Of Virtues, Vices and Valentine’s Day!

Is celebrating Valentine’s day a virtue or a vice?? The red brigade(Read: Valentine’s enthusiasts) thinks its a virtue, and the saffron one (Read: Shiv Sena and other such “moral” organizations) could not have imagined a worse vice!!

Some people think that love cannot be celebrated just on one day, so you do not need some special day to tell someone that you love him/her.

Some think its a waste of time, money and energy, as the younger generation doesn’t understand the actual importance of the day, and is more attracted by the glamour of the day.

 Some feel that no better occasion than valentine’s day to profess your love to your sweetheart…

What’s my take?? Well in today’s hectic life style, if we can take some time out for our loved ones, if we can celebrate, be happy, then everything else is immaterial…..After all celebrations are all about staying happy, aren’t they….it doesn’t matter then on what occasion , and in what way……. 🙂

Blood Diamond—-Bloody, worthy,…all but glittering!!

“Have you seen the color of this soil?? It comes from all the blood that’s spilt by fighting over this land!!” This is what a character in this very well made movie says to another one… And so true it is!!! Seriously, director Edward Zwick very boldly portrays the exploitation,the uproar, the struggle, the agony, the fury, the desperation, and the sufferings of the tribals in certain countries of Africa, which are rich in gold and diamonds, but not in the standard of living.

The story unfolds as Solomon Vandy, a simple hardworking tribal , who wants to see his son become a doctor, sets out one day as usual, to earn his daily bread. Suddenly, his village is attacked by rebel tribals in search of slaves to work in illegal diamond mines in Sieera Leono. Vandy is taken captive, while his family manages to escape.

While working under ruthless diamond  peddlers, Vandy happens to find a very huge diamond, the biggest ever seen. He attempts to hide the diamond, and just as he is being caught doing so, the troops attack the mine, and take everyone in custody.

In the custody, Daniel Achau (a diamond peddler) who’s in lock-up for smuggling diamonds happens to hear about this diamond, and both he and Vandy set out to retrieve it. In this search they are helped by a journalist Maddy(Jennifer Connelly) , who  I guess is the only one in the enitre cast who’s not interested in the diamond, a substantial story being more precious to her!

Conflicts continue, and needless to say, a lot of blood is lost in the conquest of this blood diamond.

The film captures all aspects of the diamond trade, and tries to spread a social message that consumers should stop the purchase of the illegal diamonds that are there in the market, esp. because of the gory history they’ve got.

On the acting front, all the actors deliver a flawless performnace, although none can be classified as great. You can’t blame them much though, because the film revolves completely around the story, and not around the performances. It is good to see Leonardo DeCaprio in a non-boyish role, however.

The photography is superb, I must say, ’cause the camera doesn’t faulter while capturing the serene beauty of the South African landscape, just as it switches angles from the ruins of Africa. Worthy of mention is a sunrise shot, where in the sun rises, but only in a thick shroud of smoke!! Speaks a lot about the direction ,doesn’t it!!

The dialogues range from crisp, apt, touching, to average(esp. the conversations between Conelly and DeCaprio are very predictable). Action scenes are superbly directed and shot, and seem absolutely real. The violence makes you numb at times, though!

On the direction front, Edward Zwick deserves an A+

 Overall, its a good movie to watch, esp. because, we need to know how many necks are cut for bringing us those shimmering cutpieces that decorate our houses; and how many lives destroyed for decking us up in precious stones!!

Rating: Green–Yes!

Dream #2

And once I was walking on the road, and casually turned to look back. A monkey, one of the small kinds, with a dangerous red face was following me!! I panicked!!! Seriously!! As I kept walking I realized that the monkey was still persistently following me… I didn’t even realize when I began running… The monkey, ran harder!! Oh my God!!! “Oh!! My!! God!!! What should I do?? Why is a stupid but still dangerous monkey attacking me??”  Common sense and patience both betrayed me at that time. I kept running… The monkey wouldn’t budge… I entered a narrow lane, the monkey followed. I entered a proper “Patli Gali”, could still see the monkey right behind me! I turned, traversed, dodged, but no luck!! Terrified, I ran harder, but started getting out of breath soon!! As I started losing speed, the gap between the monkey and me narrowed… And there…he was…right next to me!! I closed my eyes… but opened them, when  I heard the monkey talk. THE MONKEY TALKED!!!! 

And he said,”Gotcha… Raced you!!!!!!I’m first!!Yipppeee!!” And he ran way!!

And I stood there open-mouthed, gaping at my predator (who turned out to be my competitor!!)…

That’s the dream I had! Any clues why I get dreams like that??? Please let me know!! 🙂 😀 😦

Dream #1

And there! The world was coming to an end! Well, if not the world, at least my city. My city was totally flooded! People were running (nah, swimming) helter-skelter to save their lives. The water levels were rising fast and furiously. And the water – it was not the usual colorless liquid, it was dirty, yellow… It was the color of the evil! It looked as though the Almighty was washing away all evil from the city. Despite the commotion all around, a few of us had managed to catch hold of a canoe. If we could somehow get out of the city safely, maybe we could avert the danger. Maybe, just maybe, we could be the only survivors of the Doomsday!

And so we proceeded, rowing the boat ferociously amidst the deafening chaos of nature, whilst trying to battle the devil’s fury!

And oh so suddenly appeared the Devil, himself! All of us shuddered, cringed, drew back. As he stood right in front of us, the devil began yelling, “I will kill all of you! You humans don’t deserve to live! I WILL KILL YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU…”

All of us were stunned. We didn’t know what to do! Just a while ago, we were evenly spread around the boat, rowing it to safety. But now, without even realizing that we had moved, we were a collective mass of people at one end of the boat, looking fearfully at the devil on the other side.

Suddenly, I don’t know how and from where, an idea struck me. I whispered to the mass I was a part of, “Let’s all jump really hard – the devil on the other side of the boat will be thrown off. Spread the word…”  The word spread.

We all looked at one another. 1, 2, 3!!!! And we jumped.

The devil was thrown up in the sky. We rushed to our original places and started rowing the boat as fast as we could, so that he would not fall back into the canoe. The canoe began moving. The gargantuan body of the devil was being pulled downwards by gravity… “Come on, a little harder!”, “Oh God, he’s coming!”, “Row, row, row!” Screams were erupting from everywhere and then, Splash! The devil fell, and not in our canoe! He fell a little away from the canoe, in the dirty, evil water and began drowning in his own vice.

We all rejoiced, and started rowing our way towards safety, and towards the creation of a good, new world! As we began crossing the city limits, “Thud!” We hit a large wooden barrier.

“Ugh! What was that!” I woke up with a start!

I had crashed into my closed bedroom door. As I turned to look back, I realized that my entire bedroom was filled with more than 2 feet of water. The apartment upstairs was leaking in the middle of the night. I was dripping wet…

Dreams I didn’t even dream I would dream!! :-))

“Dreams are the stepping stones to success, so what should you do to be successful??”, asked a senior at college… As we all looked at him, unsure whether to attempt this one or not, he exclaimed, “Go to Sleep!!!”, and went on laughing like he thoroughly enjoyed his own piece of humour!! I grinned and asked him, “But these are dreams seen at night or during the day??” Still basking in the glory of his joke, he replied, “It could be anything!!” Jumping (actually!!) at the opportunity, I shrieked, “Why do you have to sleep while day-dreaming??” 🙂  😀 Game, Set , Match!!! LOL!

Ok Ok, getting a li’l more serious… How many of you have vivid dreams? And by dreams I don’t mean ambitions or yearnings…actual dreams that you see while you are asleep at night (or in class, or at work, or someplace else…being asleep is the only real criterion here…LOL!) Nightmares also qualify ok!! 🙂 Hmm I guess most of you do! Now, How many of you remember the dreams that you had after waking up? Go on… think hard!! However lucidly you may see your dreams, when back into the real world, and most of the times you don’t remember anything of it… even when you wake up in the middle of it!! Strange, isn’t it!!

Well a lot can be said about dreams…including two of my really funny dreams…..will describe them in the next post 😉

(Not Just)Another activity on saturday

Have you ever experienced that when you go to do something good to someone, in reality it does more good to you!! I went Last friday and saturday, the kids at Eklavya Nyasa, the NGO where i go every saturday as a part of my CSR,  attended a workshop conducted by marathi Teen magazine “Kishor”. I went there on saturday as the counsellors there told me that the children wanted someone to encourage them. And you know what, I returned from there with my spirits lifted too!! The kids had a great opportunity to interact with veteran film and television actor Mr. Kamlakar Sontakke, the editor of the magazine “Kishor” Ms. Dnyananda Naik, Dr. Kumar Saptarishi, Dr. Sucheta Paranjpe, and eminent theatre critic Madhav Vaze, who taught them different arts like writing scripts, essays, poetry, enacting of plays, anchoring a series of plays, public speaking, etc. The kids at Eklavya Nyasa were also joined by the students of Nutan Samartha Vidyalaya and Apte Prashala. In the poetry writing session, the children were asked to write poems, and a few of them were selected to be published in the magazine “Kishor”. The children also performed short plays written and directed by themselves. Some plays showed the typical amateurishness, however, there were some that showed tremendous insight to the art of drama. Like for instance the mime play called “Dushtacha asta”(which in English means – The fall of the wicked). The overall storyline of the play was like this… At the fall of night, there emerges a well from the ground, through which emerges a dangerous evil demon. He scares everyone around, like a fellow-witch, and an obnoxious drunkard who happens to venture that way, and then, when its morning he himself is afraid of the onslaught and jumps back into his well, which collapses back with him in it. This short play had excellent sound effects, with the distinction between day and night, the terror of the ghost ,etc. being shown only with the different sounds!  After the play, Dr. Kumar Saptarishi had a word with the kids regarding different aspects of life and wasn’t it a must-hear!! He said he didn’t know whether there existed something like Paradise, but children and adults, who spread happiness on earth, were creating paradise right here! He asked the children not to ever fall prey for concepts like caste differences, ’cause finally, all human bodies had similar organs, veins, and blood. Being a doctor himself, he said, if we were in any way different from others because of our caste, doctors would have to learn to dissect bodies of all specific caste. Then a doctor’s signboard would read, he said, “Dr. XYZ, MBBS, Dissected body of caste ABC, PQR”.  But then again, students at medical school get to dissect only unclaimed bodies, most likely belonging to beggars. So since doctors were qualified to operate only on the beggars, as they dissected only their bodies, who would operate on the rich?? So, refrain from prejudice based on religion, caste,creed,breed,state, colour, gender, financial status,etc, he pledged! Well i could go on describing what all the kids learnt during the workshop and who said what; but more than what they learnt, I am pondering on what I did….Seriously, right from the poems the kids narrated(fathom writing this line “Jagna marna ek koda ahe..Jata Jata Sodvun Bagh”—-“Life and death is a puzzle, try solving it before you go”…well I wouldn’t have thought this line at an age of 10 or 12!! Ammazing man!!), to the plays they enacted, to the advice they got from the invitees, everything was a biiig learning experience, and an enriching one at that!!

Traffic Signal—Yellow this time!!

One of the most awaited movies of the year was the 3rd and last part of Madhur Bhandarkar’s trilogy on life…..”After Page 3 and Corporate”(Thats what the promos said).. TRAFFIC SIGNAL!!

A very different movie! It has no very specific story, it basically just tries to give you the glimpses of the industry that makes its living on the traffic signal! Right from the Gajra sellers, to beggars, to eunuchs, to petty thieves, to prostitutes, and the Bhais who collect ‘Hafta’ from these businessmen of the signal, Traffic Signal shows you what u’ve never imagined, let alone, what u’ve never seen!

Take for instance the make up that mongrels put up for looking like “real” bhikharis, the systematic way in which “Hafta” is collected and delivered from a Bhai assigned to each street, to one taking care of the area, to city, to the even more “bade log”! Or the mentalities of the beggars(The hero Kunal Khemu says in a scene,”Don’t think the people on the streets who give u money are doing some favour!! Ask confidently, it’s ur right, coz they wash their sins by doing so”).

The movie is about such people, and how the decision to build a flyover on the road affects their, and how they decide to fight against this. Hardly any solid material for a full-length movie, but nevertheless, it shows us different aspects of the life at traffic signal.

On the acting front, Kunal Khemu as the protagonist is no doubt top-class! Neetu Chandra is OK as a simple clothes-seller. Upendra Limaye, Sandeep Kulkarni, and Konkona Sen Sharma are flawless as usual. Its nice to see Ranveer Shorey in a non-goofy role, and he portrays the helpless graduate-cum-street mongrel-cum-depressed drug addict-cum-silent lover role very well! Special mention to the kid who plays the character Tsunami, in a very short role, he conveys a lot!

The music of the movie is disappointing though! The dialogues are very relevant, witty and well-thought. Photography is good too!

All-in-all, I would call it a watchable movie, if you are someone who likes to know different human tendencies. Kudos to Madhur Bhandarkar for thinking of showing people something as different as this; but having said that, Neither Green nor Red, I would give a Yellow signal to people who want to watch the movie.

Note: Since I’ve begun my movie reviews with the movie Traffic Signal, I’ll follow the same rating system for my forthcoming reviews! Red: NO, Green: YES, and Yellow: MAY BE!

My driving!! (not other people mad…am talking about the real stuff here!!hehe)

I love driving!! Though not from the start, I must admit…. I first of all started driving a little later than allowed, at the age of 21, and it was quite a shaky start.

My younger sister had already learned driving, and she was indeed a verry good driver. So adding to it my own lack of confidence, my driving adventure had been quite a matter of discussion (sometimes read as mockery) at home.

First of all, there’s this rule that you cannot answer a driving test before one month of obtaining a learner’s license. And I had got the bright idea of doing a crash course in driving by learning it in 15 days, and I did so (despite the number of reprimands I got from my instructor though… hehehe). So I had to cool my heals for 15 days, and then my college started na…when would I get the time to answer a test?? (By now readers must’ve already got an idea that I was just looking for excuses 🙂 ) Basically ever since I had 2 very comically tragic incidents, my confidence with my driving had taken a total beating!

Incident no 1: This happened before I learnt to drive a car, and when I was trying my hands on a Kawasaki 4S motorcycle. (Those readers who are wondering why I was attempting a 4S, instead of a simple auto-geared bike don’t probably know my dad, whose opinion is: “Scooty..what kind of a bike is that!! The real bike is only a geared one…Only one that is worth riding!!”) So anyway, after I learnt the preliminaries of bike riding like kick-start, press clutch, slightly pull accelerator, and slowly release clutch; and took a couple of rounds in a time span of 15 days (wow…I am such a fast learner!! lol!), I told my dad to ride pillion with me, so that he could give me some real bike tips….So there we go…

I mounted the bike, kick-started it (hey mind you, I was very good at this :-), very good, only at this..:-(  ), and pressed the clutch. Somehow, I pulled the accelerator a little too hard, and released the clutch a little too quick….no no…much too quick, with the accelerator still pulled tight!!

Have you ever seen a horse jumping up on his 2 hind legs and neighing ferociously??

You must be wondering why I suddenly went off at a tangent after moving in the unending circle of my adventures for such a long time…Well my state was exactly like the horse, except that the hind legs in that case were replaced by the rear tire of the bike here!!!

Cut two – A roaring noise, my dad down on the road (that’s the only part I regret about the whole incident, rest all was still amusing!!), me up in the air along with my bike, except for an arc of the rear tire, and not for long!! 😐

Then me on the ground, the bike on the ground (thankfully…a much better situation than the bike on me!!), the rearview mirror, the footstep, and the side stand in their respective coffins, and my hands scraped!!

Incident no 2: Immediately after learning driving a car, I happen to go to my Mama’s place. They know I’ve learnt to drive, so ask me to take the car out.

While taking out our car from the garage, I forget to release the handbrake!! The car starts moving very slowly in spite of me stomping on the accelerator, which is when I realize my mistake!! Well some people correct their mistakes by making more mistakes, and I did exactly that!! With my foot firmly on the accelerator, I release the handbrake!!

The car sped out of the garage, right onto the road!! (Needless to say, that gathered a lot of applause for me, with my Mama telling me, “Wow you are driving a jet airplane!!” heehee ).

Now I have to correct my mistake of speeding, so I apply brakes, and the road is uphill!! After coming to  a stop, I change into the 1st gear, and start, only to go backwards!!!!! 😀

“Honk Honk”, “Beep Peep”, “Oye hello!!” , and lots of such certificates come my way from poor unassuming drivers behind me!! I seemingly haven’t learnt how to start the car on half clutch… Overwhelmed by the applause I nervously try again …

After 10 seconds of failing, I climb out from the driver’s seat, get into the passenger, and my younger sister exchanges places with me and takes the car out of the way, and eventually to our destination, safely!

And all this with my entire Khandaan watching me!! :-((

From then on, I  avoided driving the car like plague!! I mean come on guys… You can imagine what wonders the incident did to my confidence and my ego!!! :-))

OK , so then, I did not drive the car or ride the bike for a loooong time….almost a whole year!!

Then I answered my final semester computer engineering examination, and had nothing to do for four full months, thanks to my beloved employers who gave me date of joining so much in far future!

And plus, I was too ashamed of myself!! My younger sister had become an expert driver by then, and poor me elder sister still depended on her or my dad to drop me to places…

So the day I answered my last paper, I re-enrolled myself in a revision session of the driving school. Well SURPRISINGLY, after taking to the wheel after such a long time and after such a huge fiasco, I was good at it (driving, not fiasco)!! Seriously!! Even my instructor, who in my first innings was so irritated with me, and never once said a kind word to me, was surprised!! This time around, everything went on smoothly, including the driving test, which had a strict examiner, and strict questions; and yet, I passed with flying colors!!! Yipppee!!!!! I myself didn’t know what got over me, or rather what had gotten over me the last time round!! 🙂

So then on, I became my family’s chauffeur! 4 months at home, I didn’t have anything else to do!! Good for me for my practice of course!!

Then on, I tried my driving skills at every opportunity!! I really got addicted to it!!

My longest continuous driving stints have been from Goa to Kankavli , and Pune to Mumbai!!! (both a little over 200 kms), and I have thankfully completed them successfully!! Then of course, driving in Pune city without any untoward incident also added to my confidence! In fact this was the lone fact that finally convinced my mom that I could drive! LOL!!

Is this too long a blog? hmmm may be! more about this, sometime later!! 🙂

SRK is most definitely THE King Khan!!

Well, his acting talents, his ssssssssstttaaaaammmmerrrring dialogue delivery, his over-acting, his style, his charisma, his clean image, his quizzing skills,  and his personal life apart, just on the scale of sheer wits, SRK scores a triple A+!

Take for instance the latest episode of KBC!! Most of you must have watched in shock as this last contestant of that episode, sitting pretty on 12.5 lakhs, told Shahrukh to his face that she was quitting the show, but she didn’t want to hug him!!”Mujhe aapko gale lagane ka koi shauk nahi hai“, were her precise words. For those who don’t know, in this new version of KBC, contestants who do not want to risk the next question can quit by saying “Shahrukh, mujhe gale laga lo!”

For that one moment, everyone, including SRK himself, was stunned! I was half-listening, so what I initially thought was she was being brave and refusing to quit the show, so she told Shahrukh that she doesn’t want to hug him, she’d rather go on with the game!! I mean that still showed competitive spirit!! But alas, this woman was actually insulting him, beyond doubt!

Of course, after the initial shock , SRK recovered quickly, and went through the routine of telling the contestant how they made a correct decision by not forfeiting the money they’ve already earned, and congratulating them, and thanking them, and so on… After all the routines took place, when the time came to hand over the cheque, SRK said to Madame contestant, “I hope ki aap mind nahin karengi agar main ye cheque aapki bajay aapki mummyji ko dun…kyunki unko mujhe gale lagane me koi aitraaz nahi hoga!!!” :-))))

And then he walked confidently towards the contestant’s Mom, who had accompanied her to the show, and gave her a biggggg hug, along with the big cheque!! And from the expressions on her face, no one would a get a prize for guessing that she was more than happy to do so!! And do I need to tell you what the expression on the contestant’s face was??

In one moment the  great ‘Mr. Khan’ (That’s what she “professionally” kept calling him during the entire episode!!) turned the tables on Madame-I’m-superior-than-SRK, and boy!! Didn’t that get the audience up and roaring with applause!!! Needless to say, my roomie and I also joined in the celebration of SRK’s wits!!