December 30, 2007

Stop to shop

Lord save me from the disastrous shopping trips I end up into. Last afternoon, my parents got a pleasant surprise when I announced, ‘I feel like shopping.’ Their eyes gleamed on hearing this rare expression from the Big B and immediately mom got ready to accompany me for shopping.

Alright, I know I’m a little too choosy when it comes to clothes (more than 4 clothes still have price tags attached to it and more than a dozen shirts that I haven’t touched since ages still usurp my wardrobe space). But then, that’s me. Live with it.

Almost an hour into the shop, and I felt like banging my head against the wall. Why, no I mean, WHY don’t I ever get the kind of clothes I want?? All of them are so tight and dhinchak. Why can’t they just keep simple, normal clothes? Everything has to be so bloody body-fitted. I mean, how do even people breathe in it? Tight jeans and tight t-shirt. Go to a tailor and he wouldn’t even have to take out his measuring tape to know your vital stats! And everything seems to be so loud (probably, it’s my mistake - I went during party season). Everything was glittering – loaded with sequins, stones and God alone knows what all.

Anyways, my point is why does fashion have to come in the way of what you feel comfortable in? Isn’t it ok if I don’t like those clothes? Wouldn’t it be just fine to move around in my jeans and kurta? No, I’m absolutely normal. Just that I detest this whole idea of going with the ‘in’ thing.

End of topic. No more shopping trips for me. In 2007 I mean. Better luck in 2008!

Wish you all a very happy New Year!!! :)

December 27, 2007

5 taare to Taare Zameen Par

2 days back I watched TZP. I must admit, it’s after a long long time that a movie made me cry. After all the gyaan regarding video-production in DCS, I started looking at cinema from a very cynical point of view. So everytime I watched a movie, I would scrutinize it to the core and comment on it left right and centre. The result, I would never enjoy the movie. And this left me cinematically malnourished. Thankfully, this movie came forth as a saviour.

The subject itself is so strong that you happily overlook the minor flaws here and there. It’s a simple story beautifully captured and complete with brilliant performances. There is an instant connect with the character of Ishaan (Darsheel) – the dyslexic child burdened with the expectations of his parents and teachers alike. At some point in time, everyone has been misunderstood in his/her childhood. And this story is just about that – the vulnerable state of a child when people dearest to him are not ready to understand his state.

Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse? Aamir Khan’s role as the art teacher Nikumbh compels us to reflect on parent’s behaviour towards children who are forced to join the rat-race; parents who are not ready to understand that ‘every child is special.’ His concern for Ishaan looks genuine, his fear for Ishaan’s future wants us to get up and help him too. The unspoken words between Nikumbh and Ishaan; the depressed look on Ishaan’s face; Nikumbh’s moist eyes – there are so many instances where you feel a gulp in your throat.

Add to it Prasoon Joshi’s beautiful lyrics; Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s unfailing music; lovely animations that take us into Ishaan’s mind; some unusually great performances by many debutants and the documentary shots of children shown during the credits. The year couldn’t have ended better!

CNN-IBN: Taare Zameen Par, directed by Aamir Khan and written by Amole Gupte, is the one film you have to watch, even if you haven't watched anything else this year because it's a film with a big heart, an important message, but mostly because it's a film that could change your life.

December 26, 2007

My long lost handwriting

Few days back I appeared for an exam – a written exam! Yeah, the exclamation mark ‘cos it’s not everyday that I write 20+ foolscap pages. There were 4 exams in all – 2 on each day. The first paper I sat down to WRITE gave some good exercise to my fingers. The first paragraph took quite some effort and had different handwriting on every line. Thankfully, I continued with the best sample of the lot.

Everytime I released the static position in which one holds the pen, there was a slight crackling sound in my fingers. It took some effort and some pain in the knuckles to get back to the pen-holding position once again. Three hours and 20+ written pages later I realized what a humungous task writing has become. I don’t remember the last time I wrote a long letter. I haven’t opened my diary since last 10 months! Scrawling my illegible signature; underling sentences in a book; scribbling some lines here are there – these are the only things I remember doing with a pen nowadays. We are so used to keying in data that we’ve even forgotten how our handwriting looks like!

I mean, think about it – aren’t we losing a quintessential part of our identity? Everyone keys in the same-looking characters on the screen. So what happens to a whole stream called handwriting analysis? When you read someone’s hand-written letters, you can actually see that person’s face superimposed on that letter (ya, 70’s film type). Your sweat can drip on a note; your perfume can be absorbed by the fibres of the paper…Can you feel the same when you read a mail?

Mails, chats, sms – communication is becoming shorter and quicker. In the process, writing is becoming an archaic form of communication. The ability to communicate without editing is being lost. I mean, when was the last time you typed even one complete paragraph without pressing the backspace key?

Typing is faster while writing is slow. No wonder I have lost patience for creating a text at a speed slower than I think. At the same time, I love to write and I don’t want my writing skills to decay. I want to continue to write, to pour my feelings on a piece of paper and then read it after years and wonder if it was my tear drop that caused a smudge on that paper…

December 25, 2007


She was done with her work for the day but didn’t feel like going home. It was still afternoon. What could she possibly do at home – watch Travel and Living? Well, that wasn’t a bad idea either. Thankfully she thought of something else and landed at one of her favourite places – Tea Centre.

She took a corner table meant for four and ordered masala chai. Two groups of people seated on the other side were discussing Sensex and Modi; neither of which interested her. She looked the other side and peered through the clear glass wall. Surprisingly, from that height the traffic looked much more organized. Strange things that people do while waiting on a signal – a girl combing her hair, a biker trying to squeeze in his bike between two cars to move ahead faster - caught her attention. Meanwhile, her masala tea arrived - two full cups made from tea liqueur, ginger, pudina and other tea masala. As she sipped the piping hot tea, she wondered why people still referred to Gujarat as a dry state; they could always enjoy intoxicating drinks like this one!

That afternoon, time moved at a leisurely pace, letting her enjoy every moment of it - the soothing white and lime green interiors, the glass wall between her and the chaotic world outside, the aroma of the chai, doing nothing in particular…

After a long time she found some good company. After a long time she spent time with herself…

P.S.: This is my 52nd post (missed the half century!). No, it hasn’t been a long journey. Rather, the journey has just begun. Looking forward to your company ahead :) Cheers!

December 19, 2007

Death of a different kind…

The blogosphere seems like one vast ocean of knowledge, inspiration, creativity, questions, musings, thoughts, fancies, cribs, scattered emotions, non-sense – every single thing that defines us. At times I’m happy to see that such a thing actually exists and at times I’m simply awed by this unbelievably never-ending process of dissemination!

One of the best parts about blogs is that you are sure to find an expression to some of your deepest thoughts which you could never put into words. I came across this post on Atul’s blog. It’s something that I have been thinking about since long but could never spell out so neatly…

...blogs, like memories, don't die. Or something to that effect. And I believe so. People delete blogs, they stop writing at their blogs, yet blogs themselves don't die. They may be pushed back in the darkest deepest recesses of an inaccessible server somewhere, but they don’t die. At worst, they don't grow - they stagnate for want of nutrition.

December 18, 2007

Between A and B

A: Isn’t 18 the official age to marry?

B: Not any more… they’ve changed it to 21 years for girls and 23 for guys.

A: Oh, ok

B: It’s so weird…at 18 they think you’re capable of making national decisions but not your personal ones!

A: That's 'cos national decisions don’t f**k you up so badly…

December 17, 2007

Sunday Morning

It’s a cold morning. She wakes up earlier than usual and heads for the front door to pick up the Sunday paper. Without even glancing through the headlines, she turns directly to Page 20. The world can wait; she needs to know what the coming week has in store for her. “An exciting week ahead. Financial matters will improve.” She grins. “But…” Oho, why the BUT? “But the sudden change in planets can pose a problem on the social front. Parents or friends may not agree to your plans.” Shittt.

Life’s so predictable...

December 15, 2007

Jitega Gujarat?

The big debate about Gujarat continues on all news channels. Ghosts of Godhra and Sohrabuddin haunt back, taking up most of the air-space and the crowd once again gets divided into extremes – to be or not to be (with Modi). While Mr. Bandukwalla said that its time to forget 2002 and move ahead, there are people who think that Modi needs to be hanged for all the blood and gore that shredded the moral fibre of the state.

I switch off the television and am lost in deep thought. This is for the 1st time I’ll be voting. It’s quite a responsibility. On one hand we have a Modi who has changed the face of Gujarat, made it the land of investments and convinced people that we live in a ‘Vibrant Gujarat’. On the other, he’s the mass-murderer – the modern day Nero who set the state on fire and gleefully watched it from a safe distance. So while people do not stop praising him for making Gujarat one of the most progressive states of India, the same people abhor him when they watch the sting operations with men describing the details of the Gujarat genocide. And now that it’s time to take a stand – Modi or no Modi - people are struggling under the burden of choice.

My question is - Can the Modi of 2002 be separated from the Modi of 2007? Is it really possible to forget (if not forgive) everything and move towards a better future? Is it possible not to think about ethics but only about economics? Can there be a middle path? Can progress and justice co-exist in Gujarat once again?

The dichotomies boggle me and I fear the consequences.

To be or not to be (with Modi) is the question my Lord.

December 14, 2007

O re piyaa...


It’s amazing how one song can capture all of these emotions so powerfully. It’s after a really long time that a song has touched my heart so deeply. The lyrics are so euphemistic, the music so sufiana and the voice simply magical...

It’s the song ‘O re piya’ from the movie Aaja Nachle, sung by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.

O re piya haye
Udne laga kyon man baawla re
Aaya kahan se yeh hosla re
O re piya haye

Tanabana tanabana bunti hawaa haaye bunti hawa
Boondein bhi to aaye nahi baaz yahan

Sagish mein shaamil sara jahan hai
Har zare zare ki yeh iltiza hai

O re Piya
O re Piya haye
O re Piya

Nazrein bolen duniya bole
dil ki zaban haaye dil ki zubaan
Ishq maange ishq chahe koi toofan

Chalna aahiste ishq naya hai
Pehla yeh vada humne kiya hai

O re piya haaye
O re piya

Nange pairo pe angaro
chalti rahi haaye chalti rahi
Lagta hai ke gairo mein
Palti rahi haaye
le chal wahan jo
Mulk tera hai
Jahil zamana
dushman mera hai


O re piya haye

You need to listen to it to know what I’m saying. Here it is.

December 12, 2007

Your favourite restaurant can help you improve your blog!

My 1st post on blogging got a pretty decent response. I had written it when I was still new to the blogosphere. Now, having spent a considerable amount of time reading hundreds of blogs and being significantly regular with my posts, I am trying to interrogate what factors make or break a blog.

This analogy struck me while having dinner in one of my favourite restaurants last Sunday. I have been to this place umpteen number of times but on this particular visit I consciously thought - what is it that brings me back to this place? Alright… let’s put it this way – why would you go to a particular restaurant?

a) the food is really good
b) you like the ambience
c) the service is flawless
d) it sets a standard

Ditto applies to a good blog!!!

a) Excellent food: Everyone’s in search of good food for thought. Good writing and good topics are definitely the first things that draw readers to your blog. Like a specialized v/s multi-cuisine restaurant, you too can find your forte. You could either maintain a blog that projects you as a pro in a specific subject (media, photography,etc.) or offer the world on your plate. However, do not forget to lay emphasis on the presentation. Well-garnished food not only looks good but also tastes better. Quotes, pictures, etc can give a complete facelift to your posts.

b) Ambience: Many people seem to underestimate this but the fact remains that the look of the blog matters. It doesn’t mean that your template should be fancy or extremely stylized; it should be visually appealing and ‘clean’. Personally speaking, a blog with thousands of links on either side puts me off and leaves me hunting for the actual post.

You love to go in a restaurant where you feel most comfortable. Similarly, the reader should be comfortable when he/she visits your blog. They should be able to concentrate on the substance of your blog. I’ve come across some blogs where a heavy backdrop moves with the cursor. It’s very irritating and I end up with a headache :P

c) Service: Ask yourself - is there any way my readers benefit from my blog? If yes, they are sure to visit your blog time and again. ‘Benefit’ here has no one definition – you may be a pro in some field helping them with information or you could be engaging them in a dialogue/debate that helps them look at the finer nuances of life.

d) Set a standard - Inconsistency can become a big hurdle. When you go to a restaurant, you know what to expect from that place; the same applies to your blog. It’s important to maintain a standard. People visiting your blog should not be disappointed. Do some homework – find out which posts are most popular; what is it that your readers appreciate on your blog. Accordingly, try to improve; experiment a bit if need be!

They say, if you pour your love in food, it is sure to taste better. So no matter what you write, if it’s from the heart it will definitely be appreciated :)

If you have any suggestions, do share!

December 07, 2007

To end on a sweet note...

It had been a hard day for her. In an attempt to divert her mind to something pleasant, she turned on the radio. Just then, she heard that tune – it was one of her favourite songs. She gently smiled; kept the little transistor next to her ears. Every word which was so beautifully woven in that soulful music touched her heart once again…

Aapki manzil hun main, meri manzil aap hain
Kyun main toofan se darun, mera saahil aap hain

Koi toofanon se keh de mil gaya saahil mujhe
Dil ki ae dhadkan thehar ja, mil gayi manzil mujhe

The magic of the song still lingering in her mind, she sighed. All’s well that ends well. Tomorrow shall be a new day…

December 05, 2007

English, Professor!

There are those famous jokes about the way Gujaratis speak English – snack-snakes; hall-hole, etc. For 21 years in Ahmedabad, I had never come across any Gujarati who spoke that way. However, sometime in 2004, while on my train to Pune, a Gujarati girl scared the shit out of me when she said, “My bag is full of snakes.” It took some seconds to realize what she meant.

My point being, English is a very funny language. Just a slight twitch of a syllable and the entire context changes. And professors are those species who have the knack of using it in the weirdest ways. Forget the ‘open the windows and let the airforce come in’ under-grad jokes. We are talking about the use of English language at the Masters level. And when it comes to DCS, you are sure to chance upon some real gems of phonetic bends.

Here, every professor has a distinct style. Let me begin with Mr D – the same not-so-beloved professor who taught us the basics of Mass Com. His tragedy is that he often gets confused with the long 'eeee' and the short 'i' in words. The result – some absolutely new meanings emerging out of bland sentences and many embarrassing moments…

The beginning – innocent and forgivable…

Media is a very complex subject. To understand it completely, you need to pip into the nuances. (peep into the nuances).

For a class that would dig double-meaning in every sentence, this was perhaps their best chance…

This was during our class trip to Goa:
This is such a rare sight – so many goats on a bitch!!! (beach)

After this one, girls were ready to kill him!

While talking about the Press Council of India:
It’s like a paper tiger with rubber *** (teeth)

But this is just the teeep of the iceberg. Once you seeeet in his class, you’ll realize how torturous things can get! His tongue sleeps was too much :P

December 04, 2007

Isn’t it?

Fair, wheatish, dark - In the marriage market, women are reduced to a shade card.

December 03, 2007

Rewind – stop – play

Pune. Call it a seductress – that’s what it is. Three years of bitter-sweet experiences in this city have made me the person I am today. And here is an attempt to relive those moments that are etched in my memory. Funny, sad, nonsensical, enlightening – documenting some of these moments is my way of falling in love with the city all over again. So let’s start where my life took a 360 degree turn – the University of Pune.

June 2004

Our not-so-beloved professor is teaching us the basics of Mass-Com. Most of the students are yawning, others are daydreaming. It’s just the first month and many have already mastered the art of sleeping with their eyes wide open! I’m the unfortunate one – sitting in the first row, obediently listening to each and every word and taking down extensive notes. The voice of an over- enthusiastic professor in the next classroom cuts across the fake sound-proof walls and makes the already boring lecture absolutely incomprehensible. And it’s not just the voice; a foul smell too enters the classroom. The dead souls in the class start making some movement. Twitched noses and disgusted looks finally bring us all to a common ground. Everyone exchanges quick looks, suspecting that the one sitting next to him has farted. Not that such an incident had never taken place in school or college but studying at a Master’s level in this esteemed University made me believe that students no longer open-fire in stuffed classrooms. After 15 minutes of torture, the lecture gets over and we catch hold of the culprit – it’s the unclean loo, strategically constructed a few steps away from our class. Eeewww…

Welcome to a whole new world of academic experience. We call it DCS – The Department of Communication Studies. Tucked away in a not-so-nice-looking corner of the oh-so-beautiful Pune University, this is the place where I shall be unlearning the old ways of learning for the coming two years.