Spoken word poetry – Beautiful 

Below is the transcript of my first solo spoken word performance I did in my company’s anniversary celebrations. 

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No matter what the world wants to make you believe, your belief will be stranded in front of a mirror.
The same mirror that grew with you in your adolescence, will show you, rather magnanimously, your invisible cloak of insecurities.
Insecurities which will be piled upon each other like those bricks in a tall zenga tower, ready to fall at the brink of single small wrong step.

It is very easy to fall. While the gravity does its work,the world around you will leave no stone unturned to ensure your life falls apart.

You cling onto this belief as if your life is dependent on it, hoping that you will reach the nearest island of your dreams making waves do your dirty work.

This belief then becomes your only weapon to face the big bad world, but there is one small tiny winy problem! You don’t believe it.

The belief that beauty comes in different shapes, sizes and colors is my ticket to an insecurity free world, but my flight never really takes off.

How will it? Our collective idea of beauty in this country is unimaginatively one dimensional.
Beauty for us is confined to the boundaries of the colors, has a specific complexion and weighs less than our conscience. Beauty I am told has silky hair which sways to the whims and fancies of the air. Beauty apparently also comes in specific shapes.
Oh wait! I am not here to morally change the definition of beauty for you,
I am here to figure out what beauty should mean to me.
When I see a black or a fat woman on a magazine cover protruding with inner beauty and proclaiming to the world that “I am beautiful” I want to believe it. Yet the definition of beauty that has been thrusted upon me by the society doesn’t let me believe. The cure to this problem isn’t as easy you think it is. It is not just opening our eyes to a new understanding. It is first cleansing the dirt that lies within.
The dirt that gives us labels that help us judge, even before a person comes onto the stage we categorize and put him in the innumerable notional buckets within the confined spaces of our mind.
Our idea of beauty is like a narrow passage of water through which a single boat traverses, whereas it should be an ocean where mammoth ships sail through.
What does this expanded scope of beauty look like? What else in this big bad world can be beautiful?

The art created by a bored woman security guard on a tissue paper is beautiful.

The two line poem written by a mother and sneaked into her daughter’s shoes to help her fight depression is beautiful.
The refugee who wants to be a citizen again and doesn’t want the world to think is over is beautiful.
The adivasis who see themselves on the big screen inside a movie theatre for the first time are beautiful.
The world is more beautiful than you think it is. You are more beautiful than you think you are.
Oh wait! Why am I giving you my definitions? Am I not then doing what the society did to me?

I don’t have an answer. I can only leave you with a question.

When you are standing in front of the mirror Am I beautiful isn’t the question that you should be bothered about. Can I see the beauty around is the question that should give you sleepless nightmares.
These are mere words that I can share. On their own they won’t do anything.

The new definitions are for you to create. The new definitions are for you to create.
 

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The End

On 21 May 2017 both EPL and IPL breathed their last. For the season. They will return to life after three months and 12 months respectively. For most, their tryst with sports ends. Until something else props up. The escape these high dose of entertaining tournaments provide remains unmatched. In few weeks time you might find your neighbor cheer for India but it isn’t the same as cheering for that Maruti Vitarra  Brezza Glam Shot by Yuvraj or the Yes bank maximum from Maxwell.

If only the poor person living way below the poverty line knew that you could earn 10lakhs by playing a single glam shot.

Yesterday, Pune lost by 1 run. The feeling is same as you missing out on your train by few minutes. “I was almost there, the stupid uber driver took the wrong turn at the wrong time. Let me downvote him and avenge my loss.”

The experts said Mumbai had the belief that led to their win. Correct, the collective belief overcame their individual shortcomings. Similar to many marriages that survive divorce.

Steve smith’s brilliance couldn’t take Pune past the finishing line. He fought like a Rising Pune Supergiant. Whatever that means. Yet, Dhoni’s fans were quick in making memes on why Dhoni is a better captain. Probably having a narrow mindset helps live a clutter free life. A learning from the trolls.

IPL also brought in some very interesting ads. Jio’s blue screen almost looked like a national emergency announcement. Vodafone’s aged couple finished their Goa trip and sent their mobile photo albums from the crowded railways stations. We get it Vodafone, your network works only outside and not in the home. Sprite remains über cool. Maruti Vitarra Brezza is a status symbol for casinovas. Goibibo missed the target by a country.

It’s been 10 years. No it doesn’t feel like yesterday. In fact it feels like 15 years already. Much like Tax filing, IPL will return next year. It will have a new campaign song, two older teams and no Rising Pune Supergiants. Till then we have to make do with some International cricket. Treat the entire year as CEAT non-strategic time out.

Eating alone sucks, well almost 

Google has helped me in finding people who share the same feelings like I do.

My attempt to express this emotion is not unique. Here’s a post that you can read as a pre-read:

http://thewanderlustdays.com/some-days-eating-alone-sucks/

Today is one of those days when you question your social life and your ability to make friends. I am one of those people who allegedly can make new friends easily.  Alas! That’s as far from truth as humans are from Mars. Yeah, that far.

In school and college you always had company. You like it or not. The human presence matters. At least you had someone to dislike.

It doesn’t help that in my first job at Deloitte I was part of the lunch group. We were quite inseparable. Mostly. There were days when it was difficult to follow different threads of conversations. On other days, it was just Modi or Football. We also did bash our service line. We had the right to. You feel possessive of something that you truly care about. In this case our job. Our scale of liking for the company varied but we had a common denominator.

If I try and think why is that I am unable to make more friends, I invariably conclude that I haven’t really got used to the new place, people or the culture. That is only part of the problem, the remainder I am yet to discover.

Smartphone helps. Twitter keeps me entertained. Facebook gets me cranky. WhatsApp keeps me alive. All emotions one needs to experience in a day.

Yet there are days, like today, when nothing really helps. Smartphone becomes redundant. You can’t figure out one positive of eating alone. You just want to sulk and cry with your head in your hands. It probably is not just because of eating alone, various other events factor in but “eating alone” is the noticeable enemy.

You need to appreciate your eating company. No matter how naive, stupid and frivolous their comments are. You got someone/something to lament upon. When you don’t have anyone, you live in your head. And, that’s a dangerous place to be in.

Badrinath ki Dulhaniya


Photo by Jake Hills

Seldom do I see the audience responding to the character’s actions on the screen. A lady sitting in the row behind me was evaluating every action taken by Alia Bhatt’s character (Vaidehi) and was mostly in agreement with her. She used phrases such as these:

“Sahi kar rahi hai”

“Aur kya kar sakti hai wo, aise situation me”

The running commentary intrigued me because the message in the movie is rightly about women empowerment. Can’t a small town girl have dreams to fly (To be an air hostess)? Does she need to sacrifice her dreams in order to get married at the “right age” and give peace of mind to her disease ridden father? Doesn’t she deserve the right to speak and a chance to be respected?

The writer-director Shashank Khaitan has attempted to tell a movie that does not have cracks. At least on the surface. He gets it right for most part of the movie. But there are flaws as there would be in any effort of such magnanimous nature.

Badrinath (Varun Dhawan) is born with a silver spoon. While his elder brother and sister-in-law toil hard in the car showroom business, he is busy doing the recovery of money lended by his father. He is happy doing it and considers his family’s reputation as his job description.

In a “chance” encounter Badri meets Vaidehi and is smitten by her. To make it apparent, we have the surrender hua song in the beginning. The song is also used for credit rolling which seems a better purpose for it than taking the story forward.

Badri doesn’t need Vaidehi’s approval. He wants to marry her. No need of love and consent. As long as her parents are willing who cares what the girl thinks. In comes Vaidehi’s “No” and out goes Badri’s “Self-confidence.”

The further story revolves on how Badri learns to respect women and gathers courage to stand up to his father.

Badri-Vaidehi chemistry works beautifully on the screen. Badri’s friend Somdev (Sahil Vaid) is the source of comic relief and thankfully has been given some meaty time on the screen. Alia Bhatt continues to impress with her incredible talent. Watch out for the scene, where she convinces herself that marriage is the right thing for her while doing the chores in the kitchen. Varun Dhawan makes us laugh and is also sincere enough to make us feel for his plight in the second half.

If the movie was a relay race, it started great and continued doing good till the 70% of the track and then decided to give up. It then just wanted to finish and qualify, not win.

Pink is the new black

I am half asleep while I am typing this so excuse the typos, improper usage of grammar, and something else that I cannot remember…

Shoojit Sircar seems to be a synonym for unconventional. Sperm donation, Sri Lankan civil war, Bowel moments, and now society’s portrayal of women. He doesn’t represent the Bollywood we know, he is defining what Bollywood could be.

The casting director deserves our applause. Be it the three girls, old judge, typical dad, Delhi brats and the redemption seeking lawyer. All of them have done the fraternity of actors proud.

Writing is the reason why the movie works. The story is fairly simple but the treatment to it isn’t. The vulnerability of the characters is what you will relate to. Incidents like the one showed in the movie have become much too common for us- the India that lives in the media bubble.

This is not a movie on women empowerment. The Bollywood’s idea of women empowerment is two fold. I am digressing here but there is a need to.

First, display the courage women possess to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. The modern Sati. Remember Anushkha in Sultan giving up the dream of olympic gold for a baby? or Sonakshi in Akira agreeing to the mental disability charges to save the city from riots.

Second, make the heroine muscular enough to defend herself and the entire womankind by hitting the goons. Ex: Rani Mukerji in Mardaani.

Pink doesn’t fall in any of the above categories, it just happens to show a mirror to the society.

The movie asks a few pertinent questions:

  1. Why does the clock need to decide the character of women? – If women come back to their home late at night there is something definitely fishy?
  2. How can men and women hangout in the same flat? The pro-active hormones will activate the sexual desires and the unthinkable will happen.
  3. Women from ‘reputed’ families do not drink or hangout with boys.

and there are few more which question and challenge the feudal mindset some of us still have. These are not new questions. They have been asked before but not like this, with a purpose in mind.

Gist of the story: There are three girls who meet few mutual friends at a rock concert and agree to go to dinner with them. Post dinner they all have a few drinks and then their sophisticated lifestyle goes for a toss and in comes the desi mard. Things go out of control and one girl hits the boy with a bottle. The boys can’t fathom how could a girl hit them and runaway, questioning their manhood. Girls are scared as the society expects them to be. And, the society does what it does best, stands still and enjoys the drama unfold. One good Samaritan tries to help and when things go out of control, he steps in and in the ensuing struggle saves the day.

The good samaritan is Amitabh Bachchan. If you felt Big B gets too much attention, this movie might give you the reason why. I loved his portrayal of an aging lawyer battling his wife’s illness and saving the girls next door. In one scene, he looks at Meenal ( the protagonist) after asking a personal question with such ferocity that you cannot help but marvel at his brilliance.

I loved the ending scene where they convey the message men and women are equal, with a simple gesture.

The movie is being praised by everyone except KRK and that’s the precise reason why you should watch it. A lot of thought has been put in making the movie and that is rare in Bollywood.

The gatekeepers to your health

photo-1465961482777-c1070dfd906b

Photo by Alvin Engler

The hospital that I grew with for 20 years, stood tall amidst the numerous changes in the neighborhood. It never invited me, not even for a cup of tea, until recently. Not surprisingly, I wasn’t sure where the entrance was! After few minutes of hassle and the not-so-easy basement parking, I saw the inside of the building.

Disguised as a private hospital it looked like an ‘efficiently’ run government institution. It had that trademark smell that makes you go ‘eeeew’, yes the extra e’s for the emphasis.

We paid the exorbitant consultation fees for a 5 minute one-o-one with the doctor. We then waited for our turn, and the sequence was decided by the gatekeeper who was dressed in her dark blue uniform.

People waiting for their chances did not know what to do, because they were not used to the idle time. They couldn’t curb their anxiousness of knowing what had happened to their dear ones. They needed clarity and the person standing between them and clarity was the gatekeeper!

The popular belief says that the sequence is decided based on the universal law of “first-come first-served”. There are many factors that come into play and it is here the gatekeeper steps-up and does the unthinkable, delivers on the promise of the fair world.

Though she earns only 1/12th ( a guesstimate) of what the doctor earns in one month, she has more power than the doctor himself in deciding who gets checked and more importantly before whom. Note, I realized the gatekeepers are usually women and the doctors are men hence the stereotyping. I would love to be proved wrong.

I tried not to jump the line but have seen my folks do it using innovative reasons ranging from medical emergency to catching the last bus to village!  Usually, the gatekeepers are tough to convince and with experience they can differentiate genuine from frivolous.

If you are not creative enough, you can use the age old technique of persistence, just stand there with the reports in your hand and make a puppy face. It works always. Tried and tested!

There were many who tried to convince her to let them in but she wouldn’t budge. She stood her ground and with authority said no. Yet, when people persisted continuously, she had to give in, only a little though. She in a raised voice said, I would allow you but only when I tell you to, and you don’t utter a word before that. This calmed the storm.

She listened attentively to the group of women whispering about the family troubles, a man worried for his wife, and a young boy  continuously playing on his smart phone. She in a day witnesses all kinds of people trying to convince her and yet she smiles when you go to her with your astuteness.

When you meet a gatekeeper next time and try to beat her with your smartness, know that she might have heard the reason before and still lets you in.

Olympics is totally worth your time

If you think Olympics is sheer waste of time and money, think again.

While I was aimlessly switching between channels, I witnessed something fascinating in the marathon finals today.

Eliud Kipchoge aged 31 widely considered as one of the greatest marathon runners, did what he always wanted to do, become a Olympic champion. He won the gold medal by completing the second half of the marathon i.e. 21 KM in mere 63 minutes! He has won 7 of the 8 big marathons he has competed in!

Feyisa Lilesa came second and continued the rich tradition of Ethiopian runners winning big at the world stage. He made a cross hand gesture in the last stretch which looked like a normal victory sign but he was actually protesting against Ethopian government killing 400+ Oromo protestors. If he returns to his country, he might be jailed or at worst killed. Talk about being brave.

Galen Rupp from US came third and this is only his second marathon he participated in. He is only the third American to win a medal in the marathon event! Such is the dominance of Kenyan and Ethopian runners.

These are just three of them, there are numerous other Olympians who have equal If not more inspiring stories to tell. From a cancer surviving 54-old gold medal winner to a 4 feet 8 inch world beating gymnast, these athletes represent the unflinching determination, courage and sporting spirit that exemplifies the very nature of being a human.

Enough has been said about Deepa, Sakshi, and Sindhu and rightly so.

If you think Olympics is sheer waste of time and money, think again.