Namaste’. My friends who have visited this site insist that I should tell a little more about myself. There is nothing impressive to say. These many friends of mine call me Prithvi and I have known most of them from childhood and teens. More formally, I am Prithviraj Bhaskar Shankar. It is a very impressive name with historical and mythological references. It also has some very hard consonants ambiguous vowels. I have given up trying to live up to it long ago. Most of it is inherited from ancestors long dead, burnt to ashes and all final traces washed away by many Indian rivers. So thankfully, I have been cut down to size by my many friends for whom I am plain Prithvi. Prithvi means Mother Earth. But my physically stronger friends insist that it stands for Plain Dirt, which is a fair equivalent. I have many friends who are physically stronger.
I was born in the then sleepy town of Trivandrum, capital to the beautiful south Indian state of Kerala, in 1956. I remember my mother telling me that one could buy three dozen honey sweet mangoes for the fancy price of one rupee during those times. For about Rs 8000, you could drive away a shining 8HP Morris Minor car from the showroom in Kochi. Today, one Sterling Pound will fetch you eighty rupees and a US Dollar, half as much. The last time I was in my hometown, a good meal and a two shots of rum cost me 15,000 mangoes, going by an old yardstick. That is a full truck load, believe me.
I was sent to local government run schools and colleges, all of which gave me an education in every sense of the word. These institutions, in those times, took in the sons of both rich and poor and we never asked what your classmate’s dad did for a living. As far as I know, the policies of these alma maters are still the same, but the rich are sending their kids elsewhere, where they rub shoulders with ‘equals’, creating a class consciousness in young minds. It is indeed a shame.
If anyone asks me where I belong, I will say that first of all, I belong to an area of Trivandrum called Thycaud. I belong to Model High School and Intermediate College, both located in Thycaud, where I did my school and two years of pre-degree. I belong to the Thycaud Police Ground where I learnt my hockey. I belong to a hundred lanes, corridors, tree shades, verandas, scents and colours in the locality. I belong to its temples, tea shacks and secret dens. I also belong to the University College, where I barely managed a degree, in Geology, and the Indian Coffee House near it. I belong to every cricket pitch laid in Trivandrum in those times and every drinking hole that ever popped a cork. Cheers.
Other less important things include employment with a bank, running an advertising consultancy, a long stint as a print production man, freelance copy / content writer and other assorted errands. There were also much regretted involvements with trade unions and communism. The present finds me in the ridiculously expensive city of London, with a collar half blue, half white.
Known to some and unknown to many, I have been indulging in the vaguely defined realms of modern poetry for many years. The reader is warned that some of the surviving pieces may appear on these pages at a later date. A major chunk of my poetry is with my many friends, scribbled on the jotter friendly insides of cigarette packs and other available stationery. If they still have them, please send me a photocopy. I could never remember a line I wrote, but will recognise anything if it is indeed my own. That describes me, more or less. Period. Thanks.