Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Retrospection...

It is a question I ask myself :

Can I look back at 2008 fondly?

For very good reasons, I will.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A must watch for everyone!!!

              I spent the entire Sunday afternoon lazily watching re-runs.I managed to squeeze in Memento as well. You can call it the Ghajini effect. The English version was a million times better. Somehow, we lack the subtlety to make/ re-make a movie like Memento.I saw Mumbai Meri Jaan for the fifth time that day. This movie is a very intelligent take on the 2006 Mumbai train blasts. The movie is based on the aftermath of the ghastly attacks. It traces it’s path through five common men.

I loved the characters in the movie. Tukaram Patil (Paresh Rawal) is a policeman who is due for retirement in a week and has done little in the 35 years of his career. He colleague, Sunil Kadam (Vijay Maurya), is disgruntled with the system and is frustrated at his helplessness and ineffectiveness in bringing about a change.

Kadam’s leave is cancelled because of the blasts. Maurya is paired with Tukaram Patil for the routine patrol following the blasts. They come across a bar that is operating beyond the scheduled time. Kadam marches into the bar and orders the patrons to leave.

“Aaj Shehar main bomb phootey hain aur tumlog ko beer peeneka hain? Chal nikal!” Bombs have exploded throughout the city and you guys want to drink beer?

Tukaram Patil calmly walks into the bar and demands a  bribe from the bar owner. He asks the owner to give the money to Kadam. Kadam storms out of the bar.

“Patil Saheb mujhe ek baat batao, yeh shehar main Bomb blast hota hai..mera chutti cancel hota hai.. lekin sahab ko raatko beer bar chalu rehta hai, voh chalta hai?”  Sir, they (his superiors) cancelled my honeymoon plans because of the bomb blasts yet allow the beer bars to operate beyond the time limit, is this fair?

Paresh Rawal answers, “Abhi Bomb Blasts ke baad tum yeh beer bar bhi band karega, toh Mumbai main ‘Spirit’ kidhar se aayega?” After the bomb blasts,if you close down the bars as well, where will Mumbai get it’s ‘Spirit’ from? (Pun intended)

                 It was one of the most memorable scenes in the movie. Apart from Soha Ali Khan, the movie has some really terrific performances by Kay Kay Menon, R. Madhavan , Paresh Rawal and the best perhaps, Irfan Khan.

Irfan Khan plays a tea vendor in the movie. Personally, he is unaffected by the blasts but the feeling of being left out by the city’s elite, he find a way of retribution by making hoax calls to the Police. His Tamil-accented Hindi is a revelation and though he does not have many dialogues, he is the most expressive in the movie.

                 I frequent malls a lot. We shop, dine at malls. Until this movie, I never gave thought to how left out an ill-educated, tea vendor would feel in a mall. Irfan Khan did that with a few incoherent mumbles.

In the end, Paresh Rawal says, “Mumbai ke mills gaye, hartal bhi khatam ho gaye. Aur ab toh, Mill ki zameen par ek bahut badha, alishaan mall khada hai. Par kabhi kisi garib, bechare aadmi ko uss mall main dekhta hoon na, toh lagta hai ki uske mann main toh yeh hartal abhi tak chaalu hai.” With the mills, the workers’ agitation also died. And today, there is a luxurious mall in it’s place. But whenever I see a poor man in a mall, I realise that he still agitates, silently.

 The movie depicts the human side of the cops and it ends up endearing a much maligned lot. As the proverbial stone thrown upon an anthill, the film depicts the aftermath of the incident, traversing individual journeys of five worker ants, amongst the millions that belong to the colony, towards normalcy.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

In Pursuit of Ghajini...

    My cell phone was rang and I finally woke up. My friend wanted to watch Ghajini. He said that we’d go to the local theatre and see the first show. It was a rare day-off that I got from office. Which meant I was free for 4 consecutive days including Christmas and the weekend! It was rare indeed! 

My head was throbbing. I was reading Papillon till early morning. It is a gripping book and I was up till 4.00 AM. Well, so I was the rudely woken up by my friend for Ghajini and I agreed for the movie. Part of my morning routine include signing in on MSN, G-talk, checking my mail , Facebook and Orkut scraps. In 20 minutes, I managed to hurt a very loved one through some routinely insensitive stuff.

“What a way to begin the day!” I thought. My phone was ringing. My friends were ready and waiting for me. But my mind was occupied elsewhere.

I came down and met Rohan. He said that we weren’t going to the local theatre but to a Mulund. The theatre was not exactly the plush malls that one generally goes to but it was a tad better than a grindhouse. These were the movie theatres that were killed by the multiplexes. It is a welcome change sometimes. Not having to pay ridiculous prices for popcorn enticed me more. I mounted the bike and we sped towards Mulund.

We reached the movie hall. Akshay was just back from the ticket counter. He bought two tickets for him and his friend. When it was our turn to buy the tickets, I realised that we were penniless. I have this crazy habit of not carrying cash with me and the grindhouse didn’t accept cards. I asked Akshay to go into the movie hall and said that I’ll join them in about 10 minutes.

I was in the ATM when I got Akshay’s message. It said, “Hey, it’s Rab Ne... and not Ghajini. I’m sorry please go to some other theatre.” I was surprised. He did not even see the hoardings and neither did I. My sister had gone to see Rab Ne bana di jodi and she fled before the interval. So, I and Rohan..oh sorry! Rohan and I (I’m trying to be a nice person.) went to a nearby mall to watch Ghajini. I was wearing slippers and was dressed like an urchin.  I had by now realised that my morning was exceedingly brilliant. I called another friend to join us.

The movie, was brilliant in patches. I was disappointed with Aamir Khan. It had a gripping story but the sloppy camerawork and the jarring music made the experience almost unbearable sometimes. Some sequences were good enough to draw a collective gasp from the audience but the real opinion of the 3.5hr marathon was when people hurriedly left the movie hall when it seemed like the epic was about to end. But to be fair to the movie, it was unfairly panned by the Mumbai Mirror. Maybe we expect too much out of Aamir Khan or I watch too much of Rajeev Masand. But the fact is, though I did not entirely love Ghajini, I would not dissuade others from watching this movie. Asin was a revelation and her character was wonderfully etched. Jiah Khan, thankfully had a miniscule role.

                  My morning wasn’t entirely wasted but it was not ideal either.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Enter Desi Racial Profiling..!

     My entire Sunday evening was spent scouting for a flat in Airoli for my friend and colleague, Amol. He stays in Ghatkopar and wanted to move to New Bombay for the tranquil it offered. I am not too knowledgeable when it comes to real estate, but we were scouting for the flats nonetheless.

  We were at an agent’s office to get some more details about one particular flat that sounded promising. The agent started with his customary talk about how it had almost all the features that a buyer would want and how it offered an amazing peace and tranquil despite being very well connected to the town.

  Suddenly, he asked “Can I know your name, Sir?”

   “Amol.”

   “Amol what?”

  “Amol Ghanwat.” Amol replied.

  “Ok. Are you Marathi?” He asked.

  Amol nodded.

  The agent looked at me.

“Ayyappan Pillai” I replied. I need not explain my origin. My name says it all.

Visibly relieved, he said “Well, the reason I have asked your names was to know if you were Muslims.

I had guessed it beforehand.

“We don’t sell flats to Muslims anymore. He continued. “Upar se instructions hain” I am acting upon instructions.

“Earlier we were free to sell flats to anybody. But aajkal yeh sab bahut strict ho gaya hai.” Nowadays, it has become very strict.

I don't know from whom he received these instructions from. Was it from the Police, the Builder or from some Real Estate Agent’s association, but it was for the second time in the day that I came across racial discrimination. Now, let me tell you about the first event as well.

          This guy is my close friend. He is a Muslim. We live in the same housing colony and have practically grown up together. That morning, he went to buy a new SIM card for his mobile phone. We knew the local BPL dealer very well.

“Devji, by what time will the SIM card be activated?” He asked.

Devji replied, “Around 9.00 PM”

“9.00 PM is too late, can’t it be done sooner?” My friend said.

“No.It is very difficult”

“What yaar, I know you can do it in an hour. You have done it so many times!” My friend persisted.

“I still do it in an hour. But for you, I can’t. See the name on the application.” He said. “But aajkal yeh sab bahut strict ho gaya hai.” Nowadays, it has become very strict.

 

                  My friend stiffened. He was rudely reminded of his identity. That of belonging to a beleaguered community. Little did I know then that I’d listen to the same words later in the day again.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Before Sunrise...

I missed a rare family outing this week thanks to a screwed up schedule that I have been following for quite some time. I saw the movie ‘Before Sunrise’ recommended by a friend long back.

         The movie reminded me of some really cherished moments that took place earlier this year. I would like to take this opportunity to tell my friend that those moments are ever so precious and are relived almost everyday, in bliss. :)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

An evening...for Mumbai...

“This isn’t a crowd that has been paid to attend. They all have come on their own. I love them, yaar!” I heard someone say.

I turned around. It was a young man’s observation. He was on his toes, looking admiringly at the people ahead. “It’s unreal!” he continued.

My cell phone rang. It was Neha, an office colleague. “I have reached Ghatkopar.. where are you?”

“I am near the Gateway” I replied. I was unsure if she heard that.

“I am near the Gateway. Call me when you reach CST.” I shouted again. She had already hung up.

       I was near Tendulkar’s when the people ahead stopped. I thought someone was about to address the crowd. I soon realised why had we stopped. Everybody was chanting “India.. India.. India!!” It was deafening but better than any music that I’ve heard.  The chants gained momentum and people started clapping in unison. It was slow and rhythmic, the clapping. I could sense the anger of the people in those loud claps. I too, was clapping hard. I looked around, I saw many people crying, clapping and chanting simultaneously.

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                We resumed the walk. People had lined up on both the sides of the road. They were egging us on with loud cries of “Vande Mataram”

“Bharat Maa ki Shaan hai.. Mumbai meri Jaan hai!!!” I looked in the direction of the voice. It was a strikingly beautiful girl who was shouting at the top of her voice. She and a group of collegians were distributing placards and candles to the ‘protestors’

This event was organised through SMS, Orkut, E-mail and Facebook. I got an SMS and I had expected about a few hundred people to be present. It turned out to be the biggest leaderless rally in India. The event was devoid of political presence and organisers. This was clearly the sentiment of the Citizen.

         “Politicians and Dogs not allowed!!” Screamed another banner, reminiscent of the legend that the Taj was built as a result of a similar racial discrimination. I reached the Gateway of India. I looked at the Taj. It was still the same magnificent building, but people were not looking at it admiringly, the expression was of curiosity, horror and anguish. The building now stood as a grim reminder of the worst terror Mumbai has faced. There were some 20 odd lights that were turned on, in stark contrast to the thousands we’ve been used to see.

People were thanking the cops around. The cops too, were emotional and some were shouting slogans with us. Opposite the Gateway of India, a small group was shouting Anti Pakistan slogans. A very old  man asked them to sing the National Anthem. They obliged. Then they did more. They started singing “We shall overcome”. I was immediately reminded of a friend who said that the song, when sung in chorus fills one with energy. And here it was, hundreds of people singing the song in chorus. I was at the front, singing, my voice quavering. It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment, I saw faces, lit by candles,  smiling and singing, some crying and singing, some singing for the first time in their life and some, simply awed by the scene. Behind me was a statue of Shivaji Maharaj, the Warrior, upon his horse, looking at his people proudly, probably for the first time.

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People singing “We shall overcome”

 

                 As if reading my thoughts, I saw another banner “ Thank you Mr. Terrorist for having united us like never before.”

           There was no shoving or pushing, something that is so characteristic when it comes to the crowds of Mumbai. The Police were being polite too. I reached the Regal Cinema. The scene there was no different. No politician was spared. The PM, the CM, the Home Minister everybody was flayed. I was happy for the politicians who chose to stay away from the rally or they might’ve been lynched by the crowd.

“Mr.Cheap Minister, We accept your resignation” I burst out laughing. I felt like hugging that person.

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                      The life behind Taj had already bounced back to normal. Bade Miyan, the Kebab shops, the roadside book vendors were enjoying brisk business. I reached Leopold’s. It was packed with patrons, with people waiting outside the bar to grab a quick drink. For Bombay’s sake.

                             I chose McDonald’s. McDonald’s employees were a harried lot. They were not used to serving tens of thousands of customer’s in a span of two hours.

I tried calling Neha for the umpteenth time and finally got through to her. “Where are you?”

“I am near Regal Cinema. The Phone lines are jammed.” She replied.

“I know. Come to McDonald’s, I’m waiting”

By the time she came to McDonald’s, It was time for us to leave. We took a walk back to the CST station. And I chose not to tell her about the bomb they defused there earlier that evening…

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Maximum City... Maximum Heroes..!

 

I think I am speaking more with pictures. I don't know what else to do. I am pretty disturbed and words seem to elude me.

 

the end 

The Cop signals the end of the Oberoi operation. Maybe I am being too melodramatic, but I like this picture a lot.

 

 

police man

 

kamte1

DIG Ashok Kamte

 

And last though not the least, some not-so-welcome, unwanted Indians who came to Mumbai from the North and the South of India to save our city from terror.

sniper 

 

thackeray

And by the way, I got an Sms from an unidentified Number. I’ll read it verbatim :

“Where is Raj Thackeray and his ‘Sena’? Don’t know where he is when we need him! Please come and save Aamchi Mumbai. The NSG Commandoes and the Army are not the Marathi Manoos. They flew from Delhi to fight the terrorists so that he can sleep peacefully at Shivaji Park. Please forward this so that it finally reaches that coward bully”

 

I forwarded it to some 20-30 people.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mumbai meri jaan…

 

“Aye dil hai mushkil jeena yahaan

Zara hatke , zara bachke

Yeh hai Bombay meri jaan…”

 

                     After seeing my city of dreams burn all through the night, I thought I would write something thoughtful. Something to condemn the horrific killings, the Government apathy and something that would make us stronger. But then, why write about something that has already haunted us for the whole day. I simply went back to my favorite places in Mumbai…

Gateway03.jpg

The Gateway of India at Dusk..

 

 

Taj_Mahal_Palace_Hotel_at_night

The Taj Palace at night

 

 

CST Large

The Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Railway Terminus… formerly Victoria Terminus.

 

 

BMC large

The Bombay Municipal Headquarters.

 

 

Asiatc Library large

The Asiatic Library

 

FloraFountain

The Flora Fountain, Fort.

 

india_mumbai_marine_drive

The Marine Drive.

 

BEST

The Rajabai Clock tower and a BEST Bus.

 

fort

Fort, Mumbai

 

The Mount Mary's Feast by WatchinDworldGoBy.

The Mount Mary’s feast, Bandra.

 

hajiali

Haji Ali – Mumbai’s most revered.

 

haji ali qawwali

A Qawalli session at the Haji Ali.

 

Siddhivinayak_Temple

Siddhivinayak Temple, Mumbai’s Presiding Deity.

 

nariman-night

Nariman Point, Mumbai’s financial hub.

 

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The Bandra – Worli Sea Link.

 

 

 

 

And Finally… two things that’ll make a Mumbaikar Smile…

 

vada pav

Vada Pav

 

trains

The Mumbai Local.. !!!

 

 

 

And One last.. for the Famed  Mumbai Spirit !!

 

Photo 2006-760

This man is braving the deluge to deliver the Bharat gas canisters in a flooded slum area of Mumbai. This alone should sum up what I mean…

 

I can’t go on anymore.. 

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My principles .. and some bottled water!

                          I was on my way to Ghodbunder Road earlier this week. The afternoon sun was merciless and I was riding pillion with my friend. I asked him to stop over for some refreshments. We stopped at a very well known sweet shop. I was sorely tempted and settled down with a couple of samosas and was eyeing the Rasmalai. My throat was feeling parched though I had already drained a bottle of coke. I looked around for some water. I couldn’t find any. I knew that it was a reputed shop and all the people buy bottled water.

“Why don’t you go for bottled water?” My friend suggested.

I don’t know if he knew that I don’t buy bottled water out of principle. Maybe,it’s my misplaced sense of self-righteousness. But the point is, that I don’t buy bottled water.

        Some days back, I saw a presentation on Bisleri by my batch mates. It was a very well researched presentation and they were enthusiastically showing the rise in demand for bottled water in India and the monopoly that Bisleri had in this field. The group’s efforts was very visible and it sounded heartening for a moment that it was not only the Metros that reveled in the luxury of bottled water, but the Sub Metros, Small towns were also catching up.

                     They predicted that, with India ‘Shining’ , the demand for bottled water is sure to increase. The rude fact, however is that a large number of our population find water unsafe to drink. I personally saw it as a failure on our part that we have to resort to drinking bottled water even in restaurants.

“So, shall I ask for a litre of Bisleri then?” My friend asked again.

I shook my head and looked around. It was a sweet shop I was in and hence the only source of water was from a tap outside and it seemed potable. I gestured for the Rasmalai and got up to drink the water.I looked around. Everybody was drinking various brands of water. I was kind of feeling noble for not falling into the trap of bottled water.

          When I reached the tap, I found that the water was refrigerated. Also, I found some dirty kids drinking from the tap. A dirtier man was standing in queue.

I turned around and asked for a litre of Bisleri.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Moments of sadness...

A moment of truth

A life time of tears

Pain

Suffering

And the same mistake again.

Friday, October 24, 2008

In a Quandary...

I do crazy hours at the Office. One of my most regular times to return home would be at 11.30 in the Morning after a night shift. And almost everyday I see an old woman sipping tea at a tea stall near my house.

She seemed to be from a well to do family and who had recently fallen upon hard times. I didn't know much about that old woman. But I did know people who knew her. I asked around. What I learnt was quite depressing.

She is  a Jewish Lady, very educated and is a retired employee of BARC, Mumbai. (Bhabha Atomic research centre). For those who don't know, an employment at BARC is something most Indians would give an arm and a leg for. Her family members abandoned her and moved to Israel some years back. She now survives on a paltry pension and is in a deplorable state, both financially and  physically.

I have been thinking about her for quite some time now. The reason I am talking about her today is because I am very worried about her. She is too old and frail to find work anywhere. Maybe she is losing her mental balance as well or the hardships of the last few years have taken it’s toll upon her. Her dress is so worn out and dirty that you cant help but feel sorry for her. When it rains, she carries an umbrella which is in such a pathetic condition that it makes no difference. Still, she tries to lead life with dignity.

I wish to help her. The problem is that she has never asked for help from anybody and I don’t know if she would accept any help from me or not. I am thinking of providing her with some clothes for the winter. I don’t know how would I approach her. I don’t want to hurt her pride. But I can’t even let her to live this way either. I asked my Mom if she could do something for me. My mother has agreed to approach her, but the problem is that my Mom has never seen her.

And the bigger problem is that I am not sure of what’ll happen after that. The last time I tried tried to do some good was when I donated some money to CRY. It was very upsetting. I was not that happy then and am not too keen to experience the similar emotions again. But then, the lady too, can’t be left alone.

 

So reader, what do I do? I am in a quandary.

                   ***************************************

An Update :-

When I mentioned my upsetting experience with CRY (Child Relief and You) , it had nothing to do with the organisation. CRY is one of those organisations that I would trust with my money. My turmoil was MY turmoil entirely. Many would understand what I mean.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Driver, Me...and Raj

“Faaltu main aaya main!” I said, scanning the roster. I shouldn’t have come.

The three guys who were supposed to be with me in the cab did not come fearing for their safety.I was in the cab alone with the driver. I wished I knew in advance that they weren’t coming. I would’ve stayed back too.

Sighing, I rolled down the window and looked outside. The normally bustling streets were deserted today. The empty streets somehow reminded me of Mani Ratnam’s Bombay. The scene where Tinnu Anand surveys a burning Bombay from inside a white ambassador car flashed before me eyes. Somehow, I felt I was him.

The numbers were ringing in my mind. As many as 202 State Transport Buses, 350 Taxis , 115 BEST buses, 3 trucks and 4 private vehicles were smashed or gutted down across Maharashtra in a frenzied display of hatred.  All for a man spewing hate, mocking the constitution and indulging in regional terrorism. If he had even an iota of concern for the Marathi cause, they would have prospered. I was thinking about that young railways aspirant who lost his life for daring to seek employment by just means. And I knew Raj would get bail tomorrow. For murder. Again.

“Sir, ek baat bolun?” said that driver, breaking my chain of thoughts. Can I say something?

“Aap agar aaj nahin aate toh kuch nahin hota. Nahin toh bhi 60% employees nahin aaye hain.” He said. If you would not have come today, it wouldn’t have created much of a scene, as it is, 60% of the employees haven’t reported to work either.

He then went on to add that he would have left for home too. His parents were very worried.

He continued, “Saala gaadi bhi darke chalana padh raha hai..kahin se aa gaye toh apne toh vaande ho jaayenge.” I can’t even drive without fear lest they pop up from somewhere... we can very well forget about reaching office then.

“Yaar, tumko kyaa tension hai, tum toh Marathi ho..agar pakda, toh bol dena, ‘Mee Pan Marathi Manoos aahe!’, chhod denge turanth!” I said. I think it came out more sarcastically than I intended. Dude, why do you have to fear, you’re a Marathi guy, tell them .. I am Marathi too; they’ll spare you immediately.

“Kyaa sir, aisi baatein karte ho. Abhi gaadi kaa kaanch phodne ke baad mereko sorry bolke kyaa faaida? Voh log toh sabse pehle phatthar phenkte hain..” How can you say that sir? They throw stones at passing cars. And what’s the point in apologising after the windshield is smashed?”

I knew the company wouldn’t pay for that. Nor can they claim insurance in riot like situations. Besides, windshields cost a bomb when smashed.

“Abhi voh Nashik main maara voh Hindustan Lever kaa employee, voh toh Marathi thaa. Kyaa hua? Raj ne maafi maanga. Lekin kya sir, Murder ke liye bhi maafi maangke nikal jaaneka kya? Saala, kuch kimmat hi nahi hai apna?” He asked. Last time, they killed an employee of Hindustan Lever. He turned out to be a Marathi. What did Raj do? He apologised. Well, can you walk away with a murder by just tendering an apology? What’s the value of our lives?

Well, it was an employee of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited who lost his life at Nashik earlier this year. And it was true that Raj’s men literally walked away with murder then.

The driver asked, “Sir, abhi raatko kaise kyaa neend aata rahegaa usko? How does he manage to sleep at night?

There was no way I could reply to this.

I looked outside. I was wondering the same.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

1.35 ki Last Local...

I was at Vashi station this Monday. It was 1.15 in the Morning. I was very late for the Office. I looked around to see that the platform was practically deserted.

“Khaali train milegii.!” I said to myself. I’ll board an empty train.

Out of nowhere, A Kid walked upto me and asked “Bhaiyya, Kurla ko train kahaan aayegi?” Where do I board a train to Kurla?

Atif Aslam was blaring into my ears. The kid spoke the same moment as Atif peaked... “Tum hi ho.. Beshubaa ..tum hi ho..!” He went unheard.

“Kyaa chahiye?” I asked, as I paused Atif Aslam.What do you want?

Maybe I said that too loudly. I don’t know, the song was playing at full volume.

 The kid repeated the question. I merely pointed towards Platform 3.

A little while later, I glanced at the indicator. My train was scheduled to arrive at 1.35 AM. While the kid had missed his last train.

I looked around and I spotted the Kid who was looking suspiciously at a train stalled on Platform # 3 . The train had completed it’s last run of the day. One could say that the kid was surreptitiously contemplating boarding the train, but what was stopping him was the fact that the train was devoid of passengers.

I suddenly felt sorry for him as he would have to wait till 4.00 AM for the first train. I was not sure if he even understood that his train was at 4.00 AM. He was a poor kid, but  not an urchin. A decently dressed poor kid, I would say.

He looked at the indicator, perhaps understood that the train was at 4.00 AM. His face was inscrutable, but I could say that he was scared. He walked across the platform to a bench and sat there. Two men were already seated there.

On the other end of the platform, I saw two policemen patrolling the station. I knew what would happen next. The policemen checked the kid’s tickets and simply asked the kid to leave railway station. The other two were mere spectators.

My heart reached out to the kid, who would have to spend a night on the roads. I was not happy with myself.

My train arrived.

I realized I forgot to turn Atif Aslam back on.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Come Tomorrow…

As I was crossing the road this evening, a local train passed by. Almost all the windows of the train were decorated with garlands including the EMU, the train’s front. Office goers (read passengers) were noisily singing songs praising the Lord. No, the railways doesn't celebrate Dasshera it is an initiative taken by the regular commuters of Mumbai's Local trains.

Come tomorrow, scores of colourful, gigantic effigies of Ravana would dot the city. Lakhs of people across the country would gather to watch the effigies of Ravana being burnt. This year’s festive season has been somewhat subdued due to the prelude of terror and death in the country. Many times through the course of the year, terrorism has raised it’s ugly head in different parts of the country.

The Eid celebrations in Malegaon were marred by blasts again. As I write this, some mother, somewhere is still trying to get into terms with life, struggling to accept the fact that her son is no more. A youngster somewhere is yet to accept that a terror attack has crippled him for life. And so on and so forth…

Tomorrow, when millions across India, celebrate Dasshera and burn the effigies of Ravana, let it not remain a Hindu festival. Let’s come together as one nation, rather as Humans, for our neighbours are affected as well, let’s come and celebrate the victory of good over evil.

 

For once..let’s try and heal wounds..

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

It happens only in India….

For once, the newspapers didn’t depress me!

A special Darbhanga bound train heading for Lucknow was in the news when the driver took the wrong route and landed at Allahabad! I couldn’t believe it and re-read the news. A whole train taking the wrong route was simply bizarre. Apparently, the driver took the wrong route and was blissfully unaware of the error. It was supposed to reach Lucknow by 9.00 AM and around 9.15 AM, confused passengers raised an alarm and informed the railway authorities of the gaffe. It must’ve been a really scary experience!

Scores of Lucknow bound passengers were inconvenienced. The train reached Lucknow a good 5-6 hours late.

I was smiling and laughing to myself.

                                          *  *  *

A Ramlila was organised across the road from my house.The only difference was that it was in the traditional South Indian style. It was in Kannada and I barely understood it dialogues. But it had that typical South Indian extravagance. The audience was a curious mix of Kannadigas and Non-Southies. Most were subjected to this fare for the first time, and they were enjoying it, albeit not understanding a word of it. The performers didn’t disappoint either. The stage was too small for them to showcase their talent as they would have liked to, but they didn’t let it show.

The Ravana, was simply magnificent. With no mikes, he had to shout the dialogues, but that only made him look all the more menacing.Yet, again I saw the villain walking away with the honours. His performance was simply awe inspiring and I was already imagining him on the silver screen. The sheer abundance of talent in India never ceases to amaze me. I was enchanted, to say the least.

Do I need to mention that I was also enthralled by our varied culture today?

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For the uninitiated, the guy in black is the Ravana.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Gandhi Jayanti, Ramzaan Eid and … ?

This morning  I was dead tired and was pushing myself to stay awake till 12.00 Noon. They were airing Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi on TV today. I wouldn’t miss it for  anything.

While watching the movie, more than once I had to wipe away tears and more than once I felt that proverbial lump in the throat. Perhaps, I will never understand the enormity of the freedom struggle and some tears were the most I could shed. Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of India’s greatest champion of peace was simply stunning and it is an emotional exercise to watch the movie. And yes, you too, will feel that lump in the throat. Gandhi does that to you.

But the reason I am writing this is not to eulogise Gandhi or the Movie, it’s an event that transpired when watching the movie is what inspired me to write this.

I was watching the movie with my Mom and my Maid arrived (finally!). She went about her with chores brusquely and sat down to drink some tea. She saw that we both were intently watching the movie and she too joined us.

 “Aaj kaa din kuch toh hai naa?” She asked my Mom. Isn’t today some special day?

“Haan, Gandhi Jayanti hai.” Mother replied. Yes, it’s Gandhi Jayanti.

“Nahin Nahin, Gandhi Jayanti nahin kuch aur bhi hai..”  Not, Gandhi Jayanti, something else..

“Ahan! Aaj Ramzaan Eid hai.. Mussalmanon kaa” Mother said helpfully. Oh Yes, it’s Ramzaan Eid for the Muslims today.

Naah! Voh toh maloom hai. Aur bhi kuch hai… She wondered aloud. No, I know that too. It’s something else.

I was seriously interested in the conversation now.

“Aaj phir.., Lal Bahadur Shastri kaa bhi Janamdin hai…voh pooch rahe ho kyaa tum?” Mom asked. Today is Lal Bahadur Shastri’s birthday as well. Is that what you’re asking?

Haan! Shastri…Shastri!! voh ich yaad kar rahi thee main. Maloom hai sab mereko.. bas bolne ko aata nahin hain.”  She replied cheerfully. Oh Yes! Shastri! I just couldn't get the name right.

Then came her punch line.

“Toh aaj uske liye kyaa hai?” She asked. So, how is that celebrated?

 

I was wide eyed. And My Mom Speechless.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A heartbeat – A universe of possibilities…

It was 8.30 AM Sunday, I was returning home from a class. I was in deep thought, took the longer route home on an impulse. I was walking along the road,thinking.  Somewhere in the middle of the road, I stopped. I was so engrossed that I was actually unaware I stopped in the middle of the road. The man behind me shoved me and  moved ahead briskly. (Ah! It’s common in Bombay even on Sunday mornings!)

I was roughly pushed back into real the world. I looked ahead. A man carrying a small child was walking towards a roadside vendor selling sunglasses. Walking behind him were his wife and son. The Man was so happy at the prospect of buying his son a pair of sunglasses that his eyes were gleaming with a child like enthusiasm. I was watching them from the other side of the road. They were a not to well-to-do family, but were clearly enjoying trying out funky sunglasses, father and son trying the same pair, while the wife was watching them proudly. The father selected one, and evidently it was too highly priced. After some haggling, the father put that pair down and tried to go for something cheaper. After 10 minutes, the family dropped the idea and moved ahead. The kid was dragging his footsteps and while the father was looking around hopefully to buy him something else.

I could not help smiling. I moved ahead towards the bus stop.A woman and her daughter were passing by. The little girl slipped, and fell down. The girl was not hurt but it was the mother’s concern that again touched me. She was so worried about her daughter, fussing over her, dusting off imaginary specks of dust from her daughter’s clothes. All the time, the little girl and her mother were smiling broadly. I was smiling broadly now for such a nice morning.

I was in the bus now. Sunday morning, the bus was expectedly empty. The bus conductor came and I gave him Rs. 7 for the bus ticket.

“Arre bala, aajun 1 rupaye de. Paishe vaadle.” The conductor said. Please give one more rupee, the fare has been hiked. 

I was in a quandary. I had tendered exact change, and a  500 Rupee note was the only currency I had apart from those 7 rupees. The conductor had already printed the ticket.

Ekach note aahe, Paachshe chi!” I said. I have only a 500 Rupee note.

“Raahu de! Paachshe chi sutte nahi majha kade!” The conductor said. Leave it! I don’t have that much change anyway.

I was sheepish. It was only one rupee, but the conductor would be paying that from his pocket . It was only a rupee, but I was touched nonetheless.

A nice beginning to the day. Better things followed soon after. :D

Monday, September 22, 2008

20th September, 2008. Isb, Pakistan

A truck laden with explosives rammed into JW Marriot in Islamabad on the 20th September and what happened after that is too well known.

This is a war where no one would emerge victorious. Only victims would arise from the blast. These victims would then plot to create more victims and so on. The faces would change but everything else would remain the same.

I always thought that these things are a part of life and victims, though unfortunate, are a part of the whole process. My sympathies were with the victims though, but I always felt that this was their destiny.

This was the first time I knew someone who was affected. And I did not have the courage to call him up or to offer my sympathies. I knew whatever I'd say would be hollow and that I can, at best, be of no help.

After all, aren't we all useless, helpless, frustrated souls waiting for our turn..

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Shantaram - The BIG book of Quotes!

It's high time I listed some favorite quotes from Shantaram. It was simply awesome. And an injustice to the book if I would not quote some really awesome ones.

When I started reading the book, I was not aware that it was not an ordinary book with an extraordinary story. The plot was mesmerising enough for me to choose my pick, but I was not simply not prepared to read something that would influence so much that I would think about it even after six months. The book was very hyped and unlike so many, this book not only lived upto it's expectations, but surpassed it by a long way.

The thoughts espoused are so profound, the ideas, the discussions are so thought provoking that you would actually stop reading the book mid way and ponder over what you just read and then marvel at them. To add to it, these thoughts find expression in the form of beautiful quotes. So eloquent and poetic that you would end up marking them on the book or jotting them down on a notebook. I tried marking the pages, halfway through the book I realised that it was a futile exercise. The whole book was littered with ugly marks and I understood that I wasn't reading something that was an everyday read and that I was reading something that would influence me profoundly.

The author is an Australian fugitive, who had to resort to armed robberies to satisfy his cravings for heroin. The book is an account of the eight years that he spent in Bombay when on run from the Australian police. From the Mumbai underworld to Bollywood across to fighting with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, Shantaram is an epic of a story..with some profound quotes.. I cant resist not listing some. Again, the author is at his best when sad.

The thing is, I can drone all night long when it comes to Shantaram and people who know me can vouch for that. So, I'd rather do what I intended to do with this post. Quote Gregory Roberts.

 

It was very difficult to pick up just sixteen from the book. But here's my collection:-

 

1. The biggest problem with corruption as a form of government, is that it works so well.

2. Once Karla asked me, "What characterizes the human race, cruelty or the capacity to feel ashamed for it?" I thought the question to be acutely clever when I first heard it, but I'm lonelier and wiser now, and I know it isn't cruelty or shame that characterizes the human race.It's forgiveness that makes us what we are. Without forgiveness, our species would've annihilated itself in endless retributions. Without forgiveness, there would be no history. Without that hope, there would be no art, for every work of art is in some way an act of forgiveness. Without that dream, there would be no love, for every act of love is in some way a promise to forgive. We live on because we can love, and we love because we can forgive.

3. Happiness is a myth. It was invented to make us buy new things.

4. Every virtuous act has some dark secret in its heart; every risk we take contains a mystery that can’t be solved.

5.Nothing grieves more deeply or pathetically than one half of a great love that isn’t meant to be.

6. Men reveal what they think when they look away, and what they feel when they hesitate. With women, it’s the other way around.

7. I don't know what I fear more, the power that crushes us, or our never ending capacity to endure it.

8. A dream is a place where a wish and a fear meet. When the wish and fear are exactly the same, we call the dream a nightmare.

9. Nothing fits the hand so perfectly , or feels so right , or inspires so much protective instinct , as the hand of a child.

10. Love cannot be tested....honesty can, and loyalty....but not love...love goes on forever, once it starts, even if we come to hate the person, we love....love goes on forever because love is born in the part of us which does not die..."

11. At first, when we truly love someone, our greatest fear is that the loved one will stop loving us...what we should fear and dread, is that we wont stop loving them, even after they're dead and gone...

12.

Sometimes we love with nothing more than hope.
Sometimes we cry with everything except tears.
In the end that's all there really is : Love and it's duty,Sorrow and its truth..
In the end that's all we really have - to hold on tight until the dawn...

13. We know who we are and we define what we are by references to the people we love and our reasons for loving them.

14.

"Sooner or later,fate puts us together with all the people,one by one,who show us what we could and should not let ourselves become. Sooner or later we meet the drunkard,the waster,the betrayer,the ruthless mind and the hate-filled heart. But fate loads the dice,of course,because we usually find ourselves loving or pitying almost all of those people.And its impossible to despise someone you honestly pity and to shun someone you truly love..."

15. There is nothing as depressing as good advice.  :D :D

16.  It's such a huge arrogance, to love someone, and there's too much of it around. There's to much love in the world. Sometimes I think that's what heaven is - a place where everybody's happy because nobody loves anybody else, ever.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ekta Kapoor's Suyodhan

Saw Ekta Kapoor's " Kahaani Humaari Mahabharat ki" today. I am a sworn hater of Ekta Kapoor but the Mahabharata fascinates me equally. I tried watching it and the very first thing that I noticed was that it started unconventionally with Draupadi Vastraharan. (Draupadi's humiliation) A twist in the tale was the last thing I had expected from Ekta Kapoor and I was also very impressed with the rich language used in the epic. The novelty wore off quickly as the costumes were such a turn off and also because I found myself inadvertently comparing it with the B.R. Chopra masterpiece that I grew up watching.

My Manager recommended me to watch the Ekta version again saying that she has tried to portray the relationships more deeply than her predecessor. I have read the epic many times and am a great fan but was intrigued by my Manager's recommendation. I saw it again and I won't lie. It was not as captivating as B.R. Chopra's and to be fair to Ekta Kapoor, he has set the standard too high. 
    But one thing that deserves a mention and actually is the reason for my post is that Duryodhan is called by his original name in the story. For the uninitiated, Duryodhan was born Suyodhan. Suyodhan means "A Good Warrior". It is because of his misdeeds , he becomes Duryodhan. The underlying principle is that as a child, he too, was born innocent and that his deeds made him a Duryodhan. His Choices shaped his destiny.

Not many know of this fact and it is good that this is being shown on television. I never believed that someone could be bad or that something evil. The concept of Good or Bad , Right or Wrong never made any sense to me. The Indian epics too, never showed anyone to be inherently bad. Be it Ravana, the renowned ten headed scholar or Shakuni , the loving brother. And the same can be said about the inherent good in the Indian epics as well. Yudhishthira, upon his death , is annoyed to see Duryodhana in Heaven. He being the most virtuous among men, had reached Heaven with great difficulty and just could not digest the fact that the evil Duryodhana was in  Heaven. Later, he is explained that Duryodhana had served his time in Hell and was in heaven for being a just ruler.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

In the train Yesterday....

Was in the train yesterday. Me and a few office colleagues had planned to watch a movie for the weekend and were on the way. (We would regret it very soon. :P)

A fruit seller came into the compartment and was loudly merchandising his wares . 

"Santre le lo santre! Sirf Paanch Rupaye kaa Teen!" He said in chaste Hindi. Oranges, juicy oranges! Get three for only Five Rupees.

It was Saturday afternoon and the train was not crowded. The Fruit Vendor, apparently from Uttar Pradesh, was making brisk sales and enjoying the fact that he actually got a seat in the train to conduct his business.

A man selected some oranges and said, "Atta tuu Mumbaila aala aahe, Marathit bol, mee paishe deto magh."   You are doing business in Mumbai now, speak in Marathi, then I'll pay the Money. 

The vendor's expression became grim and he quickly sized the situation. The Man was seemed harmless and was smiling while holding the money in his hand. "Santre ghyaa, Santre.. !! Faktah Paach rupay laa teen." The Fruit Vendor yelled in fluent Marathi.

Pleased, the Man paid the money to the fruit seller. And the seller switched to Hindi again, talking in Marathi only when the Man playfully glared at him. It was apparent that the Man just wanted some fun at the innocent fruit seller's expense and the fruit seller's sudden burst of Marathi lightened everybody's mood. The vendor too, enjoyed the attention and the sales as well.

A tense moment had passed and in the end, all were smiling.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Swades...

Saw the movie Swades today. I never liked lengthy movies and maybe this was the reason I skipped it until recently. A friend recommended it and I asked a dozen people before watching the movie.

The story is so touching and yet, so simple. The simple village folk, the quintessential postman, the heroine as the silent crusader and the old freedom fighter were too Hindi film like. They're also the kind of people that make a typical village in India.

The movie highlighted the glaring urban rural divide in India and is some sort of an eye opener for the people who believe that "India is shining." Leave the Internet, something as common as a telephone is a missing in parts of India yet.

I have never understood why would people leave the country for better prospects abroad miss the country some time later. If I were given a chance to go to the States or Singapore for that matter, I'd jump at the opportunity. My Grandfather came from South India and we made Bombay our home. Wouldn't it be the same with the States? Yeah, no one would call me their Own there.  But seriously, would I care? Isn't the world a global village? And then I look at the Charanpur village of Swades.

I am in a dilemma. One one hand , I'd want a career for myself with all the material wealth but I also want to play a small part in making the world a better place to live in.

I know that I'll live a better life abroad and would deal with people with better civic sense. Cleaner air, Smiling officials and Malls without security officers poking metal detectors at you. But again, the  fact that the situation at home is appalling is all the more reason for me to stay home and help my people.

In the end , it was a dialogue by a cook in the movie grabbed my attention and set me thinking in these lines.

These were the lines. And reader, if you give a second thought to it my purpose for this post is fulfilled.

"Apne aangan kaa ped, doosre ki chaukhat par phale phoole.. toh ghar ke armaan maati min mil jaate hain.. it's like..apni chaukhat ka diya..and giving light to neighbour's house.. "

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Guess,Where am I?? :D

I am posting from my cell phone. I am in a train and it is stalled somewhere near Jhansi.
"Jhansi!Of all the places?" I would've scoffed had you told this to me 6 months back. But now, as life unfolds..i'm really in a train stalled near Jhansi, for a mini vacation.. :D

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mile Sur mera tumhaara...

I always loved this song. Though the entire song is only the same line repeated in different languages, it has something in it that even the best of Hindustani music or all classical music can't offer. This song is reminiscent of a time when there was Doordarshan and  such songs used to be featured everyday. I was very small then but I so vividly remember this song alongwith some other gems like "Ek Anek", "Baje Sargam" etc.

Among "Baje Sargam" and "Mile Sur' , it's very difficult for me to pick up one favourite. If "Mile Sur" was music with almost all the Indian Stalwarts coming together, "Baje Sargam" is a treat to the eyes. It showcases the various forms of dance across India. The song starts with a tabla intro featuring  Ustad Zakir Hussain - his hairstyle and his enchanting smile always made me sit glued to the TV as kid.

These songs were used to promoted to instil a sense of pride and oneness among us. And they did acquire cult status among the masses.

These two songs celebrate the spirit of India in a way that hasn't been done yet. It never ceases to amaze me and in the end, I am too overcome with emotion.

I hated Doordarshan then, but in times like there, I really miss these songs with such messages.         

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Of 18 yr Olds and White haired researchers..

"Scholars doubt if teen Patriot went to gallows smiling"

Came across a news item bearing this heading in this morning's newspaper. It claimed that scholars in Bengal came across archives that contradicts the popular perception of India's youngest martyr.

Khudiram Bose was 16 years old when he joined the revolutionary group Yugantar following the partitioning of Bengal in 1905. He alongwith Prafulla Chaki, were to throw a hand grenade at Judge Kingsford. The attempt failed and they ended up killing two Englishwomen.Prafulla Chaki committed suicide while being arrested, while Bose was jailed and tried.

History has it that Khudiram Bose went to the gallows smiling. But the scholars now claim otherwise. According to the records of the day-by -day account of the trial, Bose had accepted the murder charge in front of the Muzaffarpur Magistrate, but at the trial at the Alipore Sessions court, he claimed that he was "convinced into committing the act by Chaki."

The British Government had however, prepared a full fledged case against him and the case went up to the High Court where he was sentenced to death. His lawyer had filed a mercy plea stating that Bose was only 18 and fought hard. The plea was turned down. Khudiram Bose was hanged on August 11, 1908.

Legend says that young Khudiram Bose surprised everyone by going to the gallows smiling. And to this the Bengali poet Kaji Najrul Islam wrote a poem to honour him. Some modern day scholars feel otherwise.

Though I was never a great fan of the armed struggle in India, stories like these do manage to arouse proud feelings of being born Indian. Khudiram Bose did this for the country and laid down his life for the greater cause and a selfless one. He did this at an age when we still didn't get over Cartoons and to this - No One can contradict.

So even if Khudiram Bose went to the gallows whining , I'll always admire him. He'll always be the hero I can never become.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ah! Mumbai..thy woes of water..

I think I am running the risk of turning my blog into a news item. But hell, this does concern me. The Standing Committee had introduced a proposal to start with 24 * 7 water supply for the city. A very welcome decision, sure to end our water woes.

"A 24 hr water supply for the entire city!" I thought, "Ah! Mumbai, you're going places!"

I believe that this is something we deserved the day we surpassed Cherapunji for the highest rainfall in a day.

The proposal was shown to the BMC by an Official who had prepared a PowerPoint presentation to demonstrate how the Standing Committee was to bring the plan into action. The audience was curious to see what this educated officer had to show them.

The Officer started in English fluently and went about explaining how the rain water would be harvested effectively and the wastage of water due to leakage be stopped. The Officer, as a management student , thought that he was presenting a proposal to his superiors and so was at his professional best. Little did he realise that his bosses spoke little English.

The Babus, who at best, could only stutter in English were incensed at the audacity of this young Officer who dared to address them in a language other than Marathi. Not even Hindi, English!!!! They then did what they knew best.

They stormed out of the room leaving behind a dumbfounded speaker. With them, went away our dreams of a 24 hour water supply.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Me and my Big mouth!!

I was at a queue again. This was for the ATM. It may sound quite boring too, but the song that I was listening to was "Hawa Hawa". I was smiling broadly and the pleasant drizzle was complimenting my cheerful mood.

The queue was not long but still an impatient man jumped the queue went ahead of us. The man behind me, well in his sixties, objected and asked him to join the queue. I was humming "Hawa Hawa" nonchalantly.

The man said, "Sir, I have to leave for Chennai urgently. Please understand."

The old man behind me was a Chennaite. He said , "Son, it's 4.30 PM and the next train for Chennai is at 7.30 PM. Whom are you trying to fool here?"

The old man looked at me for support and said ," I know! The train for Chennai is at 7.30 PM. He is lying. Are we fools to stand in the rain while he jumps the queue with such impunity?"

It was very evident that the man was lying to jump the queue. Yet I  said ," Sir let it be so. Who knows he might be in some emergency. This is the least we can do."

The old man looked at me with disbelief for having supported the man breaking the queue. He grumbled something about the lawlessness and indecency of people and finding no support, went quiet. A couple of minutes later, the man who had jumped the queue emerged from the cabin. He seemed a bit disappointed. He came out, stood lazily at the door of the ATM and said to his friend, "The cheque has not been cleared yet."

Needless to say, the old gentleman was seething!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

:D :D

I feel like an 18 year old. The events that transpired over the weekend have made me so happy that I almost feel that people are staring at me enviously for the glow in my face. I am smiling back and winking at everyone.

I am rummaging through my music collection and I realize that all my favourite songs are sad songs. Funny creatures we are, I thought. We crave happiness , we pursue happiness but always love the saddest of songs.

I am playing "Hawa Hawa" a Pakistani song that best describes my mood. It's video can possibly seek an entry into the worst videos of the century. But there's more to the song, the youthful exuberance of the singer's voice is very contagious. I am grinning widely at this silly song and am aware of the fellow passengers in the bus looking at me quizzically.

"It's indecent to be this happy." I think and I almost feel guilty for the happiness within. The number has finished and I am searching for another song that'll reflect my mood.

End of the day. I am going back home. It's raining heavily and it's a short walk from the college to the Bus Stand. Walking by the side of the road, I allow the rain drops to fall on my face. There is a spring in my stride. For the first time in years, I am enjoying the nature , the rainfall. I know that this is the moment I am living for myself. I am listening to another very cheerful song where the protagonist is celebrating love. I'm takes all I have to prevent me from dancing.

The bus is almost empty. I open the window and am enjoying the rain. "Hawa Hawa" is the number that is playing again. I can feel the wind whispering in my ears between the songs.

Aah!! I understand..this is bliss!! :D :D

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Fantasy, Eh?

Not many books live upto the hype and Shantaram is a welcome exception.. I call it as the "Big Book of Quotes".
But this is not about Shantaram what I really itch to speak about is another book, or a series rather. The Harry Potter series has stood upto to all the hype and hoopla around it. I loved the books so much that I actually read each of the 7 books more than twice or thrice. People love to pan the book based upon their opinions formed from the movies. The movies were a poor reflection of one of the best works I ever read.
I recommended Harry Potter to more than one people whose intellect I respected but the reply was the same. Fantasy didn't make good reading. I am appalled at the number of people branding the books as fantasy and not reading it for that reason.
JK Rowling has conjured a whole new world. Awesome imagination on her part, but the one thing that sets her books apart is that she wrote a book about a race of magical people but concentrated more the human values that they possessed. It was yet another story of Good triumphing over Evil. The books were not about spells and potions(I've learnt to dread this subject too :P ), but it was about how love helps us to overcome the worst of situations. Seven suspense stories with each one outdoing the previous and the last left each reader asking for more. The characters were so wonderfully etched that I can actually prepare dinner for each one of them according to their likes and dislikes. She made millions cry when she bumped off characters. I too,felt a sense of bereavement and cried when they died.
If only she wanted she could have created more thrilling sequences and concentrated more upon fantastic spectacles but she chose wisely to stick with what she had planned.The seventh and the final part, where good was supposed to triumph over evil , was more based on Human bonding , and the simple values of love and friendship. It saw Rowling unravelling two of the most fascinating characters in the book in a way that left readers open mouthed. It showed that even the best of magicians, was a human after all. With his one human failing, I started to respect Dumbledore more. He is the teacher who did perfect justice to the noblest of professions. And he is the teacher I'd try to be if I ever become one.
If you are one of those intellectuals, who still believe that Harry Potter is only a Wizard, you're wrong. He has his human ineffectiveness too.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

And then there were none..

Ten little Indian boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were nine.

Nine little Indian boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.

Eight little Indian boys travelling in Devon;
One said he'd stay there and then there were seven.

Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.

Six little Indian boys playing with a hive;
A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.

Five little Indian boys going in for law;
One got into Chancery and then there were four.

Four little Indian boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.

Three little Indian boys walking in the zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were two.

Two Little Indian boys sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up and then there was one.

One little Indian boy left all alone;
He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.





Came across this and felt like sharing it. This is an excerpt from Agatha Christie's book called "And then there were none". A brilliant book, gripping suspense in one of the most fast paced books you'll ever come across. I couldn't put it down and finished it in less than a couple of hours.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Another Sunday, Vashi again..

Was at Vashi station again. The queue was incredibly long for the tickets, and as usual, I was late for Office. Queues are my favourite place to observe people and their mannerisms. At it's best, the queue was crawling. People around were had a lost look upon their faces, resigned to the fact that they have to be a part of this serpentine queue for the next half an hour or so. I was intently reading a petition put up airing the grievances of the commuters; Long queues, no shades, malfunctioning vending machines et cetera.
The man behind me remarked, "Ever since they started the computerised ticketing system, the exercise of buying a ticket has become painfully slow."
I was in no mood to start a conversation but I smiled and said, "Yes ,It has. " He was right. This was one example where technology had slowed life considerably. The days of card tickets seemed to be from some bygone era.
I was very impatient and was glancing at the watch more often and I swear, the clock was moving faster than ever. My Manager would be having me for lunch today.
I was nearing the counter and my eyes fell on two boys who seemed to be very worried after getting the tickets. They were comparing their tickets and talking very fast. I threw a customary glance at my watch again and it was then of the boys suddenly entered the queue ahead of me and told the man over the counter , "Sir, I wanted a ticket for CBD and you gave me one for CST."
The person retorted, "So you mean to say I don't know the difference between CST and CBD?"
The scared boy replied, " Sir, please take this ticket back and give me a ticket for CBD"
The Officer glowered and the kid stepped back. I was near enough to overhear their conversation. They were with no extra money and were too innocent to travel ticketless.
One of the boys came up with an idea. They tried selling the ticket to someone who would like to go to CST. Little did they know that a railway station is the last place where a Mumbaikar would trust another.

They were good kids from presumably decent families with clean , oiled hair , bright faces with spectacles et al. Their backpacks proudly declared "IIT-Jee".

I tapped one of them on the back and asked what the problem was. " Uncle, CST jaana hai aapko?" The kid asked immediately. Do you want to go to CST?

"Uncle??" I winced. Feeling my stubble, I said that I didn't want to. The kid left without saying anything.

"Ek ticket nikaalke do naa CBD ke liye, please" the other kid blurted out desperately. Would you please buy one ticket to CBD for us.

I was at the counter by then. I wanted to go to CBD myself. I asked the man over the counter to give another ticket to CBD as well.

"Pata nahi kahan kahan se aa jaate hain hero banne!" The Officer muttered under his breath. God knows where these wannabe heroes pop up from!

I winked at the officer and handed over the ticket to the kid who grabbed it and started running towards the platform.

As an afterthought, one of them turned back and shouted, "Thanks Bhaiyya!!"

I was relieved that it was not the other kid who had called me an "Uncle".

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday Morning in the Maximum City...

A lazy Saturday morning, Mr. Pillai is intently reading Suketu Mehta's "Maximum City". The curtains are up but the sunlight is always blocked by an equally ugly building a few metres away. A tree between them doesn't help matters. It's 10.00 AM and it's already dark as if it's way past the sunset. To say it's raining incessantly since last night adds upto the misery.

Suketu Mehta's Maximum City is all about the 'Great Ruined Metropolis" called Bombay. A Bombayite at heart, Mr. Pillai smiles throughout the book reading about his daily encounters being penned so eloquently by an NRI. He feels proud of being a part of the city and is very immersed in reading the book when his mother turns on the light and he realizes that he was actually straining to read the book. The letters are clear now and Mr. Pillai stretches back to read the book in a more comfortable position. A couple of pages, and the lights go off! His Mother's relieved sigh is audible.

"Strange.." Wonders Mr. Pillai looking at his Mother's contented expression."Why would someone be so happy because of a powercut?" Isn't this the moment when everybody sighs swears. Usually, A dark mood dots the area which faces the power cut.

"Good God! I was able to finish off everything before the power cut. Yesterday, your dad did not get any breakfast as the power went off an hour before schedule."

" The indefatigable Mumbai spirit." thought Mr. Pillai.

"Mumbai Spirit, My Foot!!" Mr. Pillai corrected himself. " The city is going to the dogs and the politicos try to fool the people by celebrating the Mumbai spirit. Like we have any other choice!!"

His colleagues at office have to go through agonising 12 Hr powercuts. " Twelve Hours!" was his reaction when he heard it for the first time.

Later when he heard about the 16hr Powercuts in Akola, 40hrs in industrial belts, 12hrs seemed comparatively bearable and the 5hrs that he was subjected to looked like a luxury now.

The newspaper featured the states facing a power shortage with Maharashtra leading the way with an annual shortage 5200MW followed by Andhra Pradesh with 1000MW something , Karnataka, UP and Kerala. That meant Bangalore and Hyderabad had already seen their first powercuts in more than a decade. In fact, the Andhra Pradesh Government shamelessly managed to come up with an innovative "Power Free Weekends " Campaign.

And he was seething when he saw that the power consumption of his CM & the deputy CM alone was equivalent to the power consumption of an entire town!!

"If Gandhiji were alive today, he would've first stopped using electricity before exhorting others to cut down on power usage. Always led by example, the Great Man." thought Mr. Pillai.

As if reading his thoughts, the radio blared, "They don't make them like that anymore"

Friday, July 25, 2008

Poor CM..

The CM got an aircraft worth 62 crores of taxpayers' money. It is indeed a very essential luxury. Poor chap, he had to travel with a convoy full of ugly bodyguards for so long. In fact, he has found a way to beat the pot hole ridden roads that he himself refuses to repair.

I used to find it so depressing that the CM of one of the most developed states of India had to travel on the roads while lesser mortals like the Ambani brothers flew. Even Vijaya Mallaya has one. No wonder the CM felt so compelled to buy one. So what if the PM still uses the roads, our CM is does not have the luxury of good roads like the PM and its not wrong if someone manages to find a way to bypass the horrible Mumbai traffic.

I am relieved that the Government has finally set it's priorities correct. An aircraft for the CM, a statue in the sea and a bridge that's so long that nobody's gonna use it. I hope the state is not running short of funds as it's already in debt in excess of Rs. 1 lakh crore. If only the rogues who dodge taxes pay up honestly, the CM could have opted for that fancy model which they show in Hollywood movies..

Poor Chap, really.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Vamos Rafa!!

I know I should have come up with this one a bit earlier. After two years of cheering for the runner up, I got a chance to jeer at the runner up.

The Wimbledon Final coincided with the RnR party (Rewards and Recognition) of my Office. Needless to say, I was the most unwilling entrant at the party. Worse, the final coincided with the Asia cup final between India and Sri Lanka (Which we lost eventually)
I managed to catch up with the first two sets and most of the third at a sports café before leaving for the Office Party where I managed to be boring enough to sit glued to the Match. And the Final EPIC set at home. (Thanks to the rain interruptions)
FedEx netted a backhand, and this was the moment!! I found myself jumping and relieved that it was over.
When asked for his opinion, Federer sportingly said, "Well, I tried everything. He's the worst opponent on the best court."




The match was the longest Wimbledon Final ever played and would be remembered for a long, long time. It caused a massive surge in electricity demand and it showed a 1,400 MW spike when the Spaniard lifted the trophy.
A National Grid spokesman said that the surge was so huge because a huge number of people , so transfixed by the tennis, forgot to switch off the lights till the match ended.

Me too.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Distorted thoughts...


Sometimes I think of writing a new blog about the books I read. Every book I finish I feel like I have something to say. A voice stifled inside me. A thought begging to be heard.

This is the best place to pen my thoughts and bore my readers. But the problem is the disorderliness of my thoughts. It would require more than a management student to organise, bear or even decipher them. I come across as an introvert who ends up as a person who just cannot keep his mouth shut.
I have the received compliments like " Gosh! I didn't know you had a tongue in you!"
and "Ayyo!! For God's sake, can you keep quiet just for a minute??"
The best part is, these compliments are from the same man, my Manager.

My corner at office is the noisiest you'll come across. My absence casts an eerie silence over the bay. I discuss everything with everyone and everyone discusses everything with me. But I also have this feeling of having never been able to express what I feel or I think. Very few people, less than the fingers on my right hand, know me. Perhaps even less. Partly because I harbour this feeling that every other thing that defines me is a dirty little secret. A part that refuses to divulge.


The other day someone told me "I feel so sad when I am alone."

I was so amazed at the simplicity of the thought. I too, am a depressed person when I am not with people I know but I was never able to put the feeling into words. It was too complex for me to express. I was confused with myself until that person said these words. It struck a chord immediately. The simplicity of the statement and the deep meaning attached to it. I might claim to be intelligent but this simple explanation was something I could never come up with...




Distorted thoughts, really!!! I was thinking about writing on books! :P

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hows this for an Inspiration...



Growing up in the heart of a Wadala slum, eight-yearold Narendra Jadhav knew what he wanted to be when he grew up: a gangster.
Somewhere along the way he changed course and ended up as chief economist of the Reserve Bank of India and then vice-chancellor of Pune University, a chair he currently holds. This prestigious post has a special sweetness to it, for a hundred years ago, Jadhav’s Dalit ancestors were made to leave Pune city before dark and carry brooms to sweep away their own polluting shadow.
Jadhav’s unique success story has often been cited as a sterling example of how education can unchain and transform when seemingly nothing else can. The street and the slum taught the young boy to be resilient but it was the all-consuming emphasis placed on education by his semi-literate father, a Dalit worker with the Bombay Port Trust, that set him on the road to success. His brother excelled too, got into the IAS, and went on to become municipal commissioner in Mumbai.
Jadhav’s schooling was split between a municipal primary school and a private secondary school, both united in
the poverty of the children who sat in the classrooms. His ambitions changed all the time. First he wanted to be a gangster, and then something far less glamorous, a peon. “I grew up at a time when life was uncertain. I wanted a steady job that nobody could take away from me. A peon’s job sounded ideal.’’ Later, he decided he wanted to be a teacher, but by 13, he told his horrified brother that he hoped to be a writer. “My brother threw a fit. He told me I’d starve.’’ But Jadhav’s father, who went on to painstakingly pen his own memoirs, overheard the conversation and jumped to his defence. “Don’t listen to what others tell you to become. They may tell you to become a doctor, barrister or engineer. But follow your inner voice and do what you want. I really don’t care what you choose for yourself, as long as you’re at the top, wherever you are. Don’t ever be mediocre. Even if you’re a thief, make sure you’re an internationally acclaimed one.’’
The boy took his father’s words very seriously. At the SSC exam, he topped in Sanskrit, a language he had defiantly chosen because generations of Dalits had been denied access to a tongue considered the preserve of the Brahmins. At Ruia College, Mumbai, he passed his BSc in Statistics and Economics with distinction. After completing the first year of his MA in Economics from Mumbai University, Jadhav got a job as a probationary officer with the State Bank of India. So, during his second year, he juggled his studies with a full-time job. “My brother thought this was a bad idea. He was convinced that my scores would dip and that I could not have my cake and eat it too,’’ said Jadhav. But he proved his brother wrong. He succeeded at his job and set a record by getting a first in
Economics, something that no Dalit had done before.
After a three-year stint with the bank, during which he travelled extensively in Maharashtra, he joined the Reserve Bank of India. At 24, he was their youngest researcher. A few years into the job, he felt the need to study further. So, on a government of India scholarship, he headed for the University of Indiana, where he received a Ph.D in Public Finance. He was awarded the Best International Student and won the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Economic Theory.
His classmates at Indiana, where he headed the Indian Students Association, were shocked when he told them he wanted to return to India after his Ph.D. “At that time, no Indian who went abroad to study returned home. Most of them were from rich families who would settle abroad and then complain of how they were subjected to racism. And here was I, from a down-trodden family in India, turning my back on over a dozen job offers to return home instead.’’ Seven days after his got his PhD, Jadhav was back “because I believe there can
be no substitute for your motherland. My commitment to my own people was so strong that I would not been happy anywhere else’’.
When Jadhav passed his SSC, he could barely speak in English, a language he has now consummately mastered. “Of course it was hard for me to switch from Marathi to English. But then, life is hard. You can’t use your background as an excuse for incompetence. And there’s no substitute for hard work. The fact that I lived in a slum and stud
ied at a Marathi-medium school did not come in the way of my higher education abroad,’’ he says.
When Jadhav returned home, his mother found it hard to understand why her son was still working so hard after all these years of study. Surely a PhD meant he could now take it easy? That’s when Jadhav’s father stepped in once again with his earthy wisdom. He said a PhD was like a driving licence. You don’t stop driving once you get a licence. You start driving. “Here was one illiterate person explaining the value of PhD to another illiterate person. And he couldn’t have put it better,’’ says his son.
As a tribute to the man who, although himself uneducated, lived fearlessly and overcame caste and class barriers, Jadhav wrote ‘Amcha Baap ani Amhi,’ a book on his father’s life that has been translated into many languages. Once, while Jadhav was at Indiana, his father fell critically ill. He rushed back to see him, only to be reprimanded. “Don’t waste your time in the middle of your studies. Come back when you’ve finished your degree. I won’t die until then.’’
He kept his word. He died three years after his son returned to India as Dr Narendra Jadhav.


-Anahita Mukherjee

The Times Of India, Mumbai
7th July 2008


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Speed Kills....does 40KmPh too??


Now, now, a civil engineer from Pune had come down to Mumbai to wirte a piece on the notorious stretch of road on the Eastern Express Highway for the Marathi Vidynan Parishad. Little did the good man know that he might get a hands on experience; he too ended up as a victim. A victim of MMRDA's callousness. Thankfully no lives were lost. Though a couple of days before, a tanker carrying asphalt had upturned at the Godrej Junction again.





The great news was that MMRDA finally decided to probe the skidding but they still blame the motorists for speeding. The Engineer was driving at 40 KmPh!! Need I say more??

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Monsoon has Arrived

136 Accidents in 4 days!!! And 66 of them at the Godrej Junction!! And more than 200 cases of skidding since the monsoon..Though very high, this is not statistics for the whole of Bombay City. I am talking about a small stretch on the Eastern Express Highway!!




I know our safety was last on the priority for the Government , but isn't this a bit too much??

Seems like the BMC cripples more people than Polio.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bomb @ Vashi??

A crude bomb went off at the Gadkari Auditorium, Thane and the other was detected at Vishnudas Bhave Auditorium , Vashi. The one at Vashi didn't go off. But Vashi!! That's so close to home.
"Apna Thane??" was my first reaction when I heard the news. I always thought that these attacks happen in other places, other states. Slowly, the realization hit me. These bombs were meant for me and my neighbours. To kill and maim us.
Yes,I am afraid and I dont want to die.
Please, Mr. Terrorist don't bomb us..please. I am not involved in politics. I dont hate the minorities and I dont even litter the roads. I work 9 to 5 , pay my taxes and I dont fight my obnoxious neighbour.
I dont even hate you, my faceless terrorist. Why do you want to kill me??

Monday, June 9, 2008

"I love you, Karla. I loved you the first second I saw you. I think I've loved you for as long as there's been love in this world. I love your voice. I love your face. I love your hands. I love everything you do and I love the way you do everything. It feels like magic when you touch me. I love the way your minds works, and the things you say. And even though it's all true, all that, I dont really understand it, and I cant explain it- to you or to myself. I just love you. I just love you with all my heart. You do what God should do: you give me a reason to live. You give me a reason to love the world."

-Shantaram

So True.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sometimes I wish I could just delete my orkut account.Its only one click and done!! So many times I fight the impulse to chuck it all and run away.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

This Sunday......

I was at the Vashi station. I was in a hurry, late for office already. Now in a long queue for the tickets. The lady next to me had a bag that read "Gandhi Khadi Bhandar". It was a plastic bag. I winced at the irony of it all. The woman,oblivious to my observations, bought her ticket and left. I could not help but smile. The cynic in me.
I was throwing anxious glances at my watch the wait seemed like an eternity. I finally got a ticket. I was running towards the platform. I saw a woman inserting change into a ticketing machine that wasn't working(I had tried that before). Still running, I glanced backwards. The woman was now pounding at the machine that was not spitting out the tickets. I looked at her again. She was a middle aged woman, educated very obviously techno phobic trying to get used to senseless machines and was bad at reading error messages. In short, a common middle aged, middle class woman. Like my mom.
It's funny how fast your mind performs these logical functions. I felt an impulse to assist the lady. I stopped.I went back to the woman who was still pounding on the machine hoping it would at least return the money if not the ticket.
I touched her on the shoulder and told her that the machine was not working.
"Kaai??" She asked in Marathi. What
"Ha machine chaalat nahi." I replied. This machine is not working.
"Aata paishe taakle mee, parat pan nahi bhetnaar kaa?? " She asked. I inserted some coins. Wont I even get that money back?
"Ithe bagha kaai lihla aahe" See whats written here. I said pointing towards the display, "This machine is out of service. It wont dispense tickets" The machine declared flatly.
"Ooh!" The woman sighed. Obviously embarrassed.
She said that she was at this machine for close to 10 minutes was very disappointed at the effort being wasted. She wanted to avoid the long queue. I offered to get the tickets for her.
"Nako re, bala." She said, ruffling my hair." Majha mulga aahe naa." No, my dear, my son will do that for me.
A shy, 10 year old kid was smiling at me.
I smiled back.
I had missed my train.