Austerity is the latest buzz word. You read about Netas travelling in trains (still a/c), twits about cattle class, shifting stays from five star hotels to cantonment houses. Amidst all this there comes the most interesting ad.
Mont blanc, a German manufacturer of writing instruments, watches and accessories. A Mont Blanc product will cost you a fortune and now they have introduced a limited edition pen, Mahathma Gandhi limited edition series. A tribute to the Mahatma whose words had the power to move the masses and the soul. It’s quite interesting that one among world’s leading premium pen manufacturer chose Mahatma who led a simple life and was the greatest advocate of austerity. He became ‘the half naked fakir’ to connect to the people, travelled along with them in unreserved compartments. Now back to Mahatma Gandhi limited edition series pen, there are two variants to this,
a. 241 numbers, signify the number of kilometers in Dandi march, each pen cost almost Rs. 11 lakhs, where Rs50,000 from each sale will go to charity
b. 3000 numbers, the number of followers in Dandi march, each pen almost cost a lakh and 50 thousands Indian Rupee.
'Brand Gandhi' is still powerful, Lets remember the Mahatma on his 141st birth day, if not for the limited editions but for austere life he lived.
14 Sep I had never imagined that a car or rather the wait for a car would change the life of Appu. Now he has become a recluse. One good thing happened in his life for sure. He started conversing in Hindi effortlessly, thanks to his never ending conversations with truck driver and the courier person in Delhi.
15 Sep Late evening appu came home. He said by midnight the car would reach Chennai. It’s coming near Ponamallee telephone exchange. Whole day he was searching for the exact location it seems in Google earth. Thanks to recession no major work happening in office! I called up just dial to get the address but they had only the telephone numbers.
16 Sep After noon Appu called up, it seems now the courier guy is telling the car will be delivered at home. My 2 month (almost) long wait to drive a sedan is in vain now? Appu did not bother whether I pick the car or they door deliver it. He wants his car. He said by 6 the car will reach home. He has already given his house address to the driver.
7:30 p.m same day Appu is calling again! He yelled in excitement, the car has arrived and parked in front of his house and now the car is there he wants me to take him for a city drive but I thought you know some amount of driving, I asked, there was a long pause from appu's end. At last he said he was planning to join a driving school.
While driving I asked appu when he will drive the car, he didn't hear my query, he was busy inspecting the car, his brand new Hyundai Accent car!
12 Sep No news of Appu, no SMSs, no calls. I tried calling him twice but found his number busy so evening I went to his home and found a visibly dejected Appu. The truck is still in Vizag it seems. Repair work is happening. He is answering only to the questions asked. Heaps of magazines (all expensive) related to cars scattered here and there. No wonder he knows so much about cars. Of late Appu’s behaviour at home has gone from bad to worse, his mother complained. He argues (for hours) for every single thing . Whether it’s about keeping the green bath towel instead of his favourite blue one, or not opening the door even after the second knock.
I thought Appu needed a break and took him out for a ride. On our way he said that Hyundai Accent car was now available in Chennai canteen! Now that’s really a twist in the tale. We should have been bit more patient and booked the car from Chennai. We could have avoided this damn wait. On our return we saw 2-3 Hyundai Accent cars. I tried to avoid the sight but Appu did not miss it. He started abusing profusely seeing the cars. I asked him to calm down.
13 Sep Appu called around 5:30 in the morning, rather unusual! He said an interesting but very intriguing story. “A friend of Appu, who happens to be a truck driver saw the truck with the car, on his way to Chennai some 80 kms from the city”! Strange, when did he befriend a truck driver? How come the driver identified the truck? How did he know that he had booked the car and the very same car is there inside the truck? I did not ask these questions. Good to see Appu back in his elements. So according to him the truck should reach outskirts of Chennai by afternoon, worst case scenario by late evening. He asked me to get ready for delivery of the car. He is taking half day leave. 13 Sep, 8:00 p.m, my home
Appu came around 8, he was already on the phone talking in Hindi, he was struggling, talking to truck driver it seems. The conversations continued for almost an hour. I could see (in several occasions) his tone reaching the crescendo. After a while his brother joined the call (a conference call) from Hyderabad. Appu was furious most of the time. Later my wife told that in office also he is busy talking over the phone. At first his colleagues thought that he was pleading with the chief exam officer for more marks (Appu failed in one of the exams for some certification). It seems all of a sudden, in the middle of the work whenever his phone rings; he will get up, run towards the adjacent room and start talking for hours. I just finished reading a book “The Afgan”, it’s about stealing of boats by a bunch of terrorists, now I have my own doubts but I didn’t share it with anybody. After today’s incident I decided to have a constant eye on Appu.
I am back from Kerala, trip was great. Appu didn’t call me when I was in Kerala, was expecting his call as the car was expected to reach Chennai that weekend. He would have forgotten all after seeing the car I thought. By around 3:00 afternoon Appu called. There was sadness in his voice. Whether something happened to the Car? Or in transit the car got damaged? Any other goof ups? There was absolute silence from Appu’s end for a moment and finally he said’ Car yet to reach Chennai’.
Believe me I was relieved hearing this news. Nothing has happened to the car. The only thing is that the arrival will take some more time. No response from the courier service Appu complained. I tried to console but the effort was futile. I saw first signs of unrest in Appu’s voice. I said everything would be fine by tomorrow. Appu said just ‘Good night ‘ .
Appu almost screamed over the phone” there is some trouble in AP border’ naxal attack? I asked. No, it seems the truck carrying the car is having some problems with permit! So the truck is stuck in AP border. No idea when it will be allowed to enter AP.
It’s been almost 3 days since I spoke to Appu. I thought lets not ask again and again about the status of Car and deteriorate his mental state. But to day I met him near a car shop. I asked him what he was doing. He was trying hard to hide the embarrassment. He said if we select and keep ready what all we need for the car we can save the time. Oh God when did he become organized? The arrival or just the news of arrival has surely brought so many changes in Appu. I need to wait and see whether the changes were life enhancing. I knew that Appu was doing all this to keep his mind and himself busy and avoid sitting and worrying about the much awaited truck’s transit.
Appu’s call, early morning. I was hesitant to answer the call but no escape from this I thought. Appu said the truck is near Vizag and will reach Chennai by midnight. Oh now am worried about midnight traffic in Chennai! Appu said he will call by late evening. I waited and waited and don’t know when slept off.
1 July It all started today at around 11 a.m. appu called me, his voice was brimming with excitement. His brother, who is in Navy has booked a car, Hyundai Accent car. Through military canteen they have booked the car, its much cheaper it seems. We agreed to meet at Pizza Hut for a car booking treat at around 9 p.m. Treat was great. Appu is all thrilled. Hyundai Cars are not available in Chennai military canteen so the car is coming from Ludhiana, Appu said while having Pizza. He says truck will reach Chennai within 2 weeks, at the maximum. We are all excited. While coming back from Pizza Hut at Adyar signal we saw one Hyundai Accent car. Appu says his car’s (booked one) colour is better. 2 July Appu has charted out a detailed plan for our trip in new sedan. First trip is to Puthucherry (Pondicherry), yeah that will be a great trip and I will be driving a Sedan for the first time (Appu is not confident of driving a car). Now I am also started waiting for the car. I checked with my wife whether we should book the rooms in Aurobindo ashram guest house. She says it’s too early.
30 Aug I am writing after almost a month. Nothing major happened. I see a lot of change in Appu. Nowadays he is only talking about cars, particularly about Hyundai. He is having a truckload of information. I check with my wife whether he is working in office (Appu is in her team). She said Appu’s work is fine. How come all of a sudden he got these many details about cars? Appu called up today morning and said the car will reach Chennai on Sep 4. But on the very same day I am leaving to Kerala. He is bit upset but I assured him that I shall arrange a driver for taking delivery of the car. I called up and booked a driver.
4 Sep I am writing while travelling, Mangalore mail on the way to Kerala. Morning I called up Appu. He is in cloud nine. He said he is on leave today but car will reach only by 6 p.m then why taking leave? He giggled and said preparing for the big event. He invited me to his home when I return from Kerala on Monday. I said o.k. I wished Appu good luck. Evening Appu came to Central station. He said next trip to Kerala will be in his new car. He is also from Kerala. He promised that he will call me once the car is in Chennai. I said o.k. Next two days I will not be able to write.
A day with Lt Colonel Mohanlal, actor in the Army! Being a Malayalee, an avid film follower and part of a generation that had grown up watching best of Malayalam cinema where the Padmarajans, Bharatans and M.T Vasudevan Nairs used to rule the Industry, I did not hesitate when my elder brother called and asked to pack the bag to Pondy. The only reason was Lt Col.Mohanlal was shooting at Pondy for his latest film ‘Angel John’. Mohan Lal was lucky enough to portray so many evergreen characters made by the above said Legends of Malayalam cinema.
The opportunity to meet him came in the form of a cousin of ours, who happened to be co producer of the film. We knew that it was a rare opportunity and we left Chennai.
The shooting was in progress by the time we reached Pondy. Shooting was boring except for the fact that Lal was present. As we sat opposite to Lal, various characters played by Lal came to my mind. Jayakrishnan in ‘Thoovanathumbikal’, Doctor Ram Das in ‘Amrutham Gamaya’, Solomon in ’Namukku parkkan munthiri thoppukal’to name a few.In front of me, just a couple of yards away, was sitting the man who has been ruling the Malayalam cinema for past three decades!
After a while my cousin introduced us to Lal, I had the script of ‘Padamudra’,a super hit film released in 1988 which won him best actor(Kerala film critics) award, Special Jury (State award) and The Filmfare.
He was surprised to see the book and asked whether we liked the film. He wrote ‘With Love Mohanlal’. We discussed about the film he had acted way back in 1984 (Akkare)based on my dad’s story.
Sitting there I noticed that throughout the shoot Lal was active, talking to almost all the technicians, giving tips to co stars. So much dedicated to his work. In between talking and posing for pictures with the fans, ever smiling, no wonder he is a Legend I thought.
It was almost 11:00 p.m and my brother told he had never imagined sitting in the middle of one of the main roads in Pondy at midnight and having tea. I thought all this only for a man, Lt Col Padmasri Bharat Mohanlal and there he was getting ready for the scene.
Love all serve all! Entrance of the Hard Rock Cafe, you see Sri Sathya Sai baba's famous message, Love all serve all, apt slogan for a cafe. The real surprise was yet to come, inside the cafe Goddess Saraswathi, goddess of knowledge, music and the arts and Lord Ganesha, patron of arts and sciences welcome you.Along with the Gods written, "Life is lost in dreaming, dreaming is lost in becoming."
The Menu says,The piano has been drinking, not me, not me, not me!!!!
But we did not put the blame on Piano, we drank, drank and drank, not the hard one but the soft Apple juice!
One Museum I was waiting to see in London was Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. Once you are inside the museum, you really get to know who is popular in people’s mind.
Hollywood gallery When I entered this gallery I realized the power of media called Cinema! Film personalities (read actors) are the most popular among mortals. The feel was electrifying. Most of the people were in a state of frenzy.
I saw people screaming, dancing and weeping seeing their favourite star’s wax statue. If you want to take pics of them you need to have real patience (I had). It will take at least 5-10 mins to reach near the statutes and if you really lucky enough you can pose with them.
There are some exceptions to this.I found Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg in a corner.
Charlie Chaplin was far away mostly unnoticed!
Gallery of World leaders were relatively empty but found King and Queen still popular among visitors.
Madame Tussaud herself!
But the time spent inside the Museum was worth, where else one can find all these world famous personalities under the same roof?
Rosslyn Chapel is famed for its carvings. Many of the Biblical are portrayed, with frequent reference to Knights Templar and Freemasonry. There are Pagan symbols also.
One of the interesting carving I found, connecting the famous “Apprentice Pillar and the other was “The trial of Wisdom of Biblical King Darius. The carving says
“Wine is strong, The King is stronger, Women are stronger still; but the truth conquers all”
Another one is the Seven Corporal works of mercy and seven deadly sins
1. Helping the needy
2. Clothing the naked
3. Looking after the sick
4. Visiting prisoners
5. Display Greed
6. Feeding hungry and
7. Burning the Dead
6. Sloth and
I was little surprised to see Greed included in works of mercy and Charity considered as a sin but the priest cum Guide says the Greed is swapped with Charity, reminder of Good within Evil and Evil within Good.
There is also carving of so many plants inside the Chapel in that one plant carving was interesting and intriguing also. The plant was from the “New World” and the interesting things about this is that the carving was made almost a century before the famous discovery of New World by Columbus!
Priest asked me to stand in a place and look straight upwards, there was one spoke at the ceiling, pointed downwards. He said that people felt their energy level rising while standing at that particular point. Dan Brown in his book " Da Vinci code" has mentioned this place. As per the book " Holy Grail" is buried down under. I stood there for a while, waiting for something to happen.
First time I heard about Rosslyn Chapel was from Dan Brown’s controversial novel “The Davinci Code”. In quest of the ‘Holy Grail’ Robert Landon at last reaches here in this Chapel. We (I and my wife) were lucky enough to see this “Historic enigma” (as per the tourist catalog) during our visit to Edinburgh. Rosslyn Chapel is around 6 miles from Edinburgh. Photography is not allowed inside the Chapel as it is still used for weekly services. When Da Vinci code film crew came and asked for permission to shoot inside the chapel,the request was denied and the crew had to satisfy with a set.
The entrance, renovation happening
Anyway the priest, who happens to be the guide also, admitted that after the release of the book the number of tourists visiting the Chapel have increased manifold.
Chapel from the top
Apprentice’s Pillar Once you enter the Chapel, you will see two magnificent pillars on either sides of the altar, one carved by the Master architect and the other by his “Apprentice”. The priest explained the interesting story behind the famous Apprentice Pillar.
The master architect after carving the first pillar ran out of ideas on how to carve the second pillar. He then set off for a world tour, almost for three years in order to get inspired, for new ideas to carve the second pillar but when he returned he saw a marvelous pillar erected, carved by his apprentice. Apprentice pillar has far more intriguing carvings and symbols than his master’s then tragedy happened. The master architect in fist of anger and jealousy killed the Apprentice who made the pillar; later Master was trialed and killed.
Now this story has a strange resemblance to another one from Kerala. Unlike the Master –Apprentice one it’s a Father-son story. Perumthachan, the father was a great architect who was responsible for many landmarks. Now his son also an architect became more popular. People started telling that the son was greater then the dad. The legend is that the jealous father murdered the son. Priest cum the guide, also showed us the bust of the Master architect carved diagonally opposite to the Apprentice pillar. The priest said it’s the biggest punishment the master could get, to see the pillar made by his apprentice and repent, he is being doing that, I thought for the last several hundred years
With memories of perumthachans and the hapless Apprentice in our mind, we left Rosslyn Chapel.