Thursday, July 07, 2016

Bhai Bhai Phenomenon



I was never a big fan of Salman Khan. After attaining a minimum conscience about the external world and starting to judge movies by their content and not by their mere specter of entertainment, I built an opinion that Salman Khan not only lacked sensible acting skills but also the skills I see in a responsible citizen of the country.
In spite calling myself a movie-buff, I simply could not sit through his stupid movies residing far away from the reality. It was an arduous task for me to watch the very forgettable Dabang and that experience facilitated me to avoid his next set of 100 crore-club movies. I did not let my lack of appreciation deter anyone else. I saw his success at the box office as a unique case study. This was a case in which an actor lacked the very basic acting skills was outshining everyone else around, one movie after another. Although I am not an academy judge or a Cannes Critic, using whatever I have heard and read about acting, Salman Khan has always been the “how not to” example of every detail. But the box office loves him, and that is all that matters in our country, and why not! After a hard working week, there’s no price for guessing which movie the tired souls will flock to, a simple entertainer called Ek Tha Tiger, or a mind-boggling convoluted Nolan masterpiece Inception. And the result is out and loud. Salman Khan has grown out of his age and even after 28 years in the industry, has become the most sought after and producer-friendly actor of the current age. But letting someone like him rule the popularity of such high repute is nothing less than a disgrace we are living with every day.
His personality is exactly what is wrong with India today. He is mired in controversies. He has been tried in court for culpable homicide after his car ran over street dwellers in Mumbai. After getting bail, the prime witness in the case was kidnapped and eventually killed which allowed him to walk free because of the lack of evidence. His very public relationship with Aishwarya Rai later turned into an ugly one. Aishwariya Rai accused him of harassing her and lodged a complaint. He and some of his friends were charged with the crime of hunting an endangered species. He blamed the Indian security forces after the attacks of 26/11 and thought that Pakistan was not to be blamed. He sympathized with Yakub Memon and tweeted Nawaz Shariff to make him heard. The list goes on and on and on. And the strangest thing is, his popularity increased with every controversy he faced. He became that son of the Indian house, who is loved by his parents unconditionally even if he commits the gravest of crimes. Indian audience accepted him with wide open arms every time he proved to be a wrong human being. His being out in the open in spite of such a tattered certificate of character is inspiration to the Indian youth. No doubt his fan following is unparalleled. He is called Bhai in Indian households, and people try to copy his looks, his body, his style and very sadly his personality as well. People get motivated that in spite of the crimes one commits, there is always a way out in our system.  Although I am not saying Salman Khan is the only catalyst in this mindset but I won’t be wrong if I say he is at least one of the role models.
His recent comment about his troubles after a lengthy physically straining shot for his Eid movie Sultan was no less than some utter rubbish out of a nincompoop's mouth.  What he said could not be left unnoticed. It was not one of those media air blowing the balloon out of proportions but a rightful coverage of a foolish man with a sick mentality giving an insight into his real self. Salman Khan hardly makes any non-scripted media appearances. All his lines, everything he says is carefully curated by his team of managers who preserve his public image. And every time Salman Khan steps out without his restrictors around, he says or does something that creates headlines. His callous responses to some important questions reflect the mindless characters he plays in his 100 crore movies. They are thoughtless, baseless and often hurt someone’s sentiment. I know these celebrities live a difficult life with cameras covering their every movement and recorders sniffing their every breath.  But every good thing in life comes with responsibility and privacy is one of the perks them actors have to let go off. It is more like an occupational hazard that we all live with. Exposed to such scrutiny, it is the star’s responsibility to behave and utter correct words. He should know how and where his words matter. He should be able to perceive his power and how his words can mold society and bring about change. He should be responsible that the change occurs for good. Trivializing a grave issue like rape which has become a household name in our country and a demon our society is fighting against every day is an act of shame. I am forced to think under which circumstances these words might have come out.
One, he is not educated enough to understand the gravity of the situation and the significance of his spoken words. It was just a casual banter with the reporter and the audience and his sick sense of humor allowed him to let those words out. He may not be meaning to hurt anybody’s sentiment, and it is our fault to portray him in that dark light. Had that been the case, an apology the very next day would have been a responsible action. It would have been a brave act. It could have deterred those people who idolize him and would use this “walked like a raped woman” comment to signify how tired they were, from using such a tragic event with such casualty. His apology would have been a gentleman’s gesture and would have gone well with his “being human” brand image. Nobody is perfect, and there is no harm in accepting that one was wrong. But Bhai, our family’s notorious brother did nothing of that sort. His father came out to rescue and publicly apologized, but Bhai with the ego as thick as his steroid rich biceps did not bow down to the pressure and did not apologize.  Maybe he thinks that he can balance this all out by making hefty donations to charity through his Being Human trust but he should realize that charity does not give him the right to insult anyone. Had he been raped, such a comment couldn’t have come out of him.
Two, he has forgotten about the incident, and he cares too less to read newspapers and controversies. He is cut from the outside-the-gym world and does not bother to remember his bad deeds because there are so many of them. So he wakes up the next day feeling like a fresh woman and starts his new day afresh. In that case, we should blacken his face with coal tar (not literally) and strip him of the star status and throw him out of the country in no time. He is a disease one should get rid of immediately.
Three, he believes rape to be a trivial issue, and the comment was what he wanted to tell the world about himself. He is too casual to realize his mistake and too pampered to have any remorse. He is proud of what he has said because everyone else says shit on television and he doesn’t want to be the exception. Every superstar has his / her share of controversies and people slowly forget everything. They are garlanded by producers as they have become more popular. Whatsoever be their path to popularity, they charge more money to create box office records. So our Bhai feels that he alone should not be targeted, and people should solve all the controversial cases/ comments in series and then reach him after solving everything else. That is exactly how people get the courage to utter anything without thinking twice. Superstars are idolized by masses and hence should carry the burden of being famous and being quoted. Stars like Salman Khan touch a million lives, and that is why it is their prime duty to keep their hands clean.
Enough said, as a fellow countryman, I feel insulted that Salman Khan is somehow related to me. I think it is the time we boycott watching his mindless movies and teach this naughty useless boy a lesson and some culture.

Friday, March 04, 2016

The dilution of Photography

When you have enough time, when you are far away from the raised eyebrows of the critical world around, then you can do things you like without caring. Call me the self-obsessed one, but I was just flipping through my Facebook albums and one photo after another I time-travelled from 2016 to 2009. And I did not even realize that half an hour had already passed by. Some photos brought back such good memories that I kept on staring at them for a good minute or so. Living that time, at that very moment, I kept wondering how fast time flies by.
There was this tradition in my home when I was a child. My parents loved photography, and they did not care much about the 36 snap film roll. There had been times when my father refilled our Kodak Kroma once every month, and we used to get one album full of pictures. The knack of clicking random objects and, later on trying hard to make sense of them, have been passed on to me from my parents. And when anybody used to visit us for the evening tea, going through the latest album was a must. My parents would take turns to explain why a photo was clicked, or what had happened at that very moment and our guests would smile. We did not care whether they liked them or not, but they kept coming back and did not mind even repeating some of the albums.
With time, we graduated to smartphones and digital cameras. My parents still do not know how to operate them. They click pictures in phones but cannot connect it to a computer to see them full size. Even the number the guests visiting us have become less. I wonder whether this is true for everybody or only us as we moved out of Durgapur. People do not now randomly ring the doorbell and request for a cup of tea from my mother at 10 in the night. I think my parents miss this randomness. They also miss showing off photographs and telling the stories behind them. My mother has recently taken to Facebook, and she puts a picture every morning wishing her friends a good morning. I like them religiously, just to cheer her up. :-)
Well coming back, I think with the advent of this digital age camera in my life, the photography has lost charm. For me, it was better caring for the number of snaps left in a roll and then using the remaining snaps judiciously. To capture that very particular moment. Nowadays I click everything I see and hence as the supply has become much more than the demand, I care less about the pics I click. Just for an example, the other day I met my friends in Saket and just to show off my new glam cam phone, we took around 100 photographs. These all were taken at the same location and of the same people. Only the expressions changed slightly but apart from that nothing much changed in all those photos. One of my friends held the chicken leg piece and clicked a picture. Looking at him, everybody took turns to do the same. Even I did. But the sad fact is, after coming back home and sharing the good ones over WhatsApp, I haven't opened them again to relive those moments. It is not that I do not value my friends enough, but the photos are just too readily available to me now. So I think I just don't care. On the other hand, when I was in Haldia for a month, I did something similar, yet it has become entirely different.
On my second weekend in Haldia, just to get rid of the fearful first-semester hostel environment, four of us friends thought to roam around the Haldia City. It was a Saturday evening, and it was 2006. Although camera phones had infamously arrived on the market, none of us middle-class pockets had one of those. After a nice outing, it started raining as we were coming back. After getting down at the bus stop near our college, we had to run to find some shelter under the extended asbestos of a photo studio. While waiting outside, Aritra suggested that we go in and get ourselves clicked. The idea seemed stupid at first, but we obliged. And what I got in return is one my best memories captured in a 10cm by a 6cm piece of paper. I cherish that photograph to date and have never felt the need to put it up on facebook or anywhere else. Although I am not in contact with all of them anymore, I still love that photograph and the story of it.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Al Mubabba Fly Experiment


The man is a social animal. While learning this in the school days, little did I realize that how correct this simple line is. For a pseudo-extrovert like me, who loves his alone time as much as the time spent with others, I used to think that it is not a big deal to live without society. Why would one not enjoy being alone?
But these days, I am getting a hands on experience to make myself aware of this powerfully real line,
On paper, today is my 11th day in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I was pretty excited to come here. I gauged the possibilities that this place could offer. I weighed those against the pain I'd face being without Sham and I thought it was okay. Sham supported my decision as she was confident that I could manage well in situations unknown. Given the smooth stay experience of Chicago, even I was convinced that a month or two here will not seem to be too long. But I was wrong.
To elaborate, let me first justify the title of this post.
Last Friday, a fly came into my room from somewhere. Maybe the banana peels thrown into the dustbin had invited it for a sweet treat, or perhaps it was the wet tea leaves in the kitchen bin. I did not care. I spotted it around noon and tried to get rid of it. Opened the gates of the balcony, shooed it away, but all went in vain, My visitor liked my company. It went to the bedroom, saw the bathroom, wandered around the kitchen and then finally sat on the sofa opposite mine in the drawing room. It stayed there as long as I sat. Then somehow, I forgot that it was even there. I went about doing my chores, and little did I care about it. Friday over.
Comes Saturday morning,
As I was having breakfast, I spotted it once again. But this time, I did not try to get rid of it. Instead I let it be there. And it was then that it struck me how much I miss someone's company.
We as individuals tend to ignore the basic things in life. We get involved with our good-bad, black-white reasoning so much that we ignore things that cause them. We care about the effect more than the cause and our response to the stimuli is often what makes us who we are. Some of us complain, some ignore, some enjoy whatever is going on around us. But when a time comes when we really get to observe things from a null point of view, when we dive in the darkness which is eternal and more permanent than light, we get to reflect upon our lives. We get to look at ourselves from the universe's point of view, and it is then we know how truly lonely we are. We appreciate the causes more than the response when the response is zero. If you do not have someone to talk to, then you do not know how to feel. If you don't have anything or anyone to be angry about, you don't know how to feel angry. And in such a way, all your traits, all that makes you, you, vanishes one by one. People in your life make you the person you are. People around you entertain your brain. Whichever fashion it may be, be it a drama, or mystery or a thriller, or be it a comedy, your brain is what answers to the events and these responses take you forward.
I love driving to work and back. It presents a lot of things in front of me, in a short amount of time. Someone peeing by the side of the road, some driver callously spitting out of their windows, some guy zig-zagging and over speeding only to get stuck at the next red light, someone getting out of their vehicle to argue with the next car. So many things happen in the canvas in a span of 2 hours that amount of entertainment I derive out of it is incomparable. And I have only realized it here in Saudi where I am not getting to experience it. The moment the response to a particular stimulus goes missing in your life, it is then you appreciate the causes more.
So get out folks, and look at things that entertain you and watch your response and smile at your involvement and say a silent thank you to the uninvited flies in all your life rooms.
Adios!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup

There is no measure to the pleasure I derive from the leisure time which hides within the pressure cooker treasure and the rust in my razor which leaves me unshaved for months. Or the subtle accessories that life presents in the present with the dents on numerous scents while paying the rent and finding all money has been spent on the endless meanings meant for the overflowing vent in my heart's bent. When all the eager meager believers and the same gold diggers trigger the frightening of questions, I try to stay numb. For all I know and grow and blow, these thoughts in my inner chambers will be impossible to comprehend.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Tryst with Photography, Nokia Lumia 1020










The past week with Lumia 1020 has been awesome, and these are some of the remembered frames.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Arvind Kejriwal and the 2014 LS elections



The Lok Sabha election has come to an end in the mecca of democracy. The votes have been counted and the mandate of the electorate is out in the open. While its time for jubilation for the opposition, it has also been a humiliating defeat for the ruling majority. They have been ousted by a population from which their over ambitious corrupted endeavors were clearer than the promises of future merry making. In this political brewery, there stood one man who not only lost from his own constituency but witnessed defeat in more than 400 others. He led a revolution which he believed would get national credence but apparently failed to strike a chord with the voters. He is Arvind Kejriwal. His faults might be many. There might have been serious craters in his maiden national political strategy, but this post is not to discuss that. I would like to share the impression of this man in the Indian political potpourri and also my personal opinion about Indian politics and I am sure there would be many who share the same thoughts.
First some hard background checks:
In India, like many other professions, politics is considered to be a total waste. It is indeed difficult to believe that the country which boasts of the largest democracy in the world cannot properly educate its own children and motivate them to join this proud service. Politics is reserved for those who either belong to an already rooted political family, or to those who cannot do anything else. I am not saying that there aren't any educated people involved, but by the time they climb the ladder of their respective parties, they become their own 20 year old enemy. The manifestos of the political parties become mere scribbling on a piece of paper. The motto changes from national service to personal welfare. The bed of roses is preferred over thorny development. And the vicious cycle continues. And more people turn away from politics out of disgust and hopelessness. This creates a suitable work environment for the parties as they don't have to deal with questions from smart people. They show up before the elections, cull their votes and go about minding their own business till the next bell of election rings. Rampant corruption follows and the voters feel betrayed and change the government for the next round. In this claustrophobic arrangement of governance, voters stop caring. They come back home to their growing children and motivate them to become doctors and engineers. And hence, nobody wants to become a politician in India.
But in 2014 something different happened.
There rose a man from the lesser known neighborhoods of NCR, who dared to challenge this morbid smog. He dared to punch a hole in this flak created by the system. From his cushy post of a Tax officer he hit the streets and talked about revolution. From his 9 to 5 daily job, he chose to spend sleepless nights of protests. He got a degree in engineering from IIT, cleared the tough hurdles of UPSC exam and got himself a highly reputed job. His was the life every middle class Indian dreamt of. His were the achievements that every good student worked hard for. And it is this connection for which he became an overnight sensation. People saw a ray of hope. They found a leader who did not sway into the big houses of established political parties but draw his own line of principles, who did not salivate for power but talk about selfless honest government, who did not talk non sense but base his explanations on lucid logic. People saw a man grow out of a revolution against a corrupt government. People caught a glimpse of how the truth got suppressed under the strong armed ruthless ministers. They watched on when water cannons met the peaceful protesters at India Gate. And that is why when Arvind decided to form a political party leaving behind all his comfort and calm, people joined in numbers. All those who shared the dream to wake up in a better country joined hands to make a chain of truth and virtue. They wore the Aam Aadmi caps and hit the roads. Many sacrificed their jobs, many donated their daily earnings, and many started spreading the good word through Facebook and Twitter for they believed that if someone like Arvind Kejriwal can, why can't they. They couldn't have let him slip away. The nation couldn't have afforded to lose one of its prime assets in its most important industry.
Hence came the Delhi elections 2013. Arvind Kejriwal came out from the streets of revolution. He open fired at the corrupt representatives. The media did everything possible to cover his acts. The results brought a beacon of change. A fifteen year old government suffered a horrific defeat. There was a rage of anger among the voters against the ruling government. It was the roar of a lion being held captive for long. The message from the voters was loud and clear and the electorate showed that their tolerance had a limit which should not be breached. Arvind Kejriwal was sworn in as the chief minister of Delhi. He got OUTSIDE SUPPORT from the ruling congress without asking for it. Like he had promised in his political campaigns, after 49 days of governing Delhi, he tried to move the JanLokpal bill in the Delhi assembly. This bill met with strong protests and so were two others and the chief minister could not convince the house. Following this, Arvind Kejriwal resigned from his CM post. This ignited the greatest political debate that our nation had participated in many years. "Did Arvind Kejriwal do the right thing by stepping down?" Everybody had their opinions and they went an extra mile to voice it. Facebook was flooded with updates from unexpected corners. People who had zero political interest were arguing the decision. Media minted a lot of controversy and the drama culled more viewership than the cult saans-bahu serials. Some people were praising the selfless attitude while some called him an escapist. Some saw a hint of Bhagat Singh and Subhash Bose him while some saw it as a political move to contest the national elections.
But behind all this, the nation had awakened. People, who did not care to know the name of the President, were now discussing politics over office lunch hours. It was everywhere. My neighbor, a class sixth student did his own style of campaigning by going to every apartment in the building and asking people to vote for AAP. The political analysis was more scrutinized. The misdeeds of the past government were condemned. My mother sacrificed watching her favorite television soap to watch the Newshour. People like Arnab Goswami and Rajdeep Sardesai became celebrities. The middle class was rising. They got enough food for their thoughts and the blanket of hopelessness was removed. Everybody knew India was a super power, but people had started asking obvious questions. Irrespective of what political end they held, people cared to come out and participate in this tug of war. There was someone out there who spoke like them and had a common origin. People frustrated with both the Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party had a new glint which they could hold on to.
It would have been better had Arvind managed to secure a seat inside the Indian Parliament this coming session but his contribution to Indian politics is something that we all will remain indebted. He has brought an entire class of educated people inside politics. People who earlier preferred staying out having no comments, are now interested to know the proceedings. People now care.
And for this change, the credit goes to Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, because in hindsight, his was the only differentiating factor in this election compared to the previous LS polls (political parties).
Only time can tell whether the voters have given the responsibility to run the country in right hands, but I am sure that anyone who will get involved in an act to harm the national interest of the country will have to think twice for they know that a more enlightened, a more interested and an active strata of the population is watching closely. The common man with its enormous force has woken up. 
We care, so you better care.

Monday, May 05, 2014

What to Write


What to write and How do I write it
Is the constant of all battles and we all have to fight it
Shall I make it like the Bolero with castanets clinging
Or do I just add a feel that with an acoustic upbringing?
Do I paint my piece with tears of social evil?
Or do I write about hope to scare away the devil?
Shall I pen down something for the inner laughter bone?
Or let me just write romance from the apex of a double cone.
Oh wait, why not write about the new fiery intense leader?
Or do I just start writing caring less about the reader.
Can I write a piece of which every word be meant?
Lets not write anything, my time has already been spent.

//a random access malabar masala\\

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Heaviest Sleep

Saturday and Sunday share a strange friendship. Sunday is the reason why Saturdays are celebrated and chilled out, but nobody likes to live through the Sunday. The feeling of going back to work the next day, or the next five days, sucks out the weekend fun. But this post if not about Sundays.
I woke up today at 8 in the morning and got out of bed by 9:30. Made coffee, watched cricket, called India-1, made breakfast and called India-2 and a good 4 hours were spent. So effectively my Sunday started at 1:45 in the afternoon. It had snowed yesterday night through today's morning and hence going out was not an option. Cooked lunch and ate it by 3. With nothing substantial to do next, I slept. I woke up half an hour before and its 8 now. I feel the food has bloated up inside me. I feel like a balloon. My mind has stopped working. My roommates seem all the more boring. Life seems to have stopped moving. The guitar doesn't sound good anymore. The evening tea seemed bland. Music is not working.
The afternoon sleep is an evil. Every time I have slept just after a heavy lunch, I have woken up like this. Delusional. It will take me one more hour to come back to life and I won't be able to sleep till its 1 or 2. And in turn wake up lazy tomorrow. And the entire Monday will suck. At home, at work.!! So will my week begin.
Have a great week ahead people. 
Hope you didn't sleep the Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Cursed Goodness

The very first sentence a child learns to write is, "Ram is a good boy."And thus he is shown the path ahead. The good boy path. The imaginary good boy, he is told, is someone who helps others and gets goodness in return. He is the one who the good gods take good care of. He is someone who races ahead of the bad kids and always succeeds. He is generally right but always correct. And thus the poor child, who has just started to lean new things around him is fed the already-established good traits. He is made to learn them and abide them.
But is this the way to go about it?
In reality, the bad boys rock the world. Not only in the lines of of snoop doggy Rhythm and Poetry, but in real sense. The world runs on the frequency of the bad boys. They are the ones who matter. 
Sad and lengthy nouns like pressure, frustration, responsibility, expectation are the general feelings of a good boy. He is the one who has followed a fixed approach to life. He is the one who understands what is right and what is not. He has read enough books and have developed a fitting wisdom with which he satisfies people and logic at the same time. At least tries to. He does not deliberately hurt or harm anybody because he thinks that what goes around eventually comes back around. He has been taught that honesty is THE best policy and he waits patiently till his best honest policy is suitably rewarded. He does not want to think about the results of his good deeds because he follows the approach of doing work without worrying about its benefits. He follows rule, stops at every traffic light, helps the blind man cross the road, completes his work on time, never lies, never cheats, doesn't drink or smoke, doesn't slang, respects his elders and in the process he gets lost in the quagmire of human expectations. 
On the other real hand, the bad boy is the reckless one. He is the middle finger of the world. He is careless about others. He thinks of this world like his playground where he plays till its fun and packs his bag and leaves when he gets out. He is the one who always balls first and bats first. In the process making everyone furious but also playing the most. He is the one the majority hates. But again, he does not care about the majority for he abuses. And he knows that the world is too weak on its legs when it come to criticism. People generally end up following and praising the one who criticizes. He doesn't fake, he is least cared to look good or sound good. He masks his lack of knowledge by judging others and hence people try to avoid messing around with him. He makes fun of people, he mocks his peers seniors, he cheats in his exam and scores good, he bends the rules to suit his need, he is good to those only who respect or revere him, he is the king of his life and his self obsession kills his enemies.
In this way the good boys sulk and the bad boys rule their world.
So who is good actually?
"The above is a detailed version of a conversation I had a few days back about an enlightened kid."

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Compatriot

Walking back from his office in the evening, Ashutosh met Simran.
It was his first day in the US office and he was upbeat. Unlike the general opinion that the balloon bursts on the very first day, Ashu's first day was fun to say the least. He met his boss who was also an Indian, more so from Kolkata. His team of 9 people, comprised of 5 beautiful ladies. Unmarried. The ones he used to dream about in his college days back home. His cubicle was in front of the window which faced the lake. The Millenium Park could also be seen. People flocking around, getting wet in the reflections of the fountainhead and drying them up at the same time. Tourists posing in front of the bean for that perfect shot. And just as he was observing all of it, his team came up with a surprise lunch party. Theme Bollywood. He had never been in a party like that. To any party for that matter, not considering the school-time birthday parties. And a party themed Bollywood in the workplace, was totally out of his imagination. His boss took pride to introduce him to rest of the department and he felt at home meeting everyone. The human resource department had a presentation explaining him his revised compensation and other benefits. He had doubled his salary with this job jump he thought. He was put up in an apartment few blocks away. Although he had not yet checked his room, but the place was managed by Sheraton and hence, was good.
At around 5 he left his chair and wrapped up the gifts from his teammates into his backpack and left for home. He noticed her just as he got out of the office.
Her pace faster than his.
Her hair, beautifully combed, neat and black.
Her gait, like a fairy. Measured steps.
He was desperate to steal a glance of the face and started walking faster. And at the intersection of the State and Madisson, he walked past her and stood in front.
And that is how Simran met Ashutosh for the first time.