Saturday, December 31, 2005

Chal Chaiyan Chaiyan...

Going back to Chennai this evening.... back to journalism from Monday!
Hate to leave home...don't know when it will be possible to laze around the house again...like I did in the past 10 days. Oh! I am taking Chitale's bakarwadi and my mom's besanache ladoo [Dada...tuk tuk!]. Of course, food can never replace the warmth and affection of home!

I am taking a train…. I love train rides!!! Always reminds me of that little toy train in the old Peshwe Park…my Dad took my bro and me there on some Thursday. And I just love taking the train to Mumbai…the Deccan Queen…the train that is always on time…the pride of Indian Railways that completed its 75 years recently…the yummy Cheese toast you get on the train…when it stops in the ghats and little adorable monkeys gather around hoping to get leftovers from passengers…and that stop at Karzat for their delicious wadas! The expressway may be a boon to Punekars and Mumbaikars…but nothing can replace the magic of the train ride!

There are so many memorable incidents associated with train travel that I could write now…but my mom is not too pleased with the packing I have left unfinished. Maybe a detailed post when I get there. Till then…

Palti jhaade pahuyaa….AMMAchya gaavaalaa jaauyaa….!!!


Thursday, December 29, 2005

To speak and to know

Last night, I was watching the 2005 review of Hardtalk on BBC. They had selected some of the best parts of their shows of 2005. Stephen Sackur was in India speaking to P. Chidambaram, our Finance Minister. I would like to congratulate and thank Mr. Chidambaram for making me feel like a proud Indian yesterday.

Sackur was asking Chidambaram how India was going to manage to emerge as an important player on the world economic scene when our neighbour and traditional rival, China was developing its manufacturing and services sectors much faster than we are. He was trying to intimidate our moneyman with stats and reports as follows: [not reproduced exactly…. just from what I remember]

Sackur: When Indians return from China after having observed the development the Chinese have made, they are so stunned that they are unable to speak for two weeks after their return.

FM: But they do speak later on…

Sackur: He is unable to speak for two weeks after his return…

FM: But he can at least speak…he can speak his mind in India!

What’s development without freedom of speech and expression? The Chinese may be truly efficient and we have a lot to learn from them but I could never accept being told when to open my mouth and when not to. Of course, India is not the ideal country where the Constitution and its aspects are applied completely. There are thousands of people/groups who are gagged and not allowed to reveal or speak about the things they want to. But I believe we are much better off. Our media are also freer than that of many of our neighbours…China, Malaysia…

Along with expressing oneself freely, every citizen must have the right to know what the government is up to. The Right to Information Act is a step in the right direction. But its scope is doubtful with bureaucrats wanting file notings to be excluded from the purview of the Act. Wonder what happened to the PM’s will to make Indian bureaucracy more accountable…

A Balancing Act- By Dr P.C. Alexander


Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Feels like heaven!!! I am at home, of course. There’s no place like it!

My mom and I have decided to catch up on the latest in the Marathi film and theatre world. The first step towards this goal was watching ‘Sarivar sari’. One of its slogans in the newspaper read ‘Vayaat aalelyaa mulilaa saambhaala’. I was obviously turned off by it, as it sounded preachy- right from the mouth of the moral police. It asked people to be careful once their daughters had grown up…. what about their sons??? Aren’t young men just as vulnerable to getting spoilt?

After I saw the movie, I realised the slogan had been purposely and intelligently given. The story revolves around a lower middle-class family living in a chawl in Mumbai [I think it was Mumbai but for those who are going to watch the movie…all college scenes have been shot in Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce, Pune…my alma mater. Yippppeeee…!] The elder daughter is a medical student, studious and reserved. The younger one couldn’t care less about studying, is bold and a talented dancer. Of course, the father hates it when she dances in public because of all the unwarranted attention she attracts. But the girl feels suffocated in her middle class mundane existence. She leaves home to become a model.

The movie is a must watch for all parents and daughters. The film shows how important it is to understand the new generation and to have faith in them. I am sure all young women will identify with at least one of the questions raised in the movie.

The movie does suffer a little because of its snappy storyline and editing. The whole thing ends up looking a wee bit amateurish. But the actors, with their super performances, rescue the film from falling flat. And it’s such a relief to see that Marathi cinema has the nerve to make films on current issues…issues that concern us all.

Another movie that will make Marathi cinema proud for years to come is Nishikant Kamat’s ‘Dombivli Fast’. Repeating the middle class factor, the film is about a bank employee who commutes to work in the Dombivli Fast local train everyday. He lives with his wife and children in a cramped accommodation like any other in Mumbai. He is tired of his routine life. The stress plays on his ‘I-will-not-compromise-with-my-principles’ attitude and finally drives him insane. What follows is shocking. In fact, as the audience slowly made their way through the exit doors after the film got over, no one spoke. Our minds were numbed by the story of this common man that could easily be anyone’s story.

Sandeep Kulkarni as the average Joe, Shilpa Tulaskar as his wife and Sandesh Jadhav as the aamchi Mumbai cop steal your hearts with their excellent performances. The viewer starts with clear-cut views on life and its tribulations but soon, the boundaries between right and wrong, good and bad diminish.

I applaud this effort of the filmmaker. It’s such a relief to see that at least someone is thinking. These days, even the trailers of Hindi movies turn me off. There is absolutely no substance in them. I am not against entertainment…entertainers are needed to make money. But recent films are concentrating too much on presentation and down the line, they lose sight of the plot. There have been some good movies like Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara, Iqbal, Viruddh etc. [I haven’t seen Iqbal and Viruddh yet but I have heard good reviews.] But today, I’d rather watch a Marathi movie than waste my time on some senseless Hindi masala flick.

Here’s one for those Marathi filmmakers who are at least trying to make a difference…Jai Maharashtra!


Monday, December 12, 2005

Respect Nature, Please!

This place has internet!!! So, I won't be away from blogdom after all. We are in the middle of a forest but the NGO where we are staying has net. Ironical!
Just a short post to tell everyone how important it is to respect nature...Yesterday, we trekked 16 kms to visit 2 tribal villages. The tribals here have to face the 'elephant menace' everyday. Elephants come, feast on the crops and villagers lose their earnings.
Everyone here is extra careful when it comes to these elephants. As against tame elephants, their wild counterparts feel threatened by human presence and hence, they attack.
We miscalculated our time of return from the mountains. So, when we were actually supposed to be indoors by 6 pm, we were groping about in the dark forest around 7 pm. It was a so-called 'jeep track' on our way down. A jeep going up told us that there was a lone elephant in the vicinity...which is the most dangerous. We walked together in a group and kept silent. Loud sounds make wild animals panic. There are even reports of a cheetah doing rounds of the forest.
I was so scared that even though I had managed to pull a muscle in my leg, I was numb! I could feel nothing. All I wanted to do was reach a tar road. All of us were hoping and praying so hard that we would be safe!
All of us have to learn to respect nature. We tend to take nature for granted. But yesterday, I realised that the forest is actually theirs. We are THE INTRUDERS!
Please try to avoid buying fur and ivory products or any product that involves killing of wild animals. Deforestation and poaching are destroying the balance in nature and soon, it's going to get us if we don't do something about it.
Leave Nature Alone! Only then will she protect us!

Saturday, December 10, 2005


I am off to an elephant sanctuary near Kerala to cover rural deprivation. And then I am going home to Pune. I will be away from blogdom for the next 7-8 days. Looking forward to put in a lot of posts in there after my return.