Déjà vu – Motorcycle Diaries

Was on my motorcycle late in the night when the cold wind hit my face in a precise manner. It was a strange night, one of those not so cold and not so hot ones. Looks like winters gone without making much of a fuss. Back home from work and spending time in front of the Computer Screen and then the television screen, the TV caught my attention. The screen flickered images of a wheel driving along a endless road. That image was enough. It fired some neurons in my brain like a jolt and I got a sense of déjà vu. Before the next scene cut and showed up the two men in leather skull caps on a motorcycle I knew it was the Motorcycle Diaries playing on one of the channels.
Had seen this gorgeous Spanish movie with its very witty subtitles over two years ago and I was taken into the past. It felt familiar and pleasant. The memories associated not so important or impressive but peharps it was a easier time in life or perhaps because it was not such a incredible time in life when I saw this impressive movie on the road trip taken by Che Guevara and Argentine in his final year of medicine with his charmingly rougish friend Alberto Granado. Its not often you see a movie which inspires you to be a kid again. Its not often that you see a movie and feel like sitting on your motorbike and scoping an entire continent.  Hmm maybe its because you feel you still have something really outrageous and stupid left to do in life that you feel a déjà vu watching the movie.
A smirk which everytime the duo struggle with the wire to repair their La Poderosa.
Maybe next time I am on my motorcycle Ill hear that distinct bass guitar playing in some corner of my mind a distinctly latino tune.

Slumdog Millionaire….

Came back from work and switched on the TV and tuned into News. The news is full of Slumdog Millionaire at the Oscars. Ive seen the movie, felt it was shot, edited brilliantly and the music is pretty good even though AR Rahman is the same as ever which only means he has kept up his good work. 
The movie did have its blood curling moments like the scene in which a small boy gets his eye removed so he can be a better beggar. But frankly I expected it. As a kid growing up in a Mumbai suburb I grew up with stories about how children were forced to beg on the streets and how they would be disfigured or disabled for life to be more effective to extract pity. Ofcourse anyone growing up in Mumbai has always had a time when youve looked at a street urchin and wondered. Wondered if youd survive in their hard, cruel and at times brutally tough world. I would always feel ashamed to be an Indian, to be part of a society which allowed children to be used in such a way. I mean these kids were pretty much living withing the 10 squre km area where you lived all your life and yet what a different life I lived compared to a slum dweller. 
But as one grows up Ive realised that these guys have dreams and dare to follow them with a lot more guts than the average middle class guy. Inspite of the fact that life has been harsh and unfair to them. Probably the generation  before mine did need to be validated by foreigners. Western validation was needed to be called First World. I guess that attitude still exists a little bit. But honestly why am I ashamed to be an Indian because of its poverty? Why should I be? When even the children who grow up in such poverty are proud of themselves why do I need to be ashamed ?  I guess being ashamed about the poor is a nice way for us to feel we have our moral fibre in place. But this is not a moral issue, it actually is an economic issue. We tend to compensate what gets us angry with sadness and sense of pity. Pity is a horrible word, because it seems like a escape clause. Fact is most of us would not think twice striking up a bargain of Rs 5/-  from your local bhaji wala or fruitwala who live in poverty. Fact is we pity them and most of them wouldnt care for your pity. A fruitwala who earns Rs50 a day could sure do with Rs55/- a lot more than pity which only serves the one who shows in and not the one who is being pitied upon. No, being a person who loves Mumbai, I am not ashamed of its slums. I am angry about the fact that they exist, but not ashamed. Slumdog Millionaire was a movie which wasnt showing India’s poor as people who were ashamed of themselves. It was a unabashed movie of a underdog. And no need to pity ourselves and feel outraged that see how India’s poverty is being sold abroad. I rather see a movie in which  a slumdog becomes a millionaire than see a movie where millionaires tell you how its all about loving your parents.

A Champion from Mumbai

It was said he cannot bat well when India really needs him. It was said he isnt a Match winner, or atleast not as big a match winner as some others. Personally for me when I think of the words Sachin Tendulkar it takes me back almost twenty years ago, watching him bat against Pakistan on the grimy television tube. A sixteen year old boy had become a batting sensation and the sensational batsman went on to become legend and even that was a long time ago. Heard a comment from a friend a while ago that Tendulkar epitomises Mumbai.
It is so true. Its like the superhero; everyone admires his super success and so it isnt as entertaining to see him suceed and then the failures of the superhero becomes entertainment. Its important to remember how Tendulkar has never talked about why he has needed to bat carefully and restrict himself. He has never discussed matters that were discussed in the dressing room. We often sing praises to Ganguly as the best captain for giving direction to youngsters like Harbhajjan Singh, Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan. Its said Tendulkar was not a good captain, cooly we forget he was a captain at the age of 23 and his youngest teammates who were just settling into the Indian cricket team were Ganguly and Dravid. Both players who went on to captain India.
But apart from his contribution to cricket, the stand out quality that remains is his seemingly indifference to expectations. Yes, I will call it indifference because I dont think a person can deal with such expectations like Tendulkar has on him and be sane. Imagine if you have a bad day at work and your patriotism to your country is questioned !! Thats what Tendulkar has dealt with on more than a few occasions. The century in the last innings at Chennai was perfect. It was not the most brilliant of his career but like Harsha Bogle commented it was like how a brilliant writer of literture will take joys in writing a good project report, just to tell himself he can. 
The Champion like the city he hails from has been battered, injured and denounced as a has been and even selfish. But like champions both will just keep going, without a fuss, with indifference to expectations of everyone except their own.

A meaningless walk…..

It was around 9.45 pm and my friend called up. He felt it would be a good idea that we could meet over dinner. Now I already was full with a pretty decent dinner so I declined. But he was adamant that we should meet. So I said okay Ill join you.

I was online surfing some crap and all. Did not bother to check the time and it was like 10 pm suddenly.

I quickly locked my computer screen and looked around in my bedroom for a pair of socks.

Quickly put on my Nikes and started to walk down from the flat.

Just then my friend called me. I opened the flap, this mobile phone is like a black coloured nice looking Nokia phone. My friend was speaking calmly as always and asked where I was. Told him the truth that I was walking down the stairs from my apartments at this moment.

He let a few of those friendly banter like abuses at me for not starting earlier but then composed himself like always and asked how much time it would take me to come to the chowk?

Told him 10 minutes and to start already as you see I had already had my dinner. He was anyways going to have some Chinese food and a really bad Chinese outlet.

So I start to walk quickly down the road. I had my ear phones and it played this album called I Robot by Alan Parsons Project or something like that.

Walked along the road and noticed that all the gates except two or three of them had board which signaled people to not park their cars on the road. I walked past a red car lost in the music blaring into my ears. The car looked cute. At the end of the road which was the neighborhood I stayed in I turned left and walked along quickly to meet my friend at the chowk.

I walked past a van selling burgers and then a kulfi shop. I had stayed here for three years but had never seen the kulfiwala. Strange.

So now I am at this chowk and looking around to see where this Chinese stall is. I didnt see any chinese by I see my friend.

He walked upto me very animatedly and then again let loose a few friendly abuses. I ignored them once or twice but then I joined in the fun and let a few abuses at him too.

I wonder whats the deal with me and my friends. We are always swearing at each other. Othewise we are quite a decent bunch and all but always swearing at each other.

So my friend decides he wants to eat Indian and we walk into this sorry excuse for a restaurant. He orders and plate and it arrive pretty fast. I don’t order anything. My friend is a Sikh and speaks really ghatti Marathi. Well that’s cause he is from Nagpur. Now, I don’t find it funny, but most people smile or find it funny to see a Sardarji speaking flawlessly ghatti Marathi.

Then I realised my friend is staring at this girl. I said not stare dude, its bad manners to stare more than like a few seconds anyways. He nods but says she’s really cute. I turn around to see that she indeed is cute.

My friend is digging into his plate and now and I realised suddenly that I was staring at the girl too. Could that be regarded as staring ??

I agree I was staring. She was cute what do I say. He declares that dinner is over and we walk out of the restaurant.

We shake hands and decide to watch a movie or something on the weekend. My friend tells me he is going to write a blog. I say cool and I want to read it. He promises to mail the link to me. Asks me when I am writing my next blog. I say I don’t know. Haven’t found anything interesting. And then I joked that Ill write about this meeting for dinner in my blog.

As I walked past the kulfi shop and the burger van I realised it was quite late. Must be like 11.15 pm. Then I crossed the road and walked into this lane where my apartment was. I looked at that cute gorgeous red sedan parked neatly. Nice car must say. Then I thought about the blog and I said a blog about this meaningless walk. And felt why the heck not…..

10…. 9…… 8…. 7…… 6

The first memory I have of astronauts as a kid was that of i was less than five years old, maybe even younger than five when Rakesh Sharma was in the Russian space module. Space had started to occupy something that was fascinating. Something that was mysterious.

The next memory of space being facinating was talking nad disucussing planets with my dad. It was quite interesting or rather it was quite a weird thing to imagine that the world we live in was a planet andthere are bigger, more massive planets that are around.The one day in the late 80s mom and dad were watching a movie and i caught quite a bit of it. It featured Ed Harris and the movie was called The Right Stuff.

It was about the Mercury Seven project of Nasa which was Americas first manned space flight.I am sure most of you have looked up at the sky and wondered what it would be to burst out of the gravitational pull of the earth and reach the skies.In an few days, 22nd of Oct 2008 some scientists will send a small Lunar Module called Chandrayaan 1.The no 1 indicates its first of the series for many to come.

Well they work in the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)Now I know an Indian astronaut being sent to space is still a long way away. But this mission means we are on our way.Its time we sit up and take notice of our acheivements in space technology. Wait, no.. no sitting up. We need shut up about everything, stand up and appluad these geniuses who on shoe string budgets have acheived so much. I remember a small black and white photograph of a rocket nose cone was being transported by bullock cart in Sriharikota. It was a sight you can only see in India in the history of mankind. I am sure they dont use bullock carts anymore to transport parts to the launch pads but it bring a smile on your face when you come to think of it that the rocket nose cone did make it out of earth and launched a satellite for us.Once our moon mission is done, I am sure political parties will take credit directly and indirectly. OH how I wish we could send them on a one way trip to the moon…..

Anyways Cheers to the men and women who work tireless, sometimes risking their lives, livihood to live a dream. Dream to explore space. CHeers to Neil Armstrong whose name everytime a adult hears makes him remember his own childhood when he wanted to be a astronaut. Cheers to the rocket scientists who dream up of making something as big a s tall skyscraper blast off literally out of this world.

God of the off side…

I love cricket more than any other sport. Football comes a close second but Cricket is well boss, THE GAME. Today Saurav Ganguly decided that this would be his last test series. The last time he will play for India. And he bows out of the game against possible his arch-rivals Australia.

I have never been a big fan of Ganguly, but mainly for non-cricketing reasons. I thought his taking off his shirt and waving it around at Lords was irresponsible for a captain. We still see the then youngsters Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh still showing more passion for effect rather than in their game. But inspite of what I think, I admit, it felt so good to see Ganguly waving his shirt around like that on the famous Lords balcony. But it must be said his passion was not only for effect. Making one of the most prolific comebacks in recent times shows he had and always will have a few roars left in him.

His 144 against Australia at Brisbane was something that probably made the world respect him. Battered in the ODI triangular series against the Aussies, with hardly any good form India travelled to Australia. Their coach Buchanan had predicted a 4-0 victory for Australia. Ganguly was attacked by the Australian verbally provoked as a batsman who was weak against fast bowling. His record in a previous Australian tour had been pointed out for that effect. Australia had piled up close to 400 runs in the first innigns and then India lost 4 quick wickets and then a master class by Ganguly, ducking and weaving bouncers, looking ugly yet surviving and then suddenly attacking the Australians. A mind numbing 144 runs and India took the lead. THe first test in Brisbane was a draw, but India went on to win the next one in Adelaide. A strange twist of irony is that now Buchanan is the Coach of Kolkata KnightRiders and subsequently is working with Ganguly to build the IPL team.

Many think he was India’s best captain, best left hander, best or most agressive player. I don’t know about that. Watching him bat in full flow you had to say he was the God of the Off Side as his old colleague Rahul Dravid has said of Ganguly. The last series for Ganguly, the last 4 tests he will feature in Indian test cap. I think its time to savour it. Its time for his critics and fans to come together and savour the last of the God of the off side. Its time for us to realize that there are other greats who will also bid farewell to cricket in the next year or two and history will be much kinder to them than our pessimistic and controversy loving public and its news media.

Why So Serious ?????

A girl is murdered by someone, news channels, society, the intelligentsia, the youth all are shocked and follow the drama. Why they screamed? The police bungled on the case, questioned the girl’s character with no proof and then arrested some one. News channels, society, the intelligentsia, the youth all were horrified to see someone

Murdered twice over. And then the CBI stepped in and everyone was please. A chief minister blamed the centre, the centre brushed it away. The fact remains the news channels, society, the intelligentsia and the youth then moved on to Abhinav Bindra and the 123 Agreement but a murdered 14 year old girl awaits justice.

A military being paid less than others in the government. They can’t quit their service whenever they please unlike other government servants. They can’t protest. They cannot go on strike. They are mad, angry on the verge of things spilling over and all we can do is say the Indian Army is a great institution. Of course the news channels, society, the intelligentsia and the youth of the nation are busy with the financial crisis in the US and flipping through for news on if Australia will tour India or not and if Ganguly will play or not now that Australia is in India.

As we see churches set on fire in the name of Hinduism, Muslims being not allowed to buy houses in building societies even in metros and a state banning a Hindu from owning property in Kashmir. As we see bombs explode and streets paved with blood. As we see intolerance to moderates, intolerance for capitalists, intolerance to each other. As we note that a country takes up the issue of Sikhs in France not being allowed to wear turbans in France, we forget we don’t allow so many rights to so many in our country.

As we laugh at Bush and feel outraged at his concept of security we shrug our shoulders and talk of resilience when bomb blasts are taking place literally every weekend. As we laugh at Chinese for their small eyes strange features, we forget that we call many Indians from the north east as Chinese and not Indians. We look at them as foreigners in their own country.

As we laugh at the stupid American and call the Indian brain superior we forget almost half of our children don’t go to school. As we laugh at Americans credit crises and pat ourselves on the back for our well regulated markets and economy we forget that we don’t have any thing called social security.

As we laugh at our neighbors and their so called democracies we forget the ruling party has anointed head of government and its power to be centered on a family, back to monarchy shall I say? And to not leave the ruling party behind, the opposition party wants the constitution to be centered on a religion.

But then relax. Some dumbass astrologer has predicted that 21st Century will be India’s century. So India will be a great power!!! Why so Serious? Why so Serious yaar!! Its inevitable.

But I am left wondering. If we as a nation are supposed to lead the world in the 21st Century, then what sort of a leader will India be? Shh Relax, Why so Serious?

Cant help wondering, are we all Jokers ????

Ramblings on the Beliefs….

First of all, before anyone thinks of me as a heretic or cdontroversial, let me make it clear. I have great regard for people of faith. The strength they can get is something thats real. And inner strength is always respectable.
But this article is lets say my ramblings on Faith, God, Religion, Beliefs etc etc….

About two years ago when my grandfather passed away, my mother had a intersting question.
Obviously after a lot of prayers were said to come to terms with the pain of losing someone you loved.
So the question was “How do people who dont belive in God come to terms with such loss? How they get strength from?”
I felt it was a interesting question, a question that can be very thorny… or is it? Maybe just the answer is full of thorns and not the question itself.
Okay okay, me no Socrates so let me not get too philosophical….
Ah yes , cut two years down the line.
One of my best buddies today is a Muslim. Looking at religion, me being a Hindu we are pretty solidly looking in opposite directions when it comes to faith or culture. Yes being a Gujrati Muslim means the mother tongue is different too, but… hmm we are great friends.
Now now, I am not one of those dopes to write that no religion teaches you to murder, nor does any religion teach hate… Sure it doesnt.
Eureka! I got it.
Now I am thinking of a situation… the is man on kid on the road riding a bicycle. The kid falls off and hits the ground. About nine out of ten of us would go up to that kid and check if the kid’s fine.
So when you think about kid, are you doing so because religion teaches you so… I mean would a atheist be any less concerned? I doubt it.
So here is my two pence on concept of God.
You can not know if God exists or not. You can only believe. So whats the big fuss about? Isnt knowledge higher than belife? If I cant go to heaven, because I don’t believe in a certain religion then I tell God, yeah I tell God himself that you can keep your heaven. I don’t care about afterlife anyways. Id rather live life for today, and make it count right here, right now. No, I am not a atheist, I am not religious, I am not even someone who has a clear idea of God, frankly I am not even sure if I believe in God. Yeah, I do pray every night, not for God to hear me, but rather it makes me feel good. Its probably psychological hardwire… Frankly I think its best I do what I do, so I can live with my self. Other than that if God, if he does happen to exist wants me to do anything more, I wouldn’t care a damn.

The Idiot Box

the idiot box
The morning of 15th August

‘CLICK’Today the Prime Minister Manmohan in his Independence day adressed talked about the goverments achivements on 9% economic growth
‘CLICK’Abhinav Bindra is my son, and I have given my son to the nation, he is the nations son
‘CLICK’Why this economic blockade in Kashmir, the Hurriyat stands by
‘CLICK’The Formder President of USSR Mikhail Gorbachev defended the Russian Military action in Georgia.
‘CLICK’Tataglia is a pimp. What I didnt know was that it was Barzini all along
‘CLICK’vande mataram
‘CLICK’Aaj hamare rashtra ko saath saal huve hai aur
‘CLICK’The baseball stiching has not yet been made automated, it has to still be hand stiched
‘CLICK’Niketa Mehta has suffered a miscarriage, the parents had approaced the High Court
‘CLICK’Phelps has won his sixth gold medal and
‘CLICK’Abhinav Bindra could rival Dhoni in brand endorsements
‘CLICK’The world is looking at Russia and its promise to stick to the ceasefire
‘CLICK’Can India me managed ? I put that question to your managersI think any managers value is taken in terms of efficiency. I dont think that politicians can be efficient.
‘CLICK’Where is the freedom? we only have had 60 years of corruption and politics and ‘CLICK’Mangal Mangal Mangal Mangal ho..
‘CLICK’and why will a Manager lead an India? People dont follow orders then why will any manager enter the fray ?
‘CLICK’Abhinav Bindra is often called the reluctant champion of sorts
‘CLICK’Federed was thrown out of the singles event by Blake
‘CLICK’The dimple on the golf ball makes it more aerodynamic and
‘CLICK’Musharaff has decired India’s human rights record in Kashmir
‘CLICK’Tendulkars absence will be felt says Dhoni, is this a way to
‘CLICK’Abhinav Bindra the goldfinger of India got a grand welcome
‘CLICK’
No Signal……………….

Damn the TVs gone and its raining …