Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tagged - Thinking Blog Award

Kombai has been tagged by Random Magus for being:
" enchanting blog filled with nostalgia and a feeling of going home. The authors Premalatha and Michelle pull you into their life with the simple beauty and eloquence of their writing."

Thank you Random! :-)

In return prema and I will each be choosing five blogs that make us think.

It was hard to choose only five! Here is my final choice of five blogs. I picked for Inspiration, Observation and Information.

1. As Kombai is mostly about my childhood in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe Robb Ellis has to be my first choice. Robb's blog, "The Bearded Man", has been quoted by the BBC for his devoted and thorough coverage of the current situation in Zimbabwe.

2. Sadiq's "Inspirations and Creative Thoughts" for living up to that title most beautifully.

3.Amel's Realm for managing to always make me feel good to be alive as well as make me think.

4. The musing of Shastri for his, sometimes quirky always unique, observations on the world.

5. Analysing It by Epimenides, who makes me laugh as well as think.


The rules are -

Congratulations, you won a

Should you choose to participate, please make sure you pass this list of rules to the blogs you are tagging.

The participation rules are simple:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme

3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

Thinking Blogger Award

Boo and Randum Magus have awarded me the thinking blogger award. Thank you both, first of all for giving me this award. I have been walking a few inches above the ground since I saw their posts linking my blog. I never thought Kombai stories will go this far. This encourages me to write more on Kombai.

Five blogs that make me think would be:

1. Madura: Her posts on sex education did a great good to many. I admire her guts to be able to discuss about those issues.

2. Sujai K: He writes on many issues. My all time favourite is his para on teaching

I think there are two types of teaching- Intentional and Unintentional. Intentional teaching involves parent consciously teaching the kids- like how to pray, or ride a bicycle, eating habits, etc. Unintentional teaching could be dad smoking, mom scolding the maid, dad upholding secular principles while talking to others, mom talking negative against certain religions or caste, dad throwing garbage on the streets, etc. This kid who is trained to believe everything his parents teach also acquires these prejudices and habits without questioning them. While some kids are taught to reevaluate their learning, most others inherit all their parents’ prejudices. For those who do not reevaluate, their ability to acquire new learning also diminishes and they continue to harbor the same prejudices all their life. If needed they fight vehemently and vociferously, blinded by faith. They do not know what they do not know and hence they seem to believe they know everything.

3. Prakash (Tamil Blog). More than his posts, his comments in Tamil blogworld reflect his views better. He says that the blogworld changed his views on many issues for better. :-)

4. Narain (Tamil Blog) He writes infrequently. Couple of his post on feminism can serve as a sample here: சிலுக்கு சுமிதா புராணம் and போர்க்கும் கொஞ்சம் பாயாசமும்

5. Ilavanji (Tamil Blog) He has shown that he has the ability to reevaluate himself. He has amazed many with his honesty. He knows his boundaries, accepts his limitations, believes in certain lines and values and never hesitates to giving it a try to cross them ;-)

If you choose to pass this award on, these are the Thinking Blogger Award rules:
This award was started here.
You have to award five others whose blog you think deserve this award.
Should you choose to participate, please make sure you pass this list of rules to the blogs you are tagging.
If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.
Please, remember to tag blogs with real merits, i.e. relative content, and above all — blogs that really get you thinking!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Tag - Indian writing

Desigirl has tagged me. She doesn't know that I am a wrong person in her list. She can't be blamed, I have disguised her enough to make her believe that I am in her league. :-)

I will try my best though.
I don't know when I started reading books. Mostly to eascape from my school text books and/or to hide my inability to join the gossip club. I was always the kid in the corner reading "something".. "She doesn't hear anything when she reads. Even an idy (thunder) can't get her take her eyes off her books. She doesn't need food or anything. She just needs her books. Very intelligent kid" they all said. There was never a shortage of supply of books for me. Kumudam and Vikatan were regularly bought.. We owned few Sandilyans. Kombai Library filled in regularly too.

During my college days it was trendy to read poetry (kavithai) books. Palamalai was the popular one those days. One of our friends' brother was a writer himself. He has published few books (I have not read a single one of his books). We (this writer brother and few others) used sit on the terrace and engage ourselves in "intellectual literary discussions" and the starry nights accentuated the scene. His wife used to cook for us..

I moved on. Time passed. Once the Writer Brother friend asked me what I was reading then.. The conversation was in Tamil, which does not differentiate between reading and studying.. I replied what I was studying... I guess that clearly displayed the end of my reading era. After that, I have read books here and there, still do read now and then, but no, I cannot be grouped under "book reading" people. Now I prefer watching movies to spend my pass time. I have got a good collection of books, mostly unread, hoping that one day I will be able to retrieve my book reading skills.

Here are my favourite books: (Tamil books)
1. Kolaiyudhir kaalam by Sujatha. - my first thodarkathai (series). I used to wait for kumudam/vikatan (I can't remember which one) for the next episode. The scientific explanation and the aethistic view of the author had left a huge impact on me.

2. Yavana Raani by Sandilyan - War strategies. Intelligence. politics. I have read this book several times.

3. Mannan mahal by Sandilyan - consipracy theory surrounding Rajendra cholan's throne. Ponniyin selvan by Kalki for the same reason (this one is about Rajaraja cholan's time).

5. Irumbuk kuthiraikal and Kariyora Mudhalaikal by Balakumaran. - feministic stuff.

4. Malgudi days by RK Narayan (recently read, so English book). Everyone is able to find something to relate to.

5. My all time favourites are Pattukkottai Prabakar, Subha, Rajeshkumar, Rajendrakumar and Sujatha's Ganesh-Vasanth's stories... The first four authors repeatedly wrote same stuff or copied from one another or some of them were very crappy. But that is what exactly I needed, a break. It is like working in the check-out tills in superstores. I love that job. One can keep the brain at home and come to work. Very enjoyable. :-)

I must pass this on to some good book readers. I don't know whether they do tags or not, but I am going to try anyway. Hope they don't mind.
Chenthil (Self confessed book worm)

Friday, June 01, 2007

My Grandmother's House - by Michelle

All my childhood lies in my grandmother's house. No matter where I am or what I remember, my mind takes me back to that house. It was, as I have said, the centre of the wheel for our entire family - aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbours and friends.. everyone met at my grandmother's house.

If I close my eyes now.. I am there at the gate, hot African sun scorching down on white picket fences and trellises heavy with honeysuckle, golden shower and coral creeper. A riot of creeping plants and flowers dripping bees. Below them, along the concrete path to the door, there will be sweet peas. Every summer there were sweet peas, staked up against the freshly painted picket fencing. It is cool under the canopy of green that leads to the door. There are two huge pine trees shading the back windows too. They smell of resin.

Around the front there is a swimming pool my grandfather built himself, two aviaries of birds and the fruit trees. Down the side there is a dry sandy strip marked with little wooden crosses for all the many departed pets. Dogs, birds cats, rabbits and even a monkey have their sacred space in Granny's little garden. She pulls the weeds from around the crosses and drops a few tears and flowers on the "special" ones.

Inside the house, at any time of day, it was always shady. All the trees and the deep covered front veranda keep the house from direct sunlight. In the scorching African summer this is a good thing, but I do always remember feeling a bit creepy going down the shadowy passage to the toilet. There are family photos along all the walls in the passage and several generations of family watch me with shadowy eyes as I dash for the toilet. Great grandma stands at the end of the passage. Beautiful forever since she died so young. Her sad Irish eyes seem to know this photo will be the last memory held of her passing through this world. She watches me, the third generation of girl children she will never see grow up.

In my grandmother's bedroom everything smells of old perfume and floor polish. The Virgin Mary stands on the window ledge, with her arms outstretched. She is wearing a pale blue cloak over her ivory plastic glow-in-the-dark body. I love her. I love the fact she glows in the dark. I used to have a glow-in-the-dark Jesus nailed to a wood and mother-of-pearl cross, but then my mom found out the "glow" came from toxic chemicals and threw him in the bin. Very weird memory that - a snapped up Jesus pulled off the cross and thrown into the dirt bin. I can remember going outside and lifting the lid to look at him lying there with his legs and arms scattered amongst the potato peals. My mom tells me Jesus will still watch over me and answer my prayers at night, but I do miss seeing his soft greeny glow over my bed. In my grandmother's house Mary will not suffer the same indignity. Gran doesn't care that Mary is toxic. Mary will stay.

At the end of the passage there is a little iron and glass table on which stands the telephone, and four brass ornaments - the sphinx, two pyramids and Buddha. Mary in the bedroom and Buddha by the phone.. is there some hidden meaning there? Mary will hold you while you sleep, but Buddha is better for communication? Who knows! I only know I am allowed to play with Buddha and the sphinx because they are made of brass and indestructible. So I will lie on my play rug with Buddha and the sphinx. The sphinx was once a cigarette lighter and his head is hinged to open up the lighter. This will leave indelible scars on my understanding of ancient Egyptian history. For years to come I will think the sphinx's head comes off. The sphinx is okay, but I prefer Buddha. I smile back at Buddha while the grown ups sit at the table and talk. He's not as pretty as Mary, but he is more cheerful. Admittedly not as exciting, he doesn't glow, but gran says if I rub his tummy he will answer my wishes just as Jesus answers my prayers. I think to myself how clever God is. He has Jesus for prayers, Mary for comfort and Buddha for making wishes come true. It is a wonderful world with so many celestial beings to watch over your needs.

In my grandmother's house there may not be much sunlight, but there is always noise. There are birds in cages, radios and always people. People come and go in waves. Gran feeds them and makes them tea, but she never visits them. She is the hub and all spokes lead to her. The hub does not wander. It stays in the centre and keeps the wheel of life turning. That is gran - the hub of our wheel.

I can't ever remember seeing her in the lounge watching TV. She is always in the kitchen, out in the garden or sitting in the dining room. She has plants to watch over, dogs, cats, tortoises, lots of birds. Visitors constantly. Only the fish tank isn't her territory. Grandpa takes care of the fish. Grandpa has his small sections of territory staked and claimed - the fish tank, the outside room piled high with old junk and his own bedroom filled with fascinating things. If I am good he will take out the old tin boxes full of war photos. Then he fills his pipe and sits by the window, puffing his pipe and telling me the stories behind the photos. I knew about Mussolini and the war in North Africa before I was eight. Grandpa has other photos too. Stationed in Egypt he went to every ancient monument her could. Here there are photos of the real pyramids and sphinx. And if I get bored with desert stories there is a box of old toys at the top of the wardrobe. Paper dolls from the 1950s and marionette puppets. I love grandpa's room.

My aunt has the last bedroom. Here I can look, but not touch - except her big plastic bangles - I can play with those. They jangle on my arm, but I can't put my hands down or they'll all fall off. I walk around the house with my arms up to keep the bangles on. It's not as exciting as war stories or Buddha and the sphinx.. I go and put them back.

For now I will sit with Buddha on the floor and be at peace. Here we will sit at the centre of the world and let it revolve around us. There will be dripping and tomato sandwiches for lunch and then later gran will let me feed the tortoises. Life is good.