Monday, 31 December 2018

Things we can learn in 2019 ~ Happy New year! : Blog # 342


Things we can learn in 2019 ~ Happy New year!

Here is a little list of things all of us could do in the New year. If you are looking for things like ‘Quit Your Job’ and ‘Be reckless’, you may stop reading right here. Below is a more realistic and less glamorous list 😊.

In this new year, with new hope and new vigour, let us decide

To talk less
To listen more
To be on time
To save money
To think more
To exercise
To do charity
To read
To write
To travel
To worry less
To be happy
To love
To meet people
To learn new skills
To set up small goals and achieve them
To make time for family and friends
To honor the promises, we make

And thus 

To make the new year better than the one gone by in more ways than one 😊.


Thursday, 27 December 2018

The Story of Afghanistan: Blog # 341


The Story of Afghanistan


My heart goes out to the people of Afghanistan. Imagine this – Someone more powerful, wealthier, mightier enters your home and tells you that your home is not how it should be and they will set your home in order. The first person comes, tries and leaves your home in shambles. The second person comes and wreaks havoc on the same promise. And so, does the third person, shattering the peace of your home. Every single time, you are not consulted or involved. Imagine the humiliation, the sense of helplessness, the feeling of being violated. That is what the people of Afghanistan have been enduring for more than two hundred years.  

With my very limited knowledge about the world and its history, I have often wondered as to why Afghanistan is so very attractive to the mighty powers of the world. It is not a place with too many natural resources. Neither does it have Oil nor does it have Gold mines. It is largely arid, mountainous dry land. A bit of reading up and watching up, one gets to know it is about Afghanistan’s place in the world – literally, its place, its location on the map.

It appears, as is seen in many pages of history, the interest in Afghanistan began when Britain was expanding its empire. India was already colonized by Britain. Soviet Union was an equally powerful and expanding empire/state. Unfortunately for Afghanistan, it happened to lie where the British Empire ended, and the Soviet state began. Both the super powers were worried about each other’s ability and intention to step in to Afghanistan and thus, start furthering their own self interests.

The British thought if they could have India bow down to its will, a country so vast and diverse, Afghanistan would be a small effort. Little did they know about the country and its people. As it appears and as it would repeat many times over in future, entering Afghanistan is quite easy. The Afghans although not very welcoming, doesn’t put up a stiff resistance. But as time goes by, the Afghan resistance starts building up. Britain, in all its imperial arrogance wanted to change the course of that country with little knowledge of how the Afghan Psyche worked. What matters the most to Afghans is their pride, their culture, they religion, their way of being, their independence and the sense of respect they expect. The British gravely underestimated these. The British dethroned the then Afghan King and replaced him with someone of their choice whom the people did not respect. Eventually, they were driven out of Afghanistan with disastrous loss of lives, money and resources.

The British came back again and established their military might. They thought this time around, they had taught the Afghans a lesson. The same story repeated, and the British decided to leave after a long thought out process.

For a brief time, it looked as if there was a ray of hope for Afghanistan. A new king, Amanullah Khan wanted to modernize his country. His people, although liked him initially did not quite understand the King’s intentions. In his hasted to modernise his people, they thought he had become an infidel, drank alcohol and wanted to import the sins of the west. He had to go in exile.

Then came, the Soviets. For them, their ideology was supreme and the only one the entire world ought to have embraced – Communism. The Soviets came in with all their military might and tried modernizing the people of Afghanistan like a bull in a crockery shop. Initially, the Afghans gave in. Little did the Soviets know that the Afghans will strike back and how. The United States found an opportunity here. They supplied arms and weapons to the Afghans through Pakistan. With those modern weapons and with the know-how of the Afghan mountains and terrain, they attacked the Soviet army. Finally, after years of violence, death and monetary loss, the Soviets decided to move out of Afghanistan.

One would assume now that the Soviets are out, people of Afghanistan might be able to lead a life of their own choosing. By then, religious extremism and fanaticism had crept in to Afghanistan. Thus arose, Taliban and in came, Osama Bin Laden and the likes.

9/11 happened and the United States got a reason to enter Afghanistan. Not having the humility to go through history, they thought they can enter Afghanistan and leave in a period of 12 months. The fact is that the USA is in Afghanistan for close to a decade now!

What is fascinating is that all these three empires – Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States of America are making the same mistakes. First, they thought they can leave Afghanistan as easily as they entered the country. Second, they wanted to make Afghanistan and its people just like them – “modernize” them. Third, they never made an effort to understand the Afghani culture - the fact that they are a fiercely independent lot. They wouldn’t think twice before demolishing the palaces of indulgence that the invading powers promised them if those palaces were to come in the way of their independence.  Like mere mortals, what prevented these great empires from stepping away from Afghanistan were the fear of loss of face, inability to account for the loss of its soldiers’ lives and unwillingness to let go of the money it had spent there.

In those mistakes of those great empires, lies the history of Afghanistan and its unfortunate people.

Source: Afghanistan, the great game by Rory Stewart on Netflix.

Monday, 24 December 2018

Shut up & Listen, Ranveer Singh ~ Bollywood’s Weird Interview! : Blog # 340


Shut up & Listen, Ranveer Singh ~ Bollywood’s Weird Interview!


Rajeev Masand is one of those rare interviewers from the Indian Films space who goes beyond the current relationship status and Sartorial choices of movie stars. His interviews are a delight for any movie lover. One gets to learn a lot about movies from these interviews – trivia, anecdotes, words of wisdom on the craft, some numbers and statistics, emerging trends etc. In this interview as well, he has done his best to bring some semblance, but thanks to our dear movie star Mr. Ranveer Singh, this turned out to be one of the weirdest interviews ever.


Ranveer Singh: Undoubtedly, he is a powerhouse of talent. I LOVED his nuanced performance in Bajirao Mastani. I cannot find enough words to qualify his performance par excellence in Padmaavat. Calling it just brilliant would be a huge injustice. I don’t think any other actor could have brought Khilji to life the way he did. BUT in this interview, he must learn to keep quiet. He must learn to not draw attention constantly to himself. He must avoid cracking jokes at all the wrong places. He must learn to not belittle answers given by others. He must learn not to behave like he owns the room. Whenever Rajeev tried to bring some character to the interview, Ranveer like a joker who has no sense of the stage or context, like a misbehaved child, like an unsophisticated layman annihilated the moment without any thought whatsoever. The strange part is Ranveer makes fun of Befikre early in the interview. Also, makes fun of his appearance too. He praises all his co actors so generously. So not all is lost, thankfully 😊. Just that in the next interview, please listen more and talk less!

Ayushman Khurana: Ayushman deserves all the praise in the world for his performances in ‘Badhaai Ho’ and ‘Andhadhun’. He is an artist in the true sense of the word blessed with a beautiful voice. Usually, his interviews are a delight to watch. I don’t know if he was trying to match up to Ranveer Singh’s lack of manners here, he also was giving tone deaf comments and un funny jokes. We understand the excitement in being on Actor’s roundtable. But you need not put it out ALL on the table. The eagerness to shoot out an answer is a bit too much.

Vicky Kaushal: He is observant, attentive and humble. Much credit and admiration to his way of being. He can avoid the “why the hell am I here” look which repeats again and again though.

Rajkumar Rao: I felt bad for Rajkumar Rao. Now, I know how an intelligent actor feels in the company of people who are more stars and less actors. More so, when one is not from the filmy crowd. He was trying to reciprocate in the same spirit as asked by Rajeev. To a great extent, he succeeded too in spite of the surrounding mediocrity of answers. But how much can a person hold on!

Pankaj Tripathi: Thank heavens, Mr. Tripathi was there in the interview. Such pearls of 
wisdom, his answers were! One could sail through this slow torture of an interview only because of him, Vicky and Rakjumar.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

World's Poorest YouTuber : Blog #339


World's Poorest YouTuber


Forbes has come up with the world's highest earning Youtubers for 2018. Ever wondered which will be the world's lowest earning YouTube channel? Don't you feel you should also turn your precious attention to the downtrodden in the world of Social media?

So all the kind hearted social media netizens, keep a tissue handy and read through this heartbreaking tale.

This YouTuber also started off with big dreams. He thought he will change the world with his channel and his videos. He dreamt of quitting his day job and being a creator. Heck, he thought he will be hosting the next YouTube fan fest. Alas! The social media world had other plans.

His YouTube channel has 

  •          More than 1000 subscribers. 
  •          More the 25 videos
  •          One popular video with more than 325000 views
  •          Discusses many relevant topics varying from social media to movies to                   religion to relationship to harassment.


All of the above are decent statistics. Of course, nothing earth shattering. But those numbers are not too bad.

BUT 

This channel has not earned even 1 cent :)

If you have read so far, you have got a kind heart. You may be the social-media knight in shining armor rushing with likes, comments and subscribers that this channel needs? Then hit that subscribe button and lift this channel out of poverty! 

Here is your Oprah moment!
Be the Santa Claus you never had!
Subscribe and change a Life!

Here is the link to World's poorest Youtube Channel. Lift a finger and hit Subscribe! ~  PinkLungy YouTube Channel 


Monday, 29 October 2018

A Millennial’s Love letter : Blog # 338


A Millennial’s Love letter


The other day, I was going through some social media channels. I couldn’t understand many words used by the college goers of the day. So I decided to look them up. Now I am even more worried – of my lack of knowledge of their vocabulary and their lack of knowledge of the English vocabulary. To make things interesting, I have written two love letters below – One by a millennial and the other from the bygone days. Read and enjoy 😊 .

Millennial’s Love letter:

Hey BAE,

SUH? I find you SAVAGE. Even when you are SALTY, you don’t throw SHADE at others. You are so WOKE and FLEEK! I know you will never BOUNCE on me. I feel very lucky to have known someone as RAD as you. I am sure even my RENTS will adore you. ADULTING with you by my side will be so SICK! My SQUAD thinks I am the luckiest dude in the world to have found you. Like, you are GOALS! When I am with you, I don’t feel FOMO. If it is with you, I don’t mind even YOLO.I want to turn your LOLs to ROFLS. Whenever I see you helping someone and going out of the way, I want to #HT to you. The other day, I heard someone #RLRT you that you are a blessing! When I saw you for the first time, I was #SMH. With you, all my #TBT will be so memorable. I mean you are like MOOD personified. TBH, you have become my BFF. All I want to do is spend time with you. I feel most of the distractions I liked IRL earlier to be MEH.

You SUS if I am telling all this to just make you feel good? AMIRITE? And will I always feel this way about you? CHUH!

Didn't understand a thing? Below is a rough translation of the above letter. It is also what a love letter of the yore sounded like.

Dearly Beloved,

How have you been? I wanted to let you in on a secret - that I find you irresistible. Even when you are upset, you don’t talk down to someone. How are you so knowledgeable? Your awareness about everything under the sun is so admirable. I know that you will never leave me. I consider it my good fortune to have known someone as vibrant as you. I am sure even my parents will adore you. Growing old with you by my side will be so full of fun. My friends think that I am the luckiest person in the whole world to have found you. When I am with you, I don’t want to be anywhere else or with anyone else. I know that we have only one life. But I want to spend that with you, each day and every moment. I want to be the reason for your smiles to turn in to laughter. I feel immense respect for you when I see your concern towards others. The other day, I overheard someone saying you are a blessing and I couldn’t agree more. I remember the day when I first saw you. I was captivated. You are all that I ever want to be. If I were to speak my mind, I have found a friend in you. All I want to do is spend my time with you away from the distractions of the world.

You must be wondering that I am telling you all this to make you feel good. The truth is the only person feeling good here is yours truly. Do you also think if I will always feel this way about you? My answer is a loud, resounding Yes!


Sunday, 28 October 2018

Why should you attend a literature festival? : Blog#337


Why should you attend a literature festival?


The first thing that strikes you when you
enter a literature festival arena is a difference at large. You will find women who wear saree around their necks, men who wear a shirt cut from a saree,men and women wearing dark glasses, some wearing large glasses without power, people holding large expensive bags, sustainability conscious people carrying plastic water bottles, people wearing hats, people who talk with a thick British English accent and who laugh at the appropriate places and share meaningful glances. Then there are the more common ones - who take pictures with the hashtag installation and put them up on Facebook and Instagram so that so that their friends can perceive them to be cool and evolved or if I may use the most abused word of the season , "woke".

It is heartening to see elderly couple who enjoy the discussions and make notes so that they can discuss them later. In sharp contrast, will be the group of youngsters who talk loudly with no intention of listening or letting others listen and thus invite wrath filled stares.  How can I forget the LARGE bindis and beards! Add to this, some new authors who are so incoherent in their thoughts and the way they speak that makes one feel bad for the interviewer who has to sit through the suffering of an interview with them. A special mention for supposedly creative venue names , many a time which doesn't make any sense at all :).

It also helps the lesser mortals like us, the ones who need to work for a living to get a glimpse in to the lives of the upper echelons of the society. You will see how they can afford to move around ever so elegantly on the lawns of five star properties so deeply moved by the disturbing thoughts of where our society and world at large is headed. You will also hear oft repeated phrases and words - narrative, landscape, individualism, liberal, right wing, toxic masculinity, feminism, urban, millennials  etc. You will also see people asking such daft questions which are miles away from what the panel was trying to discuss. Their only intention is to show off what they think in long winding sentences. Many a time, there are no questions at all-they are just uninformed comments. 

Now that we have covered the facetious side, literature festivals really help us to get exposed to multitudes of perspectives. You get to hear people from the left, right and centre. If the festival is curated with heart in its right place, you will get to understand what people from different walks of life think of issues that we all deal with. 

A lit fest gives you a broader understanding of multiple fields like art, movies, literature, politics and rest in a limited period of time. This happens by virtue of listening to many interviews and panel discussions on the above mentioned topics. Some of the discussions are really interesting, informing and intellectual. Some are well, plain boring. 

The beauty of a litfest is the luxury of indulging ones own mind with a plethora of perspectives. All one needs to do is walk in, sit down and LISTEN. Thanks to the technological distractions around us, this is an ideal place where one can hone one's listening skills which really is the need of the hour for many of us, if not all. In some moments of brilliance, one feels so conflicted when one hears some perspectives and arguments that are so different from what one believes in, yet have merit to them. So go to a litfest and allow yourself to evolve from left to right, right to left or however you would prefer .

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

The Kerala Nun, Bishop & Church : Blog # 336


The Kerala Nun, Bishop & Church


As a child growing up in Kerala, I went to a school run by the Christian Missionaries. One of the earliest memories I have from school is of a Sister (that’s what we call Nuns in Kerala) wearing a white dress looking after all of us like her own kids. Children used to LOVE her. We used to surround her, hug her, and loved to be around her. This story is not unique to me. Many who have spent their childhood in Kerala will relate to what I have described above.
Nuns in Kerala, like everywhere in the world are a respected community. There is a certain sense of revered deference in the way the public interacts with them.

Today, a nun has come out in the open seeking justice. Many more have come out in support of her. I strongly feel this is the time to rally behind that nun and reassure her with our love and support in her pursuit for justice.

The church has a great deal of power, influence and respect in the state of Kerala. Rather than taking the short-term vision of its image being maligned due to this case, the church should look at this moment as an opportunity to set right, all the wrongs that some of its members might have endured over the past. If the church does that, this moment in time will shine through when years later, someone looks back at its history and this moment will make its followers proud.

People of Kerala look up to the church and the catholic society for all the good work they do in areas of education, healthcare and other noble causes. If the church puts its might behind the nun and fights for her cause, the image of church will only become more pristine in the eyes of the people.

Also, why should church be ashamed of one person who might have gone way ward? The institution is larger than the person in all regards. This is not a cross that the church should carry over its shoulders. If at all there is any burden that the church should carry on its shoulders, it should be the burden of alleviating the pain and sorrow the nun had to go through in her journey of being a follower of the church.

  From the Bible,
“He said to them, "Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?" Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.”

The church, its people and their faith are far greater than one Bishop. It is only the men of little faith who will try to suppress the oppressed and cover up the crime. A true believer will embrace the Nun who is wronged and assuage her of her fears and will fight for her justice.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Kerala Floods ~ Positive Stories ~ Do For Kerala : Blog # 335

Kerala Floods ~ Positive Stories ~ Do For Kerala 


I am one of those unfortunate few who is not in Kerala to help my people in their hour of need. Far away from home, I am glued to news channels and social media channels to understand what is happening in my state which is affected by the devastating floods.

There are some people sharing stories on Social media which spreads hatred and negativity. In this time of distress, what we need is a bit of motivation to go the extra mile. 

Every once in a while, pops up a positive story that brings tears to my eyes and warms my heart. Those are stories where humanity shines through. Stories where people are at their best helping fellow humans and animals in need. 

Here is a compilation of all the stories I came across so far. Will keep updating this as and when I get new stories. Please let me know in comments the stories that you know of, so that they can be added too.

These tales of divine humanity will help us sail through these difficult times. I hope these stories will also help move some more hearts so that they would also contribute towards helping people.

But first things first, kindly contribute towards helping those affected by floods here: Kerala Chief Minister's Relief Fund

Let us spare a thought for those who are affected in Coorg (Kodagu) in Karnataka due to similar floods. Visit this link to donate and help: https://www.karnataka.com/coorg/kodagu-flood-donation-centers-and-helpline-numbers/

Here are the heart-warming stories:

Fishermen with a golden heart:



Nobody asked the fishermen in Kerala to aid in the rescue. Forgoing days of livelihood, they themselves came out to help people in need. A lady living in a high-rise apartment was rescued thus by the fishermen folk. As a gesture of gratefulness, she offered money to them. They said “It is OK, dear sister. We are not doing this for money”. Hearing this, she couldn’t stop tears that came gushing through. She said that she hadn’t cried so heartily in a long time. People of Kerala will forever be indebted to the fishermen community.


A young man becoming a foot board to the boat:


There were women who were struggling to get on to the boat. This young man didn’t even give it a second thought. He went on all fours and became a footboard so that the women can get on to the boat and reach the relief camp. In her heist, the old lady forgot to remove her foot ware and stepped on this person. But the young man told her “It is ok Umma. You step on!”


Hanan - the young girl’s donation of 1.5 Lakhs:



 Hanan is a young spirited girl. She funds her own education by doing small jobs and selling fish. She was in news recently across Kerala. Some anti- social elements made fun of her and trolled her on social media. Thankfully, better sense prevailed, and the state came together to help her. Multiple people from different walks of life helped her out monetarily and otherwise. This little girl contributed 150,000 INR towards the relief efforts. I do not know what to admire more  – her maturity or her goodness of heart.


When angels came in uniform:



The armed forces are doing their best as always to help the people in distress. There was a lady who was 9 months pregnant. The heroes from Navy rescued her and put her in a hospital. She has delivered. Both the mother and kid are fine. What could have become a grave tragedy for a family and a society has become a moment of happiness and triumph. I am sure there are many more such stories. The Navy spokesperson said that every naval cadet would have been in Kerala for a few months atleast during their formative years. He added that all of them have a special place in their hearts for the state of Kerala. I know I speak for many if not all from my state that from today, people of Kerala will cherish the armed forces just the way you hold us special.


Relief camp left spotless:



“This place was home for me for last four days. How can I leave it dirty? We keep our home clean right?” Said one of the inmates.
This is how the displaced people left behind one of the fourth-floor rooms where 1200 people stayed in the Kongorpilly Govt Higher Secondary school. I have often heard that cleanliness is next to Godliness. Today, I believe those words.


Hindu burial at the church:



A person called Subramniyan passed away at a relief camp in Thodupuzha, due to flood. Much to their distress, his kids couldn't find a place to bury him.  Father Shinto, the local priest came to know this when he visited the relief camp and provided support for Subramaniyan's family and burial took place at  St. Antony church cemetery. In Kerala, like in many other states in India, we all have friends from other communities/religions. Largely, there are no areas segregated based on religion. We all live with much love and affection for each other. I pray to Gods that this continues.


Calicut/Kozhikode collector tearing up:


The neighbouring district of Thrissur was cut off due to landslides on the National Highway. Due to this, the only access was through Calicut (Kozhikode). He put up a Facebook post asking for relief materials for Thrissur. He was expecting at best, one truck load of materials to be taken to Calicut. In a matter of hours, he could send 3 truckloads full of relief materials. It was not that Calicut was not suffering. That district was also affected much. When asked what would have contributed this, Collector couldn’t help but tear up and say “It is the goodness of people of Calicut”.


Tovino – the real-life hero:



Tovino is a Malayalam movie actor. He has been helping people on the ground right from day 1. He is helping in terms of getting relief materials to people, rescuing them from there and providing shelter. What particularly touched my heart was that he put up a post asking people to take shelter at his home if the need be. Many actors have been contributing in many ways towards relief efforts – contributing to the relief fund, gathering materials and in many more ways. All those efforts are commendable, and people are grateful and appreciative. What makes Tovino’s efforts special is him working shoulder to shoulder with the people in his town to help those in need, day in and day out. 



Srin Joy, the 4 year old's priceless donation:



This little fellow, Srin has been collecting pocket money for some time now. His collection was the left over change from his parents' shop visits and such. His idea was to buy a little cycle with this money. But for now, he is letting go of his dream toy and donating this to the flood victims. But what he doesn't know is that the day he goes back to school, there will be a brand new cycle waiting for him at the school - thanks to an old student from the same school, Mr. Bhaskar! 






Footballers who walked straight to the gallery:





After the successful match during Calcutta football league, 3 players from the East Bengal team walked up to the gallery. Joby Justin, Ubaid C.K. and Mirshad Kurian - players in the East Bengal team who are from Kerala walked up to the gallery to collect funds from the audience to contribute towards Kerala flood relief. The audience ofcourse were quite generous and touched. I am sure people of Kerala couldn't be more proud of these three young men. 


With Love, from Pakistan:





I have often heard stories from my cousins in the gulf - how wonderfully Indians and Pakistanis in the middle east get along with much love and friendship. These men from Pakistan decided to donate their one day's salary towards the cause of helping Kerala. May more such stories emerge across the border. 


When the people lined up with folded handsto thank their saviors:









By now, you all would have heard about how the fishermen in Kerala took it up on themselves to help the people in distress without anyone asking them to do this. Above picture shows how the people of a village (I think near by Chengannur town) lined up along the road and showed their respect with folded hands towards their heroes, their saviors. This image will stay on for a very very long time in the minds of people. If you look closely at the second picture., the person in white has removed his footwear. In Kerala, we usually do this when we fold our hands in front of Gods. These brave fishermen are nothing less than Gods to us. 


If you hear about any such stories, let me know in comments. I shall add them too. Let us keep spreading positivity and humanity.

A gentle reminder yet again. Kindly contribute here: http://www.cmdrf.kerala.gov.in/ 

Friday, 17 August 2018

Help Kerala flood victims~ Do For Kerala ~ CMDRF ~ #DoForKerala : Blog #334


Help Kerala flood victims~ Do For Kerala ~ #DoForKerala


A letter to World Leaders:

Your Excellencies,

Hope this letter finds you well.

There is a tiny state called Kerala in India. People of Kerala are a travelling lot. A large population of the state work in countries around the world. In all probability, there will be one person from Kerala whom you know as an Ambassador from India, a leading scientist, a top notch business leader , a professor, a nurse, a doctor , a construction worker ,a driver or any other hard working person.

Due to unprecedented rains, all of Kerala is affected by floods and landslides.There are 14 districts in this state which was all put on high alert due to fear of floods. Many dams had to be opened to contain the situation which resulted in flash floods and landslides. 

Animals, Children, women and men are suffering. Houses are flooded, food stock is getting depleted, roads are damaged – the suffering is heart wrenching. 300,000 people are in relief camps. 

People from Kerala would have contributed in many humble ways towards building your nation and will continue to do so. We love your country as much as ours.

We request you to direct the companies operating in your country to allow leaves and 1 month’s salary advance to the employees from Kerala.  This will go a long way in bringing the state of Kerala back to its vibrant self. Any sorts of donation (cash or kind) are also welcome.



Follow this link to donate: Kerala Chief Minister's Relief Fund

Please watch the below video to know the extent of suffering:





In anticipation & hope,
People of Kerala.