Thursday, July 28, 2011

Life out of a suitcase: Journey into the times of my yore!

As it occurred to me that any series is most successful in its trilogy, I seek to bring an end to my travelogues, also realising that although I take great pleasure in commemorating each of these eventful trips by recording them as memoirs in my blogs, I have also found that since I always knew what I was about to write I have found myself incessantly delaying it for no good reason. So not having enough to divulge I bring my travelogues to a closure, and what better trip to end it with than the town which is not only famous in the entire world for its luscious and savoury alphonso mangoes but also happens to be my birth place. A town where I had my first conscious memories, a town that had only been hitherto in the subconscious recesses of mind, constructed only through the broken memories dimly aided by old pictures that piece the blinking reminiscence together and make up for an empirical evidence for our presence there. When at the tender age of 3 I left the town, I had promised myself that I’ll preserve its memories in my head so that I don’t forget where it all began, not knowing in the slightest that I might actually get a chance to revisit it almost 18 years later, as if to acquiesce that three year old’s wish to actually permanently etch the memory in the mind by an actual revisitation.

We had never set out to visit Ratnagiri initially, it was more of a detour trip, the trip was actually to Goa, which coincidentally, although not as importantly enough is my brother’s birthplace (excuse my vanity; I am the author of the blog after all and besides we have no memory of living there). At the time of booking the tickets when we were almost set to book the air tickets back from Goa to Delhi, my mother suggested why not check the Konkan railways that we had heard about so much ever since we left that part of India. I could understand her insistence on checking out considering the countless times she had recounted to us the giddy and motion sickness laden road trips she had to take from Ratnagiri to Bombay in order to visit her parents. Although I sentimentalise over it now, honestly I wasn’t too excited with the idea, because it took a day away from our stay at Goa. But our mother had her tricks at place, and she used the emotional ticket, evoking our dormant nostalgia for that peaceful, blissful town and levelling down our brimming enthusiasm for Goa, which we had already visited once before. She got us all excited telling us we could go to the house where I was born and my brother began to go to school, where we spent one of our most precious, innocent and evanescent times of our lives. This was quite enough for us to reconsider the plan and we decided to set out for a déjà vu that seemed promising enough.

We had the most wonderful 4 days at Goa that hardly need any description because I wouldn’t be able to add anything that hasn’t already been dished out by travel enthusiasts and travel magazines and in comparison to their accounts my own would sound rather dull and bland. I believe it’s not too important either because everyone going to Goa has almost the similar stories to share and similar places to rave about. In fact as much as I would have enjoyed myself in Goa, the two following days heave stronger in profundity and significance. We made way to Ratnagiri on the morning of the 5th day, still finding it difficult to leave Goa, not quite still realising the overwhelming experience that awaited us.

So we arrived in Ratnagiri after a short train trip of 4 hours or so, it was evening time, we reached to yet another shanty hotel (ill luck in terms of hotels never seems to be absent from any trip, this one had been booked by a long lost family friend who had still been living there, but ironically in Delhi at the same time as we were there, such is life!) After freshening up we realised there was nothing much to do in that town that almost seemed as if halted in time. My parents remarked that they hardly noticed any significant changes from the time they had left it almost 18 years back. The town seemed to be lying dormant as if still stuck in the early 90’s when we had formed memories of having lived there. As we took an auto and made our way through the squalid homes, we could see the way my mother was getting all excited, because if any of it made absolute sense to visit the town once again it was only for my parents, and maybe even my brother who remembered some things at least, nonetheless our heart beats were as racy as that of our mother. It was as if we were taking a plunge into the past, digging up memories and images that seemed almost from a previous birth. Since we left the town when we were still very young, the images were hazy and muddled, almost like those foggy scenes shown in bollywood movies to indicate something paranormal and mystical. As we were inching towards the house I was born in and in the courtyard of which my brother played bat and ball and hide and seek with my parents while I rocked in my cradle, we had an intense experience of a déjà vu, like we had been here but could not fully recollect how and what of it.

To our enormous surprise, as we stepped out of the rickety auto that drove at snail speed as if divined to orchestrate the climax of the scene, we saw that the house where I was born, where my brother played and wandered, where my father learnt his love for gardening and my mother battled snakes and other such creatures of peril, was just about the same as it had been left 18 years ago. I wondered if the marvellous and the magic realism that people write about could really exist. The house looked as if waiting for us to witness it for what it had been. It was as if the promise of retention that I had made to myself had been shared by the house and it had kept its word to uphold it. We squandered about the house for a little while, then tried to open the front iron gate which did not budge even after much effort, so we climbed over the fence and sneaked a look at the insides through the broken windows. It wasn’t that great an experience for me as for my brother, who had memories associated with each room of the house, as he peeked through the broken windows, he was not only emotionally astounded but was choked and overwhelmed with a nostalgia of a lost time, a lost age.

As if by another play of the marvellous, we forgot to bring our cameras, that has never happened in any trip before, (except for the Khambat trip of course but then we had never intended to click pictures on that trip anyway) It was as if the house wished to be recaptured in memory and not in digital pixels. We took pictures from our cell phones, promising to preserve this last reservoir of memory. And at that magnanimous moment in the grip of emotional welling up my brother made a claim that he would buy the house someday, even if it didn’t fetch him anything, he would buy it to preserve it in both memory and in actual physical terms. Moving on from his fantastical ideas, we checked if any of our old neighbours still lived. The ones living just next to our house still lived there, they too had aged like us, but still seemed as if stuck in time like the rest of the town. They expressed great surprise on seeing us, but since they were not on excellent terms with us and were not the socialising kinds, they couldn’t match our excitement or our sentimentalising. Some of the members of the family had passed away, and some other married and therefore had moved on. My brother reminisced how he used to fetch packets of sugar by prancing on the little bylanes that had been now concretised. All nearby structures had changed except that house, that reservoir of our past. So after we all let out our final Sighs! and oohs! and aahs! we finally decided to move on realising there was nothing much to do there after all. 

The next day we made way to Ganpati Pule the place that we had planned to visit because there was otherwise nothing to do in Ratnagiri than commemorating our past. So we set out to the temple which is both really famous and still not very well known, but its arguably the most wonderful road trips that I have ever taken. The beaches were pristine, untainted almost virginal. After returning from Ganpati Pule we realised we’d have been such utter fools had we not heeded to the pleas of our mother. So other than savouring the plush beaches and quaint churches of Goa, in that trip we reconnected to our pasts, making its link stronger in our present lives, I realised the place of my birth was not just another weird name on the Birth certificate but an actual town that was both peaceful and tranquil, that Ganpati Pule and en-route was one of the most scenic beauties I could ever witness in my life and also it reaffirmed the old belief that mothers are always right. 

The places I have covered in my trilogy of the travelogues are really not exceptional, I may not even over enthusiastically recommend these to anyone, especially not Darjeeling of course, but these have been trips that have had the most significant bearing on my life and despite their brevity have in fact survived longer than other fleeting, although enjoyable escapades. One was about a quaint unknown town in western Gujarat, another a mortal combat for life, food and Mp3 and the third a revalidation of my past, my childhood. Although, these have been subjective pertaining to individual experiences I hope you enjoyed reading. I might come up with another new topic of discussion next time, a little impersonal this time, until then ‘Au revoir!’

Friday, July 8, 2011

Life out of a suitcase : Travelogue 2

So as a part of my travelogue series, the next city, or trip that I am going to introduce you to, is the one that we had very enthusiastically and earnestly planned in the wintry month of November. In fact it was our most earnest trip ever, considering the time that had been spent planning it and the extravagance of wild imagination invested while we mentally charted through the picturesque and beautiful landscapes of Darjeeling and Gangtok planning to visit these shrines of nature that had been thus far only witnessed from enamelled and glossy post cards and annual calendars. The green of these pictures had mesmerised us so that we almost felt as if it were calling out to us, the call had to be responded (also since the LTC had been due that year) so despite my initial reservations of taking on yet another mountain hiking, leg cramming hill station trip we nonetheless settled down on making a once in a time grand visit to the far east of our country, that secluded part of India that is only Indian by virtue of boundaries, and imaginary at that.
So we set out on a trip to Darjeeling/Gangtok in the early chill of winters around mid November. We had strategically planned our visit after diwali in order to avoid large flocks of tourists who brim and crowd the first rows of almost every sight-seeing spot as if reaching there, marking their presence and capturing it on camera was the sole purpose with which they had set out on their entire tour, after all covering each and every nook of all the tourist spots mentioned on the tour guide is a must if one has to eek the absolute benefit of a pre-planned tour. We could have chosen a tour plan but chose to do the exploring bit ourselves, only if we had chosen otherwise. Presuming this to be the best time to visit a hill station and with plans and hopes of being able to spot the snow covered peaks of Himalaya we set out for our trip, not knowing in the slightest of what awaited us on reaching there.
 So we took the Jalpaiguri Rajdhani Express and treated ourselves to the continual services offered from the pantry of Rajdhani Express, the regular servings of timely snacks, soup, dinner, dessert and breakfast the next morning kept us busy and literally full throughout the journey. On reaching the Jalpiguri station we made the most erroneous choice of the entire trip. Gangtok and Darjeeling were equidistant, our trip was a 6 days affair and according to plan we had to halt at Darjeeling for 3 days before making way to Gangtok so that the trip could be on a upscale, with the relatively lesser beautiful place being followed by the one that was slightly better. We headed to Darjeeling in a pooled taxi with another family. So after almost 5 long hours of merry go round around the hills of west Bengal, and having spot the toy train at several places and cursing ourselves for not having opted for it while we had a chance we finally reached Darjeeling around late afternoon. Before entering the city our cab along with those that had left with us at the Jalpaiguri station were stopped at the mouth of the city. The deal and the prime reason for our trip to be the antithesis of what had been cheerfully planned was that the entire city had been called for a Bandh due to internal factions and civil turmoil. The Gorkha land issue was the pin that deflated our balloon of excitement and made this trip something to remember for lifetime for not so happy reasons. If i am to plot a line graph of the relative disastrousness of some of the bad trips we have taken, this one would be serving itself at the highest point.
As if the Bandh was not enough to squash our hopes there was news of tourists being apparently under the target of the protesters. My father got back some awful news of someone being stabbed in broad daylight, whether this happened for real or was amongst the several fallacious rumours doing round they didn’t tell him but it was enough to terrorise all of us. With our hearts in our mouths and our hands squeezed in our pockets we precariously stepped out of the cab so scared and bewildered as if right on the target. Spooked out as we were our father took us to the nearest and also unfortunately and presumably the stingiest and the most rusty looking inn of the entire city. He had been so freaked out with the talks of men with daggers that he didn’t risk walking us even a few meters to consider better options. So despite our constant ranting and reluctance we made way to the inn half heartedly. The shanty rusticity of the inn was draped in bright hues of red blue and green, the colours however did hardly anything to alleviate our dampened spirits. To add to that was the unbecoming and unpalatable food that the inn owner provided us that night. The inn otherwise had no catering facility and we couldn’t have stepped out for the fear of being stabbed to death (well the intent is not to gross out my readers, this was what they made us believe the situation was). The bitterness of the entire land was as if poured into that dinner that night, my brother says he can never disassociate a nauseating giddiness with the memory of that night. I had heard olfactory senses make way for associative memory but apparently the pungency and repulsion of the taste buds have a more lasting effect.

The next day was also called for a Bandh, the tourist guides, whose daily bread depended on the tourists, had the slightest concern for their livelihood, and declared with an audacious smug that the city was still closed to visitors and civilians. Their pale, dirt smeared faces as if glared at us with a mocking surge as if reminding us of the neglect that we inflict on them. One could almost sense their disapproval for our utter disregard of them as part of the Indian State. We nonetheless lanced our way out of the safety haven of the dingy inn and found a cafe that could provide us with some edible breakfast, lunch, evening snack, dinner, all meals in short; choice remained as elusive to us as the green valleys of Darjeeling that we had set out to see when we had the trip planned. The third day, my father desperate to make something of the LTC tour, went to one of the cab drivers and had to literally almost bribe him with extra money and sponsored lunch so that he showed us at least some part of the Bandh-free Darjeeling. So an entire day was spent visiting the rather average, but nonetheless exceptional (by tourist standards) tea gardens, a little venture at rock climbing on a mere 10 ft  wall (well we did something at least despite the bandh!) and a visit to the local monastery where we spotted little monks who were exceptionally cute.
The same day we were also advised to take a cab to Gangtok because there was no political turmoil there and also the passage to that state had also been almost clear in the last 2 days. The next day as we packed up with our hopes soaring high so that we could make something of our poorly trip, we were told that the passage to Gangtok had been close and for the sake of our safety and well being we must at that very instant head back to Siliguri, a city unheard of otherwise, situated in West Bengal. All the mighty plans to visit Gangtok went amuck, I and my brother pulled the longest face we could and amidst ceaseless whines were shoved into the cab that took us to the plains again. The 5 hour merry go round was more nauseating than before now. As if the bitterness of that horrid inn food mixed with the bile of dissatisfaction was churning in our stomachs to give us belches of unrequited anguish. What was worse, was that in our cab we were accompanied my two Sikkimese men who wouldn’t stop raving about the beauty of that state and how it was so much better than Darjeeling well, they did nothing to cure us of our acidic belches full of discontent, they could have only heightened the agony. So we reached Siliguri and so trembled we were by a possible unrest there as well we lodged ourselves in the nearest available hotel (although choice would have not been unavailable, but that is luck we say).
So we dumped ourselves in another hotel of a city which we would have never planned to visit in an entire lifetime, even if we had pledged to do a Bharat Darshan of sorts. Clumsily sacked in that lone town of West Bengal we spent the rest three days cursing ourselves for having made the “3 mistakes of my (trip)”, the first being, setting out on a trip to one of the most sensitive parts of India without making sufficient enquiries about it, the second, not taking the cab to Sikkim from the Jalpaiguri station in assuming that any trip should successfully alleviate itself (ironically it did so but in only alleviating our melancholy) and finally in not leaving Darjeeling while we had the chance to do so only because we couldn’t wake up on time (fathers don’t scold you for nothing for being lazy bums). The soapy saga doesn’t even end here, as a perfect complement to the utter disastrousness of the trip, my brother forgot his Mp3 player in the shanty inn of Darjeeling and what is worse we have by hand of fate or by technical ghastliness lost all our pictures of that trip taken from our digital camera and saved on the C drive of our ill-fated computer (because every time you run the damned machine it needs reformatting).
However, we procured the Mp3 back from the inn owners through courier which resurrected our faith in humanity (pardon my exaggeration but the magnanimity of the trip demands it). Someday hopefully we’ll also recover the lost photographs, the only memoirs we retain of that ominous trip (other than the bitter taste of the inn food, of course, that still belches up when we recall the whole experience).  

Friday, June 17, 2011

Life out of a suitcase

In the span of the 20 or so odd years of my life, I have taken many a trips with my family to various places around India. I have never had the opportunity to visit any place outside of India and although I’d have loved to do I hardly find myself regretting it. My father’s job with his various transfers and the LTC’s he is entitled to every 4 years have facilitated an eventful life which other than the hardships of a life on a move have also made it possible for us to visit different places and not only live there or observe it, but to imbibe and inhale the various customs and idiosyncrasies particular to a certain place. I am not denying that some of these trips have proved to be failures and have ended up disappointing us bitterly but they have not failed to reveal to us a part of India that would not be made available to us but for these various planned or unplanned and impulsive trips we have taken. So I dedicate some of the following blogs to the places I have visited and the impression they have left on me while I just splattered through their streets not knowing that these fleeting moments of glee or dejectedness could actually stand the test of time and be as fresh in my memory as if it were just from yesterday.  
I may not have been to all the best possible and sought after places in India, but to those I have been to have been etched in my memory and my conscious forever. And it might sound poetic and lyrical but it is indeed true that every city has its own life breath and fingerprint, peculiarities, distinctive places to visit whether or not a tourist city. Every city will have a quaint temple, mosque, gurudwara or church which the city people swear has its feverish following and is significant in one mystique way or another. In a country like ours where mysticism is not a taboo but a celebrated preoccupation we can never run short of it and it is wondrous to see how almost every city thrives on it and would have accompanying stories that amend to the mysticism aroused. Besides all this mystic charm, every city harbours a set of people that are characteristically distinct from those in other parts of the country. Being a multilingual and multicultural society this discrepancy within even similar religious beliefs is not a thing of surprise. We have made trips to certain places where few would have considered going to, one of them being a suburb town/village called Khambhat, Siliguri in West Bengal where we had to escape to when there was political turmoil in Darjeeling, to Ratnagiri, place more remembered for its mangoes than being my birthplace and several such cities that don’t even mention in people’s bon voyages.
I’ll begin with a city that will most unlikely feature in any tourist catalogue or in the anecdotes of people who have visited several cities. I remember the modest house and simple attire of Hasib Bhai in Khambat, it was difficult to believe that he had been an exporter. He had three sons all of whom engaged in their father’s business, all married with wives that were both modern and yet subtly so. All his sons had been educated and had had a taste of the city life and yet chose to take refuge in the weighty tranquillity of their hometown. He introduced us to his business in polished stones and how Khambat was famous for natural stones dug out from the pit of the sea and had a huge demand in international market for home decor, as jewellery pieces and for several other ostentatious purposes for which the West has a fancy due to the oriental and exotic feel that is associated with them so that they are adorned as carefully collected relics in the systemized European houses. As we visited the marshy beaches which were highly unsuitable for anything other than salt cultivation because of the uncanny saline deposits, he told us how, Khambaat was one of the biggest salt suppliers of the western coast. He then took us to the cottage mills of the city to show us one of the oldest occupations that had stood the test of time and had been passed on from ancient times to the modern, viz., the art of making handmade silk and in that remote village/town of Khambat we were surprised to find south Indians who had housed themselves there centuries ago and were now meshed with their surroundings making you wonder with disbelief if they could really be called south Indians at all.
 The government guest house where we were put up was a lone colonial squander that stood out amidst the placidity and the murky ordinariness of the rest of the city, looking nothing short of a haunt from the past qualifying itself to be the stage of some nerve wrenching horror flick with its measly staff of two odd looking senile men. I’d be lying if i said that i didn’t feel freaked out sleeping in that old rickety place even while with my family. This eerie looking staff however was very efficient and industrious and attended every complaint whether it be of the fan making squeaky noises, to the A/C that puffed more than it cooled or to the disoriented and dislodged geyser in the bathroom that needed immediate attention with utmost urgency and alacrity. Despite or maybe because of its remotedness the people in that town had been given to a warmth and hospitality that is rare in the urban cities. One is treated not with servility but with an air of familiarity that is more becoming and comforting than pretentious deference. The morning breakfast and the late evening dinners were met with a geniality as if these men were grateful to us for bestowing them with human company in that otherwise shanty vestige of the British, perhaps the only building other than the deserted and rather ignored wobbly church in the city square. Sitting in its cosy rooms as we snuggled in the blankets me and my brother squealed with excitement about the quaintness of the city and its potential to be the site for a racy thriller or a queasy morbid horror masterpiece, its Gothicism inspired both awe and terror. Maybe that’s why I could never get the picture out of my head despite the fact that we have no photographic memoir from that place, if it exists in my head it does by virtue of its distinctiveness that engraved itself into my memories so that i don’t have to even strain myself to remember the picture almost 8 long years since we took that 2 day trip.
The other thing that was noticeable in that romantic other-worldly town and about the people over there was that you could never tell what caste or religion the various people belonged to. Despite the horrendous and disastrous riots that gripped the state into a bloodbath in 2006, the town showed not even minor signs of religious animosity or bitterness. The city was an exemplum of communal harmony, its people just thankful enough for their daily bread than care for rooting out each other’s guts for difference in religious loyalties. These people were not atheists because, other than the sorry church, the mosques and temples were flooded with people in the mornings and evenings and both commanded equal visits from the forlorn tourists who’d visit the city by mere chance or fluke.
So we came back with several stones. Stones to be used as showpieces, stones to be set in leather threads and worn around the neck, stones to be worn as bracelets believed to control blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and behold, even AIDS (how, is still mystery to me), stones carved in perfect spheres believed to have soothing effect by lulling you to sleep if you rolled them consistently over an hour and stones that had no specific use but were brought because of the charm they exuded. And besides these also with the knowledge that life existed out of the racy conundrum of the urban cities in which we have entangled ourselves, that one could be at peace and be content with whatever one has like Hasib Bhai and that one could retain their basic nature despite the adulteration and the corruption of the world that chooses to see itself as more modern. The visit gave us several stories, various souvenirs and a memory that still holds itself as I pass it over to my readers. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Romantic Affair with memories

I heard Joan Baez sing away the other day, memories bring diamond and rust, I have no old lover, nor a romantic affair that can bring back its memories, but I do have romantic affair with old memories themselves. Memories that peep out of old dusty cartons, throwing up flashes from the distant past that have been long forgotten and got over with. I have a romantic affair with all these memoirs from a past life which has been left behind.  An old dress that you no longer fit into because you have grown older, the old notebooks where you scribbled nonchalantly and had silly remarks made by friends on the pages that have now turned yellow. Photographs do rekindle moments and memories but only of the time when the picture was clicked or of the people in the picture generally. However, what lingers on as definite etches in the mind are these mementos from a life that appears almost a light year away now.

Being in a transferrable job, my father often makes us move from one house to another, sometimes even to different cities. In this flux what is retained with us of each house, each city and each neighbourhood is these random items we might have collected over years.  So yet again these old boxes have come out to haunt me. I have never regretted moving to so many places, it is difficult initially and to be honest we crib a lot for the initial few days, but it has taught me to learn to make homes out of all these houses that we have moved into, making them our own for the brief period that we get to stay here.

An old school t-shirt where people wrote how they are going to miss you and that you have been special, an old scrap book where you and your friends have scribbled the silliest of things and now get too embarrassed when you mention it; the yellowed and dusty school photograph in which once you could tell the names, surnames and even roll numbers of most of your friends, a pack of crayon colours your mother got to keep you busy in the summer break, the jumbo colour book where some pages are beautifully and sincerely painted and others are left in a lazy give away and half hearted way-I found these and a lot more in my old boxes. Add to these countless copies of tinkle magazines, tinkle digests, old borrowed Archies comics, reader’s digests and several other magazines collected over summer vacations and at other times of the year. Greeting cards bought and received on birthdays, anniversaries and father-mother-son-daughter and all other concocted days. My father asks me what should be done with these, there’s a suggestion that since I don’t need most of these there should be a way to do away with them. But even if I part with these assorted items that I have collected over years, will I ever get over the memories they entail. Good or bad, they are a part of me and define who I am today. In fact I am quite glad we move so often how else would I get a chance to revisit my childhood and recollect moments from school and my homes that have not only taught me how to live life but also to cherish it.

My mother takes out a small teddy bear and tells me how I had thrown tantrums to get it, as I dig further I find my old Barbie’s, if you ask me I can give you several reasons why I hate the idea of the Barbie now, but at that age it was every girl’s fascination and each Barbie had a story of how and when I procured it. As soft toys and Barbies kept appearing from the cartons so did my childhood, and with it the stories that my mother had to tell. Some were got by my father for he went on long tours outside the city, some by my mother to award the successful completion of an academic year and some others on special occasions like birthdays or Diwali. I never played with them as such except for the Barbie, cause Barbie actually made you believe you could be anything in life :P but they still were my possessions that had to be preserved and also guarded when raided by rowdy grizzly cousins.

Then there are the shells that we collected from the beaches of Goa, and even though they are broken and of no aesthetic or other value, they are still carefully carried from one house to another for they are souvenirs of the amazing trip we had there and the fun we had while collecting them. There were books too, lots of them, books that I read and loved, books I bought and never read and books that I had exhausted and could still read one more time.

Finding certain things, that you had momentarily forgotten or had regressed in the memory, gives you a sense of pleasure that is unmatched and irreplaceable. The romantic idea of living on the move, out of the suitcase, life being a journey and we being voyagers and the motif of constant flux then seem more enigmatic than the boring monotony of everyday life and may cause you either to philosophise or otherwise inspire enough to share it with others like I am doing now. The fact is that I was so overwhelmed by the whole experience, of realising the fact that my stay at my current residence is another stage another epoch in my diasporic life that I couldn’t resist talking about it.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Exam-Summery

So after more than a month of sabbatical I return to my blog, and I must say I really missed blogging. In these days when I could not blog, sometimes due to a wrecked laptop charger or at other times, due to overload of work (you can’t expect yourself nor bring yourself to write just anything after keying in close to 30,000 words for your term papers). But it feels good to be back and I have promised myself that I will not take such long breaks unless necessitated by exams or ill-health or other electronic glitches which have become a commonplace for my laptop.

Anyway, as the sultry scorching heat of May approaches and threatens to dry up my thoughts along with my cognitive potential, blogging is one respite that salvages by giving me a chance to exercise my brain that is shrinking every minute. Sometimes I wonder if this lethargy of mind is because of lethargy of the body or vice versa, well either way, it is obviously not helping and definitely not desired. A few days before one of my friends complained about every corner of her house feeling like a blast furnace, and I couldn’t agree more. And much worse in such situations is to write exams, straining every grey cell and each muscle of your body to keep on moving despite the sweltering heat threatening to take charge over you, so that you want to throw away your pen, pour that water bottle over your head and declare in a shrill shriek, “I can take no more, I know what to write so could you mark me on my knowledge?” If you are in an approved degree college, however, this doesn’t work. You still have to sit through and rummage your brains to complete the rest of the paper somehow. I wish Einstein had tested his relativity theory on the hapless exam takers who have to go through this torture in the months of unexceptional heat and sweat. I am sure he’d have answers that would have corresponded to his theory to the wee bit. Every minute counts, and so does every word even if it slithers across the sheet as the invigilator is pulling the sheet away from you.

 I have always wondered how some people manage to finish the paper before time. However, after much contemplation I came to the conclusion, that these early birds who finish the paper while others still have their noses buried in their papers are generally of two kinds, one are those, who know exactly what to write and how much of it and so do just that and finish on time. The others, after having spent enough time roving their eyes here and there, observing people, after several failed frantic and desperate attempts at using vile means, having exhausted their capacity to use other means to while time, or have just laid their weapons because of the futility of trying out any foul means in the presence of the invigilator. Examinations are a part of the conspiracy of a defeatist world, where the paper setter invariably knows what you left for studying, what was the question you prepared on the first day of the 4 day break and the answer you just saw before entering the exam hall and now despite innumerable frustrating and self defeating attempts you can’t seem to remember. In fact I often feel exams are a way to test how you can still manage to survive three hours of this gruesome mental crusade and are able to retain your sanity and good belief amidst such debilitating and overwhelming circumstances that incessantly go against you by the cruel work of fate.

The worse being, you look up having given up all hopes of ‘passing with flying colours’( or any colour for that matter except obviously the ‘red’) and look around trying to find a camaraderie, a companionship in your suffering and sadly find almost everybody else writing so feverishly as if earning extra life points with every written word. And as you skim through the classroom searching for a soul-mate whose condition is as dreary as your own, you find in the other corner of the room some other cheeky lost soul whose also looking up and running his eyes across the room, but before you can meet his eyes and exchange a mental hi5, the kid gets himself busy again, leaving you alone to resume your penury. Finally, it dawns upon you that you have come to write an exam and not a thesis on the report of human behaviour in examination halls. You grip the pen firmly determined to get a go at the last answer you know, but don’t want to write for some no god forsaken reason. However, as soon as you get at it, the invigilator announces in her shrill voice that only about 5 minutes are left.

The world comes crashing down, the illusions of time are shattered, the relative theory requires to be turned around its head, and in what seems like a race against time, you wonder if the limits of 5 minutes can be stretched. Suddenly, everything starts running in your mind, but alas all in a haphazard manner in random order of importance and priority. You begin eating up words, believe that you have already written something when you have not, and the conclusion is never out of the mind, because the teacher taught, never leave the answer without concluding it, you may fudge the other portions, but conclude!

And after all the tussle against time, escaping the hawk eyes of the invigilator to catch that one word from a friend that reminded you of a whole answer, and through the several bouts of water gulps between answers to give yourself time to recollect and reassure yourself that all’s not lost, you somehow finish your paper, with random scribbling across the question paper, with doodles, remarks about how you don’t get a word and random calculations of the anticipated marks taking up the entire body of the blank space on the paper.

But what pervades all these dismal details, is the joy and the exhilaration of getting free, rather getting rid of an exam, a subject, of something that wouldn’t haunt you for some time at least. As opposed to some people, I never relook at the paper, what’s done is done and now will R.I.P. I can’t fight the determinism and fatalism that is entailed in exam giving, and so I submit almost unquestioningly to this barter of knowledge for marks.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Annual Homecoming

As I try to fight the mosquitoes away, I am reminded of our old ancestral house in a suburbia village in Rajasthan, of the name Raamganj Mandi. A village/town so small that most trains would swish past its rather forlorn and empty station, so cramped that you had to squeeze your way into the by lanes contesting space with motorcycles, cows, goats, and little children fooling around the streets. A visit to this place was part of our customary yearly visit to Kota to where the rest of the family (other than my grandparents of course) had moved to in the name of progress and development. However, none of our trips would be over without getting an attendance check at our grandparents’ abode. Although we loved our grandparents and they doted over us, it is still difficult to convince children from urban metropolis to live in a suburban semi-village-setting for a whole week. My grandfather being strictly old school, we didn’t have a running television, the one that was available would be lying in one corner eating dust as if it were an article from Arabian nights, almost ancient, archaic to say the least. I am not sure if they still own it, but if they do I am sure it would be a collector’s item, like those 19th century Rolls Royce cars adorned in the palaces of Rajasthani princes, much less in worth though. Despite, the protests from our grandfather we would still put it on in his absence. The fact that it even showed the screen covered with a zillion black-white dots, was no less than a wonder. Then we would fiddle the knobs of volume and channel tuner as if rubbing Aladdin’s lamp (yes, the Arabian Night trope continues). Then suddenly the DD channel would show up, with the characters swaying to and fro to perhaps to some inaudible platonic tune of spheres. And for some ill play of fate they’d always be showing The Ramayana, and our grandmother, otherwise pretty dormant and droopy would be instantly alerted, in fact almost inadvertently and much to our displeasure, our tirade and adventure with the tv had to be given up for her to watch the ‘Holy’ show. As if the Lamp had its own will. Not that we were not religious enough or were averse to the bemusing tales from scriptures, but for kids of the age of 8 to 10, religion is fairly in the deep abyss of the immediate conscious.
On some days we would visit the neighbours who had the privilege of a cable connection, which seemed like an oasis in the desert. However, paradoxically we would go to their place to watch tv and end up doing everything else but that. We’d chat with the women of the house, play with children of our age group and make boats and sail them in the open water lanes running outside the house. And we would notice how our grandmother had devised a unique setting where she would socialise with almost everyone from the village sitting on the porch of the house. From the daily vendors to maids to neighbours to relatives, everyone was greeted from the alley of the porch.
Having nothing better to do we would run to the kitchen to see what our mother was doing, which was being invariably busy in her share of household chores. There was no point looking for our father, he had way too many old cronies and relatives to attend to. These trips would always be made in the summers and Rajasthan is sweltering and scorching hot in this time of the year. And with no generator in the house, the coolers were as good as mere blowers. The electricity would come and go as if it were mocking us, making us realise indispensability of luxury items. It is here we learnt that watermelons can be cooled in the kitchen sink and that hand fans are multipurpose, they fan in air and fan out mosquitoes. Since electricity played peek-a-boo now and then, even the tv would be inaccessible every few minutes. Me and my brother would lurk around the house aimlessly, me, with mostly a copy of Tinkle in my hand and my brother busy with a rubber ball or a catapult that he might have picked up at some odd station, trotting along with our father who often got down at stations in order to fetch some munchies to cope with boredom. There was also an old carom board in the house, and we’d always need to hunt for it; for the set of cousins who had visited before us would always hide it before they left, and there was also an old pack of playing cards. Now the ace in the deck of playing cards and the striker in the carom game would be perpetually missing. So we would wait for our father to go for a market trip for groceries and other items so that we could tag along and make arrangements for the frugal means of entertainment at our disposal.
However, the trips wouldn’t be all that bad, we had our share of fun times too. In the afternoons when our mother would get free, she’d play a round of carom or a pack of cards with us. When she we got tired she’d put us to sleep with her stories, stories of rabbits and squirrels living in secret burrows, with lots of munchies like cakes, muffins, ice-creams, chocolates sneaking theirway in and out of their boarding trying to escape tigers and lions. She would create an alternate world and we would always have appetite for more until she’d scold us and forcibly put us to sleep. Also since our grandfather had his own farms we would visit his ‘khet’ on his bicycle and the enthusiasm and alacrity with which he would show us his crop would make us want to leave everything else and become farmers ourselves, there’d be tractors bullocks, cows, buffaloes. Daadi would make makkai and saag for us (all from the ‘khet’), she’d bloat us with milk and butter, and there’d be no dearth of gud and ghee and lots of love poured into all of this.
Then there’d be the excitement of bathing from the huge cemented tanks that were filled up with tube wells, and the several stories that us cousins would pass each other that the tanks had no abyss and we could drown in them if we fell into it. Surprisingly, our trips never coincided with that of our cousins, it would have been much more fun otherwise; in fact I sometimes even wonder if the trips were strategically designed by our parents to avoid the rancour that we might create as a group. Anyway, the trip made us realise the importance of our lives in the cities and the comforts that we usually take for granted, it made us aware of the fact that alternate means of entertainment could be sought when tv wasn’t an option. It exposed our mother’s creative potential to us, her ability to make her own fables and create a world out of her imagination, more beautiful and vivid than any story book with pictures. It showed us that new friendships and affinities could be formed even at the most unknown places and lastly it gave us a home to go back to for us diasporic people who’d have to constantly keep moving by virtue of a transferrable job.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Angoor that didn’t taste sour

I know it’s not convention to write the review of a movie that is about 40 years old, but since i have watched this movie as a part of my paper in class for translational studies in JNU I could not help but pen a word or two about it on my space, my blog. I am talking of this hilarious laugh riot and delightful piece of work called Angoor directed by lyricist/director Gulzaar, who in his impeccable style, and neatness only matched by his own immaculate dressing, has made the bold attempt at adapting the Great Bard himself (commonly known as William Shakespeare to the world). Most obviously neither Gulzaar nor the Grand Master himself, need any introduction. I know most of us have watched this movie at some point or another irrespective of the era we are born into and the kind of cinema that is fad in the contemporary times. In fact it is much rather the simplicity and directorial nuance with which this movie is made that one finds lacking in today’s cinema. For those who are not aware, the movie is a direct adaptation from Shakespeare’s play, Comedy of Errors. Despite the fact that Gulzaar in the very first scene pays his due to the playwright and also acknowledges his source when I told some of my friends that I am taking Angoor as a discussion for translation most of them reacted with surprise. It is perhaps because Gulzaar has adapted the movie so well and in the process made it his own. Nowhere can you see the overbearing presence or the anxiety of doing justice to the playwright. However, the movie is as much appropriated in the Indian socio-cultural context as it is alienated from the times, and the place it is adapted from. It is as much attached to the original as it is free as an independent work of art. All in all it remains to be a 2 hour 10 minute entertainer of splitting laughter and situational humour.
It is quite surprising how a play written in the 16th century and performed for the European audiences in the reign of Queen Elizabeth is so easily adaptable and reproducible in mainstream Indian cinema and not only works well but can be recorded as one of the most successful comedies ever; so much so that it has been loosely copied as late as the 90’s in a very shoddy movie otherwise, viz., ‘Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan’. If you strain yourselves the pair of similar looking men, the instance of mistaken identities, and the confusion resulting from that, followed by a misgiving about a jewellery piece are all picked up from Angoor. While the original shows men in believable circumstances where the mistaken identities can be accorded to a certain logic, David Dhawan’s movie goes berserk with Govinda and Amitabh Bachhan (and sadly so) bobbing around in multi coloured attire that is a sore to the eye and looking nothing short of smug and overconfident buffoons, reattempting the classic, however the director appears only too earnest in his endeavours.  But, then to surpass or even stand shoulder to a man of excellence like gulzaar is quite a task.  No effort has been spent or wasted on any magnificent sets, locations, or even costumes, it wasn’t even found necessary. The introduction of the bhang element makes it characteristically Indian and adds that much required theme of madness that gels perfectly with the events that unfold.
Its heart warming to finally watch a movie, that is successful in making the audience laugh and strike that perfect note without cheesy and corny slapstick dialogues nor any banal or forced attempts at sounding funny (as is the case of most David Dhawan movies). The actors slip into the characters with an ease and grace that makes them a delight to watch. The performances are nuanced and well scripted. All the chief protagonists, viz., Sanjeev Kumar, Deven Verma, Moshumi Chatterjee and Deepti Naval put on a show that didn’t let a single moment be dull in the movie. The scenes that I found particularly funny were the ones with the squeaky crooning of ‘Preetam aan milo’ that wouldn’t escape your mind even as you finish the movie and get on with other things. The fact that the movie is only 2 hours and 10 minutes on screen the scope of being tired and disinterested is tactfully checked. All in all I am glad that I was made to watch the movie for the presentation that was thrust at me last week. But all the more it was an absolute pleasure to watch the movie. While researching on the movie I found out that there are attempts made for its remake. Lets just hope that the new makers don’t make the Bard turn in his revered grave.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Space Wars

As I took a metro ride the other day (now don’t get alarmed this is not in sequel to the previous article, I don’t seem to have the Indian cinema mentality to cash in on the tried and tested over and over again, so coming back) I found myself plugging in my head phones to the exhaustive list of 5 songs I had in my playlist. In a journey over 50 minutes I heard these 5 songs over and over again. The point is that this is no handpicked list of my favourite songs ever, nor am I particularly crazy about any of them, it’s just that my memory card is out of order and there’s no radio on my cell. But again, despite being nauseated with even the most beautiful tracks I kept listening to them, as I fidgeted in my seat with a book of short stories in my hand. So what was I doing exactly? Besides, shutting the world outside I was defining a private space that I didn’t want the others in the metro to impinge. I have observed several men and women (women more than men), especially those who regularly take the metro, doing just about the same. Do you think that all are great music lovers, even if they are I read it more as an exercise in making an invisible bubble around them and marking their space.
If you look around the struggle for space is everywhere around us. In fact the most primary struggle that defines our lives is that of negotiating our spaces. As much as man is a social animal, like any other animal it likes to demarcate its space, its territory, in mannerisms that only differ from the animal kingdom in varying degrees of politeness and sophistication. It’s everywhere around us, when it comes to spaces nobody is kin. Whether you are a sibling, parent, friend, partner, colleague (more so if you are none of these) one needs to categorically define space. One of the most strongly felt, although, also one of the most polite struggles for space is the one where you civilly try to parley the armrest that is common for two chairs. The one who wins in this silent war of dominances enjoys the privilege of that little extra space and establishes his pre-eminence in this short lived conflict. In trains I have seen people literally stretching themselves(pun intended) to the limit of taking part of others' seats so that you don’t impinge on the space allotted to them according to their seat numbers.
It begins right from the earliest days of childhood, the young infant wants to be held by some and not by others, it is s/he who chooses whom to bestow with its grace, it knows its toys from that of others and holds onto them dearer than life. When you are toddlers and go to school for the first time and get your benches, there begins your first ever struggle in the public sphere. Some want to sit inside because they don’t want to be disturbed, some outside so that they don’t feel inhibited. The left handed have to have that extra space to place their hands, some like a particular place in the class and even make an attempt to colonise it with their names. The struggle continues all through school life, the strife in the playfield, the hegemony on the swing and slide, the ‘it’ and ‘non-it’ groups. And then the epic war of spaces between spouses. I wonder if Adam had given Eve her due space and let her be his equal, we’d all not be in this post lapsarian fallen world, fighting our guts out with each other over issues of space. Most relationships see their end for this lack of understanding each other’s space culminating to separation where all they finally acquire is space for themselves and nothing else.
Despite the fact that our ancestries have lived in joint families, with several  other things we have also adopted the liberalist humanist living ideals of the American way of life, where the teenager makes it clear to his/her parents in their characteristic accent, “Mom, I need my space.” As much as we would want to say that to our parents (with or without the accent) we cannot. Even if the mother gives in, there is your brother/sister to tackle and the constant inflow of desired or undesired pack of relatives that have no regard for your strategically acquired privilege. However, to no good avail. The illusion is shattered and we are made akin to the reality that we need to share that space.
We accuse the western nations to be colonialists but to think of it we are all little imperialists ourselves. We want that particular side of the bed, that pan-view chair on the dining table, that window seat in trains, buses and planes, that nicest parking space in the colony parking (our society just finished allotting parking spaces to each flat by marking lines recently). And if you are wondering why I suddenly came to discuss space, it was only after yesterday when my brother physically dislodged me from his side of the bed citing that it is his area no matter what, that I landed upon this issue as a topic for discussion. So while I invite you to my space as a blogger, I am at the same time trying to figure out the way to get around and contrive it from my brother.

Monday, February 28, 2011

A day in the life of Delhi Metro

The phone rang, I was still half asleep, it was my friend on the other side. In an excited high pitch tone she asked me to hurry up and make it to Cannaught Place in Delhi by an hour cause we were to meet and she had limited time. Getting to Cp in an hour would mean, to get up, brush, attend nature’s call and bath, all in a matter of 15 minutes (humanly impossible) followed by an almost sprint to the metro station, bypassing the semi molesting check by the women guards, getting the bag cleared and then making a dash to the stairs leading up to the station. All that done and in an almost a blow to your panting, losing breath efforts you see the metro you wish to take gliding away with people from within passing that sadist smile making you aware of your failure in the game called, ‘survival of the ‘swiftest’’. Once inside the metro begins the game of exchanging gazes. The fact of you being an object of observation fully dawns upon you once inside the Delhi metro. As if the semi-molesting guard woman who checks you at the entrance had not done her bit, there’s another eye scanner you are put through by your fellow passengers. The girls might scan you for your clothes and men? Well they really don’t need a reason.
Well now that we have a whole compartment to ourselves, women can breathe easier (both metaphorically and literally). However, earlier, the mere task of getting into the metro made you feel as victorious and triumphant as Alexander himself. Being short in height by conventional and all other standards, I have had some terrible experiences myself. Standing amidst tall towering men I have had to struggle to find place to perch my feet and contest for the limited breathing space with my fellow passengers. And then the nose lacking the necessary filter for foul smells and pungent odours, there is not much one can do but to incorrigibly wait for your destination. Then there’s another struggle for holding on to the handles meant for support, well for those as short as me, we have to make do with body balance, stretch out your feet wide, arms on side, and pray that the metro doesn’t take abrupt screechy halts.
However, direct your attention to the people around and you might earn yourself a little entertainment for no cost. Wailing babies, men sleeping and even snoring even while standing, people with headphones in their ears harmonically bobbing their heads, conversations of last night’s match, the latest movie, who died and made a comeback in the daily, share market, love, friendship and the usual cribbing about the Delhi weather which is more often than not disappointing and debilitating.
Then a look at those who are regally seated; they appear to almost recreate the look of a peaceful serenity that Buddha would have reflected under the tree where he got enlightened. If getting in the metro was Alexandrous, then getting a seat is like a colonial conquer. Those who are left standing are the damned lot who curse their Karma for being so unfortunate as to not get a seat. Over the months some even devise a scheme of prowl and vigil and sneak a seat when it is vacated on the rarest of occasions. It’s a 3 step deal: look, lurk and grab. However, the calmness and contentment of those with seats is fairly short lived, because invariably there’d be someone to dishevel their god-sent peace, trying to adjust his/her ass for that little extra space left in the otherwise packed bench.
However, despite all this and more, metro still remains to be the most preferred medium of conveyance. It’s air conditioned, takes lesser time to reach any place in Delhi and is a much better alternative than the overpriced autos and the much maligned blue line. So I brace myself, walking to the women’s compartment with a cheerful gait ignoring all the snide looks that men pass at any women for stealing away the special privilege of reservation. But do I care? I deserve it for all the lecherous and scathing glances I have endured and besides I have a friend waiting, who'll leave if I don't reach on time. :P

Monday, February 21, 2011

My first poem in public domain

For lack of anything substantial to write this week, I decided to post a poem I penned recently:

My heart Sank

My heart sank, sank a little
It skipped a beat, a thud too fast
I was into it for a moment
Just a tiny moment of a welled up heart
Now the furore is over
The storm has died now
Just a soft lull lurking
That has left a pang behind
My heart sank, sank a little
Thoughts of the yonder prick the heart
Standing at crossroads, a lost life
It will be regained though
Soon I will resume my path
But the seething pang doesn't wane for now
Because it is indeed true that
My heart sank, it sank a little

Monday, February 14, 2011

For the business called Love

Okay on the day of Valentine when I should be out there giving out and collecting roses I am sitting at home, reading Zola Neil Hurston’s, Their eyes were watching God, so much of this blog might appear as ranting of someone who couldn’t find anything better to do. But I am no great fan of PDA’s and think it evil to commercialise love. This year I got aware of the weeklong celebration of the most awaited and most touted day of the year. And mind you each day, with the exception of the hug day and kiss day (that come towards the very end and does not require any money spending), is in fact instrumental in augmenting and facilitating various markets that sell expressions of love on their shelves. Whether it is chocolates, teddy bears or roses, the celebrations and their rituals make sure that you spend well to make sure that your little darling doesn’t feel left out. And not participating in any of these is a carnal folly for all those deeply in love(?) Well who knows real love or not, the rituals can’t be done away with.
A few days before Hello Delhi carried an article about how people are tossing out moolah to make that day special for their beloveds, from fancy and flashy limos to extravagant and expensive helicopter rides over delhi( wait! Over delhi? To look at what? Flyovers, unfinished metro work, the holes dug up by dmrc, the mind boggling traffic? Or maybe to get away from pollution for some time, but at a whoppy price of 90k, No please thank you I’d like my cola and popcorn in a movie hall please.) and for those who don’t wish to spend so much the red, pink bazaar is at their service. It might be clichéd, but it still seems to work well. As if the red coloured heart, the pink teddy bear, the done to death lines of love in greeting cards and red roses can swear everlasting love better than anything else. There was never a trading fest like the Valentines, where so many markets flourish at the same time, the confectionary, the greeting card business, the soft toy company, the rose market.  It’s surprising how some clichés don’t seem to have an expiry date. Year after year shops are adorned with stuff that almost everyone person is gifting one another. It is said that the language of love is common, but it was never said that it’d be also expressed in same words, and same sizes and colour. It’s amazing how people suddenly rediscover, (or are forced to) their love that had been regressed to the recesses of their minds. Sitting at home, and brooding (like I am) has almost become a taboo. If I have a girlfriend or boyfriend I have to take him/her out even if it be out of compulsion, cause it is all in service to the late St. Valentines for whom we do not give a damn otherwise. And love has to be expressed on this day because a day for this purpose has been assigned. The markets thriving on love and feeding on amorous affairs in fact make the average mind believe that it is important to express love on this very day and also with the assistance of the required apparatus that they have at their disposal.
There is a friendship day too, which celebrates friendship and companionship and mate-ship, etc but since the relationship is not as fussy as love and since it is not a one to one arrangement, the whole affair is a lot lesser in complicatedness. Shoddy pieces of plastic or rubber wrist bands are all that you need to wrap up the whole affair with. Roses, greeting cards, and the teddies do not feature, not raking benefits for anyone and therefore the day is much less revered than Valentines.
So, now that the rant is over, A Very Happy Valentine’s Day to each and all and May you all have a nice red-pink and happy day, while I bargain for cheap roses, so that I can give a birthday surprise to my father who happens to have his birthday a day later. J

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Cabaret of Indian Award Functions

I thoroughly enjoyed this year’s filmfare awards. Why? Because I was happy with who won the words and was satisfied with their selection and heard myself saying that it was the perfect choice? Not really because a day before the awards I gathered who all had won awards in the newspaper. So what made the show happening for me? The performances, the hosting of the show by ranbeer and imraan, (who still loom in the shadow of the shows put up by their senior counterparts, shah rukh and saif) or just looking at the beaming faces of all the film stars present at the mega event? But as a matter of fact I enjoyed any other award show as much as the grand Film fare affair, although the attendance at the film fare out does any other award function. So what is it that makes it outshine the other award functions, merely the fact that it’s in its 56th year and is associated with the oldest and the most popular film magazine of all times? With a dozen of other award functions that appear before and after Film Fare, the mega award ceremony seems to have lost its sheen. If u are berated and not acknowledged at one award’s function some other award function can very well come to rescue and if you happen to be the ‘it’ thing, they might go so far as to come up with a new category altogether that might be befitting.
While awards are meant to be recognition of outstanding achievement and performance in cinema for a given year, given the commercialisation of Indian cinema and the market forces that operate it, awards have been only reduced to an exercise in encouragement of new comers into the industry or the legitimisation and reaffirming the status of the veterans. Although the only salvaging grace of Film Fare is that being the oldest award function it has to bear the onus of excellence and, even if in mere semblance, has to wear the facade of fair play and egalitarianism. It would be no wrong to say that the bollywood industry is no less than a feudal setting where the sections of performers and artists are stratified and there is a clearly marked hegemony. Where excellence is determined by popularity and impartiality is traded for alliances. While the Film Fare still maintains a set standard of democratic decision making and also goes so far as to declare its jury that can be held accountable, most other award functions squirm through this exercise without announcing the jury and also manage to distract the audiences by the dazzle of a spectacle on stage. While the Film Fare this year felt responsible to award movies like Udaan that had accumulated international recognition albeit, at the same time it also felt the pressures of recognising the big players of the industry, viz., the Karan Johar Camp and the Salman Khan brigade. Also, since the Film Fare comes after a few awards have already appeared the anticipation for the awards have a great bearing on their decision making. The other award functions are not even worth mentioning because they are solely driven on PR and marketing.
In midst of such commercialisation and capitalisation, the film industry has been reduced into a huge estate where people pool their money and success is the stake they bank on. Movies like Om Shanti Om will go down in history as one of the most popular only on the basis of the commercial success it raked notwithstanding the shoddy direction and poor performances. There is no surprise that it might have even garnered some awards to its credit had a bigger commercial success, 3 idiots wouldn’t have stolen the limelight.  The awards therefore are mere celebrations of the completion of a successful commercial year at the box office, boosting the new talent, patting the success of the seasoned, just in time before the closure of the official financial year in March, where the bollywood income and its stakes are finally filed.