Padma Sri Anyone???

I read the most upsetting news bit in a marquee of a famous news channel the other night. “Aishwarya Rai to receive Padma Shri along with others on 26th January”. I was ashamed of our country at that moment. Aishwarya Rai for art ? In which sense of the word ?!

Is the Padma Sri sold out like the millions of film awards? I guess so. Definitely, Jodhaa Akbar was one of the less deserving ones among those nominated for one of the many awards to follow. But all the awards were swept by them which seemed like a paid show. Art ? Does she know any ? Apart from perfect symmetrical features and God and genes given beauty, she remains plastic to anyone who cares about performances in movies. She does look good in outfits, but her awful performances in almost any movie just make those designer costumes also a waste. Jodhaa Akbar was hardly tolerable and her contribution to Hollywood remains absolute Zilch with a sneeky performance in Pink Panther 2. ( Dont tell me Mistress of Spices was worth a hollywood tag). What art are we talking about here? Oh well, consider the art of being in the limelight continuously with her new martial status and “Bachchan” tag. She makes it regularly to the list of “Most Desired Women” in some foreign magazine and makes it a point to be mentioned in the papers atleast once a while. (Does she pay journalists to take her interviews ever so often?).

This post may seem like a lot of Aishwarya bashing, but hell no! Its bashing the committee which chooses these awardees. Her name being included in the list just makes us wonder if these awards are indeed biased and sold out or atleast influenced. It hurts to take away the credit from the really deserving people out there who finally won the award. But her presence? For art ? Definitely no no. Beauty ? Perhaps yes.

Having said so much about the garbage prevalent in our bollywood, I cringe at the criticism melted out at the recent ‘SlumDog Millionaire‘. Amitabh Bachchan writes a personal opinion on his blog and lo and behold! the nation feels the same way. I choose to differ. The truth is shown in the movie. There is no mention of India being ONLY slums, but slums form an integral part of our landscape. Do you think the slums shown in the movie were sets ? No, absolutely real! Then they ask, what are we marketing to the west? Mumbai airport is surrounded by slums and street urchins beg at every traffic signal in Mumbai or Delhi. Dont the westerners encounter them? Dont they actually see that ? They are curious about the slum dwellers since they are something they havent seen before. Instead of taking steps to cut down the begging industry shown blatantly in the film or the fact that young girls are taken to brothels, we just create a hue and cry asking people not to watch the movie. India is shown as a poor country? Then make a good movie showing India in good light? Did our people expect Singh is King to win nominations for the Oscars? Or perhaps a copy of another english film “Memento” to make it there? Firstly, we copy everything from some Hollywood film, be it the latest Raaz( a heady mix of The Ring, Exorcist and Stigmata) or Gajini( Memento) or Yuvraaj (The Rainman) and then tell the west, look at the Indian film industry?

Agreed, the west aint all that clean also.They like to project certain stereotypical images of countries in Asia. Israel should make war movies, France should make arty movies etc etc. But hell, this movie deserves no complain. We must accept reality, choose to eradicate the shortcomings and be honoured that the most deserving musician who definitely is one of the best in the world has finally got what he deserves. A Golden Globe and some Oscar(s) definitely.

Life @ Pune!

Its been a long time since I wrote a post and that is because life has undergone a sea change. Complete makeover. Something unfathomable in a span of 30 days. From another ordinary engineering student on the brink of graduation and saturation of campus life, I was thrown into the real world.. complete with the job aspect, independent flat-like accommodation and completely new set of people. ( Even the people interning with me here are those I’ve never spoken to in the last three and a half years of my life there!)

Let me start with Pune. Yes, I did get an overview when I came here last November. But now, its more intense. I am living in one of the richest suburbs of Asia, ( the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corp. was the wealthiest in Asia before the recession…I dont know its standing now), amid huge industries whose products one seldom sees in commercial markets. Sandvik Asia, Alfa Laval, Atlas Copco, Premier (Ah! Remember the Fiat car anyone?), Thermax,Force , Greaves Cotton etc have set up shop here. The Mumbai-Pune road is bursting with heavy traffic and the road crossing requires a jog to make it in one red light. It is dusty, upcoming and lined with office buses. Sadly, our company does not ferry us anymore from place of living till office. It is a different lifestyle here among the common middle class people, working in these huge industries and contributing to the economy in their own little way. A sudden shift from the huge crowd of students in late-teens, sleeping the whole day, bunking classes, hogging in canteens and dressing in typical college fashion. Everyone is well-dressed, talking work, working briskly and the most surprising of all looking at their watches ever so often to make sure they are on time!(I am sure college-goers have done it too but only in the most boring lectures).

Work is fine, professional and thankfully my project invovles me directly implementing what I have learnt as a Chemical Engineer. For many, their projects have taken them to different domains of engineering or marketing, giving us an experience of a lifetime! Lunch-breaks are timed and slowly we are also making our way back to our desks on time. Entry-exits are also according to office timings. Evenings are spent in transit back home which involves long walks and then dinner and sleep. There is no time for anything at all! Eyes begin to shut at 10:30 pm sharp ( a time they used to open back in college) and we are wide awake by 7 am all set for the next day! Weeks have flown…three already here and I seriously wonder if life goes on so fast!

Pune is a great city. Osho Ashram and the area surrounding it is my absolute favourite! Lush green and clean, pollution free, you hardly remember you live in Pune. Fergusson College road, ShivajiNagar, J.M Road (Junglee Maharaj Road..thats coz of a temple there) are nice to walk around…F.C being my absolute favorite for weekend shopping . Books, accesories, flip-flops, bags are found in plenty! ( Great place for bargains and colour coordinating your outfits!)

Well that about describes my life here. Good food, new girls (with interesting stories to tell!), nice place (albeit a little dusty so I am soon joining the Pune bandwagon of wearing huge scarves and looking taliban-ish to protect myself from being caked in dust!), good malls and a very huge population of youngsters. Language not a problem…everyone understands hindi perfectly well and the weather is good now since its not summer yet.

The freedom and independence feels so good…apart from the responsibilty it shoulders on you. I’m loving it!

The desi’s

At the outset, here is wishing everyone a bright, happy, healthy, prosperous etc etc New year. ( I emphasize on healthy since it is the biggest asset one can possess at any time…sad we never realize its worth..perhaps 6 bouts of bad cold in a single year should make you start wishing for it!). So, the parties are over, the wishes all said ( on facebook or orkut or Linkedin or some social networking site) and we are all at the fag end of our vacations. This vacation was by far the best I ever had. I was lucky to spend my new year and winter break in Jersey City, New Jersey.

No, this post aint about the US of A. In fact it is about this particular genre of people called the desi’s. This set of people gets identified right from being the only ones pushing and shoving and breaking queues at the immigration counter. I did hear one Homeland Security guard loudly exclaim when he saw one saying ‘ Uh-oh! Air India flight is here!”.

In USA there is great importance given to the simple phenomenon of pushing (which we gladly do at any public place, shops, trains, buses). No one pushes others, breaks queues, jumps lines. The fines and punishments are pretty hefty and not only that, there is a huge outcry from the people behind and the other person concedes. All over Jersey, there is a very huge population of Indians settled here. They are pretty Americanized, all with curly accents, sporting the hey-im-an-Indian-in-USA attitudes. They are exceedingly well-behaved as well. But there is the catch. They do all that only in front of the Americans. An Indian is treated just the way he is treated back in India, complete with the pushing and shoving and glaring.

I realized this as I stood freezing in the bone-chilling wind of Bridgewaters Temple. It is a very large Shiva-Vishnu temple with a large cultural society to boot. It is a tradition here to visit the temple on New Year’s to pray and seek blessings for the forthcoming year. We went there as well. It was a long way from the parking and school buses shuttled from the temple to the parking lot to ferry people. It was mighty cold. It was a little India there. A cacophony of sounds filled with words from various Indian languages filled my ears. The familiar coconut and ghee smell of temples filled my nostrils and the chant of mantras made me smile with pleasure. Only until someone pushed me over and ran right past me to get the bus. And then, it was back to square one. Swearing, frustration and tons of tongues clicking. Families bribed the policemen to help them jump queues, elbowing in the line standing and lot of anger. It was all sadly familiar.

The M.G road in Little India is perhaps the dirtiest one can find here. The supermarket (worse kept that even the awesome Indian ones in India) continues to remain the way it is because of the surity of business. They know people will come and buy groceries even if located in the middle of a pig-sty,because they are the only ones who stock the Indi-groceries!

I want to simply ask this question. WHY ? India has so many things to be proud of! We have the best , spiciest and healthies cusines with the best range of food items. Then why the dirt when we sell?? If we behave so respectfully with others even in our own country ( offering plenty smiles…whilst here you get x-ray stare downs!) why the animosity? Why the anger ? Why the competition for everything ranging from grades of school-kids to the colour of the pashmina?? Why are we showcasing such an attitude and life to others when we can be the pioneers of change? The people who can make everyone realize that we are not a third world country anymore and feel proud of it??

We are an extremely friendly society. Indians are described as being the warmest and most helpful. Yes, we are. The concept of friendly neighborhood is very much alive! Then why not bring that here? I might not know the nitty-gritties of actually living here and my observations are from a lay-man’s point of view but I think a friendly smile is non-toxic everywhere! The only conversation here is between friends. The only warmth is to relatives and close friends. I am sure, it is never like that back home. I never felt it before. The isolation despite being in a crowd. The fact that each family/individual had enclosed himself in this transparent box shutting himself off from everyone else and just being in his own little world. Sad.

Perhaps the reason lies in the competitive environment we are subjected to since we are around 5 and which follows us for life. Yes, it is the survival of the fittest but hey, its not the survival of the rudest or angriest or the most self-centered! I guess the fine line needs to be unearthed from all the muck that it has accumulated. The fine line between being the fittest and rudest, and from being the nicest to the smartest.

The Indians here are perhaps doing the most fabulous job professionally and academically. But something lacks, personally.