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Graduate in Maths, Postgraduate in English literature. Worked as a medical transcriptionist, also as a teacher.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Dileep-Kavya wedding-A real reel of Mollywood

         A wedding took place in a hotel in Kochi  on November 25th which shook the whole of Kerala and made the Malayalees (that includes me)! sit before the TV screens and the internet. It was between the famous on-screen pair, Dileep and Kavya Madhavan who 'officially' became the off-screen pair from Nov 25th, 2016. Dileep had earlier married the popular star Manju Warrier but got divorced sometime in 2015. They have a teenage daughter Meenakshi. It was second wedding for Kavya too, who had divorced a Dubai-based  banker. Dileep is a popular Malayalam star, though not a super star like Mamooty, Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi, and hence is not known much outside Kerala. When he announced all of a sudden that he is going to tie the knot to Kavya on 25th morning, the whole of Kerala came to a virtual standstill that morning. All the Malayalam news channels were telecasting live their wedding. Everybody absorbed every moment of it like a sponge. The boons and banes of demonetization took a back seat that day.  Dileep made an announcement that they are getting married and that they need everybody's blessings and appealed to stop putting negative comments about them. It might look unusual  about that appeal to those who do not know the facts behind this wedding.
                             As everything is available on the google and many sites, I am making the long story short. Dileep married Manju Warrier in 1998 when Manju's career was at peak, and she being known as the lady superstar. She essayed strong characters on-screen with elan and the roles were tailor made for her. Most of the superstars acted as sidekicks in her films. Before the time of Manju Warrier, I do not know of any other heroine who has carried the whole film on her shoulders, except maybe Sarada in some films. Her abrupt end in films left a huge void which was not fully filled. The audiences felt the pain until her comeback in 2013 after her separation/divorce. Dileep was a struggling actor in 1998. It is believed that he did not allow her to act or give dance performances after their wedding. Then came in Kavya as heroine with Dileep in the film 'Chandran udikkunna dikkil' which became a runaway hit and henceforth they became favourite on-screen couple to act in over 20 films.  Dileep's popularity soared and there was no turning back. The long standing affair between this couple gave rise to lot of rumours, gossips and to feed it, Kavya got divorced from a Dubai banker after the marriage of 6 months. This was like final straw.
                                                 I was not following the state of their 'affairs', except that I was happy to see Manju Warrier making a comeback. So when I saw last week about the news of their wedding in FB, my interest was piqued. Just like every other Malayalee, I watched their live wedding in the channels. Dileep wed Kavya in presence of his daughter Meenakshi and film stars like Mamooty, Jayaram, Menaka, Kaviyoor Ponnamma etc. It was interesting and amusing to see the endless trolls, jokes which was also merged with demonitization. Though Dileep was addressed as 'people's favorite star', the reactions that poured in suggested anything but 'favourite star'. Every other person became a moralist condemning Dileep  and Kavya and the outpouring and endless words of support for Manju which was evident in their pages. While all of us were waiting for Manju's response, she was more conspicuous with her stoic silence and there was some eeriness about that. It was the first time that I was seeing this kind of emotions like anger, support, passion, displayed as if the event happened in their own backyards. Every short Youtube videos were had lakhs of viewership within 2 days. Every bit of gossip was absorbed. This is an example of truth being stranger than fiction and all the elements are there for a writer to write a script for a sensational movie. Manju Warrier's character can be essayed out as a good woman and a 'victim' of circumstances and Dileep and Kavya Madhavan on the bad side. I am sure a movie will soon follow on this.

                                 It is not the first time that movie stars get divorced and most of them remarry. It will not be the last time also. Major superstars in the Malayalam industry have managed to stay in their marriage and of course, most of them married who are not actresses. It might be a precaution not to fall into the inherent traps and tarnish their images. Dileep does not have the height or looks of a super star and the controversies that surrounded him made him unpopular. If Manju Warrier had to quit acting and dancing after her wedding, it was something which hurt many malayalees. And the affair with Kavya Madhavan only made the matters worse. Manju Warrier was elevated on pedestal after Dileep's 2nd marriage.  It has to be noticed that there are equal or less number of people who wished well for Dileep and Kavya. Though I followed all these with great curiosity and interest, I was not that crazy. Even the movie stars have life beyond the screen and if they do not affect our lives, it is better not to be over judgmental about them. After divorce, Manju is living life in her own terms and very much in the limelight. I am only happy for her. How Dileep and Kavya chart out their lives is their headache, at the end of the day. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Our trip to Thiruvannamalai

Hi friends,
                 As another year is seeing its sunset days and many of us waiting to have an annual break, I scrolled the list of articles I penned so far. They are a little less compared to previous years, with two of them being penned by my dad. As I have mentioned before, I always love to explore new places and whenever I go somewhere, I take care to make note of details and of course take a lot of snaps. I scrolled down my blog to see if we visited new places this year, and realized that Thiruvannamalai is our first trip and that too at the fag end of the year. Will we explore one more new place before the year ends? I would love to do so.
                                It is almost customary for us to go to my in-laws' place in Hyderabad every year for Diwali. But this year, it did not happen due to miscellaneous reasons. To ward off our disappointment, we decided we would visit a place which would not take more than 2 days. And off we drove to Thiruvannamalai.
                              This place is about 200 kms from Bangalore and can be reached within 4 hours. If you go on the Hosur road, after a 100 kms, there will be a diversion where you take right to go to the destination. After we took diversion, for some distance, the roads were bad and unpredictable and it is better to drive on this route during the daytime.With the help of Google maps we hit Ramana Ashram 1st, which is at the entrance of Thiruvannamalai. When it comes to Google maps, it helps you in finding way, but from our experience, we have to take the help of the locals to go forward, as at some crucial places, the billboard signs are absent. You can call it 'the Indian way'. The ashram is a sprawling area with prayer and meditation halls, library, Ramana saint's room where he attained samadhi, the dining area. There were a couple of peacocks which was an attraction and with which people were taking selfies. It is visited by foreigners from the Western countries who hope to find some peace and solace in their lives. Some cows are maintained for fresh milk and milk products. The place is a center of activity which caters meals to the homeless and poor people around on daily basis. Ramana Maharishi was unique in a way that he did not claim to have any spiritual powers to cure the sufferings of the common people and did not invent any new religion. He experienced sudden liberation and overcame fear from the death in his early years. He spent about 17 years in silence and solitude in the Virupaksha cave and Skanda ashram which can be reached by 1 hour trek and situated in the back of the ashram. In these places, there are dogs because the saint is said to have lived or co-existed along with animals and even talked to them. The trekking, which should be done during the daytime, is well worth as it got us in touch with nature and was rejuvenating. Virupaksha cave is the final point of trek where it is dark inside with the idol of Ramana Saint, and silence should be strictly observed as people come to meditate. There are some dogs roaming near the cave, but it should not be of much concern. It is still the proof of the Saint who lived among the animals. I felt some connection and experienced some calm when we visited the ashram the next day. It is noteworthy that one can be a saint or maharishi  without claiming to have spiritual powers like Shiridi/Satya Sai baba, Mata Amritaanandamai, Swami Nityananda, and still admit to have human limitations like Ramana. Still, lot of people came to him to pour their sufferings and hardships the life offered.  This ashram is more frequented by westerners who looked to have found something, where many Indians are yet to find.

                                           From the cave, there is an easy way to reach Arunachaleshwara temple, the temple of Shiva. It is vast and has 8 gopurams or towers which were under some renovation. The temple is only 1 km from Ramana ashram, and these two places attract tourists all over. It was not over crowded, though we had to stand in the queue to get the fleeting glance of Lord Shiva. We spent some time exploring the temple. For some strange reason, an elephant is kept and it attracted the visitors who fed the same. I am not the fan of temples keeping the animals and birds like peacock, as it is only torture for them. The temple prasadams or offerings can be bought inside the temple premises, and I tell you, they are very tasty. The temple becomes unapproachable during the month of November-December due to the upcoming Karthikai, the festival of lamps. During the day of Karthikai, which falls on the full moon day of Vrishchika month, the lamp is lit on the top of the hill, and the lamp is said to represent Lord Shiva or Arunachaleshwara, and this is on the concluding day of Karthigai Brahmotsavam which attracts crowds from various parts of India. It represents the Makara jyothi of Sabari Mala temple of Kerala. Devotees consider themselves blessed when they go to temple during this time. But for casual goers like us, it is best if we don't go to temple during the festival to avoid the stampede-like crowds.The city of Thiruvannamalai belongs to lower middle class people whose lively hood depends on the ashram and the temple, and one cannot escape many asking tips for simple services. There were very less cars and more bikes and scooters. We wanted to go on a 14-km trek around girivalam, but to our disappointment, it is banned by the Government, as the tourists are disturbing the animals/flora/fauna. We went to girivalam by road, and it took much less time.The road had some temples of various Shiva lingas. We stopped at a place which was just so beautiful and it turned out to be a lengthy garden and a bright, airy hall which had Shirdi Sai baba statue made out of marble. It was just quiet and peaceful.  We took a room in Aakash inn which was opposite to Ashram, and it was quite comfortable and provided free Wi-fi which has become 'an addiction?' for everybody just like having food. Food was good in the adjoining restaurant. I had a relaxed and a rejuvenating Ayurvedic body massage. The massage center is situated in the building of Ramana towers (which has service apartments). If you want a fully relaxed trip, then this massage is a must try. We had a pleasant drive back home, though we did not feel like leaving the place. Some photos of our trip, as an article on travel is incomplete without photos. So, here are some more photo collages....Couldn't control myself posting so many photos...When I finished this and made some collages, I had a feeling of revisiting the place!!! Enjoy..

Good luck!!!