India, Indians and some interesting links

July 22, 2010

Kahat Kabir –

निन्दक  नियरे  राखिये , आन्गन कुटी चवये
बिन पाणि  साबुन बिन,  निर्मल करे सुहैये

It means: Keep your critics close to you; let their hut be in your courtyard. That way you don’t need soap and water to cleanse self.

Hence, bring on more like these. Such articles need to be given prominence, since, the intent is right.

Lindsay Clinton helps us to solve one of the problems mentioned in the above article.

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A long Update

July 21, 2010

Though important developments at Work, Pankhudi and home kept be busy, I still found time to sample this and poke fun at people. I even watched three movies in a row!

So I see no reason why I couldn’t have blogged!

Sorry, will overcome my monsoon lethargy and get back to regular posting soon 🙂

In the meanwhile, if you crave good, traditional, spicy Maharashtrian food –  no, don’t contact me.

Rather, join me at Sinhagad and Lohagad over this weekend. We will enjoy good food and can also trek if you please.

****
It is difficult to do detailed reviews of all the movies I watched this week –  Tere Bin Laden, Inception and Udaan.

They brought back nostalgia – of houseful theaters and family outings, crying babies and crowded washrooms.

While Tere Bin Laden is a nice comedy, Udaan is a nuanced drama, with excellent music.

About Inception, the lesser said the better – it is the only movie I have seen, which enjoyed a standing ovation from the audience.

****
Do any of you watch the dance show Chak Dhoom Dhoom on Colors?

If yes, can you please tell me why the hell Shyam did what he did in the semi-finals? Why would anyone select Maa as his semi-final act?  Did none of the judges warn him for such sloppy choice?

With Shyam out, I am now rooting for Piyush. His performances are brilliant.

Gabhricha Paus – Movie Review

July 6, 2010
Source: Esakal
The extended weekend gave me a chance to catch up with Gabhricha Paus – a movie that has long been on my waiting list.
Gabhricha Paus deals with farmer suicides and affiliated social problems. Through the story of Kisna, a farmer hard pressed against nature’s fury, Satish Manwar weaves a nuanced drama about hope and despair.
Despite covering a dark subject, the movie itself isn’t depressing. Infact, black humour is one of its many highlights, apart from commendable performances and deft cinematography. 
Manwar also seems to be well versed with the subject and thankfully, refrains from dramatizing the plot.
With each passing movie, I have realised, more than the main plot, it is the sub plots or mini-stories that appeal to me. Take for example, the relationship between Ranbir Kapoor and Prem Chopra in Rocket Singh. Ditto for Imran Khan and Ratna Shah in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na or the delicate friendship that unfolds between the kids in Masoom. 
Such stories bring out a film maker’s understanding of finer details in relationships. Majid Majidi is a master in this space. Satish Manwar equally delights on this parameter.
As much as I would like to rave about the clever plot and the rustic look of the movie, I am sure that most readers haven’t watched it yet.
Hence, I urge you to grab a DVD and set out for this engaging drama. Regional cinema may still hold some hope for cinema lovers.

Raajneeti – The movie

July 5, 2010

It’s a little late in the day for a review.

I spent a lot of  time trying to find people who held views similar to mine. Sadly, those who did, either didn’t understand Bollywood or held childish views on politics.

Anyway, I share with you why Raajneeti was an absolute disappointment for me.

  • Indian Politics and Mahabharat are both rich subjects, requiring deft treatment. Jha failed in this department. Why he mixed both, fails me.
  • Life, including Politics, is mostly gray. Jha showcases Politics as uni-dimensional. “Everyone out there is a scoundrel” is what the message appeared to be. Really, it is a very damaging view to hold. Saner and more realistic movies to have come out on politics are Satta by Madhur Bhandarkar and Gulaal by Anurag Kashyap.
  • The movie had awful character development. Katrina’s new age woman, who is raring to go after the man of her dreams, giving in meekly to the demands of the men in her life, was such a no-brainer! Her character is treated like cattle – auctioned from one party to another. You may say that this is how it is for women from political families. Then, I say, don’t show a street smart belle. Someone timid would seem more authentic. Or, at least show a decent fight being put up by the character. Pouts don’t count! Similarly, Ranbir’s “Arjun” was beyond me. I laughed out when, during the climax, he loathes politics, stating how it brings out the animal in him. Really?? No external force can ever bring out the animal in you, unless you already have one residing within. Ranbir’s transformation from an international student of Victorian Poetry to a blood thirsty, scheming mastermind was an assault on my senses. For all the drama about his conscience, there was not a single scene depicting agony or internal debate within him. I hold similar views on all other characters in this opus. Bollywood movie makers really need to work on creating believable characters.
  • At a subconscious level, the movie seemed to promote the idea that children of political families are born with political acumen. How else do you explain Ranbir’s character? It seemed as if the guy had been writing poetry, always secretly wishing to manage a national election campaign. Duh !
  • The quintessential rain sequence – The scene between Nikhila Trikha and Naseeruddin Shah gave the impression that all one requires to unleash stupidity in people is monsoon!
    • The only good thing to have come out of the movie is the “Jesth Putra” scene between Trikha and Devgan. It is my official recommendation for the most hilarious scene of the year.
    • It would be unfair to say that I found no good in the movie. Arjun Rampal was quite an unexpected delight. So was Shruti Sheth. But that’s that.

    The curious case of Chetan Bhagat

    June 28, 2010

    Chetan Bhagat is one of the few people who are consistently stupid. At least when they write.

    This article in the Sunday TOI proves my point.

    Now, Aishwarya’s resume reads Actress, and there is absolutely no doubt about her acting skills – they are absent.

    So yes, she is wooden, plastic and an ice maiden.

    Sachin Tendulkar, Shahrukh Khan, Dhirubhai Ambani – all rose from the bourgeois. I don’t know anyone who is jealous of them.

    And, don’t even get me started on Shashi Tharoor.

    Anyway, this isn’t a rant. Stupidity of such an order, on the Op-Ed pages, provides much laughter on weekends.

    Go Bhagat Go !

    Of Babas and Faith

    June 25, 2010

    Deepak shared this article on Satya Sai Baba.

    The piece graduated from being absorbing to morbid.

    Sample this show of “faith” by a devotee, despite allegations of sexual abuse leveled against Baba –

    But,” he carried on, “it [sex] is all about union; maybe Sai Baba established union with some of his devotees. I am not saying that the allegations were necessarily true, but what is the big deal even if they were true?” he asked. “So that won’t affect your faith in him?” I asked. “No, it will not,” he replied. “But is it fair that he tries to establish ‘union’ with some of their devotees without their consent?” I asked. “If he is God, how can it be wrong? It’s Ok,” he replied, rendering me speechless.

    *****
    If this is what having faith in a spiritual guru does to your brain, then we all have reasons to be very scared.

    *****
    Having a Guru might be useful in one’s spiritual journey – helping one to explore and understand faith and a Supreme Force.

    However, problems arise when people start seeking God in a Guru.

    They miss the whole point. The Guru is just a means and an enabler. Don’t confuse him with the End.

    In fact, if your Guru or you think that he is God – may God help both of you.

    *****
    Indians abroad often seem worried about losing out on traditions and the country’s spiritual wisdom.

    While in Hong Kong, I made friends with quite a few Indian families.

    There used to be a palpable buzz every time a Baba or a Mata visited HK.

    Once, while I had been invited to dinner by one such family, the conversation steered towards vegetarianism and their Baba’s take on what will happen to Non Vegetarians.

    The family was disturbed, for obvious reasons.

    Then started an analysis of every word the baba said on vegetarianism, karma, freedom of choice – a horrid mish mash of baba’s, Mahabharata’s, Bhagvad Gita’s and their own interpretation.

    Knowing myself, I am quite surprised at how quiet I remained through out the discussion.

    Must be the curry-chawal.

    Cheetahs vs. Hippos

    June 19, 2010

    This video gave me the goosebumps, because, I replaced Africa with India, everywhere.

    A Guest Post

    June 14, 2010

    Prasad Ajinkya,  a colleague, is someone I have shared lots of laughs with, of late. When I found out his love for reading, I couldn’t help asking him to write a guest post on how he got hooked to the loveliest hobby of all time. I hope the below post evokes enough interest in non readers to take up reading. For the rest, treat it as a nostalgic trip to your childhood.

    *****

    Reading as a lifelong practice
    During my formative years, my parents took pains to ensure that I got access to a lot of books. As a baby I used to happily tear out pages from a book; the only reason my parents must have restrained themselves from taking that book away from me was the hope that one day I shall start reading the book instead of simply tearing it. Well, they were right, many torn books later, I opened a book and started reading it instead!! ’twas a hand-me-down book which had been purchased on the footpath of Fort area in Churchgate. Malory Towers by Enid Blyton … Darrell Rivers and her stay at the Cornish school, it was almost magical (ala Harry Potter). Then came the Famous Five and Secret Seven, soon followed by the detectives; Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Hercules Poirot and of course my favorite Sherlock Holmes. Every year my sister and I used to wait for vacations, because vacations meant – travel, bags of books, library subscriptions and lounging around all day reading books. Reading was a big help at various points in my life, for which I will always be grateful towards my parents.

    Vocabulary 
    Reading and especially reading at a young age tremendously boosts your vocabulary skills. The words which a lot of people mug-up using word-lists for GRE and CAT preparations, are already familiar to you since you have read them in one book or the other. Language suddenly is not a constraint but a medium to be leveraged. Think about it, the section which a lot of people fear is the Reading Comprehension (RC), this becomes your forte because of your reading.

    Learning is not a pain 
    Since you can read faster, there is a chance that you understand things faster as well; Ergo lesser time to study ;-). In fact who knows you might even enjoy it!! (Although I don’t guarantee this!)

    General Knowledge
    The amount of knowledge you pick up when reading through different books/magazines/articles is immense. Don’t believe me? Then try this simple exercise … pick-up a newspaper, any newspaper and just spend 15-20 minutes reading through any random set of articles. If you are not more informed then either you have been reading the daily funnies or the page 3 :-).

    Communication
    It helps you communicate better. Being well read is simply more topics to discuss :-). Ever stuck in a conversation where you have  no idea what the others are talking about? Well that’s ignorance. Read and drive away that ignorance!!

    Helps in exams/vivas
    Often during my engineering vivas and exams, I used to hope for questions which were outside the syllabus. Simply because the question outside the syllabus were from more or less current events. Having done a lot of other reading, this always gave me an edge over other students (who were much better at studies :-D). When it comes to dealing with the unknown, the well read person is at a distinct advantage.

    The great thing about reading, is that it’s never too late. You might say, that I do not have any exams to give, but reading still comes in handy. Reading helps you be more informed about things which are interested in. Without reading, you cannot write. If you are a creative person or are involved in a creative job, then you have to read. Think of it as one more avenue of getting your inspiration. Your personal muse.

    Ahh, and more thing, this is a form of entertainment which is customized for you, the book you read is your choice … if you like magic – then the Lord of the Rings, satire – then the Inscrutable Americans, sci-fi then – Isaac Asimov or the Dune series, philosophy then – The Fountainhead, medical then – Any Robin Cook, legal – then any John Grisham … I can go on. So what are you waiting for!?! If you can read through this entire post, then you might as well go to the nearest book store and pick-up any book that holds your fancy!!

    Bhopal Gas Tragedy

    June 8, 2010

    The former CJI AH Ahmadi defended the verdict in the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

    Without crying hoarse over this subject and taking too much of your time, lets get to the point –

    We are a nation of retards.

    And maybe we deserve what we get.

    Into Thin Air – Book Review

    June 5, 2010

    Ever since my humble attempts at mountain climbing in Maharashtra, I hunted for articles and personal accounts of mountaineers.

    That is how I landed at Jon Krakauer’s write up for Outside magazine.

    Jon, a seasoned climber and sports journalist, had always harbored dreams of conquering Everest. So when he received a chance to be a part of, and cover a guided expedition to Everest in 1996; he felt he had been gifted the only real wish he ever had.

    Little did he know that it would come to be known as the worst season in Everest History.

    Dis-satisfied with having to squeeze a lifetime worth of experience in a magazine article, Jon set out to write a book on his Mount Everest Conquest.

    Into Thin Air is Jon’s account of the horrifying proportions the journey assumed – with 8 climbers dead in one day, and 15 in the whole season, the event attracted world-wide criticism on the commercialisation of Everest.

    The book adopts a factual, fast paced, non-biased narrative, which grips the reader from the word Go.

    Where his Outside article raced through the tragedy, the book is carefully penned; building up on speed while detailing out every person on the tour, the preparation that went into the conquest and the small mistakes that finally snowballed into the tragedy.

    One gets a good look at what an ordinary Sherpa’s life is, how the Himalayan region has benefited from mountaineering expeditions and also how commercialisation has affected, the once pristine Everest.

    Every chapter begins with a passage from books/personal accounts/articles written by Mountaineering Legends – men who have conquered Everest, The North and South Poles, and undertaken other such journeys that ordinary mortals can only dream about. These passages add an intriguing dimension to such people – people who cannot be pinned down with adjectives, who would give up their lives, fight natural disasters and physical ailments – only to conquer an ideal which appeals to their souls – however lofty, radical and insane it may sound to others.

    At a philosophical level, Jon shares what motivates a mountaineer and why such people are either highly admired or strongly detested for what they represent. After all, an Everest Climb requires one to be very comfortable with the idea of Death, the idea of letting go and never getting back to one’s loved ones. Some people also equate climbing mountains to an intense spiritual activity – both exercises require one to suspend all mundane thoughts and dwell within, for all answers.

    The book very poignantly showcases the best and the worst a human being is capable of. In fact, worst is not the right word here, for, in disasters like these, one can never judge the actions of the people involved.

    Though the expedition had a tragic end, the book also showcases some miraculous escapes – escapes that gave me goose bumps while reading.Needless to add, but I still will, what the human mind is capable of – is beyond most of us can ever fathom.

    A favourite thought here – When your legs take you no far, when you feel the last drop of energy sucked out from you, when your mind appears to have given up, it is then you should know that you are only mid-way through.

    Into Thin Air is one of the most stirring reads ever and highly recommended for one and all.

    Once you are done with the book, I suggest you watch Dr. Ken Kamler’s account of the tragedy – he was the only doctor present, when the blizzard struck.

    *****
    Arjun Vajpayee’s Everest conquest didn’t attract the appreciation it should have, owing to the Mangalore crash.

    However, one must acknowledge the gumption, sacrifice and grace that go into such expeditions.