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Sunday, June 28, 2009

There are no explantions..

It was a lovely evening in October 1994, and we were watching a Malkiat Singh ( of 'Tootak Tootak Tootiyan' fame) concert at the Oberoi Sheraton lawns here in Muscat.The singer was in his element, the music was fantastic and people in the audience were thoroughly enjoying themselves. Some more than others.

Then some people moved on to the makeshift dance floor in front and I saw a familiar lady, really, really grooving to the beat. She was the mother of one of Neha's friends with a very happy go lucky personality, which is what I'd been able to gauge on the few occassions that we had interacted.Looking at all of those people we enjoyed ourselves even more.

Nov 1994- Diwali- Some of friends had come over to celebrate, along with Neha's. Then at night, the parents of those kids came to pick them up.As did this lady, who came in with a box of Mithai and wished us a very Hapy Diwali, laughed and chatted for a while and then went back home with her daughter.

Time passed....

1995 July- To our terrible shock, we learnt that this lady was no more, having committed suicide while on holiday in India.Apparently, she had been suffering from some illness, which coupled with depression became too much for her to deal with.So one morning, she woke up and went to the first floor room and hung herself with her dupatta where her body was found by her son many hours later.

Forty three years old, a mother of three children, two lovely girls and a boy,a husband who cared.What propelled her to take his step?

Today, as I sit wrtiting this, I can still see her smiling, happy, bright face.

Which is the way that I will choose to remember her...Always

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson, an 'enigma' like none other

I woke up to the news that Michaeal Jackson was no more, apparently having died of a cardiac arrest at the age of fifty.Am feeling a strange mix of emotions-sadness for a life so troubled, particularly in recent times.Yet another part of me thinks that it's probably for the best.

For who knows what demons plagued him from the inside? When he went inside his 'oxygen chamber' or whatever the latest new toy (after Neverland was.) I recall seeing a clip of him entering and sitting inside his Oxygen chamber and announcing to the world that he would now live upto 150...

A true performer, the likes of will remain unmatched for a long, long time.If ever. The boy genius who grew up to be a man genius, 'Billie Jean' from Thriller being a number that plays in all radio stations worldwide till this day, and who can ever forget the famous 'Moon walk'?

Yet as I see the tributes pouring in from people all over the world, including the famous showbiz celebrities now claiming to be his 'friends', I cant help but wonder.

Where were all these when he really, really needed them?

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Power of Neda

Three images will be permanently etched in my mind as indicative of what the horrors of war mean. Or put in another way, what the result of the use of brutal force by a regime in power can inflict upon its citizens.

1. 1960s, Vietnam- a naked girl child running towards the camera, the horrors of what she has been through, clearly reflected on her little face.A time when the US of A had fought a long, bitter and bloody battle in Vietnam at the end of which they were forced to retreat.

2. 1987-Tiannamen Square, Beijing, China. A lone young man attempting to stop a tank as it comes towards him.All to no avail, as it brutally and ruthlessly mows him down.

3. 20th June, 2009, A young woman called Neda, as she lay dying on a street in Tehran. With blood coming out of her nose mouth and her father wailing and groaning in agony, simply because there was nothing that he could do for his daughter.

Yet all the while, a doctor tried very hard to resusicate her. All to no avail.

According to reports from inside Iran, Neda was a 27 year old philosophy student who was attending the protests with her lecturers and fellow students. The reports claim that she was seemingly shot at random by a member of the Iranian Basij volunteer militia who drove past on a motorbike.

At this moment, my fervent wish and desire is that the death of Neda should not have been in vain.Also that it should become the rallying cry of all those Iranians who are protesting at the current situation.

Long live- The Power of Neda

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Father's Day...and what it really means

I write this on Fathers Day, after having sent a text message to my dad.Because today is 'officially' Fathers day.Having planned to speak to him later in the day, when he's finished with his day's routine and settled and comfortable at home. (in Delhi)

Till a few years back, this concept of Father's (or then even Mother's )day didn't really exist, or even if it did, I really wasn't into it.All I know is that all days are equally.. Fathers and Mothers days...

So how do I look back in time?

Not very difficult, for even twenty five years after I left home and my parents, they are always with me. Or then, just one phone call away.In all my happiest as well as my saddest moments. Sharing it all....never intruding, never sermonising, never giving unsolicited advice..

I have this very great feeling of comfort and support. For I know that when I need a shoulder to cry on, its there. Or then, if I need to go back ..home...just to feel like that same 'little girl'..I can.
At any time of the day or night.

So I'm just using this excuse called 'Fathers day' to put down some some very top of mind thoughts, whilst I continue going down memory lane.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ghosts and the supernatural- Myth or reality?

When one is young, one tends to be fascinated as well as a little scared of that thing called a 'Ghost'.Because all those who claim to have seen one, talk of it in hushed whispers and try not to talk about such subjects when kids are nearby.

And so they manage to create a 'natural curiosity' in our little minds.Simply because what cannot be logically explained is considered a little more exciting perhaps...?

My fascination for Ghosts and spirits has continued. Right upto this day. One of my greatest regrets though is the fact that I've never come across one myself.Heard lots and lots of stories, devoured a lot of fiction as well as real life instances, searched the internet, yes...

But never seen, or even felt the presence of one myself .And actually wonder, will I ever be 'lucky enough' to come across one?

So what exactly is a ghost supposed to be?

According to The Sceptics Dictionary,a ghost is an alleged disembodied spirit of a dead person. Ghosts are often depicted as inhabiting old and haunted houses, especially houses where murders have occurred. Why some murder victims would stick around for eternity to haunt a place while others seem to evaporate is one of the great mysteries of the spirit world.

But here's really the thing.We continue believe what we want to.
Until facts to the contrary prove us wrong.

So I'm clear. I will continue to believe that Ghosts and other supernatural phenomena do exist...
And keep hoping..and wishing..

And possibly if I wish hard enough..
I might just.....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

'Dupatta Killer', finally caught in Goa.

In April this year, a 40 year old man called Mahananad Naik was picked up by the Goa police on suspicion of rape and blackmail.That was just for a start, until more details started emerging...

They soon realized that the man they had in their custody was none other than the 'Dupatta killer', a serial killer who has reportedly admitted to killing at least sixteen local women.Spanning a period starting from 1994, till recently, he strangled all of them with their dupattas and then either buried their bodies in fields, or then threw them into rivers.

With another fifteen that he could possibly have..and which will be very difficult for the cops to prove, this case has turned out to be the stuff that police and the administrative machinery's nightmares are made of. Simply because the same individual was arrested in 1995, in connection with one of the murdered women's investigation, but released without any charge.

Yet look at the irony.

For this is what his wife Pooja, the mother of his 18 month old dauaghter had to say."This is unimaginable.He was such a nice guy.He never assaulted or even shouted at me. He can't even kill an ant, so how can he be involved in such heinous crimes..."

Reminded me of Shiny Ahuja's wife on the TV news this morning.Insisting that her husband had been framed.

A few hours later, the Medical reports have conclusively proved that the 18 year old maid had indeed been raped.
Just like she had stated in her police complaint....

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Shiny Ahuja- Innocent or ....

In a court of Law, every man or woman is "presumed innocent, until proven guilty."

So what have we already done to Shiny Ahuja? Labeling him a 'rapist', never mind what his line of defence might be.

I recall him as the 'new' actor who made a mark in fairly meaningful films such as Gangster, Woh Lamhe and more recently, Zindagi Rocks, standing out by sheer virtue of his softspoken, yet intense personality.In fact, I even saw Zindagi Rocks thrice, because I 'so' loved his acting!

And followed his acting career, looking forward to more of his films.

Then I saw him on the television news last night.
Correction, saw a 'part of him' last evening.
First, with that horrible black hood the cops put on certain people.

Then, saw him cowering on the floor.. Hiding from the harsh camera lights as they mercilessly tried to catch him.
Looking absolutely broken, defeated...and.....

It was a really bad moment. For so much.... likely to have finished.Over.
For I'm convinced that life for Shiny Ahuja will never be the same again

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Compulsive shopping,a momentary high and then what ?...

A couple of months ago, I saw 'Confessions of a Shopaholic', which felt somewhat familiar.For this is exactly the kind of movie that reminds one of having "been there, done that."

Basically, this is the story of a young woman Rebecca Bloomwood who loves to shop. This, despite having closets full of clothes, shoes, scarves, boots, hats et all.

She shops and shops, and then she shops some more.Until a debt collector starts chasing her....However hard she tries to run, he seems to come closer and then even more so.

So she desperately needs to find a job, and sets her sights on one in Alette magazine.But fate seems to have other things in store for her...

Struggling with her debilitating obsession with shopping and the sudden collapse of her income source, she unintentionally lands a job writing for a financial magazine after some confusion over mailing the covering letter.

Ironically, writing about the very consumer caution of which she herself has not followed, the heroine's innovative comparisons and other related comments on economics, manage to get her critical acclaim, public success, as well as the admiration of her supportive boss Luke.

The movie manages to take us straight into the heart and mind of a compulsive shopper.We clearly see and feel the euphoria, the temporary highs and then the abysmal lows, once the thrill has worn off. Particularly in a couple of telling scenes where the closet bursts open and the clothes, shoes and the scarves all spill out, still unopened,all in their original packing.

Does this movie convey a message? To me it certainly did, that day itself.

And then again, more recently, as I stood in front of my closets.Looking in amazement at some of the things that I have bought and never worn.

Never mind if some of them are a couple of years old.

Or then, older still....

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Living Ghost – A film with a difference

We had the opportunity to see The Living Ghost, last evening. A movie which was intensely thought provoking and one with a difference..

As the movie was screened, there was complete silence while all the attendees took in the meaning and substance of what the movie stood for. As Akshay Kumar Parija, the film’s producer had already introduced it, “It shows how in the name of industrialisation, a peace-loving community is exploited economically, physically and emotionally As it progressed, it soon became clear why. For it certainly managed to “capture the inner conscience of the modern world.” And how.

On one level it is the story of a simple villager Bangaru, of the Dongriya tribe who lives in up in the hills. Yet on another level, it also succeeds in capturing the pain of all that is good and innocent in this tribal community, and one which will steadily be eroded by outside influences which will eventually succeed in ending the way things were at another point in time. All under the guise of ‘modernization.’

The movie opens with a powerful scene, where a man with a drum is announcing to all concerned, that the hills of that district have been sold by the government to private companies who will henceforth be taking up developmental activity throughout the area. In a hair raising shot, we see the dhoti clad lot of hill people menacingly approach this announcer and throw away his drum in a show of rage and dissent. That drum then rolls down the hill, while he camera follows it faithfully, right till it falls with a loud splash into the river waters.

The next scene is even more interesting showing the elopement festival that young men and women are participating in. Just as Bangarau lifts up and attempts to run away with the girl he wishes to marry, there is a sudden intrusion as the villagers who inform him that his father had been mauled and killed by a tiger. Bangaru has to leave the scene and rush to manage his personal affairs while the girl gazes wistfully at his departing back.

Since the elopement did not take place, Bangaru now has to find another way of marrying the girl he likes, Singhari. This means raising money that is demanded by her father as the bride price. When nothing else works, a friend suggests that he start working as a bonded labourer with the village landlord, who will then give him the necessary funds to pay for the marriage. What follows thereafter,forms the crux of the movie.

Successfully capturing the myriad range of human emotions- greed, lust, pathos, innocence as well as the recognition that times are indeed changing, the movie manages all, in a span of a mere ninety minutes. Noteworthy performances are given by the mother, the lawyer, the district magistrate, the landlord, Domb and of course by Bangaru and Singhari. The acting at times, is so realistic that one feels drawn into the movie, and intertwined with the characters lives.

In an exclusive chat with the writer and director of the movie, Prashant Nanda, who himself has been a legend of the Oriya screen not so long ago, I learnt that this movie made at a cost of about one crore Indian Rupees, was actually shot in the hills about 600 kms ahead of Bhubaneshwar, Orissa. The more interesting detail was that all the main characters in the movie are trained actors, who spent about three months in sheer preparation time for their roles. With this movie, Nanda hopes that he will succeed in bringing some complex issues to the forefront, and that there will some successful resolutions to the same in the long as well as the short run.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Nostalgia Lane-Muscat

We came to Oman in Nov 1990.

A difficult time in the world's, but even more so in the region's history.
The Gulf War had just started and the region was in turmoil.
A lot of people questioned the many reasons why we took that decision..

But we had decided and almost 19 years later are still here.
So as I sit and reflect today,there must have been some merit in that decision..

Between now and then, many things have changed.
Some for the bettter and some...not so

Things that I remember vividly are;

That little park near our house in Mumtaz area, where I would take Neha out to play every evening. However tired I was when I came home from work..

Then holding her in my arms, like a little baby and bringing her back home,simply because she announced that she was "tired" and wanted "Godi."

Another park in Qurum where many, many times we would take her to eat her meals.
Simply because she was too fussy to eat at home..

Today, as I pass by that place, it is unrecognizable.
Because that is the venue for the prestigious Muscat Opera House, which is already half complete.And when completed, is expected to rival even the Sydney Opera House..

So many of my friends at work, Sanjiv, Alma, Fatima,Maayi, Uma, Arun....along with so many others who are not here in Oman any more.
Having left for other shores..

Those lazy afternoons and early evenings by the Quriyat, Al Sawadi and Cantab beaches..
When we would pack cartloads of food and head out with friends and their kids..
Pratap and Neepa, Bobby and Raju, Shashi and Raj, Gita and Raman.
When calories didn't matter, just the sheer fun of being together did..

Along with so many other memories.
The Corniche, Matrah Souk, Al Bustan...and...and.. and..

But that is the thing about 'Nostalgia'.
Those moments in time that are gone.
Never to be re-captured.
Except in moments like these.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tiananmen Square- Twenty years later

The visuals were one of the grimmest ever to have been seen by the world.
A lone young man stood in the path of a tank, desperately trying to block it's path.

What happened next was something that surely has to be unparalled in the world's history of brutality.
That a country could wreak on it's own countrymen in the late 20th century.

For the tank simply just....
Ran him down and moved onwards and into the square, mowing down countless others like him.

The demonstrations in Tiananmen Square have been described as the greatest challenge to the communist state in China since the 1949 revolution. They were called to coincide with a visit to the capital by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, by students seeking democratic reform.

Troops were used to clear the square despite repeated assurances from Chinese politicians that there would be no violence.

It has been suggested that the Communist leader Deng Xiaoping personally ordered their deployment as a way of shoring up his leadership. Hundreds, and possibly thousands, of people were killed in the massacre, although it is unlikely a precise number will ever be known.

Peking has since become more widely known as Beijing.

As I reflect on that day today, I really wonder, how much, has changed?
Or then, if at all, it has....?

Ref-BBC Home page

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Just think about this...


We all go through our daily lives.
Some days are good, some are better and then some are not.

We smile, we laugh, we grumble and we complain.
Sometimes I feel that we complain more than we need too.If at all..
For we don't realize how grateful we ought to be for all that we have.

Until something impacts us. Enough to stop us in our tracks, even if momentarily..
As it did me..yesterday.
On a very, very hot summer's day, I stopped at my favourite coffee shop, Darcy's for a Hot cup of coffee.
Then (inwardly) complaining about the heat, headed off to a friend's for lunch...
A cool haven away from the summer sun.

On my way back home at abt 245 pm, I just happened to look towards a construction site and saw this.
Which hit me. Hard.

So I've added photos to my blog post.
To drive home the point.
Fom this...

These people work through the day...till late in the evening. Exposed to the cruel sun's rays.
But even if they complaian, they have no one who will listen.

And despite all that.
They still have to go and on.

To build those luxurious buildings. Where we sit ensconced in our Air conditioned comfort zone.

Telling each other
How very hot it is today

Monday, June 1, 2009

Death...a natural progression and an onward journey

My friend Ganga lost her mother in Bangalore last evening. 'Aunty Polly' as we all fondly called her.

The news was conveyed to her by that one phone call that we all dread.....not knowing when...

Something that she had been mentally preparing herself for, since some time now. For her mother hadn't been too well in the last year, having suffered a series of minor strokes.Each of which had made her progressively weaker.

The primary reason that she has been able to accept the fact that her mother is now no more. Peacefully gone away from this earth and onto a place where there is a 'Safe haven.'

Being able to recall happy memories, being able to share her mother's photographs and thoughts.As we all sat around earlier today, I couldn't help but think of these lines by my favourite poet,Khalil Gibran, who has really said it all.

Then Almitra spoke, saying, "We would ask now of Death."
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?....
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond....
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity. .....
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides.....
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.

And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

(Khalil Gibran)