Jan 21, 2007

Cartoon Camp

Jimmy was wondering why the Manager selected this of all the places for the office get-together. It was pretty far form the city where they worked. Tucked in the deep south of the subcontinent all the employees had to be flown in by a charted flight. Some had already made other plans for the weekend and he had to use all his persuasive power to get them in. Nobody wanted it to miss it really though. They had worked like crazy for last 6 months. But the announcement was so sudden. Anyways except for a few almost everybody made it to the party.

As he tucked into the third glass of champagne he was swept by a sense of loss. The park they were having the getto was opposite to the college that he so loved. It’s imposing medieval structure had corners that would open at every turn with their own little secrets. of love lost and love made, of silly fights for the great ideology, of half done busts that looked full. Jimmy had just spend 2 years in that institution. But this was the place where he belonged. On evenings they would walk to the park and sit by the backwaters. Sun setting in the background with a poet breaking into Neruda.

Meanwhile the group was drinking into the beauty around. Everybody moved towards a corner and were getting boisterous. They had become a little unruly and were close to the ridge . He couldn’t help shouting aloud about a friend who fell into those waters and never returned. A pack of friends were so precariously poised against the stone walls by the backwater and he was jammed inside . A mortal fear gripped Jim as he saw Rekha coming near. She just touched and they fell like a pack of cards into the murky waters below. thud... thud ... thud they splashed rapidly into the sludge below. Plunging deep into the water body below all he could see around was cocktail of crude, hay and water. It was like an endless tunnel to eternity. He flapped like crazy ... he had to. Cannot surrender so fast. Finally a hand came in from nowhere as he broke into air. It was an arduous climb up the slippery moss filed walls back into the park. There were a couple of hands clamoring be rescued from below. He wanted to help them. But someone told they were all taken care of. Rekha was looking back as she walked out of the main gate. Of all the people why she ??

He rushed to the shower nearby and washed all the dirt. Didn’t really care whether somebody was looking. Felt like there was accumulated dirt of centuries. Coming out of the shower the park had transformed. Beastly carton characters with large heads had taken control. They romped freely on the pavements whipping everybody who came near. The park had turned into a cartoon farm while he was reborn. Don’t know how they had taken over. But they were absolutely in command trampling anything that came on their way. They showed no mercy to women or kids. Everybody was bought into meek submission in the labor camp and was never let out. The beastly toons walked, metals whips in their hand swirling it on any being that they took a fancy.

Years passed…. everybody had settled to their fate. The winds of change were blowing slowly. Over the years the cartoon masters were growing week and old. Or probably it was futile for them to keep a talented populace under submission. They allowed small concessions. The new generation were allowed out of the camp. But they there was tough exam to clear. Jimmy sat by the steps of his modest dwelling as he trained his beautiful grand daughter for the exam.

Jan 4, 2007

Collective Chaos - Provisional Obituary

First day of January 2007 came with an email announcing surprise from Collective Chaos*. As I clicked the hyperlink the only thing that wouldn't amaze me was the end. Somehow there was a premonition that CC was nearing it end. There was too much chaos on ethereal that it would have burst if it had not been put to death. So the surprise wasn't a surprise after all. As I sit down to write the obituary, Saddam Hussein hanged the day before was on the airwaves

Collective Chaos was my first foray into a different kind of cinema. Coming from a place with an active film culture, some how I missed the boat during college. Adoor or T.V. Chandran movies that came and went like a whirlwind on the screens, were my only exposure at that time. Maybe the film society movement that was very active in the 70's and 80's went dormant during the early 90's. Maybe I didn't actively seek. From my first Yesterday festival to the last Luis Bunuel movie, the screening were an enriching experience. Dogvillie through Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring, the range of emotion was varied and spiritual in its impact and convinced me why Cinema is the most predominant art form of our times.

The well designed mails announcing the screenings would arrive in advance with reminders as they get close. That helped to plan my travel in advance so that I don't miss the movies I wanted to watch. The website always had a synopsis with details about the director. Screenings were orderly and always started in time. Organizers always remained discreet. There were no animated introductions or analysis in the end. It was just cinema in it elements. The chaos was all inside. The format worked like wine that swirled in your head till it hit you. Like how Saddam of Baathist days created a sense of pride among the Arabs, CC made me gratified of being in Blore

But on the other side the collective was getting into a police state. I used to like the posters they put up snubbing mobile usage during screening, But when it came to actually shoving people of the hall I started to detest. It did irritate terribly when a mobile beeped, but there is always a dignified way of making people understand how obstructive and idiotic they are. And the purveyors always had a sadistic streak in sending them out. In most cases the culprits would have been a new member.

And the tone and tenor of some the emails. Instead of serious debate it became into a mud-slinging session. Some emails looked like they were written to provoke and would pass the moderator. The whole idea of monitoring the emails seems irrelevant. We live a world were we have fast growing encyclopedia maintained by a self-moderated community. Was it a Goebbels watching over our shoulders. Like Saddam the tyrant, CC started to take itself too seriously.

Saddam had to die but Dubaya made him a martyr. Collective Chaos has to be around but the contradictions let it end.

* A Film Society in Blore