Showing posts from October, 2009

Minimum City

We like to think of Mumbai as Maximum City--a city bursting with people, heart, smarts, all that. Not on every count, I learnt this quite recently. A work-worn employee of a PR firm located in Tardeo was heading back home to Mazgaon last week when cabbie after aggravating cabbie refused him a ride. He walked the length of the road right up to Mumbai Central station, where cabbies are usually quite accomodating. He was refused by at least six. Then, almost like a dream, a stranger on a motorbike slowed down and asked him if he required a lift.

The PR executive jumped on before the rider reconsidered, and the two rolled forward. He was silently congratulating himself on his luck, and congratulating this city for the goodness and open-heartedness of its people, when they reached the said destination, and the PR executive unsaddled with a grateful heart... only to have that kind Mumbaikar ask him for the cab fare he'd have coughed ip had he taken a taxi instead.

Grumbling, and having …

Beat Seat

Rush hour travel hasn't been the same ever since the new the MRVC--Siemens local trains started rolling on city tracks. Passengers routinely grumble about the total absence of leg room between rows of seats that makes the compartment appear more packed than they actually are, poor seating alignment, and completely wrong placement of overhead fans that carry the promise of a migraine attack. Now, there is an added depressant in the already depressing trains--mounds of garbage under the ergonomically challenged seats. I have occasionally wondered why the older, sturdier locals continue to be a lot more cleaner. Last week, the reason revealed itself in a second-class general compartment. A woman passenger who'd just boarded the train looked under every empty seat and announced, "I decide on a seat based on the amount of trash underneath. After these new trains came in, we just cannot throw our chips packets and orange peels out of the window. Unlike the older trains, the win…

The Wonder Years

Old school and college ties can be very, very strong. After all, why shouldn't they be strong? Schools and colleges are the places where most of us began to discover ourselves with the help of teachers and our place in the world. It's one place that aside from our families at home firmly established our values, our ideas of how life should be lived and our concept of what a good education is.

Schools are also the place where we made the first good friends of our lives, where we indulged in masti and mischief, where we learned how much we are capable of achieving as well as our limitations as individuals. In other words, schools were the places where we grew up in front of our teachers. Since our schools occupy most of our lives before we become responsible, grown up people, it's also the place that made some very strong memories.

Nostalgia is surely a big factor in old school ties, especially at a time when you bump into a classmate and you cannot really recall his/her name…

Festival of noise

Sitting with friends and family, celebrating Diwali by watching movies and indulging in gossip sessions. Still, it's the family being together that matters. Deepavali is a big deal in my house, and I feel that we often lose sight of what's really important in all of this. People go nuts with buying new stuff, playing cards and gambling away huge sums of money... they spend tens of thousands of rupees on crackers, which have always infuriated me.

I always used to hate the noisy crackers because they would terrify me since childhood. I remember my mother telling me how I cried everytime someone burst a noisy cracker when I was a baby. I remember how my grandmother dreads the Deepavali time due to the noise outside that would go on all night. I was very particular about using the silent crackers, the kind that light up, but don't explode.

Then I got older and realised that even though I wasn't making a racker, I was still polluting the air horribly. The morning after Dee…

Season's greetings

It's finally here... that wonderful time of the year when we polish ourselves and our houses, put on our finery, participate in various rituals, gift (willingly for a change!!) and just come together to celebrate. It's Deepavali and I, for once, am truly excited.

It's a festival that has always had a special meaning to me and it comes with so many shiny, happy memories. This year, I'm spending it with my family and a few relatives from Delhi, which is a real treat! Because of work and the art venture commitments, I couldn't spend it with my family last year, but this time around, I made sure that no matter what happened, I would be here in Bombay, to celebrate it with them.

Diwali has certain traditions and rituals that you follow as a family and at my house, the responsibility is divided between all the members of the family that are present in the city. As far as I can remember, my mum gave me th responsibility of distributing the sweets and savouries to all the …

Beggars and tears

Logically speaking, it's not easy for a man to lose his wallet in the ladies compartment of a local train. But a thin, frail man from Pune knows that rationality is a rare resource in today's times. That's why, everyday, this man enters the ladies compartments of Dombivli locals in the afternoons and immediately starts searching the floor. He looks everywhere, under the seats, on window sills, negotiating his way through the crowd of freshly curious women.

After five minutes of nautanki and this desperate exercise, he excites sympathy and interest. "What are you looking for?" A tall woman asks. "Didi, I've lost all my money and have nowhere to go," he croaks in Marathi, almost on the verge of tears and continues his routine. "Please let her not fall for it," prays another woman passenger not very far away. She is familiar with this beggar's moves, but before she could warn the lady, the damage was done. Hydraulic force prevails over log…

Who Needs Bandstand when you have BEST?

It will take a while before the moral police get to this, but it turns out on rainy days, there is a greater dearth of places for idle youth of Mumbai to hang out. Some days ago, four twenty something boys were seen chit-chatting in an empty BEST bus as it stood parked at the bus depot. When the bus finally started, the youth promptly got off---and then got on to the next empty bus waiting to take off.

Considering that most buses in the city of Mumbai enjoy an average of 20 minutes parking time before they are ready to hit the roads once again, these youngsters have a good thing going. It's free, it's clean, and there's no police snooping around. Now, what if all those displaced from the seafronts of Mumbai knew this....

Change for a change

It was so terribly hot and I started feeling like I am in a huge sauna. Thankfully, it rained and today I am feeling cold. Since none of my clothes are dry, I have had to manage wearing a flimsy white vest. Fed up of studying I turn to the Internet to update my blog and then head to the living room to catch up on the developing stories. Breaking news is that Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring Karnataka are reeling through flash floods and it's expected to get worse. Worried, I head out to the window to soak in some cool air and sip a hot cup of tea. Oh my God, I just cannot believe what I just saw.

A huge wave---40 feet, no 5o feet, God no, it's at least 60 feet--is coming straight at me. I run out of the room, down the passage, out of the door, but it's too late. The wave pounds me, I'm drowning, gasping for air.. I wake up shivering. I look around and sigh with relief! It was just a Godforsaken dream! But it felt so real, I run towards the window to double check. Phew! I…

Personal Space, what's that?

If you thought the stunts in Khatron Ke Khiladi was scary, my friend dares you to take a bus ride from Mumbai to Khed. Blame it on the shoe-string budget travel or his talent for inviting third-degree torture, but a recent trekking trip to the Konkan side of Maharashtra was punctuated by a run-ins with ''interesting'' bus conductors.

His first destination, Mahad, a city in the Raigad district, is only accessible by road. Having already experienced the "ups and downs'' in the life of an ST bus earlier, he took a ''private tempo'' option from Karjat, the nearest town in the Raigad district. Now we've heard of private transport guys overloading their vehicles, but there needs to be regulation on this, for the sake of human rights. He was hauled in at the back of a 'Trax', a 10-seater van, far from vintage. Before he could say, ''thamba'' (Stop in Marathi), he found himself sharing space with someone else's suitca…

Trying to make sense of life

I am sick of writing exams. I am tired of living life as though it is a rat race and I am stressed and above all, I am scared to think of my results. I hope you are better than I am! God, it's been a rough couple of weeks. I keep waiting for this run of luck to break, but apparently things are coming to a head in my life. Sometimes, I feel life has to get really hard, in order for one to take a stock, to look at what's wrong, and what needs to change. I think I'm in one of those phases.

Coming to think of it, didn't I write months ago about Good Morning Sunshine with a few of my favourite things? As I sheepishly remember writing, the return of Saturn tends to make things harder for you before things get easier, in order to push you into the changes you need to make. Ha! Apparently Saturn wasn't going to let me forget the ordeal and torture I underwent with Maths.

I apologize if I am sounding cryptic; it's just that I am not in the frame of mind to write a happy…

It's you who matters

For as far back as I can remember, my parents inculcated the fact that there is no substitute for hardwork and it's something that I tried to bring to everything that I have done. But.... I realised very early on in my life, hardwork does not necessarily guarantee recognition and appreciation. Which is why, I am so nervous before writing everything over here and any other activity I am a part of.

In the week before my results, I am always breathless with anticipation about the response my marks will evoke from my parents and my performance in the exams. When feedback starts pouring in the form of criticism and positive responses, it can be euphoric or heartbreaking. Well because I have been blessed and I am fortunate enough, especially over the past week, to have been flooded by warm, loving and appreciative mails for raising my voice against corruption in a debate. I must add that I am humbled and overjoyed at the same time.

Enriched and much more with the outpouring messages on…

Movie Review: Mumbai Meri Jaan

Mumbai Meri Jaan is a movie I had seen in the theatre (despite of the Censor Board rating it as an ''A'' movie). I wanted to review this movie long back but somewhere I never got the time to do it. As they say, better late than never. Mumbai Meri Jaan is a movie about the serial bombings of suburban trains in Mumbai of 2006 which is a nightmarish incidents the nation would never forget. Mumbaikars still get gooseflesh recalling the ghastly incident. Mumbai Meri Jaan recreates the incident on celluloid, but it is not terrorism per se. It talks about the aftermath of this tragedy and how the lives of five people, not remotely connected or associated with one another, gets affected in the process.

Mumbai Meri Jaan is more of an emotional journey. Five varied stories unveil in those two hours and each story manages to make a statement. Nishikant Kamat's first Hindi venture is one of those films that don't deviate from the core issue. It is not foolproof in terms of…

Movie Review: Titli

Rituparno Ghosh has directed some great Bengali movies and he is one of the best directors among the young parallel movie directors. Rituparno is peerless when it comes to scripting complex screenplays. I must admit that he handles stories with multiple characters beautifully. Many of his movies are women-oriented and many of his movies have won the National Award. On the recommendation of a friend, I watched the Bengali movie "Titli" on Youtube.

The story of Titli develops around the evolution of Titli from a girl into womanhood, through the breaking of the crush. The story is set in Darjeeling and the dense jungles of Duars in North Bengal, covered in dense morning fog, the sunshine playing hide-and-seek, Buddhist monastries, the famous Darjeeling toy train, interleaved with poetry and music, create the romantic ambience underpinning this film.

Titli (Konkona Sen Sharma), is a 17 year old girl who has a teenage crush on a Bollywood superstar Rohit Roy (Mithun Chakraborty),…