Sunday, December 25, 2011

Festivals; The Holes In Religious Fanaticism

This Christmas eve, I sat behind my laptop pondering over what could be a better way of passing time: Facebook or studies, when suddenly a thought comes to me which has bloomed into this blog.

Over the years we all have some how or the other seen religious discrimination or fanaticism. may it be in an open form( Wayward Hindu-Muslim jokes, Pope-Priest jokes or actual civil wars or fights where in people are hell bent on murder) or in behind-the-doors, closed whispers( woh Hindu hai usse dhoor raho OR yeh christans aise hee hotee hain). But still we(the current generation) has brought about a silent revolution which is unspoken and unconscious, but runs deep and affects all of us.

National Integrity

This effect is that of religious indifference. Despite of our religious prefrences or practicses(which have been ingrained into us from birth.), we still are a single bunch, a single youth that is not divisible by ambigous borders like religon becasue we are intelligent enough to recognise that at the end of the day we are all one and there is only one God who is common to all of us but we are diffrent just because of our ways to approach him/her.Confused?Let me explain with a story Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa(Swami Vivekananda's Guru) told his disciples. he said that once there used to be a huge tank in the middle of a field. Everyday, a muslim man used to draw some water from it and called it pani. A hindu priest withdrew the same water and called it Jal and when a christan woman would do the same and name it water. But in essence of the subsstance, the immutable quantitiy or mass or water or jal or pani  or whatever you call it, remains the same. In the same manner, whatever you name the omnipotent force, it remains the same. So it boils down to this: Billions of people fight with each other over the fact that whose NAME is right?

Also proof that we are way above such nonsense and the inspiration behind this blog is Christmas itself or any other festival for that matter. How often we have seen a christan boy burn phooljadis or burst crackers on the Hindu Festival Of Diwali or a Hindu girl having kheer at Ramzan at her Rakhi brother's house or a Muslim family attending Church on Christmas eve to be a part of the midnight mass? These occurences are not coincidence but rather proof that unity does not need to be forced upon us but it is infact already becoming an innate attribute of our nature. Javascript Disabled

Friday, December 23, 2011

Corruption: A Threat To Democracy

Democracy is based on the principle of forming a government "of the people, for the people and by the people". So when a nation of the people stops being for them, one of democracy's fundamental principles itself is challenged.

Corruption is the very threat itself which has nearly destroyed India's government and has tarnished a fake image of being a nation which is clean right down till its roots. Corruption always was a part of our system, right from our independence in 1947 up to the recent events, always existing in varied forms. It has become one of those things which are taught to us as fundamentals of life."Corruption toh sab maa ke paet se sikh kar aate hain" is one way of putting it; because it is something which is profoundly true because may it be bribing traffic officers as a child for avoiding underage driving or giving 'gifts' to ministers for building approvals, we have made corruption an innate attribute. Recent events such as the CWG games scam (courtesy Suresh Kalmadi) , 2G spectrum scam(a certain A Raja) and of course the Jan Lokpal Movement led by Anna Hazare has brought this elusive tyranny to the limelight.

A national poll reveals that nearly 73% of India's adult population was forced to give bribes to ensure the smooth passage of their tasks. So the question arises is this: How do we stop this menace? How do we eradicate something that is today running through our blood? Can it really be stopped or will it just be hidden behind a new mechanism?

Although passion is a helpful thing, it is not enough. Because if it would have been enough, I would have been a Steve Jobs-cum-Dan Brown figure in society because that’s my passion. I believe that although further reforms will help us in solving ridding our nation of this problem but the same can be achieved by proper exercise and awareness with regard to existing mechanisms such as the Right To Information Act (RTI), reporting bribe demanding authorities to the Anti Corruption Bureau etc. This will not only be highly practical when compared to a new mechanism but viable also. But then there also arises the issue that nobody uses them thus a monitoring body is required. But imagine this: India is a nation with a huge population. Imagine what would happen if each one of us reported at least one corrupt officers? I would like to end by modifying Mr. Obama’s popular slogan," Together We Can!"

Anna Hazare Fasting In Protest (Anshan) Javascript Disabled

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Aamchi Mumbai Aahe

Mumbai railway stations are a delightful treat to the eye. People of varied backgrounds, ages and genders can be seen in an ironic amicable but fierce manner. Rush hours resemble battlefields, with hundreds of people fighting for a place in compartments made for some 70 odd people. However, stations provide a brilliant school for learning new experiences via human actions.

Crowded Mumbai Local Train

Waiting for a train, usually does not count for more than 10 minutes owing to the frequency and number of trains. I usually plug in to my iPod and gaze around and I was indeed doing the same when I heard the train coming and I stepped back because it was not the one I wished to board. Now, I stood and saw as people poured out like ants rushing for a jar of honey. In the midst of all this, I saw a beautiful scene. A blind old man was trying to board the train but could not find the handicap compartment. A man, who had clambered onto the train with great difficulty, got down and guided the old man to the handicap compartment. This scene was however ruined moments later when he re boarded the train. He was dangling by the door when the train started and a young man came dashing out of nowhere to board the train. It was obvious that he really needed to take that train because trains ran at an average of like say every 3 minutes. Instead of helping the man by pulling him onto the train, he blankly stared at the running man as if he loathed him. The man could only pant and give dirty looks to the train as it crooned into the distance.

I am not here commenting on the ironic yet contrasting nature of these actions. What I wish to highlight is the unique spirit the city and its citizens have which makes us different from the hoard of metropolitan cities. Mumbai always stands out for its free spirit which exemplifies revelry. Throw us into any situation and we bounce back. No tragedy can stop us from going back to life but at the same time no happy moment can tackle our grief. Sapno ki nagri is a perfectly apt term to describe Mumbai and its citizen because it is indeed on dreams, that our city and we ourselves live our lives.

 Athi me jaato! Javascript Disabled

Friday, December 16, 2011

Debugging Life

Exemplary problems are always a part of someone's lives. never will you find a person devoid of a problem(and if by an odd chance you find one, the person will be devoid him/herself).at many crossroads of life, we find ourselves in situations when some of those slow beats wale Bollywood tracks play in the background and those cryptic lyrics make sense. That’s the time when we need to debug our life.

Life is an extraordinary fairy tale with its own twists and turns which may lead us to the beautiful wide windows of happiness or to the gallows of sadness and depression. We may be dipped into the hot scalding oils of anger and invariable revenge but we may also be thrown into the limitless sky of unyielding joy. Still, there are numerous times when we feel ki kaash life was like an iPod; bundled with its own play, pause, fast forward and rewind buttons. Just a small of any of them could control time, where in everything was in our hands and still under control. But unfortunately this concept shall always remain a fantasy (unless Dr. Sheldon Cooper succeeds).

So at such unpredictable moments, what do we do? Do we give up and lose hope? no we stand up, throw a few punches at life and say," you can't beat me punk!” I know it is easy to say so and damn tough to apply and follow. Recently I myself went throw one of such moments and I admitted defeat. But as I recover, I have learnt the importance of being in control of ourselves. A simple mantra to do this was once told to me by a friend and later on by my parents. It goes like this: “In life, you will always come across a number of hurdles which will deter your vision of your goal; but don’t lose hope and carry on with your life because your manzil will not be as far from you as it seems.” And believe me when I say, achieving that one dream which you have always pined for is worth the entire wait and hurdles in the world.

Coming back to the topic at hand, each one of us has our own debugging method. Some write, some sit and think, some tune into music and some sleep. I personally love to sit by my favourite window with my favourite music playing on my iPod. But whatever your method maybe, always keeps in mind the biggest secret of this universe; “Life in itself is a unique gift; but getting to play with your gift in the human form is the ultimate souvenir. Cherish your passions, enjoy your time and of course believe in everything and everything will believe in you. Javascript Disabled

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dil Dosti Fullstop

Everyone has a different definition of a friend. Although we don't have a specific guideline as to what or who a dost should be, nevertheless we always end up around a bunch of people who you don't know why but you just love being around.

To me, dost is someone around whom I don't have to think before I open my mouth. Regardless of the friend's gender, caste or background I can openly speak my mind without thinking of the consequences. I have female friends with whom I can openly talk about a hot actress, Muslim friends with whom I openly tease on the basis of their religious preferences and of course people from specific castes with idiosyncratic habits. Many may feel that this is extreme or vague but I believe that my friend knows that I do not mean any real harm and I always speak whatever I want to.

Although we meet up with several people over our lifetime, not all of them are your friends (even though you may label them so).A friend is someone who is far more special and irreplaceable. Say, a friend is someone who trusts you even when you are not trustworthy, someone who always is positive about you and someone who echoes your sentiments. In spite of the picture painted by modern society, friends are those who curse the professor who failed you in his/her paper before asking you to study for the re-examination.

The springing up of social networks has somewhat weakened and strengthened the bond which friends share. Confused? Well, in case of friends who grew up and bonded way before the advent of social networking, websites like Twitter and Facebook has enabled them to grow more interpersonal and close(I mean it's great to know what weird pose your bestie can make or how your closest friend loves watching Gossip Girl(Yes She Does!)) . But, if you consider the cases of those who were registered on these websites as a part of a social trend, I believe social networks have caused a lot of trouble. Cases of suicides and squabbles over not liking of posts or photos etc. have become almost routine news for everyone of us.

However, woh kaisa ya kaisi bhi ho, a friend will never deny you. Technology continues to sew us into a tightly knit blanket and just like the warm, snuggly blanket, your freinds and you form a unbreakable and lovable universe, which although may be plauged by it's own highs and lows,or may seem disintegrated in a series of misunderstandings.But,know this: No matter how high or how powerfully you throw a ball upwards,it always returns to you.The same way, no matter how much fight or argue, sale ghoom ke apne paas he aayenge.

This was a post to all my friends, the true ones. Javascript Disabled

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Cinema or Your's?

As I was watching Dilwale Duhlaniya Ley Jayenge with a hot steaming cup of coffee, my phone beeped. I picked up my Blackberry and saw that my status update with regard to my love for the movie had irked one of my friends who had sent me a smiley infested message labeling me as a “Chick Flick Fan”. This tag made me think and this is what I came up with.

To me, a movie is something which should involve me into a world which is not mine and keep me there. I do not care whether the critics label it as ridiculous, childish or mature. I do not care whether they were Box office hits or flops. Cinema has its own unique appeal to each and every individual. No one can judge what the film will be like to someone else on our own opinion just due to the simplistic fact that all of our opinions are knowingly or unknowingly biased to a particular genre. A jolly critic will despise of a serious, reality themed films while a journalist will for sure trash out a romantic movie which depicts unreal wooing scenes.

When I tell people that I loved movies like Bheja Fry or Double Dhamaal (termed “nonsensical and non funny” by film critics), I am often ridiculed and shunned. However when I explain to them the emotions I felt by seeing films like Dev.D or Inception, I am immediately alleviated to the status of a classy cultured human who appreciates the so called “true cinema”. This is where I fail to understand the inverse philosophy which is patterned in our society. I believe that a motion picture is a product which conveys numerous stories, emotions and ideas to a vast varied audience. Although it may be possible that a majority may have a common viewpoint but it is for sure that a minority with a contrary opinion will exist.

Nevertheless, it is not common for inspired films to crop up years after a film stole our hearts. Also, films that moved a generation are often made fun of by the next one just because of the story. What we fail to realise is that many movies are often the reflection of a film maker’s view towards the society the film maker is living in. A prime example can be seen in the invariable variations by the Censor Board. The same board which would rate a film as ‘ADULT ONLY’ just because of a mild abusive scene now allows for films having sexual innuendoes and many abuse filled slang scenes as “Universal Adult”.

Another issue I have often observed is the senseless discrimination between viewers on the basis of the language of cinema. Although this division is not as prejudiced as caste or gender based one but let’s say a viewer of English cinema will always look down upon an avid fan of Bollywood masala films. From childhood I have been brought up in a best of both worlds environment and I appreciate a sappy romantic Bollywood movie which has unrealistic events as much as a crisp and fun Hollywood flick which speaks out to a global crowd.

To end up, I just wish to say that a film has a varied audience and each one of the audience is entitled to an opinion. But it is totally unfair to judge and ridicule someone else for their opinion regarding the film. As James Cameroon said, “A film is what I envision them to be, not what the audience envisions.”
Film Cut Javascript Disabled

Destiny;The Indian Tadka

Here is a small piece I did for at my friend's request for her college magazine!

Article for ROTOFEST '11 by Siddharth Gupta Javascript Disabled

"Nobody Wants A Bhagat Singh In Their Home!"

I was standing at Andheri station, awaiting my train when  the latest issue of "The Week" caught my eye. The cover story was one covering Mr.Ajeet Singh,a great social activist who is working on the elimination of child prostitution. However, this article is not about him but rather about something he said."Nobody Wants A Bhagat Singh In Their Home!". This statement really intrigued me to no extent. Being born and brought up in an urban environment and a modern family, I have never faced any form of restrictions in helping people out. But Mr. Singh’s statement has cruelly revealed the so called "pedestrian population" of India. It is the face of India which is still grovelling in the dirt of myths, baseless culture, illiteracy, gender bias and caste based discrimination. It saddens me to say that our nation which is bustling with an ever increasing populous is burdened by outdated and redundant social customs which leaves us at a total blockade in terms of growth. Although the remarkable anti corruption programmes in recent times have definitely taken a step in the required positive direction, our minstrels will always be shackled to the sands of time due to the stubborn will of our nation to stick to old traditions. So the question arises, “How Can We Change?".I say we do so by changing ourselves and the ones near us. Let’s have the courage to stand up and say what is right or wrong. It may be something as trivial as asking your parents not to hire a house help who is underage or may be protesting the arrest of an innocent citizen who is just fighting for his rights. The magnitude of our involvement does not matter. People may mock us and cite the contrary but in fact the truth as I believe it is, can be explained by a small event from the life of our ex-president, Dr.A.P.J Abdul Kalam.
As all of us know, he loved children and always will. I always keep a track of his events and speeches because he is one of those few people who really inspire me from the bottom of my heart. Anyway, at a school event in Ahemdabad, a cocky seventeen year old smugly asked him," Sir, as a student all my time is gone in either studies or running errands. When you say I should plant trees, do you suggest I stop studies or running errands for my parents?”Dr.Kalam smiled and replied "Son, what do you do when you want to relax?”Taken aback by this sudden change in the subject, the boy replied, “I go for walks with my friends."Broadening his smile, he said “Then, my son you just need to do one thing: Carry a handful of seeds and drop them near any area which you wish to see as green."Dismayed, the boy quickly replied, “But Sir, how will I water them, fertilise them or take care of them?".Dr.Kalam solemnly replied, “Leave that to nature. If you plant 50 seeds, at least 5 will grow naturally! You will know that you have done your bit at least!”This simple hypothesis is what I apply to my life. Let's all do our bit and more if we can to see a better society.
Let me end with one of my own personal experiences. Once a pair of old uncles from my community had come over and coincidently it was when Anna Hazare ji was fasting for the Jan Lokpal Bill. Just before departing, the topic of discussion was corruption (inevitably).At the door one of them said, “Corruption ka kuch bhi bolo sikhate toh hum hi hain na ghar pe(call corruption whatever you want, but at the end of the day, it's we who teach it at home!)".I said nothing but just before I shut the door, I proudly said, "Uncle jo bhi ho,mere mummy-papa ne toh kabhi nahin sikhaya(Uncle, whatever it may be, my parents never taught me that)" and slammed the door.

Dr.Ajeet Singh

Dr.A.P.J Abdul Kalam

Anna Hazare Javascript Disabled

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Censoring of the Internet, Right or Wrong?

For the past few days, India has been in an uproar over an outrageously bold idea by Mr.Kapil Sibal according to which the Internet should be censored. All of the NETizens have struck back tagging it from a vicious attack to the blabbering of a stupid bafoon. However I am somewhat in favour of this (Hold your guns people, let me explain). Although I am totally against the censoring of posts which affect a cause or a movement or something which is impersonal to the extent of us expressing our right to free speech, I wish to point out that the same rights protect all of us and them.Censoring of the internet to ban child pornography, virus-infested pages and sexual harrasement (fake or real naked pictures that are circulated faster than the speed of light) is viable, wanted and if implemented, is definitely appreciated. However when the government wishes to stop us from fighting for what we really believe in and has no ramifications to the morality of a proper society, outrage is expected and applauded for.Let me back up with an example.A few days ago, when I opened Youtube, the featured videos list included "School Girl Raped In the Toilet" and "Bollywood Actress Nude!".This shocked me to no extent because that was the day when Mr.Sibal announced his censoring idea.It shames me to say that politicians are more worried about a teenager's status update regarding his corrupt nature than a the outrageously bold manouver of destroying the image of an already victimised teenaged girl whose pain and anguish is not describable in words.
So, I just wish to sum up with an advice to all of us (not you but us because I am as much a part of the internet as you all are). Instead of fighting the idea of internet censoring,let's fight for the censoring of things that need to be censored;and while we are at it, let's start using the "Report as Spam" button which we are given.Now to the NETizen named Kapil Sibal, I will just say one thing."Chill Dude! Post all your ideas on forums,discussion boards or as your own status on social networks,check the response and then start off with media interactions because you know what?WE choose you;You don't get to choose us!" Javascript Disabled

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Karma: Does It Work?

Karma is one of the paradoxes of our society. Although being a flawed concept that is thrust down our throats on religious basis, it is a superb concept which magically works to ensure the balance of humanity. Tracing its origins takes us back to nearly 3000 years back in history( Take a moment to savour this; It’s easy to say 3000 years ago something but something totally all together different to appreciate the actual significance). The Aryans were comfortably settled in the northern plains of India and it was then, when the concept of Karma was born. Who knew a simple idea would mould into a way of life for millions? Actually, I believe it just works on the seeding of fear.
The small but deep fear within us which is embedded into our conscience enables us to direct our lives on the simple basis of "do good, feel good, and reap good". How many of us live out our entire lifetime thinking, "a good deed now will be a blessing for the future"? Even though it appears as a religious brain washing system (to which all atheists and agnostics will agree), a simplistic explanation and a much more viable one too is to accept the concept as an idea propagated for the betterment of the society.  Think about this: The Aryans conducted a rudimentary form of what we today call "A Social Experiment". If I correctly remember, The Immortals of Meluha by  Amish Tripathi expounds a similar concept. "If everyone righteously carries out their own duties selflessly, automatically law and order will be maintained in the nation state". Seeing the effects today, we can accurately say that their notion was successful. With people tattooing the word itself onto their bare skin or drinking the mantra with their morning tea, the delightfully acceptable concept has taken the globe with a rage and is definitely become important in today's War infested world where a brother hunts a brother, father kills his family and nothing humane remains (I know it sounds clichéd but kya karen it's an accurate description). Some religious authorities might claim that "Karma is a Hindu concept" or "It was expounded by Buddha, he is not our God". May I ask all of them; didn’t Jesus preach that performing good deeds reaps good fruits? Didn't the great Muhammad ibn Abdullah say the same? (One of the fundamental pillars of Islam, Zakāt or donation of alms to the poor is a thinly veiled reincarnation of the same). At the end of the day, whatever you do, whatever you may be or whatever is your religious status on your Facebook, We all have been truly thought about Karma and have been trained into observing it in our lives.

At the cost of being called selfish, I say that Karma brings to our society what we call "peace and harmony". Thus I end by modifying a popular pop culture track, "Because Karma is a bitch" to "We are humane, because Karma is a bitch!"

Here are some images which will definitely help! Javascript Disabled