years with anthills rising over them, in unwavering meditation. Finally they attain the detachment that can separate their souls from bodies without them having to die (something like this can happen with advanced Transcendental meditation). India once at least was home to such sages/hermits. In the present times too, may be there are a few unknown Siddhas lying low without publicity. This is the strong conviction of many Tamil Hindus who have had a real life brush accidentally with such ‘Siddhas’ in Tiruvannamalai. Rarest of rare happenings. This is also one strand of Hindu spirituality. In fact, in the pyramid like structure of Hindu spirituality, the Siddha-Aghori kind may be at the top while we the rest of us may be in the base level. Tiruvannamalai was once a very powerful Siddha Peetam with the positive aura of the Siddhas that permeated and reverberated from every surface. Here Shiva is believed to have appeared ‘swayambu’ as ‘Agni Linga’ – the fire. It is after this this that India went without temples for the creator Brahma.

Even today in Tamil Nadu, Siddha medicine is practised alongside Ayurveda. Siddhas pioneered in many fields and their contribution to medicine and spirituality is immense.

Arunachaleshwara (Shiva ) temple in Tiruvannamalai is supposed to be vested with mystic Siddha powers. In this town lived the great Ramana Maharishi, Seshadri Swamigal, Visiri Swamy etc., renowned hermits some of whom attained ‘Jeev samadhi’ (samadhi when still alive). The Siddha spirituality draws devotees to this small sleepy town from around the world. I would like to invite my prime minister Shri Narendra Modiji once to have a darshan of Shri Arunachala in Tiruvannamalai. Lord Shiva as Agni/Jyothi Linga, one of the 18 Shiva Stals and one of the five ‘bhootha’ (5 natural elements) Lingam.

To walk around the Tiruvannamalai hill on Pournami (poornima or full moon nights) is supposed to bestow you with good life and divine spirituality. This walk is termed ‘Giri valam)

So while having lunch, we girls struck a conversation with the two white men who were in cotton checked shirts and airy (!) white dhotis.  Their foreheads had ‘vibhuti’ and ‘kumkum’ . They sat with us in the same large table in the restaurant and were comfortably savouring the typical traditional south Indian vegetarian feast served on banana leaf, with their bare hands – very nicely really, almost like us Indians. The air-conditioner was groaning as summer was already upon India (May being our hottest month). When we ladies were nonstop moaning, the two foreigners hardly mumbled a word in complaint about the heat wave or Indian summers. They seemed to be at home, more at home than us girls!

I told the Paris guy who said he came from the world museum capital that I visited Paris 2 years back. He was unimpressed. ‘I no more identify myself as French. I cannot connect with France or Europe or west in general. The day I attended Kumbh Mela in India, walked through the streets of Varanasi, I knew my soul belonged in India. Ever since I am in India on and off. 9 months in India until visa permits. Get back to France and again back to India. I don’t know what you guys find in foreign countries that is not here. I came down to Tiruvannamalai finally after visiting many Hindu temples. I am here as much as possible. I know this is my home.’

The American agreed with him. The day he touched down in India, he said he had this inner calling – a sense of ‘deja vu’. The noise, the poverty, the crowds, nothing bothered him any longer. He felt he had come home.

Both the men were middle-aged, under 60. Neither were they Hippies nor were they Hare Krishna followers. They were not drawn to India via Aurobindo or other Gurus like Ravi Shankar or Sadhguru in modern times or from Sai Babas from recent past. They did not know India in their other lives in Europe/America, the lives they have left behind. India took them by spell the moment they set their foot in the country. Until India happened, they had had no clue what it is about. That is the power of Hindu philosophy.

We women were overwhelmed by what they told us. I asked the French man, ‘Do you know Francois Gautier ???!!!’

He went blank for a minute. ‘Who is he?’ he asked then. I was not sure if it was pretence or real.

I said he was a French journalist now settled in India, writing on Indian politics. He is pretty much an insider, I said.

‘Excuse politics please’ said the French man. The American smiled. ‘We are here on our own, we had this spiritual calling. The spiritual energy, the peace we find here is not there anywhere in the world.’

India does not send missionaries to US or Europe to convert anyone to Hindu dharma or Buddhism the way Vatican/Europe/US are doing. India has never terrorized another nation on earth, never plundered other races, did not lay foundation on/build Bharat over the spilled blood of natives. Sanatana Dharma, Hinduism, is freewill. Without preaching, without coercion, without conversion by the point of sword … world citizens embrace Hindu-Buddhist way of life. Hindus are givers, never takers. We make ourselves useful in the best way to the society we may become part of. India will always therefore have the goodwill of the world. Hindus are boringly annoyingly passive, but are good to the world. World can do with us. World needs our kind.

I just know my Hindu India will be loved and respected eternally. For the goodness we have given the world. For the swordless bloodless conquering of the soul of the world with spirituality, meditation, classical music and dance and literature and science and medicine and technology. Wholesome Hinduness.

That day in Tiruvannamalai, we girls had a reawakening for a second time after temple darshan. Unsolicited love and respect for Hindu way of life and India. We could not have asked for more.


The Hollywood picture Avatar, ofcourse my all time favourite, is a complete lift of this Hindu avatar (incarnation) (avatar is a sanskrit word) spirituality, the ultimate detachment. I never knew someone could make such a beautiful and thought provoking picture with this concept (which we call ‘koodu vittu koodu paidhal’ in Tamil. we have spinned tales around this subject for centuries before Avatar film happened. ask any Tamil/Hindu child. he/she grew up listening to these mythical stories which we believed at heart were once true happenings in Hindu society). Even the body of the Avatar is blue like that of Lord Ram or Krishna. Hindu male Gods mostly are mostly supposedly blue skinned.


PM Modi Inspires Me to Recite ‘Soundarya Lahari.’

I play Devi Mahatmyam and Soundarya Lahari in You Tube. Of course I chant every week Sri Lalitha Sahasranama. I recite and play Vishnu Sahasranama, Hanuman Chalisa even Rudhram. Parts of Skanda Puranam. I am reading Valmiki’s Sundara Kandam in Ramayana.

But I am having Devi Mahatmyam and Saundarya Lahari for years with me. I start, I stop. I start, I stop. Never continued or put efforts in learning.

Finally my prime minister inspires me to learn Soundarya Lahiri. Or at least play it for starters regularly so it becomes easy to memorize. Reason I skip Lahari is that, it is very tough to get it by heart. The Sanskrit pronunciations are a challenge to my tongue. Nevertheless I shall try sincerely in future. I know this is a very powerful mantra, it will do infinite good to family, home, place of residence and one’s nation. Mother Goddess Shakthi is invoked very strongly via this mantra, just like with Sri Lalitha Sahasranama. The Durga who destroys the evil is Shanthi swaroop in Lahiri I guess (not too sure) (at least I should learn the saaraamsh now).

We listen to political speeches of our political leaders, but Shri Narendra Modiji could be the only statesman we may have in the world today who is so spiritually mature. After the unconvincing lies addressed from high podiums by generations of elected representatives and politicians and bureaucrats, it is a delight to listen to Modiji, heading world’s largest democracy, talking on spirituality, something very rare and unique in history. An ardent devotee of Mother Goddess the trinity of Lakshmi-Saraswathi-Parvathi, our PM observed Navrathri Vratham in the US subsisting on lime juice and water for 10 days. Did not break his fasting, and in fact air traveled, gave interviews, participated in international summits delivering lectures in this period. I cannot hope for a better PM for my nation that has been ravaged and terrorized for 800 years by Talibani Babur to Tipu Sultan, and then run aground for next 250 years by the British who stripped us bare.

Someone posted on social media that Modiji must be a Yogi, yeah it is possible.

For my part, I can only pray for his health. 100 years Modiji and many more and more, Mother India needs you forever and ever! I shall always recite the Mrityunjaya Mantra for you. I am doing just that, every single day.

The vibrations these mantras leave in our hearts and homes. The good vibes that negate the negative energy with their positive aura…

Thank you Prime Minister, this I take as personal message from my Mother Goddess.


49, Caught Out

Lost another friend/schoolmate/classmate today – this time to pancreatic cancer. Second in a gap of one year plus. Bala died of liver cancer in Dec 2016. Now Nimmi. Unthinkable. Not even 50. Both blessed with beautiful happy families. Sweet kids. Loving husbands. Parents, in-laws …. what to say about aged parents… How can they even take it.

Bala used to be my next seat in school. Quiet observer. She was niece of Jayendra Saraswathi (Shankaracharya) actually. She would enjoy all our stupid conversations without a word. Confided only to me of her mutt connections. Came from a big joint family in Tiruvanmiyur, the fag end of the city in the ’80s. Sometimes would walk with me from school (in Mylapore) to take the straight bus 29 c from Mandaveli bus stand. In those days 29 c plied between Mandaveli and Besant Nagar only.

I recall strangely about her telling me, how when she got her periods she would be banished to the outhouse in their compound. Somehow vividly i remember that because it was a monthly affair for us girls. Too much ‘aachaaram’ in her home owing to their closeness with Kanchi. We girls did observe a certain degree of quarantine true in our days but hers was extreme I used to think. Today’s young girls cannot even imagine our living conditions then.

After school, I totally lost touch with her. But in the short span of 2 years at school in class 11 and 12, we had somehow struck up a warm friendship. I never told the class of her background. I felt awkward because, here was this girl who came from such a pious, religious background but we girls were raucous and cracked dirty jokes all the time. Bala would keep reassuring me to carry on (!) and not stop having fun because of her. I found that very sweet. She was indeed a very gentle and sweet soul. I thought she joined BA Music or Sanskrit as day scholar in Madras university.

Years later I got connected with her again in social media … this time it was she who found me. She called me in landline and I was astonished to learn she had earned not one but two PhDs in teaching special kids from the US. She said she was herself autistic perhaps in school but I refuted that. I said, being shy didn’t mean that a boy/girl must be autistic. She said, she anyway lacked social skills and lagged behind in academics.  She said something about her daughter being like her but I dismissed it outright. “Can you believe in what i am today Viji? Are you laughing?’ she asked because, in school I was kind of a good student but she thought she wasn’t. I said no, I believed her totally and she was smart. Bala couldn’t believe I was a housewife either.  She had had very high hopes on me as it turned out. That i would have become a professional or something, definitely a working woman. We laughed at how destiny makes us into what we are.

But I was really impressed by how Bala had turned out in life. I felt immensely happy for her, was very proud of her. From someone who was hardly visible in our class/school, she had become a somebody, someone useful to society.

She was running her own school in Mumbai for special kids for years as she told me. She shifted last to Malaysia and then Singapore where she headed special schools for autistic children. In Singapore she was diagnosed with cancer and was asked to leave for India as she was terminally ill. She refused to see any of us friends when she was in Chennai for last couple of months … did not want us to carry her last image as permanent impression in our minds.

I am today staying in touch with her daughter because I think I owe that to Bala. Feeling very guilty that ever since I found her back through social media years back, I still did not try enough to meet her in person. Over the years she was visiting Chennai periodically but I did not invite her home. With husband doing extremely well, with daughter and son pursuing their bachelor degrees in America, Bala who was having everything going for her in life, who was kind of already a mini celebrity in Mumbai giving Carnatic vocal stage recitals, got gravely sick and passed away right in front of our eyes. The tragedy was, we girls were mute witnesses to her sufferings via Whatsapp…. how her chats gradually grew less and less and finally one day stopped for good…

Nimmi (Nirmala), not a close friend of mine but who was close to some of my own close set of friends passed away day before yesterday. I knew she was mother of two and was working for LIC. Two of my friends who paid her the last respects broke down completely, shattered by the sight of Nimmi’s parents and children.

Nobody says a word about the widowed husband .. but just ask me. I had a father who perished day by day after losing his wife, my mother. Not too much love or anything. Indian husbands get conditioned to wife-syndrome that they cannot exist without their wives which is the truth.

I am mature enough to realize, i have to live longer for the sake of my husband now than for my son. My son can take care of himself. It is my husband who cannot live without me I know.

It is a sad day when you know girls of your age are leaving their beloved families dying horrible, painful deaths. Too young to die… This is very unfair…

The kind of dreams mothers die with. What a happy-go-lucky mom I had who would tell her friends she had everything ready for my wedding when I was hardly 12. ‘Double sweet treble kaaram (savoury)’ was her favourite expression. She would go on telling them what menu she planned for my marriage. Every Diwali came with new gold jewelry for us two daughters and new ‘pattu paavaadai’ (silk lehenga cholis that were expensive).

I still cannot cross my mother’s school without breaking down into sobs. Many a time the autowallahs had had to stop concerned. The school for the deaf and the dumb my mother worked for until the last day of her life is mercifully not in my regular route. It is a branching off road. My mother’s blood money (terminal/death benefits) saw us through school and college and established strong base for our future (in form of real estate investments). As a friend said, mothers are like banyan trees. With them, they take away so much. I still receive what I perceive to be monthly gift cheque from my parents… who lived very short lives but left behind a decent something that can take care of me life long that I can afford to be a housewife….

Such is the limitless unconditional love of a mother for her daughter. I don’t deny I see my mother in my Chithi (aunt), even Mother-in-law. I see my mother in my Mother Goddess…. yet there are moments i wish I could bury my face into my mother’s lap in my parents’ home that I haven’t had since my teenage and go to sleep forever and ever… blissfully happy and in total peace closing my eyes without a care in the world…

Too tired running around ever since my parents left that I became an advocate to myself with none to defend or argue ‘my case’. With no moral support system, sometimes it is overwhelming. I am tired of responsibilities, tired of having had to earn my respect, place, honour everything in my life from scratch as a nobody. Now I no more feel compelled to prove anything to anyone, but the fire was there for years. I have finally come to peace with myself, have accepted things for what they are. I am human. Sometimes all I want to do is to vanish. Past memories are now distant still surface out of nowhere to haunt and ache as they always do…

As for my friends Bala and Nirmala, i weep more for their daughters, their sons, their husbands. The vacuum they have left behind will never be filled. Like my father who stayed a widower for the rest of his life, I don’t expect my friends’ husbands to remarry. Indian/Hindu husbands mostly cannot. They can never see another woman in their wives’ place.

My heart goes out to my friends’ kids. Life won’t be easy. Children left to fend for themselves/orphaned from teenage become kind of freaks. Its my personal experience. I have created my own circle of friends, well wishers and relatives, yet sometimes I want to retreat to that tiny tiny corner in the space where no one can reach.

Years, been at the brink of depression. Even a small argument with my husband would seem threatening like sending me spiraling down a deep abyss but I am over the precipice now. Years passed brooding over suicide in teenage. It is good I had no courage and was surrounded by real nice caring people who regularly counselled me.

Years resented my mother/parents’ untimely departure. Couldn’t make peace with them or forgive them easily for leaving us in lurch.

Bala and Nimmi, what have you done. Do you know what you have done to your children, wherever you are…

As I blog this, my friend Nimmi is already an urn of ashes in the electric crematorium. Will be dispersed/dissolved in the Marina beach waters tomorrow. Without a trace….

And then, all that will be left of her will be in her daughter’s memory.

The bonding we shared at school… LS was a great school. It is there even today, over a century old. Standing tall in Mylapore. I couldn’t make friends at college because my school friends thoroughly spoiled me.

I want to put it down here how my mother’s friends cared for me, my friends’ mothers looked at me as if I was their own daughter.

In my old street, neighbours always referred to me as ‘Susheela’s daughter.’ Every single one attended my wedding. I found it strange that I had to learn more about my parents from our neighbours and friends and relatives.

I now find myself in the same spot as my mother’s friends. My mother died far younger compared to Bala and Nimmi. In fact I was nervous when I neared my mother’s last survived age. Once I crossed it, I felt like I had achieved a feat. I had lived longer than my mother. I was there for my husband and my son. Somehow that mattered to me most…

Hug you dear children of Bala and Nimmi. I am seeing myself in you. Oh no, no more Vijis please.

Manmohan Singh Vs Narendra Modi


There is a colloquial saying in Tamil that goes like

“என்னிக்கும் கொடுக்காத ஸ்ரீதேவி இன்னிக்கும் கொடுக்கல ; எப்பவும்  கொடுக்கற மூதேவிக்கு என்ன கேடு ?!”

That Sridevi is Manmohan Singh who wasted 10 crucial precious years that could have been used well for India, a shameless puppet in the hands of Italian Mafiosa Sonia Gandhi. The Moodevi is our Modi ji.


How the Indian media campaigned for and promoted the useless Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khaled 30 years of age researching very-relevant-to-humanity-especially-India subject “African Studies’ in JNU under reservation quota at the expense of 26,000/- INR per month paid out of Indian tax payer money, is very recent history. These anti-nationals have a role model who similarly had a sheepish backdoor entry to India’s top post: ex PM Manmohan Singh who could not have survived a direct mandate from any constituency in India that his ‘aunty’ Sonia thought the best way to prop him up was through ‘Rajya Sabha.’ And this spineless ‘ஏட்டு சுரைக்காய் கறிக்கு உதவாது’ case Singh today has the cheek to speak on Modi who came to power with absolute majority and not by cowardly means.

Well, homework for Indian media:

Did the ‘na-layaks’ Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khaled earn their PhDs. Reportedly they were living luxurious life at govt expense for over 5 years. Report their current status. How about publishing their thesis papers. Will be ‘something’ to read! We Indian public can exercise our ‘Right to Information’ (RTI Act) here. Where is Dr Subramanyam Swamy (this one is real meritorious doctorate). Why not seek details of the duo’s academic work (if any).


Whether it is demonetization (which brought to an immediate halt the Kashmir stone pelting funded by Pak terrorists with fake currency notes issued by their govt/spy agencies, among other things), Aadhar seeding and linking with LPG connection (that resulted in cancellation of millions of bogus connections), bank accounts, insurances, investments including in stock markets, property registration, PDS ration card, PAN card (IT returns filing) etc (which hurt the benamis and black marketeers who held multiple PANs) , GST implementation, foreign policies especially those concerning China (that backstepped in the Arunachal Pradesh border), Pakistan (refused F16 deal and about to get listed as terror-funding state isolated), Modi ji has done an excellent spade work from where on the next govt can benefit enormously. Real estate has turned out to be ‘real’ finally with the bubble bursting. Something that the விடியாமூஞ்சி Manmohan Singh never did except nodding his stupid head. Even the bank scams like PNB started in the Congress govt period. If you can blame Modi for anything, you can blame him for letting callous criminals like Kanimozhi and Raja and Vadera and Maran brothers slip through the loopholes in the legal net.

Whatever he is, Modi works 20 hours a day for my country. Whether the ‘end’ is what you like or not, i like his ‘means.’ His intentions are good. He has no reasons to accumulate wealth like your Karunanidhi or Lalu Prasad Yadav with their multiple wives and ‘keeps’ and their brood of rowdy sons (legal and illegal) in every city and town.

Will Indian media stop your rubbish and for once speak the truth. Bloody bunch of liars. Worse than pimps selling your soul for a pittance. Like that bitch Barkha Slut. Sick sick sick Indian media. The Tasmac குடிமகன் who can figure out a smart phone and make Whatsapp video call cannot comply with Aadhar? Who the hell are you kidding.

Remember, Kanimozhi, accused whose case is still pending in courts, is the union leader of the Hindu labour union, and the newspaper is Swiss Church/Missionary owned. Cannot expect anything other than filth from them. May be the Hindu likes her because of her ‘Swiss’ connections ???

The Sivakasi Pataka : Sri Devi


A beauty from Sri Devi’s first picture. She was 13 then: ‘Moondru Mudichu’ heavy subject under Dada Sahab Phalke award winning director K Balachander. And how maturely she handled it opposite not one but two budding and challenging actors Rajni Kanth and Kamal Hasan both at the same time as the script demanded…


For most of us from Tamil Nad, Sri Devi’s memory is restricted to her Tamil/south Indian pictures. We did catch up with her Bollywood films but we found that her soul was somehow missing in them. ‘Moondram Pirai’ (the third night slice of moon) originally Tamil was dubbed into Hindi as ‘Sadma’ and this picture changed Sri Devi’s destiny and weaned her away from Madras, her home forever.

Remember ‘Star Dust’ calling Sri Devi ‘Idli’ in one of their issues in 1980s when I was a school girl and a huge fan of Sri Devi. Because Sri Devi was a little plumpy but healthy-looking then. Some of us girls swore not to touch Stardust again in life. I still cannot forget the racial slurs Stardust routinely unleashed on heroines from south. When Sri Devi won, it was victory for the south for us. I completely left reading Stardust with that one issue of theirs. Sri Devi proved the bloody editor wrong. Stardust/Hindi tabloids could be wholly responsible for ruining and devastating Sri Devi’s engagement (she was to marry the Tennis Grandslam and ace player Vijay Amritraj of Amritraj Brothers,  from Madras and Hollywood producers.


Born in Siva Kasi, the famous fire-cracker industrial small town of India/Tamil Nadu, none of us in Tamil Nadu thought our local heart throb Sri Devi, who was already a legend and sort of lady superstar in Tamil film industry, would turn into an all-India sensation.

It is only this week I was watching one of her foremost films ’16 vayadhinile’ (at 16 years) for umpteenth time. In this epic picture, Sri Devi is a village belle. In most southern films, she appears without make-up or glamorous costumes. The hero is Kamal Hasan and the anti-hero Rajni Kanth. I can never tire of this classic rural scape that i have watched dozens of times in the tv. Everytime I watch this film, I tell myself why Sri Devi, Rajni Kanth, Kamal Hasan, director Bharathi Raja, music director Ilayaraja and even the comedian Goundamani became huge success stories. It is like a cult movie. A must watch to see how basic and real Tamil film industry is and how it molds actors like it may never be possible in Bollywood.

I have loved Sri Devi’s black and white Tamil magics and also those few colour films that came at the start of the 1980s. Powerful and meaningful roles for the actress who easily became a superstar in the south clad  in a sari, never with the kind of clothes or make-up that she wore in Bollywood. I have seen almost all of Sri Devi’s Tamil films, but have not seen her Hindi films much except for perhaps one or two. REason was, I could not come to terms with her Bollywood image. In Tamil films, Sri Devi has a huge nose. For Hindi film industry, she went for a nose job after which she became an all-India superstar.

One more thing I loved about Sri Devi was her voice, which was childish and sweet. Amazingly Sri Devi did not know a single word of Hindi when she started acting in Bollywood. From initial stages of getting dubbed for her roles, imagine the lengths she had to walk to get where she did.

I was about to write a piece of ’16 vayadhinile’ (1976?) …. I will…

The image of Sri Devi with me will always be that of the south Indian heroine that she was. I saw ‘English Vinglish’ a couple of years back and loved it. I could understand why Bollywood celebrated her. She could have been daughter of Chennai but then she became the bahu of Mumbai.

Yet Sri Devi’s residence is still there in Chennai. Once after she entered Bollywood, I went for shopping at Nilgiris supermarket. After I married. By then Sri Devi had been almost forgotten locally after her debut in Bollywood, and Tamil film industry had seen many more rising female stars. Sri Devi was not yet married then I guess. I saw her in her car driven by her driver. She had lost her mother i think. Not sure. She was in a yellow sari, calm and quiet, without any of the fanfare about her as in Bollywood. No make-up. Looked sombre in fact and i wondered for a moment, what was happening in her life.  But i was a young mother myself. No more thoughts for busy me then. Nobody in Madras gave her a second look. This was the first superstar of Bollywood imagine. I did stare at her in awe. The image, like JJ’s, stays with me forever though. Like frozen in time. Sri Devi I recall, unlike JJ who sought eye contact with me/any pedestrian when held up in traffic, was careful not to make eye-contact with passersby. Her car had slowed down near Nilgiris, behind which her house was. My one and only encounter with the star. I later learned her property was in a legal dispute. Sri Devi owned a lot of real estate in the city.

Sri Devi made her debut in Tamil film industry at the tender age of 4 years as a child artiste. Her mother was an extra artiste. She wanted to make her daughter a heroine. Just like JJ’s mother who was also an extra who wanted to make JJ a heroine. Sri Devi, quite like Jayalalitha Jayaram, became a star only to fulfill her mother’s wishes. While in Madras, she was completely under the control of her parents. She had affair with none. She was gossiped with none. Her mother chaperoned her everywhere. Down south, she never socialized, never partied. Her private life was off public gaze. Sri was a very much protected and cherished daughter. In Bollywood, everything changed. She was rumoured to have married Mithun Chakraborty. She was about to marry Vijay Amritraj, the ace tennis Grandslam player from Madras, now a US citizen and a renowned Hollywood producer. But the wedding plans fell through at the last moment when Hindi tabloids released news of the star’s marriage to Mithun. She was already over it but the damage was done. Sri Devi broke down reportedly on that. The same Bollywood that made her into a superstar also destroyed and damaged her life forever. Media had the biggest role to play in changing her life. Shameless and heartless. After that, her parents passed away, and she married Boney Kapoor. There was tv report about her during her Bollywood days when she returned to Madras/Sivakasi to canvass for her father Aiyappan who was contesting for a Congress seat in Lok Sabha elections. Since then Sri Devi rarely returned to Chennai or was in local news.

Sri Devi’s family in Madras used to be very closely knit. Her younger sister Sri Latha was married off by Sri Devi who never allowed even a single photograph of her young sis to be published anywhere in the media in those days. We in Tamil Nadu never knew anything about her sister except for her name. That is how the actress fiercely protected her sibling from public glare. Of late I kept wondering how the Sri Devi of Tamil film industry who was so protective about her kid sister keeping her out of tinsel town/media news was parading her own teenage daughters for filmy chances, in parties etc. Was this the Bollywood effect? What a character change from the simple but firm Sri Devi to the stunningly glam Sri Devi, the diva of Bollwyood that she had become.

Sri Devi, running and running after money and fame from right her fourth year as a little child, who never attended school for this reason, who lived first for her parents, who lived then for her daughters…. I hope she finally gets all the rest she duly deserves.

Feel saddest about her.  Like JJ, she did not have it easy. Throughout her life, she was chasing money. I never liked her Bollywood transformation but that is what made her all-India famous. But she was already popular in entire south. But Sri Devi left her dear daughters exactly the way her mother left her at the most crucial point of her life. With her nose surgery, Sri Devi began her life long tryst with cosmetic surgery: pucking her lips, liposuction, tummy tucks etc., etc. Coupled with the enormous financial stress she had over maintaining her status and dressing up her daughters, she must have paid with her life which makes one wonder whether it is worth it.

Watching ’16 vayadhinile’ with my husband, we were chatting how everyone else in the picture Sri Devi, Rajni Kanth, Kamal Hasan, comedian Gaunda Mani, director Bharathi Raja, music composer Ilaya Raja all went on to become superstars in their own fields even though they played unflattering roles/behind the scenes. But the glamourous and good looking hero-like doctor played by whoever (?) became a one-film sensation and dropped out of the film industry totally, to be forgotten forever. When the film may have been released, who would have imagined such a reversal of roles in actual life.

In retrospective, I now wonder who is the real winner in life. Rajni Kanth and Kamal Hasan who have made themselves jokers after touching the peak of fame and fortune whose own daughers are unworthy of any mention doing them harm, Ilaya Raja and Bharathi Raja whose sons are spoilt and beyond redemption, Sri Devi now no more… or perhaps this hero guy who played the doctor who went into anonymity after ’16 vayadhinile’ never becoming the hero he was supposed to be… This man I am sure is now far and removed from film industry and limelight, probably a happy family man than all of these supposedly successful stars from the film. What is success and what is failure in life. The doctor guy could be the real success story in actual life who knows.  Do people even bother to know if he exists anymore?! Good for him!

And one more irony of life: how Sri Devi who went under knife for a chain of cosmetic surgeries also was destined to go through post mortem for one final time. The business class queen like heroine to be transported back in cargo section.

Life is that much impermanent. Nothing is stable. Sri Devi is proof.


Destiny of Tamil Heroines

Vaijayanthi Mala married Bali, she was his second wife. Rekha, daughter of veteran Tamil actor Gemini Ganesan, entered Bollywood only because she was an illegitimate child born out of wedlock. She wanted to move far and away from Madras. Hema Malini became the second wife of Dharmendra. Jaya Prada second wife of someone else. Sri Devi’s story we know. Aseen originally Mallu only has married well.

Contrastingly Hindi heroines who fared better in south like Khushboo, Jyothika (both muslim by birth) are happily married in Chennai (to Hindu families).