Archive for February, 2009

My laptop got infected by a virus yesterday which resulted in formating of hard discs and re-installation of OS. Thankfully I could backup my data and nothing was lost, except for the whole night’s sleep.

But one good thing happened in all this jugglery of moving data from one place to other. As I cleaned up my system, I found some really funny pictures we had taken in our trip to Coorg in July 2007. I was with Yahoo! then and this was team outing. There was a school near the place where we were put up. And there were amazing drawings on the walls of classrooms. Here goes the first one:

Solar System

Solar System

What better way there can be to fire imagination of small school kids about stars and planets.:)  Artist must have been really a creative person. And just imagine how wonderful it will be when all planets line up in a straight row. While it wont matter much to Mercury, Venus and Earth will have partial solar eclipse, and Mars will surely be in dark. And once huge Juptier comes in between, all planets beyond it stand no chance of seeing any ray of light, literally 🙂

How beautiful it would be to learn about eclipse by applying such creativity. I am sure kids would never forget how an eclipse occurs and size and order of planets if they are made to do this analysis.

Next was turn of great leaders of the country to go under brush of creative genious. Gandhi and Ambedkar

Though there is not much scope of creativity in imagining how Gandhi and Ambedkar looked like (as we have real motion films and pictures of these leaders), but an artist is free to imagine how their expressions would have been when they discussed the Poona Pact, or deliberated about country and people in general. It will be so easy for school kids ot actually relate to historical events because now they have glimpse of actual emotions of these great heroes of nation and have a personal connect with them. Right?

And finally, here is a pic of an ardent lover of art and creativity appreciating the unbridled and unexplored creativity at the grassroots level 🙂

Abstract Art


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A few months back, I read Ramachanrda Guha’s amazing book titled “India After Gandhi”. I wanted to write about it for quite some time, but somehow it never happened. The book is an account of how India was built after 1947. All our history text-books in schools stopped at 1947, as if after that India just happened. Book tells in quite detail how India was shaped by the founding fathers of country, what kind of society it was, what evils/wrongs did the country do, how did generations were shaped and how this past has influenced (and is shaping) the present and future of the country.

Then 2 weeks back, I was at a GD/PI workshop arranged by IMS for their students with interview calls from IIMs and other top-rung B-Schools in India. I was a faculty there J. I enjoy doing such workshops, as I myself learn a lot in this. But in one interview that day, I met a really impressive guy from Bihar who has changed the way I look at country’s history and it’s present. As he spoke about Bihar and its plight and his strong resolve to change the status-quo and also the reason for such dire state of affairs, I was taken back to this book again.

As we talked about why Bihar is in the shape it is in now, he argued that roots of this is in the failed JP Movement of 70s. JP – or Jaiprakash Narayan is among the few unsung Indian heroes which I feel the current generation has never got a chance to appreciate. His best work came at the time of emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi, when media and information was totally censored. During this time, a strong student movement was taking place in Bihar against the prevailing inequalities and wrongs in society. On student’s request, JP had taken over the leadership of this movement, and had taken it to quite forward. An entire generation was being shaped by this revolution, youth in the country were smelling change, their dreams and aspirations were surging ahead. However this movement also had its own negative effects as well. The entire education system was getting politicized, and education institutions were more a battleground between rival student groups (backed by political parties). The period of 1975-77 when India was under emergency rule of Indira Gandhi, a new stream of young leaders were getting molded. As Indira Gandhi was eventually overthrown after emergency, these leaders found themselves in position of power. And as the saying goes – “Power and Revolution cannot be together”, once these revolutionaries became the rulers, they acquired all the vices of being rulers. The JP movement failed, and with that, the entire political morality of the country went to dogs. The leaders I am talking about and who emerged from this turmoil are the likes of George Fernandez, Lalu Prasad, Mamta Banerjee, Ramvilas Paswan, comrades from Left and also many from BJP and Congress also. These are the guys who are – fortunately or unfortunately – ruling the country, and hence indirectly our destinies.

With this thought-process, when I look at these so-called leaders, I feel they are not to be blamed entirely for this sorry state of affairs in places like Bihar. When you have an entire generation charged up with ideals and dreams of high morality and equality in society, when an entire generation sacrifices itself for a movement, for a change; and when it sees it falling on its face, I can understand the frustration that generation will face. When you charge a feeling beyond a point, it can go to extreme – either one. Our generation has seen India only after liberalization, but when I read about how country was before it, in books like “India After Gandhi”, I feel for this lost generation. It’s a generation which was lost to excesses – by either emergency or by the revolution. It was a generation which gave up its future for the country, and what it got back was only hypocrisy of politics and corruption. I don’t know if this justifies their frustration, but I feel that this frustration of the failed generation has been the biggest influence for the India we see today.

Book mentions that millions of people were dislocated at the times of partition, and they were subjected to the most brutal of communal violence ever seen by mankind. This is a well known fact which our generation knows, but what we don’t know was that these millions of people were settled within a span of few years. People were allotted land as per their asset holdings in Pakistan, and their fellow villagers vouched for the validity of the claim. There must have been some irregularities in this, but these millions of people were settled and made full citizens of country. Cities were rebuilt, the entire government machinery worked with full dedication to make the country we see today. Can we imagine such an exercise today? Can we imagine getting even a small work done with government machinery without bribing an official? Can we imagine a society which decides distribution of assets just based on the trust and guarantee of fellow villagers?

And when I read about all the moral policing in Mangalore and on Valentine’s Day and the intolerance about alternate argument and belief, my heart fills with respect to the generation which built the country we inherited, and also at the same time feel for the generation which got lost in frustration of falling ideals.

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2 nights back I watched the movie “”Dev D””. After a long time I had built up such anticipation for a movie, expectations were high, and the movie kept the promise. Abhay Deol had already won all my admiration in Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye, and in this one, admiration turned into respect when I read in the credits of the movie following credit – “Concept – Abhay Deol”! He is certainly here for a long and a truly memorable and pleasing innings.

7401_devd1 dev-d

“Dev D”, like the other versions of classic novel of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, is a celebration of destruction. But it is substantially different from the actual novel plot. The very fact that the story has been pulled out of the artistic, royal and smooth round world of Bengal to dusty, rough and “I-care-a-damn” Delhi itself is such a revolution. Unlike the original one, there is no loud melodrama, no rona-dhona, and the biggest shift is that Devdas is destroyed not by the failed love, but by fallen ego and insane lust. What is common is that in both – Devdas is the loser!

Many of my friends didn’t like “Dev D” and left theatres in between the movie. I had expected this reaction to the movie because “Dev D” is a hard slap in the face to the conventional goody-goody cinema. Here the hero is not a larger-than-life character, he is not a “Maryada Purushottam”; he is just a loser celebrating his own destruction. As it is in the original Devdas, you don’t know whether the love is pure, and neither do all the forces of destiny go against it. No character generates any sympathy or pity, and all 3 protagonists (Devdas, Paro and Chandramukhi) are there living lives of their own making. Devdas is not eaten hollow by the parasite of guilt and remorse; in fact there is no regret whatsoever. What causes his destruction is the love failed by egos, and resulting revenges.

What makes “Dev D” contemporary is the confusion of “Dev D”. Never does he know what he wants from life; he never understands love. Lust and ego – and not love – blinds the sight and mind of the hero. Neither do you see Paro doing a Sati-Savitri act; and is driven by revenge. Chanda actually remains closest to the original plot and is possibly all about sacrifice and true love. Chunni babu has his own selfish reasons and motivations in celebrating the destruction. All these characters are very practical and humane, and take the plot from Devdas to “Dev D”.

“Dev D” is a piece of art. From its music (not only the Emosanal Atyachar, but aankh michouli, pardesi and many more songs) to its cinematography and its performances, everything seems to be so rightly in sync. Abhay has again gotten into the character and made it come alive, and both girls also do equal justice to the character. With this movie, Anurag Kashyap has taken Bollywood filmmaking to a new height. “Dev D” is an amazingly creative and satirical spoof on the original plot. It is a beautiful way to look at what loser Devdas was. It is certainly a must watch. If nothing else, go and watch it for the “Emosanal Atyachar” – and I guarantee you would be entertained.

So where do we go from here then? Should I expect a behind-the-curtains version of Devdas titled “Bevdi”? 🙂

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I might not have exactly grown up listening to Moh. Rafi singing his heart out in the melody “Hum Intezar Karenge Tera Qayamat Tak”; but have seen enough love stories over years which startled me with the extent lovers went waiting for their True Love. Some took many more births and re-births, some even in form of crazy-looking serpents and what not; but they (lovers) surely either waited or came back for their love.

As life has unfolded and is unfolding in front me, I often feel and have felt that this melodrama is not what it means to wait for Love.

When it comes to this seemingly endless wait, noting spells the magic like the song “Tere Ishq Me” from the Gulzar – Vishal Bharadwaj album “Ishqa-Ishqa”. Sung by Rekha Bharadwaj, it touches you somewhere deep within. I always felt Gulzar sahab’s lyrics and Rekha’s heavy voice rubs you on the rough painful side of the heart where the wait is always endless. Lyrics which goes like:

Raakh se rukhi, koyale se kaali

Raat kate na, hijraan wali

at once makes you feel that the wait has suck out each and every sign of life from the waiting soul. It continues as:

Teri justajoo karte rahe, marte rahe…

Tere roobaroo bethe hue, marte rahe…

Tere roobaroo, teri justajo, Tere ishq mein, haye Tere ishq mein…

Badal dhune, mausam bune, sadiyaan gini, lamhe chune,

Kuch garm the, kuch gungune…

Tere ishq mein…

I always felt that this is a song about agony of waiting for your true love. It fills you up with the anguish of an eternal wait. All that the waiting soul is left with is despair and misery, and a weak hope. And the person clings to that straw of hope to tide across the ocean of pain and grief.

This is followed by the next stanza which, I felt, portrayed the triviality of this everlasting wait in front of the vast powers of nature. It seemed like no one in this whole world did really care for the waiter’s misery, and left him with his gloom in the chilling loneliness. Days came and days went, but they hardly did anything more than just noticing the poor guy sitting and waiting in despair, fighting against hope, and sulking deeper into his own ravine of hollowness.

tere ishq mein –  tanhaiyaan,

hamane bahut, bahalaiyaan –  tanhaiyaan,

rooh se kabhi, manawaiyaan

tanhaiyaan –  tere ishq mein

mujhe toh kar, koi din gaya

mujhe chhed kar, koyi shab gayi

mainne rakh li saari aahatein

kab aayi thi, shab kab gayi

tere ishq mein, kab din gaya

shab kab gayi, tere ishq mein

A few days back, I got to see the video of this song. And I realized how wrong I was!

The more I try to understand Gulzar sahib, the more thoughtful and profound he becomes. As I watched the video, each agonizing wait finally culminated into an illuminated glow, which took away all the pain and misery, and replaced it with deep solace. <Please check out the video below at this moment to find what’s being talked here, and appreciate the remaining post>

The above lines, which I felt were of despondency and despair, I realized were actually that of firm resolve and divine joy and satisfaction.

Instead of triviality, it actually speaks of victory of this simple deed of wait over the infinite powers of nature. Sitting there, the soul in waiting has actually tamed the nature by moving beyond the day and night, and reaching a state where it no longer mattered to him.

He has taken out ‘expectations’ from wait, and what remains now is pure bliss of selfless wait for true love.

The objective of wait is no longer to achieve anything, but to just remain true and honest to your own heart, which beats for the true love even when it is gone, when reason tells you that it is never going to return, and your heart says – how does it matter? My love was, and is, true; and I will remain true to it – and find tranquility in the journey of wait, than its destination.

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Some days back, my friend gave me one of the best advices I could have ever got to keep myself happy. He asked me to list down the ten moments of my life till now when I felt most happy. I have been trying to list these moments, and every time I set to do this, I lose myself in the pleasant memories of those happy moments and never get beyond listing more than 4-5 moments. I wonder if I will be ever make list of top 10 such moments, for the process of listing happy moments itself so often becomes such a wonderful moment. Its classic case of “observation influencing the result” <sorry, however hard do I flash the MBA “it depends” card, at core I remain an engineer and swear by theories and definitions!>

If you have a career graph that has VRCE, IIMA, MNCs and own start-up as data-points, you can be reasonably sure that your achievement section on resume will be well-populated. I know I am bordering on the wrong side of boastfulness, but then – at times it is ok to make yourself feel better by praising yourself. It does a great deal of help than eating chocolates at nights to overcome that sad depressing feeling of uselessness. This may make you feel that you should be happy person with all these shiny medals in kitty. But looking back, when I count my happy moments; none of the above features in the list. I feel all these are results of such a long arduous process that may be when I got them, I didn’t really care for them. <well now that’s certainly being boastful, but then – chalta hai … kabhi kabhi bol lena chahiye>. These don’t get into my top happiest moments; rather they are the things which give you inspiration and courage that you need when you are lying low and sulking in your own self.  This doesn’t really count in as a provider of happiness. I have seen the movie “In Pursuit of Happyness” and adore Will Smith and that kid doing those inspiring stuff to be happy. But I sincerely feel happiness is question of a moment, and not of the age-long journey to it. What you get after happiness is feeling of contentment, or achievement. And it is different from happiness. Your family sacrifices life for you and you reciprocate. That stems from the pure and true love, which again transcends beyond happiness. I think it ranks at a level higher in the evolution stream of feelings, and tilts more towards the eternal bliss that your family provides you.

So what is happiness? What does that moment of being happy do to you?

The more I think about it and try to put an index or rank to it, more I feel that these are moments which simply refuse to die. They remain there carved at the back of mind or heart or liver or whatever. But one thing that they do in common is to bring instant smile to face, and relieve all sorrows and pains and sadness at once. They are like those Bengali Rassogullas which melt in mouth, and leave the sweetness behind… for a long long time … till the taste buds get wiped clean of sweetness by the masala of daily life, and you crave for the same Rassogulla and sweetness again.

Surprisingly, whatever has been my top 4-5 happiest moments – first slot has always gone to a dream! I remember just a 3-5 second snippet of that dream. That is all I have always remembered and recollected since the minute I woke up after seeing that dream. It was one of those moments when I simply didn’t want to wake up and wished I could stay in my dream. Dreams are reflection of our real lives and our wishes. Not surprisingly, the person who has been dearest to me featured in the dream. Never have I felt anyone understood me better and to this depth as that person did in my dream. The sense of relief that came with that understanding even today whoosh off all the grief and gloom of life. I thank my sub-conscious to be this understanding towards my conscious and dream such a beautiful moment for me.

Next moment, came from the eyes which told me that they owned me. All saints and noble souls have been preaching all the ages that happiness is in giving. But what has brought the ultimate happiness to me goes to the moment which told me what it means to actually be claimed by a taker to an extent that there is no give and take left in it.  Eyes have such power to penetrate through everything, like those X-Rays looking for metal under anything; they pick up the faintest inkling of belongingness in a blink. What a moment of bliss it was to get that stare of belongingness!

Following moments in the list – unsurprisingly, link themselves to music. At a height of about a kilometer above sea-level, as I climbed up the treacherous terrain, I had some wonderful Rahman music in my ears. And as I turned the curve, the sudden sight of acres of greenery presenting their full glory to me pleased me beyond limits. In that vastness of nature, I suddenly found myself as a miniscule dot, and before I could pity myself, my sub-conscious again came to my rescue, and flashed in front me the cutest smile I have seen in all my life. What more can you ask to Mother Nature? She throws at you her vastness to signal how trivial you are in the larger scheme of things, and next moment pricks your back-of-mind with such strength that will mark your place in that huge vastness. You cannot ask more!

Next moment, again not surprisingly, comes from the other passion – Cricket! First it was a desert storm at Sharjah and then the Little Master took over. Sachin Tendulkar is God – end of all discussion! I still remember myself jumping on the bed seeing Sachin hitting six straight behind the bowler’s arm, and Ravi Shastri screaming and going mad with his commentary. Gods above must also have taken a break from their boring jobs of managing routine daily life of love and hate and crime and virtue over earth and drafted this splendid moment to break their monotony. I always wonder what heavenly feeling of satisfaction this man must be getting out of bringing happiness to billions of hearts across the world. It was not the child in me who couldn’t stop jumping and clapping at that late night hour celebrating Sachin’s epic 141 against Australia at Sharjah; it was something totally celestial, totally out-of-this-world. I don’t know what made me happy at that moment, but I can feel the thrill in me even today.

Moments of happiness are meant to be like these – never fading out for any damn gloom-doom of boring life; always there to take you back to the moment when they happened, fill you with hope and leave with a promise to resurface again when needed! A promise, a hope, a relief – that life understands you… that you actually belong to your own life… that your life is not trivial, you are not trivial… and finally, it’s more than just living – it’s divine! It’s beyond comprehension of mere mortals running behind happiness. Chill!

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