Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Katranein: Andha

सुनो, आज १२ दिन हुए तुम्हे गए. कल तेरह्वी  है।  मैंने इन १२ दिनों में १ बात नोटिस की. कहूँ तुमसे? सब लोग न, टोकते बहुत हैं. ये वहां नहीं रखते, ये रस्म ऐसे होती है. तुम कभी ऐसा नहीं किया करती थीं. मेरी बात चाहे गलत हो या सही, तुम "अच्छा" ही कहती थीं. 
पता है, मुझे कभी ऐसा लगा ही नहीं, कि तुम मेरी हाँ में हाँ मिला रही हो. मुझे हमेशा लगा, मैं सही हूँ. हर बात में. कभी शक भी नहीं हुआ, कि मैं गलत हो सकता हूँ. एक पूरा जीवन निकल गया देखो, और मैं अँधा ही रहा. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Omair Ahmed and Aakar Patel - Contempt of Court by the educated elite

The radicalism of the Muslim league was vocal, but not violent. Then came Jinnah - well read, articulate, influential. And THEN the violence started.

The radicalism of the common man creates one terrorist. But the radicalisation of the educated is exponentially more dangerous because they are able to influence millions and create a dialogue that is based on hatred, while making it appear to be based on logic.

Today, I read a piece in the paper as part of my regular reading. The author was some guy called Omair Ahmed. As I read on and on, my anger got worse and worse. I am not even a Hindu, i have never been to Ayodhya and as far as I can tell, will not go. But the article was so infuriating even to me.

The article quotes:
"again and again circles back to the fact that Hindus worshipped inarticle was  the outer courtyard of the complex, and harassed Muslims going into the mosque in the inner courtyard. It also cites that Hindus used to frequent the mosque before the riots of 1856, which starts the evidentiary trail.... and then...  Staggeringly, the court argues that this makes the claims of the Hindus to the whole site stronger than the claims of the Muslims.

And then:
The way that the Supreme Court has chosen to decide this dispute seems inescapably a commentary on how violence premised on faith is to be adjudged in the future.

And this gem follows:
Imagine if a group decides that, based on their faith, they can contest the ownership of the structure. Imagine if they set up a campaign to harass, attack, and forcibly take over the structure, smuggling in their articles of faith in the dead of the night to justify the takeover and locking out those that used to worship there.Contesting the ownership is so me-too! The right thing to do is to raze the structure and build a mosque on top of it, so that there is no doubt about the ownership any more. 

Imagine if evidence of this campaign is actually used to award them exclusive right to that structure. What imagine? That is exactly how the Faithful got the right to that structure.

And this is the piece-de-resistance:
In its own way, it is a judgement on the New India, an India where the Supreme Court has judged that reason has no place any longer. 
So, while stating that the Supreme Court's judgement is devoid of reason, this person does not think twice about contempt of court.

What made me really angry 
According to this dude, razing the holiest temple of the Hindus and doubling the insult by making a mosque there (an act that he does not mention) is reasonable and historically correct, but using that structure to pray to one of the most important deities in the religion is bullying and violence.

If that is not Islamic radicalism, I don't know what is. He can do contempt of court on national media. A national newspaper can publish that and another contempt of court on the same day (Aakar Patel).

On googling, I found that the bearer of this name is an author. So, starting with Devdutt Pattnaik, has the author community entered a race for increasing stupidity?

PS: I have a personal rule against posting anything hateful. But this article was sooo weird, it just needed to be recorded for posterity. The same way that i post about unscrupulous lawyers and doctors. Their public record gets whitewashed, but someone needs to write - for those who want to know the truth about this person. Or at some point in future, will want to know.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Colonising the Past and Kidnapping the Truth

Dear Learned People of the World (Especially the ones with an interest in history): 

People have always, throughout history, travelled, traded, intermarried, and migrated. Technological advancements have always gone from one place to another. Any human being who gets a genome test today will find that their ancestry comes from every continent on the planet and from all the 4 known races of humanity.

Get used to it. 

To stake a claim to the greatness of presumed ancestors is to take a very narrow and narrow minded view of the greatness that is the human past.

To squabble over perceived ancestry is even more petty - especially since one is uncertain of the ancestry and certain of the absence of a person's contribution towards that greatness - hell, you did not even contribute your genes to the creation of those geniuses. You assume you inherited those genes, and that is a hypothesis that I doubt very, very much.

But perhaps the worst thing about this is the colonisation of history. We are, essentially, cutting up the ancient world and staking claim to it - this was mine, this was yours. We are creating "Colonies" of ancestry with claimed ownership of each. The Sumerians were mine, The Egyptians were yours. The megaliths were mine, the Viscounts were yours. The Aryans? Wait, we are kind of fighting over who will get ownership of that one.
It does sound preposterous, doesn't it? IT IS.

To divide ancestors among the modern classes - The Sumerians Vs the Persians, the Egyptians Vs the Mesopotamians.. and closer home, the Aryan Invasion vs the Indic origin of Aryans.

Dear Egyptians: You may or may not have the same genetic stock. You definitely abandoned the cultural legacy and embraced other religions - the Roman, and now, Islam. You do not even remember the name of the religion practised by your ancestors. You cannot claim to have half the medical knowledge that your ancestors demonstrated. So what, exactly, is your claim to Egyptian empire fame?

Dear 'Aryans':  Whether the Aryans travelled East or West, is a question that should be investigated irrespective of where you live today - East, or West. The Aryan Invasion theory can not make the modern Caucasian proud of anything. Like I mentioned earlier - you don't know anything and you definitely didn't do anything to lead to that greatness. And Indians - The Indic origin of Aryans does not automatically make you Aryabhatta XIV.

Especially the modern Indians - Dear wise ones, from IVC to the British period, the measures of rural India, the cooking pots, and the cultural motifs remained UNCHANGED. Please accept our compliments for "developing" the rural Indian, "Educating" him/her, and insisting that they not use their native weights and measures. By doing this, you were able to annihilate the cultural knowledge embedded in the society for over 4 millenia. That takes some doing, and the genetic makeup of people doing that cannot be intelligent.

When you push an agenda rather than a search, when the results somehow contribute to your ego (HOW??), you are no longer a historian. You are a posturing Frigatebird. (The insult is absolutely intended for the human. The insult to the bird is unintended and cruel.)

Perhaps there was continuity from IVC to the Aryans. Perhaps there wasn't. Perhaps the Asuras were the Persian Ahuras. Perhaps they weren't.

Perhaps the Aryans grew here and then moved west. Perhaps they came from the West and settled here. Perhaps they started their lives as a homogenous race spread all the way from Europe to the Eastern Himalayas. As colonies grew, there was enough critical mass to create local customs and languages. As these local versions started, the distance between the various colonies grew more pronounced.

Either way, none of us had any part to play in that. The only thing we can do, and, imho, we should, is to stop colonising history (you do realise how preposterous that even sounds) and start looking for the truth. There is enough evidence both ways. There are reasons to take both ideas seriously. There are alternative theories that merit a serious discussion (Amish's theory in his Naga series is very plausible, as is the idea proposed by Ashutosh Gowarikar in Mohenjodaro).

So, dear people of the world: Let's stop staking a claim to the greatness of ancestors. We can safely say that in intermingling, trading, marrying, and migrating, and not squabbling over history, the ancients have proved that they were superior in more ways than one.

Credits: This piece is the result of a very enriching discussion with Sankalp Chawla. Thank you! 

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

रक्तबीज/ Raktbeej

गुलमोहर के पेड़ 
उग आते हैं 
यूँ ही 
गलियों  के मोड़ों पर 
बाग़ बाग़ हो जाते हैं 
अनाम सी गलियों के कोने। 
बच्चों को मिल जाते हैं 
मेकअप के नाखून 
और लड़ने के हथियार। 

कट भी जाते हैं 
आनन फानन में 
यूँ ही, 
बिला वजह 
बे  मतलब। 

मैं उठा लाता हूँ 
छोटी छोटी निशानियां। 
सुलगती लाल पंखुड़ियां 
किताबों में छिपाता हूँ. 
शाम को 
कली में छुपे anthers और मैं 
हँसते हैं 
लकड़ी काटने वाले 
पेड़ नहीं काट सकते। 

रक्तबीज होते हैं. 
The Gulmohurs
They grow 
on the corners
of unknown lanes. 
Unbidden, unencouraged. 

Desolate corners
light up 
with forest fires 
of petals. 
get  nail extensions
and micro weapons. 

The Gulmohurs
get cut 
just like that 
one fine day 
No rhyme or reason. 
The fire trees. 

I save up 
tiny souvenirs 
and bring them home. 
The red flames
I hide
among the books. 
The anthers and I 

Cannot cut trees. 
are Raktabeej. 
1. Children use the covers of the Gulmohur bud as fake nail extensions. 
2. Children also pluck anthers from the root and use them in a faux fight, where one anther is pitched against another and the one that gets plucked first is the loser. 
3. Raktabeej is a legendary asura with a boon that whenever a drop of his body touches the Earth, a new form of him would rise from that spot. 

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Hindi Muhavara on unfulfilled wishes

अरमान रह जाना
Armaan Reh Jaana

Meaning: A desire that remains unfulfilled.

Usage: मेरा तो अरमान ही रह गया, कि परीक्षा ख़त्म हो, और माँ हमें सीधे पिक्चर दिखाने ले जाए. 

Sanskrit Sukti on the importance of commerce and trade

वाणिज्य वसते लक्ष्मी: 
VaNijya Vasate Lakshmi:

In commerce resides Lakshmi (the Goddess of Wealth)

What to absolutely not miss on Netflix India

This is a list of hidden gems on Netflix India. The list that conclusively proves that human intelligence beats AI and algo driven recommendations any day.

Do Paise ki Dhoop, Chaar Aane ki Baarish 

This movie by Deepti Naval ji is that rare thing that comes along once in a million years. Away from all the hype and the hoopla, this is what pure excellence in story telling looks like.

Notting Hill
Absolutely Old Fashioned, famous, and lives up to the fame.

Friday, September 27, 2019

It will take a strike, but of a different kind

Let's try to understand what Climate Change Action really means. Let's know that governments and politicians are NOT responsible, and they will not be able to change this. Remember that most governments in the world are democracies, which means they simply respond to popular demand or they lose power.

About 20 years ago, I read a poster that said - We are the last generation that can do something about this. It is only now that I realise the full impact of that line.

Those of you who are applauding the Climate Change Activist, and those who want to send children on strikes, this is what climate change action is going to take. Make a pledge today to accept this future. Then act towards it:

1. LESSER money than we have now.
2. FEWER jobs
3. LESS convenience. In everything.
4. MORE recycling - all aluminium that comes in medicine wrappers, all iron that is thrown away, all broken lead crystal, all organic waste...
6. No access to fruits and vegetables from around the world.
7. LESSER infrastructure like roads, airports, train stations, wagons, trucks etc., and higher dependence on local produce.

If you want to imagine what sustainable living looks like, go spend a month in the North East of India. Life is simple, community bonds strong, facilities and monies very limited.

And it is ALL WORTH IT.

John Eliya.. enough said

Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Climate Change Strike

So, how many tonnes of paper was used today to create posters for the Climate Change Strike? 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Vishwakarma Divas Poem / विश्वकर्मा दिवस पर कविता

विश्वकर्मा दिवस

कारीगर पूजते हैं
अपने औज़ार

आओ कलम,
मैं तुम्हें पूजता हूं. 

Functional translation:

On Vishwakarma Diwas
The artisans and the engineers
worship their implements.

Come, dear Pen,
It is time
for me
To Worship you.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Contribution of the Congress Party to India

Like, seriously, WTF! ?

The best thing I read this week was: There is a reason that no one names their child "Vibhishan"

The Ramayana can lie about the truth of our history, but we all know better. Way better. 

जवाब - प्रेम

मैं तुम्हे प्रेम करना चाहता हूँ

हर चोट
जो बचपन से खायी है तुमने
हर फोटो
तुम्हारे बचपन की
वो हर बार जब तुम
"कोई बात नहीं"
कह कर
अंदर के कमरे में चली गयी थीं....

हर बात
मेरे अंतर्मन की
हर दर्द
जो मॉर्फिन की सुई से
सोया है
हर डर जो केवल मेरा है.

कितना कठिन रास्ता है देखो
अभी तो पहला पग न धरा है
पर मुझे यकीं है
ये सब मरहले
सारे पर्वत
और कंदरायें
नगण्य हो जाएंगे
जब हम
ठान लेंगे
कि हमको
प्रेम करना है.

तुम्हारा मैं नहीं जानता
मैं तुम्हे प्रेम करना चाहता हूँ

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

प्रेम/ Prem

मैं तुम्हे प्रेम करना चाहता हूँ 

तुमको सजाना चाहता हूँ 
उन सारी पीली, नीली, शोख साड़ियों में 
जिन्हे मैंने तुमपर 
कई बार सोचा है 

तुम्हारे साथ जाऊँगा 
बचपन की सब जगहों पर 
एक एक कमरा 
पाठशाला  का, 
पडोसी के घर का, 
अपने पुश्तैनी घर का भी 

देखना चाहता हूँ 
सभी मनपसंद फिल्में 
तुम्हारे साथ बैठ कर

मिलाना चाहता हूँ 
अपने दोस्तों से
रिश्तेदारों से 
बताना चाहता हूँ 
मिल गयी मंज़िल मुझे

मैं अधूरा हूँ तुम बिन 
तुम संग 
सम्पूर्ण होना चाहता हूँ 
मैं तुमको 
प्रेम करना चाहता हूँ 

Saturday, September 07, 2019

On Wealth Creation and India..

Evening Thoughts:
From 712 to 1398 AD, The Arabs, Ghazni, Ghori and Taimur attacked India with the sole purpose of loot and plunder. The riches to be got from India were enough to cover the costs of raising an army, having it cross the mighty Hindukush, fight, and go back all the way, and still make a profit.

From 1600 AD onwards, The British, French, Portuguese, and Dutch East India Companies were created for the sole purpose of 'trading' with India and partaking of the wealth of India. That lasted 300 years.

Within 73 years of Independence, India is the world's sixth largest economy.

If we want to learn the secret of consistent creation of wealth, perhaps, we should look inwards?

The other thing we should learn from India and Russia is the concentration of wealth. It was because wealth was concentrated - first, in the temples, then in the ruling and trading classes, that it became easier to plunder from India. If the wealth was well distributed, the effort required to get that wealth would also have been higher, and perhaps, not worth it so much.

What do you think?

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Not Amrita Pritam.. sorry!

That awkward moment when something you have written is attributed to Amrita Pritam..

Chhala appeared on this blog in April 2006:

Update: The moderators of the group have changed the image with this post, taking very prompt action. Thank you so much, especially to Pravin Jangid ji and Sarita Trivedi ji who picked it up first thing in the morning. 

I later realised that some posters of these lines with Amrita Pritram accredition have also been circulated on social media. The poster is beautiful, but those words are mine. :) 

Also, another friend from my poetry group has informed me about the posters, and many of my friends were happy for me - that my lines are used as signature lines for Amrita Pritam. I have no view on that. Should it be flattering? Perhaps. But only as their colours are flattering to the butterflies. Their colours just are. My words just are. They exist for me, complete unto themselves. I guess I should be happy. Ok, I am going away to be happy now. Issue Resolved! :) 

Friday, August 30, 2019

Original Quotes

I've finally realised why I grow horizontally every year - I'm a tree! I have to add to my girth every year. Its how we age.
If a four year child full of anxiety refuses a hug, not based on their gut instinct, but because its from a stranger, we are creating a generation of children whose mistrust of the human race is acute and deeply ingrained. We should be worried. Very, Very worried.

What we did was, instead of punishing the ones who were doing the wrong things, we created rules that suspect EVERYONE. We created more such rules, until it was impossible to trust anyone at all. Did those rules do what they were supposed to do - protect? The crime rates tell us they didn't. So, is it time to go back to being a society that punishes the criminal without generalising the crime? A society that views the crime as the exception, not the innocence of people? The crime is the exception. Remember that. 
Propaganda is a weapon that can only be used on the unaware, or the unmindful. Our purpose in life is to ensure that we are neither. 
On the Big Bang Theory and its characters: None of them is funny. Each of them is patently ridiculous, except maybe Leonard. 
We Indians are polyglots by osmosis. 
Explanation: There are so many languages being spoken all around us that all we have to do is show up. A person working in Bangalore will have heard at least 4 languages - Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada. A person working in Delhi will have heard Bengali, Hindi, Haryanvi, Punjabi, for sure. See, its that simple.
कुछ लोग न, समझ में नहीं आते. उन्हें समझना नहीं चाहिए, छोड़ देना चाहिए। :) 
Monarchy should be close enough to appear real, and distant enough to appear surreal.

Trust needs to be earned. Love is automatic. 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Butcher of Tarain - Muizuddin Mohd. Ghori

Son: So I have to read about Mohd. Ghori. Will you help me?

Mom (recollecting whatever little history i remember): Haan he was called The Butcher of Tarain na...

Son (shocked): NOOOO! That's not what they taught us at all!

Mom(now shocked): Arre! How can they completely erase the massacre of thousands of Indians from our own history books? That man slaughtered people for the sake of slaughtering them. He and his army kept killing even after they had won.

And today, I checked online. Apparently, other than my memory, nobody else remembers "The Butcher of Tarain."

Film Review: Batla House

Before I start the movie review, I have to say this: Dear People of India, if you spent 15th August, 2019, safely in your houses, without news of bomb blasts, mob violence and so on, please thank the thousands of unknown, unnamed officers who have done things that you and I will never know about. Peace is not an automatic thing. It is the fine art of well-balanced cross fires, and every Indian only needs to remember that this is the same country that saw serial blasts as a matter of course. This peace is a LOT of hard work. Unfortunately, we have created a world where peace is an expensive luxury. India is no exception.

On that note, here is the review of Batla House:
What do you do when you have to tell the story of an encounter, the 2 year investigation leading up to the encounter, and the 2 years following the encounter in a crisp 146 minutes? You call the scriptwriter and editor of Batla House, and beg them to do it for you.

What's great about the film 

Another personal note: 
What I have grown to love about John Abraham's movies as a female viewer, is the fully clad women. They are women with their own well-developed personalities, they are fully clothed, and they are not eye candy. For that alone, I will walk into any John Abraham movie. This movie is no different. This is not a point that will matter to many others, but over the years, I have been so sick of the way women are portrayed in Indian cinema, that this one thing matters much.

The Writing 
Even in Mission Mangal, which is a movie that released at the same time as this one, the characters are put in stereotypes. Not here. Every character here is nuanced and has a place to fill that is uniquely their own. There isn't a huge ensemble cast, but the one that is, has enough space on screen to register its presence.
The script itself is taut, complete and not jarring. 

This is one movie that could have been replete with hajaar dialogues, ideology, theorising, back and forth debate. Yet, it restricted itself to presenting the facts, allowing the protagonist exactly one outburst in the final courtroom sequence. How can a movie about an emotionally charged subject be made so objectively? That is a feat that should not be ignored.

The Editing 
I have already mentioned this - 146 minutes run time - the PTSD of the officer in charge, the complete investigation, the 2 harrowing years after the investigation, and not one loose scene. Not one scene where your eyes wander, wondering what the scene is doing in the film. The editor deserves kudos.

The Direction
As I have realised after Mission Mangal, the Director and his/her vision pretty much defines the movie. Nikhil Advani picked up a tough topic, and then he executed it flawlessly and meticulously. Not once did i feel, "Aisa thodi hota hai?" No plot holes, nothing that makes me want to come home and do fact checking.

The Nuancing 
When the guy Dilshad is in his village, he sports full facial hair. But when appearing as a bechara in court, he is completely clean shaven.
The spoof on PC was too hilarious to miss.
The officer who part supports John's character - he has given a perfect, nuanced performance. LOVED it.

The Background Score 
It was not just music. I noticed that the background sound was used to create an effect all through the movie - whether it is the house of Sanjay, or the Batla House area where loudspeakers form a background noise all the time, or the village where they go to arrest the accused. This was one time when the background sound was outstanding it its contribution to the storytelling.

The Technicals 
Cinematography, Sound, Art Direction, everything played its part quietly and to perfection. My only gripe is with the house of the police officer. For an honest Delhi Police officer and a media wife, that was a rather lavish Delhi house. Other than that, everything else fit quite well.

The PTSD of the officer 
The way John Abraham struggles with his PTSD is woven so beautifully into the narrative of the film. We don't realise what people who deal with crime on a daily basis have to go through in their heads. This was a necessary reminder.

To sum up
This was a movie I loved. Though the movie itself doesn't lend itself to drivel and preach, there was a dialogue in the movie that has forced me to think a LOT since last night.

After Tashkent Files, this is the movie that deserves attention. These are the films that we should show budding filmmakers and tell them, "When you have to tell a difficult story, do it like this. Learn from this cinema."

Friday, August 23, 2019

Janmashtami par/ जन्माष्टमी पर

"जन्माष्टमी है, 
कृष्ण पर कविता लिखते हैं. "

पर कृष्ण पर कविता 
कहाँ लिखी जा सकती है? 
राधा, यशोदा, बलराम, 
रुक्मिणी, देवकी, वासुदेव 
अर्जुन, अभिमन्यु, मीरा, 
यहां तक की कंस भी 
बरबस घुस ही आते हैं 
कृष्ण की कविता में. 

गीत गोविन्द से कृष्ण लीला तक 
कृष्णा की गाथा मांगती है 
राधा, यशोदा, बलराम, 
रुक्मिणी, देवकी, वासुदेव, 
अर्जुन, अभिमन्यु, मीरा
कंस, और 

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Oil Paints and humble vegetable dyes - Meme

I quite enjoy making these memes... This one was in my head for at least 3-4 days and finally it came out like this.. 

Friday, August 16, 2019

Movie Review: Mission Mangal

What do you do when you have a kickass story, the budget to cast 2 of the best actors in the industry, and a lovely ensemble cast? You go out and make a memorable movie. But like Super 30, this turned out to be a movie where the story was better than the story telling. 

And THEN, the importance of the Director comes through. It takes very special talent to botch up such great raw material, and Jagan Shakti has that rare talent. 

Do go, because it IS a story worth knowing. 

But don't believe all of it. The mission must have had a LOT of challenges, but the budget, the 9 day cyclone, a punishment posting, a rickety office with just the cat, 3 days when scientists doubled up as painters and interior decorators, and a comical internal politics villain were not among them. 

In fact, the government approved the entire 450 crore budget, the skies were clear, the project was not in isolation, but was led by the highest interdisciplinary team at ISRO. The team had 14 men and 3 women, and I don't think their gender mattered to anyone involved with the mission. 

I so wish that the director had stuck to showing us the scientists exactly as they are - human, methodical, thorough, precise, hardworking, going to work every single day, thinking ahead, making a little progress, checking the impact of any idea on all the allied disciplines, the sheer complexity of the project and how one goes about making such a massive thing happen. 

There was also no need to create stupid subplots that deal with religion based discrimination, teenage children angst and a husband who stays home etc. Especially since none of these was true. The women did have some issues at home, yes. The children were studying and they missed their mothers. But there were no injured husbands, no thwarted NASA ambitions, none of that. Where do you guys think up such stuff anyway? Every single senior scientist who worked on that mission had spent over a decade with the agency! 

What works for the film 
The acting
This is a no brainer. The casting was perfect and the acting really tried to make their laughable plot holes look credible. Really. 

The cinematography 
It is easy to overlook technical stuff like sound, costumes, light, and cinematography in a movie when they all go well. But cinematography in this movie had an additional challenge - it had to make everything credible - the ISRO control room, the images of Mars, and even the scenes on the road. They did a good job.

The costumes and the Art Direction
I can only imagine how hard it must have been to keep a straight face and deliver realistic sets when your Director is completely fictionalising the events in a laughable way. If sitting 60 feet from the screen made me seethe so much, imagine what it must have done to these people sitting 6 feet away from the BS that made these awesome decisions - "Yaar, launch se Pehle na, 9 din ka cyclone rakh dete hain. Rain hi Rain. Mission abort. and THEN.... suddenly, after Mission Abort, Rain stops..." 

The overall story 
Yes, this is a PHENOMENAL story. This is a story that deserves to be told. And heard. Seen. Absorbed. Even in its most threadbare form, even in its most fictionalised account, this is ONE HELL OF A STORY. Please don't penalise yourself for the stupidity of the Director. You deserve to see this one. 

What doesn't work for the film 
The Director 
Someone PLEASE change the director and make this movie again. Show us the real stuff. In this case, we kicked ass. Quite literally. Just show us what happened. Show us what pure hard work, grit, and rigour can do. 

The subplots 
I have already mentioned these - they are unreal, they distract, and more importantly, they are irritating. If you want to discuss teenage angst and how bad fathers are at managing it, please make a movie about that. That deserves a movie by itself. 

The stupid holes in the plot 
1. Which cyclone lasts 9 days? 
2. Mission Mangal was already in place and had a building. That means that mission had some budget before it started. Where did that initial budget go? 
3. If he did not have a team of designers at the start, where did this number of 800 crores come from? How did he know that it would take 800 crores before the design? 
4. Why make it ONLY about the women? 
5. Oh God, too many. 

And now, the fallacies (as many as I can remember, that is): 
1. The first GSLV launch was in 2001. We did not fail at GSLV. 
2. You cannot fry more than 3-4 pooris on full heat in a domestic kaDahi. 
3. You also cannot retro fit equipment from one craft to another. 
4. The entire budget of 450 crores was approved in one go by the government. The project was never stopped on account of a budget. 
5. No cyclone lasted 9 days. 
6. The home stories of the scientists are not known to us, but I am sure they did not involve a NASA application, a virgin, or any of the other fiction served to us rather unnecessarily. 
7. Abdul Kalam was alive then and very much in touch with the Mission team. In fact, he was at ISRO one day before the launch. (please see link embedded above) 

Final Rating: Do watch. 

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Lessons learnt from Spiderman: Far From Home

 I used to laugh at ppl who used to say they have learnt something from superhero movies.

Well, Marvel Studios has moved from superhero to sci-fi rather obviously.

And in Spiderman - Far from Home, I learnt 2 things:
A. Nowadays, people will believe anything. (Mr. Beck, while he was dying and trying to explain how he got his BS accepted)

B. If I get inside the illusion, I can break it.

Application of II:
Someone at home did the Landmark Forum and came back and narrated his experience. I asked him, How is it that everyone who goes through the landmark forum ends up being a passionate evangelist of the program?

We then discussed that threadbare - the evangelism practices used in this program, and why they have a good success rate. And we realised, any indoctrination is only possible through creating an altered reality, where some aspects are put in focus and some others are relegated to the background - a little like taking a selfie. And this altered reality, combined with a sense of urgency, is at the heart of evangelism and indoctrination. They don't just create followers, they create evangelists. And that, imho, is something powerful.
But if, somehow, you do not get indoctrinated, then you are 'inside the illusion', so to speak, and you can then understand it, and break it.

Monday, August 05, 2019

The new leadership skill?

Last month, it was a Facebook Group of alumni from a college. The moderators wanted the group to remain purely professional. For 2 weeks, the members requested the moderators to reconsider this. Nothing. Then, one day, some members said, "Lets have another group which allows personal interaction." 2 days later, the original group allowed personal content and created another group for those looking for professional connections. It worked.

Today, it was a WhatsApp group. Someone was removed for 'breaking group rules'. This action led to people jumping to the rescue of the person recused, and some people also exited themselves. The moderator responded by adding his own friends to ensure that the overall group size does not fall.

Makes me wonder - Is #CommunityManagement a new essential leadership skill in our world?

Monday, July 29, 2019


मायावी वन में मिलता है,
 हर एक को अपना नंदनवन
 सत्य के आघात से बचकर
 छुपने का सघन साधन।

 मुझे मांगते तो हो पथिक,
 पर सत्य मेरा भी कटु ही है।
 मुझे वनकन्या सा ही चाहो
 मेरा नाम मायाविनी है।

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Things that come out when talking to friends :)

ਉਹ ਦੀਵਾ ਬਲਦਾ ਸੀ  ਨਾ , ਜੀਹਨੂੰ ਤੱਕ ਤੱਕ ਬਾਹਮਣ ਨੇ ਸਾਰੀ ਪਾਲੇ ਦੀ ਰਾਤ ਕੱਟੀ ਸੀ ਠਰਦੀ ਜਮਨਾ ਵਿਚ?

ਸਾਡੀ ਖੇਤੀ ਵੀ ਐਦਾਂ ਹੀ, ਉਸ ਬਲਦੇ ਦੀਵੇ ਵਰਗੀ ਹੈ,ਜੀਹਨੂੰ ਤੱਕ ਤੱਕ ਅਸੀਂ ਪਾਲੇ ਦੀ ਸਾਰੀ ਰਾਤ ਵਰਗੀ ਜਿੰਦੜੀ ਕੱਟੀ ਜਾਂਦੇ  ਆਂ. ਖੌਰੇ ਦੀਵੇ ਨੇ ਸਾਡੇ ਲਈ ਕਦੇ ਬਲਣਾ ਵੀ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਨਹੀਂ, ਪਰ ਪੋਹ ਦੀ ਰਾਤ ਵਰਗੀ ਜਿੰਦੜੀ ਕਟੀ ਜਾਂਦੀ!

O deeva balda si na, jinnu tak tak bahmann ne saari pale di raat katti si, thardi jamna vich?

Saadi jindaDi vi aidaan hi. O khet deeve varga hai, jinnu tak tak asi pale dee saari raat vargi jindadi katti jaane aan. khaure deeve ne saaDe layi kade balna vi hai ke nahi, par Poh di raat vargi jindaDi katti jaandi.

Friday, July 26, 2019


बदनसीब होगा कोई, जिसने तुम्हारा दिल तोडा है.

नहीं। हर जोहरी का सोना अलग होता है.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Katranein/ कतरन

तुम कुछ भी कहो, हो तुम die hard romantic.

प्रेम में विश्वास होना, और प्रेमी या प्रेमिका पर विश्वास होना, दो अलग अलग चीज़ें हैं.


When you turn off personalised advertising on Facebook

Facebook, after deciding that i will not buy:
A. Matrimony services
B. Dating services
C. Zero sized clothing
D. Plus sized clothing
E. Plussss sized clothing
F. "How to tell a good man by the way he kisses you" type articles
G. Fresh and clean balls
G. Gossip magazines and their articles
H. In the Know about the British monarchy and its rift

Finally, I did buy something from Facebook: A Software licence.

It is now showing me an analytics solution!

Aur karo personalised advertising band. 

Monday, July 22, 2019

The next time you call it Chick-Lit...

If women oriented literature is called Chick-lit and women oriented cinema is called chick-flicks, should testosterone fired books be called d&*(-lit and adrenaline pumping cinema be called d&*(-flicks?

Sorry, not accepting legal tender: PVR Cinemas

PVR Cinemas has a board - This is a no cash cinema.

Cash is the legal tender of a country . 

Within the legal limits of a country, can any entity refuse to accept the legal tender of the country?

Either take my money, or take my data. But not both

When hospitals register a patient, they are getting access to patient information. The only party who benefits from this registration is the hospital. So why should the patient pay registration charges? Either take their money, or take their data. Not both. And if you are taking their data, please pay them what it's worth. 

In India, the patient's records are owned by the patient, but all hospitals deny access to patients and their caregivers to their own information. 

How is this legal?

Sunday, July 14, 2019

My A ha moment of the day!

आज बैठे बैठे अचानक समझ आया - संस्कृति, "संस्कृत" से बनती है. 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The need for child protection rules in India

One of the core premises we have is that "Parents know Best." 
Hell, NO!! I doubt if they even know enough. 

I always insist that the Indian State has failed its children. In a big way. 

To be an adoptive parent, you have to prove 1000 things - your financial ability, your emotional maturity, your existing relationships with friends and family, your support group, your reasons for adopting. etc. etc. One friend had her adoption request rejected bcs many years ago, she had had to give up on an adopted dog bcs she just could not take care of it. The adoption officer said, "A child is not a dog." And rejected her application! They did not consider that by this time, she has quit the long hours job that necessitated her giving up the dog, and is a complete stay at home person, willing to invest her time and energy in a lovely child. 

No such restrictions on the biological parent. But you are not raising your child in a silo. 
You are creating a future citizen, and when: 
  1. 11th class children kill 2nd class children, 
  2. 5 year olds die because its grandmother did not hold the child's hand and hold it away from the traffic direction, 
  3. A 4 year old inserts a pencil in the private parts of a classmate, 
  4. We have THOUSANDS of NGOs handling lakhs of kids just dealing with abused and abandoned and runaway children (all by biological parents) 
  5. We have a spate of 5-6 year olds on spectacles 
  6. 15 year olds on PCOD drugs
  7. 23 year olds who are "discovering themselves" and unable to do normal tasks
  8. 14 year olds who are being brought in scary numbers to be treated for depression
  9. Children being sent to hostels because the parents "cannot discipline them at home" 
  10. 11 year olds who bring 25000 in cash to school and we have no idea if parents know
  11. Raise an entire generation with obesity epidemic. 
You are NOT doing parenting right. 

In India, you can: 
  1. Stop the immunisation of your child. 
  2. You can pull the child out of school. 
  3. You can hit your child. 
  4. You can leave your child unattended. 
  5. Send the child to a school or in a school van that is obviously unsafe for children. 
  6. You can take a young child to a violent movie with graphic scenes. 
  7. You can look the other way if someone is being "too affectionate" to your child. 
  8. You can abuse a male child by asking it to "man up". 
  9. You can expose your child to firearms in the house. 
  10. You can, as the post says, give alcohol to your child. 
  11. You can take your child to a bar (the law requires that you have to be at least 18 to enter a place where alcohol is being served), 
  12. You can ask your grown daughter to return to a family that is abusing her just to "keep the marriage" 
And that is when you know BEST? 
Just because child protection rules do not exist in India does not mean that we don't need them.

Friday, July 12, 2019


तूने मेरे साथ किया था
लाल फीते का अनुबंध
लाल फीता टूटा
तेरा अनुबंध
किसी और से हो गया

Sunday, July 07, 2019


जब मैं ११ साल का था,
मेरी माँ ने नसें काट ली थीं 

उस दिन से पहले,
वो दुनिया की सबसे अच्छी माँ थी. 
उस दिन के बाद 
वो दुनिया की सबसे बुरी माँ बन गयी 
हमेशा, हमेशा के लिए.

मैं ५ दिन रहा 
उसके बगैर 
उन ५ दिनों में 
मुझे उस से 
नफरत हो गयी
मैंने कभी नहीं सोचा
कि माँ भी नसें काट सकती है 
मैंने कभी नहीं पूछा 
"माँ, तूने नसें क्यों काटी?"
मैं हमेशा सोचता रहा 
"माँ , मेरा ख्याल कौन रखता? तुझे शर्म नहीं आती ?"

माँ घर आयी.
फिर से बनाने लगी 
बुहारने लगी 
करने लगी 
उसने कभी 
कुछ न कहा 
पर मैंने 
उसे कभी माफ़ नहीं किया 
कभी भी न पूछा 
"माँ, तूने क्यूँ काटी थी नसें? "
बस, नाराज़ ही रहा मैं. 
मना करता रहा 
कहानी को 
बताशों को 
तमाशों को 
बताशों से रूठने की सज़ा 
माँ को सीधी मिलनी थी.

मैं बहुत बड़ा हो गया 
माँ ने फिर 
कभी नसें नहीं काटी 
पर मैंने 
उसे कभी माफ़ नहीं किया।

समझा हूँ 
काटती हैं नसें 
अपने आप से 
घृणा सी हो रही है मुझे. 

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

The Rabies epidemic of India - and what the shortage of the vaccine is doing

In an earlier report, I had raised simple questions. Let's go over them once more:
1. One third of global rabies deaths come from India (WHO numbers, not ours). Rabies is not caused by vaccinated dogs. How much money has the AWBI spent on vaccination and sterilisation of stray animals? (The answer, as given in response to an RTI, is quite pathetic) and how many of these dogs are certifiably vaccinated? (No answer given)

2. The number of dog bites that India has to deal with, is massive to say the least.

This Twitter handle will take you to individual cases of stray dog menace. In 2017, feral dogs killed at least 19 children in Sitapur, India, at the beginning of the year. But it did not even make news. 20,000 people a year die from Rabies - that is 2.2 people per hour or roughly one person every 27 minutes. These are the deaths. NOT the bites. The bites are 1.75 million per year. That is 3.3 bites per minute. At least 2 other reports I read used much higher numbers than these. These are the lowest reported numbers.

These numbers are understated. Why? Because many animal bites are never reported. And because rabies is, till date, not a notifiable disease in India. This means that it does not have to be reported to the govt. The cases that reach private hospitals and take treatment there are not mentioned. In short, these are just the government numbers. Not the total numbers.

Now, we have another worrisome side of the story.

Not only are people being bit literally every minute, but also that the standard treatment protocol - the anti rabies vaccine, is in short supply.

Since August, 2018, at least, there are reports of shortage of vaccine.

Why is shortage of vaccine an issue?
 When a stray animal bites a human, the person has to mandatorily take the rabies vaccine. Rabies, once got, cannot be cured and is invariably fatal. Not only that, the death is particularly painful and there is no legal provision for euthanasia. The brain is affected last and so the patient is acutely aware of what is happening with them. They are aware of hydrophobia and the acute thirst and that they are going to die of it. They often die through drowning in their own spit or blood. It is one of the most gory ways to go.

A friend told me that his friend's brother died from the disease and even after all these years, it haunts him. Imagine, then, the state of this couple, who did take the injections, but not the first immuno-globulus serum. The child died after they thought they had protected her!

Shortage of vaccine means that people who are getting bit will die, and not in a nice way.

Why is the vaccine not available?
India's demand is 48 million vials p.a.. Our current production is about 50 million vials. Half o this is exported. The government has been mulling a ban on exports since April, 2019, but so far, nothing has been done.

Since last year, GSK's factory in Ankleshwar, Gujarat, has stopped producing the vaccine. The factory was taken over by Bharat Pharma.

But even if we do take the drastic step of banning exports, that only meets our needs for the current year. What about next year? The growth in cases is not slow. It is rising year on year because not enough money is being spent on sterilising animals. Higher animal population means more human-animal conflict (please see that twitter handle to know what I mean, and the Sitapur stories still haunt me).

How bad is it?
The last 2 tenders floated by the govt for the procurement of the vaccine got no responses. The states with the most acute shortage include (but are not limited to) Kashmir, Karnataka, Himachal and Delhi (where the shortage has now prompted a crisis. Even international media has taken note of the health crisis in India's capital. Sample these:


Kerala and Rajasthan have long term contracts with vendors (3 to 5 years) and therefore don't have an immediate crisis. Kerala has now agreed to send some vaccines to Karnataka. In my view, these are the only two states who don't have a shortage - right now.

The shortage is almost 80% in the affected states. That means 80% of the poorest of the poor, who are bit by animals, do not get this vaccine.

Will it make a difference if we correct the vaccine imbalance?
Canada has reported a shortage of the vaccine. But not the US. Sample this article from the US to understand how utterly avoidable, unnecessary this disease, and the painful deaths associated with it are.
When we read this article, the 20,000 people we lose to the disease appear to be state sponsored crime.

What can we do?
Elementary, my dear Watson. These steps are not rocket science, nor can one accept things like "No Money" as an excuse. The only reason that no one is taking the issue seriously is that no one takes central ownership of the holistic issue. The AWBI goes on to push its own agenda, not realising that human-animal conflict is eroding the core Indian ethos of co-existence. Indian homes keep water for the birds, and make 2 extra rotis with every meal - one for the dog and one for the cow.

The municipal bodies of India - forever understaffed and overstretched, want to just push the envelope. The govt hospitals worry about not receiving the vaccine. They are not in a position to check why the demand is going up so much. There is a national Rabies control program, but I got to know of it only today, hidden under layers of official documentation.

  • Make breeding illegal: It is inhuman. Time to declare it illegal. Those who want pets can take the strays. These are hardy breeds with much to offer by way of disease resistance and high immunity.

  • Increase production capacity of the vaccine: 50 million vials are grossly inadequate. We NEED to step up production capacity Urgently. All the 5 producers in India are private companies who should, hopefully, see the opportunity and try to seize it.

  • Make Rabies a notifiable disease: So that we at least have our numbers right!

  • Educate, Educate, Educate: Ensure that all local doctors, esp in rural areas, know the treatment protocol and advise the patients properly. Even washing the wound reduces the chances of getting the disease by as much as 40%!

  • Set up a supply chain: What is crucial is to get the immunoglobulus into the wound as quickly as possible after the bite. Set up a supply chain so that people do not have to frantically wait for the vaccine. The people who die, routinely, are the poor. The ones who cannot afford the treatment. They are the ones who need to be protected, educated, and taken care of.

  • Population Control: It is time to ensure that we take human and animal population control on a war-footing. This is not just important for rabies. It is important for many, many other reasons.

And lastly,
Are you blaming the dogs?
NO. You cannot blame the dogs and the monkeys and the bats. The only people responsible for human-animal conflict are the humans. Animals live on the principle of territorial aggression and follow the law of the jungle. They cannot be blamed for having their instincts.

The only people we should blame are the ones who design the ABC rules (which, as I have explained in an earlier post, are flawed in design, not in execution) and then do not plan for the population explosion that this will lead to. The dogs are ok. It is the dog lovers that need to answer for their actions. They have effectively alienated society, which directs its ire against the dog lovers, at the dogs.