Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Walking through the darkness

PC: WBK Photography
It all started with a question. "How to reach It?" Okay, what is IT? "IT" is the light at the end of the dark tunnel - the tunnel which i dunno how long is! 
Ok, I get it. "do you still believe to see the light?" 
"Hell, yeah! I do. I am not sure if I per se, will see IT. But I am sure, IT prevails there and I need to get to IT to see. IT wont come to me! So, I keep moving, with a hope"
That is how a conversation goes between heart and mind on the worst days which are more than the better days in life. We all face it. Some times a a day or two, many a times a few days in a row. We cant help worse days to disappear. All we can do is to face 'em. We face dampened emotions, unmuted melancholy, grey scale scenarios and all those negativity. We put on a masquerade, smile at jokes that tend to hurt us, wear on a smile that lets none believe we are drifting in a black hole. Dull senses, darker period, stifled voices, lost taste and what not! We get accustomed to a pretending life. Passing every day, pretending to be happy and laughing to jokes that never made sense or listened to ears! 
Days like these are when we get so insane and think to end our own lives. Before we realize what we had decided upon, we are gone. Every day struggles like this? What is the point? And, no body would speak of the bravery to put an end card, but would curse the cowardice nature to die! If you plan to put an end card - in other words - suicide / self harming/ whatever, just a cent to think. All these mentioned practices need more courage - dying demands more courage than to live. 
So, plan and live  your life. Let the fear fear to near you. Overcome the depressions, the tough times and prove your strength and derive happiness. Walk - walk through the dark hours, we will definitely see the light at the end of the dark tunnel. For, life is once and we deserve to be happy! Do not stuff your happiness into other's pocket. Yes, seeing others' happiness is the truest form of joy, but at what cost? not at the cost of your happiness. So, LIVE !
Lets walk through the darkness and say it is going to be alright !

Published in VisualVerse: Volume 4 , Chapter 10

Monday, August 07, 2017

It is August . . !

I hate facing some days when sadness and celebration intertwine. August has always been the month of lots of celebrations and pampering for me. August has the Tamil month Aadi, in which the Fridays are considered to be so very auspicious. Auspicious in the sense, the girl of the home is celebrated and pampered. She gets gifts for Fridays. I did too. Ever since I remembered, I was gifted with studs, bindhis, bangles and a lot more of chocolates by him. Four gifts for four weeks of the month. It was beautiful but I was ugly. I would demand more. He would smile and feel proud to my parents that I had not grown beyond twelve – thirteen years.
“Sometimes, Appa, I do not know, if this loosu gaana had stopped growing”, he always teased me to Daddy.
August meant celebrations for the siblings. It is the month of Raksha Bandhan. The sibling love in the form of rakhis and shanmathis is seen all around. I never knew it was the last year of me celebrating Raksha Bandhan with him. I called him in the midnight, at the stroke of twelve.
“Adei, Happy Raksha Bandhan da thambi”, I called out in the phone.
‘Yehn di, Is this like a birthday or what? Why are you bothering my sleep?”, he responded.
“I do not know, whatever. I am calling you. Which means, I have wished you. Maybe I will send a pic of Rakhi in the WhatsApp, down load and give me the Non – Virtual and Real shanmathi.”, I replied.
That year was when I first wished a newly got lovely man as my brother. Velhunna is how he called and the name in my phone is still the same and will be same, “Anna”. Anna wanted me to get me something of my choice as shanmathi. I was boasting to Kailash about this. He was so very possessive but at the same time sensible, added a few more bills to Anna’s gift money and asked me to get a hand bag that I might use for day – to – day purpose. When I asked him in a later point, why should I not have two gifts but one, his reply was, “We both love you the same way. At least, I guess it to be, by the way you say about Velhunna. You see the number of gifts you get. I see how to make one gift, useful. And, the underlying truth is, you have to grow more to understand what I mean.”

Maybe, I changed his exact words. May be today I do not remember many of his words very exactly. But I remember the synopsis of his statements. And when, today, I realise, his hidden love for me and how childishly I have been through out and how mature he was to handle me, I smile through tears, being grown up is more complicated than I thought it would. I should consider him a short spring who had taught me to bloom in gloom. When I dwell over these memories, my emotions build up. I cannot handle my own self. Maybe some last clicks with him are those left with me along with these memories. May be we clicked this picture, because we might not celebrate Raksha Bandhan any more. Well, I do not know. 
HE is seeing me from somewhere above. He has been guiding me so far and will do till eternity. Though he is possessive of his kinship with me, I am sure, he is glad for leaving me in the hands of a very very few trust worthy brothers whom I always rely upon for everything in my life, ever since. Me and the other four of us try to understand that Kailash’s place in my life can never be filled by any of them. But, these people, Gowthaman, Sudhir, Venkat Anna and Velh Anna and many more, had always been there for me, striving their best to teach me how to lead a life of respect and love. 
And now, all I have is, these people with me, to celebrate the day. 
And now, all I have is, to live my life with full happiness.
And now, all I have is , to behave responsible and discharge my duties as how he would have wanted me to. 
And now, all I have is, his memories which can never be snatched by anyone. 
And now, all I have is, the huge lacuna that he left in me, with which I have to live my further days. 
And now, all I have is, A Life that I can make it to be meaningful, which I WILL, for Him.

To the one who sees me above and to these loving brothers who fill my pages with love and more, A Happy Raksha Bandhan . . !

Friday, July 28, 2017

India - I.N.D.I.A . . !

When I share Indian Army pictures, pick up conversation with my army men as the starters, show my support to my Men In Olive-green, I am always asked “Is there anyone from your family who was in army?” Yes, few decades ago, between 1941 – 1961, my paternal grandfather, Late Mr. K.S. Eswariyer, served as Havildar with the Indian Army. He had also shared his experience during the Burma War, his interactions with Netaji Subash Chandra Bose, his serving time at Dehradun and West Bengal and many more. Though, I had interacted with him, very -  very fleetingly during childhood, he had left an imprint of a Pride Army Man. His wife, my granny – Pappupaatti, used to share her terrific experiences in the northern parts of the country, with less or no Hindi knowledge, how she started her family, how granddad served for the nation. With them, the era of patriotism through serving in the army, dimmed out in the family. However, when I grew up, I made up my mind to join the Armed Forces of India, which eventually became an unfulfilled dream owing to my physical fitness.
A) Havildar K.S.Eswaraiyer b) His discharge certificate
c) & d) His Medal of honor
But, thanks to the social networking sites, Indian Army is my family, now. My family is big. I have many brothers who chose to do the supreme sacrifice for the nation. I am called as ‘Mausi’, I have got many sisters and I am loved as their daughter by many brave parents who proudly sent their sons to the war front and received him, wrapped in the Tri – Color flag. Yes, my family is a big one. We are not connected by blood. But by Tiranga Janda - the Tricolor flag. We are not connected by genes. But by the men in olive. I have not met my family. My family has not met me. We might not be of the same lingual clan but we are a team of Indian Folks. If love exists, without meeting, then we are the examples. We are, still, bonded by valour, sealed with bravery and love each other Unconditionally.
Recently, India celebrated its Kargil Vijay Divas. And, I was sharing Team Desh’s write ups about Kargil Heroes. I also lit a lamp, joining the movement to pay homage to my brave martyrs. Lo and behold, message boxes of all my SNS is filled with a question – “You are living in USA and just showing off!” Wow, people!! I tell you, all of you deserve a round of applause! Seriously? Living outside India was not my choice, exactly. However, I have no complaints about it, too except the fact of missing my homeland, kissing my soil and taking pride! 

Non-Resident Indian Citizens would understand the pain of missing the country. It is painful not to see the Indian Flag flying high, on August 15. It is painful to see Indian flag parade with Sunny Leone background music. Despite appreciating the “tolerance” of foreign lands, it is painful to see a different treatment given for the Tiranga Jhanda. When your fellow Indians rebel for unjust things, it is painful to just watch these rebels and gatherings only on TV and not to take part. When your men in Olive Green come home, wrapped in the flag, and you can only watch him in the big screens as just a photograph, it is painful. When you can hear Jana Gana Mana and Vanthe Matharan at home, in a low volume, it is painful. All you would want to do is throw away everything and go back to Mother India and rest in her lap and kiss her soil. But, you cannot, owing to other responsibilities you have! No one, will ever understand this pain unless they live through it.
IMHO, remembering the roots and not lured away by other things, born – living and dying as Indian by heart and by citizenship matters a lot. People can find fault in everything and anything. But, empathizing others’ situations is far more important. Many moved out of India because their life wanted them to. Not everyone made it their happy choice, to move out of India. Not everyone, who moved out of India, hates India or belittles India.

Pain or Pride, it will always be Mother India ! 

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Childhood memories . . .

Dr Raj Kailash Mohan
Memories from childhood are especially remembered when more than one of your family elders keep repeating those incidents for longer time. That is the case for me. My grandmother – Pappu Paatti, who reared us up kept telling about Kailash’s birth. I was 2 years or to be two years precisely, when my mom conceived Kailash. I began talking in at a very early stage. And so, I was sent to school before I was two years completely! Telling the sex of foetus was not a crime in early 1990s. So, after a certain stage of pregnancy, we knew it was a boy. But even before that, I had “ordered” for a “thambipappa Delivery” from my mother and had made up my mind that it was going to be “thambipappa”! I began drafting rules. Thambipappa should call me gaanukka (akka is must!). I would be taking care of him and all those things. Every evening after school, I used to come straight to my mom who would be sitting tired on that red velvet sofa in the hall and would talk to her growing tummy inside which thambipappa was there. The regular conversation was
What next?
Maathhenn Poo (No I won’t!).” and would run away to play. When asked for, I would complain that “thambipappa had been asking me ‘gaanukka gaanukka shall we play’ but I told ‘maathhenn po’”. My granny’s biggest doubt was ‘I ordered a baby boy to play with but why had I not accepted the baby’s call to play with him!’ Well, it is funny, isn’t it?

Maybe I needed a ‘thambipappa’ to teach me what life is. Maybe I needed a ‘thambipappa’ to teach me how to cook. Maybe I needed a ‘thambipappa’ to make me self-dependant. Maybe I needed a ‘thambipappa’ to fight with. Maybe I needed a ‘thambipappa’ to push me to greater heights of achievements. Maybe I needed a ‘thambipappa’ to fulfil my dreams of becoming a doctor. Maybe I needed ‘thambipappa’ to teach me everything but live in his absence. Maybe I needed ‘thambipappa’ to know how love will be. Maybe I needed a ‘thambipappa’ to show jealousy. Maybe I needed a ‘thambipappa’ to share my nasty sides. Or, maybe I needed a ‘thambipappa’ and his untimely death to become strong and discharging his duties too, as a son to the family and as a citizen to the country and as a human to the world. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

BEAUTIFULLY UGLY MohanGaanz Published in VisualVerse


I am too hard on myself. Maybe I should have listened to my mother. I think her as a hindrance. I skip my training periods. I could not go back now because it is my wish. Yes, I felt ready as if I knew all I ought to know. I felt confident rather over confident as if I learnt all I ought to learn. Thinking of my home, makes me smile. My home – you can never come to my home. My home is my mother. My mother is the ocean. I stay in her lap – a place where no one like you can set your feet on. I know I am to be kept track upon. I know I am monitored. But something pushes me to explore. And I come up. Since then, I have just been thinking about my life. How I loved to know what was above the ocean. I do not know what destiny has in for me. I come up, come out to see what is above, leaving the secured place of my mother’s lap. And then, I am trapped. I am attempting to come out of this trap. I am trying to use a bit more of force than I used to come up. Experiencing loneliness has not been so great to me. There is stillness. There is silence. There is darkness. There is fear. There is failure. There is ugliness. I have turned awful. I lost my beauty. I have not lost my faith. I have not lost my hope. Waiting for one lightning, just a streak of lightning that can illuminate my world and I can swirl to the birth of sunlight and death of darkness.I am not going to repent. I am not going to brood over. I know, I fall out of place. But, I am glad that I have life which most of the others do not. I am glad that I can try. I am glad that I want to try. I want to go back to the ocean bed. I want to share the unflinching love. For, I know, how love is important. For, I know, how painful is loneliness. For, I know, how good it shall be to be kind – kind to strangers. For, I know, I can be home if I try.

Published in VisualVerse - Vol4,Chap8

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Orphaned without a warning!

Dr.(Late) Raj Kailash Mohan
It was a sweet little world with just two of us in it. No one else could comprehend the very essence of it. Of course, most of us have a sibling and we must realize not every sibling sibling bonding is just the same. But, our kinship was different throughout. I can bet, even our parents were never able to predict our actions and reactions. We had feuds over everything micro and macro stuffs, valuable and silly things, words and silence. Underlying, was a strong bond that remained unshaken by calamities of any sort. Everything seemed just so imperfectly perfect. When I turned 24, I was away from home. I was working. It was the first birthday of being away from home. I am not so-home-sick-much-pampered kid, honestly. But, deep in my heart, I was feeling I am missing home. Self respects or to put it right, the fear of being teased by family (in a very funny lighter sense, though) withheld my thoughts from sharing with them. I went to office. There was a birthday celebration. I returned home. My land lord was kind enough to organize a minibirthdaycakecutting at home. I ran into a long-time family friend or technically my fathers student who said, she was the one to receive me home when my mom brought me home from hospital who hosted a birthday dinner. Everything was a surprise. And when it was close to midnight, he knocked my door. When I opened the door, he was there, standing with a naughty smile and a cover that had my new birthday dress. Stepping in, he gave me a hug and in his usual tone, happy birthday lusu!

Despite being siblings, hugging each other was not so very common among us both. At least, not after our teens. It was the first ever hug I remember to have received from him ever since I stared remembering things. And, that was the last time he hugged me for lifetime. It has been more than two years since he left the world. It has been more than two years since I am orphaned without a warning. After that Thursday night, my life, my goals, my world changed completely. I understood I cannot escape the reality. It was so clear that I lost the light of my life.  But I am trying to keep him alive in my memories. I am trying to keep him alive in my actions. I am trying to keep him alive in carrying out my responsibilities. I am trying to keep him alive by showing kindness to strangers. I am trying to keep him alive by living upto his expectations. I am trying to keep him alive by following what he taught me. I am trying to keep him alive by writing about him. I am trying to keep him alive even though I failed to save him from the clutches of death. 

He would be 24 this 23rd  if he was alive. I only wish, I hugged him on his 24rd like how he hugged me and told him, Happy birthday stupid brother!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

When the Nightingale speaks . .

Music is the greatest equalizers of all. As an art, it can enter any place where the other art definitions lack. It is enchanting, blissful and enjoyable. Music touches the soul, heart and body. It is so good to see many young musicians, who excel in different forms of music. One such person, is this pretty lady, Ms. Janani Rajan, known for her vibrant smile and incredible talent. Her dedication to music aspires many budding musicians to the path of glory and bliss. 
Janani Rajan in one of her performances

Granddaughter of the renowned of mridangam Vidhwan (late) Nerur Murthy, Janani has been introduced to music since birth. Her musical journey began during her 3 years of age when she started Sanskrit sloka recitals taught by her mother. She initially learnt Carnatic music under the guidance of Smt. Usha Padmanabhan, Sri.Madhusudan, from Bangalore at Chirantana (Davangere).She is a disciple of Smt. Sugandha Kalamegham. “When I was six years old, on a Vijayadashami Day, Smt. M. S. Subbu Lakshmi gifted me a Shruthi box. It was since then I started singing or learning music seriously.”, Janani recollects. She is a recipient of the ‘Gana Bharathi’ award by Thaambraas during her Arangetram. She has participated in various competitions and won several prizes for her talents. Her performances have been aired on many radio and TV channel shows; she also performs at temple festivals and functions. 

The only daughter of The Sundararajans, takes pride in gloating about her joint family. “I still live in a joint family set up. My cousins and their parents, we all live together. My father is an entrepreneur and mother is a teacher.  My paternal grandfather, PV Sathyam was with Venus Pictures – the yesteryear famous production company and later he had his own production unit, “Chitrakala”, Janani traced her ancestry for us.
Janani and Dr.Sowmiya Srinivasan - Vaanavil Vaazhkai Movie Still
She has sung and acted in a lead role in “Vaanavil Vaazhkai" - India's first musical movie directed by composer James Vasanthan. “After the release of Vaanavil Vaazhkai, my dad took in charge to coordinate with the people whom I work for. My parents had always been a big support to me. When I was approached for Vaanavil Vaazhkai, I was told that apart from singing I need to perform as an artist in the big screen. My parents were Ok for singing but very reluctant to let me act. I had to be on the best of my persuading skills to convince them. I can never settle for anything lesser than success,” the young nightingale, was ready to catch up with me for an interview over the phone.

1.What do you think are the important skills/attributes to be successful in this field?
It is a good question. Just teaching or imparting knowledge or gaining it from gurus can’t happen just like that. The voice, singing capability and stuffs should be identified and we must definitely practise. The present-day youngsters or at least most of them, lack the elderly guidance – the grandparents especially, to identify their talents at home. For, any kid to identify their talents and interests, initially is a herculean task. And after this initiation, the traditional guru-sishya parampara learning from musical gurus, a regular practise without any excuses are mandatory. If one choses music as his/her career for lifetime, concerts/gigs/ shows are the survival options and without rehearsals and planning, one can’t head to the stage. Additionally, I would say, one needs patience and will power and yes, presence of mind, too, are some of the important ‘must – have’ qualities
2. What is your opinion about remake of classical songs?
Yea, this is a classical question most of the musicians from a traditional Carnatic background, faces. This has two views. Acceptance and rejection! According to me, I like it and if it goes along with the story and the musicality of the Kriti is left undisturbed, yes, the remakes are good. In malayalam film a song called ‘Ksheera Sagara Shayana’ has Devagandaari Kriti. Many of the thayagarajar Kriti, Swathi thirunal Kriti are used in many movies. Suppose, I pick a Kriti and play drums while singing it or if I am going to sing only sangathis or just the jathis, it is not the right one. The Carnatic music has its own mirugas or the nuance that should not be altered. Alaipayuthey song (kannada raagam) was composed by Uthukadu Venkata Kavi. But it became popular after A.R. Rahman used it in his movie Alaipayuthe. And, I would say, Rahman sir has to be definitely appreciated for not changing its originality!
3.  Sometimes, being a full-time musician, you may not earn your bread and butter always. Do you have any back up plans? Why?
 It depends. If your career is just music and only music alone, you should take it up seriously, visit places and earn for your living. But the initial phase, will definitely be a tough one. Reaching a level to demand your pay from the right employers for your brilliance in performance, takes time after which there shall be no looking back. Contemporary successful Carnatic musicians like Ranjan Gayathri or Vijaya Siva did face a lot of struggle to reach their current successful position. There is nothing like ‘Back up plans’ if you want to be to be a full-fledged singer. Earning bread and butter, if you look music in a commercial way, how we position ourselves with our talents matter. 
4.  Do men and women get equal opportunities and pay?
Gender inequalities do not occur, in present day societies. So, I cannot differentiate. I can’t comment about the yesteryears but the present-day scenarios are flooded with opportunities for the talented ones. However, having a good social profile, stablishing contacts in the initial stages are all required to get into lime light. I emphasize, if you have a very good talent and then a good social profile, it is helpful for your career. Self-promotion of songs/performances is very important to get noticed. I must say, pay scale is different for singers and instrumentalists.  Most instrumentalists are men, generally. Hence, one might assume that women don’t get opportunities or good pay. But, it is totally false.
5.   Contemporarily, how do things look, for new people entering the field?
Definitely, there is a lot of crowd in this field now. If the new comers or aspirants want themselves to be noticed, they have to be creative and extremely innovative. As I said earlier, patience and versatility, some extraordinary performances with a marvel in the performances are mandatory for the new people.
6.  If not music, what else?
Yet another classical question, faced always and often by the musicians. My parents, always groomed me in a way that, I should be self-dependant, I always stick on to their advice. I would have chosen tourism – cultures across the world – travel. If not, an entrepreneur. I am the only child of my parents and unlike typical India Tambram parents with a single child, my parents were also overprotective of me. I was not allowed to travel alone to long distances. So, my tourism study would not be possible though it interested me. Ultimately, if not music, owning an outlet and being an entrepreneur would be the possible option.

7.  What change would you like to bring musically, in the society?
We have lots of poets and Vagyakaras in India since age-old times. They have left us a treasure, at least, I would say so. From Andal, Avvaiyar, Meera Bhai, Bakth Ram to Bakth Tukaram till Thyagarajar Muthusamy Dekshithar or any contemporary Vagyakaras for that matter, their literary works like Thiruppavai, Thiruvembavai, Devaram etc are pearls of wisdom for a living and also for music. I like to spread the knowledge of music to the younger gen kids through my performances and music. Devotional musical pieces that were composed by poets during earlier days are near forgotten now days. I look upon Smt.VishakaHari as a successful person in this aspect. Her Hari Katha and Kathakalakshebams – the spiritual discourses have reached many young gen people.

8.  Who would you say is your inspiration?
It is definitely M.S. Subbu Lakshmi amma. I am a late born child for my parents. My parents were actually closely associated with her family. In fact, their home was built by my father and his friend – his work partner actually. My mother used to express her pain about not having a child and MSS amma used to ask my mother to chant ‘Vishnusahasranamam’. And my mom would even now say, I was born because of MSS amma’s good wishes and blessings. MSS amma passed away when I was ten and at that immature age, I was unable to understand her legendary nature but when I grew up to realise, I deem it a blessing. Her divinity and devotion overflowing in every song of hers is definitely an inspiration for me.
I know, I should say, one or two as inspiration or favourites. But sorry, my list is long!
Bombay Jayashree, Vishaka Hari, KJ Yesudas, TM Krishna, Thrissur Brothers in Carnatic field are some great musicians who would take me to a different level, I would say a mesmerized stage – a hotline with divine power, whatever! I don’t find enough words to express the positivity and divinity these people thrust in me with their musicianship. If I say about the legends in cine field, P B Srinivas uncle and P Susheela ma. These two pearls are the modest and humblest stalwarts I have ever seen. They have exceled to such an extent in an era where technological advancements were relatively less compared to the modern times.
If I should say a present-day artist, it is Chinmayi Sripada. I am always in awe, looking at her versatile voice. She performs all genres of music in such an effortless way.

9. Can you say about your projects?
I entered playback singing, dubbing artist and as a performing artist in “Vaanavil Vaazhkai”. My first recording was a ‘Acapella’ of P Susheela ma’s “Tamizhukkum amuthendru peyar”. I was the lead voice and Jithin sang it along with me. That was my biggest break so far. Recently I am performing many devotional concerts, stage shows and unplugged shows. I am not attached to any bands in particular and I am more of a freelancer now. I do gigs at college cultural events, as well. I am also a dubbing artist for an upcoming Tamil movie. I am also looking for avenues in playback singing.

Vaanavil Vaazhkai - Press meet and Audio Launch
PC: Iluvcinemas.com
Rapid fire:
   1.      Favourite Singer: Carnatic - MS Subbu Lakshmi, Cine - P Susheela
   2.      Favourite music director – A R Rahman
   3.      Favourite moment - When I sang my first duet with PB Srinivas uncle on stage
   4.      Un - favourite moment - The day I got to know the true colours of a so called close friend.
  5.      List five artists that You listen to, in loop: Kaushiki Chakraborthy, Sreevalson J Menon, Bombay Jayashree, KJ Yesudas, Chitra.
  6.      Five things you cannot live without: Music, my contact lens, lipstick, mobile phone, chocolates
  7.      Favourite food: Veg Biryani n Thayer saadham
  8.      Candid moment: The moment I saw my crush sitting in front of me in the audience side when I was on stage performing at an event!
  9.      Favourite quote:
  10.  Favourite outfit: Sarees and Palazzo – tees.
111 Favourite places: India – Kodaikanal and Himalayas
 12.  Favourite Ragas: Bhairavi, Surutti, Kalyani, Kharaharapriya, Saramathi, Durbari Kann, Thodi and Madhyamavati.
 13 Favorite Quote ; It is hard to be a woman. You must think like a man, act like a lady, look like a young girl and work like a horse!
Her favorite quote!

Wishing Janani, a very blissful career in the music field! The artist can be contacted for concerts at janani.raajan@gmail.com.

PS, Thanks Guhan Kumar for his assistance in drafting the script. Pictures are provided by the artist and credits go to the respective photographers