Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mumbai Winters...if there is anything like that.

The first two lines of this piece came to me some mornings ago, when I woke up feeling an unusual (and welcome) nip in the Mumbai air. Rest of the words took a couple of days to follow.

Mumbai Ke Jaade

Khushiyon Ki Shawl Odh Lo Yaaron
Mumbai Ke Jaade Aa Gaye Hain
Naram Moze Bhi Pehen Lo Yaaron
Thandi Raatein Bhi Saath Aayeein Hain

Chai Ki Pyaaliyon Se Garm Karenge Haath
Scotch Ki Chuskiyon Se Shaamein
Vaseline Ki Dibbi Nikal Gayi Hai Baahar
Ab Thandi Hawaaon Se Hongi Jo Baatein

Subah Ki Neend Zyaada Pyaari Hogi
Ceiling Fan Se Thodi Dushmani Bhi
Chaadar Se Yaaraana, Office Na Jaana
Kucch Aisi Hi Hamaari Kaifiyat Hogi

Building Ka Watchman Aag Ke Aage
Raat Kaatega, Aungh Aungh Ke
Uske Dulaara Gali Ka Kutta Bhi,
Aa Jaayega Thodi Garmaahat Paane

Khushiyon Ki Shawl Odh Lo Yaaron
Mumbai ke jaade aa gaye hain
Garm moze bhi pehen lo yaaron
Thandi raatein bhi saath aayein hain

Mumbai Winters (a rough translation in English)

Wear the shawl of happiness, my friends
Mumbai winters are here
Put on your soft socks as well
Cold nights too have come along

Cups of tea will warm our hands
Scotch sips, the evenings
Vaseline box has come out
Shielding us form the cold wind

Morning sleep will be sweeter
Ceiling fan, slightly bitter
Love with sheets, hatred with office
That’s how all of us will feel

Building’s watchman will light a fire
To doze off the night, in front of it
His pet street-dog will slowly crawl in
To get a bit of warmth from it

Wear the shawl of happiness, my friends
Mumbai winters are here
Put on your soft socks as well
Cold nights too have come along

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Roothi Raat

The following piece is dedicated to a good friend. For us, the night is always like a lovely bride, who we decorate with conversations, music, spirits and food, when we meet. On one occasion, recently, we couldn't, despite making all the plans to do so. And then, these words came.

Roothi Raat
Ek Roothi Aur Bezaar Raat
Dulhan Bante Bante Reh Gayee
Na Gehne Aaye, Na Sajaanewala
Aur Na Hi Band Baaja

Akele Sone Ki Koshish Mein
Lagi Rahi Woh Saari Raat
Aaj Chand Bhi Saath Na Tha
Taare Toh Door Ki Baat

Bas Ab Subah Ka Intezaar Tha
Ke Chamakti Roshni Aaye
Aur Apni Aaghosh Mein Lekar
Khatm Kare Yeh Aazmaayish

Subah Ke Intezaar Mein
Dulhan Ban-ne Ke Khwaab Mein
Aakhir Aankh Lag Hi Gayi Us Raat Ki
Kaun Jaane Agli Raat Ka Kya Hoga?

I apologize to my non Hindi / Urdu readers for not putting up a translation of the lines in English (as I usually do). I tried but I'm unable to do justice (as of now). Perhaps I shall be succesful later.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Obama in Mumbai

The president of the United States of America, Barrack Obama will be in Mumbai on 6th of November, 2010, which happens to be the Diwaali (Indian festival of Lights) weekend for India.

Feeling too lazy to drive, I hopped into a taxi to reach office. The friendly Taxi Driver started to chat. Translated in English, the conversation went like this.

Taxi Driver: Sir, this leader from faraway land, Okaama or Onaama…when is he coming? He has screwed up Diwali (Indian Festival of Lights) Holidays of the Traffic & Security Cops.

My reply: I agree with you Sir.

No further conversation happened between us as I got a phone call from an old friend.

Then I reach my office building to see the sidewalk below the building getting a new coat of paint by a mal-nourished looking man while a healthier looking supervisor (my assumption) was giving instructions. Another quick conversation happened between me and the supervisor.

My remark: ‘Obamaa???’

Supervisor’s reply: ‘Yeah…Barrrack Obaama. He is coming with lots of Dollars!’

The man who was painting applied a fresh coat of yellow and I walked inside the building. A couple of hours later, I wrote this.

Bhari Sadkein, Khaali Pet
Bhari Sadkein
Khaali Pet
Mumbai ke laakhon ka
Hai Ye fate

Ek Vada Paav Mein
Din Nikaalte Hai
Raat Ki Khaali Sadak Ko
Bistar Aur Takiya Bana Lete Hain

Door Desh Ke Obama
Nahin Milenge In Laakhon Se
Chamakti Sadkon aur Sea-Link Dekh Kar
Chale Jaaayenge Waapas USA

Bhari Sadkon Mein Bheed Badhti Jaayegi
Lekin Pet Shaayad Khaali Hi Rahega
Sone Ki Jagah Thodi Aur Kam Hogi
Mumbai Sheher Jaari Rahega

Stuffed Roads, Empty Bellies (a rough translation)
Stuffed roads
Empty bellies
This is the fate of
Millions of Mumbaiites

One Vada-Paav (Indian Veg -burger)
Sees them through the day
And in the night-time
Streets become their pillow and bed

Obama from faraway land
Won’t meet these millions
After seeing the sparkling roads & Sea-Link
He will go back to the USA

Stuffed streets will get more crowded
But bellies will remain empt, perhaps
Sleeping spaces will get smaller
While Mumbai will keep going on

Here’s wishing all my readers a very Happy Diwali!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

An Act of Violence

Right now, all the Hindi NEWS channels have a new scoop. They are busy talking about a particular Auto-Rickshaw Driver in Mumbai, who doused a traffic cop with kerosene and then set fire to him.

While the act is hideous & violent, one can imagine the anger of the auto-rickshaw driver. It almost smells of the cumulative angst of the entire auto-rickshaw driver community who continuously get harassed by these traffic cops for the smallest of their follies. Having travelled in auto-rickshaws, I myself have been witness to these unwarranted acts of harassment on couple of occasions.

In the auto-rickshaw driver community, this particular driver will probably become a hero. But, my fear is that cop-harassment instances will increase as a repercussion of this one incident. And that’s the inherent problem with any act of violence. It gets into a mindless loop.

ps: The cop is in the hospital recovering with 50% burns and the auto-rickshaw driver is the police-station, hopefully not getting beaten up.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Kitni Door Jaaoge (How Far Would You Go)

Some more words paid a visit to somedays ago. They seemed nice to me so I thought of introducing them to you. Let me know if you like them too.

Kitni Door Jaaoge
Kitni Door Jaaoge
Khud Ke Kareeb Aane Ke Liye
Kitni Raahon Pe Chaloge
Apni Manzil Paane Ke Liye

Shaayad Koi Manzil Hai Hi Nahin
Bas Raaste Hi Raaste Hain
Chalte Rehne Me Hi Mazaa Hai
Manzil Paane Mein Nahin

Aur Yunhi Chalte Chalte Ek Din
Chale Jaayoge Hamesha Ke Liye
Khatam Ho Jaayenega Raaste Saare
Poora Ho Jaayega Ye Safar

How Far Would Go (A rough translation in English)
How far would you go
To get close to yourself
How many roads will you travel
To reach your destination

Perhaps there is no destination
Just plenty of roads to travel on,
The pleasure is in the travel itself
And not in finding the destination

And on one of these travels
You will be gone forever
All the roads will come to an end
And so will the travels

Monday, August 16, 2010

Lafz, Khayaal aur Sapne (Words, Thoughts & Dreams)

Many a times I've unknowingly scribbled a word on my note-pad or a post-it while doing something totally unrelated(to that scribbled word)and perhaps, boring, like sitting in a long corporate meeting.

Those words became my inspiration for the following collection of words.

Lafz, Khayaal Aur Sapne
Kal din ka likha ek lavz
Aaj baar baar keh raha hai,
“Mujhe apne jumle se mila do
Varna panne se mita do”

Kal shaam ko aaya ek khayaal
Aaj dastak dekar bolta hai,
“Huzoor poora toh soch lo mujhe
Ya mila do kisi naye khayaal se”

Kal raat ka dekha ek sapna
Aaj din min bhi aa pahucha hai
Kehta hai,“Kahin jaane na do mujhe
Ek roz haqeeqat se milaana mujhe”

Inhin lafzon, khayaalon, sapnon se
Banti hai meri duniya
Aise hi kuch doston ke saath se
Kat bhi jaayegi yeh duniya

Words, Thoughts and Dreams (A rough translation in English)
A word written yesterday
Comes to me today and says,
‘Join me with my sentence,
Or, erase me from the page.’

A thought from last evening
Knocks today and says,
‘Think me to fruition
Or combine me with a new one.’

A dream from last night
Has come back in the daytime
Says, ‘Don’t let go of me,
Turn me into reality someday.’

Words, thoughts and dreams
Fill up my life with ease
With friends such as these
The world will pass by as a breeze

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Last night was remarkable. Another first happened. I saw an entire movie in my dream and remembered each and every detail of it when I woke up. Dreams of such nature have come to me earlier but in a broken manner with my memory failing me when I would wake up.

It belonged to the genre of horror with some abstract elements thrown in. Interestingly, I was both, a part of the movie as one of the characters and a viewer in the theater, simultaneously.

What’s really amazing is the complete nature of the experience. Everything is etched in my memory. The faces of the characters, their expressions, their attire, the background score, the sound of rain falling on the leaves, the lighting, the setting, the smell and color of the flowers, even the exchange of dialogues and shot angles.

I also remember walking out of the theater thinking that it was a good movie that I just saw.

So, I woke up at 7:00 am and immediately scribbled down everything on a sheet of paper (which was a bill of some sort) lying on the bed-side table. I intend to turn it into a proper narrative and then let’s see.

The world of dreams continues to be intriguing, enchanting and entertaining.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Favorite 10 - Movie Directors

A movie is the most complex medium of expression and a movie-makers job, extremely difficult. But something even more arduous is to shortlist Top Ten filmmakers of all time. Here’s my attempt at it.

*The list isn’t in any particular order of preference.

Ingmar Bergman (Swedish, 1918 – 2007)
My first exposure to Mr. Bergman’s craft was inside the darkness of a theater at FTII, Pune, some nine years ago. The movie was Wild Strawberries and it turned me on with its unconventional style of story-telling. Since then I’ve watched and re-watched all of his works.
His subtle and understated exploration of the human condition remains unparalleled.
As a tribute to the man, after he passed away, I had written a piece, which you can read here.

Akira Kurosawa (Japanese, 1910 – 1998)
Apart from giving many new techniques and styles to the world of movies, what really makes Mr. Kurosawa a genius, are the range of subjects that he chose and the perfectionism that he sought in each of his movies.
His subjects vary from a glorious take on Shakespeare (Throne of Blood) to an urban story of kidnapping (High and Low) to a story about a maverick doctor (Red Beard). As for the hunt for perfection, consider this trivia: In the final scene of Throne of Blood, in which the central character is shot by arrows, Kurosawa used real arrows shot by expert archers from a short range, landing within centimeters of actor’s body.

Satyajit Ray (Indian, 1921 – 1991)
Watching De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief changed a young Mr. Ray’s life and later, he went on to change the landscape & grammar of movies in India and putting it on the world map. The multi-talented Mr. Ray was easily the biggest creative force to hit India.
Once again, he chose varied subjects and was a stickler for perfection. In fact, he used to draw each frame of the movie before starting the shoot. Little wonder that he was a fan of Mr. Kurosawa. The Japanese auteur too, had great respect for him.

Stanley Kubrick (American, 1928 – 1999)
Mr. Kubrick was all about choosing radically different themes and executing them big. None of his movies are small. They are all meant for the big-screen experience in a theater. He will take you from horror (The Shining) to sci-fi (Space Odyssey 2001) to satire/comedy (Dr Strangelove) to a futuristic world (A Clockwork Orange) with equal finesse and his trademark feeling of enormity. This giant from the world of movies will always stand tall for me.

Alfred Hitchcock (British / American, 1899 – 1980)
Enough has been written about this master of a particular genre. Nobody did it better. And perhaps nobody will be able to do it better.
One of my all time favorite sequences is in the great concept movie, The Birds when the birds start assembling in the school playground for another attack while the kids are singing in chorus inside the classroom during their music class. What a build-up!

Francois Truffaut (French, 1932 – 1984)
The 400 Blows, Mr. Truffaut’s debut, defined the French New Wave and in what a manner it did so. This film critic turned movie director paved way other greats like Godard and Chabrol. The last sequence of another one of his masterpieces, Jules and Jim will stay with any of its viewer forever. Many contemporary good movies like Amelie, Eight Women keep reflecting this man’s impact. Unfortunately, he died at an early age of 52 due to a brain tumor.

Krzysztof Kieslowski (Polish, 1941 – 1996)
This movie giant from Poland had one of the most unique minds. It gets reflected in all his scripts and their executions. Take Three Colors in which he chooses to interpret the French motto of Liberty, Equality & Fraternity in his own unique style. Or take The Decalogue, wherein he gives his own interpretation to The Ten Commandments.
Apart from these popular works, he has many lesser known gems like No End, Blind Chance, Camera Buff…the list is endless.

Federico Fellini (Italian, 1920 – 1993)This man’s movies are a unique combination of memory, dreams, fantasy and desire. He has given a lot to the world of art, movies and even journalism. The adjectives “Fellinian” and “Felliniesque” are synonymous with any kind of extravagant and fanciful image in the cinema and in art in general. As many of would know that the term “Paparazzi” comes from a photographer character in his masterpiece, La Dolce Vita.
Anybody vaguely interested in the world of movies cannot afford to miss Mr. Fellini’s autobiographical classic, 8 ½.

Roman Polanski ( Polish, 1953 – present)
Mr Polanski is another master of psychological thrillers (and sometimes horror). The Apartment Trilogy (Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby & Tenant), Chinatown and the latest The Ghost Writer just go on to prove this.
Despite going through a very difficult, controversial and a chaotic life (or perhaps because of it) he has continued to make some of the best movies of our times. Rosemary’s Baby remains one of my all time greatest horror movies.

Woody Allen (American, 1935 – present)
His landmark creation Annie Hall gets reflected in contemporary American sitcoms, almost 30 years after the movie was made. He almost never uses newly created music in his movies, opting for the ocean of compositions (varying between Western Classical and Jazz) which are already there in the universe. He has written some of the funniest plays and short stories of the modern times. He is an accomplished Jazz Clarinetist. He has won three Academy Awards and been nominated a total of 21 times. He is Mr. Woody Allen.

There are some other names that were in the short-list and I shall put them up in the comment box. Do share your list if you feel up to it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ek Aur Dopeher (Another Afternoon)

One afternoon, about a month ago, I ended up writing a few lines while having my third cup of Darjeeling. The words are in Urdu and I've tried to do a rough translation in English for my English-friendly friends.

Ek Aur Dopeher
Ek Aur Dopeher Chai Pee Pee Kar Guzaar Di,
Zindagi Ke Pannon Se Thodi Si Zindagi Mita Di

Gaadiyon Ki Gharr Gharr Sadak Se Aati Rahi
Shaam Yunhi Aa Aa Kar Jaati Rahi

Sooraj Apne Ghar Sone Ko Chala
Raat Dheere Dheere Jaagti Gayi

Shamma Har Kinaare Se Chamakne Lagi
Saara Sheher Ek Dulahn Sa Lagne Laga

Chalo Ab Hum Bhi Chal Kar Aaraam Karte Hain
Khaabon Ki Duniya Ke Nazaaron Se Milte Hain

Another Afternoon (A rough translation in English)
Spent another afternoon, between many cups of tea
Spent a bit of life from this Life of me

The whirring of the vehicles kept coming from the street
Evening continued to pass by

The Sun started leaving for its home
The Night started waking up slowly

Lights kept coming up from every corner
City had begun to look like a bride

Now, allow me to retire as well
To experience the world of my dreams

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

FM in Mumbai

I have fallen into a new habit these days. While driving to work and back, I listen to the various FM radio stations of Mumbai. Despite their perennially talking RJs (a couple of them are good) who sometimes play a few good songs (the quality of popular music has improved a lot in the last couple of years…a subject which deserves a separate post, altogether) here and there, I am beginning to enjoy the experience for reasons more than just music. Perhaps it’s one of those passing phases, but while I’m at it, let me put down ‘more than just music’ parts of it.

FM stations are one of the best ways to know the pulse of Mumbai. Ranging from traffic updates, to the recent auto-rickshaw strike, to the review of a recent movie release, to a political drama; they cover everything under the Mumbai sun (or rains, these days). You feel like you really belong to the city and moving with its superfast pace.

Then there are some RJs who just speak and do all the right things. The most notable one is RJ Malishka of Red FM. The mix of her finesse with the 3 languages (Hindi, Marathi & English), her presence of mind, her sense of humor and her vibrant energy levels creates a potent cocktail full of punch!

But, amidst getting the pulse of Mumbai and Malishka’s humor, I noticed something rather unfortunate. They don’t mention the poet / lyricist of the song anymore unless it’s a Gulzar Saaheb (as they address him). Whether they are worth mentioning (if it isn’t a Gulzar) is a subject for another discussion. The role of a lyricist (good or bad) in making a song is as important as the musician or the singer(s), so it deserves a mention. In fact, all of us would remember how it used to be (I’m sure AIR / Vibhit Bharti must be still following it) the good old days of radio... ‘Bol Sahir Ludhianvi Ke Hain, Sangeet S.D Burman Ka, Aur Gaaya Hai Geeta Dutt Ne. Film Ka Naam Hai, Pyaasa'.(Lyrics by Saahir Ludhianvi, Music by S.D Burman and sung by Geeta Dutt. The Movie is Pyaasa).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Ceylon Years

It has been 21 hours since I left the charming country Sri Lanka for good, to start my third innings in the city of Mumbai. My life will go back to the rush of the big city. But the two years in the tiny, laid-back tropical isle has given me enough pleasant memories to remember, and pleasures to carry forward.

The friends, the food, the Sunday Jazz, the local Arrack, the frequent weekend trips to a pretty resort, the beaches, the easy smiles of the people, the polite air and life in the easy lane. All have become a part of me.

And thanks to the easy life, I picked up 2 great hobbies. SLR photography and playing the guitar...I could always sing, but now I can do it along with strumming the guitar. In fact, a day before leaving the country, I did my first professional studio recording of a song. It came out quite well.

Now, let’s see how the latest Mumbai innings go.

ps: thats a sunrise from the balcony of my ex-apartment in Colombo, taken by Nikon D 60, a few days before I left.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Other Side Of Goafest, 2010 - Greed & Dirt

Goafest is the annual meeting of the Indian advertising folks to talk about their craft and give prizes to each other for excellence in creativity. This year, some came back jubilant, most came back tanned and everyone came back happy from Goafest. But, I know of at least two people who belonged to no such category.

10th April, Saturday afternoon. The free parasailing ride for the Goafest delegates was over by 5 pm. It was then that the cruise service (Jack Cruises) started making money out of it. “Six hundred bucks for each ride….come’ on, hurry up guys (I want to make as many 600’s as I can)”, said the leader of Jack Cruises.

In the resulting confusion, two people, a boy and a girl, rushed to the harness of the parasailing parachute. The man on the steamer (attached to the parachute), at the far end of the sea, started moving ahead, little knowing that there are two people on the harness, instead of the one (which is the usual norm). And perhaps, one not so harnessed.
Next, I saw the two people going up together (along with the pillion) and I said to myself, ‘This isn’t right…something is wrong.’

Seconds later, I saw the girl fall helplessly from a certain height that the sail had taken (approximately, 200 meters). I closed my eyes and reluctantly heard the ‘thud’ sound of a body falling on the beach. A sound, I shall never forget!

Last heard, Jack Cruises have been booked by the law for negligence. Law will take its own course, but I wish they are at least remorseful about what they have caused and accidents like this dont happen in the future.

And the girl is in the ICU, trying hard to recover. I hope she will be able to walk on the beach again.

11th April, Sunday morning. The morning after the Goafest got over, I went to Dom’s Shack to have breakfast. I was early and the food wasn’t ready yet. While waiting for the food, I got into a conversation with a gentleman sitting on the next table who was having a cup of tea. I discovered that his name was Mr. Anthony Perera and he was the used to be the Director of Goa Tourism Board at one point in time.

The conversation revolved around how all of us (the advertising fraternity), come to the lovely Cavelossim beach every year, party hard and leave an unclean and messy beach behind. He thinks that soon this beach will also become dirty and messy like the north Goa beaches.

The man was also unhappy about the fact that there aren’t proper sanitation facilities for the 300 odd people who stay at the venue for almost a week to make the festival happen. This may cause harmful disease to spread in the area and can also affect the participants of the Goafest.

Mr. Perera’s concerns left me worried. I hope somebody from the Goafest organizing committee pays attention to this and keep things cleaner next year.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In The Stillness Of This Moment

in the stillness of this moment
i see a spider on the wall
telling me how often it has
crawled on them all

in the stillness of this moment
i hear a fan whizzing by
narrating the happy times
it has been whizzing by

in the stillness of this moment
i hear a song playing in my head
just for me and noone else
and for that lovely loveliness

in the stillness of the moment
everything stands still
to soak and suck as much as i can
from this life and its drill

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Sweet Deception

Yesterday, a Father was unable to witness his 8 yr old son perform various activities at the school's annual sports day. He was held at work. He felt bad. He also realized that if the son comes to know that his Daddy couldn’t make it, the little boy will be heartbroken.

So, he made a smart plan.

He managed to reach the son’s school just before the day was coming to a close. He intermingled with the crowd, met his wife and updated himself about the little boy’s antics. Later, he met the son and appreciated the little boy’s efforts.

Now, both of them are happy. And the little boy will perhaps always think that his Daddy was with him that day. Some deceptions can be sweet!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Humbled by Nature

Last Sunday, I had one of the most outstanding experiences of my life.

The southernmost tip of Sri Lanka is the best place in the world to see blue and sperm whales. It’s remarkable that the world didn’t know about it till 2008. And since then, a sleepy fishing village called Mirissa becomes alive with travelers from distant lands during the whale watching season, which falls between October and April. Many species of Dolphins are also sighted in the area.

About 25 of us from different parts of the world boarded a small boat from Mirissa fishery harbor at 6: 30 am and turned into Captain Ahabs looking for Moby Dick. The Organizers (Mirissa Water Sports Crew) had told us that Lady Luck needs to be happy with us for the whale-sighting to happen. The believers amongst us would have started off on a prayer or two.

The whales are usually seen at 10 -12 nautical miles (about 6kms away) away from the coast of Mirissa, which is about 2 hours into the ocean.

A dull hour and a half passed without any action except that some of us started to get sea sick. The sharp sun and the Titanic type rocking of the boat were adding to their miseries.

Suddenly someone cried, ‘Look there….Dolphin’. And the entire boat sprung into action. All sorts of cameras came out. Life came back in the form of these sprightly, jumping, spinning, happy Dolphins all around us.

I had seen Dolphins in the sea earlier but that totally paled in front of this experience. It was as if hundreds of them had got together to put up a performance for us which they have been practicing for a while. It was as if they were telling us that they are equally happy to see us.

In the span of next 45 minutes we saw some 3 species of Dolphins. Spinner, Bottlenose and Risso’ s The last one is a rare sight and smiles the most.

Then, we moved on to find the world’s largest living species. By now, I was beginning to get sea sick. I had never been in the deep sea and or this long in all my life.

An impatient fellow started yelling, ‘Where is the Whale’? Another pessimist one said in a thick British accent, ‘We maay not see it, after all’.

And then, one of the crew shouted, ‘Whaaaaale’. What I saw next will stay with me for the rest of my life. I stood there, in that rocking boat, completely humbled by nature, yet again.

That Sunday morning, we saw four different blue whales. The fact that I got six good shots (3 of them are here) of them on my newly acquired SLR, is the icing on the cake. The whales and the dolphins were its first few shots. What a start!