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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Of Alia Bhatt's video and our need for Approval

You must have seen the 'Alia Bhatt video' by now. Yes, the same brilliant  one  which shows her joining an academy to increase her  IQ. The video is clever, full of laugh a minute gags and designed to serve its main purpose of putting an end to all the 'Prithviraj Chauhan is the President of India' jokes that exploded after Alia's  debut on the KJo show.

The video set me thinking. Here is a person who is young, fresh faced, refreshing and a good actor. Viewers of hindi movies have taken to her and all her movies have done well. In short has everything going for herself
( except for an IQ that plays truant on important days). With everything her side Alia  still felt  the need to win the  approval and validation of those who had not yet done so. Why?

To a very large  extent, we all care what  the other  person  thinks of us. Knowingly or unknowingly we  role play  our lives in a manner that will win us the maximum votes of approval. A simple job  of deciding what to wear for a dinner turns into an onerous task because the decision is governed by our desire  to look our best for those who will be present at  the said dinner.

I have a' friend ' on Facebook whose sole mission in life seems to be to take selfies of herself and then to post them. So,  a Tuesday sees her  reclining on a hammock  in a baby  blue dress , Wednesday she is  a red and white polka dotted  mannequin , Thursday is buttery yellow, Friday...   I am pretty sure she maintains a diary of the 'likes' she gathers. 50 likes- see there are so many out there who like me! I worry about her sometimes because sooner than later people will tire of her untiring efforts at self promotion and the likes will begin to peter out. How will she take it, rather, will she be able to take it?

Just the other day I met a friend for coffee. She looked different and I said so. In her words-"I am someone who has lived most of her life according to rules set by others. The problem with rules is that the person who sets them also gets to  tell you whether you abided by them or not. So, you guessed it, I spent a major part trying to win approval and validation by  conforming  to rules and to a whole lot of people and their  ideas. And then one day , just a normal day, I realized that  I had not thought of what the other person /people  was/were thinking. Not only that- I also realised that I felt happier, more confident and more 'me'. Voila! That was my Independence Day."

Yes, it is true. The approval we  really need to find is from ourselves.  However, this can only begin once we stop searching for approval from  others.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Of Eris , Goddess of Discord and inviting Trouble...

In the process of reading up, choosing and selecting passages for a book that I am working on,  I came across a delightful story. The story, though tracing its origin in Greek mythology,  is  quite masaledaar and very hindi movie style. So here goes:

The lives of the Ancient Greeks revolved around eris, a concept by which they defined the universe. They believed that the world existed in a condition of opposites. If there was good, then there was evil, if there was love, then there was hatred; joy, then sorrow; war then peace; and so on. The Greeks believed that good eris occured when one held a balanced outlook on life and coped with problems as they arose. It was a kind of ease of living that came from trying to bring together the great opposing forces in nature. Bad eris was evident in the violent conditions that ruled men's lives. Although these things were found in nature and sometimes could not be controlled, it was believed that bad eris occurred when one ignored a problem, letting it grow larger until it destroyed not only that person, but his family as well. The Ancient Greeks saw eris as a goddess: Eris, the Goddess of Discord, better known as Trouble.

One myth that expresses this concept of bad eris deals with the marriage of King Peleus and the river goddess Thetis. Zeus, the supreme ruler, learns that Thetis would bear a child strong enough to destroy its father. Not wanting to father his own ruin, Zeus convinces Thetis to marry a human, a mortal whose child could never challenge the gods. He promises her, among other things, the greatest wedding in all of Heaven and Earth and allows the couple to invite whomever they please. This is one of the first mixed marriages of Greek Mythology and the lesson learned from it still applies today. They do invite everyone … except Eris, the Goddess of Discord. In other words, instead of facing the problems brought on by a mixed marriage, they turn their backs on them. They refused to deal directly with their problems and the result is tragic. In her fury, Eris arrives, ruins the wedding, causes a jealous feud between the three major goddesses over a golden apple, and sets in place the conditions that lead to the Trojan War. The war would take place 20 years in the future, but it would result in the death of the only child of the bride and groom, Achilles. Eris would destroy the parents' hopes for their future, leaving the couple with no legitimate heirs to the throne.

Hence, when we are told, "If you don't invite trouble, trouble comes," it means that if we don't deal with our problems, our problems will deal with us … with a vengeance! It is easy to see why the Greeks considered many of their myths learning myths, for this one teaches us the best way to defeat that which can destroy us.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What rocked and what shocked- the week that was

   What rocked

  • The Indian Tri Color 
  • Prime Minister Modi's 65 minutes extempore address to the nation from Red Fort
  • Pure Zari Kanjeevarams at Greenways, South Extention
  • India cancelling  Secretary level talks with its neighbor

What Shocked
  • The dismal performance in England of the Boyz in Blue 
  • Rahul Baba's silence in Parliament during the discussion on Communal Violence Bill
  • Akshay Kumar's 'Entertainment'
  • The mysterious 'Algorithm' adopted by Indi Blogger- which plunges a bloggers rank from 82 to 62!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Some observations of an idle mind on the opening episode of KBC 8

The term teeming millions must have been coined for just such an occasion. At first glance it seems the entire population of India has turned up to watch  Amitabh Bachchan  in KBC's 8th Avatar ,  but it turns out the teeming millions are  only the  inhabitants of a single city, Surat. They are there in all sizes and shapes- the sizes and shapes cutting  across different age groups and generations. However, there is a commonality binding  the millions- they are all happy to be there that evening. One can sense that for a lot of them it is akin to a historic occasion- complete with an Indian Idol runner up, a stand up comedian,  the mandatory PYT- and of course, Bachchan himself.

The computer is asked to randomly pick out ten names, from those present, to be the ten contestants. As it gets busy in the act of  picking names one sees many lips moving- silent prayers are being offered. Holy Cow! I realize this is serious business. By now the ten names are being called out. As each Chosen One gets up there is a lot of hand pumping and back thumping by his/her relative/s, friend/s and neighbor/s. The contestants all seem game for the occasion. It is appreciable that none of them seem self conscious or mortified about that crumpled duppatta or the missing lip gloss. In fact one brave gentleman  even went up on stage clutching a plastic packet - I know if it were me I would have totally disowned said packet and dropped it somewhere in the aisles !

Bachchan is looking particularly jaded- almost peaked. He makes all the right noises and moves but the trademark zing is missing. I am sure half the blame can be laid at the footsteps of  an over enthusiastic Kapil Sharma who spends the evening   dogging Amitabh Bachchan's footsteps . The other half may, perhaps, be  attributed   to the nerve racking rumors of his son and daughter-in-law's estrangement doing the rounds.Going through the motions is what comes to mind as one watches him.

The organizers have  packed in a lot in that one evening. So, apart from the above mentioned millions and Bachchan there is Rani Mukherjee too- all flushed and glowing from matrimony. We also get to see a very energetic dance performance by an actor of a TV serial, and a song sung by some half a dozen boys and girls.

 The song must have had something in it - something really soothing and relaxing- it sent me off to sleep.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Thinking of some things ‘french’.

I looked at the message. It read: “why haven’t you been blogging”????  In some inexplicable way it made me feel guilty, and then I felt guilty for feeling guilty. In situations so pregnant with guilt my defense mechanism is to fall back on irreverence. And so I messaged back: “was on French leave”. The reply: “What is that? Were you in France”?
So, here is a look at what is ‘french leave’, and some more things French….
French Leave

 An informal, hasty, or secret departure ( in my case departure from my blog !)
The term dates back to an 18th century French custom of leaving a reception without taking leave of the host or hostess.
French Toast
French toast is also known as eggy bread and is a dish of bread soaked in beaten eggs and then fried. It was originally a way to use up stale bread. When French toast is served as a sweet dish, milk, sugar, vanilla or cinnamon are also commonly added before pan-frying, and then it may be topped with sugar (often powdered sugar), butter, fruit, or syrup. When it is a savory dish, it is generally fried with a pinch of salt, and can then be served with a sauce such as ketchup.
French Manicure
 A French manicure is neutral, understated, and goes with absolutely anything.
 Whether the French Manicure  truly is French is up for debate -- some say the ever-stylish Parisians were the first to wear the nude base with crisp, white tips; others say Max Factor invented it and the "French" label is there for effect. Whatever!
The French manicure has enjoyed popularity for the longest time ever. Women all over the world still walk into salons and ask or the pink, beige or nude base tipped with pure white. Its popularity is because of its versatility.
Pardon my French
"Pardon my French" or "Excuse my French" is a common English language phrase ostensibly disguising profanity as French.
My Google search threw up this result: ‘In the 19th century, when the Brits  used French expressions in conversation they often apologized for it - presumably because many of their listeners  wouldn't be familiar with the language.’
 The definition cites an example from The Lady's Magazine, 1830: Bless me, how fat you are grown! - absolutely as round as a ball: - you will soon be as embonpoint (excuse my French) as your poor dear father, the major. (Embonpoint is French for plumpness!)

And then there are the French fries, the French plait, the French kiss ( ahem!)….

Friday, August 15, 2014



                             To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing

                             Ayn Rand

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Time to Go- Fiction

  The concrete monoliths that line the  waterfront next to Sunset Park fade from view at one particular angle.  This stretch  is  significantly quieter  than the rest of the waterfront. Between two mourning trees is a wooden bench where Suhasini and Haider come and sit, catching glimpses of the water in  silence , in a life  that was once a cacophony of sounds, but now serving out a sentence as final as death.

It is dusk and time to go home. Suhasini looks at her husband, her glance shattering and piercing through the cloak of melancholy shrouding her husband. He nods and says,”  a few minutes more.” She sinks back in her corner of the bench and looks outwards at the twinkling lights of the bridge.  Massive skylights hover above the atrium, beyond the bridge. The atrium  was built at a huge cost  by the  Thane  Construction Company.  In addition to its 11 acres of floor space, the complex was completed with four piers, each  linked by underground tunnels. Suhasini remembers the the architect’s inaugural statement of “the great red bricked building rise above the streets and waterfront like some vast medieval city’s wall,” giving an impression of power and beauty.

  An involuntary shudder escapes her body and she draws her gaze away and towards the trees. She likes the two trees, finding in their bare branches, gnarled trunk and a handful of yellow leaves both comfort and companionship. A wrinkled yellow leaf , escaping the clutches of the  branch to which it had been tenuously joined, languidly brushed past Suhasini. She feels a featherlight touch on her cheek, almost like a farewell  kiss, and then the leaf floats towards the gleaming water, settling lightly on it. The water swirls welcomingly around the leaf, before taking it away.

To where it had taken Ritu ? She looks guiltily at Haider, only to find him looking at her. Had he heard her thought? Haider came to her and said, “ it is time we went”. She understood and followed him- down the waterfront, down the  east pier, up the steps of the atrium, down the top window, into the water, down and down…To where Ritu, their daughter had gone when she had committed suicide, on just such an evening of twinkling lights over the Eastern bridge.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Some famous movie quotes to use as conversation stoppers

This is a list of  some of the most well-known movie quotes .  English speakers quote them all the time! It's common for someone to drop a famous movie quote in the middle of a conversation.

1.      “Houston, we have a problem.” (Apollo 13)

People quote this line when there's a big problem.

2.       “I'll be back.” (Terminator)

This line is spoken by the Terminator, a killer robot from the future. You can say it with Arnold Swarzenegger's accent when you leave somewhere and you're going to come back soon.

3.      “It really tied the room together.” (The Big Lebowski)

The characters in the movie are talking about a rug that was stolen. You can say this about a piece of furniture or decoration in a room.

4.      “It's alive! It's alive!” (Frankenstein)

A crazy scientist says this when he brings to life the monster he created.

5.       “I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.” (The Wizard of Oz)

Say this when you end up in a strange place.

6.      “E.T. phone home.” (E.T.)

This isn't very good English because the character who says it is an alien from outer space.

7.      “Bond. James Bond.” (Dr. No)

The character of James Bond is supposed to be super-cool. If you want to act cool and sexy, you can say your name like this: last name (pause), full name.

8.       “There's no place like home.” (The Wizard of Oz)

Here's another line from the classic film "The Wizard of Oz."

9.      “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” (ApocalypseNow)

This is a quote from a military commander who's violent and crazy. "Napalm" is a chemical that's used to burn forests and towns in war. Usually, someone would say something like "I love the smell of coffee in the morning.

10.  “Wax on, waxoff.” (Karate Kid)

A Japanese Karate master tells his student this. He's trying to teach the student to do Karate using simple movements like waxing a car. You can quote this line when you're acting as someone's teacher.

11.   “Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.” (Gone with the Wind)

This line was quite shocking at the time. The man says this to his wife as he's leaving her.

12.  “I feel theneed... the need for speed.” (Top Gun)

This is a line from a jet pilot who wants adventure and excitement.

13.  “I see dead people.” (The Sixth Sense)

The kid who says this sounds creepy.

14.   “I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse.” (The Godfather)

A mob boss says this line. It means that he's going to threaten someone to get what he wants. You can copy this quote jokingly when you've gotten someone to do what you wanted.

15.  “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” (Dirty Dancing)

"Baby" is the character's name. The speaker wants to say that she should be a star, not controlled and hidden away.

16.  “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” (Casablanca)

This is a classic line to copy when you're getting along well with someone, especially in business.

17.   “You can't handle the truth!” (A Few Good Men)

You can yell as a joke when someone says that they "want the truth".

18.  “What we've got here is failure tocommunicate.” (Cool Hand Luke)Say this when someone who you're in charge of, like one of your students, isn't listening to you.

19.  “My mama always said, life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you gonna get.” (Forrest Gump)

This quote actually annoys a lot of people, but it's very famous. It means that unexpected things happen in life. To explain, the speaker's talking about a certain type of chocolates that come in a box with different varieties to try.

20.  “I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take this anymore.” (Network)

The speaker is talking about all of the problems with the government, society, and the media.

21.   “May the force be with you.” (Star Wars)

"The force" is a magical power that gives people strength. This phrase is kind of a way of saying "good luck".

22.  “I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody.” (On the Waterfront)

This quote is from a boxer who's disappointed with how his life has turned out.

23.   “Go ahead. Make my day.” (Sudden Impact)

A tough police officer is daring a criminal to attack the person that he's holding. Say this when you feel tough and someone is threatening you.

24.  “They maytake our lives, but they will never take... our FREEDOM!” (Braveheart)

This is an extremely dramatic speech about fighting for your freedom. You probably won't have a chance to quote it in a serious way in real life, but some people like to quote it to be funny.

25.  “Are you talkin' to me?” (Taxi Driver)

A guy is imagining what he'll say to someone who tries to mess with him. You can say this to someone who teases or criticizes you.