Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Hrishidaa is no more....

Anand, Bawarchi, Guddi, Chupke Chupke, Mili, Satyakam, Khoobsurat,Abhimaan, Golmaal, Namak Haram, I have seen all of them and I feelthese movies were in a time where Indian Cinema could have been atits peak of presenting meaningful cinema. All these movies despiteof being from different genres were very much entertaining andmeaningful at the same time, a rare phenomenon these days.Hrishikesh Mukherjee, the creator of such movies passed away just acouple of days back and thus I felt like sparing a few thoughts inthe memory of this great, humane and sensible director. What hasbecome a rarity now was a penchant for this Bengali filmmaker. Iremember the beginning of Anand, one of the movies I would watch anygiven day, not just because it's a very emotional story but if youwatch it from the very beginning you would find how "sociallyrelevant" the film was, may be till date! In the opening scene thecharacter of Dr.Banerjee describes how in an age of soaring pricesand poverty, he would go around and learn how tough life was. Heseemingly was never happy with his profession because of themiseries of people he would observe and how just one man's entryinto his life changes his world entirely. Anand, a patientof "Lymphocercoma of the intestine" becomes the "joie de vivre" inhis life and brings in a reason to survive further more. Some scenesin the film are unforgettable and it was only Hrishidaa'sextraordinary sense of depiction that immortalized those scenes.Scene where Musabhai gets emotional on knowing about his illness,the excellent hindi vocabulary in which Dr.Banerjee is shown writinghis diary, the comic scenes and in fact, the entire movie is just sorealistic, and in the end the "Babu-moshai, ye jeevan ek ….kab kahakisko kaise…." sequence is so effective and well directed that….itwill make everybody ponder over questions of his or her life. Allother movies I mentioned earlier are similarly poignant at times,funny at times, thoughtful movies which will certainly make yourday. Please do watch any of his movies as soon as possible to payrespect to this departed soul, so that his messages may still keepspreading and I am sure you would like them, and please do spread aword about them.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

those 2 minutes

In my earlier life, I never realized “Silence” or “Moun” had such a great power. Rather this very thought took me back in time….

I remember like every ignorant child I would blatantly express my hatred for “Gandhiji”. Blurting those clichés…usne toh Bharat ko barbaad kar diya and all that. But once I realized that being “Gandhi” was no ordinary achievement I have had very high regards for him both as a human being and also as a spiritual guru. Having a dialogue on him is a different issue altogether but this particular essay is all about a sudden surge of thoughts and emotions I went through during those “2 minutes” of silence observed after a week of 7/11. I am amazed by the way this norm of using dates in this particular way has become an order of the day. Possibly it all started with 9/11, then 7/7, 7/26, and 7/11. Obviously all these dates connote disasters, possibly the greatest of all times. I still remember the evening of 9/11. Having just got up after a peaceful siesta, I never knew next couple of hours would shake me up forever. And somehow such disasters have never seemed to cease after 9/11.
President Kalam was at Mahim,a railway station which could easily qualify as the epicenter of 7/11 for a silent prayer meeting. Reports of the vicinity and station premises being cleaned and decorated were coming in from the morning but they scarcely caught my eye. How ironical is it all…? President gets a red carpet treatment for remembering those who have met their fate, in the background garlands of fresh roses dangle and it actually seems like he was there for his wedding reception…? Anyways, I had just returned from my office when this news caught my attention. At exactly 1820 hrs the sirens announced the beginning of those 2 minutes. Anger, guilt, helplessness, a feeling of revenge and such other emotions took over my brain which had almost become numb because of this sudden surge of all kinds of energies. The hatred had somehow made me clench my fists tightly and my brow to take a weird shape. That’s when my mother realized something was wrong and only after she slowly moved her hand on my head, I could come out of that state of mind. But while going through all this, I was still watching the television and could easily make out that “silence” can be such a unifying force. The cowards who did all this should have watched this telecast. Later in the evening I saw a group of young and old people singing some songs which most probably could have been about how we will face these conditions on the lines of “Hum honge kaamyaab ek din….” may be.
There have been times and still I believe that Mumbai is not a city that is actually alive anymore, but today’s experience has changed my perception to a certain extent. My views about Mumbai are again a different topic which I will keep on expressing time and again. But here I feel that whatever I saw today and whatever “Gandhiji” had always tried to teach have got some connection though indirectly. Let’s take it in a very ordinary sense….the silence of 2 minutes was a form of non-violence and in fact all of us, each one of us who observed the silence were together, unified and all of us prayed for nothing of this sort to happen again. The energy that I could sense in this silence was certainly more powerful than the impact the blasts have made. But what happens next?
Somewhere down the line, all Gandhian thoughts lead to changing the self. Once we start changing ourselves for the betterment of other, one fine day the entire world would be peaceful again. But I doubt that in present context and present conditions; though his teachings were very humane and apt, will hardly change this world. And time and again India has been losing precious grounds because of this very policy of tolerance and restraint. I know that these set of thoughts won’t change anything, but still I am yearning for days when innocent lives are not lost. Why don’t the terrorists realize that there are certain emotions, concerns and responsibilities to those who are killed because of their dastardly acts? Again there will be public dharnas, debates and sloganbaaji and all that about how we should tackle all these issues and after couple of days all such concerns will be conveniently forgotten.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

what's happening?

Those days are here again when I am really feeling that “Rationality” is really nearing its end. Time and again we engage ourselves into futile mental exercises and dialogues which yield not a single result. Here the case, of course is the recent inauspicious events that Mumbai found itself in the middle of. I don’t know why this is being done over and over again. Rather than revamping total system from its very root. I know I have been expressing my views after fairly a long time, but to be frank last couple of months have been the most politically unstable circumstances that a common man like me is surviving in. Earlier the reservation protests, Aamir khan controversy, Mini-riots thrown here and there, Shashi Tharoor issue, the rot in the quality of Music, and finally “The Mumbai epic” beginning with defacing the idol of Late smt. Thakare. I know even this essay after meandering through several alleys of strong views and opinions will within a matter of week will be shelved somewhere in vast enormity of the non-existent cyber world. My only wish is let these sentiments grow and become an echo strong enough that the almighty hears them and showers down some sanity, some patience at least. I still wonder what made Zizou commit the blunder of his life……is there any connection, well may be or may be not…!
This time around there are no suggestions from my end because I don’t want to crib over the fact that they fell on deaf ears…after all I am fed up handling so many clichés in life. I just want some chhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnngggggggggggeeeeeeeeeeeeeee……..remember the ad “Mujhe change chahiiiiyyyyyyyyyyyeeeeeee” just like that…..following the Mumbai blast watching tele-vision had become such an ordeal that I almost felt like head-butting the idiot box just like Zizou…but it also informed me of an ex-colleague no more and an acquaintance seriously injured….this relation seems to me like as if I am in an infidel marriage…..! Whatever I felt was very well echoed in the debates on CNN-IBN. I beg to the lord to bring an end to all this nonsense! Pleeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaasssssssseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Protest seems to be the buzzword this year. First the Jessica Lall murder case, Priyadarshini case, then the Narmada Bachao protests, the protests over a demolition of a dargah leading to riots in Baroda, and now, protests of over Quota reservations. Just tonight, I saw a discussion on CNN-IBN on whether the protests in Modern-day India have come of age? It involved some student group representatives, Rony Screwwala and such participants. They discussed several things like The “RDB” effect, middle class angst etc. But after the show ended I felt that half an hour time was not enough, and somehow I was not contended.
For last couple of days the visual media had been agog with the news and visuals of the Mumbai lathi charge on the agitating doctors. I was concerned for the young men and women in whites because they were having a peaceful protest and the way they were beaten up was simply brutal. I mean, is this the way democracy functions, and do we, quintessential modern and educated people do really have a right to have our say. It does not appear so rather. I personally have got serious reservations against this reservation system. We are well into the 21st century and still the government wants the whole nation to adhere to a crappy system of the past that is the caste system. I would not record my personal losses due to this system, but rather would like to think about the deserving students who miss the seats because of this outdated system. Through this entire episode I felt that there should be a system in place where such so-called underprivileged castes, the SC/STs should be brought on par with other castes, and classes by giving them proper training, employment and education so that they can upgrade themselves to a level where the competition is equal. It’s high time that the judiciary curbs the flourishing business of making fake caste certificates. After all, we keep on saying that ours is a booming economy and we are the second largest growing economy in this world, that’s just what we keep on saying. If we really want to become one, we need to throw such issues and controversies to dogs.
I remember one such story from one of Shashi Tharoor’s book, “India-midnight to millennium”. When the author was a child he would often visit his village during the vacations. Being from a big city and from a convent school, he was not aware of the stigma that the caste system was. His relatives would conspicuously avoid a diminutive, dark, lean boy called Charlis. The author was scolded many a times for playing with that boy, but somehow author had developed a liking for this boy. Then years passed, the author grew into a very knowledgeable young man, and around the same time his relatives were in a desperate situation due to some governmental policy. That’s when they go to take the help of their district collector, and this turns out to be that diminutive boy “ Charlis”, and he as expected helps them out. I am sure in this case, this backward caste boy, reached to those heights solely on his merits. But these days, such people get into these positions just to mint money, or rather plunder a nation!

Monday, May 15, 2006

A Few Good Men!

Possibly there could be different interpretations of life for everybody; here are some of my own. As for me I live life in the slow lane. And in this entire journey of experiences and emotions we come across so many different people, different characters as such. Some times you feel completely bowled over by certain person’s spontaneity and sense of humor, while sometimes, you meet some irritatingly made up individuals. You get disgusted at the sight of somebody who is extremely show-offish, while sometimes you enjoy somebody’s company though he or she may not be special in any apparent way. This one account could sum up as my study of few characters, fictional as well as real, until now.

Today I watched “Being Cyrus”, the lead role enacted by none other than “New, Improved” Saif Ali Khan. It is a story about a young man, who has had a traumatic childhood, and after he grows up lands up with a family very much associated with his distant memories. I didn’t entirely understand the story but yes it was a reasonably well told one. May be after watching it a couple of times more, I would be able to elaborate it further well, to myself. Cyrus is the first character that I would like to talk about. At the end of the story, he parts his way from his previous life, I mean, he regrets his mistakes and his associations and starts all over again. That was his positive trait. I know even many of us do this, starting all over again. I have done it, when I would get unnecessarily involved with people, who should just have been people and nothing else. The first and the last scene of the movie is like, he is lying on an edge of a hill, from where he could see a new morning lighting up this rather mediocre world. In between this scene lies his story of growing up in trauma and subsequent his acts of Vendetta. He always knew what he is upto, and still he is happy with what he is doing.

Another fictional character worth a mention is “Meethi”, a schizophrenic girl from the flick, “15 park avenue”. Enacted impeccably by the enormously talented and beautiful, Konkona Sen Sharma. Hers is a similar story and a very enigmatic character. She is presumably schizophrenic since her childhood. She would think of a world to which we all are strangers. She would hallucinate, hear sounds we won’t, and do strange and painful things, which rather we won’t. When she is out of her schizophrenic being, she is a perfectly endearing, good looking, well mannered, soft spoken pretty lady. She has friends and is very much fond of her Jojo, aka Joydeep Sengupta. They were supposed to marry soon; but as it is her delirious world is jolted when she gets raped on one of her visits as a Journalist. This further multiplies her trauma. Jojo abandons her as he knows he is not that strong a person, and accidentally meets her almost 15 years later. Now she is completely lost in her unknown world, and Jojo somehow feels guilty about it. All through the tale Meethi keeps talking about a place called “15 Park Avenue” her home, where she, jojo and her 5 kids actually stay. Jojo decides to take her there and once she finds that place, she disappears, leaving us to think about where she went! Aren’t we a bit like Meethi sometimes, don’t we dream of some utopic world where every thing is hunky dory, where relationships don’t go sour, and everything seems picture perfect. Difficult to accept, but such islands do not exist.

Indu, one of the several co-learners I have had while learning. I used to sit in the first row in the lecture hall in the University, with my group. This thoughtful girl would attract me every time I would see her. For a couple of months, no messages could be transmitted. Then one fine morning I dared to barge-in into her personal territory.
“Indu”- interesting name haa!
Thanks Amit, this is the first time we are talking!
Yes, I know. Hey, but why do you look so lost?
A haa, sweet mysteries of life!
Hey Amit, the other day I heard you sing my favoritest song, you know!
Yaa, which one?
Jab koi baat bighad jaae…….
Hey you do sing pretty well too….

This was the first ever interaction with that enigmatic woman. Then we would mostly travel together on buses and local trains. But slowly as I got to know her, I thought she was being painstakingly expressive and so very girlish! That song was her “favoritest” song because here ex-boyfriend and she had sung it once together when they were all alone. And when she told me to sing it, she visibly shed a tear too. I mean are emotions so easy to come by? She would giggle when there would be no reason at all, and would get serious when the entire bunch was making merry. By the end of the year, I would actually fool her when we were supposed to meet after the lectures. She would always reiterate that she had “suicidal” tendencies in her past, and was seemingly perturbed when we were over with our lecture on “suicides” in behavioral studies. Once I felt the earth move from under my feet, when she declared, “ Amit, you remind me of abhi very much” I was ecstatic at being likened to The most eligible bachelor in the country, but then came the revelation. “ who abhi, Indu?” “My ex-boyfriend, remember jab koi baat bighad jaae…..”

Another such person worth mentioning is my Father. All through these years I have grown up, I could never sum up what was in his heart. He always appeared to us a serious looking man, always thoughtful but never discussing kind. Its only now, that we talk out several issues like finances, relations etc at home. But I admit in past many a times he would instill a certain degree of fear in us. But I also remember he would not mind to break into a jig, every time one of his favourite songs would be playing, the most recent one, ek baar aaja aaja, of course. Now what I make out of his tough exterior is that there lies a very lovable and emotional being inside. Now that I understand what it takes to be a father, he is the most valuable person to me in this world.

Sorry, because this blog has taken such a long time for me to write, I would end it here, because I don’t want to trash it even, and may be continue with a similar one later.

My Enigmatic Cousin

This is a story about my relationship with my cousin. May be it was destiny that though being kids of real sisters, we were not meant to know each other as well as other siblings do know.In the course of couple of drinks, I came to know what gem of a person, he is. Being an elder brother, I tend to think that all these years might have been pretty tough on him and his even younger sister. Their parents separated when they were not even in their teens, and thus they hardly know how relations actually go sour. Last year our grandmother passed away, and that brought us all together, after so many years. Many years ago, when grandma and grandpa would host a Ganpati pooja of one and a half day we would all meet at least once a year, but since they discontinued this practice there was hardly any reason left. These ganesh poojas would become special because of this young kid, who could go on dancing effortlessly literally for hours together. He was so good at it that we were almost certain that he would make it big in dancing, but destiny had some other plans. With the relationship of his parents on the rocks, his study took the onslaught, and he is still trying to make for the loss. Meanwhile I got busy with my studies and could never even think of them, until last year, when I met my grown up “enigmatic” cousin, we would fondly call him “tinku” when he was a kid.

It’s been a year since grandma has passed away; it was her “varsha shraaddha” on 5th may. We ran for helping in whatever ways we could and the day went by. We were all tired by the night. The next day we both decided to go for a trek at Trimbakeshwar, on the steepest route. We started late and reached there when it was already scorching hot. During this trek we talked over many different issues, cricket, girls, movies, music, alcohol, food and what not. I felt he had a lot to talk about, and knew pretty much than I had expected him to know. I found him quite in tune with the songs; I mean he would sing reasonably well, and also he had a good sense of humor. He also talked about the agony of staying with just one parent and other problems. I really felt sorry for him. In the evening, we had a couple of drinks and the next morning we set out on our respective ways. And now I am pondering over this thought, “why do kids have to suffer when actually there parents are not fit enough to survive the relations?”

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Maiden that bowled me over!

Two new, news channels were launched back to back. CNN-IBN and Times Now, though I liked IBN a lot for its sheer simplicity and sensible packaging, I thought I would never see Times now. The main reason being I do not like their newspaper. But this one news anchor, caught my attention, and till this day I am a loyal viewer to the channel, just hoping that I see her again. It was later that I realized that it had some good shows too, like Brand Equity and Foodie with Kunal Vijaykar.
Getting back to the point, I was talking about Ekta Kumar Nagpal, the brainy beauty, who clean bowled me. I am completely smitten by this beautiful petite and presumably intelligent lass. Her small but smiling eyes would speak a thousand other words, other than the news which she would read out. Her curly but elegant tresses would cascade down like an effervescent water fall. In a bid to search her photograph I used google to the optimum level, but alas, God had some other plans. She had this zing and a smile in her voice that very few girls do have, Sonali Kulkarni being one of them. Though she was made to wear that boring pink suit on the channel, I am sure she would look gorgeous in a white chudidaar even!
Please find her for me, at least a photo graph!
Until then let me sulk and pine and……..think about her…
“tu chupi hain kahaan……me tadapta yahaan…..”

Such an Unfair world!

This is about Carol Gracias’ now infamous wardrobe malfunction. As the world already knows about it, all this started in the ongoing Lakme Fashion week in Mumbai. While “Mannequining”(yes that’s what I would call it) for a designer, Bennu Sehgal’s couture accidentally the ensemble that Carol was wearing got detached and she subsequently faced an embarrassing situation. It was Carol’s thorough professionalism that saw her still complete her walk and not run back to the dressing room. It was alright until this point. Even Carol and other female models are justified in expressing their ire over designer’s lack of proper preparation and careless attitude. But today I realized how one person’s agony can be somebody else’s fun. Carol might have been disturbed alright, but she maintained her dignity by not creating hoopla about this incident. But to further stretch this issue, Mumbai police has now initiated an inquiry as to why this happened! Now how do they ascertain that it was actually a deliberate attempt to embarrass poor Carol? In fact as this presenter on CNN-IBN herself pointed out that in fashion shows abroad many such incidents like wardrobe malfunction, or tripping on the runway have actually happened but neither media has intervened nor was it made an issue of policy.

I feel modeling, that too for females is a very tough job, and once a girl decides to model, she is expected to be ready for such hardships. But my question is why don’t we as sensible nation grow up? Take this police inquiry for example, its totally absurd. Take into consideration that this inquiry begins, the questioning starts, naturally Carol will be asked several questions? Won’t it cost her further humiliation? This all may see her eventually quitting this thankless job and disappear into oblivious darkness like several models have earlier done. I would like to sum it all up in one single sentence. I don’t know how these events are organized. But definitely there should have been some guidelines and rules already. Admitting that India is such a force in the fashion circuit, such stringent measures will only see it higher up the podium.
1. The fashion association should have certain quality standards. Only after passing them the designers should be allowed to show their designs.
2. The organizers should allow only fashion aficionados and fashion designers inside the venue. As for the media part they should hire a singular media company and air all the shows after necessary editions, just like so many award shows are broadcasted.
3. No cellphones and handycams should be allowed, apart from the permitted media company’s cameras.

These are just a few guidelines which a layman like me feels should be considered. Its not just because Carol is one of my favorite models, but after all they are also hard working professionals and each one of us wants to go home contended and happy. As for the spirit and professionalism these girls and even fashion designers work with I am sure other countries are taking India seriously.

Here’s a salute to the entire Indian fashion industry.

Thanks Carol for putting up a brave effort. I wish such things never happen again to you or anybody else.

As the time slips away.....

You may call this as my prime weakness, may be everybody has it, making plans, expecting they materialize as soon as possible, and when they don’t keep thinking about what exactly went wrong. As for my long pending plans the planet of Shani is to be blamed (this theory is being sold by my astrologer, and has been conveniently bought by my parents and to some extent, me too). Anyways, this is all about my long awaited transfer to Baroda. Ullas had once said that it was strange the way life was coming a full circle for me, but wait, the course of my life still meanders like Sepang formula 1 circuit.
Within a month of arriving in Navsari I got this offer of mutual transfer and then I was so happy. I had already made big plans of resuming my tennis and cricket practice, joining the new “Gold” gym which has opened close by, and doing so many things altogether. But it has been more than 6 months since the agreement was signed, and still no signs of progress appear. All my plans have died down, and now I am just praying to all the Gods in this world, to let me be home, before this academic year begins. It has all been dramatic and so very expected of the bureaucratic machinery that I am a part of, we all call it Railways.
First on, the application is not accepted because it is not in the desirable format, then once I put up the file, it takes three months for an officer to sign it, and then when all the things are ready for the actual order to be released the entire bunch of my files goes missing. Ridiculous! The concerned Babu, tells me to present few papers again. I rush to Mumbai and get them to him as early as possible, only to learn from him only that some Godly “third party” has already given him all the papers and now I need not worry, the orders will be out soon. It has been fifteen days since then, enough for me to decide that I will screw that babu’s life once the orders are in my hand, but no, I will not do anything about him, because I will always need him, even to get my one day leave sanctioned. Why the hell is life so confusing? Bhagwaan ke office me bhi apni file itni thokare khaakar baahar nikli hogi?

Funny, but slowly I have learnt to deal with such delays, after all nothing is in our hands. And as my dad says, this is just the beginning!

I am not a Fidayeen!????

The courtyard of my home is oft trodden by gunmen,
With fingers on the triggers and blood oozing through their eyes like rock,
The thud of homely willow bat has given way to rattle of the heavy rifles as of now.
The barbed wire fence and the rusted Iron Gate are as unfriendly as winter’s spine chilling winds, which dry out all our hopes.

The fear of death still lurks as The Sun relinquishes for another ordeal called “night”.
Slumber is orphaned only to walk barefoot, with weeping restless eyes, through the night of agony and turmoil. Ours are not ours and hopes are not often bestowed.
Faces marred with lines of anguish,
And Lotuses in the Dal are sad, for no one admires them.
No more could they be, for love of life, no more exists.

My home is not mine, like Gul Mohamed’s shikara was never his own.
I am not a fidayeen as I only know music.
I have a bleeding heart for fourteen years, so long.
All friends lost, just the paths acknowledge.
The childhood cheers and hurrahs echo in the near by deodar woods, to take me back in time.
For all those who are happy popping those grenades, I can sigh and appeal, let me in, it’s my home, my Kashmir!
I am not a fidayeen, I only know music,
And I am scared to say, I am a Kashmiri Pandit!

Best of luck, li’l sis!

It was the greatest feeling of satisfaction and relief, when my sister broke the news about her industrial training being confirmed. There were quite a few tensions over this issue prior to this announcement. She is a hotel management student, and as per hotel industry norms she has to undergo through training at a luxury hotel anywhere in India. There was some tension because of her principal’s whimsical attitude. Apparently he would only help students from influential and affluent families. And it was pretty obvious that she would be placed somewhere in Baroda itself. Now given that Baroda is not such a big hotspot in the hospitality industry scenario, it was more than a concern for us all. If she would train in Baroda, she would get the future jobs keeping that in mind. And actually, Baroda has got hotels you can count on your fingers. Thought my parents were reluctant to send her away, I had briefed them up, about the pros and cons, keeping her bright future in mind. Hotel industry is witnessing a boom, off late. And this training seemed like a good stepping stone for her. After a fortnight of restlessness, she let us all know that, she has been recommended to one of Taj’s oldest heritage properties, Taj Rambagh Palace hotel at Jaipur. It has 90 luxurious suite rooms with one night rent beginning in excess of Rs. 50000, going upto Rs. One lac plus for the best suite. It was an erstwhile maharaja’s palace, and was taken over by The Taj group in 1925. On 29th april, coincidentally, its her birthday also she will take her baby steps in this industry of immense hard work. I am also going to Jaipur to relieve her.

She has a dream of setting up an eatery where every man could dine and go home satisfied; I am her joint partner in this dream!
May my Baby sister’s wishes and dreams all come true, and every footstep of hers bring her great fortune and luck!

The Stranger on the Pavement......

I was walking on a bustling street in Jalalpore,
One of the endless evening walks had just begun,
My broken chappal was giving me few concerns
and it felt that she would occupy all my time this evening.
Like a miser I bargained with the cobbler and got it mended for
Two rupees. Two chilled glasses of tangy butter milk were enough to keep me going on the deserted road beyond Jalalpore.
As I passed the railway chawl, a lost looking gentleman called me, to talk to him. I was a stranger myself here, and then why would anybody call me. I avoided him, I knew, what he wanted from me.

He sat on a rather filthy pavement, colored with oblong guthka stains. “bhaaisaahab, oh bhaaisaahab”, and I was out of his firing range. But then my walk had just begun.
This man kept talking to me throughout that evening.
And why is that, I didn’t wait to listen what he had to say.
Money was all he wanted, from me, and had I talked to him, I may have given him, something nevertheless, but I knew, as I have been through this earlier as well.

What brings this well dressed, educated looking, well mannered man down to beg for alms from strangers passing by? It could be his father’s closed textile mill, or his mother’s impending dialysis, and may be even his sister long awaited marriage. What makes him lose his dignity, and sit down on a pavement like a lost soldier? Does he see a God in every approaching man and woman, and a demon once they are past him?

Or should I have seen myself, crouching besides him and listening to his worldly sorrows, and get up offering nothing. I would still have been an indifferent passer by to him. And then how do I know, what he really had wanted of me. Every evening walk of mine has such snippets of thoughts lying obscurely in my way.

After a very long time....!

Due apologies to my non-existent readers, or if at all there are any, for not having posted anything for so long. But this craving to speak out about few things about myself shows up its head every few days. This time may be a large number of blogs will be posted at once because I have been thinking on so many things at a time, and now I have decided to spew out everything. This blog is about one ordinary situation that I faced and given that I am such a difficult individual to deal with, this was bound to happen. But sanity always overtakes silly, mad and disturbing thoughts.

To begin with, I remember I always used to score good marks in essays, in all the three languages I studied in school. That was may be because I would write everything that I felt about the concerned issue. My essays would be regularly published in the school magazine and even couple of my poems (that’s what we used to call those few words, then) were published in a express publication called “wee wonder”. The junior college days were quite memorable, as I wrote about many different things, and actually discovered how effective and enjoyable writing could be, thanks to my English professor, Mr. Tushar Anande. After a very long time, I discovered this practice of writing accounts on the net that is Blog. In between I would purchase costly diaries, and pen down few things, and then they were left to bite dust. I would show them to my poor friends, who would out of no way, appreciate those silly works.
Recently during a casual phone call, I asked my friend Ullas, who I look upto for his sheer élan at writing, about my writing skills, the flaws, the goods, in fact I allowed him to comment, about what he felt. Being a frank and intelligent person, that he is, he pointed out few things. He felt that may be I was forcing myself into writing and it was not coming naturally, it appeared as if I was trying to make an impression through my written words.
The after thoughts disturbed me. But eventually, I came down to few conclusions. I discovered that writing does not come as naturally to me as it comes to him, being in the industry that he is; he constantly comes across, many scenarios, many issues, and even so many ideas on the whole. Given the scenario and conditions I am in, I would confess, that the flow of my thoughts is bound to be haltered. And just not to lose whatever control I have over them I tend to write about things, and would continue. I wonder whether I had any flamboyance or anything good about my writing at all. Anyways, this was just an incident I felt writing about, and because I know no one apart from ullas reads it, thanks buddy, you have always been a great guide to me.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Breathing in the changing airs.
I have always been fond of noticing the changes in the weather patterns, onset of the new seasons, the temperatures, the air flow etc. No, this is not a periodical report of some Met guy, but an account of just how much I favor changes, positive of course. Like seasons follow a set pattern, sociological changes also do follow a predictable, yet not definite pattern. Not falling into the depths of historical evidences, I would prefer to come immediately to the point.
Being a movie buff, that I am, I tend to think a little seriously about movies! Swades, was a movie that has left an indelible mark on my psyche. It truly was a large hearted effort and possibly Ashutosh Gowariker’s aim was to reignite that quite fire within all of us, Indians. As the movie is a history, and most of us, thinking individuals would have seen it, at least once, there’s no point peeping into its storyline, cast and credits and all that stuff. The main agenda here is to reconsider the subtle references in the magnificent oeuvre. Swades, took most of us, on a journey within ourselves, as it was what the director actually wanted. It gave us a sight of ourselves, and thus the journey towards our better selves began. Within a year of its release this journey has transformed into a very simple, practical and realistic effort called, “teamswades.in”, an interactive forum, where young individuals have come together to make a change for the coming generations. It’s a forum wherein such issues will be handled, which have till date undermined the growth of our vast nation, in terms of population, land mass as well as natural resources. Swades, gave us a glimpse into the practical approach of “participatory development” in the sequence where a small tank is built in order to operate a power generator. Similarly, if we educated people, get along, think over the shortcomings which we don’t want our kids to face, that in itself will usher a change. Teamswades is just a year old forum, and it is still taking its baby steps into this world of extravagant wastages. Their first effort is known as “Project Grassroots”. The core of this project lies in the dismal educational scenario in our country.
Rang De Basanti released some 6 weeks back, and given that it has been so popular with the audiences, I hope the message has gone down well. It’s truly a depiction of how effective this youth power of our country could be. Basanti, is an entertainer, and there’s no question of setting a wrong precedent, if someone would debate. The step the protagonists in the movie took was a radical one, but not sticking to the violence, we should accept the truthful message gracefully. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, the director of the movie has been living out of his suitcases, ever since the movie released, moving from metros to cities, and then towns, and then smaller areas just to gauge the responses of the audiences. In one of his articles, in Loksatta(Marathi) he said, “though I have been answering to lacs and lacs of people about the concept, nobody has ever mentioned anything about the violence in the movie”. That’s why I said, I hope the message has gone down well, and it was very simple, “Agar Kuch badalna hain, to Khudko Pehle Badlo”. Start participating; speak up for causes, yours or somebody else’s, talk it out with like minded people, get engaged in arts, music, and everything that gives you pleasure and at the same time keep intact the legacy of our culture and traditions. Never underestimate them over even tend to decimate them by sheer indifference. And start hating being a mute spectator.
Mr. M K Gandhi, my idol for a great life, always propagated non-violence but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a radical force. Just watch Richard Attenborough’s “Gandhi”, in that a scene wherein he sets off for Dandi, just count his followers, and also the zeal with which they stride together. The clouds of dust those arose then, themselves seemed to announce the arrival of freedom and an amiable co-existence. I mentioned Attenborough’s movie, because apart from being an extraordinary film maker, he was an outsider to this Indian system, still he got the matter of the fact so well. Every time, I watch or read “Gandhi” I realize I am a changed individual altogether. And see how we curse him, “Us Takle ne to Desh ko barbaad Kar diya”, “uski vajah se aaj itne muslim he desh me” and such crap. I feel ashamed when I hear somebody blurt such malicious utterances for a man, who single handedly shook the tyrannical foundations of an alien empire. He was a true saint, and a knowledgeable diplomat, who knew a lot of other things as well. For his concepts of alternative development and self sustenance, read “ Hind Swaraj” or a very moving book called “Bapu-kuti” written by Rajni Bakshi. This book is the one, where Ashutosh Gowariker took some lessons from while preparing for “Swades”. Let’s get real guys! “ Ek din sabhiko, isi mitti me mil jaana he” let’s not shame this beautiful world, our mother Earth any more by our indifferences.
Another welcome change, I witnessed was subtle movements coming off late. Now it is the widespread unrest over the failed “Jessica Lal’s murder case” where all the convicts were acquitted for lack of evidences, Manjunath Shanmugham’s Murder where youngsters and Bloggers created such an uproar that the Ministry of Petroleum as well as The PM had to take notice and promise real justice. I am happy for at least youngsters have found a voice of themselves, through blogs, over even silent protests, or any other medium. One such instance of a creative effort to bring about a change is “Blank Noise Project”. This project is actually based on a blogathon which will take place on the 7th of this month. As the name suggests, it’s a noise being made but still it is blank. The meaning lies in the issue it grapples with. “Street Harassment” or loosely speaking “eve teasing”! This issue is so widely prevalent, but there’s so much less done about it. There’s no law against habitual eve-teasers, perverts, or for that matter against individuals who don’t allow women, a chance and right of peaceful co-existence. This effort is all about that only. In this blogathon, we can write about any instance, story, or even about what we feel about this project in our blog and try to gather as many like minded individuals, who want to stand up and act against this malice. We as Indians are presumed by the world to be a progressive lot, and if such evils exist in our society that will only affect our status as a nation. When we sit down to talk about “issues of women in India” it is not just about street harassment, eve-teasing, sexual attacks, molestations, rapes and all that alone. It encompasses larger issues like skewed sex ratio in our country, the education among women, their health concerns, deaths during pregnancies, domestic violence, subjugated social status and many such things. Even today I know people who believe, “Aurat ko to mard ke pairon ki Jooti ki tarah hi rakhna chahiye” I work with people who refer to them as “machine”. “ aurat ki laaj aur sundarta, ghoonghat se aur badhti he”. “ aurat ghar ke andar rahe tabhi use gruha laxmi kehte hain” Anyways, I know such people will never have a say in making the new society, of which we all are laying the foundations, and they will eventually end up being losers. For contributing to this project log on to “blanknoiseproject.blogspot.com” I would like to pen off with a very simple but effective Sanskrit verse, I read during my school days….

“ Yatra Naaryastu Poojayante, Ramante tatra Devataaha”
(Where women are prayed and paid respect, Gods do have their abode there, and they remain engrossed there only)

Just a Random thought towards the end, while you return back home from your office or whatever, get fresh, take a wash and then tell your mother to sit down on a chair. Then just rest your head slowly on her lap. You will notice an “Urmi”(a peaceful warmth) enveloping you very soon. That’s what mothers are here in this mean and cruel world, to make it a better “home” with this warmth.
A "Burkhaa" clad "Truth".
It was a very cheerful evening in a long time for me. Being stationed in a town which does not allow me the company I have in my home town or even Mumbai, I was longing for this one. It was a long time since I had been among young people; otherwise most of my days are spent among foul mouthed colleagues (those BC MC types) who are close to the respectable 50 years mark. Only god knows how much respect they do deserve! Anyways, this fine evening, my sister Ash, who is a hotel management student, had called some of her classmates and good friends for a dinner. Chole Bhature and pulao was on the menu, and as they arrived one by one, some arrived later and some kept coming and going, I could sense that they were a happy bunch of kids, and I was happy to be a part of such an evening. One of them was a pretty, medium heighted girl, called Avni. She was quieter than all of them, but whenever she talked, she gathered all the attention. She kept strutting in and out of the guest room, thanks to her constantly beeping cell phone. Between pranks and jokes, one of them asked Avni to recite an Urdu verse, possibly the one which is chanted in the mosque during an “Azaan”. She recited it so well that I liked it, just because it was fairly a long and tongue twisting one. On my asking her that how she managed it, she just smiled, the smile had nothing joyful about it. As all of them left, I just kept visualizing her pretty eyebrows!

This evening I casually discussed about this “blank noise project” with my mom and sis. And somewhere in between Avni found a mention. My sis just asked me how do you think she knows that “ azaan” so well. I guessed as far as my silly mind could reach. I told because she stays in Panigate(an area mainly inhabited by muslims, which was often razed during the post-godhra riots) she should be hearing it daily and that’s how she memorized it. My sis, too threw a similar smile, which had nothing joyful about it. And thus the story began.
Avni was an engineering student before she joined hotel management. She was forcefully married off by her parents without even checking the background of her “sasuraal”. Within 4 months of the marriage, she decided to part ways with her husband. The reason- after marriage she was sexually harassed several times by her father-in-law, not just her husband. Dowry was not the reason here. Just because she was pretty, she paid the price.

Baroda, my home town is a hot place, and dusty too. Girls while biking here normally do wrap their entire face with a cotton “chunni”, leaving eyes open, to protect them from heat and dust. Avni while driving to college does this so that her husband or any of her relatives do not recognize her. For them she is in Poona, studying. While coming to college she is in the usual uniform, but suppose you want to meet her outside college hours, she will turn up fully clad in a “ burkha”. I was shocked to know this. I feel this may look too simple to read, but imagine the daily trauma she has to go through. I asked my sister, then how did she memorize this verse? Because she wears a “burkha” she is apprehended many a times in the area she stays, and by chanting these verses, she can prove that she is a Muslim. She is just 23, a broken marriage, a society driven by lecherous passions, ever watchful relatives, and thousand such things!

I only pray to the almighty, please accept her every chant of the “azaan”, and let her get some real justice (she has filed for a divorce, but her sick husband is not allowing her that Right even!)

“Why is this world driven by so many extremes? Most of the Women in this country ask for whatever little they could have for themselves, but they are denied even that.”