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.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Himalayan Tsunami

If I was a film maker and if I would make a film on the backdrop of Uttarakhand, I would name the film “Mayhem in Uttarakhand” or “Gone with the rains” or “The Himalayan Tsunami”. In saying so I am not, in any way trying to undermine the recent events in this Himalayan state or taking away the seriousness of this whole episode.  What a colossal loss of human life and material wealth, to say the least. The very sight of huge mass of water swallowing everything that came into its way was heart wrenching, dreadful. Thousands of people have perished never to return due to this juggernaut of Himalayan Tsunami. Many people have lost everything they had, and what remains, are painful memories of their near and dear ones having left them for heavenly abode. This entire mayhem over last few weeks has left every one shocked and troubled. The state is in tatters. Nature has unleashed its fury on this Himalayan state and left it amidst pain and suffering, which would take ages to heal.
Uttarakhand Destruction Caused By Floods
Uttarakhand Floods

What has surprised many is this destruction at the very threshold of the religious shrines and the temples itself. Many people philosophically ask this question, how come gods did not prevent this destruction of themselves. Now this is far from reality and nature’s fury does not spare anyone is the reality and bitter truth. In the same philosophical vein I think, Gods also wanted to get flown away as they could not take this rampant destruction of nature all around, anymore.

Uttarakhand Disaster & Mayhem
Uttarakhand Disaster

Now the big question is was this disaster man made? Who are the real culprits behind this destruction? I guess we all know who the real villains are. It’s we the people who are on a rampage destroying the delicate balance of nature. We out of insatiable greed are raping the nature; yes we are raping it day in day out, felling trees, destroying the mountains, the flora and fauna and trying nature’s patience. In the era where the mantra should be afforestation, deforestation is taking precedence. Where the war cry is green valley’s we are converting them into concrete valleys. When forest preservation is the need of the hour, we are on a cutting spree. We are doing everything to push nature on a brink of war with the human race. We are toying with it, testing it. Finally the day arrived when it could not tolerate this blatant ruthless attack anymore, and it simply avenged all the wrong doings it has suffered over a period of time, at the hands of humans.  It has shown what its fury can do. But in the aftermath of this destruction, have we learnt a lesson? Or we continue to do an encore?

Uttarakhand Mountains Destroyed By Humans
Uttarakhand Mountains Raped

Few weeks back this Himalayan state which used to boast of sobriquets like green valley, favored tourist destination, revered as a religious shrine, is all in dumps now. The towns which were flocked by thousands are looking like ghost towns. Where the mood used to be surreal, is somber now. Everything has been washed away by the nature’s fury.  This dance of death is far from over, with many people still trapped in far flung places sans food and water.
Amidst all this turmoil only one thing resonates positivity and that’s the selfless work carried out by Indian army, air force, volunteers, various NGOs who are rescuing people while risking their own lives. They all deserve a salute and well wishes. They are the real heroes. They are doing everything possible to resurrect the lives of people who have lost all hope and a reason to stay alive. It would take years to come to rebuild this beautiful state and lives of its people.  It’s a herculean task, but people will have to stand up and get counted and surmount this night mare. It’s easier said than done, but that’s the only way out.
I fail to understand human mind when they destroy the very essence of the place, for which people from all over come and enjoy, and provide a means of business to them. In destroying the nature they are in a way jeopardizing their own lives. But they are in a hurry to make most of it as soon as possible. This is very similar to the story where the greedy man killed his goose that used to lay a golden egg every day. His insatiable greed had taken over, and he killed the goose, thinking he would get all the golden eggs at one go. You all know what the consequences of his greed were. I see this human behavior everywhere, and it baffles and angers me. I see humans devouring the nature to satiate its greed not thinking about its consequences in longer run.

Uttarakhand floods destroying everything that comes in its way
Uttarakhand Floods Destroying Life







Uttarakhand tragedy is a very good example of this. Illegal constructions in low lying areas, continuous felling of forests, destroying the mountains all has resulted in this carnage of human life. Tens of thousands of locals and tourists have died or are still missing. The economy of the state has gone out of gear. All n All misery, pain abound. People of the state, the govt. and we the citizens of India need to work together to see this state rise again to its full glory like the proverbial Phoenix. It’s not going to be an easy task, but we can do it, as we have done it in past when confronted with danger. The people of the state might be down but definitely not out and we all would definitely see a prosperous, beautiful Uttarakhand in coming years.
Uttarakhand Mounatains Enchroached By Humans
Uttarakhand Mountains Encroached

 Let’s learn from our past mistakes and be considerate towards the surroundings, the nature. Let’s not exploit it and provoke the Mother Nature to unleash its fury again. We all can do a bit ourselves; let’s not pollute the rivers, seas, lakes by dumping waste in them. Let’s not be the culprits in destroying forests the flora and fauna. Let us volunteer in the noble cause of afforestation. This concerted effort from all of us is going to save us from the dangers which are constantly looming over our lives. I am doing my bit, are you?

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