Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bayelsa Books and Craft Fair...

Yes, it got off to a good start.... and the timing was appropriate, as rich tributes were paid to one of the greatest writers of our time ...'' Remembering Achebe'' attracted several admirers, and even though there were a few glitches, the Fair was declared a hit by writers and artists. Next year promises to be bigger and better. Way to go, Onyeka and Peace..

This appeared in The Week....
                                           Life begins at 8o…!
“I want to live my life in a fully ‘bindaas’ way …” This is not a statement made by a sexy Bollywood starlet, but by a lady who is well into her eighties. She lives in the locality and we share a masseuse.  The big difference being that the common maalishwalla is booked by me just once a week for a Sunday massage. It is the one weekly indulgence I greatly look forward to.  But the octogenarian widow is so hooked on the masseuse’s magic fingers, she uses her expert services for two leisurely hours, 365 days of the year, starting as early as 5.30 a.m. And mind you, this is not a therapeutic massage intended to provide relief to arthritic joins. It is  more a relaxing pummeling of tired muscles, designed to take care of urban stress . But for the merry widow, it is what kick starts her busy day. Once she is done with the pampering in a special Spa-style room in her luxury apartment (complete with aroma candles and lounge music), the lady hits her home gym, works out with a personal trainer, and plans lunch at her favourite restaurant or club. Her wardrobe is contemporary and expensive. She has several fashion designers at her beck and call, and prefers her outfits customized. Her salon treatments ( hair, facials, nails) take up the rest of the afternoon… and then it’s time for an evening aperitif and dinner. You may be wondering where the family fits in? Aha! It doesn’t! This is the interesting part.
Soon after her businessman husband died, leaving a substantial portion of his wealth to his widow, their three sons decided to claim what they believed was rightfully their share (over and above what the Will stated). From this point on, the story follows a predictable track – haughty daughters-in-law demanding more and more and more, with the bullying sons exerting enormous pressure on the old girl to sell the spacious flat and move into a small apartment. To her credit, she flatly refused to buckle, arguing it was her late husband’s wish to see her live well and enjoy his money till the very end. And that was that! The miffed sons promptly broke off further contact with their old mother once they discovered she wouldn’t play ball and pay up.On her part, she decided to reorganize her schedule, rejig her priorities and enjoy her life to the hilt on her own. Today, she has a support system of close friends, a couple of neighbours who look out for her, and of course, family retainers to take care of creature comforts. She is cheerful and full of enthusiasm as she plans short travels to hill stations and pilgrimage destinations across India. She looks no more than 65, with  good skin, her own teeth and long hair. She knows her sons are waiting for her to die before they swoop down and grab everything in sight. Perhaps, what they haven’t factored in so far, is their mother’s will power. She has seen through their selfishness and avarice. Here’s a lady who also makes time to educate girls from under privileged backgrounds. She may also have ear marked money for various  other charities she supports. Since she relies on the kindness of strangers, who knows, some fortunate ‘ajnabi’ may be at the receiving end of her generosity. But till the time for her to say ‘adieu’ to the world comes, she is making the most of her privileges. Like several widows I know in the city, she has come into her own after her husband’s death.  She also has the wisdom to recognize the futility of keeping up appearances. If her sons have abandoned her, so be it. She will not resort to martyrdom or victimhood in order to conform to society’s fake expectations. Boldly and bravely, she is going it alone. In an environment that is increasingly materialistic and openly hostile to senior citizens (“Why do these oldies have to live forever….?”), here is a gutsy woman who refuses to slip away quietly or surrender her rights. I love her for loving life! For not giving up on herself. For deciding to live on her own terms. There is no time to brood or dwell on depressing family truths. She has sensibly eliminated such toxins from her life. It’s a pity these ‘toxins’ happen to be her flesh and blood. I thought of   her before falling asleep last night. My dreams were indeed pleasant. And I woke up with a smile! May she rock on!

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Last year my daughters and I were right here in glorious Corfu. This summer is looking a little bleak. No specific plans so far. Just vague mutterings of , " we must do something...." I am a planner. Not an obsessive one, mind you. But I feel good with a ticket in my hand. So far, no ticket. One daughter may be starting a brand new job and as she puts it, " It won't look nice to ask for leave two months after starting." No, darling. Definitely 'not nice'. I shall mope and wilt and dream of cooler climes.
I watched Bombay Talkies at Lightbox, which I am told is THE preview theatre of choice for Bollywood. The place was crammed.... not a seat to spare. Apart from Zoya Akhtar, the other three directors were present and seemed a little nervous! This was great, given their standing as film makers of repute. All four movies are superbly conceived and expertly directed.They are also twisted and somewhat sad. All four deal with identity and loss. Let me just say that Rani Mukherjee was luscious, ripe and ravishing. Her performance was intelligently nuanced and she stole the show from some of the other big ticket names in this unusual four-in-one movie that is off to Cannes next month.

This appeared in Mumbai Mirror...
                                         BFFs and Chuddi-Buddies for life…
Go ahead. Call me Granny De. It’s official.Plus, I enjoy playing granny. Particularly with ajnabi bachchalog.Lots of really young people are asking me tricky questions. And like my friend Arnab would thunder, “The nation wants to know.” And India is a young nation.So, like him, I am taking a position on this vexing issue : Can a boy and girl be ‘buddies’? The jury may be out on this one. But I am not. The answer is a flat ‘No’! So, when young people (YP henceforth) wonder whether it was significantly different ‘in my time’ (pre-historic), I have to tell them the truth and nothing but – yes, it was! Being friends, just friends, with the opposite sex was never an option. Not even with ‘Bhaiyaa ke dost’  ( oh… come on… we know that story!).Today, there are so many bewildering layers and categories of  boy-girl friendships, even I am lost. Let’s see this from a girl’s point of view…there are boy- friends, guy friends,work friends, gym friends, club friends,ex-es,flat mates, chuddie-buddies, bff’s and others who are merely addressed as  ‘Bro’ or ‘Boss’ (no, Rahul Gandhi does not possess a patent on the word yet). These are all supposed to be gender neutral terms. But please note, they are in fact most gender specific. They are errr… unambiguously male! Fine. I really don’t see guys calling each other ‘Sister’ anytime soon.Nor does ‘Panties-Buddies’ work as a term of endearment. But here’s a warning, ladies: The minute you hear a guy you fancy address you as “Bro”, get the hint, read his lips and move on!Behind the ‘Bro’ talk, lies a subliminal message. Girls who want to hang with the guys and become one of them, will be treated likewise.If  you want to go bowling, watch cricket, smoke, drink, cuss and talk dirty, know that you are sending out ‘Bro’ signals. Levels of  physical intimacy are carefully calibrated by the YP as well. It doesn’t mean a thing to hug guy friends rather intimately during a night out and post those pictures on various sites.  Apparently, YPs know how this complex grading process works, same as how expert pearl merchants know how to grade their Basras and South Sea strands. If someone you are fond of  but not in love with, gets touchy-feely in public, it is okay, so long as you don’t kiss on the mouth. You can hold hands and cuddle openly, too. It just indicates closeness. It does not mean the couple is having sex. Being ‘in a relationship’ definitely means you are sleeping together. ‘Seeing each other’ is a little vague… it could mean you look but don’t touch… whatever. ‘Having a scene’ with someone, generally suggests that the  someone is in a serious relationship with someone else, and you are casually and shamelessly poaching. “Hitting on someone’ is self –explanatory. ‘Dating’ makes everything much more official. And I recently discovered ‘Hooked up’ has a new connotation that is specifically sexual, and does not involve an engagement ring!
Wow! Is this a maze or is this a maze! But nobody’s head reels. It is pretty clear to  theYP what all of this means. But to address the larger question of  Buddies Vs. Boyfriends, it is still as big a mess as it was back in those Paleolithic times (mine!). Kaafi confusion hai, boss! If you communicate with someone 24x7, does it add up to something or not? But if that person claims to have zero romantic interest in you and vice-versa…. sorry, someone in this set up is lying.Can the dynamics of the sterile relationship  change someday and turn romantic?It’s possible.But most times, after dozens of popcorn movie outings and Starbucks encounters, the rather sad truth has to be squarely faced when one of them chickens out and confesses all. The sham is suddenly over. Heartbreak follows. All that nonsense about being nothing more than chuddie-buddies is thrown out of the window.And life limps back to normal after much rona dhona and feelings of martyrdom.To all those out there who may be deluding themselves that such goody-goody relationships are possible forever and ever  – bhool jao yeh bakwas.Bewakoof mat bano. The laws of attraction will tell you Plato was a liar. There is no such thing as a purely Platonic relationship. I am sure even Plato didn’t have one. I mean… come on… think of all those steamy saunas and Toga parties!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Women @ Work....

Still time! Go for it....it's a good initiative and worth supporting.
I am pretty excited about the WIFT (Women in Films and Television) project and awards. I'll be there to present an award, because I believe it is imperative to acknowledge the contribution of women in both these powerful platforms. Especially since we are celebrating 100 years of Cinema.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Aarushi's Monster Parents...

The tulips were 'sent'' to me by our Blogdost Nitin Rai. He shot them close to his home in Oregan and promptly emailed the images in order to cheer me up! I received quite a few virtual bouquets. Thank you, all! I wasn't really depressed. Just sleep deprived1 So, after a short afternoon nap, I requested Anandita to click a more cheerful picture of me and Gong Li - surely Gong Li qualifies as the best stress buster of them all??
 I wrote this on 4th January 2011.... at the time, there was much outrage at what I had suggested - that Aarushi's parents were the culprits. I received a lot of hate mail and a few nasty phone calls asking me to back off and zip up. 
Well, the startling revelations by the CBI officer today insist it was Ramesh Talwar who clubbed and killed both Aarushi and Hemraj, and then slit their throats. His wife helped him to dress up the scene of the gruesome crime. What sort of monsters are these parents?? And even after the cop's testimony, will these two be convicted and punished?
                                      Who Killed Innocence….?

There is something exaggeratedly sinister about the brutal twin murders of an innocent 14- year- old girl, and the domestic who worked for the family ( nobody bothers about his death… are you surprised?). As things stand, the case has reached a bit of a dead end and there are any number of theories floating around. While it is true that the media has been conducting its own trial night after night and pretty much stating : the dad did it, the response of Aarushi’s parents has been puzzling and bizarre , to say the least.Grieving parents behave in a different manner. They are broken in spirit and rendered almost incoherent with grief at the loss of a loved one. An only child at that. Not these two, though. Sorry if this sounds like pop psychology gone wrong… but the conduct displayed by Mr. and Mrs. Talwar appears a bit too calculated, even cold blooded to viewers. It conveys just one thing : Catch us if you can. There is defiance and challenge built into every statement. ‘Where is the proof? What evidence do you have?”   Aarushi’s mother keeps demanding aggressively, as if to suggest, “We’ve taken care of every small detail… covered each track…so there!” For a mother of a dead girl to project such steely determination during what must have been the most harrowing time of her life, seems a bit unnatural. I have spent enough time consoling mothers who have lost their kids to say this is perhaps the first time I have observed a mom whose sole objective seems to be to put up a feisty defence for herself and her husband.Both the Talwars have a script that reads like a law manual. Their faces are stony, their eyes, strangely devoid of any emotion. When they mention Aarushi, they could as well be discussing their neighbour’s kid.
  Poor Aarushi.
God alone knows what prompted this ghastly murder. Did the young girl witness something she wasn’t meant to? Did she stumble across a dark and dirty family secret? Had she become an ‘inconvenience’ to her own parents? Who was she about to embarrass – herself or her parents? The crime has been committed by skilled, educated, clever people – that much is obvious. The devious master plan behind destroying key evidence and manipulating records can only be accomplished by people who are aware of police procedures and well up on forensic investigations. The early attempts to blame Hemraj, the slain domestic , therefore fall flat. Similarly, the subsequent efforts to implicate three other domestics remain equally unconvincing ( good thing those tortured and humiliated young men are seeking compensation) .Let’s leave the bumbling CBI blokes out of this space for now. The Aarushi murder goes beyond the killings of an only child and the man servant. It acts as a mirror to our urban lives .  Here are two busy professionals - parents who claim they slept through the murders that were taking place a few feet away from their own bedroom. They also slept through persistent phone calls the same night and didn’t know who sneaked into their home at that late hour  and cut the internet connection! More, they had no idea that someone had helped himself\herself to whiskey after the murder, and left the bottle on the table. Nor did they hear any strange activity on the terrace even though a body was being dragged there and a heavy, blood stained mattress was being flung out. No screams… no noises associated with struggle…. nothing disturbed these parents. The Talwars blissfully slept the sleep of the dead. Ironically, it was their daughter who had died!They heard nothing… knew nothing. But were up at 6 a.m. to throw down the house keys to the maid, call her up to Aarushi’s  room and  calmly show her their daughter’s neatly covered and cleaned up body! Unbelievable? Perhaps. But so smartly set up that the best sleuths in the land remain baffled… and clueless!
 As of now, it’s a case of the perfect murder! Not all the top brains in the country have succeeded in getting leads that nail the culprits. The Talwars can continue to sleep in peace. One thing they have proved is that their nerves are made of steel. Young Aarushi has taken many secrets to her grave. So has Hemraj, the man who was being blamed for Aarushi’s death. Even if the culprit is eventually found, and the Talwars get off the hook, the country will continue to be stupefied by their stellar performances on television night after night. No tears, no sorrow. Just  icy arguments proclaiming their own innocence. Aarushi must be weeping …

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dekho Sessions at the Sea Lounge...

This was taken on Anandita's phone by her in house photographer Kanti, who is from Jharkhand.... our life would come to an absolute standstill without her!!!
This appeared in Mumbai Mirror...
                         Dating games in the city…
Thirty odd years ago, nobody went on dates-dates. Sounds absurd ?But it’s true! Dates happened in Archie and Veronica comics. Dates were viewed as dodgy boy-girl outings invented by wicked Americans ,and specifically designed to corrupt the world. Well…. here comes the shocker. In most cities of 21st century India ( including Mumbai, let me tell you),  dating remains a pretty shady, clandestine practice indulged in only by the very daring. Parents do not approve! Society does not endorse! Paradoxical… but there it is. Which is why students still lie when they join dubious ‘tuition classes’ or bunk lectures just to hang out with ardent partners . Poor kids. They really don’t have a choice! Their parents won’t ‘allow’ them to go out or bring a girlfriend / boyfriend home.  And even those progressive parents who sensibly refuse to play ostrich remain stubbornly unreceptive  when it comes to daughters. I have heard mothers of  hulking big fellows announce in crowded elevators, “ I don’t mind if  my son goes out at night… but, my daughter? No way! Who’ll marry her if she’s seen here and there, with this fellow and that fellow? We have to guard our daughter’s reputation…. or else, zero future!”
It was ditto-ditto when I was growing up. The only ‘dates’ that were deemed kosher were those set up by parents, that too, strictly after the official ‘dekho’ session . That is, after a potential alliance had been fixed and the girl was on the “ seen and approved”  list of candidates. Once there was a basic understanding in place between the two sets of  parents, the children were allowed to go on a weird , supervised ‘date’, generally to the Sea Lounge, and strictly during daylight hours. Girls were advised to wear sarees( no sleeveless cholis, please) and tie up long hair ( “only chudails have loose hair”).Strictly,afternoon tea . Never dinner. Sweet. As if one can’t do by day what one does when the lights are switched off. But such was the protocol. And that’s how it remains. ‘Sea Lounge’ is still the preferred (some say, lucky too!) venue, with the romantic window seats permanently booked. Over sev puri and cold coffee ( standardized ‘dekho’ menu), with a chaperone seated two tables away, a boy and girl are expected to make one of the most critical decisions of their lives, preferably in under one hour. Mind you, such decisions were (and are) indeed taken in good faith.  Countless marriages thus sealed over sev-puri, have survived , even thrived in this cruel city of ours.
The script has hardly changed. Each time I go to Sea Lounge, I look around and spot at least three ‘Dekho’ sessions in full flow. I talk to young friends of my daughters and they tell me they’re fine with it. “After all, our parents know us best.” And dating? Don’t these youngsters long to break a few rules, hang out with thoroughly inappropriate companions… and anger their folks? Disappointingly enough, not! Most families want to stick to the old rules. And horror of horrors, so do their children.Romantic dates? Runaway shaadis? No way. The guys wouldn’t know where to begin.And the girls are confused. They ask, “ But… what does one do on a proper date? How do I dress? Where do we go ?” These are genuine issues. Does a dosa-date qualify? Would a coffee at ‘Starbucks’ add up to a bonafide date? What about an Ayub’s roll after a multiplex movie? Or a post-dinner Sea Link drive followed by a gelato? Trekking over the weekend? Extreme sports? A cupcake date? Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf  moments?Ooof. There has to be a solution. I’d say, any outing that has a  romantic underpinning to it qualifies as a date. Couples hold hands on dates. Couples kiss. And that’s just for starters. Parents need to wake up and smell that latte. The more you intimidate and suppress your children, the worse the problem becomes. I have seen more engagements go kaput ( yes, even after all the screening and scrutiny by marriage brokers, well meaning aunts and other agents) where the parents have tried to ‘protect’ their children against the evils of dating .
It’s time to let go that harsh ‘lagaam’ of parental control. Especially with young girls of today. Trust your daughters a little more. Credit them with good sense. Let them make their own mistakes. Remember, even Archie and Veronica had a happy ending.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A tale of two Gandhis...

 I have succumbed! Finally! And acquired a new phone (Samsung Galaxy S 111). It is much, MUCH smarter than I am. Which is a good thing. But It is so darn smart that I can't use it! Well.... here are a few family pics I shot as soon as I got it. I am very pleased with the results. About other apps.... do I really care?
This appeared in Asian Age...
                             The real fight will be between the two Gandhi Babas
In what is being seen as a masterstroke by Narendra Modi, Varun Gandhi, the volatile and articulate son of Sanjay and Maneka Gandhi has been promoted to Class Monitor, after being treated as the Class Bully. There is good reason for this altered status. For one, Varun has done his share of standing on a bench in front of the Principal’s office. For another, he is a chip of the old block ( blocks, actually) and carries his Gandhi legacy with as much arrogance and chutzpah as his parents. Sanjay Gandhi’s style of functioning during the peak of his power, makes Narendra Modi look like a docile lamb reciting Baa Baa Black Sheep. Sanjay was far more in your face  -  an unapologetic tyrant with a weak voice and a loud manner. There was nothing ambiguous about his attitude. The man meant business. It was his way or the highway. You crossed his path at your own peril. His loyal coterie bowed and scraped in his presence in a manner so pathetic, it makes Mayawati’s fawning admirers look good. But that was Sanjay for you – Indira Gandhi’s adored son, who could do no wrong. His widow Maneka ( famously referred to as the kutta-billi mimister) has mellowed somewhat, but you don’t want to mess with this lady either. Varun is the product of fiery parents, who ( decades ago), had shrewdly capitalized on a turbulent environment to establish their own political credentials. Unfortunately for the little boy, his father Sanjay was killed in a chopper accident. His mother was thrown out of the marital home. And his reticent pilot-uncle, Rajiv Gandhi was compelled to fill the vacated position created by Sanjay’s death. India’s history got rewritten, as it were, virtually overnight – and a new monarch was born. A monarch who also had a young son to occupy his throne someday.
It is interesting that both Rahul and Varun are creatures crafted out of enormous personal tragedy. Rahul too lost his own father in equally tragic circumstances, leaving him to take care of a grieving widow ( Sonia), much like his cousin Varun before him. Rahul was fortunate enough to also have a loving sister to cushion the tragedy. Priyanka’s presence may have provided the much needed salve to both, Rahul and his mother. Varun had nothing and no one to fall back on. The few friends Maneka had when Sanjay was alive, soon drifted off to find new patrons. Varun was left to pursue his poetic passions and sent overseas for a formal if lonely education. That he was (and remains) the most political animal in the Gandhi family cannot be disputed. That his IQ is far higher than Rahul’s is known to all. That he is far more aggressive than his mild cousin, is pretty obvious. Now all that remains to be seen is which of the two Gandhi men will impress voters in 2014.
Rahul’s start to woo a picky electorate has been pretty dheela and shaky. Varun is clearly waiting for his big Debutant Ball. But his recent elevation within the party cadre has already sent out several signals. Rahul’s minders are gearing up for a major showdown as the election wars hot up. There are rumours of a Gandhi Vs.Gandhi maha yudh in the offing. Modi campwallas are betting on their  Saffron Gandhi taking the pants … err… pajamas, off the Congress Gandhi. Varun’s fire and brimstone speeches have got him into hot water earlier. Today, he presents a more sober side to the world ( perhaps marriage has mellowed the man?) and minds his language during public discourses. Rahul’s oratorical skills … well, let’s leave those for now, boss! He has much harder tasks ahead of him than to invest his energy trying to impress CII types with his schoolboyish vision for India. How this star rivalry between high profile cousins pans out in the coming months will be fascinating to monitor. One Gandhi is a mild mannered, dimpled darling, with a limited attention span and a self effacing manner that pleases but does not impress. Let’s describe Rahul as a cuddly cocker spaniel. The other Gandhi is hot headed, with a volcanic temper and unapologetically rabid views. Let’s say he most resembles a pit bull terrier. Both men will be used and exploited by the propaganda meisters of their respective parties. Maneka will be pitted against Sonia yet again, albeit in dramatically altered circumstances. This time it will be a lethal fight to the finish with the winner taking it all. In terms of charisma, both men are well-matched. Rahul has his fan following of fida female voters…thanks to his single status. Varun is admired by asli mards… and, of course, women who like their men married and macho.Rahul has a free run of the party. Varun still has to toe the Modi line. If Varun doesn’t allow his ego to get the better of him, he will willingly suck up to Modi and play second fiddle for now. Varun’s time will come later, much later. But Varun is smart enough to know all eyes will be on him as he takes on his cousin and aunt. But Rahul still has the trump card in his hand. It is Rahul who can say, “Mere paas maa hai…. aur behen bhi.” Priyanka Vadra will be the biggest game changer in 2014. But that master stroke is obviously being saved for the  dhoom dhadaka finale! Till then, let’s just enjoy the Gandhi Vs. Gandhi show at prime time.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Art.... and the woman!

I just love the architecture of this book display in Chennai!
This appeared in The Week...

                                         Art and the woman…
I met a fascinating European lady at a friend’s home recently. As we got talking ( after I had taken in her carelessly sophisticated and very arty appearance), I was delighted to discover her true calling in life – she is an art student at fifty plus! You might say there are thousands like her. Main, non! This fiery and fabulous lady of a certain vintage ( I am guessing she is closer to fifty than forty) has made India her home for the past seven years. And is in no hurry to get back to the country of her birth.Since she is married to a successful businessman ( also European) , and they have three grown up children, the former art student lurking within her, pushed her to explore possibilities to work towards a Master’s degree in Mumbai. She decided to enroll as a student at one of  Mumbai’s oldest and most prestigious art schools. This is where the fun starts. She was told it was “impossible” since the school did not accept foreigners. She argued her case with the dean asking him why she should be discriminated against and debarred when so many Indian students routinely attend art schools in Europe! Her point was well taken… and voila!She was in! Trouble was all the other students were much, much younger… and they weren’t in a hurry to make friends with a foreign woman , old enough to be their mom! It started with resentment and hostility since they believed she had deprived a local youngster of a seat. Then came a turning point. She had observed the many subtle and not so subtle ways through which teachers were targeting certain students, especially girls. And she decided to speak up. The authorities were red faced when she pointed out several irregularities and inconsistencies towards those being victimized and asked to stand outside the classrooms like they were errant school kids. After a thundering lecture from her on human dignity and the rights of students,  the teachers backed off. And the students cheered! But that still did not mean she was accepted.  She had to jump over countless cultural barricades and bridge the language gap first. Eventually, and after excelling in the final exams, she managed to make friends!
 Interestingly enough, her experience back home was not all that different! Once she got her Master’s degree from Mumbai, she started attending specific art courses at an art school in her old city. Same story. She laughs, “ If anything, it was a little worse, since the students were far more direct , blunt and un- diplomatic. They told me “you are too old to be in art school and you are a woman! Why do you want to take art classes?” The implication being, “Why don’t you stay home and look after your husband and kids and leave art to the young ”. Did she not feel offended? Not at all, she grinned. She had anticipated a shutting of doors and had decided her passion for art superseded all such reservations. She loves what she does and understands why her decision to pursue art must seem puzzling to those half her age. But that doesn’t deter her in the least. She recalls her own father’s lack of support when she had expressed a desire to join art school as a young girl. He had refused to support her decision way back then, leaving her filled with resentment and longing. Today, she is in a position to follow her heart and enjoys the full support of her family. As to why she picked the art school in Mumbai to do her Master’s degree, her explanation was still more interesting.  She said art is still taught in the classical way in India, using live models and a traditional approach. It is difficult to find that in Europe these days. Art schools cannot afford to pay models and the methods are a bit too futuristic for her taste!
The good part of her pioneering effort at the Mumbai art school is that it has led to a change in the admissions’ policy. Today, there are over fifteen foreigners studying at the institute. And the bureaucratic atmosphere there is sufficiently relaxed to allow a far more liberal, relaxed and modern atmosphere throughout the campus. She remembers her early days there when students would want to bum ciggies off her and would ask naïve questions about the permissiveness of the West.Today, she is a part of the fraternity, she belongs to the art community in Mumbai and is totally immersed in what she loves – her own artistic journey that refuses to recognize borders, gender, biases, age. And to think she had to travel to Mumbai for that! Lovely!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The 'Pee'' in politics.... and Feku Vs.Bachchoo

Another Passionate Indian....image shot at the auction, in front of a gorgeous Manjit Bawa carpet....
This appeared in Sunday Times....

                           The ‘Pee’ in politics…and Feku Vs. Bachchoo
 To pee or not to pee….was never the question. Pee and be damned, said Ajit Pawar.We as Indians seem to be obsessed by two key bodily functions – urination and defecation. It may have something to do with the alarming lack of loos in India. But peeing and crapping in public have acquired so much importance of late that even our mighty ministers have thrown themselves into the problem… and come up with a few innovative solutions. Severe drought in Maharashtra? Worry not, Shetkari bandhus! There’s help at hand. Our dynamic Deputy Chief Minister, Ajit Pawar, is seeking approval from his constituency to enroll volunteers ready to urinate into dry dams. Empty your bladders, brethren, could well be the rallying cry across arid Maharashtra before the long, hot summer sets in. The water meant for irrigation was diverted years ago to keep the more lucrative construction lobby in business. Now that a crisis of frightening proportions is upon us, it is time for action! Peeing is believing, Shri Pawar would have us think. Yes, he has apologized. And yes, he still has his job. But one shudders to imagine what his next suggestion could be when we deal with a fertilizer crisis, for example. Will he recommend providing natural manure by persuading thousands of sympathetic supporters to use those barren fields for their morning business?
If there’s one thing our netas don’t lack, it’s their ability to get to the bottom of the problem. Any problem. Look at how brilliantly NaMo got directly to the ma-behen level?Women of India should be grateful that the man who is being projected as the Big Saffron Hope for Elections 2014, is so in touch with his feminine side. By channeling the inner woman in him, NaMo may have impressed the well heeled FICCI  ladies.At least those who understand  the power of pappadum politics. They now know they have a staunch ally in Gujarat’s Chief Minister, who is in tune with their secret ambition – which is to roll out the perfect papad and make the yummiest pickle. Perfectly happy to do both, NaMo. But wait a minute, did anybody ask the most famous daughter of Gujarat on Planet Earth ( Sunita Williams) what she felt about papads and pickles, as she space- walked her way into the records?
Then comes the slightly off key RaGa- saga, with the Dimpled Darling giving gyaan to corporate India. It was a sweet effort and most endearing. Especially the  beehive metaphor. The puzzling thing about all three public outpourings is the bizarre approach to sorting out the monumental problems confronting the country at present. One chap jokes about peeing into dams to resolve water issues of  a parched, broke State. And then goes on to make cheap sexual references to extra babies being born in the enforced darkness caused by frequent power cuts! Another talks down to wealthy women entrepreneurs and advises the lovely ladies to stick to traditional skills. While the third confesses to have ‘lost it’ while he shuffles papers and talks about the birds and bees. If this is the calibre of our leaders, it is time to hit those panic buttons. Let’s take a look at the miserable fare on the buffet table. Two unappetizing dishes. One veg, the other non-veg. Thepla Vs. Pizza. What if you don’t like either? Too bad. Is that how starved we are in a vast country of over a billion people? Would any paying customer settle for just two measly offerings on a banquet table? Why should we as citizens not demand more …like Oliver?More choice? More of a say? A richer menu?
Two men have been picked by their respective parties to lead the troops into battle next year. One is charismatic. The other, not.  Both have fiercely loyal admirers and fawning cheerleaders rooting for them.It’s a toss up between a Feku and  Bachhoo. But India is not a Bollywood blockbuster in which the fan base of the hero  can make or break a movie. This crucial election is not the desi box office which sees hits and flops every Friday. Star quality, lineage or even blinding charisma will not be enough to save India from further disintegration.We need world class governance and complete accountability  if anything’s going to change for the better.It is worth reminding ourselves that the man many scholars still regard as the best Prime Minister India has known, was a diminutive, far from magnetic and exceedingly modest gentleman called Lal Bahadur Shastri.
Sorry, Bhai. Sorry , Boss . We deserve better. Yeh dil maangey more....

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Passionately Indian...

Must be a first! Has to be a first! Thanks to Pam Chopra, the Surabhi Foundation managed a major coup when Shah Rukh Khan agreed to play auctioneer at the charity auction to raise funds for the Surabhi Living Heritage Centre, spearheaded by Siddharth Kak and his motivated team. It turned out to be a really special night, with SRK performing at his peak! He sang, danced, joked, even offered to strip, if bidders were willing to shell out more. It was most kind of him, considering he had rescheduled his chartered flight to make  it to the auction for a couple of hours, before jumping back on to leave on an extended outdoors shoot.e tag  We raised a decent amount of money. But the goodwill and awareness generated in one single evening have no price tag attached.
This appeared in Mumbai Mirror...

                                  Why I feel sorry for mistresses….
Let’s face it, which woman would want to be a mistress when she could be a wife? Which is why I feel sorry for the ladies who long to attach a ‘Mrs’ tag to their names, but can’t. Then there’s the  sympathy factor extended to long suffering wives of straying husbands.Ummm. That’s another story. Especially if the wife turns out to be murderous. Like Ramesh Kumari,who hired a few thugs to bump off  her naughty  husband… all because of the ‘souten’. A bit extreme, to say the least. But then, politico Deepak Bhardwaj’s  life and death were extreme as well. His murder was much more than just another  5 crore supari job. Mr. Moneybags (estimated wealth: 3000 crores) had a  pretty complicated existence. His wife, Ramesh clearly wanted to uncomplicate it. There was a young mistress in the picture. And get this : Ramesh’s son Nitesh Kumar ( prime suspect), was sharing the woman’s sexual favours with his own dad. There was all that serious money at stake…serious grief was being given to Ramesh on several fronts. It was time for some action.She promptly talked her son into helping her. Nitesh did what any hot headed, idiotic, avaricious ass of a man would do – he fell into a neat trap. Now,Baljeet Sehrawat, the man who masterminded the gunning down of  Nitesh’s father, has named discarded wife Ramesh, as a co-conspirator. And Nitesh is under arrest. There goes his rocking sex life. And there goes the money! No mistress. No lolly. That’s how the dice rolls.
 It is the mistress in this sordid saga who intrigues me the most. The two men she was bedding ( father and son) , are both out of her life . Now what? Is the party really and truly over for her? I would say it may have just begun! Our society is very confused about how to deal with the ‘other woman’. Of course, that largely depends on who she is. And who keeps her. If the adventurous twosome are considered powerful and influential enough, the mistress’ dodgy status in the relationship is rarely questioned. People bitch behind her back. But then, people bitch. Period. If she’s smart, she rewrites the rules. She refuses to hide in corners or act apologetic. Once she decides to brazen  it out, society hastily backs off. Acceptance follows. They become an unofficial ‘couple’ and everybody moves on. But God help her if she decides to play coy or lie. She is instant dead meat.Ostracized, isolated and despised . She is left with very few choices... or friends.One choice is to care a damn and carry on with the affair. The other is to stay below the social radar.
What do such women do?There really should be a guide book for mistresses, given the growing numbers. Here are a few options: Do not antagonize the wife and kids still further by rubbing their faces into the relationship. Be polite to the family at all times. Discretion is not a bad word – use it. Don’t trash the wife or the children…remember, they are the ones at the receiving end. Don’t embarrass yourself or your boyfriend by showing up uninvited anywhere. Follow a few , simple ground rules -  stop harrowing others to resolve your personal problems.  Don’t ask mutual friends to take sides. Never explain and never complain! As for wives who decide they’d rather hang on to the surname and money -  enjoy both, and to hell with love-shove and similar nonsense. Mistresses also have to come to terms with a few inconveniences (mainly, disrupted travel plans, messy credit card issues). Whatever works.
Clearly, the Bhardwaj family was unaware of  this protocol. They opted for a short cut. Unfortunately, the short cut in turn short circuited their elaborate plans. It was nothing but greed that did them in. But what about the mistress? Is she in shock? Will she mourn the death of Bhardwaj? Could she be worried about her own life? Chances are she’s hard at work to find a new patron. If she is young, hot and skilled,she will land the desired candidate quickly. here are any number of  Deepaks and Niteshes floating around. A gal’s got to take her chances when she can. And her chance is right now. What is life without a risk or two? Even if that involves murder! Whoever said a mistress’ life is easy? 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Here we are in Chennai, right after the Madras Book Club function, which was held in the historic Taj Connemara Hotel.
We stayed at the magnificent ITC Grand Chola.... more a township than a hotel, with 600 rooms! What a scale! And what a memorable experience.... luxury at every step. And a charming lady butler called Aleno who is from Nagaland, and looked after me like a loving daughter....
This appeared in Asian Age / Deccan Chronicle....
                                  How to milk notoriety….
 It must be said : we live in extraordinary times. Notoriety can be worn as a badge of honour and comes with several juicy perks. Now even our poster boy for Olympic glory is in trouble. Boxer Vijender Singh is not going to find it all that hard to convince his fans that he is being persecuted and framed by rivals hell bent on finishing off his career. Assuming the Punjab police, with their abominable track record are venomously plotting against the pugilist, the question to ask is just this: did he or didn’t he experiment with drugs? Forget the answer. The truth is nobody gives a flying f***. It is exactly this aspect of instant-notoriety that is fascinating to monitor. The public today is more than ready to overlook ethical/moral/legal issues when the personality involved is deemed ‘hot’. Hot, from the standpoint of media, that is. Vijender’s example is a case in point. With his movie star good looks and lofty aspirations, this young man had it all – fame, money, glory and an amazing future. As of now, he seems to have blown it. But has he really??? Is there no way he can cash in on his current ‘Bad Boy’ status to appeal to the wild side of Young India? The argument goes something like this : Which  ambitious young kid in India doesn’t want to be rich, influential… and cool? If that involves running with a wild bunch … hey …that’s also pretty cool!  If the wild bunch is doing heroin… oh well…drugs happen. If these men buy their s**t from dangerous dealers with criminal records, ooooh… that’s how big boys play. Living life on the edge is the only way to live… to impress the chicks… to enjoy…. to become a hero. Chances are most young people will be feeling really, really sorry for the fallen boxer. Not for what he has done to himself, but for getting caught.
There was a brilliant piece written by columnist Rick Reilly for ESPN.com, on Tiger Woods and his remarkable comeback ( number one, again). The article was triggered off by an insolent social media Nike ad featuring Woods which gloated , “ Winning takes care of everything.” Tiger’s back in the game and he wants the world to know it. His sponsors want the world to know it , too. There’s enough money riding on Tiger Woods for everybody to turn a blind eye to Tiger’s disgraceful past and the sordid sex scandal that nearly finished him off in 2009. Does anybody today remember or care what that was about? Naaah! Woods with his foul temper and an equally foul mouth is back on the circuit with cheering fans and fawning groupies applauding his every swing.  What’s  the bet the exact same thing will happen to Vijender once this heroin, drug testing  nonsense is behind him. We have come a long, long way from the days when we used to ‘tch,tch’ over issues of this kind. Remember  the Fardeen Khan episode and the outrage it generated? Today’s scenario is totally transformed. The drug sub-culture has been glamourised and legitimized by those who exert a tremendous influence over impressionable young people – the fashion fraternity and Bollywood. Nobody is shocked anymore when stories about the rampant use of drugs at high profile society parties gets talked about. Nobody blinks when the names of prominent Bollywood stars are mentioned in the context of coked-out evenings and substance abuse. Recreational drugs are viewed as exactly that – recreational.
The support for stars dealing with far more serious criminal issues ( Sanjay Dutt, Salman Khan), is still more puzzling. And begs the question – is it cool to be charged with the possession of illegal arms, to be convicted? Is it cool to be accused of killing black bucks and running over sleeping pavement dwellers? It certainly appears that way. Both these Bollywood hunks have tried (and succeeded) in giving their old notoriety a fresh spin. Salman flogs his ‘Being Human’ brand without the slightest sense of  irony. While Sanjay bats for various charitable causes and has tried standing for elections as a people’s representative! There are top class professionals working  hard to change public perceptions about people like these ‘badnaam’ guys. The strategy is pretty simple. In a world that worships success, nothing else matters.Both these men are consistently projected as ‘super successful’ actors. Baat khatam! I was at a brain storming session for a charity event recently, when the name of Sanjay Dutt as chief guest suddenly cropped up. The reactions to such a preposterous suggestion were mixed. The cynic in me saw it as a master stroke that would get an avalanche of media attention. It was agreed by all that no other star would generate as much publicity right now, nor attract as much comment. But was that a good thing or bad? Counter productive or win-win? Would it help or harm the cause? Our table was divided on this one. Yes, Sanjay Dutt’s  presence would definitely ensure a record number of mediawallas. Yes, the coverage would be humungous. Yes, the event would provide a huge and credible platform to Dutt to say his piece. But – hello! – what about other ethical issues?Or didn’t those count?  It was agreed we needed to sleep over it. The next morning, we took an informal vote and sensibly dropped the idea. But even the fact that we had spent a considerable amount of time thinking about such an option, is alarming!
What’s the bet Vijender Singh will emerge from the current crisis, unscathed and fighting fit? He really doesn’t need to worry about hanging up those gloves in a hurry. The ones who have been kayoed in this round are the people of India.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

What's age got to do with it???

                              Beautiful family portrait .... I fell in love with the baby... she had the softest, prettiest hands! And that's us at the Opera in Monte Carlo.....
Am off to Chennai tomorrow. 
Back in this space on Tuesday....you can safely lie that you missed me!
    This appeared in the Mumbai Mirror....
   What’s age got to do with it….?
Take Tina Turner. Ageless. I was thinking of  her and other amazing ladies closer to home. Asha Bhonsle, for example. Ageless, again. Both are class acts. Still hitting those high notes, personally and professionally. Tina has her great legs and trendy wigs.Asha, her girlish smile and diamond brooches . It isn’t about just the voice. Or even an awesome stage presence (formidable!). It is about attitude and genuine sex appeal. Last week, over a long and nostalgia-driven, wine- fuelled dinner in Alibag, my girl friend and I were discussing a touchy topic -  age and the issues surrounding it. We talked about botox, ceramic teeth, hair extensions, boob jobs, face lifts and assorted ‘problems’ women of a certain vintage are wasting their time and pots of money on. Wasting!! Age is age. Accept it. The moment you start battling those lines and extra cellulite, all you are doing is making your favourite cosmetic surgeon richer. Eventually, everything collapses – the fixed up boobs, cheeks, eyes, smile, butt – everything. Then what?  My friend laughed as she recalled her own  mother’s crass and cruel comment when she was a teenager - “ You are rather ugly, my dear, but don’t worry, you have a lot of sex appeal. And sex appeal never fades, no matter what your age…” Today, my friend who is sixty plus can still rock that chiffon saree! She was born ‘hot’.
But not every woman is born either ‘hot’ or good looking. What happens then? Why, women turn invisible! Unless, of course they are public figures and former actresses like Waheeda Rehman. Ask any young person to name  a woman who has aged gracefully and chances are it will be Waheeda. It used to be Gayatri Devi till pretty recently. What do these two ladies have in common? Here’s a check list : Well- coiffed grey hair, beautiful sarees, barely any make up, modest, elbow length cholis, discreet pearls and ear tops, an innate sense of style combined with dignity, and of course the elegance and grace one associates with classic, God- given beauty. Beyond these obvious attributes, it is also their quiet acceptance of  time’s ravaging effects , that sets them apart. Neither of them ever tried to look younger. And that was/is their biggest USP. Society is less forgiving when it comes to women and age, especially when women refuse to go down without a fight. Every city has its parade of  older women who battle age with everything their means can command. Mumbai has its share of  high maintainence, over the hill prima donnas and divas, who continue to wear clothes so short and so tight, they often spend an entire evening unable to either sit down or exhale.There are also the desperate  Page 3 perennials whose sole objective in life is to get featured on society pages.  Even their dermatologists have given up on them. Poor ladies. And then they get it tight in the media when the fashion police attack them in those wonderfully witty columns. This is rather unfair. But who says life and fashion are fair?
When it comes to men, society watchers pick on poor Dev Anand who remained Peter Pan till the very end of his life. They point to Dilip Kumar and exclaim, “Look at him!” Sure. There is a moral in there. Lesson number one for all those forty-plus society swans in bandage dresses that barely cover their butts, is to ease up on the tarty-trampy look, at least while in India. That is, if they care about what people are saying in the first place. Lesson number two : stay out of the closets of  bratty teens and leave those Lady Gaga numbers to… err… Lady Gaga. Lesson number three: this is the really tough one – try smiling. In order to crack that smile, turn your back on botox. If you must colour your hair, keep it as close to your original hair colour as possible. Bottle blonds are so yesterday. As are those vampire-style coloured lenses….. flush them down fast! And if you find your face and body parts collapsing one by one, go into hiding for a few months.Keep your fingers crossed. Think about it : Would you rather be addressed as ‘Aunty’ at a traffic signal …. or called ‘Ms. Trampy’ behind your back?
As for me, I want to be Geetu Raheja. Smoking hot and  fabulously grey!

can't be just the weather.... right???

Beautiful Alpine winter blooms at Wonderfall Chalet in Limone.... I saw them and my heart soared! Finally, a burst of colour....
This appeared in The Week....
                            Is it just the weather…?
As women, we have our marvelously creative excuses for anything and everything. We need them! Women have always needed alibis, unlike men, who are born into privilege. No grudges on that front. But leave our hang ups and cover ups alone, you guys! I was thinking about all this during a long flight back from Europe recently. Around me were women with sad eyes and drawn faces. I had met quite a few during my short week there. The weather had been foul, for sure. But did the collective mood have to match it? I had watched well coiffed ladies, wearing fabulous jewels and clothes, as they walked in for a Gala night at the Opera, their floor length fur coats sweeping the carpet, while serious diamonds flashed on ear lobes, throats and fingers. But there wasn’t a smile in sight. And no colour! Those beautiful ladies were clad in  black. I wondered, when the atmosphere itself was this dull and grey, wouldn’t any person want to brighten it up a little with a pop of  bright colour? A vivid lipstick? Even a cheerful handbag? Clearly, not in this part of the world.
By contrast, here in India, we deal with gloom and doom more imaginatively. Holi is just over. Much as I dislike the Festival of Colour and never participate in the celebrations, I can appreciate the joyfulness behind the revelry. Women in different parts of our country, celebrate  Holi, adopting local customs that have endured over centuries. Essentially, it’s an exuberant way to greet Spring and pray that a bumper harvest follows in Summer. The colours used signify renewal and the eternal cycle of life. Revelers laugh and sing, even if their lives are not perfect. In Europe, most people, and women in particular, look permanently glum and in a perpetual state of mourning. Yes, the economy is doddering. And yes, there is no upswing in sight. But does that mean women can’t sport happier expressions or wear a cheerful scarf? I asked a less depressed European girl friend this question as we sipped  our coffees and stared at the steady downpour. She offered a perspective I found rather engaging. Women in Europe, she declared thoughtfully, had little to comfort them. They lived in a state of  relentless insecurity. Their biggest fear was that their boyfriends/ companions/ partners/ husbands would leave them. This was the overwhelming emotion that dominated all other emotions. Women still outnumbered men. Finding a good, responsible man was not easy. Money was tight. Men worked. Women worked. The future looked far from promising. What was there to smile about?  My girl friend laughed resignedly. I told her women in my part of the world have had it far tougher for centuries. But that hasn’t robbed us of our smiles and laughter. Our tears? Oh, those! We wipe them with our colourful dupattas and saree pallus… and soldier on. Just like generations of women before us. Don’t talk to us about discrimination at the workplace.In India,we struggle to be born! And once born, we are not sure whether we will be allowed to survive! Our daily lives require us to play multiple roles and assume many guises. We become acrobats and jugglers. Tight rope walkers and contortionists. Oh yes, we do!  Despite these daunting odds, we manage to grab life’s better moments. Raise happy kids. And , given  half the chance, raise the bar for ourselves. I invited her to visit India soon, before her own smile did the disappearing act. I wanted her to see our women and judge for herself. It really isn’t just about the weather, honey. Physical weather, that is. Often it is the storms that rage within, which affect women more insidiously. These storms are far more destructive than unseasonal blizzards. Women need to monitor the weather patterns of their inner lives more closely. Miss those signals, and you’re in trouble. By the time we finished our coffees, the rain had stopped and the sun was out. The Cote d’Azur lay at our feet, a shimmering sheet of blue and gold. We hugged each other. She touched the bright yellow and lime green scarf I had given her earlier. “Let me wear it,” she grinned, twisting it stylishly around her slim neck. Sad eyed women from adjoining tables stared at the two of us, as we said our goodbyes. The weather forecast was looking good. No need for alibis. At least for the next few days! What a relief….

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Three Ring Circus....

Don't you love this image? It has been shot by one of our most talented photographers, Shantanu Das. His exhibition titled Borders - Within/Without, starts on the 5th. This image is called Sailing in the clouds! I love it!
This appeared in The Asian Age....

                                                Three Ring Circus
Surely, it can’t get any funnier! It’s a good thing Indians have a sense of humour or else by now we’d have gone through several bloody revolutions! We laugh at ourselves, we laugh at our leaders, we laugh at our fate. We laugh for no reason. This amazing ability to keep laughing saves us from going insane. But it also saves the big, fat butts of our leaders. This is when the joke ceases to be funny. We are at such a moment right now. The international community must be having the last laugh as we fumble and mumble our way through a script that would do Charlie Chaplin proud. We have messed up big time on virtually everything. Starting with the ludicrous Italian Job. Though, one also suspects there is more to this story than meets the eye. What appears to be a comedy of errors may well turn out to be a very deviously constructed script! Perhaps, the idea was to make it look like a series of goof ups. But the possibility that this approach was a part of a super smart strategy cannot be ruled out. Surprise! Surprise! The main players , those dishy Italian Marines, are back in India after they were assured their necks will be spared. Incredulous India watchers have monitored the pantomime over the past three weeks, and waited for a resolution to what could have turned into an unprecedented International diplomatic crisis. It is entirely possible that taking advantage of the general chaos prevailing in the country right now, some really sharp and astute players may have come up with the entire charade involving those naughty  Marines and their Ambassador. Check out the timing:  There is a brand new Pope at the Vatican. All eyes are on Rome and all things Italian. This includes our own very special and very personal connection to Italy. Who is to say what political arrangements were made to enable the Marines to first slip out of India and then to slip back in so easily? Who can tell whether the drama around the Ambassador  was not being stage managed at the highest level? Tricking and deceiving a trusting, gullible public comes easily to both  - Italians and Indians. In that sense, we have much in common. Corruption on a mega scale at every level, included. Like they say, there is a code of honour that binds the Mafia. Perhaps we too have forged a similar understanding with the Italian government… after all, there is a long and complicated history of other notorious Italians ( Ottavio Quattorocci) fleeing India after a scandal.And we are still waiting for OQ to do the honourable thing by coming back to India to face a trial. Ha! Joke!
Where have we not messed up? The brand new Chinese honcho ( President Xi Jinping) has shown us our place ( bottom of the heap) in unambiguous terms. Snub after snub has demonstrated where we stand in his scheme of things. We are virtually gheraoed by the Chinese now. And we have still not woken up. Our neighbours on every front hate us. The Chinese in turn, love our neighbours and declare their love publicly, just in case we have not noticed the cosy relationships. Even our old ally, Bhutan, is disillusioned and angry. The Sri Lanka problem is deteriorating by the micro-second. Jayalalitha has upped the stakes and is now asking for an economic embargo, no less.While IPL fans are distraught that Sri Lankan players will skip the Chennai match, Jayalalitha is crowing. Pakistan remains as hostile as ever. Bangladesh is reliving the trauma of the old war they blame India for. We have systematically alienated the Maldivians. Let’s see…. who does that leave? The Generals in Myanmar are flirting with their Chinese suitors (Err…who isn’t?), and whatever little good will we may still have with those we call ‘friends’ is getting rapidly eroded. Despite these bummers, we carry on muddling our way through assorted crises in a manner so idiotic, It is stupefying, if not downright alarming!
But, we are not so easily shamed or daunted! We carry on with our Keystone Cops style of functioning. Our short sightedness prevents us from seeing the writing on the wall. And that writing does not go beyond Elections 2014. We are obsessed by Narendra Modi – will he make it as P.M. or won’t he? If not NaMo , then who? Note: nobody says ‘Rahul Gandhi’ on auto pilot any more. Nitish Kumar is  saying ( indirectly, of course) , “Why not me?” Mulayam Singh is not saying a thing! He’s too smart. He’s waiting. For the others to get exhausted. The rest don’t really count. Till such time as the heat gets to us and we also collapse… all we can do is laugh! But hey, for the first time in decades, we finally got one thing (almost) right – the National Film Awards ( let me qualify: this year was a small improvement on the lop sidedness of several previous years) .  What does that prove? If the intentions are honest , merit does get its due recognition. Here’s an idea, Sirji : Why not induct the  jury members  of those movie awards into the government  and get them to fix the mess? Perhaps if that happens, we’ll get to witness an entirely new star cast at the helm of affairs. And the underdog will finally get a come uppance. Please note: the underdog here does not refer to Sanjay Dutt! Let’s hope all these troubling issues will get sorted out quickly. Or else, ‘Maa ki Kasam’, we’ll  have to take serious action. Don’t laugh!