And the show’s back!

It’s already been 2 months nearly since I keyed something in here!  Geez! I seem to be losing my touch!  It used to be atleast a couple of months before I would start feeling the gnawing sense of abandoning the web space, but seems like am already on my way to tread the same old habit!

And again, I do plead guilty albeit with genuine reasons! In the past few weeks, I’ve been busy preparing for my IEEE Certification as a Biometric Professional, and Voila! I did it too!  And what a better way to start the new year, than celebrating that achievement, which incidentally (planned actually) was achieved on the 31st of December! And soon after that I had to travel to Dublin and just so many changes happening in so many quarters – personally, professionally… I guess I was just too self-indulgent to be pampering myself on the web space too!  But eeenyways, these, my dear non-existent readers are the things of past! I am byaack and with a byaang! 😀

So what can you chumms and chummiyas expect in the Season 2013 series?!! Apart from the usual fanfare related to the most wonderful person (read “ME”!), there’ll be a lot of music, more drooling over the beautiful ladies from the silver screen, more agonizingly painful poems that don’t seem to go anywhere, books that are currently piled up next to my bed (thankfully not underneath it) and.. wait a minute…hold your breathe…. some technical mumbling too!  Yeah! That’s right!  Before you guys could faint at the sheer variety, pliss to listen.  In the course of all these years, where I was ensuring that the supply  of chapathis and curry on the table wouldn’t dry, I had a wonderful time running into new technologies and obstacles in understanding them.  Sometimes the most dumb questions would pop into my now budding mind, and I had a good time embarrassing myself on many online portals and discussion forums, where genteel lads guided me around these technologies like a new born baby should be!  And I thought, what better way to repay this kindness, than actually show it off!! So now you know the motivation behind this new category.  On the sidelines, ofcourse, we now have another section that’ll starve itself for want of posts! Sigh!

Well all said and done, it’s back to the key board, and chop chop.. ideas to churn out and verbal diarrhea to spew around! Welcome and do sit in the front rows… there really aren’t many.. and there’s enough space to sleep around (It’s not what you think! Geez!) too! The show is gonna start … and it’s curtains up now!

The Bridges of Madison County

One of the things am ever grateful for are my wonderful friends who’ve continuously inspired me for many things. One of my dear and close friend gave me the idea to start writing about my favorite movies.  And hence this new series wherein I want to share my thoughts on movies that have left an indelible print on my mind and heart.  And I begin this series with a movie that I got introduced to, thanks to another wonderful friend of mine – Sushma Rao.  I feel it only befitting to begin this series with “The Bridges of Madison County“, a movie that I have felt more at home with than any I have seen so far.

The story of four unforgettable days in the life of Francesca and Robert.  The former an Italian, living in Iowa, leading what is perceptively a mundane family life of a woman, who has sacrificed her passion and interests to cater to the needs of her children and husband and the latter is an apparently free soul who followed his heart and continues to do what he likes to do and loves being a “citizen of the world!”  I must confess that I’ve watched the movie countless number of times.  At times, I felt I could understand what she went through, and at times, I felt puzzled by the whole affair.  Here I am, trying to key in my thoughts about this movie, and all I seem to be able to do is smile.  For this movie, that has made me cry inconsolably every time I watch does nevertheless always leave me with a sense of peace in the end.  Like the calming effect of the water drops trickling down the leaf after a torrential downpour,  the movie raises in the mind a tempest of feelings only to eventually lead the viewer to the magic shores of tranquility and acceptance.

Francesca’s confession of her affair in a letter she writes to her children is only for her children to accept whatever had transpired irrespective of how they may judge it.  Her request to be cremated and her ashes thrown over the Roseman Bridge, is substantiated by her narration of what was truly the most wonderful moment of her life – one she cherished as a truly personal possession.  It is indeed a most beautiful and at the same time the most painful characteristic of love – a love that is so personal and unique, that it cannot be shared nor sought to be understood by anyone.  The story may seem to be one of what we generally talk of as forbidden act that puts to question the commitment of a marital relationship but yet, transcending this myopic view, if we scale to the heights of the true nature of love and human relationships, the same shocking act, blooms into a blissful companionship that transforms into a soulful experience and not a mere carnal attraction.

The confrontation between Robert and Francesca, both aware of their longing for one another, and equally aware that they may never have a chance to be together is one of the most poignant moments in the movie for me. “I don’t want to need you… because I know I cannot have you”.  The other being when she yearns to get out of the car and run to Robert’s car and leave with him while he waits at the traffic signal.  It would take only the genius of Meryl Streep to portray it with the sensitivity it deserves.  The seeming indifference of her family is not one that is born of contempt, but a feeling that originates from a person being taken for granted.  There are countless instances when we feel that the people in our lives may not truly appreciate us, or our presence in their lives.  Then along we may run into a person who in a short duration gives us the most unforgettable experience of being wanted, needed and desired like never before.  Francesca and Robert gave that experience to one another.  And in the pain of separation their personalities expand to encompass a higher dimension of art and humanity, one that expresses itself in how Francesca treats others, and likewise in the writings of Robert.

The movie has its moments of tenderness, eroticism (Francesca bathing in the tub where moments before Robert would’ve showered, is probably one of the most beautifully captured expression of desire), confrontation, drama and a befitting climax.  In short, it is a perfect mixture of what makes it to be a truly remarkable romantic movie in that genre. The Bridges of Madison County is a movie that must be experienced and lived to be truly appreciated.  How many of us can talk of having experienced a love that was so uplifting that it transforms us from mundane creatures to true human beings? How many of us can remember having met someone who in a very short time seemed like someone we’ve known for a lifetime and would wanna spend our life with?  And how many of us can truly talk of the pain of having to let go of a love such as this.  The pain of knowing just how perfect we’d be, and yet cannot be, together – and that it is Ok!  It is OK because, there shall be a time when the physical limitations of this body shall cease to exist, and we shall truly become one in an endless expanse of creation beyond the space and time.  It is this message, that makes the Bridges of Madison County a timeless epic.  Watch it, if you wanna feel that love!

Directed & Produced by Clint Eastwood. Starcast: Meryl Streep, Clint Eastwood, Annie Corley, Victor Slezak.

P.S: I thought I’ll write an objective review on this movie.  But this movie makes it so tough for me to be objective.  All I can blabber here is what I truly feel, is what I’ve learnt.

Sense, Sensitivity & Spirituality

I took a long coveted break about 2 months ago – 10th August to 20th August. 😉 A luxury that it may have seemed at the outset (what with 10 days – 240 gleaming hours at my disposal), seldom do vacations really turn to be ‘personal’ time off for me.  More often than not, it just ends up being hours spent for something/someone else. This time around too the case may not have been any different but for the fact that of these 10 days I had the luxury of having a few days/hours for myself exclusively.  I however did not spend it in seclusion but learnt and experienced things that shall certainly remain in my memory for a long, long time to come.  I want to tell you some of these experiences.

Rural empowerment in India is a topic that is present in every political agenda, but seldom implemented effectively.   Dependency is a parasitic attitude that our political administration nourishes in practise and abhors in plans.  But in the current global situation, wherein NGOs and Corporate social involvement has started taking the lime light in many main stream projects, the turn in the tide seems to be manifesting.  Two of the best examples for such initiatives in India is the RUDSETI project and Canara Bank Self Employment Training Institute.  I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Canara Bank training institutes in Jogara doddi and Vaajarahalli (two villages on Mysore Road just off of Kengeri) and was stunned with the services they were providing in order to improve the lives of several families in the surrounding rural villages.  The institutes basically provide training in various vocational skills such as mobile repair, tailoring, sculpting, pottery, sericulture, etc.  These trainings are customized based on the region in which the institute is located and thus the courses offered may vary.  The important feature of these training centers is that they offer free boarding, lodging and food facilities for the trainees for the entire duration of the course!  The trainees are not expected to pay anything but lend their services to the institute in maintaining the premises clean and ensure that they utilize the skills they’ve learnt.  The most heartening aspect of this visit was ofcourse interacting with the trainees, whose demography ranged from women in their 60s to boys in their 18s.  They came from various socio-economic backgrounds but were unified in their determination to achieve a proficiency that will enable them to obtain the financial freedom they’ve dreamt of.  One woman learnt dairy farming, obtained a loan from the bank and started her own cattle breeding and has not only cleared the loan amount but also planning to expand her services.  Another lady had opened her own tailoring center and has employed 25 ladies!! A guy who was a software engineer underwent the mobile repair training and opened his own mobile repair shop and has now been earning well over 35k every month!  The beauty of this scheme is that none of these people had to abandon their villages, lands or families and migrate to the city!  Not only have they empowered themselves and their fellow citizens, they’ve also started to actively involve themselves in various rural schemes to ensure that their village benefits from the essential government schemes.  This initiative of Canara Bank has won National recognition with the Government of India directing every bank to set up such institutes on the model of Canara Bank.

At one end of the spectrum, we see a generation of disillusioned citizens who either abandon their country for greener grounds, or become caustic about their country and complain about everything – this ofcourse fueled by the inept and worthless leadership we are seeing at not only local or state administrative levels but even at National levels.  But there are institutes and individuals working silently and pro-actively in the background trying to create a change that others are only talking about.  In the words of Swami Vivekananda, it is these handful of people who are sustaining the socio-economic stability of the entire nation.  Kudos to these hands!

After the Independence day, my parents, relatives and I left on a pilgrimage tour to Shirdi and Nasik via Pune. The itinerary was to land in Pune and drive from there to Shirdi.  There was a comfortable Traveller booked and we started on our journey to Shirdi.  It was my first visit to the state of Maharashtra and Pune made me feel comfortable and at home!  There was something very endearing about this city and as we started getting to the suburbs, I had almost started to wish that I would get an opportunity for an extended stay there.  We stopped over for lunch on the way and surprisingly I had a tough time convincing the driver to dine with us.  Brushing aside my insistence, he moved to a different place altogether and had his lunch.  While I waited on my parents and relatives to finish their food, I got into conversation with him, and came to know the reason for his behavior.  Apparently, he had been chided few times by his customers for eating with them at their table!  Particularly shocking was this one instance, where he had apparently been asked to get up and move to a different table! When I come to think of it, this is a country were untouchability and other social evils still persist in some sections of the society (irrespective of whether they are urbanized, educated or uneducated).  But inspite of these so called development and progress that we boast about on one hand, why is it that we are so insensitive to someone who in our perception is not well to do?  I would wonder how that customer would’ve felt if someone higher up to him were to ask him to move away and sit at some other table!  Being a citizen of India, the driver had just as much right as other citizen!  On our way back from Shirdi, we again stopped by at a wonderful restaurant to have an ‘authentic’ Maharashtrian thali food.  We were seated on the floor with a nice wooden pod on which a huge plate was placed and delicious food was being served.  There was another group sitting in an adjacent row.  One of the ladies in the group seemed to be following some ritualistic practise and hence was particular about what food was being served.  So far so good. But what really got on my nerves was the pushy manner in which she was bullying the young servers.  She went so far as to abuse them for serving her a dish that had a tinge of onion (which she didn’t even taste but smelt).  The others from the same group rather than get her to leave were also bullying the servers.  Why is it that inspite of all the so called religious values and morals that we gloat about, we still do not show a semblance of respect and kindness towards others?  I would wonder how she or others from her group would’ve behaved had they been in say Sheraton or Leela palace!  All in all, IMHO they were more uncivilized and lowly than the people they perceived to be so.

Shirdi held a lot of mystery for me.  For one, it was a place I had longed to visit for many years now, and this was my first visit to the abode of the holy man Sai baba of Shirdi. Needless to say, given its fame, pilgrims from all over India had thronged in large numbers.  The authorities had a tough time controlling the crowd and what was apalling was the mismanagement of even people who had reserved the slots for the Aarti darshan.  The aesthetic aura and the spiritual benevolence of the place gets cluttered and disturbed mainly due to such unsavory behaviors by both the devotees and the management.  After the Aarti, the security had a harrowing time getting the people to leave as each one was taking ample time to submit their list of memorandum of wishes to Sai Baba. As I had the luxury of having stood in the end of the queue, I had to bide my time to go out of the hall, and in the meanwhile, I observed an old lady helped by a young man, slowly make her way to the altar.  All the way as she walked, she kept smiling and gesturing to the idol of Sai Baba, and lovingly gestured from her hands as if she was warding off the evil sights (something that my mom used to do when we were kids and would return from a festive fair or a trip outside). As she cried at the joy of seeing her beloved Godly form, she kept murmuring in Hindi “How beautiful you are my Sai.. how magnificent you look! How kind is the gaze from your eyes..how beautiful my Sai is..” As she hobbled and held to the altar, a security person came forward and offered to take the flowers from her hand.  The priest took the flowers and placed them near the feet of the Lord and her face lit up with a huge smile.  She turned to the young man holding her and said “My flowers touched his feet… look how beautiful my Sai is.” I felt ashamed at myself for concentrating so much on the behavior of others in this place, while the epicenter of my attention must’ve been the devotion and the pleasure of being in Sai’s abode.  I found more spirituality in the old lady, who oblivious to herself had taught me a very important lesson.  The next morning I again visited the temple shrine before leaving, however this time, I knew where my focus should be.

Below is a set of pics that I clicked on the visit to the Canara Bank rural employment training center in Jogaradoddi.  Apologies for the poor quality. I always ignore carrying a camera with me, and end up clicking clumsily on my phone! Sigh!

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‘Strik(e)’ing Mania

This morning I indeed experienced the bout of Monday Blues as I flipped the newspaper open.  The very first page was populated with the news concerning the increase in the bus fares, the Cauvery water crisis, and the upcoming strike by the petrol pump owners resulting in the mad rush to get the fuel.  By the way tomorrow is Gandhi Jayanti.  The month of September alone has seen a bout of strike in Karnataka alone, what with the 2 day bus strike, the Bharat Bundh, and now the upcoming Karnataka Bandh (Oct 6th 2012).  It is a wonder how the system still manages to work. 

There may not have been a better day to understand the psyche behind this mania of strikes that has gripped the country, than the eve of the Birthday of the Father of our Nation.  For it was Mahatma Gandhi who gave the concept of strike its power that is now wielded unprecedentedly in Indian socio-political spheres.  A Strike as a phenomenon is an act where an individual or a group refuses to attend to their share of responsibilities as a mark of protest against an authority.  It has been a key weapon to get the authority’s attention, and render a blow to the very fragment of a systematically functioning system – such as the one necessary in the administration process.   During the British regime, this was an attack on the very nerve of the administration, as no daily tasks could be attended to without the workforce present.  It is now over 6 decades since the British have left, and the weapon still continues to spew fire, albeit on our own authority.  Thus we have with us one of the key remnants of Indian Freedom struggle movement, with one key difference.  The strike then was a socially motivated political move while the strike these days is politically/individually motivated, socially obstructive move. 

Most of the instances of strike that we see currently are politically arranged (political in my opinion includes not only the elected representation of local/national administration, but also any organized group that manages/represents a homogenous/heterogeneous group of people including but not limited to labor unions, associations for various essential services, etc.).  The motives behind these are factors that are beneficial to a group of people only. However, the impact of the strike is generally felt across the society, especially when it involves essential services such as medical, transportation, or food supplies.  Such widespread impacts are the key factors that add the punch to the strike called by these services, and force the administration to settle the matters.  Thus inconvenient as it is, the general public is made the scapegoat in the process of a strike.  It is such forms of strike that I am more interested in – the ones that impact the daily life of a common man.  One of the chief elements missing in such acts is a proactive involvement of not only the administration but also the groups that have called for a strike.   A Strike, contrary to general perception is not a chaotic act.  It has a definite agenda and a defined process of execution.  It is this order that gives it its strength.  However, in the absence of such process, it degenerates into mayhem that has adverse impact on the lives of common innocent people. 

Damaging public property, attacking individuals, and even causing loss of lives is a mark of hooliganism unveiled during Strikes.  It can ofcourse be (and is generally) a calculated and planned action to augment the adverse impact of the strike, and is a despicable yet common feature of strikes these days.  But what is equally abhor-able is the callousness of the groups that have called for a strike.  For example, the 2 day bus strike in Bangalore left many people stranded with no means of feasible transportation to even basic essentials like hospitals.  To  make hay, the other means of transport services such as cabs and autos were fleecing customers demanding twice or thrice the metered amount.  It is almost tantamount to a criminal nexus between various groups to exploit the common man under the garb of grievance.  The system as well as the administration failed miserably to ensure that atleast the basic needs of the common man would not be adversely affected while they battle out their differences.  Ofcourse, in many cases it is a paradox to expect such consideration from a group that intends to disrupt the commoner’s life through Strike actions.  That there is a grouse in the administration that necessitates strike is an accepted fact.  But whether a strike is absolutely necessary or is it an arm-bending tactic is a question usually left to the conscience of the group.  The frequency with which it is resorted to however, confirms a supposition that it is turning into a dangerous habit.  What is gravely missing in such instances is the transparency of the issue at hand and the resolutions being worked.

The strike that was called for by the pourakarmikas and the contractors in charge of garbage handling has left Bangalore in a stinky hole of its own making.  The civic sense aside (that is a totally different topic in itself), the magnitude of the problem it will lead to seems to have completely escaped the mind of the authorities as well as the groups that called for the strike.  The strike called by the Lawyers’ association to protest against the media bias and the subsequent violence is still fresh in the mind of Bangalore’s citizens. Is shortsightedness so rampant among the administrative as well as government employees?  What is seen in a country is but only a manifestation of what is observed amongst the leaders of that nation and vice versa.

The shameless manner in which BJP held the parliament session to ransom, disrupting the entire monsoon session over the Coal scam is just another instance of governing bodies resorting to imposed political inaction.  This brings me to the second point I would want to draw attention on.  “Strike” need not be an active disruption of responsibility; it can as well be a passive process.  When the governing body or authority does not exercise his or her power in an optimal manner, which is an act of Strike too.  The ruling party may do that by not checking the rampant corruption among its agencies, and the opposition may do the same by actively disrupting the parliamentarian process.  Either ways it is the society that shall suffer at large due to the political and economic stagnation that follows suit.  Instead of actively involving the ruling party in debating their faulty performance and policies and offering a counter option not only to the administration to adopt but also for the country to opt for, it has resolved to act like an unruly partner set to sink the ship as it did not sail the desired course.  Even if the opposition were to come to power, with this attitude, there cannot be much expected of it.  If anything, they’ll continue to blame the policies of the previous administration for the problems being faced. 

I can only go back to the Indian Freedom Movement and the doyen of this – Mahatma Gandhi to fetch the answers.  “Strike” cannot be an act of mere emotional impulse.  Whether it is a local agitation or a nationwide strike, unless the groups will pause to understand the impact and the necessity for it, Strikes shall lead to long term harm on the administration of the country.  It sets a bad precedent for future generations to resolve to such arm twisting tactics to meet their demands.  The marked lack of social involvement and awareness sets the current habit of Strike apart from the freedom movement era.  The strikes were regarded as days for peaceful meeting, prayers and awareness generation among the people.  The instances of violence were far and between.  All of these aspects turned the Strike into a powerful social movement instead of a crippling blow.  There was consensus built for the need to be met by the authority.  If this need could not be attained through negotiations, then and only then was “Strike” seen as a last option.  But even in such instances, there was care taken to ensure that the common man was not bearing the brunt of the agitation.  If anything, the cause for the Strike was a reason that the common man could associate himself with.  (The nationwide strike against FDI may be considered one such reason).  Though the Supreme Court had ruled that strike by government employees were deemed unlawful, the emphasis was placed for it to be the last resort.  Whether there really were other means adopted to resolve the conflict has largely been masked from the public before giving a call for Strike. 

India is a democratic country where the right to express, including the expression of dissent is upheld.  But this expression should follow more mature means than take recluse in the jungle law of service disruption.  The growing instances of such behaviors are an absolute cause of worry for the normal functioning of the administrative processes of a large democracy such as India.  If the collective consciousness of the elected representatives and associations representing various classes of services cannot be awakened to forego their short term selfish gains in return for a stable, socially beneficial pattern of agitation and conflict management, India shall be reduced to a state of anarchy by one of the most powerful tool that was instrumental to bring her the freedom she coveted.  This is the process of how the mythological boons turns into a curse and destroys the bearer. 

Timeless Beauties of Silver Screen – 1

Dedicated to the one n only RCB – my buds from CTS!

Movies and Me – It is a rather strange relationship we share! What was once upon a time amongst my favorite pastimes, (what with the wonderful innovations called VCP, and the VCD, DVDs) has now degenerated to an estranged companionship thanks to the cr**$ that the likes of KJ churn out these days, not to mention the over-acting Khan, strip-teasing Khan, Someone-teach-me-acting kapoors, and the boom-busty figures who have clogged the silverscreen. The fact that Himmesh doesn’t seem to realize which anatomical part of his body must be exactly used for singing hasn’t been a big help either! To sum up, well, its just pathetic! Now before you write me off as being impulsive in drawing conclusions, I must concede that there has been some pathbreakers off late too, and I guess, that is what remotely still sustains any remaining soft feelings!

But time and again, I fall back on my collection of movies, with those immensely likeable songs over which I can dedicate entire blogs and those timeless beauties on whom, I want to make these series of posts.  And so here’s a rehash of the series that I had originally started when I was with Cognizant ofcourse.

MADHUBALA:-  Born Mumtaz on Feb 14th, rechristened Madhubala by the legendary Devika Rani (she also gave her the first filmy break when Madhubala was 8 years old!), hers was a fairy tale story, albeit with a no-happily-ever-after ending. “Accha ji mai haari chalo maan jao na” – one look at the innocence brimming from her soulful eyes, and the enchanting smile; forget Dev Anand or Kishore Kumar or Gurudutt or Dilip Saab, I still flip over and go all woozy!  And who wouldn’t?!! Shooting to fame from “Mahal“(remember the song –

Madhubala

aayega aayega.. aayega aanewala’?), she went up the ladder with her charm and enchanting smile leaving millions of hearts aflame! A bit of a digression here, this song from Mahal has continued to be one amongst my favorites for the simple reason of how much fun my friends and I had translating this to English during our school days! (He’ll come.. He’ll come.. He’ll come… He’ll come the one who has to come! He’ll come.. He’ll come) not to mention that we were actually crooning it much to the chagrin of our teacher Mrs. Lata.  Now ofcourse when I think back about it, the translation seems more like a desperation than anything eerily romantic!!

So eeenyways, “Chalti ka naam gaadi“, “Mr. and Mrs. 55“, “Kaalapaani“, “Mughal-E-Azam“, “Howrah Bridge“, “Half-ticket“, ”Jhumroo“, “Phagun“ were movies that sky rocketed her fame establishing her in the heart of the millions for decades even after her demise. As memorable as her comic sense was in “chalti …. gaadi”, so also were the soft sighs she took as Anarkali in “Mughal-E-Azam” – “yeh chiraag bhuja dijiye aalampanah…

While it took Marilyn Monroe her flying skirt stunt, Madhubala however, could effect the same by just flapping her rain drenched pallu dry, while Kishore crooned – “ek ladki bheegi bhaagi si…” or by tantalizingly swaying to “aayiye meherbaan… baithiye jaane jaan.. ” (how I wished I’d have been the mic that she was holding and gently swaying!  ). The contempt and disregard for the royalty was amply displayed as she proclaimed her love fearlessly with – “…purdah nahin jab koi khuda se.. bandon se purdah karna kyaa..” even as thousands of mirrors of sheesh-mahal revelled with her figure dancing in front of ‘em! Few others of my favorites of hers include – “thandi hawa kaali ghata aahi gaye jhoom ke“, “main sitaron ka taraana”, “haal kaisa hai janaab ka…”, “ek pardesi mera dil le gaya” “piya piya piya na lage mora jiya” “udhar tum haseen ho idhar dil jawan hai”, “Zindagi bhar nahin bhoolenge“, “Mohe panghat pe nand laal”.

The ethereal beauty that nature seemed to have bestowed her with, however did prove rather effervescent, with her sad and early demise at the age of 36, due to a heart ailment (which indeed did cast dark shadows over Kishore Kumar too!).  However, I guess even nature couldn’t repeat this wonder once again, which still leaves her a towering Masterpiece.

NARGIS:- Whether it was her pristine face, or the rather dreamy eyes, or the soft shy smile, Nargis was indeed worth her name. In a career that gave India its first ever entry into Oscars through “Mother India“, Nargis’ acting skills had created wonders that very few actresses could even dream of matching, let alone surpass. To this day the slight fear, withdrawal, and yet the willingness to submit herself as Raj Kapoor brought his lips close to her, amidst the echoing thunder and flashing lightning, remains evergreen in the minds of her fans – “pyaar hua ikraar hua hai.. pyaar se phir kyon dar ta hai dil“. Her sporty tom-boyish look that she wore with the characteristic bob-cut, though not uncommon, had a uniqueness of its own. “Aah“, “Shri 420“, “Mother India“, “Andaaz“, “Barsaat“, “jaagte raho“, “chori chori“, “Aawaara“, were some of her noteworthy movies. She was born Fatima Rashid, and was the first actress to be conferred “Padmashri” award and also given a Rajya Sabha seat. She was married to Sunil Dutt and eventually lost her battle to Cancer and succumbed to it. Some of the memorable tunes from her movies include

  • Raja ki aayegi baaraat rangeeli hogi raat
  • Ee chak daana bee chak daana
  • Ghar aaya mera pardesi
  • Duniya mein hum aaye hain toh
  • Nagari nagari dware dware
  • Dum bhar joh udhar muh phere
  • Jaane na nazar pehchaane jigar
  • Panchi banu udti phiroon mast gagan mein
  • Aaja sanam madhur chandni mein hum
  • Yeh raat bheegi bheegi
  • Jahan mein jaati hoon wahi chale aate ho
  • Rasik Balma

NUTAN: Very few actresses take to the aspect of aging gracefully. When one talks of grace, the first person who comes to my mind is Nutan. Even after getting the roles of a Mom, she essayed them with such demeanor as to cast a cloud on the various actors and actresses who still continued to prance around with kids!  Grace indeed!!

The first time that I recollect seeing Nutan was in the famous song – ‘Mora gora rang lai le‘ (debut song of Gulzar Saab as a lyricist) from the movie Bandini – clad in a chiffon saree, with her dusky color, she seemed like simplicity personified. Her exemplary acting skills

Nutan in “Anari”

worked wonders in several well acclaimed movies such as Milan, Seema, Tere ghar ke saamne, Anari, Main tulsi tere aangan ki,Meri Jung, Karma, Saraswati Chandra, Chhalia, Paying Guest, Sujata, Bandini (her greatest performance) and even a brief stint on the TV serial – Charitraheen. And before long I had become a fan of her (as also several others.. out to be listed here). Guess it must take a special mentioning here that she had won Miss India contest during the 1950s!!!

Be it prancing around with Dev Anand in Tere ghar ke saamne for “yeh tanhayee haaye re haaye” or trying to learn a song from the village lad in Milan “saawan ka mahina pawan kare sor…“, or the ever loving mother singing “zindagi har kadam ek nayee jung hai“, Nutan was a charisma at work on the silver screen. It still remains a wonder to see how beautifully she carried on with her stature down the decades of her association with Bollywood, during which time she won 6 Filmfare awards.

Coming to songs that have regularly featured in my playlist down these years include :-

  • Yeh chand khila woh taare hanse
  • Ek ghar banaaunga tere ghar ke saamne
  • Dekho rootha na karo baat nazron ki suno
  • Dil diya hai jaan bhi denge e watan tere liye
  • Main tulsi tere aangan ki
  • Chand phir nikla magar tum na aaye
  • Chor do aanchal zamaana kya kahega
  • Tum hi meri mandir
  • Dil ki nazar se nazron ki dil se
  • Ruk ja o jaanewali ruk ja
  • Jalte hain jiske liye

Ofcourse the list is one that is going to grow, but lemme not flood you with all of the details. It is but only a start, and this is but only one of the sections! Isn’t it?!  Now our esteemed self will get back to enjoying my vacation, and humm the timeless tunes thinking of the beauties.. and dont’ forget to check back in as we start scaling up the decades till 2007. Sakkat ala! 😉

Note:- pics are courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki and the videos are ofcourse from youtube! 🙂

The Dynamics of (Im)migration

Assam has been a state that has seldom made news on a National scale.  Personally speaking, Assam for me gave the picture of the Kaziranga, the Brahmaputra, Bhupen Hazarika and the tea estates. That’s as far as my knowledge took me, till in the past one week it has seemingly captured the attention of the entire Nation, albeit for all wrong reasons.  Barely has the brouhaha over the molestation of teenage girl settled, parts of Assam are up in flames over a fresh round of violence that soon turned ethnic in nature. With over 50 deaths and lakhs rendered homeless, the state is all set to write down one of its blackest moments in History (atleast for the next few years).   Not wanting to only go with what the media seems to be telling me, I preferred to hear right from the horse’s mouth andBodos Affected by Violence so pulled my Assom friend – Binod into conversation.  “This was a bomb that was ticking. Forget an ethnic war, the root cause of this whole outburst is the illegal immigrant problem.  One look at these pics and we can easily say that they are not from Assam, and hence they are being targeted, since they are usurping the livelihoods of the local population.” That pretty much summarized his reaction, and set my mind on a ride, about the whole issue of migration and immigration.

So what’s the difference between Migration and Immigration?  It’s a straightforward answer.  The simplest difference being that migration often ends with the group returning to its home base.  Immigration on the other hand is a complete relocation from one location to another.  Migration as a phenomenon is present as an integral part of the environment and nature that surrounds us. From birds to animals (including humans) migration is demonstrated annually.  Be it over worked husbands taking off for a month every summer, or Wildebeests moving across the African grasslands, nature has devised mechanisms well enough to direct the motion; the trigger ofcourse can be weather, food, water, or life itself (procreation).  This gives the seasonal flavor to the act of migration.

Immigration on the other hand is a ‘unnatural’ phenomenon.  Unnatural because inherently for any organism the change in its environment is the least preferred option, and certainly a highly stressful experience to go through.  Usually rather cataclysmic events would force an animal to relocate completely to a different environment.  However in a societal setup the socio-economic, religious and political factors are the chief causes for immigration.  Though natural disasters are another cause, they are not the most frequent reasons and the sheer nature of a natural calamity makes immigration seem the only option at hand.

But what I would like to look at is man-made causes that lead to legal or more importantly illegal immigration of a large population.

Affected people from the violence

Political causes – warfare, local unrest, and political mismanagement (bad governance) are some of the chief reasons that lead to large scale immigration of the affected groups.  These groups may either be provided political asylum by some nations or usually end up immigrating illegally across the border to the nearby stable regions.  Immigration hence, can be both within a country as well as between different nations.

The economic factors encompass the financial benefits that spur large scale movement of population.  Jobs, better economic opportunities, trade and financial benefits are at the crux of such movements.  It can happen from rural to urban areas, or from one nation to another.  Brain drain – the factor that lures some of the best minds away from the country of their origin in pursuit of a better standard of living, has been a classic example for such immigrant activities. Usually such acts are legally authorized – by the host country’s immigration policy and eventually these individuals are absorbed into the Nationality of the host country.  This whole process gets a murky hue when the immigration is illegal.  Individuals through nefarious means end up with in the host country and blend into the local population.  Often times, doing odd jobs and remaining inconspicuous, they manage to hoodwink the authorities and in due time, generate records and start owning property.  One of the oft sidelined issue is the underhandedness of the local administration – be it vote-bank politics or plain monetary corruption, several local authorities or even state administration may encourage such illegal immigration by covert offers in exchange of their support during the elections.  And the end result?

Man, at his basic level, is still an animal.  In that he is very territorial and this concept of territory isn’t only about a geographical demarcation, but also encompasses, his social, emotional and economical boundaries.  And anytime there is a stranger who is laying claim or offering competition on these haloed fields, there is inevitable conflict.  What happened in Assam, is but a manifestation of a the underlying problem of conflict between the immigrants and the local indigenous populace – the Bodos. Kokrajhar one of the prominent places where the riot had its epicenter, had long since been part of what is considered a Bodo-land.

A bit of history here, the British rule had seen many people from the Greater Bengal region (which they eventually bifurcated into East and West Bengal)  brought into Assam in order to work in the rough environments prevalent there.  During their exit, this region (East Bengal) was allocated to Pakistan and marked East Pakistan.  Post independence, India had taken up the cause of East-Pakistan and in the resulting war, ensured the liberation of this region and its subsequent development as Bangladesh.  During this time, there was heavy infiltration into Assam. These immigrants were mostly with an agrarian background and ended up as workers on the field or daily wage earners.  Eventually, they bought plots and lands in these regions and settled in these heartlands.  Needless to say, there was always the seething cauldron of unrest lying underneath – it was an economic and social conflict of interest between the local population and the immigrants.  This led to an agitation by the Bodos demanding for a separate state, since the Central Government had clearly failed in protecting the interests of the indigenous people. They perceived the immigrants as unnecessary competition for an already limited resource available – chiefly the land.  These immigrants were considered to be a primarcy force to ensure power in Assam, given their large numbers, which also explained the apathy of the Government to the demands of the Bodos.  The numbers infact surged since the Indo-Pak war of 1961.  The cause of the localites was taken up by a student organization and soon turned into a violent movement.  A peace accord was finally reached under the prime ministership of Late Rajiv Gandhi.  Accordingly for 10 years, the immigrant population was demarked from being included in the voters list.  This was initially thought to erode the political support for these people.  If they couldn’t vote, they had no discernable use for the political class.  However, this has clearly not solved the problem for the indigenous population.  The claim is that there is continuous infiltration that is happening and given the already existing base of immigrants, more rampant inflow goes unchecked.  This is a major grouse for the Bodos. Killing of members belonging to either of the groups is only a superficial reason, the proverbial nail to the coffin of peace, the true cause however is the festering anger between both the communities.  While the indigenous population may rue the fact that their land is being snatched away, the immigrant population would feel equally outraged at their perpetual state of misery even after years of residence in a region.

India, has often raised a large hue and cry with developed nations whenever laws were made by the countries to tighten the visa norms to prevent extensive immigration/migration of people to their lands.  Everytime there was an attack on Indians settled abroad, Indian Government has made it a point to remind the administration of its duty to ‘protect’ against atrocities and discrimination.  It surely cannot adopt any double standards in the treatment of the immigrants in Assam either.  It is afterall a frankenstein growth fuelled from this very system.  But the recent events must surely ring a warning bell for the state as well as the Central Government – not only the state of Assam, but every state across the country.

In an era of globalization, limiting the movement of people is not an option.  As we saw, there are several factors that drive such behavior and they are far beyond the control of any individual.  It is eventually a priority and right of an individual to sustain his life and livelihood in a manner that does not intrude on another’s right to do so.  Competition however does not believe in such niceties.  It is here that administration shall have to come in to regulate and control the movement so that one does not end up being a threat to the other.

Refugees

Nature has always ensured this control through various means.  It is high time, the Government too, developed measures to ensure that immigration, especially through illegal means is strictly prohibited and curtailed.  Deporting illegal immigrants is not only necessary to avoid such tensions, but also important for National Security.   There has to be a new line of thinking that can view the people outside of their voter-value, and understand the importance of cultivating their potential and in turn increase the productivity of the resources and the state.  This step requires the assistance of not only a local population but also foreign expertise and support wherever necessary.  This collaborative step will surely help in fostering a co-habitative environment that reduces competition and tension between the groups involved.

The basic needs of food, clothing and shelter is a powerful driving force that can push any individual to extents even he cannot fathom.  By neglecting the immigrant problem, the government of the state of Assam as well as the Central Government has time and again burnt its fingers.  It is a shame that they have not learnt their lessons yet.  It takes a lot of clout and grit to accept the screw up of the past years, and work towards a fix.  Unless the government proactively moves in this direction, they shall only allow the giant to continue to grow, a price that shall again have to be paid through blood.  Use of the military or force can never provide a solution for what is essentially a livelihood and opportunity issue.  This is true for both the Government as well as the residents/citizens.

Instead of coloring the issue in the hue of religion, if the parties involved can try to bring an amicable solution, it shall ensure peace and prosperity that is so rightfully deserved to a state so beautiful and with a rich culture such as Assam.

 Pics Courtesy: timesofIndia, Indian Express and Center-right.in