Tuesday, September 27, 2011

That time of the year again!

So with the Shraadh ending today, having remembered the dead ancestors, we now look forward to a month of festivals, and a new Vikram Samvat in 30 days' time. (btw, I love the name Vikram. sucha swoonworthy name it is!)

Anyhoo, so Navratri starts tomorrow. Since we Gujaratis have started taking over the world, navratri celebrations are marked with the 'Dandiya'. Now, every time someone mentions this, I fight an urge to correct them that 'dandiya' are the two sticks which are used as props, and the dance form is called "Raas" (as in Raas-Leela). Saying, "I love Dandiya" would be equivalent of saying, "I love eating chopsticks". And the dance form of clap-twist-jump-clap is called Garba. Even bad dancers like me know how to do it. The way everyone down south is born with Carnatic music, we in gujarat are born with preinstalled garba. You can never be a bad garba dancer. Unless you are my mother, who is a horrible dancer. She does garba steps like a 2 year old on crack. (which is a very disturbing analogy, kindly pardon)

So, though I can dance and all, I am not a huge fan of it. Couple of reasons, too much crowd, bad bollywood music, giant insects and most importantly, lack of friend circle. I've always had very few friends, and well, currently well, let me not talk about it, i get depressed. Also, never got hooked to it because when we were in schools, we would invariably have term exams in this period, and after school, institute of chartered accountants of india has ruined my life. So yea.

Of course, I do have some memories associated with this festival. And I love telling stories. So I'll ramble away a few incidents about the festival that well, everyone calls Dandiya. *cringe*

I was 7-8 year old, and our school had organised garba for children. (you see, navratri is the festival of 9 *nights* and back then, the garba would last all night long, literally. now you have a deadline of 1:30, but back then, it was less nuisance and the garba would actually start picking pace at around midnight) Since we were young, and we could not take part in midnight celebrations cos of school the next day, our school organised garba from 7 pm to 10 pm for us. I distinctly remember this one because well, my dad was supposed to pick me up from nani's place and drop me to school, by 6:30. He did not turn up till 8 pm. I was almost on the verge of crying. He probably thought that I was upset because I missed the 'fun' for an hour. I felt bad because *one* day I asked him to be on time, and he was not. He was never on time when we had to reach school on time for picnic. He still is never on time when I have a flight or train to catch and he is dropping me there. It's funny how certain things done unintentionally could leave such a deep mark in someone's mind. I hold no grudges obviously, cos maybe he was busy. But maybe, giving someone you love, one day of your life, would not be that bad an idea. You don't have to be there for her everyday, ask her how her day at school/college was. But if she's participating in her first moot court competition, which is also her first public speaking thing, just be supportive. I digress.

Other incident was I think in 6th or 7th standard. Either of these years when there was an 'adheek maas' which meant an extra month before the diwali. :p so exams and all over, diwali in november, school organised inter class garba competition. Very enthusiastically I participated. I was perhaps 3rd or 4th worst dancer in the troupe. So we were paired up, some 20 girls and 10 pairs. We practiced every day for an hour in the morning activity period, and all the happy hormones released made me all happy happy. But then, my dance partner fell ill. I was left without a dancing partner and well, I cannot dance without a partner on stage. I almost cried. The dance teacher, who knew us all since we were toddlers, saw me, felt pity, and convinced another girl to be my partner. She reluctantly agreed, because well, she was worse than me in dancing. I still remember how much I had enjoyed being on the stage. I still remember how incredibly thrilled I was when we exited after the performance. We won against our seniors that year. The garba we danced on was this one. (this is only the link to the song, and not the actual performance.)

And then one year, I went to CEPT. Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology. This was probably 5-6 years back. Everyone on the ground was doing only ONE step. no variations, no groups - everyone performing only one step, and on the beats of dhol. That was the best ever experience.

It is something like this

That was the last of navratri celebrations. This year, if nothing else, I do want to go out, have fun till wee hours of morning, tea at kitli, and some friends to laugh with.

Universe, are you listening?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Philosophy

So yesterday, my cousin and his wife came over with their 1 year 9 months old daughter, Dhyani. Dhyani is the kid I am currently obsessed with. She's at the age where she's just learnt to speak proper sentences, recognises people (yea, she loves me, just like any other kid, we can relate well because of same mental age) and repeats everything we say. So, on one side, she'll tell you, "i love you" and very next moment, sing 'dhinka tika' and hold her skirt (or shorts) and do the cute step salman khan does.

And the inexplicable love for peek-a-boo! i've not yet seen a single kid who doesn't crack up in this game. I melt every single time she calls me "Ninu". (what ya, Nirwa is too hard for a kid)

Yesterday, while she was here, I was on the swing in the porch, and she was in my lap, and I got the swing in motion. My mother sat across us on the chair and extended her hand towards Dhyani so she could clap whenever we would go near her. The kid found that incredibly amusing. She cackled up every time she managed to 'clap' mom's hand. Then, mom extended both her hands, and the kid went crazy. She would now clap her with both her hands. Then my mum suggested that Dhyani uses her legs to give her the 'clap'. (yea, we're quite creative when it comes to playing with kids) and Dhyani's happiness knew no bounds.

All this while, she's sitting in my lap. I had to hold on to her tightly so she doesn't fall off. And I just wondered, look at her. She's sitting in my lap, no safety gear to hold her from falling, and she trusts me so much that i won't let her fall. The kid has not yet learnt how to be cynical. She doesn't question anyone's actions.

The other day, I had gone to their place to play with the kid. They live on the 3rd floor and the room's windows fell on the main road. Their apartment is on one of the busiest crossroads with a flyover and all, so its quite noisy there. Suddenly, the kid looked out of the window and shouted something. I couldn't make out what she said, so i asked her mother. Her mother said, that she's shouting out to "Panditji", who's the watchman. She just randomly does that. When my uncle, i.e. her grandfather came in the room, my cousin's wife asked him to shout out to the watchman because Dhyani wants to say 'hi' to him. He called his name, Panditji looked up, and Dhyani waved both her hands at him.

Few minutes later, we were sitting in another room, and the doorbell rang. The sweeper had come to collect garbage from the house. Dhyani went, "Natubhai!!" And Natubhai responded with a smile. Dhyani smiled at him and played peek-a-boo with him till her mother got the garbage.

Kids are so unassuming.

We were also so unpretentious once. When did we stop being one? Why do we question the intentions of other people all the time? Why can't we be little more trusting? I'm sure, for every fall we have, there will be someone to help us through.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The case of a missing calculator

The other day I realised my calculator has gone missing. Whattodo, whattodo.

I dial a number.

"Hello? CID?"

Immediately, the doorbell rings. They're fast that way.

ACP Pradyuman: Aapne aakhri baar apna calculator kab dekha tha?

Me: Yaad nahin.

ACP: Socho, Daya, err.. Nirwa, socho.

Me: (with sweat beads on my forehead) shayad.. last time may mein exam dete waqt dekha tha. shayad use bhi kiya tha.

ACP: Is ghar, aur ghar ke aas paas ka saara ilaka chhan maaro. Abhijeet, pata lagao, har jagah puchhtaachh karo. Ho na ho, woh calculator idhar hi kahin hai. Aur Daya, kuch bhi ho jaaye, goli matt chalana.

(in the mean time, the entire team puts on cotton white hand gloves. this is done so that they do not contaminate the crime scene, but of course, cotton gloves are perfect when it comes to not messing with evidence.)

Sr. Inspector Abhijeet: What is this? (holding up today's newspaper in his hands)

Me: Err.. Newspaper?

Sr. Inspector Abhijeet puts the newspaper in evidence bag and sends it across to the forensic lab.

Cut to forensic lab where Dr. Salunkhe is having purple, pink, turquoise and yellow coloured liquid bubbling in various glass containers. He's examining the newspaper and also tries to extract fingerprints from that.

Sr. Inspector Daya: Sir, koi suraag mila?

Dr. Salunkhe: Mila nahin, milk.

Sr. Inspector Daya: Milk?

Dr. Salunkhe: Haan, Daya, milk.

Sr. Inspector Daya: Lekin newspaper pe milk kya kar raha tha?

Dr. Salunkhe: Mujhe iss newspaper par se doodh mein jo chemicals hote hai, woh mile hai.

Fredricks: Shayad kisine cake khane ke baad yeh newspaper chhua hoga.

Sr. Inspector Abhijeet: Ya phir kisine doodh ubalte ubalte yeh paper chhua hoga

Sr. Inspector Daya: Ya phir koi chai bana raha hoga, ya hogi.

Cut to my home where the entire CID team is interrogating me and my Dad.

ACP Pradyuman: Iss newspaper pe doodh kaise aaya?

Dad: woh doodhwala bewakoof hai. Newspaper pe doodh ki theli rakh ke chala gaya.

Somewhere, Fredricks is trying to open a cabinet in my studyroom.


Me: Nahinnn, it's a glass cabinet, push the glass, and the magnet will release itself. stop. stop. dont break it!

(I go and open the cabinet for him. i notice he has crazy eyes and decide to stay away from him)

Freddie finds an empty ballpen refill in the cabinet.

ACP Pradyuman: Daya, Abhijeet, jao, jaa ke dekho yeh pen ki refill kahan banayi gayi thi, aur yeh pen kisne kharidi thi.

Me: But..

(everyone storms out of the house without listening)

Cut to a factory which manufactures ballpen refills. Don't ask me how but the CID team manages to find the exact batch when this refill was manufactured and who was the wholesaler, the retailer and ultimately, the consumer, Me. Of course, I had purchased the ball pen refill some eons ago. Like other stationery items I had. But this particular evidence didn't lead them anywhere.

Cut to my home.

The mother has returned after spending a day with her sister, oblivious to the entire CID team visit.

Mother: what is all this?

ACP Pradyuman: Dekhi, aap shaant ho jaiye, baith jaiye please (i know, its a meira kumar line, couldn't resist)

Me: Mom, my calculator is missing, and CID team is helping me find it.

The mother walks coolly to my room, and magically, like Jaadugar K. Laal, puts her hand in the bag i took during exams and along with the question papers, out comes the calculator.

ACP takes the calculator from the mother's hand and slaps it hard.

Cut to the CID bureau. ACP looks menacingly at the calculator and says the golden words, 'kho gaya tha? ab jail mein baith apne aap pe ginti karte rehna, dino ki, phaansi ka order aane tak.'

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Why should classic films not be remade

I have a voracious appetite for Hindi movies. I can watch any kind of them, the good, the bad, the mindless. In fact, one of my many guilty pleasures is watching south indian films dubbed in hindi, like indra the tiger and jung - one man army and such cult movies.

I've grown up on a steady diet of films. My first movie in theatre, i still remember was "Hum". I was 4-5 years old, and I so badly wanted the jumma chumma dress kimi katkar wore in that movie. That was a cult song


I grew up in 90s, and that was perhaps one of the worst decade for hindi film industry. Govinda had suddenly blinded everyone in his yellow and orange pants and Karisma Kapoor, who looked like Randhir Kapoor in pink frilly frock and other actresses had just entered the industry. The outfits they wore were hideous, to put it mildly. Kumar Sanu thought he was a good singer and because of lack of social media, no one trashed him!

Also, no denying that 90s had it's share of awesome movies. I loved Khalnayak, and Jackie Shroff looked so hot and droolworthy in Ram Lakhan, and of course, Salman Khan <3 despite movies like Chand Ka Tukda and Suryavanshi.

But then, satellite television opened a whole new world for us. So along with Byomkesh Bakshi and Chitrahaar, we were served a healthy dose of hindi movies on channels like Zee Tv and Zee Cinema.

The first time my dad saw me glued to tv, watching Haatimtai with tremendous intensity, he got worried for me. He thought I'll end up with overactive imagination if i keep watching such stuff. He also thought naagin and nagina would be a bad influence on his younger daughter's miniscule brain. Yea, that happens when you have an elder sibling who's good at pretending that she's wise.

But then, I saw Sholay. And Zanjeer. And Don. And so many that I can't list them here. The intensity, the awesomeness. After seeing Swarg (please youtube if you've not seen this kvlt movie starring Rajesh Khanna, Govinda, Juhi Chawla) I thought Rajesh Khanna had a black shawl permanently fixated on his back. But no, he made me weep uncontrollably when I saw Anand. And then there was the incredibly adorable Rishi Kapoor, flirting with Dimple in Bobby or the way he sang, 'main shayar toh nahin' for Tina Munim.

And then came a time when they started remaking hollywood films. Whether it was good or bad, i don't want to comment. I had not even some of the original versions to compare, and if I was entertained, well, okay with me. (i am keeping the creative right and credit part away. plagiarism is a complete no-no, and i strongly believe that the person who got the original idea/story, should be given due credit.)

But then, trouble started when they started recreating hindi movies of the 70s and 80s. When Ram Gopal Varma remade Sholay into Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag, I went to see it in the theatre, out of curiosity. Amitabh Bachchan, who was playing role of Babbar (so much for creativity) looked like some baba on crack.

Needless to say, it was a disaster.

Then, Shah Rukh Khan thought it was a good idea to remake Don. Now, Don was not even a cult classic. It was just a normal, 80s, masala movie, with Zeenat Aman as an added bonus. I'm no fan of SRK, and SRK in double role, with one role of Vijay, the bhola guy, *ugh* absolutely annoying. To add to it, the movie had Priyanka Chopra playing Zeenat's role. Yes, I DO NOT like Priyanka Chopra. It was a horrible movie with horrible twist. And I shall just leave out the karzzzz starring Himesh Reshammiya out of this, no? #ok

So these days, the trailer of Agneepath is making rounds. Karan Johar has decided to remake this movie. Here's the trailer, for those who've not seen it

Sigh, call me crazy, but the first thing I didn't like about the movie was the Shloka mashup. I mean, one side, they yell Ganpati Bappa Morya, and suddenly go to Twameva mata, pita twameva, and suddenly jump to Achyutam Keshavam.. its like.. what? decide!! I know all Gods are one and all that, but seriously, wtf.

Anyway, so there is lot of outrage among people about the movie. The movie and its dialogues are so deeply embedded in our minds that it will be very difficult to remove the image of amitabh bachchan sitting on a chair and saying, 'vijay dinanath chauhan' and accept hrithik roshan say it. Comparison is inevitable. And most of us will still see the movie, just so we can compare it with original and say how this movie is not even 1/100th of the original. So, the movie, thought it will be a hit, it may not be able to strike a chord to the audience.

Here's a free advice to all the directors.

I have very fond memories of watching the original movies. Please don't mess them up. I will watch Sholay and Don (original) a hundred times over, but not watch Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag or Don (new) even for half an hour.

Also, I'll still watch Agneepath and I'll trash it. Ok?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Busting the Myths

So when I decided to write a post busting the myths about Gujarat and Gujaratis, I had a few points in mind which I had decided to take up. But out of curiosity, I googled up "myths gujarat" and to my disappointment, most of those results were about the 2002 riots.

Sigh, there is hardly I can do to change that. Most people have formed their opinions based on the opinions given on news channels, which are otherwise not taken seriously. It's sad indeed. If you'd like to get any clarifications, you know where you can reach me.

In the meantime, I shall bust some of the lesser controversial myths.

Myth: Gujarati food is sweet.

Truth: Okay, so we like to add little bit of jaggery or sugar in some of the food, but that does not mean our food is sugar-syrupy. It's like assuming every Punjabi's staple diet is paneer. Oh, wait, that's a fact. :P Anyway, just to make things clear, we also put in other spices, like salt, chilli powder, et al. Try eating Kathiawadi food or food from Surat (trust me, you don't want to miss out on surti food - it's awesome) and you'll agree with me. In fact, the food served in restaurants which serve Gujarati thali is the culprit for such myths floating around. Do not judge gujarati food by the food eaten in such restaurants. If you come to ahmedabad, let me know, i'll tell you which places to eat at. ok?

Myth: Gujaratis do not drink alcohol.

Truth: Why not? Who says you have to be born in a certain city to consume alcohol? Let me clarify. Sale and consumption of alcohol is legally banned in the state of Gujarat. That does not mean people here cannot or do not drink. I do not want to comment on the illegally obtained daaru in the city. At the same time, please note that we do not go berserk on first sight of alcohol when we go out of Gujarat. Well, at least most of us don't. So, let's just stop complaining about unavailability of legal daaru in the state. Can we focus on other things, please?

Myth: Gujaratis do not eat non vegetarian food.

Truth: Well, a lot of us don't. I am a vegetarian. But at the same time, there is this lane, right in the heart of the city, where you get perhaps the best roadside non vegetarian food. :D

In case you don't know, there is a fairly large population of Jains in Ahmedabad. Some followers of Jainism do not even eat in a restaurant where they serve non vegetarian food. The lane I just told you about, is in the old city, which is also a, to put it diplomatically, communally sensitive area. Also, a large pocket for Jains. And they all live happily there. If only people could move beyond 2002 riots. I digress.

Myth: Every household has an Baa, high on amrit.

Truth: It happens only in Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. Also, this was a joke. We all have Baa, just that they're as mortals as you and me.

Myth: Gujaratis break into Garba at every opportune moment.

Truth: Well, we do break into Garba on festivals, like, Navratri, Sharad Purnima and happy occasions like shaadi, but just because we get any happy news, we do not break into garbas. Also, it is called GARBA, and not DANDIYA. Garba is the one where you go clap-jump-clap and dandiya is the one you dance with the sticks in your hand. Also, the dance form is called Raas, because the sticks are called Dandiya. (daandi - stick)

Myth: Gujaratis only eat dhokla, khaman and khakhra.

Truth: Seriously, agar aapko lagta hai ki gujaratis sirf dhokla, khaman aur khakhra khaate hai, toh Gandhiji bhi aapko kahenge, #aapchutiyehai

You know, while I write this post, I got kind of distracted and wondered why do I feel so strongly about this place? Surely everyone feels so much love for the place they were born at, and while I say Gujarat, I do include the whole of India. There is so much about the country that I am proud of. And since I know Gujarat better than any other part of the country, I can say things about the place with authority.

So what is it about the place? Perhaps, I need to write another post for this.. :-)

In the meantime, tell me, what all do you think about Gujarat, and if its a myth, I'll tell you the truth about it! :p

Also, I've kept Narendra Modi and politics out of this, at least I've tried to, so I'll appreciate if it is kept out of comments space too :-)