Thursday, September 25, 2008

How I want to live!!

Crushed sugarcane cheek by jowl with fresh cow dung,
Dense concrete that overlooks a grand old tree,
Weak limbs on support bearing a little child all young,
Defeated hopes and misplaced expectations clothed in
fancy brands. Humble and joyous spirits decked in
rags. The world is a strange place where opposites lie

Men yearning for the rosy past and dreaming about
lush futures, Women weighed down with yesterdays
and trying to rise above tomorrows. In the midst, the
careless children digging their heels in the present,
soaring high and breathing in the little pleasures.

If the world is a theater, children are the best actors.
If it is a mammoth canvas, the young are the brightest colors.
Vibrant, joyous with hopes, showing their true spirits,
they march to a tune that is music only to their ears.
In this pendulum of hope and betrayal that life is, little do they
know what waits at the end!

The past is over and the future is yet to unravel; to live
in the present is to experience the finer moments. Blessed
are those that have short memories for the slate can be
wiped clean soon. Like a cloth that absorbs easily, I also
yearn for an unfeeling heart that cares little for the pain
and looks to the next moment in anticipation of gain!

When the World is a testimony to contrasts of every shape and size,
When the only way to forget is to erase and live in the moment, what
better examples to emulate than the young and the tiny? One moment,
happiness and the next moment, sadness, their every breath a comment
on this irony!

Here I come! I know not ego, I know not memory, all I know
is that the next moment is for me to live, not judge and brood!
Ignore me, slight me, curse me, strangle me, betray me, I shall
absorb all and rise again. I shall do only the good for I am incapable
of the bad and the ugly. I know deep down that ignorance of truth
and conscience is the biggest sin and I am not guilty. I am a child!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Some books simply overpower us!

"If you say that only what lasts is worthwhile, then nothing is valuable, because everything passes. Isn't it enough that something should have existed, just once? Don't you think it continues to exist in some world where the pettiness of time is not so important? An eternity that is more than just time without ending. A place where time runs in a different way." - Mary says in 'On Green Dolphin Street', a novel of remarkable beauty and exploration of human emotions by Sebastian Faulks.

After a long time, reading a novel of such intensity in a prose that should at best be termed as superior, not to exaggerate, I felt overpowered. Some books evoke in us such feelings of utter helplessness and fleeting moments of total incomprehension that gradually and without realization turn to the most sublime clarity. In one moment, we think we don't get it, the next moment is one of profound joy as what we read sinks in and gets digested.

Books can indeed be a person's true friends. Some command a degree of authority breaking which we struggle to extricate ourselves till we complete them. In that brief period, we forget to breathe, we get overwhelmed by a passion so strong that it seems untrammeled and without shackles of any kind.

Days spent in a haze, in vivid imagination of our favorite characters' plight as they are followed by spies, as they conquer their lives, as they experience emotions that we yearn and pine for, as they endure agonies that we wouldn't have imagined in our wildest dreams are ones of boundless joy and self-discovery. We discover different shades of ourselves as we journey in the paths of our favorite heroes and heroines.

Its a world that doesn't tie our imagination. Indeed as a person remarked in the shuttle today, the difference between novels and their movie adaptation is very simple: One is our perception where we are bound only by the limits of our imagination, the other is another person's perception that limits our freedom to think wild. How true! To me, any day a book by a cozy setting than any acclaimed movie!

What books can do to shape a man's character and a nation's intellect can be little matched by any other medium.

To quote my father who remembers a speech written for him by his geography teacher:
"The literature of future India would speak about the ordeal of the society born out of the interaction between beautifully wise and dangerously silly, generous beyond measure and mean beyond all examples." How true again! We need more good books and plenty of hungry readers for that to happen...we need to be overpowered by the good world of books and their wisdom!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mumbai Meri Jaan - Among the very best!

The title suggests that the movie is all about Mumbai and its people – it’s a misnomer; the movie is about the issues that the nation struggles to grapple with; issues that threaten the fabric of unity and come dangerously close to dividing us into a myriad pieces that cannot be tied together again!

Vulgar display of wealth, creeping suspicions directed at particular groups and communities, corruption in the police force, tragedies being exploited by media for their own TRP-driven ends…the helplessness in the face of all these of the city dweller, of the ordinary citizen…this is what the movie speaks about and at the end of a masala-less, thought-provoking two hours and fifteen minutes, all one feels is elation at the ability of a Indian film maker, surprise at the genuineness and earnestness of his work, appreciation for the actors - a motley bunch of strongly under-rated men and women who have given some of their best performances and gratitude to the whole crew!

This is a movie that draws its strength from the reality it depicts on screen – the about-to-retire policeman - played by Paresh Rawal - personifying defeat and reconciliation and being able to crack jokes despite his plight, the poor Madrasi - played by Irfan Khan - with his cycle-shop who struggles to come to terms with his poverty and envies the rich at the same time cursing their abominable display of wealth, the successful journalist – played by Soha Ali Khan - who comes up with television friendly sound bytes in the midst of chaos and loss during the train blasts, the cash-deprived youth – played by Kay Kay Menon - who doubts every Muslim youth and sees them as bomb makers and architects of blasts and finally the IT employed gentleman – played by Madhavan – who prefers the city’s trains to travel for the comfort they provide and who advises a vendor not to use cheap plastic covers since they pollute the environs.

The movie is about these men and women whom we encounter every day in our lives. Bombs that go off in Mumbai’s trains affect these people in different ways and each of them emerges better from the blasts with some small but significant alterations in their convictions, in their belief of what is right and what is wrong.

Throughout the movie, one gets the feeling of “The world moving on”, indifferent to a man’s everyday concerns forcing the people to change and to adapt to the altering scenarios. This is the movie’s strength. The story by Vinayak Joshi is brilliant as the common man can relate to it and the direction by NishiKant kamat is excellent, the end result being a movie that signifies yet again the maturity towards which Hindi cinema appears to be moving. The end is touching with the song “Yeh dil hai mushkil jeena yahan, zara hatke zara bachke yeh hai Bombay meri jaan” playing as the city observes silence.

Hats off!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

India gets the NSG waiver - At last!!!

In the recent past, no foreign policy decision would have got so much reams of newsprint and media coverage than the nuclear deal that has at last managed to get the NSG waiver.

The UPA Government had staked its very own survival on this issue and it has paid off.

What were the hurdles?

Non – Proliferation lobby in the US Congress and some members of the NSG that needed convincing.
India’s chief opposition party – BJP
Our comrades – Left Parties
Some key intellectuals – N Ram and V R Krishna Iyer to name a few.

What worked for us?

Risk taking – PM going for the trust vote and breaking off with the Left.
Some very focused diplomacy on the part of Shyam Saran, Pranab Mukherjee and M K Narayanan among others.
The commerce behind the deal leading some journalists to comment that it’s a Indo-International community deal and not Indo-US alone.
People in the know-how like Anil Kakodkar throwing their weight behind the deal.
The facilitation by the big brother in the form of the USA.
Some last minute announcements on commitment to non-proliferation and voluntary moratorium on testing.
The inexplicable U turn by the SP, long term interests in UP being the driver.

What next?

Some anxious moments before the US Congress give the green signal.

Lessons learnt:

Political opposition parties in India cannot be expected to rise above petty politics and put national interest ahead, the examples of Orissa and Kashmir lending further weight to this argument.
The skewed understanding of some parties like the Left on what constitutes India’s national interest is truly shocking.
Indian media can after all do their bit towards building consensus among the citizens of this nation on the merits of the deal.

Its time to celebrate this historic day!