About Me

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Study life, study literature. Eat food. Lots of it.
Also, I use a lot of adjectives- working on that, so bear with me.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Pondering Subjectivity and Art

Again, it's been quite a while, hasn't it? Too much has been happening, but the silence was getting to me. My hands have physically been itching for my pen (fine, keyboard) and this post was inevitable.

A while ago, I was having a bad day. The kind of day that combines the perfectly ghastly elements of things actually going wrong, along with my beautiful darling of a brain rehashing ideas and memories that really needn't surface ever again. Simply put, it made the idea of sitting under my blanket and crying my eyes out till I fell asleep sound particularly tempting. Of course, that didn't work out. I'm not telling you any of this to garner sympathy or attention. I'm telling you so that I can focus on what helped me get out of this funk. A few hours of watching my favourite episodes of Friends, followed by indulging in my Potter-mania, and I could already feel my world getting back on its axis.

I know, not everything can be solved by watching TV or reading. However, it can make you feel a tad bit better. You know why? Because for that moment, you get absorbed in those characters, their lives and their experiences. For that moment, that is your individual reality. And THAT is the highlight of my post. Not the healing power of popular culture (though that deserves a post on its own), but the idea that so many individuals can make one common thing their personal reality for a moment, and each see it as their own happiness.

Lost? Let me explain. When you watch something like Friends, during that time it is only you in the world of the six friends, standing inside that beautiful apartment with the purple door and its golden frame, watching Joey mooch food from the fridge. Even though the show has millions of fans all over the world, it is just you, absorbed in that time and moment, and no one else. This is the sort of individual escapist bliss that I love about the Potter canon as well. No matter how many people join the fandom and how many of your friends are Potterheads, at the end of the day it is just you and the halls of Hogwarts. The fact that something so well known can feel so private amazes me. Not only does it feel personal, but in fact when some random person starts telling you about how they've just discovered the same show or book, it almost sparks a little bit of possessiveness in you!

For those of you who do not understand these examples, let me try something else. Music. I don't think I know of anything else that is so widely heard and yet is so intensely personal. Think of that moment when you're listening to a piece of music or a song that you really like, earphones plugged in, volume high, eyes closed with a wide grin naturally on your face.  Even if you've spent hours at your music class studying the intricacies of the song with seven other people, those few minutes with your earphones and your smile are yours, so intensely yours. Similarly, those goosebumps that you get while watching a great theatrical piece, even while you're part of a large audience, are just on your skin and in what you see on stage.

This feeling of belonging, of the joy of solidarity of your self with any art, it is amazing. Also, it is something that has been engaging my attention more and more these days. The idea that both you and I can not only like different things, but also like the same thing, see so many different reasons to like it, and make personal attachments to it while temporarily negating the rest of the world, is to me the best way of seeing art.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Between the Pages

Happy Diwali, and a happy New Year to all of you!

You know what my favourite part about the Diwali break is? All the free time! Time to sleep in peace, time to eat in peace, and most importantly, time to read in peace. People some times find it funny that I complain about not having enough time to read when I'm a literature student and it is practically my job to read. I have to tell you though, the joy of reading something not because your professor spoke about it or because your reference books speak about it or because your university prescribed it, but reading it just because you want to, that is a whole different kind of joy. There are probably tons of people all over the world who've written about their love for reading. Me? I'm just adding to that.

Picture this in your head: Its a quiet day, and you've attended to all the 'work' matters and now you have time for yourself. Now I like to fix myself a nice cup of tea, make sure there's good music playing in the room, and I stretch out comfortably on my bed between way too many pillows and a blanket. Planning a hot date? Pretty much. Only that my date is a book. Always. 

The idea of losing myself between the pages of a good book is one that never loses its appeal. The reasons are numerous. You see, we have but one life. At least as far as I know, we have just one. So then when something allows you the chance to live a hundred lives, why not take it? Each book lets you become someone else, wear a new skin. In fact, the same book can allow multiple options as well. One day you can be a Greek nymph, the next a warrior lord. The day after, you can be a simple country girl, the same night you can be a prostitute. Once a prince from ancient India, once an animal on a farm. Once a myth, once a number in the universe. Once a small town detective in Kolkata, once a doctor trading his soul for knowledge. The possibilities are, literally, endless. 

Books are non-judgmental and unconditional in what they give. Not just an escape from our personal realities, but they provide us with whatever it is that we need in the moment. Be it the sympathy of their words or an idea to make your brain run. My books are for me the best company on a lonely day. If you so desire, they can be a lover's arms, a mother's lap, a father's hand and a friend's shoulder.

One of the things that I crave most for in people's company is someone who makes me think. Ironically, this demand is fulfilled best by a good book- be it poetry, be it a novel or a drama. There are books that make you stand up in arms wanting to scream at the characters and shake them until they see sense (Wuthering Heights; Emily Bronte) and there are some that make you want to hunt down the author and smother them in kisses (Midnight's Children; Salman Rushdie). Then  there are books that, when you finish them, leave a stunned abyss in your mind (That Long Silence; Shashi Deshpande) and those which make you question every thing about your understanding of the world that you took for granted (The Pregnant King; Devdutt Pattanaik). Some which enter your blood and never let go (the Harry Potter series, what else?) and some which bring back memories of your earliest years (the Feluda Series, Satyajit Ray). And yet, this list doesn't even begin to be exhaustive of my obsessions.

Can I put in all my thoughts about why reading is the most gorgeous way to spend your time in just one post? Absolutely not. Can I possibly ever stop convincing non-believers to try the magic? No way on God's golden earth. 

Trust me, go find a nice book for yourself. Crack it open, gently, and take a whiff of the pages. (Yes, I'm a book sniffer.) Dedicate one afternoon to letting yourself get lost in something so much bigger than you. You will not regret it.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Of Cracks and Gold

Broken pots. Cracks. Gold. Repair. Beauty. 

In ancient Japan around the 15th cenury, an emperor once realized that he had a lot of beautiful pots lying around that had suffered through some or the other damage, with visible cracks. Like any of us who find things that we can salvage, he sent it for repair. However, unlike most of us, he was smart. So when he ordered the repairs, he asked them to use gold lacquer to fill in the cracks in stead of the standard procedure, which was to use metal staples. Why, you ask? Because he acknowledged the beauty of the broken, and believed that repair could be used to make something more beautiful than the original object, without ignoring the fault. Told you, he was smart. 

The idea behind his practice (called Kintsugi- look it up) and behind my using the illustration, is to demonstrate the beauty of the broken. I mean just look at this picture! Isn't it so much more gorgeous than what the original pot must have looked like?

So after not having posted here for a long time, you might have assumed that old age is getting to me, and that this blog is about pottery now. It does have Jar in it's title. NO. 
Take a step further. Think of us, all of us, as jars or pots or bowls. Whatever floats your boat. And think of how all of us are somewhat broken, to a lesser or more degree. 

I haven't met anyone perfect as yet. If you have, feel free to pass on my number to them. However, just like the pots, to me, beauty lies in those cracks in the surface. I don't think humans were made to be perfect. Our social context, our ideas and opinions, our experiences- they change us, constantly. A professor of mine says, "We aren't today what we were yesterday, and we won't be tomorrow what we are today." Truer words haven't been said. No one has an absolutely smooth sailing life. We've all been tested in matters small and large- some of us excel, some don't. 

We hurt, and we get hurt. We can be brutal, we can be honest; or we are brutally honest. Sometimes we put on a mask, sometimes we take a lot of delight in unmasking someone else. Jealousy makes us act rather strangely, and we tend to feel a pinch of pride when someone else is jealous of us. We push away people when they are in our lives, we crave for them after. We act fake around people in order to get their approval. We do desperate things in situations that aren't in our favour. We take joy in the companionship that comes out of belittling someone else.  We hide what we perceive to be our flaws, most of the time. The thing however is, these flaws, they are beautiful. They make us who we are as individuals, like a fingerprint. And that isn't always a bad thing.

Flaws and scars, they tell us where we've been, not where we have to go. They make us human, nothing more and nothing less. Someone who's been shaped a certain way thanks to their experiences, even a little broken, is to me far more striking than the glossy, made-up plastic figure. Honest. I'm not perfect, why would I want that out of those in my life? Besides, imperfections make us so much more interesting. 

So, cherish the cracks. Try to repair them if you can, that can only make it more pretty. However, don't ever crave for the smooth surface, it is not worth the effort.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Why Not To Kill Yourself

That kind of came out of nowhere, didn't it? Well no, I think all of us are somewhat suicidal at our worst moments. Not every one carries that thought too far, but every one has a few very bleak moments when they want all the shit to end.

Ever thought about the practicalities of it all? Take a minute and do that. As inviting as the supposed white light may seem, think of the very many reasons not to do it. No, I don't mean be strong and hope for the best, think of the good things in life and all that bull. I mean the actual, real world problems that come with suicide. Like these:

It makes a mess.
No matter what rite of passage you choose for your final flight, its going to lead to a lot of cleaning work. Blood stains, vomit, duct tape,scorch marks and ashes, broken fans- all of this needs to be cleaned up, and obviously you won't be able to do it yourself. Do you remember cribbing every time the maid doesn't turn up and you have to make your own bed? Well, multiply that effort a number of times , because I'm pretty sure blood stains are much harder to get rid of.  

It is bound to hurt. 
I remember reading something by Dorothy Parker some years ago, and it has stuck with me ever since:
Razors pain you;

Rivers are damp;

Acids stain you;

And drugs cause cramp.

Guns aren’t lawful;

Nooses give;

Gas smells awful;

You might as well live.

So yeah, it can't be painless. Cutting, slashing, shooting, pill-popping, jumping in front of a truck, burning- none of it can be comfortable. Unless you find Cyanide, that's cool.

Someone has to find you. 
How comfortable would you be, if you walk into a room looking for something, and find a dead body in there in stead? I'm assuming that it won't quite be a party. So it can't be easy for someone else to find you there either. 
On the flip side, what happens if you make all that effort to die, and no one finds you after? Sort of ruins the purpose if your body never makes it to the funeral, right?

You'll have to write a suicide note.
For those of you who feel that a suicide note is necessary in order to explain/blame/justify why you're doing what you're doing, think of all the effort that it will require. Most of us crib when we're asked to write a 500 word assignment for class. A suicide note will require much more toil. Not fun.
Plus, legible handwriting is too high an aim for most of us, and typing it out is too impersonal. Such paperwork in the way of escape? Nahi chalega, nahi chalega.

Who gets your books?
Obviously, you can't discuss who gets your possessions after you die with your friends and family when you're contemplating suicide. So then what do you do when those people that you've barely spoken to come and claim your things? Can't exactly haunt them later for sure either. 

What about Dexter?
This one's not really that much of a priority, but in today's rather gruesome world, a suicide means that you're depriving a serial killer/conman/terrorist/drunk driver/don/mafia-man of a genuine victim. How will their economy survive if we sad ones keep wiping ourselves out? That's hardly fair, isn't it?

Ergo, look sharp, walk past all the sadness and pain, into something better. Because honestly, this is way too much practicality for one sad person to handle. Might as well go get chocolate ice cream in stead and try to smile.
______________________________________________________________________________

P.S: I know this is morbid, and this may scare or gross out some of you. It may even seem extremely hurtful and not at all funny to many. I do not intend to make fun of suicides. My muse is uncontrollable, and she cannot be stopped once she begins. So things like this will keep making appearances every once in a while. I hope you guys enjoy it.


Sunday, 25 August 2013

Where Do We Stop?

We're complacent, all of us, to some extent or another. Lets just accept that. No matter how good our intentions, periodically, we need reminders like pins on our chairs to make us stand up and do something.

What am I talking about? Look around you. Look at the news on TV, look at the newspaper headlines, look at the internet news feeds, look at your twitter and Facebook timelines. Forget all of that, take a look around you in your immediate neighborhood, in your schools and colleges.Chances are, within the first minute of looking around, you'll find an incident that makes a cold finger run down your spine and your hair stand on end. Scared and outraged enough? What next? We feel mad, angry and a little inspired to do something to stop this, to bring justice to the victims and punishment to the perpetrators. More power to you my friend, but what then? What after two hours, when the boiling blood has simmered and everything mellows down again? We participate in one candle light march, scream three slogans on the road, donate a certain amount to someone carrying a tin box, sign an online petition, put up a status or tweet and write a blog post about it. Pachi shu?


Someone I work with calls this the 'Rang De Basanti Effect'- That just after watching the film you're pumped full of energy, ready to change the world and bring pride to your country. Then you get to the parking of the cinema hall and realise that your vehicle's been towed away. Next thing you know, you're finding the nearest police officer to "quietly settle matters with."

My context for writing this slightly saddened blog post is the ever rising number of rapes in our country and the world. However, that isn't it. This applies to all the wrongdoings that we're presented with, on a daily basis. They happen everyday, to ordinary people. Today it was someone else, tomorrow it could very well be you or me. Isn't this danger enough to make us stop taking things lightly? Above this, do we need brutal reminders like what happened to Jyoti Singh Pandey (Because calling her Nirbhaya isn't really giving her an honour) and that little child in Delhi and the photojournalist in Mumbai to wake our dozing consciousness? These cases received media attention and national sympathy, but there are hundreds of other women, and men, who have been similarly brutalized and have failed to see the light of the day.

What do we then? For them? For us? Where do we stop feeling internally outraged and try and convert that to some sort of meaningful step that can at least be a stepping stone to awareness? Just like the survivors of these crimes are ordinary people, so are those who commit them. So along with finding appropriate punishments, why not find ways to curb such intentions before the damage is done?


Image Courtesy: OBR Strike Dance

Saturday, 10 August 2013

A Moment of Awakening

If you're one of the people reading this blog post, chances are that you lead a privileged life. No, privileged doesn't mean that you can afford to change your phone every six months, or get a new car every second year, nor does it mean taking an international holiday every summer or being able to buy yourself a gift just because you feel like it. It means that you don't have to worry about whether or not you'll have food for your next meal. It means knowing if you're going to get clean drinking water. It means not fearing that one strong gust of wind or one heavy bout of rain could ruin your house. It means not having to calculate every penny you spend, including essential expenses, to see if you can make ends meet. Privileged means that your own governance systems will not, one fine day, just uproot you from your society and throw you elsewhere to fend for yourself. Sounds exaggerated? Its not.

Privileged world, meet Piplaj, Ahmedabad. Piplaj, meet the world, who doesn't know that you exist. What is Piplaj, you ask? This is the little-known, often neglected area of Ahmedabad where the people who previously lived in the riverfront area were 'given' rehabilitation at. If you ever need help finding the place, just ask where the Ahmedabad Sewage Dump is. The colony of the displaced is right there. As a volunteer for an NGO, I have personally been to Piplaj a number of times, and the sight never gets easier. Plastic sheets for roofs, yellow coloured drinking water, no usable washrooms, mud in every corner, mosquitos, snakes and stray dogs- these are just a few of their physical problems. Add to this constant unemployment, medical risks, poverty, crime and prostitution, the condition there is not something that you and I would be able to stomach easily, let alone be able to live in. Yet, the people here don't beg you for money when you go there, they ask if you can help them get justice. People still smile, they are beautiful. But we need to stop making them go through this in order to appreciate their strength. My objective here isn't even to draw your attention to the despicable living conditions at Piplaj- God knows that it isn't the only place in the world where the situation is such. I do however, wish to draw attention to the fact that places like this exist. 
When you peel away the glossy sheen of "Development", you find cracks- where 3000 people become a crack. In the process of making our large cities shiny and tourist friendly, we've pushed away the poor, not poverty.  We marvel at the new attractions in the city, go there for walks and picnics- take pictures there and post them on Facebook. We don't even realise that what we are using at a backdrop for our profile picture used to once be someone's home. Not only that, but in reality, we left someone to survive in inhuman conditions just so that we can take a pretty picture. How does that become development? What is our definition of development, if the lower strata of society is deprived of their needs so that the upper strata can enjoy luxuries? 

I'm not playing the blame game. Everyone, from the top to the bottom, has a part to play- both in paradise and in hell. The question is, do we realise what our part is? And are we willing to follow through with it?

Special Note: This isn't a sponsored post of any sort. Piplaj is very much real, and here is a rough draft of a photodocumentary that a friend, Falak Choksi, and I made about it- Tomorrow?

For anyone who is interested in knowing more about this matter and the lack of an Internal Displacement Policy in India, or if you'd like to help the cause, feel free to write to me or in the comment box. An educational institute also runs a small school at Piplaj, so if you feel that you can help there- through your time, funds or old books and magazines, do not hesitate. Thank you!
Also, my thoughts on this issue are many and can't be included in just one post, so rest assured, there will be more to follow in some time.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

In a Film Reel! - #ShipOfTheseus

"I want to make a film about organ transplants." - This is probably not how Anand Gandhi, the director of Ship of Theseus, began his pitch to producers. This is, however, how I will begin my post about the film.

At its simplest, the film is about three characters and their stories- a visually impaired photographer, an ailing monk and a recently recovered stock broker. How they are ailing and how they get treatment, physically and otherwise along with their struggles, forms a large part of the film. At its most complicated, the film is a subtle, yet clear discussion about identity, life, death, reason, karma, the body and the soul, belief systems and a whole gamut of issues.

I'm not a film critic, nor am I someone whom people would want to read an argument on life, death and philosophy from. What I can do, is simplify things, dumb them down for dummies like me to understand them better. So here it is, a simple list of things that Ship of Theseus is and isn't:

What the film is and What it does-

- The film is beautifully visualized. Some the scenes are almost poetic in the way that they are presented, the framing nearly perfect. However, the film isn't shot on a brilliant camera, so some of it is shaky footage, but that doesn't take away too much. The beauty of the ideas more than makes up for the slightly faulty execution.

- Without giving away too much of the essence, I can safely say that even though it sounds unfamiliar and confusing, the Theseus analogy is spot-on, and you only realize this towards the end of the film.

- It contains a lot of startling contradictions. In one particularly poignant scene, you find it hard to decide whether to relate to the stock broker's despondence over his new-found compassion or laugh at his friend who is physically stuck in a narrow alley. In another, you realize that the photographs that the protagonist took while she was blind were better than the ones she took after she regained her sight. Shock fills you at even thinking of such a thing, and yet you do. In yet another, the monk uses a power of attorney to carry a centipede to a pot after which a young lawyer talks to him of Charvaka. Soon after, the same lawyer compares the monk to a suicide bomber. Go figure.

- The film makes splendid use of sounds, textures and shadows. Yes, I said textures. Go see the scene where Aliya is looking at her braille photographs, or the one where the stock broker climbs his way to Shankar's house, and you'll know what I'm trying to say. There are entire sequences where there are no dialogues, but the lights, sounds and actions make them perfect.

- Most importantly, it genuinely makes you think. It is not pretentious, its not something that only the learned and well-read will enjoy. Pay attention to the right moments, and it will not let you escape without stirring all kinds of cogs in your head.

What the Film isn't-
- Like I said earlier, it isn't pretentious. It is heartfelt and complicated, but then so are most of us. So let that go.

- It could have been a tad bit tighter, and then it wouldn't have felt a little slow at certain moments. This also becomes a little bit of an issue when you don't realize where one story ended and the other began. At the end you do understand, that neither of the stories ended, but you have to wait for it.

- While the performances from each of the actors are commendable, the subtitles aren't the clearest that I have seen.

- This film most definitely isn't your average masala potboiler Bollywood product. Although it has a foreign locale, a repentant 'firangi', a woman in plunging necklines, a man preaching religion, an apartment in suburban Mumbai, sunset shots at the Sealink, funny-looking doctors, adorable old men and two lost songs somewhere in there, IT STILL ISN'T YOUR AVERAGE HINDI FILM. Go see it, just to learn where the difference lies.

If you are going to spend your time and money watching a film like Son of Sardar or Khiladi 786, I'd say keep going for those. You will not enjoy this kind of cinema, nor
will this kind of cinema be able to celebrate you as viewers. If you are willing to tax your brain a little, Ship of Theseus is definitely worth your while then. Feel free to tell me if you agree or not.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Comfort Food For The Soul

Most of the time, when I look at the rain, it reminds of me of my childhood. Of course, this is when I'm looking at them from the comfort of my own window, not when I'm stuck in traffic or stranded somewhere because of them. However, my point is that as a child, I used to absolutely adore the rains. They made me feel happy, elevated even. To quite a large extent, they still do- the sound of the drops hitting my roof, the feel of the spray on my outstretched palms and my eyes, wide as ever, staring out at the endless skies- Unbeatable. If you really think about it, there are some things that appeal to you, at a 'soul level', if I may say so, universally. Even if there is no real explanation as to why they make you so happy.

These things, they never change. Sure, sometimes, the idiocy of adult life and its many tasks may get in the way, but the appeal of what I call 'Comfort Food' for the soul never waivers. Tax your brain a little and try to ponder over this. When you're feeling cold and a little low, doesn't a cup of warm soup and crusty bread instantly help you out? When things don't seem to be going right, and you discover a song that you like, and you keep playing it on a loop in your head, doesn't that often put a smile on your face? Sometimes its something as simple as a slice of dark chocolate cake, and sometimes its as complicated as sitting down to knit a jumper. People call these things hobbies, but I really don't think they are. These are things that we do almost routinely, yet they make you day just a little bit brighter. Often, its not even the task or the outcome of the task that makes you feel better, but just the memory associated with the first few times of doing it that does the trick. If you don't understand what I mean, keep what I just said in mind the next time you go sit on the swings in your park/school. Trust me, it'll be clear then. These are all experiences that are almost demeaned when you put them into words, because they're usually small things, mere objects or activities. And yet, they have a way of making you happy deep inside, even if it is just momentarily, 

There is an irony to this as well. While I say that there are things that give us this pleasure for each and every one of us-no exceptions, they are seldom the same things. For some, it is the feeling of eating whipped cream or a pack of chips, for others it is the feeling of riding your bike on a smooth, empty road. For you, it may be trying on your favourite dress and heels and parading around the house when you're alone and for someone else it may be reading their favourite book again on a lazy afternoon. For someone, it may be the simple act of holding your loved one's hand, or it may be the high the one derives through a cigarette or a joint. For somebody else, it can even be watching reruns of 'Friends' or 'Hum Saath Saath Hai.' Hey, don't judge. People get happiness, comfort and satisfaction from the strangest things. Most of us derive sadistic joy out of bitching about others, so let's not go around raising any eyebrows.

No matter what it is that makes you "happy-on-the-inside", just remember that it is usually a tiny thing. And if something small can make you cheerful, just remember that it can demolish the big problems, one moment at a time.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Shall I Confess To Thee?

Just yesterday, a friend of mine and I were sitting at the college canteen, waiting for time to pass, occupying ourselves with rather dour conversations. While talking, a certain name of a specific student came up, related to an issue that I now absolutely cannot remember. What I do remember, is saying this: "That name sounds really familiar, but I cannot place a face with it. Why do I recall the name?" Pause. And then, my friend suddenly says this: "I know why. Confessions page." Cue the Aaaaah of realization.

This one little bit of conversation made me sit up and think a bit about why the Confessions pages became such a rage. Ironically, when they were most active on Facebook, I didn't bat an eyelid. Now, when they seem dead, I'm writing a blog post on them. Go figure!

If you are someone who lived under a rock, here's what I mean when I say Confessions page. It is a page on websites like Facebook, where people can submit confessions and other things that they'd like for the world to know, anonymously. These submissions are then put up on the page, without the senders name, where the rest of humanity dissects and ridicules them, or takes an unholy amount of pleasure in reading them. These pages are usually associated with large communities such as colleges, schools or other such institutes.

When it comes to my college, this page became a phenomenon, albeit a short lived one. Within a couple of days itself, people seemed to have started pouring their hearts out to the sympathetic ear found on a Google form. "Dear X, you have the prettiest eyes I have ever seen." "Mr X, are you single? I can change that." "I did [insert random act of grossness here] in the college canteen." "X, please come back to me. I'm sorry for what I did." "X, get over yourself. No one likes you." - Samples of the comic riot that often ran through our college page.

Let's just be very honest for a minute here. You cannot possibly tell me that the page didn't interest you. Maybe you liked it, maybe you didn't, but you had to have gone through it at least once. In fact, plenty of people had begun to log on to Facebook merely to check the newest submissions on the page. Either we needed to know if there was a confession about us or one about our friends or even better, about our 'special friends' or we needed to know if there was a reaction for the confessions  that we posted. Or if we were just plain bored, we needed to know who's zooming who. 'Nuff said.

I can't really condemn a confessions page, since I've been through it a fair number of times myself. However, I did often question how many of the confessions were authentic. If there is a confession that someone likes you, you question if its real, or just someone's idea of a joke. Something that you didn't know about someone you know, you question why you didn't know that before. If nothing else, there is always random gossip that makes you wonder "I didn't even know these people exist in my college. Who are they?!"  At the end of the day, it is a giant, college-wide virtual game of fishpond- some real, some meant to embarrass, most meant for fun.

What intrigues me most about these pages are the confessors themselves. As I said earlier, they confess for a variety of reasons. While most do it for the sake of a minute's laugh, what about all of those who are brutally honest from behind their computer screens? People confessing to hatred of others, to mistakes they have committed to honestly talking about their crush/lust/love of another person? What makes them do this? Personally, I was always too paranoid to be able to post a confession myself, but if you are someone who did, what did it feel like? Putting it up, seeing the comments, the likes, not to mention the frenzy that it may have caused in whispers in the actual college itself?  If you were someone who put up fake confessions about yourself, what did that feel like as well?

Questions plenty, answers none. If you have any, let me know- anonymous or not :p

Sunday, 30 June 2013

I'm a Tiny Person, So What?

People tripping on air, animals wearing tuxedos, internet memes: they're all pretty funny. You know what isn't funny at all? Making fun of people because of their size. Fat or skinny, it's not exactly a source of humour, really.

If you know me, you've probably heard me say "I'm a tiny person" very often. If you know me, you also probably know that I am a tiny person, underweight and relatively short as well; what many may call skinny. I've generally accepted my size and the pitfalls and the advantages it brings and learned to develop a sense of humour about it. However, in the last couple of years, I've experienced some more weight loss, and one of the consequences has been my anger, so this blog post has been a long time coming.

Some sensitivity has developed in people in recent years, and there are many who refrain from cracking jokes about obesity or people who are overweight. Sadly, the same courtesy doesn't always extend to the other end of the weighing scale. Just because someone is underweight does not give anyone the right to call them out on it, repeatedly. Showing concern for someone's health is one thing, but using that as a starting point for a joke, no matter how harmless the intent, is still malicious.

Sure, you want to ask if I'm unwell or if there is a reason why some of my clothes seem a size too large, go ahead. But implying that I'm losing weight on purpose or that I use less than healthy means to do it is just asking for pain. Physical fitness is a great thing, necessary even- but not everyone can achieve it, can they? You probably aren't perfect, I most definitely am not. Let's stop defining people based on their size and looks. If you're one of those people who've told me how I'm supposedly lucky because I lose weight without making an effort, I'm not. If you've managed a laugh out of telling me that "Farheen you're like a stick" or "Ants wouldn't get crushed under you" or "You'll probably fly away if it gets too windy", you should probably stop. Its not like I hate you for these things or that I'll have any contempt for you, but its just not nice. I've often been vocal about people who comment on my healthier friend's sizes, but I haven't really had anyone do that for people who make fun of me. To be honest, I don't even let it show that those comments hurt, because usually I can take it in my stride, but thanks to a recent increase in such 'observations' from the relatively saner company I keep, I've decided to speak out.

Body image issues are rampant in people my age. I'm not claiming to be a victim of them, but people don't really let you breathe easily if you don't look or dress in a certain way. I'm not even going into how these issues tie into the supposed structures of femininity and masculinity and what makes a person "hot" or "curvy". Whole different ball game, I tell you. Unknowingly even I've often made such derogatory comments about others, and I apologize to anyone of you who's reading this. But if you are someone who says you're scared of hugging me because you think I'll break, open your eyes, dude. Maybe the hug will help you and me both.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Reflections on a Jet Plane, Mostly.

It's been a while, isn't it? Lets just say, real life has seriously been an irritant in the path of my blogging pursuits. For those of you who may not know, I've been on holiday, and the moment I came back into town, I've been plunged into tons of work for my college. Anyway, excuses aside, I kept wondering all these days what my next blog post should be about. The sights and sounds of my unbelievably amazing holiday? The problems of working 14 hour days immediately after a holiday? The experiences of heading the admission process of your college?

In the end, I kept coming back to my holiday. Now I don't mean to make you jealous, but as a very generous birthday gift from my parents and my sister, I got to spend 10 days with them in the United Kingdom. Having spent some time in Edinburgh and London, I knew that I could spend days just writing about my experiences there. However, the idea of an ordinary travelogue-ish blog post did not appeal to me much. The one thing that kept bouncing around in my head after I returned was the constant comparisons that I kept making between their people and ours, their culture and ours, their behaviour and ours. In no way do I mean to create a divide, nor do I mean to sound racist. But, the differences are very obvious, and not in a really good way.

I'm making a generalization, but the people of UK, not just the English, seem to be far more happy than most of us. This happiness isn't just in their own lives, but in the way they treat others- friends, colleagues, random strangers on the road, tourists.  Maybe its the weather, maybe its their infrastructure or maybe its just the great food and alcohol, but the people are much nicer than most people we come across everyday over here. Every one has a smile on their face, no matter how tired they are. Even a bus driver late at night wishes you a good evening when you get off, and when you run into someone else's shopping cart at the grocery store, they turn and apologize, even though they don't need to. In India, you and I will probably just mutter under our breath and turn away.

Call me a cynic with a major case of the Greener Grass on the Other Side Syndrome, but there's more. During dinner at a restaurant in Edinburgh, we forgot my sister's rather expensive camera in the restaurant, and we realised this later when we were back in the hotel room. After much panicking, we found the bill and called the restaurant, and to our surprise, they immediately told us that they'd found it and kept it safe, and that they'd stay open longer if we wanted to come and pick it up immediately. In another instance, my father lost an important document at the Tower of London; one which he would have needed for the rest of the trip. A while later, when I went to the guard's cabin to ask for help, he handed me the document with a smile on his face saying that someone had found it and had returned it to them, when they very well could have earned easily a hundred pounds simply by using it themselves!
On the contrary, when I landed in India, on the Mumbai International Airport, I found someone's thick woolen jacket on one of the chairs, with no one else in sight. Having experienced the agony of losing something necessary and the joy of finding it again, I picked it up and carried it to a nearby counter to give it to the airport support staff. They seemed least interested, and if that wasn't enough, one of the gentlemen standing around had the gall to scream at me,"Leave it yaar, why are so worried? Bhaad mein jaaye." So much for trying to be helpful.

Again, I'm not one of those foreign-return tourists who can only find faults with everything we do. I understand the limitations of the opinions I form from a mere ten days there. That doesn't mean that our faults don't actually exist. Both you and I need to wake up from our reticence, and stop being hypocrites who go on about our polite and welcoming culture all while breeding intolerance and unease. Lets learn a lesson or two from others as well, shall we? 

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Same Difference?

Imagine this:
You wake up every morning, brush your teeth with Colgate Total. Then you spend fifteen minutes in the toilet doing your business while singing Hookah Bar to yourself. All of you. After that, you get ready and put on the same pair of pants and a standard black shirt and eat an omelet for breakfast. All of you. Then you drive to work at exactly 9:30 am driving evenly past every one else also driving to work in the same manner.Spend the day at work doing the exact same thing. All of you. Come back in the evening, watch the same India vs. Australia match on the TV, cheering for the Indian team, swearing at a 'gora cheater' at the 3rd ball of the 15th over every time. All of you. A dinner of aloo ki sabji, dal and rice, some more of the match, and sleep by 12. All of you. Every single one. Imagine, if this was our life- all of ours.

My insistence on including everyone in the above description isn't to focus on the banality of life. What I'm trying to point out is what the world would be like if all of us were the same, if all of us behaved in the same way, if all of us thought in the same way. Life would, I believe, be reduced to something like that of a daily soap opening sequence. Clearly, we don't all do the same things all the time. If we did, where would progress be? Where would relationships be? Where would we be?

Since we've established that our life wouldn't get too far if we were all the same, then why do we raise such a hue and cry over our differences? Be it a difference in race, religion, caste, colour, gender, occupation, financial status, language, education, clothes- anything; we don't accept differences. At the most, we tolerate them. If you really think about it, it is these very differences that enrich our lives, make them more meaningful and help us learn more. Without them, we become stagnant. So why create fights over the fact that you and I may be different?

Take this simple, but the most common, example. Parents from one religion sometimes become wary when their young child develops a closeness with a child from another religion. They go so far as to say "Aeni saatha bau na rehje"( Dont' stay with him too much) or "Aena ghare na jato" (Don't go to his house). Are they afraid that the two children will corrupt each other, fill each others' heads with communal nonsense? Are they? From personal experience I can say that that isn't true. My group of friends has a large amount of cultural and religious 'variety', and not once has that gotten in the way of our friendship. In fact, we've only learnt more from one another.

Similarly, diversity in other aspects of our life also leads to making every experience richer. If five tourists from Gujarat were to visit Karnataka, they will see it a certain way. However, if two Gujaratis, two Punjabis and one tourist from Assam were to go to the same place together, their entire perspective and learning from each other will change. Why can't we apply this to everyday life?

I'm not a preacher, nor am I a saint. All I'm trying to say here is that, as a society, we need to stop struggling against things that will make us better people. Stop looking for similarities, in stead, embrace the differences!


Image Credit: Embrace the Difference, universal symbol of acceptance.
P.S: Colgate Total has nothing to do with this post, neither does Hookah Bar. I don't own either of them.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Summer Simplicity

I'm not always such a nostalgic person, but what can I say? This heat is making my head go into a reverse overdrive. For the last week, I've been waking up early every morning to go for driving lessons. Today morning, as I waited for my instructor to bring the car around, I couldn't help but think back to all the summer vacations I used to spend going to one 'class' or the other. Yes, I was that kid. The one whose parents always found a class to send me to every break, and the one who enjoyed it as well, most of the time at least.

So after every academic year ended, and before the heat got a chance to mess with everyone's head, I was packed off to something that could utilize my endless energy (which, suspiciously enough, has disappeared now). I've spent hours every summer on supposedly learning skills like the compulsory Indian summer task- Drawing classes, Glass painting and "Dancing Classes" (sic). For those who know me, you've probably realised that that was a lot of time and money down the drain. Then I learnt the more interesting stuff like skating,theater and music. Well at least that is something that's stayed with me. 

My point through this entire tripe is that summer was the time of the year where we made our own routine. Be it going to any number of hobby classes or just waking up late and playing around the garden or yard. As children, summer had it very own charm. I'm not usually the person who says that childhood is the best part of your life and all that bull, but when it comes to the summer, the way we enjoy it as kids changes significantly as we grow up. An entire two months of waking up late, eating mangoes and running around with other kids in the society all day long cannot really be topped by anything that we do now. Certainly not with driving classes (insert sulky face here).

As difficult as people might find it to believe this, the nostalgia of summer had a distinct texture for me- the smell of mangoes, the taste of endless amounts of ice-cream, the feel of the sun on my skin and dust in my nose, and the lack of the sound of an alarm clock in the mornings. Surprisingly, if you ask me to describe how I see summer now, the texture's changed quite a bit. It now includes the blast of air from the air-conditioner, the sound of the ringtone on my cell-phone, the taste of Subway and the feel of the computer keyboard under my fingers. How did it change so much? And does it feel half as great as the earlier one? Not really. Sure, its easier, but not quite as memorable. 

Have your experiences of summer changed as you grew older? Ponder away!



Friday, 17 May 2013

Ring the Bell, Start the Talk.

The last few months have seen a sudden onslaught in the media coverage of violence inflicted on women  in the country.  It took tragedies like Nirbhaya and the five year old girl in Delhi to get our attention, so what does that say about us?

In these very months, almost everyone I know had taken to some medium or the other to express their anger and fears, and initially I refused to add to the litany of posts that actually used a lot of words, but didn't say anything new. I've always tried my best to bring about small changes at  the grassroot level in stead of leading 'morchas' to change the world in a day. This, I realised, would need to happen in my own life first, not in anyone else's. I gave it a lot of thought and realised, that living where I do, and in the time that I do, fear is going to be a given. My neighbourhood is safe, my city is safer than most others and my college is safe- however, that does not mean that I am not going to be scared. That does not mean that if I'm in a lift alone with a unknown man, I will not be wary of him. That does not mean that I can stand in a government office line without worrying about the strange men who are leching at me. In all probability, they won't do anything to me. Yet, I worry.

When we curse our parents and overprotective brothers, friends and boyfriends about not letting us go out alone, we don't really think about it. Honestly, as paranoid as they seem, aren't they just a little justified in their fear of our safety? The fear of an attack on us (not just an actual physical assault) isn't just our fear. It is the fear of our companions as well. It is ingrained in us all, and at this point in time, it isn't going to be wiped out in a day or two. The fear of legal punishment isn't the solution either.

A couple of months ago, one of my closest male friends had a query- "As a male, what can I do to help my female friends and family members in a situation like this?" As much as I love the guy, it made me want to slap him. Because in my head, this question seemed to fuel the stereotype that us 'ablaa narees' need these men to protect us. Once I came down from my own ego trip though, I realised that that is not really how he intended it. He's just as worried about my safety as I am. Like I said, the fear is quite deeply seeded. I may not want a knight in shining armour to protect me, but drawing strength and  assistance from another person isn't a bad idea!

This, I believe, is where our answer lies. Not in demanding capital punishment or castration for rapists, not in candle light marches on roads, not in radical divides between the sexes. The answer lies in understanding the other genders. To Ring the Bell of change, we need to initiate and encourage honest conversation among families, friends, educational institutes and organisations. Gender sensitization, seeing the other genders as equal humans, individuals and not just by their reproductive organs is a fair start- this doesn't just mean that men have to change the way they look at women, but we need to change the way we look at men as well. Generalizations need to end. The process should begin at home and at school.

My contribution to this? I am beginning the conversation- in my living room, in my classroom. What will you do?

Sunday, 12 May 2013

What day is it today?

Since I woke up today, I've been bombarded- through newspapers, Twitter, Facebook. Everything is so completely focused on Mother's Day today. As a child, I used to always make an effort to celebrate each and every one of these so-called special occasions and 'days'. As I grew, I've become much more lax about them. Call it the jadedness of teenage, call it laziness, call it whatever, but now whenever I think of doing something special for one of these days, a hundred different questions creep up into my head. 

Whoever decided that a specific Sunday of a month should be dedicated to one section of the human population? I mean, no calender naturally came marked with a day made only for mothers or siblings or fathers. So then who are we to decide? Again, many believe that these are nothing but consumerist scams promoted by greeting card, flower and gift companies to boost their sales. I can see the sense in that. Imagine, its the 2nd week of May, you are walking past a Feelings or an Archies, blissfully oblivious of the date. Then you suddenly see the showcase of the shop overflowing with sentimental Mother's Day greeting cards and counters filled with people buying gifts that no one really uses. Feel the guilt trip coming already? You do, so you rush into the store, pick up a large-ish looking card, and a photo frame, filtering through all your photographs in your head hoping to find one with your mum that you can put into the frame, and buy it. Then you take the sparkle pens at the shop counter and write something nice for your mother on the card. Does this really do anything to show exactly how much your mother matters to you?

One Sunday morning we spend wishing our mother a happy Mother's day, and then proceed to spend the rest of the day on various websites, BBM, Whatsapp, Instragram telling strangers how much we love our mother. The hours we spend doing that are hours that we're spending away from our mum. Does that hurt her? Not really, no because every mother herself knows that no matter how special her family makes her feel on Sunday, she will still have to wake up earlier than everyone else the following Monday and make sure everyone's day runs smoothly. It is what she is expected to do. So, on one Sunday in the year, we do what we are expected to do. Some of you may think that I'm being very cynical, but I genuinely think that when we play out each one of these days, we do so more out of social expectation than out of genuine feeling. Otherwise, our behaviour towards our mothers, our fathers, our friends, siblings would not suddenly show a spike in goodwill on just one day in the year.

If I may say so, this means that we are actually faking a little bit of the love and enthusiasm for our loved ones, because not many of us usually go ahead and do something special for said person on any random day just because you actually feel like it. How about we take a moment and think about that, before we upload our next status for our mother?

Friday, 10 May 2013

Poetry Day- #Rebirth

Poetry and I have always had a strange relationship, one of symbiosis, but rather harsh. We give and take from each other all the time, yet somehow I've never really felt free after writing poetry the way I do with prose. Maybe its me, maybe its the poetry. Its definitely not Maybelline.

Either way, this is a poem I'd written a couple of months ago, that is unlike anything I've written before. Before anyone else accuses me of this, yes the first line is inspired from Wilfred Owen's 'Strange Meeting', but the rest of the poem is all mine. I'm not going into what was in my head when I wrote this, you are free to speculate, comment, tear apart or appreciate. Any criticism is good.

P.S: if you haven't read 'Strange Meeting', do go read it. It is quite beautiful.

                     REBIRTH



It seemed out of darkness I escaped,
Cut a corner to the Light.
Quenched His thirst for blood:
And woke into His Might.

The screeching tire could not contain me,
The scornful screams yet denied.
Let everyone else be compelled; but
The deafening dark I left behind.

Now apparent is His mercy.
A quiet rhythm is at play.
He is His own shadow; to see
For all those who under six feet lay.

Harsh as the Dark may be,
His task for it is in place.
For without the squelching darkness,
The Light is just a blinding haze.

The dark end was my beginning,
From the gossamer threads of ashes,
I rose out of the black;
Rest my flesh in slashes. 

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Idle Nostalgia

This specific vacation seems like the most boring one I've had as yet. I don't know if this is the case with everyone or if its just me, but having a lot of free time on my hands makes me think too much and often become nostalgic about the silliest of things. Be it people, be it memories, be it incidents, old books, movies or music- everything gets its sepia-tinted moment of glory in my sleep-addled brain.

A couple of days ago, my internet connection decided to break up with me. So I spent the afternoon watching TV shows that I had downloaded and saved on the computer. While watching, I realised that there is a certain pleasantness to watching old TV shows that the new shiny ones just don't have. Seriously. Compare a single episode of Full House to any new Disney show and you'll know what I mean. Forget Disney, watch an episode of The X-Files and then watch anything from today's line-up on AXN; the difference is palpable. I'm in no way saying that one is more superior to the other in terms of content or style, but the new shows do lack a certain charm. Maybe its the grainy video quality, the flower-power inspired clothing or the somewhat more 'conventional' story lines but the feeling in you is decidedly different as you watch them.

So what is the point that I am making here? Am I propagating how older TV programming was better? Am I writing a post on television at all? Well no, not really. The television shows are just a catalyst to get this post written. The point I'm trying to create is that the things that aren't in the present, that have gone by us, seem somehow more appealing to us- most of the time. Let me elaborate. One fine day, when you are bored and have nothing specific to do, and you suddenly come across the first book you ever read. Doesn't it make you smile? Or if your i-pod, through Shuffle, plays a song that used to be one of your favourites a couple of years back and which you haven't heard in a while. Or the world's most favourite example, thinking of the times when you were a kid who could spend all his time outside playing under the sun. The experience of these things is gone, but the memory remains- unfailingly beautiful.

Are we creatures that like rehashing things that are gone? We keep talking about how "they just don't make music like old hindi film music anymore" or how "nothing can come close to black and white cinema" or even how "my grandmum used to make the best food, no one else can make that now". If we get the same things today, just without the time-tag added to it, we probably don't value them in the same scale. Maybe, just maybe, if we look at everything we have today ten years from now, we'll probably feel nostalgic about it as well, but not today. The irony lies in the fact all of us seem, to me, incapable of enjoying today for today.

While this logic has definitely applied to things and incidents, I'm not quite sure if it applies to the people who were in our lives as well. Do we treasure them more when they're not around? Do we, unconsciously, wait for them to be gone so that we can appreciate them?
That does round up my list of irrelevant questions for the day. If you have answers, rants or scoldings for me, hit the comment box!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Six Degrees of Separation, Really?

When it comes to social interaction, I'm one of the more stupid pieces that the Big Guy upstairs created. I can make acquaintances easily, friends: not so much. Having survived high school, two years of college and a variety of classes along with countless other opportunities to socialize, I still find it difficult to walk up to a complete stranger and start a conversation. The idea of being alone at a party without a lot of friends, with relatively unknown strangers, scares the unmentionable out of me.

So when I see all these suave people who seem to be born with the innate skill to initiate conversations, acquaintances and even relationships, I feel confused? jealous? Out of place? Lets just settle on confused for now. At every occasion, I inevitably come across at least one or two of these characters, and I have to admit that I have often observed them, hoping to pick up a trick or two. Did I learn anything useful that I'm now going to share with you? NO. If I had learnt something, I probably wouldn't be writing this post whining about it. In fact, most of my time observing them went into marveling at how easy these folks made it seem and how much of a fool I'd make of myself if I tried their words, their actions. I cannot, for the life of me, understand how its done. Do you just go up to a group of people, says "What's up?" and expect to be pulled into a conversation? Or do you go and politely introduce yourself and wait for everyone else to respond in kind? Or just listen to an ongoing conversation and pop in at the right time with an opinion of your own? Try each one of them, and still, that won't make you a master at it.

Sadly, most of the people that I'm fortunate enough to call my best friends are of the above-mentioned smooth-talker variety. This is why our opinions often differ when it comes to the best ways to spend a weekend. Their idea of fun is a night out on the town, or dressing up and letting their hair down at a party. To them, this is an opportunity to spend time with people, dance, become unnaturally happy and generally have a good time. To me, the exact same activities mean an evening full of awkward introductions, shuffling my feet pretending to dance and studying the corners of the room. Do I like this? Nope. Have I tried to change it? Tried yes, successfully no.

Then, I turned to TV and films and books to help me with my particular problem. Before you get any ideas from here, let me tell you, doesn't always work. Turns out, chemistry jokes are ice-breakers only on The Big Bang Theory, and taking inspiration from the characters on Grey's Anatomy, while entertaining, only makes you more of a lunatic. Don't get me wrong, okay? I adore both these shows, but trying to emulate socialization lessons from them in reality isn't that wise. Although, I have to admit that watching fictional characters like Raj, Leonard, Christina and April does make you feel a little better about yourself, makes your head go "God bless them, I'm not alone." Hmm, I may be beginning to see why people don't talk to me enough. Moving on, conversations about books and music do help, to an extent, but only when the person you're trying to talk to gets the reference or is familiar with the work that you mention.

So then, how have I managed to socialize at all in all this time? The best friends have all happened by pure magic, that's my only explanation for it (I love you guys, don't beat me up for this). But the others, people whom I've grown to know and love, people who I've met recently and people who I'm still in the process of meeting; I have three reasons. One- Humour (as a defence mechanism, to curb the nervousness of new meetings) works pretty well. If I'm standing with someone I don't really know well, I tend to crack some monstrosity about anything around me. More often that not, that has become a starting point for me to work with. Good jokes impress, bad jokes, for some strange reason, find even more followers. Either way, win-win! Two- Bitching (Yes, I said it and yes, it still isn't a good thing to do) is an instant mode of connection. Apparently, nothing makes two people bond better than a mutual dislike of a third person or thing. The Third reason is something that I have mentioned before: Common Interests. Especially in college, most of my friendships have grown on the shared love of a TV show, a book, food, music or the religion that we call Harry Potter. So if any of you guys who I share these loves with are reading this, Hello!

Conversations aren't entirely as difficult once you figure out how to begin them and what to base them on. As is with a lot of things, the first one is the toughest (obligatory winks) . So go out there, and say Hi to someone. In case that doesn't work, there is a comment box below. Come say Hi to me, I love shameless publicity.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

In a Film Reel! - #BombayTalkies

Have you ever hummed along with a song that you normally wouldn't have liked but did so just because it sounds so much better in a theatre, so much grander?
Have you ever heard a kid mouth an extremely melodramatic dialogue in an everyday, ordinary situation, and smiled at it?
Have you ever looked at a piece of clothing and thought back to how a specific actor was wearing something similar?
Have you ever been in a situation where you suddenly thought, "yaar meri life pe toh film banani chahiye?"

If yes, then whether you like it or not, you have been affected by the mammoth giant that is the hindi film industry. Last year, I was participating in a debate where I had to defend the effect on films on our society. That, coupled with my own experiences of film-making (decidedly few and amateur) have led me to think about our lives and films. Combine that with the fact that I just saw Bombay Talkies makes for this rather lengthy rant/ review/ post.

Bombay Talkies is a rather impressive collection of four short films, each subtle, layered and nuanced in its own special way. Be it Karan Johar's tale of lies and urban relationships and the fear of homosexuality, Dibarkar Banerjee's story about an ordinary father who finds his passion in one scene in a film, Zoya Akhtar's deeply textured idea of a young boy whose dream is to become 'Sheila- a dancer', or Anurag Kashyap's engaging story of a man who carries near-immortality in a jar of Murabba, each one of them leaves you feeling happy on the inside.

The best part about the film is that it almost completely refuses to indulge in any bollywood cliche. The storytelling is mature, honest and fleetingly brutal in a way that is far more engaging than any emotionally dialogued song and dance routine could have been. The use of music, sharp cinematography and amazingly constructed frames, along with controlled script-writing and brilliant performances all create something quite beyond the everyday film. The fact that neither one of the four stories is directly connected to the film industry just goes on to show how much of it affects our daily lives.

I have to specially mention Karan Johar, though. I've always been a fan of his early sugar-romances, but with Student of the Year, I'd lost a bit of my faith. When I saw Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, I knew that he had the ability to create these beautifully imperfect characters and their stories, and that belief comes to fruition in his story here. The three lead characters in his segment of Bombay Talkies are so easy to relate to, yet so new. This is the kind of cinema that needs to be encouraged. The use of 'Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh' as a narrative device is also oddly compelling. Respect, Sir!


Though I do have a couple of complaints with the film. The fact that they are shorts films means that naturally, the end comes all too soon, however, sometimes it is abrupt. Such as in Zoya Akhtar's segment, *SPOILERS* when 'Sheila' performs for the crowd, it contains a lot of parents. So it is safe to assume that one of them will go and tell his father. What follows then, we'll never know- it is left to the audiences to speculate. Even with the other films, the characters grow on you so easily that the part where you're supposed to think of what happens after, leaves you a little dissatisfied that you don't get to see it. Also, the last film could have cut down on one of the songs, and added some more of the sharp dialogues.Something more along the lines of "Hum Bachchan sir ka daant pehchante hai, unki filmo mein dekhe hai" would have made it even more interesting!

Throughout each of the four segments, I was sitting cross-legged in my seat in the air-conditioned multiplex, grinning like a child.  I've realised that whether you're in a multiplex or a single screen cinema or watching a film projected on a giant cloth, the allure of this medium doesn't change a lot. The idea of something larger than you and me appeals to all of us.

If you've ever enjoyed, I mean genuinely passionately enjoyed even a single hindi film, you'll relate to Bombay Talkies, especially the end credits. The whiff of the popcorn, the light from the usher's torch and sound of the projector won't leave you for a very long time, if you are anything like me. Each of the four segments made me want to weep, smile even wider then and get back to watching the films that make my day, not to mention, get back to film-making- in the hopes that something that I've created will one day make a ripple in the minds of audiences just like me!