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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


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.


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.


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 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, 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!"