Long overdue…

Yes, this post has indeed been looooooooooong overdue. And yes, it’s about Anna Hazare. Heard a lot about him, read a lot about him, and seen him in action, seen what he is capable of. Finally, we have someone who cares about what the f*ck our government is doing, AND take them to task! However, a lot has been said and written by him and about him, leaving me little scope to say something new.

But how about the way ahead for him? He says poll reforms is his next stop, and the agitation regarding the Lokpal Bill needs to continue. But how does he ‘armtwist’ the government time and again to make them bow to his wishes? It remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, it is indeed interesting to see how, instead of treating the symptoms, Hazare is bent on treating the actual disease. Most of India’s biggest problems today are caused by politicians who are too strong or too weak. In either case, power is being misused. A strong Lokpal and poll reforms should light enough candles on their a** to do the public’s bidding rather than risk losing their elected seat. This should solve several problems, from the farmer suicides in Vidarbha to the widespread instances of corruption permeating several levels of society.

However, how far Hazare succeeds remains to be seen, because one of his greatest enemies is his age. Also, as of now, he has no strong follower to whom he can pass on his mantle. So many questions right there! But, instead of leaving you with them, here’s something on a much lighter note.

tasteofawesome.com_Voldemort

Have a nice time, and please, keep tuned in to my quiz blog!

They must be so confused!!

I am talking of Ram Gopal Verma and Madhur Bhandarkar here. Since Company and Fashion respectively, both directors have tried, more than once, to create the same magic they had in those films, and those just before them. And yet, no matter what they did, neither the critics nor the audience seemed to like what they did!

What both directors may have failed to realised is that they had become some or the other version of one-trick ponies, in some way or the other. Much to their dislike, and much in the way Manoj Night Shyamalan had.

Wonder if RGV has realised this, but the very plot or screenplay elements he used—and to great effect, I might add—in Sarkaar, Company or his other underworld flicks, might just be his undoing. How many times in his films have we seen some or the other major character speaking something that is of absolute importance to the plot, but the words are not heard and the background music takes precedence? Or those unusual, and sometimes near-impossible, camera angles?

As for Bhandarkar, no matter what industry he picks, his quest for showing its underbelly results in the same series of events!

Both these taits were initially lauded by critics, who saw these as a breath of fresh air bringing life to the stale plot elements of storytelling in Bollywood. however, as time progressed, the ideas grew stale, and yet, I think both Bhandarkar and Verma must be wondering what they are doing wrong despite putting in the same ingredients that had once transformed their films into critically acclaimed hits! Someone please tell them!

Roadside cajoling…

Over the years, I have been quite dependent on the auto-rickshaw for my travels. Not having learnt to ride a bicycle, let alone a motorcycle, I have had to depend on other modes of transport. Now this wasn’t much of a problem back in Bengal, where public transport in and around my town was cheap and ample. However, it became a problem when I moved to Nagpur in 2002, where the cheapest bus ride was Rs7. Compared to this, busride in Kolkata can still be as cheap as Rs3-4. Besides, the buses of Nagpur didn’t go everywhere.

Therefore, I had to turn to the autos. Now, these auto-drivers can be wily customers, and more so in a tourist destination like Jaipur. They take one look at you, and gauge you as a local or an outsider. And then comes the sting – a distance that normally costs Rs30 to travel now costs anywhere between Rs80-100!

Then again, after a certain point of time, you learn to ‘deal’ with these people. You learn how to bring down the cost to what it actually is.

First of all, for any suggestion that’s double the amount of what you pay, laugh diminutively and say, “Rehne do. (Leave it)!” That generally does help, and a Rs100 becomes Rs60-70.

Second, you say that you keep going ‘there’ on an almost regular basis. That generally brings it down another Rs10-20. So now, it’s Rs50 approximately, when you pay Rs30 for it actually.

Third, you explain how you will alight on the main road itself, and how the auto won’t have to be navigated through serpentine by-lanes where even a cycle might get wedged between two walls. That’s when the bhaada comes down a little more.

If it’s still not the desired Rs30, say something like “Rehne do,” again and look away, as if you were looking for another auto. That’s when the penny drops, and the auto-driver sees you for the true haggler, or if you prefer a more ‘classy’ term, a value-for-money person that you truly are.

And that’s how you bring these people and their prices down to earth.

But beware, these people are now coming up with new ploys to fleece you! For example, just the other day, I was confronted by an auto driver who promised to take me a distance for Rs40, which was what it actually cost, but added, “Aur dus rupaye mujhe apna bada bhaai samajh ke de dena. Chai paani ke liye! (Consider me your elder brother, and give me another Rs10. For some refreshments!)”

I refused to establish any new fraternal relationships in Jaipur. Initially he drove off in a huff, but came back minutes later to take me home for the agreed sum of Rs40. The experience left a bad aftertaste, though.

Momta Didi

Such is her presence that people right at the other end of the country know about her. she isn’t the brightest of pennies, nor can she be expected to lead the Renaissance that West Bengal needs in order to tide over the misrule of the Communist government that caused the state’s economy to lead the life of an exploited prostitute. (Of course, some may argue that all prostitutes are exploited, but bear with the hyperbolae please.)

This post, however, does not deal with what Mamata Bannerjee is capable of, and what not. It’s about something I encountered. I was at a roadside eatery—a pretty cheap one—when someone, obviously catching up on my accent and total cluelessness about the Marwari/Rajasthani being spoken around, asked me where I was from.

I gave my standard reply: from Bengal, but spent several years in Nagpur. The second part went unheeded, but the man cooking my mixed veg broke into a smile and asked, “Toh aap Mamta Di ke desh se hain?”

Epilogue: The mixed veg was exactly according to my specification—not too spicy, and with a nice gravy. Smile

Abhishesk!!!

They say that people judge you by what you have done, while you yourself judge yourself by what you are about to do. Dunno what Abhishek Bachchan’s future is, but judging by Paa, Yuva and Guru, this young man’s got a long way to go.

No matter what Ranbir, Imraan or even Hrithik have done s far. This gentleman is one to look out for, whatever the film. Here’s wishing him luck.

What’s the big deal with music?

Just listening to an album. A modern rendition of some timeless classics from Hindi films. Singer of this volume is Abhijeet, and he pays tributes to the maestros — the likes of Manna De, Kishore Kumar, Mohammed Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh, Talat Mehmood and Hemant Kumar.

Now normally, this isn’t what I listen to. Put this one on just for the heck of it. And got goosebumps instead!

Maybe it was the music, or just the arrangement, or the emotions behind the words, or the pathos in the voice. I don’t know which. Nevertheless, Manna De’s Puchho Na Kaise Maine Rain Bitaee managed to move me.

I could detect every piece of pain, and identify with the scenario. And this continued with every song I heard in the album.

What must have someone gone through to create such beautiful music and lyrics? Can anyone tell me?

The little things…

It was something very small. But not significant. It happened yesterday, and I still can’t stop smiling when I remember it.

Yesterday, while I was going to office by auto, we had to stop at only traffic signal on the way. And there, right next to my auto, was a car that was carrying little children back from school. Of them, one of the little girls looked towards me.

Without thinking twice, I pulled a face. A funny one. She did not laugh at once, but I noticed a hint of smile on her face when she looked away. And as is the habitual curiosity of little children, she couldn’t look away for more than a few seconds.

This time, I pulled another funny face, and her lips cracked into a beaming smile. Just about then, the traffic moved a bit, and another vehicle came between us. She craned her neck to catch another glimpse of me, and I gratified her with another of her funny faces.

The traffic signal turned green, and my auto turned right. Her car went straight on. She craned her neck a few times more, and I tried a few more funny faces. And I still remember her smiling face.

It was something very small. But not insignificant. I managed to make her smile. And the purity of that smile cleansed me of quite a lot of the negative emotions I had been accruing over the past few weeks. It gave me the strength to power through a few more of such weeks. Precious, wasn’t it?

Care to share any such experiences you had?

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