Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Anil makes a call to celebrate the anniversaries of two momentous occasions.
This year is the 75th anniversary of the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh and his comrades. It has passed almost unnoticed. No official functions to mark the occasion. No commemorative postage stamp, no portrait or statue to honour them and remember with gratitude the ‘supreme sacrifice’ of a band of young men committed to the cause of freedom.
Another occasion is close at hand and plans don’t seem to be afoot to celebrate that either. Next year is the 150th anniversary of the First War of Indian Independence. We were taught about it in the terms in which the British colonial historians referred to it – the Sepoy Mutiny. (sipaayi dange in Kannada, the language in which I had my school education). The name itself tried to trivialise the great uprising that resulted from a spontaneous upsurge of nationalist and anti colonial feelings. Since it had its origins in the colonial army, it was easy for them to refer to it as a mutiny, a mere a matter of discipline and quell it.
Wonder why this neglect of these historic occasions and their anniversaries? Is the revolutionary spirit passé? Is the idea of people thinking and who might be inspired by these events and stand up to authority too subversive for the people who hold power and who they hold it for?
He makes a request:
We the people shall celebrate the anniverseries of these momentous events, which occur in 2007. What the governments seem to be ignoring, we shall celebrate in our own way.
Please copy the image above and put it in your own blog, along with this request.Thank you!
If you also feel as strongly about this, then please spread the word around!
A very Happy 60th Independence Day to all of us!!
Just yesterday, while traveling home from work (I was in a bus for once and not in a train), I had the advantage of getting a good window seat in the midst of slight showers and a delightful breeze. Instead of reading a book which I might have done in usual circumstances, I was looking out the window.
In fact though I was looking, I was not really seeing anything as I was thinking. As every year, Independence Day nears I find myself thinking about what it all really means to us and the significance of it. Whether it is all really worth the hype created around it….yes, I agree we achieved Independence from the British on this day. But as we go along, is that all that we should be celebrating? When every year, we are more and more being thrust into another sort of dependence?
Consider the following situation:
My younger brother B works in a major telecom in Mumbai. His entire office team decided to book tickets for 3 movies in a row on Independence Day at Inorbit Mall. Well, he asked to see only the first two since he had already seen the last one before. I guess it would have been a lot of fun to watch 2 good back-to-back movies especially since he is a Hindi movie freak. The tickets were duly booked and people were gearing up for a good time. Then comes the warning: “Terrorist organizations have promised to wreak havoc in the lead-up to August 15, 2006 and also on the day itself. Malls, markets and many other public places would be targeted. Citizens are advised to exercise extreme caution and avoid unnecessary excursions outside their homes.” That did it, both my Mom (especially my Mom) and Dad (based on warnings received from other well-meaning friends and relatives) entreated B to cancel out on the movie plan and stay safe at home. A fuming B acquiesced. Yes, he really did because he knew they were really worried.
This is just one of such many incidents that might have happened across the country this year. So many people who would have normally been out the whole of today celebrating a holiday and our so-called “independence” have cancelled or modified their plans and have restricted themselves to the relative “safety” of their homes.
A typically care-free nation is being held to ransom by a small group of extremists who are so confused about their own pathetic lives that they equate their bloody acts of terrorism with tenets of religion – a religion in which God is another form of love, one that asks us to treat one another with respect, one that teaches us that all are our brothers / sisters, no matter how poor or how rich they are or in what way they worship the Almighty. In order to achieve their own narrow-minded objectives, these excuses for humans use inhuman techniques like bombs, hijacking and other subversive activities to spread terror and chaos in the already strained machinery of the country. The fact that at present, most of the major nations of the world are under the grip of this terror psychosis shows how much strength we have allowed them to garner by laying low. By “we”, I mean both the governments and the countless people who lead lives in these countries.
The recent spate of terrorist attacks has provoked of wave of public outcry such as never seen before. Even the world over, security agencies are doing all they can to minimize the terror threat. This wave of action needs to be carried forward to its logical and required completion before it dies its own complacent death like it usually does.
This Independence Day, let us take a little time out and spread this message of action in our own little way. If anything, let the people in charge know that they have the support of millions of individuals like us. And that the collective effort, put together, is a force to reckon with. After all, it is our own future at stake as well, isn’t it?
Saturday, July 22, 2006
A few thoughts:
- The fragrance of wet earth
- The feeling of pregnancy in the air
- A slight breeze rustling tree leaves
- Roads all dug up, with heaps of red mud alongside promising a squelchy walk – people cursing the BMC for their inaction even with the threat of imminent showers
- An overcast sky threatening to spill over
- An all pervading twilight making you want to go back home and curl up in bed
- The cacophony of birds accompanied by the crickets and the odd croaking of frogs
- Colourful umbrellas displayed right next to staid black counterparts at almost all provision and departmental stores
- People furtively rushing about their business in a hurry to avoid the imminent shower
- Children – both living in slums and apartment buildings looking expectantly at the sky and waiting to begin their dance of joy
- Young adults – eagerly planning treks, picnics or a plain old long drive in the rains
- Memories of 26/7 welling up in the mind of most people, along with a lot of speculation whether something like could happen again
- Last year’s windcheaters, all-season shoes, umbrellas being hunted out of the attics
- Having to decide whether or not to carry rain wear before getting out of the house in morning (its definitely not going to rain when I am on my way to work)
Why did I post this? Actually, I have no idea. These are just the thoughts and sights that come to my head just before the Mumbai monsoons. Not a good read at all!!
Anyway, let me get down to the task at hand, it promises to be fun. But before I start I need to mention that this was one tag that my wife S offered to do for me!!!! Obviously, she knows me at my weirdest best!!!
So here goes:
1) Though I am perfectly articulate when it comes to talking to senior people face-to-face, I seem to slip into incoherence when it comes to the phone-world especially when ending the conversation. In fact, as my wife and brother are quick to point out, my tongue jumbles up so much that a perfectly simple sentence like “OK, I’ll do that” comes out as “Okiyalldomtapat”. The worst part is that I actually realize even before I start speaking that its going to be a blooper and I can’t do anything about!!!
P.S. By senior people, I mean people who are in the upper echelons of the corporate world, be it my brother’s boss or my uncle who is a big shot in a big multi-national…well, you get the drift.
2) I am crazy about food!!! I know Shruthi and many other people may have included this in their list but what is true is true. As ANYBODY knowing me would vouch for, I simply love food, especially the once-living category. Within me you would find a veritable know-it-all when it comes to restaurants, hotels, roadside “thelas”, dhabas, coffee shops, vada-pav stalls, anda bhurji valas all over the length and breadth of Mumbai. Come to me whenever you need to know of a good eating place, with a budget of Rs. 10 right upto infinity. As for vegetarian food, I think my mom is the best at that and so I solemnly follow my principle of avoiding vegetarian food as much as I can while eating out.
3) Whenever I pass a holy place, be it a temple, gurudwara, church, masjid or small by-the road shrines, I have this habit of inclining my head a little to acknowledge it and sometimes even touching my fingers to my lips and heart. Many people find it extremely weird seeing me do this umpteen times on any journey or while commuting in Mumbai where such holy places abound. In fact, my cousin sister took to turning around and looking at me whenever we passed one so that she could catch me in the act once more!
4) I have this single-minded belief that everybody is good and trust-worthy. Maybe this point does not have a place in this list but I think most do realize that there many more types of people than the ones I have mentioned above. And as many of my friends have told me, in today’s world, you would be lucky to find such people and I had better believe it as soon as possible. But I refuse to listen to them and look for that elusive niceness in everybody. Obviously, there have many instances where I have been proved wrong but even then “twice bitten, once shy” does not seem to ring true with me.
5) I have this weird habit of falling into silence every now and then for no apparent reason. It makes people wonder what is wrong with me. Especially since there does not seem to be any reason. And quite rightly, my loved ones get irked at this seeming lack of communication. Well, this is the one thing in my list that I’d like to change about me….this one and also maybe point 1!!! J
I tag (with my limited network on Blogosphere):
- Triya – my little sister
- Anu - seems worthwhile knowing this lady's weirdness (if there is any)
- Asha - this friend of mine sure would give me a run for my money
- Rose - Other than the fact that she is a fellow Mumbaikar and an awesome writer, I hardly know anything about her.
- Anybody else willing to take it up
Btw, if anybody on here wants to point out or mention any other weird thing about me, I’d sure want to know.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Note for the reader:
· The comments below are solely my opinion and people do not necessarily have to subscribe to it.
· The intention is not to belittle any other city / town anywhere in the country. In fact, I am of the firm opinion that every place has its own pros and cons and usually with the right attitude one does find that pros outweigh the cons.
Things I hate about Mumbai
1. The vast divide between the haves and the have-nots.
2. The fact that this divide is ever widening.
3. The abounding dirt, filth and the general apathy towards it.
4. The omnipresent ditches and bad roads that are present every 20 meters you move ahead (if you’re lucky) along with enough flying dust to fill your stomach at least for 1 meal.
5. That commuting to and from the workplace takes up almost one fourth of a typical working day.
6. The amazing pace at which the once-upon-a-time abundant open spaces and greenery are disappearing from the landscape.
7. The ever increasing prices of houses – one has to really forgo a lot in order to buy his dream home.
8. The sheer number of people who die everyday just in road /rail accidents.
9. The “throw-it-where-you-please” attitude reflected in most people when it comes to waste be it paper, vegetable / fruit peels or any other rubbish. Not only are they shameless but they even have the nerve to argue with someone pointing it out to them.
10. How bribery and corruption exists at every level – it’s pathetic that some people would want extra money to do the very thing that they are paid a salary for!
Now for the more pleasant bit:
Things I love about Mumbai
1. The warmth and helping nature of the Mumbaikar – one can never feel lost or helpless in Mumbai, there will always be a helping hand (pun un-intended).
2. How one can satiate hunger pangs starting from the ubiquitous and humble “zunka bhakar” (Rs. 2.00 only) and “vada pav” (Rs. 3.50 to Rs. 4.00 only) to the mid-range Udupi hotels that serve mouth-watering South Indian snacks along with a smattering of “Punjabi” dishes with their own signature style and then on to the high-end pricy restaurants and 5 to 7 star hotels with their menu of world cuisines. In fact, it can be safely said Mumbai has something for EVERYBODY!
3. The way Mumbai is buzzing even at 3 am in the morning. I guess many of us have been addicted to Phantom comics when we were younger: there was this saying in those, “It is said that under the Phantom’s regime, a lady fully decked with jewels from head to foot could safely move around the deep woods even in the dead of night!” Well, though not as far-fetched as that but Mumbai is certainly safe for a woman even at the oddest hours possible for the most part.
4. One of the best public transport systems in India in terms of both roads and rail that in spite of the ever increasing load on them is still equipped to cater to Mumbaikars and ferry them in thousands to and fro countless times each day with hardly a hitch. An added advantage is the ease of navigating from one place to another.
5. The abundance of really good seats of learning in Mumbai – it has some of the best institutes for almost every branch of education possible. And this is not counting the numerous colleges that boast of some of the most amazing “crowds” possible. Sigh!!! Now I’m getting nostalgic.
6. The fact that if one looks hard enough, there is nothing one cannot find in Mumbai – from foreign chocolates to books to clothing brands to spices to musical instruments to medicines to……….whew….am breathless now.
7. The lovely beaches that line the Mumbai coastline right from the famed “Queen’s Necklace” at Marine Drive right uptil the brown sands of Gorai beach at Borivli / Bhayandar.
8. That it is the true land of opportunities where an individual by dint of sheer hard work and initiative can make it big in his own right – just like in the movies!!!
9. The feel of the city – vibrant, alive, buzzing, exciting, modern, traditional all at the same time. If you ever get the chance, stand for some time outside the Eros cinema hall at Churchgate and soak in the atmosphere, you’ll know where I’m coming from. You could perform the same exercise outside Borivli railway station for all you please and still come away with the same experience.
10. The way people behaved during last year’s torrential rains and the flooding that followed – stories of courage, humanity, camaraderie and spirit that are alive even today (directly compared to what happened in New Orleans post Katrina). Keep it up, Mumbai!
11. The number of festivals / occasions that are celebrated in Mumbai with the same amount of joyousness, fun, gaiety – where else can you find New Year’s eve, Holi, Krishna Janmashtami, Ganesh Chathurthi, Diwali, Id and Christmas all coming up one after the other and people from all communities and walks of life participating in the festivity with the same vigour and commitment?!
12. In spite of being a heavily criticized lot for a whole lot of reasons, the Mumbai Police is ranked as one the world’s top police agencies.
13. The cheerfulness that prevails (for the most part) in the packed local train where a push here and a shove there are the name of the game.
14. That I get to stand up and sing our National Anthem proudly at the beginning of every movie show in all the cinema halls of Mumbai – we don’t get to do it enough otherwise.
15. Mumbai’s accepting nature – one does not have to think “log kya kahenge” about anything and everything, everybody is left to themselves with passing judgment for judgment’s sake.
16. The home to Bollywood – need I say more?
17. Its history – it’s amazing to know that when it started out Mumbai was a group of 7 islands and formed part of the kingdom of Emperor Ashoka (I did not know the Ashoka part myself till recently!).
18. Its proximity to beautiful locations like Matheran, Lonavla, Mahableshwar and not counting the scores of clean beaches and azure trek spots near the outskirts.
19. Its rains – the city gets a life of its own during the monsoons. Its feels great just to sit at home with a cup of hot tea or even be out wandering around town drenched and soaking in the sights of rain washed Mumbai.
20. Last but not the least, this is the commercial capital of the country – it simply feels good to be where the action is.
Obviously, I could go on and on but for the sake of the reader and my sore fingers I’ll desist. Though I did not know it then, the points I like about my city are exactly 2 times those points I don’t like. Does that mean I like my city twice as much as the things about it I don’t? No, I actually love Mumbai many more times than that. There are many other things about it that make it my Mumbai – things that I may not be able to express adequately here. But I hope this list of mine gives more people reasons to start developing a liking for this great old lady!!
I don’t know if I’m supposed to do this but anyway here goes: Anybody who reads this post is hereby tagged to do a similar post on their own hometown. Other Mumbaikars are excused because I might have eaten into their list already. But of course, if they want to add to the list they are most welcome to do so. Am awaiting comments. Go Mumbai!!!!!!
Saturday, April 01, 2006
(a) Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen – Yes, I am talking about the timeless classic, the story of the middle-class English family living in the countryside and all the ups and downs faced by them in the course of their lives. What impresses me the most about this book even now is the way each and every character in the book has individual problems and how these are resolved in the end. The inherent strength of character displayed by the 2 oldest Bennett girls, their poise and their ability to hold forth on what they considered right (especially Lizzy Bennett) is something that should ring true even in today’s world. Worth a read time and time again!
(b) Kane & Abel by Jeffrey Archer – This one is special to me for another reason too (other than the one that it was a great read!); this was the first “grown-up” book I ever read. And even then I was able to appreciate the fine distinction that Lord Archer made between the lives of the 2 men born on the same day in different corners of the globe. And then only to weave the tale in such a way so as to forge a connection between them that was irrefutable, lasting and maybe even humane. Even though this book is lengthy, I wasn’t bored at all, in fact it was un-putdownable.
(c) The Tintin series by Herge – One of my most favourite cartoon characters till date, the adventures of this world famed boy-reporter and his faithful companion Snowy have always taken me into a fantasy world of my own where I could see in my mind’s eye all those exotic locations where Tintin went to. The Tintin series has fascinated me so much that as a post-wedding gift, my wife presented to me the entire set of Tintin comics (in their original form), 24 of them. And obviously, I was thrilled!!
(d) Malgudi Days by R. K. Narayan – I am sure all of us have seen the televised version of Malgudi when it was first broadcasted on Doordarshan. It was only recently that I was able to get hold of the book and devour it from cover to cover. Being a South Indian myself, I can clearly visualize the Malgudi so able described by R. K. Narayan. The simplicity of his writing makes it even more appealing in a way that even a child could understand the image being conjured. The small time happenings of a mostly sleepy small town in Tamil Nadu presented in quintessential R. K. Narayan style makes for a ever-lasting reading experience. A book I would recommend to readers of all ages! Even kids would love the adventures of Swami (immortalized by Master Manjunath in the TV series) and his friends…
(e) Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien – I won’t say much about this one simply because I have no words to describe it. Anyone who thinks that the movies based on this book were good should definitely read it. It is a very lengthy book with a lot of detail but very enjoyable. Not for people who like their books with short swift endings!!!
5. What book(s) would you wish to buy next?
(a) The Asterix comics series – since this is only a wishlist I don’t mind saying I’d like to own the whole set some time or the other. I know it’s a long time coming though.
(b) The latest offering from Mathew Reilly, I forget the name; but having read most of his previous books (Ice Station, Temple, Contest etc.) I look forward to his newest addition.
6. What book(s) caught your attention but you never had a chance to read?
(a) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – have always seen it in bookshops and people have always told me I’d like it but never gotten around to buying it or reading it.
(b) Gone with the Wind – heard of it, seen it, but not yet read it!
7. What book(s) that you've owned for so long but never read?
(a) Great Works of Edgar Allan Poe - been with me for almost a year now, still have to pick it up. Obviously the reason for not having read it is simply lack of time.
(b) The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne – picked this one up off a second hand bookseller. I know its good but the same old story – no time!!
(c) Eldest by Christopher Paolini – this one is the second part in the trilogy by the author, the first one was Eragon. A fantasy tale involving dragons, their riders and the whole thing about a evil king oppressing the innocent. But a great read for LOTR aficionados….
8. Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?
The 3 people I’d like to tag are Triya, Anumita and well, I don’t really know too many people on here so I tag only 2. I have read Triya and Anumita and they write really well. I’d like to know where they get it from! J
Thanks LAK, for giving me the chance to do this!!!
Monday, January 30, 2006
The body of the forward is copied below - please excuse any grammatical errors, the content is worth it.
When the school reopened in June,
And we settled in our new desks and benches.
When we queued up in book depot,
And got our new books and notes.
When we wanted two Sundays and no Mondays, yet
Managed to line up daily for the morning prayers.
We learnt writing with slates and pencils, and
Progressed to fountain pens and ball pens and then micro tips.
We began drawing with crayons and evolved to
Colour pencils and finally sketch pens.
We started calculating first with tables and then with
Clarke's tables and advanced to calculators and computers.
When we chased one another in the corridors in
Intervals, and returned to the classrooms drenched in sweat.
When we had lunch in classrooms, corridors,
Playgrounds, under the trees and even in cycle shed.
When all the colors in the world,
Decorated the campus on the Second Saturdays.
When a single P.T. period in the week's Time Table,
Was awaited more eagerly than the monsoons.
When cricket was played with writing pads as bats,
And Neckties and socks rolled into balls.
When few played "kabadi" and "Kho-Kho" in scorching sun,
While others simply played "book cricket" in the confines of classroom.
Of fights but no conspiracies,
Of Competitions but seldom jealousy.
When we used to watch Live Cricket telecast,
In the opposite house in Intervals and Lunch breaks.
When few rushed at 1:45 to "Conquer" window seats in our School bus.
While few others had "Big Fun", "Chock-o-bar","kulfi ice" and "Pepsi" at 2:00 Clock.
Gone are the days Of Sports Day, and the annual School Day,
And the one-month long preparations for them.
Gone are the days Of the stressful Quarterly,
Half Yearly and Annual Exams, And the most enjoyed holidays after them.
Of 10th and 12th standards, when we Spent almost the whole year writing revision tests.
We learnt, we enjoyed, we played, we won, we lost,
We laughed, we cried, we fought, we thought.
With so much fun in them, so many friends,
So much experience, all this and more.
Gone are the days when we used to talk for hours with our friends.
Now we don't have time to say a HI.
Gone are the days when we played games on the road.
Now we are stuck on the road (in traffic) with a laptop.
Gone are the days when we saw stars shining at night.
Now we see stars when our Boss takes our case.
Gone are the days when we sat to chat with friends on grounds.
Now we chat in chat rooms.....
Gone are the days where we studied just to pass.
Now we study to save our job
Gone are the days where we had no money in our pockets
and fun filled on our hearts
Now we have the ATM as well as credit card but with an empty heart
Gone are the days where we shouted on the road.
Now we don t shout even at home
Gone are the days where we got lectures from all.
Now we give lectures to all... like the one I'm doing now....
Gone are the days
But not the memories, which will be
Lingering in our hearts for ever and ever and Ever and ever and Ever.....
NO MATTER HOW BUSY YOU ARE,
DONT FORGET TO LIVE THE LIFE THAT STILL EXISTS. IT WONT BE THERE
Please keep alive that child within you - always and forever. That is what makes life worth living.
Friday, January 27, 2006
After a hurried dinner on my part and hardly any on my wife's, we managed to reach the movie hall with 10 minutes to spare. While waiting for our friends (they had the tickets with them!!), we noticed a lot of small time celebs waiting to catch the same show. It sure looked like it was heading for a packed hall. Well, soon our friends arrived and then armed with popcorn and some fizzy drinks we settled down in our seats. I noticed that the whole row in front of us was occupied by college kids who also maybe worked in some call centre. I was hoping that they'd behave themselves during the screening and not spoil my movie show for me.
Right on cue, the screen flashed "Please rise for the National Anthem". To me, this is one of the best things to have happened to our cinema halls lately (obviously the movies are getting better too). I mean, when was the last time you sang the National Anthem after those compulsory school assemblies?
Going off on a tangent, for a country in which millions of people over 200 years struggled to achieve "independence", we are sadly lacking in any real love for the motherland. The most common arguments one hears are listed below:
1. What's worth loving in this country anyway? The roads suck, the government sucks, corruption, violence, poverty, terrorism are rampant, dirt & filth abound.
2. Crowded trains, buses, even apartment buildings so close to each other that it seems they are supported by each other.
3. If the above were mostly urban problems, even life in villages are nothing great - all the age old practices like child marriages, sati, girl infanticide etc still persist.
4. Brutality on the part of police and goons go hand in hand.
5. We still have one of the lowest literacy rates in the world.
These reasons and also the promised high standard of living in Western countries are driving so much of our educated population away from India. But come on folks, though this list looks long when you write it down like that, doesn’t being Indian mean anything at all?
What if those brave soldiers so far away from their loved ones also thought in the same vein - that it would be much better to fight for Western countries as the living conditions there are much better? Would it be possible for you to finish that post graduate course of yours in the best of educational institutions and enjoy that free life that is so taken for granted by us these days? What about the grit, determination and fellowship displayed by the Mumbai janata during the still recent Mumbai rains that allowed the weather-lashed city to retain its sanity and maintain her dignity in the worse of calamities? Compare that with New Orleans where there was massive lawlessness in the wake of “Katrina”, where people looted stores, killed people and general pandemonium reigned supreme – all this in the country most sought after by so many of our young aspirants, the USA!
I do not have answers to the questions or problems I have posed above. But it is open-ended questions like this that have made me realize that India is the place to be, that she is on her way to proving to the world what she always was – a queen in her own right, one that is able to hold her own against the best in the world!
Without spoiling the plot of Rang De Basanti for anyone, I’ll just say that it does a good job of addressing many of the questions that face us today, in a manner that today’s youth would be able to identify with. I left the theatre satisfied but at the same time with a lot more expectations.
A gripping movie from start to end, during which, come to think of it, I was not at all distracted by the call center crowd in front of me. Happy Republic Day to all….. Jai Hind!
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
But since then, I have realized that a blog is not just a good read. They contain the deepest feelings and emotions of the people who write in them. This makes “blogging” a parallel world all on its own. To top this, other people comment on blog entries with words of advice, encouragement and, at times, even criticism. Anything that has so much of effort, so many emotions thrown in from so many different individuals cannot exist without an identity of its own that is closely allied with its creator – a kind of alter ego.
Wanting to be a small part of this world, I have ventured into Blog space – a place where I can capture my experiences and memories at my own leisure. I have been unsuccessful in maintaining a diary of my own even after having started a diary about 3 times since school days. But being a technophyte myself (I am much more comfortable using a computer for anything), I see a ray of light this time.
So here I begin my foray into the world of “Blogging”!
“Tentative though my first steps may be, I feel just as exhilarated as I do when taking a walk by the sea.”