Urban Shots: Bright Lights – The Review

•March 9, 2012 • 9 Comments

Looking after a baby 24/7 is a gruelling task and a lot of things, which were previously an integral part of your life, are affected. For me reading is one such thing which has been adversely affected. However, a couple of months back my husband told me about the Blogadda Book Reviews Program and I wasted no time in applying for it. Now, that I have been chosen to review their recent book on offer, Urban Shots: Brights Lights I am extremely ecstatic.

Urban Shots: Bright Lights as the name suggests is a compilation of 29 stories by 21 writers focusing on urban India and portraying a gamut of urban characters and their lives. One gets the opportunity to read a variety of genres in this single book. There are the humorous stories to tickle your funny bones as well as emotional and heart-rending ones which will leave you dewy eyed.

The very first story from the book, Amul, is one of the finest short stories I have read in a long time. It is a gripping tale of a 10year old terminally ill child who keeps on recollecting the fond and not so fond memories of her dead mother. Certain disturbing facts are unveiled from time to time with the flow of the story. The innocence with which Amul narrates the story will leave you with a heavy heart and you might feel tears rolling down your cheeks while reading the story. Kudos to Arvind Chandrasekhar for offering us such a poignant story.

Another story which will make you smile and cry at the same time is Across the Seas by Ahmed Faiyaz. The story is set in the times when getting a phone connection at home was an ordeal. It depicts the loneliness of a mother whose son stays in the USA and is not accessible due to the absence of a telephone. It poignantly describes how much the mother misses his son and how even a one page letter from the son changes her mood. It is a dedication to all those parents who make enormous sacrifices and let their children venture out to far-off places for a successful future, while they lead a lonely life.

In the story Double Mixed by Namita V Nair, extra marital affair is dealt with in a humorous manner. The entire story unfolds in an interesting fashion. However, the best part is the concluding part of the story wherein it is revealed that the little boy is aware of his parents’ extra marital affairs, though the parents try their best to keep it under wraps.

Another story which definitely deserves a special mention for its rib-tickling narrative is “Father of my Son”. The readers having kids at their home can relate with the story from the word go. It is a thoroughly funny and enjoyable read and the love, warmth and innocence which it emanates will certainly touch your heart.

The spellbinding collection also contains stories of a pesky neighborhood aunt, of an old physics teacher whose actual interest lies in literature, a mother who can shed all inhibitions and fight for the better future of her children, an artist in love with his legendary city and a lot more.

If you are looking for heart-warming, hilarious and thought-provoking stories written in lucid way, then Urban Shots: Bright Lights is a must read. It is one such book whose stories will retain the freshness even while reading for the umpteenth time.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

Eve-Teasing – The Social Malady

•November 6, 2011 • 5 Comments

Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandez have become household names recently, though sadly after their untimely demise at the hands of some rowdy goons. In a tragic incident on 20th October, these two youths were knifed to death for protesting against eve-teasing. While they were being mercilessly stabbed, the crowd stood there watching the crime taking place like mute spectators. It is said that Keenan’s girlfriend was being teased by the main accused Jeetendra Rana when she along with four other friends came out for paan after having dinner at a restaurant. When Keenan protested against the evil gesture, Rana went away only to return with 20 more drunkards. Firstly, they stabbed Keenan and when Reuben tried to save his friend, he met with the same fate.

There are no words to describe the morbidity of the entire incident. I feel extremely ashamed to even think that we co-exist in the society along with sociopaths like Rana who suffers from personality disorders and can manifest any form of brutality without even an iota of hesitation! As a girl I am very sure that each and every girl in this society, whether pretty or ugly, fair or dark, fully clothed or scantily clad, have faced situations similar to this, if not worse. Though eve-teasing is rampant in India, there are many countries and their citizens who have never heard of such a word. It again reveals the shameful state of affairs of the Indian society.  Thousands of eve-teasing incidents occur every day, most of which are either ignored or unreported. Many activists tend to point the reason why girls don’t come out of the closet and protest such incidents. My question to them is how many incidents can you protest, when every other day you face similar situations. The action which we generally tend to take depends on the severity of the malady. In some cases you don’t even understand who is physically assaulting you in a crowded bus. What will you do in such cases? There is not only a single manner in which eve-teasing is done. Some of them can be handled by simply being strict, for some others you need to actually hunt for the actual culprit. These psychopaths are extremely intelligent, they know when to catch their prey without getting caught, and if caught they are sure to make things horrible for the victim and their near and dear ones.

Another aspect which caught my attention was the role played by the crowd, of being mute spectators of the heinous “tamasha”. Why can’t so many people muster enough courage to fight against those drunkards TOGETHER? What has happened to the term UNITED? If all those people standing there, rather than being indifferent, fought in unison against those rowdies, the scene would have been different. Maybe the lives of two young people would have been saved. Such incidents again and again prove that we actually make a hype of what is called the Mumbai spirit. When it was actually required, to fight against some highly spirited (intoxicated) individuals, the spirit vanished.

In the limited time which I get nowadays for watching news channels, what I gathered was that Keenan’s girlfriend, rather than hiding or isolating herself, from the fear of the society, has come out and joined hands with others in the fight for justice. It is clearly and visibly a magnificent sign and my salute to the young and courageous girl for that. There are numerous cases wherein the GIRL does not come out in the open, for the FEAR of nothing else but SOCIETY. The best example which comes to my mind is the case of Bapi Sen, the traffic sergeant who was murdered brutally on New Year’s Eve, 2003 in Kolkata, while trying to save a girl from being teased and assaulted. During the court proceedings and trials, the girl never came out in the open. She was the person for whom an unknown person fought and laid down his life. Yet, even after repeated urges, chose to remain a mystery. I simply fail to understand whether she any better than the culprits. For me she is worse than them and is someone who is devoid of any sort of compassion and benevolence. How can she live a life being so indifferent and mean? Can she be ever true to her conscience, if only it exists in her dictionary? I hope someday her heart shows her the right path. This incident gives rise to another question on my mind, had Keenan and Reuben died for some unknown girl, would she have shown the same courage as being shown by the girlfriend? I hope the answer is YES and remains so. For stopping such barbarous crimes, the need for courageous people, hard to find nowadays, is extremely essential.

On Working after Motherhood

•October 25, 2011 • 2 Comments

My Little One!When I was a kid I used to tell my Mom that when I have my own kids, I’ll quit working, unlike you. The feeling was strong and always came out with some sense of negativity. I used to add that every mother should stay at home in order to look after their kids for the few initial years. My mother hardly answered me back citing her reasons of continuing her job though it was obvious that she was facing extreme hardships taking care of her three children along with her full-time job. However, I also noticed that, even after my sly statements, she never ever considered leaving her job and staying at home. I even rebuked all those mothers who left their children at their homes and rejoined their jobs after a couple of months of maternity leaves. Those opinions were the fruits of the insecurities and hardships which I faced when I was left alone at home with my mother working outside. However, as I started growing up, I enjoyed the fact that I have a working mother and enjoyed flaunting it to my friends!

Now when I have a kid of my own and I stay home the entire day tending to all his needs with full attention and utmost care, I understand the need of having a job which can be termed as full-time. I, now fully understand what my mother’s silence meant when I made those remarks. Its not only about the money, it’s also about my own self. Financial security is essential, as is the mental stability after being a mother. For me being a first time mother was one of the most heavenly feelings one can experience which can never be expressed or described in words. I love to play and pamper my little one and fulfil all that he requires at this stage with as much love, care, sincerity and affection possible. However, in the quest of achieving that I started to feel myself as the Nanny of my child, more than a mother.

My, being a mother has increased the urge of having a life beyond the confinement of my house. I do feel the need to talk to adults other than my family members. I also strongly feel the need to share my ideas, views and opinions so as to unburden myself of a plethora of problems which I face daily as a new mother. I want to see each day with as much freshness as possible so as to shoulder my responsibilities with renewed vigour and enthusiasm. I want to free myself from the feeling of being a frog in the well. When I came to know about my impending motherhood, I made up my mind that I will teach my child how to enjoy life and free himself from the so-called norms, customs and rituals which the society tends to bestow upon everyone. For me it will always remain a challenge to infuse on to my child the courage to question before following anything blindly. In order to achieve these, I need to fulfil my own desires in order to maintain my mental sanity. Keeping my sanity intact will ensure that I love and give my kid all that is necessary for his proper growth and education as also encouraging him into becoming a brave citizen of the world.

Friendship is Overrated

•March 3, 2011 • 2 Comments

What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies – Aristotle quoted this long time back. my question is whether this concept holds true in this jet age, where we have apparently become modern yet remain far from enjoying a scientific and modern mind and soul.

One can find a plethora of friendship quotes celebrating friends and friendship in your life. There was a time when even I was mesmerized by those quotes and thoughts and found them quite believable (I feel that was due to my age). For me my friends were my source of sustenance. Each and every person at one point of time feels that friendship is the be all and end all of life. Friends and friendship are prioritized more than anything else in the world, even family and love. The feeling of having a friend with whom you can share your innermost joys and sorrows brings your romantic side to the forefront. In this age of internet and websites, the social networking sites are filled up with testimonials from your friends. The number of friends in your profile and the testimonials written about you by them bear testimony of how good and popular you are. There are a lot of people who are against such trends and I am one among them. For me friendship is something which does not require show off. There is simply no need to flaunt your friendship by penning down simply good things about your friends, when you are aware that your friend actually bears thousands of negative aspects. There is also no need of adding friends in your profile just because you want to increase your list, though you know they are simply your acquaintance with whom you may not even talk in reality.

However with the passing of time, my idea about friendship is going through a sea change. Now I, many a times get the feeling that friendship and friends are simply overrated. A friend using you for personal gain and favors is nothing new. However I feel we should not measure how good a friend is by keeping those things in mind. For me there are much deeper things that help us in gauging friendship. A friend should be able to understand you to the fullest and share the deepest secrets without any inhibitions. I have my share of good as well as not so good friends. During certain times I feel as though even my closest friend has not been able to understand me properly, after spending so many years together. I have the feeling that each and every person goes through the same emotion. There have been circumstances in your life which have definitely made you sit back and think whether you are able to put yourself across to your friend properly. Have you ever imagined that your friends at some point of time can subject friendship at the backseat and put superstition and insecurities at the forefront? The beauty and essence of a good friendship is often marred by superstitious beliefs and various forms of insecurities. Hiding things and not discussing issues with your so-called friend just because of some superstition or stigma attached to it do not fall under the anvil of friendship. In my life I have gone through situations where I found, quite disappointingly, that my friends were afraid of doing or discussing certain things with me. Those circumstances have surprised me to the core as they gave me the notion that my friends, with whom I have been living for a long time consider me to be orthodox or dogmatic. Here comes the question of knowing a person thoroughly before making an idea about him/her.

Another aspect which can creep into the so called concept of friendship is insecurity. Everyone faces insecurities in some form or the other. Some people are upfront about such things while some deal with it intelligently. I never consider my friends as my personal property. There are a large number of my friends who are now known to each other because I took the pain of introducing them to each other. However the same does not hold good for everyone else. Is it seriously so hard to share your friends with the person/people you consider as your soulmate/s? There are some people who come across your life at different points, like your boyfriend/girlfriend or your would-be. It is a fascinating experience to have them in your life as you become familiar with a lot of new emotions attached to them. For a normal person it becomes extremely difficult not to talk about the special person with a special friend. After my marriage I have seen people, who hardly know me, discussing with me about those special persons and moments. Those people found me trustworthy of discussing such very personal things with me and even making their special persons a part of my life. Those small gestures really made me feel special and they owe huge THANKS from me! However I have felt the absence of such a feeling when it comes to my near and dear friends. At times you come to know of certain things so late and sudden that they simply leave you shocked and stunned, unable to react.

You still consider your long time close friends an important and integral part of life, discuss and share every joy and sorrow at the earliest. You may feel something missing in your friendship and constantly strive to fill up the gap. Yet at times the gap grows beyond recovery and it becomes useless mourning about the fact. When you become pragmatic and come to terms with the fact, you get the feeling that the beauty of the relation has been sacrificed. The question of expectation plays a significant role here. For me it is fine if you don’t want to discuss certain things. However when ultimately you give the news, don’t blame it on some lame excuses like being superstitious or not sure about how the person will react to it. It is important to understand that your true friend might not always agree to your decisions and can also give you suggestions at certain times which you may or may not like. It is however wrong to presume such things as you may witness a completely different scenario occurring in your favor.

Nowadays I have the feeling that life and along with it the different relations changes manifold after a certain age. You cherish and flaunt having numerous friends and love showing-off the testimonials. With you growing every day, all those friends turn into mere acquaintances. You start running after your life and career and a time comes when you sit back and ponder why your friendship did not last the tests of time, for life. How you wish then that the words uttered by Aristotle remained true for all times and ages!

A Perspective on Religious Rituals

•June 5, 2010 • 2 Comments

To begin with, the sentiments and opinions written in this post are entirely mine. They have nothing to do with any particular religion or the rituals associated with it. It is just to share my traumatic experience which happened in the name of religion and above all, GOD.

It happened just a month ago – the immersion ceremony of Goddess Muthyalamma. She is one of the many forms of Goddess Durga/ Kali.  We all know idols are taken for immersion in processions.  From my childhood, I had been a great admirer of such processions. The sights and sounds of merriment associated with processions always mesmerized me. Though I had never been a part of such processions, yet I adored them to the core. To ever have a negative outlook of such processions is something that I never imagined.

The immersion procession for Goddess Muthyalamma also started in a similar fashion of enjoyment. At around 9p.m. a procession went past my house. I enjoyed the sounds of the crackers and the dhaks, relished the prasad along with my parents. It was all nice and good. Being the month of May, it was extremely hot and humid. The day being a Saturday, I went to sleep quite late unknown of the fact what lay ahead. It all started at around 2p.m in the night. The electricity went off and I again cursed the Bangalore Electricity Board for being so inhuman. But the fact was that it was the beginning of long night of processions of a dozen of idols through the narrow lanes of Bangalore. Puja organizers from various parts of the city followed the same route for the immersion event. The quite narrow 3rd Cross of Kalappa Layout being one of the chosen paths. Each and every organizer gave their best shot to make the event successful. They finely decorated the idols, hired various kinds of dancers and instrumentalists, decked them with peculiar outfits and also managed to get the noisiest of firecrackers. All the idols stopped in front of every alternate houses and thus advanced at snail’s pace. The local people, aware of such annual events, were busy offering pujas to each and every idol. The sound of the firecrackers and the dhaks kept on increasing. In the midst of it all, I made a failed attempt to sleep.

My parents were staying with me during that time. My father is a cardiac patient and my mother, just a month ago, broke her femur bone and was operated. They were taken aback by this bizarre manifestation of religious orthodoxy and sentiments which give a damn about the problems of people. Suddenly, in the middle of the night they roll out a series of firecrackers covering the entire lane, with numerous houses on both sides, and lit them. My mother woke up from her slumber due to the abrupt noise and was shaken badly. It was like a nightmare come true.  The thunderous sounds and peculiar sights went on for the entire night.

The organizers neither care about the kids, aged people and patients, nor about the laws of the country. Without going into the details of such laws, it is by now a known fact that one is not allowed to burst sound emitting firecrackers from 10p.m. to 6a.m. Then how does so many organizers dare to do something unlawful and are still not being punished? Is it only because of religious beliefs and reverence? I feel no religion in the world believes in making life difficult for the people. Being religious is a personal choice, but showing your reverence by not thinking about others is an idea which is unfathomable. The religious festivals, ceremonies and rituals are meant to bring happiness and cheer in ones life. I was never overly interested in religious rituals and this incident enhanced my dislike for them. There could have been many patients, elderly people and infants who suffered terribly and were traumatized because of the entire night of darkness along with nerve-wracking sounds. According to me one should not become so orthodox that they stop thinking and caring about problems faced by others. It is fine if you cannot help someone, but you do not have the right to make people suffer at your whims. Religion and the things connected with it are supposed to create togetherness, bring joy and not pain. We all should remember we have some responsibilities towards society and we should take utmost care not to forget them under any circumstances.

The Idea of Beauty

•July 16, 2009 • 7 Comments

It is said “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”. My question here is what is the BEAUTY that the eyes look for? Is it the beauty of the outer appearance, the beauty of the talent or the sheer beauty of the heart? The age-old notion have been that when a girl looks for a prospective partner, it is his talent that counts and for a guy it is the appearance of the girl that matters. With the change in time the ideas have also seen drastic changes. However, the fact remains the same – one has to have a certain special quality or has to be the proud owner of beautiful looks.

How many times have we actually looked for a person who is devoid of all such characteristics, but the mere presence of whom can warm our heart, bring a smile to our face and can create an aura of optimism? It is true that in today’s world, full of lies and deceits, someone with a heart of gold is hard to find. People strive hard to meet their daily requirements, in this fast and competitive world. In the process, all the innocence and purity of mind and soul take a backseat. Notwithstanding, there are still people who value the concepts of trust, innocence, purity and clear conscience. They might not be great charmers or people of fine intellect, but the ones whom you can trust and have faith. They respect their elders and love the younger ones and can go to any length to keep their near and dear ones happy. I have been lucky to actually come across such people. It was surprised by the fact that they never nurtured negative emotions like jealousy or grudge, which is extremely hard to find. As they were free from such negative thoughts, they never resented any actions or comments. In your moments of agony and anguish, they were the ones to fill the heart with ecstasy and joy. You can say that we have our friends who are always there in times of our need. But the people I am talking about can bring a smile even in the face of the strangers. They do not differentiate between friends and strangers. It is a bliss to merely sit with them, without even uttering a single word.

This kind of people are very rarely found. But do we actually look for such people? We always seek for a person who is presentable, possess certain characteristic talent or is rich, as a potential match. It is like an incentive when along with the aforementioned features, we get someone who is endowed with the beauty of heart and mind. Will it ever happen the other way round is my concern. Will the purity of heart, sympathetic soul and a crystal clear conscience ever find its due praise and reward?

Bengalis in Bollywood

•July 7, 2009 • 2 Comments

Bengalis have always been proud of their tradition, culture and intellect. It is true that there is no dearth of talent in Bengal. But people in Bengal also possess the tendency to over indulge in the feel good factor and in the process become cocooned in their shells. From the time I started understanding concepts like intellect and culture, I found that Bengalis are of the opinion that people in other parts of India are not able to judge them without bias, though every other talent comes out from the soil of Bengal or are Bengalis settled in other states.

Be it in literature, art, music, direction, we can go on citing examples of gems which Bengal has produced. From Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore to  freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose to the Oscar winning Satyajit Ray, the list is endless.  Though they were renowned all across the globe, yet for some reason or the other, their talent was never given its due worth in India. Just like any other Bengali, as I started to grow up, the idea that Bengalis are not properly recognized in India started creeping in my mind. With so many years of nurturing, the idea has become an integral part of me now.

However, in recent times, I feel the trend has changed a bit. For instance, if we take the case of Bollywood cinema and music, we can see that from the beginning itself, the Bengalis have carved a niche for themselves. We have had movie directors like Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee creating masterpieces like Golmaal, Chupke Chupke, Anand, Abhimaan, Rajnigandha, Khoobsuraat, Ek Ruka Hua Faisla and many more. We still have a bunch of talented directors like Pradeep Sarkar, Anurag Basu and Shoojit Sircar making movies worth watching. The Bollywood music scene has been blessed by names like Salil Chowdhury, Hemant Kumar, Manna Dey, Kumar Sanu, Pankaj Mullick, Bappi Lahiri, Shreya Ghosal notwithstanding geniuses like S.D.Burman, R.D.Burman and Kishore Kumar, who boast of the Bengali lineage. The most prominent addition to this list, according to me is Bonnie Chakraborty.

Bonnie Chakraborty is the singer behind the immensely experimental and successful song, Emosanal Atyachaar from the movie DevD. Though he has his own vision of music and does not belong to the so called Bollywood fraternity, yet, in recent times, it can be stated that he is the only ‘find’ amongst male singers in Bollywood. His exceptional voice quality and versatility can be gauged from both the versions of Emosanal Atyachaar song. The first one is the Brass Band version, fully bindaas and over the top, having extreme mass appeal. It is a song which will be liked by one and all, from the autowallas to the music pundits. However, the rock version of the song is the one which I like more. Everything about the song is awesome, be it the music blend, the tune or the singing. Bollywood music has hardly experienced any proper Rock song. The vacuum has been now filled by this single, mind blowing song. What made me all the more astonished is the way Bonnie Chakraborty has rendered his voice in both the versions. When I heard the Brass Band version and came to know it was sung by him, it was quite hard for me to relate him as the same voice behind ‘Prithibita Naki Chhoto’. One is intentional raw, loud and over the top singing while the other is subtle, lyrical and pure rock. What a prolific singer he is! Though he no longer stays in Bengal and is not part of the Bengali band Krosswindz, yet he made me immensely proud in being a Bengali. It is heartwarming to know that he is working with reputed and talented music directors including A.R.Rahman. Hope and pray to see him at the helm of Bollywood music.

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.