Saturday, September 26, 2009

Spitting fine = Rs 1,000

Great news, folks! The Times of India reports that if you are caught spitting in the city of Pune, India, you will now have to shell out a fine of Rs 1,000/-. This is a whopping hike from the earlier levels of Rs 25. It is sad that the authorities took this step to spread the awareness of swine flu when the nuisance of spitting has been around for decades and ages and is one of the most shameful acts seen on Indian roads, but whatever be the intent, the ultimate action counts. So it is a great move, in my books.

Now the only thing we have to see is how well it is implemented. I think if fines for such common nuisance such a spitting are increased manifold to justify the seriousness of its intent- the way they ought to- I think the government can easily find enough resources to fund their many welfare programs. All they need to do is position the cleaning squads on railway platforms. People keep spitting whilst waiting for the train, sometimes with such ridiculous regularity that it seems they are merely passing time by spitting.

We keep blaming the government for every little shortcoming but I think as responsible citizens we too should own it up. I mean just imagine how impossible a task it is to regulate a billion people and to inculcate basic civic sense. I have seen my own colleague from my MBA college days (an educated youth, therefore) peeing on the road when our college facility was merely a few feet away! If educated people behave like this, what can we expect from the BPL familes? For them atleast, we could say that the lack of adequate sanitation is one of the biggest problems. One block of, say, 6-7 toilets to be used by a whole colony of hutments and lack of public WCs elsewhere too builds up the problem. I think the cleaning squads though are doing a great job. I have seen them nabbing people and bringing them to book. So this latest rule shouldn't be very hard to implement. Next step: Increase the spitting fine to Rs 5,000.

Life At Marine Drive

There are few too many things that I feel have been a part of my life growing up. Marine Drive has been one such constant, yet memorable, companion. I stay a few kilometers away from Marine Drive and this is one place that I have seen virtually seen every day of my life growing up. Right from the time I remember boarding my school bus when it used to meander its way through the traffic through the crowded streets of Hughes Road, Babulnath before it turned left next to Wilson college and land on the expressway that is Marine Drive. There used to be a certain thrill of looking at the sea; Marine Drive in those days used to look majestic to me with the way it used to curve all along the way and offer a view of the queen's necklace. It is still majestic, but I guess at certain level I now take it for granted because, well, I know it's right there and I can go whenever I want to. Traffic was much less in those days, so the bus could gather much speed. Though my school was off Marine Drive, we could see the bay from the upper floors.



Over the years, I stopped using the school bus; students above eight standard weren't allowed to use the school bus anyway I think. So it was the BEST bus then and in those days we had the double-decker bus on Route No 123. The route is still there but eventually they phased out the iconic double-decker buses on this route. Now we only have single-decker buses. But if you wanted a ride on our historic double-decker buses, then route 123 was the one you had to take. The best place in the bus was the upper deck and the front rows. No use of the side windows; the front windows were more than enough. Girls were never found seated here because most of them care about their hair (or stroking it every 2 seconds) more than anything else. This was a guys-only place. A strong gush of wind would blow on your face that would make you squirm your eyes, it was the upper deck, the speed of the bus on Marine Drive and the sea wind. Absolute fun! The best part for waiting for the bus on the way back home was that although there were bus-stops, we never used to sit on the bus-stops. We used to sit on the parapets and watch the waves and count the countless crabs that crawl on the tetra pods.

Marine Drive is a stretch of around 4-5 kms that starts from Chowpatty at the north-end and goes all the way to Nariman Point / National Centre of Performing Arts (NCPA) / Oberoi Hotel. It's one of the widest roads, apart from the Eastern and Western Express Highways, in Mumbai. The beauty of this is that it was never widened in phases; it was this wide right from the time it was built. Or atleast since time immemorial. Taking a walk on Marine Drive is an absolute pleasure. The place was done up recently so the pavement looks all straightened up.  Unlike Worli sea face where pavement bricks are in complete disarray. But that place is also being done up I am told, so hopefully in a year's time it should become nicer.



The best part of taking a walk on Marine Drive are the dogs. You mostly see Labradors, but occasionally you could also spot pugs, pomeranians, German shepherd, and so on. Some dogs like each other's company and seem to be very eager to 'get a feel' of the other, but some dogs seem to erupt in anger on seeing one another. But it's fun to see the camaraderie amongst dogs; they seem to communicate with one another in some of the most intriguing ways, you don't know what you are saying but you know they're definitely saying something! There is a yearning to go there every weekend. Today is a Saturday. Let me see if I can make it today...

Restaurants To Serve Less Water

In times where water has become such a scarce resource, it is obscene to see citizens wasting water to the hilt. One place where wastage usually happens is in restaurants. The staff at many restaurants go on pouring water to ensure that our glasses are never empty, even if we do not need the water. I for one avoid restaurant water most of the times because a) I do not have much water during and immediately after meals and, b) I, usually, prefer mineral water. One of my ex-colleagues used to be particularly vigilant of his glass lest some unassuming waiter comes and fills it with water. And if the waiter did manage to fill the water when my friend would have momentarily looked away, he would get a very nasty look. I understand it's polite as per our Indian culture to offer water to the thirsty and it is ofcourse assumed that if we go to a restaurant we'd be hungry and / or thirsty. But it's also a crime I feel to waste a precious resource such as water.

Mid-day's story on the Brihanmumbai Municap Corporation's (BMC) plans to advise restaurants to curb on offering drinking water to guests comes as a huge relief. I wonder how much of this rule will be enforced, but it's a good start nevertheless.

One of the biggest crooks in water wastage is Bollywood. Endless sequences of rains call for a massive usage (wastage) of water. Although the script may demand it, I think considering the need of the hour to conserve water, some rules ought to be put in place here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Missing Doordarshan?

Another lazy weekend went by, but thankfully this one was a bit more active than some of the others. Not that the other ones were boring or anything, I mean I could do with lots of sleeping and catching up on TV. But when it comes to TV, somehow weekdays are more interesting than weekends. The deadly dose of reality shows and dance and song competitions have completely ruined Indian television. Every Indian TV channel you switch on these days have the same type of shows. And I am not even getting started on TV serials; first they were saas-bahu types, now they are on children. Or atleast they claim they are on children, child marriages, foetecide, etc but soon digress to village politics, rivalry and God knows what else. Indian television lacks creativity, period. The good ones attract unnecessary controversies, Look at western television. For all the profanity and nudity it may show here and there, there are tons of example of brilliant and original variety on offer. 24, Dexter, How I Met Your Mother, Two and Half Men, Seinfeld, you name the genre, they have it. As Doordarshan celebrates its 50th anniversary (has it been that long, really?), I can't help take my mind back to the good old days of Malgudi, Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi, Mr Yogi and the like. Ah, that moment at 9.00 pm every night.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Farah Khan show

Vivek Oberoi finally broke his silence and spoke his heart out on Farah Khan's chat show 'Tere Mere Beech Mein'. After years of being virtually boycotted by Bollywood over the infamous '41 phone calls' episode, Oberoi  finally got a chance to clarify things once and for all on Farah Khan's chat show. Atleast the gal gave the guy a decent platform to speak.

Looking back at the incident, I seriously have not yet been able to figure out why it was such a sacrilege to speak out. Why did Oberoi suddenly went on from being the fresh discovery and potential talent to a villian, overnight? I found him, atleast, honest and courageous enough to speak up and claim that many in the industry deserted him overnight and avoided him for the better part of his career because they didn't want to be seen with him. You could see from where he's coming from when he says there is more plastic in the industry than in a Tupperware factory. That cronysim and chamchagiri still rules Bollywood. So what the guy is a bit flamboyant and loud. You may have also found him a bit immature for taking a private matter to the press, but if the guy seriously got cornered / threatened as he claimed, why the hell did he get more brickbats than bouquets is something I'll never understand. This is a day and age where celebrities sell first pictures of their babies in million-dollar deals or see paparazzi climb walls of their private homes to click pictures; Oberoi's outburst was nothing. The kind of chamchagiri seen in Bollywood is nothing short of cheap tamasha. We're not impressed.

Not fo fweet

After weeks of missing it for one reason or another, I finally watched 'Kaminey'. But since it's been quite some time, no theatre in South Mumbai was running a show at a decent evening time, so I decided to do my first. I ordered the movie on my Tata Sky connection. I paid Rs 75/- and the order was taken completely on phone; amount deducted from the advance to Tata Sky I had already paid for my subscription. it was simple enough to place the order and for Rs 75/- I could watch the movie throughout the day, great quality, legal copy and all. Yes, multiple times during the day.  And after watching the movie, I am so glad I did not go to the theatres.

This is a story of two brothers who are living their own lives (one is a good guy, the other is a crooked one) and have no intention of crossing each other's paths. Until fate brings them face-to-face and their lives collide as one mess unravels before another, till it leads to a full-blown confrontation at the end.

I don't understand what the big deal of the movie is. I think it is quite hyped up and certainly did not receive all the gushing reviews it has received by our movie critics and on blogosphere. Okay I could make my peace with the story pace, the strong supporting roles that lend a character to the movie, the gangster / reality / Mumbai underbelly kinda treatment, but I think that is about it. One brother lisps, the other stammers, does it really matter?

I could also make my peace with the fact that the movie is as unconventional as it can get and as un-Bollywoody as a Bollywood movie can get; loved the way the director turns the quintessential Bollywood bhai-bhai movie ending on its head. Here particularly- and amongst other things- it questions the very definition of 'good' and 'bad'. But that's about it. The movie, otherwise, is a bit going here, there and everywhere and does not manage to hold your attention. As a viewer, I feel dark movies need to be handled not just artistically but the artisty should also translate into something meaningful. It should make a connection and here's where I felt disconnected. Dev D was also dark and sinister but you could feel the guy spiralling downwards. At a point it felt that we are going down with him too. You could feel the protaginist's agony and self-distructive nature to the point that you either hated him or felt very sorry for him. Dev D was not just cinematic excellence; it had a story. Kaminey may be cinematic excellence, but the darkness shown on screen was nothing more that just awesome acting. Watch-it-enjoy-it-forget-it-move-on types. Just by showing guys on a high followed by a heated exchange of histroinics is not great cinema; it's mere brilliant acting. I didn't find it an egde-of-the-seat thriller and I kinda found it very hard to keep up with the pace of the movie, dialogues initially sound mutterred that spoken and it  took an effort out of me to keep up with it all. The intent is good but perhaps it got to be too intelligent for its own good.

K-Rate: * * * 

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sach Ka Saamna

Reality shows may have gone over the board, but Sach Ka Saamna remains a unique experiment. Contestants come on board and undergo a lie detector test to answer 50 questions. Of these, they are asked 20 questions on the show. The more number of answers that they answer correctly, the more money they win. It's a classic, yet simple, act. Come on TV, speak the truth, get your lifetime's redemption, and take home pots of money. I think it's a fantastic concept. Our pretentious past gets a great chance to get some decent redemption in front of the world and our family. Husbands have confessed adultery, wives have confessed to secret affairs, children have confessed to being neglected in their childhood and what not. And let's face it. Don't we all like to watch other people's dirty linen? I guess people who do not like the program or those who have objections can simply change the channel. The moment of truth is here and kudos to those of us who have the courage to stand up and tell the truth. It's called giving life another chance.    

Mobile Generation

The mobile phone generation has gone crazy. You, me, everyone. 10 years ago when I was just one year short of passing from my B-school, nobody in my school used to carry a mobile phone. In those days we hardly used to have any mobile phones. The ones that were popular were I think from Motorolla or I don't know remember exactly which handset manufacturer, but I do remember they were surely bulky and almost like cordless phones. It was an upmarket thing to have, but then who'd want to carry a cordless phone in their pockets and why, is what i always used to think. Today eveyone has to have a mobile phone. A collegue's son- a ninth standard student- recently cajoled his paretns to buy him a mobile phone. Why? Because all his friends have it and it's "demeaning" to not have one for himself. Shocking? Not really?

It's easy to blame others, but what about us? 10 years back we could easily stay away from home for hours or even days and still be completely relaxed without a mobile. Today, we can't stay away and out of touch from our loved ones for a few minutes, thanks to our mobile phones. We have to call up our home to check on our kids, we have to send an SMS, and if nothing else is happening, we have to check out our phone atleast once in 15 minutes to double-check if we missed any calls or SMSs or if nothing else, check the time. I forget my mobile phone on an outing and feel lost.

The worst is caller tunes. Now, what I do not understand is why do people spend as much as Rs 15 to Rs 20 on caller tunes. These are tunes that we do not get to hear, but if we keep them on our mobile, the caller gets to hear them. It is purely for their pleasure. We do not derive any benefit out of it. Then, why waste the money? Is the caller calling to listen to our song or to talk to us? I have never understood this.

Canadian Rockies: Day 11-13 (Vancouver highlights)

On day #11, I took the ferry and came to Vancouver. Much of Vancouver is filled with Asians. The whole 36 km distance between Tsawwassen Fe...