Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Shepherd Girl

In a pale patched frock
and worn out boots,
with her hair held by a blue ribbon,
walked a shepherd girl
herding her sheep,
followed by a faithful dog.

Standing atop the hill
staring into the vast space ahead,
wished the shepherd girl
with all her heart:
a better life for her family,
and an adventure for her soul.

Painting by Ratna Pochiraju.
Thank you for allowing me to use it in my blog.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Memoirs of an Eighty year old- Episode I

Episode: The Talkies and Theaters

On a cold Monday evening I went to the grandparent’s house and as usual my grandma was watching her daily soap with grandpa dong his version of translation of the dialogues from Hindi to Telugu for fun. Then suddenly came the topic of translators used in movie theaters back then and how hilarious it was.

Grandpa began to tell me the procedure of going to the cinema theater and watching the film in the 1940’s and 50’s when he was in middle and high school.

Born and brought up in a village that was pretty far from the nearest town, he says life was good. Back then the films were only Black & White and released first in the major towns followed by the smaller towns and then finally came the turn of the villages. Every 3 villages had a small theater in the village that was biggest among those. He called the theater as the Touring Talkies.

The mode of travel from their village to the theater was a bullock cart with a tent or dome covering the passengers’ seat to protect them from outside weather. The cart had two bulls in tandem and an uncle or the father usually drove it. Since most families were big in number and lived together, the kids were taken to the cinemas separately by mostly the males of the family. After reaching the theater some grass was placed in front of the bulls and the carts were all lined neatly unlike our haphazard parking these days.

The seating arrangement in the theaters had three classes- Floor sating, Bench seating and Chair seating with floor being the cheapest. The younger ones of the family had the floor seating tickets while the elders had bench class. Only the ones considered rich took tickets for the chair class. So the families tried to arrive first at the theater and the younger ones ran inside to occupy their places on the block that separated the floor class to bench class. The elders sat immediately behind their children.

Grandpa continues, saying that the films then were longer in duration with a minimum of 3 hours and 3-4 intervals in between. The elders checked and counted their younger ones to make sure all were present. Vendors sold roasted nuts and special books which had the story of the cinema they were watching along with all the lyrics of the songs from it. He says these books are treasures and that people of his age group know all these songs by heart.

Some films from other languages, especially Tamil were also showed at times and then came the translators who were hired by the theater owners to translate the dialogues to Telugu. This grandpa says was so funny sometimes as the translators were not really proficient and ended up changing the meaning sometimes.

Once the movie ended the younger ones had to stand in a line near the entrance gates to get counted again and then the families left for their homes. 

The Memoirs of an Eighty year old- Introduction


The life in 21st century is so different and complicated compared to the 20th century. I say complicated and not advanced because despite all these technological inventions and facilities we have, we are always stressed out and so bus in our robotic routine that we hardly have time for ourselves let alone others.

So I got an idea to ask my Grandfather, by relation, to tell me about his childhood and growing years. He has seen the changes and increasing complexities in living conditions since late 1930’s. I am going to make a series of the random incidents and situations he tells me which are an integral part of his life. And knowing my Grandmother I am sure we’ll get to know some real funny incidents; she is totally a practical, rational and strong willed woman I’ve ever met.

The incidents I post may not be in any particular order as they tend to pick a random subject and relate the past. I’ll try my best to be exact with the translation (from Telugu to English) of the names and words used for certain things back then.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Eternal Sky- Part II- The Looming Clouds

The Looming Clouds

I have written about the sunrise and morning rainbow in Part I  of the series.
The second part of my never-ending fascination with the vast sky deals with the monsoon sky.

Observing the varying cloud patterns and textures in different seasons throughout the year is a pastime of mine. The monsoon clouds (June- October) and particularly dense and rich in a much bigger size compared to the rest of the year. The cloud colors also are darker, ranging from pale grey to rich grey and soft black.

These are the clouds that reflect power, force, strength, and stability. Their silent presence covering the blue sky with their muted grey gives an impression of impending doom, whereas, in reality, these are the main cause of life in plants, farms, and forests.

Sure, these clouds have the capacity to destroy everything with a single strike of lightning; But the power to destroy is not misused by nature. Powerful yet distant, the grey looming clouds manage to pull and tug at the heart with their constant presence.

There was never a moment when I ever felt threatened by the sheer force of their wind or the magnificence of their rain and lightning. The sky with its unlimited span has always been my comforter and soother. I wonder at its patience to hold in control the power and look so graceful and regal!