Friday, February 28, 2014

Sunset Blvd - Movie Review

The classics are on a roll. Billy Wilder's 1950 classic Sunset Blvd is a take on the rich and famous of Hollywood and what happens after they grow old as much as the other extreme, the strugglers of Hollywood. Poignant and disturbing, it could well be true of today.

Struggling screenwriter Joe Gillis is having a tough time selling his ideas to producers. His car financiers are out to seize his car. While avoiding them he hides in an old house on Sunset Boulevard, badly maintained but a mansion that has seen better times. Turns out it is owned by ex-superstar of the silent movie era Norma Desmond, now fifty year old but still living in a fantasy world of a grand comeback. Norma wants the young screenwriter to work on her script. He has nothing better to do so he accepts the offer, the gifts and slowly gets trapped into being Norma's lover. Norma's Man Friday Max is the only other person around the house.

When Gillis wants to break away she slashes her wrists. She gets possessive about Gillis's growing relationship with another young screenwriter Betty. Things get to a head when Norma believes that Paramount Pictures is calling her to discuss her screenplay when all they want is her antique car for a shoot. Meanwhile Gillis is shocked to find out that Max was her first husband and a successful director who launched her and made her successful. Max cannot leave her because he is devoted to her. When Gillis wants to leave, not able to handle Norma destroying his relationship with Betty, Norma shoots him dead. In a brilliant last scene Norma is led away, in a make-believe scene for which she thinks she is shooting, by the police.

Film noir its called. Disturbing through predictable. One cannot forget the characters, the story, and the way it unfolds once you've seen it. Gloria Swanson is brilliant as Norma Desmond. The tag line is fantastic - A Hollywood story. All the makings of a classic.

Thought for the Day - How Do I Handle This Best

This question comes up inevitably. In speeches, lectures, workshops, presentations, responsibilities, performances - any place where you are worried about giving your best, it comes up. How do I do this best? How do I give my best to this?

Pic courtesy. Satish Nargundkar
First stop worrying about impressing everyone there. Start instead, to think how you can add value to that gathering. Think creatively. Think innovatively. How do I 'give' to this occasion? Once the approach changes you realise that you already have what you want to give. You don't need anything else.

Package that with care and concern, love and affection, and present it to the audience. This approach will make you search through all your experiences, all your knowledge, all your creativity and thought, with the single point agenda to give, to enrich, to empower, to serve.

What more can you do beyond that? Not much. You have also moved from a 'taking' perspective of craving for approval, applause etc to one of 'giving' where you are only interested in giving, sharing and enriching. All else is incidental.

Add. Create. Give. Serve. They are all the same. The force multipliers.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Battle of Britain - Movie Review

Ah, this is something I wanted to see. The stories of British RAF and its heroic fight against Germany's superior firepower with its Lutfwaffe are well etched in my mind. The movie did not let me down - it has some fine air fight scenes and generally shows how the period in the summer-autumn of 1940 passed. Based on the book 'The Narrow Margin' by Derek Wood and Derek Dempster 'Battle of Britain' is a 1969 movie with an ensemble cast directed by Guy Hamilton.

German attack on Great Britain had to be preceded by an air attack mainly because their naval forces were depleted. The German air attacks on Britain started with bombing of industries and then air force fields and air craft industries. What the Germans did not do well was to estimate rightly the British RAF capabilities. The RAF stood up well against a stronger opponent and fought off the superior Luftwaffe. In fact RAF audaciously raided Berlin and bombed Berlin, something that angered Hitler enough to order an all out attack on Great Britain. RAF, with support from the commonwealth pilots and most importantly Polish pilots who were highly motivated after what the Germans did to Poland, fought to the last man, even having every single aircraft up in the sky at one time on the fateful 'Battle of Britain' day, September 18, 1940. Suffering heavy losses, the Germans withdrew and that marked a turn in the course of the Second World War. Experts felt that if Germany went ahead and sacrificed 200 aircraft a day even after that day, London might have capitulated in a week. By the end of the war Germany lost 2300 aircraft to the RAF (in that period alone they lost about 1630 aircraft and Great Britain lost some 1300 aircraft). The Battle of Britain indefinitely postponed Hitler's plan of invading Britain 'Operation Sea Lion'. Winston Churchill in his speech mentioned famously that '..never has so much been owed by so many to so few, 'the few in question being the RAF fighters. The decisive day of resilience against all odds turned the fate of the world and handed Germany a defeat it never recovered from.

The leadership of Dowding and Park, the use of information and technology and superior strategy, the force multiplier effect of passing information to fighters who could accurately zero down to their targets, were important factors. Interestingly Dowding was sacked as was Park for causing differences in the ranks with their differences over strategies. The King and Queen stayed put in the Buckingham Palace instead of flying to Canada as suggested.

Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine, Robert Shaw, Christopher Plummer are some of the names that star in this epic battle. A first timer with little understanding of the context may not fully grasp the movie and its importance, but its still a gripping tale. I enjoyed watching it and intend watching it again.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Conquest of Happiness - Bertrand Russell

Philosopher. logician, mathematician, writer, nobleman, Bertrand Russell gives his views on the conquest of happiness in this book. In the beginning he looks at the causes of unhappiness. These range from Byronic Unhappiness, Competition, Boredom and Excitement, Fatigue, Envy, Sense of sin, Persecution mania and Fear of public opinion. Then he moves to examine the causes of happiness. Here he examines Zest, Affection, Family, Work, Impersonal interests, Effort and Resignation. Russell speaks the language that we know and can relate to and does not beat us with facts, research and new phrases. His wisdom can be sampled through some of the lines I liked. I have decided to skip the causes of unhappiness here though that part contains many truths too.

"Zest demands energy more than that sufficient for the necessary work, and this in turn demands the smooth working of the psychological machine."

"The best type of affection is reciprocally life-giving; each receives with joy and gives without much effort, and each finds the whole world more interesting in consequence of this reciprocal happiness."

"Of all cautions, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness."

"I have found the happiness of parenthood greater than any I have experienced."

"To be happy in this world especially when youth is past, it is necessary to feel oneself not merely an isolated individual whose day will soon be over, but part of the stream of life flowing on from the first germ to the remote and unknown future."  

"Motherhood should not cut her off from all other interests and pursuits."

"Work is desirable as a preventive of boredom."

"Two chief elements make work interesting: the exercise of skill, and second, construction."

"Few things are so likely to cure the habit of hatred as the opportunity to do constructive work of an important kind."

"Consistent purpose is not enough to make life  happy, but it is an almost indispensable condition of a happy life. And consistent purpose embodies itself mainly in work."

"The man who pursues happiness wisely will aim at the possession of a number of subsidiary interests in addition to those central ones upon which his life is built."

"The best cure is not to have only one picture, but a whole gallery."

Finally he concludes what the happy man is best doing.

'Undoubtedly we should desire the happiness of those we love but not as an alternative to our own.'

"The happy man is the man who lives objectively, who has free affections and wide interests, who secures his happiness through these interests and affections and through the fact that they, in turn, make him an object of interest and affection to many others."

 In the last few lines he sums it all - 'All unhappiness depends upon some kind of disintegration or lack of integration; there is disintegration within the self through lack of coordination   between the conscious and unconscious mind; there is a lack of integration between the self and society where the two are not knit together by the force of objective interests and affections.

The happy man is the man who does not suffer from either of these failures of unity, whose personality is neither divided against itself nor pitted against the world. Such a an feels himself a citizen of the universe, enjoying freely the spectacle that it offers and the joy that it affords, untroubled by the thought of death because he feels himself not really separate from those who will come after him. It is in such profound instinctive union with the stream of life that the greatest joy is to be found.'

It is a self-help book no doubt and gives clear advise. Published in 1930 it makes sense in an old-fashioned way mainly because of the absence of the I-know, research-proves-this, kind of stuff.It is also interesting to note how so many issues seem contemporary even today, children, family, parenting, economics, education, persecution, fear of god, fear of the public opinion, guilt etc. Happy seems to be the man who has one thought, who cares but for his one thought, be it for himself or another, who does not therefore experience, guilt nor shame, and who acts and enjoys the fruit of his acts. For him love, life, sex, happiness merge and emerge from one another and he will find joy in all that he does.

Russel lived a full life - 1972-1970. Born into an aristocratic and well off family, he experienced the death of his mother, older sister and father within the first few years of his life and spent much of his growing life with  his grandparents.He had suicidal instincts (mentioned briefly in this book) and was probably saved by the introduction of Euclid by his brother Frank. Russell had strong views on war (was anti-war), nuclear disarmament, Zionism and so on and went to prison for his protests. He married four times, had several children, wrote much (won the Nobel prize for Literature), travelled widely and was a friend of Krishna Menon. He apparently acted as himself in an Indian movie titled Aman.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Anna Karenina - Movie Review

I really wonder if I will ever read some of the classics. It gives me some solace that I have at least watched movies made from the same. Anna Karenina is one such classic that I may or may not read. However I got the gist from the 2012 movie starring Jude Law and Kiera Knightley and am glad for it.

Set in Russia of a few centuries gone by, Anna Karenina, is the tale of great passions. Anna, married to Alexei Karenin, a high-ranking beaurocrat, and a good man and husband, falls head over heels in love with Alexei Vronsky, a young officer. The fact that she is a mother of a young son, wife, does not come in the way of her passion, nor the fact that Vronsky himself is engaged to Princess Kitty. One merely has to watch them dance or look at one another to know the fires of passion that lie underneath. Anna gives up everything, and so does Vronsky, marriage, career, social standing and she even gets pregnant by Vronsky. Until she falls ill and is on the doorway to death during her delivery. Then she remembers the good husband and asks for forgiveness, so she may live. Karenin, shows that he is not merely a good man, he is a great man, and forgives her and Vronsky and makes an arrangement where he takes their child as his own. But Anna realizes that she cannot live a life like this under debt to Karenin, suspects young Vronsky of infidelity, and consumed by her own fears and guilt, commits suicide.

The great writers were all wonderful judges of human behavior, with deep insight into what drives human nature. The connection between guilt and punishment is clearly established. Each man's hell is one created by himself and this is fuelled by shame and guilt (two of the most useless and worth emotions that I have encountered). Set in any era, this tale cannot but capture the imagination of the audience mainly because of the strength of the characters, their desires and their journeys. To call it merely illicit love is not true because Anna loves Vronsky in a way that most young women do not love their good husbands. This is pure passion, sheer aliveness. It must be experienced even if it means one has to die experiencing it. That is the kind of strength a woman like Anna has. But she cannot sustain it alone, and her hell grows bigger in her mind. If Karenin, her husband had been a vile and evil man, it would have fuelled the feisty Anna's need to exist. But by being good, Alexei fuels her guilt some more and she dies.

The movie was heavily stylized and interestingly shown. Kiera Knightley is good, Jude Law understated and Aaron Johnson as Vronsky fits the part. Good for one viewing for me. Too intense.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Search for Good Fuel in Hyderabad

Now that my favorite fuel station at Somajiguda has been shut down by the Metrology department for using faulty machines (I feel totally betrayed, I'd go there from far to fill in fuel) I am seeking fuel stations that dish out good quality and good quantity petrol. There is no way to really check except to follow some procedures that even the petrol company guys are not sure of, to test quality and quantity. If you somehow zero down to the right guy, you find bad service or bad layout. What's wrong with this?

So this morning, with my fuel indicator on almost zero I head out to drop Anjali at school knowing that there are a few bunks closeby and I am safe. First stop was at the Shell station in Yousufguda which appeared sealed - perhaps the metrology issues here too. Then I dropped Anjali and go to the Indian Oil bunk in Yousufguda and he says that they do not accept cards. This particular bunk never accepts cards and always comes with some excuse so I am not going there anymore anyway. I turned around and headed to the bunk in Srinagar Colony, on the road towards Krishna Nagar, another India Oil bunk, almost 2 kms away. Half their bunks are shut, they are filling in a car ahead, and he waves me away saying that he has no petrol. This bunk is also filled with whimsical attendants and there are more times I have been turned away from here than I have filled fuel. Now the indicator is dipping really low.

So I head out to the new one at the entrance of Srinagar Colony, close to Ratnadeep Super Market, one which is so badly designed that it cannot accommodate more than two cars at one time - the rest have to block up traffic in the road. The lines get intermingled causing more confusion, there is little help from the attendants again. I had to choice but to wait and well finally, I got the fuel, he accepted the card, and that was a job done.

I think of the next option. If I had not filled there I'd have to go to Punjagutta, Erramanzil, Jubilee Hills or Rajbhavan Road. I had half a mind to go to the Sivam Auto fuel station near HPS Begumpet which is well designed, is speedy of service, has attentive and focused attendants, enables filling of air etc and has no issue with taking credit cards. I wonder if there is a rating system for fuel stations. If there is, the good ones can make a killing by providing good service, good product and good design.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Babe - Movie Review

I watched it many moons ago thanks to Ajanta Sircar, our good friend. The good thing about the movie is that all the visuals and the feel stayed with me over a decade surely and needless to say, I enjoyed it thoroughly this time around too. I watched it with Anjali and Shobhs and well, there were no complaints from that side either.

Babe is a little pig who gets picked by farmer Hoggett in a fair. The innocent little pig is the only pig on the farm and is lucky to find the shelter under the kind hearted sheep dog Fly who takes care of her until 'she finds her feet'. The male sheep dog, bad tempered Rex, just about tolerates the little pig. Anyway after some interesting episodes with the ambitious duck Ferdinand, the cat and many other animals on the farm, Babe slowly but surely earns the trust of the farmer and other animals. So much so that when Rex and Fly fight one another and get injured, the farmer actually identifies Babe's potential to be a good sheep dog/pig. Now he wants to enter Babe in the sheep dog contest. Will Babe embarrass farmer Hoggett or win him glory? Ah, cute and hell, fine movie. Watch it with kids.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

All Quiet On The Western Front - Movie Review

Based on a book by Erich Maria Remarque this 1930 movie (remade again in 1979) ranks No 54 on the AFI list and is about WW1. A bunch of 18 year olds in school in Germany get inspired by their school master to serve the fatherland and go to war. Soon the horrors and reality of war sinks in with death, injury, fear, survival, cowardice claiming them one by one.

Told through the eyes of young Paul Baumer, one of the eighteen year olds, it shows the disillusionment and futility of war as experienced by the young boys. 'Who started this war?' they think and come up with ideas which include how the people who have disagreements can actually get together in a room and fight and sort out their differences. makes a lot of sense really. Most of the kids die. Among the scenes that stayed with me is the one where the French soldier falls into the ditch where Paul is and Paul stabs him. the Frenchman dies slowly and Paul is filled with remorse, trying to revive him. He sees the picture of that soldier's family - young wife and little daughter. Paul gets leave, goes back home, meets his mother and sister, his old teacher and tells the new bunch of students that it was mostly about survival. He goes back to war, meets his old friend Kat and while planning their future together, loses his friend to a shrapnel. The last scene is beautiful, when he reaches out from his bunker to hold a butterfly and is picked up by a sniper shot.

The good stories have already been told. The good movies have already been made. Poignant. The film was considered anti-war and banned in Germany. But during the period when it was show before the ban, Joseph Goebells apparently used stink bombs and white mice to distract audiences. - how original.

Jalpari - Movie Review

This was a surprise package. I found this movie while searching for songs by Piyush Mishra on youtube and found 'Bargad ke pedon..' (lovely number, check this link from this movie. Whatever little I saw intrigued me.

When I saw the movie I found it well told and impactful. Taking on the subject of female infanticide this is a story of how a city bred doctor comes to his ancestral village which is notorious for female infanticide. Told mainly through the eyes of the doctor's tomboy daughter Shreya and son Sam who dare the village boys and go to the place where there supposedly exists a witch.

Now the villagers say that a death in the village was caused because the town kids irritated the witch but the truth is that they do not wish people to go there. However one night Shreya and Sam follow their friend Shabari and her husband who head to the forbidden lake where they uncover the secret of how female fetuses are terminated illegally and thrown into the lake.

According to the film's figures India has killed 10 million girl children. In Asia 160 females have been prevented from being born. There is more barbarism in our society now than before. More stupidity than ever. Appreciate the effort by Nila Madhab Panda, maker of 'I am Kalam' and liver of a fantastic rags to riches life out of sheer sense of entrepreneurship, survival and grit. For a boy who grew up in poverty and funded his education by cleaning and working menial jobs, ran away to Delhi sold socks, cell phones, cooked and cleaned, he started a new wave cinema, focused on good stories and has an impressive resume already. Indian films are in good hands and its exciting times ahead for us. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thought for the Day - The Connection Between Responsibility and Creativity

Struck me today that responsibility and creativity are closely related.
Pic: Satish Nargundkar
My take is that responsibility means being responsible for the 'now' or 'this moment'. Not forever. This is a freeing and empowering perspective to responsibility since all we really have is this moment only. (The other understanding of responsibility is that of being chained 'forever' where you are only thinking of all the work ahead for the rest of your life and have a serious and tired face.)

That is not the face of responsibility. True responsibility is really about how much you are actually giving to this moment. How responsible are you for making the moment more interesting, more intense, more deeper? When we look at it like that, responsibility becomes creative. We are responsible so we need to add to it, make it more interesting and fun.

'How can I make this moment more interesting since I am responsible for it?' is the question one must ask. Well, it can change your perspective from being one of boring and burdensome, to one of joy, empowerment and creation.

So think about it? What are the things you are responsible for and how are you going to deal with them?

The Help - Movie Review

It's beautifully shot. Every frame looks like a painting. Set in the 1960s in the Mississippi area during the Civil Rights era, when racism was still rampant in the US, it is the story of the indignities heaped on the colored help. The help are maids, colored women who live in a ghetto outside the town, wear uniforms and bring up white babies while their own children grow up with no mothers. Ironically most of the young mothers who hire them are babies who were raised by the help but they turn out to be exactly like their mothers in their outlook towards their help.

Based on a novel by the same name by Kathryn Stockett, we have a wanna-be journalist Skeeter (Emma Stone) who is struggling to find out what happened to her maid Constantine who disappeared one day without a good by after 29 years of serving the family. She wants to write a piece on the lives of the help and seeks information from the help - no one volunteers except one. Then we have vindictive families who think the colored people cannot use the bathroom in the house because they carry diseases. And then we have those who see no discrimination at all - Celia who prefers eating with her help. The Help is a fine story, delving into the psyche of the times gone by, the hardships of the colored people as they struggle to make a living and give their families the best, the courage and spunk, all shown beautifully. Great performances by Viola Davis, who is the first to volunteer information to the writer. She says so much with her eyes, her anger, her patience, her love, it sits in the room as if it were alive. And by Octavia Spencer who plays Minnie. Fine movie, worth watching. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Brendon McCullum's Great Knock

It has been a while since we have heard of a knock with such character. Down and out and facing certain defeat the combative Black Caps led by their resilient and courageous skipper took the fight right back to the Indian camp. From that 90 for 5 in the second innings to each a score of 500 plus and to inspire Watling to show similar resolve is a great task.

What the knock will do is to give the Black Caps a far bigger boundary in terms of what they can do and achieve. For the many new caps in the team it is a lesson in playing for pride, for the country. Many will get inspired by this knock and carry it with them with the hopes of emulating its character.

To me cricket is all about this. Of character, of rising from the dust, of playing for pride, of competing till the last, of turning tables. Wonderful stuff Brendon. Well done. 

The Era of Pygmies - Indian Leadership

We live in an era where we have pygmies as leaders. There is not one leader in the public sphere in India who can inspire by his deeds, his ideas, thoughts. On the other hand most are tainted with scams, are power hungry, illiterate, lack wisdom and common courtesy, lack vision, people-focus, clear goals, ability, competence. They also lack convictions, transparency and will.

Almost every leader in every sphere is compromised. Short term gains, selfish gains, divisive policies, lack of discretion and vision, criminalization of politics, business-media-political nexus, the malaise runs deep. Who does one show to the children of today and say - look at that leader, you must be like him or her. I find no one who fits the bill. It's a crying shame that we have to live with this, be led by these paralysed and compromised leaders.

Look around you - politics, business, sports, public life. Who are the leaders? Why are they there if their integrity is questioned, if cases have been proved. We must take the blame for sending all the people who enter politics to preserve their ill gotten wealth, to cleanse their civil life with a white khadi cloth and a laal batti.

But I do hope that out of this vacuum will arise leaders of clarity, of action, of selfless sacrifice, of people-centric vision, of true power (i.e. love for the people). The irony is that we do not need giants to tower over these current bunch of pygmies, one only needs to stand straight and he or she will be head or shoulders above the rest. 

Telangana Bill Passed - Time To Look At Opportunities

There is something not quite right with the way the Telangana Bill was passed. Obviously the considerations were not complete, deliberations not comprehensive and much left to be addressed before the decision was taken. This is certainly not the way to go about things if one has vision and keeps the good of the people in mind. Ideally, most contentious issues should have been addressed, a clear road map made and then the Bill passed. There can be only one reason why this decision has been made in a hurry and that reason is political gains.

The sad part of the entire issue is that the common man and his/her representatives have been totally ignored. Why the whims of a party high command should carry such force on local matters is something only the Congress can explain. The Congress has come out of this issue much belittled, showing no leadership, no direction, no purpose - just a desire to somehow get it done without much thought.

If the way it has been done is deplorable, the other end is the outcome. Having been passed and the reality of the new state looming ahead, it will certainly augur well for the districts that comprise Telangana for the sheer focus they get out of the formation of a new state. With some clear planning, vision and purposeful work, the Telangana region is sitting pretty on several opportunities which it can capitalize on. The key is good leadership. At present I find a vacuum there and hopefully the times to come will throw up good leaders who can take it forward.

The other part of Andhra Pradesh, the Seemandhra region, will have some heartburn because most people in that state have investments in Hyderabad. The issue of relocation, of having to travel to a 'new' state, of having to rebuild will remain. But then change happens and one must move on with times. A new state throws up many opportunities and for the people of that region, the scope should be much. In the end people will adjust to the new order of things - its not so much that which bothers - as the way the leaders played their cards crudely to suit their ends rather than keep a longer and bigger vision.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Robbery and Money Consciousness

The recent case of two poverty stricken youth who broke into a jewellery shop in Hyderabad and walked off with Rs. 6 crore was an interesting study in human consciousness with regard to money. The two young men used basic tools and made a small hole in a Tanishq showroom, sprayed chilly powder and walked off. Literally.

They did not have money to hire an auto to take them home so they walked a distance of not less than 4-5 kms from Punjagutta to Rasoolpura without being stopped anywhere by anyone. Once there they tried to sell the jewellery with not much luck. In fact the little money that one of the two made was pickpocketed.

Scared at all the media glare on the crime, the duo gave themselves up - jewels and all. Of course they also said that they wanted to showcase crime and corruption and that they did not want to keep the jewels with them.

What interests me is this - their money consciousness was so poor that they could not enjoy even a wee bit of the grand fortune they got their hands on. Maybe in a classic case of crime and punishment they also punished themselves.

How often do we see this? They get the money but they hoard. They cannot enjoy it. They cannot live freely. The true measure of money is freedom but most use it to bind themselves. With a good money consciousness one should be able to attract the money and also enjoy it. Needless to say these are the kinds who will also enjoy the process and will constantly create money one way or another.

It is interesting to see people's reactions when they get money, give money, see rich people, see poor people. What do you feel? Does money frighten you? Bother you? Or does it make you excited? What would you do if you got all the money you wanted now? Think. It's the outcome you need to be bothered about - then the money will come because there is an outlet to it.

Another thing about this particular heist - there is such ingenuity in two uneducated, unemployed kids. Why are we not able to use their potential and channel them better? HRD Minister - think about it.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Girivan - Fine Resort Near Pune

On December 28, 2013, a whole load of Shobha's cousins, nieces, nephews and such were bound to meet at a resort called Girivan, some 50 kms off Pune. You take the Paud road and head past the Lavasa phata and somewhere near Paud take a right and you'll eventually land up at the resort. The last part is a bit of a climb because you want to climb half way up the hill for the resort.
The bungalow where we stayed
The resort has several bungalows out for rent and we rented one close to the main area - the food area. In the bungalow you have an option to cook etc but who wants to cook these days? So we'd pile on in designated timings and eat the simple vegetarian fare for lunch and the neat non-vegetarian fare at dinner.
Prarthana walking to the rain dance place
With so many people around there is never a shortage of things to do. But the special attractions were a place where there was a rain dance, the trek, areas to play cricket, shuttle and many other games, plenty of walks up and down the hillside and so much more.
Anjali and I taking a short walk
It's well organized and well worth a visit if you're in Pune. Milind had been there with colleagues form his company and that's how this place came into the list. They have a website, Girivan, with Vikram Gokhale promoting it as a vastu friendly place which was not really a consideration for us for our short trip.
Another perspective of our lovely bungalow
Apparently they have the day tours, and regular stays. Some plots are being sold as well. Girivan will always be special for me because here was where I rediscovered that I could bowl - its been two years since I bowled or even turned my arm over. I also liked the drive to the place, the feeling of being settled in nature and the peace and quiet. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Why Kejriwal Should Not Have Quit

I am all for not clinging to power. But I am against throwing away power for any flimsy reason because it lets down many who have trusted you with it.

Arvind Kejriwal quit because the Lok Pal Bill could not get passed. It's not the end of the world. There are many other issues that one can handle and tackle and come back to this Bill later. So unless there's a high risk, high return thought behind it, it does not make sense to quit.

The public cannot and may not reelect him every time he gets upset and quits. He has to learn to handle the heat and mould things in a way that he gets his way finally. To think he will win all the time is being too optimistic. Quitting may be seen as being noble by some, but many would see it as being too fickle and whimsical. Not good.

There are many things one can do when in power. Many good things. One does not come to power with only a one point agenda and a fixed time frame. Sometimes it takes longer. Some battles have to be fought later. But as long as one has the power, one should use it to get as many things right as can be done.

Things will never be easy for someone who has such high ideals. One must realize that when one makes so many powerful enemies one is best to handle the heat when in power. One significant act has been filing the FIR against Moily, Reliance, Ambani, Sibal etc. With it there is bound to be great pressure on all fronts. The Congress, the BJP will always make things difficult for him and he somehow succumbed to the trap.

When in power in a democracy where one does not have absolute power, one must look at getting six out of 10 done right. Not insist on all 10 at once. Some battles need to be fought by preparing the ground well and carefully much as Lincoln did for his 13th amendment. But one thing is for sure - you cannot do much sitting out in the street.

Rear Window - Movie Review

Put the photographer in a cast and give him a whole neighborhood to peep into. He notices something not quite right and then tries to add two and two together. Why is the man with the sick wife packing a saw, a knife and then making late night trips with a heavy suitcase? Where is the wife? He calls in his cop friend who finds out all we need to know. The alibi is that the man dropped his wife at the station - she went long distance and that's it.

The photographer (James Stewart) is convinced though that all is not well and keeps at it. His model girl friend (Grace Kelly) helps while his cop friend gets tired and moves out. He does everything but check whether the lady is alive. Anyway they find enough evidence to nail the man and he confesses.

Challenge in the screenplay is to limit everything to the one room and the few angles that are available from there. Within that it is admirably done. The stories that are created in the flats across - the lonely lady looking for company, the struggling musician, the newly wed couple, the salesman and his sick wife, the couple who sleep n the balcony and their dog, the dancer are all unforgettable characters with solid stories of their own. I was not too convinced why the policeman did not make a bigger effort to actually trace the wife and put it all out of question. Nor was I convinced why or how the salesman buries his wife (even her body parts) in the flower bed is in full view of all the flats especially when he knows there is a dog around.

But James Stewart is brilliant and Grace Kelly astounding with her beauty and charm. It's slow owing to the constraints but it pans out well in the end. Alfred Hitchcock puts in a bit scene as he normally does in his movies, in a scene with the musician. A No 42 in AFI's top 100 movies. Certainly worth a watch.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ban The Book - We Are offended

Yes. We do not like certain things - whether right or wrong is immaterial - but we do not like them. They offend us. The idea offends us. The people offend us. Books offend us. Clothes offend us. Movies offend us. Anything other people do offends us.

We must first kill that idea and the vile thought it brings with it. It is purely offensive to us. So we will file a complaint or we will beat up the author or bash up the publisher or theatre. Books, movies are easy targets. I'd like to see these guys engage in a public discussion with the author and explain why they have been offended and what it has done to them.

We are easily offended.

The police and the courts which normally are too busy with many other things on their minds suddenly find all the time to entertain these offended - by an idea mind you, or even a representation of an idea - when on other occasions they are not too bothered by people who are outraged physically. Anyway the idea is looked at closely, found offensive and removed. The right to feel offended has been upheld and the right to express freely has been sent packing.

That's fine. Since everyone is getting offended, even I have a right to get offended. Some things that offend me are.

1) The antics of elected representatives in the parliament
2) The support that criminals get from the system
3) The collusion between money, crime and politics
4) The culture of the elite where anything goes and can be managed
5) The way goons are used to browbeat, blackmail and squeeze the system dry
6) The way the media bends over to please certain powerful persons and does not report them
7) The way everything is subverted into trivial topics and all important and creative work is untouched
8) The way the common man is taken for granted, kicked around and taxed
9) The way public wealth is being looted by the collusion of business, politicians and beaurocrats
10) The way powerful people get away scot-free (or think they can) be it with respect to harassing women, beating or intimidating people, corruption
11) The common man for his greed and self-preservation that makes him such an easy target for anyone who dangles a carrot
12) The way the dynasties are perpetuated and inflicted on the public, be it business, movies, or politics, however stupid and idiotic the heirs may be
13) The fact that many who should be in jail are now roaming the streets and governing the country

That's the short list. Long list to follow soon as I get rid of my offensive rage.


The Paradoxes Of Our Lives - To Love Is To Let Go

I thought it would be appropriate on Valentine's Day.

The greatest love is to let go - and yet, always be there.

Loving is not about possessing. It is about giving the space, the freedom and the knowledge that the loved one can always count on you unconditionally. And forever.

Can you love like that?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Kejriwal versus Moily - Let The Truth Be Told

The action has picked up. As per the Hindu's report today Kejriwal has ordered the filing of a FIR by the ACB against Moily, Mukesh Ambani and V.K. Sibal for fixing the natural gas price in the KG Basin D-6 Block. He has based his action on the 'common complaint' by former Cabinet Secretary T.S.R. Subramanian, former Navy Chief Admiral R.H. Tahiliani, Supreme Court lawyer Kamini Jaiswal and former Expenditure Secretary E.A.S. Sharma.

Allegations include inflating gas price much above the cost of production and keeping the production much below the capacity to seek upward revision. There is a question on why the gas prices are fixed in US dollars.

What is important to the general public is that the complaint alleges that gas prices in the country would double from April 1 to USD 8.4 from USD 4.2 per mbtu. It says that it is being done in collusion between RIL and government servants. Kejriwal has also said that a cost sheet has been attached with the complaint that shows that the cost to extract cost from the basin is less than USD 1 per mbtu. Now if that is true, which to some extent it must be, how can we pick up the tab for such a huge variation? And why? The common man is struggling under the burden of rising prices as it is and this would be the last straw on the camel's back.

However much Moily may cite expert advise and RIL may express shock and call it baseless and devoid of merit, the allegations are serious, concern Indian assets and definitely require looking into thoroughly. Especially when the common complaint has been filed by people of such high office and carry such serious allegations.

Many times the press has come out with reports on the gas pricing and the Hindu itself has done a good job of it, but then much of it has been silenced and muted and not as vocal as it should have been considering the magnitude. One again wonders why the normally rabid parts of the media are so silent over such an issue? Why is there still a campaign that is out to paint Kejriwal a fool or a naïve activist? He may be that but he is probably the only one who has shown the stomach for this fight so far.

Now to see the fallout of this. What kind of skeletons will now come out about the people who have filed the common complaint and what kind of a defence or diversionary tactic will be reverted to now to find escape routes. One can wait and watch but certainly I'd like to see what the truth really is behind this curious case of gas pricing.

Whatever happens, this round goes to Kejriwal for at least bringing such an important issue back into the limelight. That too when almost everyone who knows chooses to ignore it and look the other way. Whatever it is, I'd like to see a clear picture of this. What is the truth?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex, But Were Afraid To Ask - Movie Review

Made in 1972, the movie is based on Dr. David Reuben's book of the same name which was a one-time best seller in America. It was Woody Allen's fourth film and a big hit.
The movie comes in chapters apparently as they were in David Reuben's book. We don't know how much the book influenced Allen's thinking on the subject but we can see that he has some original ideas on it and cannot wait to share the same.

In the first chapter titled 'Do aphrodisiacs work?' Woody is the court fool who seduces the queen by giving her an aphrodisiac. The aphrodisiac works but the canny king has put a chastity belt which is almost impossible to open. Woody succeeds but the King catches up with him.

In 'What is sodomy?' Gene Wilder is the doctor who gets an intriguing case of an Armenian Milo who loves his sheep Daisy. The doctor also falls in love with Daisy and arranges secret rendezvous with her in hotel rooms, buys her jewelry etc. He is caught cheating by his wife, loses everything including his license. Daisy also leave shim.

In 'Why do some women have trouble reaching an orgasm?' Woody comes in as an Italian and finds that his wife or partner can only achieve orgasms in public places.

In 'Are transvestites homosexuals?' we find that there is a respectable man who has this passion for wearing women's clothes. But he is not a homosexual I think.

In What are sex perverts?' we find a show called 'What's your perversion?' where people try to guess people's perversion. Also an old rabbi gets treated to his perversion of being beaten up.

In 'Are the findings of doctors and clinics accurate?' we find a crazy doctor researching on sex and subjecting his unwilling specimens to all kinds of experiments. When one of the experiments goes wrong a huge breast escapes and chases people in the countryside. The state is rescued by Woody who traps it in a bra.

In 'What happens during ejaculation?' we find that the many parts within our body - the eyes, the brain, the ears, the sperm, the blood, the penis undergo so many complex and well coordinated moves to ejaculate. Its like launching a spacecraft mission.

Fun but not funny as with some others. But you get the general idea. Woody is in his element.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Leadership Session at Ace - Follow Up

It was now time to follow up on what the team leads were up to. There was a lag in performance from the promised estimates. It was time to analyse why.

The leads were asked what went wrong? They looked at the possible reasons why their estimates went wrong - bad planning or bad implementation.

In this case it pointed to inaccurate planning. The Christmas vacation and Pongal vacation had to be taken into account before estimates were made. Secondly there was no real plan in terms of weekly or monthly plans with a proper basis. In the absence of a weekly plan and a weekly check, a whole month had gone by with only half the expected result.

The leads said that they had been hoping that things would fall into place. They were told that to double the sales or revenue, they either had to double the workforce or double their efficiency. If efficiency was to be doubled, planning had to be spot on, with everything under control and with backup plans when things might go wrong.

The leads were now asked to make plans by cutting out all areas where they were hoping and reducing uncertainty by planning to the last detail. They were asked to run through lists, names, attach percentages and then come to a proper basis for their plan. All plans were to be made on weekly basis for the next seven weeks. Each week they were to check their achievement and accordingly review effort. At first level all work to be done, then all work done more efficiently and then comes creative work.

Once plans were clear and conveyed to their team with clarity on delivery, team leads were expected to support and encourage the team to deliver. Those who fell short were to be empowered, shown the way and after three warnings, moved to another role. The idea is to cut losses early if the person is not able to fulfill the role.

A proper plan - week and month wise - was to be discussed by the team at a meeting that day and the plan followed for the coming week. Results to be on track with estimates now.

1) Unclear and loose plans
2) Too much hoping instead of going after actuals
3) Being casual about delivery
4) No monitoring system in place to self-correct
5) Sharper, deeper plans that have taken into account all possibilities needed

Henry Miller - Quiet Days In Clichy

Two writers, broke, single and looking for action, and their loves and lusts, are the focus of this slim book by Henry Miller. Written in 1940, the writing style is bold, honest and unique. It comes at you straight and hard, with no attempt to hide its desire, its fears, its depravity. There's something about Miller's writing that makes you team up with the two totally depraved writers because we're all like that inside somewhere and as the two are, we too know that its okay to be that way because we also have a nice side too.
The narrator, who is a better writer than his friend Carl, seems to have been blessed with more sensitive tastes than his roommate. Carl on the other hand is more prudent with his money and always has some secret reserve hidden somewhere for their rainy days. But where Carl is completely debauched and insensitive (almost) about his women, frequently asking the narrator to join in, or take a shot at his girl friends, the narrator appears more romantic and straight laced, relatively. The romantic encounter with the prostitute NYC at Clichy, the hunger and the seeking of bread from the garbage, the underaged girl that Carl brings home, the many crazy women who come home with their wants and desires, Elaine and it all finally ends with a grand orgy with the Swiss woman Christine and the acrobat Corrine.

Miller writes powerfully and his characters stand up fully fleshed out almost effortlessly. You see them in glorious nudity, with nothing to hide, being human. The two writers love being alive, enjoy the good life, feel sad and sensitive when their hearts tell them to, do not think twice about cheating or taking the low road once in a while, and are constantly bubbling with energy and fun and lust. But its about the craziest book I have ever read in my life. And those two writers, I will never forget them and their antics. Miller's best books though - The Tropic of Cancer, The Tropic of Capricorn, Black Spring are on my to-read list.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Story Idea - The Losers Club

Hook: There is a bunch of losers who, after finally giving up on trying to be winners, decide to be really good at losing.
Pic: Satish N

Story: A small band is founded. These are the greatest losers who have some fine stories of how they lost repeatedly in many ways. They decide that they will get back at the world and somehow, one way or another, find the formula to win. However much they try - attend seminars, find coaches, etc - they lose in every single attempt. Until someone realizes that they should work on their strength - losing - to make the world a better place. So the losers find ways to make the other guy look good and do a good job of it. And make the world a better place for it.

Starting line of the movie - 'Let's go get pissed.' The losers are partying another great loss.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Wolf of Wall Street - Movie Review

Based on the autobiographical book by Jordan Belfort, 'The Wolf of Wall Street' is the real life story of a high flying stock broker who made millions selling penny stocks and swindling investors. His life of drugs, sex, money is shown explicitly in the movie which also has some fine acting by Leonardo Di Caprio. But over the period of the movie its pretty revolting to see how Belfort changes as a man. (That's how the movie goes - don't blame me.)

The drug scenes were crazy so were the sex scenes. Addiction to money is another thing and when that is around, one feels that anything is possible. The adrenaline rush, the high, is beautifully shown and how it all spins out of control is shown as well. I am tired already - I f,,ing give up.

Di Caprio is wonderful in an intense role and its amazing to see how he changes in the drug scenes and in the normal ones. I am revolted but I wonder what a twenty year old might take away from it all. In the end Belfort snitches on his colleagues and gets away with a three year sentence when he was actually facing twenty. And then he becomes a motivational speaker, author and two major Hollywood movies made on him. He has had a yatch, millions, the best women. Three years is not too bad they may think. The movie is also in the record book for using the f...word maximum times - 569 times. So any faint hearted chaps, stay home.

But the one scene that impressed me was the one when he starts to tell his employees that he will quit the firm and make an offer to the SEC. During the course of that speech he talks of how one of his colleagues joined him when she was broke, a single mom and behind on rent. She wanted five thousand dollars in advance and he gives her twenty five thousand dollars. 'You know why,'  says Jordan. 'Because I believed in you. Just like I believed in every single one of you here.' Of course Jordan refuses to quit by the end of his speech. But what a way to get loyalty - to believe in them and their goodness.

Which is why it does become rather paradoxical to see that he sells them all off for a smaller sentence. Maybe it was just talk!

Cricket - KP And ECB

I saw a piece by Ted Corbett and some tweets and strong opinions in favour of Kevin Pietersen and how such a great batsman and entertainer should never be dropped. You could as well not give him out on the cricket field going by that logic, so we could watch him all day and get entertained.

I have never been a great fan of the great individuals in a team game who consider themselves superior to the team. Not saying that KP was a team man or not - I don't have enough information about that. (There are opinions from his colleagues who have said he has a fine work ethic etc)

Being a high run getter for the team is certainly great value and no team would want to drop such a player unless he is creating a discord or being a disruptive influence on the team. Then you have a problem. There are fourteen others in the team who depend on the team effort and one person cannot drag the team in his own direction.

Secondly it Is believed that Captain Cook and KP have had differences. Once again not much information. But unless there is such an emergency and gross flouting of guidelines and directives, dissent against the leader cannot go beyond a point. To me it does not sound good when I hear that the star player is having differences with the captain - when in fact he should be showing solidarity and setting a good example.

Any team in the world would like to have a batsman of KP's value. Why then would he be shunted off by the ECB unless there is a strong reason? I would not keep him in the team if he was a disruptive influence, and has continued being disruptive despite warnings. KP is no spring chicken and knows how it works. I would not consider him for selection just because he is an entertainer. The game is certainly bigger than one individual and the team is certainly more important than the star player. Yes, if necessary the ECB could clarify the reasons - seems obvious to me already.

But what I will fault ECB for is the life long ban or something to that effect. Every person needs a chance to redeem himself or herself. If a mistake has been done, and KP's ways might not be so serious in nature, he should be given a lay off , a warning and then be allowed to present his case as a cricketer again. Anything that is long term or lifelong in nature for minor offences is unjust and unfair. I do hope better sense finally prevails and the individual learns his ways and the management learns theirs.  

Cricket - Well Done Karnataka and Maharashtra

I watched some part of the Ranji Trophy final this year. Though it was played at Hyderabad and the HCA graciously invited us to witness the match I was otherwise preoccupied and could not go to the Uppal ground. However I was pleased to see that Karnataka made it to the final and won it. For one thing, the way KSCA has put in systems and processes, got the right people to do the right job and certainly got the results of all the good work that Kumble, Srinath and company have put in.

It is a team that has come out of a process. The sheer abundance of talent that is available in Karnataka is honed well by good processes of identification of talent, honing it, nurturing it and breaking it in at the right time. The coaches and selectors have been trusted and given a tenure that gives them scope, infrastructure has been built, talent identified to be backed and it all clicked. few had doubts as to who the favorites were once the last four were identified and Karnataka did not disappoint.

Though the side is batting heavy (Karnataka is probably the strongest batting side in the domestic circuit) with K.L. Rahul, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Karun Nair, Ganesh Satish, C.M. Gautam, and Amit Verma batting at 8 with Mayank Agarwal, Samarth and such talent sitting out, Karnataka is in good space. Surprisingly one finds only Rahul and Manish Pandey in the top 20 batsmen in terms of averages indicating an all round batting effort. The bowling looked rather lopsided with Mithun leading the way bagging 40 plus and H.S. Sharath and Vinay Kumar supporting him well with 30 odd and new boy Shreyas Gopal breaking into first class cricket in style with 25. As a unit however it looks very solid, compact. They field well, have established players in key positions, have a mixture of experience and youth and have plenty of reserve strength. The way the experienced players were brought in for the big stages of the tournament was interesting and they delivered - Amit Verma and Ganehs Satish both did well. Much credit must go to the Chief Selector Abhiram and the coaches Arun Kumar and Mansur and certainly for the KSCA management for backing them all to do the job.

Maharashtra's tale is on of a side in progress. From the lowly C group the side emerged to beat Mumbai and then challenge Karnataka in the final. If the four chances had been taken when Karnataka bated first it might have been a totally different tale for all we know. Coached by veteran cricketer Surendra Bhave they came through by dint of a well balanced team effort, riding on magnificent performances with the bat by Khadiwala, Kedar Jadhav (both got over 1000 runs), Vijay Zol and the like. Bawne impressed, Atitkar, Motwani and Khurana played their hand and the bowlers did well with Samad Fallah leading the attack and Anupam Sanklecha, Srikant Mundhe, Darekar supporting them. It was a wonderful team effort and they did everything right almost, displayed great heart. All they lacked was the process and thought that Karnataka brought into their cricket for many years. If there was anything they also seemed slightly overwhelmed by the occasion.

Good case studies. Both teams should do well with the wealth of talent they have. I know Karnataka will nurture the talent it has with the systems it has in place. I only hope Maharashtra follows whatever it did right and continue with the good job and nurture their young team and its talent in years to come.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Article - The Fine Art of Flirting

This must be ten years old too. The songs give it away a bit as do the flirting styles. Old-fashioned stuff.But it had its uses.

All flirts have well defined markets. Crass flirts operate in the low end with their obvious come-on's while flirt-artists float along the high end of the market with smooth approaches and silken touches. Crass flirts, for example, would think nothing of wearing loud and shiny clothes and sing 'Eh, kya bolti tu' to every passing PYT (Pretty Young Thing for the uninitiated), firm in his belief that the more people he propositions, the greater are his chances of getting a response. Though this approach scores heavily in terms of getting attention of all and sundry including the constabulary, chances of further progress are slim unless the object of attention is from out of town or is in a highly aggravated state of mind.

The crass flirt has a problem- he has no substance to back his bright start. So when he swaggers up and says kya bolti tu, in bright clothes (to attract attention), sleeveless tops (to show case bulging biceps), goggles (for style), perfumes (that make one faint), cell phones (for stupid SMS jokes) cars with loud music etc, the objects of their attention may hold themselves back to take a second look before plunging into a relationship yelling 'God, he's so cute!' But once they figure out that his accent and attitude are also borrowed (in addition to his accessories) and his sensibilities are centred around himself, all further progress is stalled.

The good news is that low-end crass flirts can be upgraded by imbibing high-end methods. A study of the high-end artist reveals that his clothes, demeanor, walk and personality are subtle yet stylish, simple yet original, and leave an effect that lingers on at the back of the mind like an exotic taste. He always exudes an air of being preoccupied with himself, to the point of exclusion (as opposed to the low-end flirt who is busy ogling, whistling and singing songs). His timing is perfect as he chooses the right opportunity to smile or glance at the object, catching her unawares as she stares at him (as opposed to crass flirt who barges into her personal space yelling kya bolti tu). The fine artist chooses appropriate moments to display a variety of his sensibilities - subtle and sharp sense of humor, worldviews and his concerns. His praise when it comes is genuine and underplayed (not a passing rendition of 'tu cheez badi hai mast mast') etc.

The fine flirt, like a good writer leaves an element of mystery that makes the subject want to know more, want to turn the page. So he keeps out small harmless details to create a forbidden air around him (the crass flirt lets it all hang out in the first instance). He listens (as against subjecting her to a series of childhood stories of himself and his puerile friends). He makes his moves so smoothly that she is rather confused as to who made the first move. His first lines are carefully chosen and worded so they make that everlasting first impression (not the oft heard 'kya bolti tu).

Though all this may sound as complicated as understanding atomic science to the low-end flirt, the ground rules are rather simple. Honesty always creates a mystery because people somehow never seem to believe the truth. A little consideration could work as a better compliment than stolen lines to describe hair, eyes and other parts. A little more of the real you will set you apart from the rest of the crass flirts who are always imitating someone else.

The experienced flirt artist makes the entire experience of flirting seem smoother than one of those hard-to-pronounce wines. To be at the receiving end of a flirt artist is the ultimate experience in flattery that everyone craves for; the experience of pumping adrenaline, of hot flushes, of boundaries blurring, albeit temporarily. And as with all nice things, when flirt artists leave, they leave behind a nice warm feeling.

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington - Movie Review

What a wonderful movie! Made in 1939, its a look at politics in the USA (or anywhere for that matter) and how a young, honest boy ranger faces up to the big bad wolves successfully. Simple story but big in its sweep, Mr. Smith could very well be true of politics even today.

The movie begins with a bang. Senator has died and a replacement has to be sent. After much thinking and seesawing between two controversial candidates, the governor decides in favour of a young boy ranger Jefferson Smith. Rookie Smith goes to Washington under the political patronage of Senator Paine but soon shows up what idealism of the youth can do. With the help of his assistant he puts up a plan for a boy ranger park to be funded by boys across America. Unfortunately the site he has chosen has already been chosen by the political bigwigs including Senator Paine. Naïve and innocent Smith fights all alone (helped by his assistant Saunders), holding the floor by talking continuously and not sitting down for almost 24 hours and against all odds somehow manages to tilt the balance of conscience in the end.

I loved it. You can make this movie anytime anywhere and it would still hold good. Graft, dams, public money, political bigwigs. But for a direct look into the working of the senate, the government, the politics involved, Mr. Smith gets a huge thumbs up from me. James Stewart and Jean Arthur star in this movie supported by a whole lot of highly talented actors.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

It Rained All Night - Buddhadeva Bose

Originally published in 1967 in Bengali as 'Raat Bhorey Brishti', the book was banned for obscenity, but went on to become a bestseller. It was later translated by Clinton B Seely and was published in 1973 and then in 2010. 'It Rained All Nigh' is a tale of infidelity, what leads to it and its aftermath, and is told from the viewpoint of both the wife and husband.

Maloti is married to the pedantic and high-brow academic Nayonangshu (first time I heard that name). The man has some freewheeling thoughts on love and marriage and enjoys the company of his books, cigarettes and friends. He has little time nor the drive or courage to care for his wife and her romantic needs. Sometime then enters his friend, the coarse and rugged man of action, Jayanto, who has seen the life of the rebel and is now a struggling magazine owner. Jayanto, for all his coarse and crude nature, cares tenderly for Maloti and her small desires, be it getting her saris back from a mischievous dhobi or getting the daughter a doctor. The husband grows more distant by the day until it leads to the inevitable.

But what happens after, is told brilliantly. How the two know that the other knows what happened and how they react and adjust to their new roles, first in anger and resentment and then in a conciliation. The husband reading the news and discussing it as if nothing had happened, the wife planning her day, and slowly it all sinks in that life must go on. There is a searing debate whether it was honest to live the way they were, hating each other, whether it was right or wrong, and then whether it makes sense or not to get on with their lives.

Sensitively told and yet not holding back when it requires to be dealt with boldly (the first few lines land you tight in the middle of the story), Buddhadeva Bose shows a great understanding of human nature, of man and woman and their bittersweet relationships. The Calcutta he writes about is so vivid and alive, so real and is shown so beautifully that you are transported into the drawing room and bedroom of the Mukherjees and their lives. It asks many questions of marriage, of love, of intimacy and courage. Fine read. Thanks Vinod bhai for lending it to me.

Thought for The Day - Enthusiasm, The Key To Enjoying Life

If happiness is the purpose or the outcome, then enthusiasm is the process or the key.
In all we do, if we add enthusiasm (as we add sugar to our tea or coffee or salt to the curry), the enjoyment of the job increases tremendously. All we need to do is tell ourselves, hey, let me have a good time with this, and chances are you'll have a good time with it. Even if you don't like what you are doing and you have to do it for whatever reason, approach it with enthusiasm.

Decide to have a good time and you will.

Why we don't
One reason why we don't approach things with enthusiasm is that we already have preconceived judgments, opinions, resentments, doubts and fears about that task. Just imagine, if we approach our whole life with so much baggage, it can't be much fun can it? It's a doomed life that is drab and dead and unhappy.

How we approach any job is a good measure then of how much baggage we are carrying. Do we approach life with enthusiasm and an open mind? Or do we approach it with suspicion and trepidation? If we are not finding enough enthusiasm for life, then it is time to shed some baggage we have picked up. Drop the fear and doubt, resentment and anger, judgment and opinion. They eat into your enthusiasm and consequently your happiness.

Dive then into life free of baggage and you will find that one can infuse much enthusiasm into it. It throbs with possibilities, with excitement and joy.

Go then, add some enthusiasm into life. Right now. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

You've Got Mail - Movie Review

Revisited the old movie that slipped through in 1998 and thoroughly enjoyed it. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are email friends (what's an email?) and they share their troubles and lives over email. Both are engaged to other people (not important). Meg runs a book shop called 'Shop Around the Corner' and Tom, unknowingly, is the owner of a huge bookshop chain that starts a shop right next to her shop, running her out of business. The two are at loggerheads with each other for that, not knowing that they are their email friends, and practically hate one another.

Come the day when the email friends decide to meet one another. Hanks gets the advantage of seeing her first and well, the meeting does not go too well. Shop closed and all that, Hanks visits the shopgirl at home and in a while they end up knowing that they are in fact the email friends and all is fine.

Cute in a 1998 sense. When love and romance still had these naïve and innocent ways and women still managed to forgive the man for keeping his id secret till the big moment. Now, I am sure the man would be seen as a villain for having cheated her and let her down by keeping his id secret and god knows what would happen after that.

I prefer the 1998 romances.

Anyway, the film is based on 1937 play (not the emailing part for those who are likely to get the doubt) and was made into a film in 1940 called 'The Shop Around the Corner'.