Sunday, July 16, 2017

REPETITION: An Old Story

"Champions keep playing until they get it right.” - Billie Jean King
 
In repetition lies the reality of success. Repetition without total commitment and passion is, however, a waste of time.

Often, in classrooms, I give repetitive writing exercises to my students. Most of them would certainly show a tired face or boo my instruction right away. I always take it as a good occasion to tell them the significance of repeating words and sentences on paper.

I unveiled the same measure in an English Literature classroom about six months ago.
I saw the tired faces. I saw the silent frustration and the booing from the backbench.

“All great writers did this exercise. This is the rhythm of creation. Write, repeat… write, repeat.” I sing sang my words into that chaos of conflicting interests in front of me. 

“Didn’t you get the reason why I want you people to do this?” I asked.

“No,” they said. “Why do we care?”

I looked into their faces. Innocent, yet affirmative. I thought, why on earth did I become a teacher!

What they said was their honest response. However, their words were sharp. It hurt the teacher in me… or should I say the ego of the teacher in me?

“Sir, do you have any printed notes for us?” suddenly, someone stood up and saved me from the state of embarrassment. 

“Why do you want printed notes?” I enquired, a little frustrated because, in the previous class, I had told them that by doing the classroom assignments they’d be able to answer all question in their examinations. There need not be any note-giving in this class. They simply did not need it, I had arrogantly concluded.

It was a girl student named B. I had thought that she was saving me from the embarrassment of facing the earlier response of the students. But it was clear now that she was only stabbing me behind my back.

“Printed notes are for losers,” I said aloud. “They will destroy your ability to think and write for yourself. Write. Find your own voice.”

“Sir,” the girl student who sat next to B, named F stood up. 
“Yes,” I looked at her, regretting that I shouted, perhaps unnecessarily, at my good student B.
F looked around and asked hesitantly, “Can you dictate those printed notes for us, then? We will write it down in our notebooks.”

Saturday, July 15, 2017

ACTOR DILEEP: When the Mob Dictates the Punishment

Events like what has transpired in the previous few weeks related to the arrest of Actor Dileep used to be rare in Kerala society about a couple of decades ago. With the growth in visual media and the arrival of digital media, the news has metamorphosed into a show. If it’s a show, there must be a director. Who is the direction of this grand show?

The police have taken actor Dileep to various places for evidence collection. Various media reported that mobs have chased the crew with angry slogans. Perhaps, this is the bottom end of the mountain of showbiz looks like. It’s a deep bottom filled with dark irony.

The value of any actor in Malayalam cinema is based on the number people who cheer for him or her. This is the same criteria for much of Indian cinema. The irony is that the same number of people make a mob that pursue someone, whatever the reason is.

When a mob dictates punishment, the potential to postpone justice for the given culture increases. We have seen the same in Northern states where mobs kill individuals in the name of caste, keeping beef, or stealing money. We are a republic, a civilised society, with our very own judicial system. When a mob conceives the right to deliver punishment, the system breaks down.

Actor Dileep is accused of conspiring to assault and rape an actor. Let the judiciary decide what punishment it thinks relevant this man is to be delivered to. Let the trials happen.

A group of people seems to win any argument in Kerala. Various groups have wiped out many murders, political or apolitical. This must change.

Crimes are abominable. Every crime is. The system must be able to prevent each of these crimes. If the system fails to prevent crimes from happening, if the system fails to instil in the subjects of a state the security and confidence it deserves, then people will rise up and take the necessary measures to prevent future crimes by committing more crimes. They will also take revenge against crimes that were left unchecked in the past.

The mob eruption in the actor assault case has a historicity. The culture has a history of many such cases where women were assaulted and the culprits remained either unpunished or found ways to dilute the punishment by playing the judiciary. For example, the Soumya murder case.

When the society fails to win the trust of its subjects, the culture rises up against the social system. One of the many reasons for the presence of these large mobs in the actor issue is due to such a failure of the society. Mob justice is not a solution. It’s a problem.

When a woman is assaulted, we must take part actively in relocating our priorities through bringing the discussion to the forefront of the society. However, a group of people, under a flag or a label, should not be lead to demolish properties or kill other people in the name of justice. We cannot all be criminals. Criminals should be punished. But by punishing them, we cannot afford to lose our sense of justice. That would bring total disaster to the thin line that separates justice and injustice.   

Friday, July 14, 2017

WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO FOLLOW YOUR DREAM?

If you have a dream that keeps you awake all night, that inspires you, motivates you, fills you with enthusiasm and hope, gives you the courage to face any challenge, then you must do something to materialise it. Enthusiasm is a language that our soul understands. It’s an instruction from the realm beyond ours.

If a dream, a desire, or a thought fills us up with enthusiasm, that dream, desire, or thought deserves to be actualized. It is meant to actualize anyway. Whether you would become its bridge to this world or not, is the question.

If it is, a dream about writing a book that fills you with enthusiasm, that book must be written. That book is meant to be written. Someone will write it if it’s not you. But where is the magic if it’s not you who is writing the book?

I have seen people whose life standard could officially be classified ‘pathetic’ in terms of our general culture. But some of these people have a radiance about them. I cannot name these. They are in search of their key moments, to open the door to their dream realm. Any mention of their names could jeopardise their journey.

The intention with which they serve the dream fills them with radiance and liveliness.

If you don’t follow your enthusiasm your mind would rebel and this will lead you to many troubles. Soon your body would mimic the madness of your mind and this will reflect in the breaking down of your physiology. By not following a dream, you gain nothing. The way to stay healthy and alive is to follow that incessant calling that you heard from the deep recesses of your subconscious mind. Follow the call of enthusiasm. Follow your dreams.   

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

DILEEP, MALAYALAM CINEMA, AND THE FUTURE OF A MEMORY

How well the episode of public scrutiny played out through the past few weeks if not months in the media! “The Actress Abduction Case” was relayed in the media as if it was a mega reality show. The investigation and the various twists that followed were all showcased for the hungry audiences. It was a classic thriller of a certain variety, which even nullified all other competitions and nailed the attention of the audience.

There was a victim. There was a perpetrator, (who for some people, due to some reason, was also a scapegoat). There was a show.

What Kerala witnessed though the past few weeks is the ultimate pinnacle of the showbiz. I say ‘ultimate pinnacle’ because show business has attained new heights in this mega reality show. The showbiz entered into the discourse of morality and ethics, not on a silver screen, as usual. The difference, this time, is that the showbiz entered into the realm of reality and played foul and is caught in doing so, on screen.

In the age of camera and digital distribution, an event on screen is a scene engraved for millions of eyes, for an infinite repetitive performance. Each day, the news bulletins are full of content on the abduction issue repeating the same faces and finding new angles for the event. Dileep, the culprit, according to the Kerala Police, has already undergone punishment. Remember, punishment is a loaded term. The term has a history that meant torture techniques like flagellation, crucifixion, hanging till death, etc. In the digital era, punishment apparently means a psychological torture through moral scrutiny in public. The culprit simply could not deny his involvement in such an event because the event and the many events that lead to the major event are all recorded. These records are audio-visual, mostly. 

Dileep has already been undergoing a punishment. The society of media and the followers of the media at large have a major role in enacting this punishment. The Indian legal system is yet to decide on shreds of evidence and punishment through its judgment. As per the rule of law, the conclusion of this event is yet to appear. Justice to the molested actress is yet to be delivered. But that is the legal side. The social side of this event has already announced its concluding verdict. The man behind the conspiracy is revealed. His acts are the centre of all scrutiny.

Such a scrutiny in public is the punishment. This man has a family, relatives, and friends. All his social relations along with the others will suffer a great deal in this public scrutiny. One man’s action is burning the whole family down. Thinking and visualising how those others will suffer may surely have an impact on the psyche of the culprit who is undergoing public scrutiny. His punishment is psychological not just in facing his own humiliation in public, but also in knowing that his beloved ones are being cornered and suffering due to his own actions.  

Now the question comes to whether Dileep could make a comeback to Malayalam cinema and to the media society of Kerala in general. It seems dubious, but not impossible. However, this possibility exists only if he could keep himself out of jail by playing legal games. They say that if the police could establish his crime in court, he may even get a life sentence. This could be a very serious problem for him. However, he has advocates like Adv. Ram Kumar appearing for him. This could give him a slight advantage.

How could Malayalam cinema get rid of the influence of Dileep? Not in the artistic sense. Dileep definitely has a significant space in the history of Malayalam cinema. At least, he would be the first lead actor in Malayalam cinema to be arrested on the charges of conspiring to abduct and rape an actress. So the history of Malayalam cinema wouldn’t be written without his name in it. What about the other influence, then?

The influence this man has in Malayalam film industry was evident in one of the previous meeting organised by the major union of actors. Even the mainstream major actors kept silence in front of the questions from journalists on the actress abduction case and Dileep’s involvement in it. A few of them even used caustic language at the journalists and attempted to divert the issue into one where one of their male members was being victimised for the mishap in the life of one of their female members.

From the body language of the members of this organisation of actors in Malayalam cinema, it was clear that they were under the influence of a powerful and corrupt system. Some newspapers and television channels attributed the term “mafia” for this system. It isn’t a secret that many senior actors in Malayalam cinema have formed their own ‘teams’ or ‘lobbies’. Malayalam cinema isn’t a totality. Everyone knows that it is fragmented in many ways: the Trivandrum lobby of upper-caste members, the mid-Travancore lobby of egotists and businessmen, the third lobby of Other Backward Caste members, etc. Dileep is not the first person who established such a ‘system’ in Malayalam cinema. He merely used one of these systems or the ideology of these systems that are already in existence for his purpose.

Would it even be thinkable for people who control the business of cinema in Kerala to break down this system itself? Can they dismantle all these lobbies?

The memory of the actress abduction incident is the only backdrop against which one could, at least, discuss these issues. Therefore, the memory of this event is the beacon that our culture has, at the moment, to cleanse Malayalam cinema of these malign influences.


This memory is etched across the culture of cameras and digital transmission. Everyone has seen the culprit and the way he attempted to save himself. Instead of saving himself, all his attempts made his fall even more sinister and amoral. If Malayalam cinema is to exist, it has to actively keep the memory of this crime against a woman, alive for the future.  

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

HONEY BEE 2: The Angels and Subalterns of Malayalam Cinema

Image Courtesy: Google
More than the success of this film, a controversial day made it appear on my radar. A prominent actress was abducted and attacked in Kochi. Among the reports that poured in after the assault, someone mentioned that the actress had played the female lead in Honey Bee 2. Someone had used this as an instance to criticize the society and culture in general for promoting such films. This scene occurred in a mainstream news show. The discourse was later repeated in various news shows. When a woman is attacked on the streets of Kochi, Kerala’s financial capital, a different sort of moral consciousness rose up.

The discussion of morality that is foregrounded here is not that same stand of moral policing that shamelessly dances on the streets of Kerala when a man and a woman share an intimate moment in public. This moral show is a different one. The whole culture takes part in it and a sexist bias takes over the discussions that follows. The victim is victimized further to the point that the status of the victim grows larger than the real-life victim. The culprit, at this juncture, where too much media discussion explodes the topic on the face of the culture, takes up the role of the victim and cries for mercy. Once this scenario is born, no one is sure who the victim is and who the culprit.

I noticed the name of this film way back when its first part was released in 2013. Honey Bee is a popular brand of liquor in Kerala. As a young boy, I remember seeing bottles of Honey Bee strewn across the hidden open spaces around every bush on the dirt road that meets Edayannur, where my post office is situated, from the South. In Kannur, Mahe, which is a territory part of Pondicherry, is the centre of alcohol availability.

In the selective process that marks the tradition in any given culture, this film was sidelined as a handicapped production. The reviewers were never considerate towards a film with booze as it major theme. The so-called “serious film critics” only treated Honey Bee as a mass entertainer with a major flaw in the message it delivered to the public. In Kerala, the moral code suggests that all can write or make films against booze consumption, but no one could go pro. Spirit, released in 2012, written and directed by Ranjith is one among many anti-alcoholism films.

When one goes through the history of Malayalam cinema in terms of its subject matters and symbolism, one may observe an irony. It is rather fear of showing pro-alcoholism and its aftermath than the concern towards health that makes Malayalam film makers to produces movies that appease this anti-alcoholistic moral code. It is fear, not genuine concern for constructing a healthy society. Alcohol consumption has always been the symbol for masculinity in malayalam cinema, among many such symbols. A popular example is the super hit film Devasuram (1993) in which the protagonist portrayed by Mohanlal consumes alcohol with tender coconut water.

Within this cliche of moral codes, Honey Bee 2 (2017) occupies the ‘asylum’ reserved for the deviant member in public discourse, especially among the talk shows on popular news channels. Recently, in a classroom, I inquired the students if they could suggest some films that have any social influence. “This could be negative influence. Don’t just stick with the pleasant movies”, I clarified. I posed this question with the premise that films and art in general have some influence in society. It’s a debatable point. However, I do consider such an influence to be real. Sometimes, such an influence could go in harmony with the moral codes in a society. Occasionally, this harmony is broken.

The students were vibrant. They started discussing among themselves. When I opened the discussion, many names came up. All of the films referred to were in perfect harmony with the moral code that ruled the society of Kerala. I stressed the point that this balance could be reversed, sometimes. I did not, at that point, in my mind the name of Honey Bee film. And there it comes.

A students stood up and said, “Honey Bee.”

If a film disturbs the harmony that is regulated by some moral code, is it necessary to eliminate that film from the documentation of our tradition of serious art? Let me take this argument further by expanding the space for all of artistic productions. Is it necessary to kill a particular form of art, simply because it denies the existing moral standard? If that is so, Where does this code come from? This society, as I mentioned earlier, does not have an essential code of morality. The code in existence is amoral, as grotesque as the reality portrayed in the film, whether it’s the case of alcohol consumption or unbridled violence. Thus, Honey Bee 2 becomes a reflection of a social imbalance in its theme.

The broken English used by the characters as well as the lengthy babble made by Harisree Ashokan’s character, Potti Master Uri, on the culinary bias of the modern-day Malayalees also deserve a close observation.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

THE WATER DREAMER: Thoughts on Water, Poets, and Contemporaneity

Blood has dried up, the blood of humans. You can smell the dried up blood of the man of the future in your surroundings. The blood of humans is the water of the soil. Humanity’s blood is in the water of the earth.

In Kerala, the culture is exceptionally sensitive towards the water. However, because the culture is a consumer-centred one, water deficiency threatens in the scarcity of drinking water only. The consumerist culture doesn’t bother too much about the scarcity of water in agricultural pursuits. The thought process is that someone would grow the food we want and bring it to the market. If we have the money, why bother thinking about who cultivates all the food and how.

Deep within the culture of this land, I have always sensed an agrarian spirit. This spirit has dried up due to two reasons, in my opinion: availability of opportunities in gulf countries and crazes for white-collar jobs.

It is common sense that these two cultural phenomena are not direct reasons for the scarcity of water. The attitude of the people towards these two events caused the shift. From a balanced environment, our land has shifted onto an imbalance.

The government now plans to have artificial rain. I have never seen artificial rain. It must be quite a sight. Would it be as wonderful as the real one? Or would the artificial rain be just a copy, an imitation, a simulated reality?

Poets and artists have resorted to rain for inspiration. However, I have also heard writers remark that rain fills them with longing and they reach a state of ecstatic creative high. This could mean that more than resorting to rain and using it as a subject of exploration, the artists and poets have been used by rain. Does rain have a mind of its own? Is rain an organism?

Can artificial rain bring the same gifted minds of artists to fruition? Would there be a poetry of any sort that the rain could inspire? If this rain that is only a reflection without a mirror of the other true rain created poetry, what would be the nature of that poetry? Wouldn’t that also be artificial, like the artificial rain?

My questions are stretched beyond a realm I could see. The perspective of anyone living in my time, at my place, is dangerously walled. The wall is made of political correctness and the fear of being wrong in front of everyone else.

Someone might quip that these truths are always written in books. No one reads anymore, for that matter. No one cares about artificiality hijacking originality. Artificial flowers are in vogue everywhere during Onam days. Onam is the festival of flowers in Kerala, the time of harvest. No one foresaw what was following artificial flowers. Artificial rain would soon replace original rain, the water from where our ancestry stems.

Artificial rain would inspire artificial art. That would gain prominence to artificial souls. Afterwards, man would die without a soul to pass through to the other dimension. The artificial soul has a price that wouldn’t let us pass through the hole in the needle.

Everyone seems to be very fond of Arabia, here. In Arabia, the Monsoon doesn’t rain down as it does in Kerala. Arabia is surrounded by a desert. So must our land also be like Arabia, with no rain to irrigate our paddy fields, surrounded by a wretched desert? I like this question, whenever it is posed. No one asks this question though, for fear of being wrong.

It seems to me that Monsoon would be early this year, as the summer had started early. It must be that way. “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”

Saturday, April 29, 2017

FORTUNATE CHOICE: A Review of The Judas Strain

Being a writer, I believe in the power of reading. Reading is like physical exercise. It’s lovable. It’s also hard. Reading requires a bit of pushing around from the part of the person or teachers.

            Since I am my best student and the world my best teacher, I take cues from the reality that plays out around me. Occasionally, I get fortunate enough to pick up a good thriller. I said fortunate because often, due to a prejudiced mentality, cultivated by years of academic training, people like me ignore thrillers. We consider thrillers a mere pass time genre, a meaningless fluke.

            This mentality is hard to put aside. Even if one succeeds in keeping oneself at bay from the scorching eye of the prejudice, the thought that someone will criticize always haunts.

            The Judas Strain was available at a generous discount through Amazon. I bought it a year ago, kept it in my home library, and never opened it until six months before. Although I did open it before six months, I could not feel in harmony with the introductory part of the story: A map and a few historical records on the journey of the legendary Italian sailor and explorer Marco Polo.
           
            I went on reading other books. Six months later, I watched an interview through YouTube. It was with an author named James Rollins. I did not find the interview very much thought provoking, like interviews should be in the bubble of academic prejudice my friends and I inhabit. However, the author’s presence in front of my eyes triggered a memory, not so distant: The Judas Strain.

            Published in 2007, The Judas Strain features Sigma Force as a coterie of protagonists, the central egalitarian force that rivals the antagonists, the Guild. Although this book is part of a series, Sigma Force Novels, anyone starting James Rollins afresh can enjoy The Judas Strain.

As I implied earlier, this is the first time I read James Rollins. The Judas Strain could be read as a wonderful stand-along novel. Still, there are moments when you want to take a dip in the stream of novels that form the Sigma Force series just to find out those hidden links.

            I was startled at the final part of the novel where it exuded elements of a certain spiritual-scientific evolution of the characters. This open ending is a mark of unique excellence of the writer. When in comparison, James Rollins writes in a direct, lucid, and occasional cliché language unlike his compatriot Lee Child, as a storyteller, James Rollins has unmatched gifts. The quality of his storytelling skill became evident when I realized that he weaves tales and intrigues even better than Dan Brown and Lee Child himself.

Undoubtedly, James Rollins is at the top of the thriller genre in English language literature. In the scale of adventure and thrill that James brings into the story, he is surely unmatched even by the legends of the genre like Dan Brown and Lee Child.
           
The Judas Strain is a good book to push yourself over the edge, if that is how you’d like to see your reading graph. First jump and then grow the wings. Reading skill is difficult to maintain. It requires a certain compulsion. The Judas Strain is a compulsive read. It’s a long book. But it took me about three weeks to finish the book. If lack of time is the excuse you put up for yourself in order ignore regular reading habit, a thriller is your remedy. While I was reading The Judas Strain, I felt sad that my eyes were drooping down at midnight and that my day job was taking too much time out of my precious reading schedule. After a short period of fretting over what wasn’t going good, I decided to make good of the fortunate opportunity of discovering this good book. Before long, I was finding more time than I needed and reading had once again become a compulsive strain. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A NEEM TREE STANDS

I am reflecting on the woman. I am inspired by the celebratory nature of 8 March. I do not want to argue if only one day should be celebrated as Women’s Day. I am not even sure if it should be “woman’s day” or “women’s day”.

I feel petrified at the responsibility of speaking something about women. However, I must speak. I am a writer. The world listens to me. It wants me to speak. That is why the world gave me the attribute and the honour of the writer. Author Anu Lal is not an individual. He is the personification of the archetype of the seer. I am not humbled by this thought. Neither am I honoured. Instead, I am in fear.

I do not think I can speak in depth about the conceptual side of a woman. From what I read at the University, every word I utter about the woman and the feminine would be used against me. I am not afraid of being criticised. On the other hand, I find it mortifying to be the cause of any damage to the women I love. I cannot think of hurting them. It’s personal. It’s not theoretical. Theory can go away. The women I love cannot.

We live in a time when we cannot write or say openly about woman what we (anyone) feels or knows honestly about her. We are supposed to wrap our deepest knowing in the commonsense theory of detachment. Detachment works most of the time. We can say, “Let me not judge.” We can also say, “I am not the right person to comment on the issue or person.” We can even quote Simone de Beauvoir and say, “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” We cannot say how badly we need her body to survive. We cannot state that woman has the secret to the nourishment of humanity. Woman—from mother to lover. Either men or women cannot say openly that a woman tastes nourishing and salty, and soothing in her smells. All of such truths are against the commonsense theory of detachment. So we are not supposed to write it or say it out loud. It will be treated as an erroneous stand or political incorrectness. I may be wrong, judgmental about the times we live in. Aren’t we all judgmental about something or other in life?  

I wanted to write about the most important woman in my life, the person who I call ‘the muse’. So I made a clever choice. I decided to write about the Neem tree that stands outside my house.

I could see it through the window across my writing desk. I could hear it murmur. Dear reader, you replace the Neem tree with a woman and the narrative here will mean what I really want to say about the woman and all women.  

A Neem tree stands guard to the front gate of our house. It is a small tree. It has not many leaves during the summer season. During the rainy season, the South Western Monsoon, it sheds its leaves again. I consider it a very thoughtful tree.

The Neem tree is small but wise. It knows that its leaves do not just belong to the tree alone. The whole family benefits from it. The breeze that sifts through its lean branches learns how to rejuvenate the human spirit. The leaves that I spoke so intently about are medicine to many viruses that are otherwise undefeated: chicken pox, skin rashes, and influenza. In many ways, unknown to me, the tree harbours life. Invisible spirits, sentient beings, bacteria, spiders, bugs, and lizards find shelter on the skin of the Neem tree. Even the leaves that fall benefit someone.

It seems every moment of the life of the tree is fulfilment. As human beings, ours lasts only milliseconds. The tree manages to make every moment of its life and every stage in it journey through life an affair of fulfilment. The Neem tree produces some sort of fruit, I think. It is its seed. However, it is not conspicuous, like the mango or the papaya. I think the life of the Neem tree itself is a fruit.

The existence of the Neem tree is reflected in the way it looks. The Neem tree does not look grand. It looks significant. The tight curves on its body and the groovy thick bark mark the relevance of its sickle-shaped thorny-edged leaves.

The Neem tree can trick me into believing that it is very feeble in nature. When I touch it, I feel the bark strong. Once I chewed a leaf. It was salty and had sap that was greenish in colour. The sap went down my throat and made me feel I am whole. I felt like my body received the liquid with an eager pleasure.

I hold on to a branch in an attempt to pick some leaves. The branch bends. I take advantage. Pick a couple of leaves for boiling with my bathing water. Then I realise how dangerous the strength of the Neem tree is. The branch I held on to came off from the trunk of the tree. For a moment, I felt something like an electric shock. I could not do anything to fix the branch back. The Neem tree cried. I could hear a cry. It is a quiet tree, usually. Even her agonies aren’t supposed to trouble me. But on that day, I was troubled. The Neem tree had taught me how to listen to its agony.

The strength of the Neem tree was not on its rough bark or lean branches. The strength of the Neem tree was in its capacity to make me feel the pain it felt. I stood there engraving that scene in my mind for another day, for another purpose.

Today, a man with two kids came in a motorbike. He asked our permission to pick some leaves from the Neem tree. I felt jealous. I did not want to give away the previous leaves to some stranger.

I thought about the tree for a moment. I thought about how I am renewed by its sap. I decided to think about the Neem tree, not as a possession. I decided to change my mind.

I watch as the elder kid climbs up the wall that skirted our property and picks the leaves. The Neem tree murmured its consent. I heard it and went inside to write this piece.

I know that the Neem tree has come closer to me. I know that the cells of my body now carry the juicy sap of the Neem tree.

I know that the tree and I are one.  

Saturday, January 28, 2017

THE ART OF BLOG WRITING AND ME


Today, I was fortunate enough to share a stage with these legends: Prof. Tharanathan sir, Prof. Abdulla, Sri. PV Gangadharan sir, and Mrs. Linu. M K, and give a talk on blogging and writing. The best part was when Prof. Tharanathan sir introduced me. He said that my stories remind him of the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. I was sitting with the others on stage and my eyes were full, overwhelmed. At the end of my talk, I took the time to thank him and tell the whole gathering how I felt about his wonderful comment on my book Prabuddha.  

The ambiance of the hall was phenomenal with academic exuberance and energy. What bowled me over was the enthusiasm the students showed from the very beginning. They were all ears. Every word was nodded at and discussed among them. I believe, these are the moments that pay off every effort you make as a teacher. It makes you think about sticking around a few more years, doing the same job. I am very impressed by the participation of students in the discussions that followed the talk, too.

Prof. Tharanathan sir delivering his presidential address
Mostly, students from Kerala are reluctant public speakers. This especially reflects in their English language speaking skills. Hardly, does anyone get past this stage of inhibition, even after years of practice at special coaching classes! These students made it a point today, to stand up and speak their mind at the end of the session. Some of them surprised me with their fluent and confident use of English language.

I would like to thank my teacher, Prof. Tharanathan sir for this wonderful opportunity. I would also like to thank Sri Prakasan sir and Sri Thomas sir for organizing this wonderful gathering. 

These pictures say most of it. My gratitude as a student of this great person is beyond words.
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