Sunday, July 30, 2006

Whats in a Movie!

When I was in India, I used to watch the Bollywood flicks with disdain, excepting a few good ones. My main point of grouse is that the added masala, the song and the dance sequences seemed to make the movies unrealistic. I then used to hop onto English channels and watch a Hollywood movie and admire the near-to-truth sequences that it consistently portrayed, and wondered why Bollywood keeps making movies that really does not show the true picture of life. After all, no Indian newly-wed starts singing in tandem and dancing in synchrony in a new country to the amazement of gaping foreigners!

Then I came to US and watched English movies every other day, and the admiration of Hollywood grew. I made a list of 'Great Movies Seen'! I read reviews and ordered DVDs, making the best use of libraries! Occasionally, with a few desi friends prodding along, I used to go to some Bollywood Hits for a change. The 'Keep-your-brains-outside-theatre' phenomenon, I realised, works very well! And I felt, thats how its intended for and thats how it shoud be!

Perhaps it was the monotony of the realism, of being shown who we are and why we are and what really goes in Life. Perhaps its the colourfulness that is splashed all over big budget Indian movies. Perhaps its the dearth of Bollywood movies that I had seen. Whatever may be the reason, but suffice it to say that, after 1.5 yrs in US, I started perceiving Bollywood movies in a totally different light.

I realised that, although realistic, fast-paced movies are good, equally good are the movies which are not so realistic. A movie, at the end of the day, should be something that an audience comes to see and enjoy all three hours, and should leave the cinema hall with a smile on the lips. It is a time when people should stop thinking who they are and what they are doing in Life. Infact, one should just stop thinking and go to movies!! For, the truth is always bitter, and a movie is, after all, an entertainment to take your mind out of the rigmaroles of day to day life.

It should portray of a Hero who is invariably handsome, quick witted and well to do; a Hero-ine who is exceptionally beautiful, who leads the dance sequences and with lots of charm; the colourful song and dance between the two flirts; the falling in love; the differences, be it with parents or with themselves; the ultimate conquering of the inevitable and the holy union of the two. This, taking as a whole, will be pretty much a Bollywood movie. There will always be a side story going in parallel which will be equally interesting and sort of keeps the audience wanting for more, like a humourous character, or a silly character, or a supporting role, or the undertone of career. Be that as it may, these movies will be a sure-fire success. Very few have been highly successful in movies with a story-line other than the aforementioned one.

For a person seeing such audio-visual treats away from the metro where the story-line is based, the movie appeals to one. He can relate himself to being what the Hero is, for that is what movies do. It provides a larger-than-life persona for the characters enacting those roles and the audience wants to be the hero (or the hero-ine). He is not rich enough, but he entertains the idea of being opulent. He suddenly finds himself backing the character playing leading roles to win over what apparently is the Evils of the World. And since, invariably, the Good wins over the Bad, the Cinema Halls finds itself bidding adieu to people with smiling faces. After all, all is well that ends well.

But then, going to the core of a movie making process, one hardly questions nor fathoms what goes on behind the camera. Lets consider, for example, the title song of the movie Salaam Namasthe. [The idea behind this blog is due to the 5-min sequence of this title song, and hence the example!] Agreed, that the theme of this movie is not original and is taken from Nine Months. All the same, it needs, a musician, a lyricist, a choreographer, a cinematographer, the fashion designer, the make-up man; scores of actors and actresses, the two main leading roles, the director, and many many more, to perform their respective duties, not just to perfection, but to be highly creative and with an integration of extreme harmony amongst one another that matches with any other skilled Engineering design.

The musicians should compose a lyrical, swining music; the lyrics should match with the atmosphere of the movie; the cinematographer should capture the beauty of the nature; the choreographer should invent steps not just to match with the music but to try to start off a new genre in itself; the fashion designer to come up with trendy clothes for each of the sequence that lets out the oomph factor; the make-up man to make faces always look good; the multitude of side-roles involving low-paid dancers to work in synchrony with a smile on their face, despite the problems at home, and the two heavily paid lead roles, making it all look like they are the best.

At the end of it, its just five minutes, give or take a few. All for entertainment of the masses. To give a cheer on the lips. To make one forget one's miseries. To make one dance with the music. And its worth every minute of it!

Kudos to the Movie Makers!

Monday, July 24, 2006


It was 2 PM on a lazy Saturday. I had got up 3 hours ago, had the same cereals, called up home, only to be reminded of my age and the associated motherly marriage topic. Quickly changing the topic, I had culminated the conversation logically. I then browsed the TV channels, and as expected found nothing.

I came out of the house onto the porch of my Apartment building and sat on the steps and rested my back to the wall. It was a comfortable enough position in the given circumstances. There was a slight drizzle and atmosphere was misty. I looked at the facing road on both sides. There was nobody. Just cars and trees. I remembered the road in my hometown in Bangalore and how it would be always filled with lively kids playing and shouting and fighting. Here, there was nothing.

As it happens when there is nothing in the environment to which the mind can be directed to, the thoughts take over. I realised, meditatively, that to others, I always seemed successful. Anyone looking at me would think about my unblemished academic record, the subsequent recruitment in apparently one of the most prestigious companies of India and then the travel to apparently one of the most magnificient countries in the world. But to me, somehow, all this meant nothing.

I must have sat there for hours together, just gazing out at the rain and hearing its strangely comforting pitter-patter. I knew that instead of me handling the situation, the situation was handling me and as always, I was just going with the flow. I was like a passer-by looking at my own life going by, aimlessly and without any purpose, filled with emptiness and nothingness.

There seemed nothing to do and nothing to look forward to.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Joy ride

It starts off innocently. Kids look forward to it. All are happily talking nineteen to the dozen. Almost daring what worse it can do. The journey begins.

It starts out well enough. Invariably, the start will be the climb up on a slope. It curves to the right and then to the left, building up the momentum and the altitude. The view expands and its a treat to watch.

The speed is manageable and things are great. The stomach doesnt rumble and the heart does not stop for fear. It rather leaps in excitement and everyone has a big smile accompanied by the usual leg-pulling camaraderie.

The altitude increases further as it goes on another newer lap. The view is even more breathtaking. The feeling all round is that its worth it. Never better. There is a desperate feeling of it never wanting to stop.

Even higher. You feel like you are on top of the world. Like flying on a magic carpet. It hovers there, on top, so that people can feel the essence of it, the magnificience of it and breath the clean beautiful air. People shout out "A-w-e-s-o-m-e!"

And then comes the steep fall, within the flash of a second, back to the starting point.

Monday, July 17, 2006


There is something about meeting a person whom you have never met before that somehow makes you open out and just be yourself unlike in other instances where a default mask comes over us for different set of known people, as described very aptly by my good friend in The Multi-faced me (us)!.

Meeting a stranger is sometimes like meeting a psychology doctor whose main intention is to open out your thoughts and make you relaxed so as to dig into the core problem. Only difference being that when you are on a date, the partner is not really digging into you but just allowing you to be you.

Just being ourselves in itself opens up a space of comfortability which makes the proceedings much easier and the sense of being together that much more wanting. All, assuming, of course, that you happen to like certain things in the other person and there is very less to crib about.

Its usually the face that matters a lot. It need not be beautiful or handsome, although that will surely help! But its sufficient even if its soothing and understanding and with an omnipresent smile. That will work just as well.

It wasnt meant to be a date. I was introduced to her by a friend of mine. We were perfect strangers. She had a very pleasant face with a graceful and flowing voice and an ever twinkle in her eyes. An infectious smile with an aura of goodness enveloping her.

Within a few hours, there was a solid bonding between the two of us and it was as if we had known each other for years together. Since we were practically strangers, there was no expectations and all we had to be was just be ourselves. You start liking the beautiful you!

We knew we had to part ways within a few hours and we knew we shall never meet again in life. Perhaps this added onto it. Hand-in-hand we roamed for hours together, dined together and talked and talked. We went window shopping, we sat on the streets and gazed at the multitude of people and gossiped. We went to a coffee shop and chatted for 2 hours!

Finally, it was time to go. Since the farewell was expected from the start, there was no disappointment. False promises were made to keep in touch, but both of us knew it wouldnt be that way! With just a simple 'Bye' and with the same infectious smile, we parted. Years later, I still think about that day and I still cannot believe it.

Its a day that I can never forget and is etched in my memory. It remains one of the best days of my life....

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Highs and Lows

There is Sun
And then there is Moon

There is God
And then there are human beings

There is BMW
And then there are other cars

There is cricket
And then there are other sports

There is US
And then there are other countries

There are mansions
And then there are houses

There is Pole Star
And then there are other stars

There is the Chairman
And then there are employees

There is Sachin
And then there are others

There is the Royal Highness
And then there are servants

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Fourth of July

Ten times out of ten, I will get up at 10 a.m. on a holiday, but I got up at 6 a.m. All the sleep seemed to have gone out of me. I got up, freshened, and upon sudden inspiration, decided to go brisk walking. Something I had never done for years.

I went walking in the nearby country club which hosts Marlborough Golf Course. The walk was good. It kept my mind busy. I viewed hither and thither, appreciating the birds chirping and the lush golf greenery all around. Anything and everything to boost the spirits. I walked without thinking. If I found a trail, I went into it. I neither cared where it went nor was least interested to know. Some trails were scary. It was like being in the middle of a forest, with no signs of civilization nearby. Hard to imagine in India, but very common in US. Yet, I walked on and on, almost running.

If I found a deviation in the trail, a mud path, I went into it. Just to dare going on the "road less travelled". Sometimes I had to revert back as it led to a dead end, but sometimes it led to an even more interesting path with more shrubbery, thick trees, strange noises, and what would otherwise cause a chill of fear. But I felt nothing. And I went on and on and on. Walking fast somehow felt nice. It was like running away. The physical agony was somehow acting like a compensatory relief.

After an hour's brisk walk, I found a path which I recognised to lead back home. Sweating all over, I reached home after 1.5 hrs of a cleansing exercise. I felt good about myself. I had bath, had cereals, and, again, upon sudden inspiration decided to go out and be out the whole day, far from everyone and from any means of contact. I switched off my cell. But realisation dawned upon me that there might be someone who might need my help and it would be unfair to have the cell switched off. So, I turned it back on.

I left home with one of my best friends ever - a novel. Its something that has stood by me through more than ten years now, and has never caused any pain. Perhaps its because it doesnt talk and just listens and doesnt leave me. The one I was reading was one of the best: P.G. Wodehouse's Fish Preferred. Very hilarious. Just what the doctor ordered.

With no destination in mind, I set off in my battered car. Today is one day I am hoping against hope my car wouldnt break down. The last thing I wanted was to call someone to help me out when all I am trying to do is just be with myself.

One of the best pastimes in US is to go to a nearest mall and sit in one of the benches and watch the world go by. Its more like sitting as a bystander and watching your own life passing by. After all, every one was fighting some kind of a battle.

With the novel in hand, I realised, the best place to go would be a bookstore, where I can sit on one of those comfortable sofas, sip a nice coffee, and read the novel for hours without no one bothering me. Borders was the nearest bookstore.

Once comfortably settled in a cozy settee with nice leg rest, I started reading the novel. Hundreds of things tried to conquer my mind, but I wouldnt allow it. If I start writing about what had actually happened and what went on in my mind, it would be a separate blog, and if I wanted people to read it, I wouldnt be beating around the bush like this! Suffice it to say that I realised what I was and who I was. Rather, what I was not and who I was not. And since it is not a pretty tale to talk or think about, I read on and on and on.

Sometimes I would drowse off and let my eyes rest. And then I woke up again and continue reading. I lost track of time and place and I was moulded in my own world of P.G.Wodehouse's wonderful intricate happenings within Blandings Castle. I did not feel like stopping but it was noon time and tummy was rumbling.

There was a foodcourt nearby. But I had to go through a shopping plaza. I suddenly decided to shop, which is very rare as I hardly have any desire for shopping. On an impulse, I went to JCPenney. I searched for a T-Shirt for about half hour and finally saw one shirt beckoning me at a far corner. I walked towards it as I liked the colour and design of the shirt. Even before I came near the shirt, I had decided upon it. When I saw its catch line, I was amused. I bought the shirt.

I then went to Sears. And Filene's. And multitude of shops. I shopped and shopped. After buying some more domestic items, I headed to a Subway and had a nice contemplative lunch. I took my own time. I let the thoughts come drifing towards me but I felt nothing. I felt numb. In a way, I was tired of running, but I was not allowing myself to get under the burden. Home, although seemed a comfortable option, was not where I had decided to be all day, rain or sunshine.

It started raining.

I sat in the car and thought "What next?" I have no idea how long I sat. All I felt was the pitter patter of the rain on the car. Then, again on an impulse, I decided to go to Boston to see the night's fireworks. When one wants to be alone, its best to be in the middle of a crowd! Its as alone as one can get.

I headed towards Boston with blazing music on the car stereo. Again something that I hardly do. I had gone for about 10 mins when there was a road parade and all vehicles were being diverted. I went with the diversion hoping that there will be an indication later on to catch onto the same road. Alas, there were no indications whatsoever. Thats the sad part of US. Once you get lost, you really get lost with its complicated road designs.

However, today was the day that I didnt care. I practically challenged the Hand of Fate to roll the dice as worse as it could. I wished a hundred wrong things that should happen to me. Alas, the Hand of Fate never rolls the dice the way you want it to. The road wound over miles of miles of greenery and quaint little houses. I went with the flow and drove on and on.

The rain increased and I thought enough was enough and parked in a fuel store and asked where I was. The guy gave me perfect directions to a place which I knew. Barnes and Nobles in Framingham. Another book store. Perfect.

I parked the car, found another settee and happily nodded off. Perfect thing to do for one who has just lost his way. Completely. After finishing few more chapters of the novel, I again headed to Boston. This time, I was a master at self navigation. Breezily, I reached Alewife, which is like an entry point to Boston through subway trains.

Lots of people were on their way to see the fireworks and almost all the locations were getting filled up by the time the subway pulled up. I went and sat on a bench with the novel in hand. One can spend hours and hours by looking at different people doing different things at a public gathering. Its quite amusing. It was a great pastime. It sometimes is better to spend time with those who do not know you at all than with those who know the real you. I watched and watched.

It was a long wait for the fireworks. Almost 6 hrs. The duration in which one can travel 250 kms in India and 400 miles in US. I did not move more than 60 steps. I shifted the place when there was a brief downpour to a sheltered bench, then onto the asphalted road, where I slept for some time. Time and again, I would read the novel and have something to eat. I waited and waited.

I then got a call that a few of my friends were nearby and decided that I might as well join them. Thankfully, the view from their place was much better from where I was. Another hour's wait and it was time for the fireworks. At the outset, let me tell that it was not good, nor was it worth the 6 hr wait. But then, I did not regret it, as it was the crowd that I needed more than the fireworks. Most of the fireworks got shrouded with ensuing smoke and most of the display was missed. However, for the efforts' sake, people applauded at the end.

Back with the crowd to Alewife, and a nice concentrated drive back to home. I hit my bed and felt that it was a day well spent. Forrest Gump ran and ran. I walked and walked, read and read, drove and drove, waited and waited, watched and watched, but in the end, both of us were doing the same thing. We were just running away, as far away as once could and as much as one could and trying to divert the mind from what it wanted to badly think.

As I began to lose consciousness and drifted onto state of sleepfulness, I had just two thoughts in mind. One was the fact that, ironically, its the Independence Day. And, another was how apt the catch line on the T-shirt was.

"This is the worst day of my life."

Roll of Dice

Snake and Ladder. One of my favourite games during childhood. It consists of a square board with numbers from 1 to 100, with 10 in each row. Lots of snakes and ladders in between the numbers. Some small and some significant.

Each player is given a pawn, so to speak, and based upon the roll of dice, the player can move his pawn correspondingly to the number on the dice. If he encounters a ladder on the resultant number on the board, he jumps to the number to which the ladder leads to. Similarly, if he encounters a snake on the resultant number on the board, he gets sucked down to the number where the snake's tail, so to speak, resides. With a number of snakes and ladders, it remains, to this day, one of the most fascinating games I have ever played.

There was one ladder, I think at number 12, which will take you to number 81! And there was one snake, I think at number 89, which will take you to number 13! These were the main attractions of the board game, as it stoud out tall amongst other minor ones. Once in a while I got the Number 12 ladder and once in a while I got the Number 89 snake, and it was fun to start all over again, and hoping competitors also get sucked by the huge snake!

Almost 20 years later, I feel I am playing this same game again. Except that it is no longer a board game. It is real life, with the Hand of Fate rolling the dice. I have been sucked in by the Number 89 snake more times than I care to count. Number 12 ladder seems to have vanished completely. Although there are promotions through some easy ladders, the setbacks are huge. And I realised how tough it is to start all over again....and how impossible it is to reach 100.

It is but truth that I find no fun to play this game any more...

Monday, July 03, 2006

Samayaniki Dagu Mata Ladane

One's speech portrays one's character. It is in one's manner of communication that one can either win hearts or create hatred. By a simple and pure hearted conversation, it is so easy to gain the comfort and homeliness of the other party instead of asking rhetoric spiteful questions.

What kind of sadistic pleasure can anyone achieve by speaking spitefully and with ill intent? Is it not human decency to be pleasant to one and all, and to relate to other human beings' feelings and thoughts? What happiness can one derive by putting down others?

Knowing what to speak, when to speak and how to speak will go a long way in leading a better Life. A conversation, in which both the parties feel honoured to speak, automatically opens out heretofore never ventured avenues and strengthens the bond.

If it is not possible to be nice and pleasant, then the least one should do is just keep quiet. Silence speaks a lot more than one's actions.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Cidade de Deus

There is something about religious places that leaves a lasting impression of eternal calmness and a soothing warmth that makes you return to have the balm applied all over again! Blame it on the hustle-bustle of the metros where we reside, perhaps, which heightens the effect of this old-world places, but, yet, one cannot take away the charm from the Abode of the Deities. Perhaps, it is due to these places being the Abode of the Deities that they have such an aura of being blissfully shielded from all that keeps gnawing at us in our day to day life.

I have been to a number of religious places, and month long pilgrimages at an age when my peers were going to exotic places! Not that I am ashamed about it, nor the fact that I avoid exotic places. Suffice it to say that, there has been a nice balance in my visits to the various places on Earth! But, giving company to my grannie at an early age, who happened to think that she had to give attendance atleast once in a month to any of the House of Lords, sort of rubbed on me, and while I try to do justice, its not possible for me to be as regular as once-in-a-month!

Manthralayam, Tirumala, Kukke Subramanya, Dharmasthala, Udupi, Srisailam, Malakheda, Venisompura, Kollur, Gokarna, Sonda, Sringeri, Murudeshwara, Tirukkoilur, Rameshwara, Madurai, Sriranga, Vriddhachalam, Guruvayoor, Navabrindavana, Trichy, Palani, Kanyakumari, Hornadu, Mulbagal, Sahasralinga are some of the memorable places I have been to in South India. Haridwar, Rishikesh, Yamunothri, Gangothri, Kedarnath, Badrinath are the main places that I have been to in North India, but then again, the route to these "chaar dhaams" itself goes through so many historic places. Invariably, each place has its own 'Kshethra Mahime', with its own set of legendary stories, purported with so many proofs that are hard to disbelieve. India, rich in its culture and spirituality, has more to offer and more to discover than one wishes to imagine.

Be that as it may, one cannot deny the fact that a visit to such places as above will leave an everlasting impression. One wishes to crave for more and discover more about the Lord than the worldly pleasures. Automatically, one gets attracted to Him and sort of achieves, with His help, an eternal calm.

The vision of standing before the Moola Brindavan in Mantralayam of Raghavendra Swamy, the 21 baths in Rameshwaram at 5 o clock which strangely does not feel as if its cold at all, the enormous temple at Sriranga, the staring at kiddo Lord Krishna through the 9 small squares in Udupi, the Atmalinga at Gokarna, the dazzling Lord Venkateshwara, whom we can just glimpse after hours of waiting in the rushing queue, the peacefulness of Vadiraja Swamy amidst thick forest in Sonde where its a ritual to do 108 pradikshanas with 2 saashtanga namaskaars in each pradikshana, the legend behind Kukke Subramanya and Dharmasthala, the hot water spring in each of the 'chaar dhaams', the 14 km stretch to Kedarnath and 7 km steep stretch to Yamunothri, each one way, the wonderful theertha and scenic view at Hornadu, the strictness at Guruvayoor, the blissful calm at Tirukkoilur - all these have somehow an effect on the mind, wherein one feels an interaction with Him...and one no longer wants to go back to the world!

After all, when God be there with us, what matters who is against us...

Saturday, July 01, 2006

He Giveth and He Taketh away

We lose it all...
We all lose it all...

The best times shared...
The fun times together...

The laughs galore...
The tears of sorrow...

The growing up...
The cuddling and sleeping...

The small life of our own...
The routine pattern...

The embrace of happiness...
The shoulder for the heavy heart...

The need for one another...
The fightings and shoutings...

The Adoration...
The Blissfulness...

We lose it all...
We all lose it all...

What an Honour!

Wimbledon 2006. Andre Agassi lost to Rafael Nadal in the third round. Agassi's last Wimbledon. He shakes referee's hands and starts packing his tennis kit. An official from Wimbledon approaches the players and asks for permission. The players consent. There will be a short interview amidst the crowd before Agassi leaves the court for good. An interview is never scheduled unless its a Final. But this is an exception. For Agassi.

Agassi has lost the match, but there is a standing ovation for him. It doesnt really feel as if he has lost. The interviewer cannot even start as the applause never ends. Agassi then does his customary four bows and kisses to the four sides of the Center Court. The commentator says - that is the only way he can silence the crowd; that is what they came here for!

What an Honour!

There are ordinary people like everyone else who rise to such heights in Life because of their extraordinary perseverance that it truly makes them immortal. To have garnered so much respect and honour, it is a pride to live and have the feeling of 'I have lived my Life's worth!'

Sachin Tendulkar, Don Bradman, Maradona, Pele, Boris Becker, Steffi Graf - the list is endless. It is almost like a sin to speak less of them or ridicule them. They have attained the echelons of Life where they are treated almost God-like, and their names will remain etched in the memories of those who have seen them play and will be a common folklore for the future generations who would have missed the Legends-in-Action!

To have thousands of people chanting your name, to have multitude of people loving you, to stand in the arena in the middle of tens of thousands of people, to entertain them with your talent, to earn the respect of millions of people all over the world and be called 'Immortal', it is but a fairy tale life that only a few can have.

And it is for those who have had such fairy tale lives, that, with a deep sense of pride and honour for what you are and what you have accomplished, I salute and bow down to thee.....