Cuelinks

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Mahesh Kale – The Maestro

When I think of Mahesh and his music, many feelings, thoughts evoke in my mind, who is he? A classical singer, a pop singer, a ghazal singer, a quawali singer or a semi classical vocalist, I will simply sum it and put it, “A Versatile Musician”. And why not, he has proved his mettle in every genre of Hindustani, Sufi music one can think of. I won’t be surprised if he belts out and out rock number in near future, for he is capable of pulling it off with élan. He has performed in many countries in front of varied audience, and everyone has been awestruck after listening to his music, be it in his school during annual gatherings, or inter-college competitions, at various festivals like Ganapati festivals, savai gandharva, Guru Poornima celebrations, and lately in Sangeet Natak “Katyar Kaljaat Ghusli“; or with renowned artists like Shiv Mani, Suresh Wadkar, Shridhar Phadke, Devaki Pandit and many more. His latest offering the Mélange is a sold out every time it is staged either in US or in Pune or Mumbai. Such is his singing prowess that the music stalwarts have whole heartedly appreciated and sang paeans of his performances.
Bhaskar Chandawarkar Awarding Mahesh
Lil Mahesh being awarded by Bhaskar Chandawarkar
 
Mahesh during Ganapati Utsav in Chicago
Mahesh Performing during Ganapati Utsav - Chicago

Guru Poornima Celebrations
Mahesh offering his respects to his Guru - Guru Poornima
He is an enigma to me and wonder how one person can have so much of talent. He has been surprising me all these years with his grasp of music and the way he produces excellent performances one after other. I think he is God’s chosen one who is sent in this world to enthrall audiences and give them immense happiness and pleasure through his music. I would add one more aspect to this. His mother Minal Kale was a talented singer and performed for years, his father, Mukund kale though not a trained musician has learned the nuances of music through years and years of listening to the greats at various Maifils across India. This legacy of music has been passed on to Mahesh and his brother Mandar who plays the Tabla; by his parents; and how good he has taken it forward is for everybody to see. I am lucky enough to witness his musical growth from his childhood till date, and have umpteen occasions to list wherein Mahesh has blown away the audiences through his versatility. I would like to share a few with you.
Heavenly Experience

Place Gondavale, near Satara

Sometime in Dec mid-nineties

Mahesh and his family are devotees of Gondavlekar Maharaj and have been visiting the holy place for years, especially during the guru poornima celebrations or the December Utsav. Mahesh has been performing here since he was a child. One evening during the celebrations, as always performances were in progress and performers were singing bhajans and other devotional songs. The audience was limited as most of them preferred to walk around and chit-chat than sit and listen. Mahesh was next in line to perform. When Mahesh sat on the podium people were surprised to see a boy in early teens with unruly curly hair. The moment Mahesh started singing people knew they were going to be treated to something exceptional, and the crowd began to swell. In no time the place was jammed with over 2000 people, yes 2000 people listening to him in rapt attention. That evening he enthralled the jam packed audiences for 1 hour with one musical gem after another. The audience was swaying, clapping, rejoicing all this while. People thronged around him when the performance was over. People were taking his autograph, clicking photos with him, some grandma’s were hugging him and kissing his cheeks, and some even touched his feet. The people were simply awestruck by his powerful performance and thought it was not Mahesh but Maharaj who was singing through Mahesh. That’s a compliment I would die for, All in all, Mahesh had won their hearts and treated them with something heavenly which they would cherish all their life. All this time his mother was next to him, tears in her eyes as she looked towards him with pride and happiness. This event is etched in my memory for eternity, for I too was one of the lucky who witnessed this celebration.


Mahesh at Gondavle
Mahesh producing a heavenly performance at Gondavle
Mahesh' s Rendition and huge audience at Gondavle
Audience abound listening to Mahesh at Gondavle
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A Fourrrr
Place Pune
Sometime in early-nineties
In Pune inter-college competitions has its own standing and are a stepping stone for professional singers, actors, musicians. There is a huge buzz in the colleges during the Firodiya Karandak & Purshottam karandak competitions. Mahesh was a natural member of his college team participating in Firodiya Karandak. Firodiya Karandak competition is like a Sangeet Natak where characters act, sing, dance and even sculpt. Knowing Mahesh’s talent I had forecasted his wins for all 4 years he represented his engineering college. With all modesty I would say there was not a single singer of his talent who would compete with him, leave aside win against him. My prophecy came out good and Mahesh won the best singer award for 4 years. During one of his performance I remember the crowd going berserk and shouting for an encore once he was done. The amazing thing was the gap between the no 1 position and the no 2 position. The no. 2 position was far behind Mahesh in marks or performance. Believe me if I was the judge I would declare Mahesh the sole winner, for there was no one even close to him in no 2 and 3 position. He made his college proud and I am sure he has been inducted in the annals of his college cultural events as the best all time performer.


Best Performer always - Mahesh Kale
Mahesh making his college proud, Mahesh felicitated at his college
Musical gate crashing
Place Pune
Sometime in early nineties
Mahesh and his family were invited to a family function of one of their relative who was celebrating golden jubilee of his life and wanted to make this a grand event. Professional singers who had given playback in many Marathi movies were invited to grace the occasion. The hall was jam packed with around 200 people. The performers were belting out one hit number after the other with audience requesting an encore for each song. The singers were visibly on a high with great feedback they were receiving. Mahesh in the audience was also giving them a deserved applauds.

With an hour gone an intermission was declared and the host thanked everyone for turning in big numbers for this occasion. He also introduced Mahesh to everyone and talked about his singing talent, and invited him to sing a song. Mahesh politely turned down the request, for the singers invited would be offended as it was their show, but after concerted requests from many, he obliged and the rest is history as they say. Mahesh sang one of a popular semi classical song composed and sung by his guru the great Pt. Jitendra Abhisheki. The effect was such, the audience was left spell bound not knowing what to say when he stopped. There was a thunderous applause from the 200 odd crowds requesting an encore. I remember they clapped for almost 5 minutes non-stop. The singers on the podium were startled not knowing how to react; the over whelming response they received earlier was wiped out by this one rendition by Mahesh. After that they started the performance rather gingerly. When the performance was over people had left the hall and were seen surrounding Mahesh and congratulating him for this performance, as always the grandma’s were giving him their ashirwad’s, the young ones taking his autograph and others enquiring about this availability so that they could invite him for a performance in near future. In doing so they simply neglected the invited performers, who were visibly upset at this sight.

The surprise element was about to happen. One of the guests requested Mahesh to sing the famous Bhairavi “Sarwatmaka Sarveshwara”, the same crowd which had left the hall rushed into the hall again to listen to Mahesh sing. In spite of Mahesh’s resistance he obliged and gave such a performance that the crowd was mesmerized to say the least and was left wanting for more, the effect was such that the crowd discussed this for next hour not leaving Mahesh for a sec. All this while Mahesh’s proud mother was watching this with tearful eyes, at his son’s singing prowess and the adulation he was receiving. That night was an unforgettable night for me, for sure, and must be the same for the others. Everybody knew they had witnessed something enchanting and that Mahesh was no ordinary singer but one with “Daivi Dendgi” as they say, one who is blessed by Gods.


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Singing Harmonium

Place Pune  

Sometime in mid-nineties

Mahesh for a change had donned a role of “saha kalakar” for this event. A famous ghazal singer was to perform in Pune and Mahesh was roped in as a harmonium player. Ghazal is such a popular genre of music for people, not to attend the event in hordes. The hall was full and the singer sang some of the popular ghazals followed by some classical and semi-classical ghazals. Mahesh was aptly accompanying him on the harmonium. For any singer having talented musicians around is a great help for it motivates him and brings lively ness into the performance. Mahesh was playing the harmonium like a hard core professional and the singer was really surprised at the talent this boy was showcasing. He played such amazing music pieces from various ragas that the audience were equally surprised and were applauding promptly. Let me tell you, Mahesh has actually taken harmonium classes for not more than a year but with his enormous talent and grasp on music he was playing the harmonium like an expert. For any mere mortal with a year’s training in harmonium would not be able to play more than few songs, leave aside different ragas. After the performance the crowd as always congratulated Mahesh for his talent and amazing performance, but a bigger compliment was in waiting and came from the singer himself. He very selflessly confessed, more than his singing, Mahesh’s harmonium did the trick; and that was a huge compliment coming from a seasoned singer. As I said earlier he surprises me and others as well with his understanding and grasp of music; you would never know what next would emerge from his musical brain, singing, composing or playing other instruments. He is one complete musical package.
  
Zakir Hussain & Mahesh
Mahesh on Harmonium accompanying the great Zakir Hussain on Tabla
Sangeet Natak Debut – 100 not out

Place Yashwantrao Chavan Natyagruh, Pune

March, 2010

Sangeet Natak is something that I always heard, read about for years, but have never seen one before. Number of talented artists in Pune is trying to review these immortal Sangeet Nataks for this generation to experience, for it is rich in music, content and art as a whole. When we came to know Mahesh would be a part of the famous Sangeet Natak “Katyar Kalzat Ghusli” we were thrilled for 2 reasons, this was sort of a debut for Mahesh as an actor plus he would have his name associated with Sangeet Nataks which has such a rich tradition in Maharashtra, and many illustrious names are associated with this genre of music.

The very first show that was staged at Yashwantrao Chavan Natyagrah in Pune was a sold out, with very renowned artists like Rahul Deshpande, Subodh Bhave being part of it. This very play is one of the gems in the illustrious list of many Sangeet Nataks; with great story, music, songs and performances, All in all a benchmark of sorts for others to look at and admire. The music is composed by Mahesh’s guru Pt. Jitendra Abhisheki and the songs are still very popular with this generation. Mahesh plays the role of Sadashiv, a very important character in this play. Rahul Deshpande, Subodh Bhave were fabulous and performed their characters to the hilt. Seeing Mahesh perform on stage as an actor was a surreal feeling for his family and well-wishers. Mahesh being Mahesh, a confident and hardworking musician performed the role with ease and sang his heart out to live up-to every ones expectations. He came out winning with flying colors and garnered huge amount of fan following after this performance. Since then the appreciation and adulation has not stopped. Many renowned people who have watched this play for ages appreciated Mahesh’s role of Sadashiv; renowned photographer, Late Gautam Rajadhyaksha congratulated Mahesh saying this was the best Sadashiv I have ever seen. A compliment coming from such connoisseurs says it all. Zakir Husain the great Tabla maestro hugged Mahesh after his performance and applauded him whole heartedly. In fact I have come across many people in Pune who say, they watch the play only when Mahesh is playing the role of Sadashiv; now this is great achievement for any singer, isn’t it?
Musical Bonanza

Place Yashwantrao Chavan Natyagruh, Pune

Feb 3rd, 2013

The latest offering from Mahesh’s musical brain, The Mélange has been an instant hit. Prior to hitting the Indian shores it was staged in US and was a runaway hit. This concept of bringing together music of different genres, in itself is a brave step and one which promotes musical forms, which are not that popular with the audiences. The one that was staged In Pune, difficult to express in words the reception it received. This entire idea is conceptualized so beautifully, it struck an instant chord with the audiences; and Mahesh’s rendition of these many musical forms, with consummate ease, was the icing on the cake. Singing a Tappa, bhajan, thumri, dadra, ghazal and a quawali one after the other is no easy task and it takes guts and self-belief to pull it through, the traits which Mahesh has in abundance.

The ease, with which he sang those songs of different moods and in various scales, was worth appreciating, and the musical effect created by the first song reached its zenith by the quawali he sang. The entire hall was on their feet dancing clapping like a wild child, savoring the musical brilliance presented to them by this genius named Mahesh. The aftermath of this show was teary eyed people especially Mahesh’s family members, friends, well-wishers. Everybody was simply stunned and did not want the show to end, for they all were enjoying the musical journey with Mahesh. I still remember my father telling one of his friend about the show and what the show is all about, his friend promptly asked who all are the performers who would be singing a bhajan, Tappa, quawali, ghazal etc. When my father told him it was only one person, he was not ready to believe, this in itself conveys a lot about Mahesh’s prowess as a versatile
singer who can take on challenges.

I have many such instances to share, which you might not be aware of, but then I would need another 1000 odd lines to do the same. So for a moment I would keep it short and sweet. J
Not many know Mahesh has done a playback for a Marathi movie Satrangi Re with Shaan. He has to his credit a jugalbandi with Shiv Mani whose name is synonymous with Percussions, has sung for an album whose music is composed by Shridhar Phadke and the list is exhausting.

Another aspect of Mahesh’s character is his humility, in-spite of having so much talent and fan following, never ever he would brag about his achievements; he leaves his music to do the talking. Many a time’s people, who do not know Mahesh, boast in front of him and take him lightly. Once I asked him why you don’t retaliate at such people, and he promptly said I don’t need to retaliate or hit out at them, my music will do that for me, once they listen to me they won’t take me lightly or boast in front of me, truly this has been the case, people who earlier thought of him as a pushover, now want to associate with him or want to perform with him.

The other thing that I like about him is he speaks impeccable Marathi even after residing in US for a decade now, which is hard to find. He does not pretend and is humble as earlier. As a fan and a well-wisher I would want Mahesh to continue his good work and enthrall the audience’s worldwide with his musical genius. I am pretty sure; with blessings from his parent’s and god he is going to achieve the zenith in future.

Keep Listening


You would also like to read

Mahesh Kale: Katyar Kaljat Ghusli





Sunday, October 13, 2013

When in Rome ……

When in Rome do as the Romans Do”, you must have heard this umpteen times on number of occasions in number of scenarios. I truly believe in this old adage and practise it whenever possible. Let me tell you how I practise it at work and elsewhere to my benefit.
 
In one of my earlier work assignment I had this golden opportunity to work with different teams spread across the globe, be it Americas, Latam, EMEA and APAC. I being a very loquacious person, I savoured this opportunity to the fullest. This was work with pleasure for me.
Let me share some of the instances with you, on how I practised the adage to my benefit
The French are very proud of their language and very protective as well. While working with the French, my preliminary French knowledge helped me. I would start the conversation with Bonjour, Vouz allez bien? And this would a big smile on their face and a hint or surprise as well, a non-French making an attempt to speak their tongue delighted them and made them interested to continue the conversation and extend a helping hand.  I have been benefitted from these interactions on number of occasions; be it information required to forge ahead, answers to the questions asked or help of any kind, which did not directly fell under their prerogative.

I think, this was possible because of the instant bond that was created because of the attempt made to understand and respect their language, culture etc.; but this absolutely does not mean getting work done from the French or for that matter any other person, one has to speak their tongue or just sweet talk. What I am trying to convey here is; the chord it touches when one speaks their tongue or understand their culture is what does the trick. Isn’t it true? Start a conversation on the great superstar Rajani, to a south Indian or greet them with a Namaskaram, and a very reticent person would turn talkative in no time; this is what breaks the ice and makes the conversations lucid. This breaks all the barriers and infuses a sense of togetherness and an atmosphere of benevolence. Isn’t it simple to practise?
And this phenomenon can be experienced anywhere in any part of the world. “Hola” “Muchos Gracias“ to Spanish, “Konichiwa” to the Japanese, “Guten Morgen” to the Germans or “Namaskaram” to someone down south of India is music to their ears and help open up for conversations. Following these simple but effective methods have done wonders for me at work and elsewhere.
 Also I being well read (wishful thinking Smiley) helped me develop this bond further, talking about Edson Arantes Do Nasaminto (Pele) with Brazilians or Shinkansen (bullet train) with Japanese or for that matter about the Azuris (Italian Football Team) with the Italians could help me initiate a dialogue with these otherwise foreign, unknown people. Discussing things they like or speaking their language exudes empathy towards them, making the conversation and interaction easier, which can definitely make life easier at work and elsewhere, for sure.
In this age of Xenophobia sensitizing people to other cultures, traditions, and languages is a must, for it helps let go hatred and bring people together. The other day I came across an article wherein enterprises are hiring professionals to educate teams to understand different cultures, languages to better gel with the teams spread across and show empathy towards their counterparts. This is the need of the hour is what I think.
At one instance when we were working on one of the most challenging and high visibility project; practising this old adage helped us tremendously to say the least. We were working day in and day out with various markets across all geographies, and that simple greeting in their local language used to bring a smile on their face and readiness to extend the helping hand to great lengths; this definitely helped the entire team, as the ice was already broken and what followed was lucid information flow and help. This good interaction and bonhomie helped us in our project, which otherwise would have been a tough task dealing with people across the world.
We successfully completed this huge project to everybody’s satisfaction and even transcended the expectations of the stake holders. I can definitely attribute the success of this project to the hard work put in by the team and also practising the old adage “When in Rome do as the Romans Do” time and again.
What I learnt from this experience is here to stay with me for long and also going to benefit the project in long run, as the rapport with my global friends is already developed and what is required, is to nurture this bond going forward.
I am pretty sure you have come across these scenarios in your professional and personal life and you have risen to the occasion; if not do make an attempt and enjoy the never ending benefits.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Indian Monsoon - The Rains

Clear blue skies and bright sunshine has its importance in human life for it brings in lots of positivity and feel good factor. It eclipses the gloominess and brings in renewed vigor. But with sun blazing in all its glory day in and day out and with temperatures soaring considerably, mere mortals look heavenwards to get some respite from this hot and humid weather, and urge the rain gods to make its presence felt; that’s when we eagerly wait for the Monsoons to pour in and provide relief from heat and its accomplices the humidity, arid & dry weather, the sultry-ness. I guess that’s the time when we start looking for weather updates, waiting eagerly to hear the arrival of Monsoons, and also say “Monsoons, Come Soon”. Many a times the monsoon teases us with a drizzle and then off it goes for a while. Monsoons play a very important role in our life; any delay in its arrival brings in lot of misery and pain.
 
When the Monsoons makes its presence felt it simply changes the landscape, handsomely splashing various colors besides the green on the canvas earth. This is eye pleasing to say the least and brings in joy and serenity to one and all. This is no less a feeling experienced when one sees an oasis in a desert. The dry arid land symbolizes misery, pain while lush greenery joy and happiness. Isn’t it, knowingly unknowingly you start singing this and other songs ushering the rains?

abb ke sawan aise barse, beh jaye rang meree chunar se bhige tan mann jiyara tarse,
jam ke barse jara rut sawan kee, aise jamke barse.

Surreal Surroundings
Lush Greenery
Getting drenched and dancing wildly in the rains is something most of us love to indulge irrespective of the age. The arrival of monsoons energizes everyone and compels one and all to let go the inhibitions and go out and catch the rain drops on one’s body. Running the paper boats in the small streams and rivulets is something we all have enjoyed; and to see the boat float in these streams, would give us a high one cannot explain; and should be only experienced.

Monsoons bring in romanticism in the air and it’s infectious. No wonder you would see many songs especially Hindi and other Indian languages, based on the monsoon rains. The cool breeze, the mist, lush greenery, all adds to the fun element. The ubiquitous waterfalls, the streams add to the beauty. Thanks to the Monsoons for treating us with this panoramic beauty worth savoring for ages. The first rains have a great significance, for it drives away the lethargy and induces freshness in human body. The smell of the earth is intoxicating and can mesmerize any mortal.  Not just the humans but other animals and birds do savor the monsoons. Peacocks dancing in rains with its feathers spread wide across is a common site and is a moment to be cherished till eternity. You would experience a sort of agility in animals and birds with heat and humidity gone by and with arrival of coolness in the air.

In the advent of the monsoons, plans for excursions speed up, with people travelling to city outskirts to witness the nature in its full glory. The panoramic view of the hills, laden with lush greenery and the small streams and rivulets meandering through the mountains is breath taking and can enliven any soul. Plethora of waterfalls originating from the mountains, variety of flora, and the cool breeze highjacks one and all to a different world. This is the effect of Monsoons.


Mountains greedily embellished
Green Carpet
Monsoon is one of the seasons when I stand and stare at the nature and allow myself to be driven on the surreal path, from drenching in the rains to slumbering in the mountains besides the flora and the trees or to just look at the greenery around voraciously. It gives me a lot of peace and happiness. I am sure most of you will echo my sentiments. I also have a strong belief, Monsoon is a catalyst for many creative pursuits, be it music, painting, writing and many more, and why not? Who on earth won’t get mesmerize by this sheer beauty which Monsoon brings?


Sheer Beauty
Utopia

Besides, enjoying the nature in monsoons, gorging on hot & spicy food is what I look forward to. Hot and spicy vada pav (The Indian burger) along with a garam Chai (tea) is something which everyone would also like to have on any Monsoon day. It is a perfect foil to the cool weather outside and adds to the fun. Eating at a roadside restaurant (dhaba) in this cool weather is something which is always on my to-do list and I guess on everyone’s who love the monsoons. These simple pleasures can do a world of good to one’s life, and who else to thank to, but the “Monsoons”

There are other hassles which Monsoons bring in but let’s not delve into it, as they are man-made and only we humans are to blame for.  Let us all look at the brighter side of the monsoons and enjoy the bonanza it has to offer.

                                        Barso Re Megha Megha Barso Re Megha Megha
                                                         Barso Re Megha Barso
 

                                       Rimzhim gire sawan sulagh sulagh jaye mann
                                                        Bhige aaj iss mausam me, lagee kaisee yeh agan

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Foreign Fixation

Duncan Fletcher chosen as the new coach of the Indian cricket team, Michael Nobbs to coach the Indian hockey team, Hyderabad sun risers team reins handed over to Tom Moody, Inter college cricket teams namely Spartans, Titans, Phoenix, and Orion to fight for the coveted inter-college champion’s trophy, latest popular game show on Indian TV inspired from popular game show from Poland.

What you decipher from the above examples? Did you get it? No? OK I will tell you, in all the above examples you will see a foreign hand being introduced. At first look, to me and to everybody it looks, sounds very innocuous, nothing to prod over or think. But if you think over, it does ring alarm bells for me.  Now you might think what is so alarming about it, there is nothing to worry about and we are in safe hands or nothing looks ominous. To that I would say yes we are in safe hands, but why this obsession with everything foreign.

There is plethora of instances where we are reeling under this foreign fixation. Take a simple example of our national cricket team. Time and again we have been relying on a foreign coach. Why do we have to resort to a foreign coach when we have stalwarts in our own country? They are no push overs and have proved their mettle at international level for years. Who better than our own cricketers can understand the mind set and psyche of our players? These cricketing greats can be a great asset to the Indian team, but that’s not what BCCI thinks. I am not denying the fact that earlier and even now a foreign coach has been instrumental in bringing in accolades, success to the current Indian team, but can’t we have our own coach who can extract the best from our players and help them reach the zenith? I am not going to buy this theory, that we need a foreign coach to perform well and be world beaters; this is plain colonial thinking I guess. In the past we have burnt our fingers by hiring a foreign coach (read Greg Chapel).  It is known fact that some of the team members were not comfortable approaching Mr. Greg as they could not understand English and Mr. Greg our language. I think its lot to do with our colonial past that we still think we can be better handled (ruled) by a foreigner. That era has gone; we are a free nation now and have proved to the world, we are as good as them or even better at times.

Another example is IPL, look at the bevy of foreign coaches warming the team dug out, the support staff, bowling coach, batting coach, fielding coach all foreigners. Do we really need so many coaches for a twenty over game is a separate topic of discussion altogether. Every Tom, Dick Harry who has played some county cricket or some “Galli” cricket (There are exception though) for Australia, England or NZ is a head coach of the franchisee team. Believe me they are having great time raking in lot of moolah and laughing all the way to the bank, thanks to the BCCI and our parochial thinking.  It’s a poor sight for me at least, that our Indian coaches who are as good as the foreign coaches are assisting them and are happy doing the job, at least that’s what meets the eye. Same is with captaining the IPL team, anybody who is a foreigner is handed over the captaincy irrespective of them having the required credentials or not. Why one Steven smith, Cameroon White need to lead the team, who are they? What are their achievements to hand over the captaincy, don’t we have Indian players of the same talent as these gentlemen or even more in the team to lead?  We were made to believe, IPL came into being to provide a platform for young budding Indian talent to show case their skills. But that’s not the case. IPL should be rechristened “International Phoren League”. Why Why this favoritism for everything foreign is beyond my understanding. In saying so I am not at all ignoring their class or talent. My only angst is we have enough talent but we don’t want to give them a chance for we are still reeling under the colonial mindset. I may sound jingoistic here but no harm in being one if it’s going to provide the platform, opportunity to our people, countrymen, for they have in them to be number one.

Can you ever imagine Kapil dev, Sunil Gavaskar or Sachin Tendulkar coaching Australian, English, NZ or SA national cricket team? Are they not the champion of Champions, world number one who have terrorized the best on the cricketing field, don’t you think they can bring a lot onto the table for these foreign nations? But no they won’t let it happen ever? Why do you think so? Because they consider themselves the Supreme, the best of the best, and they won’t want an Indian, or for that matter an Asian to teach them or coach them. Would you call this jingoism on their part? I am sure you won’t, then why when it comes to us, why this bias when it comes to our own people. Think Think Think and you will find the answer. Colonial past is deep rooted in our DNA and we are not able to eschew it even now after 66 years of independence.

This is a common sight in any school, college, office, club where various competitions are held, and the participants have to suggest a name for their team. Invariably the names that pop out are the hackneyed ones, the Spartans, Titans, Phoenix, Poseidon, Zeus, Macedonians, Amigos and what not. You would never see a name like Maruti, Shankar, Parshuram, Balaji, Shivaji, Sahyadri, or Himalaya being suggested or used? Why so, these are also the names of the gods, people we highly admire; the only difference, these are Indian gods and not Greek or Roman. I have observed this time and again we take immense pride in using these Greek, Roman, French, German and all other names but Indian. Why so? Now you would say why I am debating on such a trivial matter. I would say I am not against the usage of these foreign names, rather I am against our mind set, attitude wherein we favor, like, revere everything that is foreign. Believe me we are ashamed of using names like Maruti, Ganesh, and Shivaji or for that matter anything Indian, for they do not sound classy or modern, they are not in vogue. I am pretty sure you all have experienced this. Again think about it and then you would understand what I am trying to say.

Even with our movies we always need an appreciative label from the west to prove that we are good or even better.  So n so movie screened at Cannes or Berlin film festival or short listed for Oscars is a tag line you often see in promotions of many Indian movies.  We think this adds to the weight or aura of the film. Again don’t get me wrong I am not against going global or being judged by the west, I am against this very mind set of accepting something, only if it is backed by west or by a foreign entity.  Mahesh Bhatt once said going for Oscars and promoting our films is like licking a white man’s arse. I am sure what he is trying to imply is our slave attitude, parochial approach and nothing else. In this age of globalization it’s important if not must to have a global reach and acceptance, but at what cost? Any discard from Hollywood or west when comes to India our film fraternity treat him like a king just because he is from west. He has no standing elsewhere but we shower all the niceties on him. No doubt “Athithi Devo Bhav” is our motto, but not to the extent of giving in to our self-esteem and pride.

No wonder we have no or very less say in world matters, for we are busy promoting things which are not ours be it language, ideas, views, people etc. We need to be proud of our things and stand by it. We don’t need anybody’s certificate to demonstrate what we are capable of. We are a proud nation and we can do wonders in every field which was a prerogative of others, earlier. We just need to get rid of this colonial mind set, which is prevailing even now in most of us, this is what I think is the impediment in we growing strong and a name to reckon.  These small things do matter in a bigger picture in deciding who you are, is what I think. What do you say?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Yeh khatti mithi Jindagi

I am sure you all have experienced many funny, interesting incidents, anecdotes in your lives. I am no different.  I had the privilege of experiencing many such incidents since my childhood till date. Whenever I think of these stories, incidents, it brings a smile on my face and wonder how could this happen, but c’est la vie I suppose. I am chronicling some of these incidents for you to enjoy, laugh at (I hope). Please note these are all real stories and not works of fiction; for some of them are really bizarre.

Story 1 – The wrong song

Date: sometime in mid-nineties

Place: My home in Pune

Time: around 9:00 am

I heard the doorbell ring, without any procrastination I opened the door to see my neighbor standing at the door. She is a lady in mid-thirties, pleasant looking. We exchanged pleasantries and then she requested her apartment keys. It’s a norm in many apartments, wherein every family has one pair of their apartment keys handed over to the neighbor, to be used in emergencies. That’s how we were safeguarding our neighbor’s keys with us. I dutifully said yes and headed towards the showcase which was at the other end of the room to collect the keys. At that moment the radio mounted in the showcase was airing a program on classical music and the teacher was teaching the students Raag Kafi. A melodious raaga with many Hindi film songs composed in it. Now I being in my own world (I am always) suddenly started singing a song composed in this Raaga (I know a little bit of music.) from the film chashme badoor. The song was Kali Ghodi dwar khadi khadi re, Kali Ghodi dwar khadi khadi re not realizing my neighbor was still standing at my dwar. I continued singing it for a while. There were 2 reasons I think that saved me that day.

First, may be she was in her own world and did not hear the song that I was singing or
most importantly she heard it but ignored it because she was very fair and thought this song is not meant for her, but for someone who is kaali. Believe me, embarrassed I handed over the keys to her and shut the door immediately; thinking what would have happened if she felt that song was directed at her. But I was lucky, and the cordial relations between both the families were intact and continue till date.

Now this was sheer coincidence that she was standing at the door and I sang that specific song at that moment. Whenever I recall this incident, I wonder how come such a coincidence (dangerous coincidence) happened. But as I said earlier, that’s life.

Story 2 – Hawa ka zhoka all the way

Date: sometime in mid-nineties

Place: somewhere on SB road, Pune.

Time: late afternoon.

I was in a good mood that day (I am always) driving my vintage moped, heading towards my friend’s place to do some maja masti. The distance was good 7-8 km from my place. When I was about to race my moped I saw a guy asking for a lift, I being a Good Samaritan promptly stopped and gave him a lift; as the place he wanted to go was on my way. We chit chatted all this long. He was a waiter in a hotel somewhere on law college road. We parted as he expressed his gratitude and I continued my journey.

No sooner than I had driven for 5 minutes I saw one other guy asking me for a lift. He had a big sack on his back with an engineering drafter in it. I took pity on him as he was doing his engineering it seemed, and who better than me, knows what engineering is all about. That apart he sat on my moped which was going at a speed of 10 km/hr. and that embarrassed me great deal. We again chit chatted and he told me he was going for his engineering drawing class. I dropped him at the desired location and wished him good luck and drove off. Now I had crossed law college road and was on Karve road.

Again barely few kms and one more guy asked me for a lift. I wondered if “Lift Wala” is written on my forehead, that every Tom Dick Harry is asking me for a lift. I obliged and gave him a lift out of humanity. He was a student doing his commerce at Symbiosis College and was heading home. As usual, chit chatted and dropped him at his desired place and drove off and reached my friends place.

I told this entire saga to my friends gathered there. They asked so what? I am sure you all would also ask me the same question, what is there to mention? What is so unique about it? It was a unique experience for me at least, for all these 3 guys were having name “Sameer”, so one Sameer helping 3 other Sameer’s one after another. Isn’t it unique? My friends were shocked and said this is one off coincidence and I agreed wholeheartedly.

Story 3 – The Virago

Date: sometime in late-eighties

Place: Video parlor in my locality

Time: Evening time.

I along with my friends used to hang out at this place which was a video parlor cum coffee shop cum eatery. It had nice ambience and we used to love it. I had a membership at this video parlor and used to regularly rent video cassettes. The owner of this joint was a thirty something women who I have never heard speak softly. She was shouting at everyone all the time at the top of her voice. That fateful day she was seating at the counter and I happen to browse through the video cassettes. All this time, she was chewing her nails, in between shouting at the people working there and giving cold stares to one and all.

I selected a cassette and approached her. Now I don’t know if I was naive or plain ignorant as I said to her, “Aunty muze yeh cassette chahiye”. All hell broke loose; she got incensed when I called her aunty, a bad word for most of the women, girls. I had hurted her ego big time, had drilled a big hole in it. She jumped out of her chair and shouted at me “Do I look like an aunty” “Do I, Do I tell me.“ “You look like my uncle.

I was stunned by her violent out bursts and I had nowhere to go, except out of that parlor. I sheepishly left the place deciding never to return, at least when she is around. My friends standing out heard this dual and laughed heartily. I remember that day as a day when I had insulted a nari by calling her aunty. Henceforth whenever I had to rent a cassette, I used to see if she is around and then decide the next course of action. I had no guts to face her again, a Virago.

Story 4 – I didn’t do anything

Date: sometime in early-nineties

Place: Joshi hospital, Pune

Time: Early morning 6:30 am.

My cousin was seriously ill and was admitted to Joshi hospital. We all brothers used to stay at the hospital in the night to look after him and then leave early morning when someone from the family arrived. That day was no different; I had not slept the entire night as my cousin’s health had worsened. My uncle arrived at the hospital and so I left, tensed. When I reached the parking area it was all lonely, I pulled my bike from the stand and was about to drive away, suddenly I saw this man just next to me, parking his vehicle. This man was our engineering professor. I recognized him and greeted him. I asked him what brought him to the hospital; he lunged forward and said with a lottt of surprise on his face, “Don’t you know my wife is pregnant!!!”, this was a shocker, not because she was pregnant, but he expecting that I should have known it. At least his expression made that statement.

Now, how on earth will I know that she is pregnant? I had never ever asked him updates on his nocturnal activities, nor he had declared to us nine months earlier, that because of his diligent and sincere efforts his wife is going to bear a fruit in so n so month and that the time has arrived. Nor, I was responsible for this happy news :). So this entire expression of his was baffling and I did not know what to say.

One thing might be the case, he had illusions about him and his wife being a celebrity, and that media was desperately following series of events in his life, including his wife getting pregnant etc. and so everybody must be aware of this. This was one of the most bizarre experiences I would say. I was speechless. I simply congratulated him and drove my vehicle, laughing. This incident did one thing though, even though it was temporary, it brought a smile on my face and released my last night tension a bit.

Few months when I saw him in college he recognized me and smiled at me. All the years when I was in the college, every time I would see him, I would say this in my mind, sir I didnt do anything!!!

Story 5 – Coincidence galore

Date: sometime in year 2002

Place: My friends place

Time: Evening time.

That day I along with my friend was having a chat near his house. After few minutes a guy approached us, he was my friend’s friend. My friend introduced me to this new arrival and he left to carry out an errand. Now two unknown people were in each other’s company. Somehow we managed to start the conversation, and it continued for a while. This made us a little comfortable in each other’s company, which prompted him asking me where I stay. I said Model colony to which he quickly replied even he used to stay there.

I was not going to be left behind, my next question to him, where buddy? To which he replied near Om super market; a small expression of surprise initiated on my face and I replied with lot of eagerness, even I stay there.

This surprise element had started to creep into him, as well, and it was noticeable, his next question, where exactly near Om super market? I said you know Jain boarding or Shrikant Kirloskar's bungalow, I stay in front of it. Now now the surprise element was about to burst as he said, my god even I used to stay there!!!

Now it was my turn to express surprise, shock, confusion all at one go. I told him I stay in Sumukh Society; even before I had completed my statement he simply jumped with joy, he couldn’t believe that I was staying there.  He was dumbfounded.

He fired the next surprise bomb, buddy I used to stay in the same society. Now I was dumbfounded, startled, flummoxed, perplexed and much more. I thought how come I don’t know if he stayed there, as I have been staying there for long. I controlled myself and asked him where in Sumukh society?

Now whatever he said was absolutely remarkable, he said he used to stay in flat no. 6. I smiled took a long pause and told him that’s my flat. We both simply could not believe this series of coincidences which culminated into my apartment. He then narrated to me; the tenants staying there were his relatives. Then I got to know, we had rented our flat to one of my father’s friend while we were residing in nagar. He continued, during his engineering exams he used to stay in the flat with his relatives as it was very calm and quiet. After this give and take of sorts we both were laughing and enjoying this coincidence.

I am pretty sure such a coincidence is an extraordinary thing, isn't it?
There are many more such incidents but I think "thode main maja :)". I hope you enjoyed reading them and that it tickled your funny bone.