But we are like this only!

Before I venture out, let me make a few things clear. I haven’t seen Slumdog…and given all the hype surrounding it, doubt if I will ever see it.

But the reason am writing this is because I read a lot of things in the papers about people opposing Slumdog. Reasons were because the movie showed India and Indians in a poor light. (Given that the movie is about slums, light got to be poor na..) Then I watched Delhi-6, last week.

Though my friend Shakti disagreed, I sort of enjoyed the movie. With a few amends here and there, movie could have been much better but anyway, am not writing a review. Either-way its too late to write one (am talking about the time right now)

In the midst of the movie, a thought struck me. Isn’t Delhi-6 also showing us in a poor light? As foolish people, who can be influenced to kill by an uneducated baba and the solution to everything lies in plucking a hair out of a monkey’s body!! And this is the state of mind of those residing in middle class homes in the capital of the country, to top it all! Wonder if the movie also hurted the pride of those opposing Slumdog.

Just like those firangs must have pitied us while seeing Slumdog, they must have ridiculed us while watching Delhi 6. But not reading those protests/opposings much? Why? Is being ridiculed much better than being pitied upon?

As I see it, people can laugh, pity us or exercise whatever emotion they can but fact remains that in the midst of this economic gloom, its only India along with China whose growth will contribute positively to the world economy. Mind you, US, UK, France, Japan have contributed albeit negatively. And to look back, its Indian engineers who drive NASA space programs, Indian doctors and other professionals who Mr Obama wants in his team (not seeing much of China, UK or any other country for that matter in Mr Obama’s inner circle). And I can keep typing….

Point remains, we as a nation and civilization are the proverbial ‘like this only!’ Read Sunil Khilnani’s Idea of India,  a book which very well explains how India was never to be a country, forget being the world’s largest democracy and other attributes. Our innumerable conflicts, contradictions, communalities, and, despite all this, co-existence is a marvel that needs to be applauded and cherished.

So whether a Slumdog shows something or not, we are too big (in size and manner) to be affected. Whether a Slumdog shows something or not, we don’t have the time to look at anything to divert ourselves off our goals. Looking ahead is what we need to do, constantly.

Even I don’t have the time to write any more on this topic.

Signing off!

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Paradise is for seekers..

Been rather acidic, the press has about Goa and how the tiny state has lost its glory. It was yet another article in this undeclared and unforgiving series that I read in the Hindustan Times (HT) today which prompted me to unlock my blog gates.

Am not a Goan nor am I a publicity agent of the Goa government but I happen to be among the people who have been there and have come to appreciate the place. That is why I wish to communicate my feelings about Goa.

I believe that we get what we look out for. I have been to Goa twice in my life and stayed there for almost a week on both occasions. Done things where I could have encountered the ‘Goan evils’, for example, I have roamed the by-lanes in the night, slept on beaches post sun-set and wandered around alone etc. But frankly, am yet to come across shady drug lords, Russian mafia men, sex trade and everything else that one tarnishes Goa with. Please bear in mind, am not saying that the above stated things do not exist. Am only saying that I never found myself even in a slightest spot of bother courtesy things factors.

The difference, as I said, often lies in ones lookout. I was simply a tourist who couldn’t get enough time appreciating the blessed place, forget time to indulge in or court trouble. You may say I was plain lucky and did not live there long enough but trouble, as you know, does not acknowledge any of these factors. And while we are at it, why don’t we often hear of a middle-class Indian family say from Punjab or Gujarat or wherever being harassed in Goa? Or Indian girls raped there or guys caught in sex racket? Food for thought??

Scarlett’s case is often quoted whenever media or people have to rubbish Goa. But with all due respect, Scarlett’s, as well as her mother’s lifestyle, wasn’t something that a tourist should ever emulate. 

Yes, Goa ranks among the most corrupt states in the country, a lot of its pristine glory has been eaten up by land sharks and politicians (assuming there is a difference between the two), eminent citizens have protested by not accepting Goa government’s award conferred upon them, ministers kith and kin indulge in law breaking with impunity and so on. While these are serious issues which, am sure, citizens, media and some in administration are combating, it is wrong to single out Goa case for these reasons. Also, only because it happens to be a tourist centre does not mean it has an inherent immunity against these monsters.

Goa, like any other attractive destination is suffering from urbanisation, crime, influx of migrants, too much money, traffic woes and more. Given the brightness that the place exults, it is bound to attract more eyeballs but lets stop singling it out! May be the effort, newsprint, news bytes can go in investigating instances and ensuring action rather than simply crying over what already has taken place.

Bad books

Just like how every television channel is ‘No. 1’, most books you pick up are ‘greatest’, ‘most brilliant’, ‘thrilling’, ‘smartest’ and so on. Wonder if there are books which believe in modesty. Like I would appreciate if a book has this written on its back page: ‘The author believes he has managed to do a decent job with this one when compared to his last one. People improve with time and the author wants to assure you that he too is very much human.’

Guess then the only ‘bad’ books are those belonging to children. Bad because handwriting is bad, spellings are bad, punctuation is not upto the mark, it does not have a brown cover purchased from school’s library etc etc.

Bad book - Notebook?
Bad book - Notebook?

 

What we need, to change the status quo is some writer, a gutsy man who would undertake the task of writing a ‘Bad book’. The path will be tough. Magazines, websites, television channels, fellow authors will all want to take it away from the writer and give their remarks absolving the book of all its hard-earned, bad qualities. Along with writer, we also need an equally gutsy publisher to support such a venture. It won’t be easy.

My critics on this blog (gleefully assuming that people read my posts) will ask what is my contribution to this herculean task, apart from merely scripting some words. I have begun by writing a bad blog today. Isn’t it?

Spirit of Mumbai, SUCKED

It was 12:30am, yesterday. Sitting in front of the television, I was still absorbing what Delhi had undergone six hours ago. Between trying to react afresh to the incident and countering the cliche that has set in, my train of thought was disturbed by a firecracker explosion. It made my blood boil that some nutcase was out there, ‘celebrating’ whatever he had to. As night turned into day and into night once again, I realised, that nutcase had a really big family.

Ganpati visarjans have never enthused me, I will be frank. But given their scale and nature this time, they irked me. Mumbai supposedly has a ‘spirit’, if we are to go by what politicians and media, among others say. As suspected, the ‘spirit’ is a synonym for insensitivity. Mumbai doesn’t stop, come what may because Mumbaikars can’t afford to. Thank our politicians for that.

Anyway, digressing too much from the topic.

Ganesh visarjan 2008, for me, will remain an opportunity lost and lost by choice at that. Could we not keep the music, dance, orchestra and fanfare down a little (am not asking for a shutdown, mind you) for our brothers in Delhi? No one is asking for the show to not go on. It must and it should. But I see a middle ground between keeping the show on and showing that we care. Mumbai and Mumbaikars, chose to not see that middle ground. Thus, the spirit sucked. I am directly making my case against the city and people, not including our political leadership for I see no point. Though a statement from the Chief Minister or Governor, appealing people to celebrate but also show come concern for Delhi victims would have given some hope.

While I was debating the same issue with a friend, he told me, “You are right. In an ideal world, what you said should be done.” Whether the world progresses towards the ideal or un-ideal, who is responsible? Us. He however had a point when he said, “Well even if I agree with you, what can I do today?” The answer is, we can’t do much for we are not in control of anything beyond our own life. But we must begin, make the right choices and take the right decisions. The spirit of Mumbai sucked because those driving it suck. Let us ensure we don’t let it happen again.

To all those who never knew..

It doesn’t surprise me, actually nothing about us human beings does, that people can struggle all their lives for something and when they get it, they do not even see it. Simple as it is, you can spot something only when you know what is there to spot. When translated into our world, a person can acknowledge something only when he or she knows what they are awaiting.

But what if you are wearing the wrong glasses and you can not recognise things? Naturally, most will turn bitter at how life ‘simply failed them’. It can be a miserable state to be in..trust me, I have seen it. There is an old saying, ‘Life either makes you bitter or better’, it is all about wearing the right glasses, or is it? 

Do feel there is a way out even if you have worn the wrong glasses. We always have a choice, remember those great words? Tend to believe in them a lot. Whether you chose to face the sun and shine brighter, go down the wire like a fighter or simly gulp down water and plummet to the unknown depths of the ocean of life, only you can decide. In those times when I would read Osho often, the one thing I remember more than anything else is a line – You are responsible for yourself.

Can anybody put you in a spot without your consent? No, absolutely not.

Came across someone who gave up after a point in life. Sad as the case is, the person struggled all his life for what his belief was. He kept scoring his points, earned respect and was well on his way but because he wore the wrong glasses, he couldn’t see the fruits he had earned and gradually felt that life had simply failed him. What next? He decided to give it up. Let it all come crashing down and he lives to this day, cursing what he got. Little does he realise that he got what he did only because he chose to settle with it. He was too tired to bargain, he was too disillusioned to hope, was too scared to take an initiative and too fragile to take the rough road. And thus made the decision. It was his choice. Even though he was a winner, he can not think beyond being a victim. He never really knew… 

They say, in life you never know. So even though I talk these things today, I don’t know what will await me, tomorrow. But if I falter, wear the wrong glasses and make the wrong choice, then I hope to read this, at least.

Mr. Terrorist, I surrender

A terror attack is an attack on our freedom and way of life, as much as it is on our people and property. The way we are is what irks them and by perpetrating such acts, they want us to change. I want to tell the terrorists, I surrender. I will change.

Henceforth, I will live my life more fully, will enjoy and savour every moment that I have, will be a responsible citizen, will be a more compassionate human being and will use whatever I have of my life towards making this world a better place. There is enough damage that even those who are not seen as terror creators are doing that every human being working towards a better tomorrow has already got his/her task cut out. Yes, Mr. Terrorist, I will change.

Mr. Terrorist, I will change the way I have been, all these years. It is thanks to you that I will be more sensitive, more understanding, more aware, more open and more tolerant. And every time I stray, it will be your fear that will make me stick to my new path. It is also thanks to you that I will work for a world where no youngster will ever have to take up arms instead of books and take the route that you had to. I will work towards destroying you.

Thank you.

Goan diaries – II

Goa isn’t exactly known for its diaries but may be after I write, it will..

For those who do not know, I visited Goa between June 7 and 10. Since friends were busy and none of them was unlucky enough to be forced to join me, I made the trip alone.

Sunday June 8

I didn’t really follow the transition from June 7 to June 8. It all seemed like an unending, uncomfortable and, if I may add, unsuccessful, attempt to sleep in that bus. I almost saw the night through! Anyway, morning arrived as the bus stopped for chai and nastaa, near Kankavli. The dark clouds hovering above were making me nervous. They seemed like the dark-suited representatives of all those who said it was pointless going to Goa in the rains. With the fear of a washout looming over my head, I settled for chai. As I read the Goa edition of the TImes of India or let me be honest, Goa Times/Panjim Times or whatever it is called, I found an unexpected ally. On the cover of that paper was a ‘slimmer by 10kg Manisha Koirala’ who screamed out, ‘Goa is heavenly during rains’. Good morning, I told myself!!

The remaining few hours of the journey to Panjim were, well forgettable, as the buswala continued his streak of worse-follows-bad movies with ‘My name is Anthony Gonzalves’ after last night’s show of ‘Jannat’. But that gave me a chance to capture the wet reception on my lens

wet reception..
wet reception..

As the clock struck 10:30am, the wheels of my bus ceased to roll. I and Panjim were finally together! Thanks to an old rickshaw driver, I got a good room at a good hotel, Hotel Baretton. What more, I even managed a discount! Anyway, so I went up, brushed, took a bath, emptied myself of all the worldly belongings (actually Mumbai-ly belongings) and waited for Sylvester to arrive, which in a few minutes, he did.

Na..my door didn’t rattle when he knocked or I didn’t feel guilty for not going to the gym on seeing his physique. As I opened the room door, there he stood in front of me – all of 5ft, thin and smiling. The sweet guy that he was, he handed over to me the keys of the bike, which was to be my sole partner throughout the trip.

Sylvester gone, I came down and after briefly taking directions from the receptionist, embarked on the 40km journey to Arambol, which later seemed a little more than that. Why there? Well, Archie and family were there so I thought I would meet up. I have never felt it so strongly, as I did during my bike ride to Arambol, that in a sea of unknown faces, it can be a really tempting thought that of getting to see even one known face. Rains, lack of direction, cooperative Goans, they all helped me reached Archie’s place where I was treated to egg bhurjee, which was yummm! On top of that, little Ruhaan was there too….more yummm! Warm food, warm people and naturally a good time, what more can you ask for in an alien land! 

Later on, Archie showed me around the place, we visited the Arambol beach and returned. Since the rain clouds were all ganging up, I didn’t wish to take chances. Besides, I had only recently realised that rains and bike can stretch distances a tad too far.

Once inside the safe confines of Hotel Baretton, I washed my clothes and briefly went out to dine before I dozed off. Well, I had a lot of catching up to do there.

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