Saturday, December 29, 2007
As expected, the blame game for her assassination has already started and so has the bloodbath in Pakistan. In the mean time Benazir's last rites have been performed and her 'will' has also been read. Benazir has named her 19-year old son Bilawal as her successor to party leadership of Pakistan's People party. This truly baffles me for two reasons. One - can you really name a successor to a 'political party' in your will? Shouldn't a party leader by 'elected' by party members? Two - does Bilawal have the maturity/knowledge to lead Pakistan's most influential political party and elections looming large?
And there we were - mourning the death of democracy in Pakistan ... a little prematurely, I suppose.
Picture courtesy: http://www.haber37.net/
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
"Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey" — Pat Conroy
I think that's exactly what is happening with me right now ...
Monday, December 17, 2007
A view of NHPC Township in Singtam where we stayed -
Temi Tea Gardens -
With Vandana at Temi Tea Gardens -
A view of Chhangu lake surrounded by snow covered mountains. The lake had started freezing already & was expected to be totally frozen in a couple of weeks -
This spot was around 13,000 feet above sea level and temperatures were around -5 degrees -
It had snowed a day before and everything was pristine white ...
At Rumtek Monastery near Gangtok. It is arguably one of the richest monasteries in the world and contains the relics of the 16th Karmapa -
The monastery had beautiful carvings in traditional Tibetan style. A corridor in the monastery -
At a viewpoint called Hanuman Tok. On a good day the Kanchenjunga range is clearly visible from this spot. We didn't get so lucky -
This one is my favorite .. with my nephews Shivank & Shreyas in the balcony of our guest house at Gangtok -
Monday, December 3, 2007
I am hoping to be back (not-so-soon) with loads of pictures .. and even more memories ...
Picture courtesy: http://www.indiatripplanner.com/
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Two of my very close friends Rajesh & Renuka are getting married today (to each other :) ). Unfortunately I was not able to make it to their wedding. I wish them a blissful life ahead and many many years of happiness, togetherness and memories. Congrats both of you!
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
It was an act of human rights violation by none other than the government itself in the name of eminent domain and industrial growth. Simply put, eminent domain means that the government has the right to seize private property of any citizen and put it to 'public use'. So the West Bengal government decided to give the land in Nandigram (near Haldia) to Salim Group of Indonesia as an SEZ to set up a chemical hub. The land I am talking about is no small piece - it is 14,000 acres spanning across 29 villages and currently houses a population of 40,000! That this land belonged to some poor farmers who have no other source of income other than cultivating this land was just a minor inconvenience for the government. After all, there was recourse to Eminent Domain that can get it done easily.
But things did not happen as per the plan as the farmers did not give up their land easily and decided to protest this land seize. This resulted in the infamous massacre of 14th March 2007 where activists from many factions of the ruling Left party mercilessly killed many villagers and police was a mute spectator! Needless to say that the government denied any involvement in these killings and dismissed these killings blatantly. There have been multiple rounds of violence since then (the latest being in November) and many have lost their lives. Eminent personalities like Medha Patkar, Mahasweta Devi, Aparna Sen, Arundhati Roy have raised their voice against State Government's apathy & apparent involvement in this act of violence. The West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi has also condemned the govt for its handling of this issue. An enquiry by CBI has also been ordered in this matter. The govt has since then announced that it would give another piece of land and not Nandigram for developing the SEZ to Salim Group - this would be a sparsely populated land in the island of Nayachar.
Probably the problem has been solved for now. But there are many questions which still remain unanswered -
- Why did the govt choose Nandigram (well populated) and NOT Nayachar (sparsely populated) for developing the SEZ in the first place? Haven't they heard of something as simple as feasibility study?
- If the villagers had not protested and taken the land seizure lying down, we would never have even heard of Nandigram. In our country, do we get justice ONLY WHEN we protest the injustice?
- Will those guilty of these killings ever be brought to justice? There have been way too many scandals & expose`s but I have seen very few from the govt actually being punished
- Does the government have the right to seize property of any citizen without providing any alternatives? Yes, I know it is the law as per our constitution, but what kind of a law is this??
Sunday, November 11, 2007
When we were at Calangute beach, I noticed a board showing directions to Baga beach & Fort Aguada and along with it was that for 'Sulabh Shauchalaya'. That's a very thoughtful gesture I would say ;)
But the best one was this store which sold some 'genuine' stuff. Just the name was enough to convince the shoppers of the ingenuity of the store :). And what did they sell - leather stuff, jewelry or clothes?
Monday, November 5, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
After clicking many pictures of Petronas I thought of getting one of mine taken with the towers too. I saw a European-looking friendly couple and approached the guy for clicking my snap. To my surprise, he dropped to the ground and lied flat on his back with my camera. Once he had the towers covered, he asked me to step in the frame. When I previewed the picture, I really liked the angle. After thanking him, I asked what he did for living. He casually told me that he was a photographer for Discovery Channel.
I just got lucky, eh? :)
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
There was a Veil past which I could not see
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I quite liked my portrait .. for many reasons. She did bring out my curly hair, large mouth, snub-nose, eyelashes and of course the double-chin ;) quite well. The earrings are also exactly like the ones I wore that day! The only thing that doesn't have much similarity is my eyes (I am not cross-eyed yet ;) ) and she got teased no end by her older brother about this. I liked this portrait so much that I got it signed by her and brought back with me.
Aah, you can absolutely trust a child to show you the true mirror ;)
Sunday, October 21, 2007
But when we met today .. couple of drinks (ok, ok .. Nisha & Preethi only had mocktails) and we were back to our same old bubbly & chirpy selves .. laughing uncontrollably over silly things, recollecting about all our crushes, checking out men around us. It seemed that those years never passed. And we all promised to do this girls-only get-togethers more often. I am not sure how often we are really going to meet, but I guess it doesn't matter, because whenever we meet it would still seem that we never really were apart .. and that's what good friendship is all about ...
Then there were ladies and kids dressed in their festival fineries (it's hard to tell about men when they are dressed up ) - especially women & girls with flowers in their hair. I absolutely love the sight of women with flowers in hair - probably because I have never managed to do it myself (owing to short length of my hair :) ). And all this truly made my day seem quite festive even though I didn't do anything more than calling/sending messages to some people wishing for the poojas.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
My grandfather used to take my Dad and my Uncle (when they were kids) to watch every movie first day, first show. If they missed to make it to the first show due to some unavoidable reason, it was more or less like a mourning in the household. When we were kids, it was our fortnightly routine to cram into our poor old ambassador (2 adults + 5 kids + 2 or more cousins, oh my God!!) and go for a movie on Sundays. I don't think we would have missed watching any movie that was released from late 70s to mid 80s. It was only during late 80s when VCRs became more popular and movie theatres were considered a place where shareef log don't go that this routine came to an end. Thank God things have now changed. So even now, no family gatherings are considered to be complete without watching at least 2 movies in as many weeks :)
The habit of reading also comes from my grandfather. He was not just an avid reader but also a regular contributor in a magazine called Dharmyug. Long after his death, during one of my summer vacations (I think I was in 8th/9th std), I chanced upon some of his books - complete collections of Oscar Wilde, William Wordsworth, Maithilisharan Gupt & Dinkar. What a treasure it was!! My Dad's reading mostly included classics and management books. I remember having read books like 'Born to Win' and 'Don't say yes when you want to say no' when I was in my early teens :). My Mom mostly reads Grihshobha/Manorama and lately some religious books. When we were kids, our parents used to give each of us short-story collections of Premchand as birthday gifts .. until they exhausted all of them that were published! In our generation, I can read just about anything if I have started it (that has its own disadvantages, trust me), my younger sister is more into romantic novels, my elder sisters are currently reading only children's books (thanks to their kids) and my brother reads nothing but comics & an occasional Car & Auto or Computer Today kind of magazines. And we all (parents included) are die-hard fans of comics. We still drool over Phantom, Mandrake, Flash Gordon, Garth, Lt Carry Grant and the best of all - Amar Chitra Katha!
Regarding us all being people of strong likes and dislikes .. I would rather not go into details for my own good. I don't know which of my family members might be reading this :)
(Phantom photo: http://www.germworks.net/)
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
The language is quite old-fashioned and I even had to look up some of the words to get their meaning right :) and some pages even made me lose interest for a little while. But overall a masterpiece .. a must read. Someone recommended 'One hundred years of Solitude' by Garcia Marquez, so that's definitely on my list now.
Monday, October 8, 2007
Wonder what happened to me during the 450 years after I died last (assuming I lived to be a 100 years old :) ) and was reborn again as a female but in a less enterprising profession. And oh, I forgot to mention - in my past life I was also a seeker of truth and wisdom and could see my own future life!! And yet I decided to be born this way?? Beats me :(
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Then when I discuss about putting on weight, I get links like A secret to lose my belly. But the best one was when I was discussing about relationships/marriage etc with a friend and pat got links to sites titled 'why men lie', 'understanding men', 'how to become irresistible to men' , 'love relationship & romance' .. the list goes on an on. But I am yet to understand how it firgured out that I'm a woman .. quite intelligent :).
Although I haven't used any of these helpful links so far, but it sure feels reassuring to know that there's Google always caring for your needs and providing insightful help whenever you need (or even if you don't need). A true friend indeed :)
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Not that all my Saturdays are like that every time. In truth, my Saturdays are lazy ones and Sunday evening is when most of the activity begins. Like this week I am going to catch 'Johnny Gaddar' on Sunday night show as the movie was not showing at any other time. After my parents went back home and Vandu had to leave on an impromptu official trip on Wednesday evening (it was too much of a coincidence for me to handle!) I was dismayed at the idea of spending the next five days all by myself. Although I have lived alone for quite a while in the past (and have enjoyed it too), but having so many people at home for so long and then suddenly having the whole house to yourself is a little discomforting.
Apparently, I made quite a bit of noise about being alone for these many days to my friends Nisha & Preethi (I am never subtle about such things, or like Vandu says - about anything for that matter ;) ) because next day Nisha brought me a bunch of DVDs to watch during the weekend (as she was going to be away to Kerala) and Preethi offered to take me shopping. And now that my Saturday is almost halfway through, I realize I haven't started watching any of the movies yet (or haven't even switched on the TV for the past 3 days!) and have spoken to Preethi & canceled shopping plans already.
The idea of a lazy Saturday looks too delicious to miss out on - waking up late, reading a book while still in the bed, having breakfast at noon, listening to your favorite music all through the day, catching up with friends via email/orkut scraps, having lunch in the evening and in between finding time to write a meaningless post for the blog too .. ummmm I'm not complaining yet :)
Sunday, September 30, 2007
I felt quite disturbed after watching this film; this is the second time an Indian film has evoked such reaction from me. The first one being Bandit Queen which I watched in my late teens and some scenes from the film kept haunting me for weeks after watching it. Some of the scenes in Parzania - where mobs attack innocent people's homes and kill them with swords or burn their homes or rape women and burn them alive - were very realistic. Like one of the characters in the film said towards the end - 'I felt ashamed of being a Hindu'. How some religious fanatics can misguide people and use them for their own selfish causes! This Hindu-Muslim divide continues to be our nemesis. But the message from the film is very clear - If we take an eye for an eye, the whole world will soon be blind
Saturday, September 29, 2007
One of these activities that I remember most fondly was - playing games during weekends or summer vacations. Our favorites were Chinese Checkers (or was it Chequers? It doesn't matter), Scrabble, Carrom, Cards, Badminton, Table Tennis and so on. Chinese Checkers was so addictive that even while sitting at dinner table, we used to mentally picture how to move something from point A to point B by jumping over glasses, bowls etc .. oh, it was so hilarious. And then playing Scrabble made us all make a mental note of each new word we came across that had a Q or Z or M or W (they have higher points in the game than most of the vowels :) ). And cards (especially 29) used to be more a war than a game as my parents were so good at it that we used to get scared being there partners and making some bad judgement.
It has been years since we played any of these games .. mainly because all of us have moved out of home one after the other and occasions when all of us get together at the same time have been few and far between. So when my parents visited me & my sister for a month recently, we did get a chance to play some of the games from our growing up years - mainly Scrabble and cards. We definitely have become quite rusty at Scrabble but in cards we now play more mature (??) games - like Flash and we all (me more so than anyone else) are making quite a few bucks (to the tune of about fifty at the last count, but it's absolutely priceless! ;) ) in the process.
Friday, September 14, 2007
The auto ride home took just 15 mins!! Of course I took a different route on which buses are not allowed and when I was just 10 mins walk away from home and we hit another choked traffic zone, I decided to take a walk home in the light rains. I slipped into my slippers (funnily I was carrying them just in case I landed in some muddy puddle on my way to bus-stand in the morning :) ), rolled up my jeans and took off after paying the auto guy who seemed to be in as good mood as me as he sang a Kannada song during the entire ride and duly informed me that it was a rain song he was singing (in case I misunderstood him ;) ). I didn't miss splashing into a single puddle on my way home. When my Mom opened the door for me she found me all muddy feet & slightly drenched but all smiles. She had a steaming cup of tea ready for me already .. what more could I ask!
Later when I logged in to check my emails, I managed to catch up with two of my dearest friends across two continents. I would never have managed to do that if I had been to work today. Now I will make some evening chai & pakoras for the family and end my day watching India-Pakistan 20-20 match while rest of Bangalore is again busy battling the evening traffic. What a wonderful day it has been!!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
In fact better than normal..
on the surface
But i know
it is nothing but
waiting to burst..
An overheated wire
waiting to fuse
a matter of time
it's no poem
but my thoughts
between those 'short breaks'
Sunday, August 26, 2007
I have been on a book-buying spree last couple of months and have gathered quite a few books that I had always wanted to read. I have enough books to keep me busy for the next 2 months at least. Next on my reading list is Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 'Love in the Time of Cholera' followed by either Orwell's 1984 or P Sainath's 'Everybody Loves a Good Drought'. I need to buy Steinbeck's 'Grapes of Wrath' next as I had borrowed it from Renuka and only half-finished it in Charlotte before returning to India. Nothing hurts more than a half-finished book ..
And I hate to stack the books on my table (the way I have done right now) or for that matter tuck them away in cupboards or cartons. That's why the only furniture I have made mandatory for my room when we move into our new home later this year - is a huge bookshelf. And I have already started planning which book would fit where :)
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
There was a media frenzy to capture glimpses of Sanjay Dutt after his sentencing and news channels/papers were dishing out stories about his lucky kurta, his entire life history (including various marriages/affairs), how great he is as a person. There was also a national debate on one of the news channels to discuss if the sentencing was too harsh on him because he was a celebrity! We were so engrossed in reading/watching about this reel-hero that we hardly paid any attention to the real hero who did a great deed of sacrificing his life for his country. But all he got was a 15 second mention in the news or a 4x4 inch mention in newspapers.
There was a very thought-provoking article on Bangalore Metroblog from someone who knew Colonel Vasanth closely. Isn't it time we move on from worshipping screen gods & goddesses and start doing something for the real heroes of our country?
Monday, August 13, 2007
Sunday, August 12, 2007
The book is full of symbolism - each character depicts someone/something (primarily in the context of USSR). A brief description of Animal Farm symbolism/interpretation can be found here. The author brilliantly portrays the dissolution of principles - from the seven commandments changing over time as per the convenience of the so-called leaders. 'No animal shall sleep in a bed' becoming 'No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets', 'No animal shall drink alcohol' to 'No animal shall drink alcohol in excess' and 'No animal shall kill another animal' becoming 'No animal shall kill another animal without cause'. And in the end it is replaced by one single profound all-encompassing commandment "All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others".
Friday, August 10, 2007
Then it was 'Phir Milenge' - a film loosely inspired by Philadelphia. It is a film about AIDS awareness shown in a sensitive and sensible manner without being preachy. Something urban youth can easily relate to. Another movie after 'Life in a Metro' in which I have liked Shilpa Shetty. And since the film was shot in Bangalore, there was this familiarity quotient.
And just now I finished watching 'Rain Man'. Had watched it in bits and pieces earlier and had an idea of the storyline. but watching the whole film was a different experience altogether. The transformation of Tom Cruise's character Charlie from a selfish money-hungry character to a caring brother is depicted very well. And Dustin Hoffman is superb in the character of autistic-genius Raymond. A funny thought came to me in the last scene of the film where Raymond leaves Charlie boards a train and the train passes - I thought had it been a regular Bollywood movie, Raymond would have been standing after the train passed with a big smile on his face. But thankfully no such thing happened in Rain Man ..
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
It took me unusually long to finish If God... Partly because of lack of time in the past few weeks and partly because the book failed to grab my attention/interest for over an hour at a stretch. Today I made a resolve to finish it as I needed to start George Orwell's Animal Farm. If God .. is a forgettable kind of book - a fiction about the professional and personal lives of young and ambitious bankers working for multi-national banks in India. The writer himself is a banker and his characters & storyline are pretty much reflections of his own life. In fact Vandu & CD, who know the author personally, say that Subramanian has portrayed himslef as the all-good-no-evil character of Swami and another of his peers is the 'inspiration' for the other protagonist smart-but-slimy Sundeep.
The author goes on an on about the nitty-gritties of sales in banking industry, describing each selling campaign & business operation in great detail. This may appeal to someone from the industry, but to an outsider (like me), it's nothing but boring stuff. And when he is not writing about banking/sales, he is writing sleaze. It seemed to me that I was reading a Shobha De piece with some banking jargon thrown in. The point where Subramanian scores is the narrative - it is simple and the conversations are very real.
But overall, this book can be better left unread and that wouldn't be any loss at all!
Monday, July 30, 2007
Well, the movie didn't turn out exactly what I had expected it to be. I was a tad bit disappointed after watching it. For the first 15 minutes or so it seemed we were watching a highschool play - everyone was very loud and unnatural. But gradually they settled in their characters and the movie picked up its tempo. The film is about the lives of a group of Anglo-Indian people who have been living in 'Bow Barracks' (an old & dilapidated building in Kolkata) as tenants for a long time - their struggles, problems and relations with other tenants. Victor Banerjee (Peter the Cheater) and Lilette Dubey (Emily Lobo) had the most important roles in the film. Other important characters being Sabyasachi, Neha Dubey, Clayton Rodgers, Moon Moon sen and Sohini Pal.