Tuesday, December 04, 2007

"Was this film funded by ISI?"

That was what one TV journalist asked to P T Kunhi Mohammed, the director of Malayalam film `Paradesi' at a meet the press program organized in connection with a screening of the film.

Could be he was trying to act smart, or just being stupid. But it kind of explains the film's absence from Indian Panorama at Goa festival.

(Paradesi illustrates the fate of the partition's in-betweens who face continuous torture from both Paki and Indian states. Escorting the guys all the way to the border and leaving them in No Man's land and all.. We have seen many partition films -- recently 1947 Earth and Khamosh Pani -- but this post-partition film set in 2007 is not a repeat of those. I remember newspaper reports about one Pak citizen dying in our district a few years back after running between the countries for decades. As Mohanlal said at the screening, this could happen in any place in the world where there's conflict. . The film has a haunting effect, despite dragging at some places. And some good music.)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A credit card that lasted two and a half days: A biography

Day One

* Receive the credit card by courier from ABN AMRO. (Mon Nov 26, 3pm)

* Try to register the card on bank's web page, "first time registration" link fails.

* Book a Railway Ticket at IRCTC successfully.

* Try to book another ticket at the same site, get message that get message that the booking could not be made, and the amount will be credited back to your account.

* Bank calls me up and confirms the transactions were made by me.

Day Two

* Try the same ticket again in the morning at IRCTC, get the same message.

* I call up IRCTC, they assure me the amount will be refunded in two days.

* Try once again, get the same message. (All three times I get a regret mail each from IRCTC.)

* Finally successfully booking that ticket, in the fourth attempt.

Day Three

* Get the first refund from IRCTC on my card account. (Mail from IRCTC)

* Try to book a flight ticket on MakeMyTrip.com, and get an error "invalid Credit Card details: Try again".

* Get the same message in the second attempt also.

* Call up MakeMyTrip, the lady there offers to get the booking done on phone. I do the booking (the ticket charges have gone up by then).

* Pay with the card after I eat out with friends, they misplace the card after swiping.

* I call up the bank and block the card. They say there's some problem in the system, they can not check the transactions. They ask me to call again in the morning and put a request for new card.(11:30pm)

Day Four (Life After Death)

* I call up bank, request them to issue another card. Meanwhile I ask them to check for the transactions done yesterday. It turns out that the two "invalid card details" transactions on MakeMyTrip.com have debited money from my account. That is 12000-odd rupees:-(

* Call up MakeMyTrip, they tell me I should send an email to them with my credit card statement so that they can make the refund.

* I call up the bank again, they say they will issue a statement only after they issue the new card.

* * * *

Lesson One: Web developers at banks are still learning linux.
Lesson Two: IRCTC website is poor in making the bookings properly every time, but they are able to figure that out themselves and correct it.
Lesson Three: MakeMyTrip sucks.
Lesson Four: Credit card does not always mean convenience.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Celebrations, Suffocation, an Atrocious recapture and OSO

A belated Happy Diwali! I apologize once again for not being regular, but promise to keep posting whenever I can find time. Keep reading (and keep linking to this site) if you find it worthwhile.

* * *

Even after a major campaign against crackers by the Delhi government and appeal by Sheila Dixit in newspapers, TV and Radio, one had a tough time breathing on Friday evening. "Compared to the 2006 Diwali, this year the NO2 levels increased by nearly 1.5 times.." says Centre for Science and Environment. India Together has a listing of health hazards related to bursting of crackers and control measures taken in the country including court directives.

Even if one excludes Diwali, "Delhi is in danger of losing the gains of its CNG programme as pollution levels are once again creeping up to pre-2000 level.." (also on CSE).

* * *

Nandigram has started hogging limelight even among those who usually don't care, thanks to Aparna Sen who said she'd boycott the Calcutta film festival. Rituparno Ghosh, who made Unnishe April, Dahan, Bariwali and Chokher Bali, also boycotted the event. (Rituparno's new film "The Last Year" with Amitabh Bachchan and Preity Zinta is Premiering in Goa film fest later this month. He has also been in news for his forthcoming remake of Sahib, Biwi aur Gulam with Priyanka Chopra, Salman Khan and Vidya Balan playing the lead.

But situation in Nandigram has only turned worse, with CPM's infamous successful recapture of the site.

* * *

I had a blast watching Om Shanti Om. More so because I watched it in one of those soon-to-be-extinct single movie halls where where people don't despise expressing their likes and dislikes, claps or hoots.

I don't want to do a review here (there are many reviews online already) -- listing a few scenes/one-liners that I loved.

"Bhaago.." "Bhaago.." (you have to see it.. I can not explain it!)

Manoj Kumar's driving licence (ditto here)

"I believe when you jump from the 50th floor. I believe when you fight with 100 people and win. Then why wouldn't I believe this story [of reincarnation]?" (an emotional dialogue, in a very senti scene)


The baap-of-all-item-songs (especially the entry of Kajol, Govinda, Mithun, Juhi and the big four in the song)


Pappu (Shreyas Talpade): "Om, Mom (Kiran Kher) is over-acting."
Om Kapur (SRK): "Can't help it. It runs in our family."

I am happy that this genre of making digs at self (Udayananu Thaaram in Malayalam, Main Hoon Naa, Bluffmaster, Jaan-E-Mann, Chota Mumbai in Malayalam..) is finding more and more takers. I hope it also helps others in the industry in taking stock of what they have been rolling out to the viewers.

And I wish Deepika Padukone stays.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Tingya does it, Paradesi does not

My friend Mangesh Hadawale's Marathi film Tingya is selected to Indian Panorama section of IFFI 2007 to be held at Goa. I am happy, though I am yet to see the film. Tingya, set in a Maharashtra village, is 26-year old Mangesh's first film.

Today I get news that Maharashtra govt has announced a special award for Tingya.

I am not too worried about Paradesi not making it. If Malayalam media is obsessed with that exclusion, let it be.

I hope Mangesh does not go into oblivion like many other talented directors who made an impact with their first films (and got awards for it). Anybody knows where Ajayan -- of Peruthachchan -- is? Ali Akbar and George Kithu settled for routine stuff, Suresh Unnitthan settled for TV serials when he came back after a long break..

Monday, July 16, 2007

Redlight area

I ask for directions, and someone tells me "redlight se right lena".

Ok, I tell myself -- "redlight" is a place everyone is supposed to know. I didn't have the guts to ask how to get to the "redlight" because I was afraid people might think that is where I want to go. That would certainly be an embarassing situation, especially when it is not "redlight" one is looking for.

So I ask for directions again, and this time I am asked to take a turn at the "laal batti". There was no point asking again, and after a while it hit me that it could be a traffic lamp they are refering to. Which indeed was.

More than a month in Dilli, I am coming to terms with it. It does not matter whether the signal shows green or yellow, it is still a redlight. Delhi is a land of red lights.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Boss

Rajni is Boss. No doubt about it.

But first half of Sivaji: The Boss disappointed. A sad heroine character and some attempts to be funny that fall flat (despite best efforts from Vivek). But the lion has to roar, and he does. There's quite an amount of fun in the second half.

If I were to pick the best thing about the film, it would be the impressive screen presence of the villain (I don't know the actor's name).

Anyone who loves the superstar would have already watched Sivaji, but amidst all the hype around the film, let us not forget a long line of films that made the superstar -- Ranga, Thangamakan, Moonru mugham, Padikkatthavan, Maaveeran, Velaikkaaran, Mappilai, Annamalai, Mannan, Uzhaippali, Yejamaan, Muthu, Basha, Arunachalam, Padayappa..

And when Sivaji: The Boss is getting so much acceptance in the metros and multiplexes, when it is getting released simultaneously in as many as 72 centres in Kerala (the highest for a Malayalam film has been 60), one must remember that less than ten years back thearte owners in Kerala were refusing to play Padaiyappa because they didn't want the "uncultured" Tamil audiences to spoil their halls.

It is intereresting to see how the amount of money involved has made all the difference. What else could it be?

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Diary is not dead

Readers have been asking me why I stopped blogging.

Believe me this diary is not dead. I request the readers to stand by me through this transition period. A change in job, change in location.. I'm still settling in. I am planning to get a machine and internet connection at home.

Meanwhile, please post your suggestions in the comments. Here is a birthday reminder: On August 1 the diary completes an year of existence on blogger. The diary should be alive and kicking again by then. Thanks a ton for the support and camaraderie extended by all of you.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Shootout, Fireflies, Metro, Prathibha Patil

Back to the blogosphere after a short break.

To take stock of these two weeks, Shootout at Lokhandwala began well and crashed early enough, Fireflies made an impression on a cool evening near the shores of Brahmaputra (Gargi would write more about it), I loved "Life in a.. Metro" (and the fact that I have more choice on films as I have moved to a metro).

Prathibha Patil as presidential candidate is a pleasant surprise. (Nirmala Deshpande or Mohsina Kidwai would have been very pleasant shocks though:))

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Seetee bajaayaa jaaye!

There was this film Praan Jaye Par Shaan Na Jaye today on TV (Zee cinema, 12:30pm).

I remember it was released about four years back (I was in Mumbai then). The film did not have anyone with much star value (except may be Vijay Raaz -- and the posters did not have his face). Whatever little newspaper ads we got to see had a group of ladies (Raveena, Dia Mirza, Rinkie Khanna, Namrata Shirodkar, Divya Dutta..) and the film was gone in a week flat. One review said why people like Shivaji Satam are doing such useless films. A friend who saw it recently told me it is interesting, so I decided to check it out for some time.

I was hooked in about ten minutes. It has a parody/satire set up, the satire works most of the time. It also has scenes that appear forced and sequences that stretch. But what stood out was the presentation of women characters. The ladies (mind you, including Dia Mirza!) put in great performances and make sure it does not end up looking like an amateur drama. There were quite a few scenes where I could not resist whistling. ("Seetee", in desi language).

It was also refreshing to see the term "middle class" used in a better sense in a time when the word is often used to refer to the elite class just below the Ambanis and SRKs.

This one belongs to the ranks of Jane Bhi Do Yaaro. The guts quotient is even higher, as it dares to delve into areas that films (including JBDY) generally shy away from.

Taran Adarsh says the Sati track looks forced, but to me it did not seem so. That one also has a striking link to our times. When we are all going back in time -- and the rich and the powerful and the media are all helping it in every way they can -- glorifying anything done in the name of "beliefs", "religion" and "culture". (If the film was made today, I'm sure there would have been a reference to a certain "Manglik").

Even after all these interesting developments I was almost sure the ending would undo it all. It happens often with otherwise good comedy films. (I believe a funny Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani was undone in the last fifteen minutes). But surprise, surprise, the ending is too good -- The common man cameo and then an "irrelevant" song to top it! I am all happy tears by then.

* * *

The 2003 film is directed by Sanjay Jha (he pays for his guts -- this is the only film he has directed) and produced by Asoo Nihalani, Sagoon Wagh and Raj Lalchandani (cheers to all three of them).

DVD cover looks like this, in case you want to look for it.

[Links on the film:
IMDB entry;
Sanjay Jha comments at a review by filmiholic;
Review on Indiafm by Taran Adarsh]

* * *

Tailpiece: Saddest attempt at "feminism" I can remember in Bollywood is "Aamdani Atthanni Kharcha Rupaiya". "Astitva" and "Chandni Bar" were technically better but still sad in content. PJPSNJ is way ahead. (Interestingly, the former three had Tabu common).

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tree and me

"Is it the thirst before paper
That is getting suffocated in my poem?

Is it the song of green that you kept for the sun
That is coming out as a cry in my words?

Or, am I playing this game of words on a poem of yours?.."

For those who can not understand Malayalam; For those who are having trouble reading Malayalam fonts; And for those who have not yet visited Kavithakkoridam (A space for poetry). Thanks, Rasheed!

[image source: Marakkara, kavithakkoridam. courtesy k p rasheed]

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sad website for Cannes :-(

I was trying to check out the films in Competition and other sections at Cannes film festival. So I go to the official website of Festival de Cannes and get disappointed. The schedule of screenings is up, but many links lead you to this page that says "The content you have requested will be online soon. Please come back and check our site regularly."

For example, "In Competition" page (under "Official Selection") says "
Each year, about twenty feature films are selected to be in Competition and in the running for the Palme d'Or. They make up the main part of the Official Selection which is screened at the Grand Theatre Lumière.

Click here to see the full 2007 list."

You click and you are told "the content will be online soon". This holds for all sections under "Official Selection" and also to many other links on the festival page.

This is on May 17. GMT 4:27pm. The festival is from May 16 to 27, 2007.

This when they are celebrating 60 years of movies. The festival 2007 page boasts that "
2007 is not just any year for the Festival de Cannes, as not only do we reflect on sixty years of movie-making history but also look forward to what the future of film holds."

[Festival logo source: wikipedia]

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A birthday party

This story happens in the US of A.

It is a kid's birthday party.

He tells his mom he wants to call Elizabeth who's in his class.

Mom asks, "Is she white, or black?"

"Just a minute, I'll check with her."

* * *

This was supposed to be a joke. The innocence part is probably a bit exaggerated. But the conditioning that we go through in our early years, and the effect that is has on us, remains a fact.

I hear about a Jew who grew up in Canada. How the family members injected racism into their bloods when they were kids. How "saving Israel" became their first priority in life. And how she felt ashamed of it when she grew up and got to know more about Israel. And how she became an outsider, an "agent", at home..

Monday, May 14, 2007

Reservation Quota to be hiked to 95%

So goes an advertisement for Videocon Airconditioners. One of the most offensive ads I have seen in recent times. With a tagline "Stay cool No matter what". It wins the uncool ad award hands down.

The ad shows the front page of a newspaper "NOON NEWS" that carries this news:

Reservation Quota to be hiked to 95%

"The superior court today accepted the government's plea to increase reservation quota in educational institutes. High-profile institutes such as IISs and the IINs too, will now have to reserve almost 95% of their seats for candidates belonging to scheduled castes (SC) and backward class (BC) from the coming academic year.." (it goes on)

How is it that such a blatant mockery of people belonging to scheduled castes and backward classes passing off without a resistance? Or has everyone taken the tagline too seriously?

[Ad on the backside of Air Deccan magazine Simplifly May 2007 issue]

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother, you were ahead of time

["Many Native Americans regard the Milky Way as the path followed by the souls of the dead. According to the Zulu and Ndebele people of southern Africa, the stars are the eyes of dead ancestors, keeping watch on the living from above", Encyclopedia of Myths]

Mom and dad, a rare moment

The dead people becoming stars and blinking at you from the skies seems to be one piece of imagination that cuts across civilizations. Priyadarshan used it in his first big hit Chithram in Malayalam. Men and women wiped their eyes when Mohanlal asked Ranjini to look for him in the sky. "O the blinking stars, among you I seek the pretty faces that left me.." goes one song in another Malayalam film Purappad.

So has my mother become a star too? May be.

But as far as I know, she has always been a star.

With absolutely no intentions to compromise, with an immense desire to break free of the bonds that tied her, she traveled ahead in time. It is no wonder that she could not stretch it long.

(It is better to live a tiger's life for a day than live a dog's life a hundred years, my dad used to tell me. With no disrespect to the dog's life, I take the spirit of that saying.)

It will take many people like her before mothers become more than that.

Two years back for a Mother's day I wrote on what I learnt from her, thanks to rediff. After her death, I first wrote this and then this. This mother's day when I sit down to write on her again, I realize she is very much alive.

[in the pic: mom and dad, a rare scene]

People choose BSP in UP

Today I remember another May 13 post that appeared three years back on this diary. Titled "Nobody's India", that short post read, "The people of India have shown that nobody could take them for granted. The democracy is the winner, as Sidhu would put it:)"

I am happy to see BSP coming to power in UP and that too with a clear majority.

The multi-sided contests have done good to UP. In particular, SP and BSP have revolutionized the way UP vote.

There's this one Yadav who runs a xerox shop in Kanpur. He offers puja at a framed photograph of Mulayam Singh Yadav. He says he never voted in an election till Mulayam came. Not because he didn't have his GOD to vote for, but because the OBCs were not allowed to vote. The Brahmins and Kshatriyas took charge of the polling booths.

Former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao called it a miracle of democracy (that an untouchable is becoming a CM) when Mayavati came to power for the first time, in 1995. That miracle couldn't have been possible without the social revolution that has taken place since late eighties.

* * *

What relates the UP results to 2004 general election results is the way the poll predictions, opinion polls and exit polls have all gone for a toss. That time everyone was sure of a second term for NDA, and this time nobody had an element of doubt it would be a hung assembly, and also that BJP would get considerable number of seats. Some flashback: Landslide for Atal, Feb 2 2004. Media obsession: Elections: Vajpayee vs Sonia?, Feb 12 and ToI working overtime, Mar 18.

* * *

[image from Sunday Express, April 29 2007]

Thursday, May 10, 2007


The festival starts today at Thrissur, Kerala. Focus of the year is Earth. See VIBGYOR International Film Festival: Celebrating Identities and diversity.

And schedule.

Don't abuse the E-word

A three month old kid loses father. By "mistake".

"Dibrugarh, May 6: ..The 6 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles shot dead 24-year-old Budheswar Moran “on suspicion” of being a hardcore Ulfa militant. It said the “encounter” occurred at Laopatty in Assam’s Tinsukia district.

Budheswar’s family and those who knew him, however, insisted he was a watchman at a tea estate.

The resident of Kordoiguri village, under Doomdooma police station, was married with two children, the younger barely three months old.." (The Telegraph, Monday May 7, 2007)

And today's paper says: "..“The killing of Budheswar Moran was an unfortunate incident and my heart goes out to the innocent family members of the victim. Let me assure you that all those found guilty will face strict and exemplary punishment,” the general-officer-commanding of the Dinjan-based 2 Mountain Division, Maj. Gen. N.C. Marwah, said at a hurriedly organised media conference at Tinsukia Circuit House.." (Killing was a mistake: army).

Why do we continue to abuse the E-word? Especially in the north-eastern states where army has the power to kill anyone on mere suspicion and get away with it?

[Earlier post: Conflicts]

* * *

Follow-up (added on May 13): Army apology cuts no ice - Tinsukia to Lower Assam, highways under siege (The Telegraph, May 11)
"Dibrugarh, May 10: The army’s apology for mistakenly killing Budheswar Moran may have prompted his family to finally accept and cremate the body today, but it did little to stem the tide of protests over the incident.

[Image: Moran's widow with younger child.]

A 5,000-strong crowd blocked National Highway 37 at Doomdooma even as Moran’s family, relatives and friends accepted his body, which had been lying in a Tinsukia morgue since Sunday.."

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Messi magic: replay

A friend gives link to the Messi goal on youtube. (A report: Messi in Maradona tribute)

The mail says: "el gol de Sa: messi contra el getafe... recordando aquél gol del Sa: diego en méxico '86 contra Inglaterra.."

For those who don't understand Spanish, there is Google translate tool: "the goal of Sa: messi against getafe… remembering that one goal of the Sa: Diego in Mexico '86 against England.." (Sa: is short for Malayalam Sakhav, a word that means comrade or pal).

[Here is the original Maradona goal, also on youtube]

I, like other Argentine fans, never understood the logic in keeping Messi out of the crucial quarter final match against Germany. (And that infamous Riquelme pull out.. O my god I don't want to remember that game!)

Friday, May 04, 2007

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no rights reserved
Thanks for sharing and reusing the contents of this diary.

Of Vagina Experiences and Music, in Kerala

"What does this word mean?
And in kerala?.."

Gargi tells us her experiences at a Pattu Kalari (Music Workshop) that was held recently at Vagamon, Kottayam district, Kerala.

And she puts the lyrics of one song they composed at the workshop: My name is clitoris.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington starrer Philadelphia was apparently the true story of an attorney who sued the world's largest law firm for firing him because he had AIDS, despite the filmmakers originally claiming it to be "fictional". (Reuters: Lawyer says "Philadelphia" is true story). Now the film has the following message at the end credits: "This motion picture was inspired in part by Geoffrey BowersAIDS discrimination lawsuit, the courage and love of the Angius family and the struggles of the many others who, along with their loved ones, have experienced discrimination because of AIDS."

Revathy adapted it in Hindi as Phir Milenge (We Will Meet Again), with Shilpa Shetty and Salman Khan in the lead. In the Indian version, though, Shilpa Shetty's character does not suffer from AIDS, and stays healthy till the end of the film. The emphasis was that being HIV positive does not mean AIDS.

And then last November-December, in a Kerala society that boasts of being "educated" and "cultured", Five HIV-positive children were expelled from a school after protests from parents of other children. Their future of those students is still hanging in uncertainty, and I'm not sure if they were allowed to appear for the annual examinations this March..

(Around the same time, a group of members of the neighbourhood made a big scene against cremating the dead body of a person died of AIDS. Also in Kerala.)

When do we grow up as a society?

[Image: Phir Milenge, from Times Online, UK]

Govt kills husband, then wife, and admits it in court..!

You thought that was some joke? I did, even after reading this news in all leading newspapers (to make sure I did not read it wrong).. I still can't believe many who are ruling us are not only unjust and mindless but also shameless!

* * *

"In a shocking revelation, the Gujarat Government on Monday admitted before the Supreme Court that Kausar Bi, wife of fake encounter victim Sohrabuddin Sheikh, has been killed and her body burnt.

"She has been killed," Gujarat Government counsel K T S Tulsi and Hemantika Wahi told a Bench headed by Justice Tarun Chatterjee during the mentioning hours.."
(Cops killed Kausar Bi, admits Gujarat, The Indian Express)

* * *

"The Gujarat government on Monday told the Supreme Court that Kauser Bi, wife of fake encounter victim Sohrabuddin Sheikh, has been killed.."
(Gujarat confirms Kauser Bi's death to SC, The Times of India)

* * *

"The Gujarat Government on Monday admitted in the Supreme Court that Kausar Bi, wife of Sohrabuddin, was murdered a few days after he was killed in a fake encounter.."
(`Kausar Bi was killed, burnt', The Hindu)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

None of them is me (Female voice - Lyrics)

(at least as of now)

i can not be what i am
i can not just be me
i'm asked to play out a number of roles
none of them is me
so at least as of now
let me play out those roles
and do that in style..

stay away from me
stay away from me
i'd rather not have you near
when i can not be me

(i can take a back-seat
show cold storage to dreams
it sure does burn me, but
i will pretend it does not)

i love you dear, but the world won't let me have you
i love you dear, but reality kills me
i am dead, but i don't want you to die
i can't stand you seeing me die..

i can feel the pain
that you are through
but there will be a time
when you come to terms with it
and then come out of it..
(i know, with some deep wound scars
that make good identity marks..)

leave me to burn alone
leave me on my own
i have to be cruel to tell
don't care for me..

i love you dear, but the world won't let me have you
i love you dear, but reality kills me
i am dead, but i don't want you to die
i am dead, and i want you alive..

(for R)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Laurie Baker, the Builder

Laurie Baker. Born in Birmingham, England on March 2, 1917. Died on April 1, 2007 in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India. He had become a household name in Kerala synonymous to low-cost housing. The Times of India article (that triggered this attribution issue) says he is "relevant for a world that is threatened by global warming".

Apparently after completing his architecture course, he became an ambulance driver in the Second War in Burma and China. On his way back (to England) through (then) Bombay in 1945, he met Gandhi who told him there was much useful work to be done by architects in rural India. Baker lived 13 years in Uttar Pradesh (where he got married to a local doctor) before he moved to Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala in 1963.

Some of my friends are now camping at a house built by him, at Vagamon in Kottayam district of Kerala (see Inspiration: For Nature-friendly built Environment) for a Pattu Kalari (Music workshop).

I have memories of a cartoon strip "Malayaliyude Mundu" (Mundu of Malayalees, a piece of cloth that is worn like a wrap-around) by him in one leading Malayalam periodical.

A few links for those who are interested in knowing more about him and his philosphy of life: MUD: An article by Laurie Baker (pdf), Of Architectural Truths and Lies: another article by him in The Hindu, An interview: Architecture for the people, and an article on the builder: The cost of Living, by London-based architect Ayyub Malik (pdf) .

[Image from Inspiration page]

Friday, April 27, 2007

Times of India to republish photograph

It seems people at Times Of India have agreed to republish the photo with credit. See Seema's blog for details.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Taking Sides (Seema vs ToI this time)

The Original..

..and The clone.

In the pic is a building at the Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram. Photo by Seema. I wish ToI carried those three words.

Seema has posted on her blog a letter to ToI for which she hasn't got a reply.

"I'm happy to see that my photo of a building by Padamashree Laurie Baker being published in you esteemed new paper, that too in editorial page. Same time it is really saddening to see that I am not attributed for the work I've done..

The picture you have given in this editorial is taken by me here in Trivandrum. you can find this picture here in this link. If you look into the copyright agreement section of the site you can see that I used Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 (Creative Commons) license for my work. I do want people to use my work with their creative work.."

* * *

Krishnakumar writes in a comment to the post on Ore Kadal: "There is always another side to every story. Why not wait and see?"

We have heard the "both sides" stories for a long time. In my experience that kind of a desparate attempt to "balance out" is often the most cruel thing to do. Like Mani Ratnam does in Bombay about the Bombay riots.

I know Times of India will sure have their side of this story.

I'd rather go by someone I know I can trust. Like Subhash or my friend Seema.

[Title courtesy: Taking Sides is the title of a 2001 film by Hungarian filmmaker István Szabó].

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Mithunda's take on Singur/Nandigram

"The film begins with the customary disclaimer.. But Mithunda's latest box-office wonder is about land acquisition in a burning Bengal", goes the review of Bong film Tulkalam in The Telegraph by Chandrima S. Bhattacharya (could not find it on the web edition).

Hindustan Times has a special story by Drimi Chowdhuri titled Bengali cinema raises issue of land acquisition. "Filmmaker Haranath Chakroborty’s "Tulkalam" starring Mithun Chakraborty and Rachana Banerjee has struck a chord with viewers. The movie is running to packed houses in Minar, Bijoli and Chhabighar which are mostly haunted by Bengali cine-goers looking for something more than the regular commercial fare.."

"The city’s commercial theatre district, Chitpore, that has always shown a penchant for recent happenings, is also tapping in on the issue. All the theatre companies involved with production seem to be changing their storyline, even though their titles prominently feature Nandigram.."

The Telegraph review can't conclude without a reference to the "Left intellectuals":

"Such direct political reference is not usual in a mainstream Bengali movie. The issue must be so hot that it can't be swept under the carpet any more. Neither by Left intellectuals nor by Mithunda. The carpet will catch fire.."

Funny. The carpets of The Telegraphs and The Indian Expresses and Anand Bazar Patrikas seem to be catching fire. All these "development-mongers" vehemently supported the WB Govt on the land acquisitions and kept quiet about the first round of violent turn of events in Nandigram this January (that led to the March 14 firing).

["Villagers have become extremely wary of journalists, they turn back some of them, and claim that at least the biggest newspaper group, ABP, has sold itself to the state government. The variations are whether the buying party is the state government, the CPI(M), or the chief minister..", wrote Aloke Thakore in The Hoot].

So now, they are all busy taking digs at Left Intellectualism (IE article on "Why left intellectualism is so damaging", refering to some statement by some CPM intellectuals who are not sure where to stand.) Understandably turning a blind eye to most other left intellectuals who stood firm against the WB Govt's development policies even before the March 14 firings at Nandigram. In a desparate attempt to make sure everything goes "right", the way WB Govt and CPM has been moving. So that any voice against them, intellectual or not, are not taken seriously by anyone.

But no matter how muchever they try, the fire is very much here. Unlike what they would like to believe ("Unfortunately, real rural Bengal does not have a Mithun", says Ms Bhattacharya), the people are standing up for their rights and won't give in without a fight. And they are aware who are trying to take them for granted and who are benefitting from it.

* * *

Tailpiece: It seems March 15 and March 16 issues of Ananda Bazar Patrika went missing from their web archives!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


It was like meeting a long-lost childhood friend.

Each time it happens, it feels like a first time.

This time, I sat down to write a paper-and-ink letter. Put it in a red letterbox in front of a post office.

I know it's going to take many days to reach my friend. But I find it worth.

I can feel the high I am on. I can also remember the times when I have felt such highs before. I remember my friends with gratitude. They make this life worth living.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Finding someone who does not like Namesake

Yesterday when I called a friend she said: "Sick it is.. Isse achcha to Namaste London jaise pictures banana hai.. Ye jyada jhoota lagta hai.." (It's better to make films like "Namaste London".. This looks more pretentious). She felt the film just repeated the irritating preachings of how you find "real" love and values only inside the family. "And after every 4-5 scenes there has to be an intimate love scene, it has become so predictable in Mira Nair's films.." "Monsoon Wedding also sold an image of India to the West but it at least tried talking about a real issue that is not discussed much.."

Thus I finally found someone who didn't like The Namesake.

I haven't seen the film. From whatever I read about it (though all of it was praise for the film and its director) I wondered why each and every one was raving about it. It disappointed me that talented filmmakers like Mira Nair have settled for such "safe" films. It didn't come to my town.

Yestreday itself, another friend (who hasn't seen the film) told me about one more person who did not like the film.

I was relieved. It's not the end of the world.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Happy new years!

Happy Bihu
Happy Vishu
Happy Tamil New Year
Happy Baishakhi
Happy Boishakh ..

Happy New Year!

Please fill in if I have left out any. Ugadi and Gudi Padwa also happen around same time, but I guess that's a week or two earlier.

[image courtesy: webindia123.com]

Friday, April 13, 2007

Ore Kadal -- Subhashinte, Shyamaprasadinte..

Randum Ore Kadal!

Short story writer Subhash Chandran writes in Mathrubhumi Azhchappathippu on how director Shyamaprasad made him write the script for Ore Kadal and then dumped him. I first read about it on Orkut. To quote the post, "This is how 'genius' directors survive in malayalam...sad!"

Sad indeed. Especially when it comes from someone we all loved for his Agnisaakshi and some very good telefilms (Vishwavikhyathamaya Mookku, Peruvazhiyile Kariyilakal, Ullurukkam..) Shyamaprasad takes the credit for Ore Kadal script. I don't understand what's wrong with him -- it will only remain a big blot in his career graph.

Subhash, we love you for your stories, now we will love you for your script. No matter what the credit scrolls say.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Little Prince

"Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves and it is rather tedious for children to have to explain things to them time and again.."

"..So the astronomer repeated his demonstration in 1920, dressed in an elegant suit. And this time everybody was convinced.."

After a long time I'm reading a book till the end..

Or so I thought when I started reading it.

Because The Little Prince started out interesting enough, it tried to avoid the kind of language that only the grown-ups understand, the words used did not demand having a dictionary by my side, and the book was so small.. I thought this time I'm surely going to finish it, for a change.

But that was not to be. After four or five chapters it got monotonous, and by the time it got to the flower and the King, it saturated; the words remained simple but the language became more of that of the grown-ups.. and (The Little Prince fans, forgive me) I could not move further. I gave up.

Still I think it was worth knowing that such a book existed. And it has been in existence for more than sixty years now. (Incidentally, one of these days I also found an advertisement of a version in Malayalam, as a series in Balabhumi.)

I'm still waiting.. to find a book that can hold me till the end!

[Image source: Wikipedia]

Sunday, April 08, 2007

happy easter (and a nostalgic Bangla win)

Wish you a happy easter!

Watching yesterday's World Cup cricket match between Bangladesh and South Africa was like watching cricket fifteen years back.

When I had only started watching cricket, and was able to sit in front of the TV for an entire match (I can't even imagine that now, how much stress it would have been on my eyes).

When the openers just made sure they didn't lose wickets in the first few overs,
when the matches never went into the three hundreds,
when an individual hundred was an exception, and an 80 was a big score..

I watched only the Bangla innings, and it really took me back in time. Seeing Mohammed Ashraful cut loose after his fifty completed the feeling of deja vu. (Needless to say, I was happy to know they won the match).

And I realize how much the game has changed over years. It is not about one of them being better than the other. It is like getting to watch a newsreel on Darwin's theory. Where you get a close look of the contrast.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Responsibility of Deaths

On Feb 28 I learn about the demise of Ronald Rebello. He was 25. I am shocked. I, like many others, remember him largely through his letters to the editors ("I am a Human Rights Activist and a regular Letter Writer with special interest in Adivasi struggles and Justice issues..", he introduces himself in his blog). I also remember a mailing list that remained active because of him. RIP Ronald, and RIP manavbachao!

My mother A V Pushparjini is taken to the ICU of Elite Mission Hospital, Thrissur on March 3, where she is declared dead on March 6 evening. That death has made me older. It makes me reflect on a variety of things, and puts some responsibilities on me. (Sreejitha says she feels the same.) I also feel her closer to me than ever before. Sans the barriers of this world, sans the social and familial pressures.. now I can love her as much as I want. So can Sreejitha.

March 14
: Police open fire at local people at Nandigram, West Bengal. (I read about it in the newspapers the next day morning. I feel numb). Official statement by the WB Government says 14 died in the firing. The reports coming in from Nandigram puts the death toll above 50.

On March 19 newspapers carry the news of Pak Cricket Coach Bob Woolmer found dead in his hotel room in Jamaica. It disturbs me.

A mail from a friend dated March 20 says,

"Com M Iqbal, a former leader of SBI employees, former councilor of Kochi Corporation, a well known writer and theoretician on music, grand son of the first malayalam gazal singer Sara Gul Muhammed passed away this morning due to a heart attack. his body will be cremated tomorrow morning 11 AM at Mattanchery.."

The mail gives links to Iqbal's orkut profile and homepage. In his orkut profile he says,
"about me: love music, art and literature. feel all human are one."

His sons have put up a note on his profile now.

[On googling I find an older obituary: "Multi-lingual singer of yesteryears, Sara Gul Mohammed, (83), died here on Monday (Feb 23, 1998). A childhood friend of the legendary singer, M S Subbulakshmi, Sara, who began singing at the age of nine, is stated to have had the distinction of being the first woman to have her songs recorded on gramophone. Her talent was first spotted by her mentor Gul Mohammed, whom she married later.."]

By the time I got back to the world of internet and the world of friends everywhere, I am caught in a web of deaths.

And I learn that every death puts some responsibility on me. On Sreejitha. And on each of us.

[This post was inspired by a poem that Sreejitha wrote, in Malayalam]

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The World Cup is not over, boss!

The World Cup Madness in our media seems to have ended. That is a relief. Thanks to the Bangladesh and Sri Lankan teams who showed us where our "Blue Army" belongs.

The ads with our "heroes" are off air, there's no more "Ooh Aah India" (sounds like some porn scene) and all that crap. Yes, there's still some post-mortem going on to find out who are the real culprits (like this one), who all will lose job, who will be new captain, who will be new coach and all that. And there is a Bob Woolmer mystery for the Poirot fans. [He gave his life to Cricket - cricket world pays tribute]

All that is fine, but would that mean we stop covering the world cup matches?

Do our newspaper biggies feel that we are only supposed to follow the world cup only as long as Indian team stayed in the race?

Don't know if this lack of enthusiasm has anything to do with the loss of advertising revenues on ads that featured Indian players. Whatever the reason be, we have stopped getting updates about the previous day's scores. (I get The Telegraph at home, a city edition). One has to be content with two days old match reports and score cards. And of course, the coach-captain-senior players drama.

Is all the fizz over at this world cup? It's far from it. Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa are all playing good cricket. England is also very much in the race. To see how they tackle in-form Sri Lankans in today's match would be interesting. Even the West Indies is not out of the World Cup yet.

May be we will get a better coverage as the super eight stage nears an end. Thats all we can hope for now!

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Mayavi poster designed by a Mayavi fan

Shafi's Mayavi (Myayavi, as Salim Kumar's character Kannan Sraank prefers it) is one Malayalam film I really enjoyed watching. One can count them on one hand -- Pandippada (by Rafi-Mecartin), Rajamanikyam (by Anwar Rasheed) and Udayanaanu Thaaram (by Rosshan Andrews) is all I can think of in, say, last three or four years. (Classmates came close).

Looks like everyone else is also enjoying it, going by the near-full house in the sixth or seventh week of its release. Kannan Sraank is one major factor in the film's success (I am becoming more and more a fan of Salim Kumar with every movie of his), as is Gopika's character (and the scene in which she buys the hero a lemon drink). The scriptwriters Rafi and Mecartin also deserve mention for coming up with crazier ideas every time. `Namovakam' to the entire team! [The poster above is not an "official" one. It's designed by a well-wisher of Mayavi and is available on the web at http://img.photoamp.com/i/nq4qfWylu.jpg]

[Malayalam film buffs are known for their dislike for newer faces when it comes to heroes but thankfully, they don't seem to have such a reservation against new directors. The "experienced" lot has been biting dust time and again, while it's the fresh lot that's coming up with big commercial successes. Be it Jayasurya of Speed Track, Ravi of Keerthichakra, Johnny Antony of CID Moosa, Shafi, Anwar Rasheed, Rosshan Andrews.. These directors have had some freshness in their themes and treatments. If this is any sign of things to come in Malayalam cinema, I count it as a good sign.

I am looking forward to Chota Mumbai. I hope Anwar does not disappoint like Johnny Antony and Rosshan Andrews did after promising first films. One has to give credits to Shafi for not following that path. He seems to be getting better.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Seeing RED

RED: The Dark Side poster from glamsham.com

Almost every review said it was bad. Trade pundits wrote it off as a flop. Still I preferred watching Red: The Dark Side to Namastey London.

Yes, it was very predictable stuff. I guess that is enough reason for a suspense thriller to fail. The film also looks confused about what audience to target -- the multiplex class or B and C centres. Or it targeted both and failed at it miserably. But well, it is stylish in parts, Aftab does show signs of becoming an actor, the music is catchy.. I won't call it a disaster. And it seems the film is inspired by 21 grams. I don't have anything against lifting ideas from elsewhere if that can give us something fresh and something different, and I seriously hope someone makes a better Hindi flick out of 21 grams.

One thing about some of these films in this genre (that is relatively new to Bollywood) is female characters who have some meat in their roles (not just flesh). I can think of Jism, Murder, Aitraaz, Chehra.. It will be interesting to see whether the female-centered thrillers are here to stay.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Oru Snehabandhatthin..

Mother died on March 6.

She is now with me more than she ever was.

Below is a favourite song of hers. I remember her singing it very often in our younger days. She identified very much with this song. Of a lady who went searching for love but never found it. If anyone remembers the missing two lines, please fill in.

Oru Snehabandhattin..

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Can we make Saji sing again?

Saji Chandran, 26 years. Looks younger. Hails from a village in Kannur district of Kerala.

He used to be part of "Ganamelas" (stage orchestras) till five months back. He penned lyrics, put tunes and ruled the stages. And spent his spare time drawing and painting.

Till he fell ill, both his kidneys failed. Learning in a shock that he needs a kidney transplant in less than two months to stay alive.

He's in the hospital bed now (Amritha Hospital, Ernakulam), needing a lot of money (at least Rs 3 lakhs) for a transplant. His mother is standing beside him. She is willing to give her kidney. Father Ramachandran died early.

His friends and local people have tried collecting some money, but they couldn't get more than Rs 40,000.

Can we help him?

[In the picture is an article on Saji, by my friend Rasheed, that appeared in Malayalam daily Madhyamam on Sunday 18th February. Read the article (in Malayalam) : [pdf] Page 1 Page 2]

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"Cattle class" tera journalism!

"..But it’s the token of respect they have earned that the occupants of the crammed “cattle class” may appreciate more..", goes The Telegraph main story on the Railway Budget, titled "Cattle class to comfort zone".

Our "mainstream" media can so blatantly stoop to any low when they are sure nobody would take it up and make it an issue like they did with the Shilpa Shetty (non?) issue a few weeks back. They also seem to be assuming that the "class" that travels in general compartments don't read their paper.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Guess who are the Best Developed?

Guess which nation is the best developed in the world? When we say the "best developed", we mean it. Don't confuse that with something like "with highest per capita income" or "highest pollution rate".

Green Left, Australia quotes The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Global Footprint Network.s 2006 report, Living Planet, released last October:

"..human activities are outstripping the natural world's capacity to regenerate. The worst offenders are also the wealthiest. for example the US, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Australia and New Zealand produce 50% of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.. It also revealed that Cuba was the only country to have achieved sustainable development.."

The report goes on to say that "Cuba's rating was based on the fact that it is the only country in the world that has a high level of social development, including good health and education systems, and does not use up more resources than is sustainable."

Now, what makes Cuba take the sustainability route, when everyone else is competing with one another in their race towards an impending doom? The communist parties, or the ideologies itself, have no special inclination towards environment-friendly development, or to be more precise, development that lasts.

The report says that "Cuba's achievements are all the more extraordinary because the country, already very poor, has pulled this off in despite the five-decade-long US economic blockade". Despite the blockade? I believe it was the Blockade itself that made this possible.

Cuba did not have much choice.

With a sanction in place for almost 50 years, they had to do with what they had within. They could not steal oil or share the benefit from those who did. They could not live in illusions.

Let us check what is happening in India. Our media has been raving about the new "shining" India, for which both NDA and UPA claim the credit. The "left", once widely seen as the "red" that stops this "development boom", is now going all out to beat everyone else in that game.

EPW Editorial ("Nandigram: Taking People for Granted", Economic and Political Weekly, Jan 13-19 2007) calls it a "race to the bottom":

"And with globalisation, capital, whether Indian or Foreign, has to be given better terms than what is on offer by governments in other potential locations in other countries. When capital finally decides to make an investment in the domestic economy, state governments then compete with one another in offering better terms to enhance their respective location advantages. The revenue loss such terms entail does, of course, compound their problem of financing programmes in health, education and other important public services, forcing them to either cut back on these programmes or turn to the "aid" agencies that willy-nilly impose their "conditionalities". Frankly, it is really a "race to the bottom" in which the state governments have limited options.."

[We had talked about this in the comments here once.

"..it is not profitable to account for the exploitation of our resources. Ooze all the water out of our wells and give it to MNCs. Shut all the schools down in the rural areas, have no hospitals, health care, or even better, shoot all those people..

The media, with enough money backing it, play the "let the market decide" tune loud enough to make sure any other voice goes unheard. [A boycott in Nandigram of newspapers or of journalists belonging to some news organizations suggests a feeling of media disenfranchisement, writes Aloke Thakore; Singur smokescreen: Part 1, 2 and 3 by Anirudha Dutta]

Unfortunately, even when a Singur or Nandigram makes it to the news, at best it is used to "expose" the double-talk of the major left parties in India (and to feel glad that the "Left" is also coming "our" way). Hardly anyone bothers to raise questions about the development model itself.

Friday, February 23, 2007

More Missing People, Crying Mothers

This time, Samjhautha Express. Killing about 70 people on the spot. Another shot at making fear prevail over any attempts towards peace.

[From India eNews: Diaries from Samjhauta: "It was exactly one year to the day that I had boarded the Delhi-Attari Express that would take me onward to Lahore via the Samjhauta Express from Attari. One year hence I cannot but be overcome by emotions to hear the news of the tragedy that took place last Sunday..", writes Rudroneel Ghosh.]

The tragedy, security lapses, images of the suspects, and an image of a BSF man on a horseback alongside the train (that one on the front page of today's The Telegraph) are all over the newspapers and television. And Pakistan and India getting into a word of wars again.

You think it's just the scale of the horror of the incident that makes the media jump on it so happily? I think thats just a part of it.

Now, think Nithari. Another feast that the media has had in recent times, despite the news of the missing children coming out very late. What made it easy meat? Missing children? Skeletons? Crying moms? May be all of that, but looking closer, I see something common: An easy villain.

(Almost every news report related to Nithari had Moninder Singh's photo with it. And for "us" on this side, there is an "easy villain" in ISI every time any act of terror happens in this country. This time it wasn't so easy, as many of the people who died were Pakistanis. Still the media is playing that "Pak hand" card, though in a more subtle way.).

Here's another story that had both missing clildren and people continuously living in fear. And yes, it has crying Mothers too.

Families of missing people from Jammu and Kashmir were on a day-long hunger strike yesterday (Thursday, February 22) in New Delhi.

I heard this from a journalist friend in Delhi. I try googling but can't find anything on it in our leading "National" newspapers. The only news article I could find on this is from "Greater Kashmir", that calls it a "part of a campaign to mobilise public support against human rights violations in the strife-torn state."

"Sixty family members of the missing people, mostly women, arrived here [Delhi] on Monday from Srinagar in a bus to participate in the campaign", goes the news.

[The false encounter killings in Kashmir came to news again recently, with former Superintendent of Police Hansraj Parihar and his deputy in Ganderbal, Bhadur Ram, arrested for allegedly killing five south Kashmir villagers in fake encounters after dubbing them as Pakistani militants, for reward money. I had read that news at a couple of places but all I could find now with Google was a single Indian Express article: "There is a man who says his brother, a Special Police official, was picked up from home, tortured to death and to hide the truth..."

Then a Kashmiri Observer article about a protest strike in Kashmir. And a statement in Peoples Democracy. Is there a filter working inside Google India like, say, the one in China? I am not sure.]

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

An Iraqi girl speaks Malayalam

Sameeha translates her neighbour, a 13-year old Iraqi girl who lived in the next flat, who lost her parents when they were having a lunch together.

In English, it translates roughly as..

"I can't forget the childhood
That smelt blood
Ate bombs
Heard lullabies of gunshots

We will resist
At least with slingshots
Till our last bones are broken
We, children of Baghdad.."

"Who knows what she'll become tomorrow..", Sameeha asks. What will we call the girl, "insurgent", or "terrorist"? When will the rest of us realize War is not a matter of whether Saddam was a martyr or a villain?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mahendra Singh Dhoni: Low class cricketer


Dhoni-dom is not quite the stardom that we are used to in Indian cricket.

I am not refering only to the guy's cricketing skills here. MSD is a class apart, literally. He belongs to the lower class.

You'd know what I mean if you've seen the ads that feature him.

We have seen stars drink Pepsi or Coke (or Boost!), ride Santro, wear Mayur or Siyaram suitings, show off their Rbk (and RSS, of late), be part of the Samsung team, eat Chyavanprash.. Whereas Dhoni's larger-than-life figure is all over in the interiors of the country in billboards that target the labour and farmer class.

So unlike our "master"s, "Maharaja"s and "Wall"s, Dhoni comes out as the "common man" of Indian cricket.

(One does not forget an under-19 captain who brought home the world cup and later became part of the senior team, he had the common man appeal in him but he never became a sellable star on his own. Sehvag was another person who came close).

Coming from Bihar Ranji team (and later Jharkhand), MSD has a way of his own. In everything. (Ever heard of anyone from a Bihar team making it to the Indian team before?) And with his game, he makes sure he can't be ignored by anyone for long.

The Telegraph carries an opinion page article on Feb 15:

"What stood out from the beginning was Dhoni's confident poise, the fact that he played from the start like an adult.. Dhoni never looked the young debutant, he never seemed tentative. He seemed to know what his business was and went about it with a calm self-possession that contrasted nicely with the violence of his methods.."

The article tries to find the reason:

"This might have had something to do with his apprenticeship in first-class cricket, which was a relatively long one. He had played five years of first-class cricket when he was selected to represent India.."

One of the earliest articles I could find on the man says: "I am sure M.S.Dhoni would get his turn to play for India and if he can produce atleast 60% of what he had played against Pakistan A and Kenya, then my word is that this guy would be a resounding success in the near future.."

He lived up to those words. In style.

In a game that is dominated by the "whites" of this country.

Coming back to the Telegraph article, that calls him "part Bheem, part Ekalavya":

"Indian teams are organized around codes of deference: "junior" players behave a certain way around "senior" players.. Dhoni, like Sehwag, doesn't fit into that mould.."

Let us hope he stays -- as a dependable player, as a star, and as a common man.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Rain: Most unromantic

My friends are sleeping on a pavement. The water levels have risen, and it has become impossible to stay there any longer. I ask them where would they go, but there isn't much choice before them. All other pavements are already taken by someone or the other. The situation is not much better for them either, as the levels continue to raise. There's one tea-shop below ground level, and it becomes a pond when it rains. It is one of those smaller towns, probably somewhere in Kerala. Two little friends of mine, a boy and a girl, try to move to the nearby town. But by then, that town has become part of the first, as the city grows..

[It was raining last evening. It was also quite cold. I had an umbrella but my pants got wet. It wasn't so good a feeling. There have been times when I enjoyed getting wet (and rain was so romantic) but it wasn't like that yesterday. I shivered, my knees pained, the wetness itched. I changed to dry clothes as soon as I got home. I felt relieved. In the night, the blanket fell off my head for a while. It took so much for me to have a dream like that.]

Waking up from that dream took me to the Mumbai of 2005. The deadly rains. And that July 26. About four lakh people on the streets, their homes struck down by the authorities earlier that year. The Shanghai dream..

[NUMBER OF homes damaged by the tsunami in Nagapattinam: 30,300. Number of homes destroyed by the Congress-NCP Government in Mumbai: 84,000.

How agonised we are about how people die. How untroubled we are by how they live..

Some of us had read that one by Sainath. But even those who read it could not quite connect to what it would have been like for them during the rains. For many, it was about taxpayers' money, illegal occupation, stealing resources and cleaning up Mumbai.

We hardly cared to find out why so many people still keep migrating to our cities despite them being so unclean -- especially the areas they have to live in. And how bad their lives could be back in their villages. Not only in terms of being able to make a living -- also in terms of access to medical help, access to education for the children..]

..Some of my friends going door-to-door to collect relief. Disappointment on their faces, as they make many rounds and fail to get the message across.

The words are so powerless a means of communication!

[Wrting all this reminds me of another article titled "My Monsoons" that I read a few years back].

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Love in (and after) the time of Innocence

I remember one my friends telling about the love of his early college days, when he was sixteen or seventeen. Passionately in love with a girl in his class (and unable to convey his feelings) he would sing "Main duniyaa bhulaa dungaa.. / Teri chaahat mein.." (Aashiqui was hot then.)

When the girl started seeing someone, the track changed to "Ab tere bin / Jee lenge hum.. / Zeher zindagii ka / Pee lenge hum.."

* * *

I'm sure most of you would agree it is diffucult to love like we do at that age -- as we become, well, mature. (We are becoming marichor -- the dead, not mature, as another friend puts it).

It does make sense to me when someone says she is not immature enough to love, nor mature enough for it. So is the case with me, as with many others.

We can not hope to go back to the innocence, or rather naiveness, of our pre-degree days. Yet we can not deny the role of those naive days in what becomes of us in the later years of life. We realize many of the assumptions on which we based what we called love were wrong. We grow up to a better understanding of the world and our own self. More often than not with a bitterness somewhere inside -- a fear of the other, fear of oneself. It does not matter whether you "won" the love or lost it.

So what is it to be able to love without fear?

I love these (oft-quoted) words of Gibran, and envy those who can love.

["Elevation of the self": painting by Gibran]

* * *

Picture ki heroine jhoot bol rahi hai
Kismat se tum humko mile hain
Andar ki andar woh bol rahi hogi
Sach to ye hai
Kismat se hum tumko mile hai

[Thanks to Manaswini who once goofed the lyrics]