Tuesday, 28 September 2010

My Own Little Italy

I completed graduation in a place called Nitte. Nitte is a village, in wilderness, cut off by an hour and a half from the hustle and bustle of a city (Mangalore). There is nothing but tall trees all around the college, though we did have a hanging bridge, a waterfall and a beach close by in less than half an hours distance. But will nature suffice for the disco-going, beer-drinking college students of today? Obviously not. That is why I wasn't surprised when a friend of mine said one day, "What kind of a place is Nitte? What kind of a name is Nitte? Ugh. I hate this place. You know, my relatives keep asking, Nitte? Where is that? Never heard of it. The name sounds like no-man's land."

Now now, those of you thinking, "Yeah, me too. Nitte? Never heard of it." Nitte, as a place may not be heard of, but the college was famous in the state, which is the only reason people sent their kids to this forest to be trained to become engineers.

And then one day, Google Maps happened. "Nitte" was the first thing I typed into it, to test if it could find this place from the back of beyond. To my surprise, it did. "Whoa! This thing is cool!" I thought. I zoomed out to see if there were other places I could recognise. Nothing. "Hmpf. This is a forest. Maybe I don't know this forest that well" Zoom out. Nothing. Zoom out. Still nothing. Zoom out. Zoom out. Zoom out. Italy. "Whaaaat? Italy?" Google Maps had taken me to Nitte, a place in Italy. "Wow! I could go to Italy and say I lived in Nitte, and people would know." I dashed out of the room into the friend's room and said, "Guess what? There's a place called Nitte in Italy. Look." "Woww! This is going to be a slap right across my aunt's face."

Cut to today, I was reading about Maurizio Cattelan's provocative, satirical sculptures -- because of this --
A sculpture called "crippled hand" from Italian sculptor Maurizio Cattelan is placed in front of stock exchange palace in Milan September 25, 2010. Credit: Reuters/ Stefano Rellandini
Cattelan's bio read "Born in Padua, Italy". "Padua? Hey, that's a place in Mangalore! First Nitte, now Padua. I wonder what other places in Mangalore have Italian names."

Belman, the bus-stop before Nitte. Could easily be mistaken for Belmonte, a place in Italy and many other countries. In fact, I called the place Belmonte for a long time until someone pointed out it was "Belman" and not "Belmonte".

And how could I forget Valencia, where I spent over 12 years of my life and 11 years of schooling. [Valencia is not in Italy but in Spain (of course, you know that), but it appears it's a very common name for a place. There's a Valencia in Pakistan, also Columbia, Phillippines, Trinidad and Tobago, USA, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru].

So next time somebody asks me where I am from, I'm going to say Italy. *wink*

Come to think of it, Mangalore is a place with funny locality-names actually. But that'll be another post another day.

Update [April 26, 2011, 01:49 a.m.]
I cannot believe I missed mentioning something so close to my heart. My school - St. Gerosa High School - is named after an Italian saint, Vincenza Gerosa.

Vincenza Gerosa (born in the late 1700s), along with Bartolomea Capitanio, founded the Sisters of Charity of Lovere. Incidentally, Capitanio is another school a few kilometres from my own school. The buildings opposite to my school belong to the Sisters of Charity. They run an orphanage, a primary school for the financially weak and a day care centre, where I was sent for a short period, if I remember right.

I recall now, every once in 3-4 years, our teachers would announce the arrival of sisters from Italy, and when they arrived, we'd have a special assembly for them, with dances and songs and skits. It was a huge deal. We would go the chapel to pray (The chapel is inside the school campus. The building is out of bounds for students, per se, unless you say you want to go to the chapel to pray), but more importantly to greet the sisters from Italy. They were ever so sweet. The serenity and smile on their faces were only paralelled by Mother Superior who'd visit once in a while. I never missed an opportunity to greet her whenever I heard she was there. Her serene smile would make my day. The only other famous person with a smile like that is Mother Teresa. But, I digress.

I think my sister's school too - St. Agnes High School - is named after another Italian saint whom they call "Agnes of Rome", though it isn't run by the Sisters of Charity.

This Italian-ness of Mangalore intrigues me and makes me want to dig deeper into its history as to why so many places in and around Mangalore have Italian names. The Christians in Mangalore are from Goa and of Portuguese descent, not Italian. And as far as my knowledge on Indian history goes, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French and the British arrived in India before the British Raj was set up. So now it's even more intriguing.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Wall Street

So I watched Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. After all the hype and hoopla around this movie, it was such a huge let down. It had such a weak weak plot, or no plot at all I should say. The movie starts from where it left off in the 1987 movie. I didn't watch the 1987 movie, but it seems like it must have been a very good and intriguing movie. I could feel it while watching this movie. Maybe that's what makes this movie even more boring.

You could easily skip this movie and not miss a thing. Wait for the DVD, rent it or download it, but don't waste your money watching this in the theatre. I had such high expectations from this one, especially after Stephen Sackur, THE Stephen Sackur, mentioned this movie in his interview with Oliver Stone. What a disappointment. Sniff.

I wonder if Legend Of The Guardians will release in India. It had better. I'll be watching Beauty And The Beast 3D with Mahi this Sunday, and then next week, the one I've been eagerly waiting for -- Anjaana Anjaani. Ranbiiiiiiiir!!!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Does This Count As Annoying?

Okay Okay. I know. Another post on Despicable Me. But seriously, if you haven't watched the movie, the least you could do is watch this video. It's the making of the movie, but its got all the best scenes. And then, another scene from the movie everybody loves.

"It's so fluffy I'm gonna die"
I say, Agnes is so cute I'm gonna die.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The song Dil Hai Chhotasa was filmed at...

Hogenakkal, two hours from Bangalore on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border. Family picnic to celebrate mom and dad's 24th wedding anniversary.

Good Old Days

"I'm going to meet friends" most often means you're going to meet friends you've made in the college you last went to, or maybe the college before that. How many times does it mean friends from the school you went to? When you're indeed going to meet friends from school, it's always mentioned specially, "I'm going to meet my friends from school", because friends from school are special. You want the other person to say, "Friends from school! Wow! You're still in touch?" They may no longer be your best friends but there's that curious affection towards schoolmates, especially if you've spent more than a decade in the same school, like I did.

And that is why St. Vincent's School blog fascinates me. No, I didn't go to this school. Mummy (what I call my aunt) went to this school and contributes to this blog. After close to four decades of losing touch, students of this school are back together reminiscing their days in school. Pretty awesome I must tell you. So awesome that I had to make a guest post on their blog and let them know how wonderful I think it is. Cool people too, some journalists, some photographers, some social activists, some novelists and published authors and what not. With such accomplished personae contributing to the blog, the posts are a wonderful read too.

I've been wanting to get back in touch with my schoolmates from a very long time. Met a few on Orkut, and then ever since Facebook started overshadowing Orkut, I've been meeting more and more friends from school. Honestly, schoolmates are the only reason I am still on Facebook. Them aside, I really see no point in a Facebook account. I hope to meet them some day. With everybody busy settling down in their lives, many seem to have little time for anything else. So I hope that once things settle down, in a few years, I'll be able to meet them.

It's nice to know what paths schoolmates have chosen, where they are, what they do, how they've turned out.  With my school churning out goody-goodies it's no surprise that a surprising number have chosen social work (cool huh?). Or maybe that's my batch because two days ago, a junior from school sent me a friend request and she listed her activity as "drug abuse". Shudder. I hope she is kidding.

What is your story? Are you in touch with your schoolmates?

Monday, 13 September 2010

It's the longest hangover, and it's called...

The Prutha hangover. It was my best week ever. More than a week after that awesome week I am still thinking and smiling about it. Never thought I'd have such a great time. Of course, at the back of my head I was also worried about the pain Girija amma was going through in the hospital and was hoping she would recover soon. I also felt a little bad for Chinni akka and Vinnu jiju; the family came home to enjoy and even before 24 hours of their arrival here the unfortunate incident happened - Girija amma fell down broke her hip.

Chinni akka, that night, lay silently on the bed, clearly disturbed about the incident when Prutha climbed on to the bed, sat next to her and says, "Mummy, main kuchh bolun?" "Haan, bol chinna", Chinni akka said. "Mummy, tu mujhe bahut achchi lagti hai"

What else does a mother need to hear than her five year old daughter telling her how much she loves her. I'm sure that at that moment all of Chinni akka's tensions and tribulations disappeared and that she had a good night's sleep. I wasn't home by then. Mahi told me about this. It touched my heart so much I had to write about it so one day when I get Alzheimer's disease, I can still read this and smile.
The Week That Was - (Prutha, Mahi), (Mahi, me, Prutha), (Chinni akka, Prutha), (nanna, me, Mahi, amma), (Mummy), (Mahi, mummy, Vinnu, Girija amma, amma, nanna), (daddy), (Chinni akka)

While Chinni akka and Vinnu went to the hospital every day to the hospital to give company to Girija amma while they waited for the operation day which was a week later I had the god-given gift of spending all day (and all night) with the little bundle of stories. Nothing entertains Prutha more that telling stories. Most kids want to listen to stories but this one likes creating and telling them. I'll tell you one about a boy who likes bananas,  that made all of us laugh our guts off.

Ek din ek ladka rehta tha. Usko bananas bahut pasand tha. Wo shop se bananas laakar ghar me rakhta tha. Uske ghar ke baahar na... ek tree tha. Wo na... bananas ko tree me chipkaata tha. Wo theek se chhipkaaya nahi to wo bananas gir rahe the.
Laughter all around.
"Tum has kyu rahe ho?"
"Kuchh nahi. Bolo bolo"
"Tum haso mat. Main jab hasne ko bolungi tab haso"
Suppressed giggles. Such a cute little thing she is. Thinks fruits fall down because we don't stick them on the tree properly.

Which reminds me of another story which she told us when she was about 3 years old.

Ek din ek jungle tha. Uss jungle me ek monkey rehta tha. Ek din jungle me ek cat aayi. Wo... darr gaya.
"Ho gaya story?"
"Itna chhota story hai?"
"Naiii chhota naiii"
"To bataao na story"

Ek din uss jungle me ek billi aayi. Wo... darr gaya.
"Uske baad?"

Uske baad ek cat aayi. Wo... darr gaya. Hogaya.
How much more cute can kids get?

Another night, when I was at home, and Chinni akka, Prutha and I were relaxing we asked Prutha, "Prutha, tu badi hoke kya banegi?"
She said, "Main badi hoke moti banoongi"

She was kidding of course. She's already in a career dilemma, "Main artist banoo ya doctor?"

For the rest of my life, the songs Waka Waka, Wavin Flag and I Like To Move It Move It, will remind me of her. And of course, APKGK's Tu Jaane Na that turned into an action song that Prutha and I kept singing over and over and over again.

It was also so nice and amusing to see a little girl making the men of the house (nanna and daddy) do silly things that they wouldn't normally do, in the games that Prutha invented. I say men, because the women (amma, mummy, Chinni akka, Mahi) have craziness as their birth trait. So seeing them do silly things isn't a big surprise.

Not a moment of seriousness when mummy was around. Joke after joke after joke, she kept us laughing continuously. Cracking jokes on oneself is a talent not many possess. Sometimes you wish you could be like her. If there's any other place I'd like to be after my own, it's Mumbai... with mummy, daddy, Anil bhaiya and Chinni akka.

And boy, did I know we are a family of not-just-music-enthusiasts, but real musicians. With daddy, the genius around you can be constantly amazed at everything he does with musical instruments. As if that's not enough, Vinnu jiju also plays awesome guitar. Never knew until he played it here at home. Reminded me of my good old hostel days when Crystal played the guitar and I sang along. Mummy and daddy are learning Hindustani music now. And not just that, they're even answering exams! At 50+ years of age, isn't that awesome? 

Wish there were more nights with Chinni akka, Mahi and I having long talks and raiding the kitchen for cupcakes and chocolate sauce at 2 a.m. Bad that she had to spend all day in the hospital every day for almost a week. But there really wasn't any choice. After all, she is the "dil" of her mil.

In all it was one of the best weeks I've had in a long time. Girija amma too recovered surprisingly quickly. She was discharged from the hospital only 5 days after the operation. When she was back home, she showed no sign of pain. You'd think we were lying about her fall after seeing her laughing and talking like nothing had happened. Must commend her strength and threshold of pain.

I really could go on and on but I must stop. I had initially planned a Day1, Day2... blogpost because so many things had happened that I never wanted to forget, but with Prutha around there was no way I wanted to waste time on a blogpost that I could spend playing with her. This is a very long post, I know, but this is a hangover I never want to recover from.

Not that I've had hangovers before. No no. But still.