Friday, October 22, 2010

Earnest and young

For someone who picked up the very first copy of The Hindu Young World, its 20th birthday is a matter of great pride and nostalgia. My family subscribed to two dailies but the big black letters failed to impress Neil and me as 6 year olds. It was then that The Hindu announced the launch of the Young World. I still remember the excitement of being initiated into the world of newspapers through this special newspaper designed for children.

The first issue came out on a Saturday. It was a delight to see the quarto size paper with colourful pages with articles suitable for children. The Crayon Corner, Heathcliff and Batman comic strips, the creepy stories in the Strange but True column,the quizzes, crosswords and puzzles were sufficient to keep us glued to it for the whole weekend. The articles were of supreme quality and dealt with reviews on children’s classics, writers, current issues and hobbies. I remember the first logo had a boy on it which Neil and I saw as a matter of debate. After a few months its creators thought it fair to include a girl in it too. My parents who understood the value of the newspaper took pains to retain the copies and bind them into a large book at the end of every year. Those archives have been great research materials while doing school assignments. V.V Ramanan’s quizzes deserve a special mention as they have, till date, been able to keep the spark of the quest for knowledge alive. The Young World quiz still remains the hot favourite among young quizzers.

Twenty is a significant milestone to cross and the newspaper has evolved adapting to the changing times and reader requirements. There have been other pullouts like The Quest and Signpost which catered to young readers but did not gain Young World’s popularity despite being of high standards. Congratulations to the editorial team (old and new) behind this children’s newspaper. May you continue to inspire thousands of young readers in the years to come.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pularkala sundara swapnam

The Easter Mass got over at 5:30 am. The dawn was already breaking when we were returned home. The kitchen got busy with the Lent-breaker beef stew and palappam. I happened to find the camera which had a blow by blow report of how our Easter chicken got to the table. Appalled at the unethical "lensmanship", I stepped out into the cool morning air to capture the beautiful day of Resurrection and new hope. It had rained on Good Saturday, quenching the summer heat and washing off the dust from the foliage.

The jasmines before ammachi claimed them to decorate the crucifix, and the pictures of Our Lady and Alphonsamma in the prayer room.

The bounty of jaathikkas (nutmegs) that burgeon in appachan and ammachi’s dreams.

Seasons come, seasons go…. serenely flows the canal.

Guess this is how people having more than one social network account would look like :P…

A moldy old electric post that stands in the farm.

“Calvin”…”Hobbes” has the camera..:P

In hope of more April showers.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Midas Touch

”Your kind attention please, We wish Anita and Baiju who will be getting married at St.Mary’s church, Chalakudy, on Dec 30, a happy married life. We dedicate this song for the young couple.” The strains of “Anuraagavilochananayi...”rent the air.

This announcement that caught me by surprise was not at the railway station or on FM radio, but in an overcrowded showroom of the one of the biggest jewelers in the city. Guess that’s what connects a railway station and a jewelry shop. The huge flat screen TVs in the waiting lounge at Chennai Central , keep playing ads where nubile beauties simper, and bat their eyelashes because they were draped in silks from Pothy's or adorned with Kalyan jewelry .Not to forget the Saravana stores ad with a robust splash of colour and a lot of frisky actors. The same monitor also runs an awareness documentary of the Indian Railway on sinister co-passengers who might drug you and rob you off your valuables.

My two trips to T Nagar gave me and insight into the shoppers psyche and that I am not wired to be one. I had been to most of the big shops, bustling with shoppers as though Doomsday was near. Last time I accompanied an obsessive shopper who not only shopped her purse dry but also irritated me with rhetorical questions, while she displayed two equally garish salwaar sets. I stared at her in wide eyed wonder when she described her shopping trips to the big textile marts and jewelers unable to take in the fact that there exist people who live just to shop. Infact she used to say she wants to get married so that she can buy all the saris and ornaments she ever dreamed of!

Come January and it’s time for weddings. I have two on my list already. The big shops bustle with the bridal entourage consisting of a dreamy bride, a bored groom, anxious parents of the bride, cynical parents of the groom and an assortment of excited aunts and girl cousins. A classmate of mine had to miss the golden chance to shop for her sister’s wedding and had to make do with status reports between classes over the cell phone. “They got the engagement sari!!! She announced excitedly and immediately got an audience. “It’s maroon and gold and costs Rs.19000!” A gasp went around the room as the sister of the bride-to-be smiled nervously, at a loss on how to judge the reaction. The already married classmates saved her by launching into their own wedding trousseau stories. The other day I was at the engagement of a good friend of mine. It was, in two words, simple and sweet. She wore the best jewel a bride could wear,(but is mostly paled by the glare of the yellow metal. I have to mention those Vivahitarayi photos that appear in newspapers where the bride and groom sulk as they flank an austere bishop.)-a beautiful smile. The sari, I was told, cost less than Rs.5000 and she wore a single string of pearls. I couldn’t help remembering of my old roomie who went around the jewelry shops, armed with a copy of the Vanitha , asking them where she could get the exact manga mala that Kavya Madhavan wore, for her nischayam!

I came across yet another situation on the day they call Akshaya Triteya. Most of my colleagues hurried away to buy a bit of auspicious gold to keep their lockers blooming through the year. I accompanied a friend of mine to a Tanishq showroom,where the security was in the danger of being crushed by a beehive of shoppers collecting their lucky gold coins in a makeshift counter right at the entrance. My friend placed her request to see the rings section and proceeded to choose from the display. After umpteen looks at two almost similar designs she settled for one to seal her prosperity for the year. There were a couple of other colleagues who settled for a pair of miniscule ear-studs saying it was essential to have the Midas touch that day even in the size of a pin prick. It was quite ironic that one of them lost the ear-studs and other valuables in a burglary a week later.

That same evening another friend of mine was telling me about her innocent fiancĂ© whose job was at stake. Her words of resilience were powerful though drenched in tears.”I believe in a living God. He will make a way”. Yet another hope for prosperity; another belief. I was left wondering which one was right and strong.

And while you are at it, do check out Games People Play by Joe South.Pithy lyrics.