Lazy roads

The title of this post seems weird. It definitely does now that I read it again. But it makes complete sense to me after being back to my hometown Nagpur after a grueling internship at Bangalore. I always fantasized about living in a big city, enjoying the fast pace of life, enjoying reading multiple newspapers every day and being in the midst of all the action. I got to partially live my fantasy for the previous two months in Bangalore and those months have made me grateful for not being obsessed with my reality and for being blessed with a reality called Nagpur and the beautiful life that I lead here. 

In Bangalore, a journey from point A to B with an average speed of more than 30 km/hr is a success story. In Nagpur, you can reach any part of the city in 10 minutes, with the speedometer surprising you with readings of 50-60 km/hr easily. Bangalore introduced me to amazingly frustrating traffic jams, while coming back to Nagpur reminded me of the joy of driving on empty roads. As I get ready to start my professional career in less than a year, the thought of shifting to a metropolis to do quality work bothers me a lot. I have grown accustomed to the lazy roads in my city, the lazy roads that let you speed up, that let you wander without having to know where you are headed, the roads that give you the luxury of getting lost and not losing anything at all. Ideally, I would never leave these roads.. 

But then, when I think of it, these lazy roads seem to be leading nowhere. I look again, the roads lead home. 

The ‘love’ hangover.

Like a faint glow in the darkness,
I think about the power and behind it, the softness ..
I think of yin and yang, I think of good and bad ..
I think of unchained dreams, I think of eternal fondness..

I think of green meadows, I think of pure happiness..
I think of a smile .. that clears all the mess ..
I think of the beauty, I think of the beholder ..
I think of the prey and I think of the devourer..

I think of you and me, I think of the whole ‘love’ hangover..
I think of that touch , that timeless feeling which I’ll never be over..
Driving me crazy, driving me out of my mind ..
Hey! It’s just love that we all need ..
and happiness for an eternity to keep .

PS: Wrote this 4 years ago as a dreamy teen. I am proud that the dreamy teen stil lives on.. still madly in love with something, something that will show itself when the time is right, of that I am sure 🙂

Sexuality, Gender, Being Indian and ‘Water’

Set in 1938, Water by Deepa Mehta is a brutal portrayal of the realities of that time, with the frame of reference being the plight of widows in India. The story begins with a newly-widowed 7 year old girl called Chuhiya, who is left at a ‘widhwa-ashram’ (literally meaning, widow-home) to stay with other widows, facing social ostracization.  Confused and scared, Chuhiya is unable to bring herself to accept this change in her life. That she has a hot temper, and a ever questioning mind does not help either.

The entire film delves deeper into the prevalent social issues at that time, the prevalent power structure where there was the supremacy of the male over the female, and the other big power structure in India- casteism, existing at the same time. Being Indian has always been considered to be traditional, to be respectful of the culture that has been passed down through generations,ever since Manu was born. This film showcases the crossroads that India as a country was facing, going from British rule towards Independence. At the same time, the wave of Indian reformers like Raja Ram Mohun Roy, who were challenging the regressive customs of Indian society, was getting stronger.

Being Indian has also meant being respectful of power structures in the society. While some of them explicit, some of them have been drilled into us with such dexterity that we no longer acknowledge their existence or feel them. Water looks at the trauma a widow in those times. While Chuhiya is more or less the change agent in the film, her questions and acts triggering actions both desirable and undesirable. She is a representation of the generation trying to break free from the shackles of ancient India. On the other hand, Shakuntala, who fills in the gap that Chuhiya’s mother would have done otherwise, represents a generation resigned to the customs and functioning of society. A generation who was born in the British Rule, had to keep up with economic developments and changes, while sticking to their ‘Indian’ philosophy of life, never challenging the status quo.

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It is a beautiful portrayal of a society so bound by its scriptures, its ancient texts that it is losing the ability to progress with the times, affording upliftment and success of only those classes of society that were doing well anyways. The representation of sexuality is also very interesting. A mirror to a society which at that time, thought of women as second rate citizens, whose lives were bound to the men in their lives. First the father, whose house she would live and grow in, and then her husband, who would give her his name and when he would die, her identity was more or less lost in the process. A woman, who was a widow, was no more than a burden to her husband’s family, one more mouth to feed. People of the upper classes exploited widows for sex, but at the same time, the emotions of a widow meant nothing – her sexual desires were supposed to be non-existent, her desires of getting appreciated, or appreciating the good things in life like fine food, clothes and jewelry were also considered appalling and she was denied all this.

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The soon-to-be lawyer, Narayana who eventually turns out to be a savior for Chuhiya and in a way, Shakuntala, represents the intellectual class of the society at that time and in a sense, even now. As the Indian society still struggles to address gender issues and mistreatment of widows, Water remains a deeply relevant film.

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Looking Back On Term 2.

Looking back on term 2

(Photo credits : Abhijeet Singh, MICA)

This post comes midway in term # 3 at Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA) when it suddenly hit me that I hadn’t done a follow-up post to my earlier one.

Term 2 taught me :

1) No matter who handles Chota (the canteen), the cold coffee *must* remain as good as it was. Otherwise, the handover has been a failure.

2) Going to watch a movie costs more than the movie, emotionally and financially.

3) Unfulfilled plans are like unfulfilled study plans – they get made often, and often go unrealised.

4) Rajneesh Krishna Sir is awesome *yes, he is!*

5) Time runs past you like Usain Bolt on steroids. It’s been 7 months to this place already and not a lot of us acknowledge it. Make the most of the time left.

6) Getting through to round 2 of any competition deserves to be celebrated. For real.

7) Culture just got real.

8) Ek Diu/Goa/Jaipur trip to banta hai. PLAN it.

9) Students at IIM may deserve more salary for just the fact that they can make a good financial plan for B-school competitions.

10) Thakur Chacha is a rockstar.

11) Summer placements make MICA the campus it isn’t. I am glad that phase is temporary.

12) Taking down notes does not really help. Lose some sleep over those assignments. Keep an open mind.

13) The newspapers can become your saviours.

14) Know what you want to do. But more importantly, know what you don’t want to do.

15) Being cynical is the easiest thing to do. Think beyond the stereotypes, appreciate.

Term 3 is half-done. Everything is a blur. But the second term will remain special in a lot of ways. Account planning, brand management, media planning, market research : everything beckons. Gear shift time, NOW.

Cheers to the almost-PGP2! 😀

Patriarchy, the status quo.

There was a certain question that has stuck with me ever since I first came across it almost a decade ago. A piece in a prominent magazine asked why citizens of India did not have the choice to give their mother’s name instead of their father’s name on an official form or on any form that needed consent of a parent. The author of the piece went on to ask what a widowed woman’s status were to be in such a case. It was a very pertinent question, and remains so.

Even today, official government forms usually do not have the option to give mother’s name as the middle name or as the parent’s name. The mother must be then named as the guardian instead of a parent. Personally, I find this extremely demeaning to the relationship of a woman with her child. A citizen of India should have the right to choose between using his father or his mother’s name interchangeably either as his/her middle name or his/her parent’s name. While this may seem trivial, this is actually a representation of a far bigger status quo of our society. The big giant called patriarchy, which has loomed over us for centuries and which poses a lot of societal problems when it goes on overlooked and when gender dynamics get so skewed that they cross the line of no return.

Patriarchy is expressed in multiple ways. In the ways that household activities are divided between a man and woman with minimal expectations from a man to fill in for a role that he could perform with ease at home. On the other hand, a woman is not only expected to contribute to the family income and give her husband a helping hand, but also expected to be the subservient domestic doormat who does all the household chores by her own and keeps a perfect balance between work and household activities. The same balance, however, is not sought from men in our society. I have seen examples of this in my own society, in my own city. It disturbs me immensely because the seeds of this behavior are sown when the children are young.  I have a problem with how gender roles are pre-ordained in our society. It can be something as simple as a parent telling his/her 10-year-old daughter, ”You must pay attention to household stuff. After all, you are the one who has to take care of the household.”

Why should the onus of learning the household chores and the way things are done at home be thrust only upon the daughter of the family? The same things can be taught to the girl and boy of the family with it being an inclusive process, instead of making the female feel that she has been singled out and is being made to do something which she may not want to. The feminist in me would try and delve deeper into this issue and maybe try to figure out how and why the concept of patriarchy came to exist in the first place. There have been a lot of studies on this subject but the theory I believe in is that patriarchy came into being when the human race acknowledged that the physical power of the male species ought to be given more importance than the nurturing and child-bearing aspect of the female species. As the former was more conducive to survival of a tribe, it is very probable that this moment in history lead to the elevation in status of man in society, and in the process, subjugation of a woman.

 

These are just my random thoughts about the state of the society I live in, things that bother me immensely. As a child, I had lofty dreams of the world in which I was growing up. I would proudly tell my parents that I was sure things would completely change when I grew up and that when I was getting married, women and men would be treated equal. I dreamt of situations where the man would leave his house and come to live in mine when married me.

Alas, that is not happening.

Patriarchy is the way it’s going to be for a few more generations, it seems. Unless that lofty dream is revived. And I think it is up to my generation to do that. I hope we do our bit.

Finding direction..

Sometimes life seems like one big game of tug of war, and worst, in all directions. There are just so many things happening, all at the same time. Somehow, your life will rearrange itself in perfect tradeoff situations where you can enjoy one only if you completely let go of the other. This is, I think, life’s gentle way of telling you not to be greedy and also reminding you that prioritising helps in the long run.

There are so many tightropes to walk. From seemingly simple ones like keeping up with academics v/s keeping abreast with all the happenings of the world and priding yourself as the trivia master you were always known as, to the bigger battles like giving time to things that really matter.

It’s all a mess,
Suddenly everything matters,
You try jotting things down,
You look like a mad-hatter,
Tug and pull, life says tug and pull,
But let go, my child, let go..
Oh life, unravel!

This all seems so random, even as I write this down. But these are the things that currently matter. I think the trick is going with the flow and keeping your A-game intact. Life, here I come.. as I seek to solve at least one of  your grand puzzles.

 

 

Havelock Ellis – “All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.”

Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana : Aroma of life :)

As two mega films hit the screens of all theaters in my city today (from as early as 6:00 am), I consider myself lucky that I got to watch this delightful piece of cinema called Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana. Based on the life of Omi Khurana (Kunal Kapoor) who returns to his home in Punjab after getting into trouble with a loan shark in UK, LSTCK traces the journey of a man who loses and rediscovers family, love and food in one crazy yet magical journey back to his roots.

Omi Khurana comes back to Punjab, back to the once famous Chiken Khurana dhaaba that his grandfather used to run to realize things are not the way he had left them. He has a lot of money to return to the loan shark and realizes that his grandfather’s famous chicken recipe is the only thing that might save him and let him return.  But how can the story be so simple? Once back, he has to deal with the girl he had abandoned years back, and his dysfunctional family, full of wonderfully eccentric characters.

Like a good dish that has all the ingredients in just the right measure, left to mingle with each other and simmer on their own, first time director Sameer Sharma has let some unique characters in some unique situations – making for really enjoyable cinema. Some of the characters are the pot-smoking godwoman, played by a effortless Dolly Ahluwalia and a man who pretends to be mad just to freeload on his sister, played by the very talented Rajesh Sharma. Another refreshing thing about the movie is the complete departure from the usual way Punjabi families are portrayed in Hindi cinema. Sameer Sharma’s take on Punjab is much more realistic and eccentric, not sticking to the done-to-death stereotypes that everyone is quick to adopt.

The film is an indulgent piece of work, with even flashback scenes shot in beautiful shadow frames. This means that the movie goes on at a leisurely pace, but because of the great performances, you are least likely to mind it. While the first half of the movie goes into establishing the premise and the relationship between Omi and his childhood sweetheart Harman, played by the stunning Huma Qureshi, the second half sees all the action and twists, all leading to the hilarious climax. The highlight of the movie is the level of performance put in by all the actors, with a special mention to Rajesh Sharma, who stands out with his act as the whacky Tito.

Adding to the enjoyability of the film is Amit Trivedi’s music. Both the songs and the background score evoke the required emotions from the viewers, with a very distinct Punjabi rustic feel. Watch out for the ‘Luni Hasi’ song that keeps playing in the background.. the singers impress with a soothing rendition. Amit Trivedi shows us once again why he’s a force to reckon with.

All in all, LSTCK reminds one of the Hrishikesh Mukherjee brand of cinema that focused on emotions and treated stories with immense simplicity and deep attention. The movie will move you, make you laugh, cry.. it will make you fall in love with food and the beauty of how it connects a family together. LSTCK works because it is so simple, proving that a focus on the essentials is more than enough for good cinema. Go watch LSTCK, for this little gem has its heart at the right place.