STRANGER IN THE MIRROR

 

We passed each other at that twilight hour,

You seemed to know me and so did I,

But I walked away with lowered eyes,

Only to turn back and catch you looking at me,

Joy and beauty in my heart is all I see,

With you I reveal setting myself free,

 

You talk like me

You feel like me

You are my soul

You make me whole

You are that stranger in my mirror

 

Connecting over words and phrases

A fire deep inside that blazes

Separated by a world in between

Yet a love so obscene

Can I not love myself thus?

Cos I am the stranger and the stranger is me

 

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The Power Of Staying In Control

 

I woke up this morning to a chat with a friend in Chennai about the magnum opus ‘Baahubali – The conclusion’ that was recently released. He started by telling me how magnificent the movie was. He then proceeded to tell me that there was some technical difficulties and they did not play the second half of the movie. Needless to say, riots broke out in the theatre, the screen was torn, seats were ripped and theatre trashed! I was truly shocked and disturbed.

How can educated people in this age and time behave like this? More alarming was the fact that he tried to convince me what he did was right. Reason being that they had paid for the movie, and the theatre owners did not inform them of what was going on. My only argument was; if the movie could have been played, wouldn’t they have? There is no reason why anyone in their right mind would stop a movie midway to incur the wrath of the patrons. Obviously there were technical difficulties which they were unable to resolve and they were working on it. There was also a lack of communication protocol that has to be followed in such emergency situations. But nothing can condone trashing a theatre for an unexpected error. The producers still made their money and got away but the theatre owners who have paid huge amounts of money to bring this piece of entertainment to you has been made to incur a huge loss that he may never recover from. The other hundreds of people employed by the theatre will also go jobless until the theatre is fixed and up on its feet again. Was the release of the anger worth this much of financial loss? Was there no real solution to this?

Yesterday, at my school, following the usual protocol we had a fire drill. The alarm was pulled, classrooms were evacuated, students counted, and the teachers were asked to take the students back to the classrooms. But there was a glitch. Much to our annoyance we couldn’t turn off the fire alarm. It was was still blaring all over the school! We tried every trick possible, called a bunch of technical people, and everyone worked fervently to get it fixed. Meanwhile, I asked the secretary if the phones were ringing off the hook from teachers demanding to know what was going on, especially since we had many special education students for whom the blaring sound would have been a problem. She said: None! I was truly surprised. After about 15 -20 minutes of no success, I shot out an email to staff, telling them we were working on fixing it. Eventually we did fix it, but that’s not my point. Later on the union leader stopped by and we asked her if the staff got restless about the alarm situation and if she got any complaints. She said, “Not at all, we knew you would be working on it. Why on earth would you put us through that pain?” Yes, it’s obvious but it made me happy that they were so patient.

Going back to the Chennai incident, I was truly shocked that people took it to that level. This a state that is constantly screaming that it is ignored by the centre and as much as they try to intervene, it is the people that impede the progress of the state. It is time people take charge of matters into their own hands and turn things around. People need to realize how much power they have, especially the youth. There are many countries wherein the youth have taken charge and are turning things around. India now has a prime minister who is so supportive of positive change and is a huge inspiration that one person can make difference. A few months back, it was the youth who showed their unity at Marina beach and put up a united front and forced people to give attention to some issues. Sadly, the message was again lost and misused.  Tamil Nadu is a state that has produced the most brilliant minds of the century and if they put their minds together, I am sure they can revolutionize the state of affairs much beyond a technical error at a movie screening. Chennai is an example of just one incident but people do need to wake up in general and start taking more responsibility and be aware of the decisions they make.  Exercise that power of control; sometimes it can make a bigger statement than actually losing it!

 

Solitude

Moments in life just slip away,

Some just stick and stay,

Falling slowly onto the earth,

Today is all we have at hearth,

Some words impress the heart,

Some just hurt till you fall apart,

Few tears express the joy in the soul,

Few smiles hide the sorrowful hole,

Solitudes are precious reminders of friends,

Sinful happiness and playful interludes,

Traveling on a path you look behind,

A solitary journey with nowhere to go.

Dear Zindagi: It’s not so complicated

This is not another movie review from me. Let’s just call it a review of my thoughts post watching a movie! The movie in focus here is the latest offering from Gowri Shinde; Dear Zindagi. I will not go into much details about the movie but I will sum it up by just saying that it forces you take some time and look at the youth today and somewhere you might end up connecting with your own youth. There are a few moments from the movie that sparked some discussion within me and my family. One of my kids loved the movie and the other didn’t. The spouse would have much preferred a song-dance-fight routine. Nevertheless, the ride back from the movie was not silent. There were questions flying around from everyone, spouse included and any movie that can spark an animated conversation, in my eyes is worth a thousand stars!

Some salient points from the movie that we were teased into discussing were as follows:

  1. Only 2% of the world is good looking and it’s important to have a good looking face to look at when you wake up. A friend and I were discussing the movie and we were arguing if that was a shallow thought. But the truth is that’s how the world functions. Looks are important. If you have the looks, the initial path is made easy, sustainability is completely a different ball game and that is where substance matters. But if you already have the looks, your first impression is a cake walk, the red carpet has already been rolled out. All you have to do is walk without tripping!
  2. If you do not hesitate to go to a doctor for a physical ailment, why hesitate when you have a mental ailment. This is something society has still not come to terms with. How easy it is to tell someone, I am going to see the doctor for a colonoscopy or a pap-smear but how often do we hear someone say, ‘I am going to see a doctor because I have anxiety and depression or anger management’. Nil. It is still considered a taboo topic. The truth is it’s a rough complicated world out there. People live in a nuclear world. We bond with ourselves. We keep others away. We carry many burdens and we have no time to share it with others. Result: Utter chaos in the mind! It needs help and it’s important to recognise that need and handle it accordingly.
  3. The inability to express our true feelings. The lack of expression. I am going cultural here. In the south asian culture, it is not considered prudent to express your feelings. Its an unsaid, untaught rule that you should keep your feelings in. Do not show your anger, even if you are burning inside. Do not laugh loud. It should be subtle and sweet. Do not hit anyone even if they deserved it. Do not…do not…do not lose control. End result: Botoxed faces! You learn not to share your true feelings. You fail to express your love, or anger or disgust in a timely manner until it’s too late and everything explodes!
  4. Why look to one person to fulfil all your needs. Really why? Let’s take our body for example, you eat carrots so you can see better, fibre to poop easy, okra to grow some brains, onions to keep the testosterone up (breath mints a must!), Spinach to keep the blood clean…so on and so forth. So when we use so many different foods to supplement our body needs, why do we look for all qualities in one person. Why burden him or her so much? They are not made to order, they are what they are even before you met them. Don’t try to change that. One person alone cannot be handsome (remember only 2%), be humorous, be sensitive, be courageous, be an intellectual, be polished, be rich and so on. Manage your expectations. The result will be a fairly simplified life.
  5. All tough paths are not always the right paths. Somehow we are trained to think that life is supposed to be difficult. The easy paths are wrong and the difficult ones are right. Not at all. Not everyone wants to swim across the dead sea with salt stinging their bodies to make a point. Some just sit behind their laptop, write a blog (like me!) and feel satisfied they did their piece for the world. I am totally using Dr. Khan’s words here because I can’t say it any better than him. Sometimes it’s not necessary to chose the difficult path, especially when you are not ready. Why set yourself up for failure. Take the easy path, grow, learn, toughen-up and then take the tough path. You will have a better chance at success.

These are some of the churning thoughts that we were discussing. In talking with the kids, I told them an important takeaway for life. The importance of self-awareness and communication. You can easily tell when your head hurts but you need self-awareness to realize your heart hurts. The reasons can be many and not important right now but accepting and respecting those feelings is extremely important. Do not ignore it or push it away. Treat it as you would a physical pain. Once you recognize it, the most important final step is communication. Yes, talk about it! Choose your person but choose someone who will make you feel better not worse. Someone who can tell you there is an issue without judging you. And when you find that person amongst the other 98%, treasure them. They are hard to come by. In fact statistics says that, in a lifetime you will only meet one or two (if you are extremely lucky) such people. Just learn to communicate your thoughts and feelings, clearly and in a timely manner. Not just to that friend but also to the person who is the cause of those feelings. This will help mitigate any future arising issues and nip the molehill from becoming a mountain.

Yes, life is not easy. But there is no need to complicate it any more than it already is. I have a favorite quote, ‘You live life only once and if you live it right, once is more than enough’. So celebrate what you have, exhale, just smile and say hello to life itself.

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Ae Dil Hai Mushkil: A tale of unrequited love

Love. It is the most written about topic. It is what most movies are made about, especially Indian movies. A love that wins and a love that fails. Stories depict characters falling in love, going through hurdles and either surviving to tell the story or not so someone else can tell the story. But that is not the reality that most people experience. Most people fall in love, feel that tug in their heart but don’t confess to it. They love silently, from a distance. Most people hold it in their heart forever and just move on. Then there are another set of people who manage to confess their love but turns out it’s one-sided. The latter two is what really happens in the world out there.

‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ celebrates this one-sided love. The theme of the story is unrequited love and its power. Millions of common people will identify with it because that’s what love is about; broken promises, broken hearts, weaknesses, anger, madness and a lot of solitude. If you ever fell in love, even if it was brief, you are bound to identify with atleast one of the characters in the movie. The nostalgia and melancholy will set in and tug at your own heart until all those memories come flooding back.

The movie shows you the power of loving alone. Shows you that you are not alone as long as you have your love with you and not really needing the person to be with you. If you are looking for a feel good movie, this is not for you. This is a movie that shows what mature love looks like. Karan Johar has come out of his comfort zone of candy floss pink romances and embraced a more realistic greyed aspect of love. He manages not to succumb to dictated plot lines of love that wins. Instead his movie celebrates love failing again and again.

The lead pair, Anushka and Ranbir have done a fabulous job. They have truly matured in their acting. Anushka looks beautiful and Ranbir has managed to give a subdued but powerful performance without the histrionics of Ved in ‘Tamasha’. Aishwarya as usual looks artificial and lacks the depth and passion the other actors are able to portray, especially relevant because her role is all about passion and she fails to scorch the screen. Fawad has a brief role but leaves an impact.

What kills the movie is the pace. Although important, Karan takes a long time to develop the characters and you are left waiting for the story to begin until you realize there is none. You have to view it just as pages from an incomplete diary. The last fifteen minutes of the movie is also a spoiler. Karan could have done without that bit. He stepped away from realism and ended it on a melodramatic twist that was just not needed.

The music and dialogues are definitely a plus. Channa mereya is a personal favorite, along with Bulleya and the Break-up song. Being a lyricist the title song is the best with lyrics so profound that every line speaks volumes. One such being ‘Mujhe aasmati hai teri kami’.

Few other dialogues from the movie worth thinking about are:

Boyfriends na filmon ki tarah hote hai … kuch time pass toh kuch blockbusters

Rishtey ke alava aur bhi rishtey hote hai

Love teda hai … lekin us tede love mein bhi sukoon paana sirf kuch logon ko aata hai

Pyar mein junoon hai par dosti mein sukoon hai

Kisi ne kabhi aapko suddenly chaata mara hai … phaat … us chaante ko ishq kehte hai … aur woh chaanta aur zor se padta hai jab koi teesra aa jaata hai

Main kisi ki zaroorat nahi … khwaish banna chahti hoon

Aasaan hai kya aisi mohabbat karna … jiske badle mohabbat na mile

Mohabbat karna hamare bas mein nahi hai … us mohabbat se door chale jaana … woh hamare bas mein hai

Ek tarfa pyar ki taqat hi kuch aur hoti hai … auron ke rishton ki tarah yeh do logon mein nahi bat’ti … sirf mera haq hai ispe

Finally, the movie leaves you with the question, would you sacrifice the peace of friendship for the madness of love? Love can be tough. Can you handle it?

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Spectre

007 is back! Spectre shows you what Bond is all about, the cars, the chases, adrenaline pumping action and picturesque locations. Having grown up on the Connery and Moore kind of Bond movies, I often wished they would bring that era and style back. Sam Mendes does that in his final film. He manages to bring back the old fashioned action packed film and also a style that is more representing of today.

The first few minutes of the movie is what gives you a sense of the experience the next two and a half hours will take you through. So even before the opening credits roll, you are hooked. The movie begins with a scene that looks like a moving painting, that shows what Mexico is all about; the vibrance, the culture and the celebrations in some  panoramic breathtaking shots. The celebration is rudely interrupted and your attention is captivated by the first building blowup of the movie and a chase on the streets of Mexico that ensues. Finally what makes it worth the money you paid for, is the fight on the helicopter. Amazingly shot with the day of the dead parade going on below, a fight in an out of control chopper above and nail-biting action that pushes you to the edge of your seat, the movie continues. It everything Bond movies have come to represent: sexy, thrilling, action and suspense.

Another captivating sequence in the movie is the car chase. The villain’s Jaguar C-X75 chasing Bond’s Aston Martin DB10 around the midnight streets of Rome makes for a spectacular chase scene that keeps you riveted. The eye-gouging villain driving the Jaguar makes the chase even more gripping. Of course, you find yourself swallowing the lump in your throat when you watch the Aston Martin sink under water.

Talking about the characters, Lea Seydoux manages to leave a mark as a Bond girl although she doesn’t have much to do. Craig as always delivers with style but looks a tad too worn out and tired. The one person though that is thoroughly missed in the movie is the beloved Dame Judi Dench as M. Ralph Fiennes just does not do justice to the role. In fact he looks like he might change sides at any moment and become the villainous character that he looks like. Christoper Waltz sends some shivers down the spine but the role could have been developed better. He is just not cold and sinister enough to be the antagonist, and sometimes even manages to look comical.

Sam Mendes’ story borrows heavily from Craig’s past movies and this almost comes across at a part two to his own Skyfall. By keeping the antagonist alive, there is a hint that he is to continue in the future storylines.

All in all its a good watch and you come out definitely feeling you watched a Bond film! Beautiful women, good locales, nail biting action, fast cars and a handsome Bond.

Rupees To Dollars

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Ok the Mother India posters are a bit too much but thats the image that comes to mind. So let me elaborate on what’s brewing in my head!  

Recently, I was talking to friend of mine and the topic about how far we have come in life came about. We talked about how life has changed over the years. Much after the conversation was over, it lingered within me.  It has been twenty years since I left my home country and moved to the land of golden opportunities. Opportunities were many and the outcome was golden but looking back at the journey, I realized it was not easy at all. Every aspect was an uphill task and it took a lot of endurance and determination from all of us to get to a cruising level.

All about relationships: When I first moved west, I did not know anyone, no family and no friends. Everyone I knew and relationships that were built over the last 20 years had to be left behind. In this new country, everyone was alien. Not having a job was another impediment, since there was no place to actually go out and meet people. Then slowly people trickled into our lives, a friend who introduced us to a friend of theirs and they inturn introducing us to two more, so on and so forth. We latched on to every one of them and tried to fit in. We cooked, we hosted, we played, we talked, we partied, just to have some people to talk to. The perseverance paid off, slowly we built our own little family here. Our kids played and grew up together. We helped each other out in times of need and fought with each other too just like families do!

Where the time went: We had a lot of time for each other the first few years. There was nothing much to do. So our evenings were dedicated to reruns of ‘Married with children’ or ‘Seinfeld’. I also can own up to unashamedly spending my afternoons glued to ‘The bold and the beautiful’ and ‘The young and the restless’. I remember waiting for him to come home from work so I could tell him about all the new developments in those soaps. Then one day I realized everyone on the show had slept with everybody and that I had turned into a couch-potato with a soap addiction, I decided to call it quits!! And that truly was the end of it and I never looked back again! But the point is that, it was lonely. There were not many places to go to and not much money to be frivolous.

The part about money: Yes, we started out with none. It was not an easy path. I remember that right before I moved here, he asked me if I would like an apartment with a washer-dryer in the house or a common one. I distinctly remember not even understanding what he meant and wondering, why on earth would I want to go wash clothes in a common place. He of course got us an apartment with the washer/dryer and it was only after I moved in that I realized we were paying a small fortune to have that luxury! We had to think about everything twice. We wrote budgets, planned where the money went and what we could afford. K-Mart was our answer to everything. The cheapest most affordable store. I remember that we went to restaurants/movies once  in 4-5 months. We just couldn’t afford to be frivolous. Slowly, we grew. We worked hard, saved and survived. It took us about a year to just furnish the apartment. But it taught us the value of money. Life was definitely simple with real problems.

Today when I look back, I think we did good. Our kids have everything they want today but I wonder if they realize all the sweat and toil that went into us getting where we are today. What they take for granted today was out of reach for us a decade back.

So the big question I am stuck with right now is this: Should we as parents make our kids also earn their money to teach them its value or just be parents and give them what we didn’t have so they don’t have to face the same hardships? Someone once told me, if you get your kids to enjoy all the luxuries of life, they will get so used to it that they will aim big and make sure they at least get what they are used to, if not more! While I do feel like Mother India and I am sure he feels like Father India, do we really want our kids to experience those days? I don’t think so! This was our journey and we crossed it. I am sure they will have their own journeys to make.