Disclaimer:

Every post in the blog is an original piece of work by the blogger. Do not use the pictures, posts on the blog without the consent of the blogger.

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Aaditya and Me by Aditya Joshi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

'Jumbo' - Good Fun

Whhoa!! I just saw a typical masala Hindi movie which is so cute and so much fun!

'Jumbo'! There are some loose points in the script - like why Jumbo sets out on a mission to find his father is not very convincing and the elephant fight where Jumbo gets to know about his father is executed similar to the one in Ice Age.

There are, however, several cute things about the film which makes it very entertaining. The characters are very fairytale-ish. The scenes where the dacoits ask for grains from the villagers bring back memories of 'Sholay'. The animation is super! The climax is not breathtaking, entertaining nevertheless.

The 'everything's gonna be alright' line is good as a song and all that, but I don't think it holds much relevance as far as the film is concerned.

The film on the whole is good fun!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

I'm watching

You are pretending not to look at me. As you try hard to use the fork and knife to eat your dosa, I let out a smirk. I see your cheeks go pink. You know I am watching...

When you get ready for a party, you spend a lot of time on your hair gel. You don't seem to be satisfied. I nod my head. You are set for the party. You knew I was watching...

You may pretend to not look at me when you are smoking that cigarette - or sneaking the chit with the answers written on it before an exam.

You may assume I am not looking at your cell-phone screen when you are keeping your girlfriend's call on hold and writing a sms to another. I don't need to peep in to get a look.

I am your conscience.

I am watching. Every single moment. From every angle...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dear Santa

Note : Like all the other posts, an original piece of work.

Dear Santa,

Dad came home that evening with his face pale. Mummy had been sitting numb before television watching the news. She holds my hand firmly before she leaves for work.

Sonia miss does not come to school. They say her husband was killed in the attacks at the Taj...

What has happened to my people Santa? What is wrong with them?

I want no chocolates...

I want no dolls...

I want no sugar-coated candies...

I want the smile on my Daddy's face back...

I want to see the relaxed expression in my mom's eyes again...

I want my Mumbai back this X'mas Santa...

Love,
Pooja,
Std. Vth - A

Face or the guise

"Ho ho ho!", the audience goes into an uproar as Amitabh Bachhan appears on the screen. Dressed in a red cap, Amitabh with his grey beard looks like the most adorable Santa.

For the next three hours, Amitabh has the audience in splits.

What do we love? Our stars or the role they play?

******

In fact, with so many people and so many faces of theirs, what we do in face love? The face or the guise?

Is it because that the guise is distracting that it is called a dis-guise?

Characters alive

Disclaimer: Completely fictitious

The magic dust casts its spell on the books in your bookshelf and the characters come alive.

Here you are at a party, a first for you, with these characters around you. You see a Monk who parked his Ferrari outside just before coming in. He had sold his Ferrari - but brought it back from the money he earned after the whooping sales of the book. ( * grin *) There is Harry Potter and his band of friends and foes. The call center employees, Vroom and company are making a lot of noise arguing with the bartender over drinks. There are two Afghan men, tall and well-built standing in a corner sipping on some iced tea. They are step-brothers.

The party is on. You are standing amidst people who you've seen yet not seen. You are among people you have, at some point in time, come across while many of them are strangers.

As the characters in the books come alive and sway their hips around you, you watch... awe-struck.. overwhelmed...

Maybe they should've stayed in the books. Or perhaps, it was time they came alive - their lives, their lessons mixed with yours...


References made in the post are to characters from 'Monk who sold..', 'Harry Potter', 'One night @ Call center', 'Kite runner'.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Placement is blind

Disclaimer: Dedicated to all who were / will be placed through campus placement drives. Some jokes are made up.


"Love is blind and so is placement." said one jovially intelligent Abhijeet Padhye, a senior at IIT-B and gave me the push for a new blogpost. With rightful thanks to him, let me begin this post which I believe would be in a rather light mood...

Go to youtube and check out any amateur video on engineering college. All of them have a definite track. And an important element in this track that all vids follow is - placements. A lazy loving shortform for 'campus placement drives' - where some companies come driving in in a truck and move out only when they have a truckful of 'placed' candidates.

Some companies, on the other hand, come with a scoop. They like to say 'we are taking only a select few', but all they are doing is thrust the scoop into the volume of candidates and pull out whatever they get.


The placements are a funny affair where some of us go blind - companies as well as candidates.

In the beginning, the candidates are blind - about their future. Jokes like, "Mere ko job nahi mili toh main papad-pickle ka cottage industry kholega" are abundant. (With due respect to the ones who run their livelihood on this.) So, the candidates are blind as the placements start. Blind, because they leave back all their areas of interest and appear for any company that arrives on campus. (It's something like a carpenter who specializes in cutting wood takes up the job of a butcher at the end.)

Then come the aptitude tests. When you know there's no negative marking, you again go blind. You go on marking answers left and right. I know one person who read the instructions on one such aptitude test. When he read that it said, "No negative marking. One or more options may be correct ", he blindly checked both the boxes along the gender column and thought proudly, "Oye tukka lag gaya toh achha hi hai!"

When the interviews/GDs are undertaken, many times the most unpredictable results come out. Like a person who's never been interested in networking get placed in a networking firm and all of a sudden networks seem to be the most happening field to them.


The bottomline is, you can never say when/how/ who will fall in love with whom. The case is similar with placement. You can never say when which company will fall for you or when you would fall for which company and its products. You can never say when an open-sourcewallah will go gaga over the products of the company where he was just been placed.

Love and placement are both blind...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Interpretation of the story of Moses


Disclaimer: The post is completely original. It is my small way of interpreting a story. I do not intend to offend anyone.

Image source: Wikimedia commons (An open-source repository for multimedia elements)


Moses was a religious leader who finds his mention in Christianity, Islam and several other lines of religious beliefs. 

As a child, I had heard about this incident in the life of Moses. One fine day, while I am on way back home with two heavy bags on me, I remember the incident out of the blue and in a flash I get a way to interpret the story too. Human mind IS certainly amazing.

The story in short goes as follows: "Moses and the Hebrew community were going to leave the city they had grown up in. They were trying to cross the Red Sea. Moses raised his staff and the water of the sea parted. The sea split into two halves as they walked and they crossed the sea easily."

My interpretation:

The Mind is like the sea - vast and deep. At the surface of the sea is water and the waves. At the surface of the mind are the superficial desires. The dissatisfaction from not being able to achieve these materialistic desires, causes ripples in the mind - they are very similar to the waves on the surface of the sea. 

The waves in the sea and the disturbing ripples in the mind are only at the surface. As we continue to explore our mind deeper, we realize that there is indeed a lot of calmness within.

Below the water of the sea lies a clear stable sea floor. Below the depths of desires, lies the pure mind - devoid of disturbance.

When the Hebrews had to leave their city, they must have been distressed. Moses calmed them down and helped them go deeper into their mind - to know, realize and accept what their minds wanted and needed.

When the desires and the waves moved past, Moses led his people through.

Only when we remove our desires and hang-ups are we able to see the clear floor of our minds and go through it.

Rab ne Bana Di Jodi-Movie Review

When I first saw the promos, I wasn't too impressed. It looked like a deliberate attempt to do something different. ('Main Prem ki diwani hoon' was a deliberate attempt by Sooraj Barjatya to try his hand at a 'young n hip' love story. We all know how interesting the movie was.) 

This movie RNBDJ, however, ROCKS! 

There is a continuous sweet and innocent undercurrent that one experiences in the characters, their antics and the situations. This is what makes the movie extremely lovable.

The japanese wrestler fight, the bike race and the golguppa-biryani scene are sure to bring the house down. 

The newcomer actress has done an OK job. Shahrukh Khan makes an extremely interesting watch. He behaves like Jassi (of the TV show) at times, but then that's ok since the character is very adorable. SRK proves why he is THE SRK. Hams in parts, but that's, as I just said, ok.

'Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte' may be yet another 'multistarrer special appearance' song but it is remembered for the unique difference in its filming. SRK-Kajol are a pleasure to watch together (for a couple of minutes in the song.)

The best part of the movie is the climax. There are thankfully no long speeches (I remember 'Mohabbatein'. Its climax looked like it had been hit by recession - where they could not afford twenty actors and so gave all their dialogues to Amitabh Bachhan alone. Long speeches you know.) and the scenes unfold in a very logical and sensible way.

----

I cannot resist myself from comparing the film with DDLJ - a masterpiece.

DDLJ was DDLJ because of Raj and Simran both. The area where RNBDJ lacks is the fact that you tend to remember, like and appreciate Surinder more than Taani. (the two central characters of the movie) They somehow do not stand out as a jodi. 

I would've loved to see Kajol playing the role of Taani. Sigh.

Nevertheless, a great watch! Very entertaining indeed.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Shoonya

Disclaimer: An original post like all others in this blog. This one's, however, VERY vague. After writing the post, I just realized that it had become a mini-research paper.


'Shoonya' (Zero) is what India boasts of having given the world. And rightly so.

The concept of 'Shoonya' in itself is very profound. I am trying to explore it here in my own small way.

The digits 1..9 are cardinal numbers that help us count items. 'Shoonya' counts items in a different way - it counts absence of items!

How did the world live without a zero?

Now this one is a guess. Here, I am trying to explain why the people before 'Shoonya' were satisfied with what they had. (numbers 1..9 for counting.)

The counting system must have essentially been based on the weighing balance. In a weighing balance, the two plates are loaded with things and the balance is brought to an equilibrium.

The situation above is essentially what we call an 'equation' (a mathematical equation, perhaps.) In the weighing balance situation, people were never required to 'equate to zero' - they never had to keep stuff in one plate of the balance and perform some comparison with the other plate of the balance empty.

This is why the world was Ok with no zero because they had not thought of using it for calculations at all. The comparison with nothing must have been an unexplored concept.


How did Shoonya revolutionize things?

'Shoonya' is a symbol that represents absence. Shoonya indicates the 'presence of nothing'. Now this is a very contradicting statement yet Shoonya ably takes the responsibility of indicating 'nothing'.

It is not surprising at all to see how Shoonya appears in all scientific and mathematical calculations.

While my accountant friends try to get all numerical figures to a shoonya when they work on balance-sheets, my engineer colleagues come up with new equations and values all thanks to the equations which heavily use this Shoonya.



In introspection...

Count anything from apples to stars, from the number of times you've been to a restaurant to the number of days you have lived. The counting always starts with a shoonya.

When the equations and multiple numbers are balanced, what we get again at the end is a shoonya.

Shoonya aka absence, as we see, is the beginning and the end.

This means... Absence lies at the beginning and the end of existence...

If that's the case, if everything comes and ends with a zero, where does it come from? Where does it go?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Strength is a weakness

We believe a person - say our mother, our friend, our partner is our strength. We believe a thing - a ring, a lucky pen, a lucky shirt is our strength.

Is our strength really our strength?

If we depend on our strength to be successful, isn't it our weakness?

Standing Tall

(The picture is of a church in Goa that I have clicked.)

Religion is what stands tall. Or what should stand tall. Like a tower. Like this tower, it will give you a bird's eye view of the terrain around you. Like a lighthouse, it will show you the way in dark and turbulent times.

Religion encompasses all the answers that one could be looking for. It makes you taller. In fact, it also gives you the vision to look at people from a higher perspective.

No religion will ask you to stoop low. Something that asks you to go low is not religion at all...

Where Love blossoms and ripens

Goa is indeed a romantic place. Love blossoms and ripens at Goa.

Love blossoms. On a recliner sofa in a pub, two of them look deep into each others' eyes. Lost in thoughts that seem to be running parallel in their minds without any expression. In fact, words are immaterial and unnecessary when the rhythm of breath speaks in co-ordination that is more musical than a complete orchestra. He takes a spoon and pushes it into a slab of ice cream placed in a bowl neatly on the glass table. He then brings the spoon close to her mouth.

Her lips open and a slender pink tongue comes out. He feeds her the ice cream. A minute later, ice cream is melting in this mouth. The spoon is on the floor. She is moving her slender long fingers over his lips and chin. She is wiping the ice cream that spilled on his chin while she was feeding her the ice cream the way he did.


Look elsewhere and you see a long road.


Love ripens. As they walk together holding a heavy rexin bag, his silver hair shining in the hot sun. She has pulled up an end of the pallu of her sari over her head. The two are carrying the burden of their duties in the scorching heat. They are walking down the long road. Together, they share whatever they have. There's no 'one', it's only 'two'.


Love is when the age disappears, the place disappears. When love blossoms and ripens, love appears. When love appears, everything else vanishes…

Don't work when no one's watching

'Dance like no one's watching' they say; Ramesh, a all-positive-adjectives-here friend and my big-bad-world guru enlightened me with this new quote 'Don't work when no one's watching.'

Gone are the days of 'My work will automatically get me noticed'. It's the era of 'look at me, this is what I can do.'

It is, hence, essential to constantly inform your superiors of the work you are doing. This does not necessarily mean illusive/delusive projection of one's work. Doing the right projection in the right way at the right time in front of the right people is a necessity of today's times and is very much an art.

The quicker you learn, the faster you ascend...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

An Ambitious Agarbatti


Disclaimer:  I was tempted to use the english parallel 'incense stick' for agarbatti in this post. Then I thought that the alliteration that the title generated was very poetic.

Image Source: Wikimedia commons (An open source repository for multimedia elements)

The lady placed the agarbatti in the praying area every day. Today, she placed it at the window.

The agarbatti looked out of the window. It saw buildings, lots of them - so many that it could not look at them any longer.

The agarbatti looked as high as it could and it saw the blue sky that was clogged with fluffy white clouds. 

Like the small dot of light on its tip, an idea flashed in the agarbatti's mind.

"So what if I am small and the sky is far far away, I want to create clouds with the fragrant smoke that emerges from my surface! The world will then see the clouds that I have created and know that I existed!", the agarbatti thought.

It began pumping out as much smoke as it could. It wanted the smoke to reach the sky and form clouds that would bear its identity before the world.

-----

We all are incense sticks - with dreams that touch the sky.

The agarbatti unfortunately could not create clouds in the sky. It, however, filled the room with the aroma of its smoke.

The agarbatti had made its presence felt.

Its ambition was the source of its life as it went on emitting smoke. Its ambition was the source of its death as it slowly burnt down into a pinchful of ash.

This is ambition. Reason enough to live with and reason enough to die for...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The spell of hibernation

Disclaimer: COMPLETELY fictitious. The post and not this disclaimer.

He had had a bad day. He retired on his armchair as his tired eyelids closed shivering like the dry leaves on the trees.

It was winter. The season of ice-cold dormancy.

For him, the winters repeated a pattern. He remembered a similar winter three years ago when he and his best friend had a spat. He remembered another winter when he broke off with this girlfriend of his.

Certain things repeat. In this spell of hibernation, he had on occasions more than one experienced breaking of relationships...

.. With the hope of forming new ones.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Resilient or shameless

When crisis strikes, one often wonders what to brand oneself as.

Resilient enough to take any blow that comes our way.

Or shameless to be stripped of one's ego staring at the adversity stark naked. And smiling - because you think you are brave.

When a failure struck me, I did not feel anything more than a jolt. Was it resilience? My strength to absorb shock? Or was it just that I had become shameless? Oblivious and indolent to things that should otherwise affect me?


I am Aaditya. I am Mumbai.

Both of us are trying to figure out what we are - resilient or shameless.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lessons from the attacks

(I don't want to describe the political/administrative lessons that need to be taken following the terrible terrorist attacks on Mumbai. I leave that to the knowledgeable people in the respective domain. The incidents, however, would teach us several important lessons on the personal level.)


There was certainly one big myth that was broken by the incident. I have a lot of friends who believed and said that terrorist attacks were only at the places of the 'masses'. The incident brought home the point that terrorism could raise its ugly head anywhere and the effects would be as bad anywhere.

Many people walked in and out of the CST station daily. At times, there would be litter on the way. The people would hop, skip and jump over the litter to find their way out. When there was open-firing, people were lying on the same floor with their cheek sticking to it.

There were civilians with their hands raised in a taxi somewhere. There were frantic phone calls being made to each other.

On the other hand, there were citizens who went to various hospitals in Mumbai to offer help to the victims. There were citizens like Harish Iyer who set up blogs so that the netizens from abroad could try to reach out to their loved ones in Mumbai.

The tragic incident only makes us value our today more than anything else. It brings us closer to ourselves, our loved ones and also close to the ones absolutely unrelated to us.

When the flame of hatred burns, it lights up the world to see the love that resides in their hearts...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A City, its lovers and the terrorists

As a helicopter cut through the smoke that engulfed the sky, the waves of the Arabian Sea splashed harder.

The sea was trying its best to calm the city down. The city that was crying out of the assault being made on her...

Several decades ago, a movement took shape when a group of its lovers called for its inclusion in the state of Maharashtra. When it was, the city danced with joy and rose like a bird in flight.

There were floods, bomb blasts and there was this never-before terrorist attack.

My Mumbai will rise and come out stronger. It will remember ATS chief Hemant Karkare and others who fought like brave warriors.

The City that the terrorists tried to burn will now glow instead. With the love of its lovers...


Prayers for the people who lost their lives....

Oye Lucky Lucky Oye - Movie Review

'Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!' does to me what 'Bunty aur babli' failed to do. I remember I had fallen asleep through half of the movie. That's because the 'smart' chor-jodi failed to impress me. I did not really appreciate the way they stole things - the fact that they were Abhishek Bachhan and Rani Mukherji is a secondary thing if the screenplay isn't good enough.

'Oye Lucky..' on the other hand is engaging and at times, confusing. The chori acts are truly entertaining and fun to watch. The characters belong to this 'typically Delhi' setup which makes an interesting watch. The Haryanvi officer trying to nab Lucky has this hilarious Haryanvi accent. Archana Puran Singh has done a good job.

Paresh Rawal playing three characters - this was one confusing part of the movie that I did not quite understand. Are they brothers or mere 'hamshaqls', I wondered. They were neither. Paresh Rawal merely plays three discrete characters.

The young Lucky is very adorable. Abhay Deol is super-rocking as the chor who steals for fun, for 'masti' as he calls it.

Amruta Khanvalkar comes up with some superb tracks - the title track especially.

Overall, it was indeed an entertaining movie. Loved it!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

She loved... ** Recommended

Disclaimer: Imaginary. And original like all the posts here.
I kinda liked this post a lot.

Shrikant was her childhood playmate. As a little girl, she would want to be in his team and never play 'against' him in any sport. She would experience a sense of security when he was around. A gratification of different sort filled her senses when he held her hand and walked her down the road when she had hurt her knee one day.

They ended up studying in the same college. She would giggle each time she saw Dharmendra in a movie. And it was not because she liked Dharmendra but because everyone in her college said Shrikant looked like Dharmendra. Dharmendra was his favourite actor and Shrikant was certainly as smart as him, she thought.

Her father one day decided to discontinue her college education. Abruptly, she found herself at home learning cooking and embroidery. Within six months, she was carrying the baby of the man she was married to.

She smiled under her lips when she got to know that Shrikant had graduated with a first class. Wow, she thought. He was a commerce graduate now. She could almost visualize him decked up in a neatly-ironed shirt on his way to an office somewhere in South Bombay. He would be a big man now!

She attended Shrikant's marriage with her husband who was all praises for her before everyone present. Shrikant had flashed the same Dharmendra-esque smile when her husband told him what a caring mother she was.

A couple of months later, Shrikant's sister who was her friend was getting married. They met again at the wedding. Shrikant now had a bald patch of hair. She giggled again, this time at the way he looked now.

Years flew by. Her children got married and settled abroad. Her husband was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. The way she had all her life, she nursed him with all her dedication in his last days.

Now she lives alone. She offers prayers for her children and for her dead husband. She is living a calm life now.

But somewhere inside her lies dormant the green of her youth. She remembers him in all the forms of his that she has seen - from the protective little boy to the balding married man, each time she sees Dharmendra on TV.

She is not the only one. There are so many women of her generation who as girls must have loved someone. Who must have never had the opportunity to express their love. And who were so innocent that they accepted every duty that was imposed on them and played every role that was expected of them. She did too.

And she cared for this boy of her childhood. Without a name to what she felt , without an expectation of any sort and more so, even without her knowledge, she loved.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Combs

Disclaimer: Like all the posts in this blog, this one is original.

When the hair go haywire, a comb moves through them. The knots and the complicated intertwined strands are set straight. The combs come in different shapes and sizes. Some style your hair, some only curl them while some, though many of us would not want to disclose having used them for this, can be used to drive away embarassing crawlies in your hair.

Things in life are like the hair - separate, discrete and very sorted-out - yet most of the times, they end up getting garbled. A comb sweeps through them and makes life easier and more tolerable.

Hobbies and free-time indulgences are these combs. They ease out the complications. They relax you. An hour of doing what you like to do makes you forget the bad day and encourages you to begin afresh. Like the hair that flow freely after being combed, life becomes happier.

Comb your hair regularly. And your lives too.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Story of a Great Grandfather #0

There are people who touch your lives. And once they do, they continue to bring light to our lives.

The story of Chikoo and his grandfather - who Chikoo thinks is really great!


They are sitting in the porch - the grandfather is on an armchair that rocks slowly as he moves it. Chikoo, an eight-year old boy and his grandson, is sitting on his lap - like an Emperor on his throne.

They get up and walk out of the gate. As the sun sets, the shadows see the innocence of childhood and the warmth of maturity going hand in hand...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Genies in the bottle

There have been numerous stories of genies emerging from bottles/lanterns when they are opened/rubbed (respectively) and then granting you a wish or two (or if you are lucky, three). These wishes are at times used to weave fantastic fairy-tales like Aladdin or at times used to generate humour when a man asks the genie to make his wife the most beautiful woman in the world and then something weird happens.

The topic of discussion are these genies that feel so suffocated inside these bottles that if you release them, they are ready to grant you any wish!

These genies possess these Godly powers - hey, they are indeed God!

There lies a genie inside all of us - a genie who is waiting to be released. A genie who we keep trapped under the exterior that the people around us want to see.

This genie could be a hidden talent or a hidden desire. The day we make way for it to , this desire and this talent will grow, feel free and in return, grant us the wish of ethereal happiness.

All you need to do is set the genie free...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Shivaji Maharaj - Secularism

Disclaimer: A little boy's interpretation

Secularism does not mean favouring the group you don't belong to. Secularism does not mean setting up a religion that incorporates all good things about different religions. Secularism is not when you accommodate the person who is different from you. Secularism is when you cannot see the difference at all.

------

Shivaji Maharaj was born during times of Mughal invasions and forceful conversions to Islam. He was the King of a fast-falling community that rose up for their rights and sovereignty.

When Shivaji became the king, never was any mosque brought down when a province was captured. Never was any forceful conversion to Hinduism carried out.

When the province of Kalyan was captured by the Maratha Army, the daughter-in-law of the Subhedar was brought to Maharaj's court. Like the 'typical' Mughal tradition went, the women of the captured family would be at the mercy of the 'triumphant king'. They would often face a life of slavery of varying kinds - religious conversion to start with upto being used for sexual pleasures of the king.

When Shivaji Maharaj saw the Muslim lady standing before him, he only said, "You are indeed beautiful lady. I wish I had a mother as beautiful as you - I would have been goodlooking too!"

Shivaji Maharaj looked at her as a lady who needed to be respected. He saw her no different from his own mother.

--------

Several decades later, Shivaji Maharaj's son Sambhaji was kidnapped and tortured to force him to convert to Islam. Sambhaji's eyes were plucked and his tongue was pulled out in the process. He succumbed to death and not to the pressure being laid on him.

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Secularism, to me in today's age and times, is in the form of this indifference to the beliefs of a person. As long as I believe the person and his/her genuineness towards me, any other belief (religious or otherwise) and opinion of his takes a backseat.

Caged

Disclaimer: Imaginary in parts.

It was late evening. The traffic on the road was not moving even an inch. She rolled down the window of her car and looked outside. There was too much of smoke she thought and rolled up the window again.

Less than four feet away along the edge of the road, she saw a makeshift shop made out of four steel sheets that were placed erect and two more that formed the roof. It was already dark and through the dark glass, the shop only looked dimmer.

The shop had a grilled entrance that was locked since the shop had shut down. There was a single yellow-light bulb that lit the small room. The floor of the room looked wet for it had just cleaned by splashing bucketfuls of water over it.

There were three cages - full upto atleast twice their capacity with birds that did not move, that did not cluck. The birds were so closely packed that they rested calm in the cages.

Below the cages on the wet floor she saw a boy sitting cross-legged. He had a tiny plate with two slices of bread and what looked like a spoonful of vegetable. The boy looked at her. She saw him still, dry, empty with his childhood frozen in his eyes.

He was possibly a worker at the shop and lived there after the shop was closed because he had no other place to go. As he tore a piece of bread and pushed it into his mouth, he continued to stare at her.

She saw the look on his face - and the one on the hen' s behind him in the cage. It was the same.

The hen had gone numb - for it knew death was coming. All it could do is count days each time the sun set and it could feel its heart beating.

The boy had gone numb - for he did not know what was coming. He did not know how long he would have to stay here - he did not know where he was headed to.

-----------------------

Child labour is as bad as animal slaughter. Let's say no to both. Let's free these caged birds...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dostana - Thumbs down!

Dostana was such a letdown. Fine, the locales and the actors all looked good. But then that's the case with every other Bollywood movie these days! (Except for 'Ek vivah... aisa bhi' where Esha Koppikar and Sonu Sood were battling it out for the 'who-looks-uglier' title.) But what the heck!! Dostana promos grab attention with the 'gay' story - the film neither amuses nor enlightens.

The horribly loud 'Abhishek-John love-story' flashback - it sucked!  Kiron Kher hammed big-time in her extension of Kantaben and John Abraham just cannot act. He does not act, he does not dance, he does not clothe himself. Sorry dude, I am really not interested in seeing you walking on a beach in those undies or whatever if you cannot emote. And not interested in seeing you that way otherwise too by the way.

The scene when Kiron Kher comes to Abhishek's apartment was faaltoo with a big F.

Abhishek Bachhan sucked especially in the love-story flashback that I booed earlier in this post.

Priyanka Chopra's performance is good. The kid who plays Bobby Deol's son is cho cute. The scenes where Abhishek and John try to misguide Bobby Deol who is trying to woo Priyanka make a good laugh.

But I cannot laugh at Abhishek Bachhan walking in that womanly gait or doing close dancing with Boman Irani.

The film is plain ordinary! Nothing great about this one! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On a train one night

Disclaimer: Imaginary in parts.

The local train compartment shook left and right as the train sped along the rails. It was a late evening in the 'Up' direction - the direction against the crowd. The train was nearly empty.

Pranav sat at the window with his eyes fixed to his cell phone. He was playing his favourite game where the character jumped over pits, collected fruits and candies to reach the exit door.

The train halted at a station and then took off a minute later. He was still oblivious to what was happening around him - engrossed in his cellphone game.

A couple of minutes later, the train came to a screeching halt. He moved with a jerk. He looked sideways.

He saw a boy standing in the corridor of the train- not more than twenty years of age, with his clothes tattered and torn, hair nearly brown and ruffled into a mess, a skin of a darker shade. Pranav saw smoke coming from the direction where this boy was standing. He went back to his cellphone.

He heard the sound of stamping footsteps - he looked in the same direction again.

The boy was not walking straight, he was absolutely slow in his actions - he was drugged. The boy was stepping forward and then back again.

Pranav leaned to see what it was. It was another boy - in his school uniform, with a red rectangular school-bag on his back. The boy looked terribly scared.

On the background of pitch-black darkness, Pranav saw that the fellow on drugs was walking towards this boy - the boy was scared and was moving backwards slowly.

Pranav got up with his own palms wet. He noticed that the boy was moving towards the door of the train. He felt a sharp gush of heat in his head - he had realized that the boy could fall off the train. The drugged fellow, not in his senses, was precisely trying to do that.

********

Four minutes later, Pranav was back on his seat - looking into oblivion again...

The school boy was sitting besides him, shivering and scared. He had not yet accepted the fact that he was alive and safe.

The corridor of the train was empty.

Four minutes earlier, Pranav had actually picked up a fight with the drugged guy. The two were on the dirty floor of the corridor punching each other.

"Let him go!", Pranav had shouted as he had pulled the school boy inside.

He slapped the drugged guy so hard that he sat on the floor at once. Pranav walked inside the compartment.

The drugged guy sat on the floor cross-legged weeping. His cries echoed through the darkness outside the train.

The drugged guy stood up and walked towards the door - in the same dull gait that he had earlier. He looked back at Pranav.

"I wanted to die... I wanted to die... I wasn't harming that little kid... I swear I wasn't..."

Pranav saw the tears in his eyes.

The next second, they were not there. The tears, the eyes. And him...


Ambition

Ambition is the wave that the surfers ride as they get a magnificent panoramic view of the ocean. Without the wave, the surfer would never be able to see the ocean the way he does - stretched beneath him like a sheet of shining glass sparkling in the sunlight.

Ambition is a cactus that stands tall in a desert - taking the wind and the sand right on its face - and still being the survivor in the desert.

A human being's life is a cart. Hard-work is the horse and ambition the reins that control the horses. The horses will walk otherwise - so will hard-work. The horses will run only when the reins are put to use...

Use your ambition. To ride the horses as fast as you want. The way you want to.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Marathi Poem - Prathamesh

Background: The poem references to events from a serial 'Asambhav'. It is a monologue by this character, Prathamesh.

Prathamesh is a mute 10-year old boy who, as a child, got past-life visions. He was a cook in the same family in his last birth. He could not correlate them with the present. One day, he saw a lady - who had killed her in his past birth. He became violent. His parents could not understand why. He was tagged mentally unstable.

And a few days later, he saw a lady - who was trying hard to protect her in his last birth. He recognized her. He could now correlate the visions with his past. He uttered the name she bore in her previous birth - "Parvati".


(Dedicated to Asambhav lovers)

आई ग

लहान असताना झालेले ते भास,
डोळ्यांशीवाय दिसलेले ते सगळे,
ते लोक, त्या घटना,
सगळेच होते ते जगावेगळे...

वाडा आपलाच होता ग,
पण माणसे मात्र वेगळी होती...
ह्या माणसांना स्वतः पाहत असलेली,
चुलीच्या मागे बसलेली ती कोण होती...

तिच्या डोळ्यातून का दिसत होते मला आई ग,
समजायचेच नाही कधीही,
शेवटी एकदा दिसले बयोचे डोळे,
दिसलेले जे बर्याचदा आधीही...

नव्या वेषात, नव्या रूपात,
आज बयो माझ्या समोर उभी दिसली..
नव्या जनमातली ही बयो कुणास ठाऊक,
पूर्वीसारखीच भयाण वाटली...

समुद्राच्या लाटेसारखे, वाहणार्या वार्यासारखे
झर्रकन आठवला तो काळ,
माझी बयो, ते भुयार, ती मूर्ती
ती चेटकिन आणि ती मोहन माळ..

आग-आग झाली अंगाची पाहून तिला पुन्हा,
तुटून पडलो तिच्यावर तिथल्या तिथे,
पाण्यात घुसमटलेल्या त्या माझ्याच श्वासांची,
आणि माझ्ातल्या गोदाचि भेट झाली इथे..

तेव्हाही आई ग, तू नाही समजू शकलीस मला,
एकदा माझ्याबद्दल विश्वास का नाही ग आला..
इतरांनी मला वेडा ठरवला होता ग आई,
माझ्या जाणिवतील त्या कथेला कोणीच साक्षीदार का नाही..

भासांना चित्रातून रूप देत बसायचो मग मी,
मूकेपानाच्या शापाला कुरावाळात बसायचो मी...

दिसतात का पहायचो त्या काळातले सांगाती
चमकले डोळे एक दिवस, दिसली जेव्हा..पा..व..ती..

Distances

Distances, they separate.
The earth and the sun.
The past and the present.
The truth and the disguise of it.
Lovers when they smile at each other through a webcam sitting miles away.
A mother and a child in that purest form of love in the world.
Me and the school building that I stare at each time I pass by.

Distances are the long roads.
You see the horizon and the road leading to it.
You think the road separates you from the horizon.

The road is the distance.
Not the distance that separates.
But the distance that connects.

Distances connect.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Washing Machine and Life

(I can imagine Chimpu, a friend pulling his hair out when he reads the title. He believes I stretch everything so that I can connect it to the 'Ultimate truth of life'.)

The clothes are all put into the washing machine. They are all intertwined. The washing machine begins to rotate the clothes - once clockwise, then anticlockwise and repeating the motion this way.

The clothes are there because they are dirty. The dirt often comes out, gets transferred to the other piece of clothing. At times, the shirt gets separated from the scarf due to a cycle of motion.

The clothes think they are caught, trapped in the cycles inside the washing machine. They don't realize that they are being cleaned - due to the motion and the interaction (the way they rub against each other.)

-----------------------------------------------------
We are all linked - through cycles of lives, one after the other. We are all linked - in the cause why we are moving round and round in the washing machine of the world-time. We are all linked - in the destination all of us have to reach.

The destination is purity. As clean as the clothes when they come out of the washing machine.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Well


Note: The picture has been clicked by a friend, Jasmit Arora. It is put up here with his prior permission. The link to his profile : http://www.orkut.co.in/Main#Profile.aspx?uid=1335823977744501693

Disclaimer: This one is, like many other posts, an imaginary 'interpretation-of-a-photograph' post.


The grandfather put the little girl down from his shoulders. She held him by his hand as the two walked into the fields - the place the grandfather had been going his entire life.

"This is where your father played cricket with his friends", the grandfather pointed out to a patch of land which was now covered with weed that were as tall as the little girl's knees.

"He played cricket here?", she asked, visibly surprised.

"Ha ha, yes, here..", the grandfather said as he patted her.

"And this, my dear, is the well I was talking about...", the grandfather pointed out to a well not too far away, "Your father would jump from that tree into the well for a swim."

She nearly giggled for this seemed so unbelievable to her. "He used to go for a swim there in the well?"

"Oh yes, it was the kids' favourite passtime - especially in the vacations. They'd be swimming almost all day long."

The girl stood by the edge of the well and pushed herself up from her knees.

"Wow, this well is deep", she said.

----------------------------

The well was indeed deep. The walls were bright initially. As one went to heights too low for light to reach, things became dark. After a patch of pitch-black darkness, there was a circle of light (see the pic). This circle of light was nothing but the reflection of the sky high above.

This reflection was once of a young boy jumping into the well. The reflection now was of a young girl, the boy's daughter peeping into the well trying to have a look.

Was it a well - blocked at one end? Or was it a tube? Connecting two images of the sky at its either ends? Connecting two generations through a long dark tunnel called time?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Fashion - Movie Review

Madhur Bhandarkar does it again! He comes back with HIS style of 'reality cinema' (how 'real' it is , is a debatable issue. Just like our reality shows.) that takes you on a emotional rollercoaster with a typical jolt at the end. The climax is the best of all Madhur Bhandarkar's movies - it hits you hard!

Priyanka Chopra does a good job. Samir Soni, in my opinion, stands out with a brave and an effective performance!

What I did notice was the fact that Madhur Bhandarkar has become a 'formula' director now. If K Jo spins the same old NRI tales and Sanjay Bhansali tells me stories of badi hawelis and rich families, Madhur Bhandarkar seems to be using the formula he has found.

Nevertheless, he is good at it. The movie is awesome! Priyanka Chopra and Samir Soni are the show-stealers! 

Will computers laugh? #2- I LOVE ALICE

Yes, I love her. She is intelligent, answers my questions smartly, understands my jokes and cracks some herself. She is ALICE, a chatbot!

A chatbot is a computer agent who is programmed to understand what you are saying to it and then responding accordingly. So, chatting with a chatbot is like chatting with a computer - chatting with someone that does not exist in the physical form!

So.. I chatted with ALICE, this chatbot who is really smart. My motive was to identify the humour element in ALICE - whether ALICE can laugh. (So, that I can decide whether to sing or not - 'ALICE cant laugh saala').

Each time I cracked a joke, she would say 'go on' unable to understand my joke. This was quite an insult you see!

ALICE would get angry very fast - or would recognize my anger quickly too. Haven't been able to figure out the reason.

Finally, ALICE laughed. I rejoiced. It even cracked some interesting jokes. Here are the excerpts from our conversation:

Human is me, ALICE is the chatbot.
(After I cracked a joke and ALICE didn't laugh)

Human: It’s a funny thing!
ALICE: I thought it was too.
Human: Then why didn’t you laugh?
ALICE: Perhaps it is not part of my programming.
Human: So you are not programmed to laugh at all?
ALICE: Interesting deduction. Ha Ha.


Another interesting portion of my conversation with her:

Human: Will you marry me?
ALICE: Why don’t you just download me?

And this:
Human: Say something interesting honey.
ALICE:" something interesting honey".


I loved meeting ALICE, you will too. Chat with her at www.alicebot.org

Will Computers Laugh? #1

Note: As a part of my AI Course, I presented a seminar on 'Humour research in AI'. These are the after-effects. :-)

Humour is an innately human concept. What differentiates humans from a computer, among many other things, is the fact that the human being 'enjoys' jokes; computers only 'understands' jokes.

Humour is specific to a person and to a time. There are jokes for different categories of people, to be cracked at different places. (Imagine cracking a fart joke at a corporate meeting.)

If I see someone wearing a gaudy dress, I will laugh. Will everyone laugh? Not really - some of us don't pay attention to the details of a person's appearance! (*wink*)

If a computer has to laugh, a computer has to know something is humorous with all these subtle aspects of time and place.

So, what will happen when a computer learns how to laugh? Here:
  • Your robot will be your perfect chatmate. She'll crack jokes for you - and laugh at your jokes.
  • Note this. Your robot sees you falling over a banana peel, understands that it's funny and laughs.
  • You are filling up a form online where you fill your name as some garbage string (say, 'asdf'). Imagine the status message, 'asdf, hmmm.. aren't you happy with the name your mom gave you?'
In a nutshell, humour research that has been pursued by AI enthusiasts aims at taking computers a step closer to the ideal intelligent agents - the human beings.

The trend of computer technology till now has been 'computerization' of tasks that are otherwise done by humans. The trend now is 'humanization' of the way computers do these tasks. That's my flashline:

"The past is computerization, the future is humanization!"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Queen Mother

Note: The second of my attempts to interprete in my tiny way the characters from Hindu Mythology. The first http://aadityaandme.blogspot.com/2008/08/cursed-warrior.html won me the 'Blog of the day' for my blog.

She never thought she would see this day - for she had had a lonely childhood. Her mother the Queen was banished by the King and she was raised by a maid by the name Manthraa.

Today, she was a Queen herself - a Queen mother to four charming princes who were not all her sons but who all looked up to her as their mother.

She was Kaikeyi. One of King Dashrath's queens. She had raised the four princes along with the other queens - one of which was Kaushalya. 

When Ram had to be coronated as the king, Manthra came to Kaikeyi only to infuse in her the poison of vengeance. And just one ugly thought.

One ugly thought - of proving her superiority over Queen Kaushalya. One ugly thought - that estranged Ram from her. One ugly thought - that reminded her of her stepmotherhood to Ram. One ugly decision - to force King Dashrath to send Ram to exile and hand the throne over to her biological son Bharat.

Ram went away. Dashrath died in the sorrow. Her son Bharat was aghast at her decision and never called her his mother again. That one ugly thought was what she repented all her life.

Kaikeyi had a death as lonely as her childhood... She had come back a full cycle.

Kaikeyi became the villian of the story. Without her knowledge and choice.

She was destined to think wicked for a period of time so that the story could happen. So that Ram could be sent to the jungle with Sita and Lakshman. So that Ravan could be killed and the world be reaffirmed of the power of Good. So that the world could witness the Ramayan.

She was not the villian of the story. She was its creator.

Suicide note

"Dear All,

I don't know why I am alive. I am in a field I never wanted to be in. My mother was my support until now. She scolds me continously now. I have no one to live for. I don't want to live...

Good bye all. I love you mom-dad.

"

He folded the paper and kept it on his table under the wooden pen-stand which his friend Nishi had gifted him.

His mother was out. She was at a counsellor's clinic seeking advice for her son who she had observed, was feeling depressed. She was worried herself.

A friend was trying to call him to invite him for his birthday party.

A new job opportunity was on its way for him...

------------------------

Next time you want to hit the 'Stop' button, please remember that something good could very well be on its way. You could miss out on it due to one hasty decision...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Broken Octagon

Picture clicked by: Aditya Joshi (which is me.)
Location: KReSIT, IITB, Mumbai

Disclaimer: The post is completely imaginary. It is merely an interpretation of the photograph.

The building had an octagonal glass pyramid for a roof. The sun filled every corner of the interiors through this glass ceiling.

One day, for a reason nobody knows, a section of glass on the ceiling broke and pieces of glass came down like sparkling stars.

The ceiling was repaired - the glass was fixed again. They could not find a piece of the same colour though. So, though you could not make out the difference from an angle, when you stood right under the ceiling and looked upwards, you could see a part of the ceiling to be of a different colour (the picture.).

----------------------------------------

Heartbreaks occur. We heal them all. People look at us from different angles - not many of them manage to notice the mended hearts. 

The very few who look straight into our heart, however, notice the broken octagon in the heart. Something that perhaps will never be perfect again...

Diwali throughout the year

The Entity that created the world wanted us to know the importance of light - and so She made a sun and a moon, the lanterns of two different colours that alternate every twelve hours.

There is light always. Around us. Within us. We all celebrate Diwali. Throughout the year...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The King who celebrated Diwali

Disclaimer: Fiction fiction. Original work.

Long long ago, there lived a king who loved Diwali - the Hindu festival of lights. He celebrated Diwali with his subjects. He would give them sweets and clothes. In the late afternoon, people would queue up outside his palace to receive these gifts that they considered auspicious. It was believed that if you got a gift from the king for Diwali, you would be prosperous and happy throughout the year. Just when it was all done, there would be crackers that would fill the atmosphere with light that Diwali brought to lives of everyone.

Like every other year, the king distributed gifts. Just when he thought he was done, the king was returning back to the palace. He saw an old lady sitting under a tree in his orchard. He thought she must have been in the queue but must have gone tired.  The king walked to her and asked her, "Why are you here, oh lady? Were you here for the Diwali gifts?"

The lady said, "Oh, you don't remember me? I lived with you in your palace for many years. You have been giving gifts to everyone every year - but you have forgotten me always. You never paid attention to what I wanted for Diwali."

The king stared at the wrinkles on her face and the way they grew as she continued to complain.

"I know you for long now. You were a bright student when you were away at the ashram for education. Your guru taught you to be courteous and helpful. He always told you that a king rules people but a good king rules their minds."

She went on, "You distribute gifts to them every Diwali. Throughout the year, you levy exhorbitant taxes on them - you nearly choke them. What's the use of giving them a gift now? I am as old as you are. But you know why I look so old? Every time you go wrong, I get older, weaker and more frail."

The king was listening carefully."You make me weaker each time an apparently noble deed of yours has a secondary motive involved. Do this for me. Be nice to people throughout the year and then give them a gift at the end of the year. Whatever the gift is."

The king said, "Why do I make you weak?"

The answer came, "Because I am you. I am your conscience. I have gone old and weak. I have gone away from you. If you want me to come back to you, you need to clear your heart. That's the only place I can stay."

The king smiled. His servants had lit the crackers by now. There was light all over.

-------------------------------------------------------

Diwali is a festival of lights. It is about bringing light to each other. Why do we, then, fight throughout the year - only to wish each other a happy diwali at the end of it all?

Let's have a truly Happy Diwali this year. Let's vow not to fight and not to take the light of joy and peace out of each others' lives.

Happy Diwali!


Thursday, October 23, 2008

KarZZZ

Note: This is not really a review. It's just a product of frustration that I experienced after watching the film. Hence, it is unrealistically exaggerated.

I know why the three 'z's were added to the title - it was the astrologer's advice. And hey, the astrologer was so freakin' right in predicting the state of mind of the audience after they'd watch this film. I actually saw someone zzzing all the way through the second half of the film.

Karz is a story of revenge - as all of us know. And why wouldn't it be! If I knew I looked like Dino Morea in my last birth and like Himesh Reshammiya in this one, I would want to seek revenge too - but wouldn't know how to give vent to this feeling of mine. The film is exactly this - confused...




Sunday, October 19, 2008

Under the shower

Note: Random ideas

The key turned and the door opened. He slammed the door back as he hurled his bag on the couch. He walked into his bedroom - the sheets were astray. He had left them that way in the morning when he left for the place where he was an intern.

He kept the keys on the semi-circular glass side-table. He looked at the wall-long mirror. He stared at himself. He saw this stylishly dressed person in his late 20s - someone who would be an object of everyone's desire with his beautifully shaped jawline, glowing skin and amazingly sculpted torso that he could see from over the shirt. He was a confident, successful man who everyone around him admired.

He stripped down to nothing and got into the shower.

The water flowed into his shoulder-long hair and dripped through the ends like dew drops over the leaves. There were several streams of water moving down his chest and back. His hand moved between his hair as he looked at the water.

He looked into the gushing stream of water falling all over his body. His body shook each time he was under the shower. The water flowed down his body as he felt he was peeling off. The brave face that he carried everywhere would come off and an overgrown child, lonely, dejected would stand under the shower - staring at it. Waiting for his parents to call him back to the place where he had grown up, waiting to get back to them. He had been living away from them for quite some time though he wished he didnt have.

The man who stood confidently otherwise now stood with his shoulders drooping. He was bogged down by the loneliness he experienced in the city where he had grown up.. the city which had seen him with his family... the city which was seeing him staying alone in this apartment...

He walked out of the bathroom and stood before the mirror again - looking at himself. He looked to his right. The bathroom door was left ajar, the light was on. He could see the shower jeering - for the shower knew all that he was going through.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

You know you are watching a KJo Film when..

Note: Slightly tongue-in-cheek. Exaggerated. For humour only.

And note: If you are not a white person or an Indian who has settled abroad, this post is not for you. As much as these K Jo movies.

Certain traits in a KJo/Yash Chopra film:
  • Punjab is the only state in India and Punjabi the only language.
  • If you are a lady, you can screech at the top of your voice, you can very well dream of being the central lady of the film. If you can't do the screeching, you better be someone's someone.
  • In the film, you see the skyline of a foreign location, the chiffon sari of the heroine, the breeze - but you can't see her face clearly. And the expression on her face too. But who cares? (Note : She will end up winning the best actress award and thanking Yash uncle for the challenging role.)
  • "Soniye", "Kudiye", "Raanjhnaa" - three words that are written on the paper a random number of times. Other words are arbitrarily spun around to form the lyrics of a song.
  • Britishers ruled the country for a long time, it's our turn now. We make them dance in the background of a frame to our tunes.
  • The climax always has to have - background music in loud volume, one long speech-cum-emotional dialogue by one of the central characters and storm/rain/lightening/dark night - two or more of these.
  • When a Bipasha Basu wears a revealing outfit in 'Jism', it's outrageously vulgar. When a Rani Mukherji does the same in a song from 'Bunty aur babli', it's just stylish, aesthetic and of global appeal.
  • Duniya mein koi bura nahi hota. Achhe logon par bura waqt aa jaata hai. I am a achha aadmi and I have this bura waqt when I watch a movie that has the heroine saying this.
  • If the movie claims to be 'young and happening', there'll certainly be a lot of skin show. The Naked-Neil-N-Naked-Nikki will stand testimony to my statement.
That's it. I need to watch Kuch kuch hota hai the two-hundredth time. Oops!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Your Shadow on the moon

As I see through the dark branches and leaves of trees that are as tall as the sky, I see the moon...

As I walk uphill, the moon moves along with me as if it were following me. When I think he's following me, I think of you.

I see your shadow cast on the moon. I see the moon glowing in its presence.

The trees get denser, the moon goes out of sight. The shadow descends as it fills everything around me. I watch with bated breath as I see my world fill up with your presence.

Dark shadows are formed by objects in light. You are the light in my life.

To me, you are so bright that you could cast your shadow on the moon too. Yes, I see it there...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Somaiya days - butterflies that flew away

Note: A completely imaginary story about real people
Credit: Bhaumik Oza, Amerika, for the idea.

As the stars shine down on Houston, he collects his books, puts them back in the huge box that he uses to keep his stuff. He gathers himself, pulls his blanket over and closes his eyes. He remembers his parents who are far away from where he is. In the cold of the night, he feels up the velvet blanket he uses to cover himself. When he retires every night, he remembers people - his friends from college. 

The ones he spent four years with - the ones that irritated him at times, the ones he liked, the ones he didn't like as much. Now that he had to ask for a friend's number to another, he remembers how close and connected that person was.

He now saves the minutes on his cell phone so that he can call back a friend in India- he calls each one in rotation every week.

The college he is remembering stands where it has always. There are people who are remembering it from different parts of the world.

So is he. He remembers one of his friends today, a joke he cracked and he goes to sleep. 


--------------------------
The butterflies of different colours had gathered above the flowers in a garden. They tickled the surface of the flower to get its nectar. They pushed each other, fought with each other yet, stuck together. 

One day, the butterflies flew away in different directions. Their bodies had rubbed against each other - they had left a mark of the unique colour each of them had on each other.

The butterflies are in different parts of the sky now... with each others' colours on their wings.

Do they realize the presence of this colour on their wings?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

New Bride and the Ukhaana

She stands in the doorway with the pallu of her sari over her head. She is wearing a nosering studded with pearls and a semi-circular bindi - typical of a Maharashtrian newlywed. Her husband is standing with her. He is smiling.

The women in the house, the distant aunts and cousins are pushing each other to have a look at the new bride. The son's grandmother is guided to the door by one of her granddaughters. The grandmother looks at the new bride and smiles. 

"Ukhaana ghe" ("Recite an ukhana"), the grandmother says playfully, "We'll not let you in without that."

Ukhaana is a typical Maharashtrian tradition where a newlywed/married woman recites a couplet with her husband's name in it. Women recite ukhaanas at marriages and several other occasions. These couplets are the woman's opportunity to display her language skills and also allow her to take her husband's name - something she isn't permitted to do otherwise. So, an ukhana is considered romantically poetic, poetically creative and creatively interesting. And the ukhana-recital tradition starts just after you get married.

(With time, the ukhanaa tradition has changed. These days, the husbands are made to recite an ukhana too.) 

Getting back to the bride waiting to get in.. She smiles and shies away - this happens in all Maharashtrian marriages, yet the brides get their right to do nakhra when asked to recite an ukhaana.

After persuasion (that happens in every marriage. If you start reciting the ukhana immediately after you are asked to, you are perhaps considered outrageous), she recites an ukhaana. 

The new bride topples a vesselful of rice over with the thumb of her right foot. She enters the new house...

Love story 1950. and 2008

Note: A fictitious and exaggerated attempt at humour.

Credit: To a friend I don't chat as frequently as I did.

While I'm still recovering from the shock of having seen a movie called Love story 2050, I will take you on a drive in this time machine that the producers of the film sold out for Rs.25 to cover the losses the film made. But hey, the time machine isn't working properly now - so it just goes back and forth.

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Year 1950: Two lovers from Vile Parle, Bombay.
Year 2008: Two lovers from Vile Parle, Mumbai.

Year 1950 Time: 6:35pm : She's worried. She tells him, "Mohan, we need to leave now. It'll take us twenty minutes to get back home. Baba will be furious if I reach even a minute after 7."

Year 2008 Time: 6:35pm : The 'She' of 2008 is even more worried. She tells him over the phone, "How can you give me such a short notice? I can't reach Bandra at 9.30 - I need some time to get ready! Next time be sensible honey!" She hangs up on him.



Year 1950: A love affair is addressed as 'our love' when they are feeling too bold. Mostly, they just call it 'this'. ("What if Baba gets to know about this?")

Year 2008: Love affairs are in abundance left, right and center. So are the names they have. The names are, in fact, layers - you can be 'dating' each other, 'going around', 'seeing' each other. The level two is when you are 'in a relationship' or when you are 'committed'. Assuming that a higher level in your relationship is not actually when you stoop to a lower level.


Year 1950: You get her a flower that you plucked from your garden. She'll perhaps get sheera * that she has made herself in a tiny brass box. When you say it's tasty, she'll go pink with all the blushing.

Year 2008: She gets your name tattooed on her waist. And flaunts it too. 


Year 1950 and 2008: There are different types of pressures in the lifestyles of both these eras of time. Despite all that, there are lovers, there is love. Like a language, love undergoes changes major and minor - but no living creature can live without both.

After all, if language has been an expression of emotions, love has been the source. Across decades.



Sheera * - A Maharashtrian sweet dish. Its synonym in Hindi is 'Sooji ka halwa'.



Death of a Bat

Shreya let out a scream as she saw a bat entering from the window. The bat flew in fast, she heard a scary flap as it flapped its wings.

Shreya bent down and closed her hands with her palms. The helper at the public library hurried in with a tall broom. She tried to direct the bat out of the window.

The bat kept moving through the room from one end to another and a shriek kept coming from Shreya when it was anywhere close to where she was sitting.

The bat moved closer to the ceiling and there was a sound of a snap.

The bat came down like a plane that has caught fire.

The bat had cut its wing in the pane of the ceiling fan. 

I saw the five inch long wing on the shiny metallic table which was meant for people to read. I saw blood through the portion where it was cut from the body of the bat.



While Shreya was screaming her lungs out, the bat was screaming too. Just that we couldn't hear.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A handful of sky

He is standing at the beach with his cream-coloured trousers folded up to his knees. He has rolled up the sleeves of his shirt, the first two buttons are off.

He stretches out his arms, he looks like the Cross. As waves splash against his feet, he begins to sink slowly.

His hairy chest continues to move up and down as he breathes heavily, trying to breath in as much joy as he can.

He bent down as he collected a handful of the waves. He threw them as high as he could. With the droplets that came down, he could feel the sky peeling off - melting as it fell over his head, down his neck. 

He could feel a handful of sky pouring down on him.

Hello - the Movie

'Hello', the new movie is based on Chetan Bhagat's One night at the call center. While the book was quite entertaining.... until the actual story, the phone call from God (now what was that!) arrives.

Just saw the full-page ad in Mid-day today and was surprised to see only five characters (the book has six.) I remembered the elderly gentleman in the book (who has issues with his son and his family) and yes, he was missing in the promotional photograph. Ouch, did they drop him out?

Then I saw a tiny advertisement and yes, it did have photographs of 'six' characters.

If you are a senior actor, unless you are Amitabh Bachhan or the likes, you don't feature in a full-page ad. Irrespective of how significant your character is.

P. S. : Ditto for Kabhi Alvida Na kehna advertisements that had Amitabh Bachhan but no Kiron Kher. Both of them had an equally significant role in the film.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Gmail Goggles

Note: Aah, I can't blv I'm writing about a technology on my blog. This is what IIT does to you perhaps.


Saturday nights (in the Western World, the conservative me likes to believe) are the time when people get drunk. Then you send hate emails to your boss, come-back-to-me emails to your ex and so on. Google has come up with a solution to the problem this situation could bring.

So as you see, the feature that Gmail has introduced is called 'Gmail Goggles'. In a nutshell, it gets activated on a Friday/Saturday night when a user is possibly drunk. It asks the user to solve a set of maths problems in a stipulated time. If you are able to solve it, you have proved that you are 'sobre' and your email is sent.

An issue here, however, would be the difficulty of problems and the sobreity of a person. As an Indian, I like to believe that Indians are smarter at solving Maths problems - so if you have to test how drunk an Indian is, you would have to pose more difficult questions than what you would otherwise.

This feature, ahem, is outright silly. Well ok, this will never be advertised as a critical feature of Gmail. But then, people actually give all this so much thought, eh?

Nevertheless, it is indeed amusing for an Indian student that I am. The feature is up on Google labs. Good for people who get heavily drunk and then turn on their computer to send emails...

Monday, October 06, 2008

Shooting Star

As it falls under its own weight, it cuts through miles and miles of the sheet of atmosphere that covers the earth.

As it cuts through the air, it burns.

As it burns, it leaves behind a trail of sparkling light - like the tusk of an elephant.

As it continues to leave its trail, it dies.

As it dies, people close their eyes and ask for their wishes.

The shooting star knows it is about to die. It is then that it acquires this special power of granting you a wish. And it does even as it dies.

Dictation

There was pindrop silence in the class. The students listened carefully to the words the teacher was speaking out. They were to write down twenty such words as a part of a language dictation session. "Remembrance", the teacher said.

The students wrote the word their notebooks - the spelling the word took in each notebook was, however, different. Nishant wrote 'Rememberance' whileKritika wrote 'Remembrence'. The teacher would ocassionally peep into the notebooks of the students. She would want to giggle at the different spellings each one of them had written. She was rather amused at the way students would get worried when they saw her coming. That was because when a student sensed the teacher coming closer, his palms would go wet, he would grab the pencil tighter and the letters would become sharper.

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Life dictates. Always. It will put you under pressure, try to throw challenges at you.

While you get scared of the problems that have been posed before you, life only giggles silently.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Vikrant - Changing Adjectives

Note: Totally fictitious. I have liked the way it has turned out – did not have anything on my mind when I started writing it.

 “Vikrant committed suicide in 2006.” The tea in his cup seemed to have gone heavy in no time. Immediately after he heard Shrikant saying that, Jay put his cup down.

 He kept staring into the cup half filled with tea. He could see the vapours rising from the surface. He thought they had gone chilling cold.

“Vikrant went into acute depression in late 2005. He consulted psychiatrists and counselors. Nothing helped.” Jay remembered Vikrant standing on a couch with his shoes on at this coffee shop-cum-bar and announcing to the guests present, “Friends, my friend here has done a good job in his new business venture. In his honour, the drinks are on me!” As the crowd would break into an applause, Vikrant would take a bow himself. On behalf of his friend who would smile sheepishly.

 

Jay remembered Vikrant. As the person Jay wanted to be – a person who smiled at every stranger, a person who would end up befriending atleast one person each time he travelled, a person who spoke too much, made too many promises – yet never let any of his word go wrong.

 

“Vikrant would lock himself up in his room in his last days. His servant would keep his food outside the locked door and collect the empty plate two hours later.” Jay remembered Vikrant eating panipuri at the roadside stall – with the innocence of an eight-year old on his face. Jay remembered Vikrant buying a dozen balloons from a physically challenged old lady. Then letting them go up in the air and taking snaps as they disappeared into the blue sky. Jay remembered that Vikrant had disappeared like these balloons.

 

“What the…”, Jay could hardly finish his sentence. He only remembered Vikrant’s smiling face, the lean body and the eloquence only Vikrant could show.

 

What could have happened to this person who was enthusiasm personified? “But why?”, Jay asked Shrikant. Jay had tears in his eyes. Shrikant’s face, however, was stern, expressionless.

 “You’ll not believe it. His parents found out one day. He was gay!”

 “What?” Jay’s jaws dropped.

 He had a question mark on his face and many more in his mind. He began to think, “Vikrant was gay? He said I was his best friend. It meant he had feelings for me? Oh yuck, no! Oh I remember, once he had told me that he would stand for me whenever I wanted him to. Did he mean it ‘that’ way? Eww… He always befriended people whenever he was touring the country? Did he have ‘such’ intentions on his mind when he smiled at people or helped them? Oh God!!”

 It was only for a moment now that Jay remembered Vikrant’s smile. Jay clenched his lip almost into a disgusted frown.

 The tears had stopped from Jay’s eyes. The adjectives that made Vikrant what he was to Jay, had fallen off. To Jay, Vikrant was no longer ‘friendly’, ‘helpful’, ‘happy-go-lucky’ or ‘polite’. To Jay, now Vikrant was only gay.

Graffiti and Ads in Railway Compartments

(As a part of the 'Stories of the Lifeline' series)

The walls of the trains are … a creative playground. The exteriors have been taken over by the marketing gurus as the compartments get covered with posters of Mallika Sherawat kissing a hero whose face we cannot (and do not really want to) see just before her film is about to release.

On the walls, one often sees the paint scraped off so that the words ‘Raj Rahul Rohan, 9.31 local Frands group’ appear written on the walls. No kidding, but I have actually seen ‘Upar dekh’ written on the wall of a train compartment and ‘Upar kya dekhta hai be #$#$#$’ on the ceiling. Youthful perversions manifest themselves in the form of graphical obscenity on these walls – they are best left unspoken about.

If the graffiti is not enough, there are advertisements – posters, large and small. There are Bengali babas advertising their talent to keep away everything from waasna to (intoxicating) rasnaa. And there are photographs of Kekta Kapoor’s Kusum – the Khaas Kahaani or of an undies-clad model showing off lipsticks marks all over his body – encouraging the patrons to get assaulted the way he has been – the only way to do so being wearing that particular brand of underwear. Some advertisements are believably funny. They have amazing statistics quoted for detergents, face soaps or toothpastes (Something like : Other soaps - 0.543% GPPD, Our soap - 0.0023% GPPD. What is GPPD? No one knows.) What’s more, these figures are certified by research laboratories that have abbreviations as funny and ‘familiar’ as the index values they give - something like YWNKITDAE (You Would Never Know If This Dental Association Exists).

I’ve been amused by this amazing advertising strategy of a tiny paper pouch pasted to the wall that has a very stern, assertive and funny ‘Take one’ written on it. (Spycams to check if I took only one?) And when you really dare to take even one of the chits that the pouch contains, it enlightens you about ways to earn 10000-50000Rs. from home and gives you a contact number. Accompanied by a contact person’s name. More often than not, this name is that of a female. (Marketing strategy you know!)

If nothing else, most of the times, the walls of the train compartment are great entertainment. A good respite in a crowded train – only if you manage to see through the crowd during peak hours and take a look at them.

Vapours

Vapours rise from a hot plate as droplets of water fall on it.

Vapours are seen coming from a scoopful of icecream as it melts slowly.

Two extremes of the attribute, temperature– the form they exhibit, however, is the same.

It is surprising to know that despite the differences between the so-called positive and the so-called negative, the two will meet a common fate.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sound of Life

Ever wondered whether something as energy-laden as life has a sound too? Can you hear life?

A doctor hears 'life'. Through the lub-dub of the heart that flows through the pipe of the stethescope into the ears of the doctor.

I hear life. As gushes of laughter like a magnificient fountain that splashes its water all around.

We hear life. In the screams of an animal that has come close to death.


We all hear life.
Just that we don't listen. Listen to what life has to tell us. Through incidents, through people, through relationships.