Sunday, December 4, 2011

Remembering Dev Saab...

When I entered the Anand Studios, about three years back, I was excited and nervous. I was about to see a man who they said was filled with energy at the age of 85 (at that time). Evergreen, debonair and youthful were some of the adjectives that describe him, they said, and when I saw him some more came to my mind: modest, charming and full of zest! He was clad in youthful clothes with his patent scarf around his neck, beaming with life!

Dev Anand or Dev Saab, as he is fondly known passed away in London today, leaving me shocked. The first sight of the man had made my belief sure that this man will live to be a 100, he was so full of energy! My colleague and I had gone to his studios to get his quote for a story, which unfortunately didn’t get published. We were told to wait for some time, half an hour or so, which is not much time to meet a star his status. Yet when we were ushered in his office, he apologised showing his modesty at this stature.

My colleague told him that her beloved uncle back in UP was a great fan of his and as it was his birthday, she would like Dev Saab to speak to him. He promptly said, “Ha, toh lagao na phone,” and spoke to him without any airs. He also wished him birthday and invited for a cup of tea to Mumbai. At that time, I didn’t have a camera mobile and deeply regret it as I couldn’t take a picture.

He showed us around the studio and told us about his new project, ‘Chargesheet’. At his age when people prefer to take a sabbatical or immerse themselves in spirituality, this man showed us that age is just a number and youth never fades away.

RIP Dev Saab. We all will miss you.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sailing aboard! –Part 1

Serene and calm waters of the ocean are a blessing in disguise for the shipping fraternity all over the world. Otherwise rough weather, furious tides and the heavy monsoons ruin the pleasure of safe sailing.

Thanks to my husband- a captain in the Merchant Navy- I got a glimpse of what the business is all about. To start, many people wished me bon voyage, which is a goodbye to people going on a long sail! Many thought that Merchant Navy is like a cruise and that I would be sailing around the world. Spoiler alert! Its not that rosy and comfy as it sounds. And no, not all ships ‘cruise’ around the world.

The ship that I am aboard is called Jag Aanchal, a huge ship measuring 220m in length! It belongs to the Great Eastern Shipping Company and is on the Sikka-Mundra run. These are two ports in the Gulf of Kutch. So my ‘sailing experience’ is limited to only 2 hours at a go. But it’s not bad, as we are closer to the shore, we enjoy internet, mobile phones and other gadgets without which life would have been different.

Jag Aanchal is basically an oil tanker carrying various grades of diesel. You can compare it with a truck carrying diesel from one town to another, only difference been it sails, is heavier (thousands of tonnes) and is way more expensive, risky and complicated!

The experience that I am getting here is simply phenomenal. Even under pressure, people are very warm and friendly. And being a captain’s wife, I enjoy a lot of respect and attention. This sail has given me a chance of not only knowing what my husband does for a living but also to be disconnected (not really with the phone and internet) from the land and its people and enjoying some ‘me’ time.

The way this ship is built is such a mystery. It carries thousands of tonnes of diesel and has a boiler with high temperature, it is so overwhelming! I get scared hearing the amount of oil we carry and the temperatures and turbulence around. There is so much pressure that my husband has here, managing the ship and the crew. And yes, they have deadlines too, just like journalists. The only difference being theirs are closer to being dead!

When one says that I’m on the port, its not the ferry port we talk about. These ports are way inside the sea, 3-2kms and are connected by bridges and roads. Imagine such a big ship cant sail if the water is below 10m. I ‘landed’ once in my 18 days aboard and had to wait for umpteen number of port clearances and checks. But a walk on land after 15 days was worth it!

Now, we are heading towards Sikka to load the ship with diesel, only to get back to here, Mundra!!

(Keep watching this space, more stories coming up!)

(Pics show some of the Great Eastern Company's ships)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ra.One: Dare to think beyond Hollywood superheroes!

TEN things that I learnt from the so-called-epic-and-best-seller-truly-Indian-Sci-Fi movie Ra.One:

10. Games do come true. So play only those games with babes in them (if you are a guy) or if there is lot of cash involved (for shopping addicted gals)!

9. Arjun Rampal can act better when he is an evil robot.

8. A boy who doesn’t seem to be impressed by his game-developer dad, dreams being his dad- a hero and saving a damsel in distress (read: Priyanka Chopra, whose acting puts the audience in distress). Talk about paradox!

7. No software is needed to instil emotions in a robot. He just needs to be subjected to exposure to Kareena Kapoor and her hot body for ten minutes.

6. Europeans DO understand chaste Hindi and that’s how we get so much out-sourcing business.

5. Some good songs can increase the tolerance level of the audience while watching the movie.

4. Robots can live without a HEART but can’t die without one!

3. Good marketing skills can truly sell even an oh-so-shitty product.

2. Accents can regularly change. Exposing the audience to gaali-galoch can also increase their tolerance level.

1. The most important thing to note: I watched the movie like 90% of the other intellectual populace did, just to check how lame it can be! Warning: Watch only if you book a recliner chair ticket for a quick snooze and have a coke near you to avoid choking on some masterpiece-worthy dialogues!

PS: This is an entirely lop-sided view of the movie, as obviously seen, I don’t seem to be a huge SRK fan! ;-)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Petrol hike makes Jhumritalaiyya farmer a millionaire!

After the petrol price hike was announced by the government, Kalu Ram (name changed without request) was the only aam-aadmi to celebrate this news in the country. According to a report by our correspondent in Jhumritalaiyya, Kalu celebrated this moment of revelation by bursting left-over Diwali crackers, which refused to burst and distributing pedhas from his modest 2-room hut in the village.

Our correspondent further added that initially, the fellow villagers thought that Kalu was suffering from some mental disorder that was earlier discovered in the ‘in’famous politician Duresh Kalzadi. But subsequent reports led to a surprising discovery of sorts. Kalu, who was supposedly inspired by the book ‘Bring out the petrol in you’, had started collecting petrol in bottles, before the buying-petrol-in-a-bottle ban was created.

“Before the ban was put into force, I had already collected 1,23,487 bottles. My neighbours thought that I was insane as I don’t own any vehicles. But now they know that this ‘investment’ is going to turn me into a millionaire,” says Kalu who will be buying the all new Mercedes CLS class in the silver colour. He adds that as the petrol rates have grown twice in four months, there is a fair chance of each of his 1-litre capacity bottles getting Rs 250 in the future.

Kalu had bought his first bottle of petrol back in 1960, when he was a teenager. “I bought the bottle for Rs5 at that time. My friends mocked me as I didn’t buy desi liquor but instead videsi fuel,” says a sentimental Kalu.

Kalu had no idea that his rather weird hobby will make him a multi-millionaire. “I have already started looking up on real estate sites and am planning to buy a mansion in Dubai which is cheaper than a 500-sq-ft flat in Cuffe Parade,” says Kalu Ram clad in a tainted dhoti and banyan.

Reports have come in that Kalu has started getting inquiries from the underworld, as selling them publicly will lead to Kalu’s arrest. “A well-known don, Chhota Chhatri has approached me and guaranteed to take care of the ‘legalities’ if I pay him a khoka,” says Kalu.

(Seen in the picture is Kalu in his 'hay' days)

(This blogpost is inspired by Faking News)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Work work work!

When you start working after a long gap… you realise that there are so many things that happen in an office that you had forgotten when you were sitting at home. A time when you were being envied as that one lucky creature that doesn’t have to hear the rants of your boss, hear the bitching of colleagues and a finish the never-ending pile of work.

Same happened with me. After a year of ‘blissfully not working’ (that’s what most of my working friends would say), I realised that there is so much stuff that is so common between all offices in India and possibly, in the world too.

When I was trekking in the green layered and scenic places of my state, my colleagues here, in my current organisation and my ex-organisation, (after listening to their conversation) were slogging hard to please the boss, meet their deadlines (whoever thought of this word was a genius!) and hurry to finish their work and catch that 7.20 local!

Office conversations, I think, are the same everywhere- be it Angola, Ethiopia or the United States of America! When you enter an office as a new joinee, you are told, suggested, hinted about three important things:

  1. How you should be careful from X, Y and Z
  2. How boring and useless the work is, which the people here are doing
  3. How the boss is a dumb-a**, and yet how he/she is in such a prominent position

Most of the times, I avoid getting into bitchy and sensational conversations, to the extent that many of my colleagues in my previous organisation thought that I was mute! The obsession of the working types with the coffee machines and the time-passing chats dates to, probably, Stone Age, when the Stone Age man cribbed (don’t know verbally or non- verbally) about his group leader to his fellows over a meal of freshly burnt meat!

Boss is a person whose status and character is highly abused by the n number of employees under him/her. That’s why, many a times, I fear, am apprehensive of being a boss to someone in the future. Most of the times, people see more wrong than right, in this creature and it may or may not be his/her fault!

This may seem easier said than done, but making the workplace fun lies in the boss’ and the employees’ hands. Bitching should give way to healthy discussions and a more productive work environment!

Friday, August 5, 2011

A refreshing break!

Living in a concrete jungle has its pros and cons. Tired of the rains- which are otherwise so beautiful and such a welcome change- in the city of Mumbai, where only mirth and filth define the term rains, we ventured out to Rajmachi.

Located roughly around 16kms from the city of Lonavla, is a nature lover's haven called Rajmachi. Lonavla, a hill station situated between the cities of Pune and Mumbai, is a monsoon haunt for civilised urban families as well as uncivilised young hooligans who love to get wet almost naked under the waterfalls under the influence of alcohol carried in plastic bottles.

But Rajmachi is a quaint village far away from this mockery of the modern city world- after all, it is better to be urbane than being urban! Miles away from the towns where electricity and flowing water are taken as granted, is a remote village which uses only solar power to light the bulbs and other devices, which understandably are at rest during the monsoons.

Houses with thatched roofs, some modern too, with floors layered with cow dung adorn this village. With two forts- Manranjan and Shriwardhan- this place is a must explore for adventure lovers. Our walk started from Kunegaon phata near Lonavla. The road to Rajmachi is full of greenery, rocky patches, mud, valleys, snow white waterfalls and flowing streams. This walk is not for the oh-my-foot-got-stuck-in-the-mud and look-how-dirty-I've-got crowd! You need to let your urban self which is pampered with comfort and luxury make way to the side you have never explored.

The only way to get closer to the nature is to be with it! And when you are here, you forget all the tiredness by just looking at the lush greenery, rustic remains of a temple, the hospitality of the villagers and the oh-so-delicious desi meal. After a hectic walk, we got fresh and headed towards the Manranjan fort, a small but interesting one. At night, after returning, we had a candle light dinner (there was no other option!) and loved eating the rice bhakaris and rassa bhaji!

As this was the first ever trek my husband had taken part in, we had to skip the Shriwardhan fort, as he sprained his leg! But later on we explored the Shiv Mandir in the vicinity, nestled in greenery and fog. There was a lake nearby and we walked along the banks to witness the most intriguing scene of our life- a deep valley with waterfalls and rock cut in a peculiar way! We thought we had landed in a postcard of scenery!

While leaving Rajmachi and its simple ways- yes, there were no bathrooms and we had to do 'it' in the open, eat a simple chulha cooked meal and sleep on a chatai without a fan or an AC- my heart wasn't ready to go! In the monotony of my city life, this was the most refreshing change.

The walk back to Lonavla seemed to have been covered faster as we had now got a hang of the way and the walking! At regular intervals, we posed for photos, stopped for chai and boiled anda, as we always do on treks. Then there is the usual look-at-other-groups-find-faults-and-laugh sessions, intra group teasing sessions, which complete your trek!

The most remembered thing during this trek would be living the fact that- yes we can live with bare minimum necessities, what if only for a couple of days!

The refreshing trek persuaded me to make a comeback to my dear blog :-)

(Pics by my friend Shriniwas Pawar)