Tuesday, March 30, 2010

101st post

Normally, bloggers celebrate the century mark but I've decided to do things a little differently. Contrary to what you may assume from knowledge of my dear love for puppies, dogs and cartoons (Yeah I love Tom n Jerry!), I did not choose 101 as the benchmark because I'm a fan of 101 Dalmations (although they're pretty cute). This has to do with the age old tradition of shagun-apshagun :D

Till I was like 15 years old, on my birthday, my grandparents would give me an envelope containing money. Now they would never just leave in 100 or 50 rupees notes, but would also ensure that a 1 rupee coin was kept inside. If they'd forgotten to put it, they would look around for a rupee, put it in and then give me the envelope. Till date I don't know why they do it (or rather did it, they don't bother anymore), but I used to find it really cute. So, this post is in memory of that cute custom. 

Having said that, it feels great to cross 100! It would really help though if I could get some  constructive feedback. I believe more than anything else, this is a journey to discover my writing skills and enhance them for my chosen path. As they say, having good company always makes a journey more enjoyable and I'm glad to have you, dear reader, in this wonderful journey of self-discovery. 

Keep reading, and Happy Journey!

I've been thinking of a good sign off line. How's this one? Suggestions welcome :D

Sunday, March 28, 2010

My mind - A poem

The mighty Atlas,
Bent on one knee,
Back arched painfully,
Holding the entire world on his shoulders,

My mind wanders,
From one trouble to the other,
And finally bends on one knee,
With back arched painfully,

Weighed down by worries,
As heavy as the Earth,
Or so my heart feels,
As it believes my mind,

Along comes a friend,
To share my troubles,
My burden isn't halved,
But easier to bear,

With a heart full of hope,
And a face with a smile,
The burden still exists,
But easier to bear...

Image source: http://cottoneozvc.spaces.live.com/

Friday, March 26, 2010

Unaerobic stories

So, as you guys know, I am a huge aerobics fan. Although for the major part of the class I'm sincerely working out, there are some moments when I'm doubling over, laughing like crazy. Moments when I forget my steps and the aerobics instructor loudly calls out "Manasi! Pay attention!!" and I laugh to hide my embarrassment. I have been seriously considering changing my name and not letting her know about it, but since she has all the members' cards, that's going to be a mean trick.

Funny thing about the instructor is, she doesn't know how to count. I mean somebody, please send the lady to a primary school. To give a little background, she has taken it upon herself to whip all of us into shape via the 3-day aerobics session. So it's not just aerobics, which is mostly cardio, but we've to suffer through weights, floor exercises, weights AND floor exercises... So in the midst of a particularly excruciating ab workout she'll say:

"Last 3 to go!" 


"Last 2 to go, come on girls UP!"

"UP! Stay! (Yeah right! :P Not after you cheated us this way Mam!) "

See what she did there? She keeps trying these mean tricks on us. 

The aerobics hall is awesome, in that it has a full wall covered with mirrors. Now obviously, we're all narcissists and I admit I keep staring at myself at times rather than concentrating on the steps. But at least I do it when I'm facing the mirror. There are a few steps in aerobics when you need to turn to the side. One pretty girl in our class keeps twisting her neck and checking herself out even then! I wonder if she's taking classes with Ramsey brothers to master the art of rotating her neck 180 degrees to look at herself when her back is turned to the mirror. I mean yeah you're pretty, don't break your neck over it!

Talking about scary movies, don't miss this review of Shaapit... I don't know how to pronouce it, I usually just say Shatap! :P

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Creeky" memories

A trekking-enthusiast friend of mine recently bought herself a brand new mountain bike. Electric blue in color with 25 gears, I was dazzled by the description. I've been lusting after a bicycle since ages now and her description of her recent possession made me turn green with envy and reminded me of my own electric pink and blue bicycle. Guys, please don't stop reading. It wasn't barbie pink at least :P 

My first bicycle had side wheels and it was with great difficulty that I was convinced to remove those and learn how to really ride it. It had a comfortable back rest and I think I learnt how to ride in a considerably short span of time. The real test came when I got my first LadyBird bike, electric pink and blue in color with 15 gears. Alright, 5 gears :P I remember barely being able to sit on the seat and touch both legs on the ground. I had to learn how to ride all over again! The almost cliched scene where parents hold on to the seat and run behind the bike, finally letting go when they feel the kid has got control, and the kid has an ecstatic grin on his/her face came true for me at that time. I was old enough to take out the bicycle by myself and soon started exploring new grounds to test my newest, most-favorite possession. 

It was at this time that I discovered the creek. Or rather, re-discovered it. The creek is a small water body, almost like a river, that divides Dubai into 2 parts, namely Bur Dubai and Deira. It spans almost a 100 metres in width and I don't really know how long it is. The best part is that it flows into the Arabian Sea and this fact is lucratively used by luxury liners docked along the creek. A thin strip of land along a section of the creek has been developed for recreational purposes. It was at this stretch that I re-discovered the creek. Most of this stretch has a strong bulwark to prevent people from falling into the creek but there is a section where there is no railing. 

It used to be exhilarating to ride along this stretch because it was the least in width (barely 6 metres) and was flanked on one side by the wall of some Government office. On the other side was obviously the creek and when I used to cycle, I could see the water rushing past in wonderful small currents caused by the lovely breeze. One particularly lucky day saw a flock of seagulls flying almost alongside me, close to the water's surface, presumably looking for food. I really miss being near water bodies, no a river really doesn't make the cut. The beach was another place where I would lose myself in my own thoughts but another post, another day for that. 

Meanwhile, my birthday is coming closer, so you know what to get for me :D Oh and electric blue is my favorite color too :D

Image source: http://www.besportier.com

Monday, March 22, 2010


Funny story.

My younger brother keeps kicking around a football that he got back from a trip to Kashid Beach. Not only is it extremely annoying to hear it banging against furniture, I have been fearing that he is going to break the tv or the glass cabinet in our house. But Manna being Manna, refused to listen to me and went about bashing the ball around merrily. Until yesterday that is. 

Me and mom were watching tv and he was as usual creating a ruckus with his football. Suddenly he looked down and proclaimed "Oh what is this!" We looked at where he was looking and saw that our house suddenly resembles a cheap horror movie where the heroine's sister has just been killed and dragged away by the murderer along a bloody trail. At the other end was Manna standing with his bloodied foot in the air, looking at it with wonderment. He had kicked the door in his football frenzy and received a huge cut on his toe. Mom screamed and immediately swung into action, looking for bandages, ice and turmeric. When offered these, he hopped towards the kitchen and said 

"Wait. Let me finish cooking my noodles."

True story.

p.s. Will this finally entail Manna to be proclaimed the brand ambassador of Maggi?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

GraphJam reading newspaper

As part of my preparation, for entrance exams to mass communication post graduate course, I've started reading the newspaper very very carefully everyday instead of just browsing through the headlines. I fret and fume when my Mom starts chatting with me or starts singing. There are strict restrictions in this house when I'm "studying". My Mom asks me "Why do you take 3 hours to read the newspaper?!" Now instead of replying in the normal manner, here's my answer in a graph! So this idea is totally stolen from GraphJam which I think is the coolest thing ever. Here's the breakup of those 3 hours:

Tee hee hee :D

Friday, March 19, 2010

The dog stalkers..

Time: Around 8 pm
Primary actors: A middle aged woman and a girl of around 20 (ok fine, 25! :P)
Scene: The women step out of their home on the pretext of taking a leisurely stroll to lose some weight and digest their food. They cover their faces with scarves and walk along at a "relaxed" pace. Soon, they reach the popular joint "Asian Melange". Walking a few steps ahead, they stop in front of the animal clinic.

Checking out the stream of puppies coming out of the store, after much deliberation they choose a small lab as the target of their attack. As soon as the owner steps down with the lab puppy held in her arms like a baby, the duo swarms up to the lady and start shouting "What a cute puppy!" "What's its name!!" "How old is he!" while thoroughly man-handling the puppy. Ultimately, the efforts to steal the puppy amidst a shower of ultra-coochie-cooing attention are foiled as the woman extracts the puppy skillfully from the duo, turns around, runs away and jumps into a car.

Damn! I want my own puppy :(

Image source: http://fabulousblueporcupine.files.wordpress.com

Monday, March 15, 2010

An insult to the National Anthem

Ever wonder how the exercise of playing the National Anthem before a movie started in theatres? I found this article in TOI archives. I guess it was published before the move was implemented. Moreover, there is discussion about playing the anthem after the movie got over. In either case, it reminds me of the situation in the book Catch-22, where every soldier has to sing "Star Spangled Banner" before every little movement, including being served his meal. No one will dare to say its silly because hey! Aren't you patriotic enough? 

Let's dissect the issue point by point. First, does singing the national anthem make you feel patriotic? Does it remind you that you are from a country called India? Suppose it does. The next point is, will you feel more patriotic if you are forced to sing it when you are cushily positioned in a theatre seat? I believe we go to the movies to enjoy ourselves, escape our daily troubles blah blah. Is it entirely right to make us scramble out of our comfortable seats, popcorn cola in hand and stand in attention to the National Anthem? I will concede, possibly, that is the one moment when I feel one with the entire audience in the theatre. I don't know why it happens, maybe that's the power of the National Anthem. So maybe, there's some good to it, though it is highly debatable about whether it is the right time and place to play the National Anthem.

Now my next point of concern is, put aside arguments one and two. Suppose you believe with all your heart that it's the right thing to do. Playing the National Anthem before a movie promotes patriotism and is healthy. Can theatre owners at least ensure that the Anthem plays out properly till the end? Before MNIK, the Anthem abruptly stopped halfway. Before Alice in Wonderland, the screen showed "Please stand up for the National Anthem" and blacked out after a few seconds with no National Anthem. Isn't this insulting to the National Anthem? Should theater owners be fined for this? It's not a joke is it, to play the National Anthem or to just announce it and not play it? I believe it is better to banish the whole exercise rather than having our Anthem insulted like this. I still don't understand the logic of the whole thing, btw.

p.s. Interesting aside, the National Anthem has its own website

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Witch hunt

Two very conflicting articles in Indian Express caught my attention today. 

While one article's headline read "Women in IAF, Army should be Permanent", the other one read "Go to HCs with plea to enforce witch-hunting law: SC to NGO". To elaborate, as per the first article, Delhi High Court directed the Indian Army to give Permanent Commission to women officers serving in the Army and Air Force, just like their male counterparts. This move, although looks like it might not be implemented, shows a clear indication of the Court's wish to see gender equality. To suggest such an option is to fight for women's empowerment.

Sadly, on the other hand, the second article claims that the Supreme Court asked an NGO (Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra) fighting for the law against atrocities committed in the name of witch-hunting to be strengthened, to file the case from the respective High Court. Over 1000 rural women from Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh, Assam, Orissa, Bihar & Rajasthan had their hopes pinned on some help from the Supreme Court which would protect them from the terrible crimes committed under the name of witch hunting. When the NGO pointed out that it couldn't possibly file the PIL from HCs of all 6 states, the SC refused to take the complaint into consideration. 

While the law seems to support women on one hand, why does it tire of helping out women who really need protection? Moreover, it is indeed tragical that something as asinine as witch hunting is still a part of modern India. I could write my own thoughts about this, but I found this accurate article which best describes the status quo. Do find some time to read it 
Imagine being burnt alive for absolutely no fault of yours. It rains unpredictably, someone's crop gets damaged, a baby is born dead, absolutely any calamity. Some random woman is held responsible, paraded naked, beaten black and blue and ultimately killed. And nobody raises a finger to save her. All in the name of faith. The mind boggles. Worse than that, this post is absolutely useless because no one practising these terrible things is going to read it. What is the solution really? Strengthening the Anti-WitchCraft Act? It has to be enlightenment of people in backward villages. Where do we start from though?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Natarang - movie review

It is indeed a rare occurrence that a movie shocks you, turns you inside out and provokes you to think, while settling in your heart and overwhelming your mind. I waited a full day to write this review because I wanted it to sink in, savour it, before I passed any judgement or comment.

Natarang is about a farmer, Gunavantrao Kagalkar or "Guna" (Atul Kulkarni) and his dream of becoming a famous artist some day. It starts off innocently enough with Guna and his friends making their way to the theater shows held in their village. While Guna's father is perpetually berating him for wasting money on naachnewaalis, his wife is a mute spectator to the drama unfolding at home. Guna nurses a dream of playing the role of a king in a self-directed play. His dream takes wings when he meets Pandoba, a man well versed with the ways of the acting world. Guna and his friends beg borrow steal costumes and musical instruments and start practising for the play. As Guna proudly dons the air of a king, he realizes that there's something missing in his play.

Guna and his friends soon get beaten up for asking women to work as dancers in their play, Pandoba comes to the rescue once again with a pretty dancer, Nayna Kolhapure (Sonali Kulkarni). After seeing the play, she insists that the play requires a naachya, a panzy guy who will dance alongside her. None of Guna's friends volunteer to play the naachya and Guna sees his dream begin to crumble in front of his eyes. The only way to salvage the situation is if he plays the naachya himself. The agony that he goes through to give up his king's role and take on the naachya's persona have been captured heart-wrenchingly well. From an extremely well built macho farmer, he makes the transition to a thin long-haired effeminate naachya. Nayna teaches him the tricks of the trade well and their show becomes a hit with demands coming in from villages near and far. However, Guna's fear that his effiminate on-stage personality will be mistaken for his real identity comes dangerously close to realization.

This movie has 2 amazing laavnis that I've already seen a hundred times till now. In terms of acting, it is top-notch. The repercussions of following your dream, especially in a creative field gave me the shivers. Even the trauma his family goes through when the sole bread winner and father figure goes off to fulfill his dream is moving. Throughout the movie, I kept asking myself. Was it right? Was his decision right? At the cost of his family members, their dignity, his own dignity? Was it all worth it? In the end though, there are no answers. Just a feeling of complete surrender to the art and its form.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"Upper" House stoops low

The nurturing side of a woman is known to bring out the child in her man, who starts throwing tantrums and acting possessive and silly. This time however, it's the women's bill that has brought out the child in several men. Or were they immature to begin with? Rajya Sabha is also called the "Upper" House and I assumed that was so because they were better at maintaining decorum, what with famous and educated personalities being a part of the "party". However, I guess there must be other reasons for that, because to oppose the "Women's Reservation Bill", Rajya Sabha members from Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party went the "Lower House" way and resorted to tearing drafts, smashing mikes and trying to beat up the presiding member, Hamid Ansari. After several adjournments, the parties in favour of the Women's Bill finally gave up trying to pass it on the Inturneshnal Wimen's De.

So what's all the hullabaloo about? Which party in its rational mind would oppose Women's Reservation Bill and draw the ire of almost 50% of the voting population? Obviously, politicians have infused "politics" in this simple issue also. To understand their opposition to the bill, we'll first need to understand what the bill proposes. The Women's Reservation Bill proposes to impose 33.3% reservation for women at each level of legislative decision-making, starting with Lok Sabha to state and local legislatures. This would increase political participation of women to a great extent. 

The "immature" guys, namely SP Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and RJD Chief Lalu Prasad, have politicised the issue by claiming that the Bill would only enable women from elitist groups to gain seats. As a result, it is their "mike-smashing" demand to introduce quota within quota, where some seats from the reserved 33.3% would be kept aside for women from Muslim and backward communities. Other opponents state that men won't get adequate number of seats to contest with. It seems "A woman is a woman's biggest enemy" is true as Chief Minister Mayawati is opposing the bill COMPLETELY stating that it is impossible to find female candidates in Uttar Pradesh and that currently the state government is completely male-dominated, save for the Chief Minister.

While it remains to be seen whether the Bill in its current form will ensure fair distribution of seats amongst men and women of all classes, the Upper House has definitely stooped far below its expectations...

Image courtesy: http://www.cbc.ca

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Happy Women 's Day...

My first post on this blog petulantly asked a question - "Do all girls hate being girls?" I can't believe that was almost two years ago. Ok, so that was my original cribby post! Coming back to the topic, I've realized that we are all severely bound by expectations. I used to think that only women are bound by them, expectations of being a good daughter, good wife and a good mother. It used to irk me that a woman has to give up on what she wants in order to fulfill all these expectations. When I heard stories of rape, female infanticide, I thought and still think, that its not the girl's fault that she was born a girl. She didn't even have the right to choose! In my eyes, this world was severely balanced in favour of the boys.

A lot has occurred since then. I realized that we all are bound by expectations. Yeah, men too! I learnt that you will be loved for the person you are and not for the sacrifices you make. I opine that people who are a part of female infanticide don't deserve a girl child in their house. I felt that you cannot pretend to "love unconditionally" or love "cooking and cleaning" forever just to show that you are a good wife or mother. I observed that there are girls who are much more sporty, funky, impulsive, sexy, crazy, b**hy as compared to me, but they've all got excellent life partners and fulfilling lives. Its not about fitting into a framework of an ideal girl. Its ultimately about being yourself. 

I realized that I could be myself only when I kept myself happy. So I stopped moulding myself according to expectations and asked myself what makes me really happy? The soul searching took almost a year but now when I look back I feel, the answer was right here! Since I started my journey on my chosen path, I'm feeling so much at peace with myself. My affection is genuine, my sacrifices are genuine. All the love I need is coming from within and whatever I do externally is purely out of compassion. Women give up a lot to get love. But I believe if you can love yourself, you can keep others much happier.

It's not a Happy "Women's Day". It's a "Happy Women"'s Day! 

Image source: http://www.womansday.com/

Saturday, March 6, 2010

An open letter to Shahid Kapoor

Dear Mr Shahid Kapoor,

I just saw your movie "Chance pe Dance". The title misleadingly suggests that it's a movie about dance and I had visions of Bollywood version of  "Step up" or "Stomp the Yard". Then I realized that emphasis was on the word "Chance" and not on "Dance". Although the story of a struggling actor trying to make it big did touch my heart, the choreography in this movie was highly disappointing. You have danced better in movies that had absolutely nothing to do with dance. I wonder why your guru Shiamak didn't choreograph for this movie? Ken Ghosh couldn't afford "the great dancing legend"? I'm sure he would have done a much better job than Ganesh Acharya. 

My pain point is, if you had to show an actor "who can dance", why not ensure that stunning choreography is a part of the movie? Shahid dear, if you had spent half as much time practising and improvising on your dance moves, as much as you did building those Popeye muscles, this movie might have been a hit. It seems all you did in the movie was "back straight, little attitude, ho jaayega". Nahi hota boss, itane se dance se nahi hota! If you couldn't do stunts, you could have asked a body double to enthuse us with some awesome dance moves. Apart from that, the poor children whom you spent half your movie training, were made to dance in slow motion. Where is the justice in that!

Will you also please tell Mr. Ken Ghosh that if he wanted to make a movie on a struggling actor, the promos shouldn't have showed dance as the main theme. Apart from that also inform Mr Ganesh Acharya that he did a terrible job of choreography. Or was it your muscle-building-blindness that restricted him? Oh and why didn't you just sell your car to pay rent for a few months? Is it better to live in a car than a house? I'm sure many guys wish that when they say "I love you" to the girl they wish to patao, the girl would sharmao just the way Genelia did when you said "I love you" to her for no rhyme or reason. Terrible terrible letdown I must say.

I end this letter with a fervent prayer that Bollywood makes some sensible movies based on dance. Naach gaana is our USP and we are not making any use of it! Oh and Shahid, better luck next time...


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Reading Habits...

As most of you know, I co-author a blog which exclusively contains book reviews of all the books that I've read. For the uninitiated, here's the link:

I started reading books during my preteens. Or maybe even before that. My parents bought illustrated classics for me at an age when I didn't even know the meaning of the word "classic". I was simply happy reading about the adventures of Robinson Crusoe and following Hans in his Journey to the Centre of the Earth. While Captain Nemo intrigued me with his SS Nautilus in 20,000 leagues under the sea, I hoped for Edmond and Mercedes' love to conquer all in the Count of Monte Christo. Although I've only read illustrated classics and I'm raring to get my hands on the original unabridged versions, I still feel as if knowing those stories is a very important part of my life.

I've observed that people usually like 2 kinds of literature. The first is one they can relate to. Though this seems to be the easiest to write (you just have to tell what's happening to you right?), it is the rarest to come by. At least one that touches your heart. The other is total make-believe fantasy fiction. This can be Harry Potter style or even Science Fiction. It HAS to be out of this world! Stories that you can relate to soothe the heart whereas out-of-this-world fiction challenges your mind and forces you to imagine and think. For some reason I strongly stand by stuff I can relate to, though I secretly love imaginary-fictional stuff.

I have never been too fond of descriptions. Usually supporters of reading say that it is better than watching television because with the help of words, you can create the scene in your mind as opposed to being "spoon fed" via tv. Although this argument is true to some extent, I encourage reading for an altogether different reason. Reading is a very personal hobby. It helps you to develop your thought process in your own personal space. Its much more enjoyable to read a twist than to see it. The "Oh my God!" for me is more impactful while reading. Reading also improves your vocabulary (unless you're reading Chetan Bhagat... no offense, I really like his work, but its not the best in terms of vocab). 

It seems a bit unfair to compare reading to watching tv. Both have their own advantages. When you picture any scene written in a book, you unconsciously try to match it to some image that you've already seen. This would either be something that you've seen with your own eyes, or watched on tv or internet. I would say, both complement each other. Just like we find time to watch tv and surf, it is very necessary to find time to read a good book. Currently my time is half an before I sleep, which is not the best but its better than nothing. Its a must for me to at least read one chapter before I sleep. So, when's your reading time?

Note: I haven't mentioned about non-fiction because I haven't read much of it. This post is related to reading fiction only.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

In loving memory of Tiger


This is a picture of our tom cat in Dubai. His name is Tiger and he was the sweetest cat I ever knew. He used to hate being cuddled (like almost all tom cats) but he never ever scratched or bit any of my family members no matter how much we troubled him. He also said sorry to me once when he hurt my feelings by kicking me in the stomach and running away as I was trying to cuddle him. He used to hate tuna food and wouldn't even smell it if it was put in his bowl. He was the most pampered member of our family as Dad used to say "give the poor thing what he likes to eat" whereas if we ever called such hunger strikes, we were sent to bed hungry. When he was young, he used to love playing football with a piece of french bean. 

When Dad would come home in the afternoons, he would play with my Dad's tie. Most often than not his claws would get stuck in the tie and pull out a few threads, but Dad never used to mind. Tiger would patiently sit on the microwave when Mom used to cook and Mom would say to me and my brother "See? He's the only one who cares that I'm cooking alone here in this heat!". Whenever we used to trouble him, he would push his ears back, bare his fangs and give the most plaintive yowl he could give. One day though his puberty was much more than he could handle and he ran away. We all missed him very much and hoped to get a glimpse of him somewhere, anywhere, happily catching rats or chasing pigeons. But it wasn't meant to be. He really was the sweetest cat ever and I hope wherever he is, he is happy.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Quaking in terror

First Haiti and now Chile. Earthquakes seem to be coming in quick succession to cause mass death and destruction. So many lives lost, all that rubble. Its like Mother Nature is poking fun at us. We build and we build and it all comes down with one small crack.

Its quite ironical to think that I am sitting here with my laptop, wireless internet, electricity and full water supply. I can easily look down on a homeless person or a person dwelling in the slum and be grateful to God that I wasn't born in those places. However, if an earthquake struck, would it really matter? Its mind-blowing to think of the transition. One moment you're sitting in your perfect house, the next moment, you're on the road. No food, no water, no possessions to call your own! It is simply unimaginable.

Although completely incomparable, I remember experiencing a mild seismic shock in Pune. I distinctly remember I was sitting in my college reception. Suddenly the ground started to shake. It lasted barely a few moments and nobody even noticed anything unusual. But the moment when the ground shook, I remember being absolutely panic stricken. It is extremely necessary to immediately find a door-frame to stand below or something to hide under. The first 2 seconds though, it is complete disbelief and panic. In Chile there are still aftershocks coming through at Richter scale 6. What a recurring nightmare...

Not to forget when massive seismic shocks struck closer to home at Bhuj. I was in Dubai that time but I remember our school had collected funds to send help to the stricken areas. When nature decides to play, there is really nothing man can do apart from pray and hope for the best. My heartfelt condolences to all residents of Haiti and Chile who have lost their near and dear ones in this devastating tragedy.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Indo Pak talks