Sunday, December 26, 2010

Blows the Wind When You Start Moving

Motion it had, like a hill undiscovered

Silence it had, like waves towered

Heat it had, like that of an ice-cube

Strength it had, like a piece of tube

Seemed everything, filled with fatigue

Realised I, when life was static

Negligence sometimes needs strong hooping

Blows the wind when you start moving

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rakta Charitra – Movie Review

Ram Gopal Verma once again proved that he is a rebel in the Hindi film industry. Rakta Charitra is one more rebellious attempt from him in many aspects. First, it is based on politics in Andhra Pradesh. Second, it has changed the definition of violence which is presented in its ugliest form. Third, barring a few actors, all the rest are from the South film industries.

If you expect anything more than the excessive brutality in the movie, you will be disappointed. The protagonist’s father and brother were killed in a political scenario. He comes back to his native village and takes revenge from the killers. Later on, he decides to come to politics with an intention to gain power and before you come back from a loo-break, he becomes a minister. And then, he warns all the goons of the state to quit their illegal activities. And the movie ends.

Acting-wise, Vivek Oberoi has nothing new to offer. He has been made to show the same two expressions throughout the movie that he has already exhibited in many of his previous movies like Company, Kaal, Yuva, Omkara and Dum. Shatrughan Sinha acts like a South Indian Superstar. Too slow dialogue delivery and those signature styles - that you expect from the South Indian lead actors - from Sinha force audiences to yawn.

After being disappointed from many fields, you would expect some good punch-lines. Fine, there are only a couple of lines that would make you feel good. Otherwise, the rest are repetitive. What is the most irritating part of the movie is the voice-over narration. It makes you feel as if the film-maker has underestimated your intelligence. This might have been introduced as an attempt to compensate for the weak screenplay.

Finally, just as the violence in the movie tortures your brain, the camera movements torture your eyes.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Something Wrong with the Way So Far

Harmony and security – both are above any religion. Some train passengers in Mumbai proved it by showing extra courage and standing for the truth. Sorry, if you want to know more about this, you have to contact my friend “Aditya” who is the eye-witness of this incident. What I can tell you is that he told me that he witnessed a shocking incident in a Mumbai local train. According to him, on October 18, a man (Mr X) who was not handicapped was travelling in a coach meant for handicapped people. Mr X found that a traveller was offering his evening prayers in the same coach. As the other fellow did not belong to the religion that Mr X belongs to, the prayer tortured him and hence he started abusing the earlier. Gradually, he raised his voice and also expressed his anger by exhibiting his expanded vocabulary of obscene words. Falling prey to the situation, the traveller was also getting angry but was helpless. Getting worse to worst, it got on the nerves of even the other passengers in the coach and in the neighbouring coach as well.

As they say every action has a particular reaction, when the train stopped at a station, some people who witnessed the nonsense happening from the neighbouring coach through the window got down, entered the coach of action and started beating Mr X. Surprisingly, the accused shouted saying “I am a police man”, inviting even more criticism and shame for himself. It was also found that Mr X, who was later thrown out of the train at a station, was drunk.

The incident raised two issues – one positive and one negative. The positive issue is that some of the people who beat Mr X may or may not belong to his religion. Justice was the religion here, which was served. However, we should bother about the negative issue more than just to rest on the positive one. We need to ask ourselves “when can we be able to FULLY accept differences and diversity?” We need to understand and make people understand that this is what forms our “composite” culture. There is definitely something wrong with the way so far even after more than 60 years of achieving independence from FOREIGN RULE. Real independence seems to be far away from us.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The very basic of Social Relationship

Similar to philosopher Aristotle’s statement ‘man is a social animal’, to talk about social relationship is to talk about human beings. Because the most basic definition of society would be a group of people living under a common set of rules. So if you follow all the rules established by the society, you will be considered social. Otherwise, you are anti-social, which means you are involved in any of the anti-social activities such as stealing, burglary, violating or misusing the citizen rights, hurting others’ interests, etc. None of these anti-social activities are approved by the society.

Having a healthy social relationship is what makes life simpler and more lively. You come from home and go to school, college or work place. If everyone who meets you on the way greets you with a genuine smile, it makes a big difference in your behavior and mood. On the contrary, if everyone ignores you or looks at you with hatred, this will reflect in your nature as well.

You can have a very healthy social relationship by following all the etiquettes established by the society, e.g. how to behave when you meet a person for the first time, when a guest comes home, when someone appreciates or criticizes, when someone advises, when you get rewards, or how to treat parents, friends, elders, etc.

However, only following the established etiquettes would not be enough. As many people together make the society, you also have to ensure that everyone or whomever you come across follows the social norms. Inspiring others positively should be considered as a very essential part of the social behavior.

Keyboard is mightier than sword!

Today, I asked my six year old niece to type ASDF on my laptop. She was thrilled with the opportunity. As she typed the alphabets and saw it reflect on the screen, I could see the exhilaration in her eyes. This was like an achievement for her. However, she did not get this chance easily. She had to pamper me for more than a month. She had to tell me that in school, she is also taught about computers, that she now knows about the use of a mouse, that her teacher asked her to use a computer whenever she gets a chance, and (the height of exaggeration) that her tution teacher told her that I should let her use the laptop. I had realized her keen interest, but what made me keep her away from the notebook was the fear that she might lose interest in writing with pen and paper once she gets used to the keyboard.

Anyway, it was perhaps more exciting for her than to hold the pencil for the first time. With the pencil, she might not know what is the use of it in her life at that age. But with the laptop, she knows that she is going to use it very often in the future. However, what about her hand-writing! I feared it would get worse if she doesn't write with pen and paper. End of the day, she is not going to get a laptop to write her exams.

All this made me realize that if students get a chance to use computers in examinations, maybe the issue of getting less marks due to bad handwriting will be solved, provided no technical crisis is associated with the opportunity. Availability of numerous jobs where computers are used as unavoidable tools can be given as an argument in this case.

The statement “Pen is mightier than sword” seems to be old now. Now it is “Keyboard is mightier than sword.”

English makes it simple to describe western life-style

Once my friend Karan said, "Ganesh, what's special about relationships in Mumbai that If you like some girl and she is engaged, don't worry. Wait till she breaks up with the guy, which is bound to happen. Till then, have patience and be just friends." I asked, "How are you so sure that a break-up is the destiny of every relationship?" "Hmmm.. I know my statement is not 100% correct, but yes, in 90% cases I am right, my friend", said Karan while keeping his right hand on my left shoulder with full confidence. I didn't understand the actual meaning of a break-up, so I enquired. He said, "That is what happened with my relationship yesterday. Jagan is the witness.", he said and went to the bathroom. I asked Jagan, "What happened?" He said, "Leave it, man. Let's eat something. I am hungry." After some time, all three of us left for dinner. My doubt remained a doubt.

Break-up seemed to be a very popular word in Mumbai. So I hesitated to ask the meaning to anyone. After some months, two of my friends were talking about someone's break-up. I asked, "What happened?" They said, "Some couple have parted their ways." I gathered some courage to ask, "Ok, is this what they say 'break-up'?" One of the friends said, "Yes, break-up is a mutual decision of parting ways." "Is it necessary to fight during a break-up?", was my next question. "Depends upon the couple", was the answer.

Now, I also understood the meaning of the term “break-up”. However, it didn’t take me as much time as it took me to understand the meaning of “Dating”. When girls were followed, teased, passed cheap comments in my hometown, I used to feel very bad. One of my old friends used to tell me that he was falling for a girl. But, what I observed was that he passed nasty comments whenever he saw the girl. I asked, “What kind of love was it?” He said, “This is the way the communication will start. First, I will pass comments, then I will follow her, and then she will notice me. Gradually, we will talk to each other.” I said, “What the fuck?!” That day I thought there should be some norms for starting communication where a relationship is considered. “Dating” was the word I got as an answer in Mumbai after two years of being hit with the question.

These are just two of the numerous English words which I learnt in last four years. And I am sure that communication became smoother after learning the words. Truly, western culture can be described the best only in a western language.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Jaago “Viewers” Jaago

I was scanning through the TV channels as usual when I came across two different programs in two news channels. Just giving you an analysis of both.

Channel no: 27

Program: A discussion about a reality show.

No, I won’t mention the name of the show here as I don’t want to give any free publicity to the program. The issue was “why certain people were allowed to be part of a show?” I was stuck with the channel for 15 minutes. The anchor asks why the tainted participants were being made celebrities. Another participant in the discussion supported this. Someone else was talking about certain controversial behaviour patterns and mannerisms of the participants.

Channel no: 29

Program: Kho Na Jaye Ye! – A discussion on Child Abuse in India

This program gave all the shocking data of child abuse in India. It mentioned the reasons, advised on preventive measures, and also warned about the social crisis it may lead to. It’s enough. I don’t need to mention anything more to describe the importance of such programs in our society.

Difference between the programs

The first talks about the redundancy of a reality show, but makes it more popular by mentioning the name and discussing the content again and again. This reminds me of one of my friends who posted his Facebook status advising people not to watch the program by giving 7 to 8 reasons, making people even more excited to watch it.

The second program proves that the channel understands its responsibility. It brings forth the truth and forces people to think how to solve a serious issue and make the world a better living place.


We should promote the programs, which we think are relevant for the society, in every possible way we can. At the same time, we should refrain from even mentioning the name of anything that is creating nuisance.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dabang – The Bang

It’s the story of Chulbul Pandey, a Dabang (fearless) police officer. He lost his father at a very young age, didn’t get any love or guidance from his stepfather, hence wrote his own destiny. He has a love angle – falls in love with a village girl. He has a crime angle – loots the looters. He has a heroic angle – fights against the evil. How Chulbul achieves his love, wins the hearts of his stepfather and stepbrother, avenges his mother’s murder, describe what Dabang is.
Nothing new about the story. It seems like the story has been written in half an hour. They just collected everything that suits Salman Khan and tried to weave them into one string. But applauds to everyone associated with the idea. You need to be “Dabang” to do all this successfully.

Performancewise Salman was fabulous – his stardom goes with the character. His fans will be happy to see him in this avatar. Sonakshi had nothing much to do but looked gorgeous. Dimple Kapadia and Vinod Khanna delivered good performances. Arbaaz Khan was ok.

Songs are the biggest plus point of Dabang though their picturisation seemed to be like those of the nineties. Action can be compared to those of top-class action movies made in the south.

Anyway, Dabang is a fun to watch. It’s made for entertainment and meets the purpose. People who liked Wanted will love this.

I took 15 minutes to write this review and I think it's enough for a movie that has been written in half an hour. So that's all!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Bollywood teaches about diseases

Cinema is a reflection of the society. And with so much of popularity as a powerful medium of information and entertainment, there is no doubt that it has also been reflected in the society. There are many things we did not know, realize or think about before we saw it on the silver screen. Things that we did not give much importance held a lot of importance after we watched the same in the form of a story in a theater or on TV at home. Crime in the society, roots of terrorism, corruption, and many other topics were introduced to us in a highly presentable way. We watched, learnt, and tried to get away from the evil after every cinematic experience. Cinema has done one more favor on us by introducing us to various forms of prevailing diseases – some of them we normally see around us and some of them are very rare.

Bollywood (Hindi Film Industry) has played a very important role in introducing us to some of the rarest diseases. Some of those diseases were never known to the common men before. “Lympho Sarcoma of the intestine”, said the doctor when the patient inquired about the disease he was suffering from in the movie Anand released in 1971. After knowing about the condition, the patient said “wow, what a big name?” and laughed. The movie teaches how a patient can make everyone laugh though he knows that there is a big tumor growing inside his stomach.

It’s when Amir Khan came up with his directorial debut ‘Tare Zameen Par’ in 2007, many people came to know that the inability to write and read can be a medical condition called ‘Dyslexia’. People who earlier used to force their children to read and write realized their mistake and people who have children facing the same problem learnt how to tackle the issue. The way to overcome the problem is through love, affection and exceptional care with intelligence and not avoidance or punishment is what the movie advises. Similarly, Ajay Devgan’s directorial debut ‘U, Me aur Hum’ that released in 2008 taught us about the ill-effects of Alzheimer's. The movie showed how a husband chooses a different style of life to take care of his wife who suffers from the disease. Leaving the patient in an asylum is not the solution but with utmost care, the issue can be tackled.

There are two movies which surprised the audience by highlighting two very rare diseases. Diwangi in 2002 highlighted the condition ‘Split Personality’ whereas Aparichit in 2006 documented the violent effects of ‘Multiple personality disorder‘. Audience were left spellbound with the way the consequence of the medical conditions presented in the two movies. One person starts behaving like another In Diwangi whereas Aparichit shows how a single person can wear multiple personalities in different times.

Mahesh Manjrekar’s first Hindi movie Nidaan released in 2000 described how a teenage girl suffered from AIDS and how she went through different physical conditions until death. On the contrary, Phir Milenge made in 2004 on the same subject of a HIV positive victim doesn’t talk about the miseries of the disease but highlights the negative social approach towards the patient.
Bollywood introduced many people to Progeria through the movie Paa (2010), Autism through the movies ‘Main Aisa Hi Hun’ and ‘My Name is Khan’. Starting with 'Dil Ek Mandir' in 1963 till 'Kal Ho Na Ho' in 2003, the industry gave us many movies on Cancer.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Marriage should happen when you want it to

I was shocked when I learnt from Alka that a girl from one of her neighbours was allegedly kidnapped and killed a child. The reason of the killing was cited to be the marriage of the accused. Yes, the girl who was only 26 years old was going through depression because of not getting married. Some witch advised that if she kills a child, she will overcome the bad-luck factor and then, marriage will happen soon.

Well, this is not a rare case as far as India is concerned. We come across many such crime stories that involve witchcraft and other superstitions related to marriage.

The questions that arise here are that “should a girl at the age of 26 be considered old enough to get married?” and “who will decide the right age for someone’s marriage?” I believe, virtually everyone who made the girl believe that she is old enough to get married is partly responsible for the crime.

The water goes over the nose when your own family members curse you because your marriage is not happening and hold your “bad-luck” responsible for this. Their concern is obviously contributed by the opinions of the people they are surrounded with, which carries them away; but that can never be presented as an excuse. Life should be how you choose to live and not following the footsteps of billions.

After crossing the legal age of marriage (18 for women and 21 for men), one can get married any time and there shouldn’t be any virtual social bar against it. After all, for marriage one doesn’t need to attain a certain age but he or she has to meet so many other requirements such as being financially stable, finding a perfect partner, mental preparation, getting ready to have a family, and many more.

This case was a pure consequence of the concept of compulsory marriage – the girl was convinced that she has no other choice but to get married one day and that too before attaining a certain age. Anyway, no logic of this sort can justify such a crime, and especially in this case when the accused is old enough to take decisions for herself.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Life Being Traditional

I went to school when I was five years old, to high school when I was ten, junior college when I was 15 and senior college after that, and then university. With all this, I haven't done anything new. I took admission in school when I was five because my father had done the same thing at that age, went to junior college after school when I was 15 because my eldest brother had done the same thing at that stage of his life, went to university after college to pursue post graduation because lots of people in the locality had done the same after graduation.

During graduation, I was a little inclined towards spirituality for which I had to get a lot of blasts from my mother. She said this was not what people normally do at that age. During the college days, I used to watch a lot of Hindi movies. My eldest brother used to catch me every time and blast at me; reason: this was not what people do at that age and I should study, study and study.

I was very depressed, thought only my family members didn't let me do what I want even though I was old enough to vote in the elections. However, after discussing with my friends about the matter, I realized the case was even worse with them. I felt that life had become so traditional. We had to live in a way because most people had lived that way, and that had become a standard.

As a result, inter-caste and inter-religion marriages are considered a sin in my dynasty. People are surprised when I tell them about the fact that I will not accept dowry in marriage. Forget about people, even my would-be-in-laws don't want to believe this. According to them, I have to accept dowry because it's a social norm. Hah! Truly, life is so traditional.

I have opted writing as a profession, and have many friends who always give me very good advises. One of those advises is that I should have long hair, because most people in this profession have their hair long. Some people in my family don't like me having long hair. Their logic is that none of the male members in my family ever had long hair. Ah! Why is life so traditional?

Cinema – A Library of Trends and Innovations

Apart from providing us with entertainment, cinema has played a great role in educating and informing the society. Though movies based on fantasy and romanticized topics reflect the height of imagination at a particular point of time, documentaries and realistic movies contribute a lot to the world of information. In addition, as we all know, every single piece of information becomes worthy enough to be added to our libraries, such movies have become a library with a whole lot of information.

Again, as far as information is concerned, we are mostly dependent on the Internet, newspapers, books, TV records. But if we talk about trends (both political and social), fashion, tradition, change of culture, and point-of-views, movies are our biggest assets as a library. Cinema shows us how cordless phones replaced fixed phones and how mobile phones replaced cordless phones in technology. It also shows us how sleeveless blouses replaced full-sleeve ones, and how trendy bras replaced sleeveless blouses in fashion. We also get to know how girls were getting impressed by straight-forward, shy, rebellious boys, and how the trend gradually changed and boys required to become flirts to impress girls. Similarly we come to know that a diplomatic clever man has replaced the straight-forward strong man as an ideal hero.
Movies like Tare Zameen Par show the trend of forcing children for studies against their willingness, whereas movies like Swadesh highlight the trend of Indians settling down abroad for a better future. Maybe after some decades when these things would stop to happen and we forget when all this used to take place, these movies can be taken for reference.

Moreover, movies made on historical subjects recreate the magic of the past on the screen. We get an opportunity to see a collection of events in front of us. Movies of this kind demand lots of research to be conducted. They show us the culture, tradition, attire, language, and many more of the old age. So watching a movie would give us the knowledge of what 10 books could give collectively - may not be in detail but an overall outline for sure.

Review - Once upon a time in mumbai

Once upon a time in Mumbai seems to be a bollywood drama unlike many other flicks on the subject of underworld that looked like documentaries. Sultan Mirza, a poor boy who worked in the coal godown in his childhood, enters the underworld supported by his sharp mind and superb guts. He wants to earn lot of money and power, but on his own terms. He goes against the Government restrictions to meet his ends, but not against his own principles. When he was compelled to smuggle narcotic, he says, "maine woh kaam kiya hai jiski izzazat sarkar nahin deti, woh kaam nahin kiya jiski izzazat zameer nahin deti." Sultan is like a Robinhood for poor people. He teaches lessons to the sons who torture their parents, and says, "Jo apni maa ki izzat nahin karte, main unka baap banke aata hun". He considers Mumbai as his girlfriend and gives his level best to make the city safe. To serve his purpose, he calls a meeting of all the underworld dons and devides the city amongst them as areas of business. This is to avoid gangwars, animocity and violence. His simple principle is, "Jab dost bana ke kaam ho sakta hai, dushman kyun banaye". He also threatens the gangsters to accept his proposal and passes his message saying, "baat khatam karni hai, yaa kahani suru."

On the contrary, Shoaib is a very notorious guy who entered the underworld not because he did not have any other choice but because he was a power greedy person and very much fascinated about the crime world which could make him achieve his dream fast. Hunger for fast money and excessive power made him follow Sultan's footsteps. He had the guts to confront Sultan and say, "lahron ka saamna karne ki himmat to mujhme hai, ab aap socho sahi aadmi pahchaan ne ki nazar rakhte ho ya nahin."
The lives of these two different people (Sultan and Shoaib) in the crime world and how Shoaib takes over Sultan make the story of the movie.
Performance-wise, Ajay as Sultan is superb. With looks and attire (along with the attitude that he wears all through the movie) alone, he convinces us as a don, forget about the dilogue delivery which is just amazing. Once again, Ajay communicated through his talkative eyes in quite a many scenes - to highlight, the scene where he calls Shoaib (Imraan) to cross a distance to reach him and the last scene when looks into Shoaib's eyes sharply while delivering a political speech.
Imraan as the bad boy is quite effective. He has done all the justice to his role. He stands out in both as an adamant lover and a youngster who is hungry for power. Randeep Hooda as the police officer delivers a power-packed performance. Both the female leads (Kangna Ranaut and Prachi Desai) sizzle in the seventies' looks.
The dialouges, especially the one liners, remind you of the seventies' (Salim-Javed) touch with a refreshed avatar. Lines like "Kaam karne ka tareeka badla, tewar nahin", "kasti lahron se takrayegi, tabhi to kinara naseeb hoga", "Apni dukan me hamari ek tasweer laga lena Sohaib, kabhi zaroorat pade to dono me se kisi ek bhagwaan ko chun lena" sound old but do not seem repeatative. Some lines force you to clap and whistle - "Zindagi ho to smuggler jaisi, duniya raakh ki tarah neeche aur khud dhuyen ki tarah upar", "Raston ki parwah karunga, to manzil bura maan jayegi", "Himmat batayi nahin jaati, dikhayi jaati hai".

Scenes that stand out

The first train scene when Sultan puts his life at stake to save thousands of lives, young Shoaib's introduction scene, Sultan's first meeting with Rehana (Kangana), Sultan's first meeting with ACP Agnel (Randeep Hooda), Shoaib's entry into Sultan's crime world, and of course the climax.

Scenes that let down

Vardhaan saying, "tu daler bhi hai aur dariya dil bhi", sounds a line like that of a movie of seventies, fortunately there are not many of this kind..
Bollywood could finally give us an entertaining movie on the underworld. Once upon a time in mumbai is perhaps the most decent movie made on this subject till date - Milan Luthria has proved that a movie on such a subject can also look realistic without usage of foul words.

Friday, July 30, 2010

When Brand Happened to be a Synonym for Product Category

When I was 9 years old, I used to come across a small cottage in my locality where I always found some people reading something during the morning hours and also in the evening hours. One day I, impatiently, asked my brother, “whose house is this? And why do some people always gather here?" He said, "This is not anyone's house. This is a library managed by the municipal corporation, where people come to read “Samaj." I understood what he said, though you must be curious to know what Samaj is. It is a very popular Oriya newspaper which gained so much popularity at a point of time that it became a synonym for Oriya newspaper. Means people in that library used to read 10 to 12 newspapers including Samaj.

When i was 10 years old, once my mother gave me 2 rupees and asked me to bring surf powder from a nearby general store. I went with the money, and asked the shopkeeper to give me surf powder. He took the two coins from me, but instead of surf, he packed some amount of Nirma washing powder and gave it to me. I was hesitant to ask for a clarification. So I came back to my mother, and gave her the packet. She found the Nirma powder when she opened the packet. I thought she would blast at me as I got the wrong brand. But on the contrary, she said, "now, you can go to play. I will start washing your clothes." But I had to tell her the truth. I said, "mother, actually the shopkeeper gave me Nirma powder instead of surf powder." she said, "you don't know?! Every washing powder is called surf powder."

Similarly, there were many other products which gained so much popularity that they became synonyms for their respective product categories. For example, Xerox stood for all photocopy machines, Hero Honda for bikes, Nirma for detergent cakes, Bajaj for scooters. But that was long time (nearly two decades) back. Now-a-days, we hardly find any brand surpassing all the rest of the brands of a product category in popularity in such a drastic way that it can stand for the whole category. Means, now every low cost car is not 'Nano' for us, every mobile phone is not 'Nokia', and every toothpaste is not 'Colgate'.

Maybe this is because of the extensive marketing measures taken by every single product, covering all the possible mediums - print, outdoor, TV, radio, internet, mobile phone. none of the brands leaves any stone unturned to make it to the top, trying to reach every single potential customer. Good for them, but bad for us (consumers). Now, we have to pay much more than the actual production cost for every product. And end of the day, it is our pockets which are lightened to meet the cost of the extensive promotional measures they take to introduce us with the benefits of the products.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A call for promoting ‘Books’ on TV

Electronic media (TV, Radio, Internet) has been immensely popular in the advertising world specifically in the last two decades. While internet has been tightening its grip more and more day after day, Radio with so many private channels has added numerous users to its list, which has been contributed by the increasing use of mobile phones with FM Radio facility. Noteworthy to say that TV has proved itself to be the most entertaining source of media, and so much so that, it has virtually become one of the bare minimum necessities of people.

Now-a-days we find just about everything being advertised on TV. Advertisers use this form of media to promote almost everything starting from toothpastes to air-conditioners. What contributes more to the choice of the advertisers is that people can access hundreds of channels on the audio-visual medium. And every channel has its own target audience. For example, channel 'Ashtha' caters to spiritual, religious people or the senior citizens, whereas Star Plus has found its base in the lives of housewives. Because of this, the advertisers don't have to take much stress on deciding where to go and how to reach the target audience. They definitely get one or the other channel or channels to promote their products in a total effective manner.
However, the question that has made me scratch my head is that why they don't promote books on TV. This so happened that once I saw Chetan Bhagat's book '2 States' on a stall. I recalled one of my friends who is a big fan of the author. I called up her and said, "Hey, you know Chetan Bhagat's fourth book is on the stalls." She said, "I have already read it. I got the book two months back." It was such an embarrassing moment for me. After eight months of that incident, I was standing on a railway station with another friend when she found a boy reading the same book. She said, "Wow, people are still reading this book."

I realized that books are not properly promoted and we do not get to know about them at the right time. Do we still believe in the 'word of mouth' way publicity for books? Though we know that word of mouth reaches thousands of miles, it takes so much of time in this jet age. If they say, books are the best friends, why this friend takes such a long time to reach to people. What about a book we might love to read or need to read, but none of our friends knew about that. Will we never come to know about it? Thanks to the book stall owners who allow us to browse through the books. But that's not enough, not at all enough!

A philosophical/practical aspect of rains in Mumbai

There was no sign of rains.. I got down from the bus.. and had to walk 100 meters to reach the office.. talking to a friend about when the rains will start. He said, "you can never know.. rains in Mumbai is totally unpredictable.“ Surprisingly, at the very pause of his dialogue I felt rain drops falling on my head. Rains arrived, and within two seconds of arrival, it compelled me to run to a safer place - under a roof.
The whole day I was in office. In the evening I left for home. On the way, while I was in the bus, I saw couples walking under a single feminine (extremely colorful) umbrella.. conversing.. smiling.. wearing three-fourths, slippers. On the way, I saw many such scenes. It always feels good to see such positive side of life. Thanks to the rains which brought it out. Small children from the slums near Powai were sailing paper boats in the water-flows. They were so happy.. girls were in small frocks and boys wore tiny half pants only.. no foot wears.. some were kicking the water while singing some song which I couldn't hear due to the traffic noise.

It was raining heavily when I reached the station. Without a wind-cheater, without an umbrella, I had to walk to the platform which was again 100 meters away from where the bus stopped. I got drenched fully in just 5 seconds after getting down from the bus. Shivering and protecting my eyes from the rain drops, I moved forward. On the way, what I saw was that people with umbrellas, wind-cheaters are shouting, "give me one Vada Pao", "give me one Samosa Pao" at a snacks stall. Wow, they are so happy. I telephoned one of my friends in Orissa, and asked, "Is it raining there?" She said, "No, it's so hot over here." And counter-questioned, "Why, is it raining there?" I said, "Yes, it is. And I have got drenched fully." "O wow, you are so lucky. But don't be outside for long. You may catch cold.", she said. "Ok", I said, and disconnected the phone.

After climbing 20 stairs and getting down 20 stairs, what I found on the platform was really shocking. There were so many people waiting for the train. I heard someone saying, "Trains are running one hour late." And then, three trains came and went in a gap of 15 minutes each, but I couldn't dare getting inside. However, some people managed to get inside even with the Vada Paos in their hands. I wonder if that is what called "struggling" in Mumbai - getting into overcrowded trains while eating Vada Paos, and still shouting, "Ganpati Bappa! – Moriya!"

Finally a train came which was considerably less crowded than the ones just left; however, on a normal day, I wouldn't have chosen this one as well. So I got into the train only to be in it for next two hours for the journey that usually took me 40 minutes daily. Getting a seat was impossible. On top of that, the train stopped after every five minutes. After a few minutes, people were done with their Vada Paos, other snacks; talking to friends over the phone was also over. So everyone was busy in looking at each others' faces. People who were standing started dozing and people who were sitting were browsing through their age-old phones, maybe to discover something new even now. It was damn hot inside. Wind-cheaters were on, getting some space to remove them was impossible. Everyone was sweating.

Though it took me two hours more that day, I was happy that I could at least reach home. The only thing I did after reaching home was that I had my dinner and went to bed. The next day, when I got up, it was raining heavily again. I called up the same friend in Orissa and asked her, "Is it raining there now?" She gave the same answer, "No yaar, it's so hot over here.", asked the same question, "Why, is it raining there now?" "Yes, it is. You are so lucky", I said. She was confused as usual. I disconnected the phone without giving any clarifications as usual.

The Next 'Bandh' of the Series

First the auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers called a strike in Mumbai. Their demand was to increase the minimum fair as there was a fuel price hike. I don't know exactly how much more an auto-rickshaw driver spends on fuel now per trip, but I definitely know that I am paying 90 rupees for the fare I used to pay 65 earlier. However, considering the cost of living, the hike in the fare price might be justifiable. But there are many other questions waiting for answers.

Few days after the auto-rickshaw strike, the opposition got an issue and called a "Bandh" all around the country. The issue raised by them was the price hike – surprisingly not pertaining to any particular product but everything in general. People blocked roads, stopped trains, broke buses, closed shops, which resulted in a national loss of (what the newspapers claimed) 13 thousand crore rupees. The opposition calling a strike on the issue of price hike proved that the government is doing a fair job and not giving the opposition any issue to raise (even if there is any, that is not critical enough to be addressed). Maybe because of frustration and fear of losing ground, the strike-callers raised the most common issue with an intention to grab maximum attention.

Taking the chain of 'Bandh's into consideration, it can be said that there are lot more strikes waiting to be called. For example - public employees may go on strike demanding an increase in their travel allowance, being compelled by the fuel price hike. Anyway, private companies are on a total safer side in this case. They have been taking cost cutting measures in the name of 'recession' since last two years. So calling a strike by the employees, who are not sure of their jobs and are grateful to the companies for not kicking them out even during the time of recession, is far from reality.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Railway Tickets: Everyone should stand in the queue

I don’t think I should write anything about the overcrowded local trains in Mumbai. It’s already told many times before, and I don’t want to sound repetitive. The issue I want to bring forth is the difference in people’s behavior in first class compartment from that of the people traveling in the second class compartments. This is hard to digest, but if you travel in the second class compartment, you enjoy certain facilities which never appear in 1st class.

If you see some people hanging outside a 2nd class compartment, don’t be disappointed. Some people will still pull you in, and share the little or no space with you. In 1st class, when all the seats are occupied, some people stand near the entrance to stop others from entering. They will deliver dialogues like “there is no more space inside.” When they find anyone not dressed up properly, they announce “this is first class.”

Every compartment in the local trains have two long seats where almost 7 people can sit and each of the rest of the seats can allow 3 butts to be rested on them. However, in the second class if it is crowded, four people adjust in the small seats and 8 to 9 people adjust in the long ones; in 1st class, this will be the 8th wonder.

Though the people who travel in the second class exhibit so much of benevolence and adjustments which bring in extra revenue for the railway department, the administration has been very unfair with them. The dept. doesn’t provide separate counters for issuing passes. You will find passes for both the classes being issued in a single counter. On top of that, you don’t need to stand in the queue if you are opting for a 1st class ticket or pass though others, sometimes, stand hours in the queue.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Humanity is above Regionalism!

Today I understood the meaning of “a window seat” in a Mumbai local train. I saw him (the person who made me understand) sit near the window and shouting continuously “I want the window seat.” I wondered what exactly he was talking about. “How can someone be so absent minded”, I thought, considering the fact that nobody was responding to him though he was abusing everyone.

I wanted to know whom the fellow was abusing. With further attempts, I found a middle aged person seating in front of the “abnormal” fellow. He was too calm and too composed.

I stopped looking at them, and went busy with my phone. Suddenly, I heard a noise similar to that we hear while shutting down a window. I looked back. The “autistic” fellow had closed the window so that the air would not blow into the train through the window. And now I understood everything. The fellow I considered “autistic” actually was a “fundamentalist” – condition changed, but he was still a patient for me. I understood that the seat on which the patient sat was not considered as a window seat as he was facing the opposite site of the direction the train was moving towards. He was upset because he wanted to get heavy blow of air to hit him, which could happen only when he could sit on the so-called “window seat”.

"Maac**d, B**c**d.."(I don’t remember the other words as I was introduced to them for the first time). “Get out of the train. I feel like murdering you people. God knows where you come from. Shit, I don’t find a single fellow from my community in this compartment. It’s all because of you people.”

During all these abuses, the victim opened the window. The patient went on abusing more and more. After a while he took a pause, and started again. “Will you just shut up,” said a gentleman. “Why the hell you are abusing since so long,Maac**d“ and all of a sudden the patient’s voice sounded like that of a adamant kid. “I want the window seat., that’s why I am shouting,” the patient said in a very low vice. “Shut up”, said the even more angry gentleman. Then prevailed a deadly silence in the compartment.

When I got down, I looked at the patient. He was sleeping peacefully while around 100 people were standing and some 8 people were hanging outside.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Writing without technology to be difficult for generation next

Few years back, a sub-editor used to have a dictionary along with the immense knowledge that he had saved in his memory. One had to remember everything such as correct spelling of words, proper usage, parts of speech, grammar, etc. for writing something in English. Old newspapers had to be collected for reference. If someone was interested in a specific subject, he/she had to keep the newspaper cuts of the related articles published before. All this and many more efforts had to be involved in the production of an article a generation back.

On the contrary, Microsoft Word and access to internet have made the process of writing/editing extremely easier than ever. Today’s generation doesn’t need a dictionary or cuts from newspaper to support their writing process. By just clicking ctrl+alt+w, one can simply access to the free WordWeb which not only shows the meaning of a word but also offers all the synonymous, antonymous, related words, similar words and nearest words as well. The most valuable thing is offered by Microsoft Word. The software underlines all the words spelled wrongly in red and all the words and phrases written ungrammatically in green. The facility doesn’t end here. One just has to get the cursor on the word/phrase and right-click the mouse, and the software gives several options that can be considered.

One can also check spelling and grammar at the end of his writing without getting him/her disturbed in between the writing process. With the press of the KEY F7, numerous options can be availed and the entire document can be checked within minutes.

The concern here is that few years down the line, when people may rarely get to write with pen and paper, flawless writing without the support of a computer will probably be impossible.

so much for a marriage!

On 3 February 2010, police arrested a 23 year old youth at Thakurli railway station, Mumbai, for allegedly abducting and killing a 13 tear old boy. It was reported that the accused abducted the boy and demanded a ransom amount that he planned to spend for his marriage.

One life was ended and another was ruined along with that of many amongst the relatives of these two individuals. And that too, to have a lavish marriage! Was it so necessary to have that marriage so lavishly when ample money was not available?

This reminds me of another story that happened few years ago. My neighbor was a 24 year old rickshaw-puller. The only other member of his family was his mother. She was working in a coal factory. I came to know that Sanyasi, the rickshaw-puller, had been saving money since last seven to eight years for his marriage. His mother had also been doing the same for the marriage.

I still remember the day when Sanyasi got married about seven years ago. He did not look like a poor rickshaw-puller from any angle. On the contrary, being dressed in a well-fitting suit, he looked so handsome that even the best looking people in the locality envied him. On the same day, another middle-class businessman also got married. But, Sanyasi was praised by everyone for providing a spectacular dinner to the guests. The businessman failed to earn compliments.

The next day of the marriage, I heard Sudashna, Sanyasi’s mother, talking to my mother. She said that they had spent everything they had for the marriage. They had also spent the amount that they received as dowry.They had also taken some loan for the marriage, for which they would take five more years to pay back.

After the bride-groom’s proud mother left, I asked my mother whether their house was a rented one or they owned it. She said that it was a rented one. I was sure that with all that money they spent in that marriage, they could buy a bigger house than they were living in. In addition, if the marriage had been a little less lavish, the tension of paying back a loan for five more years would not have remained. They could concentrate fully on nurturing the children and creating a base for their future.

Now, Sanyasi has two sons and one daughter. He is living in the same rented house struggling to provide a manageable education to his children. His current monthly income is equal to the amount that he had spent for crackers that were fired during the wedding procession.

Truly, how much a lavish marriage costs to poor people!

Are you buying a dream and not a product?

Recently I came across a new and strange way of marketing (at least for me). Let me first describe how it takes place. One person buys a product from a given list and becomes a member of the chain. He makes two members, each of them has to buy one product out of the standard list of options. And then, the process goes on. The first mentioned member will get an amount as soon as his subordinates make two members each.

What is more interesting is the way you are introduced to the process. A friend of yours or someone who knows you properly or someone who just came to know you recently asks you to attend a seminar. You are promised that the seminar is going to be quite educative. Now, who won’t be interested to get free education? The greed of getting education free of cost takes you to the seminar hall. And shockingly, what you see is a handsome, powerful speaker who is there to tell you how you can be a millionaire within a few years. He will give you all the examples of rich people, convince you that this is not a member-making scheme from which everyone runs away. The effective leader introduces you to the process while giving you examples of people who have already been benefited by the scheme and proving how other people who are not a member are living a worse life than those who are members.

What is even more interesting is that your friend who took you there was instructed that he would not reveal the entire thing before you. Maybe it was feared that he wouldn’t be able to leave a mark as effective as the experienced speaker could. Though your friend has cheated on you and violated your citizen rights by not informing you about where you were guided towards, he will try his best to convince you that he is your well-wisher and that he wants to see you as a rich man, without any sign of repentance on his face.

Anyway, the only thing that remains in your mind is that one can be a rich person within a few years by being a member of the scheme. And, you buy a product to become a member. And advertise the product to two more customers whom they term as members and even employees. If you think that the product is something as small as a pen or pencil, you are totally wrong. It will be something like a vacuum cleaner or washing machine costing you as much as thousands of rupees. But, anything to become a millionaire in few years is always welcome!

What is missing here, in the whole description, is the significance of the product. I am not saying that the product will be of low quality. But, did you need that now? Did you have any plan to buy that now? Even if it’s a big NO, you had to buy THAT. By the word “THAT” I didn’t mean the product, but ‘a dream to become rich’. Yes, you buy a dream to become rich, at the same time, you buy an accountability to lie to your friends that you will buy dreams for them too. By the way, just imagine, how smart you have to be to convince your friend that you want him to become successful when you think, he is a step of the ladder to your success.

The point here is to avoid being consumers unconsciously. If we want to buy something, we will buy it on the merit of the product complemented by the intensity of the necessity. And finally, what they say on TV, Jaago Grahak Jaago (consumers, be alert)!

Existence of Dowry system in disguise!

The dictionary meaning of the term ‘Dowry’ suggests that it is the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings to her husband in marriage. However, the practice, in real sense, has been deteriorating even more. In school, all of us had been asked to write essays on dowry system in India. We used to write on how a bridegroom’s family exploits that of the bride. Each and every demand has to be fulfilled. Maybe, one or two examples could be included.

The best point is that finding instances never used to be difficult for us as we could find some of the cases happening within our own families. Whatever the case it might be, as we developed the essay, we started hating the practice. While submitting the write-up, we had also promised to ourselves that we would never become a part of this cruel tradition. Day by day, when we grew up, the existence of that hatred faded off. And one day came when it disappeared. And we started attending marriages in which our friends accepted dowry or offered the same. We considered it as a norm of the society.

Now when it came to us to take a decision whether to accept dowry or not, it was a big issue. We thought - “What would our friends think of us? They would say that we were also a part of the dirt.” Hence, we had to come up with an excuse. What we had to do was that we would not demand anything, but accept whatever was offered. Consequently, we did not do anything great. The fact that we did not demand proved to be more beneficial for us and made the bride’s family think that we were nobler and in turn, offered even more.

However, not everything fell on right places for people like us. There were occasions when the bride’s family offered a dowry which was below our expectations, as they thought we had self-respect and did not want it. Then, there was a problem with the entire relationship. The series of taunts began to create a hollow in the bond. Ultimately, we ended up with a bad marriage.

The point here is that the existence of dowry system in disguise is more dangerous than that in open. At least some people have the guts to express that they are shameless and that they have greed and can’t do away with it.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Jobs that we lost to technology - a warning!

We all are living in a dynamic world. What we see today may not be a part of us tomorrow. This has proved to be a very suitable statement in the jobs market. We have come a long way. The technology is moving so fast that when we tell our children about what we were doing 20 years ago, they may wonder as if they heard some ancient fairy tale.

Sometimes we ourselves forget some facts and act to be ignorant unconsciously. This happened to me when I saw a digital movie posture hanging out of a theatre. It was not too many years ago when we used to find hand-painted postures all around us. I am sure we will still find those postures in the remote rural areas. However, the question that bothers me is how the painters who used to create those postures reacted when they lost their livelihood to technology. This comes as a warning to the people who are still in a profession that is going to surrender itself to technology in the near future.

There are many more jobs that have gone obsolete, forcing huge number of people to accept another profession and to start from the scratch again. Introduction of all the new world machines – computer, phone, television and many more starting from the tailoring machine to the Bulldozer ate up jobs one way or the other. What we learnt from our past is to have a foresight and choose a career that should not give in to technology in a complete sense until we retire. But of course, we will have to adopt technology in the newest form though it will be a tough job to accept an all-in-all revolution. So the bottom line is “get updated”.

Outsourcing offspring!

The Indian subcontinent was ruled by some western countries for nearly 200 years. During the foreign rule,Indians made to work for the rulers, produce goods for the rulers and pay taxes which had to be largely spent for the betterment of the rulers. Poor farmers paid taxes and soldiers fought battles for the rulers. Then came the time when the region achieved its independence from foreign rule. However, the good news came at the cost of a partition, creating two countries – India and Pakistan.

Now, let’s talk about India.For some years after independence, people worked in the country for themselves. But a point came when they started leaving their motherland in search of better lives. And, where they went? It’s to serve the same people who ruled them for nearly 200 years. Indians worked in western countries and paid taxes to the respective countries, which was used for the betterment of the employers. However, perhaps importing people proved to be costly for the western world. The so-called first world countries then came up with the idea of business process outsourcing(BPO). The phenomena introduced the theory of working for a different country while staying in one’s own country. Lots of Indians got employed in the BPOs to fulfill the demand from the western countries. The BPO system was introduced to Indians in the fifth decade of their independence.

So let’s recollect everything in the chronological order. First, Indians worked for the foreigners in India. Second, Indians worked for themselves in India. Third, Indians worked for foreigners abroad. Fourth, Indians worked for foreigners in India.

So what’s next? Now, the foreigners are so fond of India and Indians that they can’t do without them. And, the age of surrogacy has given the western countries another opportunity to get their work done. This time, they got a chance to produce their children in India,who would work for them in their own country. Yes, the trend of lending wombs of Indian women to produce children for the parents residing in western countries has started in the seventh decade of the country’s independence. Just see where the trend will lead to!