Yana Navotna 

The first memory is of that final at Wimbledon against Steffi Graf in 1993, she had almost won. In my head she was serving for the match in the second set. But in reality, she had lost the first to Graf, won the second, was 4-1 up in the third. I cant recollect which other match I’m confusing this with. I thought it could be that quarterfinal between Venus and Hingis at Wimbledon in 2000. It is not that match either. But Hingis sure did take the second set that time after losing the first to Venus, was it a match point save, I may need to go back and watch the highlights. Could be that as she won it 6-4 after which she went on to lose to Venus in the third .. that year Venus won Wimbledon against Davenport. It was also a special year at Wimbledon, need to go check that too. 

When the news of her death flashed, the first person I pinged were my folks, (my mother is this crazy tennis buff who skips social functions to watch matches.) But the thing with technology these days is, everyone is on the same page. All of us, my mother, my brother and me had the same memory of Yana crying on the shoulders of the Duchess in 1993. I was/am a big time Graf fan, but I don’t recollect now whether I was sad Yana lost that day. 

The second person I pinged was a friend from school as we had discussed this tearing part recently. But since India was unexpectedly bowling well in the final session against Sri Lanka in the first test match at Eden, we drifted quickly to wishing the boys could take 3 more wickets for a win. The lights played spoil sport! But who’d expected India to bowl this well? 

Her match with Graf lingers on. I didn’t know we shared a connection. Strange, but there is a bit of me upset that she is no more today. 

Thank you, Yana for all the excitement and the memories.  


Children’s Day

For the longest time, I thought Children’s Day and Nehru became a thing after his death. Like how “the nation” celebrated Maulana Azad’s birthday as National Education day last week, Unification Day for Sardar Patel, week or two prior to that, posthumously. Therefore, I was genuinely suprised to know, they were put together in the presence of Nehru himself as early as 1957 by President Rajendra Prasad during a gathering for children’s right. 

Children’s day, instituted by the United Nations is an idea put forward by the Indian representatives as early as 1952. It is commemorated worldwide since 1959 on November 20, the day when UN adopted the Declaration for the Right of the child. However, they gave their member countries a choice of dates. The Govt of India adopted November 14. Nehru’s birthday seemed a likely choice as  he was a writer for children. He had published the private letters he had written to his daughter on natural and world history for other children to read. 

An Era of Darkness 

Picture note: On some days, everything comes together. Today was a day like that, this picture was clicked perfectly rendering a meaning to the text at hand, here Shashi tharoor’s Era of Darkness. Unlike my other books, it is only today, after many months, I realized that this book’s naked self is white. The sunlight came in at the right time. Viola

Little pleasures. I’m happy happy 😊

#Nov8 demon tales – 2

One of those nights, this is again a week post Nov 8 we went into our fav biryani place around the corner for supper. The other option was to go home, cook and eat by 1 am since it was already nearing midnight. 

Those were the days when eating out was decided on one question alone.

“Is your POS machine working.” 

The man at the counter replied with a sad no. Crestfallen, we were almost half way through our about turn when he said, “I take the old currencies.” 

I felt like hugging that guy that day and smother him with kisses, because the other option in front of us was to go home, and sleep hungry after this long weary day, because we were in no mood to cook. 

it has been 365 days since the 8pm speech by our dear PM. 

#nov8 demon tales – 1

As I was hurrying towards VT that night, I spotted a queue in front of a building in the Crawford market. This was a week or so after Nov 8th last year, when we were allowed to withdraw twenty 100 rupee notes at one go. If not for the queue I wouldn’t have known there was a bank there. The gentleman in front of me, (let’s call him A) was in urgent need of money, (who wasn’t!) but he was repeatedly answering calls on his phone, assuring somebody on the other end of the line about a promised amount of cash. The queue moved at a slow pace. These were the days I learnt how to be patient…… By the time I reached the door of the ATM it was already an hour and a half.. 

When A went it, a B came out. I was next in line, money, I thought, finally however, I went in to realize, there was a second queue inside. 3 people, plus the person at the machine + the security guard cramped ourselves around that atm.

A inserted his card, punched in for ₹2000 but no money came out. We asked him to re-insert, it could be a glitch. A did, and after a third time  asked me to try my luck. I thought my luck ran out when no money came out when I punched for ₹2000. But ten 100 rupee notes came when I punched in for ₹1000 a second time. It was a moment of a  mixed sense of relief and grief. If A had punched in 1000 the second time, I would be the one walking out of that ATM without cash.. 

Everybody who has lived through last year in India would have a favourite #demon story to narrate. May be I can begin a demon series … 😉

A year later today, I can recollect every little detail that transpired through November 8 of last year, the places I’d been to, the people I’d interacted with, the long queues in front of the ATM, queues in front of the post offices, the banks.. thinking up ways to dispose off the 500 rupee notes…. 

it has been 365 days since the 8pm speech by our dear PM

That #FridayFeeling 

Chicken and rice! With a spoonful of french beans .. 

A slow paced #Villain, left me with a headache! 

Reviews have been calling this film an emotional tense thriller, a film re-defining the nature of a villain, a hero, and an anti hero. It does delve deep into the master killer’s life.. but there are 2-3 villains in this film, who can be but into boxes of good, not so good, monster, beast 

When Mathew Manjooran (Mohanlal) remarks, “there is a villain in every hero, and a hero in every villain” the water tight distinction between two known types in the popular imagination does not begin to blur, but it does lead to a momentary break from the usual black & white categories. 

The good villain is always the social empath who cringes at the sight of injustice. Too many of these incidents leass them to become thr villain – their rise is a tale of their consequences & motivations, the pinnacle of their (mob) justice, eventually ending in the rise of a new hero to erase older villains, gradually leading to their transformation into the newer villain/hero as the case may be. It seems to be a cycle in which anybody, a hero, can be struck down by an unexpected calamity …

… Manjooran is a borderline case, his wife and daughter were unexpectedly snatched away from his happy life …

 can turn into an antihero in due course of time. Does he or does he not (after Drishyam it is hard to speculate) don the role of a villain to avenge the death of his family to become their hero … is one part of the film.

The film begins on the day ADGP Mathew Manjooran (#mohanlal) decides to end his career in the police force voluntarily. He has opted for an early retirement 7 months after a brutal “road accident” killed his wife killed his wife (Manju Warrier) and teenage daughter. 

A melancholic Mohanlal in a salt and pepper bearded bespectacled gentleman in a trench coat look. We are sure to empathize with the restless demons he faces inside him, the craft of this actor. He is on a journey to a mysterious somewhere, away from his familiar people and places … who knows for what purpose … 

Meanwhile, a murder is planned and executed the previous night, discovered in the morning of his last day which stops him from starting on the that trip. The task force concludes that it is the beginning of a series of public grievence redressals. Somebody has turned vigillante to rid the society of its “criminals” who have escaped the law with their power and money. “If that is the intention, how many people will they kill,” asks the Commission to Manjooran. This is the second part of the story.

The third part of the story is when Manjooran and the vigillante come face to face in a dialogue to review the current plight of the system of justice. The Fourth part … is there a suspense in this story… 😎

Stylish, slick & technical in its packaging, the office of the task force looks very similar to the one in The Blacklist or Hollywood films of the genre. In spite of the excellent dialogue delivery of two very seasoned actors, Mohanlal & Siddique, with a supporting cast of  Ranji Pannicker, Chemban Jose & Rashi Khanna in uniform, the idealistic Samaritan intentions in Manju Warrier’s Dr. Neelima, Vishal and Hansika Motwani bringing in the rest of the cast, the satisfaction of public punishments played out in this police procedural was too slow paced and predictable for my taste, or that of an edge of the seat thriller genre from the Grandmaster team. 

Although categorised as a thriller, it seems to be more on the lines of B Unnikrishan’s take on the greyer shades of people psychology. The series of murders is the drama he pulls up to convey this. He uses Manjooran to filter down this to us.  The film like a murder as the top cop remarks a simple equation of who killed who. The rest of the theatrics are ways of camoflauging the details. 

if only the pace was a notch faster, the script, the actors and the style would have fallen right in place making it a crowd puller.

Reaction: I had to get out of the theatre to buy a cup of extra strong coffee as I was fighting hard not to sleep inside. (The speculations of the men sitting behind me about the film kept me awake 😉) 

Villain is a 2017 Malayalam film starring Mohanlal, Vishal, Siddique, Manju Warrier, Chemban Vinod Jose, Ranji Pannicker directed by B Unnikrishan. 

Childhood days 

This just happened. I saw this in the 

newspaper this morning, and the first person I wanted to share it with was my brother. Because it is with him, I’ve read and shared most of my comicbooks since childhood. 

Certain memories can only be shared with certain people to maximize the excitement. Guaranteed. 

Two traits to judge! 

Often, our impression about a person or a place revolves around one or two traits, albeit their multifarious personality. Like this restaurant, I remember for its sizzling brownie in spite of their delicious multi-cuisine menu. When I returned to them on my latest visit, I realized it wasn’t the dessert alone, but the act of pouring the chocolate sauce onto the pipping hot plate by a butler, that made a world of a difference to the experience of ordering a brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream with toasted nuts strewn around in a sizzling chocolate sauce. It took the absence of that butler, the way he poured out the sauce for me to realize that love for this dish was in its visual spectacle of the sizzling sound and the smoke that clouded my vision, combined. 

Not similarly, but still, the marbled domed structure of the Taj Mahal in the backdrop of a full moon and/or bathing in sunlight is one of the first impressions that has etched itself in the minds of Indians and foreigners alike about Agra, and India. This is often followed by the romantic angle of undying love of a King for his dead Queen. This could be one of the reasons why couples flock to the Taj to click themselves on a bench in front of it. On one such occasion in 1992 when Princess Diana sat alone on that same white bench in its backdrop, the rest of the world speculated if all is well inside this British royal family. 

Nevertheless, a rational mind would question about definitions of love when they read further about Shah Jahan murdering Mumtaz’s husband to make her his 14th wife, who in turn died during her 7th child birth. After her death, he went ahead and married her sister. 

Putting together the innumerable ways this monument, we know as the Taj Mahal, and as one of the seven wonders of the modern era to the world, is a synecdoche for India – like the Eiffel Tower has come to stand in for Paris, Statue of Liberty, New York, a picture of a yellow snake around the neck as shot in a zoo in Singapore, and an eagle perched on the hand as part of a desert safari in Dubai. Closer to home, a colleague of mine once thought I was being a traitor to my southern upbringing when I chose to drink a cup of tea over a cup of filter coffee. Rarely do we intermix these fixed traits or try to add on newer traits to complicate out simple picture of the idea of a person or place in front of us. 

If that’s the case, what will happen to the Taj now that the government of  Uttar Pradesh has taken it off its list of tourism spots in the state? Will some other monument replace what was once the Taj? Will the Madurai Meenakshi Temple or the Lotus Temple take its place among the seven wonders? Can the physical evidence of a monument be washed away by a mere omission by a fundamentalist driven set of bureaucrats & ministers? 

Even the broadest of minds on a few occasions fall into the trap of a single image-idea representation of person and place like my colleague did then, which has become a inside joke among us since. The real test of a person, place and judgement begins then. 


Pingami (succesor) is a 1994 film in Malayalam with Mohanlal & Thilakan in lead roles. 

Unlike the usual everyday life* of a character whipped up by Sathyam Anthikad, this is a thriller. Therefore, when the film begins with a familiar scene of a friendly conversation at a bus stop, a captain returning home for his annual vacation, the audience will not suspect a hidden mystery.  

However, Captain Vijay Menon (Mohanlal) like his audience will soon find out that Kumarettan (Thilakan) whom he found severely beaten up, left to die, on the road has a key role in his life unknown to him until then. 

The plot begins to gain a certain momentum when on the next day, Kumarettan’s death is reported in the newspaper as a hit and run lorry accident. When an irritated Vijay confronts the duty doctor and the editor he finds their careless attitude towards the death of this man disturbing. On further enquiry with the locals, he finds out that the deceased was a journalist, known for his fearless exposes of corrupt politicians and businessman. The hit and run was a successful attempt to take his life. Vijay determined to get to the bottom of this murder, visits Kumarettan’s home to get access to his personal writings and space. 

The story that links the two men takes on a depth when Vijay reads a diary entry about a tragedy 18 years ago. Little did he know when he took this man to the hospital out of human concern, that he had been the sole witness to the brutal murder of his father considered until then to have committed suicide.

At the beginning of the film, Vijay finds a letter posted by Kumarettan protruding out of the post box. He tries to push it in, unable to do so, he takes it out, and makes sure it drops into the box safely this time. That letter becomes a key to solving the case. How he later links Kumarettan of the road accident as the sender of the letter, to finding out the secrets behind the death of his father, and missing mother and baby sister, is how the film ties the lives of the two men together in the plot.