Monday, February 08, 2016

Out of the blurred world

This is my first post in the long (hopefully) series of posts concerning objects in daily use as the theme. Each post will specifically and exclusively talk about that one particular object, which will serve as the main focus in that episode of my memoir.
Today I'll begin by talking about something that I use everyday, and sometimes forget that I'm using it: my spectacles.

Based on my sister's habit of incessantly watching TV, my father decided to get her eyes tested despite her insistence that she could see clearly. My mother, not surprisingly, supported my father. She does that when it comes to the matters of health and education (read: high scores). I, however, happened to be the collateral as a result of this conversation while my sister managed to escape scot-free after what happened the next day.
At the military hospital (my father served as an army officer), I discovered that I couldn't read the last two lines in the eye testing board. That reminded me of a famous idiom in hindi, "Kaala akshar bhains baraabar". This is in reference to the illiterate population living in villages for whom black is synonymous with the color of a buffalo. And alphabets written in a book are generally black in color. Since they are illiterate, they can't differentiate between the two blacks. Hence the idiom translates to, "black alphabets are equivalent to buffaloes." Hence, I felt as helpless as the illiterate people while reading those last two lines.
That day at home my parents made me wear their spectacles to confirm if it improved my vision, which it certainly did. The result of this realization was that one week later I was wearing my first new pair of spectacles. At the optician, I felt odd. I had seen my fellow classmates and friends wearing spectacles but never thought I'd be wearing one too, that too at the age of 15. The optician tried to cheer me up by saying that many boys and girls these days wear spectacles so it wasn't a new phenomenon and I had no threat of being labeled a pariah, or teased as a 'chashmish'. I was already a socially awkward kid and a pair of spectacles couldn't really make it any worse.
That day my father asked me, again with the same surprise in his tone, how I didn't realize I need a pair of spectacles to see clearly. At his insistence I could recall and hence confess that I often tried to squish my eyes to read from the green board at my coaching classes for Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics, while sitting at the first row. And I also remembered my best friend Himanshu's comment with giggles, "Abe ye kya kar rahaa hai buddhe ki tarah?" (What the heck are you doing like an old man?)
Honestly, I wasn't jealous of my younger sister. I was happy for her, she could now watch TV guilt free, or so I thought. Now that I joined the club of people with four eyes, my parents had a living example to scare my sister away from TV. She, however, has a mind of her own and tends to ignore things she knows are not important for her at that time. Despite everything, she did watch TV guilt free as she always does.
I felt odd to have this frame sitting on my nose and its arms firmly holding on to my ears. I twitched my nose to readjust the frame or adjusted it with my hands to ensure it is correctly aligned horizontally. The world through spectacles looked sharper and clearer. However I couldn't glance sideways that I enjoyed doing, since my vision crossed the blurred frame and into the blurred world. Strangely I had got so used to my blurred world (gradually of course) that I never realized that a clearer world existed.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Patriotic movies during Republic week

This has been a patriotic week for me. I watched the following three totally different kinds of patriotic movies. Interestingly all there were about significant transformation in the character of the protagonist(s). Apart from details on Wikipedia and IMDB, I'd like to share few of my thoughts on them:

1. Lakshya:
(Watched on Saturday, 23rd Jan 2016)
This movie is about a college kid looking for 'lakshya' in his life. He finally finds his lakshya in winning back his country's land taken over through deceit by Pakistani army. So this movie is about protecting one's country from outside invasion.

2. Rang De Basanti:
(Watched on Sunday, 24rd Jan 2016)
This movie is about a group of college kids who're just drifting with time, aimlessly. But a personal tragedy agitates their soul and their conscience awakens and they decide to bring the truth to light. So this movie is about protecting our country from corrupt officials within our country.

3. Airlift:
(Watched on Tuesday, 26th Jan 2016, India's Republic Day!)
This movie is about a shrewd businessman who's only parameter for success in life is profits. However, forced by circumstances he identifies his humane side and helps rescue lakhs of Indians from a war torn zone. So this movie is about protecting our people outside our country.

Such diversity in flavors of patriotism was purely coincidental (first two movies were available in my sister's hard disk drive who'd come home this weekend). And Airlift had released last weekend.
My only desire is that all lessons learned and emotions felt while watching these movies stay with me and I realize my responsibility towards my family, friends and my countrymen.

Fun fact: All actors in three movies form mutually exclusive set.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Filmfare awards are dead (to me)

My last hope, Filmfare awards have also disappointed me. For the following reasons:
 

1. Nawazuddin Siddiqui got no awards.
He was nominated for best supporting actor for two good movies, "Badlapur" and "Bajrangi Bhaijaan" both popular and his performance, as always, top notch. However the award went to Anil Kapoor for Dil Dhadakne Do, again a movie I enjoyed and I liked his role too but he was not the best, Nawazuddin was.

2. Kalki didn't get the award for best actress.
Her performance in Margarita With a Straw made me believe she was actually suffering from cerebral palsy. It was so authentic. Yet the award went to Deepika for Piku, a fine movie and a good performance but not the best. Deepika could have got an award for best entertainer but not the best actor. Was this because Margarita with a straw wasn't a family movie and had some explicit scenes?

3. Sooraj Pancholi got award for best debut actor.
Reminds me of the day when Fardeen Khan got the award for best debut actor for Prem Agan. When I read that Sooraj had got this award, I thought he had no competition but I was wrong. Vicky Kaushal from Masaan and Shashank Arora from Titli were his competition and better than him. Then again, who cares!

Are we really giving 'best actor' awards or 'best entertainer' awards? Even in the latter category these awards don't make much sense!

Biggest shocker of the Filmfare awards was that Shah Rukh Khan was nominated for best actor for Dilwale (because you know, he has done a film so he must be nominated) and Salman Khan was nominated for Bajrangi Bhaijaan (because you know, he was a lead actor in a good movie after so many years, last one being Dabangg). BUT Nawazuddin Siddiqui was NOT even nominated for Manjhi! Had it not been for Ranveer Singh winning the award for Bajirao Mastani, one of these two Khans would have got it. Thank you Ranveer.

The cherry on top goes to none other than nominations for best actress: Kajol (Dilwale) and Sonam Kapoor (Dolly Ki Doli).


From now on, just like Aamir Khan, I'm also going to boycott these award functions (on TV) !!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

India isn't intolerant, it is too tolerant

Aamir Khan​'s situation reminds me of a scene from Sholay​ in which Kalia does something wrong and says, "Sardar, maine aapka namak khaaya hai", and Gabbar says, "Ab goli khaa..."
People have assumed that Aamir's statements were his opinion but it wasn't an opinion, it was a concern and it wasn't his, it was his wife's. It was like during my school days, everyone hated when teacher taught too much and for many days but no one spoke a word. One day a student is heard talking about it, merely expressing his concerns to someone, and that student is made an example of, bad mouthed, branded a "traitor" of sorts. At least despite realizing the consequences, Aamir still stands by his word. Satyameva Jayate indeed.
So what is it that's bothering us? That we, the Indian people made him The Aamir Khan? Is it about money and fame? We willingly adored him for his performance and he earned his wealth legally doing things we enjoyed. Compare his statements to the obscene remarks made by our politicians on the most horrendous crime, Rape. "Boys will be boys", "Chowmein should be banned because it propagates rape", "girls should not be allowed to wear jeans for their safety" etc. (paraphrased of course). I am sure most of you will remember these statements. Moreover, we laughed off the matter of politicians watching porn during an active parliamentary session. When our guardians who were elected to serve us take our safety so lightly, why don't we raise our voice against them? Because they have power. Celebrities don't have the kind of power to put you in prison. And let us not forget, most of these politicians do earn wealth through bribery and other illegitimate means (scams).
Are we trying to protect our national image? What national image? A nation where millions don't get to eat food twice a day and have to sleep hungry, and live in deplorable conditions, what image should it really have? How does intolerance even matter in the face of lack of basic amenities for majority of our population?
It is easy to boycott a certain brand and movies of a certain actor (i.e., easier to stop doing something) than to try and fix the real issues (not the ones fabricated by political entourage) faced by fellow Indians on a daily basis.
"All Indians are my brothers and sisters", remember? Perhaps with these sentiments he would have shared his personal conversation with the whole nation, like one shares with our siblings. And what do we do? We decide to dig out his past and boycott his movies and brands. (slow clap!)
Perhaps Aamir was wrong. We're not intolerant, we're too tolerant !! We tolerate all the crap and fabricated bullshit fed to us like whether to ban beef or not, when millions are shivering and starving, in our own country.
A country where we let politicians get away with anything but target powerless celebrities, where we get offended by what a person says rather than what a person does or doesn't do (fulfilling promises made during election campaign), where we're ready to attack someone's livelihood (be it Aamir or Beef sellers) just because they hurt our sentiments rather than using our time and effort towards helping other citizens live a better life, I can never be proud of such a country. Perhaps no country is perfect but I always thought India and Indians were better than this.

Friday, August 28, 2015

It happens only in India

People blowing horn incessantly really pisses me off !!
I mean, are the vehicles driving ahead, a group of oxes that you whip with your horns?
And then they are blown horn at by the ones behind them, and so on!
Its like they propagate their frustration ahead.
Sometimes I just feel like turning back and showing them the finger or shout at them, for real!
But then I am not the one who can stand a fight, so I prefer to beat it and keep myself safe!
Nonetheless I've seen this has been a growing trend on Indian roads, the trend of blowing horns, thinking that the traffic ahead will magically start moving faster, or even better, disappear! I mean, how primitive can we be to feel such nonsense!

While the blowing horn mania is quite a recent one, an age old habit that truly is unique to being an Indian, is spitting!
Indians are quite good at it, in fact it doesn't matter what they're doing, if they feel like spitting, they will spit. They turn their head to a side, collect all the material and with certain required amount of force, pull their head back a little and then thrust out the spit while their head also jerks ahead a little. Some who are more proficient don't have to move their head at all, to attain that thrust. Their mouth is powerful enough to produce that long trajectory of spit that's so clearly visible to the naked eye.
Given the insane amount of spitting that goes on, on Indian roads, I am surprised that I haven't witnessed any victim yet.
Indians can spit anytime, anywhere, but only when they're in India! They can spit while driving, or being driven, while walking, while talking, while sitting, while standing, while eating, while drinking... haven't seen them spit while dancing, but who knows, maybe someday!

Another thing Indians have mastered over the years is Moral Policing! And surprisingly, they feel quite righteous about it! But you know what they really are, a spoilsport! They're worse than the guy who asks questions in the class after the bell for recess has rung! They're worse than that monitor who complains to the teacher about those who talk and make a mess in class! They're worse than ... well lets say they're the worst. So what if two people want to be in love and make love, be it within the walls of a hotel or out in the open, perhaps in a park! But NO! They're the ones who decide what's right, because, obviously it seems they either never got any "action" or they suffered heartbreak or they've been brainwashed by those who suffered from the above two reasons... had it been two minors or a minor with an adult, one can understand the concern but two consenting adults, comfortably above the age of 20, have the right to make love any way they way wherever they want! Trust me, they won't go naked and fornicate in a public park, they won't. If they do, please arrest them. Until then, let people have fun! Let them enjoy the good fortune that they have someone to love who feels the same!

And the latest one... girls please don't falsely accuse guys that they've abused you. The situation is such that anything against a girl is now a crime and most guys have no interest in abusing or hurting a girl's feelings intentionally. They don't, nobody does. Please don't be the shepherd who shouted wolf when there was none because when one actually appears, nobody would be willing to believe you and we'd be back to the "dark ages" for females. Things are looking good for females, lets help this movement and usher an age where everybody enjoys all the privileges! I hope I live to see that day.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

customers and babies

There was a time when joint families were quite prevalent in India. And just like in a corporate job, in a joint family after marriage, results (babies) are expected!
With good results, i.e. loaded customer (only baby in the family), or great results, i.e., loyal customer (baby boy), that girl became the favorite daughter-in-law in the house. The jealous ones used other tactics like bribery (getting goodies for everyone from their parents' home), to earn that favorite category.
The tyranny of big corporations (joint families) led to startups/freelancing (nuclear families). Now they can work at their own pace (i.e. do the activity that produces babies), whenever they like, and produce results and get customers (babies) the way they like.
Because the investors/temporary (in-laws) boss can only suggest and they hold no real power over you.
That power has shifted to customers (babies) and their future with the partners in their new venture (family) is of utmost consideration now.
No wonder we've been pampering customers so much !! Now everything can be home delivered, I won't be surprised if they manage to do that for a new house also. Everything can be done online, all a customer has to do is click (all a baby has to do is cry). And customer's complaints are adhered to asap (same with when a baby cries, a different cry).
And how can we forget the rise of third parties (baby-sitters, maids, and baby products companies).
Respect for boss/investors (elders in the family) is important but that shouldn't make the customer's well being (baby's well being) suffer. Nor should the customer (baby) be pampered so much that it forgets the importance of your company (family).

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The National Anthem

Every Indian stands up for National Anthem at least at two places in his life. Once, at school (academics/knowledge), other, at cinema hall (entertainment).
The influence of National Anthem during school days spurs such patriotism in kids that we hardly see anyone going abroad for higher studies after high school. But the absence of National Anthem in college days erodes the patriotism during those 3-5 years of college days and in search for a better future, kids leave their home and their home country for higher studies.
The influence of National Anthem is difficult to understand when shown just before a motion picture. Why spur such patriotism in a person who has come to the movies to enjoy and relax with his family/friends? Is it to help him forgive Bollywood, in case the movie turns out to be intolerable and tests his patience more than his boss/subordinates/spouse/sibling/parents do? But then even Hollywood movies' airing is preceded by the National Anthem. Why I wondered for a long time before I finally figured it out. Its simple. We're a secular country!
I still love and adore our National Anthem! It still gives me the goosebumps! But I'm not in school anymore, I have no plans for higher studies abroad and I am sure I can enjoy a movie on the big screen without feeling patriotic.