Saturday, December 28, 2013

Unusual occupations - Nomad singers of folklore

William Dalrymple in his book 'Nine lives' chronicled Mohan Bhopa the singer of the Pabuji Epic from Rajasthan. The Bhopa- Bhopis from around Jodhpur are traditional artistes who carry on the tradition of epic folklore that has been transferred to them orally for generations.
Unusual occupations, this time features a lesser known artiste from the same genre. Narayan Bhopa and his wife Mitwa Bhopi who perform at different tourist destinations and festivals all over India.  They belong to a tradition of singers from Rajashtan, who render an ancient folklore epic that has been handed over them from generations by the forefathers. They recite the Dev- Naraynan epic.
Singers of Folklore.  Picture Courtesy : Vikram Guna 

Narayan Bhopa, his wife and son along with their grandson were called by the Goyal family (the Seth) to perform at his resort in Bangalore. Goyal’s resort is situated off the Jigani industrial estate amidst equalyptus plantations, a lake and what once may have been the main watering hole for a thriving village's ecosystem. Not far away from the resort is Electronic city, Bangalore’s answer to Silicon valley housing thousands of knowledge workers who work for the big corporations notable among them being Infosys, Wipro and HP.

Narayan Bhopa and his family were testing waters in Bangalore, to look at the probability of staying longer term since the city is thriving with tourists, international conventions where they may find their potential  clients and sponsors.   For now they had been invited and were living under the hospitality of one of their kinsmen whose ancestor may have been their village landlord, an affluent family member who had probably migrated to Bangalore over the last generation.

Handed over from one generation to another, the bhopas perform ‘ jagrans’ that involve singing , dancing and playing the Ravanahatta, the 18 stringed musical instrument  for about 8 hours or longer spread over 4-5 nights. The performances are the rendition of a local epic that normally chronicles the story of warriors and martyrs, of love and war, or traditions and epics that have been immortalized by the oral renditions over the centuries.  

When performing outside of Jhuggar and Jodhpur, the traditions gets compromised and abridged to a one to two hour performance during the day. More often than not for tourists who visit to get a first hand and arguably authentic experience of the dying folk art at tourist destinations.  

With William Dalrymple chronicling Mohan Bhopa and Batasi Bhopi of the Pabuji sect, that folk rendition now invariably finds a prime slot at the Jaipur literary festival and a number of other international conventions that happen in and around  Delhi. 

The other popular sect - the Dev-Narayan tradition of epic has not been so lucky. Narayan Bhopa renders the Dev-Narayan folk epic. Narayan Bhopa and his family have also performed in Jaipur and Delhi for tourists and in upmarket hotels a number of times. They live in tents and travel wherever they are called for. Mitwa Bhopi proudly talks about their performances in Nagpur, Vishakaptanam, Mumbai and now in Bangalore in what is a Hindi with a heavy Rajashtani dialect. In her forties or early fifties, Mitwa has always accompanied her husband for the performances. Fully veiled when performing, she accompanies her husband and son and sings with a full throated husky voice, that even to the tone deaf and musically illiterate can stir emotions of passion, love, longing, grief and martyrdom through this powerful medium of folk music. It is only when she lifted her veil in private ( when her husband and son had gone to meet the Seth) and spoke to me that I could see that she was a woman in her fifties ,with greyng hair and a skin tone that had grown rugged with travel and performances across various terrains over the years.

A bhopa would normally perform with his wife and another accompanying male artiste who would also normally be from the same family.  This is usually a son who will in the future take over the reins from his father along with his wife.
The family of folk singers Picture Courtesy : Vikram Gunasekaran

Bhopas who invariably are simple villagers, sheperds, cowherds and are often illiterate.  They are illiterate, not so much because they cannot afford formal education. Their nomadic way of life renders access to education impossible since a Bhopa singer is trained from a very young age.

Milman Parry, often referred to as ‘the Darwin of oral literature’ is best known for his work involving the study of Homer and how oral poetry worked and how such traditions survived the centuries unabridged and unadulterated. His theorized that it is illiteracy that works best when an epic tale survives generations. The illiterate artistes' capability to remember such colossal quantities of verse are apparently diminished when they get familiar with the written word. ( Courtesy : William Dalrymple : Nine lives)

Sounds familiar.  With the advent of calculator, our generation never remembers the multiplication tables.  With the advent of GPS some of us do not even remember to route to our neighbourhood grocery store. 

And I am told their non-preference to formal education when they are ordained to carry on the family tradition follows the fear of the above hypothesis.
The day before, I met them, they had performed at the 100 acre sprawling Art of living ashram at Kanakapura Road in Bangalore and were felicitated by Sri Sri Ravishankar amidst roaring applause by an auditorium full of spell bound audience.

When we arrived at the resort for a fun filled offsite, an away-day from work, little were we expecting to have folk artistes hover around us for a performance and irritably for some tips especially from foreigners.  As much as we were intrigued by them, other activites like archery, volleyball, snorking, rope climbing, a inviting swimming pool and the much awaited rain dance with a more funky DJ in the evening were what we were looking forward to.

Before we warmed up for the other attractions at the resort, Narayan Bhopa, his Bhopi, their son and grandson captured our attention with a folk song that seemed to have Bollywood flavours. A bunch of us tried to dance for the rhythm to set the mood.

Playing the Ravanahatta
Picture Courtesy : Vikram Gunasekaran
While Narayan Bhopa played the Ravanahatta, the fully veiled Bhopi sang with a husky voice, a folk song, whose lyrics we could not fathom, their son Ram Nivas Bhopa who could at best be a boy in his late teens or early twenties played the dholak.

The Bhopa family
Picture Courtesy : Vikram Gunasekaran
The little boy barely two or three years old, bare foot, wearing dirty torn clothes with snot drying in his nose danced to the tune. The little kid is Ram Nivas Bhopa’s first born. He had left his wife back in their village as she was now pregnant full term with the second one. This little kid, who would grow up to be the torch bearer of the tradition that had been passed on to generations was being trained young.  A little too young.            

It is an occupation that has been ordained on them by their forefathers. They carry it out with immense pride.  But they are painfully aware that the tradition may die slowly over the generations, if they do not find sponsors. Sponsors in the form of wealthy landlords and reigning princes were easy to come by, a 100 years ago.  Since India's independence and with consecutive generations of wealthy landlords moving away to cities and away from the country, and the princely states getting dissolved and dis-empowered, the Bhopas are now finding new avenues like the heritage hotels in Jaipur, Udaipur and Delhi where they perform. 

Perform, but not the Epic folklore that runs for 4-5 nights but a  very abridged version that tingles the senses and nostalgia of the culture seeking tourist in five star destinations and resorts like the one we had been to. 


Aam Ladki ki ajab kahani

Aam Ladki ki ajab kahani

It was probably the most momentous day in the life of this 26 year old girl from Delhi.
She appears before 100,000 onlookers and millions more viewing her on the national television channels, 
With oiled and tightly plaited hair, 
A black plastic hair clip and pink rubber band for a hair style.
Wearing a pink cotton salwar kameez and a pullover. 
You cant help but gasp and mutter … what a fashion disaster !!! 
Could she have not done better ?

Certainly in Delhi where your womanhood is sized up more by the designer brand of clothes your wear and the brand of cosmetics you use across most sections of society than in most other places, Rakhi Birla stood out and made a style statement.

The woman exudes a confidence that makes you take note of her and Google, ‘Rakhi Birla’ for more details.  It attracts attention especially because the surname is synonymous to the major business house and used as a common term to indicate someone from a wealthy family.  

It turns out to be such a anti climax when you learn that Rakhi Birla is actually Rakhi Bidhlan. The attention grabbing surname is a result of the an administrative and typing  error that got engraved in her class X mark sheet.  

Born as the youngest in a family of four daughters, her parents decided to abort the child  when she was conceived as they already had three daughters. It was a result of a failed abortion, 27 years later, that Rakhi stood in front of millions of people and took oath as the youngest minister in the AAP cabinet. Hailing from a Dalit lower middle class family, Rakhi did her post graduation in Mass communication before joining a Private TV channel as news reporter. (Source :

At 26, inexperienced Rakhi in the youngest minister in Kejriwal’s cabinet.
Her unupdated linkedin profile reads thus :    

RAKHI BIRLA's Overview

  • Assi. Producer at JAIN TV
2 connections

RAKHI BIRLA's Experience

Assi. Producer


Currently holds this position

Anna Hazare’s fight against corruption and later followed by the Nirbhaya Rape case,  the two reports that she covered as a young  journalist seem to have changed the course of her career. She quit hournalism and joined the Aam Admi movement with Arvind Kejriwal. 

While it is too early to tell, here is a woman who listened to her heart early on in life.

Irrespective of whether her party survives the current government or not, Rakhi has already made history. 
Here is wishing her all the very best.  May the trappings of power, fame and money, the burden, expectations,  pulls and pushes of womanhood not deter her from her chosen path.
May be she is too young and hence probably too na├»ve to steer through the crude and cunning world of politics. It is not about being a woman in a man’s world.  The Amma’s and Didi’s of Indian politics have gone far beyond and proven that the world of politics is not too alien for a woman with grit. 

But this time it is this woman's ideals that will be put to test.  
To survive, she needs to have her heart and head at the right place, 
And that is what will make her stand out from the rest.
Rakhi, the country wishes you all the very best .

India needs more of you.
Not just in politics but in all other fields.
With or without makeup. 
Preferably without.
Either ways … you simply rock.  


Confessions of an ‘Aam admi’…

I am normally not a senti person, but today Kejriwal and party's performance at Ram-lila maidan left me with goosebumps. 
Keep up the good work Kejriwal. 
I am sure with all our support you can do better.
Millions like us who watched you on TV from the comfy couches of our living rooms do really wish you all the very best.  

But read on... Because it is going to be a bumpy and confusing ride for you. 

For here are the Confessions of an ‘Aam admi’…
Last year, when the Anna frenzy caught on and erupted all over, thousands of office goers like me left our air-conditioned offices and stepped out on the streets for a couple of hours to show solidarity for the fight against corruption.
There was nothing official about it.
But It was an in-thing.  Everyone was doing it.
And well, who would not want to stand up against corruption . 
It seemed like a good cause.
Everyone was doing something, so we all joined the bandwagon.
And why not ?    

I can say I have never taken bribes or given bribes.
Did that qualify me to be part of the Anna movement?

No. Somewhere in the corner of my conscience, I knew Corruption was not so black and white. The roots of corruption in this country run very deep and are very very tangled.

Like millions of other middle class Indians, I probably turn a blind eye to the blatant corruption that happens around me. I am aware that there must have been a long chain of bribes given and taken by people unknown and known to me, to help me live the lifestyle that I am living today.

My birth certificate was probably obtained corruption free. 

But my driving license was probably not.  I paid the prescribed fees to my Driving school, whose car (the one without a seat belt and a loose hanging rear view mirror) I drove for a little less than 120 seconds at the RTO office in the presence of the driving inspector to obtain a Driving licence which would giving me a legitimate address proof and a government issued photo identity card.   

My driving school guys took care of everything from my mandatory driving lessons which I did not need, fuel for the car, documentation that must have involved tons of paper work and photocopies, appointment with the RTO inspector over a weekend ( so that I do not miss out a day at work) very efficiently. Two weeks later, a representative from the driving school came over and handed me my driving licence.

The service charges were competitively priced and well worth it, considering I earn pretty well. Don’t I ?   
Since then I have recommended this driving school to many colleagues and friends, not so much because they wanted to learn driving, but because they quickly needed a valid government issued address proof in this city of migrants.
And then last year, around the same time when Anna Hazare's movement was catching up, we bought an apartment. Our real estate agent charged us a certain amount as broker’s charges to get our apartment registered. We did not bother to ask him for a receipt. Not that he could not have given one.  It just seemed unnecessary. 

Our agent accompanied us to the land registrar's office in his air conditioned Innova, profusely apologizing for a potential wait at the government office because of an impending 'rahukalam' that may cause a delay to get back to work from there.  
The seller, unlike us was a clever man.  As if he knew what was coming, he carried with him, John Grisham's 'A time to kill' and was so engrossed in the book that he hardly engaged in any relationship building conversations with his agent or the future owner of his apartment.  

At the land registrar's office, I know for certain that the three men and the woman whose desks, I and the seller of the apartment scuttered around, in that dusty, crowded first floor office loaded with paan-stained walls, were meagerly paid government servants.

The first one registered our thumb imprints with an ink-pad on a government paper.
After the ink on the paper dried, the second one moved the file to the third one’s table. 
The lady at the third table in whose presence we signed the document simply tied the string around the red tape and moved it into a tray while muttering some frenzied instructions to her daughter over the cell phone.  

I had just enough time to notice her diamond ring that sent a refraction of light with the seven colours of rainbow when mid-day sunlight from the window passed through it before the agent escorted us out through the stairs where the various shapes and color intensities of paan-stains on the walls formed such myriad, abstract patterns that would have put an M F Hussain painting to shame. 

After that, it was a couple of hour’s of wait for the agent's man at the ‘Xerox’ shop opposite the registrar’s office. The seller and us were seated on plastic stools outside the shop and served over-boiled sugary tea by a 10 year old boy while the agent’s man was busy upstairs at the registrar’s office ‘tying up the loose ends’. 
The Seller had deep dived once again into John Grisham. 

Just as I was beginning to fret and fume about the near certainty of missing the important  2.00 pm weekly meeting at office, the agent’s man arrived and we got a document which declared us the proud owner of the apartment (albeit indebted to the lending institution to the tune of many lakhs of Rupees that would be repayed  over the next 15 years)  while the seller walked away with a cheque handed over by the representative from the lending institution, neatly tucked  as a book-mark in the John Grisham book.

The only thing we paid by cash was the agent’s fees.

I have never given or taken bribes. 
It was all painlessly executed on my behalf  by my ever so resourceful real estate agent and the builder.

I like the idealism that Kejriwal and party emanate.
Only, I am not sure if their mission is as simplistic as it sounds.

Millions like me who would like to join their mission, have been numbed by the concept of corruption. Corruption is, like a leech that is sucking our blood unknown and painless to us. By now more than one generation of Indians have become used to a way of life that hardly knows how mundane things like obtaining a death certificate and driving licence could be executed otherwise.

Show us the way,  Kejriwal  and party.
We know it happens outside of India.

Till then, the ‘Aam admi’ like me would never call on the anti corruption number that Kejriwal has promised to give out in the next 48 hours.

I have never given or taken bribes.
Only paid service charges.

  This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Black, White and shades of grey

Murali : Coffee ???

Manasa : mmm… not now

Murali : OK … maybe by 4.30

Manasa : OK … 

Murali @ 4.30 : Coffee

Manasa : mmm…coming

Murali : Hey...take the stairs … OK

Manasa : No way … I will take the elevator.

Murali and Manasa worked on the same team and shared the same cab everyday to work. Long hours of commute and a sedentary desk job was taking a toll on their health like scores of so many other young people. As a part of new year resolution Murali and Manasa incorporated a few fitness goals. To keep a friendly check on each other’s exercise regimes and calorie  intake was a part of their agreement.  
As young fresh graduates who migrated to the big city for a job, Murali and Manasa  lived carefree lives as singletons, working hard and then partying hard along with their co-workers.  
While Manasa shared an apartment with three other girls, Murali lived in another apartment two floors up with three other work mates.  They threw parties for birthdays and over weekends and whenever they were not at work.   For Manasa’s birthday, Murali had gifted her, her favorite perfumeWhen it was Murali’s birthday, Manasa gifted him a pack of CDs of his favourite albums.  

Their social lives involved around their workmates.  They worked hard over the week and partied hard over the weekend.  

In December of that year Murali and Mansa were expecting their appraisals and their promotions. When they exchanged notes about their discussion with the Boss on their promotions, it looked like Murali made it and Manasa did not.

Sexual harassament.  Screamed Manasa.

That is when this chat transcript and the CD covering the CCTV footage across the staircase was  called upon for investigation.  

 For someone who listened to Manasa’s point of view, when the complaint of sexual harassment was lodged, along with the Chat transcript  this was indeed a straight case.

A proposal to ask a lady co-worker to take the stairs ( 5 floors down) of a 11 floor office complex, that  was hardly frequented by anyone could amount to ‘hatching plans to making an indecent advance’… especially when the lady employee had said a categorical ‘No’.
The CCTV footage, however revealed  nothing untoward.

This is what Murali had to tell to the committee.

We were just friends.   
There is more to this and all this is circumstantial evidence.

And Yes … we liked each other.   It was mutual. Atleast that is what I thought.
We were friends, co-workers, batch mates and there was a healthy competition between us at work.
Like most co-workers we bitched about our boss, cursed the long working hours and cribbed about the peanuts that we were getting paid.  We went to movies, went shopping and on outings along with other co-workers. Yes, we were close friends and eventually I may have taken this relationship to the next level,  but now I know I won’t, or rather cannot.

That, this was said in a different context  and quoted at a time when professional jealousy was at its peak is something that the investigation did not take cognisance of.

How would the committee looking into the case know about what undercurrents ran ?

That, Murali was probably advancing ahead in career with a promotion compared to Manasa may have triggered the complaint.

That, Murali may have been generally exaggerating his discussion with the boss to Manasa may have triggered the complaint.

But to the investigators all that transpired in their resepctive Performance appraisals with their boss was irrelevant to this case.

Because somethings are more complicated and run deeper that what meets the surface.
To friends and co-workers  watching this entire episode unfold, the verdict was clear .
Murali was an idiot and he may have walked into a honey trap.  

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Friday, November 22, 2013



 From my very early exposure to mills and boons days, I believed that  nurses always fell in love with doctors,  simple girls were swept off their feet by the stinking rich businessmen and the Air hostesses married the Pilots and lived happily ever after.

I took to Mills and boons in my early teens, but much earlier than that, when I was a little girl, we had a neighbor called Kashyap aunty. At home we called her the boff-cut aunty, but never mentioned that in public.  Boff-cut aunty had short hair that barely fell upto her shoulders and was always neatly brushed.

For a girl with two pigtails plaited and doubled up with ribbons, Kashyap aunty's hair style was the last word on fashion. Actually it was not  just her hair style, It was Kashyap aunty’s cherry red lipstick shade that made her a fashion icon in the eyes of me and my sister. Between the two of us, she was referred as the lipstick aunty and not boff-cut aunty.  

Kashyap aunty was married to Kashyap uncle. Kashyap uncle was an airline pilot. Those were the days, when you never asked ‘which airlines’?  Obviously it had to be Air-india or Indian airlines. Kashyap uncle worked for Indian airlines and Kashyap aunty met him somewhere up-in-the-air when she worked for them as an airhostess. Mills and boons story come true !!!  

 (The fact that the Kashyap's was a 'love' marriage was disclosed to Amma by Daulatbai, who was the domestic help at both our homes. Her job, it was, to cross pollinate vital information in the neighbourhood with a little bit of her own flavor added to it. In our family such type of scandalous information would normally be  classified as Triple X and would only be for the consumption of adults. I overheard this bit only because the day Daulatbai casually mentioned this to Amma when she was sweeping the floor under Amma's close supervision, I was down with flu and was supposedly sleeping in the bedroom since I was taken off from school.) 

 Kashyap aunty quit her job after marriage because that is what Indian airline’s of those days stipulated as  rules and regulations. ‘Equal opportunities employer’ had a different definition in those days. Just because, she worked for Indian airlines, do not imagine Kashyap aunty to be a fat, grumpy middle aged woman that you would normally associate with. She was tall, slim, fair, fashionable , neatly dressed even when she was at home in her cherry red lipstick, manicured finger nails painted with light shades of pink nail polish and draped in gorgeous georgette sarees that accentuated the curves around her hips.         

I was sure, I wanted to be an airhostess when I grew up. 
I was not sure if I wanted to marry a pilot though.

(Kashyap uncle was’nt exactly what you could call handsome. He was an Amol Palekar look alike. He had a flick of oily hair, a pencil thin moustache, was short by normal standards, repulsively fair skinned and had a voice like Sachin's.)      

It was expected that all decent school children would aspire to become a scientist, astronaut, engineer, doctor or chartered accountant. The problem with all these professions was that you needed to study well. That was a bar raised far too high for my standards. From what I was told, being an airhostess,  required some basic qualifications but not much of sweat and blood by way of academic  excellence.  

 You had to be pretty, fair skinned, flawless complexion and decent looking. And that was something I was hoping I would manage to pull off, when I grew up to that age.

Everything was on track. I grew up to that age, believing I had all those qualifications. It was only a matter of time and the long oily plaits would have to go, the bushy eyebrows would get trimmed and I would have my own vanity case, with lipstick and nail paints of various shades and brands.

With all that, the tall, dark and handsome pilot would automatically follow.

As I joined college, I started making enquiries about how and when of the job openings for being an airhostess. Everything seemed to be working well, but for that one vital statistics.

I saw the quarter page advertisement in the Hindu for air hostesses for the newly launched airline.  Among all other things that were required to becoming  an air hostess, there was one shattering piece of requirement that broke my heart.

Minimum Height : 5 feet 4 inches.

Everything else was workable. Flawless skin, not married, good communication skills, weight,    
But Height !!!
Blame it on my Genetics. There is only so much you can do about that.
No…high heels shoes would not help.

Discrimination,  I wanted to cry out.   

Why should’nt  a petite five feet one inch aspire to become an airhostess ?

All I needed was just two or three more inches.
What does Height have to do with being a nice and efficient air hostess ?

Ok, I do understand, a petite five feet something may not be able to close the cabin baggage shutters as effortlessly as those 5 feet 4 inches and above do. But so what, what are the men hovering around there for ? Is’nt it the charm that she exudes matter the most ?   

Anyway, those arguments would fall flat because employers could pick and choose. In those days employers did not crawl at your feet like they do today.

I let go of my dreams of becoming an airhostess and drifted by whatever came across in life by way of jobs that made up my career.

Years later, when I now fly, I really pity those air hostesses who mindlessly pull out the yellow colour oxygen mask and monotonously simulate the safety instructions that nobody ever cares to listen. Working long, arduous and unholy hours doing the same thing over and over again would not have been my idea of an ideal job. But that is all in hindsight. When I was growing up, becoming an air hostess, was the most glamorous and respectable profession that a woman could aspire for unless she wanted to become a teacher or a lady doctor. Preferably a gynaecologist or a pediatrician.

When roles models were far and few to come by, Kashyap aunty, that ex-indian airlines air-hostess was a real life icon to be worshipped.    

That perception changed over a period of time. To be precise, it changed last year.  

Last year, I was going to be flying in a private jet. My joy knew no bounds when Boss announced that I would accompany the visiting dignitaries in the private jet to the other city.  This was very exciting, as it was going to be my first time in a private jet although I have flown commercial airlines plenty of times.

We arrived at the small air-strip from where the jet would take off. There was no queue at the security counter.  This was VIP security checkup, but a full fledged one. An unassuming BMW drove us down to the hangar.  

From the steps of the small aircraft came down a petite ( 5 feet 1inch) young girl to welcome us personally aboard the private jet that would get us to our destination  in about 40 minutes. Her name was Priyanka and she showed us our seats. There was not much by way of seat choice or seat numbers. Seating in a private jet is just like a ‘Tata Sumo’ with  a total of 8 seats. Four facing forwards and four facing sideways, with the cockpit directly visible to you.     
My jaws dropped when I saw, the person seated at the pilot’s seat in the cockpit.   The petite ( 5 feet 1inch) Priyanka was actually  Captain Priyanka.

In a flash my mental image of her changed drastically.  By now, I was in complete awe of her.

I was not sure if you could disturb a pilot during take-off, but for that I would have gone and fallen at her feet or hugged her.  
I have heard of many women becoming pilots in the air-force and some also fly commercial airlines. But none, has ever escorted me into a flight, introduced herself and engaged in small talk before actually sitting in the prestigious seat at the cockpit. Definitely not a petite, (5 feet 1inches) young, good looking woman.

Times have changed. And this time, she had raised the bar.   

On our return journey, I made a note to interview the Petite Priyanka and get to know her better.
Ah...she turned out to be such a sweetheart.

 This time UNUSUAL OCCUPATIONS features Captain Priyanka - the Pilot of a private jet.

She (unlike me) had always wanted to be a pilot.  That, her father was from the armed services helped her nurture her ambition.  She graduated from college and then trained to become a commercial pilot. Considering Commercial flying takes a toll on your time and work hours, she decided to fly private jets and that is how she was here flying us on that day.

An IT professional’s worth is measured by the number of year’s of experience. ( Never mind, even if he was fiddling his thumbs for many months when he was on bench or was doing some  intellectually numbing copy paste job for a good part of his career) . 

Similarly, I was given to understand that a pilot’s professional worth is measured by his ( or her) number of  flying hours. She told me that in the last few years of her profession, she had put in some XX number of hours. From the looks of it, she seemed to be liking her job in a very matter of factly manner. There was no pride or boastfulness in her talk or mannerisms. She told me that there were plenty of women pilots these days and she was nothing out of the ordinary.  

She had no idea, how much, I was in awe of her.
In my eyes she had raised the bar for what a woman, a petite woman could aspire for. 
I asked her if she would pose for a photograph.  

My privilege, Ma’m … she replied. 
I was embarrassed.

Petite Priyanka and I .... 

Captain Priyanka at the cockpit.

P.S: I have this nagging question ringing in my mind. If young good looking girls started becoming Pilots, whom would they fall in love and get married to ?          

May be I am a little out of date with recent editions of Mills and boons. Need to catch up.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Nostalgic Nineties ....

Those were the most exciting of days, those were the most boring of days. 

Doordarshan was synonymous with television as was Akashwani with Radio. Remote control was still a luxury and multiple channels were unheard of except from those who knew and spoke about the amazing technological advancements that happened in of U S of A.

Those were the days when news readers enjoyed celebrity status and every girl or boy blessed with a good diction, prepared and read out the abridged version of newspaper headlines in the school assembly and secretly aspired to be a Rini Simon, Neethi Ravindran or Tejinder Singh.

Never mind if Doordarshan’s news telecast was meant for the propoganda of the then ruling party, a mouthpiece for talking about government schemes that never yielded results. Most of the  inconsequential and stale news that made it to the television was primarily controlled by the state. Things have not changed much 20-25 years hence. Except that news is more sensational today and is controlled by other vested interests. The power of the government has replaced the power of capitalists controlled media houses, read politicians with enough money to run television channels of their own.

In the Nineties, News time was sacred time.  Every young boy or girl who aspired for a decent job and needed to crack tough interviews was prescribed to watch Doordarshan English news and read the newspaper, particularly 'The Hindu’ if you were from the south and ‘The Telegraph’ if you were from the western part of India. Reading the editorial column and listening to the news was essential inorder to increase General Knowledge and improve the mastery over English vocabulary.

It was in those pressing and demanding times that TWTW arrived. 

The World this Week.

It was anchored by the fully bearded and intellectual looking Prannoy Roy.

Forgive him for having unleashed upon the world of journalism a certain Ms. Dutt in his later years. He honestly did not know what he was doing.  Ah... here I digress.

TWTW : The world this week was the only window for the information starved Indian to know about the happenings outside of the country. A neatly packaged 30 minute capsule of carefully collated news peppered with interviews, video images and visuals and a section called Newsmakers was the most awaited incident for an entire generation every Friday night.

 Prannoy Roy brought a fresh breath of air and changed the face of news anchoring in India. If you have grown up in the Doordarshan era, you will know what I am talking about.

There was a proliferation of video news magazines after that, which attempted to unleash every  controversy, every contra point of view and everything that the state controlled Doordarshan would refuse to take heed of.  But none could match up the breadth and the brevity of TWTW.

NDTV classics airs old episodes of TWTW as NDTV classics at 9pm everyday. If you are one of those who need to stage a hunger strike inorder to take control of the television's remote control from the demanding primetime soap viewers or if you are one of those who cannot figure out how to operate multiple remote controls and surf mindless TV channels before you hit the right one, don't sweat it out.

For most problems in the world there is a solution available.
Mostly in the form of Google.
This one is available on Youtube.

 Logon to Youtube or click on these links below and discover the Nostalgic nineties.  

It is a pleasure to watch a young and stunning looking Shabana Azmi boldly defending herself after the controversy and fatwa issued by the fundamentalists over her 'peek in the cheek' ( not kissing … you conservative, narrow minded, old fashioned, culturally unexposed fools of the nineties) from Nelson Mandela.

 In 1993, a news item on TWTW talks about this new technology called Electronic mail ( email) that was going to change the way we communicate over the years. ( October 1993)  

And finally for the cherry on the topping from August 1990. This one is a must watch.

Fast forward to the 14th minute if you do not want to navigate through the rest.  

This one is about a 17 year old boy struggling with an impromptu interview …

'Studies is very important. Atleast I want to complete my graduation. Then i will think of something else. I study in 12th standard … arts.' , he stutters with a voice and makes you wonder if this Teenager’s voice is yet to break.  

'So you do not have any coach ?'... interrupts the interviewer

'My coach name is Mr.Ramakant Achrekar' ; says the boy... 'he is still my coach' ... he hastens to add....

Nostalgic indeed ... Click here to watch the boy...
The 'boy' has moved on since the nineties and how ?    

In awe of Actor Radhika Apte

Having watched Radhika Apte at a Girish Karnad play 'Une Purey Shahar Ek' at Rangashankara a couple of weeks ago, I am in awe of her. There was something about her acting, that makes you take note of her.

She is an actress to watch out for. It takes much more of spontaneity to perform on stage that over the reels. When I was still lingering in awe of her looks and her acting skills, here I was, stumbling upon another short film where she was starring again. This is a short film by Anurag Kashyap, that I came across a few days after I wrote this post

Radhika Apte has the power to speak with her eyes.  That Girl-next-door looks also enhances her near to perfection portrayal of a lower middle class urban woman that she has played so well in this short film. 
There is  not a dialogue she speaks in the first 5-10 minutes of this short film. 

It is her eyes that speak a thousand lines.
Brilliant direction and awesome acting.  
This short film is worth a watch. (especially the closing lines ... :) )

BTW I won a flipkart voucher from blogadda for my entry 'Where the mind is without fear'
How I wish Shireen, the protagonist of my post has an ending like the one in this short film.
How I wish ...


Thursday, November 07, 2013

What's going on ?

The maddening traffic,
Non-sense chatter over the FM... 
Non-stop deluge of emails…
Endless meetings…
Mindless presentations …
Meaningless social networking …
Die-hard liars …
Desperate but illegitimate lovers …
Suicidal co-worker …
Stressed out super mom …
Senseless client calls …
Soul stinking ass lickers …
Sweat shops and slave drivers …

There was only so much I could take during the course of a day at work.
Mentally exhausted, I decided to call it a day.
Little did I realize, all day I had left my mobile phone in the car.

38 missed calls in a span of 10 minutes … god … I wondered what was going on …

How can I be so forgetful? My bad, I should not be so careless... 
I dialled my sister’s mobile number to return the call.
My heart was beating fast … my palms were sweating. 

Nandini my seven year old niece instantly picked up the call.
‘What’s going on ? I called you so many times…’ she says with desperation in her voice.  

Sorry sweetheart … was busy in meetings… what happened ?

Mmm... when you were busy in your meetings,
tooth fairy photo: FAIRY fAIRY.jpg
I lost my first milk teeth.
I called you and you did not answer.
So I went and buried it in the park under the gulmohar tree.  
You think tooth fairy will send me a gift ?   

She certainly will, my darling …
And thus saying, I went online on flipkart and ordered the Doll house …


   This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

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