Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Neru - Movie

 2023. Malayalam.

Courtroom drama. Pretty straightforward but well told so you don't get bored. Mohanlal is a bit like Perry Mason with his his assistants. Watchable.


Thought for the Day - Anatomy of Disappointment

 I read somewhere, perhaps in the book 'The Four Agreements' that getting disappointed is the biggest ego trip or something like that. Something not very nice. I realised right then that I was on a big ego trip because I tend to express my disappointment rather quickly.

The Perfectionist. The Know-all.

I think what I do is that I look at a situation like how it would be perfect i.e. the way I would do it (obviously I am perfect) and then when others fail to live up to my level or sense of perfection, I tend to get disappointed. A sulk, a withdrawal, a very open show of disappointment or rather a clear signal that "you do not match up". I do not approve.

Not nice. Need to change this behavior.

What could help is if I just look at things like - I do things this way, this is how they do things. And if things do not match up, shrug and move on.

But why am I stuck with the gap? Like a master whose favorite pupil has let him down?

To hold this lightly, I realise I have to disconnect, I have to stop having favorites, having 'my' people, because I realise that I tend to expect perfection from those closest to me, those who I expect more from. I realise that I have to drop this expectation from people close to me, wanting them to be like me or how I think I am like, and let them be themselves. Once i do this i guess I will let them be as they are, and be more myself as I am.

Disappointment then is borne out of a false sense of me and myself, me and mine. Instead of seeing myself out there and being disappointed, I think I am better off focusing on expecting stuff from myself, looking at others without judgment and letting it be without any attachment.

New aspirations. No disappointments. Each to their own.     

Uncommon Wisdom - Fritjof Capra

 Best known for his bestselling book 'Tao of Physics', Dr Capra is known for exploring the possibility of taking science into mysticism. This book charts his journey into exploring the many streams of science and mysticism and finding connections - in conversation with some great minds.

Capra starts with Werner Heisenberg, J Krishnamurti and moves onto RD Laing, Gregory Bateson, Hazel Henderson and others. He is constantly trying to enroll the right minds to collaborate on his ideas and explores subjects such as therapy. healthcare, medicine, futurism, anthropology etc. In his youth he experimented with a hippie lifestyle, living on the fringes while pursuing his scientific journey. Of course India features with its ancient wisdom, even a meeting with Mrs Indira Gandhi.

"The mystic and the physicist arrive at the same conclusion; one starting from the inner realm and the other from the outer world. The harmony between their views confirms the ancient Indian wisdom that Brahman, the ultimate reality without, is identical to Atman, the reality within.'

"When it is realised that space and time and interpenetrating, objects will appear as events rather than as things or substances."

"Logic won't do to understand subtle connections. Metaphor - that' show the whole fabric of mental interconnections holds together. Metaphor is right at the bottom of being alive."

"What if we drop fear right now?" JK

"The development of cancer involves a number of interdependent psychological and biological processes, that can be recognised and understood, and that the sequence of events which leads to the illness can be reversed to lead the organism back into a healthy state.

Once feelings of hope and anticipation are generated the organism translates them into biological processes that begin to restore balance and to revitalise the immune system using the same pathways that were used in the development of the illness" - Carl Simonton

And so much more - discussions with futurists, economists, activists, feminists - all seeking to find a sense of interconnection, something greater than mere science which he also describes as being patriarchal. Alternative medicines, expanded consciousness, meditation, energy - everything is explored and discussed. Wonderful conversations, and certainly uncommon wisdom.

Thank you Jyoti saab for the book.            

Monday, January 29, 2024

Kaathal - The Core - Movie

 2023. A small town in Kerala. Elections. A progressive party puts up a popular candidate who is fighting a divorce from his wife. Its slowly revealed that the divorce is because he is gay and even more gently it reveals how no one is at fault - the man for what he is, his partner for carrying the guilt, his wife for understanding and letting him go, a party that accepts the stand, a daughter who accepts it and then, the gay husband actually arranging a meeting with his wife's old flame so she can lead a normal life too. Beautiful people all round.

A lovely rhythm that does not let up, not a moment's lag - and a beautiful ending. Watch.   

Friday, January 26, 2024

The Hyderabad Literary Festival

 The Hyderabad Literary Festival started off at a brand new venue - a spanking new venue actually 'The Sattva Knowledge City at Hitec City. Now we are used to Taramati Baradari, MANU, HPS, Vidyaranya - all old school traditional spots and suddenly we moved to this glitzy, glass covered building which houses Starbucks, Hard Rock Cafe etc.

Vinod had reached the spot before me and told me that one had to really find the right gate -luckily I found myself in the right spot. Parked and met Vinod outside, collected my stuff and then headed off for a spot of lunch. We made it well in time for the session which was to start at 3 and found that the previous session with authors Menaka Ramana and Andaleeb Wajid was going on and on and no one was closing it down - not the coordinator, not the moderator. But to be fair that session had a huge number of people in the audience and it was very lively unlike our session which had some six or ten people. Jayesh came and attended the session as he always does for anything cricket, Brij Raj came as he does every year, Bijju and Prashanthi were there. Vinod for a while and I believe Neha from Backflipt also came for the session as she messaged me later.

Anyway our session - a conversation about the book 'Gods of Willow' written by author and entrepreneur Amrish Kumar - a coming-of-age book about a college going kid who fancies that his fortunes are linked to the Indian cricket team's fortunes. Amrish spoke about how he came upon the idea, how he wrote the book and what he wanted to convey through it.  Then he read a passage from the book.

Was a fun session. Vinod and I then had a cup of tea with Bijju and Prashanthi and then left.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Sukhee - Movie

Shilpa Shetty plays a woman who gives up her feisty, go-getter persona to marry a small town businessman and settles down to a domesticated life until her old college friends call her for a reunion which changes her life and of those around her. Shilpa Shetty is great as an actress, looks pretty much like she did all those years ago - or even better.

Decent watch.


Wednesday, January 24, 2024

The Hyderabad U23 Team for Col CK Nayudu Trophy

 Hyderabad beat Himachal Pradesh with 10 wickets to spare today and the team took a nice group pic before they left for Jammu for a longish tour. 

Many future stars here.

Guys in white
Sitting (l to r) - Nitish Reddy, Himateja (c), Aniketh Reddy (VC)
Standing l to r - Shiva, Paras Raj, Gaurav Reddy, Pratyush, Ali Kachi Diamond, Ilyaan Sathani, Harish Thakur, Aman Rao, Sai Nitin Yadav, Shashank Lokesh, Punnaiah, Arun Kumar 

A Life leaf - Poem by Tenzin

 Tenzin has finished his internship in Tibetan Medicine and is now awaiting his final posting. I am sure he will make an excellent doctor. He is also a fine poet and he used his free time to pen this poignant poem - about a life well lived.


Thanks for sharing Tenzin. I know this is your life philosophy as well. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Thought for the Day - The Real and the Illusion

I once met a person in a creative writing class and he was surprised to see me. 'Oh,' he said. 'I thought you would be a chubby person with glasses.' A Billy Bunter types. Now the reason why he thought I would be a Billy Bunter and not a 6 foot, dark, villain types was that he had read a few of my self-deprecating humour columns and imagined me that way. I was sorry to bust his illusion but what to do - this is how I am.

But, I wanted to say, I am also that. I am Billy Bunter inside in part. Like I am Famous Five, Hardy Boys, James Bond and Charlie Chaplin, Shahrukh Khan and Amitabh and what not. I am not what I write like, look like, or whatever image you have of me. I am only me and I reveal only one part of me or some parts of me that I feel comfortable sharing with you.

I am not the full me at all times unlike some people. (I still think that whoever you may be, the others might still carry their own image of you!)

So I I choose to be kind, loving and generous in my writing, I am not that person. I am trying to be that person at least in my writing. I am trying to explore that part of me, aspiring to be that, wanting to be that. Will I always be that - not really. Just like a comic need not always be funny and make others laugh, one cannot be what they write or appear to write.

Like when you read autobiographies of famous people you find your illusions shattered. Deepti Naval said after her book - 'people expect me to be that girl next door always. I am not.'

So beneath the Billy Bunter, the kind, loving facade, lies the other extreme also (as it does within all of us) - a villain, a person with vile thoughts, a coward, a confused person, a person with no clarity or love.

But that's ok. Take the Billy Bunter. And drop the rest. Or take everything. Your choice. Just don't peg me as one dimensional because you could only imagine that!

Welcome to the rest of me.


Gods of Willow- Amrish Kumar

 'Gods of Willow - A Coming of Age Innings' by Amrish Kumar has a theme that caught my attention immediately. Its a story of a college going boy from Hyderabad who loves his cricket, friends, and all things that college going kids love, loses his illusions in the aftermath of communal disharmony, starts life afresh and finds redemption. Now cricket, Hyderabad and Mumbai are familiar areas and I dove into the book without any further ado.

The story is about Kabir Menon who aspires to make university grade cricket. He has two bum chums Mustafa and Sameer. Kabir also falls in love with Sahiba a Muslim girl known to Mustafa. Then communal disharmony, college politics, their coach getting thrown out, Kabir under question, Sameer being right wing, Sahiba not going against her family's wishes cause Kabir to head off to distant Mumbai to start life afresh.

Here he finds a job, love, gets over his own disillusionment and finds that the fortunes of the Indian cricket team or rather of world cricket, teach him lessons and guide him along. In the end, alls well and that ends well.

This is Amrish Kumar's first novel and its an interesting theme considering that he is a entrepreneur who has started several companies and was MD of the fashion brand Ritu Kumar. It is written in a simple, accessible style, the characters are easy to identify with as are their dilemmas. 'Gods of Willow' is a valuable and welcome addition to the short list of cricket fiction in India.  

Monday, January 22, 2024

Amrita Imroz - Uma Trilok

 While reading up about Amrita Pritam (1919-2005), celebrated poetess and writer, a 100 books to her credit, winner of awards nationally and internationally, one cannot miss her life which is as big and heroic as her characters. Amrita was a rebel in the true sense - she lived life on her own terms. 

Born to a school teacher and a poet in unpartitioned India she lost her mother when she was eleven after which she and her father moved to Lahore till partition. She separated from her husband Pritam Singh early (but chose to keep his name), was part of the Progressive Writers Movement and wrote on themes about the pain of partition from a woman's point of view. She had a life long love for poet Sahir Ludhianvi which was unrequited - but she continued to express her love for him apparently, through her writing. More interestingly she chose to live the rest of her life in a live in relationship with painter Inderjeet Imroz who was much younger. Her carefree and outspoken lifestyle was the subject of much criticism - but she cared two hoots about it.

This book is written by Uma Trilok, poetess and writer herself, about her days with Amrita, who was by then unwell, and Imroz. It brings out beautifully the relationship those two shared, the clarity with which they lived their lives, not wanting to marry to please society, accepting her loves like Sahir or her friends, living separately in the same house and producing great works of art. In a short book Uma Trilok fully captures Amrita and Imroz as individuals and as friends and partners.

With pictures of the couple, paintings by Imroz, the book is a lovely read and a good insight into one of India's finest writers, personalities.     

Litle Ms Rawther - Movie

 College love between a wannabe Hindu film maker boy and his Muslim girlfriend turns sour as their aspirations, goals and personalities clash. Meanders on and ends the way most films end these days - everyone seems to go their own way. Thee's really nothing to fight for except their own lost selves.



Sunday, January 21, 2024

Pinjar - Amrita Pritam

 I don't know where I read about Amrita Pritam recently but I tried to get her autobiography and did not. So I got her best novel and another book about the relationship between her and Imroze. Amrita Pritam is a Jnanpith Awardee.

'Pinjar' (skeleton) is about the trauma of partition from the woman's point of view. Sure, the men killed one another and raped the women and all that but this story showed another aspect of it - the kidnapping of women from the men of other religions. So Hindu families from Pakistan had to leave their belongings and homes and run for their lives and cross the border - and did if they were lucky - but if they were not, the Muslim men would kidnap them (and maybe marry them). Perhaps it was the same on the other side.

Anyway the story is about this woman who is engaged to be married to a Hindu boy but in the confusion of partition is kidnapped by a Muslim man, as a revenge for what her ancestors did to his family. He is a nice guy though and treats her well and marries her. She becomes a Muslim, runs away to her home, is rejected and sent back, accepts her situation. Over time she does find her brother, her fiancee, her sister in law, and helps her cross over to India. When asked to escape with them she chooses to stay back with her husband and children. Powerful story told through the lens of women and how they unwillingly became pawns in this mayhem

The other story 'That Man' is about a boy born to a priest and his mother who has been childless - and as an offering, offers him back to the service of God. He detests his mother for having given him away, for having had him from the priest, until in the end he accepts that its no big deal. Throughout though, the author keeps citing impossible stories from mythology that offers a commentary on how we choose to believe things.

The stories were written in Punjabi and were translated buy Khushwant Singh into English. Glad I read these. Now to get my hand on her autobiography.        

Three of Us - Movie

 A woman confronted with the onset of dementia goes back to her childhood days and finds perhaps closure, unhealed trauma and forgiveness. Konkan looks beautiful. Sensitively made movie.


Thursday, January 18, 2024

Some Cricket Pics

 Some cricket pics from the year.

The Ranji Trophy team at Meghalaya

The Hyderabad U23 Team

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Travel Bug - Sacred Forest at Mawphlang, Elephant Falls

 Chatterjee decided to skip practice and come along with me on my travels. One can see a kind of restlessness in him that makes it clear he is not much of a sightseer. Why trouble ourselves so much when we can sit in our room is his general demeanor. He told me he had not been to Kohima despite being in Dimapur for two years. 

Sacred Forest to the left

But now he is keen to come. I hired a taxi and off we went based on Pradeep Modak's advice to the Sacred Forest and then perhaps the canyon at Laitlum and then perhaps Elephant Falls. The driver Sanjib was a fellow from Tripura - family out there, younger brother driving a cab while he is here. now Sanjib is not too tech savvy and gets along life smiling away. So with no Google maps to aid him, he took us on the wrong route and where we should have been at 11 in the morning took us 45 minutes more. Anyway, we did reach the spectacular forest, a dense deep grove. 

Inside the forest

We took some village road and seemed to have bypassed the main entrance where another smiling young lady gave us tickets to the forest, a guide (without whom you cannot enter the forest), parking etc. We paid and walked in with our guide Ringko or something to that effect. Now these guides speak good English so it's easy. The guide who we met before was way more friendlier but he got another customer, a solo travelling lad from Assam. Chatterjee and I could see that the other guy was offering way more than our chap - but then maybe the presence of the lady could have been the difference. 


A Fallen Tree

A ritual area

We saw three stones at the entrance, sat on them, and took pics. Our guy did not help us one bit. The rule in the sacred forest is that one cannot take anything into it nor can one take anything out of it (except memories, our guide told us, and pics). We followed him into the dense woods and he showed us a rudraksha tree where he said fruits are borne only once in 8 years (the real ones sink in water), showed more stones, and a place where the sacred rituals are performed - a bull is sacrificed and its head cut off in one stroke. But the rituals do not take place often, rarely, when there is something not right afflicting their tribe. It is of the Khasi tribe he said and there are many sacred forests. 

To Rinko's credit he offered to take a pic of me and Chatterjee and he did some trick with his phone and Chattu's phone and took a really nice pic. Then he said it was over and it was just a short walk. The other guide with the lady from Assam struck up a conversation with us and told us more than our guide did. Chattu was disappointed and felt cheated. But he feels cheated most of the time.

On the return journey I could sense Chattu's growing desire to get back to the hotel. He shot down the idea of Laitlum canyon saying what's there to see in a canyon. He made a concession for the Elephant Water Falls which was three levels down and we did walk down and climbed up too despite bad knees. There was water falling here so we were quite happy to take some pics. A few touristy types came with their boom boxes and decided to entertain all of us by playing it loudly and dancing to it in an ungainly fashion.

Chattu and I had had enough and we decided to head back. 


Now Chattu alias Abhijit Chatterjee and I go way back to 1984. I first remember seeing him as a fiery left arm fast bowler bowling his heart out in the Under 15 nets in our school. He was quick even then. Then we got to play together as members of the Hyderabad Under 19 team which we won at Vizianagaram, then the U22 team at Bangalore which we won again, then the Inter varsity at Vizag and Calicut, the abandoned U22 trip to Madras because of a cyclone. He was a doughty fighter, a tough competitor, could bowl fast and slow, bat anywhere in the order - a captain's delight. Then he played Ranji Trophy for Hyderabad, one game, was dropped and he moved on to the Railways for a job.

When I met him much later he had evolved into a passionate coach who loved his cricket and his coaching. And discuss he does - cricket - all the time. He has coached in Assam, Nagaland, Thailand, Hyderabad and is a Level 2 BCCI coach which is pretty good.

He looks a bit like Sunil Dutt, laughs like Utpal Dutt and is a bit of a control freak. But he is great fun, loves his drink, gets nostalgic at the drop of the hat, loves his music, is emotional and wears his heart on his sleeve. I knew he had lost his father early and had a tough childhood but I never knew he was the youngest of nine children!        

Monday, January 15, 2024

Travel Bug - Ever Living Museum and Sweet Falls

 One rule of thumb is that when you want to travel and see things, don't let anyone stop you. My colleagues were like - let's do this together, and I kind of changed my plans for them and then they had other things to do. So unfortunately I had to skip Dawki River and the Living Root bridge which were a three hour ride from Shillong and instead settled for some other stuff.

After my long walk I thought the people concerned - Riaz, Pavan and Chatterjee - who had gone for practice would come along but they cried off citing tiredness. Dude, I could have gone and been on my way back by now! I took off to the taxi stand and asked the guys to take me around in the couple of hours before dusk. One enterprising driver, Pradeep Modak, who apparently also doubles up as a guide (quite knowledgeable too) took me along and suggested i see the Ever Living Museum (which I was keen to see) and then see the Sweet Falls which is on no site of 'must see' in Shillong.

Anyway we went off on a circuitous road, past the cantonment area, and landed up at the Ever Living Museum. As he parked I went to buy myself a ticket and bumped into the owner of the place, a sixty year old man who told me he was inspired by the Salar Jung museum (and surely others of its ilk to start this one). Its a small museum which he curated by himself. 

The Meghalaya region is primarily of three tribes  - Khasi, Garo and Jantias. His collection is of the Garo heritage. Quite impressive and clearly a work in progress.

From there we went down the road to the Sweet Falls. Quite a sight. Apparently the water does not dry up here ever. No one is allowed to go down there. A bunch of school kids came and they all stood up on the ledge to get a good look - sure as a goat. Talking of goats, I did see this bizarre sight of a woman taking a video of her four-five year old child walking on a beam (half constructed house) across a nala, sure as a goat of course. But its crazy - she was egging the child on and recording it. What if she falls!

Anyway, Pradeep told me about his family, two daughters past their degree and a son. He is half Bengali and half Meghalayan. When we went back to the taxi stand near Ward's lake he egged me on to try some khasi cuisine (since I asked) and took me to a mall joint. He ordered something - yellow rice and a chicken piece. I tasted it like a Masterchef expert and left most of it. But the shop had lovely posters - Pulp Fiction, London and Audrey Hepburn - some forgotten connection to the West.  

Enjoyed my day out and headed back to the hotel. At 630 pm, an hour or so later, Chatterjee will be knocking on the door and there will be some drink, some music, some conversation.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Travel Bug - A Long Walk in Shillong

 Woke up early and had the morning to myself so decided to go for a long walk in the nice chilly weather in Shillong. It's generally sunny, so its quite pleasant. I took off in the general direction of Centre Point which is a 5 minute walk from the hotel. Its a crowded place once the activity picks up, being the central place, right next to the Assembly, the main bazaar which is called the Police bazaar for some reason, the taxi stand and a 'Í Love Shillong' sign for selfies.

I moved past the taxis, trusting Google maps which showed a 25 minute walk to Lady Hydari Park. En route I saw the quaint Assembly building, pretty small compared to the grandiose ones in Hyderabad and other places. I passed by a quaint church and saw the Assembly library. To the left I suddenly chanced upon Ward's Lake which shows up as one of the places to see in Shillong but the man at the gate said that entry for public was only after 830 pm. I shrugged and moved on, checked with a couple of morning walkers about the general direction and kept on. There were a few walkers, some joggers, some early office goers. I stopped at the beautiful All Saints Church or Cathedral which was apparently built in 1870.

Further down I saw this fine restaurant Trattoria which looked very interesting, passed by some government buildings and landed up at the Lady Hydari Park which also opens at 830. I whiled my time away strolling about, having a chai, getting some change to buy the entry ticket of 20 bucks. The tea was lovely.

While waiting near the tea stall I saw a couple of interesting posters. One was of a movie about a South Indian lost in Shillong which appeared to be a cute movie, another was a poster advertising a beach festival in Shillong complete with competitions, a Ms Festival competition and so on. While at that I must mention that we had singer Abhijeet and Euphoria with Palash Sen and others staying at our resort in Dimapur - never struck me to ask if they were performing which they apparently did while we were there. Will always remain a regret that I missed that show!

Anyway the park opened - the ticket counters are crazy low and you can only see the person behind the counter through the hole, which means I had to bend really low, very uncomfortable. I got my ticket, walked in, found the park pretty empty but beautifully maintained. I saw a little building that said 'Nature Interpretation Centre'' which seemed a very interesting topic to have a whole building on. I really would have liked to see what they do there.

A helpful gentleman told me to walk by the side and I found a small zoo - some Himalayan black bears sunning themselves (reminded me of Pooh until I saw their claws), a small cunning fox, a hornbill, couple of hyperactive monkeys. There is a small water body, nice walks, a chess area (perhaps they play chess there). I sat around for a bit and then walked out. 

From the Lady

Hydari Park I walked another twenty minutes to the Don Bosco church. I noticed that everyone uses the pavements to walk, there are hardly any vendors occupying the roads and was thrilled at it when I noticed one taxi chap stop urgently and take a pee by the road side! The church came up, beautiful, huge structure, with many tourists out there clicking pictures.

Walk back I stopped at the All Saints church again and this time went into it. Then to Ward's lake which was a beautifully landscaped park and very clean.

 I walked all around, sat for a bit and then headed back to the hotel. The sun was now up and quite warm and I could take off my jacket.

A long, lovely 10 km walk by a South Indian in Shillong with Google maps. Now to figure the rest of the day.