Monday, December 31, 2007


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-, accessed on December 4, 2007)