Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hello Daddy

How you grow old and learn about being a parent. 

How you grow old and learn the pangs of distance.

How you grow old and learn something new from old memories.

When I used to study in Pune, there was no phone in my hostel (and this is before the advent of the mobile era, yes kids, there was a time like this and yes yes, i am that old) I used to call up home once a week. And it was really expensive, meaning I would try to keep the call as short as possible and would focus on absolute necessary and mandatory (read, send me more money). The conversation was dictated by speed of the bill meter, it would start with a nice jog, would catch some speed and by the second minute i would be speaking faster than i could think, with words tumbling over each other. By end of second minute I would be looking desperately at the meter running faster than Carl Lewis, and would quickly say bye.

At this point Dad would say bye and then add ekkkk ghal das Raman, followed with a long pause. I would be going frenetic, Daddy, ke? pucho? 

And he would start again... Raman...... uh, hmmmmmmmm.... pause....  

I: Daddy what?

Dad: "Kuch khas nahin..........

I: Yes

Dad: Tere padhayi theek chal rahi hai?

I: hanji, hanji, ok bye

Dad: Ok bye, ek minute

I: Hanji

Dad: Acha (pause)

I: Daddy Daddy, 

Dad: Acha, paise tah hor nahin chahede

I: Nahin Daddy, ok bye

Dad: Okkkkkk .... pause..... bye

I: Pere pona

Dad: khush raho

You know there was a time, I used to find this conversation really funny and I would tell everyone this story with great mirth and humor. 

Today I don't find it funny.

Today I realize the value of that conversation.

Today I know, the desire to hear the voice of your child and the pain of distance.

I call up home everyday to talk to Avni even when I meet her in the evening. And I used to go home only twice a year.

I still cherish those conversations but now I understand them better. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jab haat marna bada marna...

He was forced in the slums.
Not born there.
A victim of circumstances.
He needed to learn how to survive.
He needed to learn the ways.
He remembered the day when the cops came and took Bunty away.
He read the next day he was killed in an encounter.
So he asked his new best friend Shiva, why did they encounter Bunty.
He was just a pickpocket.
Shiva shook his head.
Put his arm around him
and educated him on the ways of life;
boss police can encounter only people like Bunty.
Choota khiladi.
They don't have the guts to touch the big players.
So boss zindagi mein kabhi bhi choota haat nahin marna.
Risk lena to bada lena.
He was sure slums was not his destiny.
He had to move up.
Get out of here soon.
Education was his only hope.
He was one of the better students.
Then they met.
She was different.
She saw his tomorrow.
Not his today.
She reminded him of his dreams.
She was life beyond.
She was the future.
She was hope.
Then dreams are such.
They take you away from the harsh reality.
One day the cops came.
He was found dead.
Shiva read the paper.
Shook his head.
Jab bhi kaam karna bada karna, chotta nahin.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Slumdog, Jodi and gajini...some thoughts

This post is about movies but not just about the movies. Let's start first with Slumdog Millionaire (and if you have seen the movie, I recommend read the book too, both are similar yet very different) and the associated comments made by the legend Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. Mr Bachchan's contention, which he notes on his blog, is that the west focuses only on the underbelly of India and the poverty is not just an Indian phenomenon but global malaise, yet that is the only impression it seems the west propogates and imbibes, while filtering out every other reality about India. And he in turn feels affronted by this narrow approach of the west and he feels hurt that west chooses to celebrate this parochial view of theirs about India everytime.
I am sure what what he says with his vast global experience must be true at some level (and is true) but I think the issue is not limited just to what has been said by him and felt by others with membership to this niche achievers segment. The angst is deeper, the angst is personal and it no longer is limited to just him but to everyone in the affluent class, the class which has delivered, the class hunger for recognition and respect, the class that now claims its legitimate time under the sun. This acknowledgment and harping and glorifying of the poor by the west makes them feel ignored, shamed, disrespected and unacknowledged. These intelligent people despite their sheltered life and protected existence, would not be so blind and immune to the Indian reality. They would be well aware that whatever has been captured by Danny Boyle in the movie exists and things maybe worse than depicted. Can they challenge the fact that our police is corrupt and the poor have no rights or laws to protect them or that slums exist or that people defecate in public or that the basic lack of amenities or anything else shown in the movie as a reality (ignore the fable part, that is fiction and beyond contention and I am sure they are very comfortable with that part). Karan Johar or his ilk can create a facade of the rich, helicopter riding, designer wearing Indian but still the reality exists. I am also very sure that Mr. Bachchan is not so narrow minded to object to the fact that a westener has made that movie; when we did not stake any claim to the movie made on the most famous Indian (Gandhi not AB) by a westener than why would or should we cry wolf for this movie. My hypothesis is that Mr. Bachchan feels when the west laps this reality, it becomes the only reality about Indian and when this becomes a singular image about India he in turn becomes part of this image, he gets painted along with the slumdog and they now stand shoulder to shoulder, which in his mind is not true hence the outrage: I AM NOT A SLUMDOG. So when he has raised the issue, it was not due to any moral outrage, it was personal,very personal.
The second movie is Aditya Chopra's "Rab ne bana de jodi", a universally ridiculed movie and rightly so people believe. Let me start this by saying, I am not trying to be different and I do not think it is a great movie but nevertheless it is a movie that poses lots of interesting questions and answers them equally interestingly. I am not sure these meanings were interjected consciously by the creator or are there accidentally but these are there. I will start with the most debated and derided concept in the movie. When Raj and Sahni are the same people, how does it matter who gets he girl, they/he is afterall the same . Why indeed? But then it does matter and it matters because it challenges the very existence of Sahni. It makes his previous 30years and the values in which he has believed in and lived by redundant. It makes an identity called Sahni meaningless. His every previous action, his every thought, his every belief empty and pointless. It was as if face he saw in the mirror ebery morning will now be scorned at and mocked not just by the world, but by Raj. So it does matter to him. So what started as a joke became for him a quest and answer to his own very existence.
The second aspect he stands for is what every second Indian believes is the path to glory and a true way of life. Good people always win in the end; a reality propogated by Hindi movies for the last 60 years and believed by the people who struggle everyday for mere existence, that this is the path which will eventually give rewards and satisfaction. It has become a defacto path of the God. And this aspect has been captured in the movie that the movies have defined and constructed Sahni's beliefs and value system. Those movies have been the foundation of his reality and in turn our reality of every ordinary Indian. So Sahni and Raj are not mere characters they are concepts, concepts of the old India and the new India. And the movie says in the end, yes old India has to embrace the new India but new India also cannot eschew old India.
Last aspect is my comment on the loud behaviour of Raj. You know SRK could have easily played Raj of DDLJ, charismatic, charming (he has done that part so well for so long) but then director chose to interpret the role in this manner and SRK showed the courage to play this obnoxious lout. But do not look and seek SRK, remember the character, it is Sahni who is role playing, and his concept of cool comes from movies (yes the SRK movies DDLJ case in point), but it is an uncharacterstic behaviour for Sahni, something that does not come naturally to him. This behaviour is so alien to him that he should fail, and he did fail. Sahni as Raj is an absolute failure, and that is exactly what happened in the movie. So what's the crib. It is a victory of the director and not his failure, what is winsome about Raj are his values and those values are of Sahni. So only time Raj is lovable is when he is Sahni (in his thoughts).
Gajini - First comment. Do not watch this movie. I am not saying because it is a bad movie. My issue is different. The previous makers of the movie, in Tamil, malyalam and now in Hindia hve always harped on the fact that this movie is not a remake of Memento. Afterall what are the similarities, dead wife/GF, lost memory, 15 minute attention/memory span, revenge, polaroids, tatoos, that's it. Everything else is different, different story,different treatment, everything. Let's not even argue the fact that the value is of the idea everything else is just a veneer, you can dress it up in any form, the look changes and the idea does not. a rose is a rose is a rose. Again I do not have any issue with the South Indian original versions of the movie (i profess ignorance there), my issue is only with the Hindi version. And the issue is due to Aamir Khan, the intelligent actor. The actor who stands up for the causes, originality. He is so honest that he bought the remake rights from the makers of the Tamil version before making the Hindi version. SUCH HYPOCRISY, such dishonesty. Can a man stoop any lower? And he has the audacity of have that mocking smile on his face when he says on national channel, see the movie then tell me if it has any resemblance to Memento and continues to say poker faced, it has none. You MOTHERFUCKER IT IS A RIP-OFF. And now wipe that fucking smile from your face.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Happy New Year

Wishing everyone a happy New Year. My blog resolution is to write atleast one post a week. Though the reason this year is the same as the previous years, writing is for self-gratification and to learn create a framework to express thoughts in a structured and a cohesive manner. Inability to do so in general is a bane.
Now the question is should I leave the post here and call it the first post for the first week or write something better (else) and put pressure on self to think something new for the next week.
Let me ask you something, which someone asked me sometime back, do we have any purpose as individuals or is everything collective?
My perspective on the same goes like this; the answer to the question depends on how you define yourself. Now if I define myself as an individual and see myself in isolation, then every purpose is individual and the greatest goal is nature/God. Every action that the individual would do would be to achieve the ultimate spiritual glory or self actualization. The way we define the world currently would be meaningless and the definition of progress wouldnot be expressed in terms of scientific or their material sub-structures but differently.
On the other hand if you see yourself as a subset of the collective then every action would be not directed inwards but outwards. The collective benefit would dictate the individual actions and not benefits accuring to the self. The definition of the collective also critical on what is seen as collective also dictates our actions and responsibilities. But remember what constitutes the collective is dictated by self and not any external influences or forces.
If one has to give an analogy to differentiate the two aspects. I clean my house, and throw the garbage outside the house, is an action of an individual. Against that if I see myself part of the community or neighbourhood, I would throw it outside that area so as not to be of any inconvenience to the neighbors. If we see ourselves not as 7th Main but as Indiranagar the responsibility becomes, it can expand to Bangalore to Karnataka to South India to India to Asia to the World. If I start with world as my collective, we would have a clean world. Though the fact remains our collective is not even the neighbourhood. But in plain theory this is how the collective works.
But I have not seen any example which proves this theory despite the fact we talk in collective and are governed as collective. This is due to the fact we see ourselves as individuals and others as collective. They need to behave like this or that so that I am comfortable.
Just one clarity here, individual does not mean feeding on others. Since I am concerned only about myself, I can murder someone or something similar for my benefit, I am above or not concerned about the law logic. It simply means my needs and motivations are internal and the manifestations different from that of the group.
I wish we can get our definitions right and live in peace for ever.
Next week: Who is more important, a soldier on whom the movie is made or the actor who plays it? Or, should actors (not artists, just actors) have any importance in the society, queestion with particular reference to Shah Rukh Khan?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tag stolen from One more why blog but with direct permission.

Answer as you want, even if you are here by mistake and for the first time. Please Please, i beg, someone answer, even if you have to say only mean things, ................

1. Who are you?

2. Are we friends?

3. Something I have and you want?

4. Give me a nick name and explain why you picked it?

5. Describe me in one word?

6. What was your first impression of me?

7. Do you still think that way about me now?

8. What reminds you of me?

9. If you could ever give me one thing, what would it be?

10. How well do you know me?

11. How do you see me in future?

12. Ever wanted to tell me anything, but couldn't?

Monday, December 15, 2008

The night when moon went missing

My daughter and Iwere out for a walk last night, sky was clear but for few clouds here and there. We were generally having a good time and appreciating the beautiful evening, looking at the stars when I realized that there was no moon to be seen.

So I asked her "I can't see the moon, can you find it?"

She looked around and could not spot it either and said "No"

I: "Do you know where is it?
She: "It is hiding"

I: "Why is it hiding?'
She: "It is hiding from the hyenas" (Note: her favourite movie these days is The Lion King)

I: "Why?'
She: "Because hyenas will gobble him up"

I: "How?"
She: "They will jump and gobble it"

I: "But hyenas cannot jump so high, how will they reach the moon? I think moon should not be scared."
She: "They will climb on the clouds and then gobble him"

I: "But how would they climb the clouds they are also very high"
She: "I don't know, you tell me"

So we finally thought for sometime and came with the solution.

Hyenas will wait until it rains, then they would use the rain as a rope and climb up on the clouds, from there they will jump and gobble up the moon.

And finally after discovering that moon had a reason to be scared, we happily ambled back home.