Memories of a dead bird

I felt your memories are like

scattered cotton strewn across everywhere...

I wished for them to make for a warm blanket

to envelop me through the cold cruel nights...

But, now...

Your memories are like scattered feathers

of a dead bird flying in the sky

Will a blanket made with them

help my heart stay warm?


The only puzzle, My dearest, is this: Did I blow a bubble In your dreams And burst it before You saw it for a bubble? Was it a bubble, Or was it real?

****** Do you see the tsunami waiting to rise up inside me? Don't you ever come to my world again, even by mistake... The waves trying to escape from me will spell doom for us, drowning both of us

An odyssey of exploration—of the self and the world

"We are going to Tirupati in June," announced my co-sister, sometime in March. And I was elated— not because I'm a believer, but this was my chance to trek the 11-km climb to the Tirumala temple from Alipiri.
The next few weeks were spent with zero preparation for the trek, and the D-day arrived in no time. On a hot Saturday afternoon, we were standing at the foot of the hill, while I stared at the steep steps and told myself, "no, I can't do this."
But then, this happens each time, and I know I can march on and reach the top. Armed with a water bottle, a towel and glucose tablets, and no slippers on our feet, we start climbing up. The stone steps scorch the feet, forcing us to climb faster.

Three minutes into the climb, my heart starts beating rapidly, and sweat starts inundating my body, when not even a few hundred metres of the trek are covered. The next 10+ kms seem impossible, and I just want to give up and start resting on the side platforms meant for it.
And that's when I notice the sea of humanity climbing up. A thin woman with all-white hair... a man with a toddler on his shoulders.. a woman applying turmeric and vermilion to each step while climbing... another girl placing camphor pieces on the steps, and the boy behind her lighting them up.. a foreigner lady with her Indian partner… a man pepping up an elderly lady, probably his mother, who is about to give up.. the cute couple chatting jovially without a care in the world.. all headed to the same destination.

The steps look saffron with every other devotee applying vermilion and turmeric. The light and smell from camphor render it all a pleasant feel. And we sip some water and start moving up.
I can't help but notice how the whitewashed roof and the cement platforms are filled with names of couples written inside heart lines— scores of unwritten love stories, the ends of which remain unknown to the world.

On the sides of the walking path lies the forest of Tirumala hill. Devotees of the God of Seven Hills believe if they stack stones here, they'll be able to build their own houses soon. Thus, the sides of the path are filled with so many small small stacks of stones.

By this time, I stop caring about how steep the steps are or how many people who started after me have passed by me. All that matters is my journey, how enjoyable I can make it and how meaningful it can be. It is me, my mind and my lethargy that I have to beat, no one else.
The vendors who have set up shop on the sides are the saviours for a tired trekker. The cool buttermilk kept in a pitcher covered with wet towels, available for Rs 5 per cup, itself feels like a god.
All types of local fruits and other edible items help replenish the energy. Drinking water is available free everywhere, apart from packaged mineral water bottles that cost a bomb. We get to experience such reliefs even in the journey of life, don’t we?

Looking back, the view of the hill and the Tirupati city makes one realise how far one has come. The deer park, in fact, a deer breeding centre, helps kids and elders relax for a while, feeding the spotted deer across the barricades.
The magnanimous rocky formations invoke curiosity, but one cannot afford to diverge from the walking path and invite the wrath of the security guarding the area.

Once the first stretch is over, the path becomes less steep and walking becomes faster. Kilometres go by without difficulty. The walking path on the road, to the relief of the walkers, is painted in white to help keep the feet cool.

Administration in Tirupati-Tirumala seems to agree that 'Cleanliness is godliness' — steps and walking paths and all related establishments are cleaned often. Sights like this are heartwarming, for some strange reason...

In no time one reaches the foot of the last hill, which is steeper than the first one. Scores of people worship the steps here, and many start crawling up on the steps instead of climbing it.

One such woman was crying inconsolably, and I couldn't ask why. Is it a way to deal with the near-vertical ascend? “No, people want to punish themselves for the sins they have committed,” said my partner.
Every climb has to end—this too ends in a few minutes. For those without physical stamina, it is the sheer willpower that carries them along. For believers, this comes from their faith, and for nonbelievers, it is the thrill and happiness of reaching the zenith— the fulfilment that comes from achieving what looked impossible to start with.

The journey on feet uphill to Tirumala is a life lesson. For non-believers, it is an exploration of life, with parallels everywhere.

It shows how believers just want to latch on to something—an unseen power, a godman, a belief—which reassures them, absolves them of their responsibility, protects them, helps shed the baggage of the past and gives them the mental strength to move forward, for which they are willing to walk the extra mile. Faith is what drives them. The devotion felt and expressed by these is on a different level—which those who visit the Hills in helicopters and private cars or subscribe to expensive sewas can never be able to match.

Postscript: Incidentally, the free darshan of the God of the Seven Hills guaranteed for those who climb the Hills was cancelled on the said day, as the next day the Prime Minister was supposed to visit the Hills. This meant the walkers had to wait for 18 hours in the regular queue for free darshan. And no one grumbled. "He is our Prime Minister, he has so much to do, we can wait for our darshan," said one devotee, while also asking, "Will we get to see him?"

An infected branch and the tree that needs to survive

Image result for #Metoo
The floodgate of  #MeToo cases has me thinking deeply. While I too have a few #MeToo moments, I don't want to share them right now. They are not as serious as the ones that I'm hearing, and I don't want to trivialise the movement by adding to frivolous stories. May be I will try and explain one of the incidents someday - but I don't even remember the name of the person. The question that's haunting me now is, how to treat these cases in a fair and just manner? How to do course-correction?
A tree has an infected branch. What do you do? Do you not eat fruits from the unaffected branches, which are perfectly fine? The infected branch might have contributed to those fruits, but does that make the fruit inedible?
What's the solution? Shall we disown the tree and its fruits totally? Shall we just cut off the branch and save the tree from infection? Or, shall we check for symptoms and cure the infection so that the branch becomes healthy?
The last option is generally never thought of - because it is usually a messy process and it takes a lot to do it. The branch will never be seen in a new light - a reformed, rejuvenated branch is out of our imagination.
A work of art is bigger than sum of its parts - a cinema is greater than an individual actor, director or a jerk who takes his position of power for granted. A newspaper's journalism is much bigger than one person who abused the power - it is a collective outcome of years of hard work by many committed folks.
A person's body of work is much greater than his dark moments in which he takes his position for granted and feels entitled to do horrible things. The work they produce doesn't get reduced in its quality even when the producer of that work is rotten in another compartment.

It looks like a throwing-the-baby-alongwith-bathwater moment, with the Phantom Films getting dismantled and many people discrediting the work done by The Wire. But is there hope?
A workable solution in workplaces is to have a proper code of conduct, personally, professionally and socially, and to have a few boundaries that should not be crossed. A lot of issues get solved/avoided with these. Next thing in workplaces is to have a complaints mechanism in place, to address the cases of people crossing the agreed boundaries.
There's no doubt that women refusing accept the macho tendency of entitlement is good for the society as a whole - the next generation will be sensitised towards it from the very beginning and we can hope for better society and workplaces.
And, here's the silver lining: All men do not abuse women (more like, all people do not abuse others) Why? What are they made up of - those who don't abuse others, those who value their positions and are sensible towards others? What needs to be changed in society and in personal lives to produce more of them - sensible men and women? Can we move towards corrective action as a society, while the actions and inaction of the past cannot be undone?
But what of the rotten and misogynistic system we have now? What of the men and women in those family WhatsApp groups who make fun of the movement as if they never underwent any harassment? Won't they inculcate the same values among their kids, who might continue to act entitled when they can? What do we do with it? We see the symptoms of the rot already - how do we stop the branch from getting infected, and infecting the entire tree?

Tumbbad: A cinema to take you on a trip to dark corners hidden inside you

All reviews have said so much about the visually stunning quality of the movie, Tumbbad. The rain shots, the dark and gloomy scenes and the visual effects... A less bollywoodish movie, way different from the visually loaded movies made in bollywood with extravagant graphics. It sure has graphics, which is just apt, not luxurious at all. It's a story that says greed breeds sorrow and destruction. Remember the story of goose that laid golden eggs? Never cut the goose, you will lose everything.

A lot of effort has gone into making the movie suit the time period it is set in - right from the metal pipe used in kitchen to blow air into fireplace, to the old jeep-like BMW. But the scenes haunt even after you come out - after all, you just went into a dark, magnificent and magnanimous womb of the sacred feminine that protects the world from a darkest hidden secret... a cave of greed and bloodshed... and above all, you came out unhurt! Whether you will be able to come out of the cycle of greed in reality so easily, unhurt, remains a personal quest in your life.

Even in reality, wombs have darkest secrets, which shock the world if they come out. If you are a thinking type, Tumbbad gives you a lot of meaningful matter to mull over.

Sohum Shah is exceptional, and his wife played by Anita Date too. I like it when the actors are not so famous and known - it gives the story a lot of scope to shine. Music is just apt, non-intrusive. The movie is crisp though it took years to make it. The wadi set is magnificently eerie, and looks real.

Last movie I saw, Sriram Raghavan's Andhadhun focused on karma - it gave a sense of poetic justice where people who erred got it back in a grand manner. I kind of liked it. That way Tumbbad is also great.

Tumbbad is a multilayered film depicted through a non-existent mythology - the story doesn't exist in folk culture as per my knowledge. Watch the movie, then apply it to what's happening around you - it resonates everywhere - personal level as well as social and economic levels.

In a macro-level, all environmental issues resonate with it perfectly. Mining of natural resources... Genetic engineering to increase crop productivity...  Big dams to store more water.. Big roads to carry more people.. Nuclear power production to get more out of less... All have proved harmful in their own way while they bring their benefit. And we can never escape the cycle. Keep this in mind and watch the movie, it's a beautiful one!

The crazy me had tightly held onto my companion when the scenes got a bit scary, and closed my ears to the music - a mute cinema doesn't scare one, it is the combo of visuals and audio that scares people :-)


What made me a bit uncomfortable is the character of the boy - how he grows without a sense of rights and wrongs and ethics. It's a personal conflict in my head that makes me wonder whether we are in an era that yearns for perfection in human beings. While I thought we humans had become much complicated creatures full of rainbow colours, there are still absolute rights and wrongs, which keep changing according to the time and its trends. In such an era is it good for a cinema to show layered characters that are neither black nor white? Will these directors be judged in future? What is the benefit for the director by showing a boy like this?

This conflict is in my head because of the way society has changed right now, and the way I see it. I'm a creature that almost always bothers about the social impact of a movie and judges a movie based on what it tries to say.

I also found the quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi strange though it perfectly relates to the theme. The movie ended at the time when India got Independence, before Gandhi died, I thought. It is more for the audience than being a part of the movie itself.

Please don't make children watch this movie. It has A certificate, is scary and has concepts and scenes that should not be seen by children. If you yourself feel drawn into the gory dark the movie paints, just close your ears :-) it works! 😊


Next movie on my list is Ship of Theseus, involving Sohum Shah and Anand Gandhi duo, which again looks like a layered, my kind of film. Going by this video, Sohum Shah looks like a person who brings his life philosophy to the films he is involved in, and his philosophy is attractive enough!

This cinema explores a characterless city and its people

Gurgaon is a characterless, scary city that is expanding with no respect to the indigenous character of the topography and land. (Perhaps all cities are, but I got scared in Gurgaon for no reason!) I had been there in February 2017.
I had attended a workshop that focused on how to restore water table in Gurgaon's residential and farming areas. A rich farmer who came in a Bolero to the workshop struck a conversation with me, and I got a hint of what they are made of. He went to the extent of inviting me to his hotel, which I declined, and after a week he even called me. When I came to know it was him I didn't want to continue the conversation.
The Metro line cutting through the now-developing city had an eerie character to it in the area I was staying, with only malls and high-end buildings, no dhaba or no public transport - basically meant for only those who had cars and who could afford to go to restaurants in malls. DLF wanted Metro connectivity to CyberCity, and a bidder IL&FS Rail Ltd got the contract for Rapid Metro there. The government "saved" money as there was no investment needed, but other than Metro, last mile connectivity was a pain.
An ex-IAS officer I met at the workshop told me how the land was "gifted" to DLF by one of the "toughest" prime ministers in 70's. He had so much to say, but he had no documents to support his claims, and I couldn't pursue it due to distance and lack of communication channels.
Because of all these associations I watched the movie Gurgaon. Gurgaon Movie depicts what lust for money and land can do to people. It shows how in Haryana's farming class daughters are rejected and even killed, and revered when it suits the overall scheme of things. It shows a slice of what farming community in India is going through, with ever-expanding industries and need for more and more land.

The movie leaves you with a feeling of bitterness and insecurity, that is similar to what comes to you when you watch the movie by Anurag Kashyap, Ugly (though that feeling is much more intense in the latter). To me, it was a haunting one because of the subject it dealt with, and the make too - there were no other takeaways.

It's a full-circle in Karnataka!

I have seen it all - nothing seems new. Everything seems to have come full-circle. HD Kumaraswamy becoming the Chief Minister brings mixed feelings, but can we lose hope?
It was in 2006 that I came to Bengaluru. The sketch for a TV channel was being prepared then. In August 2007 I joined that TV channel - headed by Anitha Kumaraswamy - named Kasthuri TV. Right from the logo of the channel, our team designed everything, and we finally got merged with the channel.
By this time mining scams had surfaced in the state, launching Reddys to media limelight. They had exported more iron ore than permitted illegally, had tampered with Andhra borders and bribed their way to business. Before this, a 150 crore mining bribery scam had hit the state, where in Reddys had allegedly channeled money through then-Forest Minister Channigappa of JDS, allegedly given to HDK and probably Dharmasingh. This had a CD as a proof, and went upto CBI, but looks like the case was withdrawn. Nobody can say whether the bribing scam is actually true, because no investigating agency has completed the investigation into it.
There are also memories of us visiting Anugraha as a group, since HDK was the CM then. But we didn't get to meet him. He never came to the studio or the desk - I don't remember even one instance. He wasn't the type who would use this channel to peddle his views, may be because he knew too well to use it like that, yet people outside the channel were prejudiced against it. Reporters had to fight hard to overcome the prejudice. But anything important, HDK would go to other channels, never to the channel owned by his wife.
HDK's government collapsed in 2007, when Yeddyurappa was supposed to become CM but HDK refused to support him. The scheme running was the infamous 20-20 government, with Dharam Singh being the first CM in a Congress-JDS coalition, and then HDK being the CM and Yeddyurappa the DCM in a BJP-JDS coalition. (In 2004 election, BJP got 79 seats, INC had got 69 seats and JDS had got 58 seats. JDU had got 5 seats. There wasn't any pre-poll alliance.)
Election coverage memories are the most relevant that come to mind. Like every other channel, we covered 2008 election with all fairness. It was our channel that launched Ranganath Sir who heads Public TV as a TV panelist. We were intrigued by the manner in which HDK and HDD avoided the channel The reporters on JDS beat would grumble because they made them wait but wouldn't give any bite. But they would go and sit in TV9 for live! We didn't like it a bit.
An internal survey predicted a major near-victory for BJP in 2008 polls. Then the election happened, and the prediction came true. BJP almost swept the state under Yeddyurappa's leadership with three seats needed for majority. Then Operation Lotus happened, and Karnataka saw the first BJP government.
Scams rocked even Yeddyurappa. Everyone called him corrupt because the transactions were traceable through cheques! I thought he was dumb and honest but trying to catch up with the game. I always thought he wasn't as sinister as other people around him.
I still remember the day when I recognised the first crack in Yeddy-Reddy bond. A news bite that came from a district had Yeddyurappa talking indirectly about people who robbed the natural resources in the state, and Reddys were the obvious target.
Yeddyurappa suffered the most because of Reddys, finally resigning. But recently I saw him saying that he forgave the Reddys because it would benefit the state. I felt bad for Yeddyurappa. and thought he should retire in a dignified manner. He had seen it all with Reddys, and here he was!
With him not being able to garner enough support to win the trust vote, life has come a full-circle for Yeddyurappa, with Reddys becoming a burden yet again. With each audio clip, neatly capsuled, being released by the INC in a tactful manner every hour and being run on the national channels, by 12.30pm I knew the game was over for BJP. I was also surprised at the way BJP fell into the trap.
I do not remember anything that's much progressive that happened from 2004 to 2013. The chief ministers who came were always busy fighting to cling on to their chair, their enemies being from their own parties or coalition partners. The period between 2013 and 2018 was much better due to the stability the government enjoyed, and also because of IT initiatives, communication and people's involvement.
Sometime in 2013, in an interview, HDK said corruption is not an electoral issue. He has been proved right again and again. But what can that feeling do to him now?
What will happen of this government? Nobody can predict. But I only hope they all work for the state and its people, SCAM-FREE. I pray that Congress gets ಒಳ್ಳೆ ಬುದ್ಧಿ not to pull the plug before time. Today there's a lot more transparency than the last decade, and the government of the day can make laws and put in place systems to make sure nobody can eat public money. HDK is a person with strong will. I hope he stays strong, and along with his coalition team lays the foundation for a better tomorrow for all.

Weaving dreams and eternal optimism: Cinder-ella

There is hope, there is light. And it isn't elsewhere. It's in our hearts. And minds.
I waited for two days to see whether this novel stays in my mind, before writing anything on it. It did, so I thought I should write.
You know the first thing I did after reading this? I went to the first page of the novel on kindle, and gave a search for the word 'secular'. And the search returned with zero results.
I am a fan of TN Seetharam's serials, though he doesn't do them anymore. What was it that made me wait for TN Seetharam's serials? It was the script /dialogue, and the story I was looking forward to. The twists and turns, political and legal thriller drama - different from other soap operas adhering to ready TRP formulae.
The satisfaction of watching a TNS serial is what I got when I finished reading Soumya Aji's Cinder-ella. When I started off, I didn't know what to expect. As I proceeded, it looked like a triangular love story, and the author's dedication of the book to Nirbhaya looked out of place. But it wasn't, as I later realised.
The reference to murders of an intellectual and a journalist brought back the haunted memories of the Gauri Lankesh murder that occurred recently, and not yet solved. And since the story is set in our own Bengaluru, it becomes all the more familiar and makes one want to read. The politicians featured look familiar. Kalasipalya, Goripalya, Cubbon Park, Vidhan Soudha.. All real locations and relatable situations. And the inescapable dilemma of left and right here too! And, the ubiquitous traffic jam too No novelist can afford to forget it if it is a novel set in Bengaluru... And, it's set in 2017 itself, not before or after, where people use Twitter, Facebook and Periscope! Notable Kannada and English literary works find mentions here in dialogues and descriptions.
At one point I was a little bored of the novel as I felt the fimly elements were dominating the plot, and probably it would be a triangular love story laced with romance and some crime drama.. But I held on to it as I was curious to find out what this political journalist had in her mind when she wrote it. Pure romance and love story isn't my kind of stuff, I look for something more. And I'm grateful to myself for holding on to the book, for it really had a serious political, social drama to offer, with a truly liberated central woman character, with nontraditional outlook.
Named after the financial capital of our sister country, this bakery in Hyderabad helps everyone irrespective of their caste and nationality, with nicely flavoured cookies 😉 To me, Karachi bakery is a great social unifier... I hope they don't rename it ever!
The solutions the story offers are interesting. Out of many, I liked the idea of Manjari-Sudugadavva dalit start up fund! (Is there a fund meant for such causes already?) And Sudugadavva - what a name!
As I said earlier, Soumya hasn't used the word 'secular' anywhere in the novel, though it hugely supports secular nature of our constitution and talks about food rights extensively, especially from economics perspective. It gives a new perspective on the businesses that liberate people from poverty and bring social equality. I hadn't thought about it in this light earlier, though I always felt good about Swiggy and Freshmenu and other food delivery services.
The novel is a tribute to the women power we see everyday but don't recognise. And only someone who still has the idealistic, socialistic dreams can write with such conviction about the issues that bother society every day. Anyone can write a romantic fairytale. But it takes a seasoned journalist who hasn't stopped dreaming of a better society, to write something like this.
The novel isn't without its flaws — it could have been tighter, without too much beating around the bush in the first half of the book, or without too much drama. Some loose ends could have been stitched better, to hold curiosity and quench it for the reader, in a rewarding manner. For example, I would have loved to know who was the LED scamster Or what the minister had done that only a 'smart activist' can find out! The typically 'filmy' depiction of some scenes was a bit too much for my taste, but it's just me.
Is it a literary masterpiece? No. Better proofing would have helped it make flawless. But we see proofing errors in most of Indian authors' novels. I had got irritated when I read Ravi Subramaniam's one crap novel, that had a loose plot where he wasn't sure what should be highlighted, and ended up messing up the entire story. I had then vowed not to read any of his work anytime soon, and have stuck to it.
Were too many elements stuffed into one novel? Probably, but why not? There's no set rule on what a novel should be. Ultimately what matters is what the novel leaves in you when you reach the last page.
And in such books, written by those who dare to dream

It's a different kind of gripping read — especially if you are a new reader who wants interesting stuff to read, go for it! Ditch all Chethan Bhagats and Ravi Subramaniams of the world, and go for a Soumya Aji, you won't be disappointed. You will only get enriched by reading something like this!
I wish more journalists wrote novels, because books are forever. That's a way to dream and have it on record too! We need dreams to live on with hope, after all.

Why you should watch Bahubali-II

I'm a student of cinema, and will remain one forever. What I write below is my experience of watching the cinema Bahubali-2 on a big multiplex screen, a result of my own learnings, experiences and world view. I don't expect anyone else to feel the same, and recommend not reading this if you have always differed with me on political and social issues. Also, do not read my review if you feel cinema has no social responsibility.

First things first - as many have already said, this is a movie made for multiplex big screen viewing. Don't go to ordinary theaters because you may miss the dialogues that will be lost in the cheering of the crowd, and the sound effects may be better on a big screen. You may not be able to feel the graphics to the fullest effect on a low quality screen.
The graphics, animations, the editing that beautifully weaves in a magical story together... Everything technical is magnanimous. To have something like this in an Indian cinema is totally new. That too, produced by we the dark-skinned South Indians! The movie is worth watching for that sake, this being one of the reasons. Mistakes, if any, are forgiven for these reasons It's just audacious, the faith Rajamouli had and the risk he took is totally worth the output.
As you watch and marvel about the sheer gambling this cinema is, you will see resemblances to many other movies, right from Disney movies to B R Chopra's Mahabharat we had earlier watched on TV to Gladiator. But yeah, to club it all in one product of art which still looks unified is an achievement. The graphics in some scenes, defies all logic and outgrows the cinema and the story, sometimes even becomes laughable, but it's all in the game. The bull-scenes are amazing, but the graphical part I loved the most was the boat-cum-aeroplane scene, from the Hamsa Naava song! Whatta visual feast, straight from Disney movies! (Don't try to check on Youtube - there's not even a single still of the graphics work from that song that impressed me )
The story is very ordinary, not too different from any Chandamama or Bombemane stories we might have read in our childhood. But it's very primal in its character - every character is full of lust for power - unpretentiously so - some of them subtle in chasing it, while the others are more primal and raw. It's the way the story has been packaged, that matters in Bahubali-2.

The characterisation of Devasena, regality and arrogance personified, wins hearts. I looked at Ramya Krishna with awe - I had loved her characters in Yugapurusha, and never watched her in any other movie. And Prabhas... After one & only Annaavru, if I have become a fan of a movie star, it is this guy. Where was he so far? Why didn't I watch any of Telugu movies where he acted?
Different people focus on different things in a cinema. I pay attention to costumes as a habit. I loved Devasena's dresses in every frame, including all those handloom sarees! But not accessories - they could have chosen little more finer accessories, be it the nose ring or the necklaces or the bangles - it would have added up to the fineness of the cinema. Afterall one can't argue that goldsmiths in Maahishmati were not skilled enough - surely everyone there was skilled enough, else how would they build such a magnanimous palace and other stuff?
Now, what made this movie a block buster? The movie contains adundant stuff that pleases a 'proud Indian' heart. Be it the advanced war techniques like landing into the territory of the enemy with the help of a technique that defies all laws of physics, or the raw telescope that uses diamonds as lens. The black and white characters that have a linear sense of justice, and full of revenge and no forgiveness. Sense of territorial ownership that we have always read in all our mythologies. The working class that's ever-ready to obey the masters. The gods, devotion, the rituals. The crime, and the punishment (Death penalty for molestation. Yes, the safest state for women would be Maahishmati.) Martyrs, the promises and the sacrifice. The wars. The innocence or dumbness of the characters. And the unapologetic way all these have been woven together. I would be surprised if a national award doesn't come searching for it.
This cinema holds a mirror to its viewers. Are we tired of trying to comprehend the shades of grey in life? Are we a generation that yearns for the simplicity of black and white? Would we have loved the movie if there were forgiveness in it instead of revenge? What if the characters were not-so-black & white? Or did we just fall for the visual grandeur?
A movie that leaves an impression in your mind, unsettles you and makes you think, is a successful movie. Bahubali 2 is one such movie, but in a very very different sense.
If you are interested in good cinema but haven't watched this one, I would say, go, watch it. Watch it for the visual grandeur Bahubali 2 is. Watch it, as a humble student of cinema. You may not like to join the herd, but watch it to understand why a generation is appreciating it - it's something very important. Watch it, to see how it could have been made more meaningful and something that you like, what would have bettered the message that the movie carries. If you are a storyteller, watch it, to understand our society better, and to design something better. What we need really in a cinema that influences large masses of people and the society, is stuff that will work better for our world that's full of rainbow colours.

Dummies' guide to countering whataboutery on Bakrid animal slaughter during Deepavali

Haven’t you started hearing / seeing arguments equalising animal slaughter and crackers, and asking why animal sacrifice in Islam is not banned, but cracker bursting in Hindus is? Supreme Court became anti-Hindu recently, with its ban on crackers and green cracker advocacy. Finally they had to clarify that it was applicable only for Delhi.
Every time Deepavali comes, crackers burst outside my home, my kid curious to watch it all but scared because she is sensitive to polluted air, my kittens terrified and sitting next to us. Let me tell you, I have a huge list of things to be avoided, and things to be done — crackers are only one small part in the list. I avoid it because my kid is allergic to cracker fumes and had to be hospitalised once after getting exposed to Deepavali celebrations.
While a lot of people agree that chemicals in crackers are actually bad, some people feel crackers are not as bad as they are projected to be. Some of them think ban on crackers is an attack on their religion. They find conspiracy against Hindus, and ask: “Why are you not protesting against Bakrid animal slaughter?” Some of them suspect Congress conspiracy behind campaign against crackers. Some people wonder why cracker is not opposed in other occasions like new year, but only during Deepavali.
While arguing is fine, it should lead to enlightenment. Some of us are left wondering why on earth we are opposing crackers, and get into self-doubt mode. This is for those of you at this stage — because, crackers are bad, no matter what the argument for them is. Let me do a postmortme of all the popular arguments for crackers.
  1. Why isn’t Bakrid animal slaughter opposed?
Bakrid animal slaughter has its own importance religiously, unlike crackers which are NOT originally a part of Deepavali. Deepavali is the festival of lights, a celebration of good over evil, a festival that symbolises knowledge and enlightenment. Crackers aren’t a part of any story associated with Deepavali. 
Crackers aren’t Indian by origin. The first example of fireworks dates back to 9th-century, being used in medieval Chinese Tang Dynast. It is a business opportunity today, at the cost of environment.
Why aren’t we talking about animal sacrifice? Because India is a secular country, and everyone has religious freedom. Also, the society and communities have the power to modify the religion which they are a part of. We did away with Sati and tonsuring the head of widows etc long back, though they were once part of our religion. 
If a protest against animal sacrifice has to come, it has to be from WITHIN the community, NOT from outside. Outsiders talking about it can only make the communities defensive about it, and won’t make them think about it. When Hindus are offended about cracker bans and link it to religion, Muslims can also do it easily because it is afterall religious. Cracker isn’t — cracker is just fun.
So why should we talk about another religion?! We have no business to interfere in it. Don’t we have animal slaughters in some of our own temples? Though it’s banned under law, isn’t it happening? Is even the law stopping it? Again it’s our own folks who are talking about it and protesting, not from the other religions. That is how it should be — we should clean up our houses first before doing anything else.
There’s another issue here. If one is batting for kindness to animals, it should extend beyond pointing at Bakrid slaughter. Animals are food material — many among us eat nonveg. And a global city like Bengaluru doesn’t even have scientific abattoirs (scientific slaughter houses) that conform to international standards against animal cruelty. Is anyone talking about it at all? Does anyone even know about it? Why point out Bakrid slaughter when we don’t have systems to deal with everyday animal slaughter which amounts to much more than Bakrid slaughter annually?
So please stop comparing crackers to animal slaughter — both are totally different, and not comparable. The argument that questions why people are ok with the latter while they are against the former serves a certain propaganda and political ideology, which doesn’t go anywhere as far as policies are concerned. It’s a reflection of our own insanity, a product of our own ignorance to refuse to see things as they are.
2. Why aren’t crackers opposed in other times? 
Crackers are bad for health due to the toxic composition they have, so they must be opposed whichever occasion they are used — be it a death burial ceremony, an electoral victory or a cricket match victory. There is no doubt about it. But the debate about crackers reaches a peak during Deepavali especially because it is winter and cities like Delhi become unlivable due to pollution, and crackers worsen the situation. And the celebration is mass and much wider than any other firecracker celebration.
Cracker sellers put up special stalls during this time and sell their stuff at highly discounted price. Crackers come flying from different directions in the bylanes of Bengaluru, making it unsafe to go out in vehicles during Deepavali. Someone loses eyes, someone faces an accident, someone’s vehicle catches fire. Eye hospitals are on high alert during this time, and eye injury cases see a spike. This might happen during new year celebrations too, but access to crackers is low during that time. 
Irrespective of when they are burst, crackers are bad for health. Why do we need such a health hazard?
3. Why are you not doing a, b, c, d, e and f, why campaign only against crackers?
Someone asked me this actually sometime ago. They assumed that people who campaign against crackers do only that and nothing more. That’s not the reality — everyone fights on so many fronts, but they needn’t advertise about it. 
Also, each one of us can do only so much, only what each one’s bandwidth permits us to do. One cannot become an activist in every issue — so people choose what matters to them immediately. ‘There are so many issues out there, and we have to pick our battles,” as a friend of mine puts it. Doing what one can is better than doing nothing, or questioning people who do something, however small it is! Rather than asking the other person why they are not doing abcdef&g, you do it, if it’s your calling and if you feel like doing it. Don’t question the motive of others. Don’t judge others.
4. What about other types of pollution? Vehicular pollution? Industrial pollution?
There are laws to deal with all types of pollution. But corporates hoodwink the authorities and do what they want. An individual can only lament that they found superbugs in Bairamangala tanks, but further action is beyond individual’s scope — it’s a bigger battle that needs to happen in a different level. Comparing that with crackers is totally problematic. 
In fact, all cities are waking upto the realities of pollution. A collective of cities around the world called C40 cities systematically organises exchanges regarding pollution, and member cities have started taking conclusive actions and building up pressure. Recently a few mayors asked car manufacturing companies to stop producing petrol and diesel cars. Electric cars are the future. Cities like Bengaluru will get electric vehicles for last mile sooner than other cities. Stories of air pollution and impacts are everywhere, globally. Pollution is unacceptable, whatever is the source.
5. Congress conspiracy theory
No. It’s not a conspiracy by any political party. In fact, All parties including Congress and left pollute atmosphere by bursting crackers when they win elections. So the argument that it is ‘a lot more than environmental angle’ as one of my friends puts it, is just hilarious. It also reflects the lack of awareness on environment we have. 
But the times are changing. Awareness is a lot more these days. School children go around campaigning against crackers in the school neighbourhood, and hopefully will carry forward the message in their life too. So people like me don’t have to write such long boring posts on social media some day in future.
 So let’s not find fault with the theory that crackers are bad. We buy and burn them and have fun, justifying it by saying ‘okay to use it once in a while’ etc, just like we do many other bad things, with excuses. That’s our problem.
Campaign against crackers cannot be won fully unless there are laws and regulations on manufacturing, or people become aware enough because of their own circumstances, or unless we move over from 45 to 55 degrees in Bangalore and collectively realise the myriad ways in which we spoil our own surroundings. 
We can only rant on our own FB walls, but education / awareness has to come from within, not from other’s FB posts or WhatsApp forwards — we are doing it just for the sake of our own peace of mind, that’s it. If you don’t like it, you have many options ranging from unfriending the person to going and buying more crackers in revenge, so no need to raise the blood pressure and get into argument mode
And lastly to all those who become one-time environmentalists during Deepavali for whatever reason:

 1) Having no crackers is not the only eco-friendly stuff you can do in life — if anyone thinks that please change yourself. There are so many other ways that promote eco-friendly living — right from thinking what you should buy in shops, to where you choose to live to what you wear to how you travel to what you invest on. In Bengaluru, garbage burning is the seasonal hottest thing that’s causing much more damage than crackers regularly. Avoiding crackers is a smallest in the scheme of things. There are bigger things happening, so please expand the horizon beyond the realm of your own pets or your own intolerance to noise, if you have the bandwidth for it.

 2) Don’t get abusive on anyone — even if someone burns crackers they will have their own justification for it. These are not issues that can be won by arguments — change of heart takes place at a different level, so don’t ever argue. If someone bursts crackers, avoid the area, tolerate it, or plan a trip to a quiet place. Someday we are doomed to die in the mess we create. It will only be preponed a bit, that’s all.
3) Lastly, please do not argue on social media against crackers, if you don’t know how to justify your arguments — that makes the entire lot — all folks like us — look like jokers!
And the GOOD NEWS IS: a lot of people find sense in these arguments, cracker sales have gone down, and cracker bursting has reduced with each passing year. Officially as declared by Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, the pollution levels have reduced every year. A real indication of this for me has been my own kid, who suffers every year after Deepavali with health issues, but none last year. Thank you Bengaluru, for listening to people like us, and making sense of it, and changing the actions.

A Love letter to Airtel from Bangalore

I mailed this to Airtel just now, to set the longstanding probllem right. I'm tired of calling their call center to no avail. If you too have faced such situation with any telecom service provider, please do the math and show it to them.
Dear Airtel,
This is Shree, having mobile number 9xxxxxxxx9, writing to you to express my deep dissatisfaction. 

I had called Airtel on February 10th, and requested disconnection of data services for my number. Even when the call centre fellows tried to convince me to retain the services I did not want it. You can check the call records to verify it.

On 20th May I noted that the disconnection of data was not done, and I was receiving a bill of Rs 400+ . I called again to verify and deactivate data, requested them the status of the request, but the new bill that I received in May again showed me the same amount.
I called your call center again on June 8th. The lady who received my call said she has applied a discount of Rs 249 right away. She also said she will transfer the call to data department. After waiting for a few minutes the call was received by the data department who claimed to be not hearing me. I could hear them clearly saying "disconnecting the call as the receiver is inaudible" in Kannada - please verify this too in your call records.

I called again and asked them to connect me to data department. But my call got cut, I could never reach data department. Then I tweeted to an Airtel id, who responded by promising to set right the problem, and asking my number. I shared my number.
Then the relationship manager, Raman Singh copied in this email, called me the next day (June 9th) and inquired about the issue. He said he will get the next rounds of discounts applied for next bill, immediately after the currently discounted bill (discounted by the call center executive) comes out. He also told me to call immediately after my next bill gets generated.

Today I received my bill again.

To my utter shock, the 2g data pack was still active on my cell!!! The bill, as usual, was Rs 40

Why don't give me a simple button to deactivate it instead of making me write a mail so long and waste my time! Or why should I waste my time to call your inefficient call center which doesn't act on its promises?

I will not remember so many details when you people call me and talk over phone, so I have decided to mail you. Here is the extra bill that you have put on me: Please have this checked at your back end and verify. I am discounting taxes too because I don't want to pay taxes for a service that I never availed.

My bill plan: 99 plan

The amount I need to pay each month:

(Rs 99.00 + call charges + SMS charges - discounts + value added services )X taxes

Going by your own bill statements, the amount I need to pay is as follows:

February bill (27th Feb) : Rs 109.67 ; No data usage.
March bill: (27th March) : Rs  101.15 ; No data usage
April bill: (27th April) : Rs 100.44; No data usage
May bill: (27th May): Rs 108.53; No data usage

Total amount: 419.79
Service tax @ 14% : Rs 58.77
Swach Bharat Cess @ 0.5% : Rs 2.1

Total amount I am supposed to pay till June 15th:  Rs 480.66

What I have paid and supposed to pay till now since I placed my request for 2g cancellation:

Feb: 410.69
March: 400.93
April: 400.11
May: 169.38

Total amount I have paid till June 15th: Rs 1381.11 (I have paid extra amount of Rs 900.45 to Airtel as on date. )

My next bill for
June: 401.38.
I am legally obliged to pay only 115 including all cesses, but you are asking me to pay Rs 401.38 .

​Can we please put a full stop to this nonsense? Can you please do the following?

1) Will you please refund the amount I have paid extra + the extra bill you have put for June (Rs 900.45+ 286.38 = Rs 1186.83), to the credit card account from which I have paid it, to avoid confusions / long mails/ calls to your inefficient call centre in future? 

 (By the way, I'm waiving off the extra service charge you took for the month of May-June by just applying the waiver of Rs 249 and not related service charges.)

2) Can you please ensure the 2g data pack that I have is removed from my plan, at least in my next bill?​

I am not attaching any bill, because I assume you will have the usage details and call records etc with you. In case you need the bills I can provide it.

In your bid to make the networks more transparent, you are campaigning for open networks etc. But unless you improve the efficiency of  your service, we the customers will not be inclined to have soft corners for you. Please understand this and try to do the right thing, I hope you get my point.

Take my eyes...

Dedicated to the new generation smart phones and social media that have made content creation and sharing so easy and compelling, at the cost of caring for the fellow human beings. Penned as a reaction to the news broadcast on television, and to the fact that the victim donated his eyes before he died. This is not intended to pass judgement on the onlookers, but each one of us is free to judge ourselves.


His body ripped apart into two,
With both the parts still alive,
Every moment life changing its hue,
He screams, 'help, I want to live!'

Was it a cinema — with all
Pale-eyed viewers around
He cannot trust it, was it his,
The blood spilling on the ground...?

Did anyone see the number
Of the monster that mowed him down?
He has no idea, but they are all mum
Their faces bland, with not even a frown

Then the fallen man sees Him -
The man with the funky gadget
There he is, standing, with
A good view of the dying body and spirit

Capturing his moments of fight
And the victory of his fate
All in full HD movie mode,
"But sorry, no helping hand...

It's a once-in-a-lifetime video thriller
Let me shoot it all, don't bother
To ask me for help, I can't call a doctor
Once I finish this, it'll be an honour...

TV channels will play it over and over
Both of us'll become heroes, brother!"

No light left to look out or within
In the dozen eyes staring at him grim
Rest of the world has moved on,
With the traffic, and the golden time

He decides, it's time to do the right thing,
While the soul is ready to fly, flapping the wing
He folds his hands hurriedly and screams,
"Take my eyes now, you need it, please!"

~~~~ In memory of the man whose body was severed into two parts, in an accident, and the man with the gadget who helped us see him die, in a viral video.

Memories of a dead bird

I felt your memories are like scattered cotton strewn across everywhere... I wished for them to make for a warm blanket to envelop me throug...