Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Food for thought : Blog # 113

Food for thought

      I was lazing away on the couch after a sumptuous lunch at home. It was one of those moments when you are watching some good movie on the TV and an afternoon siesta plays around over your eye lids. Breaking the lazy surrealism about it, my cell phone started ringing. It was a dear friend who called up to check if I am free as he was in town. Reluctantly shaking away the laziness of my impending siesta, I set out to meet him.

Food, Love for food , Beyond Hunger, I love food            We met at a fast food joint. He had some fond memories of that place from his school days and even I had a handful of happy moments from there. While we indulged in some hearty trivial small talks, he ordered a burger. The burger came and the way he enjoyed the burger was a sight to behold. The candor and passion with which he enjoyed that burger was so endearing. He said he was trying to recollect the taste from his school days. I think he was searching for those fond memories.

            There is something about people who are passionate about food. I somehow connect it to sincerity because some of us get unnecessarily pretentious when it comes to food. Be it the way people eat or the preference for certain food, there are some un- wanted pretensions. So if someone likes a food item that is not very fashionable and is candid enough to admit and exhibit it in the way one eats, there is some earnestness somewhere.  

            Food has a direct relation to the closeness that people share. If you have paid attention, we demand food only at those places where we are very comfortable. It takes us immense effort to ask for food at a place which is not our own or a house that we are not familiar with.

            Food preferences might be the earliest manifestations of one’s persona. Little toddlers react to certain food favorably or unfavorably -and they carry that preference throughout their lives. Many other likes may turn in to dislikes and vice-versa in one’s growing up years but for food.

            There is a lot of emotion attached to food. One of the first things that we miss while we stay away from home is the homely food. Same is the case with memories. Who doesn't remember the small road side shop from college days which served amazing tea and snacks?

            Of all the Man’s Greeds, food is one thing which one cannot be greedy about. One has to refuse when one is full. One doesn't ask for more neither does one wish for more food beyond one's need. May be the reason is that food fills up not just the gut but the heart too.
                                                                                                   Arun Babu

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Found your Soul Mate yet? : Blog # 112

Found your Soul Mate yet?

        Soul mate is one of the most endearing words I have ever come across. I think it epitomizes the state of perfection of all the relationships. What a wonderful state of being would it be if one were to find ones soul mate!

Soul mates , Love of my life ,

            If you have ever met someone whom you took an instant liking to; thought like you did or you liked the way that person thought; with whom you got along with like a house on fire; with whom you took effort to spend time with; with whom you let go of your ego ; then you have met your soul mate.

        It is not about finding similarity in thoughts. It is about having a liking so deep that you are willing to  lend an ear to each other’s thoughts.

           It is not about letting go of one’s identity so that one finds compromise. It is about having the mutual willingness to create enough space for the other person on one’s own.

        It is not about agreement in all aspects. It is about innate respect which accepts differences. It is not about taking an effort. It is about wanting the companionship.   

       It is not about compromises. Neither is it about being accommodating. It is about Love created by that person – for Life and of it. It is about ease of togetherness.

    We might never know if there exists a cosmic spectrum to which two people destined to be together are wrapped in to. But what is for sure is that blessed are those who find their soul mates for in the end, it will not be about endurance. It will be about fond reminiscence.
                                 Arun Babu. 

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

I love tier 2 ! : Blog # 111

I love tier 2 !

       I had to catch a late night bus to Chennai from my home town. My hometown, Thrissur is a small city with a lush green roundabout extending 2kms right at its heart. I took an auto and something felt different, something felt good. Then it hit me. The air was light – smokeless and dust free. There was no traffic blockade. There were no blaring horns. There was greenery all around and the road was litter free. These were the things I took for granted. And then happened The Metros – Bangalore, Bombay and Chennai – in that order – of chronology and preference ;).

Small Towns, Satelite cities            Come to think of it, there is no reason why one shouldn't like tier 2 cities. I am in Love with smaller cities like Coimbatore and Mysore. You have all the comforts in smaller cities that you have in metros in the absence of the undesired irritants. Which tier 2 city doesn't have a good school? Which smaller city doesn't have a multiplex?  You might as well find a mall or two.

Analysts say growth is there as much in tier 2 as there is in tier 1. It is economically more viable to start a business in tier 2 owing to the lower realty costs. It is no wonder then that all the brands have made their presence felt in these cities. Look around and you will see all the labels from the world of fashion. There will be at least a handful of automobile dealerships. Even the international eateries have descended on these cities. Owing to the lower cost of living, people have purchasing power at par with a tier1.

The gated residential communities and apartment complexes prefers these cities due to availability of resources like power and water. The hospitals here are better off at catering to its patients due to a favorable doctor – patient ratio.

And the greatest plus of all – people know each other and more importantly care for each other. One might not be able to set out of home and come back without smiling at an acquaintance or having a chit chat where as in a Metro, you might be left unattended even if you were to lie on the road, unconscious.

The billboards and the neon lamps are as much omnipresent in a tier 2 city as it is in a metro. But the difference is that the billboards do not obstruct your view and neither does the neon lamps cost you your sleep. I am not saying tier 2s are without their misgivings. If you are a person who has an inclination towards music and spirit en-wrapped in a night life, these cities might not be able to offer you that and even may go to sleep by 10 o clock. But it is said the pollution which a metro inflicts your body and the stress with which it clutters your mind can cost you some precious time off your life itself. When there is no light to life itself, what is there to a couple of night outs?
Arun Babu.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

To Be Specific : Blog # 110

To Be Specific

       To be specific’ is a phrase we use quite often. The idea of using it is to lend more clarity to the task or subject at hand. But when we adapt the same to our Life, the same phrase becomes restricting. It draws boundaries on the boundless possibilities of Life.

To be specific, Boundaries, Barbed wire, Limits
        Let us look at the academic curriculum we follow. A bachelor’s degree is specific to a subject. It doesn’t allow a student to explore other realms of academia. There should be a framework for any area of study but what is the need to restrict one to that framework? Let the person who is undertaking the study fulfill the requirements of the framework and be allowed a certain degree of freedom to explore other streams of interest as well.

                        There was a time in the past when people used to do a particular job right from their date of joining to their retirement day – of course at incremental levels of responsibility; but the nature of the job remained the same. The jobs were specific.  Today, if a person tries to stick on to a specific job, that decision will sound the death knell of his/her career. There is no luxury of allowing a person to be an expert in a field alone. Rather, what is preferred is a person being an expert in a particular field and still having moderate knowledge in the related areas.

                    Now, let us look at Life at large. Many of us tend to stick to a specific instance in the past and then live our lives in its shadow. It may be a love failure, demise, disease or a financial turmoil. That specific instance anchors and pulls us back from moving ahead in Life.

         Some of us tend to stick to a specific aspect of Life .For some, it will be work and for some others, it might be academics. Some stick to an interest which might not be worth pursuing. Here, we are losing out on the larger picture in Life. We are restricting our lives to a specific part and not living up the whole of it.

          Let us try and learn to look at Life with an  abstract perspective and forget the constraints of the specific way. It is much more liberating. It gives a lot of room for exploring the numerous facets of life. This requires flexibility in mindset, thought process and the way of living life itself. Abstracts allow us to look at Life without getting fogged by the established norms and conventions. An abstract approach lends clarity to the vision of Life. It is like one of those welcome showers on the wind shield when it gets dusty from a long drive.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Arun Babu.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Mango Celebrities : Blog # 109

Mango Celebrities

       There is this immensely talented singer who re- tweets all the compliments coming her way on the social networking platform of Twitter. If she were to receive those compliments in person, will she get hold of a microphone and repeat the words of those admirers? Being the lady that she is, all she would do at max is smile graciously and accept the compliments with humility.

Show business, Small stars
            Why do people who are otherwise modest and sensible go on unabashedly on social media about themselves? Why do we change profile pictures so often? Why are we bothered about the number of Likes? Why is that we exult our achievements on the white wall with blue borders? What is with the compulsive urge to push oneself in to the limelight?

The main reason I perceive is that the virtual world has taken away the awkwardness from people. Be it sending a contact request to a total stranger or chatting up with a person who is just an acquaintance, the usual social awkwardness is absent. This is good when networking with fellow beings is concerned but when it comes to self-praise, all the grace and humility is lost.

            Marketing of consumer products might have unintentionally kicked off this trend. In the name of branding, products’ fan pages started propagating information which is favorable to their image. People would have unknowingly adapted this habit. But we should understand that we are not products! It is ok to be not ‘Liked’.

            Another aspect is that the social media has made us all in to small time celebrities in our own right. The visibility of a person has increased manifold. Five years before, when has there been a time when you were being watched by 100+ people, even virtually? Never before has your life been chronicled on time lines like it happens today. Each person is getting the attention of a celebrity and all that we are doing is to live up to its charm trying hard not to let go of its aura.

            Everyone deserves a chance to blow one’s trumpet. The tipping point though is its frequency – both the shrill and periodicity. Putting up a profile pic once in a while is fine but changing it every 30 days might put off people. It is acceptable to seek reassurances. Seeking appreciation for a hard earned merit is also fine. But it shouldn't be done in a way which puts Narcissus himself to shame.

Eventually, this might lead to a time when everyone becomes a celebrity which invariably means no one will remain a celebrity!

p.s. Yours truly also pleads guilty to have committed the above crimes at some point in time.
                             Arun Babu.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Let there be Art : Blog # 108

                            Let there be Art

I love God so much for having woken up one fine day and having said “Let there be Art”. Imagine a life without art! How bland our world would be! There would be no music to hum to, no painting to marvel at, no story to imagine about, no dance to tap your feet to!

Humans need Art, relevance of art
Come to think of it, Art is an obvious sign of advancement for us as a species. It demands the ability to articulate one’s innermost thoughts or emotions in a way that is appealing to fellow beings. It is a manifestation of one’s inner self. For this to happen, there need to be a certain level of clarity of thought and articulation and art represents the pinnacle of this ability.

Very few things have the ability to make us feel good other than some sort of possession of one’s own.  Of those rare things is art. A good performance or manifestation of any sort of art can easily appeal to a person in an immensely positive way. It leaves a lasting feel good vibe.

Art is in many ways, forward looking. It is futuristic. This might be the reason why we come to appreciate certain art works at a point in time much later than it is made.

The fact that Art adds beauty to our lives is often taken lightly. The world is so vibrant because of the presence of art. The world owes much of its beauty to Art. Along with the beauty aspect of it, Art also documents our existence in this world. It is from the frescoes and the murals that we know of the life and time which existed much before us.

It is interesting to note that Art has the liberty of a much more mature, parallel world. This is the reason why people seek the solace of an art form to speak or express thoughts which cannot be done in a usual day to day world. This promotes tolerance and acceptance – to thoughts that are at times, poles apart. This might be the reason why art ceases to exist in a country which endures a dictatorship.

Thus existence of Art depicts intellect, liberty, beauty, hope and much more. Let’s be grateful for the existence of Art J.
                                                                                                    Arun Babu.

Friday, 3 May 2013

A Century of Omnipresence : Blog # 107

An Ode to 100 years of Indian Cinema

            In my mind, the memory of the first film I saw is still as clear as a glass of sparkling water. I was enchanted to say the least. The darkness in the theater added to the aura. The vast expanse of silver screen gave enough credence to the larger than life persona of cinema. The air conditioning those days were as rare as sparrows these days. Along with all this paraphernalia, I fell in love with the idea of motion pictures. I believe it is the best way of storytelling enriched with all its song and dance sequences.

Indian movies, Parineeta, Vidya Balan, Shahrukh khan
Today, we are celebrating 100 years of Indian Cinema – 100 years filled with Fun, Frolic & Fascination. Today, Cinema is Omnipresent. Apart from the obvious entertainment aspect of it, cinema has helped us as a society and as a nation in many other avenues to the extent that cinema has taken center stage in our lives.

 Let us look at the canvas of world affairs. Indian cinema has taken our country to those nooks and corners of the world which decades of deliberate diplomacy could not. Egypt, Greece, Germany, Japan, Middle east, and 90 more countries screen Indian Films thanks to the popularity of supreme stars like Salman Khan and Shahrukh khan.  In fact, it is said the people of Afghanistan love and trust Indians because of the simple reason that they love Indian movies and the derived familiarity of Indian culture. 

Now, what has cinema done to the world of business? In the song, “Munni Badnam Hui..” from ‘Dabangg’ to  which the nation gyrated along with Malika Arora Khan, there is a line which goes “Zandu balm hui darling tere liye”. Can anyone of you imagine what it did to the brand? A whopping 35% rise in its sales!!! People who understand the nuances of business would know how much of branding and advertising is needed for that kind of growth. It is called product placement – the trick of subtly including brands in films. This leads to as much visibility as a mammoth in a very short time. Again, it is a testimony to Cinema’s omnipresence in our lives.

Cinema of each period is like a page from history. In order to understand the lifestyle, the economic situation, the technological advancement, the perspectives of people of a period in time, all you need to see is a film from that period. Even the way people dress up is heavily influenced by the films of their time and age. It is said that a large part of Amitabh Bachchan’s success is attributed to our country’s situation of that time. There was a lot of angst in people’s minds due to un employment, corruption, nepotism and so on and so forth. Mr. Bachchan was branded as the angry young man which the youth of that time identified with completely.

It will be a crime if we do not acknowledge the impact cinema has on our society. It is intriguing to see how much of a change agent cinema has become. It was the film ‘Rang De Basanti’ which brought the candle marches in to vogue.  From then on, people have adapted this peaceful yet powerful form of protest whenever the nation’s conscience has been pricked.

Even beyond the borders, cinema has left quite an impact. It is said Raj Kapoor’s film ‘Awara’ evoked among the Russians, a strange sense of endearment for Indians. They began seeing Indians as friends which continues till date. Much recently, the film ‘Lagey Raho MunnaBhai’ was screened at the United Nations to showcase how Gandhigiri was propagated in this day and age in our country.

I should acknowledge the existence and importance of regional cinema. They are beautiful and bountiful. The reason why I did not delve in to it here is because on a world stage, our country is mostly being represented by the kind of films which we discussed earlier. It will be surprising to notice how much of a binding force, cinema has become for a country which has as many varied yet influential subcultures as ours.  It is the sole reason why we understand each other’s languages and cultures so well.

To this day, whenever I enter a cinema hall, my curiosity is like that of a child. Those two hours captivate my mind space so much so that there is a transmigration of sorts between the characters and myself. In the darkness resembling a dream, we empathize and sympathize with the characters. Cinema has become one of those few indulgences in which we are still able to relish the experience and live in that moment. Long live Indian Cinema! 
                                                                                                            Arun Babu.

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