Showing posts from July, 2009

Pictures turn every moment into a memory

It was a series of coincidences that led me to write this post. Those coincidences revolved around picture... simple photographs that chronicle our everyday lives! It began with a unique contest that I had been part of which said, 'Pictures Do Get Us Talking'. I was particularly kicked about this contest because I truly believe that pictures do get us talking. How many of us need to just be reminded of many memories that surround that particular pose? Apart from the memories these pictures evoke, pictures are also great conversation pieces. I have spent many hours with friends--laughing, joking, crying, reminiscing over pictures and the memories they evoked. This also got me thinking about how much of a picture person I am. Thanks to technology, taking pictures and reviewing them was never so easy, making us all so trigger happy. Even our mobile phones come equipped with high-tech cameras, which means that no 'picture' moment would ever be missed. I have over 300 photo…

An Ode To Friendship

It is certainly not a bright day here in Bombay--quite cloudy but the perfect time to sip on a hot cup of ginger tea and hot samosas. But no, I am not doing that today. In fact, I am sitting on the laptop writing this column. As I am getting totally getting bored of doing nothing at all for the past four months, I have only managed to keep writing and fulfil my targets that I had set for my food blog.

As many of you might know, the first Sunday of August is celebrated as Friendship's Day, but I have decided to write this considering July is almost over. Calling someone a friend is not an excuse to make them do something for your own benefit. Friendship is an excuse to be willing to give anything without the other having to ask. But one of my oldest and dearest friends was going through absolute hell and yet he refused to let me find out even a little bit about what was going wrong. He did not want me to help him out in English, because he knew that I was myself no pandit in Englis…

Bombay Boy

A couple of days ago, I went to Ganpatipule in Ratnagiri on the Konkan coast. It has an unpolluted beach and walked barefoot on the brown sands kissed by the waters. I snorkeled in the sand and sunbathed in the beach. The genuinely warm, funny Maharashtrians ensured that we had a great time. I guess it was natural because we were staying with a local family, eating all Maharashtrian food. The coastal town was enveloped with a pristine white sands, coral blue sea, acres of lush tropical wetlands, broad roads with tree-lined and cozy wayside cafes.

It was one of the best weekend trips as you can imagine. Yet, as I was nearing the end of the weekend, I couldn't wait to get back to Bombay. Yes, that Bombay of coastal wasteland, fast-paced life, concrete jungles, acres of slum dwellings and garbage lined streets. Yes, that Bombay, where if strangers greet you, you run as far away from them as possible. After 72 hours of being greeted with spectacular bird's eye-views, the trademark…

The Great Escapism

Over the past few days the news cycle has been on a rotation of sorts. The same news stories, day after day, with names changed to add variety. Crooked politicians, water-logged roads and water shortages in buildings. It all sounds incredibly exhausting if you ask me, almost as if everyone has his or her focus on something else.

Now if you think I'm hinting at something, you are absolutely right. No one really cares whether our roads get fixed or our trains get safer, because everyone's just too busy tuning into and (then ripping apart) the reality show du jour. Whether it's discussions on Rakhi Sawant's show that easily takes up hours of otherwise valuable conversation time, or whether or not not Indians should be playing, "Sach Ka Saamna", to what the boozing and promiscuous twenty-somethings are doing in "Splitsvilla", it seems everyone is more interested in someone else's reality to give their own much thought.

Why is it that we find ourselv…

Don't Jump The Gun

I'm so glad that I read Akshay's blog last week. Yes, I admit that I am Divya Shekhar who hacked into Akshay's blog. I'm writing this to clarify my points as a guest writer. If I hadn't read Akshay's blog, the disorder he's suffering from would have gone unnoticed. I recognized the symptoms immediately...

* When they are faced with a different/difficult situation...the disorder kicks in, clouding all rational thought and judgement.

* Immediately after; and in a similar vein of Optimus Prime, Megatron and their gang of Autobots and Deceptions; these seemingly normal men transform into machines on a fight... shooting first and asking questions later.

* This is followed by utter confusion. Because at the end of it all, as they stand amongst the rubble of battle they began, they wonder... what brought it on the in the first place! Akshay... buddy, it's ok... don't panic. You've been inflicted by the 'Male-Jump-To Conclusions Syndrome' or the MJ…

Life's an open serial

What's the best thing a reality TV show can do for once-upon-a-time celebrities other than pressing loads of cash on them? Get them back into the public eye. So when former Indian batsman Vinod Kambli bared his heart and soul on Sach Ka Saamna, India's answer to The Moment of Truth, we all sighed and said: "Ji, hum aapki baatein sun rahe hain". (Yes, we are listening". In an emotionally-charged show, Mr. Kambli said in a polygraph test that his childhood friend Sachin Tendulkar didn't do enough to stop him from going-down self-destructive path which ended a glorious career.

Now many among us may want to know Mr. Kambli's dark secrets, after all we are celebrity junkies. But what possesses people like you and me to let it all hang out on national television? We'd thought that no one would be interested in knowing about our humdrum lives. But how wrong we were. There is a great slavering public out there lapping up every bit of discomfort and humiliatio…

A Day of Silence in an Indian Politician's Life

Newspaper statements were reporting about Congress MP Rita Bahugana had been arrested for delivering inflammatory speeches and using abusive language. I was just thinking of a day when no Indian politician would be allowed to talk. Silence has always been misunderstood in a country like India and has often been mislaid in the land of its origin. National leaders are busy taking cheap potshots at one another. Narendra Modi made sexist and inane comments about Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, during the elections.

Have you ever imagined a day when the Election Commission or the President would impose a day when no politician dare open his or her mouth? Since no government of India would dare risk its tenuous hold on popularity by celebrating the day of silence. It should order a day of silence every week specially during the polling season. Can you imagine the bliss that the Indians would have for 24 hours without the mindless banter of these politicians, the flinging dung of accusation and response, …

Movie Review: Abhimaan

The 1973 Hindi film Abhimaan follows the life of playback singer Subhir Kumar (Amitabh Bachchan) is a very famous singer and he has lots of adoring female fans who sit by the radio and just drown in the soul of his voice whenever his songs are played. Out of all his admirers, the only he pays attention to is Chithra (Bindu) whom he flirts with often at the annoyance of his agent Chandru (Asrani). One day, Subhir receives a letter from his aunt (Durga Khote) who raised him when he was small. He runs to her house for a meeting. There he encounters and falls in love with Uma Devi (Jaya Bachchan), who is his aunt's granddaughter. Uma Devi is also a talented singer and after their marriage, he decides that he will sing with Uma now on.

A film producer approaches Subhir to request Uma to sing for the lead heroine in a film. Subhir happily accepts and Uma reluctantly obliges to sing on her own. Offers pour in and Uma's star begins to shine brighter than her husband's. Subhir is …

Under Siege

I write to you today, as a broken man. I am disgusted, my faith in humanity shattered. I feel violated and unclean, as though I'd found a scorpion in my underpants. What I am about to say may shock some of you. It may anger many. If there are children or pregnant women in the room, I beg you to stop reading. My tale is not for the faint of heart.

Early Monday morning, as I bit into my chutney sandwich, I flipped open the paper and started to educate myself as to the day's happenings. I was reading the daily entertainment gossip because it's fun. I could tell something was wrong. I could see it in my peripheral vision; extra text! (not, as you might imagine, colloquially called 'textra'. One of the many words I tried to invent that never caught on, like reflectuate and pineapple).

I snapped my head 30 degrees to the right and focussed on reading my previous post . Bile rising in my throat, I started reading. "It has been an extremely interesting week for me an…

Movie Review: Naalu Pennungal

An Adoor Gopalakrishnan is always a fascinating experience to watch. It was necessary to write the review of this Malayalam film, just to stay in touch with my roots and brush up on my Malayalam. Naalu Pennungal is different from the previous Adoor films, especially since it narrates four different stories, each distinct from the other with no apparent attempt to link them together. All the four stories written by the Jnanpith recipient, the late Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai) speak about feministic concerns. This is the reason why Naalu Pennungal interesting and relevant.

The first story in Naalu Pennungal is Oru Niyamalanghanathinte Katha, which has a street prostitute named Kunjipennu (Padmapriya) as the pivotal character. The story, set against the 1940's relates about what happens when Kunjipennu at last finds someone who loves her dearly and who wants to lead a life with her, as her husband. How society reacts to this is narrated subtly, and forms the rest of the plot.

The seco…

My Bombay, My Home

My neighbours Divya and Sudhir have just returned to live in India after twenty one years. They left the city in the late 1980s when Mumbai was still called Bombay, when life was simple and the city had not been transformed to the maddening Mumbai it is today.

As I gaze at the moutains that I can see from my windows, I find myself rewinding into the past one decade. To a time when going to South Bombay by a double decker bus was a big thing, when the competition to get into a good college was not so cut-throat. Traffic riddled Powai was still a picnic destination. Chembur, a sleepy suburb. Most of these quiet, leafy lanes are gone now. The bungalows razed. Trees felled. The overflowing millions squeezed into stifling matchbox-sized apartments instead. Clothes were bought on the streets or stitched by local tailors. I was very envious of a friend who was the son of an industrialist who owned a pair of GAP T-shirts and Jimmy Choo shoes. His father had the opportunity to visit all countr…

Good Morning Sunshine

I'm tired of reading depressing front-page news--of corrupt politicians, Michael Jackson's demise, the city facing water cuts and the country heading for a drought. Helpless senior citizens being murdered in their own homes. Children fighting to be the next toppers amidst cut-throat competition. I'm fed up of the daily grind. All of us pushing and shoving to reach the finishing line in this rat race of life. Rushing to reach work and then the tiring commute back home. Ragging through traffic. Sitting in pigeonholed cubicles. Scowling into computer screens. I need a break from it all. I think we all do.

So remembering Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, I wrote to all my friends around the world asking them to make a list of their favourite things. The tiny stuff that bring joy, even for an instant. Join me for the next few minutes. Forget those big dreams we spend our days, our months, our years chasing. Let's revel instead in those small, trivial, banal moments that b…

Monsoon Masti

Mumbai was being lashed by heavy rains yesterday. I am so happy and experienced a sense of relief, thrill and pure excitement. Given that the rain Gods have been so generous, I just wish that they continue to be so generous for the next three months. I wish get I stuck somewhere while coming back from college. So here I was trying to jot down the things one can't and shouldn't miss during the rainy season:

* Having chai and samosas at a dhaba: That's the one quintessential thing that one needs to do atleast once in a year! I personally believe that the monsoons are the best time to visit a dhaba. Don't miss the conversations that take place around you when at the dhaba sipping a hot cup of chai and samosas.

* Go for a long drive: It's great if you're accompanied by someone but even if you're not, music can be best your companion. There's no need to be in a tearing slowly and enjoy the weather. In Delhi, I think The Greater Noida Expressway …

Finding the real Akshay

I'm in a haze... a daze...with a mishmash of thoughts and emotions swirling in my head. There has been so much that has been happening...good, bad, sad... that just can't seem to find a mood to set up home in even for a few hours!! So, I'm fairly certain that it will be reflected in the randomness of my of my thoughts this week, so please bear with me.

These times are hugely contradictory... they drain you physically and mentally yet those same moments give you the extra adrenalin to surge ahead. Is this making any sense? Maybe not.. but writing this seems to be making the situation a little better.

Writing, I've discovered, is therapeutic. Quite surprisingly, so is Facebook. I'm suddenly hooked. It started as a statement to be in the "cool" crowd... a quest to keep in touch with old school friends and now, I find my fingers twitching to login to Facebook and update myself anytime something interesting happens! So far, I've had a great time on Facebook …

Money Hain Toh Honey Hain!!

There has been a silent revolution happening, at least in the big cities, in the field of education. The silent revolution has brought along several changes...unfortunately, not all are good for the society. Education is fast getting out of reach of the common man. There are various boards one can now choose from SSC, ICSE to CBSE, and a few modern equivalents or supposedly better. Like all things new and trendy, so has been the trend with education.

Honestly, the new systems of education don't always mean better. Statistics show that families in India have to spend a lot more on the primary school education of their children, making the fundamental right to basic education for the poor Indian families a distant dream.

Recently, I was sitting with my sister who was working out on her monthly budget, and trying to understand how she could save money. Usually, I just warm up the chair when I am there but when my sister gave me the numbers for the school and tuition fees for her kids,…

It started on Tuesday

I was supposed to submit this post in June and here I am submitting my post in July. Honestly, I hate it, because I'm so particular and punctual in writing 'decent' blog posts about how I go about my blog content I write. I like to do things to the best of my abilities, and I am not very punctual. So as you can imagine, I did not panic much.

I'm sure by now you must be wondering how it all went so horribly wrong and delayed the post. Atleast, I hope you are, because if you are not, that makes it really difficult for this story to go on any further. It all started somewhere on a particular Tuesday. (I'm not certain, and I may have to research further, but I have a sneaking suspicion that nothing good happens on Tuesdays. Food for thought...) I'm in a position which every writer frequently finds themselves in, and no one enjoys. The time when you are struck by writer's block. The time is indeed so harrowing that you actually try to kill the block but then it …