Monday, December 31, 2007

Bobo



Bobo, the puppy kept by a street-side hawker near Golpark crossing... I saw him from a bus and walked back to capture his pic.
Here's a Happy New Year from Bobo...And me... :)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tare Zameen Par

The movie sends across a good message. I hope the message is well-received given this film brings across charming performances, that of Ishaan's perplexed mother and loving, yet ambitious father. Ishaan has managed to steal the show with his blank day-dreaming phases.

Ishaan comes back home with his white school shirt turned a messy dirty brown after his adventures in the puddles outside his school. He candidly announces: "The letters are dancing" when asked to read a sentence in class.

The fertile imagination of a child has been beautifully captured. The scenes are heart-warming. The children- giggling thru broken milk teeth, yawning, pushing and punching each other in the assembly line touch a chord. They bring to us face to face with the innocence we only lament as a loss and remember with nostalgia, or that we can only relive by being close to children again. By hugging and kissing (and getting pushed back when the burst of affection gets annoying to them)and getting boggled by their endless questions. There's no other way to go on a more spiritual journey than being close to children and seeing Taare Zameen Par seemed more of a silent, much needed reunion with lost childhood.

The film sends across an extremely important message but, talking about the movie in itself, may I say I was a trifle disappointed?

People often make the mistake of taking the message of a movie and the movie as a product as the same thing. Taare Zameen Par comes at a time when education indeed needs to be taken seriously. (Or ironically, shall we say, a little less seriously than it is being done now...) In any case, the movie had the potential to carry the same message in a much more organized, realistic and convincing fashion than the present product.

At three hours, an hour or half more than the average length of the movies we see these days, Amir Khan, the director, could have put across the message of the movie much more succinctly had the first half of the movie been tightened a bit. I felt that a few dialogues, a few scenes could have been butchered (yes, I use the word butchered for each second on the reel, in itself, was beautiful and well-shot) to put the point across in a more appealing fashion to ambitious parents, caught between love and insecurity with regards to their children.

The fantastic grooming undertook for Ishaan by Ram, the teacher, could have been dealt with in a more indepth fashion. While Ishaan's imagination to answer 3 into 9 equals 3 left me grinning from ear to ear, amazed and happy, I would have loved to see a few more shots of the beautiful way in which Ram spends time with Ishaan to teach him the alphabets and maths. Ishaan learns maths while hopping up and down the steps and alphabets he learns by scribbling on sand and dribbling in the paints. Beautiful, but short-lived on the reel.

One more thing that disappointed me in this film was Amir Khan. Why?

I feel, and so does my husband, that there was too much of Amir- the personality, in Ram, the teacher. Amir Khan has somehow failed to shed his baggage as an intellectual when he falls in the shoes of Ram Nikhumbh, the arts teacher. We expected more of acting, but it seemed it's Amir playing the thoughtful Amir Khan in the psuedonym of Ram Nikumbh. We would have loved to see Ram Nikhumb, the arts teacher in a more defined, more distinct and well-scripted out shade than an Amir Khan copied and pasted in the role of Ram Nikumbh. Case in point, you can't mistake Amir Khan, the host, welcoming his guests with a smirky confidence, firm handshakes and managing a crowd of more than 2000 children with elan. I felt any Ram Nikumbh, an arts teacher, would have had his nervous, sweat breaking moments on times like this than the confident stride and demeanour which was unrealistically projected in the film.

You getting what I am trying to say? I mean, the beauty of cinema is its surreal imagination and the extent of contrast between the actor and the character. The more the contrast, the more enticing the exercise of watching a film becomes. In this movie, Amir Khan seems to have remained Amir Khan. That was disappointing.

What about Darsheel Safary? He's charming, but perhaps a little older to be believed as a third standard student. I loved Ishaan. His mischievous glares when he was happy, his silent indignance after being buckled down in the hostel were endearing...

The end title sequence can move you to tears. This movie has captured the sheer innocence that children are.

We owe Amir Khan a lot for he brought to us this movie and though I would have loved to replace the credit to Ram Nikumbh in the sentence, I am afraid I can't. :)

-Gauri Gharpure

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The end of an era

The oldest surviving Gharpure of our family died today afternoon. He was eighty-seven. This marks the end of an era. Well, just about. My aaji, at seventy-nine, is now the only one who represents the glorious past and remembers the family lores which colour, humble and hearten many a happy evenings...

Balmama, who died today of old age complications, was the eldest of three brothers. The second brother was my grandfather- Bhau.

Balmama has donated his entire body for medical research.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tomato turns trash

I have some links with the 'farmer community'. Why some? Good enough! My mother comes from a farmer family. Add to this my father's obsession with sprawling fields, or the fiesty buffalos and graceful cows. So tales of 'how much milk this or that buffalo yields', 'how good or bad was the crop this year' or some such references fell upon my ears when I was growing up.

Back then, when we were merry little children, we were more in touch with the soil. Our trips to the native village are only fond remembrance now: how we used to roam about those farms of tobacco and cotton, and come across stray orchards of guava, banana or mango in between... Of how, with amazing skill, my brother could tell us whose farm we had crossed and whose farm we were now in...Such is the glory of owning land. Hmm, I am diverging from the topic.

Actually, the 'farmer connection', however faint or dis-functional it may be now, also makes me a bit more alert to the news of farmer suicides and yield and transport problems.

I read this trivia on Unfinished dream's blog the other day. The minuscule post led to some brainstorming at least between three or four of those who read the post. The trivia perhaps also led to this one on Baruk's blog. And while the 'trivia' had not entirely got scrubbed off my cognizance, I came across this article titled: 'At 10 paise, tomato turns trash'.

According to the article, farmers have dumped their tomato produce by the cartloads for the birds and beasts to feast on at the Hyderabad-Kurnool highway. Without proper transport or storage facilities, they cannot make any money out of the produce. Either sell at 10 paise, (which in any case is not getting any buyers) or leave them to rot. The bumper yield is now only a matter of concern instead of rejoice. Many farmers have tried to make pickles, and make-shift eateries selling tomato based dishes, but yet, there are not many takers for their innovation. They have now resorted to keeping baskets of tomatoes at temples and getting whatever the takers leave behind as a gift. Click here to read.

See the irony- just the other day, I was moved to write a post about disparity in India after seeing a man asking the price of one small tomato to the vegetable vendor outside my flat. He moved on without buying the tomato for two rupees.

***

I read in school that 'India is an agricultural country'.

***

-Gauri Gharpure

Friday, December 21, 2007

A quick recap...

Here are some of my favourite posts.
I somehow feel they haven't got their due reads, and so if you have the time and inclination, do read and comment...

Food for thought

Food for thought

(Lessons and memories of humility- thru food)

A thin layer

A thin layer

(A poem, a thought)

A Bookmark

I had once made a bookmark

(Some memories of a page yellowed by time)

I forgot to light a candle

I forgot to light a candle

(This one's a more recent of the many sad tales of pressure and intervention in the marriage of two consenting adults...)

My Name is Red

My Name is Red

(My fascination with Orhan Pamuk's acclaimed novel)

Death Teaches

Read My New Blog

(Of how death has one soul motive- to teach...)

-Gauri Gharpure

What next?

I want to post a photo of Bobo on the blog, but I just forget to do that everytime I go back home from office.

It was too difficult to resist the urge of typing something and so the 'What next' copy...

Let me decide and plan what I want to write about in the next posts on the blog. I feel I have been quite idle since last week and don't want to continue with that...

(Actually not exactly 'idle' on second thoughts! I wrote small, 'Short and Sweet' couplets on the new blog, but these lines just flow effortlessly and I immensely enjoy playing with letters. Am glad that haikutales gives me the plaform to scribble on)

Well anyway, here's what you can expect on the blog in the coming week:

1) Bobo- his photo and the related story

2) Baby budgies- Yeah, two females have laid eggs this time and as a result, I have 5 baby budgies in different stages of feathering- which leaves me just too excited each evening and I check on them the first thing on reaching home. You can expect a long piece about the darlings in due time.

3) ??? I guess that's it... :)

-Gauri Gharpure

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My New Blog!

Read My New Blog

Logo designed by yours truly.
Copyrights retained.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Gurgaon Shootouts- A Wake-up Call...

Morning news confirmed the fears that lurked in my mind after the Virginia Tech shootings-'What if this happens in India?' and also snubbed off the happy assumption I immediately implied soon after that thought erupted: 'No, such a thing is still far away from India...'

Now, it has happened. And I take in the reality that India isn't afterall that immune. That children are growing up way too smart and way too hep before their time is ripe. That the time-span for which we can cuddle and scold and treat our kids as kids has drastically reduced. And that, this sudden transition from being a child to an adult is dangerous to say the least.

After seeing the news on CNN-IBN, I surfed the net to read more about it. I was shocked to find no visible mention of the shootout on the 'largest selling Indian English daily'. The first news was a glorified, happy report that Vikram Pandit, a man of Indian Origin, has been selected to head the Citigroup. I don't quite fathom the fancy we have of people of 'indian origin' achieving this and that and the other.

To be precise I found news about Amitabh Bachchan's relief after being given a clean chit by the High Court, PM's statement that spectrum allocation must ensure competitiveness and about Advani's is preparations for the Gujarat polls, but no outright mention of the Gurgaon shooutouts. Superb!

Let me not diverge into debates that are somewhat off the topic of this post. All I am saying is, I couldn't find a link to the Gurgaon School Shooting news on mainpage of The Times of India e-paper. Don't believe me? Go here and read the e-paper dated December 12, 2007.

Callous reporting or what? Or does the Times of India prioritise its front page on some cool style-book instructions that say 'Commerce and Politics and Entertainment friendly news only'. Fatal shootout in a school by 8th grade students, and that too, the first ever of its kind in India, can wait! We have Mr. Bachchan to cover...

According to the reports, there was some tension between the three students and the school authorities were even informed. The two accused, who have been sent to a juvenile home for 14 days, allege that Abhishek Tyagi repeatedly 'bullied' them. Whether the abuse was sexual in nature or not, the police is yet to confirm. Read the related article here and see the video here

Is bullying, sexual or not, a justified reason for killing? Definitely not, to sound politically correct. But life is not simple black and white...

When I was in Pune, I used to go to this cyber cafe. It was just below kaku's home where I had my lunch and dinner. Out of about 15 computers, merely two were used for regular surfing. Other were all occupied by children from the range of tweleve to thirteen to college going youths to play computer games. And what were the sort of computer games they played? Sheer violence, gory murders, machine guns, bombs and so on. What is this hate-culture all about? Does it merely remain restricted as a game, or it seeps into the pscyche?

There was a constant rattle of the sound-effects in that cafe and everytime I heard someone 'yay' a kill, a shiver went down my spine. Some readers may find this too funny or too exaggerated, but it's these small things that make up a mindset. These are the small beginnings that lead to something huge.

We need to raise some important questions and seek answers. How could so much of rage gather and ferment in the young minds? What is happening in schools and colleges these days? What are the teachers like and are they good enough? What is the value-system? (Or is there any?)

I believe each person deserves at least three great teachers in his or her life, say one teacher for a span of 3-4 years, then another guru takes over. I have been immensely lucky in this case. Teachers, if good enough, can leave a profound impact on the mind.

And for this, we don't just need good people at high school, graduation and post-graduation levels, but we need good people right at the grass-roots. At nursery and kindergarten and primary school levels. We need people who are patient and who care enough, who can mould and hand over a senstive student pool to other teachers at the higher academic levels. One thing that happened after seeing this news was to further strengthen, if not prepone, my desire to get into the teaching line.

I mused that Fr. Morondo would be sad and worried when he hears about the shootings. Fr. (my highschool teacher) who's recovering from some serious injuries after a bad fall off his blue kinetic, has given me lots of soulful tid-bits here and there in his merry voice to brood on for the rest of my life. Teachers can influence, teachers can prevent. It's just that we can't simply pinpoint that moment when someone's words make a path-changing effect on our lives, that we fail to reciprocate or acknowledge, or realise that we are good only because so and so said something simple and assuring in the past. Else, we would have gone astray.

About the accused. Perhaps, their teachers and parents, peers and well-wishers and you and me- as a society, have failed them. Or perhaps, the two accused just simply played a lot of such gory video games. Perhaps...

-Gauri Gharpure

If you have read the entire post, I urge you to leave a comment. I especially want to know the reactions of teenagers and youth. What do you think of the Gurgaon shootouts? Take ten minutes to compose your thoughts, perhaps talk to your collgeagues and friends, and then write a comment.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Facebook's Virtual Economy

Facebook has cashed in majorly on the fascination of ' virtual expressions'. Facebook's economy revolves around ideas, around a virtual feel and it is happily cashing up its way to the bank.

The 'thought' is enough, whether you simply wish to give your friend a flower, a cake, a hug or so on. It's cool, no doubt. On the face of it, the idea of sending a bunch of carnations sounds really sweet. And a chocolate fountain? O simply yummie... But somehow, after using facebook functions a lot more than when I signed in (I found facebook too cluttered and could make no sense of the entire fuss), I feel that virtual booms on the lines of facebook are simply trivialising the whole exercise and sancity of human thought, expressions and gift giving.

I mean, how frequently, in real life, do I buy a bunch worth 100/- for a friend? On rare ocassions when she breaks her leg, or when I am extremely happy to share some good news with her/him, or for myself when I suddenly screech my bike by a rash brake at an impluse, (or halt my husband's car) to buy a bunch of red roses (blood red yet cheap) from a roadside stall. Show of emotions, at least in our real life, is not as extravagant as it is on the e-community. Is the virtual world thriving on and building up a fake 'emotional extravaganza'?

Facebook cleverly entangles you to 'sign up' one application after the other just to be able to reciprocrate gestures of your friends. Nothing is 'free'.

So how is the process of sending a 'hug' or a 'smile' or a 'booze mail' on facebook? You can't hug (or recieve someone's hug!) if you dont have Application 'A', you can't flirt (or let someone flirt) if you don't have Application 'B', you cant send pastries (or recieve pastries) if you dont have Application 'C' and so on and on. It's a fantastic labyrinth of virtual emotions that facebook is cashing on.

A typical message from facebook would go like this:

'Aby's Baby sent a request using Smiles
Aby's Baby wants to smile at you!
Smile back!'

Now, this seemingly inncoent 'Smile Back' (or just about anything 'back') is a major catch. This link leads you to an 'application' which u need to 'log-in' and which can 'access your information'. How intelligent. Being a commonplace user that you or me are, we happily 'log-in' and keep adding one virtual emotion after the other on our homepage.

Here's something to chew on:

Facebook red-faced, apologises for tracking users

or Read this...

I don't quite understand the economic gains of getting users to 'log-in' one application after other, and the pre-condition of allowing the application to access my information* but I am sure, it might run into a hefty monetary gain in some way or the other. It's another very powerful form of disguised marketing, which I, at the moment, can nor fathom its intricasies, neither can I point out any major harms arising out of it. Period. In near future, however, we might learn a lot more about how we might be used as guinea pigs in the so-called world of 'social networking'.

-Gauri Gharpure

*What information does Facebook access, exactly? Ah! You'll give me that smug answer: 'It's mentioned in the Privacy Policy', right? Smart of facebook, dumb of me and you not to have read it...



Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Performing Arts and Us

Madhuri Dixit's comeback movie, though bit loose in script and the story-line, sums up the importance of arts in our life beautifully. Aaja Nachle brings to surface how the business of expressing oneself (read performing arts) is an integral part of life.

Here's what Aaja Nachle has captured commendably well in the movie:

1)The idea that everyone has an intrinsic desire to have that 'one moment of glory'.

2)That dance can free you of your inhibitions, the idea that everyone can 'show us some jalwa or the other'.

3)That a society needs various forms of recreations. That dance, theatre, music programs and such socio-artistic activities are essential to keep a society in tune with its innate desires to express, relate and emote to situations.

4)That fantasy is an important and necessary element of real life.
5)That art forms can elevate a bored society stuck in the mundane business of life to new energy levels from time to time.

6) And most importantly, the state has a role to ensure that the citizens have enough modes and means to avail entertainment at low costs.

Indian culture (and I am sure all other cultures and countries) ensures that the society at large gets enough ocassions to let their hair down. Celebrations like Govinda handi, the ganpati visarjan parades, durga puja, the garba, garbi, dandiya serve as opportune moments to let the spirit feel free and go wild once in a while.

While these festivals make themselves available only at specific times of the year, our traditional folk arts, songs and dance can furnish a good opportunity to keep in touch with our inner self at our own wish and whims.

My sister and both my cousins are trained Kathak dancers. I couldn't pursue the dance for some reasons and I still regret the loss. Simply to see my sisters practising their dance gave me such a sad tinge of longing, of ineptness and of-course of wide-eyed-awe to see their graceful hand and leg moments. Most inspiring was their joy after finishing a piece beautifully.

Aaja Nachle once again revived that sad tinge of missing out on something. Though I have grown to admire kathak as the most synchronic dance form and I owe the partiality to my sisters; I am sure dance in any form and any manner, if danced from the heart, is a feast to the soul, if not the eyes. Have you read 'Tuesdays with Morrie'?. Well, Morrie used to dance to his heart and I can only imagine the joy he derived from dancing alone.

I end this piece with words of Oscar Wilde:

The only excuse for making a useless
thing is that one admires it intensely.
All art is quite useless.


- Oscar Wilde
Preface to "The Picture of Dorian Gray"

All art is quite useless, yes; only if you consider feeding your soul a useless exercise. :)

-Gauri Gharpure

(Source of quote- Wilde, Oscar, URL- http://www.public.iastate.edu/~garden/art.html, accessed on December 4, 2007)


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Speak correct, O really?

A few incidents (and people) have made me a lot more tolerant to people who have a difficulty expressing themselves in English. People get irritated or scorn at, or poke fun at someone on account of his/her accent. To an extent, fun is fine, but scorn? Hello... We weren't born speaking English, you know?

In India, it is not surprising to see, rather hear, English take a different accent after every 100 kilometers or so of travel.

In Gujarat, the pronounciations are more flat and slack- snacks becomes snakes, sauce becomes sose, hall becomes hole. But the snacks and the sauce in the wedding hall remain as warm and as inviting as the Gujjus, don't they?

Down South, take Kerala for instance, the pronounciations become very yiddy. I mean, each word seems to have a distinct drawl of the 'y' and the 'd' sound in it. Like my friend's mom and dad, they have this endearing accent to their impeccable English. But I still love the dosas and the sambhar, don't I?

Welcome to the East, Welcome to Bengal. Here, people forget the existence of any sound related to 'Va'. 'Ebry thing is bery bery much by the rulebook' in the communist state. The Bangla brothers and sisters often round up their words with an over-pronounced 'O' and they replace words with 'v' often by the sound of 'b'. I love the mishti-doi all the same.

I haven't been to the north much, so can't pin-point an exact accent. But I am sure, even North, and in that too, the different states and the different regions have their own, unique English drawl.

So then, is one type of English accent more correct than the other? And what is the basis of comparision anyway? Is one accent-that perfect convent-bred, the acceptable one and the other, simple, straight and mixed up with a distinct native feel- desi and down-market types?

Has English come to be a status-symbol in India than being a mode of communication? Think about it. And also think, if judgements based on the face-value of someone's accent are fair enough?

Now, why have I written so much about the variables related to English accents in India?
Here you go: 'British-Indian wins discrimination case over accent'

Read up, Enjoy and Think...

Cya till my next post...

-Gauri Gharpure

I wrote one article for The Times of India, one of my favorites, on Gujjus and their sporting spirit, their ability to tide away the accent jokes in a true gujju spirit. It would have been good to reproduce it here, but can't for I seem to have lost the copy. :( I hope this was a read good enough...


Monday, November 26, 2007

The IITs Do away with Dow... Wow!

Yesterday, a news item on CNN-IBN really warmed my heart*. IIT alumni and students have come together to drive Dow chemicals out of their campuses. And so far, they have been fairly successful.

The IITians have taken a bold ethical, moral and more importantly, professional stand by urging the IIT directors to bar Dow Chemicals from campus placements. It takes great conviction to deny a job, and consequently, monetary security for youths who are just about to start their professional career.

Their move has worked not only to get this issue the necessary media attention, but also passed a definite signal to everyone concerned that the Indian intelligentsia will also do their bid to denounce the callousness of Union Carbide (a pesticide company) accountable for the leak of about 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate gas from a storage tank. Over 3000 people dropped dead, literally, on December 3, 1984 as a result. Sadly, the Indian government and the law is still to bring the officials to task. In the meanwhile, Dow Chemicals took over Union Carbide in 2001 and is slowly trying to find a foothold in India.



* An alarming rate of pulmonary diseases, miscarriages, cancer, etc are still attributed to the the toxic wastes left by the Methyl Isocyanate leak.

Praful Bidwai, an IIT alumnus is right in pointing out that Dow Chemicals not only acquired Union Carbide but also its liabilities. (Read the article on rediff)

Some of the most powerful campaigns have been started by IIT and IIM alumni and they see the tasks till the finish line. I applaud the moral conviction of the IITians. They have shown us student power in the real sense.

Here are some links you might want to read up:

How many died in Bhopal?

See what fellow-bloggers have to say:
Rama Iyer
Profmaster

*Surfing the net, I observed that the IITs cancelled the Dow placements on October 25, and the campaigns began much earlier. Did i skip reading the news, Or was it not reported widely?

-Gauri Gharpure


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Disparity and Us

It's so evident that it is ignored- the disparity in India.

The disparity of being in India is so shocking and so true, that it lurks around perhaps each and every socio-economic issue which India faces.

We are progressing. O yes, we are. Mall culture is in to stay, KFC, Pizza huts and Coca-Cola. I love these, I spend my money just to bite that succulent KFC chicken knowing fully well I am paying at least 200 % more than the actual price. I eat for I can afford. Simple! No more logic required. But was it always like this? Did my parents spend money simply because 'they could afford?'. NO

We are growing rich by the day, richer by the night. Clichéd but true. And as we celebrate all those landmarks of being enveloped in a prosperity circle: sensex crosses 20000, rupee to become stronger and so on, our vision becomes more and more myopic.

In Pune, we had the opportunity to listen to Lyla Bavadum- senior correspondent for Frontline. What she said created such a powerful imagery that it has been impossible to shake it off:

'If you want malls, expressways, and all that development, go ahead, have it. But the question is how? Do we push aside all those people whose land we take for these projects behind aluminium shanties? The foreigner will see everything that is posh and developed, but behind those barricades, will lie a different world, unseen, undisclosed and uncared.'

The above line is definitely not verbatim, but it is in accordance with the powerful scenario she managed to create in front of my eyes. So much so that every time I see those silver aluminium barricades hiding a construction site, I imagine not the SEZ or multiplex that will stand there in a few months, but thousands of sick and sad men and women huddling close together with blank eyes hidden somewhere out of my sight.

We are a highly populous country. But where does the development and share-market figures percolate- the top niche. We still have a healthy population of under-nourished, of illiterates and of those millions unemployed men and women whose faces we rarely see. Our development on the area of education and health is restricted to more reservation bills and more free lunch schemes for rural students. Visit a local municipality school sometime. You will be humbled by the dozens of children who really want to study, but give it up mid-way for the teachers are never present, the syllabus is beyond their grasp and they cant afford the books and stationary. Education, by far the most respectable occupation, has been digressed to an institution of economy that is utterly fake, over-priced and not to mention, unethical.

The other day, I was buying vegetables outside my flat. Tomatoes were at 20/kg. A man was passing by and he suddenly stopped seeing the bright red pile of tomatoes. He wanted just one piece. Imagine how would it be to buy daily grocery within such strict monetary budgets? Back in Ahmedabad, it was not uncommon to see construction site daily wagers buying oil worth five rupees, dry red chillies and onion worth another two. At nights, as the women cooked their mearge meals while the dozens of babies crawled around naked, the bright-red blaze of the make-shift fires haunted the construction sites. Disparity glares at us from each and every crossroad. It's just that perhaps we have become immune to see or imagine someone else's state of being.

What do we do, if we care? An individual, like you and me, may feel helpless. Many off us may shake off such facts by an indifferent shrug, not because we don't care, but simply because even if we care, we don't know what to do.

I have boiled down to one power which can come handy- Money.

Earn, Save, Donate.

Spend on yourself, pamper yourself and go on shopping binges. You earn and you may live it. No need to dress in khadi rags to prove you have an ethical and moral responsibility. Simply surf the net, you will find many NGOs who will do the bidding for you and reach out to those who really need some help. Just keep in mind, at the end of your splurge, contribute to welfare organizations whatever your conscience urges you to.

-- Gauri Gharpure

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Death teaches

An end is inescapable, invincible and eternal. It means the end of a physical presence and the journey of discovery thru memories and emotions. Death leaves the rest to draw their own takes about life.

Who knows when death will arrive? It may meet you while you drive your bike, it may take a father just before he sees his unborn son or a mother just before she sees her daughter getting married.
A sudden culmination of life: Death is ironic.

The grieving must learn to be braver, patient and more accepting of life. If life deserves its worth, death should be accepted more sooner than later.
Death means strength.

After death, your life’s worth is summarized all at once. People remember you, people take inspiration from you and people shed tears for you. Death brings to surface the entire portfolio of life.
Death sums everything up.

Death teaches the true importance of time. It signifies the end of the confluence of time, mass and energy of one identity. This vacuum created by death makes you appreciate your moments as an able individual. It compels you to race against time to achieve your goals.
Death hastens your achievements.

Death shakes you off your existence. It takes you on a strange spiritual journey. It is a blatant reminder of the impermanence of life. How often do we take each day for granted? How often we assume our existence and associated relationships as eternal? Death reveals the fickleness of life.
Death teaches.

Gauri Gharpure
November 20, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

We all are Escapists

It’s an amusing observation. It makes me highly curious. I have noticed that I just don't get any comments on posts which talk about sorrow or death or are of a serious nature.

I supplement a simple reason- We all are escapists of A grade.

We, the A grade escapists, don’t want to express anything that is gross or sad or deals with death.

We, the A grade escapists can’t imagine our friend or mother or cousin getting crushed on the footpath by a drunken sod and we can’t just picture the dead body of a beloved lying in the drawing room, just brought fresh from the hospital.

We, the A grade escapists don’t want to rack our brains on issues that we are insulated from.

And so, we, the A grade escapists simply don’t talk about things like the Carter road carnage, eye-donation, or cancer or any such philosophical shit which has any distant link with sorrow.

Why don't we just get our ass fixed on the chair and prob why we are incapable of reacting to sorrow.

The problem is, thanks to tomes of literature and high-drama serials and all the sodden things which are thrust in our mentality left, right and centre, we keep sorrow on a pedestal.

We have personified sorrow. We have come to associate sorrow with a higher emotional connect, something that is elegant and obviously in fashion. (I hate Sarat Chandra in this, that he made an icon out of a drunken spurn lover in Devdas)

At the risk of sounding cold, I repeat: We have idolized sorrow.

And so, the mother who keeps grieving the loss of her son in a freak accident for over three decades is an idol of motherly love. And so, the professor who remarries after his family- two children and wife die in the Ahmedabad earthquake, is the subject of city gossip.

Why do we shy away from death and sorrow? Why can't we deal with it in a more productive manner?

Personally, I take death to be the most rewarding and most learning experience of my life. I firmly believe it was good for me as an individual that I suffered a loss.

Death teaches. And that is going to be my next post.

As for now, I repeat- We all are Escapists.

-Gauri Gharpure

Friday, November 09, 2007

Om Shanti Om.... A First Day, First Take...

Author’s note: This review is NOT a spoiler like many other reviews I came across on the web. Reviewers, grow up! Giving a review doesn’t mean telling the story scene by scene. Duh!

Let’s begin to talk about Om Shanti Om now…

Farah Khan's second directorial venture is a classic tribute to the seventies era of the Indian film industry. Innovative beginning of the movie, excellent choreography, sets with an old world charm, witty use of melodrama to spice up the scenes and an unprecedented use of the stardom of the stars of yester-years to boost the pictorial value of a new release- make the film a sure winner.

Om Shanti Om is a visual treat. This film is also a superb cacophony of all the plausible favourites of bollywood from Rishi Kapoor, to Mithunda, to Amitabh Bachchan gathered together in one big, charming party. The story, of course is beautifully revolved around the panorama of the hindi film industry and a mix of more hit stories than one.

The song Mein Agar Kahoon is definitely an interesting watch. It reveals the old world functioning of the sets in bollywood studios. Farah Khan has captured the romanticism of old time hindi cinema brilliantly by including night scenery with faint neon blue tinge, a full moon slowly rising up, a still car and moving background scenery and much more such cinematic props in the song.

Audience not only sees the ravicious beauty of debutant actress Deepika Padukone, Shahrukh's king stardom, the candid acting of Shreyas Talpade, but the wonder and hard work that Hindi film industry was, in this song. Also, this film gives Arjun Rampal his due, he has put forth perhaps his best performance till date in this movie.


As it was with Mein Hoon Na, even in Om Shanti Om, Farah Khan shows excellent human relation skills by acknowledging the work of one all. In an engrossing credit sequence after the film, everyone, from spot boys, to hair dressers, to cameramen, to producers and the actors is acknowledged on a red carpet in the true glamorous style of Bollywood. Om Shanti Om is a very predictable, and yet an extremely watchable film. You need to see it, to feel the grandeur and charm of Hindi film Cinema which Farah Khan has captured beautifully.

-Gauri Gharpure


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Cancer- The trauma, trials and tribulations...

On a blog reading spree, I often come across beautiful musings on new blogs... On one such blog, I came across the 'Pink for October' symbol and a link to the site for breast cancer awareness month. October is long gone, but I loved the spirit of this site, and see this as a minuscule effort, but effort all the same, to spread a word about cancer awareness.

Last year, we lost a dear cousin of mine to lung cancer. I was there at the hospital for the last 3-4 days before his death and things were bad, to say the least. Seeing death approach is always traumatic, and it was especially so for the boy was so young and so full of life in his better days.

A few months back, a friend's mother also went thru breast cancer surgery. The prognosis was luckily very good in her case and she is hale and hearty and on a recovering spree. Touch wood.

So you see, cancer can even touch someone you know. And once it has, it will definitely change your take on life and death.

I perceive personal vigilance about health care to be the best preventive measure, not just for cancer, but for any other mis-fortune. Many a times, we are reckless about our being. We care about others, but we neglect to pamper ourselves. A visit to the doctor for that persistent cold or cough is forever posponed...

An acquaintance of mine in college once told me a beautiful thing. She said if you are in love with someone, you will begin to take more care of yourself. It sounded so unusual, but as I pondered over her words, I indeed found depth to her observation.

We all love and are loved. For our sake and theirs, we need to take our health more seriously.

-Gauri Gharpure

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Come September

Come September, and suddenly life starts going double the pace than it does all the nine months preceding this month of joy… I learned by heart this beautiful poem ‘September’ in school, for the sheer joy I derived reading a lively description of the month I was born in… Anyway, Come September and things start to brighten up. You should ask ‘Why?!’

O, you have? Then let me answer, why.

The Ganpati festival, or, more formaly, ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ often falls in September, and with this festival, begins the three month long season of festivals in India. There is no respite. There is sheer joy and enthusiasm in air beginning September, which just doesn’t cease till everyone, has raised their toasts to a year gone by, on the New Year’s Eve on December 31.

Navratri, (or Durga puja here in Kolkata) almost immediately follows the Ganpati sometime in late September or October. This festival is nine nights full of colour and dance. You have to be in Gujarat, and out in some garba ground, and more precisely, dancing the garba to get the feel of the sheer exuberance this festival offers.

Post Navratri, you just get a wee bit time to settle down. Hush a bit (or beat! :), rest those over-danced legs and get back to routine. And just when you think the festival fervour has died down, in another week or so starts the Diwali fever. With Diwali approaching in late October or early November, you just can’t afford to laze around. You have to get the house cleaned up, buy new clothes, get some diya, plan elaborate dinners and start cooking those ‘gujju snacks’ like mathiya, and chewdo, and magas and what not.

Goes Diwali and comes Christmas and the New Year’s Eve. A general feel good, do good feeling prevails this time of the year. Winter has almost set in and people display their bright new cardigans, children blow smoke from their mouth early in the morning and some infants get so scared of Santa that they start sobbing uncontrollably…

Just into the New year, and on January 14th, the festival of skies, Uttrayan comes with a bang. You spend the previous night tying ‘kinyas’ to the kite. On 14th, you gather a gang of friends on the terrace and feast your eyes on the colourful sky, and the colourful terraces of your neighbours.

Have you ever received some silly romantic message written on a kite and sent especially for you, if the wind was good? Or rather, has your message reached someone else for the wind was bad? O it’s hilarious… So many festivals, all enjoyed as animatedly as possible... If you are in India, you should consider yourself lucky.
Gauri Gharpure
October 30, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007



Scribbles in Urdu- a daring venture... I know my spelling and grammar is really bad, am still learning...
(PS- this post is for people who can read urdu, I wont dare translating the stuff.. Also, spelling corrections are welcome. tell me where i have used the wrong kaaf, swaad or such alike...)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Good Ol' Times, again for a while...

Everytime I get back to Ahmedabad, I make it a point to meet up with old friends. Sanjana, Reni, Rupal: We three always manage to catch up, no matter what, if all of us are in town, but it's the others who are difficult to get hold of. Like Komal. She has a class test next day / next week, no matter what time of the year you call her.

And the boys, those classmates from NR... We had lost touch after changing school, then college. And suddenly we got in touch one fine day in Jan 2005, decided to meet up on Uttrayan. (I asked if I could bring a 'friend' along and they started giving me those smiles...) Anyway, I took Mitrajit along that 15th of January to Kunal's place and I had to tolerate Sanjana's incessant stares, glares and comments, which she thought she was quite discreet about, but she wasn't (Mitrajit was to recount months later, verbatim, what all jokes Sanjana and all my friends had pulled on that day)

And after that 15th of Jan meeting, we have been catching up even with the NR guys at a surprisingly regular pace. The other day, Rupal and Sanjana were back in memory lane and teasing me about the n number of crushes. Thankfully, I survived all their disapprovals till I zeroed in on Mitrajit. It was such a relief when Sanjana gave me a sly grin and said the other day, "Out of all those geeks, this guy's the best". I always get confused at the type of compliments she gives.. I mean, 'This guy's the best' simply would have done!!!

And today, she was like, "Wow, I am really, seriously complementing you tonight, you look great in this saree! Last night, was bit of a formality, you know..." :) !!! Any other mortal would have run away as fast as he could from our gang of sillies. But I have grown up with them (nursery till 12th is some time) and so I thank my stars it is these very sillies I am so fond of... This time again, we met tonight and a day before at Friends colony garba...

The best thing about meeting up with friends is that none of us have changed. Or even if we have, we put those masks at home for the hour or two that we meet up. It's heaven, to be without any inhibitions, to say what you feel, and generally, to enjoy the rare exercise of thinking aloud. It's largely because of my friends that I look forward to being in Ahmedabad as often as I can manage. (Office has killing leave policies, I tell you...) But next, I will be there in February for a much awaited wedding and hope to sneak out some time to be with these guys and girls whose crazyness matches up with mine to the 'T'...


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

Gareeb Nawaz

Today’s newspaper carried a little more bad news than it normally does. On the front page glared in bold fonts ‘Hit on Secular Symbol’. Yesterday, that is October 11, 2007; a bomb blasted in the ‘Gareeb Nawaz’ dargah premises in Ajmer, Rajasthan.

If you have been to Gareeb Nawaz, perhaps you will also share this feeling of sorrow and indignation with me. There’s some mysterious spiritual aura in the surroundings of this dargah. Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti was a 12th century Sufi saint. Believers still put faith in this man, fondly called as Gareeb Nawaz, the benefactor of the poor. To imagine a plot charged at harming the quiet and the sanctity of this place is saddening.



How is The Ajmer Dargah like? I have beautiful memories of the times I went there…

A narrow street leads you to the entrance. On both sides of this street are road-side peddlers, selling handkerchiefs, salwar suits, photo frames with dargah pictures, surma, shops of puja stuff- which sell flowers, beautifully embroidered chaddar and incense to be offered in the dargah. You will also be thronged by countless number of beggars urging you to give alms in the name of Gareeb Nawaz, and also a number of ‘Khadims’ who will make themselves available to assist you in your prayers at the dargah for a sum.

After you pass through all this bustle of life and business, after you have asked some khadim to accompany you inside and managed to survive the coaxing of flower and incense dealers, you pass through two large cooking bowls on each side of the entrance. The ‘Chhoti Daig’ is about four feet in diameter, the other; ‘Bari Daig’ is a slightly bigger. The Bari Daig and the Chhoti Daig remind one of the grandeur of old times, when the poor or hungry, visitors from far away places or old- anyone was fed food cooked in the huge bari and chhoti daigs.

In the courtyard are huge borsalli trees, beneath which believers sing sufiana songs in praise of Gareeb Nawaz. Just outside the Dargah building, inside the premises, you come across an 'uruz', a common area with water taps. It’s here that you are supposed to clean your hands with water before visiting the dargah.

The newspaper article rightly reports Gareeb Nawaz dargah to be ‘one of the most secular shrines in the country’. Let us all get together and condemn such acts of cowardice.

-Gauri Gharpure

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Garbage Dump

About five minutes's distance from my flat, on the right side of this really crowded road set amongst ghettos, is this garbage dump by a pukur, a pond as they call in bangla. It is beautiful.

I have never seen such beauty in a garbage dump ever before, but believe me, everytime I pass by this heap of waste, I see such a unique snapshot of life.

It's such an intriguing cacophony of life. Two or three tame ducks waddle about it sometimes, but one white broiler, with his bright red head plume and a spotted little shabby grey hen as his companion are the permanant residents of this dump. Also there are a few gay crows hopping about and a particularly strange grey cloured dog. He always sleeps on some side or the other of the dump.

Sometimes there are pieces of brightly coloured tatters of cloth lying about. And sometimes, a steady ring of smoke fumes out of a recently burned heap on the corner of the dump. On the whole, it's a grey and brown color combination I see in the piles of papers, rotting leaves. It's beautiful, if you will believe me...

Gauri Gharpure,
October 8, 2007




Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Book Review

My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk

I wonder why Orhan Pamuk makes his central character to be a man who gives a vibe of being a little weak, a little naïve and definitely someone who needs to be cared for by a very strong woman. (The concept of central character though in itself is a very individual take for each different reader)

Black in ‘My Name is Red’ is like Ka from ‘Snow’ in many respects. Both journey back to a place they had once grown up in, carrying with them a vague undertone of lust and hope. Both hope to find solace in the company of a woman they have pined for a long time. Both are melancholy in their take of life and evergreen optimists in their take of love.

My Name is Red takes the viewer to the 16th Century and gives him deep insight in the works of great masters of Herat and Persia and the art workshops of Akbar Khan, The King of Hindustan. It is rich with fables and legends of the era long since extinct, of the lores of Husrev and Shirin, of Rustem and his lust and also, great masters like Bihzad who were immortalized without even leaving a signature to their works.

Shekure is the strong-willed woman who will do anything to safeguard her sons. Her mind is that of a shrewd woman who can wriggle out of any situation by using her womanhood as and when required. All of Black’s actions are carried out keeping Shekure in mind, what will please her and what will not, what will bring her closer to him and how. Black is love-stricken.

Reading this book is like getting the privilege to journey through time. It has vivid descriptions of colours, of the process of painting in the workshops of Istanbul as well as the conflict between art and religion. When the frankestein way of portraiture is knocking on the doors of an old tradition of art. ‘My Name is Red’ is all about those who give in to the temptation of making a life-like portrait while those who fear to break away from hundreds of years of history of miniature paintings.



-Gauri Gharpure

Saturday, September 29, 2007

I forgot to light a candle


Many a love die
But what a way to die...
Many a love fade,
But what a way to fade...

I forgot to light a candle today
For a man who once loved.
His name was Rizwanur
He died the other day...

I didn't know him, no.
And neither would I have had;
Had he not loved the way he did-
Or died the way he died.

It's all over the papers, you know
They make it sound pretty sad.
His death on the tracks;
His widow and all...

I forgot to light a candle today
For a man who once loved...
His name was Rizwanur,
He died the other day...

(I appreciate all your comments.
Please click on the title (I forgot to light a candle) above
This link has an article with details of the Rizwanur case.
I like poems with their abstractness intact.)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Smoke of Life



Smoke withered away from sand the other day
from a wasted cigarette butt.
The stick was living its last breath,
Living as much it could, as much it must...

Smoke flew towards the right,
Slowly waking up from the sand
It crawled a bit in circles
And then flew up the land.

Little symbols of life-
Just living, Just gone away
glimpse at us from time to time,
Like that cigarette butt breathing its last day...

- Gauri Gharpure


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Caring for pets

With a childhood full of raising almost all kinds of animals from a magnificient german shephard bitch and a flock of lively hens, to caring for injured or abandoned baby squirrels, baby peacocks, etc, learning to cope with the loss of an animal is something I have slowly aquired. But it's difficult all the same, everytime.

So let me use this blog to write whatever I know about caring for Budgrigars, Lovebirds and Beta Fighter fishes- as these are my current pets...

Budgrigars




These are very delicate little birds, orginally found in the deserts of Australia... They come in numerous colours from canary yellow, to lemon green, sky blue, yellowish-blue, white/cream, etc. Also, these are more easily bred as compared to lovebirds.

But caring for these is quite a task, as I have now come to know...

The veternary doc prescribed to give each bird a drop of Visceryl Vitamin drops everyday. For the youngest of all- 'Chhotu' who was feathering and had some minor skin infection, the doc prescribed the following remedy:

1 portion finely ground naphthalene ball
1 portion (same as that quantity of ground naphthalene) of boric acid powder
Mix both these portions thoroughly.
Now add 4 portions* (*portions equal to the quantity of the mixed naphthalene and boric acid powders this time) normal talcum powder.
Mix well and store in a clean bottle.

Dust the affected area with this powder once a day till the skin infection is under control.

I was also asked to de-worm each bird, and then repeat the same dose of one drop each after eighteen days.

My father, who himself bred a lot of budgerigars when I really very small to understand these nitty-gritties, was a bit skeptical about the de-worm step. His resistance was correct, as dogs pups are bound to get a bit weak after a de-worm dose.

Well, nothing happened to my birds after the first dose, but one adult male suddenly died two days after the second de-worm dose after 18 days. The only anomaly I had noticed about him was he didnt feed in the morning as all birds do. But these are very moody birds, so I assumed it was one of his mood swings..If this was related or not, the vet didn't confirm.

One day after the death of this adult, another young died suddenly.

When I say sudenly, I mean suddenly! These birds act perfectly normal just minutes before they fall down and start weakening up.

And so, today was the final blow- death of the youngest and most charming bird I called 'Chhotu'. He had an extremely unique red colour marking on his forehead, which I had not yet seen in a budgrigar...

Lovebirds




I have the 'rosy faced' pair now. With now, I mean that two beautiful green lovebirds' pair actually 'escaped' out of the cage. Yes, they escaped. I am damn sure I had closed the cage the night before.

The thing is, these are extremely inquisitive, curious and hyper-active birds. Their beaks are ever poking in anything new and anything that can move. They push around the food cups, empty the water cups and yes, I saw them experimenting with the bolting hook too. But I didnt actually think they would be able to open it and hop out. But hop out they did... And vanished into thin air much before my husband's eyes.

So one big lesson learnt- Tie the hook with a string to make sure these silly creatures don't fly away to their doom.

Another lesson which I learnt much earlier as a child was never to get carried away by emotions and 'free' a small sized caged bird. My father explained, and now I know he was right, that such delicate birds like Budgrigars and Lovebirds are almost entirely bred in captivity, having lived in cages all their life. They can't thus fly a lot. At the most they will zoom somewhere in full speed and fumble without finding a good perch. Moreover, not being native, scared and lost, these are easy preys for kites, even crows for that matter who are normally scavengers...

If the bird is tame enough and if you can aptly handle the bird, i.e. catch it again and all, you may let it fly in a room, with all doors and fans closed.

About the 'Rosy-faced' pair which chose not to hop out of the open cage. Well... it's the most charming twosome I have ever laid my eyes on. These are hopelessly silly and ever squeaking birds, a joy to behold... I thought the cage was getting a bit dull, so I hung the two wooden circles of an embroidery ring with a string in the cage.



In less than two hours, the most curious one was happily swinging away... Each bird has its own unique personality and will take his own sweet time to try a new toy. Like, even though the rosy male started using the ring on the first day itself, the female took more than a week to accompany him on the ride...

Siamese Beta Fighters


I have two beatiful males. (The females are drab, not as attractively coloured, and as a rule never put on sale in most pet shops)



This fish is excellent for beginners, or for those who have less time on hands... It's a very sturdy fish and will deman minimum possible attention from you. What's more, with the beautiful colours it comes in, just seeing this pet gliding gracefully in the bowl is almost as good as a trip to the spa after a long day...

So as I said, this is one super low maintanance fish... Lets see what one has to do to keep it healthy and happy...

It will thrive in a medium sized bowl, but as is with all bird habitats, the bigger the better.

Before buying the bowl, ensure it does not have any crack or small leaks. Make the shop owner fill the bowl and hold it up for a while, to check if any water trickles out.

Clean the bowl regularly, and once thouroughly before introducing the fish from the polythene bag.

Fix two days in a week, say Wednesday and Sunday, and try to stick to the schedule you have maintained.

Take a clean empty bathroom mug. Carefully fill it up with the water already in the bowl.

Gently catch the fish in your hands, dont ever press too hard, and release it slowly in a mug.

A word of caution- Dont fill the mug to its brim and keep it in your view while cleaning the bowl. I had a fright of my life one fine day when i shifted my two fighters- Chhotu (again, chhotu the fish this time) and motu in two mugs, kept these near the centre table and went in the kitchen to clean the bowls...

On coming back, I saw this wrinkled blue thing lying near the tv, almost 3 feet away from the mug. In a moment, tht 'thing' started jumping. I had a hard time to react in an instant, to transfer the silly new fish-motu in the mug.

I have no idea how long it was out in this manner. Why this fish survived is because it belongs to a family, which has special accessory breathing organs called 'labyrinthine organs'. These help them to stay in oxygen deficient conditions quite easily, like their natural habitat of water-filled paddy fields in Thailand. I take extra care of 'Motu' now, after his out of the bowl escapade.

Clean the bowl thoroughly, scrub well, using a mild soap will do. Just make sure to wash the bowl again well, free of any remaining soap, for it might alter the Ph of the water..

Add one day old water, preferably aquaguard or any drinking water you normally use. (Not mineral water though)

Always retain one quarter of the old water and add three quarters of one old day water. Never change the water completely. It might kill your fish.



When the fish is new, you may use this treatment for the first two-three water changes:
Take potassium permanganate, quantity stricty a quarter of a mustard seed in a mugful of water. Leave the fish in this mug for a few seconds, say 10-20 seconds, or even less. Catch it and release immediately in the bowl of fresh water. Potassium permangate is very effective for fungal or other such skin infections, for the general glow of the skin, but a little more can be lethal. So be very cautious with this treatment.

Once a female fighter had a strange, mysterious and potentially disastrous symptom: The water turned a definite yellow, very clear, but a little more dense than usual in record time. I frantically called up a guy who I was told kept a lot of aquariums. He heard the symptoms as i described and told me to change the water completely, for a change! He asked to add warm water (Hottish warm, but not hot) and then sprinkle a pinch of salt over the fish wherever it moved for a few seconds. I did as I was told, although in hearts of my heart, I had lost all hope. But this female miraculously reacted to the treatment and went on to live healthily for a long time afterwards...

With food, be as miserly as you can. Don't give in to the temptations of throwing extra munches. Over feeding is most defintely lethal, under feeding is not. Ideally give in only about 0.1 cm or 0.2 cm at the max for full-grown males of the dried tubifix cubes each day. I feed my fighters only once a day and they seem to be literally thriving. Keep the dried tubifix cubes, or any other readymade pellets that you buy in an air-tight bottle. Do not let it get moist in any case. Ideally, once small pack should last more than a month at the least. If you live in a bunglow, dig up some fertile soil for baby earthworms (light pink, 2 cm to 3 cm long worms with a moist, shiny body), clean them well and throw live in the bowl. See your Fighter devour them in a jiffy. They will be very healthy if fed live food once in a while.
P.S- Search for earthworms only if you know well enough what to find and can identify earthworms from other worms with good confidence!

These fish have a great personality. Introduing any play toy may be a good idea, but the toy should not be dangerous in anyway, i.e. with sharp ends, soluble in water, etc. I put a beautiful purple orchid flower in the bowl once and it was delightful to see 'Chhotu' the fish poke it curiously for hours at end, gliding below it from time to time and seeing it from all angles. However, be careful with the showy stones the aquarium owner may give you along with the fish and the bowl. The stones I had introduced in the bowl began to deposit calcium carbonate or some such substance in a day, which my husband noticed... I had to remove the stones carefully, clean the bowl thoroughly again and wait and watch with crossed fingers to see if any Ph change had affected the fish. Fortunately, 'Chhotu' was as healthy as ever...

Hmmm... That's all I have the energy now to share with you...
Have a Happy Pet Experience...

-Gauri Gharpure, Sep 15 '2007


Friday, September 14, 2007

Two minute snacks

Food is something that can lift me out of the gloomiest of my moods. Food and sleep. But let's talk about food for a while...

Here are some super-quick snacks, ideal for hostelites or late-night munching on...

1) Cream-cracker sandwiches

Simply open two britannia cheese slices and place them in between three cream-crackers. A truly rocking combo!!!
However, you need not be as greedy, be content with one slice for two biscuits and have mercy on your tummy...

2) Tel, mithu, marchu ane mamra

Though I am now settled in the land of 'Jhaal muri' the taste of this simple late-night snack just refuses to fade... Four of us cousins, me and my elder sister Vaidehi, Ravija and Belu would stay up late at nights before Uttrayan or just any other get-together and whip up this superfast snack the moment we felt hungry.

It's as simple as this: Take a handful of mamra (muri), add a pinch of salt, lots of red chilli powder and a spoonful of raw groundnut oil. Mix well and eat. Tastes great with a garnising of onion or tomato, but then, that would be more than two minutes, so chuck that.

3) Doodh-paua

In Gujarati, a small child begining to play an ambitious game of cards or such alike is refered to secretly as 'Dhoodh paua'. My father often used to placate my elder sister with a wink of his eye when I insisted to play with her friend circle on my own terms... You ignore the 'Dhoodh paua'player no matter what cheating he does and give him chances to play no matter how many times he gets 'out'. I can only imagine now how frustrating my 'dhoodh paua' status must have been to Vaidehi then...

Anyway, 'Doodh-paua' has now become my fond snack, after being an in-house family term used to fool me ages ago. This one is great for those with a sweet tooth.

Take a handful of paua (poha or cheera) and soak it in a cup of water for a minute. Drain the water well, add a cup of cold milk and some sugar. Throw in some raisins and nuts if they can be easily found, and lo! your 2 minute sweet dish is ready to eat. That's doodh paua in the real 'foodie' term...

Let me know how you liked these two-minute snacks...

-Gauri Gharpure

Thursday, September 13, 2007

It's that time of being


It's that time of being
When nothing's in my hands
No thoughts listen to me
No dreams stand by my side.

It's that time of being
That all is well
Yet all is in shambles;
No thoughts listen to me.

It's that time of my being
That memories insist to stay,
The present begins to fade,
The past has begun to take shape...

It's that time of my being.

-Gauri

Saturday, September 08, 2007

To meet ol' friends


To meet ol' friends
You need no introduction,
No elaborate parties,
No reasons, no celebrations...

Just a cup of tea
And so it be.
Lots of laughter
And memories...

To meet ol' friends
You need no clothes new,
No perfume, no jewellery
Just your smile will do...

To meet ol' friends
You need nothing else,
All you need to do;
Is your being You.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

What teachers teach...

It seems that the one person who never really grows old is a teacher. In the company of his students, a real teacher never loses the pace of time, he always remains youthful in his thoughts and attitude towards life.

This species of human profession is most easily the one to be long remembered with deep gratitude and fondness. Everyone has a corner of reverence reserved in his heart for some special teacher. Here are a few golden words from my most beloved teachers…

“No matter what, love your students”, said Fr. John Joseph Morondo, the most lovable septuagenarian teacher of our high school.
“Some (students) might be naughty and some might be outright irritating, but no matter what, you should learn to love them all” answered Fr. Morondo when asked what he thought a good teacher should be like.
His way of teaching was passé any description- he drew and explained biology diagrams with the most obscure similies. Our favourite was when he likened a typical nucleated animal cell after drawing a largish cuboid with a circle inside- to a ‘washing machine’. His classes were pure, simple biology taught in the most direct and lighthearted manner…



Read, Read and Read More said Ishwarbhai Patel. He taught mathematics, but as is the wont of all good teachers, this septuagenarian taught his students much more than numbers.
He implored us to develop a solid reading habit and urged us to read: anything and everything from newspapers, magazines, literature to general knowledge. ‘The more you read, the more you grow’ was his motto.

Learn to say ‘I Don’t Know’ said Joseph Pinto, our editing professor. He was a taskmaster and scoring anything above six in his tests seemed a feat. He took the ‘I Don’t Know’ rule very seriously and promised us to give half a mark on each IDK in the answer sheet rather than we beat round the bush and ‘make silly stories’.
‘You either know, or you don’t know. There are no two ways about it.’, thundered Prof Pinto and how we still fondly remember that growl…

Have a cold shower”, said Rajendrasinh Jadeja, Camp Coordinator at the wildlife camps we went with him. ‘Cold showers shake of your sleep instantly’, he said. Hot water baths were a strict ‘no-no’ on his list and he supplemented his dislike for a hot splurging luxury by adding ‘It only makes you sluggish.’
Discipline was a way of life for this nature-lover and he saw to it that for the little while that we were at the camp, we stopped being the spoilt brats we were and adhered to a well-chalked out daily schedule.

“Respect food” urges my seventy-nine year old grandmother as often as she can. Aaji, herself a teacher by profession, taught unaccountable number of things- the foremost being respecting food. She insists that any kind of wastage of food is simply unacceptable- given the thousands of those who starve each day in spite of toiling hard in our country.

By Gauri Gharpure

Monday, September 03, 2007

A bookmark


I had once made a bookmark
Out of pink bougainvillea leaves
I wonder where it is now,
And if it still lives.

If it lies forgotten in books
Or if it still marks a page,
Whether the pink has faded to yellow
But if the memory still stays.

I wonder who has it now
Or rather, who hasn’t
I had made a bookmark once,
Out of pink bougainvillea leaves…

September 2, 2007



-Gauri Gharpure

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Celebration


I will cook tonight,
All your favourite dishes.
A long drive after that, may be?
Or whatever you say, we will...

Say Cheers, Dear...
Or even if you dont, I will.
Dont be modest, don't you underplay it
(Still, whatever you say, we will...)

I won't nag tonight
(If I say I won't, I will!)
It's time to celebrate, isn't it,
So whatever you say, we will...

Let's make new memories
And let the old ones fade
Let's celebrate tonight,
Each being the other's reason...

A Chocolate cake?
But you don't like sweets...
Ah! I know what,
Veg Frankies and Cheese!

Let's begin the journey again,
The way we did (Remember Feb the 24th?)
A long drive, may be?
Or whatever you say, we will...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Sycophant Circle

What has the classroom become like?

Simply put, it has become a venting machine of sorts for them to come and puke out their frustrations and inaccomplishments. They call this teaching...

The process boils up to be a personal vendetta table, where you cross each name which begs to differ. It's an opinionated hierarchy. But mind you- the opinions can arise only from one side of the room, any idea arising from a bench- however genuine it may be cannot hold grounds against the table on which the attendance sheet lies...

There's no space for discussions, arguments, there's no space for a difference of opinion. Often the teacher will go round and round a topic, criticising students for their answers till he himself produces his 'right stream of thought'. Was all the prodding merely an exercise of ego-satisfaction? An exercise in which students are tended like a flock of sheep, expected to walk on pre-decided terrains and think only on those lines which the professor thinks right? Today, education has become more or less a passive exercise- questions are not entertained, unless they are the sort of questions which the teacher can answer...

And then there's this Sycophant Circle...

It's a gathering of ambitious wannabe intellectuals who have just about started preening their down feathers and dream big to fly the same dictatorial regimes like their well-chosen idols...

Classrooms have turned into the battlegrounds of bureaucracy, the centre of attention of any educational institution is invariably a dingy canteen, the centre of affection the canteen staff, which doesn't feign hypocrisy while providing low quality food for high rates. They cheat with a sense of open dignity. That's why they win our affection.

Education?! It's cheating all the way through under the mask of pseudo intellectualism...

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Bheja Fry....

Bheja Fry is actually therapeutic! It can leave a rib-tickling sense of pleasure long after you have left the movie hall...

The witty storyline revolves around the perverse tendencies of human nature and takes a hilarious turn when our perverse, rich businessman Ranjeet Thadani (Rajat Kapoor) comes across an uncanny 'bakra' for his weekly friday parties.

And then he breaks his back, thanks to which the audience can enjoy Bharat Bhushan (Vinay Pathak), the 'bakra' in his unrestrained lyrical and comical and bhojpuri glory...

Bheja Fry, to put it in the most understated terms is a humourous delight.

To describe the comic nature of this movie is albiet tricky...The sheer purity of humour in Bheja Fry lies in the subtle and keen observations of daily life transformed with utmost skill on the screen by the story writers, artists and the director. Case in point is the 'It's ringing' alert which Bharat Bhushan insists on giving every time he dials a number and the crackling sound of the red and yellow plastic bag when our when he proudly takes out his scrapbook...

The more or less dark lighting, clever camera angles highlight the tasteful interiors, huge paintings and work to keep the two central characters in focus while also successfully giving a rich look. Somewhere under the wraps of sheer laughter, thanks to the utter incorrigible tendencies of Bharat Bhushan, also lies a trail of irony, sarcasm and misplaced morality directed at the businessman whose marriage suddenly seems all set to break- and the timing couldn't be better!

Thanks to his self-chosen 'idiot', a number of calls to trace his wife lead to a lucid plot, fast and happening and full of punch- bringing on scene a nymphomaniac, his wife's former lover, and an eccentric income tax officer...

Debuntant director Sagar Ballary should get a standing ovation to bring to Indian audiences one rocking movie...

-Gauri Gharpure

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Where the road ends...

Evening time, especially on those days when it gets cloudy for no reason at all, seems ideal to allow melancholy to set. And when you let your thoughts loose in such quaint, lonely moments, you are often astonished at the expanse of subjects your mind can brood on...

On many a silent evenings like described above, I pass by frail old men and women and my thoughts find themselves wandering about in many hither-to untreaded terrains...

Some grandpas and grandmas are bent horizontaly from the level of their waist, almost parallel to the street they are advancing on... And then there are old gentlemen who religiously go about their evening strolls irrespective of the unruly traffic and the general self-engrossed buzz of life around them...

On one walk back home, an old man walking in front of me simply fell head straight on the road. He started his efforts to get back to his feet as soon as his nose bit the dust. With some difficutly and a little (politely refused) help, he was standing up again, although a somewhat sheepish, helpless emotion now covered his face.



What was he thinking when he resumed his walk again, I wonder... What does it feel to get old? To know that you are at the end of your existence and to be remined of the fact time and again by such incidences when your faculties start failing you?


It was late one night when we were leaving a restaurant. While we were looking for a rickshaw on the deserted road, we saw this strange figure totally leaning on a bicycle, shakily covering small distances in patches- with small breaks to catch his breathe. He pulled his body and the bicycle in a slow, effortsome manner... When we asked if he was sick and needed some help, he happily started explaining that he was perfectly alright and he was returning from a friend's place after watching his favourite film. He then he described his love for cinema and proceeded to tell us where his residence was. The distance he was to travel to reach home was another three kilometers at the least...

Gloom was definitely not on the mind of this old man, his spirits were livelier and his passion more passionate than even many of my age. His enthusiasm more than made up for his failing body...

My superstitious mind could not help assigning a deeper meaning to this chance meeting with a zealous old man in the middle of night, whose spirit far outweighed the decline of his health. It was one of the best lessons of enthusiasm and independence that I have ever learnt.

The thought of age, rather, the thought process of the aged always leaves me intrigued. Old people walking on busy streets, lonely men and women gathered in parks, or those unfortunate aged who's family seems to have completely forgotten their existence- how do they feel about the prospect of approaching death...

It's a very sensitive topic, but then, don't many old people whom we communicate with have that characterisitic emotion of resignation equalling to something like 'dont discuss the future with me, I may not be there'. They may be the strongest and most talented bunch of people, yet something about their attitude is way too realistic and philosophical to ignore. Actually, it's scarry...

When my aaji laments how her memory has begun to fail her, a painful shudder passes my heart. On the rare moments when that strong lady talks about the future with a sign of resignation and uncertainty, the helplessness we mortals associate with death stares in my face...

Old age is a very sensitive mixture of emotions... An old person should be regarded as a treasure for any household. The experience which comes with years is beyond evaluation. Their health may be failing them and also be a matter of concern for others, but give attention to their thoughts and attitude and you may learn a few important tips to sail the business of living for your entire life. Such is their wisdom.

I only hope all homes which are blessed to have the company of the old realise the significance of what they have- and what through they may soon lose- the wisdom of age...

GauriGC

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Love me like you hate me.
For often, hate is more passionate than love...

Gauri GC

A thin layer...


A thin layer shields

Love from lust,

Desire from want

And sin from the sacred.

That clever masquerade

Of good covered up as evil,

And the bad done up as lucrative;

Of pros mingled with cons

And fake draped with genuine…

A thin layer indeed

Of right distanced from wrong.


Gauri GC

March 31’ 2007

Monday, February 19, 2007

Thoughts...

I wish sometimes, if i could live between the illusions of life and dreams, tread the mystical path of the subconscious, and freeze the existence which lingers between living and dying. I wish I could be more awake in my sleep, and bring out the meanings of the bittersweet intercourse I have with my memories, my future and my sorrow...

********
If I were you, you would not hesitate to tell me what you really think of me... That's the way I am... And perhaps that's why you and me don't get along.

****************

Let me be me.
That's the introduction I am most comfortable with.

*******************
Gauri GC
Feb 19, 2007

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thought for the day...

Guard your dreams with ferocity, with passion. Be brutal to those who attempt to scorn at your idiosyncrasies. And stay away from them for good...



-Gauri

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

S0me more points t0 p0nder...

Hey Nehal,

I appreciate your comment on my post about suicides..(read bel0w)
It's a well thought 0ver, rather emotinal response. The points you have made: like suicide being a personal decisi0n, the absurdity which seems t0 y0u in it been labelled a 'crime' d0 n0t appear ill0gical on the surface..

But let me tell you one thing, when I interviewed Ms Anju Sheth of SAATH in 2004, the 0ne p0int she repeated frequently was that a maj0rity of suicide cases are a sheer act of impluse.. there's this crucial period less than half an hour t0 ten minutes when the person l0ses all h0pes, sinks int0 depression and gives up 0n life rand0mly, on impluse...

Can y0u then, justify these m0ments as th0se of astute decision making?? I think not...

Further, she went 0n to say that it is in this crucial period that he/she needs help.. A simple talk, a phonecall, just about anything that takes his mind away from the depressing thoughts can make him pull along...

I would be the last person to take a judgemental stand and say pe0ple wh0 c0mmit suicides are c0wards... H0wever, at the same time, I firmly believe that suicides are not a decent way 0f paying a tribute t0 the life we have g0t...And last of all, t0 call a justifiable decision, however pers0nal it might be...

I w0uld feel bad f0r th0se wh0 take the drastic step 0nly because 0f the extent 0f life they readily all0wed t0 g0 waste on mere assumpti0ns...

It is perhaps through writing and speaking more ab0ut such things that we can do our bid: to let s0me ann0nym0us people kn0w, as i put it, that n0thing is never the end.. and that s00ner or later, life really rules...

Keep writing, keep reading and yes! keep living!!! in the true sense 0f the w0rd :)

PS pl bear with the '0's, the key is giving me trouble...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Why suicide....

It was with utter shock and sadness today that I took the news of a college senior who committed suicide ... We could be passed as friends, a little more than acquaintances definitely.. The little moments I remember of having spent together are full of the most silly PJs and lots and lots of carefree laughter...
The smiling face refuses to fade, the happy tone... O it's so shocking...

Why??? What sort of moment it would be when a lively youth is so depressed to shed away the urge of giving in to the utter ecstacy of life? I only hope and request that if anyone comes to such a desperate point of misfortune, simply hang on... Somewhere there, beyond your knowledge, would definitely be someone who thinks of you and would be more than willing to listen out... Just hang on...

Here's a number in Ahmedabad, a suicide helpline service which simply talks to people on the verge of commiting suicide...
SAATH- 079 26305544

I wrote an article in Education Times, Ahmedabad when the high rates of suicides after (or before the board exams) shocked and saddened me greatly. I reproduce the same below....

Desperate Measures

You do not get a life to give it up…


After having done with the board exams, when all students are enjoying their summer vacation, a few individuals who gave up too easily to the mounting exam pressure, now linger as a distant, painful memory. With the rate of suicides committed by young students rising to alarming levels in the city, it’s time to deal with this sudden social upheaval urgently. The hype created by the competition crazy and mark maniac exam system may shake the students, however, they should understand that no ‘reason’ cannot be a reason enough to give up on life.


Disturbed by the alarming rates of suicide cases in the city, Mrs. Anju Sheth established SAATH in 1998. SAATH is an NGO, which provides support and counsel to people with suicidal thoughts. Anju Sheth opines that majority of suicides by the youth are a result of impulsive behavior triggered by loneliness, lack of support or the complete loss of hope. Hence, it’s extremely important to patiently listen to whatever your child, friend or student, without being judgmental. SAATH functions by ‘Listening Therapy’ wherein trained volunteers lend a patient ear to the caller. Many a times, the conversation is active on the callers’ side and passive on the listener’s side. Sometimes, if a person with depressing/suicidal thoughts simply gets to vent off the pent up feelings, he might get a reason enough to think on positive lines and give up suicidal thoughts.


Petrified by the fear of consequences following a failure and lack of awareness, students fail to see many different career choices available, many students and parents give up too easily and fall prey to dejection, opines Nimrat Singh, a career counselor.

Dr. Khushnuma Banaji, a professor of Psychology in St. Xavier’s College opines that there’s no knowing when the threshold levels of stress may be crossed. Many a times, very good students find it difficult to accept that they are unable to cope up. They live in state of turmoil, and fake up normal behavior to live up to the façade of being a bright student. Her colleague, Prof. Ami Mehra informs that some tell tale signs like the lack of eye contact while talking, the unwillingness to carry on discussions, sudden irritation, restlessness or a slouching body posture, if noticed, should not be ignored.

Friends, who spend a lot of time with the concerned person, can easily detect such signs. Hence a huge responsibility lies on the peers to listen to their friend’s fears, provide a firm support and work towards sensible solutions. If dealt understandingly by peers, they can also be convinced to share their feelings with parents as well as to see a professional counselor.

It is unfortunate that depression, which is perhaps as normal an illness as common cold is wrongly perceived as a taboo and dealt with in a clandestine manner in the society. Many a times, family members try to sort such situations by themselves without seeking the help of counselors or psychiatrists.

Mrs. Anju Sheth (SAATH) opines that sometimes, medical assistance becomes necessary. There is a need of increasing the awareness that to seek the help of a counselor is only another way of taking care of yourself, which no one has a right to look down upon.


Rita Shah*, who gave her 12th Arts exam this year misses her close friend who committed suicide a few months back. All she can say about her friend’s drastic decision is that there was no reason for her to escape away like this…

Life is beautiful and sooner or later people agree on this fact.


* Name changed

In case someone shows suicidal tendancies

DO NOT
Negate the feelings expressed
Mock/ridicule whatever is said
Avoid stereotype assurances
Emphasize on the shortcomings
Attach excessive importance to passing/good marks


DO
Listen patiently
Encourage positive thoughts
Encourage meditation
Indulge in recreational activities, hobbies
Sign in a different short-term classes- language, public speaking, etc.
Be vocal about your feelings
Generate alternate career options
Get medical assistance/counseling if required

SAATH-079 26305544


- Gauri V. Gharpure