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Friday, 29 June 2012


Want to come for a film called Kshay? 
“Ksay? I have never heard about this film, is this some off-beat film?
“Yah! it’s an art film, running at PVR, I don’t wish to miss,  only last two days left”
“Is it good?”
“I have heard it’s a good film, has refreshing cinematic languages and has won ‘Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature’.
That did it. I have always loved art film but have not visited it for a long time.

My friends and I arrived 15 minutes before the show time. With popcorn and coffee, we sat relaxed in plush comfort of the large soft seats for the movie to start.
The movie, Kshay (made by Karan Gour) moves at its own pace, there is no moment of boredom for us. Black and white, in sharp contrast, the story unfolds
What does an Indian housewife do? She has a routine life that includes prayers, household chores and looking after her husband needs. During her free time, she might have some hobby or may visit her neighbor for a chit chat. That’s a normal life for an Indian housewife.
Chhaya was leading a normal life till one day her eyes chanced upon the serene face of Goddess Laxmi. The price of the unfinished sculpture was Rs15000 which was something beyond her means. Soon her desire turned into obsession and she began to see Goddess of prosperity everywhere. She started relating the solution to all her problems on acquiring and owning the sculpture.
Life changed completely; soon she lost the sense of reasoning, her peace of mind, her moral values. All that mattered was to fulfill her obsession, so severe that it would destroy her, leaving her all alone
Made in black and white, with its own space for innovation, this award winning film sent chill through my spine and sometimes left me feeling sorry for her state of obsession and boredom. The whole focus is on the near-perfect expressions of the protagonist, which fills all the space. I was awed by artistically and poetic performance of Rushika Duggal. There is no distraction as I go along with her through her every emotion of pain, pleasure and her sense of frustrations.
The movie ends, I remain seated, still.
Desire is such a curse, especially if you are poor, it can lead to extreme obsession that can destroy the very existence of peaceful life…….

Friday, 22 June 2012

My beautiful Hair Story

Was her hair really as strong as rope to hold the heavy weight? What did she eat? How did she take care of her hair? How did she manage to wash her hair?
Such questions always come to my mind whenever I think of Rapunzel, especially when I see my tresses, which are a great embarrassment to me.

Rapunzel is the story that every girl is obsessed with. The romance is not in the Prince  who is attracted by the sweet melody of her voice, but in those long tresses that float down the castle, to reach down to allow a person to climb up.
My hair has been scanty since the very beginning. You could easily do Maths by counting my strands. Every clip or rubber band glides through my hair within few minutes leaving my straight and silky hair unattended, separated. I have tried every imaginable remedy, oiled them, nourished them, changed shampoos, visited doctors and hair saloons even considered Doctor Batra, (giving him permission to spam my inbox with thousand SMSs) but still, in volume they won't grow.
One day my friend suggested that she had a solution for me. She came home loaded with perm-kit, shampoo and gloves.
I had no idea what this perm is?.
She had learnt the technique of perm and I was her first experiment. For two hours I sat, while she rolled my hair around different colored rollers, winding them over tissue paper, securing it in place with large pins, adding chemicals and heat to give me a new make-over.
I was shocked when I looked into the mirror, frightened, I began to cry.
Oh dear! Look! What have you done to my hair” I sobbed
The curly strands stood up on my head in all directions, it looked like I had been electrocuted to 800 million voltages
I haven’t finished it as yet, calm down” she said
For next fifteen minutes, she carefully blow dried my hair, setting the curls in position, dropping them neatly on my shoulder, with few noodle-shaped curls flung on my forehead
I liked the look, it did add the volume to my hair and for next few years I continued to perm them regularly.
The chemical used for perm are damaging your hair” said my friend one day
I looked closely, they were dry and looked like straws. I decided to oil my hair. I bought different types of oils, Olive oil, Almond oil, Amla oil, Coconut oil, I hated the smell but care I must, therefore oiled them regularly.

But if the roots are damaged what can one do?
On my recent visit to Bangkok, my cousin suggested hair extension.
Hair extension is good for you” she said, “It will not only add to the volume of your hair but also give you the length if you wish.”
I was apprehensive at first but she convinced me that it was reliable.
We went to a mall near her house. The hair stylish had a little kiosk tucked in between two large stores. He checked the color and the quality of my hair, then removed the strands of hair from two different colored wigs that matched my hair. He used the bonding and sealing extension technique wherein he took few strands of my hair and glued it to the section of weft hair.

I think I heard my hair say “I do till the death do us apart” 
Proudly I walked with the long thick hair, bumpity, bum, bump, bouncing on my butt. It changed me completely giving me a new confidence. I was no more worried about my scalp looking pathetic, or about damaging the roots because the weft was fixed with silicon glue few centimeters away from the scalp. The compliments I got from the people who were not aware of my hair extension, gave me a kind of thrill. . It looked too good to be true and I felt that was the end of my hair problems
The latex acrylic glue became weak and I saw the strands of weft falling on my pillow.
After two months of enjoying the glory on my head, I saw my own hair weep as they parted with their handsome weft……..
Back to scanty hair and know not what to do…….Wish I could meet Rapunzel of modern world, wishful thinking perhaps, with big variety of shampoos and lotions, and women's adventurous spirit of giving every shampoo a chance, long healthy hair remains a dream, locked up into our own castle of fantasy...
At this point I am reminded of a joke which I often tell my friends to divert their attention away from my scanty hair :
There was a girl who just had 3 strands of hair. She wanted to pamper herself so she decided to go to a hair saloon. The hair dresser gave her a good head massage and nice hair-wash and then asked her what hair style she would prefer with three strands of hair.
Make me a nice braid” she said,
So hairdresser carefully took her three strands and decided to make her a nice braid but one strand broke,
Oh! I am so sorry, one strand broke I can’t braid, there are only two strands left, what do I do?” said the hair dresser.
Ok make a bun” said the girl
 While twisting her hair to make a bun, one more strand broke,
Ooooops! so sorry, you have only one strand left, what do I do?” said the hair dresser,
Okay, never mind” said the girl, “just blow dry my hair and leave it open.”

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

If I had to live my life over

Flash back to 1986
I am transported to a wooden house on stilts, mom says.  “Godownstairs and pluck some vegetables for me, bring okra, coriander leaves,tomatoes, green chilies and also pluck few avocados and mangoes from the trees. I wish to make a delicious lunch today.
I love doing these small errands for mom; it is like I amcontributing to the household chore in a small way, making my bit.  Momdoes most of work on her own, we have a helper who comes to clean the house,but mom does all the cooking and gardening.  She has planted somevegetables downstairs under my bedroom window, the soil is very rich, whatevershe plants, grows healthy and instantly. I love to cook too but I normally dothat when mom is busy elsewhere and I have kitchen for me to play around withingredients, try some recipes from the cook books or sometimes follow recipesthat are borrowed from friends.
Life in Surinam was beautiful; it offered good weather and fabulous food except that in the year 1986, situation in Surinam was getting worse.

People were getting arrested on the suspicion of planning a coup against Military rule. There was no freedom of speech, there was human rights abuse and we were hearing the stories of people disappearing overnight. Business was also not good; there were no good hospitals and no good school. Many people had migrated to Holland and Indians were planning to migrate to any another country as the future of Surinam didn’t look promising.

We were planning to migrate too

I had just returned from my school and was relaxing in my room. It was not easy teaching 10 children separately and at different levels. I taught in a small private English school in Surinam and most of my students were the expatriates mainly from Brazil and India. I enjoyed teaching but it was quite exhausting.

I sat reading in my room and the telephone rang. It was a long distance call from my sister in Spain. “Come to Spain” she said, “the business is good and the new laws are being passed and they are inviting investors, a new town is developing in the South of Tenerife, there is much scope for progress”

I had two choices,either to migrate to Spain or to USA. My maternal uncle lived in USA and he too called me regularly asking me visit him.

“You must visit me first, if you like it, I will apply visa for you” he said.

I had neither visited Spain nor USA; therefore I could not decide which place I could choose. If given a choice I would never want to migrate at all. I loved Surinam. I had good set of friends, a comfortable job and good working hours. The climate was good and food was fantabulous. The only drawback was the language. Dutch was the local language and the natives spoke Taki Taki. I found it difficult to learn any foreign language.

Maybe I had developed a very strong ego too.

I had an ethnic taste. I made lot of money selling my art work. I specialized in Indian art work/painting and was often invited by friends from Indian Embassy in organizing various cultural programs.  Many times I believed that I was quite talented and could survive at any place. Europe or America, what did it matter, I felt that the world was just waiting for me; it seriously needed a talented person like me. What I didn't want was to learn a new language. I asked my sister if English was spoken in Spain and she said ‘Yes” My family respected my opinion and they were willing to go to any place I chose.

I chose Spain.

Wrong choice I made, because on arriving Spain, I discovered that nobody spoke English, even the TV programs were dubbed in Spanish. Maybe my sister misunderstood my question when I had asked her if English was spoken in her country. Maybe she wanted us to live closer to her and therefore she lied.

My ego shattered into small pieces when I discovered that nobody was interested in talking to me because I could not converse in their dialect. I wanted to converse with people but language was a huge barrier. I wasted two years of my life learning the language. I couldn't find job because Spain had strict rules and nobody can work without work permit. I worked in my brother’s retail store selling electronic goods and gift items, most of the time I was bored. Moreover, I hated the weather in winter, each night I shivered like snake under covers during winter.

Europe is beautiful and even more beautiful on post cards but I could not adjust to the people, to the bland taste in food and the climate. After staying for 10 years in Spain, I decided to move back to India.

If I had to live my life all over again, I would choose America.

I always feel my life would have been completely different had I chosen to live in US of America instead.

My friend says, "We are the choices we make." she read about my experience and said "I am sure you are richer for all the experience you have gained and now appreciate Mumbai better, maybe dirty, crowded, lazy but it is your own Mumbai"

Yes true, after traveling around the world and living in many places, I have learnt to appreciate Mumbai lots more, I am happiest in Mumbai because I have the freedom of movement; I love the
warmth of weather and people here. I have come to realize that it's not the infrastructure (although to certain extend, it is) but to be surrounded by the warmth of affectionate people is more rewarding perhaps.....

Another friend said, “Very interesting life! I was curious if you felt that as though the experiences in Spain taught you something, did you glean insights there that then helped you grow as a person? How did you recover from the shattered ego post-Surinam?”

During my growing up years I was very aggressive, egoist and was very opinionated. But living in Spain, and not being able to communicate with others forced me to spend more time with myself. This perhaps changed me; I became introvert, reserved and soft spoken. The more time I spent with myself the more sensitive I became to people’s problems. I think I have become a better person. I don’t take anything for granted anymore. Moreover had I migrated to USA, maybe I would have never returned to the school for mentally challenged where I play a very important role of getting funds for the school and upgrading the lives of underprivileged in the best way I can.

But then, it’s all destiny....

Image source from web
Today's Post is a response to the GBE2 prompt: "If I had to Live my life over"

Monday, 11 June 2012

Urban Woes

Each week a TV program called ‘SatyaMevJaitey’ churns out juicy stories for people to mull about, to remind them about the issues affecting a common man, to make them aware of the problems that everybody knows it exists but can do nothing about it. Each week, after 90 minutes of these emotional programs where people are believed to have shed a tear or two, and those  who are moved by this program donate Re1 SMS to a NGO, hoping it will bring change which is actually a Government’s job.
Different issues have been discussed so far regarding child abuse, dowry, female foeticide, doctors and their mal-practices and yesterday it was the bad infrastructure for handicaps.
So, the people who are differently able were discussed.

They spoke about equal opportunities for all, about integrating them into main stream, about their mobility in public places, about building ramp in the public places, about Job placements, and about many more issues affecting handicapped people.
But ask a common man how much he suffers even when he is able and completely normal.
Mumbai is safe city to live in, that is what most people believe. But walk down the street in broad day light and see how dangerous it is. The roads are broken, the inter-locking tiles are stolen from the street by hawkers to create make-shift tables, all the roads are dug up and they take months to repair. Foot paths are built one foot above the road level, how do they expect the handicap and senior citizens to walk on footpath? There is no co-ordination between different utilities, everybody had their own timing for carrying out their work and digging the roads.  
The other day I was waiting at the bus-stop and saw a woman in sari struggling to climb the first step of the BEST bus. She had to lift her sari up to her knee to climb up the first step, two and half feet above the ground, some street urchins had a good laugh watching her struggle. Only the fisher-women, sports women or women in jeans are able to travel with ease. 

Same story is at the Mumbai Locals. The new trains are two feet above the platform. The tiles have come off the edges of the platform, there is danger of slipping while alighting a train.
Nobody thought about senior people while designing new local trains?
Mumbai has sky walk in many areas, but who is using these sky walks? They are three floors up with no lift or escalators. If you walk through these sky walks at night, you are likely to see hundreds of street-people sleeping up there, it’s a safe place to sleep with no fear of speeding traffic to run over them, but during day time, it is used by very few people, senior people or handicap can never use these safe walks.
How can you make the life of handicap and the senior citizen easy when the infrastructure of Mumbai is handicapped?
Friend says to be the change you want instead of complaining.
I would love to bring change if it wasn't so difficult to get required papers/forms to be passed through offices with ease....for every work that we want done, there are long queues, repeated trips to the same office which reduces with the amount of tips you give. There is too much frustrations. Nothing happens without takes so long to get any work done that all the peons and watchmen start calling you by your first name.
Last year I went to visit city of Lavasa, on the outskirts of Pune. This is the new city that is being built presumptuously with better infrastructure. But here too, I found they had not paid attention to the needs of handicap and senior citizens. True, there were ramps and slopes at certain places but there were no railings at stair case. One had to do balancing act while climbing up/down the steps without support.
No change is possible till the mentality of people change, till the Government realizes that it is its’ duty to make the life easy for its citizens. 

On my recent visit to Dubai I was impressed with the metro stations. Every station had escalators and lifts, everything was computerized and the most impressive thing was that people who have constructed these stations are all Indians.
Friend says that changes can be brought about with the right attitude.
Awareness is the first step towards change. Positive mentality is another factor, then there are also different organizations such as ‘San-Kranti: transform Urban India’ and ‘Indian Institute for HumanSettlement’ who can take up these projects and bring some change,
But I still feel
Life of a common man can be a comfortable only if the state cares…….

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Love story

Monday, 4 June 2012

Our Children deserve a better future

Although Mumbai is my favorite city in the world, it fails me sometimes when it cannot keep itself clean.

It stinks.

Walk down any beach in Mumbai and it is filled with plastic bags and garbage. Sit in the auto rickshaw and you will see the auto fellow spit  bright red patch on the side walk, when he stops at the signal. Travel in the train and you will see the woman sitting opposite you munching on a snack, as soon as she has finished eating, the empty wrapper goes down on the railway tracks.

Are Mumbaikars dirty by nature? They get seriously annoyed if we point out their bad habits. How do we educate them?

The 5th June is the world environment day and the theme this year is green economy.

So what is green economy?

Green economy is having a good quality of life with less environment risk and is ecologically green

It is important to inculcate the good habits of caring for environment and keeping it clean from childhood itself.  A child who grows up in a clean environment at home develops the habit of showing such etiquettes in the society too.  Children pick up the habits from their parents and from their grown-up with whom they spend most of their time.

How do we train a child if we have not been able to understand this concept?

The area of the earth is not going to increase, we will always use the same square foot of the space on this earth, but what will change is the natural resources that is inversely proportional to the number of people using these resources. If we don’t use our resources intelligently, we will be depriving our children of good quality of life.

With the redevelopment mushrooming in all parts of Mumbai and sky scrapers dressing the sky-line, there will be shortage of water, electricity and greenery if we are not careful.

How many birds do we see in Mumbai?

There are only crows that spread garbage from one balcony to another; there are pigeons that spoil our window sill and fly into the empty homes through broken windows to raise a family. But we don’t normally see those pretty birds that we often saw when we were young, birds like sparrows, cuckoo, parrots and many more?  

The birds have disappeared and have gone away to look for trees, where they can build a home and care for their young ones.

In the concrete jungle of Mumbai, children can take a very active part in making their environment clean and green. It should be mandatory for every child of 5year-old to plant a tree on his birthday, the tree could be planted either in the building garden where he/she lives, or on the street outside his/her house or at the park closer to his/her house. The tree should belong to him/her; he/she should take care of it throughout his life.

Children should be taught to use electricity stingily.  Why do we need to watch TV and still have computer on to socialize with friends on Facebook/twitter during the promos, use AC for all 24 hours of the day, have too many lights on, in short why must we waste electricity?

Children should be given the responsibility of switching off the lights when leaving the room and saving electricity and water in the house. Incentives like extra pocket money can be given to a child when the monthly energy bill shows low consumption.

When we go for marketing, how many of us carry a cloth bag?

Most of the time we forget to take a bag with us and then we have to buy a plastic bag which the vendor will sell. If we don’t stop using plastic, children will learn to ape us too. We have to discourage our children from using plastic; we have to teach them to say ‘No’ to plastic.  No plastic plates, cups, straws, caps, bags, and water bottles. Plastic is very difficult to dispose and when it goes down the drain, it could choke the drain pipe, if dumped into the sea, it could harm the fishes and whales.


We have to make them aware that we need to maintain a green economy.

They must know how to recycle the waste and create something useful.  They can be encouraged in environmentally friendly activity like making some innovative product from used electronic waste, of creating re-cycled clothes for fashion and cultural shows., of creating films on saving the planet and putting on plays on topic of sustainability.

On this World environment day, let us be the responsible citizen and let us set an example that our children can ape.

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