Happy Diwali, splash of sweet and celebrating identity


 

Earthen lamps,

colorful candles,

golden hearts,

swing together,

it’s celebration time,

a splash of sweets,

indulge in the exuberance of lights shining on faces,

make someone’s joy,

a child not favored by the stars,

after all, it’s the festival of lights,

igniting passion,

tolerance of each other’s culture, rites and food,

it’s not a preserve of a few,

happiness of sharing tons of sweet,

lighting the lamp forever in the hearts,

the land of the free,

the vibrant crowd,

uncover the lid of prejudices,

it’s Diwali,

magnificence cut beyond border,

caste, religion or gender,

celebrating our identity,

fireworks minus the cracker,

seamless horde of people sashaying,

together where there shall be no difference,

shed ignorance.

get rid of the darkness.

Happy Diwali

V

Advertisements

Pune Memoirs Diwali (3): Happy Diwali, friends, mithai and shopping


Happy Diwali people. Wish you love, abundance of wealth, limitless alcohol, spicy sex and of course, perfect health, blessing and happiness soaring in the sky. May you not suffer from the dearth of anything and shed the darkness for a better India removing religious, caste or class and gender prejudices. May the dream of every child come true and we remove poverty. Let the wisdom prevail so that we become tolerant of each other. Sharing a new chapter from the Pune Memoirs on the Diwali spent in the final year of 2005.

Pune Memoirs 2005/06

November 1, Diwali 2005,

Fergusson College Road:

Diwali image: Google

The last year of togetherness. Lights kindled and flashed inside our hearts.  The friendship, lifetime memories carved over three years. Our Diwali moments of celebrating the bond of forevers and evers. Love, unadulterated moments of happiness and the laughter. Who knows where we would be in the next year, separated by the distance or some relations will strangely grow apart.

We wanted to make the most. I was already feeling the emotional pang and shuddered to think that next year, that we may not celebrate together and the Diwali eve was spent planning how to shed the tight pocket-money at MG Road and Laxmi Road to shop for a plain and simple white Kurta. I wasn’t too much into colorful attire during those days and dunno why.

The eve of Diwali started early morning to ensure that I avoid last minute rush and don’t miss anything on earth in the final year, rushing my way to the sweet mart at  Dyaneshwar Paduka Chowk that was within walking distance of the apartment. There was no time to lose and stormed past the crowd making a beeline for Mithai but made a quick exit after Neraj buzzed. The man was always on a shopping spree festival or not and he is the best man to take along shopping for Kurta Pyjama and what’s not.  After all, Diwali is the time to indulge in the favorite mouth-watering Gulab Jamun on every corner of the street. We hopped on the rickshaw during the early sunshine, plodding our steps under Pune’s scorching sun like flaneurs to explore the shops from the huge ones or the small ones wading past the corridor of old buildings.

Finally, we zeroed on a shop and the shop walla spread the cotton Kurta Pyjamas one after the other on the table where I was almost game to grab something.  But, Neraj hard pressed my leg that was his way of protesting not to take, either it was too expensive or the material not good enough for the price. We got out and kept walking to enter shops and exiting as quickly as possible. Me being me, such a difficult person to please when it comes to shopping. I think that we spent the entire day at MG Road and cutting corners in Camp but ended not buying anything. We came back to FC Road. I accompanied K and M to Laxmi Road, wriggling the way among the crowd that occupied every space on the road, feeling lost at times in which shop to enter or not.

Met a classmate and we cheerfully greeted each other Happy Diwali and the festive season is a time where there are bright chances of meeting friends or random acquaintances who are on a shopping fest with family.  Now, I am not very sure and faintly remember which Kurta I got and where. But, I did!  Laxmi Road offers such a beautiful sight of the shops glittered with lights, displaying the materials, the colorful crowd spreading and unfurling at length on the bustling road teeming with activity.

D-Day arrived on November 1. I haven’t yet got the sweets and after lazing around in the room, having cups of tea or coffee, headed to Savera our college hang out. I went back to the same sweet mart sweating among the crowd to push my way that was an excruciating sort of time to select the different variety of sweet meat. It felt like being in the middle of war. Finally, it was done and time to head back to the room where each and every one of us waited, in turn, to enter the small kitchen to sort out and pack our sweets in tiny dabbas to distribute to our near and dear ones.

Decked in the white Kurta and Pyjama, I trod my steps in the sunshine-laden afternoon and careful to avoid the first splash of crackers on my way while walking towards Model colony off FC Road where the famous Police Ground lingers to meet my favorite and personal Doctor, AB. She was my first doctor when I first came to the city and over the year, I became family. I gave a call or knocked on the door and Ma’am came down to wish me and took me upstairs where I met Sir who along with her run the clinic, greeted me with the mandatory Happy Diwali.

Ma’am ushered me inside the Puja room for prayer and once it was done, the ritual of exchanging mithai was over, I sat by the table where a sumptuous treat waited with mithai and namkeen spread along with tea. I was wondering how to stuff so much in the stomach and my good doctor’s first priority it seemed was to make me taste and eat in huge quantity. I protested but she was like, ‘Aaj Diwali hai. You can go on a diet for the rest of the year.’ Of course, she was not done and as a parting gift, gave me a bundle of sweet variety enough to feed the entire of our flatmates and friends for days that dinner could be deleted from the dictionary.

It was not over for the day. The next visit was at Adi’s parents’ home in the Peth areas and people who know the city will vouch that this region is no less than an explosion ground on Diwali day where crackers zoom in the air. Walking on FC road and dropping at Savera for tea which was a must in those days to meeting friends on the way, exchanging Diwali hugs to finally hop my way inside the rickshaw facing the barrage of crackers exploded by the over-enthusiastic kids on the street who laughed behind you as you jolt your way back and forth. I have always hated and abhorred crackers. As the rickshaw rode past Mhatre bridge to enter the Peth area, it felt like an explosion and being in the middle of war zone, the crackers not only burst and spluttered its might right in front of the passenger as the skillful rickshaw driver spun the vehicle from left to right.

The familiar hall at Adi’s house wore the colorful decorations and sweets were splayed on a golden tray on the table while everyone lined up in colorful attire, Kurtas and saree. I hopped my way straight in the kitchen to touch aunty’s feet and of course, coffee was my obvious choice since she makes the best coffee in the world.  It’s Diwali and any excuse is a good one, with uncle telling us to have more, me grabbing the mithai with both hands be it ferni, barfi, ladoo and the favorite Gulab Jamun. We were having the best times of life, laughing and relishing every moment. It’s another thing that between having delicacies, the forwards messages kept hitting the inbox to our generation, who was alien to WhatsApp.

The evening was spent hopping to the restaurant on JM Road for dinner and at first, I refused saying it’s my sweet day but Adi forced me to order like grandpa shouting, ‘Have a proper dinner you asshole.’ The night was spent downing bottles of Kingfisher beer as we squatted on the floor and still in Diwali attire past midnight. The empty beer bottles rolled on the floor close to our legs and feet as we played Truth-and-Dare to unveil our darkest secrets, from the latest crush in college or the one we lusted for. Of course, for me, it’s always Truth and no dare.

It feels like yesterday only when we were college kids celebrating Diwali with gay abandon and as I look back wondering where all those flawless years have disappeared.

joyful feeling,

hundred lamps lit inside the heart,

years may have passed or elapsed,

emotions of celebrating Diwali and bonding remains,

moist eyes,

seasons may change,

the feeling remains intact,

bright and smiling faces,

sparkling moments

Happy Diwali

V

 

 

 

Flash fiction: Mithaiwala


He was wandering aimlessly in the market and the crowd brushed and shoved him past the shoulder. He was clueless and zigzagged his way among the bustling crowd that scared him to death.

The hands and limbs were shaking. He turned left and right, aiming for the shrilling voice that called his name, coming closer to his ear and at times from a faraway distance, ‘Jerry!’ He stood face-to-face in front of the Mithaiwala in the open market who was expertly making the hot jalebi. An assortment of sweets, round gulab jamun, crimson white Rasgullah and delicious chakki were splattered on the huge gold coated thali.

The mithaiwala hand was sticky and played around expertly with the sweets, exchanging coins and the Gandhi notes that were carefully slipped under the red plastic sheet covering the wooden table. He yelped in pain. The knife ruthlessly slits his chest and he stumbled on the wooden chair. In a span of minutes, his vision of the last jalebi made became blurred before he saw darkness everywhere.  A sadistic smile lit Jerry’s broad face. He exuded a triumph at his act of spotting the knife on the table with which he stabbed the mithaiwala in the fleeting seconds.

Blood spurt down his stomach and ran inside his black trousers. Jerry was calm and stood still. He took a step and caressed the mouth-watering gulab jamun, crushed it and poured the juice on the inert body of the mithaiwalla. He bit another piece and squeezed it like lemon on the dead man’s wound.

Little Jerry was a seven-year-old innocent child when he clumsily walked into the crowded market 10 years back. He would reach early at 5 a.m to help Mithaiwala make the ladoo and the man won over the child by feeding him a piece of huge and round ladoo every evening.  One day, Mithaiwala told him that he has to earn the sweet and slowly unzipped Jerry’s short, ran his hand inside his tiny penis.  Jerry was scared on that day and couldn’t comprehend what was happening to him. This game continued for two long years.

The little child choked to death every second and hid from the world for Mithaiwala threatened that if he ever opened his mouth, the knife that lay on the table would cut its way inside his tiny body.  He lost all his emotions and his eyes went dry until the day he ran away from the market, mithaiwala and his parents to the big city that taught him to be street smart where he indulged in the petty crime of looting people, hanging with criminals and pushing people off the train to run away with their gold rings or mobile phone.

The world of crime suited Jerry. He became one of the trusted gang members and it took him no time to graduate into a fearful don in the locality. There was something that haunted him, the fragrance of sweets suffocated him to death every second.

Reality flashed right in front of his eyes.  He grabbed the hot jalebi and the juice lashed inside his tongue as the sweet cut through his tooth with delight. The other half of the sweet was saved and stuffed inside the mouth of mithaiwala. Jerry took another jalebi and crushed it for the last time, rubbing it inside the lower body of the mithaiwala that soaked in blood. “I have kept the last bit for you and after all, you made it with your sweat and blood. Happy Diwali.” Jerry walked away and the taste of the sweet still lingered in his mouth for he knew this Diwali was special and will stay with him till he is alive.

Love

V

Har ek pal bit gaya aur reh gaya


Ek hawa ka jhonka

Aur neend udh gaya

Yeh mere bewafa sanam nahin tha

Par waqt ka takaza,

Iss par se uss par,

Uttar dakshin se

Purab paschim tak,

Hawa ka tez ruk koi nahin badal paya

Hum kaun hai

Sirf ek aatma

Yakayat se koi nahin jeet paya

Ek mulakat tha,

Bohot saare mulaqatein kyon ki hum sab panchiyaan hai

Iss safar mein

Jo rehengaya sirf yaadein

Ek biti pal jo dil mein bas gaya

Aisa lagta hain ke yeh tooti pooti zindagi

Hum se aagey nikal gaya

Celebrating the man with the midas touch: Amitabh Bachchan at 75


A self-confessed fanboy. I have no qualm in saying that Amitabh Bachchan is my pinned up poster-boy who adorns the wall. A huge collection of posters, postcards, magazine covers, books is what propelled me looping to the bookshop buying magazines or newspapers whenever he graces the cover. Of course, this file that has neatly been preserved over the years filled with Big B’s posters and newspaper cutting is quite something accumulated in the past. I still go for Bachchan on the magazine cover and next one will be the Filmfare Platinum Power issue.

While many of his contemporaries have hanged their boots, Bachchan is re-creating and making history at 75 as the new and cool 18 in town where he is all over the place, be it movies or entering our house with KBC or TV ads. Is there anything that this man cannot do or turn into gold? He puts relatively young people like me to shame with his terrific energy be it in his films, blogging everyday and social media or being physically all over the place. To imagine that he functions with 25 percent liver. Isn’t it admirable?

There are so much about him, be it immortalizing the screen name Vijay that it’s almost hard to fathom anyone else lending credence to this character even one or two decades later. The brooding and angry Vijay carved a place in our hearts so much that it clashed with the grey Vijay who fell in love with a girl old enough to be his daughter in Nishabd which was not a bad film in itself. I think there is a certain clash in the way the audience love and adorn their heroes giving them almost God-like status that can go against creative effort in cinema. Of course, I loved the Viju of Buddha Hoga Tera Bappa in the same way as the Vijay of Nishabad. Of course, my favorite Vijay remains the ones in Aakhri Raasta, Shakti, Don, Deewar, Shahenshah, and Agneepath.

Call me crazy but October 11 is a day that I religiously follow, bearing AB’s KBC tee that I bagged a decade back at the Colaba Causeway, tweeting the Big B and watching at least two of his movies on TV. I finished with Shahenshah in the afternoon which remains one of my favorite Bachchan film as a child and shall wrap up the day with Khuda Gawah or something else coming on cable. Honestly speaking, it is tough to assess the career of Bachchan the star and the actor or both on the role it played in my life. Ok! Let me try this one. I think the reason I am a crazy and passionate film buff dreaming of making at least a short film a day is Amit Sir. He is the ultimate reason that I watch Hindi movies like crazy and celebrating Hindi cinema that spurts in my mind like anything.

There is a considerable debate heralded by people telling how there was a disconnect with the times when he started his corporate venture ABCL that faced heavy losses. I’d disagree to argue that he has set the trend and today corporate have stormed in our movies and raking the moolah much the same way he took the biggest risk in his career by embracing TV that made him a household name that saw many of his contemporaries shy away from. First all, Bachchan introduced the corporate culture in the early 90s through his company ABCL and was ahead of the curve and times since he was convinced of the role that it would play in the future. Secondly, remember Asia TV that worked like crazy but unfortunately, it suffered in the long run because perhaps it wasn’t the right time to launch owing to the audience maturity and sensibility. Today, corporate culture is working on such a big scale in cinema.

Big B is a brand that has not only become increasingly reliable but powerful over time with equity pegged at hundreds of crores at the age of 75 and is beyond generation or time. Perhaps, the only character actor for whom roles are being written taking his personality in mind and in the same fashion or breadth as the main lead romancing the heroine. That’s the difference, here. The hero should kick the villain and get the girl. How do you call Big B? The mature hero transcending age or defying logic a bit like his characters in the heydays.

There are so many things that Big B can teach us in the way we do business or lead life. Be patient and go ahead with the times, never say no to experimenting with roles, risk-taking or turning the tables when the time is ripe. For sure, he can give several of the B-schools a run for their money. Of course, the buzz should be communicating with clients and in this case, audience through a down-to-earth approach and do not force marketing down the throat. Picture this, lock kiya jai or computer-ji as the buzz words of business and giving it mass appeal pretty much like his dialogues, jahan hum khade hote hai line wohi se shuru hota hai.

The stage where Bachchan no longer carries the burden of box office on his shoulder is the most exciting phase for any actor to experiment with a variety of roles and he performed brilliantly whether it’s Sarkar, The Last Lear, Black, Paa, Pink, Aks or Piku but I miss my favorites massy roles with the terrific hero ka dhamakedhar entry of kicking dozen villains. Call it cliché or illogical, I just don’t care. I love his entries in Deewar, Agneepath, Aaj Ka Arjun, Shahenshah or Hum. For me, Bachchan is the cleanly shaven guy.

As a die-hard fan, I hope that he was never in the frame of movies like RGV ki Aag, Department or Sarkar 3 but then the emperor cannot be flawless and it’s the sheer madness of cinema that drives stalwart to take wrong steps. It is surely not the end for I believe there are so many roles and myth-breaking experiences he can indulge into since whatever we have seen of him in recent times is very less of what he can achieve as an actor, pushing the bar higher. The man with the midas touch just needs directors and scriptwriter who understand his emotions to the hilt, his vision of cinema and of course, not star struck by the larger than life and enigmatic personality.

How many of you remember this entry of the camera panning on his shiny black shoes, trousers, shirt and close-up zooming on Bachchan’s face? A true fan will!

Happy birthday Amit-ji

Die-hard AB fan

With love

V

 

 

‘QuotedStories #11’: ‘Good example’, the faulty line


This post is written as part of ‘QuotedStories #11’ hosted by Upasna and Rohan,  based on Mark Twain’s quote: ‘There is nothing so annoying as a good example.’

 

There is no such thing as a good example. Honestly speaking, it irks me to see people sorry society imposing on us to take X or Y as a shining example or model to build our respective social and moral life. Speak about the social control tool used by society to dampen the free-spirited soul.

The good example kinda standard is rampant all over the place, right from the extended family to the next door neighbor or even among friends, for that matter. Look at Bittu-ji’s beta or beti, he is a successful business entrepreneur and married a good ‘Khandani’ boy or girl who follow and adhere to all norms, serving babu-ji tea on bed and religiously attend Pravachan in the temple. Can’t you learn from him or her? At this age, you are still unmarried and God knows what you are looking for in life.

Or, if some of us want to follow Donald Trump’s example, ‘Let’s make America great again?’ I am unsure how many of us would be willing to follow this man’s example since he embodies everything that is wrong with mankind…dumb bull crap, failed businessman, a history of harassing and assaulting women sexually or spreading hatred. Trust the dim wits to take Trump as a good example. It makes me wonder what US was before that he wants to make it Great again. It intrigues me that there are people who are willingly treading on this ‘bad and horrible example’.

This whole issue of following the so-called ‘good example’ worries me to the hilt when our priority should be to let our children grow free and devoid of moral, social or religious prejudices. It seems that we are holding a stick to their faces and ordering, ‘Do this or that’ or you will be beaten black-and-blue. Be a scientist, engineer or doctor and don’t go for arts. Heard about this right?!

The age-old textbooks graphics on Girls can cook and Boys can Eat reinforces the patriarchal roles in society that has permeated gender playing roles, albeit discriminatory practice in our society. Certainly, a wrong example to follow that has deepened discrimination in society. The bottom line lies in the fact that the reinforced ‘good example’ to follow has done society more harm than good which we are still coming to terms with.

Next time, when someone throws this so-called ‘Good example’ on your face, don’t take it at face value and be unafraid to question rules that fetter growth. The true purpose of education is not to reinforce rules but discuss untested hypothesis and discard them to make your own rules. It matters to young minds, unafraid to take on society.

The agency of controlling minds is toxic and something we have witnessed through the daughter-son, husband-wife or in-laws equations which suffocates the environment in which free thinkers live. Pollution destroys society and so are rules. Why do we need them to control people? It owes to fear raging in people endorsing rules or examples that have existed for decades. It’s the biggest fault line in our education system that needs a complete overhaul or throwing this ‘good example’ card which is not just annoying but brings in negativity. A fearful mind is unwilling to explore and take risks.  Bungee jumping may not be a good example but still serves as a good fodder to free the mind and emotions or for that matter, removing pent-up emotions.

With Love

V

Stop this refrain, The spirit or resilience of Mumbai!


 

The character and space of Mumbai change every nano-second.  As a city, Mumbai is constantly on its toes and access to basic and solid ground infrastructure should be the topmost priority when we look at the growing number of commuters in lakhs that occupy every limit and space or the lifeline, local trains.

The stampede and near collapse of the 11 meter wide Elphinstone bridge on Friday leave us with a sense of déjà-vu in Maximum City and something many of us who ever stayed in the city was sensing to come. Unfortunately, tragedy struck where 22 innocent lives were robbed.

Studies showcase that on an average more than one lakh use the 117-year old bridge and the average commuters visiting the Elphinstone area amounts to 10 lakhs a day. The numbers tell an entire story on the toll that the bridge takes and it’s not an issue restricted to just one but several stations in the city. It’s apathy at its best where several railways suffer from such a burden.

 

Image credit: Google/http://www.onlinereporter.in

 

The fact remains that thousands and lakhs flock to the city every day in search of a better life and opportunity. High time for the BMC and the Government to answer the pressing questions on the why’s of a city that once aspired to become the Shanghai of India is suffering from a dearth of safe infrastructure. The answer doesn’t lie in the 3,600 crores Shivaji Maharaj statue. Mumbai as a city in spirit and soul need basic infrastructure and amenities so that the people and visitors can securely move around from one part to another.

In the light of incidents taking place such as the crumbling of railway infrastructure or the city coming down to its knees every monsoon, arguments such as The Spirit or resilience of Mumbai is almost an insult to commoners. It’s high time that the BMC show accountability in giving its citizens a dignified life. One cannot afford to lose life in exchange for a compensation of 5 lakhs. It’s a slap on the face of innocent people. It makes one wonder, what is the fault of the people?

The time I stayed in the city, there were instances where I walked past the Elphinstone bridge and every time there was a fear that mayhem will strike due to the lack of space and inability to sustain the growing population pressure. Let me give one small example, every time a local reaches platform No 1, commuters jostle for space on the bridge and recklessly run down the stairs where there is a huge risk of stampede. It’s the sorry state of not just one but several railway stations in the city.

There are questions on the enlarging of Elphinstone bridge in the present case scenario and why the project to the tune of Rs 11-12 crores that were sanctioned in the budget couldn’t be implemented. It’s a clear case of apathy, red-tapism, and corruption among the decision-makers. The BMC is considered to be the richest municipal body in Asia and still, nothing has been done to give dignity and ensure safety. Chasing immigrants with the slogan, ‘Bhaiya Bhagao’ is not the answer and it only shows how they mask their short-sightedness by blaming poor migrants or looking for scapegoat.

The reality is that the Shiv Sena, Congress, and the BJP are equally responsible for the neglect and constant crumbling of infrastructure that not only claimed lives but sinking the city further down the drain. Each one of these political parties have ruled Mumbai at some point or the other where every single day people live constantly on the edge.

Bureaucracy has gone from bad to worse in the city and infrastructure is getting worse by the day coupled with a lack of minimum standard in mounting projects. The least that policymakers can and must do: Raise standards and norms first before speaking about bullet train or 3,600 crores statue.

Basic and rooted infrastructure, security and adhering to norms is what a premiere city like Mumbai needs and the financial capital of India cannot afford to lose this game due to apathy and corruption. Stop the refrain of resilience or spirit every time mayhem struck!

 

 

V