Ode to the Kingdom

I was bored and a old friend from school and his gtalk status quotes made me chuckle for they were senseless to the extent of being brilliant. I decided to comment on our country in a similar style. Then I totally stretched it way out of control I think. Here is the Ode to the Kingdom.

The Commies had a feast and Karat danced the night away with his comrades eating delicious Chinese food. The Indians had a feast and they killed each other in one night deciding if they would make north or south indian food. And then the Italian chef smiled at the fools.
Babaji became heir apparent, he represented the youth as he grew older. He was a champion of the new born baby even if he were to turn a hundred he claimed. Until then he would eat delicious pastas made by his mother the famous Italian chef.
The Iron man started to work out when he was past eighty. He wanted to be King he said, his balding head shone like his metallic body. He claimed to wage war against the fools and make the kingdom rich. I am the King! I am the King he shouted but sadly for the bald iron man Singh is King.
They laughed at the King, they laughed at the Italian chef and her Babaji when they shook hands with Uncle Sam. They cried for the poor man from their Mercedes and BMWs. They decided to eat Chinese food instead of the heavy stomached Italian food to stay close to the Indian people. The monsoons have come now and the friends of Mao are screwing them.
The wrestler grunted like a bull and promised to do away with English and Computers. We all will prosper as we ride on our buffaloes on the superfast highways. The wrestler threatned the Italian chef and called her infant Babaji an infant. The wrestler and his immortal friend bit the dust as they were left behind with their bulls on their dusty roads.
The summer was hot and dry. The wells dried up and the lakes fell short. But the Kingdom had a feast to decide on who would be king. Now that Singh is King again, the Rains come down, rivers gather strength and the tap runs dry…
The Bridges fall and the Cranes then fall like dry twigs, Where are you? O Shaktiman !!

Black and Iqbal

The other day when I was flicking channels I caught a scene from the movie ‘Black’ starring Rani Mukherjee as a deaf, mute and blind charachter (a take on Helen Keller) and Amitabh Bachchan playing her eccentric teacher.

I saw this scene in which Rani Mukherjee walked like Charlie Chaplin and apparently there was nothing wrong with her feet but I guess it was a nice way to get the audience to feel sad about a poor girl. It got me thinking about the movie and names like Hellen Keller.. hmm
I remember reading about her in some school text book. She was quite the inspirational figure. Rani Mukherjee’s character looked just about tragic at best. The acting was good I guess. It won the Naitonal Award of the best film but when I first saw it and even now its always felt like going into a French Restaurant where excellent Italian cuisine was served. The movie has everything going for it.

Great cast, renowned director, great photography and a inspirational story. Hmm that word inspiration again. If you really thought about Helen Kellers life she was a person who acheived a lot more than just centering her life around a teacher and sitting on a bench feeling snowflakes. She campaigned for the Socialist Party, stood up for women’s voting rights, assisted in the founding of the iconic ACLU and travelled the world. She wrote 12 books and several articles. She did more than most people do in a life time and all this inspite of being deaf and blind.
‘Black’ was that cesspool of pity which is lauded over this girl’s charachter in the movie where all the movies ends up showing is life is tough for a deaf, mute and blind girl. I mean what the fuck? Doesnt common sense say that anywaysl? The movie shows her as a outcast who doesnt fight back or live her life on her own terms. It shows her as a outcast who clings to her teacher and thats it. The movie is melodramatic, visually brilliant piece of an excuse to be a tear jerker. It seems all the director wanted were great award winning shots, the story be damned. All the director wanted was us to feel sorry for a disabled girl. Worse the creators say Helen Kellers life was a inspiration for this movie.

Now really wiki Helen Keller again and youd go wow !! I mean heres a person who did stuff.Right through the movie there is no friend, no family member who cares about the charachter. If the family cares its only through dinner dialogues to prove that they probably care a little bit. The years of disgusting behaviour is balanced with a couple of scenes of repentence by the family and lifes peachy again.

All this makes me think about another Hindi movie called Iqbal. Its about a deaf and mute boy in a village who resists family pressure to play cricket. It ends with the kid in India colours as a fast bowler. The boys disability is never shown as a problem. You are never made to feel sorry for the kid, atleast not too much and he’s moving along towards his goals without melodrama. Yeah I rather think ‘Iqbal’ is more representative of Helen Kellers life than ‘Black’

Frankly people with disablities have it tough and we all know that. Why make them feel worse by pitying them and feeling sorry for them. Help them out if you think you can or watch how they help themselves out. Most times we have a lot to learn from them anyways. So dare I say learn from them.

THE Crime of acceptance of obeisance…

I was reading this interesting book “White Tiger” by Arvinda Adiga. It was about this man supposedly from UP who works as a Driver at a rich mans house in Delhi. I wont talk about the book, please read it because its excellent. But it did get me thinking about this word that was atleast as far as I recollect not used in the book at all but so brilliantly described.

The word was obeisance. If you Wiki the damn word it takes you to a article on the word ‘Salute’. Suggesting obeisance is another word for Salute. But thats actually far from the truth if you read further down the article. A Salute means showing respect. Obeisance is a “gesture not only of respect but also of submission”

Now I wonder why is it so prevalent in our culture. Have you noticed a rickshaw driver or a plumber with his head held high? If you have chances are we think the person has a attitude problem. Especially if this person is working in your house or under your employment. Have you ever felt a person who does menial work is not allowed to sit on the sofas of your house. But the same rule wont apply to your Chartered Accountant who is also someone whose working for you.
In India we (I am presuming that the ones who read this blog are in the upper middle class income bracket) we always act benevolent towards the poor and show them pity. We mock them by saying our hearts go out to them. We feel that we can feel their pain because the poor souls have not got an oppurtunity to the education that we got.

We want to donate a thousand rupees once in five years to some NGO for spread of education amongst the poor. The poor are the ones we want to eradicate. Illiteracy is something we want to defeat and see a new and strong India. Well arent we a bunch of ****ing hypocrites. We cannot even let a poor gardener sit on our sofa. We cannot even call them our employees, we prefer to call them servants. Its strange when you actually hire someone to do your accounts or contracter to build your new home you would not dream of calling that person your ‘servant’

It is not that everyone is ‘in’ on the trick. We dont obviously want to be such pricks now do we ?
But I guess the reason is we have grown up with the culture of expected people poorer than us to look at us with a sense of obeisance. I think its a crime to accept the idea of obeisance. Next time you are in a rickshaw and the driver is cranky, remind your self its his damn rickshaw and he is probably having a bad day. He also has the right to be pissed off at the world like you do on your monday morning blues. Next time you see your kaamwali bai a little grumpy remember how you were grumpy when your increment was upto the mark. And lastly but not the least when they quit your job dont get all wound up on the “loyalty factor” and ask yourself, havent your ever changed your job and looked for a change ?? !!

Or maybe I am getting it all wrong. Is it that being pissed off, being grumpy and looking for change is the perogative of only the well to do ?

The Republic.

1950
Almost sixty years ago the remnants of a old civilization went on to become a republic. The King was told he can take a hike, the governor general’s position defunct we now had a President.
No longer was power to flow in a ad-hoc manner. No longer would men and women be
treated unequally and religion would not hold a person at an disadvantage.
No longer would there be dynasties ruling us but only men and women with merit.

With dreamy eyes in the early 1950s the young felt they would lead the republic to glory. The republic was a five thousand year old civilization which now planned to take the world by strom one more time. The young and educated planned to stoke the fires of freedom forward. Not freedom from a foreign rule but freedom from prejudice, freedom to choose and freedom to be educated and finally the freedom to live.

Circa 2009
The remnants of the old civilization keep withering away because not because of the influence of west but because of the incompetence of cultural police. Culture cannot be policed is a concept that is lost.

The Queen lives as gentle reminder to the world of what the Birtish had been once upon a time and our President is elected only because her main qualification is she is a woman. Men and women are equals but expeted to be not equals not just in society but even legally. Women must accept the cultural boundaries of her freedom otherwise push free and die young and your states chief minister will complain you were being too adventurous for a girl.
The dynasties are back. The ones only happen to be born to people who likewise were happened to be born to some people who also incidentally happened to be born to someone who had a bit of power still aspire for the highest office.

These products of the dynasties play the youth card well but not the merit card. The young who try to lead and change in this republic literally face a very short life span. The republic has now actually taken the world by storm. But it has not been able to come to terms with its place nor hope from its own people. The young and educated have to still stoke the fires of freedom forward.

Freedom from its dynasties and its prejudice and old men of eighty looking to lead a youtheful revolution. I have no choice but to wait for chance to vote for no-one at the elections. Until them I wont vote for all these bastards who promise different things but deliver only the rape of the Republic.

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.