The backpack

Do you also have a backpack that is your favorite and which on emptying has restaurant bills from 325AD, one zipper that never opens or has been opened, one pocket which is meant to hold keys and coins but you never use it for them and one water bottle pocket that is only meant to hold this?

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Which backpack carrying grownup drinks water from these yaar?

Anyways, the backpack that I’m talking about is not just a bag with padded shoulder straps and roomy compartments for laptop and clothes. It is a holder. It holds emotions inside its pockets so that people only see the pack and never realize whether  useful things lie inside or simply rubbish. It holds those unsaid words which people want to say but eat instead. It holds those memories which they very carefully treasure like those photos which can never be deleted from one’s phone. Not even when the phone threatens to empty owner’s soul saying “low memory”.

The backpack that I’ve been carrying in the recent years is rather heavy because I packed mixed emotions inside- it is as heterogeneous as a Cadbury GEMS packet. From India to USA, I’ve come a long way (both literally and figuratively) as a person. Mixed emotions because sometimes, my heart says that I miss being that old Anupama and  sometimes I can clearly hear it say “Grow up,  woman!”

Living away from home teaches one to be responsible to say the least. For example, imagine coming home from work to a bed that was left unmade or a penalty for a missed bill. It reminds you immediately of your mother/father’s constant nagging to do somethings on time and her/his warning that that laziness would hurt later.  On a related note, It doesn’t hurt to say that those little acts of discipline that were imposed upon us are really what help us survive the extended stay away from home(with lesser discomfort). Back in those days when my mother used to ask me to clean the dining table while she cleaned up in the kitchen, I used to secretly hope that one day I’d run away to a house where there was a table-cleaning maid.

Living away from home in a foreign land also helped clear a lot of misconceptions that I had. A typical “frog in the well” me used to have some bad feelings about the West that most of the Indian mob have (which I won’t list here because I care for my skin).  And I am so glad today that I’ve been proven wrong! Few things that really impressed me at my workplace about them are how well they own up to their work without a fuss,  how easy and graceful it is to admit one’s shortcomings and how important the distinction between “break time” and “work time” is (talk about work-life balance).  Even on personal front, their sense of forgiveness and welcoming the differences with other person without judging is something that excited me. It is not an exaggeration if I said that I saw this missing in some of my own people.

garfield-1997-10-13

I’ve a strong feeling that I was Garfield in my last birth.

Times that make me sad are when I “virtually” attend a family event over Skype. Amidst a thousand  “Can you hear me?” “I can hear you but cannot see you” “I can only see X’s right ear and your finger” “It’s ok , send me the pictures” , I barely get to see the actual event and that quick peek brings out the homesick feeling from the backpack. It’s really hard to tuck this feeling back in. Interesting question (8 Marks): Is quantum teleportation really possible?

I also feel meh that I can never be the same pampered girl I was before marriage. Sure I enjoy the independence and power of running a household as “the queen” but the joy of being a “darling princess” at home cannot be matched. And the fact that kids born in 2000 are hitting adolescence while I’m nearing the ugly thirties is getting to my nerves. Sometimes, I wish I was born in the times of Ramayana or Mahabharata where some people could stay young forever.  Or in the later times say 3156 or 3567 when scientists will have invented some time-halting capsule.

Coming back to my backpack, it also has a dirty chamber where all my dark feelings go into. Lack of self-control to begin with. Along with easy loss of interest and deep brooding over certain things (tch..tch) , a teeny bit of jealousy lies underneath this pile of garbage. These feelings are like the shopping bills trash that never leave the bag.  I constantly try to throw each of them out of the bag but it is still heavy(This is why I stoop a little, you know). I am society fearing so I am generally tight-lipped ( and hence tight-zipped) if I were to use these.

I know that everybody’s backpack isn’t necessarily same as mine. You know what they say- to each their own.  But anyway, here’s a suggestion to everyone including myself- Travel light because it is a long journey!

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Now watching: Seetharammaya gari Manavaralu

Not too long ago, in 90’s, Telugu cinema did not follow the golden rule of having a famous hero, a fight to showcase his strength, a song that follows in which he preaches how to deal with the world’s evils with peace and mosquitoes without a “Hit” bottle, a heroine with some honor that he can save in fights and loot in songs. I know and I admit that the roots of hero worship date back to 90’s and before but I certainly do not see any warmth in that worship now.

source: wiki

Seetharamayya gari manavaralu translates to “The granddaughter of Seetharammayya”. As the title says, it is the story of a girl and her grandfather. An honorable old man who sticks to his roots in every part of this life – right from the house he lives in to when to bring his daughter home for her delivery. His only son(Vasu) marries a girl against his wish and much to Vasu’s despair, Seetharamayya stops talking to him though he accepts his marriage. Vasu who is unable to take his father’s rage escapes to the US and waits to unite with him. Enters Seetha- daughter of Vasu and his wife from the US to attend a cousin’s wedding and she never goes back to her father. Why she never goes back and what happens in the extended family forms the story.

The terms like “love”, “father’s rage”, “US return”, “extended family”, “aunts” are enough to make a film with half of Dilsukhnagar’s population and call it a family entertainer to pull crowds. For instance, you can imagine one song in the US to show Seetha’s lavish life and what she is forgoing in her journey to India. There are two young men in the story who are prospective grooms for her. That gives scope for a romance track in which they can touch her and pinch her so that she falls in love. There is an old man in the story who is not fond of Seetharamayya. Strong enough reason for a big fight scene in which the village carts can be in the air for some time.

SRGM is fortunately different and is lovable for the following reasons:

  • Seetha is back to India not just to attend the wedding but for good. She has the herculean task of conveying to her grandparents that her parents are dead when they are all eyes waiting for their son’s return. Meena as Seetha is lovable and has pulled off the role very easily. Most Telugu films live on the concept “read-my-diary-know-my-story”. I think SRGM is the one which started it.

    source: youtube

  • Rohini Hattangadi, as I know now, is a Marathi theatre artist. But as a child, I refused to believe that she is NOT a Telugu and not the wife of ANR. Call it my stupidity or her awesomeness, I cannot imagine SRGM without a grandmother as perfect as her. That grandmother whose eyes turn wet when she sees her son’s family photo and she calls it the “best gift” anybody gave her. That grandmother who is proud of Seetha when everyone admires her. That grandmother who is sad that a married Seetha would leave their house someday just as her son. That grandmother who is elated when Seetha pledges never to leave her. All praises to the director for perfectly showing her affection without unnecessary melodrama.

    source: youtube

  • An audience would loathe Seetharamayya for sending away the couple (indirectly) in the beginning but as the film progresses, it is revealed that he is one person who values the relationship with his son more than his ego. That moment in which he tells Rohini that he himself had written a letter to Vasu to come down is my second favorite here. The first one is when he recites Keats poetry as Seetha watches him with awe. The thoughtful grandfather always kept hoping his son would come back to him with kids and he learns English for their sake!

    source: youtube

  •  Enough and not many characters which have some connection to the story. They are prominent and help in building the characters of the main three. There are several scenes which are tear jerkers and they are genuine. You cry because you relate to it and not because the scene is not over yet!
  •  Most of the film has been shot on the banks of Godavari (from the dialogues) and Krishna (I heard so). There are beautiful shots of sunsets and green fields with canals and it is not an exaggeration to say that the spirit of a village has been perfectly captured. This frame in the end with the message is my all-time favorite.

SRGM to Telugu Cinema is what Saaransh is to Hindi cinema. Intense play of emotions and can be a heavy dose if you are watching it after a heavy Sunday lunch. I wish it was fast and short but I also think such a film should not be altered. Because every frame of it is honest and is a toil to reach out to the audience without any compromise on the values.

Yours truly, Avakaya

I know you’re smiling at the title. I also know that you’re drooling at the mention of my name. Such unconditional love makes me all emotional sometimes but I wouldn’t shed happy tears to not spoil the taste for you. Instead I will simply continue to please your senses and enjoy this bliss like a king.

Mixing of the spices with mangoes.

Mixing of the spices with mangoes.

You are the one who gave birth to me. You picked the choicest mangoes from town, cut them as diamonds and mixed them with spices in measures. Thus I was born. You gave me a new home in those tall porcelain jars and I moved in to your house. Or your kitchen to be precise. Our relationship this way has been continuing for centuries together.

Jaadi (porcelain jars) for storing pickles.

Jaadi (porcelain jars) for storing pickles.

I sometimes wonder if I can cater adequately to your spice lusts but your pleased faces and happy tummies fuel me. Best of all is that each of you love me in your own way. Let me explain how.

  • A typical grandma loves to mix me with hot rice and add ghee. She lovingly serves it to the kids leaving them clueless wondering whether the taste is because of the hand that is serving or the food in the plate.
  • A young lad loves to have me with dosa/idli/puri because I am the safest and next tastiest resort when there is no chutney at home.
  • A smart mom loves to cajole her kids into eating greens and lentils with a pinch of me on the side of the plate.
  • A lazy bachelor loves to have me with rice or maggi without having to cook other sides.
  • Believe it or not, I am also taken with pizzas and pastas sometimes thus adding the Indian touch to Italian pride. You may want to talk to the owner of this blog to find out more.

Your love for me is not limited to the four dining room walls. You proudly share it to relatives and friends and also take a taste of their handmades. You send me across seas to serve your progenies and I am proud to say that there is no NRI suitcase which doesn’t include me packed and sealed.

I sit in the plane and go whee! source: colourbox.com

Not to forget, you have given me a cult status in your gult movie by saying- “Amma, Avakay, Anjali eppudu bore kottavu. ” I cannot tell you how much it means to me. It is this admiration which keeps me going though I’m (in) a pickle!

I thus speak on behalf of all my cousins – maagaya, thokku avakaya, bellam avakaya, dosa avakaya and usiri avakaya- Thank you!

See you in your next meal.

Now watching- Mr.Pellam

The plot of this movie is the simplest anyone can think of. Swapping of roles between wifey and husband. Which is actually sensible unlike the telephone exchange advt of Idea cellular mobile (thu!). Talk about a middle class family in which husband is the bread earner and the wife is a home maker. Kindly note that the term “home-maker” was not used to escape from the sandals which will rain if I say “house-wife”. The wife  here is a real home-maker. Due to unavoidable event turns, the swapping of roles happens and the real show starts.

source: 123tamilforum.com

Aamani as Jhansi is not only pretty (doesn’t need my testimony. She is Baapu’s heroine) but also great as a wife and mother. Probably

source:123tamil

what wins is the way her role is etched. Negatives first:  Jhansi feels bad that her husband doesn’t shower the same love which he did before their wedding. She gets enraged when he doesn’t treat her like his equal and so she instantly lies about her compensation when he makes fun of her. She wants to get her husband out of his trouble and unknowingly she hurts his ego in the process. There is a friend (Gopal) who she confides in for this and seeks his help to make up for the loss. The most common traits of women (IMO) are that we seek respect along with love, we keep comparing past to the present and there has to be at least one close friend who is their crying pillow and moral support. On the bright side, Jhansi as a wife is desirable. She is pretty, well read, extremely loving and loyal.

source:teluguone

Playing the husband’s role must have been a cake walk for Dr.Rajendra Prasad given his acting skills. He is one of our few actors who doesn’t have a hate-club. The husband in the film might seem chauvinistic but he cannot be blamed. Though he is egoistic, he is also very affectionate and knows when and how to apologize.  Like most men, he is possessive about his wife and the scenes that ensue are supremely cute. He cannot recollect the correct name of Gopal though he can never get him off his mind 🙂  The scenes in which he congratulates Jhansi on her job and the one in which admires that she had treasured all the letters he sent her deserve a special mention.

Baapu-Ramana are nothing less than a boon to TFI. I need not explain why. The humor in the movie is  laughs-earning not because of Brahmanandam who always gets slapped/fooled by the hero (there is no Brahmanandam in this film. Sorry folks!). It is also not because of some cheap dialogues which indirectly imply some perversion. It is because the dialogues are witty and sarcastic.  More importantly, they go with the flow.

For example:

source: teluguone

Neighbor:కాస్త కందిపప్పు ఉంటె అప్పిప్పించవూ..

RJP: ఇప్పిప్పించను.

Neighbor: ఇదే మా అమ్మడైతే కప్పులో కప్పుడిచ్చి గుప్పెట్లో గుప్పుడిచ్చేది.

Also the way RJP trolls AVS on Krishnashtami can never be forgotten. After all, అతలు కృష్ణాష్టమి అంటే కిట్టుడి బడ్డే.

Keeravani, who if you noticed or failed to notice, can give the most apt back ground music  to any scene. The songs in Mr.pellam are melodious and rightly placed if not the best. The famous Krishnashtami song is my most favorite one of the five. The word play relating Krishna’s pranks to Gopal’s actions is very cleverly done.

There are scenes in tens which bring a natural smile on viewer’s face and I think that is what makes this movie a delight to watch. My eyes bled when I saw a trailer in which they tried to imitate Pelli pustakam’s title song. I am only praying that some classics are left as-is. Mr.pellam is one such untouchable. Not because it is great, it is right. Just right.

Return of the king!

Yellow and ripe
as big as my palm,
Worth all the hype
for it’s straight from the farm.
 
Comes in hundred sorts,
each has its own smack.
Dad brings them in lots
Mom puts them up in the rack.
 
Its scent all over,
doesn’t keep me in peace.
Like a fly I hover,
to devour each piece.

From:fish-cooking.about.com

“Keep it to the last”
Mom passes an order.
I finish the rest items fast
drooling over its odor.
 
Slowly one by one
I relish the cut pieces.
Now that I won,
The feeling finally eases.
 
Good fruits are just few,
This is the return of the king.
Summer I love you,
Good bye dear spring.

Summer Holidays

Bro: “Akka, Let’s play some video game.”

Me: (Without taking eyes off the tinkle book ) “Okay. Which one?”

Bro:“Contra?”

Me:“No, lets play super Mario.”

Bro:“Chiiiiii..no..Let’s play contra.”

Contra

Me:“Why not Mario?”

Bro:“Is that even a game?  And you are so obsessed with the coins that you don’t move to the next level until you collect all of them. To top all this, you can’t fight the dragon and I will have to do it for you every time. I’d better play it alone than play it with you.”

Super Mario

(Hurt enough. So drops the book to ground and looks straight into his eyes.)

Me:“Circus Charlie?”

Bro:“Thu. As if it is a super game. I hate it.”

circus charlie

Me:“Moal?”

Bro:“Do you remember last time  you weren’t able to make your monkey jump to the top of the tree?”

Me:“Sumo fighting?”

Bro:“We can do it live if you want.”

Me:“Ice man?Dave? Bomber man?” (Trying to recollect the names of all games in the ‘999999 in one’ cassette.)

Bomber man

Royal cheating

Bro:“Akka . Lets play Contra. Just one game. Later we can play your favorite game. Deal?”

Me:“Say please.”

Bro:“Huh? Okay, please.”

Me:“Properly.”

Bro:“Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeezzzzz”

Me:“Okay. You will arrange the setup now because you had asked for it.”

(Bro gives an expression which can spot-kill any person with self-respect. But I am shameless. So…)

Bro:“Hey.. That is mine. This is your joystick. Remember your A-button is loose and is ready to break?”

Me:“Can’t I use yours for once?”

Rage face.

(Exchange of joysticks)

Me:“I want to be the red player.”

Rage face

Me: “huh. okay”

Bro:”Shoot him. Don’t miss him. Unless you shoot him, we can’t move to next screen. I told you to press A and B together akkaa..”

(GAME OVER. Bro has a proper reason to vent his frustration now.)

Bro:“We lost it so early. What are YOU!!!”

Me:“You were not able to swim across. So we lost it.”

Bro:“Not me.You. You are the one in blue.”

(The dialogue war will soon develop to a mortal combat. Live Sumo fight begins and Mom comes running from the bed room)

Mom: ( Whining to herself- I get just one day off and these kids won’t let me sleep peacefully on that one day) ” Why don’t you two go out and play? Too much of TV will damage your eyes.”

Bro is a shy baby so sis has to go to each house and call other kids. They are also waiting for such invitations because they have also been asked to get out of the house in the same subtle way.

Me:“Rey, Lets play Hide and Seek.”

Bro:“No, lets play Tomato.”

(The story continues..)
PS:

These days I just want to do one thing. Stand up on my chair and scream at the top of my voice- “I want my summer holidays”.