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

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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Two songs of Ilyaraja in Kalyani Raaga-In the same boat, yet so different!!

Hi friends,
                The month of June is supposed to bring the southwest monsoons synonymous with the school reopening. But, if anybody is following anything, they can see that the rain gods are failing to shower us liberally up to now. If there are no rains, water problem is going to be acute, more power shortages, agricultural crises etc. Oh, Tansen, please bring back those rain showers with your magical voice in megh malhar raag. We are all starved for those cloudy, gloomy, hot pakoda-tea days.
                      We do not require a Tansen to tell us that music of any form has profound effect on our lives. Music transcends boundaries, languages, and acts as a therapy for the troubled souls and physical aches. As one who has learnt carnatic music from my childhood, (a common practice for tamil girls to learn carnatic music in our community) I have grown up to appreciate music of almost all the forms, irrespective of language and the genre it belongs to. From my personal experience, it has acted as a healer of  pains(physical or mental) to some extent. For good or bad, I am more of a listener than a singer (though I have felt at times that my beautiful voice is wasted for the lack of practice). I listen to carnatic music, light music, film songs, ( Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, Kannada) Western music, instrumental, and recently, becoming a lover of Hindustani or ghazal songs. I am not proficient enough in Hindi or Urdu, but my love for ghazal developed after listening to the carnatic songs for a long time.
                                Talking about the ragas in the carnatic music, some of them make deeper impact on us. Some of my favorite raagas are Reethi gowlai, Kalyani, Bhairavi, Vasantha, Rampriya, Lathaangi, Shanmughapriya, Kamaas, Aabhogi, Saveri, Shudhasaveri, Shriranjini, Ranjini, Mayamaalavagowla(first swaras of this raaga taught to children), SindhuBhairavi, YamunaKalyani. If I recollect more, I will put down here. Though I know very little about Hindustani music, I find that  Hindustani and Carnatic forms have some connection. The raagas of Kalyani and Yaman(YamunaKalyani in south) are very popular in Hindustani and it is a pleasure to listen to the ghazals in these raags.
                                          Music directors have used many of these raagas and incorporated in making film songs to give us some evergreen songs. Kalyani is one such raaga which has been liberally used by the composers in films because of its 'bright nature' and is supposed to reduce depression. Some of the well-known songs composed by Ilayraja based on Kalyani raagam are:

1. Kalaivaaniye from 'Sindhubhairavi.'
 2. Devan thantha veenai from 'Unnai Naan Santhithen.'
3. Kaatril varum geethame from 'Oru naal Oru Kanavu.'
4. Vellai Puravundru from 'Pudhukavithai'
5. Vaidhehi Raman from 'Pagal Nilavu.'
6. Amma Endru Azhaikkatha from 'Mannan'.
7. Janani Janani from 'Thai Mookambikai'

                                                          From this, I pick up the 6th and the 7th songs and want to tell something about it. The song 'Amma Endru' was sung by KJ Yesudas  and RajniKanth is shown carrying the sick mother and conveying the message that, 'there is no life without mother, millions can be paid to buy ornaments but the affection cannot be got, I am always indebted to you as I know the pains you underwent in bringing me up......etc.' Fine. But, I felt this song was over emotional and melodramatic. Did the film director make like this to suit RajniKanth's style in being a 100% son to a mother? Do we require an actor like him to show us that our mothers went so many hardships? It could have been in somewhat mellowed manner. But, I feel that the mellowed and understated acting does not suit the Kollywood audience. Anyway, I am yet to develop some liking for this song and this is Not in my favorite list of songs. But, my love for my mother does not diminish in any way.

                                          Amma Endru Azhaikkatha from 'Mannan'.

                  The seventh song 'Janani Janani' from the film 'Thai Mookambikai' is also tuned by Ilayaraja in Kalyani raagam and sung by Krishna Chandran & Deepan Chakravarthy. In this song, Shankaracharya is shown praising the mother goddess as the mother of the earth, a savior of all. Some of the lyrics in this song are applicable to all the mothers. This song sounds more soothing to my ear and I keep hearing it over and over again. Yes, this is in my favorites' list. And, when I searched the 'Youtube', I found that this song(Janani Janani) has more visitors than the song 'Amma endru.' The real reason for liking this one is still not known to me. 
                                                   Janani Janani from Thai Mookambikai.
Two compositions of Ilayaraja, in same raaga, almost the same theme, yet feels so different from each other!!!

Take care,




Monday, July 2, 2012

Alpam 'chirava puranam' (A short story about coconut scraper)

This post has been contributed by my dad, S. Muthukrishna Iyer,(a retired ISRO engineer) who himself is an expert cook and handles all the kitchen items ( like coconut scraper, kitchen knives, wet grinder) effortlessly, even though, he is in his sixties.

Hi friends,
                  Coconut and chirava (coconut scraper) are inseparable as coconut and malayali. For Keralites,  a curry or a delicacy is not complete without coconut being part of it in one form or other.
                                         The above photo is the one my daughter sent.

                                                 Another photo sent by my daughter...

                                       The above photo is borrowed from travelblog.org
                     The chirava of yesteryear's used to be made by integrating a large block of shaped wood and the 'chiravanaakku' (the teeth of the coconut scraper) made of toughened steel. The comfort with which one sits on the bar of the scrapper with the bent knees and scraps out the 'parippu' (coconut) from the hard shell within a minute is beyond words. Added attraction is that, sitting on the chirava with bent knees provides valuable exercise and keeps the knees flexibe. (It is seems to be a  fashion nowadays to separate exercise and kitchen work which compels one to find time for both).
     As joint families gave way to nuclear families, the chirava also underwent changes in its appearance as well as the manner in which it did the scraping action. Nowadays, the popular version seems to be the one fitted to the granite top of the kitchen platform and scraping operation is carried out using a group of blades provided on the virtual surface of a sphere, the blades act on the parippu when it is pressed towards it and rotated .
                                            This photo is borrowed from  Mahanandi weblog  

Decades ago cars breaking down on the roads were a common sight, and mostly it happened due to the battery powering its self starter not providing enough power. When it happens the driver used to pull out a starting lever from his tool kit and rotated the engine shaft with great effort. Whenever I happened to see the above platform mounted chirava; this memory comes in, since the scraping tool also rotated in the same manner. Platform mounted scraper has gained popularity since  the use of the floor scraper is considered as not in tune with modernity (this is author’s personal view).

      That apart, the reason for writing this chirava puranam (story about the scraper) was the difficulty I faced in the recent past in obtaining  a floor version of the scraper in the Thiruvananthapuram market. About a decade ago, my daughter, then  living in Hyderabad. asked me to buy one for her and I bought one from Thiruvananthapuram without difficulty. Around five years ago, I again bought another one for my younger daughter and to date, she is happy with it.

     I was in Thiruvananthapuram market again to buy one in 2009 for self; the one in use for decades was lost in transit while shifting to our new residence.  However, its inaugural scraping convinced me that I did land into trouble; while scraping the scrapings were flying all around instead of falling on the plated kept below the 'chirava nakku'( scraper teeth) for collection. Then only, it dawned to me that the simple looking chirava is not a simple tool. I went for one more. However, the second one was also  not up to the mark. Months passed by; we managed to do the coconut scraping for our cooking using the chirava of our kind hearted neighbor.

  Then one day, we landed in my FIL’s house in Besant Nagar, Chennai. There is an age old saying; “kurukkante kannu kozhi koottilanu”(A fox's eyes always follows hen's cage). I straight away went into the kitchen and fished out the chirava (scraper) used in that house. To my surprise, I found that it was a well- designed and sleek looking one and my relatives using it were happy with it. This  one was bought from Murugan stores, Adayar, Chennai. On our way back, we also bought one from the same shop and solved our chirava riddle.

 The irony of this incident is that, we not only  lost our position as the prime coconut grower to our neighbouring state of Tamil nadu, but also our expertise in making a good chirava (coconut scraper).  

S Muthukrishna Iyer.

Thanks to my dad, Shri S. Muthukrishna Iyer for contributing this article on the humble coconut scraper.  
Deepa Nagaraj.