Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Good read

This is what I have heard my Baba rant a thousand times over. Sara has put her angst against a certain (consumer driven?) lifestyle being propagated heavily through films in words that are powerful and straightforward. I am completely bowled over by this rare piece of frank, logical writing. Take time out to read what she has written.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Those who take the polio campaign forward

Amitabh Bachchan may be the face of the polio campaign, but it is the toil of thousands of common men and women that takes the fight forward. They have a gargantuan task before them: to eradicate polio from the India and for this, they keep no stone unturned.

Most of these health workers are engaged in fulltime activities, but whenever the polio campaign is announced, they take time off to volunteer. They are paid only Rs 50 per day for a shift from 9 am to 4 pm but this paltry sum does not affect their dedication.

Tapati Saha (56), the deputy chief municipal health officer, said of the 6,803 health workers involved in the polio programme, more than 4,000 are volunteers. They get Rs 225 for five days on an honorarium basis.

Sumana Nag (24) teaches swimming at the Southern Avenue Swimming club from 6 am to 9 am, but asks her employees to adjust for the five days of a polio programme. “I feel I am doing a noble deed by giving my time. I first volunteered when my cousin Ankita Dey (18) could not attend due to her exams,” she said from ward number 82 booth at the Gariahat mod. Ankita still volunteers at the Lake Girl’s High School booth in spite of her oncoming HS exams.

Arati Das (42) comes all the way from Kasba to Gariahat to volunteer. A housewife, she considers being a part of the polio campaign as ‘a small contribution to society’. In fact, Arati’s sister-in-law Shelly Das (37) also volunteers at the Chittaranjan High School booth in Kasba. “Ours is a big joint family, so whenever we volunteer, someone always manages the cooking and housework,” Arati said.

Rajiv Bhattacharya (36) is an electrician but volunteers for the house to house polio campaign in Tangra, ward no 59. “A team of two covers about 126 homes in a day. If a child is sleeping or is away, we go back again after sometime. When some parents appear reluctant, we try to convince them our vaccine and training is just as good. Volunteers are given an intensive training each time before the campaign,” he said.

Sandhya Bhattacharya (54) is one of the six supervisors of the Intensive Pulse Polio Immunization (IPPI) plan of ward no 59. After being associated with health work for the last 22 years, all she gets today is about Rs 2000 per month. “The pay is extremely less. We have been hearing it may increase since long. I am happy though, as I started off only with Rs. 200 per month,” she said.

“We feel that the compensation for these volunteers is very less in comparison to their efforts and the importance of the work. However, this pay scale has been fixed by the Centre so it is up to it to increase. It would definitely give a boost to health work if the pay is increased,” said Tapati.



This article got bunked for it was felt that people volunteering for such a measly sum is not a big deal. For people are in need of money anyways and will take up any job that gives assured money. Besides, the success of the polio campaign has come under scanner recently for various reasons-- like the type of vaccine used, the technical expertise of the volunteers. Both points agreed to.

But with an emotional attachment to the legwork and information that I gathered, I find no reason to not put it here. For something is being done, and something need be thus written to acknowledge it.

From what I gathered from talks with volunteers and the deputy chief municipal officer, is that all the volunteers are given training sessions before each campaign and provided with insulated ice-boxes so that the vaccine remains safe. Whatever may be the doubts or cynicism, here's a government motivated movement that is regularly carried out on a massive scale. As I said in the article before, at least 4,000 people work for as less as 225/- for five days to keep campaign going. The least that the Centre can do is to fix decent scales so that more people, who want money and are prepared to slog for it, get a worthy platform to do their bit.

-Gauri Gharpure

Thursday, December 25, 2008


This one's from Nino's mom...

It goes to Phish

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pass it on...

My first blog award comes from The Indian Homemaker.

Peace is a very strong and responsibility laden word. Thanks!

I would like to pass on the appreciation to

To a youthful brigade who have their own way with words (and music) that I don't quite understand. But their zeal to see things their way and their urge to express is what is the key to any process, including peace...

They are Sudhanshu, Darshan , Kaushik

To the Bum, who surprises me most of the times with his simple, down to earth thoughts

And to Void, who's presumably quite idle now and you never know, he could rake up some movement to make a huge difference :) if he stops being midly idle, i.e.

To Hans and the team who work ceaselessly each day to put up news of what's happening all over the globe.

To Baruk who gets angry, sad and frustrated about all that seems wrong and has an amazingly sharp eye to support, promote the causes he deems fit through his blog...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A much-used maroon sweater

Santa, who?

Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial on
Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps. The matter follows.

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measure by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest man that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank GOD! He lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

This post was sent by Pinto sir. Many thanks for sharing it...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Kind attention

Gauri Gharpure asserts her copyright over all the drawings and matter published on her blogs, unless otherwise referenced. Understandably, she discourages the use of these in any other media. In case you feel you want to make use of any of the written and/or drawn matter published on her blogs, you must reach her by email for prior permission.

Author retains the copyright of all matter and drawings posted on this blog. Click logo to know more about the Copyright Act

Respect Originality

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Whipping up a bittersweet story

What makes us alive in the physical sense of the word. And, what makes one dead.

Think about the dead. They were there, all fine and healthy and suddenly, in one moment the transgression happened. They became still and cold. Loved ones then became a body that must be immediately disposed.

Here's my theory:

We live as long as we are bodily connected with the surroundings. Each breath we take is an alien mix of life-matter being pumped in. Imagine how much of the environment have we actually devoured to be alive for 20 or 30 or 80 years? Your life is the aggragate of your interactions with your surrounding. Once you stop breathing, that connection is lost, and so, you are 'dead.' I thought of the human body as a cocoon that shelters us from the disappointments of the outside world. Till this thought breezed by. Since then, living has got a strange, better perspective.

I owe my life to a million and more interactions with my surroundings, to strangers who came close enough in crowds for me to share their life-breath, to dogs who greedily lapped up my face and even to rogues who molested me in jam-packed buses. Everyone, however sweet or crude he/she may be, has made a contribution. Made me happy or sad, better or worse, but pushed me ahead by the way of experience. I am grateful.

Like this road I pass by everyday, it breathes into me. From the comfort of my car, I have slowly come to know all the urchins and madmen who line both sides of that street. A cycle cart is always parked on the left side, close to the dargah and half a dozen children play about. The other day, an absolutely bald girl, must be four at max, had fallen in the cart face down. She was flapping her feet frantically up in the air. Her hands were in a desperate position to keep her from tumbling down. She was screaming and crying and whipping up the most humourous frenzy I had seen in days. All beggers, tea sellers and betel nut sellers seemed to stop for a moment to have a good laugh. My car went a little ahead and I saw that bald girl fleeing the spot and galloping in the traffic with utter relief and disbelief. Someone must have finally thought to help the naughty child.

Then there's the old mad woman. I see her anywhere from one end of the street to the other. But wherever I see her, whenever I see her, she is busy counting something in the air. Without a break, without a moment's rest, her hand is always up, her lips always muttering something. Standing up, or sitting down, she has to count. I wonder how tired she may be at the end of the day, after such a ceaseless exercise. Just as I was wondering the first day I saw her what I could do to 'help', a street urchin walked to her, pressed a few coins in her hands and left. A few days later, her head was clean-shaven. She was oblivious and still counting, and still scratching her bald out of old habit. Someone had decided to give her a haircut and rid her of the lice. Someone cared.

These people have made a connection, made me feel more alive. When I die, I am sure a few breaths will be accounted to them.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Good reads on Mumbai attacks

These are some well-thought articles you may take time out to read:

Why they hate Mumbai

- Suketu Mehta

Death Of A Salesman And Other Elite Ironies

- Tarun J. Tejpal

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Why should you think that beauty, which is the most precious thing in the world, lies like a stone on the beach for the careless passer-by to pick up idly? Beauty is something wonderful and strange that the artist fashions out of the chaos of the world in the torment of his soul. And when he has made it, it is not given to all to know it. To recognize it you must repeat the adventure of the artist. It is a melody that he sings to you, and to hear it again in your own heart you want knowledge and sensitiveness and imagination.

-The Moon and Sixpence

W. Somerset Maugham

An interesting tag

An interesting tag. Saw it on Neilina's blog and couldn't resist making my own list... It's too long and takes up lot of my blog space, so may remove in some days. Give it a try, it's fun!


Out of the list, you are supposed to make ‘bold’ the things you have done.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink

02. Swam with dolphins

03. Climbed a mountain

04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive

05. Been inside the Great Pyramid

06. Held a tarantula

07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone

08. Said “I love you” and meant it

09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped

11. Visited Paris

12. Watched a lightning storm at sea

13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise

14. Seen the Northern Lights

15. Gone to a huge sports game

16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa

17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables

18. Touched an iceberg

19. Slept under the stars

20. Changed a baby’s diaper

21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon

22. Watched a meteor shower

23. Gotten drunk on champagne

24. Given more than you can afford to charity

25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope

26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment

27. Had a food fight

28. Bet on a winning horse

29. Asked out a stranger

30. Had a snowball fight

31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

32. Held a lamb

33. Seen a total eclipse

34. Ridden a roller coaster

35. Hit a home run

36. Danced like a fool and didn’t care who was looking

37. Adopted an accent for an entire day

38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment

39. Had two hard drives for your computer

40. Visited all 50 states

41. Taken care of someone who was drunk

42. Had amazing friends

43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country

44. Watched whales

45. Stolen a sign

46. Backpacked in Europe

47. Taken a road-trip

48. Gone rock climbing

49. Taken a midnight walk on the beach

50. Gone sky diving

51. Visited Ireland

52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love

53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them

54. Visited Japan

55. Milked a cow

56. Alphabetized your CDs

57. Pretended to be a superhero

58. Sung karaoke

59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football

61. Gone scuba diving

62. Kissed in the rain

63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain

65. Gone to a drive-in theatre

66. Visited the Great Wall of China

67. Started a business

68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken

69. Toured ancient sites

70. Taken a martial arts class

71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight

72. Gotten married

73. Been in a movie

74. Crashed a party

75. Gotten divorced

76. Gone without food for 5 days

77. Made cookies from scratch

78. Won first prize in a costume contest

79. Ridden a gondola in Venice

80. Gotten a tattoo

81. Rafted the Snake River

82. Been on a television news program as an “expert”

83. Gotten flowers for no reason

84. Performed on stage

85. Been to Las Vegas

86. Recorded music

87. Eaten shark

88. Kissed on the first date

89. Gone to Thailand

90. Bought a house

91. Been in a combat zone

92. Buried one/both of your parents

93. Been on a cruise ship

94. Spoken more than one language fluently

95. Performed in Rocky Horror

96. Raised children

97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour

98. Passed out cold

99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country

100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over

101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge

102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking with the windows open

103. Had plastic surgery

104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived

105. Wrote articles for a large publication

106. Lost over 100 pounds

107. Held someone while they were having a flashback

108. Piloted an airplane

109. Touched a stingray

110. Broken someone’s heart

111. Helped an animal give birth

112. Won money on a TV game show

113. Broken a bone

114. Gone on an African photo safari

115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears

116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol

117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild

118. Ridden a horse

119. Had major surgery

120. Had a snake as a pet

121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

122. Slept for 30 hours in a 48 hour period

123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. States

124. Visited all 7 continents

125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days

126. Eaten kangaroo meat

127. Eaten sushi

128. Had your picture in the newspaper

129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about

130. Gone back to school

131. Parasailed

132. Touched a cockroach

133. Eaten fried green tomatoes

134. Read The Iliad and The Odyssey

135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read

136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

137. Skipped all your school reunions

138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language

139. Been elected to public office

140. Written your own computer language

141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream

142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care

143. Built your own PC from parts

144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair

146. Dyed your hair

147. Been a DJ

148. Shaved your head

149. Caused a car accident

150. Saved someone’s life

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A post to make me see sense

Ever since 26 night, as the whole drama unfolded, I have become numb by slow but sure degrees. The hostages who came out, most of them amazingly clam, poised and appreciative of the hotel staff and the commandos, surprised me with their impeccable hold on themselves.

We had been joking about a 'strike' for sometime now, and a few days ago, I had imagined the place if there were an attack. I actually saw bodies lying scattered for a second, and that open-eyed nightmare / simulation sent a shrill down my spine. Now, as the hours passed into another set of bloody, helpless hours, precisely the same imagination of horror was taking place somewhere else...

Taj, Trident, Oberoi , CST... more...

In the past 2-3 days, some of my very beliefs, my way of thinking has come under a tremendous thump. For the first time in my short short life, have I questioned myself about the persistence to be liberal minded, secular, shun generalisations and be open- to all. I called up Baba in face of the turmoil I was facing and I could not possibly let grow. His words, simple and straightforward as they always are, have reined in my stream of confusions significantly.

Terror is not the face of any religion, I still cajole myself to believe. I know, I know. 'Still cajole myself to' should be eliminated to sound correct, to represent a secular, broadminded chunk of mindset through this blog. But this space is free of any adages-personal or professional. And so I feel, it is my duty to my conscience to be honest here. For the first time, first unfortunate time, I am faltering from the beliefs I held so firmly. How could someone manage to do such a ghastly thing motivated by a war of faith? If faith, any faith it may be, can produce such brainwashed young men, I may well be on my way to become either an atheist or conversely, take deep deep refuge in the teachings and consequently, a deeper understanding of religion.

The other day Void had written this post, and I had replied there, my optimistic self, that hate is a counter-productive emotion. The problem is, counter-productive though it may be, incidents like these can very easily give vent to hate. Perhaps that’s what they exactly wanted. That's what Baba said. If you doubt your stance now, they will win. They wanted to spread a lot of hate. If you unwittingly fall prey, they will win. He said I am too small, too young and so I am likely to jump and take a anti-this or for-that stand. Even at 24, for him I will still be in the cradle. But at 59, you start seeing life very differently, don't you? A few years ago, in my college days with late evenings and long phone calls, my parents had this anxiety which they so elegantly controlled so that their concern might not come in the way of my discovering life for myself. Then, they said you just won't understand what we are scared of. Six years down the line, I now know what they meant. I must listen to him now.

I was toying with the idea of removing the Dhoop Kinare videos. I was angry hearing about the very evident Pak connection and my anger suddenly took a collective, desperate form. Till I called my father. I know he is right. Everything begins and ends with the moral fabric of an individual, he said. A trivial connection when cited with respect to such a massive, such a horrific attack. But brood over it and there’s so much truth in it. Hate is such an expensive, fatal emotion to invest in. It produces nothing but regret.

So however confused, however shaken that I may be, I am going to stick to my original line of thought. Terror is not the face of any one religion. People, as a whole, are good. I am going to repeat this to myself a hundred times over till I can say it one breath, with as much conviction I said this before the 26th. If I can't, as Baba said, they will win. We can't afford one more person added to the vicious cycle of hate. Writing this post really helped me frame my random mind. What have you been thinking since the 26th? Are you still the same?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mumbai attacks- A consolidated link list

More than 101 injured

Anti-Terrorist Squad Chief Killed

Encounter Specialist dies

Japanese citizen dead

Australian reported dead

Seven British nationals injured

Places where attacks took place*:
Taj Hotel, Trident, CST- Victoria Terminus, Near Bootleggers, Near Cafe Leopold, Nariman House *
Based on TV reports, please confirm with other news sources too

Not again...

Terror attacks in Mumbai. At least 25 feared dead. The pics I saw are spooky.

This is a Reuters article, with as much info as was available right off the scene...

Is our country entering in a spate of uncontrolled, random fits of terror?

More take birth than can easily live,
More die randomly like this,
A cruel twist of fate
May take me or you away tomorrow
Today is all we have


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dhoop Kinare--- Anji and Zoya

Dhoop Kinare is a legendary Pakistani drama. I don't know how I missed searching for this gem of a serial on the internet. There's something about this serial that haunts you long after you have stopped seeing it. The dialogues, Zoya, Dr. Ahmer, the soulful music and lyrics (can't beat 'Jaise veerane mein chupke se bahaar aa jaye, Jaise beemar ko bewajah karaar aa jaye' can you? ) Embedding some episodes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dhoop Kinare

Dhoop Kinare is a legendary Pakistani drama. We saw all the episodes back in the 1990s at my aunty's place. After a lot of search, she finally found a site that has put most good episodes online. Here, I embed the last and perhaps the most romantic episode. It's 30 minutes long, so see it when you have time. But see it.

Links to this post / further reading:

Zoya (Marina Khan): 1) Wikipedia 2) Interview
Dr. Ahmer (Dr. Rahat Kazmi) : 1) Interview 2) Wikipedia
Haseena Moin (Writer) : 1) Wikipedia 2) Interview 3) Another interview

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Love rectangles

A friend likes another friend, but that friend hates him. Another friend likes another friend, that friend doesn't hate him, but doesn't love him either. A third friend loves one but seems to like many other friends too. A friend of a friend who patched with her bf also has a gf.

Life, did you have some fixation with screwing everything up?


At least I have a good laugh

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Ten reasons* I liked the film:

1) It make you think about how we assume the things that need our immediate attention are as mundane as faulty geysers, buying vegetables for dinner

2) It brings out beautifully well the breadwinner's struggle at a day in a busy metro. Sweat, shoves, queues, snub

3) The pang of unexpressed first love

4) Childhood friendship

5) Death, and the opportunity it brings so that we can live to the full

6) The line, 'Zindagi kitni khoobsoorat hai'

7) A mother's denial (i.e. the quack) and acceptance (i.e. the lift) at the same time

8) The film repeats the most spiritual cliche of all times ever-- to live your dreams--- beautifully

9) The thing about gifts.

10) The fact that Dasvidaniyan is predictable and yet it's something a good movie buff shouldn't miss.

* There are so many wonderful films I have decided to write about here, but haven't done so for want of time to put a 'proper review'. From now, I am going to blog about ten reasons I loved a film. That should be short and doable. One request-- please share your reactions to all film reviews w/o revealing the suspense as far as possible. Or give a SPOILER warning. :)


: Lemon Tea Productions, One More Thought Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.Producer Vinay Pathak, Azam Khan

Director: Shashant Shah

Star Cast: Vinay Pathak, Ranvir Shorey, Rajat Kapoor, Neha Dhupia, Saurabh Shukla
Gaurav Gera...... Vivek, Suchitra Pillai, Sarita Joshi...... Maa
Suresh Menon, Purbi Joshi...... Garima, Joy Fernandes...... Savio Sachin Khurana...... Varun

Singers: Kailash Kher, Sonu Nigam, Paresh, Naresh

Lyricist: Kailash Kher

Screenplay, Dialogue, Story / Writer: Arshad Ali Syed

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bell Bajao

Talk about advertisements that touch. Public service/ awareness campaigns are powerful tools to reach the masses. The Bell Bajao campaign is one such.
I saw the advertisement for the first time today.
The message has been cleverly depicted. Dialogues are almost non existent. A bell, a look. That's all. An intervention that says a lot without saying anything.
Those who ring the doorbell to interrupt an episode of domestic violence ask nothing more than a cup of milk, or a cricket ball. And yet, they convey such a lot. Perhaps, even put an end to something that could have ended up in a suicide, a burn case, a grievous knife injury. These are not far-fetched ideas, no. Just read your news briefs more carefully and you will realise how sadly common it is for such misfortunes to happen in homes that are caught in domestic turmoils. (And you know what, half such news doesn't even reach you. It dies a sudden death for want for space.)
Bell Bajao. As long as there are people who are sensitive enough to give importance to such seemingly trivial, but indeed quite vital issues, there's still so much to feel good about. This is a wonderful, wonderful campaign. Hats off to the ad-men, script-writers, directors, producers et al.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cliched but true is only an excuse

I had asked a question about cliches on Against the tide. While a complete post is awaited, here's what I got as a quick reply:

Cliches from Associated Press Guide to News Writing, Rene J. Cappon.
The link: http://cliche.theinfo.org/

awkward dilemma | brutal murder | close proximity | end result | entirely absent

exact counterpart | future plan | general public | gory murder | grateful thanks

| gruesome tragedy | lifeless corpse | mutual cooperation | new record |

original founder | patently obvious | personal friend | personal opinion |

present incumbent | sworn affidavit | surrounded on all sides | true facts |

ultimate outcome | gave permission to | held a meeting | proved of benefit |

to put in an appearance | reached an agreement | submitted his resignation |

take into consideration | established | conclusive evidence of | take into custody

accommodations | approximately | assistance | commence | finalize |

implement | in consequence of | initiate | methodology | motivation |

objective | purchase | remuneration | substantial proportion |

underprivileged | utilise | armed to the teeth battle | royal |

beat a hasty retreat | beyond the shadow of a doubt | bite the dust |

blessing in disguise | blissful ignorance | burning issue | club-wielding police |

colourful scene | conspicuous by its absence | coveted award | dramatic new move

dread disease | dream come true | drop in the bucket | fame and fortune |

gentle hint | glaring omission | gory details | grief-stricken | hand in glove|

hammer out | happy couple | head over heels in love | heart of gold |

heavily armed troops | iron out | intensive investigation | Lady Luck |

lash(|ed|es) out | leave no stone unturned | light at the end of the tunnel |

lightning speed | long arm of the law | man in the street | marvels of science |

matrimonial bliss | meagre pension | miraculous escape |

Mother Nature | moves into high gear | never a dull moment | Old Man Winter

paints a grim picture | pay the supreme penalty (price)

picture of health | pillar of society | pinpoint the cause

| police dragnet | pool of blood | posh resort | prestigious law firm | proud

heritage | proud parents | pursuit of excellence | red faces | red-faced |

reins of government | rushed to the scene | selling like hotcakes |

spearheading the campaign | spirited debate | spotlessly clean |

sprawling estate | spreading like wildfire | stranger than fiction | storm of protest

| supreme sacrifice | surprise move | terror-stricken | tie the knot |

tip of the iceberg | tower of strength | true colours | vanish in thin air |

walking encyclopaedia | wealth of information | whirlwind campaign |

last but not least | beck and call | bits and pieces | very unique |

clear and simple | death and destruction | each and every | fair and just |

few and far between | nook and cranny | pick and choose | ready and willing |

right and proper | safe and sound | shy and withdrawn | smooth and silk |

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Annapurna Tiffin Service

Food. Mortal existence essentially revolves around what we get to eat and how. The fortunate ones elevate the exercise of eating to exotic levels of culinary perfection. The less bestowed ones get something to eat only after a day full of rigid toil.

My being a foodie has a lot to do with my family, like I have said in this post. My parents are people who enjoy a simple, home cooked meal with humility and zest.

My earliest memories are playing about with my sister and cousins at my nani's house. Every festival meant going there. My nani would sit down in the kitchen, frying jalebis and malpuas, with the gas cylinder creepily close by. On festival days, she used two gas burners, instead of the usual one on the kitchen platform.

When I grew old enough to be scared of fire and the possibility of a cylinder blast dawned on me (children become aware of dangers sooner than us these days) I told my nani how risky it was to fry mal-puas thus. Everyone in the kitchen laughed me of. Food never fell short in that home. Go there at any odd hour and rest assured, you will find either a complete meal, or some filling snacks coaxed down your throat.

My mother had her mother's passion for cooking. And my father, never failed to appreciate her art. Each morning and each night, he sang passionate praises of how wonderfully she fed us all. He would only get cross if something fell short. Thankfully, it never has. Aaji has to ensure that the quantity is just right, for if rice or dal falls short, my Baba has this indignant fit of anger. He can praise rice gruel as if he's eating Biryani, but he pouts like a child even if a spoonful falls short.

While I am nowhere close the diligence of either my mother, or my aaji, I have inherited the appreciation of good food from my family, and a certain amount of whimsical fancy for cooking. Whimsical, for as my aaji says, only she is a good homemaker who boils her milk every day and makes ghee at the end of the month.

My father has immense respect for anyone who feeds him one complete meal. He says those homes are blessed where kitchens are always full of women happily churning out delicacies for their families. He calls such homemakers 'Annapurna', after the Goddess that ensures bounty of food in any household.

Some days back, when we called many to our home for dinner and I planned a menu so ambitious that even surprised me, Baba was overjoyed. "I am glad you take joy in cooking," he said. "You should take immense pride that you can feed someone. Don't turn out to be like those feminists who take pleasure of renouncing the kitchen. It's not a chore, but a privilege to be able to cook elaborate dinners," he told me.

When I didn't study, my father would chid me and weave this fantastic future scenario. He said if you don't study, the only resort would be to start Annapurnaa tiffin service, and jump up the bicycle wearing a ghaghra to go from door to door to deliver lunch boxes. But no sooner had he said this, he always added, "But I don't even mind if you do that. An honest and cheap restaurant business is a kind of social service."

The laughs we had when Baba started his Annapurna tiffin service story came to my mind when I was reading this blog sometime back. People from all over the world read and try her recipes. Their jubilant feedback after trying some item, even for a third person like me, is heartwarming. Ah, the joy food can spread...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hail George Orwell

In an age of politically correct writing, even gearing the subconscious in a politically correct mode of thought, George Orwell's writing reeks of candour to the best possible level of journalistic perfection.

While you may freely disagree with his views, you must read his essays, just to learn with what clarity and simplicity it is possible to put your thoughts across.

I have read, re-read, and plan to re-read his essays.

Last night, I found an amazing online collection of almost all his essays. Some, which I had not even heard of before. I feel it my duty to pass on the link here, and hope that at least few good readers here would find time to read this master wordsmith.

My favourites are Shooting an Elephant, A Hanging, Books v. Cigarettes, The Prevention of Literature, In Defence of English Cooking, Why I Write, Some Thoughts on the Common Toad. Even his critique on Gandhi is an interesting read. For that matter, each piece written by Orwell is special, sensitive without being overtly emotional. For example, Looking Back on the Spanish War.

The direct link of the entire list is this: netcharles.com

Orwell is worth investing time in.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cold spell rant

A bad cold has left me feeling miserable. This is not a worthy topic for blog space, I know, but just once in a while I allow myself to use the blog as a ranting machine. In my cold spells, the anger I otherwise keep under a tight tab slips out on its own. All my silent, rather acute Virgo criticisms effortlessly fly to target the cause of my irritation. Under normal circumstances, I am satisfied by speaking only when necessary, or when I feel like doing so, or with people who happen to be within one hand's distance provided my mood is right. Then, I don't need introductions or familiarity. For a brief five minutes, I might just catch you and share with you any thought that passes my mind at that moment, however ridiculous it may be. When this happens in office, I have seen that people frantically start scouting for some work to keep me occupied. For my quips can be quite random- I know, I know. :(

For example: The other day, my usual herbal soap was finished and I had to use the Dettol menthol body wash (the one which comes in a blue pack). People, don't ever, ever make the mistake of buying this product. It is one of the most ridiculous toilet items ever made. It's a yucky experience bathing with this psychedelic bluish gel. It's exactly like bathing with colgate gel toothpaste. If you don't take me seriously, and dare to try the Dettol bodywash, you shall remember my blog while trying to wash that horrible, artificial, cold, 'minty' sting off your body and bitterly regret not heeding to this cold-spell-rant.

A scribble which turned out to be what I see as a House-fly...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Learn while you can

It’s difficult to get good teachers, the real kinds.
Who, with their very passion, can make learning a joy. In their presence, syllabus escapes out of the boredom of books and starts dancing merrily about you. You catch all their words awestruck, sometimes not without a dumb reverence for which friends chide you. Many teachers shaped the course of my life in their own special ways. Like my aaji, or Fr., or Ishwarbhai or Joseph Pinto.

Of the two years I spent in Pune, I owe a lot to his teachings. Pinto has decided to take his experience beyond the restrictions of a classroom. He has started a blog where he intends to discuss what his students and friends wish him to. But he has a condition.

In his own words:
You will have to ask. As the good man says in the good book, "Ask and you shall Receive. Seek and you will Find. Knock and the Door shall be Opened."

Be it editing (how to write a crisp copy), features (typical blog material), reports (the nearly extinct species in newspapers today), or media ethics (a classmate declared journalism selfish- "I write about the ill and poor, get a byline and forget,” she fumed. Pinto called her to the dais, applauded her and talked about journalism activism) --- if you have a question related to journalism, drop in a comment on his blog, Against the tide.

Recalling my student days, Pinto thundered with a fanatic insistence on how words should be used and we wriggled uncomfortably initially. He was unpredictable in his insistence for accuracy. One day he would rip us apart while discussing reports- get furious on seeing any adjective or adverb thrown in a report. The next day, in a feature writing class, he would censor the staid language, lament the loss of imagination; the extinction of innovative adjectives to describe a situation. We thought the man a tad too eccentric when he insisted 'write it down' in response to any raised hand to answer a query. Here's a chance, for everyone to benefit from the expertise of a seasoned editor, a real teacher. Learn while you can.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cuisine, Celebrations and Communalism

Of late, fundamentalism- from all possible sides of the faith divide- has marred things- all over India and perhaps more specifically in the city and state I so much love. Bomb blasts in Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Bangalore caused an unprecedented unease and cast a shadow on the Navratri, Durga puja and Eid celebrations. I wonder why mindsets cannot gel as easily as cuisine can.

I shall talk about Cuisine, Celebrations and Communalism, the things that occupy my mind more prominently at this point of time. However diverse be the faith we follow and the beliefs we believe, all of us converge at one single melting point without exception- food.

All our ambitions boil up to roti, kapda and makaan. For most readers here, the quest may not be so simplified and the march to luxury must have set quite high standards on all the three fronts. For example, I pay my house-help some INR 775/- per month and the cook another 700/-.We don’t bat our eyelids to spend the same amount- their entire month’s salary- on a single evening of eating out. It is precisely for this unfortunate divide, that each one of us needs to be truly grateful for the sumptuous food we can afford to eat.

I grew up to shouts of ‘don’t waste food’ from my Aaji. Her kitchen was, and still remains, an epitome of hygiene, economy and taste. ‘Eat what is made or go hungry’ was a common diktat. Her fanatic exactions have made us respect food even if we cannot measure up one-tenth to her standards or style. It is for her that my taste-buds are not fussy today. Saying no seems awkward and wasting means guilt.

My Aaji is an open-minded person. So while no one at home was allowed to cook non-veg, she didn’t stop us from trying out. ‘I feel it wrong to kill to eat when you have such abundant options. But the decision is yours,’ she says. Her disapproval is subtle and democratic. It is with such a background that I not only grew up to be a first rate foodie, but also tolerant and receptive to different cooking styles.

Like I learnt to appreciate the classic Malayalee cuisine at my friend’s place. I first tasted fish here under the watchful eye of my Baba. ‘What if the bone gets stuck in her throat. She eats way too fast,” he said and seriously believed. But aunty just laughed this out. She took the piece bits by bits and literally fed me my first mouthful of fish. Since then, be it Onam or Christmas, I would go there and hog away all the mallu preparations with glee.

Post Eid, I got to sample the most amazing bowl of sevaiyyas at the house of our Urdu teacher. I still remember the breath-taking taste of the spoonfuls of chicken biryani another Muslim classmate’s mother had made.

And how can I miss the kesar-dhoodh aaji boils to perfection for Kojagiri poornima? Or the diyas she makes out of chana-dal for the ‘Jeevti’ puja on the Friday of the Saavan month? Or the Pooran poli for Sankranti?

Cooking is a major part of all festivals and cooking is what has the potential to bring people from different walks of life in one happy union. When we can sample delicacies of different castes and communities with fervour, why can’t we be tolerant to the different modes of thought? Why are we bent on seeing things in black and white? Why is it that a viewpoint has the scope only to fall in two extreme categories today?

I am scared that the way things are going in India, a migrant in Mumbai would soon be forced to eat nothing but pithla bhaat and a north-Indian techie in Bangalore would have to learn and write in Kannada before he ventures out for a job. Only the masala dosa has become ubiquitous. It’s high time that familiarity leaves the boundaries of kitchen and paves way in the minds of people.

One can think right only with a full stomach. All of us here have the good fortune to eat without a worry for tomorrow’s ration. Let us all be a little more broadminded in wake of the recent spate of tension all over the country.

When the Parsi community first landed on a shore in Gujarat, they dissolved sugar in milk and said they would mix with the native population just as easily. The community has remained true to their symbolic word of promise. I suppose it can’t be that difficult for each one of us to follow suit.

-Gauri Gharpure

This article first saw light of the day on Internations, thanks to Hans' prompt kindness, and recently, on Sailaja's excellent food blog. Many thanks to both. If you like it enough, feel free to reproduce this article on your blog too...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Nano behind my house

The site chosen in Gujarat is as near as it can get to our home... When we shifted there some 15 years back, the area was fields and jungle, mango, mahua, jamun trees, hares, partridges and jackals and what not. We had a time of our lives for about a decade, but then, highways cut through, multiplexes came up, areas underwent a massive (and rather haphazard) construction spree. The face of Bopal changed. Farmers became millionaires overnight in the neighbouring areas and very slowly, a little grudgingly at first, we adjusted to the change that development brings.

I was jubilant when M messaged that Nano is now to be in Gujarat. Being in Kolkata though, this seemed the wrong emotion to express. People were still stung and sulky, and a beaming face was misfit. :D I don't know the nitty-gritties, but Baba's happy voice was enough for me start smiling.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Gentleman bids goodbye

Friday, October 3, 2008
Kolkata: It was in a rich baritone, with poise and dignity, that Ratan Tata announced the decision to move the Nano small cars' project out of West Bengal in a press conference post the meeting with the chief minister today evening. He was appreciative of CPI (M)'s breakneck efforts to retain the company in Singur but remained firm on his stance. He strived to assure one and all of no hard feelings, either with regards to the state infrastructure, its people or its governance.

In his farewell speech, Tata reiterated his dream to usher in industrialisation in the state. "We have taken a very regretful decision to move out. We came here two years ago attracted by the investor friendly policy of the current government. I personally had a great desire that this part of the country, that has been ignored, should be developed and we should be a part of that. I still exceedingly confirm that this is a very investor-friendly state. We are leaving not because of the governance, but because of the agitation of the Opposition led by Ms. Bannerjee. We continue to be bullish and enthusiastic about what can happen in West Bengal. I just hope that West Bengal can be the state of huge development and not a state which stands only for agitations, strikes, rallies," said Tata.

Asked why he did not accept the government's offer to provide foolproof security to ward off the agitators, his response was very unlike a baron who means nothing but business. "The meeting took a long time because he (the CM) was very persuasive in his desire that we not move. I had to explain to him that the well being of our employees and contractors happens to be my responsibility and that's something I cannot pass on to him. Unless there is a congenial environment, we cannot stay. Please understand also that you cannot run a pant with police protection," replied Tata.

When asked that wasn't the decision to move out against Tata's legacy, he crisply replied, "I am the wrong person to ask this. I am not leaving Bengal on a whim or a fancy. You better ask this to Ms. Bannerjee."

Tata's commitment to professional ethics and social responsibility is unparalleled. This post, may seem contradictory now. While the way land acquisitions are dealt with in the country are quite an issue of debate, for this one case, something has really gone amiss. Lord not propel leaders like Mamata Bannerjee to associate with issues as delicate as these.. Yes, leaving Bengal seems a sad, sad thing.

Friday, September 26, 2008

There's a man I love

There's a man I love. He is mischeivous, he calls people names, he winks. His ancient blue kinetic survived a bad accident. He also survived, btw. Came out of the neurosurgery cracking jokes to be precise. He is eighty and he has more gusto than you and me. For my sake, and for the many others who adore him, I wish him many many more birthdays.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mumbai Meri Jaan

Yogesh Vinayak Joshi, the writer, must be someone who has genuine empathy to understand different lines of thoughts and consequent actions. He refrains from passing judgments but lets the movie send a message through its subtle dialogues and amazing body language of the characters. Of course, for this, the credit must be shared with co-screenplay writer Upendra Sidhaye and director Nishikant Kamat.

Mumbai Meri Jaan brings to you five very humane characters: Tukaram Patil (Paresh Rawal), Suresh (Kay Kay Menon), Nikhil (R. Madhavan), Roopali (Soha Ali Khan) and Thomas (Irrfan Khan). These are people in whom you may recognize the hawaldar standing near the pan shop, the youths drinking tea and biscuits at a kitli, your well-earning thoughtful friend with a clear set of rights and wrongs, an ambitious young media person and the roadside tea vendor you seldom look at for more than thirty seconds. They all come alive and confide in us with a touching simplicity in Mumbai Meri Jaan.

The film follows the lives of these five characters beginning the morning of the blasts to a week post the havoc of death and doubt. But in the end, the things discussed in Mumbai Meri Jaan are simple - how a man grapples with his way of life in an age that is enveloped in prejudice, doubt, inequality and extravagance?

These questions become all the louder after the Mumbai train blasts of July 11, 2006.

Paresh Raval is brilliant. His gentle, prodding good humour is delicately dressed with irony and sarcasm. His portrayal of a senior constable is perhaps the voice of many like him who slog in government services, become part of the red tape and have their own bitter regrets and reasons for the same. Kamat, plays his underling who is a green horn in the bureaucratic juggernaut and finds it difficult to digest the senselessness of it all. In his patient, good humoured chaffing of the young constable, Raval conveys many a poignant things in a tone that is unjudgemental and rational.

Thomas, the coffee-vendor played by Irrfan Khan conveys it all with his eyes. There is a blatant contrast between his frugal existence and his mute witnessing of the splurge of excess. His matter of fact resignation brings on screen a sense of disquiet, perhaps even a taunt to the well-fed multiplex audience. Thomas is the face of the vast divide of Indian economy. Watch out for his expressions when the mobile is thrown and crushed beneath the wheels.

Suresh (Kay Kay Menon) is a man filled to the brim with prejudice. You must have seen such people, you may be one of them. Though his reconciliation with secularism is a wee bit drastic, the story does its best to send across a message in the short time that a film offers. His character is detailed and sometimes his dialogues edge on dry humour. At least I had a good laugh at the Mohammad Rafi bit. The reason for his staunchness has been given cleverly in the scene where his father passionately discourses about Hinduism in their small flat.

Roopali’s character (Soha Ali Khan) has portrayed in precise words and scenes the irritation we all feel on the sensationalism of the Indian Television media. My rants in this post are now redundant. Mumbai Meri Jaan is dot on in conveying how mediocre television media has become today.

Nikhil (R. Madhavan) is one of those few young professionals who choose to stay back in India in the face of lucrative opportunities to rush abroad. His convictions falter after the train blasts. Perhaps the choice he makes is clear when he boards the train again.

Mumbai Meri Jaan is worth investing in a CD if the film is off your theatres by now.

-Gauri Gharpure
August 29, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ab ke bicchde to

Ab ke bicchde to shayad khwabon mein mile
Jaise sookhe hue phool kitabon mein mile...

Ahmed Faraz, who wrote these immortal lines died in Pakistan yesterday. He was 77.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Anonymous Smiles

The idea of Anonymous Smiles struck on one of my many day-dreaming phases.

The experiment is simple- I aim to gather addresses of people I don't know and send them one of my postcards.

If I happen to come across sketch pens when I am doing nothing, and if the mood seems right, this happens:

Sending a postcard is my version of leaving a message in a bottle in the ocean. How soon (or how leisurely late) the petite yellow card can reach its rightful owner never ceases to amaze me. I feel its potential to spread a moment of joy with colours and words has not been exploited to the maximum...

After playing with the idea for quite sometime now, I am taking the first step to further my postcard sending spree and see if I can spread smiles beyond my circle of acquaintances.

So here's what I have done so far to give my idea a concrete shape:

Now, as you can well see, I have more cards with me than I have addresses. Here's where you can come in the picture. If you know anyone to whom you would like to send one of my postcards, send me the complete postal address at anonymous.smiles@gmail.com

It could be your friend, neighbour, your parents or grandparents. It could be the address of people living in old age homes. It could be anyone whom you wish to send an anonymous smile. Even you, yourself. My interest lies only in seeing that the card is posted at a correct address and when it reaches, it ensures a moment of smile. This exercise will make me feel good about myself and hope its the same for you.

The blog http://anonymoussmiles.blogspot.com/ attempts to answer all the questions that you may now have about this idea. Please visit the blog and let me know your suggestions...

If you have addresses to share, please mail at anonymous.smiles@gmail.com

Thursday, August 21, 2008

More memories of a deluge (Part 2)

When I woke up the next morning, the bus was still parked on the side of the highway. The driver decided to proceed after sometime. But the progress was slow and discouraging. The entire highway was littered with buses and people.

People were getting uneasy. Just like I couldn't stand the stuffiness of the train after a hopeless long wait, my fellow passengers in the bus were restless and discussed all the possible ways of reaching home. The problem was with a narrow patch of road a short distance ahead. Water seemed to flow very forcefully at this point and no one could quite gauge the depth. We heard that one bus driver who had attempted to pass that patch ended up with the bus dragged a good distance away. After this, everyone had taken cold feet, put the brakes on and traffic grew static. No driver would risk going beyond that point.

Incidentally, just beyond this patch, state buses were plying as usual. People had two options, to go ahead towards Kheda and cross the flooded patch somehow, or walk the way back to Nadiad and find a night's halt. Everyone was clear on one thing: Not to spend yet another night inside the bus.

Has it ever happened to you that someone asks you something extremely important but puts a cap on your thinking time. Something like, 'Do this and do this now or you are out'. It is not an exaggeration when I tell you that something happened in less than five minutes which made all the passengers throw their hands up and they started wading out of the bus, either towards Nadiad or towards Kheda.

I went to the two women and asked what they were going to do. They seemed already geared up to begin walking to Nadiad. I asked them to wait and let me figure out what to do with my luggage and how to convey the decision to Mitrajit, but they just wouldn't give me the time. So I rushed to the driver and asked if he assured my luggage would be safe. His answer seemed convincing enough. I was to collect my luggage from their office whenever the bus reached Ahmedabad. Everyone was doing the same and the bus was almost empty with the exception of a few passengers and the driver. He also let me make a call and all I could tell M was that I was leaving towards Nadiad and my luggage was in the bus. The women were getting impatient and I was afraid they would leave. So I conveyed just this and ran off to them.

One young man from Bhavnagar and another man from Junagadh also joined us in a minute. So after little time, I realised that here we were, five strangers who would be with each other for quite sometime now in this moment of accidental brotherhood. The road was full of people wading in knee deep water. The women took their shoes off and after sometime I realised that was the best thing to do. My shoes kept getting stuck in the mud and they would shriek me to hurry every time I stopped. There were hundreds of people wading along with us. This was the first time I understood the meaning of what people mean when they say that people come together in the times of calamity.

We must have walked some two-three kilometers when we got a lift in the tractors that farmers were plying to ferry the stranded passengers to and fro. We reached inside the town. Now ever since I got down from the bus I had started inquiring about the residence of a relative. Everyone seemed to know him by the virtue of his position, but my fair ladies got impatient every time I took a stop to inquire. Finally we reached this town square and I asked where the police station was. With the influence of that one name, I entered the police station along with the four others. Now, the policeman seemed quite doubtful, but he couldn't refuse us. I got to know that my relative's house was practically an island now and the area was inaccessible. I asked them to allow me to make a few calls and called home this time. Baba would know better how to explain the relation to the cops. Besides, he could contact my other relatives too.

Presently, we were given tea and biscuits and some nashta and the ladies were feeling really grand. They were like, 'So you really know someone!' After sometime, I was called in the officer's room. There was a call for me and my maasi was on line. She told me one of her relatives would come to pick me and that I stay with them as long as things are fine. (The officer seemed totally confused ever since I had entered the office, introduced my connections and conveyed telephone numbers to my family and phones had started pouring in). Next, baba called. His instructions were clear and to the point. "When the gentleman your maasi had told you about comes, introduce the people who are with you and take them home too. Say you cannot leave them". I was shocked and started contesting his order. "How can I? I don't even know him, how can I take four more people whom I don't know to his house?" He shouted at me and told me to do as told- I was not to be selfish to leave the people who had accompanied me this long.

I grudgingly admitted to myself that he was right. In less than ten minutes, Vinayakbhai came riding his scooty.

"You are Gauri? And these people are with you? Follow me". The women were chatty as ever and though all of the four strongly refused my suggestion that they come with me, I had to be firm for in spite of my doubts, baba's instructions were clear. We all went to his house. It was in the old city area and in a 'pol'. Now 'pol' is a typical Gujarati word, meaning a narrow lane on both sides of which are old houses, some often surprisingly huge and majestic. The lanes are confusing, with one mingling into another elusively so that a newcomer might just go round and round the area without a clue.

When we reached his house, which was very nearby, his wife was waiting at the door. She welcomed us in and talked about how rough the weather was and imagined how tiring the journey must have been. The couple was so generous, so natural that it put me instantly at ease. She didn't say it out of formality when she asked them all to stay with them. We had tea and hot snacks before us in no time. The men said they would rather stay at the railway station and were quite firm about their choice. They wouldn't even stay back for lunch. But Vinayakbhai's wife said they must at least freshen up and have tea before they leave. The two sisters said they had a relative who stayed very near by and would go and find them out. After tea, the men went their way and them sisters went to find their relatives in spite of our cajoling to stay back. The sisters came again in the evening to say they had found a place, chatted, had tea and left. I got a call from all of them in Diwali.

I stayed with Vinayakbhai till the next afternoon on July 2. He came to see me off at the bus station and I got home in two hours. They were more than happy to have me there. He talked a lot about his daughter who was settled somewhere in London and how he didn't like staying there in spite of having some solid visa permit. "We were there for six months, but I have to be back. We go for our daughter, but start missing this place in no time".

We talked on phone a few times. We couldn't meet as he had some wedding to attend. I sent him a postcard on Diwali. He called a few months later to thank me for it. He had again gone to London and had got the card only on his return. We sent him an invitation for our wedding, but he was out somewhere again. In another wedding this February, I got to know he had died of a heart attack.

In those four days I learnt a lot. I learnt how simple people can be if they so choose. And how open and how honest. I never met my four companions again, but I have the most fond memories of them. Hospitality is what I learnt from Vinayakbhai and his wife. They took me as their own with a warmth and simplicity that is peculiar to their community. I also felt how right Baba was and how selfish I must have regretted being if I had gone to Vinayakbhai’s house alone. Baba’s insistence was worth it for I came face to face with a couple who had the charm to welcome strangers in their house so graciously. I saw for myself how a host ought to be and how some strangers can find a permanent place in memories…

Monday, August 04, 2008

Handmade wonder...

The second (and better) lamp that I made after an entire day with scissors, glue and cloth... The first one was a result of impulse when I made the frame after battling with wires and covered it with an extensive cloth cut-work. But this one is real neat and a lot better than my first attempt...Our drawing room looks so good now. Chalo, praise me :D

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Jalsa Chhe

Dalwada ane majja boss,
Amdawad, O Amdawad...
Cutting ane jalsa boss...
Amdawad, O Amdawad...

Nothing can deter the Amdawadi spirit from swinging back to life. Not even this

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dark Comedy- UPA wins the trust vote

Just seeing the parliament proceedings live.

I so feel like mollycoddling them and planting a kiss on their cheeks. Don't they seem like unruly first standard kids? The way the honourable speaker has to repeat-- "Go back to your seats, behave, sit down, stop this noise, quiet..." O, I so remember my school...

Coming to think of it, many of our respectable members of parliament are illiterate and some have come straight from prison to cast life-saving votes.

The cash for vote allegations by BJP were a fascinating thrill but this failed to ruffle the UPA. SP leader Amar Singh though used many a words to show his displeasure.

The UPA won the trust vote a few seconds back with 275 votes...

8.25 PM, July 22

Related: Cash in the well and UPA wins

Monday, July 21, 2008

Stop Senseless Slander

Just read the article on Aarushi written by Masooma Ranalvi in Outlook dated July 28, 2008. Masooma, mother of Aarushi's close friend has voiced with precision and passion the serious pitfalls of scandalising media coverage.

The callous depiction of the Aarushi murder case brings to light how the police and the media have become hand-in-glove accomplices in the road to slander.

Repetitions in the form of the same visuals, leading questions, questions that encourage drama and speculation, sexed-up discussions and debates about murders and crimes on prime time news- we seem to be blood-sucking vampires drooling on the gory and the obscene to a majority of production houses today, isn’t it?

And then there’s this angle about the callousness of police.

What kind of investigation is it that fails to find a dead body from the crime scene and discovers it the next day. (The first short brief I read in The Telegraph was that the girl was found murdered and police suspected the house-help, assumed he had fled after committing the crime)

I fail to see the reason why the police feel compelled to hold press conferences and shed light on what they think would have been the modus operandi, speculate about alleged killers on air? Why they can't mind their own business without light, cameras and action.

Gone are the days when the crime departments did their own work and the reporters did their own news briefs that were small, crisp reports and nothing more.

As of this date, there still isn't a set of laws framed expressly to control the audio-visual media. Could this be the reason why nonsense goes on the Indian television so effortlessly?

Talking about censure, yes I do feel very strongly that a free press that head bangs callously in each and every aspect of personal life need not be applauded and celebrated as the living symbol of 'freedom of speech'. Of late, hasn't the Indian television gotten a bit too free? A section of it needs to be leashed, and leashed firm and proper. And soon.

We need news to keep informed. For thrills and frills, we might as well read cheap detective novels, thank you.

We attended this guest lecture from a person from CNN-IBM. I still remember his sly smile when Jyoti asked him 'Sir, do you seriously think there is a need for 24 hour news channels?'

I guess that question sums it up all.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tagged-- again :)

Dharma has tagged me this time. And if I remember well, this is the same tag that Gaurav forwarded a long time back. So now, given the power of meme with the same tag landing up twice from two people located at two distant corners of the world, I feel I really must keep the game going and do what is asked of me right away.

I did a recap of some of my favourite posts, and this tag is somewhat similar.

What you have to do is simple: Post 5 links to 5 of your previously written posts. The posts have to relate to the 5 key words given : family, friend, yourself, your love, anything you like. Tag 5 other friends to do this meme. Try to tag at least 2 new acquaintances (if not, your current blog buddies will do) so that you get to know them each a little bit better.

Family--- I don't think I have talked a lot of my family here. Of course, references could have come up in other posts (for the influence of baba and aaji on me is more than I would like to acknowledge :) but there are no posts in which I have actually, consciously talked about them. Except in this one, the post that happened in an impulsive, nostalgic moment. This post will give you a glimpse about my baba. I have wanted to, thought of and many a times willed myself to sit and write about what I remember of growing up. But my mind evades the pen, the pen the paper. Some memories are so beautiful and so sad, I dare not freeze them, not just yet.

Friends-- I have less than ten friends whom I really call 'friends'. (Dharma's musings about the randomness of categories and stuff often perplexes me too, but then, I believe if you know where you and others stand in your life, so much the easier) These are the few people I have tagged along with since kinder garten, a few whom I began to love for no special reason along the way in high school and college. Though I am not regularly in touch with them, it's with a fierce Virgo trait that I keep thinking of them, remembering them and bitterly missing them without letting them know I do. I wish I were a little more open with the best of my friends and reach out more often... :) Here's what I have written about my friends.

But then there's one person who hears my rants day in and day out, who takes pains to make meaning of my random blabber and who even tolerates the songs I sing just before falling off to sleep. My best friend...

And my ever loving sis, who tolerated the late night lullabies I sang for me before the task was transferred to M, who I always pushed off a gathering of friends out of insecurity and jealousy. (My friends always had nice things to say about 'Didi' and that irritated me no end) With time, I have realised what a great fool I have been all along. Whom I strictly classified as 'family' , 'sister' and such stuff, was after all the most constant, most un-judging, most tolerant friend I ever had. My friend who reminds me of the most hilarious times of growing up together... The four year gap never made itself felt between us.

Yourself--- How dumb! All that you read on this blog takes you an inch closer to confusion of knowing who I am, who I am not. Pick what you choose of these writings and see if you think you know me.

Love--- Ah!! Hop on to the other blog that has most of the little scribbles born out of love, longing and happiness. Or let me narrow things down- you may want to read this, this and this...

Anything you like--- The most direct way of getting in a trap is giving me a choice- A question like "This or That?" leads me to a labyrinth of confusion, nerve-wracking moments and leaves me with a simplistic solution and twinkling eyes: "Both!!" This fifth point comes with a similar rider... Anything I like??? I adore this entire blog of mine, how unfair to ask me to choose... If you have read till this line, I say, cheers! You are what an ideal reader should be like... :D

The tag goes to

True fiction (Glad you took the earlier one.. I know another comes too soon, but would be great if you do this too!)
Void ( " " " " too!)

Also, Apu and Sudhanshu, do take this tag up and keep coming here more often!

The conditions once more-- Tag five or more people, two of whom should be new acquaintances you have made...