Friday, November 29, 2013

2102 : Trial by popular opinion

It amuses me to see the whole Aarushi trail play out in the media. A whole breathless nation fed on its bated breath, by a stench of what is possibly “underage sex”, “khaap dominated parents”, “lascivious affairs”, “steamy culprits from our blue collar suspects”…..
Our moral indignation and expression of “appal” is complete, never more full of itself than this moment.
Does it matter, that we all watch porn on the ipad, we all eye the PYT next door, that we kick the blue collar in his balls, that we flirt everyday in office, that we run our personal khaaps in our fiefdoms….
Never has trial by the media felt more fulfilling, uplifting and redeeming Sad smile
Dear Talwars, thank you, you have been a mirror to us Sad smileand the reflection has a garnished fault in its lines.

2101 : Tore Bina from Kahaani

Everytime I listen to Tore Bina from Kahaani by Sukhvinder, it invariably reminds me of Bangalore. Strange how our memories are hardwired Smile

2100 : Define Spunk

I love songs with spunk, and nothing better than Ram Chahe from Ram Leela by Bhoomi Trivedi to define stutter and sprungking.

Its easily one of the best song for these times. Bhoomi weilds the mike like a nefarious axe. And lyrics like

Lage saare dushman dikhe sab mein chor
Teri balcony mein baitha ek mor
Moron ki hai mistake Ramleela badnaam

…..just make the song more spunkier than sputnik Smile

2099 : Ambarsariya from Fukrey

I heard Ambarsariya from Fukrey and I knew that I was in love again Smile. I have always loved Sona Mohapatra’s voice and just hearing this song – made me realise that this song along with Tore Bina from Kaahani by Sukhvinder have to be the two songs that define 2013 for me. A year of drought in terms of music, cradled by two timeless masterpieces.

Thank you Sona, Ram and Ambarsariya Smile. Great to discover the rush again Smile

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

2098 : 29 palms, I hear the beating of your heart :-(

My mom posted this on her facebook, which I checked via my wife’s account (haha!!). So what did she post ….

I don’t know about sedition, neither would I accuse Congress or any other political party for the disaster of that day. I shall leave the process of judging others to those who do that better. I would rather look at the personal aspect of such a tragedy.

I know someone personally who went through the whole trauma.

What boggles is, is how the mind of a herd soon becomes an elephant in itself….the individual identity is lost, and only the external facing monster demon remains.

Will I ever become such a demon? I dont see why I am exempt from forces that dominate our entire human race. Look at Palestine, look at the partition, look at 9/11, look at the drone attacks on Pakistan…and the story is the same. Its a crowd which loses its collective will, and the only force which remains is that of the demon.

Read this and be afraid, for one day – Amitabh Bachhan might do something ridiculous and they might decide to slaughter all Amitabh’s. That shall be my end. Till then keep reading….

Be afraid not of a political power, but the inherent evil that a single human is capable of.

Reproduced below for easier reading.

By Puneet Bedi,

“Kahaan jaa rahe ho Sardarji,?” shouted a young man from the side of the road. I was born in the capital of a ‘Sovereign, Socialistic, Secular, Democratic, Republic’, to a mother born in a Hindu and father a Sikh family. I went to a school run by the ‘Sri Aurobindo Education Trust’. I had the privilege of going to a premier medical school named after one of the most respected Nationalist leader, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, and lived in a large cosmopolitan city with people from all faiths and religions and indeed some atheists.

Photo Courtesy: LiveMint

Photo Courtesy: LiveMint

I was brought up in a completely a-religious atmosphere by very liberal parents. I kept long hair and wore a turban more as a family tradition than a religious symbol. I responded to a few nick names, my first name and to ‘Doctor Sahib’, so it took me some time to register that he was asking me this question. I rarely looked at myself in the mirror since I did not even shave back then, so did not realize that I looked like a ‘Sardarji’ to others, even though I did not identify with any particular religion. “Home” I answered, making it clear by my tone that it was none of his business. Where are you coming from? Asked another young boy. By now hoping that the red light would turn green soon, I put my big Royal Enfield Motorcycle in gear, and ignored his question and his existence, but they were persistent. Looking at the ‘red cross’ painted on my motorcycle, a symbol we all used to show off, park anywhere in any hospital we liked, and to tell everyone that we were above the law and could not be fined by police for minor traffic violations, a third asked me if I was a doctor. I said I was almost as rudely as I could. They asked if I was coming from the hospital, I nodded again hoping that would end the inquisition. The light turned green but they did not let me go, and told me that it was best for me that I returned to the hospital Campus as I would be ‘Safe’ there.

It was about 7 PM on the 31st of October 1984 when I discovered I had suddenly become a “Sardarji” from “Doctor Sahib” and Delhi streets were not ‘safe’ for me! “SAFE?” I screamed, in my usual arrogant manner, and laughed at the concept of being unsafe in the city I was born and brought up in, the Home I Knew. I told them to stop wasting my time and let me go home as I was very tired after a long day in the operation theater. ‘Log Sardaaron ko maar rahe hain shahar mein‘ said one of them. By ‘maarnaa’ I thought that Sikhs were being bashed up, not burnt alive which I later discovered was the case. It all started on Safdarjung flyover and at the AIIMS crossing where I was headed on my way home in Hauz Khas. The light changed to green 3 times but these boys did not budge from the front of my motorcycle and in fact one of them switched off the ignition, and refused to let me go, they insisted that I take a ‘U’ turn and Go Back to the Maulana Azad Medical College Campus as it was ‘safe’ for me. I looked around and was surprised to see that I was the only Sikh amongst hundreds of people on the road. I was not fully convinced but the boys looked genuinely concerned. I was too tired and sleepy to argue after a long day in the hospital, and a night duty on the previous night, and took a ‘U’ turn and went to the hostel and literally dropped off to sleep.

It was around 11 PM that I got many messages from home asking me to call back, something that had never happened before. Fearing a medical emergency in the family I rushed to the Labor room, which had a privileged ‘direct’ phone those days, and called home. My father told me that they were relieved to hear my voice as they heard Sikhs were being killed on Delhi roads though the TV is showing nothing. He asked me to stay indoors in the hostel to be on the safe side, knowing we generally go out late night to eat out or for a movie show from the hostel if we knew the next day would be a holiday, as Indira Gandhi’s Funeral would have certainly been.

On the Way to the wards, I heard about fire and arson around town, but when we went to the top of the 8 storied ‘Boys Hostel’ next door to our hostel, and saw smoke rising all around. This is the first time I was genuinely worried, every story of the ‘riots’ during partition our parents had told us seemed to come alive! The rest of the week my parents were sleeping at a neighbor’s house. The phones were working sporadically and I was assured that all my married sisters were ‘safe’.

I will never know who those good Samaritans were who stopped me from driving to my certain death on 31st October around 7 pm at a traffic crossing a few KM before Jor Bag. I am not sure why I went back to the hostel instead of being burnt alive by the ‘mob’ on Safdarjung flyover?

Like me Every ‘Sikh’ in India has a story about those three days in 1984 except the thousands who did not make it. Where was ‘with you for you always’ Police, Our Self congratulatory and our forever claiming saviors, The Secular Army, the Pampered and Pompous Opinionated Civil Servants, The omnipresent Politicians, The NGOs, or indeed the forever tomtoming ‘we saved the Sikhs in 1984′ RSS ! Why was I not Safe?

One of my father’s friend in the home ministry called up to tell him to stay indoors and look after ‘Himself and his Family’ till Monday, and then it would all be OK. How did He know? Indeed all was back to ‘normal’ in Delhi on Monday, the 3rd of November 1984, All except SAFETY for its citizens, TRUST in the Government, and Hope for JUSTICE!

Yesterday, Like every year on 31st October, I Saw big ads in National Newspapers (paid for by the tax payers) in the memory of the ‘Martyred’ Indira Gandhi. It Always Brings a wry smile on my face.

NOW, 29 years later, I do not look like a ‘Sikh’ since I am completely Bald, I am not called a ‘Sardar’, except lovingly by old friends when I say something ‘very stupid’. I wonder if this is what the Indian state does to its citizens like me, the privileged amongst the teeming millions, in the National Capital, what all it must have been doing to the disenfranchised Tribals in the mining hinterland, to the workers in the industrial areas, to the ordinary people in Kashmir and the North East and to the other marginalized communities like the ‘Dalits’ in the country?

These days I often get taunted by Sanghis for ‘siding with the Congress’. In their world-view if you are not a ‘Fan of Hindutva or Modi’ you must be a supporter of congress.

I was a few KM away from being burnt alive on 1984 just because I was wearing a turban which to some looked like the one worn by Satwant Singh and Beant Singh. Now in 2013, someone please explain to me who should I empathize with?

Please explain to me, in the 2002 pogrom, should I have empathy for those who were burnt alive because of their religion or for those who burnt them alive in the name of religion? After eachpatakha like Patna patakhas, should I have empathy for ‘the suspected terrorists’ or with Cops. In each case the Cops who cannot find a pen or a pencil on their own desk, were actually actively involved in killings of innocent civilian in 1984 and 2002, within hours find the culprits with ‘incriminating evidence’ like a pressure cooker at home and POSTERS of IM and SIMI (and the most incriminating of course is a Muslim name). And all these suspects provide within minutes all gory details of how they were just about to kill every politician in India, especially our Wannabe PM ? Should I have empathy for the Kashmiris in the Valley, People in the North East or the ‘Indian’ Army? In Madhya Bharat should I be on the side of the Tribals or the Police and Vedanta?

I know I am being seditious but would like some answers.

Puneet Bedi is a Delhi based Gynecologist and work on Medical Ethics and Women’s Health.

Monday, November 04, 2013

2097 : A letter to the boys by Siddharth Dhanavat Shangvi

Very rarely has a piece of general advice been so very well written. As I read (and re-read) this yesterday in Hindustan Times I admired the honesty and the inherent truth in the whole piece.

Siddarth Shangvi take a bow Smile

Original article at Reproduced below for easier reading.

Dear Abhishek and Ishan: In truth, life is impossible. People will leave. Love can fail. Your job may be a bore. But if you accept this then you can have fun with the rest of it. The midnight stroll on a Goa beach. The health scare that wasn’t one. The lottery of good conversation. I’m sharing a

few things that’ve held true for me: Happy Diwali.

1. You will be distinguished by your talent but remembered for how you loved. Your talent can be anything at all – fly-fishing, how you cast and where, or you may write a blog, be read and followed by millions. Only your talent – how you scrubbed a particular strength down to its essence – will be honestly celebrated. But to be remembered you must love well. Some people define immortality by a statue in a park (about statues in a park: only pigeons give a shit). In truth, the only kind of immortality to aspire to is how deeply you loved; if one single person remembers you fairly then you are already immortal in their memory of you. This is enough.

2. Whether you have an affair that lasts a lifetime or a weekend, know that loving someone is a largely moral act. Love is a feeling, an impulse, a behavior, even an aesthetic realising itself. But the underlying fabric of love is a moral one. To be entrusted with the custody of another life – a sibling, a lover, a parent – is a way for you to understand how your morality transacts with the mortality of the other. If you are unable to be moral, take the easier route: Be compassionate. That always works.

3. I’ve known the super rich and the very famous. And it means nothing at all. Don’t fall for the farce of associative power. You are not the people you hang with. But the company you avoid defines you. This includes friends, work colleagues, and yes, even the tiresome members of your extended family. Eliminating people gently, discreetly is an art, and you must learn this early on. Otherwise, too much of your adult life will be devoted to avoiding people you don’t like, and not enough of your hours can be spent with the ones you are provident enough to love. The famous are given to believe that everyone wants to be with them. This, unfortunately, is mostly true. Fame is a kind of light that obscures fact; it is also an illusion in which the illusionist loses herself. Do you really want to be with someone who can no longer see themselves? The other awful thing about fame is that it puts famous people in the awkward position to have to say aloud on occasion: Do you know who I am? You must always be gracious, and respond saying: I do, but do you?

5. The most interesting people I know happen to be famous, but their fame was accidental, incidental, or thrust upon them, and far from shying from it they use it wisely, like artillery. They don’t squander it on an airline upgrade or a dinner reservation. They use it to remind other people that being penciled out by recognition is possible only when you serve your solitude with truth and beauty; it is emergent of labour. And it is a fickle thing, fame, here today, gone tomorrow. If you become famous in your lifetime accept that you will always be misunderstood, and misappropriated. Enjoy your fame but never believe it.

6. It might appear on Facebook or on your Whatsapp DP that your friends have more friends than you do. Or that, tonight, they’re having more fun than you ever will. That’s ok. They are only filling their vile hours with vodka shots at 3am; in truth, they can’t stand each other. And if it weren’t for Instagram, they’d look like a pack of raccoons. If you enter your life thinking it’s a popularity contest then you’ve lost already. Don’t fear being alone: Your company is the best gift you can give yourself. And a man who is not afraid of being alone often also has the best company to give to others.

7. Wealth does not transmit by osmosis. What someone has remains their own unless you steal it from them, and trust me when I say the rich will wrestle you to the ground for their last dime (as they should; who is anyone to take it away from them?) Remember that the true nature of the rich is inherently an acquisitive one: they are rich because they have practice at taking things. But never allow someone to take your best thing away from you – thefts of talent or intimacy occur subliminally, silently. And there is no court of redress when someone steals your faith or confidence, or even your affinity for a particular novel. Guard such things with your life.

8. It is okay to be thought of as a difficult person. I am. I’m considered prickly and hard. This is not a bad thing because the opposite – smooth and soft – belongs only in one place: your butter dish. When you begin to negotiate on terms that are fair to you, you will invariably be dismissed as a bitch (this word is no longer gender specific). Be a Bitch. Celebrate Bitch Pride. Get a Bitch T-Shirt in six colours. When someone calls you a bitch they are only recognising in you the ability to play it as it lays. But don’t develop a bad personality on account of a tough charm; the operative word is charm. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve got the last cinema seat because I was charming to the usher. Never, ever fail your charm.

9. Be wary of people who befriend you for what you can do for them. The moment they extract this, the friendship will fail: the scaffolding will simply fall away. Be cautious of people who climb all over your back to know your friends; these are the worst kind of parasites, and they will think nothing of wiping their dirty feet all over you as they enter new, cold rooms with expensive lighting. Their punishment will be the later day awareness that everything they got out such violating contact was essentially worthless. They will derive no enjoyment from the wealth they make in the bargain. They will attain no pleasure from the company they form. They will be lonely, and pathetic, and their punishment is not having known better, and then of having known better when it was too late. You must always, always buy such folks a drink at a bar when you meet them again: they will need something to drown their sorrows in.

10. People will come and people will go. Ideally, you’d like everyone you like to stick around. However, this is just not going to be possible. So give someone who leaves something to remember you by. The soup you made for them when they had the flu. The stint you set up when they needed a job like a lifeline. How you turned up when their mother died, and the solace of your listening silence in which they could hide and heal. And sometimes: How quickly you slammed shut the door on their face when you realised what a sleaze they were.

11. Be a good friend. It is teething to be an excellent lover.

12. Place pleasure at the centre of your life. I don’t mean frivolous pleasure – the binge drinking or the casual sex, although that’s fine in short season. By pleasure I mean how you absorb your life – the moment-by-moment awareness of beauty, and that all this beauty will also end. I once opened a bottle of champagne and drank it with your grandmother at 3pm in the afternoon for no particular reason. That was the last time we drank together; she was gone a few short months later. Pleasure is a private language, a means of looking at things, and it is a way of enduring the essential truth that life is horrible and unfair. Pleasure is also pause and reflection, a generosity toward others and a kindness you commit to yourself. Enjoy what you are able to because what you enjoy enables you.

13. You are here for too short a while. Make your hours count.

14. Your feelings are important. But not everyone gives a damn about them. In fact, almost no one does. If your feelings – your rages, your hurt, your passions – are the only lens through which you look at the world then your world will slowly become isolated, narrow and small, coloured by only by your limited and flawed experience. When someone treats you unfairly go after the larger reason for it: What in your karmic hardware drew this experience out of the woodwork of humanity? The Buddhist trick is to watch all experience, know it, absorb it, and then to let it be: in order to be free of it. When you do this the friend who has betrayed you will simply vanish. His job is done. He has nothing more to teach you. Give thanks, and move on. (But remember that iPhone has call block).

15. If someone tells you money is not important you must appreciate that they’re talking absolute bullshit. You will also read a heartwarming account of a burnt-out banker now living carefree out of a trailer, old newspaper doubling as toilet paper. I will be very angry with you both if you turn into someone who uses newspaper as toilet paper. In fact, I will disown you. After love and good health, money is your most important charge. It will allow you to suffer in a climate of comparative comfort (you will better absorb the lessons of your suffering instead of being struck dumb by pain). And you will make a greater lover with bucks in your bank (and boys, give gifts – gifts of thought, deed, the odd diamond – generosity is the sexiest quality a man can have).

16. There are three kinds of wealth. You start with your credit card. Move on to wealth of mind. Finally, and most importantly, there is abundance of heart. You can impress a lover with your wheels, you can dazzle them with smart repartee, but they’ll stick around only if they bloom with your touch. Be the spring to their cherry blossom, the stamen to their butterfly, the green bough to their singing bird. There will be a time when you will leave it all behind, when you will be ahead of experience – but that time is not here yet.

17. Always, always pray for good health. Even a bad cold can feel like early death. Rise real early. Go for walks. Reading gives your brains killer abs. Yoga takes care of everything else.

18. Forgive everyone eventually. Shanghvi is the author of The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay and The Last Song of Dusk.

Friday, November 01, 2013

2096 : God knows I want to break free

"....I am falling in love,
I am falling in love for the first time,
This time I know it's for real "

(Freddie Mercury singing I want to break free)

2095 : The Great Gatsby

If you have read and felt the melancholy and realism inherent within the Great Gatsby, you would know that I identify with someone as lost and infinitely reckless as Gatsby.

I identify with some unusual characters in fiction. I know a few Toohey’s in my real life, and some part of me is as weak as Toohey (Read the fountainhead).

What reminded me of the Gatsby was a social event I was at yesterday. I felt so completely out of place and so completely disconnected from the world around me, it felt like a bit of Gatsby. I could sense his isolation, though he lived only in fiction, I could sense his despondency, as I experienced a strange sense of loss, the loss of something precious and yet something intangible.

Whether I shall meet my end like Gatsby (with or without Daisy) is another matter of conjecture, but yesterday as I sat with a drink in my hand - there was only one name in my head - Gatsby.

2094 : And the race still goes on.....

Picture this.
I saw this 3 really hilarious 4 year olds practicing for the sprint. They all were taking the Bolt position at what was presumably the start line.

All three of them were screaming “get, set , go” completely out of sync and running as soon they said go.

If this was not ridiculous enough, one of the kids had a brainwave, he got out his deepavali gun and said since he had the gunshot, he would flag off the race.

Guns always talk - so the others got coerced. What follows is dead funny. This gun trotter, holds up the gun and shoots it....the others hear the shot and race off. This cool dude slowly places his gun on the line below and then decides to run. He obviously did not win.

But looks like these kids knew something we adults don't. Winning is rarely everything unless it's a game. If it is just a sport, then having fun is possibly the biggest draw - and fun they were having, even the bystanders (like me) could jot complain about the lack of mirth.