Thursday, July 30, 2009

Kadachit Movie, Gaytari Devi and Pebble Pedometer

What is the right English word for Marathi equivalent of 'आक्रस्थाळेपणा'. I think it is ' Being Berserk'. I thought of this word, day before y'day, while watching a Marathi Movie 'कदाचित'. Sadashiv Amrapurkar, a fine actor but often portrayed in Hindi movies as a ' loud man who has gone berserk'. Give him a role that brings out a controlled aggression in him in a checked manner (संयमीः) , his histrionic brilliance is at its best . In this movie, he vividly portrayed a character of a criminal who spent his life time behind the prison , for a crime he may not have committed and yet carries with him humane qualities that ever always present but never exuded through his rough exteriors.

The website of this movie is very trendy like a Hollywood movie. I always have great admiration for woman who quit their gloried career to look after the family and raising children, used their spare time to enhance their skills and come back with a greater mission and accomplishment. Ashiwini Bhave has managed to do that. Being in oblivian over a decade, she sharpened her skills in movie making . When she found time, she picked up a simple story and managed to script and direct it so wonderfully. Another Jabbar Patel in making ?

Amitabh is his blog today wrote another exquisite piece of writing on Maharani Gayatri Devi. I still remember her ‘black & white’ photo portraits in the old days of ‘Illustrated weekly’. Amitabh has special skills of articulating emotions through images of his experience. He brings out her humane face that not many ordinary people are aware of . Most bourgeois and me included, tend to relate royal people with their regalia and extravagance. May her soul rest in peace and may her name be immortalized through her institutions, she founded and nurtured.

I am also amazed by his pebble like Omran pedometer. I even looked at the Amazon website . This novel product doesn’t cost all that much but it kept me wondering what could be the principle behind the sensing the foot movement. Is it a pendulum sensor that measures the angular deviation that correspond with leg movement ? One must walk 10,000 steps every day. I am tempted to buy this electronic pebble and keep a count of how many I do every day.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lovely cartoons

What would be The Times of India without R K Laxman. But with such lovely cartoons, it would still be enjoyable.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Raghu Kaka is no more.....

Only Y’day, I thought of ‘Raghu Kaka’ while reminiscing about the event of total Solar Eclipse. Today, I got the news that he is no more. Strange are the ways of the connection between the mind and the incident.

In late 80’s, I happened to meet Dr. Subramanium – a physician in the field of nuclear medicine at Hyderabad. He took an immediate liking for me. During the course of our discussions, he mentioned about the relatives from his wife’s side having surname ‘Pappu’. My being thoroughbred in Marathi with no connection with Andhra but having some link to Karnataka surprised him. He explained to me genesis of surname ‘pappu – a type of dal in Tamil. It seems, his wife’s relatives had come from Tanjore and subsequently settled in Andhra Pradesh. There are still many people with the surname ‘Pappu’ in AP. I have no idea how my grandfather came and settled in Hubli but my association with Kannada and Hubli began with Raghu Kaka and continued despite my being away from Hubli.

Few months ago, in my visit to Mumbai, I had a chance meeting with Raghu Kaka. He had come with his wife and his grand children. Age had mellowed his business enthusiasm but his keenness in knowing about my stay and visits in far away countries was palpable. In his hay days, his self-styled entrepreneurial business style had ensured expansion of, ‘Star Batteries’ from Opera house in Mumbai to ‘Venus Batteries’ in Hubli. Business based on honesty and openness made him a financially rich and a known man in Hubli’s automobile battery industry. His plan for backward integration by setting up of ‘plate manufacturing’ plant was ambitious but the very same personal traits that had catapulted him on the course of financial success could not transform his next generation kids to take his business to higher level. His devotion to his parents particularly to his mother was remarkable. She had almost single handedly brought him up and he ensured that he looked after her well until her last days. His spacious bungalow was named as ‘Matru Punya’. His staunch belief for vegetarian was also admirable. He would not eat at any restaurant where kitchen was used for cooking non-vegetarian.

During my last meeting with him, I asked him if he had any knowledge beyond Raghvendra Pappu, my great grand father. All he could remember from his mother was, my grandfather ‘Narayan’ was a small kid when his father ‘Raghvendra’ passed away. When this sad news was told to his wife - ‘Pachi’ , she was so distressed that she left her small baby in the field and decided to end her life. Soon, other villagers saved her and in subsequent days, they miraculously discovered ‘Narayan’ in the field and with that, ‘pappu’ generation continued their existence.

With Raghu Kaka's passing away, my last link with Hubli is gone. As the third generation settles in different continents, I wonder if there would be an initiative from any of them to reach for distant cousins settled in distant lands.

I think of many memories of his visits to Mumbai and talking to us in Marathi with heavy accent of Kannada language. His children could not speak Marathi and our only communication with them was in broken Hindi. With his grandchildren, it is now English. I feel sad that I could not master Konkani and Kannada language despite having a strong lineage from Goa, Belgaum and Hubli. It was ironical that everyone who came from these places to Mumbai easily and willingly adapted Marathi when there was no compulsion for them to do so.

It would be tough for his wife whose very existence was at the service of her husband. I do hope his children not just continue their father’s entrepreneurial business legacy but also emulate his devotion to his mother and look after their mother as well as he did with his.
My prayers for his soul to be rest in peace and for his family to recover from this tragic loss.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Solar Eclipse

This week's incident of total solar eclipse in India took me back to the previous event that happened in early 80s. I was studying in the engineering. Nearest place to watch the solar eclipse was Hubli . We decided to descend on this city and watched it from the terrace of Raghu Kaka’s palatial bungalow.
Use of Sun glasses then was not popular . We had to make a special trip to photo studio to buy a square inch of blank developed photo film.

The whole city of Hubli was galvanized for this event. The event was around 4pm and when it did happen, the sheer excitement was so exhilarating that seeing the spectacle through square inch of photo film seemed futile and inadequate. Go out of the hand this sharp edged square film and devour what you can with your naked eyes. Witnessing the diamond ring phenomenon, as the sun came out of the eclipse was terrific and also the effect of sand dunes type of images rapidly moving past your feet was electrifying.

A lot of stories would float around the event. One such story was about 'Konark Sun temple'. The location of temple was mathematically devised in such a way that every total solar eclipse on the earth would pass through this monument. That day of February 16th, 1980, Konark Sun Temple did come directly on the path of a total solar eclipse. In subsequent years, I didn't find any mention on this theory but I did get a chance to visit this spectacular monument. My only regret was that I chose a wrong season to visit puri and Konark. Summer temp past 45 degree in Orissa made scorching heat of Baroda, Riyadh and Nagpur pale in comparison.

On our return journey from Hubli, without any confirmed reservation, meant jumping the 'unreserved compartment ' as the train rolled in the station and pushing past red coolies to get hold of the berth. I didn't succeed in occupying the coveted upper berth but managed to occupy a place below the lower berth - used for towing luggage. The pitched darkness inside the compartment didn’t allow me to decipher the rustling noise as I slumbered. When I got up next day morning, I found myself in the company of heap of peeled out husk of ground nuts that seem to have accumulated all around me giving me bed of husks.

I may still have those photos with Satish, Mukund, Nandu Chavan taken against the backdrop of Imposing facade of Dharwad medical college.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Visit to Meerut and Agra : An eye opener to a corrupt environment

Last week, while being in Delhi, I made a day visit to Meerut and Agra. It made me realize the brutal reality that exists in India. Both these towns are next door to New Delhi and are backed up with bountiful agriculture, numerous medium and small Industries. Both cities have an access to tourism revenue. One with Taj Mahal and other with the proximity to Haridwar and Rishikesh.

There is a stretch of road after Hapur town built on toll basis. However, I was in for rude shock when my car driver paid Rs 10 as cash to the man managing the extreme gate instead of paying the official fee of Rs 15.

His argument was 'it saves time standing the queue plus saves the money '.
'Does he take all the money he collects?’ I questioned.
'No way, this loot goes to all the way to his boss and shared across the organization '.
'But how would Ms. Mayawati - UP CM get the revenue?
My naive question must have surprised my driver.
'Are Bhaisaab. The person has already paid the money in order to get the posting! '.

I was speechless. The argument of ' India to be developed country by 2020, sounded as hollow as the slogan of 'Garibi Hatao' in 1971.

Loni is another next-door town to New Delhi. Just go past the Vazirabad and you enter brick laid housing complex. This housing complex was built on agricultural land. Someone bought this land, made plots and sold it to individual owners who by their own imagination built the houses. So far so good, but this entrepreneur either did not bother to liaise with Govt. Agencies or he did not find it important enough to have road, water and electricity. Result is – natural roads that are hardened by wet rains and sunshine, no water pipe line. Electricity poles did arrive after few years but there is no meter installed at any house. BSES - private electric supply company just collect flat monthly rate from every house irrespective of their consumption.

‘Wow!! That means I can put all ac in every room’. The house owner just chuckled on this stupid question emanating from my imbecile mind.
I quickly framed another question ' but there must be power cut like in Delhi, How often the power trip?’
He again smiled ' Bhai Saab, that's difficult question, it would be easier to answer how often power comes? We would be lucky if it comes at all, but whenever it comes, our battery of inverter swing into action. We must conserve every minute of electricity. Air conditioner is out of question, fan in one room is luxury. Forget about power guzzlers like washing machine, fridge, microwave and TV’.
His statement made sense when I looked at all these modern gadgets neatly covered in embroidered clothes. They look spanking clean and new.
‘Our first priority is pump that sucks water from our bore well. Once, we fill up the overhead tank, our mission is accomplished ' He explained and I readily agreed.
Ice cubes, satellite TV channels, laptop made no sense in Loni. If this is the plight of next-door township to Delhi, what could be the situation in the interior towns of UP?

After paying bribe to the toll gate collector, my Tavera cruised on smooth tar road heading towards Meerut. Sudden screeching of brakes made my briefcase jump from the seat. Just in nick of time, motorcyclist had managed to swerve away avoiding an ugly collision. Single lane traffic with loaded trucks meant my car driver would overtake trucks and back in his lane well before the incoming vehicle would bang. My thought went back to that motor cyclist who narrowly missed a hit from our car.
‘What if he were to fall? We would have had to wait for police to arrive’?
‘ Hey No, nobody stops when hit by car. Fault is always with the big vehicle. We need not take him to hospital. Chances of survival of him are slim anyway.
I was aghast. Next day, while coming back from Agra, I saw a man lying around at roadside surrounded by some villagers. The car must have gone ahead hitting him. In two day of travel to Meerut and Agra, I realized distance that between life and death could barely be few meters.

Visiting Meerut, Agra and Loni was like drenching every part of my body and soul by corrupt environment. I kept asking the question. Would nuclear reactors solve power problems UP and Bihar? Or would it go the same way as HapurMeerut toll free road?

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Monday, July 06, 2009

A Chance Encounter

After almost a decade, unexpectedly, without any inkling, you bump on to someone who you had interacted before. Your past interactions were time and subject specific yet intense enough to know about each other. In the face of changing circumstances, the interaction had come to a complete halt. Now this chance encounter happens in a new country and a new settings, not in isolation but in the presence of others.

What is the possible scenario that would emerge? Most likely could be the expression of delight of rediscovering some one who you had lost. Least likely could be that person may refuse to acknowledge you. If that happens, would you push yourself and make that person rekindle old memories? On the other hand, you may decide to slip away murmuring that there must be some confusion on your part and make dignified exit believing that there must be a justifiable reason for that person to behave in this manner.

I faced similar situation y'day and I chose the later option. However, my curious, imbecile mind still keeps wondering the compelling reasons for that person to behave in such a manner.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Michael Jackson a musical genius

Fashion world damsels who dream of being celebrity are always paranoid of maintaining their chiseled body shape; however, the necessities of their career growth also dictate the need to socialize upper society echelons to weave their magic and charm around the rich and famous. They wine and dine in gay abundance but before the food reaches their intestine and is metabolized, they rush to washroom and take out all they could by forcing fingers in the throat. ‘yuck’ is the only expression that my face could have displayed when I heard this story . What a way to ensure that no extra flesh is around the waist. The price paid by all the celebrities would generally not come to the light. The shocking news about the demise of Michael Jackson and his forced regimen with diet, health made me remember the above incident.

Dubai newspaper headline one day reported the booking of Wild Wadi (water amusement park) by MJ; caption reflected obnoxious arrogance of money and fame but subsequent para showed the generosity of MJ. He had indeed booked the whole park but whoever went there on that day, they had free ride – courtesy MJ. How media can change the perception of a reader by irresponsible caption. I did watch documentary ' living with Michael Jackson’ that started all the proceedings against him on child abuse. The documentary, I must was very entertaining. I remember MJ demonstrating the art of moonwalk that looked so simple and easy but am sure could be grueling to shin and heel muscles. In that show, his confession of letting young boys sleep in bed led to child molestation charges against him and that led to reversal of his fortunes both in terms of creativity and wealth.

‘Thriller’ played all over musical stores of Akiabara, Ginza and Orchard musical stores marked my first trip abroad – Japan and Singapore in 84. Second trip honors went to Kaoma-Lambada. Very little is known about how and where Michael Jackson created his music. One day a movie on him similar to ABBA would reveal behind the activities of his musical creation.