Monday, January 22, 2007

THE WEEKEND GONE BY...

[A huge rally organised by the People's Front in Bangalore on Friday to protest against the execution of the former Iraq President, Saddam Hussein - Photo courtesy, The Hindu]

An Anti-Saddam’s execution, Anti-Bush rally by the Muslims

A Hindu maha-procession

Impending State elections

Recipe for doom? So it seems at the moment

On Friday the 19th was held a massive rally by Muslims in the Muslim dominated area of Shivajinagar. It was attended by a great audience and by prominent local Muslim leaders. The rally was targeted to denounce the unfair(!) execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussain. The focal point of the rally was peaceful and no untoward incidents were noticed. Then, on the dispersion of the meeting, some miscreants pulled down banners that had been put up in may locations to advertise the Hindu-mahasabha scheduled for Sunday the 21st. This probably opened the floodgates and led to the violence and unrest that dominated this area for the next few days.

On Sunday, the Hindu procession came on the streets with great fervor and fanfare. And as if in retribution, they burnt down a reported 10 public transport buses, a few autorickshaws apart from causing physical damage to whatever caught their line of sight. The cops had made full preparations for such an eventuality, since this area is prone to communal riots, but as always, that was severely inadequate. The dilemma lies with the police. If they side with one community, the other is bound to paint the police too in communal colors and accuse them of favoritism. In this scenario, although damage was done, it was probably best that the police did not take too pro-active a stance.

[Activists of Vishwa Hindu Parishat going in a procession to the venue of Virat Hindu Samajotsava in Bangalore on Sunday. — Photo courtesy: Sampath Kumar G.P., The Hindu]

Some accuse the Politicians for making fiery, provocative speeches which might have stoked the fire. But whatever be the reason, it is unfortunate that in a country that prides itself in its Secular status and boasts of it’s so called Unity in Diversity, that such an incident should have happened. Due to the foolish actions of a few, two communities are at loggerheads, and each aims to outdo the other. This is all very pedestrian. If one believes in their religion in the right manner, then why does he/she have to come to he streets to prove its superiority? An eye for an eye. Is that what they are looking for? It is very unfortunate

The area of my residence lies close to the region of conflict. That Sunday morning when I left the area, I saw the single largest platoon of cops ever in my life stationed at Ulsoor lake. Behind them stood the huge mob eager to carry on with the Hindu procession. From what I heard later, the procession was quite peaceful till it reached Mosque road, mere minutes from my house. This is where the procession turned violent in a bid to avenge the events of Friday. And it resulted in a chain reaction which caused destruction and imposition of shoot-at-sight orders in some regions and a curfew in others. By the time I got back in the evening, the roads were death-empty. I reach home and in rush my flatmates, who’ve just escaped bludgeoning at the hands of some of the mobs outside. I have to attend a wedding, and therefore must venture out again. I take all precautions, take the supposedly correct routes and make it for the wedding of good friend, Sakshi. I meet many juniors there and as always, it takes me on a nostalgic trip down memory’s lane.

The journey back is as desolate as the one preceding it. There are violent images on all news channels, and I thank my stars that I was not part to any of it. The epicenter of violence wasUlsoor, Shivajinagar and Bharathinagar, all very close to my house. By this time the curfew has been lifted and there are only stray incidents of trouble here & there. I speak to a friend about the deplorable state of events, and she says something that strikes a nerve. She says that all day all she’s been hearing from everyone is how pathetic it is to have communal riots, and how poor Hindu-Muslim relations can turn out to be at times. Everyone is out to blame everyone – the politicians, the public – but no one has even thought of what part they can play in making things better. This embarrasses me to no end because I was doing (and probably am doing now) what we Indians are so adept at – bitching about everything under the sun rather than find a solution for our troubles, and what troubles us. If we cannot rectify it, then maybe we have no right to criticize it either. It is so easy to call the kettle black, but it is difficult to see the blackness in our own hearts, or to make efforts to clean the kettle.

At the end of the day, the question still haunts me. What is our part? And why do I have to ask this? Shouldn’t I already be aware of my responsibilities? Or have we, as Indians become so conditioned to atrocities around us that we have resigned ourselves to bitch about it and then let it be lost in the recesses of our mind, only to pick up some new topic for criticism?

The questions linger on…

BROKEN WINGS

[Image courtesy : somewhere on the web]

Sunshine played games with dewdrops
Shadows touched me as might a stranger
Stranded between the cold sun and colder shadows
I took the suffering of the mountains on my hands


I came to a path with many doors
Each door leading to the past and future
A hand progressed, stopped, withdrew
Meant to end, and an end in itself


The end mirrored the beginning
The beginning of forever
Forever was a long eternity
A broke mirror, a broke man


I let you live
I let you cry
I let you laugh
I let you die


Broken wings
And flightless pain
All for nothing, nothing for all
Cut me in two, and took the better half


Yet another sunshine
The world looked the same
The gnawing empty feeling
The very hollow shame


I wrote this poem, albeit in a haphazard manner, a few years ago. I tried to put some sense of order into it but I guess I must have been in a state of extreme mental turmoil to have written this. I do not remember what provoked me, and try as I might, the poem remains abstract and stormily distraught.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

BAD DAY

[Image courtesy - anamo1588 - deviantart.com]


Are there days when everything that can go wrong DOES?

I don’t believe in that, because I assume no one can have THAT bad a day. If you look back, you always realize that things could’ve been WORSE. Keeping that in mind, you thank your stars and count your blessings. However, I do believe in days going horribly haywire. And the 19th proved to be just that.


He wakes up later than he usually does, feeling a little off. Something just doesn’t feel right. He drags himself out of bed and saunters off for his customary morning walk. The morning is colder than usual, and of his liking. After the initial heaviness post wake-up alarm, this seems like heavenly manna. Boy! If only he knew what lay ahead

He returns to unload his gastric baggage. He takes his seat and the first sound he hears is “CRACK!!!” The toilet seat gives up on him & his weight. He mutters profanities at the household-help for not having the seat replaced when it should have been. The daily routine done, he steps out, and to his bewilderment finds the house flooded. There is commotion and a coterie of strangers, shouting at each other in their regional language. One of the pipes in the kitchen has burst and the water has inundated the entire living room, and unfortunately, his room as well (due to the proximity). There they are, him and the strangers ( he later comes to know they had come to help clean up the mess) on their haunches, with mops and brooms and what have you, clearing up the deluge. Fortunately, no damage done to the many electrical items lying around.

After getting rid of the mess (and having invented many more swear words) he gets down to finishing his morning paper. He then gets down to some important work on the net. Lo and behold, within minutes of logging on, the desktop sparkles with umpteen virus alerts. His anti-virus is unable to heal them, and that sends him into a panic-ful tizzy. He makes a number of frantic phone calls for help. He gets a lot of suggestions and finally he sets his computer back to almost perfect condition. The entire afternoon is lost in Operation Clean up (house and computer).Two viruses still lurk on his computer and he curses that he will have to visit the computer shop now to quarantine them

Early evening and he gets a phone call. An invitation for a movie. He accepts, and sets out. Barely 200 meters away from home, an old man is crossing the road absent mindedly. He is riding at a speed of 50. The tyres shriek. The bike skids. The old man survives. Fortunately, so does the rider. His breathing is shallow, a hint of sweat on his brow. That was a close one, he concurs. The old man is still in his own world, and walks off without an apology. He moves on. There is a big traffic jam. He tries to cut across, take a few short cuts. The cop stops him and grills him. The cop wants moolah. He bribes the cop and gets away without possible severe punishment. Then he gets another call. His friend tells him that the movie is for 10 pm and not 7:30pm, and that he was playing a prank on him!!!

Dazed, he returns home. He wonders if a single day can have so many negative possibilities. He spends some time at home, reading. Nearing 10 pm, he zooms off on his bike once again towards the multiplex, 45 minutes away. En route, he encounters an enraged mob (he will later come to know that there had been a great hullaboo in that region that day and he was lucky not to get embroiled in it) – he is fortunate to be one of the last people the mob lets go. He has to now take a long detour and makes it in time for the movie. The movie is good, but the bad day doesn’t end there. There is a misunderstanding within the group and he has to exchange a few words. Suddenly, it is a time past 12. Past THAT day. And things return to normal again. He gets back home by 1, and sleeps soundly … atleast till 6 a.m. in the morning when for some inexplicable reason, his roomie switches on the fan in the extremely cold Bangalore mornings.

All he can do is sigh. Is this day going on the footsteps of the previous one? He will wait and watch… He just thanks God that things were not worse than they were

Friday, January 19, 2007

SO DARK THE CON OF MAN


[Photos from untrustworthy.fotolog]


So who should he trust? There are many who need help, and he isn’t proactive or concerned enough, or lacks the time to indulge in social service (yeah, yours’ truly is one of those hypocrites).


But every now & then he gets the opportunity to help his fellow human being in some way or another, however minor or insignificant. Then why does he feel so let down when these old men come to him for help?


On the very same street, he has come across elderly gentlemen, with the same story (some originality please!!!). In the past 10 months, it has happened 6 times. Maybe that ain’t such a big number, but the dilemma lies in the details of the story. These gentlemen are always in the same predicament – they have lost their bus pass, have no money & have no one to call to pick them up. They start off with a honey (and milk and sugar) coated tongue about their travails, and then pop the golden question,


Can you please lend me some money?”


The skeptic in him refuses outright, because he doubts the money would be put to good use. But he does not shy away from helping an old man. He says, though he cannot offer monetary assistance, he would be glad to offer transport in person, or other such help. He gets a disgusted look from the old man, who walks away without a word, and that pushes him deeper in his self-styled abyss of skepticism. He ponders that some of those gentlemen may have genuinely required help, but he would never know. He remains disheartened and begins to believe, reluctantly, that honesty is a dying quality and everyone is out to con the other.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

STREET PLAYS


The other day, I read about All India Democratic Youth Organisation and Aavishkar’s street play festival (held in the 1st week of January) and it brought memories of the solitary street play I’ve ever been a part of, a few yrs ago. The play was conducted by the Department of Community Dentistry and we as cast & crew were required to go to a few slums and enact the play. To be effective, street plays should be the regional language because the message is intended to be as far reaching & easily understood as possible. Since there weren’t enough volunteers who spoke Kannada, I was selected too with a small role. I did not understand or speak Kannada at that time, & had to remember my lines by rote. The experience was both scary and exciting. We went to the heart of nearby slums & in traditional style attracted the attention of onlookers by creating some noise. The play was to educate them of the virtues of cleanliness, oral hygiene & the importance of visiting a dental check up camp, whenever possible or accessible. The play was a moderate success & we were asked to be on standby in case a repeat performance were to be required anytime soon.


The purpose of a street play is to highlight social problems like crime against women, unemployment, poverty, discrimination, awareness about critical issues, or as in this case, ill-effects of poor health. That is why, most of the street play artists are often activists, teachers or students committed at bringing about a change in society. Street theatre as a medium of communication has been deeply rooted in Indian tradition. The major advantage of street theatre is that it transcends all formal barriers and approaches the people directly. Street plays can happen in the most unexpected of places – the vegetable market, bus terminals or perhaps a street adjoining your workplace.



I remember a friend, Riya and her group who were actively involved in spreading messages regarding a plethora of socially relevant topics through the medium of street plays. It is another fact altogether that the friends of such street-players have to constantly put up with their impromptu rehearsals in front of you, and for your honest opinions
J Street play is a situation in which the audience has not come prepared to watch a play. They do not know what to expect, and most often have no time to watch a play. Within these severe constraints lies the challenge for the street plays to be concise & entertaining, yet catch the eye of the public and get the message across. In order to draw crowds from all walks of life, the plays are usually loud and humorous, with catchy songs often thrown in for mass appeal. Our play had no songs, but the humor element was added by painted faces, and of course, with a Chinese boy speaking in Kannada.


Since street plays are almost impromptu in terms of location, stage props cannot be used, thus making it an extremely simple form of expression where the volume and expressiveness of the actor really matters, though the acting prowess does not. These plays have a good potential to get socialy relevant messages across. This concise & no frills method of play-acting serves a good purpose,is efficient and cost-effective. And unlike its more contemporary, well-sketched lengthier & costlier productions, they are usually not subject to criticism.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

KNOCKED OUT!






The plain, dreary walls of my current habitat pound me to sleep when I'm supposed to be studying. How I wish to have my college hostel room back, where not a single moment was lackadaisical. Yes, even with the most boring of books

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

ACT TWO


Another off-shoot to my Blog

Fool's Imagery

A place for originally amateur and wacky subject based photographs by me. Feel free to indulge yourself :)

YOU AND I...


They accept their madness, yet they soak in it

They dance as if they have no care in the world

She calls him a kid, and he sees the wounded child in her, wearing a defiant smile

Fighting odds, emerging victorious

She stirs the child in him again

He feels at ease to see that smile on her lips

Keep smiling, Precious Cloud

Sunday, January 14, 2007

UZMA WEDS EAJAZ



The first of three weddings of close friends in the next one month

Close friend Uzma, who's now become Uzma Shareef (from Uzma Taj) - methinks I liked the Taj better :)

Here's wishing her all the very best and a blissful marital life

Saturday, January 13, 2007

THE WONDER YEARS

Click On image for bigger picture

Nostalgia

It was amusing to re-visit my college slam book, and see what I had written for myself and what others thought of me :)

Friday, January 12, 2007

THE WRITINGS OF WILLIAM DALRYMPLE


There has been ample hype about Mr. Dalrymple’s style of writing history in a precise yet simplified manner which is easily understood and retains the interest of the lay person. He is the author of hugely successful Historical books, the latest being The White Mughal.

I haven’t had the time to read the book, but I did latch on to an article by him in The Hindu, December 31st, titled – Masterpieces in Bronze. From the brief glimpse of his writing style, I infer that the hype is quite close to being true. This is what my opinion of his style would be:

Mr. Dalrymple’s appeal lies in his simplification of history, in a manner that does not exclude any details nor does it sensationalize any particular event or person. Throughout the narrative, Dalrymple splashes the pages with his irrepressible wit. In this manner, he succeeds in making history attractive to all & sundry.

“William Dalrymple's captivating book is not only great reading, it contributes very substantially too our understanding of the remarkable history of The Mughal empire in its dying days …It is rare indeed that a work of such consummate scholarship and insight could also be so accessible and such fun to read.” - Amartya Sen


A far cry from historians like Bipan Chandra, whose book, India’s struggle for Independence, lies, sadly, unfinished on my book shelf because of its excessively furnished verbatim and monotony. A gentleman had commented that in the world of decreased attention span & leisurely time, it is imperative that the style of writing history change as well to cater to the needs of today, but without ruining the essence of history. As Mr. Dalrymple himself puts it, most historians are still using post-colonial terms & language in their works, and such works become antiquated & uninteresting/ unintelligible to the reader. I do agree, after going through 70% of India’s struggle for independence.


I have picked up The age of Kali, a collection of essays by Mr. William (Although the White Mughal is his best-selling book, I liked the synopsis of Kali more, hence the choice. I am yet to finish Wuthering heights, but I’m such a sucker for good books, I can’t resist purchasing them)

For more on Mr. Dalrymple - http://www.williamdalrymple.com

Thursday, January 11, 2007

OFF-SHOOT


Two things crossed my mind lately

1) What Mr. D sez about the present state of blogging is unfortunately true (http://1dollarsaint.blogspot.com/2007/01/im-1-now.html) , and it inspired me to be a little more creative with my blog. How far I succeed will be measured in terms of sand that drains into the other end of the hourglass.

2) I also realised that my blog is becoming a mix-bag, with no definite identity. Hereafter, I plan to segregate the content into different blogs, for my sanity, and my convenience

With these things in mind I have created my 1st off-shoot, VERBATIM,only for quotes, jokes, articles etc that I like. Another off shoot to display (and show off...hahaha) my cartoons and sketches is in the pipeline. I hope this will begin a better chapter in my blogging, and will not confuse me further. LOL :) As I often tell my friends, Multi-tasking is definitely NOT my forte. Quite some effort is required of me here, and I am going to try doing a good job, to my satisfaction

Monday, January 08, 2007

JUNKET - INDORE, MUMBAI, VASAI


Of all my relatives, I believe I’m closer to my maternal uncle & his wife (mama, maami). So when a bonny baby girl was born to them on Xmas morning, I had to go see them. This also gave me the excuse to undertake yet another short trip & I realized that I might be turning into a travel junkie after all!


The morning of 3rd Jan took me to Mumbai by Go Air (the only reason I mention the airlines name is because in spite of being a budget airline, it is way more comfortable than Air Deccan-another budget airline). As is wont these days, the flight was delayed by more than an hour & I landed in Mumbai in the early hours of the afternoon. There are things very peculiar & unique to Mumbai and I learn more every time I go there. At the airport are young boys/men dressed in a uniform which is somewhat of a cross between a traffic police & NCC uniforms. They are called mhadas in the regional language, and they usher the cabs for you. There didn’t seem to be a pre-paid counter at the port, so I had to haggle & bargain with the drivers until I finally got hold of one who was willing to go by the meter (I was being quoted exorbitant prices). At the exit, each cab has to go through the traffic police who will ask the destination & will also note down your basic details like name & intended destination. The cop was impressed that I pronounced the destination correctly (Tardeo) – I get that a lot J


Half an hour later, I was at Tardeo with my Granny & Grandpa. Needless to say, I was fed well, with paaya – coupled with the famous Mumbai paav (bread – I wish other places would have it too). I asked my grandparents questions that my friends & colleagues often ask me. Where did you actually come from? Why did your forefathers come to India? The stories my grandparents shared was interesting. Our side of the family comes from the Hu-bei province (spelt on the map as Hu-peh) – located in Southern China & often referred to as The Land of Fish & Rice. An interesting bit of trivia I discovered about the province on the net is that other Chinese people refer to the Hu-bei people as Nine-headed birds, a mythological creature said to be very aggressive & hard to kill. "In the sky live nine-headed birds. On the earth live cunning Hubei people." Surely, we aren’t all that bad lolz ;)


The reasons for coming to India were primarily business, or less commonly, to escape the communalist clutches of the then Chinese Govt. Since there were no road, rail or air routes to take, the Chinese people who migrated to India came through the roughest terrains possible – snow clad mountains, robber, beast and cannibal infested jungles. When the people would travel in groups, they would carry a thick bamboo stick as protection and one person had to compulsorily keep watch at night to prevent the massacre of fellow passengers by the cannibals, quite common in those jungles. Most of the people who came were couples, and multitudes perished on the way as well. Calcutta was the first base for the early Hu-bei migrants, where they started work as quack dentists, with a handful of tools and our very own medicines. Thankfully, we’ve graduated to being sincere and qualified dentists since, though our medicines remain as effective as ever (It’s another issue that we can’t prescribe them as they are not accepted by the law). The early migrants knew not a word of Hindi or English; still they survived & thrived in India.


Come evening, and I was on board a train to Indore, MP, with good friend W (aunty’s sis), to visit Uncle, Aunty and Baby!!! The train journey at night time was cold as hell (a contradicting analogy since hell is said to be fiery hot – but my condition was a mix of both at the time). Shivering, half frozen and mighty tired, we reached Indore the next morning in frantic anticipation of seeing the baby. The baby was oh-so-tiny (what was I to expect of a 10day old baby?) and she made me forget all my travails from past night. I was scared to touch her coz she looked so delicate. Nevertheless, I picked up a few pointers on how to hold a baby and if need be, pacify her too. It was a blissful 2 days I spent there, playing with the baby, watching her being pampered to high heavens. Every now & then she looks like Uncle or Aunt, and as of now, she loves sleeping, crying or staring at the ceiling instead of you J Unfortunately, I had to leave soon for some work in Mumbai, and was aboard the cold, cold train once again.


We were back to Tardeo the morning of 5th Jan, and after a hearty breakfast, W and me went for a long walk. The Haji Ali dargah is close by. We didn’t go in, but just scoured the perimeter of the waterfront. We were soon in Worli, where stands the Nehru Planetarium and conference centre. W has never been to a planetarium, so to kill some time, we walked in. The show at that time of day was in Marathi, so we did not understand a word of it, but it was nice fun to hear the scores of children screaming in delight & awe as the 3-D planets zoomed & hurtled towards the camera. The reclining chairs and starry sky simulations made us drowsy & we had to struggle to keep awake by the end of the program. We got back to Tardeo, where another sumptuous meal awaited us. Granny was packing to leave to Indore too, & friends accompanying her had dropped in. By evening, we saw them off at the railway station. I had one more day to spare, so we took off to Vasai, an hour from Mumbai, where W lives.


The next day was dedicated solely to roaming & loafing around. The morning & early afternoon took W, her friend Swarni and me to Vasai gaao (village), churches, Suruchi beach and the beautiful ruins of some qila (fort). The fort looked quite ordinary & uninviting from the exterior, but the magnificence was to seen from within. This is the fort where songs for Khamoshi and Pyar tune kya kia (Kambakht Ishq) were shot. Neglected for some time now, the place is overrun by weeds but looked awesome all the same. Standing in that place transported you to another realm – imagining the grandeur & fervor of eons gone by. The fort was satisfying not in terms of carvings or architecture, but by way of its simplicity & enormity. We spent a good 45 minutes exploring as much as we could, trying to avoid our clothes getting caught on the bushes (which they did repeatedly). Most of the fort seemed to have been destroyed, as there were no stairways where they should have been, walls were ending abruptly and it was crumbling in many places. Satisfied with our exploration, we headed back home

It was soon time for me to leave to the airport. I was regretting such an early leave-taking. Fortunately, the AirDeccan flight I was to take got delayed by more than 2 hours, and I had to (gleefully) extend my stay in Vasai by another day. This meant we had more time to kill (and explore other places). Roger, W’s bro, lent us his bike and we took off to visit a few more churches, and just take off in any direction which pleased us. We also visited a small mela (fair) – nothing extraordinary. It just felt nice to be in such a fair again after so many years & playing games. By the time we got back, Roger had arranged another bike. Post dinner, Roger, W, Swarni and me took off to far off places – Vasai gaao again, more churches, outskirts with awesome bungalows (with windmills!!!), and this place (location unknown to me) – they just call it patla rasta (narrow road). This was another wonderful place to come to, the beauty of which is perceptible only in the dead of night, when all house lights are off and you have only the stars, moon and each other for company. This place had a narrow, uneven road running for quite some distance, and there were absolutely no houses or vehicles for miles around. All you could see was empty fields till the distant horizon, which was dotted by a few scattered lights. The temperature drop in this region is considerable, and we were glad to have worn some warm clothing. Pity it was too dark to get the view in the camera. This is one simple, yet sooper place to go to, to realize what I am talking about.

The next day, I bade farewell to Roger and their dad. W and I were to go to Andheri, from where her office as well as the airport is close by. We took the rush hour local train and let me elucidate how it transpired. The experience in rush hour local train is fun, invigorating as well as draining, and if you are observant of the people around you, a good place to get to see & know different kind of people, all on one single train compartment (you don’t really have a choice, considering you get packed much worse than sardines at rush hour). It is something you may never come across in any other place other than Mumbai. It is something I never intend to do again ;)


Getting on is one big challenge by itself, so I huffed & puffed & pushed & shoved & punched to get in. Thankfully, I made it in, but soon realized my folly for carrying a big backpack. In that flood of humanity, I got locked because of the bag. I could not move a millimeter!!!! People were shouting at me from all directions – why the hell are you blocking the way? Get in or get out? What the hell is wrong with you? Are you traveling for the first time? All this & more. In five minutes I realized people were losing their patience and were pushing as much as they could manage. In a few minutes, I was standing at near 45 degree angulation, and there was nothing I could do to stand upright!!! I was laughing all the time at my helplessness, at their scorn, and the total body massage I was getting in those close quarters (Now don’t get me wrong. People are packed so close together that the massage does happen inadvertently). But yes, I did get humped a lot. Hahaha. Let me explain. Passengers usually have one hand occupied with luggage, and the other with holding onto something for dear life. So the only part of the body they really have free to push, is the pelvis!!!!! So there !!!!

I was getting pushed further in and that would mean that it would be impossible for me to disembark at my destination. So somehow, in that place I managed to get my bag off and dart for the exit, pushing, shoving, punching, swearing all over again. In spite of this grueling daily routine, Mumbaiites retain their sense of humor and zest for life. At every passing station, the youth shouted slogans of Ganpati Bappa Moriya(praise to Lord Ganesha), which are met with equally fervent slogans from the youth on the stations. In that half an hour journey, I realized that in the coterie of a bunch of people around me were Gujaratis, Bengalis, Sri Lankans, Biharis, UPites and the like. Some were cursing, some were enjoying themselves in spite of the haranguing experience we were sharing. A gentleman gave me tips how to get into the correct line so as to be able to get off where I wanted and not 10 stations after! Disembarking was another round of push, pull, swear, pinch, shout and there I was, on the station. There is a saying that in the rush hour, all you have to do s stand there & the public will automatically push you in or out. I found this to be absolutely true and I think I put in more effort there to remain in one place than I do in ten days of gymming !!!!!



The next half of the day was spent going to small beaches (where couples were making out openly!!), some beautiful churches and just plain loafing around. We passed close to some fishing colony, which was confirmed by the strong stench of fish. Soon, it was time for me to leave. A heavy heart always acts as shackles on your feet, but they sometimes aren’t enough to stop you from going away. My flight was on time, and in an hour I was back to the chill and traffic of Bangalore.


MY BABY COUSIN SISTAH



My baby cousin sistah

So tiny. So delicate

Born on X-mas morning.

Could she be any more blessed?

Joy :)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

THE "NOW" OF LIFE


" Never put off until tomorrow, what you can put off till next week"

There is an uncanny way of morphing proverbs to suit your own purposes, and most of them are to justify procrastination. In that category falls the making of New year resolutions. Why we make them on this day alone? Is it a ploy to delay the inevitable? Or just a front for what is not intended to be completed anyway

The time is now.Not that which has already passed, nor the dawn that heralds a new day. Every single mornign signals a new day, a new beginning. It is not only symbolic but also very real. So why should we procrastinate & wait for a special day to make our resolutions? Why measure life by dates on the calendar when every day is a plethora of possibilities waiting to happen? If the intention is to improve one's life, then the time to act on it is now! Have resolutions that have been piling on ? "I'll quit smoking. I'll lose weight. I'll spend wisely. I'll spend more time with family." C'mon ! Surely leading a better life need not wait that long. These need the now and need an effort. Merely thinking about it is as good as chucking the blueprints into the bin.

The argument is that special days and special events have an emotional value. Like, you consider New year eve as a new beginning, and want to start anew from that day. Or a birthday, which reminds you of a friend & gives you the excuse to call him/her, although you've been meaning to do it for quite some time. Certain days force you to recognise the importance of people & ideas. But waiting to do these things is just tabling a lousy excuse to put off until tomorrow what ought to be done today. Must good & favorable things wait for a special day?

Show how much you love someone today.
Show how much someone means to you today
Show that you have the resolve to make promises & stick by them today

Either do it in the now, or don't do it at all. Don't look for excuses to make a resolution or a promise to yourself or others

HAPPY NEW YEAR

MUSIC WORKS WONDERS


Immediately post the new year celebrations comes a classical concert at Garuda Mall. And it was heartening to see, that just like the Chitra Santhe, there is a voluminous crowd even for this event. And the people weren’t just gawking. They were actually enjoying the performance. This surely, is a sign of good things to come & an upward thrust for cultural programs.


The cultural performance was timed to coincide with the ushering in of the New Year as well as the ending of the Garuda shopping fest. There were probably more performances after I left, but what I witnessed in that one hour was mesmerizing, to say the least. The performance was given wings & divine quality by a group of gifted children, their gurus with various instruments, a chap at the keyboard & one at the drums. It was a pleasant culmination of predominantly Indian classical music with a dash of western influences thrown in to create a spicy yet palatable mix.


The group of children played their violins well & exploited their trained hands and voices expertly under the able guidance of the Master Violinist. A heady mix of the tabla, the dholak, ghatam, drums, the keyboard, violins, mellifluous vocals and two more percussion instruments (I don’t know their names) transported everyone to another realm, evident by the fact that the audience appreciated the show, spellbound and glued to their seats. Prominently loud & conspicuous were the violins & the ghatam (pot). Soon thereafter, there was a war of percussion instruments, with each vying to outdo the other, and still be in perfect harmony. The artists had us awe-struck with their magical skills and the war of percussion was definitely a highlight of the performance.


It was encouraging to see the crowd genuinely enjoying themselves, and showering praise where it was due (the entire performance was praiseworthy). What was even more delighting was that the artists smiled in sheer enjoyment of their craft, potentiating their absolute dedication and gratification to their craft. We need more of such elevating programs, not only for giving an opportunity for the artists to enhance their reach to the audience, but also to awaken us to the fact that this is a slice of our culture. And that in the rat race, we should remain reminded of it

Monday, January 01, 2007

RIGHT !!!!


As with most times, no reason at all

Just good ol' fashion blues clouding over me at the inopportunate time

Bah!

CHITRA SANTHE '07



A canvas, colors, artistic strokes and of course, a fertile imagination. The amalgam of these has captured mankind’s undivided attention over centuries. Laymen term it drawings, paintings, but artists call it life. Can one or more persons imagination create so much magic? Quite a redundant question, I would surmise.

What could possibly have been a boring evening turned out to be something much, much more. A tribute to the arts, and a treat to the senses. Now don’t get me wrong. I love art, and its always refreshing to see new ideas, whether concrete or abstract, or just plain dumb on canvas, wood, stone et al. I’d first read about Chitra Santhey in the papers a few yrs back. I could find no one interested enough to accompany me for such a venture – art exhibitions & museums are the places most people would not like to be seen dead in. It’s not stimulating enough for most. So although I really wanted to go, these years slipped by without me paying a visit

But this being my last year in Bangalore, it was probably my last chance to attend, which I did not intend to miss. On the afternoon of the 31st of December, I took off for the art fest. Every year, the entire road in that region is blocked for the purpose of this showcase. So it was a frustrating experience going through all the one ways & no U turns to finally find a place to park. Once on to the road, it was sheer pleasure. The locale is surely soothing, with the merciful shade of the trees all around, and the lush golf course close by.

Chitra Santhe attracts artists from all over India. The basic idea of the fest is to provide a decent platform for budding artists and also to make art affordable for the common populace. You won’t find famous artists out here, but young minds with a lot to offer. The main objective is to encourage art & artists, and Chitra Santhe does a good job at that. The roads were paved with stalls & paintings in all media possible, and also with some innovative techniques. There were some really good landscapes, abstracts, pencil sketches and so on. A piece of art is a thing of beauty. Everyone might not be able to appreciate it but some can sense the richness in the work. That sense of art helps you distinguish between works of “actual” art from the trash that passes off for it.

There were Mehendi stalls and scores of young artists drawing portraits of willing customers, for a fee. Honestly, most of the so-called portrait artists sucked miserably at their work and it was disappointing to see what people won’t do to earn some bucks. Since this is a common ground for all artists, what was on display ranged from the beautiful to the downright ugly. From the breathtaking to the repulsive. From the genius to rank amateur. From the good to the outright bad. From those you could look at all day to those you wouldn’t give a second look. It was all there. Some of the calendars on display caught my fancy, as well as this artist who painted beautiful landscapes with just the right colors – mellow & oh-so-soothing. Those were definitely something you would want to take home& stare at for hours. Heck, it may even act as stress relief therapy! There were also, of course, zillions of works on Ganesha, which are almost a sure shot sale material, considering people’s love for God in this county.

There were some novel ideas of making portraits with paper & magazine cuttings – no paint used, only collages. There was some clever wood work – shavings burnt & colored to the right extent & stuck innovatively to create a picture. Unfortunately, there were not many sculptures or woodworks, which was disappointing because by the end of it I was pretty much sick of watching paintings. My friend Neha tells me that realistic art sells more (of course, abstract would be a waste of money for the common man) than other forms. I would deem that unfortunate, because having done some artwork myself, I know how much time, effort and mental concentration goes into pieces of art. It is also unfortunate because the artists dabbling in alternate methods might get discouraged and it is possible that we might have the same things being exhibited year after year. 99% of the ware was paintings & that sums up the entire story. To the beholder the work might look like mere random strokes. Only the artist knows the pains involved….

In the end, I was quite tired (long walk, no lunch) and thus had no energy or intention to return to some of the stalls where I had decided to pick up something. Nevertheless, Chitra Santhe was a good experience& I commend Chitrakalaparishat for organizing this fest every year. Encouragement of art & culture is very important, and CKP is playing an important role in it. It also inspired me to revive my own artistic cravings, which have been on the backburner for almost 4 years due to the many turns my life had taken. Now all that remains is for the mind and flesh to work together...

THE END OF RESPONSIBLE JOURNALISM?


It is common now to see most newspapers turning to tabloid formats to retain their readership in today’s world predominated by the visual media. We have the idiot box, the internet, the blogosphere. The newspaper is just a waste of time then, right? A media which is on its last legs & lagging behind in terms of efficiency & promptness?


Wrong!


Because no matter how far we go in terms of technology, this humble collection of colored & black and white papers still seems to have an edge over the visual media at least when it comes to news.


There are many of us who do not get, have or want to waste time watching inane stuff on the net or TV. Such people usually take recourse to visual media only for something really meaningful. It could be a classic movie, educational channels like Nat Geo or Discovery, a favorite sports, or, as for most people, their daily share of the news. Unfortunately, with so many news channels mushrooming all over the world, the so called “healthy” competition is decaying. It is no more just a competition, its war! A fight to the finish, and the survival of the fittest. Each is trying to outdo the other. The criteria for considering a news channel viewable are not good, clean, innovative journalism any more. Rather it is the sensationalisation that attracts viewers & increases the viewership (read – revenues). And what does a channel war give us? Nothing but absolute crap! In the entire farcical practice, the actual news is lost somewhere, and you find yourself watching news which is unrelated, unnecessary, or just plain unworthy of being gifted a slot on the air. And if it is relevant, then you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s gonna be repeated the entire day, week, month or so, until the next juicy tid-bit issues forth. I was caught in a similar predicament yesterday, when I wanted to catch up on the news, but whenever I switched on the TV, the same news was flashing the whole day on EACH AND EVERY news channel. It was gruesome news, and probably did deserve a good broadcast, but the WHOLE DAY???? As a result, there was hardly any other news that I could latch on to


Is this what journalism has come to? Mind-numbing and senseless? In this age, it turns out that we have to find solace in the humble newspaper at times, which at least gets us more news than TV or internet does, in a compact and relevant manner