It’s Time To Break Free

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It’s that time of the year again.  The air feels like a blow-dryer, the sun becomes your number 1 enemy and you look and feel blazing hot.   And like any mere mortal, you start making plans to flee the city.  You can’t help it, can you?  The newspapers seduce you with travel tales in far off lands.  You devour each line, caress the scenic captures with your eyes and end up wondering why you can’t be that correspondent who travels free, binges on roasted duck, sips Chianti Classico and gets paid to gush about it.  But you console yourself with the thought that at least your Geography is far better than it was in school.   Thanks to the many magazines, you know where Hersonissos is and can even spell Reykjavik.  Your friend on FB makes it worse by uploading photos of her recent trip to Istanbul.  You ooh and aah at the pics and cast meaningful glances at your husband, hoping that he is finally taking the hint. 

He finally does even though it takes weeks.  And then you look deep into each other’s eyes and ask - so where shall we go this time, your choice or mine?  You feel terrible that there are so many exotic locales and one measly life but still manage to make up your mind. 

Things are not that smooth sailing.  You realize one of the passports needs to be renewed. You don’t mind the long queues, the stuffy sarkari afsaar’s interrogation at the passport office.  Why, you are even willing to smile coyly at sub inspector Rathore.   The husband spends days coaching you for the visa interview (he expects you to crack jokes rather than answer the questions seriously).  You miraculously sail through the visa interview and collapse with joy when it is finally issued.  

Yessss, we are finally travelling to the East Coast. Err dahling is it the west or the east?  He gives you the “I am so disappointed in you look” while you mumble “Geography was never my strong point”!   The gargantuan Atlas that he had picked up from the last Word Book Fair is fished out and he patiently traces out the coast on the map for you.  

Now starts the real work.  Hotels are to be booked, the itinerary to be planned.  You might think, so what’s the big deal, you just have to decide and click!  Just sign in for a sightseeing tour and relax.  You see, for the Rays it’s never than simple.  And before I proceed, let me tell demystify the Legendary Mr Ray (LMR) for you.  For Mr Ray perfection is not a choice but a compulsion.  And whoever said “let good not be the enemy of perfect” was the biggest fool.   And since people always fall short of his expected standards, Mr Ray ends up doing all the work himself.  His quest for perfection doesn’t stop at his office; it extends even to his home. Yes he has fixed up the geyser with the plumber looking on helplessly.  I dare not ask him to buy veggies because he ends up spending hours looking for perfect specimens.  When we were younger he would refuse to sell junk to raddiwallas who didn’t meet his exact specifications.  Now where on Earth does one find a kabadiwalla who looks honest and has a smile that reaches up to his eyes!  I would spend hours in the balcony scanning the horizon for the elusive specimen.  Now do you get the picture? 

No Country For Old Men.....

Courtesy : TOI
A certain Buddha in Bengal is not smiling.   All the old fogies in Writer’s Building, who spent a lifetime sipping endless cups of chaa and chain-smoking Charminar plains, while rejecting applications for new projects,  are feeling dejected.   Oest Bengal will no longer be a bhillage.   It is ghor kalyug, they murmur – a bhodromohila with a penchant for histrionics and badly in need of sandals has ousted us.  Kee je jontronaa.  All these years we protected Bengal from the clutches of dirty capitalism and now these ungrateful ones are branding us as the new age Mahishashur and Didi as Durga.  Dekhaa jabe, what poriborton she brings. And aren’t we the Bandh specialists!  Cholbe naa....cholbe naa...

The painters have just arrived with gallons of green paint.  Writers building will no longer be red. 

In Chennai, ugly K with too many wives and children with strange names like Alagiri, Dayanidhi, Kanimozhi, Stalin(?) is furiously writing a script for another dud movie.  For the title, he is torn between Aiyyo Amma and Po Po from Poes.  The plot will be simble.  Amma in her cloak is the evil one who flies around the city on her broomstick causing destruction.  The hero, Rajni Anna abducts her and hand delivers her to the Martians.
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J & K are the proverbial Tom and Jerry.  They spend considerable time and energy in masterminding witch hunts and sending each other to jail.  This time K has requested an advance booking at Tihar.  He wants a cell right next to his “prodigal son”.  They will watch G-rated movies together and practise voodoo magic. 

A True Hero......

It was just another cold November morning for Dallas Wiens or so he thought.  He was at the local church, his job site to repair a window.  Just as Wiens climbed up the ladder, he struck a high voltage power line.  His features literally melted off his face as he collapsed.  It took a split second to change Dallas Wiens’ life forever. He was just 23.

Dallas spent the next three in months in a medically induced coma, while doctors performed a series of surgeries on him - 22 to be precise. When he was finally discharged, he left with a face with just slight indentations for eyes and nose.   Doctors expected him to be paralyzed from the neck down and never walk, talk or eat regular food again. His family was told that he would probably not survive. 

When he got back home and saw his face in the mirror, Dallas couldn’t stop crying. 

But not once did he give up on life.  He had his 1 year old daughter, Scarlette to live for.  His strength of will and upbeat attitude amazed his doctors and family.   Gradually he regained his strength and by June 2010, Dallas was walking again.  But this was not enough for him.  He could not bear the thought of Scarlette growing up and facing questions about his deformed face.  He did not want his baby to deal with the anguish of “Why does your Daddy look different”.  

Of this baby and that.....

Nowadays it is rare that you go through the news and not have a panic attack.  With numerous reports on mayhem, death, destruction and corruption vying for your attention, you are almost convinced that apocalypse is knocking at your door.  At least the media will have us believe so.  So it’s not surprising to read that almost 1/3rd of the population tuned in to watch a Royal wedding in a has-been nation, infamous for its wet and not so wild weather.  It made for a mushy watch; we got to see royalty in their outlandish hats and of course Pippa’s derriere.  Did you know Pippa Middleton’s behind has over 15, 0000 fans?  What’s wrong with the world! 

So naturally, when one fine morning you chance upon an inspiring story of a girl who beat all odds to emerge a victor, your faith in humanity is restored – well almost.  Meet Soma Sharan - a girl whose life reads like a fairytale.  From a humble ashram in Haridwar to heady Los Angeles to bagging the Gates Millennium Scholarship, this is Soma’s story.... 

Year 1993, in a lonely alley a 3 day old baby girl is abandoned to die.  But this is the holy town of Haridwar and God has other plans for her.  The baby’s terrified crying catches the attention of a good Samaritan and the rest as they say is history.  The girl is adopted by Sri Ram Asram, an orphanage where she spends her growing up years.  At the age of 10, she is one of the few who are sent to Mount Madonna Yoga Centre in USA and later to the school by the same name. 

But what should have been a dream come true for her turned into a nightmare.  Soma had a tough time coping with a language that was unfamiliar to her – her Indian English was not good enough for America.  To make matters worse she had to face the barbs of her classmates for being an orphan.  All her life, not even once had she felt that she didn’t have a family.  And now all of a sudden Soma felt so alone.

From Maa to Mom.....

Courtesy : Google Images

I do not claim to be a Bollywood buff.   I am certainly not the one who quotes from Hindi movie dialogues and thinks Amitabh Bachhan is God.  Our taxi driver at Dalhousie threatened to offload us the moment he came to know we hadn't watched Gadar.  He kept muttering in an anguished tone - Aapne Gadar nahin dekhi!!   My favourite celluloid moment is from the movie Kaalia.  Every time Amitabh strode in to bash the baddies, the background score would reverberate with chants of Kaalia..Kaalia...Kaalia.... I still chuckle at the thought of it.

I grew up on a sedate diet of Sai Paranjpe, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Satyajit Ray movies.  Multigrain chapatis with steamed cauliflowers for us, while my parents feasted on kakoris.  I am ashamed to admit that I watched Sholay a decade after it was released.  Soon my parents gave up on conscientious parenting and the whole family watched masala flicks together.  From Suhag to Lawaris to Sharabi to some random flick starring Jeetendra and Sridevi - I have watched them all.

Before I could be condemned  to eternal damnation for subjecting my senses to torture,  I was married to a man averse to even the thought of Hindi movies.  After years of dedicated whining and veiled threats, I manage to drag him to the theatre once in a while.  His delicate senses cannot tolerate more than a couple of Hindi flicks annually.  The moment he reaches his threshold,  he goes on a dharna.  No, he hasn't reached a stage when he has to say Chalo Jantar Mantar.

Why am I babbling about movies on Mother's day?  Am I not supposed to wax eloquent about my mother instead? Because any Mother's Day celebration is incomplete without the mention of our legendary Celluloid Maa (CM).

A Note from Hell

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1 May 2011..... It wasn’t the usual Monday morning blues.  Osama had just checked into Jannat of his dreams(JOHD) with his entourage.  Pity he had to leave his begum behind.  She was far from expiry date and used to make such nice kebabs.  But what the hell... he will now get not one, but an entire harem of women.  Not bad eh? 

A few hours back, when he was unceremoniously dumped in the sea, there was a moment of confusion and chaos.  3 coy sharks, 2 crazed bottlenose dolphins trying to act fresh and a dozen dead Somali pirates ....why were they crowding the sea!   Enroute to jannat, he met a man in an orange robe and a strange Afro hairstyle.  He was trying to drop ash on him and even offered him a gold watch.  Bin Laden had to decline politely – the last thing he needed was a watch to time his err... performance.  He had 72 dark eyed, nubile things waiting for him and he was waiting for them - oh yeah!   

He was expecting more; after all he was the big daddy of Jihadis.  150 perhaps!   But in the spirit of camaraderie, he was magnanimous enough leave a few for his Jihadi brothers as well.
His last Earthy abode, Abbottabad was not a bad place to live in.  It was far better than the caves of Afganistan and it came fully loaded with post retirement benefits.   Cool mansion, cooler neighbours (all of them ex army) and a plush job – Director Subterfuge at the Pakistani Military Academy.  He was after all a world renowned expert in ratting it out in caves.  And with Islamabad just a stone throw’s away, he could order his favourite Mutton Korma Pizza from Dominos anytime.   Last week was heaven – it was the buy one get one week. Burp....

His only galti se mistake - he loaded FB on his mobile.  Boy! was he hooked.  A hitherto unknown world opened up for him – he would spend hours saving lost kitties on Farmville, stay up all night playing Mafia Wars.  He even met an interesting woman online – damn was she hot!  But she beat him black and blue in Scrabble.  How he wished he had paid more attention to English in school.  Sadly he thought it was a language of the infidels, but in today’s world, to survive you have to know English! How else do you order a Pizza on the phone?  

Ek Titli - Be that Butterfly.....

Have you heard about the butterfly theorya tiny  variation at one point of time can make a huge difference in a later state? The term butterfly effect was applied in Chaos Theory to suggest that the wing movements of a butterfly might have significant repercussions on wind strength and movements throughout the weather systems of the world, and theoretically, could cause tornadoes halfway around the world. Imagine what you can do with a mere flutter of a wing!   It's time for you to be that butterfly and bring about a tornado of a change.  Find out how. 

Let's talk about Ek Titli - refreshingly green in it's belief, concept, design and everything it speaks about.  They like to think of themselves as a bunch of idiots, who think they can they can change the world! Why idiots? Because when they speak of what they intend to do, people give them the “idiot” look. Does that deter them?  Naah... Because unlike others who just speak about change, Ek Titli is actually working towards it and is set out to achieve the possible. A change towards betterment of the air we breathe, the row of trees that lead to your house, the water you drink.  It used to be much cleaner and greener - all that now just a memory.

So what do we do?