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.